Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1)
This verse always evokes memories of my mother rousting me out of bed for school on cold winter mornings with these encouraging words from Scripture, but these words are more than motivators for facing a new day. On this eve of Rosh Hashanah, (September 16, 2012), they indeed offer hope for the coming Kingdom of God.
The command is given to “arise” in preparation to move forward as when God commanded Joshua: “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel” (Joshua 1:2). The children of Israel had lost the only leader they had ever known, and now Joshua had some pretty big sandals to fill as the new leader of Israel. What lay ahead was filled with uncertainty. His only strength and sense of security was based solely on the promise of God.
Gideon was given a similar command: “And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand” (Judges 7:9). Gideon was not a warrior. In fact, when our Lord first called upon him and said, “The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12), Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress, hiding from the Midianites. I can imagine Gideon looking around and saying, “Who? Me?” Yet, through a series of tests, Gideon learned to trust God’s leading, and, with just a small handful of men, defeat the Midianites who had been oppressing his people.
Sometimes the battle is spiritual: “But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron? (2 Kings 1:3). Speaking truth in a hostile environment is never easy, yet the boldness to do so came not from within Elijah, but from his dependence on God.
In these days, we are seeing a growing antagonism toward Christians, and it only promises to get worse, as the days of His return draw ever closer. Whatever the call, we are instructed to “shine” as luminaries in the darkness that covers all the earth (Isaiah 60:2) “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). We can shine “for [our] light has come.” We shine not in our own strength, “but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee” (v. 2). The promise is not futuristic; it is present: “the glory of the LORD is [now, in the present] risen upon thee.” So, rise and shine!
And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. (Genesis 9:11)
Twenty-one years ago, the world gazed in shock as they watched endless replays of passenger jets flying into the Twin Towers in New York City. If that was not horrific enough, not much later another passenger jet flew into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A fourth plane, destined either to the White House or the US Capitol building, crashed in a field near Shanksville, PA as a brave group of passengers fought to wrest control of the airplane from hijackers. The actions of those brave passengers cost them their lives and the lives of the others onboard, but it prevented a much worse outcome if the terrorists had succeeded.
Today we remember the events of that fateful day we have come to call 9-11. For a very brief time following those events, our nation was united as never before since at least World War II. For a while, Americans filled the pews of churches and for a moment, there was a feeling of revival. However, the revival was short-lived, and our nation quickly followed the path of the rest of the world into the depths of sin and depravity as this nation has never seen.
The list of sins is long and putrid, but the one that captured my mind was spot-lighted by 9-1-1; it is the sin of nature or earth worship. By earth-worship, I am referring to the Globalists’ agenda to “save the planet” from man-made climate change. The plan to save the planet is Satanic. From the beginning of creation, Satan has wanted to destroy the human race who was created in the image of God. Satan hates God, and he hates God’s most prized creation – the human race.
Globalists are not so much interested in saving the planet as they are in eliminating the majority of the human race and controlling those who remain. If they were serious about their concern for the planet, they would set the example by riding their bicycles rather than flying in private jets, and they would build their carbon-hogging mansions as far away from the sea coasts as possible in case the ocean levels really rise as they claim. However, climate change or global warming is not really their concern. They fancy themselves as the ruling elites, and they desire to lord it over a few peasants that they can control. They no longer hide their intentions. If anyone is interested in knowing their plans, they have published it freely on the website of the World Economic Forum.
For the child of God, this should not cause fear; rather it should cause us to watch and give us hope in the promises of God.
Genesis 9 records the end of the Global Flood where God destroyed all air-breathing land-dwelling creatures on earth, animals and humans. The flood waters receded from the land surface of the earth and Noah and his family and all the animals onboard the Ark came out to walk on dry land for the first time in over a year (371 days). The first thing Noah did when he came out was to build an altar and offer burnt sacrifices to the Lord. “And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:21-22, emphasis mine).
The Globalists seek to stoke the flames of fear with their predictions of global catastrophe (which, by the way, they are causing by their draconian measures) due to climate change – increased carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere causing global warming, drastic weather changes bringing about crop failures, famines, and disease. However, note the promise of God – while the earth remains the weather will not change. God, not man, controls the weather.
Globalists also predict that rising global temperatures will cause the ice caps to melt. As a result, the ocean levels will rise and flood all the coastlands. Skeptics often ask, “If there was really a global flood, where did all the water go?” “We now know, of course, that the earth has plenty of water to launch a global flood. It has been calculated that if the earth’s surface were completely flat, with no high mountains and no deep ocean basins, that water would cover the earth to a depth of about 8,000 feet.”
