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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?

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Is the Spirit Speaking?

April 17, 2010 Leave a comment

I, like many prophecy followers, had for years believed that Ezekiel 38-39’s War of Gog and Magog was the next major event on the prophetic timeline. (Hint: There’s a reason for the title of this blog. :)) For me that changed a few weeks ago as a result of discussion with other prophecy followers, followed up by my own study and research. In the post When You’re Wrong, You’re Wrong, I posited that Psalm 83, not Ezekiel, described the next event. I then followed that up with another post called Three In One, in which I theorized that Psalm 83, Obadiah, and Isaiah 17 might all be separate elements of a single prophecy.

To be clear:  It is my fervent hope that anything I discover/interpret/understand with regard to prophecy, be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. With that said, I’m wondering if the Spirit is speaking to others on this exact topic. I’m a big fan of Chuck Missler (www.khouse.org) and his research, having followed him for years. I regularly purchase and download his Briefing Packs, which teach on a variety of prophetic and other interesting biblical topics. Yesterday I received an e-mail from kHouse about a brand new session available for download, a session entitled The Magog Invasion:  An Alternate View. I purchased, downloaded, and listened to the entire session right away, and I was intrigued by the fact that Dr. Missler’s alternate theory is very similar to Three In One. I highly recommend his session, which is filled with his typically thorough exegetical research, and which is a far deeper look into this issue than I offered in this blog.

A new session from Chuck Missler

I believe the Spirit may indeed be speaking to people on this topic. When the Spirit speaks, it always behooves us to listen, but I believe it’s more imperative than ever to have our spiritual antennae extended right now. After all, Christ Himself told us to watch for the signs. And if you don’t know Christ, please correct that. He is the only path to eternal salvation. The ONLY path, and the opportunity to choose that path grows shorter by the minute.

Jordan: Another Puzzle Piece Begins to Slide

April 8, 2010 1 comment

From Israel National News, today: King Abdullah: Jordan Was Better Off without Peace with Israel

I know I say this a lot, but it’s true…we live in exciting times! For years, those who adhere to a secular perspective poo-pooed the idea that Turkey would be part of any invasion of Israel, despite Ezekiel 38’s clear prophecy that it would. After all, they said, Turkey and Israel are friends! Turkey and Israel even conduct military exercises together! Then a few months ago, seemingly out of nowhere, Turkey canceled its upcoming military exercises with Israel and simultaneously announced a strengthening alliance with Iran. A prophetic puzzle piece clicked into place. Today, another puzzle piece began sliding toward its destination when Jordan’s King Abdullah added his voice to the growing chorus of anti-Israel rhetoric from around the world. I won’t rehash what’s in the article since I’ve linked it in the top line of this post, but suffice to say that seemingly out of nowhere, Jordan has started to sound like an enemy of Israel.

I believe this to be of major significance, because I think Jordan is clearly part of the confederacy of nations prophesied to attack Israel in Psalm 83, Obadiah, and Isaiah 17. Like Turkey, however, Jordan was supposedly on friendly terms with Israel. (Jordan is one of only two Arab nations to have a peace treaty in place with Israel; Egypt is the other.)  Once again, from the secular perspective it looked unlikely that Jordan, a heretofore peaceful neighbor, would be part of such a confederacy. And once again, we see that what the Bible says will happen, will absolutely happen.

Stay tuned!

U.S. Refuses Visas to All Israeli Nuclear Scientists

April 8, 2010 1 comment

The JoshuaPundit blog, citing Israeli (Hebrew-only) news source NRG/Maariv, reports that visa applications from Israeli nuclear scientists who work at the Dimona nuclear facility are being summarily rejected. This is a huge reversal, since these visas have been routinely granted in the past when the scientists wanted to come to the United States for education and training. The Dimona facility is widely believed to be the place where Israel generates plutonium for her nuclear weapons. The report also states that the Israeli government is stunned by the move.

