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WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT ISRAEL?

What’s the big deal about Israel?

Exclusive: Greg Laurie looks at prophecy predicting Jewish state will be friendless

by Greg Laurie

Why is Jerusalem such a big deal in world news? Why aren’t we talking about Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, or some other major capital in another part of the world? Why this little city?

I will tell you why. Because God said that in the last days, Jerusalem would play a key role: “I will make Jerusalem like an intoxicating drink that makes the nearby nations stagger when they send their armies to besiege Jerusalem and Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock. All the nations will gather against it to try to move it, but they will only hurt themselves” (Zechariah 12:2–3 NLT

Scripture also foretold in Ezekiel 37 that the Jews would be regathered in their land, and this prophecy was fulfilled when Israel became a nation on May 14, 1948. After Ezekiel 37 comes Ezekiel 38, which speaks of an attack against Israel by a large nation to the north of the Jewish homeland, accompanied by a number of allies invading Israel from every direction. Scripture emphasizes multiple times that this will happen in the last days. This is still in the future.

In speaking of Israel’s enemies, Ezekiel 38:8–11 offers an interesting detail:

“A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel.

“You and all your allies – a vast and awesome army – will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud.”

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘At that time evil thoughts will come to your mind, and you will devise a wicked scheme. You will say, “Israel is an unprotected land filled with unwalled villages! I will march against her and destroy these people who live in such confidence!”‘”

These people who live in such confidence? Can you imagine that statement being made right after the Holocaust? Hardly. Can you imagine that statement being made after Israel was established as a nation, or even after the 1967 war? Not really. But today Israel has one of the most powerful and effective military forces on the face of the earth. They are not the largest, but they are known for their military prowess and for their military intelligence. And for quite a long time now, they have had nuclear weaponry. That is why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stood before the United Nations and made it very clear that, if necessary, Israel will exercise a military option to protect herself. So I think Israel does live within a certain degree of confidence today that they have never known historically.

Some might say, “Well, who cares about what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says? He’s just another crazy tyrant.”

But this is a man who makes threats and has the ability to carry out those threats. Therefore, Israel takes this very seriously, and they have stated they will defend themselves.

In his address to the United Nations in September, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Iran’s apocalyptic leaders believe that a medieval holy man will reappear in the wake of a devastating Holy War, thereby ensuring that their brand of radical Islam will rule the earth. That’s not just what they believe. That’s what is actually guiding their policies and their actions.”

And that is true. Because in his recent address to the United Nations, Ahmadinejad stated, “God Almighty has promised us a man of kindness, a man who loves people and loves absolute justice, a man who is a perfect human being and is named Imam A1-Mahdi, a man who will come in the company of Jesus Christ. Peace be upon him and the righteous.”

This Islamic messiah, this 12th Imam, according to their beliefs, will bring about an Islamic kingdom. But also according to their beliefs, the Judeo-Christian civilization must be destroyed first. For this 12th Imam to come, they believe, there must first be chaos.

Could this be what brings about the scenario predicted in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel (see chapters 38 and 39)? No one can say with certainty. But this much we must acknowledge: It certainly could be. We see how things are lining up.

Up to this point, the United States has been a staunch ally of Israel’s. And I believe that one of the reasons God has blessed our nation is because of our continued support for Israel. But it would appear these days that we are backing away from her. And according to Bible prophecy, one day, there will be no great ally behind Israel. She will stand alone when she is attacked by an enemy from the north and its allies.

The Bible also predicts that a national revival will come to Israel, when God will once again pour out his Spirit upon the nation. But this will happen after the rapture of the church. Romans 11:25 predicts, “Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.”

I have met people who can quote chapter and verse and give a good overview of the proper chronology of events of the end times, yet they are not living godly lives. And they are missing the point. If knowing what the Bible predicts about the last days doesn’t impact us in the way that we live, then we have missed what God is trying to say. Jesus didn’t say, “When these things begin to happen, argue about it.” Rather, he said, “When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28 NKJV).

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4360

UN Representative Calls For Establishing A ‘World Capital’–In Islamic Istanbul

The world needs a global capital and it should be the capital of Islamic Turkey, Istanbul, according to a UN special representative. Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, wrote a Nov. 1, 2012, opinion piece for the controversial al Jazeera English site calling for a “global capital” because of integration “by markets, by globally constituted battlefields, by changing geopolitical patterns.”

While Turkey is a longstanding U.S. ally and a member of NATO, its nearly 80 million population is 99.8 percent Muslim, according to the CIA Factbook. Its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has had several run-ins with Israel over access to Gaza. In March, he urged Israel to “stop the brutal attack against Palestinians and stop the massacre and bloodshed.”

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey sent out an “emergency message” for U.S. citizens in September warning of “a planned anti-American march/protest” in Istanbul. The march was tied to protests against the YouTube video claimed by critics to be anti-Islamic. “The Department of State strongly recommends avoiding the march/protest location as well as any other large crowds that may gather in Istanbul to protest against the controversial video that has created other demonstrations throughout the world,” explained the warning.

Falk recommended what al Jazeera called a “modest proposal” that should move the world past “the persisting tendency is to view the hierarchy of global cities from a West-centric perspective: London, New York, Paris, Los Angeles placed in the first rank.” Along with his UN duties, he is the Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Falk said there were two sides on where to locate such a capital – hard and soft power dynamics. He defined hard power as a view “that history is principally made by those who prevail in warfare, and little else.”

His description of soft power included “culture, political vitality, religious identity and ethics shapes and forms what unfolds.” He listed “several factors” why to choose Istanbul. Those included the city as a tourist destination, it has “also become a secure and acceptable place to hold the most delicate diplomatic discussions,” it is convenient, and Turkey has “gained economic and political credibility at a time when so many important states have either been treading water so as to remain afloat.”

He credited Turkey for “achieving a stable interface between secular principles and religious freedom” and for “moving away from the ‘over-secularizsation.'” Falk said choosing Istanbul as a world capital would be good because Turkey could provide the “satisfactions of a post-Western world civilization.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4357

Turkey: An Aggressive Emerging Islamist Autocracy That May Soon Become ‘The Greatest Threat To Israel’

“Bernard Lewis, one of the world’s greatest experts on the Islamic world, told me a few years ago that the emerging younger Iranian generation and the alienated middle class would bring about regime change. However, he also predicted that Turkey would evolve into an aggressive Islamist dictatorship and could become the greatest threat to Israel.

Alas, his prediction about Turkey is being realized.

When, 12 years ago, Recep Tayyip Erdogan assumed the reins of leadership in Turkey, many expressed concern that beneath the veneer of moderation and commitment to a fusion of moderate Islam and democracy, the real Erdogan was a fanatical Muslim whose objective was to transform Turkey into an authoritarian Islamic state. They were vindicated.