The Globalists’ problem is that they do not know the Creator God who controls the elements and keeps His promises. “And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11). Granted, the earth has experienced many devastating floods but never has there been a planet-covering, earth-destroying flood like the one recorded in Scripture.
The destruction of this planet is yet future, but it will not be from ocean levels rising or by warming or cooling temperatures. There will be famines and pandemics, and people will die as a result of wars. However, the world will end according to God’s plan, not by human mismanagement of the environment. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up … Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Peter 3:10, 12).
Once again, those who have placed their trust in Christ need not worry. “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). That time is nearer today than ever before. We have God’s Word on it.
Reader, Jesus is coming soon. Are you prepared to meet Him? If you are not a member of His body, you will miss Him when He comes. Don’t do that! Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”
Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. (2 Kings 23:26)
Unlike Israel, the ten tribes that composed the northern kingdom, Judah had a mixture of good and bad kings. The bad kings were those who led Judah into the practice of idolatry. King Manasseh was arguably the worst king Judah ever had. Of him, Scripture records that “Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Kings 21:9). He “worshipped all the hosts of heaven” (astrology). He built altars to pagan gods in the Temple and to “all the host of heaven.” “And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger” (2 Kings 21:6). So …
Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; Because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day. (2 Kings 21:11-15, emphasis mine)
Manasseh reigned for 55 years and was succeeded by his son Amon. Amon was 22 years old when he came to the throne and reigned for only two years. He was every bit as wicked as his father. A coup arose against Amon, and his servants assassinated him and installed his eight-year-old son Josiah as king.
Josiah reigned for 31 years. Of him Scripture records, “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (2 Kings 23:25, emphasis mine). Josiah undid all that his father and grandfather had done. He destroyed all the altars to pagan gods and cleansed the Temple. He executed all the pagan priests and all those that practiced witchcraft. However, even with all the good Josiah did, God did not alter His plan to destroy Judah and Jerusalem. “Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there” (2 Kings 23:26-27, emphasis mine).
The kings that followed Josiah were all wicked and continued to plunge Judah into the sin of idolatry, which included the practice of child sacrifice. As a result, Judah was conquered by the Babylonians. Jerusalem and the Temple were razed and a remanent of the people was taken captive to Babylon for 70 years.
When I read the history of Israel in the Bible, I cannot help but see our nation, the United States of America, falling into the same pattern. Israel, as a nation, has one great advantage over the USA. Before Israel became a nation, the first time, God made an irrevocable and unconditional, promise to Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. “And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever” (Genesis 13:14-15, emphasis mine). “Forever” has no limit. Scripture records that Israel has done nothing to warrant God’s favor and the only reason they hold a favored place comes only from God’s faithfulness in that He will not withdraw the promise that He made to Abraham. That should give those who trust in Him assurance that He will keep His promise to us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine).
I know of no place where God has made a similar promise to the USA. However, America, from the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock and the drafting of the Mayflower Compact, was founded on the Word of God. That fact is carved in stone on almost every national monument in Washington DC. However, for over 100 years our nation has slowly drifted from these Biblical principles. Then, over the last 50 years, the moral and spiritual decline has accelerated exponentially. We have cast God and His Word out of our schools and out of the public square. We kill our babies before they can experience life and even after they are born. We have redefined what it is to be male or female, and abominable sexual practices are celebrated and even encouraged. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12). However, America’s god is not the Lord, and we have not been chosen as His own inheritance like Israel. So, what right do we have to expect God to preserve our nation?
Like Israel, the USA, nationally, has fallen into idolatry – child sacrifice, sexual perversion, worship of the creation, etc. Like Judah, we had more than one good “king.” Donald J. Trump was the last one. I really do not care whether you like Trump or not, but he, like Josiah, overturned a lot of bad policies and made our nation prosperous during his short tenure as President. I will take his “mean tweets” over what we have now any day. The evil “left,” including the Demonrats and many Republicans, hates him because he threatened their wicked schemes. They hate him so much that they weaponized the FBI in order to destroy him and prevent him from running as President again. Why do they hate him so much? Because they prefer the darkness to the light, and they do not want their evil deeds exposed. They also hate anyone who supports Trump and have weaponized the IRS to go after his supporters (although they would never admit that). Recently, the House passed a bill to hire 87,000 IRS agents and arm them with 4600 guns and 5-million rounds of ammo. Why does the IRS need armed agents?
