Tag Archives: End-Times

The Peace of Jerusalem

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. (Psalm 122:6)

In Sunday School, our pastor is leading us through a study from John Owen’s book, Rules for Walking in Fellowship.

Owen was by common consent the weightiest Puritan theologian, and many would bracket him with Jonathan Edwards as one of the greatest Reformed theologians of all time. Born in 1616, he entered Queen’s College, Oxford, at the age of twelve and secured his M.A. in 1635, when he was nineteen. In his early twenties, conviction of sin threw him into such turmoil that for three months he could scarcely utter a coherent word on anything; but slowly he learned to trust Christ, and so found peace. In 1637 he became a pastor; in the 1640s he was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and in 1651 he was made Dean of Christ Church, Oxford’s largest college. In 1652 he was given the additional post of Vice-Chancellor of the University, which he then reorganized with conspicuous success. After 1660 he led the Independents through the bitter years of persecution till his death in 1683. —J. I. Packer[1]

In our pastor’s absence, I was asked to bring this Sunday’s lesson from the book. It is indeed a very good lesson entitled “Bearing One Another’s Burdens,” which is the 15th chapter in Owens’ book. At the end of the lesson, Owens gives directions on how to apply the principles in the lesson. For the first direction, Owens says, “A proper valuing, strong desire, and high esteem of the church’s prosperity, in every member of it (Ps. 122:6)” – (emphasis mine).

I do not know a lot about John Owens other than he was and is a highly regarded reformed theologian and Puritan preacher. I do not know what his views were on eschatology (the study of end times), however, in the quote above, his use of Psalm 122:6 in connection to the church is misapplied.

I do not want to disparage such a great man of God as John Owen, but the verse, when taken literally as it should be, is speaking of Jerusalem not the Church. A parallel between Jerusalem and the church can certainly be drawn here in the form of allegory, but to make a direct connection cannot be supported if one takes the words of Scripture literally. Jerusalem/Israel is not the Church, nor is the Church Jerusalem/Israel.

In Owens’ defense, he was living at a time when Israel did not exist and had not existed for over 1500 years. Many theologians of that time believed that God had rejected Israel for their rejection of their Messiah and that the Church had replaced Israel. However, not all theologians took that position. Those that did not hold to that “replacement theology” believed that God would restore Israel in the end times. They came to this conclusion from the clear, literal teaching of the Old Testament prophets. I do not know to which camp Owens belonged, so I will withhold judgement.

I will, however, attempt to point out the error in “replacement theology” as concisely as possible. When one studies the Old Testament prophets, one quickly finds God’s repeated promises to (1) scatter Israel to the four corners of the earth, (2) to draw them back into their own land, (3) to restore the nation of Israel once again, and (4) to save the remanent of Israel in the “latter days.” The following is just a small sample of God’s promises to Israel.

And the LORD shall scatter you [Israel] among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. (Deuteronomy 4:27)

And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you [Israel] to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see. (Deuteronomy 28:63-67)

And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (Deuteronomy 30:1-6)

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:2-4)

The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. (Isaiah 10:21-22)

Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. (Isaiah 43:5-7)

Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. (Isaiah 49:12-16)

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 54:17)

And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. (Isaiah 61:4-6)

Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God. Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: (Isaiah 66:8-10)

At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. (Jeremiah 3:17-18)

I will scatter them also among the heathen, whom neither they nor their fathers have known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them. (Jeremiah 9:16)

And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD … Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land. (Jeremiah 23:3-4; 7-8)

There are more. Ezekiel 36 speaks of the scattering and regathering of Israel to and from the nations. Ezekiel 37 presents Israel as a valley of dry bones that God brings together and raises up into a mighty army. In that chapter, God also promises that the “two sticks” (Judah and Israel, the divided kingdoms) will reunite as one.

All of these prophecies deal with the nation of Israel, not the Church. Why is this important? It is important because the integrity of God is at stake. If God can break His covenant with Israel, what guarantee is there that He will keep His promises to the Church? Face it, the “Church” these days these days is not a pristine virgin!