The military, which controlled the nation since Kemal Ataturk created a secular Turkish Republic in 1923, undoubtedly displayed autocratic tendencies in the course of its relentless determination to suppress Muslim extremism. Yet in terms of freedom of speech and democratic process, the situation today is significantly worse than before Erdogan.

Erdogan imprisoned thousands of Turkish citizens on spurious grounds without adequate trials; one in four former Turkish generals is currently languishing in prison; journalists, nonconforming academics and politicians have been summarily arrested; dissenting newspapers were closed down.

To some extent, leaders can be judged by their associates.

Erdogan proudly accepted a ‘human rights award’ from the late Libyan tyrant Muammar Gaddafi and welcomed as his guest Omar Bashir, the genocidal leader of Sudan, a certified war criminal responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his own citizens.

Erdogan denies that Hamas is a terrorist organization, referring to its adherents as heroic liberation fighters and treating visiting Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh virtually like a head of state. Last month he invited the other Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, to be his personal guest of honor at a state Iftar dinner to mark the end of Ramadan.

Erdogan also expanded Turkish diplomatic ties to the most radical Muslim terrorist regimes and organizations, including until recently the Syrians and the Iranian ayatollahs who he continues to insist are entitled to become a nuclear power. Now having parted ways with Assad, he has closely allied himself with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Clearly his objective is to emerge as the popular leader of a neo-Ottoman Sunni Muslim arc.

To promote this objective, he has consciously exploited popular hatred of Israel as a vehicle by which to gain widespread support from the Arab masses.

To this end, he has transformed Turkey’s former close alliance with Israel into one of aggressive confrontation and demonization, emerging as one of the leading Arab states directing hostility against the Jewish state.

The first public display of this behavior was his bitter and contrived confrontation of President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2009. Millions of television viewers saw him excoriating Peres over alleged Israeli war crimes and then dramatically storming out of the conference.

The deterioration in Turkish-Israel relations climaxed in 2010 when nine members of the IHH, a Turkish government-sanctioned jihadist terrorist group, were killed on board the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish boat in the Gaza ‘peace’ flotilla, after having attacked the IDF boarding party with metal bars, clubs and knives.

An independent Israeli commission of inquiry vindicated the IDF actions as self-defense. A separate UN commission ruled that while there may have been excessive violence, the Israeli action was entirely consistent with international law.

However, Erdogan exploited this incident to intensify the confrontation with Israel. He demanded that the Israeli government apologize, pay restitution to families and unconditionally lift the blockade on Gaza.

Seeking to ease tensions, the Israelis expressed regret at the loss of lives and, without accepting blame, sought to reach an accommodation including a rumored offer to pay $6 million to families of the victims.

But it soon became clear that Erdogan was seeking confrontation rather than compromise.

The Turkish government downgraded its diplomatic representation and intensified its global campaign to demonize Israel, seeking to have it barred from participating at all international gatherings.

Last month, on the second anniversary of the flotilla, the Turkish High Court issued indictments against Israeli military officers for their alleged involvement in the incident, pronouncing life sentences on the former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and other military leaders.

Campaigns against Israel were accompanied by intensification of anti-Semitic propaganda in the government- controlled media which included ghoulish television dramas (Valley of the Wolves) portraying Israelis as dealers in body parts, murderers of innocent children and other foul criminal activity. Not surprisingly, Turkish opinion polls reflect a 76 percent negative attitude towards Jews.

Erdogan has been especially viral in his denunciation of Israel’s targeted assassinations of terrorists. Yet when a number of Syrian shells errantly crossed his border, he had no hesitation in launching a brutal military attack, in stark contrast to Israel’s reluctance to maximize its deterrent capabilities in response to missiles continuously being launched against Israeli civilians from Gaza.

Nor does Erdogan display any scruples in employing the fiercest means to suppress protests or efforts by the Kurdish minority to achieve greater autonomy or independence.

One of the most disconcerting aspects of this confrontation is that despite his concerted campaign to delegitimize Israel, Erdogan has successfully forged a close alliance with President Barack Obama, who describes him as ‘an outstanding partner and an outstanding friend on a wide range of issues.’ Erdogan reciprocates, stating ‘from the moment Barack became president, we upgraded the status of our relations from a strategic partnership to a model partnership, on which he also placed a lot of importance.’

Indeed, following pressure from Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Obama agreed to bar Israel – a NATO partner country and member of NATO’s Mediterranean dialogue – from participating in a NATO summit which took place in Chicago.

Turkey also demanded that NATO intelligence information be denied to Israel.

Likewise, Turkey succeeded in excluding Israel from a special meeting of the World Economic Forum. More outrageously, Obama caved in to Turkey’s demand that Israel – the Western country which has suffered more terrorism than any other – be barred from a global forum on counterterrorism.

Israel can do little to lessen the tension. Those who suggest that by prostrating and groveling towards Turkey Israel would overcome this enmity are naïve and misguided. In the context of an aggressive Islamist government such behavior conveys weakness and surrender and would only further embolden Erdogan into making even greater demands. If we cannot generate friendship it is far better that we command respect.

However, the Turks would hesitate to demonize and delegitimize us if they believed that they would be penalized. We could surely expect our principal ally, the United States, to stand firm and not kowtow to Turkish efforts to isolate or demean us.” Source – The Jerusalem Post.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4331

JUST 5 YEARS TILL ‘END TIMES’ COMMENCE?

Several years ago, Ludwig Schneider, a German-language scholar, discovered an amazing prophecy dating back to 1217 by a scholarly and highly respected rabbi by the name of Judah Ben Samuel.

He was quite famous in his time as the initiator of the Chassidic Ashkenaz, a movement of Jewish mysticism in Germany. He founded a yeshiva in Regensburg and secured many pupils. Legend has it that, as a young man, he was an excellent bowman but knew little or nothing about daily prayers. But once he got serious about his faith, legend has it that he performed many miracles. It is also reported that he was given a prophecy about the exact year of Israel’s rebirth as a nation and its redemption.

So renowned was his work, the Bishop of Salzburg asked him to serve as his personal seer.

Because most of his writings were published so long ago – before the invention of the printing press – and in German, few copies have survived. But Schneider has a copy of Judah Ben Samuel’s prophecy about the nation of Israel and the messianic era and has translated the highlights of it into English and other languages for the magazine Israel Today.

The prophecy involves the Jubilee Year cycle every 50 years. I should point out there’s much controversy about pinpointing Jubilee Years because they have been observed in Israel since ancient times, while no one is 100 percent certain about when they should occur on the modern Hebrew calendar.

However, in the year Judah Ben Samuel died in 1217, he prophesied that the Ottoman Turks would rule over the holy city of Jerusalem for eight Jubilees. Now, keep in mind, he made this prediction 300 years before the Turks seized control of Jerusalem in 1517. In fact, the Ottoman Empire, as it would become to be known, did not even really exist yet in 1217.