I do not expect Trump to get reelected. If he does manage to survive this shameful sham of an investigation and run for President, I, for one, will vote for him. However, I expect that the Dems will steal the election again.
America does not have the promise of God that He will preserve this nation. I have no hope for the salvation of America from the abyss into which it is plunging. I often hear Christians quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 (out of context) and attempt apply it to the USA. However, the USA is not “God’s people.” Christians are. However, our citizenship is in heaven, not here on earth.
God’s judgment is on our nation (and the world), and there is only one fix for this sick and troubled world. That is for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to return and set up His kingdom here on earth. We see the “signs of the times” converging and falling into place. The time is getting short. America, and the world in general, is becoming a dark, dark place and our only hope is Jesus.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
At the posting of this article, August 6-7, 2022, Jews everywhere solemnly observe Tisha B’Av or the Ninth of Av. Av is the fifth month on the Jewish calendar which begins with the month of Nissan. Christians, for the most part, are ignorant of Jewish observations and feasts; but the same God that gave observations to the Jews is not a God who does things arbitrarily or at random and without purpose, and He does not change. So, even though Christians are under a different “covenant” than the Jews, that does not render these observations meaningless. It behooves Christians to study and understand the Jewish feasts and observances because, while they may not directly apply to us, they have great significance in our understanding of our God.
Tisha B’Av, like Purim and Chanukah, was not given by God as one of His seven Feasts of the Lord. These “observances” were started by the Jews as memorials to God’s intervention in the life of the nation. Purim looks back to God’s salvation of the Jews that were in Babylon from the hand of Haman. Chanukah commemorated the miraculous preservation of the oil in the menorah for eight days at the cleansing of the Temple after it was desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes.
Tisha B’Av, however, reminds the Jews of God’s judgments on the nation for one sin or another. These judgments always fell on the Ninth of Av beginning when 10 of the 12 spies sent to spy out the Promised Land returned with a bad report. The website “Rapture Ready” lists 29 judgments against the Jews from Av 9, 1312 BC to Av 9, 2020 AD.
Perhaps the most significant judgments to the Jews were those involving the Temple. The Babylonians razed Solomon’s Temple on Av 9, 586 BC. The Romans destroyed the second temple, Herod’s Temple, on Av 9, 70 AD. Pete Garcia, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, suggests the possibility (not the inevitability) that the Rapture of the Church could take place this year on Tisha B’Av. (I recommend that you read his article in the link provided below. He goes into much greater detail than I plan to go into here.) Pete got his idea from Greg Lauer, another student and teacher of end-times prophecy. (I recommend that you read his lengthy article as well. He goes into great detail to develop his theory and he employs sound logic in doing so. You can find the link to his article in the endnotes below.)
In brief, here is the summary of the idea that the Rapture could take place on Tisha B’Av – perhaps even today, August 7, 2022. By way of disclaimer, allow me to emphasize that neither of these men are setting a date for the Rapture, which “of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). We cannot know the exact day or the hour; however, we can observe the signs and the season so that we should be ready. Therefore, Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13). How can we watch if we do not know what to watch for?
We already see many of the signs of which Jesus spoke taking place: Israel reborn, wars and rumors of wars, famines, and pestilences, economic collapse, worldwide hatred of Israel, the formulation of the Gog of Magog alliance, etc. These “labor pains” are increasing in number and frequency alerting us to the soon return of Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. However, before that happens, the Church must be removed, and that is where the idea of the Rapture on Tisha B’Av comes to play.
Here is the idea in a nutshell. When Solomon dedicated the first temple, the glory of God filled the Temple to the point that the priests could not minister in the Temple. Several hundred years later, the Prophet Ezekiel records seeing the glory of God depart the Temple. The Babylonians then entered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple of God on Av 9, 586 BC.
After 70 years of captivity, the Medo-Persian Empire conquered Babylon and Cyrus allowed the Jews to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. There is no record that this second temple enjoyed the filling by the glory of God. It was not until the time of Christ that the Temple experienced the presence of God in the form of Jesus Christ. Recall how at the cleansing Jesus declared, “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:13, emphasis mine). Of course, we know what happened later. The Jews rejected and crucified their Messiah during Passover, 30 AD (or 33 AD, the exact year is debatable). As a result, the Romans destroyed the Temple on Av 9, 70 AD.
