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Now that the noise of the U.S. election is over…

December 5, 2012 1 comment

I admit it:  I got distracted during the election. Took my eye off the ball and got caught up in the notion that my country could change what I believe is its path toward inevitable decline. I should not have let that happen. The one thing that will change the U.S. for the better is healing by God. Unfortunately, we show little trend toward calling on his name for that to happen. If anything, the election made our direction crystal clear, and I believe the hands on the clock of this age are spinning faster and faster.

3,000 rockets are launched from Gaza at Israel in one week. What happens the next week? The world votes 138-9 to upgrade the international status of those doing the launching. The United States is facing dire financial straits, so what does the president do? Spends $4 million on a 3-week vacation to Hawaii. The new president of Egypt grants himself sweeping new dictatorial powers and the world acts surprised? Are you kidding? Morsi is now exactly who he has always been, an Islamist bent on domination.

Just five years ago, virtually anyone with a secular viewpoint would have laughed if someone predicted that in 2012 Turkey would be swinging hard to an Islamic mindset. They would have cackled like hyenas at the thought of Egypt and Libya, a couple of stable non-players on the geostage for decades, being transformed into Islamist hotspots. Some really interesting things to note? Turkey is almost certainly a major player in the coming War of Gog and Magog. Doesn’t seem quite so unlikely now, eh? Is there more, you ask? Alas, there be more! The Bible identifies the three countries that the antichrist will first take over as–hold on–Egypt, Libya, and biblical Ethiopia, which is almost surely modern Sudan. 

It has long been my belief that the rebirth of Israel in 1948 started the eschatalogical clock ticking in earnest. Geopolitical puzzle pieces required for endtimes events have been in constant motion, sliding around the globe, clicking into place. They’re not sliding around anymore. They’re flying around. Eyes up!

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Categories: Uncategorized

Darkness Descending

September 13, 2012 Leave a comment

First, credit for the phrase “darkness descending” goes to Joel C. Rosenberg. He used it tonight in his opening comments at the 2012 Epicenter Conference. It so perfectly fit what I’ve been feeling lately that I felt compelled to borrow it. For me, there’s an almost palpable sense of spiritual darkness descending not only on the Middle East, but also the U.S., a feeling that the endtime clock is accelerating by the day. Does anyone else feel this?

Much has happened on the prophetic front since my last post. (Two years, yikes! Sorry!) More detail later, but the ramifications of the “Arab Spring” come immediately to mind, as does the looming prospect of an Israeli strike on Iran. Obama’s surreal behavior with regard to Israel, Iran, and Islam in general is also a topic I hope to explore in more detail over the coming days.

The main thing I wanted to get out right now:  Time is short. Don’t wait. Be absolutely certain you have accepted salvation through Christ. Do it now. There is nothing more important. It is categorically impossible for anything to be more important. I’ve often thought about how we spend forty to fifty years in preparation for a few years of Earthly retirement. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but what is wrong is the fact that hundreds of millions of lost people would spend so much time and energy on so little, while barely passing a thought about their eternal fate.

Eternity. Think about it. Remember a time in your life when you were in terrible pain. For me, I’m remembering a couple bouts with kidney stones, remembering how excruciating the pain was as I literally writhed on the floor in vain search of relief for just a few seconds. The hours it took for me to make it to a doctor, get diagnosed, and get relief felt like they would never end . Choose your memory. Now imagine that you’re in pain like that all day. No doctor to help, no nurses around, just you and the pain. Pretty rough imagining, huh? What if it went on 24/7 for a week, a month, a year, a century? The thought of it terrifies me. And we haven’t even gotten around to imagining the worst part of it, the fact that there is no hope. None. There is no hope of the misery ending in a day or a year or a hundred years. Help is never going to come, period. After suffering through abject misery for a thousand years, you will know that you are not one millisecond closer to the end of it, because it’s an end that will never come. It’s just you and the misery. Forever.

Don’t believe in hell? Jesus did, talked quite a bit about the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Are you willing to bet your never-ending soul on it? Please don’t. I do believe a darkness is descending. Not only descending, but accelerating. Don’t get trapped in it. The alternative to never-ending darkness is the polar extreme, unbridled happiness and satisfaction forever. It’s free to you. All you have to do is believe and accept. Do it now. Right now.

Categories: Uncategorized

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?

Is Something Big Coming?

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

In the past several days, we’ve seen the following news related to Israel:

  • An urgent terror alert was issued by the government to warn Israelis who were visiting in the Sinai region to come home immediately, due to “concrete” information that a terror cell was planning to kidnap Israeli citizens in that area.
  • It’s been confirmed that Syria is transferring Scud missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon. These missiles, while notoriously inaccurate, nonetheless have the range and payload to put all of Israel at significant risk.
  • The Israeli government executed an unannounced nationwide emergency drill to simulate a number of simultaneous major emergencies around the country. The drill caused unprecedented traffic jams.
  • Russia announced that it would bring Iran’s Busheur nuclear reactor online in August. Because weapons-grade plutonium can be extracted from such a reactor, this puts Iran one step closer to The Bomb.
  • Hillary Clinton just made a speech in which she once more placed the responsibility for the peace process on Israel’s shoulders. This tired drumbeat is just the latest signal that the Obama administration is no friend to Israel. When it comes to earthly allies, Israel now stands alone.

It’s impossible to say what the above info-tidbits mean with regard to the prophetic outlook, but it’s interesting that so much seems to be going on with regard to the Holy Land. Is Israel about to attack targets in Lebanon because of the Scuds? Or is she getting ready to move against Iran’s nuclear facilities. I believe both are distinct possibilities for the not-distant future. We all need to keep our antennae up.

On the lighter side, Israel has banned the new Apple iPad because its WiFi signal is stronger than Israeli standards allow.

Categories: Uncategorized

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!

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.