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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. …”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4265

A Critique Of The Preterist Interpretation Of Daniel 2 & 7

Another Joel Richardson classic!

A Critique Of The Preterist Interpretation Of Daniel 2 & 7

10/07/2012

By Joel Richardson – “In the second chapter of the Book of the Prophet Daniel, we are introduced to King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a massive metallic statue:

“You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.” —Daniel 2:31-33

The statue, we are then told, represents a series of historical kingdoms or empires. Daniel informs the king that the first component of the statue, that of gold, represents the historical Babylonian Empire, which Nebuchadnezzar ruled over. Scholars and commentators are in general agreement that the next three empires represented by the respective metals of silver, bronze, and Iron are the Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman empires. Though this is the majority position, in my book, Mideast Beast, I demonstrate that the descriptions of the kingdom of Iron laid out within the text align perfectly with the historical Islamic Caliphate, and not with the Roman Empire. Though this view will likely be met with skepticism by those who have not yet considered the exegetical and historical arguments in support of this view, what is unarguable is that during the final days of the fourth kingdom of iron, a stone suddenly appears and strikes the feet of the statue, causing the entire statue to shatter:

As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. —Daniel 2:34

Commentators of all persuasions identify the stone as representing the Messianic Kingdom of God here on the earth. As the stone shatters the statue, the fragments are seen to blow away as dry chaff in the Autumn winds. The stone however, is seen to grow and spread, until it fills the entire earth:

Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. —Daniel 2:35

Later, in Daniel 7, we are given further details concerning the timing of this victory of the Kingdom of God over pagan earthly governments. There, we are told that it will come after a period of intense persecution, even near complete victory, by the final empire, against the saints:

“I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.” —Daniel 7:21-22

This is essential to note. The timing of the coming of the Messianic Kingdom of God is placed in the midst of an intense period of great persecution against ‘the saints of the Highest One’. It is not until after this period of great tribulation that the saints then come to possess the Kingdom of God.

The Futurist versus the Preterist Interpretation

Among Christian interpreters, there exists disagreement concerning the nature and timing of the stone striking the statue. Those who take the Futurist position understand this event to remain yet in the future. The feet of mixed iron and clay represent a secondary, distinct and final manifestation of the empire or iron—the final Antichrist empire—which will be utterly destroyed when Jesus returns. The stone, of course, represents the second coming of Jesus the Messiah, whose kingdom will then come to dominate the whole world.

Alternately, the Preterist interpretation sees the feet of mixed iron and clay to simply be one with the legs of iron. To the preterist, there exists no distinction between the legs of iron and the feet of mixed iron and mixed clay. The stone that strikes the feet represents the first coming of Jesus with his invisible, spiritual kingdom. Preterists would claim that the legs and feet represent the historical Roman Empire, which was conquered by the coming of the invisible Kingdom of God. Today, this spiritual kingdom is spreading throughout the earth.

The purpose of this article is to very briefly discuss some of the more obvious failures of the Preterist interpretation of Daniel 2 & 7.

The Five Components of the Statue

The first problem with the Preterist view of Daniel 2 is its inability to account for the two-fold division of the fourth kingdom between the legs and feet. Although the passage speaks of ‘four kingdoms’, when one analyzes the structure of the passage, the statue is seen to be divided into five distinct components. There is both a continuity and a division between the legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay. Consider the following structure of the text translated literally, word for word, in exact order:

The Image Head Fine Gold Breast Arms Silver Belly Thigh Brass Legs Iron Feet Part Iron Part Clay. —Daniel 2:32,33

The following chart demonstrates the organization and structure of the passage, again with the words maintaining their exact order:

Body Part / Element
——————————
Head / Fine Gold
Breast Arms / Silver
Belly Thighs / Brass
Legs / Iron
Feet / Part Iron – Part Clay

Because the Preterist position is unable to satisfactorily account for the clear distinction between the legs of iron and the feet of mixed iron and clay, it is forced to argue that the feet merely represent a particular period within the broader historical Roman Empire. Some argue that the clay intermixed with the iron in the feet represents the mixture of Roman and Jewish-Herodian rule during the first century. This explanation however doesn’t represent the totality of the Roman Empire, but merely one very small segment of the broader empire. Nor does this view satisfactorily account for the sharp distinction between the legs and feet.

