Category: Prophecy Studies

Jul 31

Why the Islamic Antichrist Theory Matters

Reposted from Joel Richardson

Why the Islamic Antichrist Theory Matters

July 26, 2012 in Updates

Joel Richardson WND
(Please post this article on your blogs, Facebook, Tweet it, and generally spread it around.)

As a well-known prophecy teacher, my email inbox is frequently full of questions, comments and news articles from those interested in biblical prophecy. While some of these emails are certainly helpful and interesting, there are also many that I would put into the category of “biblical prophecy as morbid trivia.” What I mean is that there are many believers who are overly fixated on discussing the many intricate details concerning the many dark events looming on the horizon. Now, to be clear, I say this as someone who deeply values biblical prophecy, but I will be the first to admit that much of what passes for biblical prophecy today is a mixture of conspiracy theories and extra-biblical concepts with only a thin ribbon of biblical passages intertwined throughout, so as to give it the appearance of credibility. I will also be the first to acknowledge that there are numerous Christians who have lost their way, having become completely distracted from the primary mandate of the Christian church, which is the proclamation of the gospel of the Kingdom – in both word and deed.

On the other hand, there are many Christians, who have overreacted to the unhealthy emphasis of some and now avoid the subject of biblical prophecy altogether. This is equally grievous. The Lord did not fill the pages of the Bible with prophecy because he wanted us to avoid the subject.

Although there are numerous highly relevant reasons for Christians to study biblical prophecy, I would like to use the remainder of this article to touch on just one deeply relevant reason specifically as to why the emerging Islamic Antichrist theory is so essential for the church to get a hold of. In brief, the answer is because the future of the missions movement depends on it. Allow me explain.

Today there are approximately 6.7 billion people in the world. Roughly 2.2 billion consider themselves Christians. This number is divided almost evenly in half between Roman Catholics and Protestants (with about 240 million Eastern Orthodox believers). There are also close to a billion secularists without a religion, a little less than a billion Hindus and only about 500 million Buddhists. The number of Muslims globally however is approximately 1.6 billion. This means that Muslims are far and away, the largest non-Christian people group in the world. More than any other people group in the world, Muslims need the gospel. The Islamic world needs missionaries. So one would expect the church to be obedient to the Great Commission of Jesus as found in Matthew 28:19 among Muslims:

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Such, however, is far from the case. Although the Islamic world represents the greatest need, it has the least number of missionaries. In fact, on average, for every 1 million Muslims, there is only one Christian missionary! This is an absolute scandal, and I have no question that heaven is not pleased.

Now, while there is more than one reason why Christians are not going to the Islamic world, I want to touch on one very popular theological idea, a prophetic scenario actually, that is deeply demotivating a multitude of potential missionaries within many mainstream denominations from pursuing missions and church-planting among Muslims.

Briefly, this prophetic scenario holds that a series of imminent wars, most often referred to “the Psalm 83 War,” followed immediately by the “Battle of Gog of Magog” will soon result in the complete annihilation of most Muslims in the Middle East and Islam as a religion essentially drying up and fading away. This scenario is not some oddball prophetic interpretation, but is widely taught by numerous very well-known Christian leaders and teachers. Consider below just a small sampling of quotes from some such prophecy teachers, as it relates to future of the Islamic world:

“[T]he war of Ezekiel 38 will result in the annihilation of nearly all the armies of the Muslim nations of the Middle East. … Thus, if the Antichrist is a Muslim who is going to rule a Muslim empire in the Middle East during the Tribulation, then he is going to rule over an empire that has been reduced to ashes!” (David Reagan)

“I believe that the Ezekiel 38-39 war plays a key role in the rise of the Antichrist. It is clear in this passage that Iran and the Muslim coalition suffers a humiliating defeat. I believe God will use this war to bring the ultimate downfall of the Islamic religion and the false god Allah.” (Randy White)

“The elimination of this Russian-Islamic alliance and all their troops will pave the way for the Antichrist to posture himself to take over the world.” (Mark Hitchcock)

“Islam is just another system that will be wiped out before the Antichrist instills his system.” (Nathan Jones)

There is power in prophecy. What prophecy teachers teach has widespread and lasting implications. This teaching that Islam is about to disappear is truly destructive to the completion of the Great Commission among Muslims. And what makes matters worse is that the idea of the Battle of Gog of Magog as a distinct and separate battle from the final battles of the Antichrist described elsewhere throughout the prophets can easily be shown to be a bogus interpretation.

In my new book, “Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist,” I walk the reader carefully through the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39 (The Battle of Gog of Magog), Psalm 83 and many others, so as to thoroughly dispel this false idea that the Islamic world and religion is about to face “annihilation” or “will be wiped out.”

In fact, if there is one primary underlying point I would wish to make with my newest book and which I am struggling to awaken the Christian church regarding, it is the simple fact that Islam is the single greatest challenge the church will face before the return of Jesus. But until he returns, it is not going away.

The mandate of the church at this moment in history is to rise to meet the challenge of Islam. Now is not the time for armchair prophecy-enthusiast Christians to sit back and passively await the destruction of the Islamic world.

Numerous Western Christians today are openly calling for war with Iran, yet few are aware of the fact that Iran is experiencing the single greatest Christian revival in the world!

Now is not the time to pray for the judgment of the Islamic world. Now is the time for the church to lift up their eyes and recognize the fact that the fields are white unto harvest and pray that the Lord of the harvest would send laborers into the fields! (Matthew 9:37-38; John 4:35)

It’s time that the church casts these false and deeply demotivating interpretations of prophecy into the waste basket. Hundreds of millions of souls are depending on it.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3794

Jul 03

Dispensationalism

Great article explaining dispensationalism to us by Jack Kelley! Keep looking up!

 

Dispensationalism – This Week’s Feature Article by Jack Kelley – www.gracethrufaith.com

I’ve been answering questions from so many people for so long that I sometimes forget not everyone who comes to the site has read all of them. As a case in point, I recently answered a question about the flood where I said it was the second in a series of seven times where mankind would violate the terms of an agreement with God and bring judgment upon themselves. I didn’t think any more about it until I received several questions from people asking what I was talking about and could I list the other six times. I realized they hadn’t read the several answers I have posted over the years on the theological system I follow called dispensationalism.

What Is Dispensationalism?

Dispensationalism is a method for interpreting the Bible. The Greek word from which we get dispensation appears only 7 times in the New Testament and is only translated as such in four of those, all by Paul and all in the King James (1 Cor. 9:17, Ephes. 1:10, Ephes. 3:2, Colossians 1:25). Other meanings of this word are stewardship, administration, and economy.

What Do Dispensationalists Believe?

A dispensationalist believes that throughout history God has dealt with humanity in different ways at different times as part of the process of revealing His character and His plan for mankind, and calls these different periods dispensations.

For example, while salvation has always been by faith, the way to salvation through much of the Old Testament was through Israel and required obedience to the Law as well. That is not the case during the Church Age. And while eternal security is promised to the Church, it was not promised to Israel. Neither was the Holy Spirit sealed within Old Testament believers as is the case with believers in the Church (Ephes. 1:13-14). Therefore the way God dealt with Israel in the Old Testament took place during a different dispensation than His dealings with the Church in the New Testament. Get the idea?

This is one of the reasons I’ve given in support of my position that Eternal Security won’t be available to post rapture believers. The last seven years before the Lord’s return (Daniel’s 70th Week) will be a time when God deals primarily with Israel again, as He did in the Old Testament. He promised Israel these seven years and has yet to provide them. Daniel 9:24-27 explains this and tells us a temple will be built in Israel during that time, and that animal sacrifices will once again be offered on its altar. While these things were required during Old Testament times they would be both unnecessary and undesirable now unless the Church Age first comes to an end, something that will happen with the rapture. This is why so many dispensationalists believe the rapture will happen before Daniel’s 70th Week begins.

Some say that dispensationalism is a relatively modern system of theology first proposed by John Nelson Darby in the mid 1800′s. But evidence that the early church believed in the principles of dispensationalism can be found in the 2nd Century writings of Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. Justin Martyr saw four distinct periods (dispensations) and gave them the names of the principle players, Adam to Abraham; Abraham to Moses; Moses to Christ; and Christ to Eternity. Irenaeus also saw four periods, from the Creation to the Flood, from the Flood to the Law, from the Law to the Gospel, and from the Gospel to Eternity.

More recently most scholars have settled on seven dispensations. Each one has begun with an agreement between God and man that man has subsequently broken, causing the agreement to fail and requiring a judgment. Here are the seven dispensations in chronological order.

1) Innocence … Between the Creation and the Fall of Man in the Garden. God interacted freely and personally with Adam and Eve during this period. Then they broke the only rule He had given them (Genesis 3:11-13) and were expelled from the Garden. Sin entered the world.

2) Conscience … Between the Fall and the Flood, God allowed man’s conscience to govern his behavior without Divine interference. Because of the sin nature passed down from mankind’s first parents, the result was that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God pronounced judgment upon the world and destroyed all but 8 members of the human race in the Great Flood.

3) Human Government … from the Flood to Abraham. After the flood God told Noah to go forth and replenish the Earth (Genesis 9:7). Noah’s descendants disobeyed God’s commandment, setting about instead to build a great city and tower from which to study the stars (Genesis 11:4). God confused man’s language, causing them to stop building the tower, and scattered them throughout the world (Genesis 11:8-9).

4) Promise … from Abraham to Moses. God promised Abraham a homeland for his descendants (Genesis 17:8) and a son for him and Sarah (Genesis 17:15-16). But they grew tired of waiting and produced a son on their own, who they named Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-2.15). When God’s promised son Isaac was born, Ishmael was sent away (Genesis 21:8-13) causing enmity between the Jews (descendants of Isaac) and Arabs (descendants of Ishmael) that continues to this day. After Mohammed, a descendant of Ishmael’s, founded Islam this enmity took on religious significance and became even more intense.

