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Tisha B’Av

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]  

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.[4] The website “Rapture Ready” lists 29 judgments against the Jews from Av 9, 1312 BC to Av 9, 2020 AD.[5]

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.[6] (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,[7] 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[8] 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,[9] [10] 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.[11] Several hundred years later, the Prophet Ezekiel records seeing the glory of God depart the Temple.[12] 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.

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

Notes:


[1]  “Rosh HaShanah” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[2]  Read the book of Esther.

[3]  Read the apocryphal books of the Maccabees.

[4]  Numbers13:25-14:12

[5]  https://www.raptureready.com/2021/07/15/the-ninth-of-av-tisha-bav-by-jeff-van-hatten/

[6]  “This B’Av Rapture?” — https://www.rev310.net/post/tish-b-av-rapture

[7]  “A Pattern with a Hole” — https://www.alittlestrength.com/articles/2022/2206-pattern.htm

[8]  Matthew 24

[9]  Ezekiel 38-39

[10]  “Magog, Tubal, and Persia” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2022/07/24/magog-tubal-and-persia/

[11]  2 Chronicles 5:11-14

[12]  Ezekiel 9:3; 10:18

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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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Seven Lamps

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (Revelation 4:5)

Recently, I started reading my Bible through again beginning with the New Testament, but this time in Spanish. I arrived at Apocalipsis (Revelation) Chapter 4, and Verse 5 gave me pause. I am reading in the Reina-Valera Revisión 1960, which translates επτα πνευματα του θεου (the seven spirits of God) as “los siete espíritus de Dios.” What caught my attention is that “espíritus” was in lower case suggesting this is NOT the Holy Spirit.

I cross-referenced my KJV (1873), and it too had “spirits” in lower case. However, my e-Sword[1] electronic Bible that resides on my computer, uses the 1769 KJV and it capitalizes “Spirits.” Seeing the difference between the 1769 and 1873 made me look to the original 1611; it capitalized “Spirits” – “the seuen Spirits of God.” Looking further back to the 1599 Geneva Bible (the one used by the Pilgrims), I found “spirits” in lower case. Finally, I looked at the Reina-Valera Revisión 1909 and found “Espíritus” capitalized.

Obviously, the translators cannot agree if the Greek πνευματα refers to the Holy Spirit or spirits in general. Spanish is notorious for putting in lower case most words that we in English normally capitalize, like days of the weeks, names of months, and reserving capitals mostly for proper names only. It could be argued that the problem with English was the lack of orthographical standardization prior to the 18th and 19th centuries so that the translators could not agree to capitalize or not.

The question remains, are “the seven spirits of God” the Holy Spirit or is this referring to something else? Throughout the NT, the Holy Spirit is always spoken of in the singular, never in the plural. The only possible exceptions are here in Revelation 4:5, and in Revelation 1:4; 3:1; 5:6. That the “spirits” belong to God is perfectly clear, but to conclude that they refer to the Holy Spirit is rather nebulous.

I looked to some reputable prophecy teachers for insight. Clarence Larkin, whose commentary on Revelation is the foundation upon which others build, completely overlooked Revelation 4:5. He commented extensively on Verse 4 and skipped right over to Verse 6.[2] Apparently, he was unconvinced one way or the other. Ed Hindson, Professor of Religion and Dean of the Institute of Biblical Studies at Liberty University commented, “The seven lamps of fire depict the seven Spirits of God (cf. 1:4)”[3] without any further explanation. Note too that he capitalizes “Spirits” indicating that he believes these to be the One referring only to Revelation 1:4 for support.

Let us examine that verse. “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne” (Revelation 1:4, KJV 1769, emphasis mine). This is the first appearance of this phrase in the NT. Note the capitalization of “Spirits” for no apparent reason. Nothing in the text itself warrants the capitalization. For comparison, the 1873 KJV does not capitalize “spirits” nor does the 1611. The 1599 Geneva Bible does capitalize “Spirits” but adds a note which I will address later. So, we remain in a biblical fog on the meaning of “the seven spirits.”

Tim LaHaye, another well-respected prophecy teacher who is now in the presence of our Lord and knows all things perfectly now, suggested that “the seven Spirits of God” represent seven characteristics of the Holy Spirit as described in Isaiah 11:2: (1) the spirit of the Lord, (2) the spirit of wisdom, (3) the spirit of understanding, (4) the spirit of counsel, (5) the spirit of might, (6) the spirit of knowledge, and (7) the spirit of the fear of the Lord. LaHaye draws a convincing parallel of the seven attributes of the Holy Spirit, but why would John make such an ambiguous connection when elsewhere in the Revelation he refers to “the Spirit” in the singular?[4]

In all the 50 years that I have studied end-times prophecy, I have been taught and have come to believe that “the seven spirits of God” referred to the Holy Spirit. I am unconvinced now. Looking at this from a different perspective, I have arrived at the conclusion that “the seven spirits of God” represent the raptured churches that are before the throne of God. Here is how I arrive at this conclusion.

As I stated earlier, throughout the NT the Holy Spirit is always referred to in the singular, never in the plural. The Godhead a unified plurality composed of three single entities working separately and together simultaneously. (I know that is a difficult concept to grasp, but that is what the Bible teaches, and we must accept that by faith.) So, the Holy Spirit is always the Holy Spirit, not Holy Spirits. Therefore, in this verse (and also 1:4, 3:1 and 5:6), “the seven spirits of God” must refer to something else which helps explain the confusion about capitalization. Here’s what I think.

Revelation 4:5 says, “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God” (KJV 1873, emphasis mine). Have we been introduced to seven lamps before this point? Yes, indeed we have; the first time John sees Jesus. “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks … The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:12, 20, emphasis mine).