The Futurist view however, understands the feet of the statue as describing the broader final period of the fourth empire as defined by its revival in the last days. This latter days revival of the fourth kingdom is clearly articulated by John the Apostle in the Book of Revelation. There, John speaks of the final kingdom as suffering a fatal head wound and coming back to life’

I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast —Revelation 13:3

Later, the apostle also speaks of the same final ‘seventh’ empire, as being an empire which ‘was, and is not’ and finally reviving as an ‘eighth’:

The beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. —Revelation 17:11

And so it is seen that only the Futurist position is able to reconcile Daniel’s prophecies with the Book of Revelation’s descriptions, accounting for both the continuity and the division of the last empire. The Preterist interpretation however offers only a strange and forced explanation, which does not sufficiently explain the distinction, nor can it define any period within the Roman Empire when any could say that it ‘was and is not’.

It should also be noted that the Preterist position here is forced to understand the seven heads of the Beast to represent specific historical Roman emperors, rather than as historical kingdoms, as is consistent with the motif of ‘mountain’ as found throughout the Bible. While virtually all Preterists attempt to identify the final seventh heads / mountain of Revelation 13 and 17 as referring to some series of historical Roman emperors, it seems as though no two Preterists can agree as to which seven these might be. Virtually every Preterist seems to have a different list of which Roman emperors they believe ‘fit’ the criteria of the prophecy. Futurists however, share general agreement that the seven heads of the beast represent a series of pan-historical, pan-Biblical pagan empires, beginning with Egypt, each which at one time, tried to destroy the Hebrew people and her connection to the promised land.

The Nature of the Destruction of the Statue

Some further insurmountable problems with the Preterist interpretation of Daniel 2 is that the text portrays the final kingdom, in fact, the whole statue, as being destroyed suddenly, immediately, and completely. No sooner does the Messianic rock strike the feet of the statue that it is shattered, and its residue is blown away. The Messianic Kingdom of God fills the whole world leaving no trace of the previous pagan kingdoms. All four of the kingdoms are destroyed ‘at the same time’ (Dan. 2:40, 44). When one compares the descriptions given concerning the end of this final pagan kingdom, in both Daniel 2 and 7, it is clear that the text emphasizes the finality and totality of the transition from pagan to Messianic rule. First, the establishment of the Kingdom of God is expressly placed within a particular timeframe. It is established ‘in the days of those kings’, a reference to the final period of the fourth kingdom:

“And in the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.” —Daniel 2:44

An essential portion of the above verse is often overlooked. We are informed that, unlike the other kingdoms mentioned within the passage, the Kingdom of God will not be left to others. This same theme is later expressed again in Daniel 7:

“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. “As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time. —Daniel 7:11-12

Many have misinterpreted this verse to mean that the other kingdoms in Daniel 7 are essentially contemporary empires or kingdoms that exist in their fullness during the time when the fourth kingdom is destroyed. This is not the meaning of this verse however. Instead, its point is to contrast the nature of the destruction of these previous empires. The other empires, unlike the final empire were given to other peoples, with much of their culture, languages and peoples having lived on in those empires that conquered them. This is not the case however with the fourth kingdom. It would first suffer an apparent death. Then, after having come back to life will suffer a final, devastating, immediate and ultimate blow. This is also seen to contrast sharply with the Messianic Kingdom of God, which will never be given to another people, but will last forever:

‘Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.’ —Daniel 7:27

Yet history informs us quite clearly that the Roman Empire never met such a fate. In fact, the fate of the Roman Empire was precisely the exact opposite of the descriptions given within Daniel’s prophecy. Instead of meeting an immediate and decisive blow, the Roman Empire continued to exist and even grow for many years after the coming of Jesus in the first century. The Roman Empire, suffering from internal decay and external attacks, sputtered and crept along for another 1400 years after the coming of the Messiah. History informs us that it was not the influence of the Church that destroyed the Roman Empire, but moral decay within, and pagan forces from without. And all of this, over a very long and drawn out time-frame, at various times, in various places, long after the coming of Jesus.