5) Law … from Moses to Jesus. God gave Moses the 10 Commandments and promised the Jews a life of peace and plenty in a Kingdom of their own if they obeyed (Exodus 19:5, Exodus 20:1-17). After repeated periods of disobedience which included rejecting their Messiah King, God withdrew His offer of the Kingdom and expelled them from their land (Matt. 21:43, Luke 19:41-44).

6) Grace … from Pentecost to the Rapture, the Church Age. No longer requiring righteousness through works, God granted a righteousness by grace through faith in the completed work of Christ to all who accept, whether Jew or Gentile (Romans 3:21-24). Most will not accept and will be punished through eternity.

Note: It’s important to realize that Grace didn’t replace Law, it just interrupted it.  Law has another 7 years to run, called Daniel’s 70th Week (Daniel 9:24-27), which fills the time between the Rapture and the 2nd Coming. During this time all the nations to which Israel has been scattered will be completely destroyed and Israel will be disciplined in preparation for receiving the Kingdom (Jeremiah 30:4-11).

7) The Kingdom … the 1000 Year Reign of Christ that begins with the 2nd Coming. This time Israel will accept the Kingdom offer (Zechariah 12:10, Zechariah 14:8-9). Satan will be bound (Rev. 20:2), all unbelievers will be expelled from the planet (Matt. 25:41-46), and God will once again dwell in the midst of His people (Ezek. 43:6-7). You’d think man could finally live in a manner pleasing to God. But he can’t. With the exception of Israel, the world will rebel against God and His people. God will send fire to consume them all (Rev. 20:7-10).

What Is God’s Purpose In This?

I think the overarching purpose of these seven dispensations is to demonstrate that there are no conditions under which natural man can behave in a manner acceptable to God. Only the Church is able to do so and then only after being perfected in the rapture. This why Paul wrote that after the end of the Millennium when it comes time for Jesus to present the kingdom to the Father, He will first destroy all dominion, authority and power (1 Cor. 15:24).  As we enter eternity neither mankind nor the angels will ever have the desire or ability to disobey God again. That’s why there isn’t an eighth dispensation called Eternity.

Two of the major changes that dispensationalism as we know it today brought upon the post reformation world were the return to a literal interpretation of Scripture, especially where it deals with prophecy, and the realization that there’s a distinct difference between Israel and the Church in the End Times. It’s the best tool I know of for determining the context of a passage and understanding who its intended recipients are. (Reform theology does not adhere to a literal interpretation of Scripture, treats end times prophecy as allegorical, and blurs the distinction between Israel and the Church to the point where some claim the Church has replaced Israel in God’s plan making Israel an unnecessary part of our times.)

Most dispensationalists believe in a pre-tribulation rapture followed by Daniel’s 70th week with its accompanying judgments and a literal Kingdom of God that will begin with the 2nd Coming and last for 1,000 years. During this time Israel will be God’s Kingdom on Earth while the Church will be God’s Kingdom in Heaven.

So this is what dispensationalists believe. It’s what I believe and is the theological foundation for all the articles and answers to be found on this site. This is why I said the Great Flood was the second in a series of seven times where mankind would violate the terms of an agreement with God and bring judgment upon themselves.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3722

Jun 23

Magog- Joel Richardson

Really good study by Joel Richardson on the identity of Magog. Keep looking up!

http://www.wnd.com/2012/06/the-truth-about-gog-and-magog/

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3685

Jun 09

CHARIOTS IN RED SEA: ‘IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE’

Chariots in Red Sea: ‘Irrefutable evidence’

‘Horse and human remains strewn like battlefield wreckage’

Published: 15 hours ago

by Joe Kovacs

Coral-encrusted object in Red Sea could be ancient Egyptian chariot wheels

A news report that stunned the world nine years ago about the discovery of possible ancient chariot wheels at the bottom of the Red Sea is suddenly gaining fresh attention with new video claiming “irrefutable evidence” that corroborates the find.

In June 2003, WND interviewed Bible enthusiasts who dove the waters of the Red Sea, alleging they found and photographed parts of chariots that may be the actual remains of the catastrophe brought upon the Egyptian army which pursued the Israelites, according to the Book of Exodus in the Bible.

“I am 99.9 percent sure I picked up a chariot wheel,” said Peter Elmer, a forklift mechanic from Keynsham, England, who made two diving trips to the Gulf of Aqaba branch of the sea. “It was covered in coral.”

“I believe I actually sat in an ancient chariot cab,” he told WND at the time, referring to his time exploring a submerged item in the underwater junkyard. “Without question, it is most definitely the remains of the Egyptian army.”

Now, Michael Rood, a Hebrew-roots teacher, has produced a video proffering evidence Elmer is absolutely correct.

His DVD, titled “The Red Sea Crossing,” documents the work of numerous researchers from the U.S. and overseas who have probed an underwater land bridge between a beachhead at Nuweiba, Egypt, and what is today Saudi Arabia.

“What they found strewn across the bottom of the reed sea has shaken the religious and scientific community,” says Rood. “Cameras, mounted on remote-controlled submarines, revealed coral-encrusted chariot parts, horse and human remains strewn like battlefield wreckage on the bottom of the reed sea.”

He uses the term “reed sea” instead of Red Sea, as that’s the literal translation of the words “yam suph” in Holy Scripture, referring to the body of water God miraculously opened for the ancient Israelites to cross on dry land, before drowning the Egyptians in hot pursuit.

“Even a novice can readily see that these are not natural coral formations,” Rood said, showing a variety of circular shapes he insists are chariot wheels, some with axles still intact.

He gave special attention to a single gold-veneered, four-spoked chariot wheel that was photographed and buried in place with a marker buoy nearby.

“Because coral does not attach to gold or silver, this priceless specimen remains untarnished by time,” he said, calling it “strong evidence that this is actually one of the two chariot wheels that the pharaoh rode to his death.”

Rood also explained giant pillars have been found on both sides of the crossing to mark the event. One was discovered eroded on the Egyptian shore by the late American archaeologist Ron Wyatt. Later, another was located on the Arabian side with “the legible remains of ancient paleo-Hebrew inscriptions.”

He says the words for pharaoh, death, Egypt, King Solomon and the sacred name of God, YHWH, are all present on the second pillar.

“King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, knew exactly where the children of Israel made their escape just 500 years before, and so he established pillars to memorialize the yam suph crossing,” said Rood.

He points out the depth of water of would make it impossible for a crossing to have taken place anywhere with the exception of the shallow land bridge at Nuweiba.

“If the water were to be removed, it would still be impossible to cross this chasm which is as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon in Arizona,” Rood said.

“But,” he added, “at the beach where Israel camped, an underwater land bridge gently slopes at a 6-degree angle, levels out at about 900 feet, and then gradually rises to meet the western shore of Midian.”

For hundreds of years, many have been under the impression that Mount Sinai, the place at which Moses received the Ten Commandments from God, was located on the Sinai peninsula of Egypt. It was Helena, the mother of 4th century Roman emperor Constantine, who made the declaration of its position when she established two churches there.

But if Rood and the other researchers are correct, the real Mount Sinai is actually in Arabia on the eastern side of the Gulf of Aqaba. The New Testament apostle Paul even refers to “Mount Sinai in Arabia” in Galatians 4:25.

“What is so difficult about determining the body of water that Moshe (Moses) crossed?” asks Rood.

“The Bible gives us just one choice, and this is it! I know that Constantine would have you dismembered for implying that his mother picked out the wrong site for Mount Sinai. But Constantine is dead! And so are the traditions that have enslaved our minds to such idiocy that we cannot even read the plain text of the Bible and think for ourselves.”

A well-known Swedish scientist who is among the Red Sea researchers believes the waters of Aqaba were indeed split supernaturally.

Lennart Moller of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm told WND there are no natural, scientific explanations for the parting miracle described in Scripture.

“The wind did not separate the water,” he said. “No person could be in that wind and survive. … If God has created all the Earth, it’s no problem for Him to separate the water for a while.”

Rood says for many people, finding the genuine crossing site is bad news because, “Blissful ignorance has died, and you recognize that the Creator has revealed himself through His people and His prophets. But this is good news to those who truly believe in the God of Israel and obey His commandments.

“Here on the bottom of the [reed sea] rests the evidence that the Creator has acted on behalf of His people in the past, proof that you can count on His promise that in the last days, He will perform a miracle that will make the parting of the reed sea pale by comparison.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3635

May 23

Egypt’s Prophesied Suffering, Glory, Redemption

Awesome study article on the fate of Egypt by Joel Richardson. Enjoy and keep looking up!

Egypt’s Prophesied Suffering, Glory, Redemption

May 21, 2012 in Updates

Joel Richardson

With the elections taking place in Egypt this week, I think it is good to not only look back at the tidal wave of change that has taken place in Egypt this past year, but also to look forward to what the Bible says about Egypt’s future.

For the past several years, among those who live in, or have a heart for the Middle East, one of the most significant passages that the Lord has highlighted to many is Isaiah 19. This passage, unlike any other in the Bible, describes in great detail, the future sufferings and glories of Egypt in the unfolding of the Lord’s future prophetic calendar.

Since the dawn of “the Islamic awakening” (as it is known widely throughout the Islamic world) or “the Arab Spring” (as it is referred to in the West), another significant passage that many are now studying is Daniel 11. This passage also gives significant insight into what the future holds for the people of Egypt.

Together these two passages paint a picture that the Egyptian people, particularly the Christians – and all who support them – absolutely must pay attention to.