Someone might well say, “There is a big difference between a “lamp” and a “candlestick” (some modern translations say lampstand). Amen (‘tis true)! John saw Jesus standing in the midst of seven candlesticks (lampstands) representing the seven churches Jesus would address. The word in the Greek is luchnia, which is a lampstand or candelabrum designed for supporting a lamp (or torch). In 4:5, John sees seven lamps before the throne. The Greek word there is lampas, which is a torch or lamp. Thayer’s Greek Definitions adds further, “a lamp, the flame of which is fed with oil.” Isn’t that interesting? Oil is also symbolic of the Holy Spirit.

So, on earth, John sees Jesus in the midst of seven lampstands designed to support lamps, i.e., flaming torches. The Holy Spirit is often depicted as a flame of fire. That could be a study on its own, but by way of example, the flaming bush that Moses confronted in the wilderness was the Spirit of God.[5] The Spirit of God was seen as a pillar of fire by night as the children of Israel wandered in the desert.[6] Later, when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost, He appeared as “tongues of fire” over their heads.[7]

We know that the Holy Spirit indwells every true believer and by extension, He indwells every true church of Christ. So, as John sees Jesus in the midst of the seven churches (which represent all of His churches throughout the ages), he sees the lampstands, the churches, shining forth the lamps (torches) which are, in fact, One Spirit. Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15, emphasis mine). Now, John does not describe the candlesticks as having torches. However, it seems silly to think that Jesus would be in the midst of lampstands with no lamps burning. That, in fact, would be rather sad because it would mean that the Holy Spirit was not in the Churches. Why then would Jesus be in their midst?

Jesus then addresses the seven churches, which represent the churches of all the ages, in chapters two and three. Now we come to Chapter 4. John says, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne” (Revelation 4:1-2). Every good prophecy teacher I know suggests that this represents the Rapture of the Church. The first three chapters dealt with the Church on earth at this present time. Now, John is called up to heaven and from this point on, the Church is no longer seen until the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and she returns to earth with Christ.[8]

This is John’s first vision of heaven and the first thing he sees is God on His throne surrounded by (among other things) “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” (4:5). These seven lamps, I say, represent the seven churches that John saw on earth, which were raptured up with John when he heard the command, “Come up hither!” They are now just lamps. There is no further need for the lampstand, because they have done their job.

I found a note from the 1599 Geneva Bible on Revelation 1:4 very interesting. It says, “That is, from the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. This Spirit is one in person according to his subsistence: but in communication of his power, and in demonstration of his divine works in those seven churches, perfectly manifests himself as if there were many spirits, every one perfectly working in his own church” (emphasis mine). That goes along with what I have concluded.

Without completely rejecting the notion that “the seven spirits of God” refers to the Holy Spirit, I suggest that the “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne” are the seven churches that are “the seven spirits of God” through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Notes:


[1]  e-Sword: Free Bible Study for the PC – https://e-sword.net/

[2]  Clarence Larkin, The Book of Revelation Illustrated, (The Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, Philadelphia, 1919), pp. 38-41.

[3]  Edward Hindson, The Book of Revelation: Unlocking the Future, (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, 2002), p. 59.

[4]  Revelation 1:10; 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 11:11; 14:13; 22:17

[5]  Exodus 3:2

[6]  Exodus 13:21

[7]  Acts 2:1-4

[8]  Revelation 19

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Still Coming

… and said unto them, Occupy till I come.  (Luke 19:13)

As I wrote last week, “For many years now, I come to this time of year with a heightened sense of expectation.” More than ten years ago, I learned about the Feasts of the Lord.[1] By His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled first three spring feasts, and Pentecost fulfilled the fourth feast. The last three fall feasts remain unfulfilled, and the Feast of Trumpets comes first in that series. The Feast of Trumpets is significant because it heralds the new year. It is also a holy convocation announced by the blowing of trumpets that summons the people to the Temple.

The connection with the Feast of Trumpets and the Rapture of the Church comes by way of deduction derived from 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; and Revelation 4:1. These passages speak of the sound of a trumpet preceding the Rapture of the Church, so it seems logical that the call could come at the first fall feast that remains unfulfilled.

Although it might seem like a reasonable conclusion, the fact remains that nothing in Scripture tells us when the Rapture will take place. The Bible gives no signs to signal the Rapture. Instead, the Bible (the New Testament) teaches that the Rapture is imminent; it can happen at any time without warning. Jesus said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Matthew 24:44-46, emphasis mine).

In a different place, Jesus relayed a parable of a “A certain nobleman [representing Himself] went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:12-13, emphasis mine). Our “nobleman,” Jesus Christ, has gone to receive His kingdom and He has promised to return (John 14:1-3). We do not know when. In the meantime, He has commanded, “Occupy till I come.”

Another Rosh HaShanah, the Feast of Trumpets, came and went again, and the trumpet did not sound to call us home, but Jesus did not tell us when He would return. He just told us to watch, wait, and occupy until He comes. When He does come for us, He expects to find us taking care of His business. What will He find us doing?

The Rapture is imminent. It comes without warning and without signs. However, the Second Coming does have signs, and we see many of the signs falling into place. The greatest of these signs is the miraculous rebirth of the nation of Israel. As the signs of the last days[2] increase in number and intensity, we know the time is near, and if the Second Coming of Christ is near, the Rapture is closer. Are you ready? Are you occupied in the task He has given you or are you distracted by the cares of the world? He did not come last Tuesday, or Wednesday, but He may come today. How will He find you?

Reader, if you do not know the Savior, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1] “Rosh HaShanah” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[2]  Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21

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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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