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If Not Now, When?

April 18, 2010 3 comments

Anyone who’s interested in eschatology and believes we’re nearing the end of the age, has probably heard something similar to the following statement many, many times. “Oh, I don’t pay any attention to that stuff, because every generation since Jesus was full of people who believed they were in the end times.” Another frequent comment is, “Even Jesus doesn’t know when He’s coming back, so we’re not supposed to worry about it.” Are they right? I think not, and I’ll summarize my position this way:  If not now, when? Now let’s go deeper. Here’s what Jesus said about the day and hour:

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. Matthew 24:36

On its face, and out of context, it seems to support the old “there’s no way we can know anything about it” position. If we put it in context, however, things look very different. Here are the four verses that immediately precede that verse:

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  Matthew 24:32-35

Once viewed in context, it seems clear to me that Christ was saying that we cannot know the exact time when he will return for us, but that we are to be vigilant so that we can recognize the signs of the season. He even used an actual season (summer) in the analogy. With this passage freshly in mind, let’s go ahead and address the frequent comment that every generation since Jesus has had those who believed they were in the end times. This is no doubt true, but there’s one salient distinction between then and now:  They were wrong. Prophecies don’t work in piecemeal fashion. The Bible isn’t 75% accurate, or 90%, or 99%. The Bible is 100.0% accurate, period. But in past generations, those who believed they were the terminal generation were ignoring the very first sign Jesus gave us in the passage above!

The fig tree analogy is what kicks everything else into motion, yet it was conveniently ignored in the past because that sign was not fulfilled. What is that sign? I believe, as do most prophetic scholars whose opinions I’ve read, that the fig tree analogy refers to Israel’s rebirth as a nation. It’s the pivotal event that started the endtime clock ticking in earnest, and it was fulfilled in May, 1948, when the state of Israel was reborn. Only after that fulfillment could the other genuine signs of the endtime season occur. Wars and rumors of wars. Earthquakes. Famine. False prophets. Apostasy in the church. Preaching the gospel to the world. Godless living. All these signs and more are being fulfilled now, and they’re being fulfilled at the proper time, after the rebirth of Israel.

Another key sign that I believe has only been truly fulfilled recently is found in Daniel:

But you, Daniel, close up these words and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will dash about, and knowledge will increase.  Daniel 12:4

I won’t get into the issue here, but one could make an argument that the “sealing of the book” refers to the fact that only now, with modern computer technology, are we able to truly analyze the Bible for the existence of coded messages beneath the plain text. Even more unequivocally tied to today, however, is the reference to “dashing about” and increasing knowledge. From the time of Christ until a little over a century ago, there was no appreciable advance in transportation technology. When Jesus walked the Earth, the dominant means of transportation was the horse. In 1900, the dominant means of transportation was the horse. Just one century later, on any given day there are approximately 87,000 airplane flights in the United States alone. There are over 625,000,000 cars on Earth. Can we seriously doubt that the “many will dash about” sign is fulfilled? What about knowledge? Sure, knowledge increased in centuries past, but by comparison to centuries past, knowledge in the twentieth century didn’t just increase; it exploded with the force of a thousand nuclear bombs. Daniel 12:4 is fulfilled, and in a way that was simply not possible before now.

We saw the rebirth of Israel sixty-two years ago, and I believe Jesus was saying that the generation who witnessed that would not pass away before the end of the age. We’ve seen sign after sign fulfilled since then, and we continue to see prophetic puzzle pieces slide into place before our very eyes. I believe an exhaustive analysis of endtime signs would lead us inexorably to the question:  If not now, when?

When You’re Wrong, You’re Wrong

March 21, 2010 2 comments

First things first:  Thanks to all the FRiends involved in this discussion. I’m often amazed by the amount of scriptural knowledge and insight to be found in the online world. To those who have shared that knowledge and insight on this topic, you have my gratitude.