Therefore, because God is faithful, He will keep His promises to Israel and to the Church as well. Israel and the Church are two separate entities, but salvation is the same for both. When the psalmist, David, says “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” there is only One Peace that can effectively apply and that is the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.[2]

So, in a way, Owens was correct in applying the psalm to the Church by way of allegory, but not in a literal sense. We are to pray for the “Peace of Jerusalem” because only He can bring true peace to the world. When we pray for the “Peace of Jerusalem,” we pray that the Lord will soon come and set up His kingdom on earth. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). As for the Church, the kingdom, in part, has already come and dwells within the heart of every believer and the Church as a whole by way of the Holy Spirit who gives us peace. Then, one day, perhaps very soon, we will enjoy His physical kingdom here on earth along with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I can hardly wait!

Dear reader, do you know the Prince of Peace? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  About | John Owen

[2]  Isaiah 9:6

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Perilous Times

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)

At our Gideon camp meeting this Saturday, our Scripture reading was 2 Timothy 3. A visitor to our meeting commented how the passage sounded a lot like today. The way he said it was as if he had never heard that passage before. That is not surprising. Many Christians today live day to day unaware of what is going on around them. It is understandable. Life is full of activities that need to get done. Between work and family, who wants to spend time keeping up with world events when the news can be so depressing if it can be trusted at all? So, spending free time on entertainment of one kind or another is the preferred choice for spare-time activities.

Pastors that do not preach on end-times prophecy only add to the lack of awareness of most Christians. While the congregants may perceive the growing darkness in our country, they do not associate it with the “last days.” They may just assume that these days are no worse than those in the past;[1] many think that we are just more aware of them due to worldwide media coverage. While that may be partially true, the rapid worldwide moral decline is more pervasive, more diverse, and more rampant than anything the world has ever experienced except, perhaps, for the days of Noah or the days of Lot.[2]

So, what did our Gideon visitor hear that sounded so much like today? Paul said that the “last days” would be perilous (i.e., difficult, dangerous, furious) times.[3] Paul goes on to explain what he means by that. He says, “men shall be lovers of their own selves.” Surely men (and that includes women) have always been somewhat egocentric – thinking of themselves ahead of anyone else. But have we ever seen it to the extent that we see it now?

Paul goes on to list other characteristics of “last days” people. They are “covetous” – that is they are avarice, they love money and material possessions particularly when those things belong to someone else. That also includes someone else’s husband or wife.

“Last days” people are “boasters.” They like to “puff themselves” up about their possessions or achievements whether real or presumed. Closely related to that is “pride.” The Greek word here is huperēphanos, i.e., “showing one’s self above others, overtopping, conspicuous above others, pre-eminent.”[4] In other words, they think more highly of themselves than they ought.[5]

“Last days” people are “blasphemers,” “speaking evil, slanderous, reproachful, railing, abusive”[6] of all things pertaining to God. We see blasphemy everywhere these days, in entertainment, in “science,” and in politics (one particular party that has a donkey as its mascot comes to mind). “Last days” people violate the fifth of the Ten Commandments,[7] which says to honor father and mother; they are disobedient to parents. Going along with that, they are “unthankful” either to God or to their parents or anyone who has benefitted them. They are “unholy,” i.e., impious and wicked. “Holy” means to be “set apart,” especially for the service of God. These people are just the opposite.

Paul continues. “Last days” people are “without natural affection,” that is, “unsociable, inhuman, unloving.”[8] The most glaring evidence for this is the abortion issue these days. These “last days” people do not care about human life. They willingly murder unborn babies even up to the moment of birth, and many advocate for infanticide up to two years of age. At the same time, they want to save the panda, the polar bear, the whale, the planet, etc. – “without natural affection.”

“Last days” people are “trucebreakers.” They are untrustworthy. They lie without shame. They are “false accusers.” Think of the many “righteous” people that have been falsely accused by the FBI lately, while those that are true lawbreakers are set free. Paul says that “last days” people are “incontinent.” By that, he means that they lack self-control. Think of the many instances where we see on the news mobs breaking into stores taking anything they want. Think of angry, left-wing protestors that shout down opposing voices and refuse to listen to reason. Think about those that violently attack unsuspecting victims in public and in broad daylight. That last group, Paul defines as “fierce” meaning “not tame or savage.”

“Last days” people are “despisers of those that are good.” They “call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). To end the list, Paul names other characteristics synonymous with those already listed. “Last days” people are “Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4).

Dear reader, does that not sound like the world in which we live? The visitor to our Gideon prayer meeting surely thought so. This is not just true within our nation, but it permeates the entire world, which is why we hear of wars and rumors of wars[9] worldwide. These things have not always been this way. They are much more pervasive today, and they are converging together all at once. That is the major difference between now and then.