Christo-paganism? Who Assumed Who?

Additionally, it can also be argued that instead of being entirely overwhelmed by the gospel, instead, the Roman Empire essentially incorporated and assumed Christianity into itself, resulting in a significant Roman-pagan influence within the culture, practices, traditions, and even to some measure, the liturgy and doctrines of Christianity. Though I reject the radical views on these matters as argued by Alexander Hislop and many after him, it must be admitted that the exchange between Roman and Christian culture was certainly not entirely one-way.

In keeping with the language of the passage, the Futurist interpretation looks forward to the time when Jesus will return to genuinely shatter the pagan governments, and ungodly systems of this world, resulting in the complete and utter victory of the very real and substantial Messianic Kingdom of God filling the whole earth, leaving no remnant of the former pagan influences.

The Timing of the Coming of the Kingdom: During Great Persecution

Earlier, we showed that the timing of the coming Messianic Kingdom is said to occur specifically during a time of unparalleled persecution by the final empire against the ‘saints of the Highest One’:

“I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.” —Daniel 7:21-22

The Preterist interpretation of these chapters cannot account for this clear statement concerning the timing of the coming of the Messianic Kingdom of God. When Jesus came the first time, it was not during a time of unparalleled persecution by the Romans against the Jewish peoples, nor did the Kingdom come later during Roman persecution against the Church. The Futurist position, on the other hand, in faithfulness to the text, looks forward to the time when the Messiah will deliver his people from out of a period of overwhelming persecution under the Antichrist, perhaps even in the near future.

Who Struck Who?

Another point that few Preterists seem to acknowledge is that unlike the descriptions of the prophecy, the Romans struck and killed Jesus, not the other way around. It will not be until Jesus returns that his victorious judgments will be executed against the pagan governments of the earth.

True Messianic Hope

In the perpetual cycle of increasingly frustrating and even outright depressing seasons of political elections, it is heartening to take note of the fact that when the Messiah comes, all corrupt, pagan, and ungodly politicians, governments and unrighteous leaders throughout the earth will be utterly, completely and finally judged and removed. Unlike the vague, partial, and perpetually drawn-out hope that is held-out by the Preterist vision of history (and the future), only Futurism provides us with a vision of the days to come that truly encourages our hearts with the incorruptible hope of a soon coming transition to truly righteous, humble and godly leadership throughout the whole earth. Maranatha! Source – Joel’s Trumpet.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4255

Iran preparing for nuclear war

Despite the statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel’s red line on Iran’s illicit nuclear program could be reached by next spring, Iranian officials are adamant that war is close.

In analyzing Mr. Netanyahu’s recent speech to the United Nations General Assembly, an Iranian nuclear policy strategist boasted to state media outlet irannuc.ir that Mr. Netanyahu’s red line is based on the current enrichment process to the 20 percent level at the Fordow nuclear facility. A recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report shows Iran has 90 kilograms of 20 percent enrichment, needing just 130 kilograms of such material for a nuclear bomb, which the Israelis conclude will happen by next spring.

“The first important fact is that Netanyahu has assumed that the speed of 20 percent enrichment by Iran remains the same till next year, but if the speed of such conversion then is changed, the timeline for such capacity will change, too,” said the unnamed strategist, hinting that Iran could obtain the needed material for the bomb sooner than Israel expects.

The Aug. 30 IAEA report showed Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges at its Fordow facility deep within a mountain to more than 2,000, and work continues unabated at the 20 percent enrichment level. Meanwhile, over 10,000 centrifuges at the Natanz facility are enriching to the 3.5 percent level with enough low-enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs, should Iran decide to enrich further. According to a source within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Iran has already armed some of its ballistic missiles with chemical and biological warheads, to use against Israel should Israel attack.