While it seems clear that the Muslim Brotherhood will continue its national rise to power through its newly formed Freedom and Justice Party, or FJP, it is also likely that there will remain a significant power base among the old guard of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, or SCAF. In fact, in the years ahead, according to Isaiah’s prophecy, it appears as though Egypt will experience civil war-like conditions:

“I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian – brother will fight against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom. The Egyptians will lose heart, and I will bring their plans to nothing.” (Isaiah 19:2-3)

In Daniel 11, the prophet follows the transition from the historical Medo-Persian Empire (11:2) to the Alexandrian Greek Empire (11:3), to the death of Alexander in 323 B.C. and the division of his empire among his generals (11:4). The prophecy then goes on to detail the intrigue, conflicts and battles that took place throughout Alexander’s former dominion for roughly the next 150 years (11:5-34). In a broad overview of this period of Greek history in the Middle East, a large portion of Daniel’s prophecy is focused upon the historical conflict between the infamous Antiochus IV Epiphanes (the eighth king of the Seleucid Kingdom in the north) and King Ptolemy VI who ruled over Egypt in the south.

The Seleucid Kingdom in the north included the region of modern-day Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and even Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Ptolemaic Kingdom ruled Egypt and portions of modern day Libya and Sudan.

All scholars also agree that Antiochus IV Epiphanes is perhaps the most significant type of the Antichrist in the whole Bible.

And so, in the later portion of Daniel’s prophecy, the historical events and wars that took place between Antiochus IV in the north and Ptolemy VI in the south, bleed into a powerful end time prophecy concerning the Antichrist (the King of the North) and Egypt (the King of the South).

Some teachers argue that the King of the North is not a reference to the Antichrist, but his enemy. This view however, make little sense, as it turns the flow of the entire chapter on its head, casting Antiochus IV as both a type of the Antichrist and also a type of the Antichrist’s greatest enemy. As such, most responsible interpreters throughout church history have understood the last days’ king of the north to be a reference to the Antichrist. This view was held by the early church theologians such as Hippolytus, Lactantius, Jerome and Theodoret of Cyr as well as many renowned modern commentators such as C.F. Keil, Gleason Archer, G.H. Lang, Edward J. Young, Stephen M. Miller. The view is also supported by many popular prophecy bloggers such as Britt Gillette. In my new book, “Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist,” I examine this often-forgotten prophecy in careful detail, and discuss how it sheds profound light on events to soon come in the Middle East.

Next, Daniel’s prophecy informs us that Egypt will first engage the Antichrist’s northern coalition, resulting in a fierce reprisal and the complete subjugation of Egypt:

At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships … He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape (Dan 11:40, 42).

We are also told that both Libya and North Sudan will willingly submit to the Antichrist’s forces:

He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission (Dan. 11:43).

Finally, in the midst of many ongoing regional skirmishes and wars, the Antichrist will establish the headquarters of his regional authority or “Caliphate” in Jerusalem:

But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him (Dan. 11:44-45).

Like Daniel, Isaiah also described the coming subjugation of Egypt by the Antichrist:

“I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty (Isaiah 19:4).

But despite the sobering and grave warnings of what is coming to Egypt, Isaiah also prophesied concerning a powerful spiritual awakening and prayer movement with many Egyptians turning to the Lord:

The LORD will strike Egypt with a plague; he will strike them and heal them. They will turn to the LORD, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them (Isaiah 19:22)

As Isaiah’s stunning prophecy concludes, both Egypt and Assyria are seen to be greatly blessed alongside His people Israel in the Messianic Kingdom:

The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance” (Isaiah 19:25)

In the days to come, Egypt will be profoundly sifted. But out of the sifting will emerge a strong people fully committed to Jesus. Understanding these things now, the Church must remember our Egyptian brothers and sisters in prayer. Come Lord Jesus to Egypt!

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3571

May 03

Signs in the Heavens

Read these two attached articles. There is a super moon this weekend. But also look what lies ahead in regard to blood moons and eclipses on Jewish feast days in 2014-2015. The Lord is returning really soon.

Keep looking up!

Supermoon alert: Biggest full moon of 2012 due Sat.

Published May 01, 2012

Skywatchers take note: The biggest full moon of the year is due to arrive this weekend.

The moon will officially become full Saturday (May 5) at 11:35 p.m. EDT. And because this month’s full moon coincides with the moon’s perigee — its closest approach to Earth — it will also be the year’s biggest.

The moon will swing in 221,802 miles (356,955 kilometers) from our planet, offering skywatchers a spectacular view of an extra-big, extra-bright moon, nicknamed a supermoon.

And not only does the moon’s perigee coincide with full moon this month, but this perigee will be the nearest to Earth of any this year, as the distance of the moon’s close approach varies by about 3 percent, according to meteorologist Joe Rao, SPACE.com’s skywatching columnist. This happens because the moon’s orbit is not perfectly circular.

This month’s full moon is due to be about 16 percent brighter than average. In contrast, later this year on Nov. 28, the full moon will coincide with apogee, the moon’s farthest approach, offering a particularly small and dim full moon.

Though the unusual appearance of this month’s full moon may be surprising to some, there’s no reason for alarm, scientists warn. The slight distance difference isn’t enough to cause any earthquakes or extreme tidal effects, experts say.

However, the normal tides around the world will be particularly high and low. At perigee, the moon will exert about 42 percent more tidal force than it will during its next apogee two weeks later, Rao said.

The last supermoon occurred in March 2011.

To view this weekend’s supermoon to best effect, look for it just after it rises or before it sets, when it is close to the horizon. There, you can catch a view of the moon behind buildings or trees, an effect which produces an optical illusion, making the moon seem even larger than it really is.

And there will be SIGNS in the Heavens”

 Blood Red Lunar Eclipses and Solar Eclipses on God’s Holy Days in 2014-2015 – What Does It all Mean?

 

                        Astonishing as it seems, four lunar eclipses will occur on

                        God’s annual Holy Days during Passover and Sukkot in the

years 2014 and 2015, and two solar eclipses on Nisan 1 and

the Feast of Trumpets!  These are exceedingly rare occurrences,

especially when they dovetail with God’s Holy Days!  What

does it all mean?  What is the prophetic significance?  It’s

time to wake up and take heed of these ominous, fateful

warnings from heaven!

 

William F. Dankenbring

 

            According to the Jewish calendar, the year 2008 is a Sabbatical year.  A new Sabbatical cycle will begin September 29, 2008.  2015 will also be a Sabbatical year.

 

            But most amazing of all, it has been discovered that in the years 2014 and 2015 there will be two solar eclipses and four lunar eclipses, all of them occurring on Jewish Holy Days!

 

            The Lunar eclipses break down as follows:

 

            Passover                                  April 15, 2014

            Feast of Tabernacles               October 8, 2014

            Passover                                  April 4, 2015

            Feast of Tabernacles               September 28, 2015

 

            The two Solar eclipses connected with God’s Holy Days in 2014-2015 occur:

 

            Adar 29/Nisan 1(new year)     March 20, 2015

            Feast of Trumpets                   September 13, 2015

 

            It was on Nisan 1 that the Hebrew new year’s day occurred, according to the Scriptures (Exo.12:1-2).  On the anniversary of this date, one year later, Moses raised up the Tabernacle of God, inaugurated it, and the glory of God descended from heaven  (Exodus 40:2, 17, 34).

 

            The real shocker is that this phenomenon is extremely rare, for this pattern of eclipses to fall on both Passover and Sukkot in two years in a row, and for a solar eclipse to occur on important Holy Days in the same year (2015). 

 

            This intriguing, incredible discovery comes from Mark Biltz, pastor of El Shaddai Ministries, in Bonner Lake, Washington. 

 

Biltz was intrigued with the statement in the Scriptures that connect the second coming of the Messiah with “signs in the heavens,” particularly the signs that “the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood” before the return of Christ.

 

He went on the internet, to the U.S. Government NASA website to see if there were any significant eclipses of the sun and moon during the next few years.  To his surprise, he discovered four lunar eclipses in the Sabbatical year 2014/2015, and was intrigued by the fact that they occurred on God’s annual Holy Days!

 

Writing about the amazing discovery in the May 2008 issue of Prophecy in the News, J. R. Church declares, “This is most unusual.  It is a rare occurrence for four lunar cycles on successive Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) observances.  It will not happen again for hundreds of years.”

 

            Says J. R. Church, in a letter accompanying the magazine issue, “Four lunar eclipses occurring on the Feast of Tabernacles and Passover in two successive years are phenomenal.  But add to them two solar eclipses on the two days that open the Jewish year – Adar 29/Nisan1, just two weeks before Passover, and Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashannah) – is uncanny.  On each of these six Jewish Holy Days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give her light.  Will this happen again in the 21st century?  No.  Did it happen in the 20th century?  Yes, in 1949/1950, the year following Israel’s statehood, and 1967/1968, the year Jerusalem was liberated in the Six-Day War!  Before that, you have to go back to 1493 for four successive lunar eclipses on Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles” (May 2008 letter).

 

            Is God Almighty telling us something?  Skeptics and scoffers will denounce the discovery as mere coincidence, but the prophet Daniel informs us, “Many shall be purified, made white, and refined.  But the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but the wise will understand” (Dan.12:10).

 

            Peter warned, “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?  For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (II Pet.3:3-4).

 

            Another shocking discovery is that coming up this summer there will be three SOLAR eclipses in a row, in 2008, 2009, and 2010, all on the date of the first of Av, the fifth Hebrew month of the year. 