Unfortunately, I’m not stunned in the least. From the moment it became feasible that Obama could win the presidency, I feared exactly this kind of betrayal of Israel. (On a side note, this news occurs while the Obama administration is stripping references to radical Islam from our national security policy documents. Plainly put, the Obama administration is coddling our enemies while betraying our staunchest ally in the War on Terror.) It is plain that Israel must stand alone with only God to protect her against upcoming prophesied threats, so we continue to see prophecy unfold before our eyes. As exciting as this is in one sense, it’s very frightening in another.

Great turmoil lies ahead, my friends, and the United States is being positioned on the wrong side of the action. The Obama administration grows more brazen by the day in its hatred of Israel, while showing no sense of urgency whatsoever about the Iranian nuclear threat. It is my fervent belief that we are rapidly becoming more and more at risk of cataclysmic judgment from almighty God. He promised in Genesis 12:3 that he would bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse her, and His promises are ironclad.

Categories: endtimes, israel

the cost of disobedience

Joshua 9 is not often found in prophetic discussion venues, because it doesn’t predict a future event. What it does do is provide us with an illustration of the consequences of disobedience to God, consequences that can manifest thousands of years after the act of disobedience. Let’s set the scene:  The Israelites have been delivered out of Egypt by God. Due to disobedience, they’ve wandered the desert for decades. Now the conquest of the Promised Land is finally underway. Joshua is in charge of the military campaign to take the land and he’s gotten some pretty clear instructions from God on how to do it:

I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. 32 You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. 33 They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ex 23:31–33). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

…when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Dt 7:2). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

In both the above passages, God’s instructions were clear. Brutal, yes, but clear. For the most part, Joshua followed these instructions. The one notable exception took place at a place called Gibeon. The native Gibeonites had been watching what was going on with the Israelites.

But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4 they on their part acted with cunning
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jos 9:3–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

They saw that the Israelite military campaign was meeting with great success. They knew that the original inhabitants were being decimated, either killed or driven completely away. And rather than join the other peoples who were banding together against Israel and chance meeting the same fate, the Gibeonites decided it would be smarter to cook up a scheme that would allow them to stay where they were and not be killed by the conquering Israelites.

Knowing that the Israelites were not making deals to allow the original inhabitants to stay if their land was in the region, they pretended to be from a region far away.

…went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, 5 with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jos 9:4–5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Even though Gibeon was a short distance away (and definitely in the area given to Israel by God), the Gibeonites showed up at Joshua’s camp looking like they had come from the other side of the world, and acting that way, as well. Their offer was something like, “Gee, even though we’re from a distant land that you’re probably not interested in, we’d like to show our good faith and let you know that we won’t be any trouble to you. We’ll be good neighbors if you’ll just allow us to stay.” Rather than consulting God through prayer, Joshua decided all on his own that it couldn’t hurt to make a deal with these distant people and gave his word that they could stay. Then he found out the truth, that he’d been had. Although he essentially enslaved them to Israel, he did honor his word and let the Gibeonites stay. It seemed to be a minor mistake, since the land involved was small and the Gibeonites ended up subjugated to the Israelites. But was it really? Thanks to the excellent resource BibleAtlas.org, here’s a biblical-era map showing the location of Gibeon:

If we transpose the latitude and longitude from the biblical-era map above into Google maps, the map shown below shows us exactly where ancient Gibeon lies on a current map. See anything important around that location?

The region of ancient Gibeon is the area known today as the West Bank, and it has been “a snare” for Israel since its capture in 1967’s Six Day War. It has been and remains a bitter point of contention and source of continual bloodshed. God said to show no mercy and to not allow any of the original inhabitants to stay in the Promised Land. Joshua decided to act on his own and allowed the people to stay. Who thinks it’s a coincidence that this tiny parcel of land sits exactly on the spot that marks Joshua’s disobedience to God thousands of years ago? I do not.