I have long believed–and I have stated this in earlier entries–that the War of Gog and Magog (WOGAM) prophesied in Ezekiel 38 would be the next major event on the prophetic calendar. Over the past couple of days, I have come to believe that another prophetic event will likely precede WOGAM. Plainly put, I was wrong. Let’s take a look at the 83rd Psalm:

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O God, Do Not Keep Silence

83 A SONG. A PSALM OF ASAPH.

1 O God, do not keep silence;
do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
2 For behold, your enemies make an uproar;
those who hate you have raised their heads.
3 They lay crafty plans against your people;
they consult together against your treasured ones.
4 They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation;
let the name of Israel be remembered no more!”
5 For they conspire with one accord;
against you they make a covenant—
6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites,
7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
8 Asshur also has joined them;
they are the strong arm of the children of Lot.   Selah
9 Do to them as you did to Midian,
as to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
10 who were destroyed at En-dor,
who became dung for the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 who said, “Let us take possession for ourselves
of the pastures of God.”
13 O my God, make them like whirling dust,
like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest,
as the flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so may you pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your hurricane!
16 Fill their faces with shame,
that they may seek your name, O LORD.
17 Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever;
let them perish in disgrace,
18 that they may know that you alone,
whose name is the LORD,
are the Most High over all the earth.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ps 83:title–18).
Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
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The players listed in the confederacy likely equate to modern nations/groups/regions as follows (huge thanks to my new friend GiovannaNicoletta for research on this point!):
  • Tents of Edom – Palestinians and South Jordan
  • Ishmaelites – Saudi Arabia
  • Moab – Palestinians and Central Jordanians
  • Hagrites – Egypt
  • Gebal – Hezbollah and Northern Lebanese
  • Ammon – Palestinians and Northern Jordanians
  • Amalek – Sinai Arabs
  • Philistia – Hamas (Gaza Strip)
  • Tyre – Hezbollah and Southern Lebanese
  • Assyria – Syria and Northern Iraq
.
When looking at these confederates on a modern map, it becomes clear that this group can be reasonably described as Israel’s neighbors, many of whom have been a thorn in Israel’s side for decades and most of whom have demonstrated time and again that they harbor a deep and seething hatred for the Jewish state. We can easily imagine the phrase, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” coming from several of these groups, because we’ve already heard nearly identical language from them on countless occasions. Is it therefore difficult to imagine this gang of Israel-haters launching an attack against God’s chosen people? No. I think it’s safe to say that, given the opportunity, each and every one of these players would love to indulge the fantasy of annihilating Israel.

Is such an opportunity forthcoming? I believe so. I have laid out my belief in earlier posts that if Israel launches pre-emptive strikes to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities, she will become a global pariah. This would be even more true if Israel is forced to use tactical nuclear weapons to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities. It won’t matter that such an attack is a clear case of self-defense. The world has never needed a reason to hate the Jews, and it won’t break tradition this time. A pre-emptive strike by Israel will result in immediate condemnation from all corners of the planet, including, I believe, the United States. Israel will stand alone, and the idea of the tiny country finally being without the might of the U.S. behind her will be too tempting for her enemies to resist. It’s the same scenario I’ve hypothesized in earlier posts, except the attackers are the confederacy enumerated in Psalm 83, as opposed to the Ezekiel 38 coalition.

How does the notion of an attack by the Psalm 83 confederacy affect Ezekiel 38’s War of Gog and Magog? I submit that it provides the perfect setup. Think about it:  Israel is attacked by a group of her neighbors–anyone remember 1967?–and Israel soundly defeats the attackers. (Yes, Israel wins. Big. More on this later.) She will have already taken out the direct Iranian threat. Now she will have dealt a crushing blow to those who have tormented her for so very long; the Palestinians, Hamas, and Hezbollah will be quiet. This situation plays perfectly as a setup for the War of Gog and Magog. Israel will feel a sense of security she has not felt in decades. She will likely have increased her land during the ordeal. Aside from the hatred of the world, which she is used to, things will be looking pretty good and Israel would feel safe relaxing just a bit.