 

                        Av 1                August 1, 2008           partial solar eclipse

                        Av 1                July 22, 2009               partial solar eclipse

                        Av 1                July 11, 2010               partial solar eclipse

 

            The first day of Av is in the middle of the time period when the Jewish people mourn the destruction of the Temple of God.  Historically Moses descended from Mt. Sinai with the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, and found the people engaged in gross idolatry at the foot of the mountain.  That was on Tammuz 17.  Also, on Av 9, the Hebrew spies returned from spying out the land of Canaan and brought an evil report – and the people lost faith in God, and were condemned to wander 40 years in the wilderness (Numbers 14:34).  Av 9 also commemorates the date of the destruction of the first Temple by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 B.C., and the second Temple by the Roman general Titus on the same date in 70 A.D.

 

These two dates are days of infamy in Israel.  The three week period between Tammuz 17 and Av 9 are called “between the straits” and are days of mourning, repentance, and lamentations. 

 

How interesting that a solar eclipse will fall on the date of Av 1, in the middle of mourning and lamentation, three years in a row!

 

Mark Blitz believes that these phenomenal solar eclipses on this date signify that God could begin judging the Gentile nations this summer, beginning Av 1.  Solar eclipses, he says, are designed for Gentile nations, whereas lunar eclipses are designed for Israel.  These eclipses, too, then could be a WARNING FROM GOD TO A WAYWARD WORLD!

 

The Second Coming

 

            Writes Joe Kovacs for WorldNetDaily,“Will Jesus Christ return to Earth in the year 2015?  And can studying NASA’s website ~ evidence for such a scenario?

“A minister who promotes the Old Testament roots of Christianity suggests a rare string of lunar and solar eclipses said to fall on God’s annual holy days seven years from

now could herald what’s come to be known as the ‘Second Coming’ of Jesus.

“ ‘God wants us to look at the biblical calendar,’ says Mark Biltz, pastor of El Shaddai Ministries in Bonney Lake, Wash.  ‘The reason we need to be watching is [because] He will signal His appearance. But we have to know what to be watching as well. So we need to be watching the biblical holidays.’” (“Blood Moon Eclipses:  2nd Coming in 2015?  Minister uses NASA forecasting to study signals of Jesus’ return,” WorldNetDaily, May 9, 2008).

In an interview with J. R. Church of “Prophecy in the News,” Biltz said he’s been “studying prophecies that focus on the sun and moon, even going back to the book of Genesis where it states the lights in the sky would be ‘be for signs, and for seasons.’

“ ‘It means a signal, kind of like ‘one if by land, two if by sea.’ It’s like

God wants to signal us,’ he said. ‘The Hebrew word implies . . . ‘not only is it a signal, but it’s a signal for coming or His appearing.’”

 

Biltz adds, “You have the religious year beginning with the total solar eclipse, two weeks later a total lunar eclipse on Passover, andthen the civil year beginning with the solar eclipse followed two weeks later by another total blood red moon on the Feast of Succoth all in 2015.”

 

Biltz focused on the precise times of solar and lunar eclipses, sometimes called “blood moons,” by logging onto NASA’s website on eclipses.  He noticed a rare phenomenon of four consecutive total lunar eclipses which are known as a “tetrad.”  During this century, tetrads occur at least six times, but the only string of four consecutive “blood moons” coincide with God’s Holy days of Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles.  This occurs between the years 2014 and 2015 on today’s Gregorian calendar.

In the 20th century, he noticed that such successive blood moons coinciding with Passover and Tabernacles occurred only on 1967-68, the year the Jews liberated Jerusalem from the control of the Arabs.  He also noted that the only other such combination of eclipses in the 20th century took place in 1949-50, the year following the Jewish state’s hard-fought war of independence, when Israel became a nation.

Just how significant is this astounding information?  Is this another tell-tale clue pinpointing the period of the second coming of the Messiah?

 

“Signs” in the Heavens

 

                Why did God create the stars in the heavens in the first place?  We read one significant answer in Genesis, the first chapter. 

 

                Moses wrote:  “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as SIGNS to mark seasons and days and years” (Genesis 1:14, NIV).

 

                The word for “sign” here, in the Hebrew, is owth, and means “a signal, as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence,” etc.   The word for “seasons” is the Hebrew moadim and means “festivals, literally, appointed times.”

 

                Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon points out that this word means “a sign,” “a token” (Exo.12:13; Josh.2:12), “signs and times” (Gen.1:14), i.e., “signs of times.” It is used of a military ensign, a sign of something past, and a sign of something future, a portent, as well as a sign of anything which cannot be seen. 

 

                For “seasons”, Strong’s Concordance has “an appointment, i.e. a fixed time or season; spec. a festival.”  Gesenius has it, “(1) a set time, . . . (2) an assembly . . . (3) a place in which an assembly is held . . . (4) an appointed time, a signal.”

 

                Thus heavenly bodies, and the periodic return of comets, and celestial meteor showers, and eclipses, can be, in Biblical terms, a “heavenly sign”!  Yeshua spoke of such signs occurring before His return to planet Earth.  When such a sign occurs on a moad or moadim, or Festival of God, it is especially significant.

 

Biblical Prophecies

 

                Jesus Christ Himself said, referring to the days before His second coming:  “And there will be fearful sights and GREAT SIGNS from heaven”  (Luke 21:11, KJV).  Christ went on, “And there will be SIGNS in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars . . .” (Luke 21: 25).

 

                Also speaking of His second coming, to rule this world, and to deliver mankind from its greatest crisis in all human history, Jesus foretold:  “Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars [meteors] will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken [an incredible cosmic quaking and shaking — see Hebrews 12:25-28; Hag.2:21-23].  Then the SIGN of the Son of Man will APPEAR in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will SEE the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and glory” (Matt.24:29-31). 

 

                Such signs are also mentioned as occurring before the day of the Lord in the Tanakh — the Old Testament  Scriptures (Joel 2:30-31; Joel 2:10; Joel 3:14-16).

 

                Does God often send mysterious “signs” in the heavens before He performs mighty works in the earth?  What do the Scriptures say about this?

 

                The prophet Joel tells us, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, BEFORE the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31).

 

                These awesome occurrences in the skies and heavens will stagger mankind, causing terrible fright and anxiety.  John in Revelation prophesied, that in the period just before the coming of the Messiah, and the “Day of the Lord,” that great signs would take place:  “I look when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood” (Rev.6:12). 

 

                “And the stars of heaven fell to the earth [meteor showers], as a fig tree droops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.  Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place” (Rev.6:13-14).  After this, then, comes the final “Day of the Lord” — the time when God Himself begins to punish the nations, and bring His divine judgments of wrath and fury.                          

 

Jesus’ Step-by-Step Prophecy

 

            Jesus’ disciples came to Him and asked Him privately, “When shall these things be?  And what shall be the SIGN of thy coming, and of the END of the world [Greek aion, “age”]?” (Matt.24:3).  Jesus warned them first of all to beware of false prophets and false religious teachers who proclaim heresy (Matt.24:4-5).  He then prophesied wars and rumors of wars, but said these did not signal the end (verse 6).  He even predicted wars, earthquakes, famines and plagues, but said these were but “the beginning of sorrows” (verses 7-8).

 

            Jesus then warned that persecution of true Christians would greatly increase (verses 9-20), and many false prophets and deceivers would rise up (verse 11).  This has begun to happen around the world — with Christians being persecuted vehemently in Turkey, Egypt, India, China, Moslem countries, and even in “secular” societies like the United States, and the western world!

 

            Jesus then announced, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (verse 12).  This has begun to happen!  The world has seen a sharp increase in violence, lawlessness, and general immorality and iniquity.  Riots, looting, arson, murder, pornography, violence in movies, profanity, and the breakdown of the home and family — all are contributing to a world gone berserk and gangs and rioters running amok!  Civil disorder and ethnic strife and hatred are rapidly increasing. 

 

            In the midst of this, Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in ALL THE WORLD for a WITNESS unto all nations; and THEN the END will come” (verse 14).  That also has begun to happen!  In the pages of Prophecy Flash, and via the internet and worldwide web around the world, this final message of the coming of God’s KINGDOM is being hurled around the globe!

 

            Jesus said that the next thing to look for is “the abomination of desolation” standing in the Temple of God in Jerusalem (Matt.24:15) – and when we see that happening, those in Jerusalem should FLEE to the hills and mountains for safety (verses 16-20).  That final invasion of Israel and Jerusalem in the Middle East will lead to a captivity and time of travail lasting 42 months (compare Matt.24:21-22 with Rev.13:4-6, 11:1-2, 12:6, 14). 

 

            Notice – Jesus gave us a specific TIME TABLE of many sequential prophecies, each to be fulfilled in their proper order, BEFORE and LEADING UP TO HIS SECOND COMING!  After this Great Tribulation, Jesus foretold great signs in the heavens, followed by the “Day of the Lord” – the time He will return in awesome glory and power (Matt.24:29-31).  This will occur at the seventh or “last” trumpet (I Cor.15:50-51; I Thess.4:14-17; Rev.11:15).

 

            Isn’t this plain?

            These are NOT mere “speculations”! The apostle Peter wrote in these terms: “We have also a MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a LIGHT that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

 

            “Knowing this first, that NO prophecy of the scripture is of any private  interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake  as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Pet.1:19-21).

 

            Prophecy is a vital and integral part of the Word of God!  It is not something which should be treated lightly, cavalierly, with disrespect and dishonor.  It is vital to our SALVATION!  If it were not so important, then God would not have inspired 2/3rds of His Word to deal with prophecy, and 90% of that to apply to the LAST DAYS, the generation alive just before the return of the Messiah in awesome power and glory to deliver His people and to save the earth from utter annihilation, destruction, and cosmocide!