We are living in the “last days,” and it is only a matter of time before the Lord says that it is enough, and He puts a final end to it all. Dear reader, are you prepared to meet the Savior when He comes to clean up this mess? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Things Have Always Been This Way!” — Things Have Always Been This Way! | Ernie’s Musings (erniecarrasco.com)

[2]  Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:28-29

[3]  2 Timothy 3:1-4

[4]  Thayer’s Greek Definitions

[5]  Romans 12:3

[6]  Thayer’s Greek Definitions

[7]  Exodus 20:12

[8]  Thayer’s Greek Definitions

[9]  Matthew 24:6-7

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Things Have Always Been This Way!

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (2 Peter 3:3-4)

At breakfast with some friends (“brothers”) recently, the conversation turned to current world events and the rapid moral decline of our nation and the world in general. I suggested that this should not come as a surprise to us Christians because the Lord told us to expect these things in the “last days.”

One of my brothers quickly spoke up and said that we have always had these things: wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, natural disasters, etc. Things have always been this way since the beginning of history. I had to agree. These things have always been a part of history, and there has always been someone trying to conquer and rule the world. Indeed, there is nothing new about this. However, things are not exactly the same, and Israel is the key.

Jesus’ disciples “came unto him privately, saying, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). These men were Jews, and at that time, they had no idea about the Church that was to come. It was still a mystery to them. They probably did not even understand that Jesus must go to the cross. They believed in Jesus as the Messiah that was to come, but they still had the idea that He would establish an earthly kingdom that would throw off the yoke of the Roman empire. Their hopes would soon be dashed when the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus. All the disciples ran away in fear.[1]

In their minds, the disciples probably assumed that Jesus would set up His kingdom very soon followed by the end of the “world.” The word in Greek, aiōn, is better translated as “age.” Also, the Greek definite article, to, can also be translated as “this.” So, the question can be rendered, “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of this age?” They were looking and hoping for His kingdom now, and the end of this age now. Jesus’ response in the verses that follow focused on Jews and the nation of Israel. Jesus’ message followed the teachings of the Old Testament prophets, which maintained the end-times focus on Israel. The prophecies given to Daniel were intended for Israel. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24, emphasis mine). Daniel also wanted to know when these things would come to pass, but those details were denied to him. “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4, emphasis mine).

Even though end-times prophecy focuses on Israel, it carries worldwide implications. The events Jesus and the prophets described will affect the entire world, but the intent is “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24). The greatest “transgression” for Israel was the rejection of their Messiah – bad for them, good for us Gentiles. The “end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness” comes when “the most Holy” (i.e., Jesus) is anointed as King of kings and Lord of lords. That happens at the “end of this age,” and at the beginning of the Millennium.[2]

Going back to my brother’s scoff that, “things have always been this way,” unless one is just not paying attention, things in this world have deteriorated exponentially in just the last 10-20 years. Even non-believers can see it. The World Economic Forum (WEF)[3] has plans for a one-world government, and they proudly publish their plans for all to see. Wars and rumors of wars abound with Russia threatening nuclear war, North Korea exercising its ballistic missiles over the sovereign country of Japan, China flexing its military muscles against the tiny, island country of Taiwan, Iran building up its nuclear arsenal as it continues to spew out threats against Israel and the United States, etc. Meanwhile, Israel seeks peace with Lebanon (Hezbollah, a proxy of Iran) by giving up its claim to its Mediterranean gas fields in exchange for peace.

While all of this is going on, economies are collapsing all over the world. Europe lost its gas supply line from Russia just as winter begins to set in. Many lives will be lost because people cannot heat their homes. The loss of gas may put a greater demand on Europe’s electrical grid, which could create other problems with food storage or food preparation. Speaking of food, droughts all over the world threaten the food supply and raise the specter of famine and starvation. All of this is of little concern to the WEF because they plan to reduce the world population to save the planet (for themselves).

The moral decline in the world presents itself in all kinds of sexual perversion, the slaughter of unborn babies, and senseless violence. As Jesus put it, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). We are seeing all of these things coming together, and in deference to my brother, it has never been like this before.