According to Judah Ben Samuel, 1217 was a Jubilee Year. If he was right, that would also make 1517 a Jubilee Year.

Exactly 400 years after the Ottoman Turks took control of Jerusalem in 1517, they were driven out of the city and the Holy Land in 1917 by the Allied forces under the command of Gen. George Allenby – on Hanukkah, by the way.

But it gets more interesting still.

The rabbi also prophesied that during the ninth Jubilee Jerusalem would be a “no-man’s land.” This is exactly what happened from 1917 to 1967, due to the fact that the Holy Land was placed under British Mandate in 1917 by the League of Nations and literally “belonged” to no nation. Even after Israel’s war of independence in 1948-49 Jerusalem was still divided by a strip of land running right through the heart of the city, with Jordan controlling the eastern part of the city and Israel controlling the western part of the city. That strip of land was considered and even called “no-man’s land” by both the Israelis and the Jordanians.

It was not until the Six Day War in 1967 when the entire west bank of the holy land was conquered by the Israeli army that the whole city of Jerusalem passed back into the possession of Israel. So once again the prophecy made by the rabbi 750 years previously was fulfilled to the letter.

It certainly would be significant if indeed both 1917 and 1967 were Jubilee years considering the significance of what happened in Jerusalem on those years. But it gets better.

The rabbi also prophesied that during the 10th Jubilee, Jerusalem would be under the control of the Jews and the Messianic “end times” would begin. The 10th Jubilee began in 1967 and will be concluded in – 2017.

What should we expect to happen in 2017? I will leave that to your imagination.

But one thing is certain: Judah Ben Samuel made some truly remarkable prophecies that came to pass. We’ll have to wait about four more years to see if his final prediction does as well.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4325

The bombed Sudanese factory produced Iranian Shehab missiles

 

The Yarmouk Complex of military plants near Khartoum, whicht was bombed five minutes after midnight Wednesday, Oct.  24, by four fighter-bombers, recently went into manufacturing Iranian ballistic surface-to-surface Shehab missiles under license from Tehran, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources disclose. Western intelligence sources have not revealed what types of Shehab were being turned out in Sudan but they believe the Yarmouk’s output was intended to serve as Tehran’s strategic reserve stock in case Iran’s ballistic arsenal was hit by Israeli bombers.
The Israeli Air Force has a long record of pre-emptive attacks for destroying an enemy’s long-range missiles in the early stages of a conflict. In June 2006, for instance, the IAF destroyed 90 percent of Hizballah’s long-range missiles in the first hours of the Lebanon war.
Videos of the explosions caused in the air raid over Sudan showed large quantities of phosphorus flares in the sky suggesting that a large stockpile was demolished along with the manufacturing equipment.
Western sources did not divulge information about the comings and goings of Iranian missile specialists or whether the Bashir government had given Tehran permission to stage attacks from Sudan against Middle East targets, in return for the allotment of a number of missiles to the Sudanese army. All they would say is that the complex’s structures had been completely leveled by the aerial bombardment and subsequent fire.
Sudan accused Israel of the attack and stated it reserved the right to respond at a time and circumstances of its choosing. Israeli officials declined to comment in answer to questions.
If Indeed Israel was responsible for the bombing raid, it is possible to postulate the following objectives:
1.  Its air force flew 1,800-1,900 kilometers to reach the Sudanese arms factory, a distance longer than the 1,600 kilometers to the Iranian underground enrichment site of Fordo. This operation may have been intended to show Tehran that distance presents no obstacles to an Israeli strike on its nuclear program.
2.  The IAF has an efficient in-flight refueling capability.
3.  The raid would have degraded Iran’s ability to retaliate for a potential Israel or US attack.
If it was conducted by Israel, it would add a third item to the list of backdoor assaults in which Iran and Israel appear to be engaged in the past three months.
On August 17, the power lines to Fordo were sabotaged, interrupting the work of enrichment taking place there and causing some of the advanced centrifuges to catch fire.
On Oct. 6, an Iranian stealth drone was launched from Lebanon into Israeli air space and photographed its most sensitive military sites as well as the Dimona nuclear reactor before Israel brought it down.   

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4322

Is the new Cyprus-Greece-Israel energy triangle casting a net for Turkey?

Long-running speculation over massive natural gas reserves in the tumultuous Southeastern Mediterranean and Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) became a reality in December 2011 when official research and scope reports were released.

Today, the Republic of Cyprus finds itself grappling with this mixed blessing. These rich findings can provide long-term benefits for the country but Cyprus is more like a novice treading a very slippery floor in the major leagues of global diplomacy.

A new but familiar player, the state of Israel, has made a thunderous entry into the traditionally loud trio of Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, causing significant ruptures to the balance of the neighborhood. The event that sparked Israel’s newfound interest in Cyprus was the definitive signs of massive natural gas reserves in Cyprus’ Plot No. 12 (fittingly codenamed “Aphrodite”), right next to Israel’s own EEZ and massive reserves in its “Leviathan” plot.

It became apparent right from the start that Israel naturally considered every issue as highly imbued with its own national interest. Thus the decision to collaborate in treating the extracted natural gas and then transporting it to Europe (from both countries’ plots) came as a complete formula: pipelines would be part of a joint network, a vast specialized storage terminal, valued at 10 billion euros and funded almost completely by Israel. They would be built at the Vassilikos port near Limassol and the majority of the approximately 10,000 highly skilled personnel needed would be Israelis. Naturally, additional issues have come up in the logical process of things. The project will take about six or seven years to complete and inevitably the thousands of Israeli personnel engaged in it will need to have their families near them, so the total number of Israelis in Cyprus would become even greater, at least 15,000. These Israeli citizens will need to be housed in safe and secure conditions near the working site. Any analyst can easily run the math on the size and nature of this security force.

The U.S. took a particularly open stance regarding the recent natural gas reserve discovery and Turkey’s attempted involvement in this on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots resulting in a new row with the Republic of Cyprus (RoC), which allows exclusive rights to the RoC until the age-old “Cyprus Problem” is resolved.

Russia has its own worries over the new order of things in the wider Middle East. The discovery of natural gas reserves in Cyprus, its closest ally in the EU and a traditionally friendly country since the Soviet era, presents Russia with the rare opportunity of hitting many birds with one stone.

The European Union is now fortunate enough to see a full member (including of the eurozone) with massive natural gas reserves (and possibly oil) sufficient to supply it for many years, thus removing the EU from the uncomfortable position of receiving gas from pipelines in Russia and Turkey.

If one considers the complex combinations of possibilities that could take place and the endless array of scenarios, most of them having to do with the behavioral traits of the actors in play, the formation of the Cyprus-Greece-Israel NET vis-à-vis Turkey and the tumultuous environment in which all this is taking place, one can understand what a huge and complex project management challenge this is.