 

            Paul wrote, even commanded, “Never disdain prophetic revelations” (I Thess.5:20, Moffatt), or, “Do not scoff at those who prophesy” (TLB).  Have you become a scoffer in these last days?

 

            What is the main lesson these vital End-Time SIGNS in the heavens show us? 

                                           

            OUR GENERATION — this present generation — will be the FINAL, LAST, END-TIME GENERATION that will see all these things come to pass, and that will WITNESS the awesome, spine-tingling return of JESUS CHRIST, THE MESSIAH in tremendous power and unimaginable GLORY!!!

 

            Jesus Himself said:  “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till ALL these things be fulfilled” (Matt.24:34).  You and I – those of us of THIS present generation of the Atomic Bomb, nuclear weapons, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction – WE are the ones living in the Biblical “time of the end” — the FINAL generation!   The time has come.  The Messiah’s footsteps are approaching.  His coming is near.  His heavenly stallion is getting nervous, chomping at the bit, getting ready for that great ride through the sky (Rev.19:11-14).  The heavenly army is growing tense with excitement and anticipation.  The time is near – the moment we are all breathlessly waiting for. 

 

            The “signs” are increasing, for those who have eyes to see and hearts to understand!  John declares:

 

                                                “The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the

                                                land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him

                                                who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the

                                                things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in

                                                it,  that there should be delay no longer.

 

                                                “But in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel,

                                                when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be

                                                finished, as he declared to His servants the prophets”

                                                (Revelation 10:5-7, NKJV).

 

                Could the years 2014-2015 picture the final years of the countdown to the approaching footsteps of the Messiah? 

 

                Could the present “Sabbatical week” – 2008-2015 – be the beginning of the final week of “woes” — the final seven years of this age?

 

                Could this be the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, which heralds in the “end of the age,” “to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy”? (Dan.9:24-27).

 

                Could this be the final “seven times” or “years” of Leviticus 26 – a time of plagues and punishments upon all Israel?  God says, “I will punish you seven times [“years”] more for your sins.  I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.  And your strength shall be spent in vain” (Lev.26:18—20).

 

                During this time, God says, “Your highways shall be desolate” (verse 22).  “I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant . . . I will send pestilence among you . . . I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries into desolation . . . I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste” (Lev.26:22-33).

 

                But this horrendous time of punishment will terminate with the COMING OF THE MESSIAH! 

 

                These heavenly signs are a WITNESS from God to underscore that fact that the end is drawing to a close very SOON!  These heavenly portents are very auspicious for true Christians and Messianic believers!   As Yeshua says:

 

                                “Now when these things BEGIN to happen, LOOK UP

                                and LIFT UP your heads, because your REDEMPTION

                                draws near” (Luke 21:28).

                   

            Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!  Baruch haba ha shem Adonai! 

 

            As God’s people, we urgently, breathlessly await that “Great Day of Jezreel” and the coming of our Lord!

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3478

Apr 22

The Importance of Bible Prophecy

Here is a really important article from David Reagan concerning why the study of Bible Prophecy is extremely important to the Christian life and walk with God! Remeber the spirit of prophecy is Jesus!

The Importance of Bible Prophecy – by Dr. David R. Reagan – www.lamblion.com

 

Is it a playground for fanatics or green pastures for disciples?

 

Although prophecy constitutes almost one-third of the Bible, its importance is constantly downplayed by those who dismiss it as having no practical significance or by those who object to it on the grounds that it is a “fad” that takes people’s eyes off Jesus.

 

A good example of what I’m talking about can be found in the immensely popular best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren.1 He mocks Bible prophecy when he writes, “If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy.” He then goes on to characterize prophecy as a “distraction” and says that anyone who lets himself get involved in distractions like studying prophecy “is not fit for the kingdom of God.”

 

Such cavalier dismissals of Bible prophecy fly in the face of scriptures like Revelation 19:10 which says that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Thus, if prophecy is properly taught, there is no reason for it to divert anyone’s attention away from Jesus. In fact, it should serve to emphasize the centrality of Jesus.

 

Is prophecy practical? Consider that all the New Testament writers testify to the fact that living with the anticipation of the Lord’s return will motivate holy living. What could be more practical than that? Here are some examples:

 

The Apostle Paul: “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” — Romans 13:12-14.

 

The Apostle Peter: “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God… so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” — 1 Peter 4:7-11.

 

The Apostle John: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” — 1 John 3:2-3.

 

 

Prophecy does not have to be either faddish, other-worldly, or impractical if taught properly. Nor does it have to be a playground for fanatics. It can and should be green pastures for disciples.

 

Reasons for Study

 

There are many reasons why all believers should be interested in studying Bible prophecy. Some of the more important ones are listed below:

 

1) The Quantity — One-fourth to one-third of the Bible is prophetic in nature. In the Old Testament, this includes the Psalms, the Major and Minor Prophets, and many passages in the historical books. In the New Testament, entire books like 1 & 2 Thessalonians and Revelation are devoted to prophecy, as are major passages like Matthew 24 and 1 Peter 3. To ignore Bible prophecy is to ignore a significant portion of God’s Word, and we are told in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” — and that certainly includes Bible prophecy.

 

2) The Uniqueness — No other book in the world contains fulfilled prophecies. This includes the sayings of Buddha and Confucius, the Koran, the Hindu Vedras, and the Book of Mormon. And it certainly includes the ridiculous nonsensical quatrains of Nostradamus.2 In contrast, the Bible contains hundreds of specific prophecies that have already been fulfilled — prophecies about towns, cities, nations, empires, and political leaders, as well as prophecies about the Messiah. Consider, for example, the prophecy in the book of Isaiah that a man named Cyrus would be the one who would release the children of Israel from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 44:28). And that is exactly what happened 142 years later (Ezra 1:1-3).

 

3) Validator of Scripture — Fulfilled prophecy is one of the best evidences I know of that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. As I stated above, the Bible contains hundreds of fulfilled secular prophecies pertaining to cities, nations, empires, and individuals. Isaiah prophesied that Babylon would fall to the Medes and Persians (Isaiah 13:17-20). Jeremiah predicted the Babylonian captivity of the Jews would last 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). Daniel outlined in advance the precise order of four great Gentile empires (Daniel 2 and 7). The destruction of both Judah and Israel was foretold by Moses (Deuteronomy 28 and 29). In the New Testament, Jesus predicted the complete destruction of Jerusalem 40 years before it actually occurred (Luke 21:6).

 

4) Validator of Jesus — The prophetic scriptures validate Jesus as who He said He was — namely, God in the flesh. The Bible contains more than 300 prophecies about the First Coming of Jesus, but some of these are repetitive. There are actually 109 separate and distinct prophecies concerning the First Coming, and all of them were literally fulfilled.3 Every aspect of the life of Jesus was prophesied — the place of His birth, the nature of His birth, the quality of His ministry, the purpose of His life, and the agony of His death. Consider, for example, the prophecy in Psalm 22:16 that the Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced. That prophecy was written by David about a thousand years before the birth of Jesus. It was written 700 years before the invention of crucifixion as a form of execution. The literal fulfillment of so many prophecies in the life of one individual transcends any mere coincidence and serves to validate that Jesus was who He said He was — the divine Son of God.

 

5) Revealer of the Future — Prophecy serves to tell us some things that God wants us to know about the future (Deuteronomy 29:29 and Amos 3:7). God does not want us to know everything about the future, but there are some things we must know if we are to have a dynamic hope. Thus, prophecy assures us that Jesus is coming back, that He will resurrect us, and that He will take us to live forever with Him and God the Father. In this regard, Peter likens prophecy to “a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). Paul makes the same point in 1 Corinthians, chapter 2. He begins by observing that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has the mind of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” But in the next verse Paul says those things have been revealed to us by God through His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

 

6) Tool of Evangelism — Prophecy can be used as a very effective tool of evangelism, as illustrated in the story of Philip and the Eunuch (Acts 8:26ff). Philip used Isaiah’s great suffering lamb passage (Isaiah 53) to teach that Jesus is the Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world. Matthew and Peter both used fulfilled prophecy in the life of Jesus as one of their basic evangelistic tools. In fact, Peter referred to prophecy constantly in his first gospel sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-39). He preached that Jesus had been crucified and resurrected in fulfillment of Hebrew prophecies. Later, Peter referred to fulfilled prophecy as one of the greatest evidences that Jesus was truly the Son of God (2 Peter 1:16-19).

 

7) Tool of Moral Teaching — People often overlook the fact that the Hebrew prophets were forthtellers as well as foretellers. In fact, the prophets spent most of their time using God’s Word to spotlight societal problems. They called their listeners to repentance, true worship, social justice, and personal holiness. One of the great recurring themes of the prophets is that “obedience is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22 and Hosea 6:6). That statement means that in God’s eyes, obedience to His commands is more important than outward religious practices such as offering sacrifices. Prophecy is thus a great repository of moral teaching, and those moral principles are still relevant today. (See Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:8; and Isaiah 58:3-9.)

 

8) Generator of Spiritual Growth — Prophetic knowledge encourages patient waiting (James 5:7-8); provokes earnest watching (Matthew 24:36,42); inspires dedicated work (2 Timothy 4:7-8); and enhances our hope (Titus 2:11-14). The result is holy living. Paul exhorts us to “behave properly as in the day,” because the time is at hand when the Lord will return (Romans 13:12-13). Likewise, Peter calls us to gird up our minds and be sober and holy as we look forward to the revelation of Jesus (1 Peter 1:13-15).

