Category: Signs

ALERT: Pope Benedict to Resign

In addition to the story below please also go to the Prophecy Studies page and study up on the False Prophet presentation as to why this is so significant.

 

Pope Benedict to Resign

 Monday, 11 Feb 2013 06:06 AM

Pope Benedict XVI said Monday he lacks the strength to fulfill his duties and on Feb. 28 will become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. The announcement sets the stage for a conclave in March to elect a new leader for world’s 1 billion Catholics.

The 85-year-old Pope announced the bombshell in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, surprising even his closest collaborators, even though Benedict had made clear in the past he would step down if he became too old or infirm to do the job.

Benedict called his choice “a decision of great importance for the life of the church.”

Indeed, the move allows the Vatican to hold a conclave before Easter to elect a new Pope, since the traditional mourning time that would follow the death of a Pope doesn’t have to be observed.

It will also allow Benedict to hold great sway over the choice of his successor. He has already hand-picked the bulk of the College of Cardinals — the princes of the church who will elect the next Pope — to guarantee his conservative legacy and ensure an orthodox future for the church.

There are several papal contenders in the wings, but no obvious front-runner — the same situation when Benedict was elected pontiff in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II.

The Vatican stressed that no specific medical condition prompted Benedict’s decision, but in recent years, the Pope has slowed down significantly, cutting back his foreign travel and limiting his audiences. He now goes to and from the altar in St. Peter’s Basilica on a moving platform, to spare him the long walk down the aisle. Occasionally he uses a cane.

His 89-year-old brother, Georg Ratzinger, said doctors had recently advised the Pope not to take any more trans-Atlantic trips.

“His age is weighing on him,” Ratzinger told the dpa news agency. “At this age my brother wants more rest.”

Benedict emphasized that carrying out the duties of being Pope — the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide — requires “both strength of mind and body.”

“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he told the cardinals.

“In order to govern the [ship] of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary — strengths which, in the last few months, have deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” he said.

Popes are allowed to resign; church law specifies only that the resignation be “freely made and properly manifested.” But only a handful have done it.

The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal claimants. The most famous resignation was Pope Celestine V in 1294; Dante placed him in hell for it.

When Benedict was elected at age 78, he was the oldest Pope chosen in nearly 300 years. At the time, he had already been planning to retire as the Vatican’s chief orthodoxy watchdog to spend his final years writing in the “peace and quiet” of his native Bavaria.

On Monday, Benedict said he would serve the church for the remainder of his days “through a life dedicated to prayer.” The Vatican said immediately after his resignation that Benedict would go to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer retreat south of Rome, and then would live in a cloistered monastery.

Contenders to be his successor include Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna; and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican’s office for bishops.

Long shots include Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. Although Dolan is popular and backs the Pope’s conservative line, the general thinking is that the Catholic Church doesn’t need a Pope from a “superpower.”

Given half of the world’s Catholics live in the global south, there will once again be arguments for a Pope to come from the developing world.

Cardinal Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, has impressed many Vatican watchers, but at 56 and having only been named a cardinal last year, he is considered too young.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana is one of the highest-ranking African cardinals at the Vatican, currently heading the Vatican’s office for justice and peace, but he’s something of a wild card.

All cardinals under age 80 are allowed to vote in the conclave, the secret meeting held in the Sistine Chapel where cardinals cast ballots to elect a new Pope. As per tradition, the ballots are burned after each voting round; black smoke that snakes out of the chimney means no Pope has been chosen, while white smoke means a Pope has been elected.

The pontiff had been due to attend World Youth Day in July in Rio de Janeiro; by then his successor will have been named and will presumably make the trip.

Benedict himself raised the possibility of resigning if he were simply too old or sick to continue on, when he was interviewed in 2010 for the book “Light of the World.”

“If a Pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right, and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign,” Benedict said.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had an intimate view as Pope John Paul II, with whom he had worked closely for nearly a quarter-century, suffered through the debilitating end of his papacy.