Revolutionary Guard commanders in recent weeks have warned Iranians that the possibility of war is real. The guards’ chief commander, Mohammad Ali Jafari, said war will break out, and should Israel attack Iran, it will be destroyed. Javad Estaki, another guard commander, recently stated, “The enemy has always threatened us and we consider [the probability of] military confrontation at 100 percent . There are signs that the threat is real, we are ready and the people should be ready, too.”

The radical leaders of the Islamic regime are worried on two fronts as they speed up their nuclear bomb program: They fear an attack on their nuclear facilities before they complete their nuclear bomb goals and internal uprisings due to deteriorating economic conditions.

As the regime prepares for both scenarios, the West must tighten the screws on Iran’s economy with even harsher sanctions, thereby bringing about critical mass for a new Iranian revolution before the regime becomes nuclear-armed.

The Revolutionary Guard, in fear of a break in communications in case of war and internal chaos, has set up command-and-control centers in 31 provinces, acting under the orders of 10 operational bases, with orders to confront any enemy aggression (foot soldiers) and suppress civilian riots.

Thousands of units have been formed within the Revolutionary Guards and Basij paramilitary forces to maintain order and attack protesting civilians.

A recent Intelligence Ministry memo warned Iranian officials that deteriorating economic conditions from international sanctions greatly increase the possibility of an uprising and urged them to take appropriate action.

The once-secret report, according to the Iranian Internet site Kaleme, the official site of the Green movement, specifically warned of riots by hungry masses on the outskirts of major cities across Iran.

The government’s economic commission has concluded that the country will run out of foreign currency reserves in the next six months and that inflation plaguing the Iranian currency will see another steep rise, reports showed.

Last week, the Iranian currency reached a historic low in which one U.S. dollar was equivalent to 39,000 Iranian rials. The commission expects the exchange rate on the open market to increase to more than 67,000 rials. The exchange rate before sanctions on Iranian oil and banks took effect July 1 was about 12,000 rials.

The devaluation in Iranian currency caused riots in downtown Tehran, as hundreds of merchants marched on Parliament in protest of the collapsing currency and the Islamic regime’s financial support of Syria’s government under Bashar Assad. Riot police violently clamped down on protesters. The government will also have problems in making payrolls for its employees and related institutions. Employees could lose 50 percent of their pay.

Western leaders believe that by early next year, economic conditions will force regime leaders, fearing a revolt from within, to change course and negotiate. The Islamic regime is preparing for the worst and racing to the finish line to acquire the bomb, believing that it will become invincible once it does so.

The best course of action for the United States is to support the Iranian people who aspire to freedom and democracy, and help them bring change from within. The country is ripe for revolt, and Western support is critical as the regime prepares to confront its own people over policies the majority of Iranians have long resented.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4249

Archbishop tells UN we need World Government

The Vatican’s Chief Foreign-Policy official, Archbishop Dominque Mamberti ,tells the UN General Assembly that the world has lost confidence in the moral principals that sustain the organization.

The archbishop states that international problems and the economic fears is due to “a profound anthropological crisis—that is, a loss of a common understanding of what is truly human.” The Vatican official explained that “only an international community firmly anchored in authentic values consistent with human dignity can produce viable solutions to new types of conflicts.”

Referring to terrorism, Mamberti  said there needed to be a consensus of mortality  as an antidote  to “new types of conflicts initiated by transnational groups that spread a pseudo-religious ideology of contempt for human rights and civil peace.” He said that the problem is shown “most flagrantly by current developments in the Middle East, and in particular in Syria.”

The archbishop praised the UN’s work for world peace but felt the structure was lacking, stating the organization “deprived of the force of unity and persuasive power that it could legitimately have” because of the lack of a clear international accord on basic moral principles, such as those that were set forth earlier in fundamental international agreements on human rights.

 “How is it,” the archbishop questioned, “that in spite of universal acceptance of the UN charter and fundamental treaties, we cannot establish a real and equitable system of world government?”