 

9) Understanding of Current Events — The Bible contains detailed prophecies about the end times we are living in, and there is just no way to fully understand much of what is happening today apart from those prophecies. Three characteristics of our day and time immediately come to mind: the intensifying decay of society, the growing apostasy in the Church, and the escalating crisis in the Middle East. All three of these situations are prophesied in detail in the Bible. We are told that society will become as violent and immoral as it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39); that the Church will be assaulted with “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1); and that all the nations of the world will come against Israel over the issue of who will control Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3).

 

10) Signifier of the Season — One of the most exciting reasons for studying Bible prophecy is that it provides very definite signs that we are to watch for which will signify the season of the Lord’s return. It is true that we cannot know the date, but the Bible makes it clear that we can know the season if we are aware of the signs that we are to look for. The Apostle Paul made this point in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 when he wrote:

 

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night… But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all ons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

According to this passage, Jesus is coming like “a thief in the night” for the world, but those of us who are “sons of light” — that is, those of us who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit — we should not be surprised when the Lord returns because God’s Word gives us signs to watch for.

 

Paul made the same point again in Hebrews 10:25 where he admonished believers to not forsake the assembling of the saints, especially “as you see the day drawing near.” What day? He defines it in verse 27 as the day of judgment. So, Paul is making the point here that there are signs we can watch for that will clearly identify the fact that we are living in the season of the Lord’s return.

 

Jesus made the same point in His Olivet Discourse as recorded in Matthew 24. After specifying many end time signs, He said, “when you see all these things, recognize that He [Jesus] is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:33).

 

Advice & Counsel

 

I pointed out earlier that in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul writes that all of God’s Word is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” I want to emphasize again that this admonition includes God’s Prophetic Word. Also, in 1 Thessalonians 5:20 the apostle Paul pleads with us to treat prophecy with respect: “Do not despise prophetic utterances.”

 

Peter warns us in his second epistle, that one of the signs of the end times will be the appearance of “scoffers” who will cast scorn and ridicule on the promise of our Lord’s return (2 Peter 3:3ff). The great tragedy of our day is that many of the loudest scoffers are religious leaders who profess to follow Christ. Such leaders crucified Jesus the first time He came. They now scoff at His promise to return.

 

A good example of what I’m talking about is the “Jesus Seminar”4 that began meeting in 1985 and whose work culminated in 1993 with the publication of a book titled, The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say?5 The seminar was composed of forty New Testament “scholars” from a great variety of Christian seminaries in America. The seminar met every six months to vote on the sayings of Jesus as recorded in the four ospels. The goal was to produce a new version of the gospels in which the sayings of Jesus would be color coded: red, if He said it; pink, if He may have said it; grey, if He probably did not say it; and black, if He definitely did not say it.

 

They titled the evil fruit of their labors, The Five Gospels, because they concluded that the spurious Gnostic Gospel of Thomas6 was as valid as the four Gospels adopted by the early Church Fathers.

 

When they voted on the sayings of Jesus regarding His Second Coming, they voted that all the sayings were spurious and had probably been “made up” by His disciples. What apostasy!

 

Spiritual Food

 

God’s Prophetic Word is food for our spiritual growth. We need to take it off the shelf, open it up, and feast upon it — and we need to do so with believing hearts.

 

The book of Revelation promises blessings to those who read it (or hear it read) and who obey it (Revelation 1:3). It is the only book of the Bible to promise such a specific blessing, but all God’s Word is designed to bless us spiritually (Psalm 119), and that includes the Prophetic Word.

 

Bible prophecy, properly taught, can literally transform a person and a congregation. This will happen if the person or congregation can be convinced of two things regarding prophecy: 1) Jesus is returning, and 2) His return could occur any moment.

 

Regarding the first point, most Christians believe with their minds that Jesus is returning, but they do not believe with their hearts, and therefore their belief has no impact on their behavior. Regarding the second point, most Christians are unaware that the return of Jesus will be in two stages — first, the Rapture, and then the Second Coming. Because they know little or nothing about the Rapture, they have no understanding that the Lord could truly return at any moment. They believe that many prophecies — like the preaching of the Gospel to the whole world — must be fulfilled before the Lord can return, when the truth of the matter is that there is not one prophecy that must be fulfilled for the Rapture to occur.

 

Again, if a person or congregation can truly be convinced that Jesus is returning any moment, they will be transformed because they will be motivated to share the Gospel with others and to commit their lives to holiness. A commitment to evangelism and holiness! What more could a pastor hope for?

 

Bible prophecy does not just relate to the future. It has an important spiritual relevance to the way we live our lives in the present.

 

Key Scriptures about Prophecy

 

Let’s conclude with a reminder of what the Word of God itself says about the value of prophecy. In this way we can be assured that the effort we expend in looking at the prophetic scriptures will be time extremely well spent.

 

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our sons forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

 

“Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

 

“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… I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it” (Isaiah 46:9-11).

 

“[Jesus said] ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill'” (Matthew 5:17).

 

“[Jesus] said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled'” (Luke 24:44).

 

“Of Him [Jesus] all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43).

 

“The prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, 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” (1 Peter 1:10-11).

 

“…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… 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 1:19-21).

 

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

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3432

Apr 17

Isaac Newton, Daniel’s 70 Weeks & the Six Day War

 If you have ever spent any time studying Daniel’s seventy-weeks prophecy you might have been somewhat annoyed by the first seven weeks.

“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”(Da 9:25)

Frankly, it seems to just be dangling there without a purpose.  Most prophecy teachers simply add the two together to make sixty-nine weeks without saying much about why it is “seven and threescore and two (62).” Well, this bothered Newton too. He explained the odd seven weeks as referring to the second coming, after a future restoration of Israel which had not yet occurred! He explained the verse in this way:

Know also and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to cause to return and to build Jerusalem, unto the Anointed the Prince, shall be seven weeks.

The former part of the Prophecy related to the first coming of Christ, being dated to his coming as a Prophet; this being dated to his coming to be Prince or King, seems to relate to his second coming. There, the Prophet was consummate, and the most holy anointed: here, he that was anointed comes to be Prince and to reign. For Daniel’s Prophecies reach to the end of the world; and there is scarce a Prophecy in the Old Testament concerning Christ, which doth not in something or other relate to his second coming. If divers of the antients, as Irenæus, Julius Africanus, Hippolytus the martyr, and Apollinaris Bishop of Laodicea, applied the half week to the times of Antichrist; why may not we, by the same liberty of interpretation, apply the seven weeks to the time when Antichrist shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s coming?[i]

He puts the first seven in the future after the second rebuilding of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was reclaimed by Israel during the Six Days War in June of 1967. Recall that in the seventy-weeks paradigm, the “seven” is seven weeks of years which is (7 x 7) forty-nine years. T. W. Tramm explains a remarkable concurrence:

June 7, 1967 falls in the Hebrew year 5727, adding forty-nine prophetic years to this date we arrive in the Hebrew year 5776, which is 2015 on the Gregorian calendar. Interestingly, if one counts exactly forty-nine (360 day) prophetic years (17,640 days) from the June 7, 1967 date of Jerusalem’s recapture, we arrive at September 23, 2015—the Day of Atonement! Coincidence?[ii]

We verified this remarkable match but we also noted that if one counts 49 x 365 days for solar years, one lands in 2016 which corresponds nicely with historical approach of AD 756 the acceding of temporal power to the pope plus 1260 derived from Revelation 11:3. Although no man knows the day or hour, it is hard to ignore the remarkable preponderance of prophecy pointing to the period we have entered.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3409

Mar 01

Why is Bible prophecy important?

Read the attached article from Dr. David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries on why Bible prophecy is so important to usas believes! Keep looking up!

 

Why is Bible prophecy important?
By Dr. David R. Reagan
Founder & Director, Lamb & Lion Ministries
Although prophecy constitutes almost one-third of the Bible, its importance is constantly downplayed by those who dismiss it as having no practical significance or by those who object to it on the grounds that it is a “fad” that takes people’s eyes off Jesus.

A good example of what I’m talking about can be found in the immensely popular best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren.1 He mocks Bible prophecy when he writes, “If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy.” He then goes on to characterize prophecy as a “distraction” and says that anyone who lets himself get involved in distractions like studying prophecy “is not fit for the kingdom of God.”

Such cavalier dismissals of Bible prophecy fly in the face of scriptures like Revelation 19:10 which says that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Thus, if prophecy is properly taught, there is no reason for it to divert anyone’s attention away from Jesus. In fact, it should serve to emphasize the centrality of Jesus.

Is prophecy practical? Consider that all the New Testament writers testify to the fact that living with the anticipation of the Lord’s return will motivate holy living. What could be more practical than that? Here are some examples:

The Apostle Paul: “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” — Romans 13:12-14.

The Apostle Peter: “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God… so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” — 1 Peter 4:7-11.

The Apostle John: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” — 1 John 3:2-3.

Prophecy does not have to be either faddish, other-worldly, or impractical if taught properly. Nor does it have to be a playground for fanatics. It can and should be green pastures for disciples.

There are many reasons why all believers should be interested in studying Bible prophecy. Some of the more important ones are listed below:

1) The Quantity
One-fourth to one-third of the Bible is prophetic in nature. In the Old Testament, this includes the Psalms, the Major and Minor Prophets, and many passages in the historical books. In the New Testament, entire books like 1 & 2 Thessalonians and Revelation are devoted to prophecy, as are major passages like Matthew 24 and 1 Peter 3. To ignore Bible prophecy is to ignore a significant portion of God’s Word, and we are told in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” — and that certainly includes Bible prophecy.