Cyprus is in the process of being bailed out by the Troika with onerous commitment terms and also has to be realistic about how the advent of natural gas reserves can do more for it than just fix its finances. Natural gas and perhaps oil should be used intelligently in the search for a permanent and viable solution to the “Cyprus Problem” and not as a weapon to solidify the Greek Cypriots’ standing in a never-ending confrontation with Turkey. Obviously, economics can play a growing and positive role in the quest for a solution. Ironically, after a solution, Turkey could act as a trading partner to such an extent that Cyprus would not need to have substantive others.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4316

WHERE WORLD HISTORY ENDS

Greg Laurie… nough said!

What on earth is happening in the Middle East? It seems that all we hear about in the news from this region is another outburst of violence – or a threat of one.

In his address at the U.N. last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened once again to eliminate Israel. Also in a recent speech, he spoke of some Islamic “messiah,” as well as a new world order.

As we look at the attacks on our embassies around the world, and specifically the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, it is now clear that the war on terror has not been won.

When Osama bin Laden was killed, we hoped that might be the end of it. But after Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were murdered in Libya, there were people rioting in the streets and burning American flags. As they waited for their close-ups from the American media, they chanted together to the cameras, “Take a picture, Obama! We are all Osama!” That pretty much says it all. The message of Osama bin Laden and the terrorists appears to be alive and well.

And what about the so-called Arab Spring? What some thought might be a hopeful sign, perhaps a surge of democracy in the Middle East, has not turned out so well. So what is the explanation of all of this chaos and confusion? What in the world is happening?

The short answer is that Bible prophecy is being lived out in real time before our very eyes. The Bible has predicted the things that are happening in this part of the world. Scripture is very clear in pointing out that the end of the world will be centered in the Middle East. And it has all been foretold in the only book that accurately predicts the future: the Bible.

Thousands of years ago, Hebrew prophets predicted the Jewish people would be scattered across the earth and then later regathered. Jesus, in fact, gave a very specific prediction when he said the temple in Jerusalem that was being rebuilt by Herod at the time would not only be destroyed, but also would be dismantled, stone by stone (see Matthew 24:1).

Did that prediction reach fulfillment? Yes, it did. Because all historians agree that in A.D. 70, Titus and the Roman legions marched into Jerusalem, slaughtered thousands of Jews and dismantled the temple. Why did they dismantle it? Because there was gold in the temple, which had been burned, and they had to dismantle it to extract the melted gold. This fulfilled, to the letter, the prophecy of Christ. Also at this time, the Jews were scattered.

Fast-forward many years to the Holocaust, when Hitler sought to eradicate the Jewish people from the face of the earth. Thankfully, the United States, Great Britain and their allies stopped the Nazi war machine. And what happened in the aftermath of the Holocaust was nothing short of amazing. The Jewish people began to return to their homeland. And on May 14, 1948, a modern miracle happened. The state of Israel was officially declared.

Here was a nation that had been dispersed for centuries, and then it was regathered. This has never happened again in history. And this was a super-sign that started the prophetic clock ticking. The people of Israel were back in their homeland again.

But there was still a problem. Israel did not have control of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem plays a key role in the end-times scenario. Although they had declared their statehood, Jordan was still controlling the old city of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and most of the historic sites. Then the Six Day War broke out in 1967, in which Israel was attacked. No one expected her to survive. Not only did Israel survive the attack, but she won the war and gained back a lot of the things she had lost, including the old city. And for the first time in more than 2,000 years, the city of Jerusalem was under Jewish control.

Yet to this present day, Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Arab leaders worldwide insisting that Jerusalem and the entire West Bank are rightfully Palestinian territory and ultimately must be given back as a condition of peace.

Of course, I am going to side with God on this issue. God gave Jerusalem to Israel. He said to Abraham in Genesis 15:18, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates. …” (NKJV). He gave that land to Israel, and the Israelis are not going to give up the city of Jerusalem.

The Bible predicts that the city of Jerusalem will be at the epicenter of it all, and the attention of the planet will be directed toward Israel and toward the city of Jerusalem.

Is this happening now? Yes, it is. All of this is happening just as the Bible predicted it would.

So let’s go over the chronology of events the Bible has predicted: Israel will be scattered. Has this happened? Yes. Israel will be regathered after her people are scattered. Has this happened? Again, yes. Israel will regain the city of Jerusalem. Has this happened? Yes. Israel will be isolated from the other nations of the world and basically will stand alone. Has that happened? Not quite, but it appears to be moving in that direction. Lastly, Israel will be attacked. Has that happened? Not yet, and not on the scale the Bible predicts. This is still in the future, but perhaps the near future.

Scripture specifically tells us that world history, as we know it, will culminate in this part of the world. Some people would assert that it is not important to study Bible prophecy, but I beg to differ. We must study Bible prophecy. The reason we should want to learn about the future is so we will be motivated to live rightly in the present.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4310

SERMON NOTES: REDISCOVERING THE PURPOSE & POWER OF BIBLE PROPHECY

Joel Rosenberg on why pastors need to be preaching about end times prophecy in these last days!

Ezekiel 2:1 through 3:4.

Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, stand on your feet that I may speak with you!’ As He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me. Then He send to me, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me….’ You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God’….they will know that a prophet has been among them….You shall speak My words to them whether they listen or not….Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you. Then I looked and behold, a hand was extended to me, and lo, a scroll was in it. When He spread it out before me, it was written on the front and back, and written on it were lamentations, mournings and woe. Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.’ So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, ‘Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.’ Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth. Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.’”

Ezekiel was a classic Biblical prophet:

  • A hearer of God’s Word
  • A communicator of God’s Word
  • A fore-teller – someone through whom God communicated the      future
  • A forth-teller – someone through whom God communicated His      eternal truths, regardless of whether it was specifically about the      future or not.
  • A watchman on the wall – responsible for accurately hearing and      communicating the Word of God to the people, both to warn them of coming      judgment and call them to repentance and holiness; will be held by God to      account for his faithfulness in this area (see Ezekiel 3:17-21; see also      Ezekiel 33)

It was through Ezekiel, God communicated powerful truths:

  • The truth that Jerusalem and Israel are the epicenter of God’s plan      and purpose in the End Times.
  • The truth of the rebirth of the State of Israel in the End Times.
  • The truth of the return of the Jewish people to the Holy Land in the      End Times.
  • The truth of a coming season of security and prosperity for Israel in      the End Times.
  • The truth of an apocalyptic showdown between Israel, Russia, Iran and      a group of other nations in the epicenter in the End Times.
  • The truth of the cataclysmic judgment of Israel’s enemies in the End      Times.
  • The truth of the supernatural rescue of Israel in the End Times.
  • The truth of the salvation of the Jewish people in the End Times.
  • And the truth of the building not just of a 3rd Temple in      the End Times but a 4th Temple, too, from which the Messiah      will reign.