The announcement took the Vatican — and the rest of the world — by surprise.

Several cardinals on Monday didn’t even understand what Benedict had said during the consistory, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. Others who did were stunned.

“All the cardinals remained shocked and were looking at each other,” said Monsignor Oscar Sanchez of Mexico, who was in the room when Benedict made his announcement.

Benedict was born April 16, 1927, in Marktl Am Inn, in Bavaria, but his father, a policeman, moved frequently and the family left when he was 2.

In his memoirs, Benedict dealt what could have been a source of controversy had it been kept secret — that he was enlisted in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He said he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood. Two years later he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper. He deserted the German army in April 1945, in the waning days of the war.

He called it prophetic that a German followed a Polish pope — with both men coming from such different sides of World War II.

Benedict was ordained, along with his brother, in 1951. After spending several years teaching theology in Germany, he was appointed bishop of Munich in 1977 and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.

John Paul named him leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981 and he took up his post a year later. Following John Paul’s death in 2005, he was elected Pope on April 19 in one of the fastest conclaves in history, just about 24 hours after the voting began.

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White Washed Sepulchres

Jesus had this to say, and much more, to the religious leaders of His day.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27)

I wonder what He would say to us today. My guess is He could use the same words and still be right on target.

Even as Christians, none of us are perfect, but just how many who are in leadership positions today are truly Christians? Let me put it this way. Knowing what we know about the scribes and Pharisees, were they saved? What did Jesus say concerning this?

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)

So Jesus cut right to the chase. With their attitude of self-righteousness, they were not saved. They were as lost as a feather in a strong wind out over the ocean. To get the full flavor of those Jesus was addressing, or dressing down, in Matthew 23, read the entire chapter. If these guys didn’t get their heart right before God through Jesus before they died, and some did, they must have a made a big splash when they landed in the fires of hell.

It is very tragic that today we too have church leaders who are playing church on their way to hell. Not only that, they are leading so many others along with them.

Satan is throwing every lie he can at people in these last days, because time is running out for him, and so many people are buying his false gospel. Apostasy seems to be growing rapidly in these final days before Christ’s return, as Jesus said it would.

Is it really easier to believe a lie than a truth? I suppose it is when that is what you really want to hear, and someone is pulling you in that direction, that someone being Satan’s henchmen of course.

Some denominations that were actually founded by strong Christians are now nothing more than spiritual graveyards pulling people away from God’s Truth. Schools of learning such as Harvard and Yale, once Biblically based are now nothing more than bastions of evil thought.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

The airwaves are saturated with religious teachers, preachers, evangelists, and pastors, who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, bilking the life blood from innocent people who are searching for the Truth. What do they get in place of the Truth? Instead of steak and potatoes they get watered down worm infested soup not fit to feed to swine.

Are there any men and women of God left who stand with God? Are there any left who aren’t trying to fleece the innocent? Yes there are, but if you don’t know the original, you may very well be taken in by the counterfeit. I’m referring to God’s Word in comparison to man’s word of course.

Why isn’t there a fire in the soul of self-professing Christians? Could it be that they have accepted the teaching of those who are nothing more than white washed sepulchres?

1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. [Emphasis mine] 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Notice verse five again in the above passage. If you don’t know the Word of God for yourself, you will in all likelihood be taken in by those false leaders who appear to be righteous, but are not.

According to Jesus, they have put on a veneer of righteousness that looks good and sounds good, but they are phony. They are rotten inside.

I was listening to a minister yesterday, not by choice, that was spewing some of the most outlandish dribble I’ve heard for a while, and out in his audience were those innocent souls soaking it all up. Why? They did so because very few Christians are like the Bereans of Paul’s day who searched the Scriptures daily.

10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:10-11)

Why are there so many white washed sepulchres with such large followings today? The answer lies in the laziness and gullibility of those who claim to be a Christian. All they can see is the glitter. They don’t have enough Biblical sense to discern real gold from fool’s gold. Again, why? They want to be spoon fed the Gospel and often accept a false gospel. I am convinced that the charlatans who prey upon others know this. They know that few will actually search the Scriptures for the Truth. Instead of reading and studying for themselves what God has to say, they depend on others to tell them. Bad idea!