The existence of the nation of Israel makes the key difference in the way things have always been and what is happening today. When Israel rejected and crucified their Messiah, God ended His dealings with them (temporarily) in 70 A.D. when the Romans leveled the Temple in Jerusalem and razed the city. Jews scattered to the four corners of the globe and never returned to their land. In their diaspora, they maintained their national and ethnic identity and all of their Jewish customs and traditions. That cannot be said of any other people groups having been expatriated from their native land. In addition, even though it was not practiced, they managed to keep their native language alive. Then, after almost 2000 years, God called them back to their promised land just as foretold by the prophets, and they continue to come from all corners of the world. The rebirth of Israel on May 14, 1948, was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:8).

None of the end-times prophecies in the Old Testament can come to pass without Israel being in place. Even Jesus, referring to Daniel’s prophecy,[4] said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16, emphasis mine). The “abomination of desolation” cannot take place without a Jewish Temple, and there can be no Temple without the nation of Israel. Everything for the Temple to be built is ready. All that is needed now is for the world (especially the Arab world) to give the Okay for its construction on the Temple Mount.

Things have always been this way, except that now, all these things are increasing (as labor pains) with more frequency and intensity. However, the key to it all, which has not always been this way, is that Israel is in place, ready for the remaining prophecies to fall into place.

Jesus directed His Olivet Discourse[5] to the Jews. All end-times prophecies have to do with Israel. Of course, they have worldwide implications. What happens to Christians in the end-times? We will not be here. Daniel’s prophecy[6] calls for 70 x 7 or 490 years “determined upon thy people [i.e., Israel] and upon thy holy city [i.e., Jerusalem]” (Daniel 9:24). From the time that Cyrus gave permission to rebuild the Second Temple to the day that Jesus was crucified, 483 of those years were fulfilled to the day. Seven years remain, which is the Tribulation, aka “the time of Jacob’s trouble.”[7] That is the time described by Jesus in His Olivet Discourse and in most of the book of Revelation. That is a time for God’s wrath upon a sinful, unrepentant world, and a time to redeem Israel. Christians are promised to be kept from the “wrath of God”

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:6, emphasis mine)

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: (Colossians 3:5-6, emphasis mine)

And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10, emphasis mine)

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:9, emphasis mine)

Before going to the cross, Jesus promised to return for His own to take them to be with Him in His Father’s house. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). Jesus will come to take His children and keep them from the “wrath” to come. “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, emphasis mine).

All the things we see taking place tell us that Jesus’ Second Coming is very close. And if His coming is close, the time to call His children out of this world and escape the “wrath to come” is even closer. Are you ready? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50

[2]  Revelation 20:1-7

[3]  The World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

[4]  And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:27, emphasis mine)

[5]  Matthew 24

[6]  Daniel 9:24-27

[7]  Jeremiah 30:7

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Again, Are We There Yet?

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (Matthew 24:6)

Last Sunday evening, September 25, 2022, was Rosh HaShanah,[1] the Feast of Trumpets. For the first time in many years, I was no longer excited about that event. In the past, this time of year elevated my anticipation for our Lord’s return to snatch up His Bride, the Church. Because the Lord fulfilled the first four spring feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost) and has not fulfilled the last three fall feasts (Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles), it made sense to me that the Feast of Trumpets (the next on the calendar) was the perfect time for the Lord to sound the trumpet and call us home.

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, emphasis mine).

“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, emphasis mine).

So, it seemed to me, that the Feast of Trumpets was the perfect time for Jesus to take His Bride to His Father’s house. However, for the last twenty or so years, I have been disappointed (but not discouraged) every year when Rosh HaShanah came and went because the Rapture did not take place. Recently, Amir Tsarfati[2] convinced me that the Feasts are intended for Israel, not for Christians. Jesus will fulfill all the fall feasts but at His Second Coming, when He returns at the end of the seven-year Tribulation as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.[3] That makes the Rapture of the Church imminent; it can happen at any time without warning. There are no signs to predict the Rapture.

So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matthew 24:33-36, emphasis mine)

This year, I was not disappointed when Rosh HaShanah came and went without the Rapture, because I understand that it should catch us by surprise, but not unaware or unprepared.

Jesus told us that “when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33). Luke quoted Jesus in his Gospel saying, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28, emphasis mine).