These are vitally important truths for Christians, for Jews, indeed for all people in our time. Yet they are rarely taught.

Why not?

Dr. Mark Hitchcock, author of an excellent resource book – The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days (over 500 pages) – notes that:

  • 28.5% of the Old Testament are prophetic verses
  • 21.5% of the New Testament are prophetic verses
  • All told, some 27% of the Bible are prophetic verses

Without question, prophecy is central to the Holy Scriptures. Yet very few pastors, priests or ministry leaders are teaching Bible prophecy today.

Why not?

In Luke 12:54-56, the Lord Jesus said these words: And He was also saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way. You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?

Why didn’t the people of Jesus’ day study the prophecies of Scripture and compare them to what was happening right in front of them?

I would argue that now more than ever it is absolutely vital for the Church, for Israel, and for the world to rediscover the power and purpose of Bible prophecy. But the only way this is going to happen is if the men of God begin to rediscover the Word of God and start studying it seriously, and teaching it carefully. We absolutely will not hear from Jesus’ lips, “Well done, My good and faithful servant,” if we ignore, skip, dismiss or outright deny more than one-quarter of the Holy Scriptures.

So today I’d like to address two topics:

  1. What are the main reasons why pastors are not teaching Bible prophecy      today?
  2. How can we help pastors rediscover the purpose and power of Bible      prophecy?

WHY AREN’T PASTORS TEACHING BIBLE PROPHECY TODAY?

I would point to four main reasons.

First, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of belief in the power of God’s Word.

Sadly, many pastors today don’t really believe the Bible is the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God. The Lord Jesus once remonstrated the Pharisees because they were misinterpreting Scripture. He said, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29)

Too many pastors and priests today are the same way. They are not carefully studying the whole Bible. They’re not trying to understand the “whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27, KJV).

Second, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of knowledge of — and/or sound training in — Bible prophecy.

There are many, of course, who do believe that the Bible is the Word of God. However, for a variety of reasons they have never taken the time to study prophecy carefully on their own, and/or weren’t taught it in any detail or depth in seminary or Bible college or seminary. Thus, they understandably feel unprepared and inadequate to help people unpack the truths of these Scriptures.

Some prophecies are, of course, complicated and confusing. Some of the names mentioned in prophecies (like “Gog” and “Magog” and “Gomer” and “Put” in Ezekiel 38-39) are strange and obscure. It takes some historical detective work to determine what these things mean, and some pastors decide they neither have the interest nor the time to do the research and teach their congregations clearly and accurately, so they avoid teaching prophecy all together.

I understand this, and I’m doing my best to create resources to help pastors study and teach prophecy, and point people to other excellent resources that have been helpful to me. Because now is the time to rediscover the power and purpose of prophecy.

The Bible is clear that God will bless those who study and teach End Times prophecy, and we should be faithful in doing just that. The Apostle John wrote, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it, for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3)

Third, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a fear of being lumped in with “prophecy nuts” and those who peddle sensationalism.

Admittedly, there are many false teachers and nuts who try to teach prophecy.

  • Example: Harold Camping’s prediction of the Rapture on May 21, 2011.
  • Example: Harold Camping’s prediction of the Rapture in September 1994.
  • Example: 88 Reasons Why Jesus Is Coming In 1988
  • Example: 89 Reasons Why Jesus Is Coming In 1989

Pastors are right to avoid such false teachers, and to avoid creating an appearance of cheapening the Word of God in these ways.

But just because some teach Bible prophecy wrongly, or badly, is no reason for solid teachers to avoid the topic. There are those who teach false regarding the Gospels and the epistles, too. But a good pastor wouldn’t dare skip teaching correctly these books of the Bible. On what basis, then, do we have the right to avoid teaching whole books of the Bible — Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation, among others — just because some charlatans are out their misleading people?

To the contrary, we should be teaching solidly on prophecy all the more because of the nuts out there. We shouldn’t cede the battle for hearts, minds and souls to the false teachers.

The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word: be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2-3)

Fourth, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of understanding of the times in which we live and the increasingly close return of Christ.

Sadly, many sincere pastors are asleep to the times in which we live. Somehow they are not gripped by the remarkable moment of history that we’re in, and the urgent need to prepare for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ for the Church.

Like the Pharisees of old, Jesus is saying to them, “Why do you not analyze this present time?” More than ever, we need pastors who do analyze and understand the times in light of Bible prophecy. Like the sons of Issachar, “men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (I Chronicles 12:32), we need pastors who understand the times and know what the Church should do.

Specifically, we need men ready, willing and able to rediscover the purpose and power of Bible prophecy.

HOW CAN WE HELP PASTORS REDISCOVER THE PURPOSE AND POWER OF BIBLE PROPHECY?

The best way is not to berate or belittle our brothers who aren’t teaching prophecy.

The Scriptural model is to do what Jesus did – say, “Come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

  • Let us lead the way by feeding the flock the “whole counsel of God,”      including the solid, careful, humble teaching of Bible prophecy. (Acts      20:27, KJV)
  • Let us teach those teachers who have interest how to teach Bible      prophecy in a solid, careful, humble way.
  • Let us create a wide-range of resources to help pastors teach Bible      prophecy, and to help lay people study Bible prophecy in a such a way that      it will motivate them to live lives of repentance, holiness, prayer &      fasting, evangelism and discipleship, pastor training and church planting.
  • Especially since we are moving deeper and deeper into the last days      and the return of Christ is sooner than many think.

In this context, then, let us discuss the seven-fold purpose of Bible prophecy.

  1. To reveal that the God of Israel is all-mighty, all-seeing,      all-knowing God of the universe.
  2. To reveal that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and true in all      its respects.
  3. To require us to study God’s Word diligently and with humility, and to      teach God’s Word with humility and great care.
  4. To point to the First Coming of the Messiah.
  5. To point to the Second Coming of the Messiah.
  6. To build up, challenge, encourage and comfort the Church to live holy      and fruitful lives in the last days.
  7. To warn Israel and the nations to repent and turn to Jesus Christ      before it is too late.

First, to reveal that the God of Israel is all-mighty, all-seeing, all-knowing God of the universe.

  • The Lord said through the Hebrew prophet Isaiah, ”Behold, the former      things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring      forth I proclaim them to you.” (Isaiah 42:9)
  • The Lord also said through the prophet Isaiah, “Thus says the Lord,      the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first      and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. ‘Who is like Me? Let      him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, from      the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to      them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take      place.” (Isaiah 44:6-7)
  • The Lord also said through the prophet Isaiah, “Remember the former      things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there      is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient      times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be      established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
  • The Apostle Peter wrote, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy      of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was      ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke      from God.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)
  • The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first      and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:13)

Second, to reveal that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and true in all its respects.