Every Christian should have a “Berean” attitude about the Scriptures. When we have that attitude, we are blessed beyond measure because we actually get the Truth, not opinions of others or out-right lies. In addition, when we hear the false gospel of man, we smell the stench of “dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

Whether people gather in a small poorly constructed building on a country lane, or a grand cathedral on Main Street, they need to know that what they are hearing is the Truth. When you turn on your television or radio to listen to your favorite ministers, are they providing you with the Truth or their opinion or a lie? If searching God’s Word is not part of your day, you will never know.

Behind the pulpits, on the radio and by the television are God’s men who preach the Truth. These are usually the guys who will encourage you to check out what they say by comparing it with the Scriptures. Unfortunately, there are many, many more who will either lie to you or are just plain ignorant of the Word. How are you going to know which is which? How are you going to know that what you are hearing is the Truth?

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

There is no thrill like knowing God’s Word, the Bible, for yourself. It is a rich, rewarding and humbling experience. It is communication between you and the Lord that can’t be topped.

Watch out for the white washed sepulchres though. They are abundant. They look good. They sound good. They tell you just what you want to hear, and that’s fine, if it’s the Truth. Is it? Find out for yourself. Get in the Bible today.

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JUST 5 YEARS TILL ‘END TIMES’ COMMENCE?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it gets more interesting still.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WHERE WORLD HISTORY ENDS

Greg Laurie… nough said!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ARK OF COVENANT RESTING BENEATH TEMPLE MOUNT?

It would almost inarguably be the greatest archaeological find in history.

Movies have been made about it.

Voluminous books have explored its whereabouts.

It’s an artifact that combines faith, science and history.

It’s the Ark of the Covenant – the gold-laden box made by Moses with the specific instructions of God to hold the Ten Commandments and serve as a meeting place between man and his Creator.

One of the persistent theories about the whereabouts of the Ark is that it lay buried in secret tunnels and passageways constructed by King Solomon for the specific purpose of keeping it from enemies who might one day capture and destroy the Temple.

Now there is compelling new evidence that’s just what happened – and that the Ark still rests beneath the chamber known as the Holy of Holies, moved there through an elaborate machine constructed under the direction of Solomon long before the invasion of the Babylonians and the sacking of the Temple.

Most of the evidence for this theory of the Ark’s location comes right out of the Bible But WND has confirmed at least some of the story with archaeological sources secretly working within the tunnel structure beneath the Temple Mount.

Even more astonishing is the theory propounded on the specific location of the Ark – a theory that, if true – would have more meaning to followers of Yeshua as Messiah and Savior than most Christians could ever imagine.

 

Without question, the Bible seems to detail the lengths to which Solomon went to protect the Ark, with a sand-hydraulic elevator in the Holy of Holies. An emergency escape route and the stone sarcophagus in which the Ark was hidden during the siege by King Nebuchadnezzar have already been discovered in the tunnel system that honeycombs Mount Moriah.

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IS THE DAY OF THE LORD NEAR?

Exclusive: Joseph Farah gives preparation advice that’s way beyond voting in November

I first got interested in prophecy during the 1970s after reading Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth.”

Within a few years, I got a chance to interview Lindsey for a story I wrote in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner detailing the remarkable success of that book and some of his sequels. It turned out that Lindsey’s books on Bible prophecy made him, far and away, the best-selling author of the decade.

I struck up a relationship with Lindsey and later had a chance to collaborate with him on several books.

Ever since, I’ve been a student of prophecy as well as a newsman – often observing events taking place in the world and using the measuring stick of the Bible to judge their relevance to what the Bible predicts will happen before the “Day of the Lord.”