For what things should we be looking? The biggest hint is the nation of Israel, which God promised to restore after a long period of diaspora. God speaking through the prophet Ezekiel said, “For I will take you from among the heathen [i.e., “the nations”], and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land” (Ezekiel 36:24). The Old Testament prophets all make many similar predictions. Ezekiel also presents a vision of Israel as a valley full of dry bones that come together and rise up as a mighty army.[4] In the same chapter, God gives Ezekiel a vision of two sticks – Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Judah (the Southern Kingdom) – that separate, but in the end, God brings them back together.[5]

On May 14, 1948, God fulfilled that prophecy and a nation was born in a day![6] On the day of its birth, defenseless and without an army or air force, the Arab nations that surrounded it attacked with the intention of annihilating the newborn nation. However, God’s plan was not to be thwarted, and God saved Israel and defeated its enemies. The greatest sign that our “redemption draweth nigh” is the nation of Israel.

So, that was more than 70 years ago! Well, friend, that is a generation, and Jesus promised that “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34, emphasis mine). Many of Jesus’ predictions of the last days (which will intensify in the seven-year Tribulation) are taking place right now and getting worse. Just read the Olivet Discourse recorded in Matthew 24 and consider the condition of the entire world today!

Ezekiel 38-39 predicts the alliance of Russia, Turkey, and Iran (Persia) along with their allies. Russia is called “Magog” and the “prince” of Magog is Gog. To the Russian leader, God says, “… 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, … in the latter years thou shalt come into the land [i.e., “Israel”] that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them” (Ezekiel 38:3-4, 8, emphasis mine).

Very recently, due to a weakened America, “Magog” (Russia) invaded the sovereign country of Ukraine. Just a few days ago, Russia annexed four of Ukraine’s eastern territories. At about the same time, the two gas pipelines that supply Russian gas to Europe, Nord Stream 1 & 2, exploded mysteriously. No “accident” occurred to cause the explosions; the explosions were man-made. The POTUS, prior to the “annexations” made claims, whether intentional or as a mental slip of the tongue (as our President is prone to do), that if Russia annexed the Ukrainian territories, “we” would put a stop to Nord Stream 1 & 2? Did the US blow them up? No one has admitted to it; however, Poland blames the US. There are some that believe Russia blew up the pipelines. But, does that make any sense?

Regardless of who is to blame, the fact remains that Europe is in dire straights and winter is coming. Then comes Israel to the rescue. In recent years, Israel has discovered and developed large gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea and is prepared to sell gas to Europe by way of Egypt. They will pipe the gas to Egypt and Egypt will pipe it to Europe as well as liquifying and selling the gas in liquid form to Europe. What will Russia think of that? Could this be the “hooks in the jaw” that God uses to turn Gog’s attention to Israel? It could be.

Russia, Turkey, and Iran all have troops stationed in Syria on Israel’s northern border. The stage is set for Ezekiel’s Gog of Magog war. Will it take place before the Rapture, and we get to witness it, or will it take place after the Rapture? We cannot know for sure, but we can know that with the conversion of all the things of which Jesus spoke all over the world and this very intriguing development, we can be sure that our “redemption draweth nigh.”

Reader, are you prepared for that event? After Jesus takes all the true Christians out of the earth, there will come of time of trouble like the world has never experienced. It is called the seven-year Tribulation. If you think things are bad now, you ain’t seen nothing yet! You do not want to be around for what is coming. Ask Jesus to save you from God’s wrath that is to come. Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Rosh HaShanah” — Rosh HaShanah | Ernie’s Musings (erniecarrasco.com)

[2]  Amir Tsarfati of Behold Israel.com: Behold Israel – A Non Profit Teaching Ministry

[3]  Revelation 19:11-16

[4]  Ezekiel 37:1-14

[5]  Ezekiel 37:15-28

[6]  Isaiah 66:8

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There’s Only One Fix

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[1] 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”[2] (astrology). He built altars to pagan gods in the Temple and to “all the host of heaven.”[3] “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[4] and was succeeded by his son Amon.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] 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,[9] 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.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Are you ready to meet Jesus? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  2 Kings 21:1-18

[2]  2 Kings 21:3

[3]  2 Kings 21:4-5

[4]  2 Kings 21:1

[5]  2 Kings 21:19

[6]  2 Kings 21:20

[7]  2 Kings 22-23

[8]  https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/irs-starting-point-4600-guns-5-million-rounds-of-ammo-hitman-suits/ar-AA10BsNV

[9]  Philippians 3:20

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