  • There are about 1,000 specific prophecies in the Bible.
  • More than half of them have already been fulfilled.
  • Most of the remaining prophecies concern events that will happen      between now and the Second Coming of Christ.

In the Old Testament, for example, we see hundreds of prophecies fulfilled.

For example, around 530 B.C., the Lord told the prophet Daniel that:

  • the kingdom of Babylon would be taken over the kingdom of Media-Persia
  • the Media-Persian kingdom would be taken over the kingdom of Greece
  • the kingdom of Greece would be taken over by the kingdom of Rome
  • and eventually all the kingdoms of the earth would be taken over by      the Kingdom of God

This is exactly what has happened.

Here’s another example: Around 600 B.C., the Lord told the prophet Jeremiah that the Babylonians would come and take the Jewish people captive. He also told Jeremiah that after 70 years of captivity they would be released to come back to the land of Israel.

  • Jeremiah 25:11-12 – “‘This whole land will be a desolation and a      horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.      Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of      Babylon and that nation,’ declares the Lord, ‘for their iniquity, and the      land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.’”
  • Jeremiah 29:10 – “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have      been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to      you, to bring you back to this place [Israel].”

A hundred years earlier, the Lord even told the prophet Isaiah the exact name of the Persian king who would be instrumental in the Jewish people being set free from Babylonian captivity.

  • Isaiah 44:28 – Thus says the Lord….“It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is      My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of      Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation will      be laid.’”
  • Isaiah 45:1, 4, 13 – “Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed….‘For      the sake of Jacob My servant, and Israel My chosen one, I have also called      you by your name; I have given you a title of honor though you have not      known Me….he will build My city and will let My exiles go free, without      any payment or reward,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

Sure enough, just as Jeremiah prophesied, God brought the Jewish people home from exile back to Israel right on schedule. And just as Isaiah prophesied, Cyrus was precisely the name of the Persian king who helped the Jews go back home.

  • 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 – “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia      – in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah – the      Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a      proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,      ‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given      me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a      house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all      His people, may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!”’”
  • Repeated in Ezra chapter 1

Third, to require us to study God’s Word diligently and with humility, and to teach God’s Word with humility and great care.

In Matthew 24:15, Jesus described as Daniel a “prophet.” He certainly was. But that did not mean Daniel understood all things. It did even mean that Daniel understand all that he saw or was told to write down.

  • Daniel 12:4 – “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up      the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge      will increase.”
  • Daniel 12:8-9 – “As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I      said, ‘My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?’ He said, ‘Go      your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed until the end      of time. Many will be purged, purified, and refined, but the wicked will      act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have      insight will understand.”
  • Daniel 9:1-6 – We find the prophet Daniel carefully studying the      prophecies of Jeremiah, with prayer and fasting.
  • I Peter 1:10-12 – “As to this salvation, the prophets who      prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches      and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of      Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ      and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not      serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced      to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit      sent from heaven – things into which angels long to look.”
  • 2 Peter 1:19-21 – “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to      which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a      dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your      hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a      matter of one’s one interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an      act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
  • 1 Timothy 4:1, 13, 15, 16 – “But the Spirit explicitly says that in      later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to      deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons….Until I come, give attention to      the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching….Take pains      with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be      evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching;      persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation      both for yourself and for those who hear you.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a      workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of      truth.”
  • Acts 20:20-31 – “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that      was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to houses,      solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and      faith in our Lord Jesus Christ….I went about preaching the kingdom….I did      not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose [counsel] of God” [for      a period of three years].

Fourth, to point to the First Coming of the Messiah.

In the Old Testament, the Lord gave us dozens of clues about who the Messiah would be and what He would do. Here are a few of them:

  • The prophet Micah told us the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem      Ephratah (Micah 5:2).
  • The Hebrew prophet Isaiah told us that the Messiah would be born of a      virgin (Isaiah 7:14).
  • The prophet Isaiah told us that the Messiah would be born as a human      male child, a son, but would also be called “mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6).
  • The prophet Isaiah told us that the Messiah would be a live and      minister in the Galilee region of Israel (Isaiah 9:1-2)
  • The prophet Zechariah told us the Messiah would enter Jerusalem riding      on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)
  • The prophet Isaiah told us that the Messiah would heal people — “He      Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases” (Isaiah 53:4)
  • King David prophesied that the Messiah would be surrounded by an evil      band of men who would beat and torture him, would divide his clothing and      cast lots for them, and would pierce his hands and feet and leave him “in      the dust of death,” that is, kill him (Psalm 22)
  • The prophet Daniel made it clear that the Messiah would come to      “finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for      inquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness” but to do so he would need      to be “cut off” [killed] before Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple was      destroyed in 70 A.D. (Daniel 9:24-26)
  • The prophet Isaiah described the Messiah as a suffering Servant who      would be beaten, tortured, mocked, pierced, and ultimately killed as a      guilt offering for the sins of mankind (Isaiah 52:13 through Isaiah 53)
  • The prophet Isaiah also made it clear that the Messiah would also rise      from the dead — “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was      crusheed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon      Him, and by His scourging we are healed….His grave was assigned with      wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death….But the Lord was      pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as      a guilt offering He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and      the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.” (Isaiah      53:5,9,10)
  • Through the prophet Jonah and the prophet Hosea, we were told God      would raise the Messiah after three days in the grave (Jonah was in the      belly of the fish for three days before he was returned to the earth; in      Hosea 6:2 we read, “He will raise us up on the third day that we may live      before Him.”)

Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled all of these prophecies, proving Himself to be the Messiah.

In Luke 24:25-27 we read: And He [Jesus] said to them [several of His disciples whom He saw after His resurrection], ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Fifth, to point to the Second Coming of the Messiah.

Revelation 1:1-8 – The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Revelation 19:10 – “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Notes Dr. Mark Hitchcock in his book, The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophesy and the End of Days

  • “There are over 300 references to the Lord’s coming in the 260      chapters of the New Testament – one out of every 30 verses.”
  • 23 of 27 NT books mention the Lord’s Second Coming
  • “For every time the Bible mentions the first coming, the Second coming      is mentioned eight times.”
  • “People are exhorted to be ready for the return of Jesus Christ over      fifty times.”

Sixth, to build up, challenge, encourage and comfort the Church to live holy and fruitful lives in the last days.

The study and teaching of prophecy isn’t supposed to be an intellectual pursuit of its own. The point isn’t to memorize all the seals and bowls and trumpets in the book of Revelation….or set dates and times regarding the Rapture…. or getting into pointless and contentious arguments over the timing and sequence of End Times events.

Rather, God gave us prophecy to motivate and mobilize the Church to live lives of holiness….and preach the Gospel to all nations before He comes…and make disciples of all nations before He returns.

Revelation 1:10-11 – “I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, ‘Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches….’”

I Corinthians 14:3-4 – “But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.”