2) The Uniqueness
No other book in the world contains fulfilled prophecies. This includes the sayings of Buddha and Confucius, the Koran, the Hindu Vedras, and the Book of Mormon. And it certainly includes the ridiculous nonsensical quatrains of Nostradamus.2 In contrast, the Bible contains hundreds of specific prophecies that have already been fulfilled — prophecies about towns, cities, nations, empires, and political leaders, as well as prophecies about the Messiah. Consider, for example, the prophecy in the book of Isaiah that a man named Cyrus would be the one who would release the children of Israel from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 44:28). And that is exactly what happened 142 years later (Ezra 1:1-3).

3) Validator of Scripture
Fulfilled prophecy is one of the best evidences I know of that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. As I stated above, the Bible contains hundreds of fulfilled secular prophecies pertaining to cities, nations, empires, and individuals. Isaiah prophesied that Babylon would fall to the Medes and Persians (Isaiah 13:17-20). Jeremiah predicted the Babylonian captivity of the Jews would last 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). Daniel outlined in advance the precise order of four great Gentile empires (Daniel 2 and 7). The destruction of both Judah and Israel was foretold by Moses (Deuteronomy 28 and 29). In the New Testament, Jesus predicted the complete destruction of Jerusalem 40 years before it actually occurred (Luke 21:6).

4) Validator of Jesus
The prophetic scriptures validate Jesus as who He said He was — namely, God in the flesh. The Bible contains more than 300 prophecies about the First Coming of Jesus, but some of these are repetitive. There are actually 109 separate and distinct prophecies concerning the First Coming, and all of them were literally fulfilled.3 Every aspect of the life of Jesus was prophesied — the place of His birth, the nature of His birth, the quality of His ministry, the purpose of His life, and the agony of His death. Consider, for example, the prophecy in Psalm 22:16 that the Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced. That prophecy was written by David about a thousand years before the birth of Jesus. It was written 700 years before the invention of crucifixion as a form of execution. The literal fulfillment of so many prophecies in the life of one individual transcends any mere coincidence and serves to validate that Jesus was who He said He was — the divine Son of God.

5) Revealer of the Future
Prophecy serves to tell us some things that God wants us to know about the future (Deuteronomy 29:29 and Amos 3:7). God does not want us to know everything about the future, but there are some things we must know if we are to have a dynamic hope. Thus, prophecy assures us that Jesus is coming back, that He will resurrect us, and that He will take us to live forever with Him and God the Father. In this regard, Peter likens prophecy to “a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). Paul makes the same point in 1 Corinthians, chapter 2. He begins by observing that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has the mind of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” But in the next verse Paul says those things have been revealed to us by God through His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

6) Tool of Evangelism
Prophecy can be used as a very effective tool of evangelism, as illustrated in the story of Philip and the Eunuch (Acts 8:26ff). Philip used Isaiah’s great suffering lamb passage (Isaiah 53) to teach that Jesus is the Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world. Matthew and Peter both used fulfilled prophecy in the life of Jesus as one of their basic evangelistic tools. In fact, Peter referred to prophecy constantly in his first gospel sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-39). He preached that Jesus had been crucified and resurrected in fulfillment of Hebrew prophecies. Later, Peter referred to fulfilled prophecy as one of the greatest evidences that Jesus was truly the Son of God (2 Peter 1:16-19).

7) Tool of Moral Teaching
People often overlook the fact that the Hebrew prophets were forthtellers as well as foretellers. In fact, the prophets spent most of their time using God’s Word to spotlight societal problems. They called their listeners to repentance, true worship, social justice, and personal holiness. One of the great recurring themes of the prophets is that “obedience is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22 and Hosea 6:6). That statement means that in God’s eyes, obedience to His commands is more important than outward religious practices such as offering sacrifices. Prophecy is thus a great repository of moral teaching, and those moral principles are still relevant today. (See Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:8; and Isaiah 58:3-9.)

8) Generator of Spiritual Growth
Prophetic knowledge encourages patient waiting (James 5:7-8); provokes earnest watching (Matthew 24:36,42); inspires dedicated work (2 Timothy 4:7-8); and enhances our hope (Titus 2:11-14). The result is holy living. Paul exhorts us to “behave properly as in the day,” because the time is at hand when the Lord will return (Romans 13:12-13). Likewise, Peter calls us to gird up our minds and be sober and holy as we look forward to the revelation of Jesus (1 Peter 1:13-15).

9) Understanding of Current Events
The Bible contains detailed prophecies about the end times we are living in, and there is just no way to fully understand much of what is happening today apart from those prophecies. Three characteristics of our day and time immediately come to mind: the intensifying decay of society, the growing apostasy in the Church, and the escalating crisis in the Middle East. All three of these situations are prophesied in detail in the Bible. We are told that society will become as violent and immoral as it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39); that the Church will be assaulted with “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1); and that all the nations of the world will come against Israel over the issue of who will control Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3).

10) Signifier of the Season
One of the most exciting reasons for studying Bible prophecy is that it provides very definite signs that we are to watch for which will signify the season of the Lord’s return. It is true that we cannot know the date of the Lord’s return, but the Bible makes it clear that we can know the season if we are aware of the signs that we are to look for.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3180

Feb 04

THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL: Lessons from Daniel chapter 5

Great study from Joel Rosenberg from Daniel chapter 5 on fate of America and the coming war in the Middle East. Pray that you are found worthy of protection by our Lord in these times of trouble. Keep looking up!

“Is America in a ‘Nebuchadnezzar moment’ (where we still have an opportunity to repent and be restored), or a ‘Belshazzar moment’ (where God removes His favor from us and turns out the lights)?”

Joel C. Rosenberg, Jacksonville Pastors Conference, January 29, 2012 

 “The Pastor and the Future” — that’s what I’ve been asked to speak about tonight, and I cannot think of a more important subject to close this conference. You and I are living in one of the most dangerous moments in the history of the United States….in the history of Israel and the Middle East….in the history of the Church. Yet at this very moment when so many people are so anxious about the future, too many pastors are shying away from teaching Bible prophecy.

  • Some, because prophecy has been sensationalized in the past and they rightly resist such cheapening of God’s Holy Word.
  • Some, because they’ve never really carefully studied Bible prophecy and feel unprepared to teach it to their congregations.
  • Some, because they’ve lost sight of the power of prophecy – prophecy is an intercept from the mind of the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful God….prophecies are storm warnings from the future….not to frighten us but to motivate us – to get us ready for what is coming, and to help get others ready…..prophecy is given to encourage and exhort the Church to repentance….to holiness and purity….to prayer and fasting….to sharing the Gospel and making disciples….to pastor training and church planting….prophecy tells us we are going to be shaken….why?….to wake up the Church….to wake up the nations….to wake up Israel….because the Day of the Lord is coming, and surely it is near….and God love us and He wants us to be ready.

In Luke 12:54-56, Jesus rebuked His disciples for not understanding the Word of God and not analyzing the times in which they lived….which is why it is so important that we close this conference by considering “The Pastor and the Future.” So, turn with me, if you would, to Daniel chapter 5. [Read the entire chapter]

What do we see in Daniel chapter 5?

5:1-2 – A pagan nation at the height of its power, and corruption.

5:3-4 – A pagan government and high society drunk with power and consumed with seeking pleasure of all kinds….worshipping the gods of gold and silver and all things material….what do we see in the king’s court?

  • Sexual immorality.
  • Drunkness.
  • Greed and materialism.
  • Idolatry
  • Blasphemy.
  • No care or concern for their history of sin and God’s judgment.
  • No remembrance of God’s grace and mercy for those who repent.

King Belshazzar doesn’t seem to remember or care about the testimony of his forefather, Nebuchadnezzar. Once an evil and terrible king, one of the worst in the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar had then faced the judgment of God. He’d been driven out of the king’s palace, into the wilderness, driven mad and eating grass like a beast. Yet after a time, God relented. The Lord gave Nebuchadnezzar a second chance, and Nebuchadnezzar repented of his horrific sins and gave his life to the One True God. What’s more, Nebuchadnezzar praised the Lord before the entire nation ofBabylon.

Nebuchadnezzar testified before his people: “At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (Daniel 4:36-37).

5:5-6 – So God begins to shake them.

5:7-9 – A mysterious hand appears out of nowhere in the king’s court….mysterious fingers begin supernaturally writing on the wall of the king’s palace….everyone in that room could see the handwriting on the wall….they could all see the hand of God at work…..it terrified them, but it certainly got their attention…..they knew it was important, but they had no idea what is said, or what it meant….so because they were pagans they turned to the so-called “wise men” of the age, but the wise men had no answers.

  • 5:7 – King Belshazzar has two reactions:
    • A physical reaction – he gets physically ill.
    • An emotion reaction – he becomes desperate….he suddenly becomes willing to give massive wealth and power to whoever can help him understand the handwriting on the wall.

5:10-12 – Frightened, desperate, and having run out of all other options, Belshazzar turns to a man with a reputation for being completely different than they….a man described as having an “extraordinary spirit”….a man described as having “knowledge and insight”…a man “in whom is a spirit of the holy gods”…..the man, of course, was Daniel….he hadn’t been invited to the party, mind you…he wasn’t part of their culture….he wasn’t part of their religion….he wasn’t a member of the “in crowd”….and that was the point….in their fear and trembling, they were looking for someone completely different….someone who had a completely different perspective and just might be able to help them.

5:13-16 – Enter Daniel….he is brought into the upper echelons of power and wealth and offered a great reward if he can solve the mystery.

5:17-28 – Daniel doesn’t ignore or resist the king’s request….he doesn’t claim separation of Church and State….he doesn’t self-righteously declare he won’t “dirty his hands” by speaking to government leaders….but Daniel makes clear that he’s not interested in money, power or prestige….he’s not trying to be in their club….he certainly doesn’t want to be part of their pagan culture or corruption….rather, he knows he holds citizenship in another kingdom, yet he also knows that he is God’s ambassador….so he agrees to explain the hand of God to the king and his court….giving all glory and honor to the Lord, Daniel fearlessly makes known the word of the Lord, even at great risk to his own life.