For Christians, the “Day of the Lord” is literally the return of the Jesus to rule and reign over the planet for 1,000 years. For Bible-believing Jews, the Day of the Lord is the coming of the Messiah. I firmly believe they are one in the same.

For 2,000 years, Christians have been wondering when the return of Jesus – or Yeshua – might come. For even longer, Jews have been wondering when their Messiah might come. For hundreds of thousands of Jews, that question was answered 2,000 years ago by Yeshua. His disciples were all Jewish, and, following His death and Resurrection, many Jews – including priests and Pharisees and members of the Sanhedrin – became His followers. In fact, for the first 15 years after Yeshua’s death, all of his followers were messianic Jews.

So here we are in 2012, and the question on many people’s minds is, “When is the Day of the Lord coming?”

My unequivocal answer to that question is, “Very, very soon.”

The No. 1 reason for that conclusion is the rebirth of the nation-state of modern Israel – an absolute prerequisite to His return.

Every prophecy about the Day of the Lord shows Yeshua returning to the state of Israel, as it is being battered and nearly destroyed by its surrounding enemies.

Yeshua comes to stop that – and set up His kingly throne from which He reigns over the whole earth.

As I look around at what is happening in the world today, it sounds distinctly like the world described in the Bible before the Day of the Lord – most particularly with regard to the Middle East.

I don’t know if we have 50 years or 20 years or 10 years or even five.

But we are very, very close.

You may agree or you may disagree.

But it’s something every person – believer or non-believer – should think about carefully.

If you are confused by the chaos and violence, the wars and rumors of wars, the growing inability of people to discern right from wrong and other signs of the times, I urge you to turn to your Bibles for understanding.

It’s all there.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob told us the story of the world from the beginning to the end – all in one collection of books we call the Bible.

And, if you are currently preoccupied and concerned about the the direction of your country, know that there is more to saving it from destruction than participating in the election in November.

For believers, we are instructed what we can and must do to save our country. That prescription is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – and it applies to Israel or the United States or any other land: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Note that prescription is written for believers.

It’s not written for non-believers.

That’s why believers have a special duty to purify themselves, practice holiness, humble themselves, turn from their wicked ways and pray.

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The Battle of Gog of Magog & the Return of Jesus

 

Joel Richardson

The Book of Revelation, chapter 19, contains what is perhaps the most famous Biblical passage concerning the return of Jesus. There, Jesus the Messiah is seen to burst forth from heaven, riding on a white horse with the armies of heaven following Him. But as powerful and as well known as this prophetic portrayal of the return of Jesus is, few are aware of the fact that the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and 39, most often known as the Battle of Gog of Magog, also concludes with the return of Jesus. In fact, it can be said that Ezekiel 38 and 39 is in fact, the Armageddon of the Old Testament.

Although many popular interpreters have wrongly understood this passage to conclude several years before the return of Jesus, any honest assessment of the text simply does not allow for this. But among the many reasons to reject a pre-Day of the LORD conclusion of this prophecy, one of the simplest, is because it concludes with the LORD actually physically present in the land of Israel.

That’s right, Ezekiel reveals that at the conclusion of Gog’s invasion, Jesus the Messiah is physically present on the ground, in the land. Consider the following passage:

“For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, on that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence” —Ezekiel 38:19–20

According to this text, the Lord Himself says that throughout the earth, both people and animals will “quake at [His] presence.” The word used for presence here is the Hebrew word paneh. Paneh is a reference to the actual face of someone or something. When God says that the people of the earth will quake at His paneh, He is saying that they will be terrified because of His actual physical presence, on the ground, in the land of Israel (see also: Zechariah 14:2-5, Isaiah 29:2-8, Revelation 16:16-20).