Now imagine the situation from the perspective of the Ezekiel 38 players. They just saw Israel attack Iran. Then they saw Israel essentially wipe out the Palestinians, Hamas, and Hezbollah. They saw Israel capture yet more land. Now Israel is sitting back and relaxing, after having spit in the eye of the whole world. The Ezekiel 38 coalition will likely view this situation as utterly intolerable. They will view Israel, possibly accurately, as complacent. They will view it as the perfect time to attack, the perfect time to wipe out those pesky Jews once and for all.

Note that some prophecy followers believe the Psalm 83 action and the Ezekiel 38 action are one and the same. I’ve only scratched the surface of research on this topic, but at first blush, it seems to me more likely to be two separate events. That said, the Ezekiel action could come so closely on the heels of the Psalm 83 action as to appear to be merely a second component of the same war. There are also some who believe the 83rd Psalm is merely a prayer, and that no tangible action is prophesied. In the next post, we’ll see how Obadiah and Isaiah figure into the prophetic timeline that lies just ahead. Until then, pray hard and stay in the Word!

In His Own Words: A Brief Collection of Ahmadinejad Quotes

November 2, 2009 1 comment

  • “They have created a myth today that they call the massacre of Jews and they consider it a principle above God, religions and the prophets…”  (referring to the Holocaust, which he insists is fiction)
  • “O mighty Lord, I pray to you to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace.”  (one of several similar comments in speeches before the United Nations; the “Promised One” is the 12th Imam, aka the Hidden Imam, aka the Islamic messiah, aka the Mahdi.)
  • “…one of our group told me that when I started to say “In the name of God the almighty and merciful,” he saw a light around me, and I was placed inside this aura. I felt it myself. I felt the atmosphere suddenly change, and for those 27 or 28 minutes, the leaders of the world did not blink. … And they were rapt. It seemed as if a hand was holding them there and had opened their eyes to receive the message from the Islamic republic.”  (his own comments about the “magical” event during his 2006 speech to the United Nations.)
  • “The Imam Mahdi is in charge of the world and we see his hand directing all the affairs of the country…”
  • “These are the signs of the appearance of the Imam Mahdi who will appear within the ‎next two years…”  (from 2005)
  • “I know that close minded people don’t believe these things,” he said, “but I was ‎certain that the Imam Mahdi will come and manage the meeting. I said, ‘Oh Imam! I want to ‎witness your miracle.’”  (the meeting referred to is his 2007 speech at Columbia University.)
  • ”… the entire universe has been created for that holy event to take place; the day when all the ‎prophets and martyrs will come to help the Imam. Some people make fun of these beliefs; this is ‎because their hearts are devoid of faith. These are modern day pagans and heathens. They ‎pretend to be intellectuals but don’t have the understanding of a goat.”
  • [The mission of his government is to] “pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi (May God Hasten His Reappearance).”
  • “I do not doubt that the new wave which has begun in our dear Palestine and which today we are also witnessing in the Islamic world is a wave of morality which has spread all over the Islamic world. Very soon, this stain of disgrace will vanish from the center of the Islamic world – and this is attainable.”  (The “stain of disgrace” he refers to is Israel.)