Mamberti also mentioned the disparity between the rich and the poor and that “world wide action” is needed to quell the global financial crisis.

Source: catholicculture.org,

My Comment:

Anyone with eyes to see, can see the woman riding the beast. The Vatican is demanding quick action by the UN to bring in world government and a world currency.

It is clear the Vatican is getting impatient by basically asking “Now that you have world wide approval from the nations and everything is in place, why don’t we have world government yet?!”

The Vatican notes,that they will approve of this new world order as long as all of her doctrines and dogmas are accepted into the world religion to come with it.

After the murder of the USA ambassadors, Catholic  Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, the apostolic vicar of Tripoli, told Vatican Insider that Western countries should have the “courage” to ban “all blasphemous projects” and establish “a policy that is respectful of religion.”

This is the beginning of the world religion that will be implemented into the fast approaching world government. No one will be able to insult Islam or Catholicism or other world religions. Freedom of speech will be quelled because the true Gospel will be called hate speech.

The underground church will again resurface as we will join our brothers and sisters who worship in secret in many places around the world.

Revelation 17:1-2

 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4243

Islamic-Christian Alliance in Israel

Islamic-Christian Alliance in Israel

By Gary Stearman on September 30, 2012

The following news item was recently published in Israel: Arutz Sheva, Aug. 27th – “The Temple Mount, the place where Avraham [Abraham] came to sacrifice his son to God, the site of the first and second Jewish Temples, where the Jewish people worshiped for hundreds of years and the focal point of every practicing Jew’s prayers, is under increasing assault from the Islamic-Christian Committee.

“This relatively new Palestinian institution has been able to win the support not only of the entire regional Christian leadership, but also of leading Christian personalities from abroad.

“The Islamic-Christian Commission has just warned that the Israeli authorities are working to impose ‘a false Jewish history’ in Jerusalem, ‘the occupied city,’especially ‘on the area known to Jews as the Temple Mount.’ The Committee warned of a new ‘Judaization.’ Such fabricated lies help the Palestinians to conquer a seat in the international agencies like Unesco and to excite the Muslims against the Jews.”

In this report, we see the sad truth that not all Christians understand the prophetic truth that Israel is destined to return to the Holy Land in the last days. Instead, they view the institutional church – not Israel – as the central element in God’s plan to renew the Earth. Some even envision transferring their ecclesiastical headquarters to Jerusalem when the time is right, to greet the Lord upon His return in the Second Coming.

In their thinking, the church has superseded Israel, and is destined to create the spiritual platform that will pave the way for the Lord’s return, as He brings the Kingdom of God to its final fruition upon Earth.

In their world view, termed “replacement theology,” modern Israel is a temporary accident that will soon be swept aside into the dustbin of history. They see it as a strange offshoot of the Jewish Holocaust of World War II, whose presence in the Middle East is an irritant and obstacle to peace. Prophecy has been improperly taught for centuries; any attempt to correct long-held positions will certainly be met with dramatic resistance.

In this arena, we encounter a real contradiction in the interpretation of Bible prophecy. In sharp contrast with this view, Dispensationalism was developed in the 19th century under the leadership of John Nelson Darby and his immediate support group. They restored the long-extinct Apostolic doctrine of imminency and placed national Israel at the center of prophetic fulfillment.As dispensationalists, we do not see the Church – the body of Christ – as usurping Israel’s central place in the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

Part of the problem is that Christians who follow denominational creeds are only rarely (if at all) involved in the study of Bible prophecy. Eschatology has been sidelined, and is considered nearly irrelevant. Besides that, it is generally thought to be so divisive in nature that it is approached with caution. For this reason, most seminaries now admonish their young graduates to steer clear of prophetic teaching, except in the most simplistic terms. In other words, be content with, “Jesus will return to Earth some day.” Christians who believe in the latter-day return of Israel to the Holy Land are continually amazed at the widespread failure to understand this basic Bible prophecy.