The First Temple enjoyed the presence of God the Father. The Second Temple enjoyed the presence of God the Son. There is yet a Third Temple that enjoys the presence of God the Holy Spirit. Where might that Temple be? “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Holy Spirit resides within believers, the Church, the Bride of Christ. This Temple restrains Satan’s forces on earth and must be removed in order for God’s judgment to come upon the God-rejecting world. “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now [restrains] will [restrain], until he [i.e., the Holy Spirit] be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8, emphasis mine). When the Holy Spirit is taken “out of the way,” He will take His Temple with Him. This is what we understand as “the Rapture” of the Church.
So, since God does not do things arbitrarily or at random, it makes sense that the “Third Temple,” belonging to the Holy Spirit should also be removed, like the first two, on Tisha B’Av. If not today, then next year, or the next.
No man knows the day or the hour when Jesus will call His Bride home. As His Bride, we should be prepared daily for Him to call us home. It does not necessarily have to be on Tisha B’Av. It could be on Rosh HaShanah, or perhaps on Pentecost or any day when we least expect it. The point is to be ready and watching daily. We have work to do, and when our Lord calls us home, we want Him to find us working to increase His kingdom.
Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee. (Ezekiel 38:9)
The prophet Ezekiel speaks of a time “in the latter years” when a coalition of nations will come against Israel. The prophecy names the nations by their names assigned at time of the dispersion at the Tower of Babel. The names are listed in the Table of Nations and illustrated in the map above. Since that time, the names of these nations have changed many times over so that we no longer recognize them as those named by the prophet. However, God does not lose track, and He does not forget.
So, as we study Ezekiel’s prophecy in Chapters 38 and 39, it requires that we look at a map depicting where these nations ended up when they were originally dispersed. Let us examine Ezekiel’s list and compare it to the map above. I will emphasis the significant names.
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmahof the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. (Ezekiel 38:1-6)
Note, first of all, that “Gog” is a person, not a nation. He is a “chief prince” from the nation of Magog. When we look at the map (above), we find that Magog, Meshech, and Gomer are in the region we recognize as Russia.
Tubal we recognize as modern-day Turkey. The “house of Togarmah” (not shown on this map) is also in the “north quarters” of Turkey and also in modern-day Georgia (Russia). Persia was known as Elam prior to Ezekiel’s time, and we find it on the map in the area of modern-day Iran.
Ezekiel lists the lands of Cush and Lud (from Genesis 10) as Ethiopia and Libya. As we look at the map, we observe that Cush is further south than modern-day Ethiopia and corresponds more closely to modern-day Somalia.
It is worth noting that all of these nations are Islamic nations with the exception of Russia, and even Russia has a high Muslim population.
Bringing Ezekiel’s prophecy forward to our day and time, we find that the prophecy speaks of a coalition of three main nations: Russia, Turkey, and Iran with Libya and Somalia in alliance. God says to these nations, “I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth” (Ezekiel 38:4, emphasis mine). “Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land [Israel], thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee. Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land” (Ezekiel 38:9-12, emphasis mine).
According to Ezekiel’s prophecy, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and their allies will invade Israel “to take spoil and to take prey.” Will this take place before or after the Rapture of the Church? Prophecy experts differ in opinion about this point. However, it appears that the stage is being set for that event.
On Friday of this week, July 22, 2022, the leaders of Russia, Turkey, and Iran met for the purpose of forming an alliance. We have long known of the animosity Iran has toward Israel. Turkey has not necessarily been a friend to Israel. Lately, Russia’s relationship with Israel has cooled over Israel’s support for Ukraine. Additionally, Russia has stopped the migration of Jews from Russia to Israel. To top it off, Israel is on the verge of exporting its natural gas to Europe, which has the potential of cutting into Russia’s profits. The three nations are not happy with Israel and neither are their allies, Libya and Somalia.
It seems that it is only a matter of time before the “Gog of Magog” invasion takes place. Will the Bride of Christ witness this event? I do not know. What I do know is that the invasion will fail.
And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face. For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man’s sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD. (Ezekiel 38:18-23, emphasis mine)
God will intervene for Israel – not because Israel is a Godly nation, but because God is faithful to His promise. He said He would do it, and He will do it. And His purpose in doing so is so that Israel and all the world will witness Israel’s miraculous deliverance. “Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 38:23, emphasis mine).
For the Christian, this should be encouraging news. We are seeing prophecy being fulfilled right before our eyes, and that means our Lord’s return to call us home is very near. Are you prepared to meet Him? If you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”