Three In One

March 30, 2010 1 comment

Yellow: Israel’s enemies as enumerated in Psalm 83, Obadiah, and Isaiah 17
Green: Israel’s enemies as enumerated in Ezekiel 38

Upfront Disclaimer: I don’t believe in being dogmatic, either as a student of prophecy or in life. I welcome debate and challenge through comments and will respond to every comment as I can, both on-blog and off-blog. I praise the Lord for such dialog and am always open to someone pointing out an alternate interpretation of Scripture. I am also of course open to the Spirit pointing out a new interpretation. This blog and this life are journeys of learning!

RECAP:  Last time we talked about a confederacy of countries/regions/people enumerated in Psalm 83. This confederacy is likely to attack Israel prior to the War of Gog and Magog, and this attack is likely to be the next major event on the prophetic calendar.

At the end of the last entry, I mentioned the fact that some see Psalm 83 as a “prayer prophecy,” not an “action prophecy” in the fashion of Ezekiel 38. A careful reading of the language reveals that God is being petitioned for action against an anti-Israel confederacy made up of these countries/groups:

  • 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

We see that this confederacy is “laying crafty plans” against Israel, conspiring to effect the total destruction of God’s chosen people. What we don’t see is an account of action. We see nothing about an attack or counterattack. We see a prayer made to God about a potential attack, but we don’t see His answer. Or to be more specific, we don’t see action or Answer in Psalm 83. But what if Psalm 83 is just one part of a multifaceted prophecy? Let’s consider a couple passages from Obadiah:

8 Will I not on that day, declares the LORD,
destroy the wise men out of Edom,
and understanding out of Mount Esau?
9 And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman,
so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter.
_____
18 The house of Jacob shall be a fire,
and the house of Joseph a flame,
and the house of Esau stubble;
they shall burn them and consume them,
and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau,
for the LORD has spoken.
Obadiah focuses on judgment against Edom (the descendants of Esau, whom I believe to be today’s “Palestinians” and southern Jordanians). In Psalm 83, the “tents of Edom” are the first anti-Israel group mentioned. Psalm 83 describes an anti-Israel confederacy. Obadiah refers to Edom’s allies (confederates). So in both books we see Edom and a group of allies arrayed against Israel. Psalm 83 sets forth an elaborate prayer of petition to God against Edom and her allies. Obadiah portrays great judgment against, at the very least, Edom. Now let’s take a look at Isaiah 17.
An oracle concerning Damascus.
Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city
and will become a heap of ruins.
2 The cities of Aroer are deserted;
they will be for flocks,
which will lie down, and none will make them afraid.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Is 17:1–2). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Damascus, Syria, is the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city, but we see here that it will become a “heap of ruins.” Also mentioned are the cities around Aroer, which is in present-day Jordan; these cities are described as being completely deserted, which suggests that something calamitous has happened there, as well. (When we look back to Psalm 83, we see that both Syria and Jordan are identified as members of the anti-Israel confederacy enumerated there.)
Also of note in Isaiah 17 is this passage, which seems to indicate that Israel, although the winner of the war, herself takes great damage.
And in that day the glory of Jacob will be brought low,
and the fat of his flesh will grow lean.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Is 17:4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Tying It All Together

If we view the three passages separately, here’s what we have:  God is petitioned to protect Israel from a confederacy of enemies, but we don’t know how it turns out. Edom suffers a great judgment but we don’t have any context for that judgment. Similarly, Syria and Jordan suffer calamity, while Israel is damaged, but we have no context for how it happens.
If, however, we view Psalm 83, Obadiah, and Isaiah 17, as different parts of the same story, that story is logical and clear:  A group of Israel’s enemies, including modern-day Edomites, Syria, and Jordan, among others, form an alliance to destroy Israel. God is petitioned to fight this alliance on Israel’s behalf and does. The Edomites (Palestinians) are decimated. Damascus is reduced to rubble. A region of Jordan ends up deserted. Israel wins but takes heavy damage. Everything fits. And to repeat a point made in an earlier post, another benefit of the above scenario is that it perfectly sets the stage for Ezekiel’s War of Gog and Magog. Israel would have neutralized most, if not all, of her neighborly threats, and would be living with her greatest sense of security in decades.

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:

.

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.
.
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!