  • Prophecy is supposed to build up our faith in God’s awesome power and      total sovereignty.
  • Prophecy is supposed to challenge us to repent from ungodly behavior.
  • Prophecy is supposed to encourage us to be holy and walk more closely      with the Lord in the time we have left.
  • Prophecy is supposed to encourage us to serve Christ with humility and      preach His Word with boldness and courage.
  • Prophecy is supposed to encourage us to be prepared to stand before      Him face to face in the not-too-distant future.
  • Prophecy is supposed to encourage us to be ready to confront and      refute false teachers in the last days.
  • Prophecy is supposed to comforts from our fears and sorrows by      reminding us that Jesus Christ is coming to rescue us, and that He will      win over evil, and that He will reign forever, and that we will be with      Him forever and ever.

Seventh, to warn unbelievers in Israel and in the nations to repent and turn to Jesus Christ before it is too late.

I Corinthians 14:22 – “Prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe….But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man [unversed in spiritual gifts] enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.”

Revelation 19:10 – “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Ultimately, all of prophecy is about Jesus Christ….it comes from Him….it points to Him.

Bible prophecy speaks to the general future of “all nations” in the last days leading up to the Second Coming of Christ.

  • Example: Haggai 2:6-7, 21-22 – “For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Once      more in a little while I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the      sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations….I am going to      shake the heavens and the earth. I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms      and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the earth.’
  • Example: Joel 3:2 – “I will gather all the nations and bring them down      to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them      there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have      scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.”

Bible prophecy speaks to the specific future of specific nations and regions in the last days leading up to the Second Coming of Christ.

  • Included: Israel, Russia, Iran, Syria (Damascus), Egypt, Libya, Sudan,      Lebanon, Jordan, Greece, a European (revived Roman) empire, etc
  • Also included:
    • the “king of the South” (Daniel 11:5)
    • the “king of the North” (Daniel 11:6)
    • the “queen of the South” (Matthew 12:42)
    • the “kings from the east” (Revelation 16:12
  • Not included: the United States of America (not even a king or queen      of the west)

Closing thoughts

Dr. Charlie Dyer, professor at Moody Bible Institute: “God gave prophecy to change our hearts, not to fill our heads with knowledge. God never predicted the future events just to satisfy our curiosity about the future. Every time God announces events that are future, He includes with His predictions practical applications to life. God’s pronouncements about the future carry with them specific advice for the ‘here and now.’” (cited in Dr. Mark Hitchcock’s book)

Dr. Randall Price, professor of archaeology and Biblical studies at Liberty University: “What good is it to be able to understand the seven heads in Revelation 13:1 if we don’t use our own head? Of what profit is it to discern the ten toes of Daniel 2:41-44 if we don’t move our own two feet? And what value is it to know about the great mouth that speaks lies (Daniel 7:8, Revelation 13:5), unless we open our mouth and speak the truth? In every generation where prophecy has been properly proclaimed, the results have been a harvest of souls to the glory of God.” (cited in Dr. Mark Hitchcock’s book)

– End –

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4291

A Sign For The Rapture?

Most people have an idea of the coming Biblical judgment on earth, although their skepticism may override their thinking on the matter. It is portrayed on the evening news and in the Hollywood movies. Armageddon, for example, is a term used often by the secular world, even though they have little to no knowledge of the subject matter. Rapture, Tribulation, Armageddon, these words are thrown around like rice at a wedding, usually in order to induce excitement or to make a point. I’m still speaking of the secular part of society of course. Unfortunately, many Christians are no more educated on these terms than they.

My only intent at this time is to clear up a misconception about the Rapture. Is there anything that must be fulfilled before the Rapture can take place? For those who may not know what I mean by “Rapture,” it is the event when Jesus Christ comes for His Church, His Bride, and removes all true Christians from the earth prior to the beginning of the seven years of Tribulation.

Jesus told us in His Word that there would be signs ushering in and included in the Tribulation that will be on earth (Matthew 24, et al). The Tribulation is a commonly recognized name for Daniel’s Seventieth Week, which is simply the remaining seven years God promised Israel. These remaining seven years will occur just prior to Christ’s second coming to the earth (Matthew 24:29-31). His first coming was to die on the cross and leave an empty grave to make provision for all who come to Him in belief to be spiritually born again (John 3). His second coming is to put an end to the seventieth year, the Tribulation, and rule the world for the next one thousand years. I understand that this is very simply stated and basic, but my intention again is the Rapture.

The seven years of Tribulation on this earth is going to take place soon. When? I don’t know. I do know that there are so many signs that are self-evident and exponentially increasing, it can’t be far off. This period will be the most horrific time mankind has every endured upon this earth. It cannot be hell, for hell is far worse, but it will seem like hell on earth.

Prior to this seven year period of judgment and reconciliation, judgment for the world and reconciliation for Israel, Jesus will remove all those who have put their trust in Him (Revelation 3:10, et al). They are called Christians, His Church and His Bride. These are true believers, not those who espouse Christianity for their convenience, but actually have put their trust in Jesus Christ through their belief in Him, and have been saved by His grace. By removing His Church He will end the dispensation of the Church Age and return to Israel to complete the promises He made her.

Is there any sign, any prophecy, anything that needs to happen before the Rapture occurs, now that we understand what the Rapture means? No. The Rapture has always been an imminent event, meaning that it is always looming and pending with sudden expectancy. It can occur at any time, and will be over within the “twinkling of an eye” after it starts. There will be no time to think, no time to call forth, “Take me too!” At the snap of a finger, God’s in this case, the world will be thrust into the last seven years it has to exist, prior to the thousand years where Christ will rule the earth as it should be, a time called the Millennium, meaning “thousand years.”

Two things will happen, in case you haven’t noticed it yet, that will be so instantaneous and unchanging when the Rapture occurs. In the “twinkling of an eye” those who know Jesus as their Savior will be transported to Heaven, and in that same “twinkling of an eye” those who have not trusted in Jesus will be left to endure all that the Tribulation has to offer.

I ask again. Is there anything that must happen that could forewarn the world that the Rapture is about to take place? Is there something that the world can grab hold of at the last minute, so they won’t miss it? No.

Here is where I find it unfortunate that some prophecy students and/or scholars make one statement that seems to nullify this thing about signs for the Rapture. I am dismayed that some will say that when the Gospel has been preached in all the world, then Christ will come for His Church. This is taken from Matthew 24:14.

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

They go on to state that in the electronic age we live in with television, internet, travel, etc. we have almost reached everyone and it won’t be long now.

My dear friends please pass the word along that Matthew 24:14 has nothing to do with the Church Age. The Church will be long gone at this point. This Scripture passage is for those in the Tribulation. Before the Tribulation ends, the world will hear the preaching of the “gospel of the kingdom.” Then the end will come.