In fact, there is a long tradition of power politics behind the precautionary stance of today’s theologians. Religious empires have been built and are vigorously protected.

The Islamic-Christian Committee

The Committee mentioned earlier is comprised of theologians who represent the tip of the replacement theology iceberg. They are amillennialists, with an understanding of prophecy that goes back to Augustine, whose writings were a reaction to the allegorical biblical interpretations of earlier church fathers. He cut off their strange prophetic conjectures by denying that there would be a future Millennium.

Of course, national Israel found no place in his view. The Jews had been banished to the four corners of the world, and in his thinking, would never return.

And so, in the early 5th century, he envisioned a thousand-year Church Age. When that period passed, his timing was discredited. His followers in the Roman Church then spiritualized the remaining period, assigning it an indefinite duration. Once again, Israel found no place in this renewal of prophetic interpretation.

Though flawed, Augustine’s system of eschatology found practically universal acceptance in the medieval church. Centuries later, the Roman Church and the later Reformed churches continued to accept his theology as firm and correct tradition, which is still the case, today.

Today’s Islamic-Christian Committee is comprised of church leaders who follow Augustinian eschatology. Naturally, they see Jerusalem as he did: the City of God as capital of the Gentile world. The church institutions they represent are all steeped in this concept of Gentile authority.

One of them (left) is Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canturbury. He has been termed “Anglo-Catholic.” He recently said, “It is impossible to deny that Christians and Muslims have a common agenda here: both faiths have at their heart the living image of a community raised up by God’s call to reveal to the world what God’s purpose is for humanity.”

Fouad Twal, the new Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, serving in that capacity since 2008, recently took part in a meeting with Williams in London, England. There, he protested the fact that there are “more than 550,000 Israelis living in East Jerusalam and the West Bank.” He also spoke against “the demography of Jerusalem changing rapidly with the sacred space being threatened.” In other words, he detests the growing Jewish population there.

Another is the Vatican’s former archbishop in Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah. He has launched appeals in Europe and the United States, urging them to “stop the Hebraization of Jerusalem.”

The founder of the Committee, is Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Jerusalem, Atallah (Theodosius) Hanna. Since his appointment in 2001, quickly established himself as a vigorous political activist, publicly denouncing the “Israeli occupation” and the establishment of a “Palestinian identity.” Naturally, he is very popular among Arabs. Israeli authorities, however, have repeatedly arrested him on charges of “incitement.”

Hanna once said, “The suicide bombers who carry out their activities in the name of religion are national heroes and we’re proud of them.”

Supersessionism

There is a fundamental error in the theology that states it has replaced Israel, which it deems to be forever lost in sin.

Theologians sometimes refer to replacement theology as “supersessionism,” from the English word “supersede.” This church position states that the New Covenent replaces the Mosaic Covenant, which it refers to as the “Old Covenant.” On this basis, it believes that it has inherited the promises made to the biblical Israelites.

It is only natural, therefore, that modern church leaders would view Israel as a temporary obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

However, contemporary scholarship points out a fundamental error in their theology. They begin with the idea that Israel is forever lost in sin, never to be redeemed. However, the Apostle Paul speaks of national Israel as being at the center of God’s long-term plan for this world. Surely, anyone with the slightest experience in Scripture has read Paul’s explanation for the purpose of Israel’s rejection:

“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness” (Rom. 11:11,12).

Here, he plainly states that the collapse of Israel’s rule in Israel was only temporary. It brought salvation to the Gentiles (through Christ’s death, burial and resurrection at the feast of Firstfruits). Then, he says that they will rise again to fullness. In order to throw out this Scriptural truth, one must nullify Paul as an Apostolic authority. He adds that Israel, like Christ, will rise from the dead:

“For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11:15).

But Paul’s pure and simple statement cannot be misinterpreted. It must be ignored. And so it has been, by those who believe that the church has superseded the promised Kingdom, composed of the twelve tribes of Israel.

According to those who follow it, supersessionism expresses itself in several ways. Augustine believed that the church superseded Israel in terms of a new form of management replacing the old. He saw this development as historical and practical.

