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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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Magog, Tubal, and Persia

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”[1] 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.[2] The names are listed in the Table of Nations[3] 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 Togarmah of 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.[4] 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.”

Notes:


[1]  Ezekiel 38:8

[2]  Genesis 11:1-9

[3]  Genesis 10

[4]  “Russia, Iran, and Turkey Forming a Biblical Alliance” — https://gospelnewsnetwork.org/2022/07/22/russia-iran-and-turkey-forming-a-biblical-alliance/

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The End Is Not Yet

All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:8)

Jesus faced the final week of His earthly ministry, and the looming shadow of the cross lay just a few days ahead. He had just capped off His final conversation with the Jewish religious leaders with a scathing pronouncement. “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:33-36, emphasis mine). That is a pretty harsh accusation coming from the sweet and gentle Jesus! He associated them with the original serpent in the Garden of Eden.[1] Notice too, that He claims to be the One who sends prophets to them. Is it not God who sends the prophets? Well, I believe that is the point!

When we study the Old Testament, we learn of God’s struggle and patience with Israel and Judah. Jesus takes on that role as well. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:37-39, emphasis mine).

Jesus knows what lies ahead for Israel, and His disciples wanted to know that too. “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the 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).

Surprisingly, instead of launching right into a long discourse of the last days, Jesus issued a warning. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4, emphasis mine). It seems that the most outstanding feature of the last days is deception. Jesus speaks of wars and rumors of wars, ethnic group against ethnic group, and kingdom (country/nation) against kingdom, but that is just the beginning.[2] The main problem is deception. Jesus goes on to speak of the rise of false preachers and false christs, an increase in wickedness and the loss of love. These false christs and false prophets will perform wonders such that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,”[3] i.e., Christians.

We live in days of great deception. If you do not see it, you are either not paying attention, or you are deceived yourself. Our government lies to us. Our politicians lie to us. Government health agencies lie to us. The news media lie to us. We need to be alert and discerning these days to see the truth hidden among the lies.

The news media diverts our attention from the chaos around the world, but more importantly, the activity around the Middle East, the “cradle of civilization” and the focal point of end-times prophecy.

I follow several good end-times prophecy teachers, but one of my favorites is Amir Tsarfati,[4] founder and president of Behold Israel Ministry. Amir is a native Israeli and a reserve officer in the IDF (I believe he is a major, but not sure about his rank). His home in Israel overlooks the Jezreel Valley, aka, the Valley of Armageddon, so he has a very unique and acute perspective on end-times prophecy and how it relates to current events, especially in Israel and the Middle East. I follow Amir on the Telegram ™ app where he posts current events as they take place in the Middle East. The kind of coverage he provides will not be carried by the mainstream news media. For example, yesterday Amir shared this headline: “’War with Israel already started’ says Iranian FM spokesman: A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry told Maariv that a solution must be found for regional issues according to UN resolutions.”[5]

That is only one example. There are wars and rumors of wars all over the world. Since the fall of the great United States under the Biden regime, China is advancing undeterred on Taiwan, and making deals for lithium with the Taliban government of Afghanistan. North Korea is testing its hypersonic missiles. Iran is on the brink of developing a nuclear bomb, and threating Israel. Russia (Magog of Ezekiel 38) along with Turkey are well entrenched in Syria. Australia has gone totalitarian on its citizens (who cannot fight back because their firearms have been confiscated). To top it off, the world is invading our southern border.

With all of this going on, “the end is not yet.” In Matthew 24, Jesus describes the conditions before His second coming when He will set up His earthly reign for 1000 years.[6] What we are witnessing now are just “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). Things will get a lot worse during the seven-year Tribulation. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).

Except for the fact that we have friends and loved ones that are lost without Christ that will go through the Tribulation (if they do not die and go to hell first), Christians should not fear the trouble that is ahead for the rest of the world. Jesus promised, “I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10). We cannot know when that will be, but when we see what is taking place in the world, we can know that the time for our departure is very near.

Reader, if you are unsure of your prospect for eternity, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 3:1

[2]  Matthew 24:6-7

[3]  Matthew 24:11-12, 23-24

[4]  https://beholdisrael.org/about/amir-tsarfati/

[5]  https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/war-with-israel-already-started-says-iranian-fm-spokesman-680796

[6]  Revelation 20:1-7

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