  • “Nations in the region will be more furious every day. It won’t take long before the wrath of the people turns into a terrible explosion that will wipe the Zionist entity off the map…The basic problem in the Islamic world is the existence of the Zionist regime, and the Islamic world and the region must mobilize to remove this problem. It is a usurper that our enemies made and imposed on the Muslim world, a regime that prevented the progress of the region’s nations, a regime that all Muslims must join hands in isolating worldwide.”
  • “This regime will be gone, definitely…”You should know that any government that stands by the Zionist regime from now on will not see any result but the hatred of the people…The wrath of the region’s people is boiling… You should not complain that we did not give a warning. We are saying this explicitly now…”  (The “regime” is Israel. The comments were directed to the West.)
  • “The great powers created the Zionist regime to extend their domination in the region. Every day this regime is massacring Palestinians…As this regime goes against the path of life, we will soon see its disappearance and its destruction.”
  • “I want to tell [Western counties] that just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and does not exist anymore, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out and humanity will be free.”
  • ”God willing, in the near future we will witness the destruction of the corrupt occupier regime…”
  • ”In Lebanon, the corrupt, arrogant powers and the Zionist regime did all they could in an unfair 33-day war. But after 60 years [Israel’s] greatness fell apart…The countdown to this regime’s destruction started through the hands of Hezbollah’s children…We will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future thanks to the endeavours of all Palestinian and Lebanese fighters.”
  • “Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken… Today the reason for the Zionist regime’s existence is questioned and this regime is on its way to annihilation…has reached the end like a dead rat after being slapped by the Lebanese.”
  • “(Israel) has reached the end of its function and will soon disappear off the geographical domain.”

The Big Question: What Are Iran’s Intentions?

October 30, 2009 Leave a comment
  • “God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism.” — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
  • “Today, the time for the fall of the satanic power of the United States has come, and the countdown to the annihilation of the emperor of power and wealth has started.” — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
  • “Get ready for a world minus the U.S.” — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
  • “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” — Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini
  • “The end of the U.S. will begin in Iraq. As the Imam [Khomeini] said, ‘One day the U.S., too, would be history.” — Supreme Leader Khameini
  • “The American regime can expect a resounding slap and devastating fist-blow from the Muslim nation for its support of the Zionist crimes and criminals.” — Supreme Leader Khameini

Rarely do I feel compelled to give evil maniacs the first word on an important topic but it seems appropriate to showcase up front the views which both Ahmadinejad and Khameini have stated publicly and proudly for years. In fact, Ahmadinejad has gone much further than the brief list of statements above. A little research into the speeches of the little man in the bad suits will leave no doubt whatsoever that he believes he has been chosen by Allah to pave the way for the 12th Imam. How does he believe he can accomplish this “holy mandate?” Well, that’s the really scary part:  He believes the way to lay out the welcome mat is to essentially destroy Judeo-Christian civilization.

Despite an abundance of public documentation of his views (I will be furnishing examples of this documentation in future posts), the world seems unaware and unconcerned. “Gee, let’s discuss some sanctions!” (They have worked so very well in the past with such personalities, right?) Maybe we should send him into a “time out” in the corner; it couldn’t be any less effective than what we’re seeing now. As Christians, this shouldn’t surprise us. We see staggering examples of willful blindness on a daily basis in the modern era. In this case, however, the danger is so great that it is surprising to watch the world skipping along its daily life while a madman progresses steadily toward the ability to kill untold millions.

Netanyahu is the only world leader who appears to grasp the real and imminent danger brewing in Iran. (I guess it helps when it’s your country that’s facing a literal existential threat.) He alone seems to believe the obvious truth, which is that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons as a way to increase clout and stature on the geopolitical stage. Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons in order to use them, and the obvious first targets are the Great and Little Satans, respectively the United States and Israel.

At least Israel’s leadership gets it; here in the U.S., we are stuck with a president who seems utterly clueless to the danger creeping up on our six. It begs the scary question:  Will Israel stand alone in the face of the Gog-Magog invasion because she has been abandoned by the U.S., or will the U.S. at that time be unable to help? Look at it from Ahmadinejad’s point of view:  Israel may embody all that he hates on a deeply ideological level, but what is the most practical, the surest way, to destroy Israel? Strip away her protection, us.

We in the United States have grown frighteningly complacent. The vigilant attidue following 9/11 disappeared quickly as our infostructure worked night and day to convince us that Islam is not a threat, that 9/11 was just a few crazies, that the War on Terror is itself the real evil. Common sense has left the building and idiocy stands in its stead.