Others say that supersessionism is structural. It is simply the natural development of God’s ages-long plan for the redemption of the Earth.

Still others see the church’s supersession as God’s punishment of the Jews, who continue to reject Jesus. In the second century, Justin Martyr wrote, “For the true spiritual Israel are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ.”

In the third century, Hippolytus is quoted as having said, “The Jews … have been darkened in the eyes of your [the Lord’s] soul with a darkness utter and everlasting.”

Among many others, Hippolytus, Origen and Martin Luther held the belief that the Old Testament prophecies once intended for the Jews were now to be interpreted as pertaining to Christians.

And as stated above, most contemporary mainline churches continue to hold various forms of this view, opening the way for emphatic rejection of Israel as legitimately back in the Land.

What’s wrong with this view? First, it is erroneous to believe that the New Covenant is a replacement for the Mosaic Covenant. Christians have not received redemption through the Law of Moses, but through the finished work of Christ.

And the inescapable fact is that the covenant of His priesthood goes back to Abraham, centuries before Moses received the covenant of Law at Mount Horeb.

The Priesthood of Melchizedek

The writer of Hebrews makes this clear, by recalling that Abraham, after his military defeat of the four Gentile Kings, paid a tithe to the priest called Melchizedek.

“Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him” (Heb. 7:4-10).

Levi, the priest of the Mosaic law, is here shown to have an inferior priesthood to that of Melchizedek, by virtue of Abraham’s action toward Melchizedek. The author of Hebrews then goes on to point out that Christ’s spiritual heritage originates from him, rather than from Moses and Aaron:

“If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 7:11-17).

A Spiritual Priesthood

In his first epistle, Peter speaks of those who were not a people, but now through Christ and the mercy of God have become members of His family, having the ability to act as priests and co-regents:

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (I Pet. 2:9,10).

Certainly, this does not imply that God must throw away one group (the Jews) in order to elevate the status of another (the Church).

Yet this is the motivation behind the theology of the Islamic-Christian Committee. It is driven by an ages-long vitriol, expressed in the language of loathing. The group also includes in its membership one Sheikh Tamimi, a high-ranking judge in the Palestinian Authority (PA). He once said, “Perhaps one day the world will awake and realize that these Zionist elements are the bloodletters who hang on the peoples, sucking their blood and consuming their resources.”

The leaders of this group have for a long time, worked hand-in-glove with the PLO, Yasser Arafat, and the PA’s current leader, Mahmoud Abbas.

The Arutz Sheva article concludes with this brief historical note: “23 December, 1995, is the date of the turning point for the Islamic-Christian alliance against the Jews in Jerusalem. The Greek Orthodox patriarch of the holy land, Deodorus I, handed over the custody of Churches in Jerusalem to PLO leader Arafat. This was done in the presence of the Catholic, Anglican and Greek orthodox archbishops.

“The patriarch declared, ‘I am the heir of Sophronius and I am handing the keys (to Christian holy sites in Jerusalem) to the heir of Omar Ibn al-Khattab.’

“Omar, the caliph who claimed Jerusalem from Byzantine rule in 638, gave then Patriarch Sophronius custody of Churches and a pledge to safeguard them. The move was meant to put Christian holy places under the custody of Arafat, a Muslim, and strengthening the Arab-Islamic claim to Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.”

The article ends with a question: “Will this new Islamic-Christian alliance be able to convince the European Union, the UN and the US to baptize Jerusalem, ‘Al Quds’”? This, the Islamic name for Jerusalem, means “the holy.” In context, it designates the Israeli capital as “the holy place.”

Certainly, it is that, with a history that dates back to Abraham, who paid tithes to the High Priest Melchizedek in this place, and later offered up Isaac here, on the holy mountain. It is the site of both Temples and the rule of King David. Its holiness was established before there ever was an Islam. And its prophetic destiny as God’s city is one of the most basic themes of the Bible. The Committee should know that changing the name of this eternal city will not change what has been written … and what will be fulfilled.

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