Many in ministry look at Daniel with admiration and want to be like him:

  • He’s handsome (Daniel 1:4)
  • Brilliant (Daniel 1:4)
  • Wise (Daniel 1:4)
  • Sterling reputation (Daniel chapters 1 through 5)
  • Invited into the highest courts of power (the entire book of Daniel)
  • Given great accolades, wealth and authority (Daniel 2:46-49 and 5:29)

Yet let’s be clear: Daniel didn’t seek any of these things….moreover, he knew he could take no credit for these things.

That said, let’s take another look….are you really willing to be a Daniel? Consider the high price of his service to the Lord:

  • He was taken captive from his homeland (Daniel chapter 1)
  • Forcibly given a new home, new name, new diet, new education, new job in a brutal pagan empire (Daniel chapter 1)
  • Arrested, convicted, imprisoned, sentenced to death (Daniel chapter 6)
  • Yet he never faltered….he never wavered….he clung to the Lord….he knew His God….he listened to His God….he was a man of prayer….he understand the Word….he studied God’s Word diligently and carefully (chapter 9 he’s studying Jeremiah!)…..and when God told him to speak, he spoke boldly and without reservation…..he didn’t pull any punches….he did so at great risk, but with great faith and courage.
  • In Matthew 24:15, Jesus calls Daniel “the prophet”….for that is what he was.

How about you?….are you clinging to Christ?….are you on you knees repeatedly throughout the day in prayer?….are you fasting?…..are you listening carefully to the voice of God?…..are you willing to teach God’s Word – all of it, including the prophecies of a future that is coming fast upon us?…..are you ready to stripped of all our worldly possessions…stripped of our identity….arrested…. convicted….imprisoned…. sentenced to death….all for being men faithful to pray and faithful to speak the Word of God in our pagan, corrupt culture? Let us not answer too quickly – let us consider the gravity of this calling in this moment…for these tests may be coming soon.

Now, what was the Lord’s message to Belshazzar via Daniel?

  • 5:18-21 — Belshazzar should have known better…he had seen the sins of his father, and God’s judgment
  • 5:22 – “Yet you…have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this,” Daniel says to the king. “You have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven.”
  • 5:26 – Mene, “God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.”
  • 5:27 – Tekel, “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.”
  • 5:28 – Peres, “Your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”
  • Why was God judging Belshazzar? Because of Belshazzar’s pride…his vanity….his insolence….his hubris….Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Yes, the God of the Bible is a God of grace and mercy and forgiveness. He gives us one opportunity after another in life here on earth to say “Yes” to the Lord Jesus Christ and receive His free gift of forgiveness and eternal life by putting our faith in Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. But eventually there is a point of no return. There is a point in which you defy God too long….go too far….cross a line….and at that point you no longer have the opportunity to repent and receive God’s mercy. At that point, when you least expect it, you have sealed your own fate by rejecting the Most High God…by exalting yourself against the Lord, and you will stand condemned to the fires of hell for all of eternity with no way of escape.

Thus, the Scriptures are clear: Say “Yes” to Jesus Christ now, before it is too late.

  • “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” (I John 5:11-12)
  • “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish (die and go to hell forever and ever), but shall have eternal life….he who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16,18)
  • Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell….Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:28,32-33)
  • Don’t do what Belshazzar did. Don’t keep defying the Most High God. Don’t wait too long to repent and give your life to the Lord. Otherwise there will come a point of no return. You will be weighed in God’s balances and found deficient, and theKingdomofGodwill be ripped away from you and you won’t have another opportunity to be saved. The Apostle Paul put it clearly: “Now is the acceptable time [to get right with God],” he wrote. “Behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

5:29-31 – For some unknown reason Belshazzar kept his word to Daniel and rewarded him for his insight….and God kept His word and before the night was finished, Belshazzar was dead.

Question: Why did God write on the wall?

It was too late for that king — and that kingdom — to repent. Why, then, did God sent the message? To warn to those Babylonians who were in the room with Belshazzar, and to warn the entire nation of Babylon….and to warn us down through the centuries: Listen to the voice of God….read the Word of God….don’t harden your heart….understand the “handwriting on the wall”….understand that God is trying to wake you up….get your attention….draw you to Him….motivate you to serve Him….don’t wait too long….repent of your sins and receive Christ as your Savior while there is still time.

Today, we can see the handwriting on the wall once again….in Israel and the Middle East….and here in the United States….God is trying to get our attention….will we listen, or harden our hearts?

The Future of Israel and the Middle East

As followers of Jesus Christ, we can see the handwriting on the wall in theMiddle East. We know what it says, and we know what it means: a terrible war is coming to the epicenter. God is going to shake the people of theMiddle East. He wants them to wake up and realize their real and desperate and urgent need to receive Jesus as their Messiah, Savior and Lord. Jesus doesn’t want anyone in the epicenter to perish and go to hell. He wants them to all to be saved. 

The Good News is that more Muslims and more Jews are coming to faith in Jesus than ever before in history. But it’s not enough for the Lord. Too many people are still resisting Him. So in His mercy He will continue shaking them in hopes that they will listen and repent like Nebuchadnezzar, not rejecting Him to the very end like Belshazzar.

Will the coming war be a prophetic war (like Ezekiel 38-39, the “War of God and Magog”), or just a really terrible geopolitical war? Of that we cannot yet be certain. But clearly the most dangerous corridor in the world is between Tel Aviv and Tehran. The leaders of the free world say Iran could have the Bomb by the end of 2012. Yet the nations of the world refuse to take decisive action to neutralize the Iranian threat. But make no mistake: if Iran’s mullahs get the Bomb, they could do in six minutes what it took Adolf Hitler six years to do – kill six million Jews. Today’s Sunday New York Times magazine story suggests Israel and Iran may very well go to war in 2012.

The handwriting on the wall is clear – the question is: What will we as believers do about it?

  • Will the Church demonstrate the love and courage necessary to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the Middle East with clarity and compassion before it’s too late? If we really love the people of the epicenter, that’s exactly what we should do.
  • Will the Church do everything possible to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in theMiddle East– to pray for them, to visit them, to equip them, to assist them, to stand with them, come what may? Will we help the persecuted believers in the region? Will we train the pastors and help them plant new churches? Or will we ignore them, abandon them, refuse them in their hour of need? Again, if we love them, we will serve them.
  • Time is short, and the handwriting on the wall is clear.

The Future of America

The handwriting on the wall is also clear here in theUnited States. We as followers of Jesus Christ know full well thatAmericais in grave danger — not just at risk of decline but of outright collapse.

  • We now have more than $15 trillion in debt….100% of our GDP….but we are facing $65 trillion in unfunded liabilities…..we are on the Titanic, heading for the icebergs, and too many inWashington are saying, “Speed up!” not, “Turn around!”
  • The Bible warns us not to go into debt, yet we continue to defy Him.
  • We are defying God in other areas, too.
  • 53 million abortions
  • Legalized homosexual marriage
  • A pornography industry that makes more than ABC, CBS and NBC combined.

How much longer will the Lord wait before He lets us reap what we’ve sown? Is God going to give us another chance, or is He finished with us? Is America in a “Nebuchadnezzar moment” (where we still have an opportunity to repent and be restored), or a “Belshazzar moment” (where God removes His favor from us and turns out the lights)? Honestly, I’m not certain.

The good news is that God moved powerfully in this land in the early 1700s with the first “Great Awakening,” a series of amazing spiritual revivals that woke up the Church and rescuedAmerica. God moved powerfully again in the early 1800s with the “Second Great Awakening” that was even more transformative.

The question now is: Will God give us a Third Great Awakening? I don’t know, but I hope so. That’s why I’ve written the book, Implosion. But I can’t wait until June when it releases. I feel compelled to start talking about these issues now because they are so important. We need to be on our knees praying and fasting and pleading with God to have mercy on us. Yes, Washington and Wall Street and Hollywood bear much blame for the mess we’re in. But so does the Church.

There are 340,000 churches in the United States. They are all supposed to be shining cities on a hill. They are supposed to be lights in the darkness. But in too many American churches, the light is growing dim. In some churches, there is no light at all. We desperately need a revival of the Church to save this country. Nothing less will do.

Even if we elect godly, principled, wise and courageous leaders to the presidency, the Senate and the House in 2012, this won’t be enough to keep us from implosion. It’s still important, don’t get me wrong. But won’t be enough. We need a supernatural movement of God to rescue us, or this nation will collapse economically, morally and culturally. 

On Saturday, June 16th, we will host the national “Implosion” simulcast….a three-hour program for churches all across the country….I’ll teach for about an hour on these issues, and then take 2 hours of questions in a live format…we’ll talk about how much trouble we’re in, and we’ll talk more about the Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening and see if there are lessons we can learn and apply to our own time….I hope you and your churches will consider joining us for this.

Conclusion

The world is fearful and confused. Millions across the globe can see the handwriting on the wall. They know something is terribly wrong. They sense something terrible is coming. But they cannot read the handwriting or understand what it means. That’s your job. That the mission of the pastor, the man of God who knows the Word of God and is charged with teaching the Word of God. It is your job to analyze these present times in the light of God’s Word, in the light of Bible prophecy, and help the Church and the pagan world understand what God is saying….before it’s too late.

Too many pastors, however, are asleep to the trend lines. They are unable – or unwilling – to see how much danger the people of the Middle East are in, and how much danger the people of the United States are in. But now is precisely the time to call the Church, and the nations, and Israel, back to the God of the Bible…..now, while we still can.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3041