Notice four truths of this verse:

1.     “gospel of the kingdom” – the Gospel that Jesus Christ is coming to reign (Millennium)

2.     “shall be preached in all the world” – by 144,000 Jews, by two prophets, and one angel

3.     “for a witness unto all nations” – all nations, and their peoples, that have been in rebellion against God during the Tribulation

4.     “then the end shall come” – the Second Coming, when Jesus Christ will return with His Church (Bride) to end the seven year Tribulation period and usher in His one thousand year reign, the Millennium.

Notice the verses preceding and following Matthew 24:14. Jesus is talking about the seven year period of Tribulation, not the time prior to the Rapture, the period we are now in, which is prior to the Tribulation.

However, notice this also, as I have previously said. Since we are seeing so many signs attributable to the Tribulation, which follows the Rapture, doesn’t that tell us that the Rapture could be close at hand? How close? I haven’t a clue. We’ll have to wait and see, but there are no signs for the Rapture, including Matthew 24:14. It can happen at any time, and it will happen without warning.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4275

Building a Throne in the Middle East

 

The Turkish AK Party is on the verge of altering the balance of power in the Middle East. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan could soon be recognized as the most powerful man in the region.

Erdogan is campaigning to merge the offices of Turkey’s president and prime minister. Currently, the Turkish presidency is a ceremonial role with some judicial appointments, but the president also has the power to call for referenda, appoint the chief of the Turkish military and to mobilize the Turkish military. However, the chief of the general staff is the effective commander in chief, with the president only having a figurehead role. That could change.

The prime minister is the head of government, leader of Parliament and the driver of the legislative agenda. He also coordinates the foreign policy of the government but is limited by the powers of Parliament and the need to seek approval in advance for many initiatives. Erdogan has been open about his admiration of French and U.S.-style executive power.

The similarity between Erdogan and another regional strongman have not gone unnoticed. Islamism expert and Turkey observer Joel Richardson has noted the danger.

“No doubt, Turkey has found its Putin. One notable difference, however, is that Erdogan is loved both within and outside of his home country. While some have said that in Putin, a new czar has emerged, it’s actually much more accurate to say that in Erdogan, a new caliph has emerged. Even Khaled Meshaal, the exiled political leader of Hamas, recently stated, ‘Erdogan, you are not only a leader in Turkey now, you are a leader in the Muslim world as well.’”

Mr. Erdogan has pursued his goals relentlessly. When the AK Party did not win the two-thirds majority in Parliament necessary to unilaterally rewrite the Turkish constitution, it settled for a less ambitious amendment project and won a 2010 referendum, which enhanced the powers of the party but included minor reforms that pleased European Union observers. In 2007 the party pushed through the switch from a parliamentary vote for the presidency to a popular one and allowed presidents a second term.

Now, even without the merged powers of the prime minister’s office, the future presidents of Turkey will have increased influence through a personal mandate from the voters. Additionally, the 2007 changes forbid former presidents from seeking popular election, which – coincidentally, I’m sure – leaves Erdogan with a smaller pool of credible rivals but allows the prime minister to run without resigning from his office prior to the election. However, Erdogan must achieve his goals soon; he recently won his third term as head of the AK Party, which bans fourth terms for its leaders. Erdogan has announced that he will keep his word to leave the premiership in 2015. If, however, the presidency is reshaped in time for presidential elections in 2014, the prime minister may have a better job to go to anyway.

There is a fear that the Iranian regime and its terrorist network are in a position to seize hegemony in the Middle East. With its influence in Syria and Lebanon, it is believed that Iran is positioning itself to build a petro-terrorist empire. However, the Iranian clerics are not in a position to challenge Turkey. If they were to try, I believe that the tale of the tape is weighted in Turkey’s favor.

As a member of NATO the Turkish military has received American military technology and boasts a modern command-and-control structure. Additionally, the Turkish economy has grown by an average of over 5 percent for a decade, a record that is the envy of the United States and Western Europe. Turkey and Iran are nearly equal in population, with 79 million people in Turkey and 78 million in Iran. But the Turkish GDP is $770 billion while the poorer Iranians make do with $330 billion. Richardson has emphasized the scale of Turkish economic ambition, highlighting the fact that “Prime Minister Erdogan has recently announced plans to renovate a massive section of Istanbul as an international banking center that will compete with Dubai.”

Economics do not reveal the entirety of Iranian disadvantage, however. As always in Middle Eastern calculations, the religious element must be considered. While the populations are equal, the Turkish population is 75 percent ethnic Turkish, while only 53 to 61 percent of Iranians are Persian. Additionally, 20 percent of Iranians are members of various Turkic ethnic groups sharing cultural and linguistic ties with Turkey. Further, while 99 percent of Turkish citizens are Sunni, the Shia population of Iran is an 89 percent majority with a not-to-be-ignored 10 percent Sunni minority. The Sunni Arab states – with the significant exception of Shia-dominated Iraq – are more likely to accept Turkish leadership over Iranian Shia dominance.

Mr. Erdogan has a firm foundation on which to build Turkish hegemony. Could the Iranians accept Turkish power? Maybe. It is not impossible for them to experience a “revelation” that allows for Shia-Persian and Sunni-Turkish rapprochement. In any event the Iranians will recognize that if the Sunnis support Turkey, al-Qaida and other allied groups could match Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies in terrorist lethality. The AK Party and Prime Minister Erdogan’s time is coming.

Joel Richardson agrees: “There is no question that in the chess match for regional dominance, Turkey is about to place Iran in checkmate. While Iran’s economy is buckling under the pressure of sanctions, the Iranian regime is struggling to appear confident while fighting to avoid a free fall into hyper-inflation. Meanwhile, Turkey’s economy is roaring. The final straw that will break Iran’s back and set in motion the final shift toward Turkey’s ascendancy will be the fall of Basshar Assad’s Alawite regime that functions as an Iranian proxy. In the absence of an Iranian pawn in Syria, Erdogan will no doubt extend his Sunni paternal hand of assistance to the newly forming government. All of this together will guarantee Turkey’s dominance over the Middle East.”

Richardson’s appraisal of potential counterbalances to Turkey in the Arab counties is bleak: “After Iran falls under Turkey’s growing umbrella of power, only Egypt and Saudi Arabia will remain.” This outcome would render U.S. hegemony in the Middle East untenable. Neither would China or Russia be able to take America’s place without military intervention. In either case, if Turkey can stabilize its hegemony, it would be able to defeat any attempt at interventionism.

Turkey is unhindered in its rise. Europe and North America are largely blind to the danger. The Western diplomatic establishment – including the U.S. leadership – continues to see Turkey through the pre-2002 paradigm that existed before the AK Party took over. They view Turkey as a model for Muslim democracy. They should be reminded that Erdogan was jailed by Turkey’s secular authorities – and initially banned from taking office as prime minister – for inciting religious hatred with the words “the mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers. …”

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