Concerning the word paneh, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary says, “The presence (face) of Jehovah is Jehovah in his own personal presence.” The New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words says, “In the OT, being in God’s or another’s presence is indicated by a preposition (l) prefixed to the Hebrew word panim (‘face’). The thought is to be ‘before the face of the person.” Paneh is used throughout the Old Testament to refer to the actual presence of God. Jacob, for instance, after wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, referred to seeing God face-to-face:

“So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face [paneh] to face [paneh], and yet my life has been delivered’” —Genesis 32:30

It is also interesting to note that in place of the Hebrew paneh, the Septuagint used the Greek word prosopon. Prosopon is one of two words commonly used in the New Testament to refer to actual presence. The other word is parousia, which is commonly associated with the Second Coming. To convey actual presence, between parousia and prosopon, prosopon is the more powerful term. While parousia most often implies coming, prosopon implies actual face-to-face presence. As Jesus is coming on the clouds, this is His parousia, but once He has actually arrived, then the word prosopon is used.

An excellent example of the New Testament usage of prosopon is a scene where the righteous are actually looking upon the face of God in the eternal city:

“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face [prosopon], and his name will be on their foreheads” —Revelation 22:4

Ezekiel’s description of people quaking in fear of God’s face reveals that at the conclusion of the Battle of Gog and Magog, Jesus the Messiah, God incarnate, is physically present on the earth, in the land of Israel.

The Holy One in Israel

Further evidence for the physical presence of Jesus at the conclusion of this battle is seen in the following verse:

“And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.” — Ezekiel 39:7

This is the only time that the phrase “the LORD, the Holy One in Israel” is used in the whole Bible. It is the Hebrew YHVH qadowsh baYisra’el. A similar phrase, “the Holy One of Israel” (qadowsh Yisra’el), is used thirty-one times in Scripture (e.g., Isaiah 12:6; 43:3; 55:5; 60:9, etc.). But here in Ezekiel, the Lord is not merely the Holy One of Israel; He is actually present in the land and on the ground! While the popular position holds that this passage concludes several years before the return of Jesus, this verse makes this an absolute impossibility.

Other biblical commentators have also taken special note of God’s presence in Ezekiel’s oracle as evidence that it is a parallel to the Battle of Armageddon in Revelation 19. Apologist Dave Hunt for instance has stated:

“There is no doubt, from both Zechariah 12 and Revelation 1 and 19, that this personal coming of Yahweh to rescue His people and to destroy Antichrist and his armies takes place at Armageddon. It is significant, then, that similar language concerning the personal presence of God is found in Ezekiel 38 and 39, thus identifying the event described there as Armageddon also.”

Hunt’s observations are correct. But while most conservative, premillennialist, futurist interpreters who take Scripture at face value and use a literalist heremeutic will interpret the entirety of this passage in a literal fashion, when it comes to these two texts which show that God is actually present and in the land, many suddenly switch to an allegorical and non-literalist interpretation, without any justification for doing so.

If one uses a consistent literal method to interpret Ezekiel 38 and 39, then one must acknowledge that it concludes with the return of Jesus the Messiah. And as I have said before, if this is the case, within the world of Biblical prophecy, this absolutely changes everything. It is high time for the Church to begin wrestling with the implications.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4136

Food Inflation, Food Shortages And Food Riots Are Coming

A devastating global food crisis unlike anything we have ever seen in modern times is coming. Crippling drought and bizarre weather patterns have damaged food production all over the world this summer, and the UN and the World Bank have both issued ominous warnings about the food inflation that is coming.

To those of us in the Western world, a rise in the price of food can be a major inconvenience, but in the developing world it can mean the difference between life and death. Just remember what happened back in 2008. When food prices hit record highs it led to food riots in 28 different countries. Today, there are approximately 2 billion people that are malnourished around the globe. Even rumors of food shortages are enough to spark mass chaos in many areas of the planet. When people fear that they are not going to be able to feed their families they tend to get very desperate. That is why a recent CNN article declared that “2013 will be a year of serious global crisis”.

The truth is that we are not just facing rumors of a global food crisis – one is actually starting to unfold right in front of our eyes. The United States experienced the worst drought in more than 50 years this summer, and some experts are already declaring that the weather has been so dry for so long that tremendous damage has already been done to next year’s crops. On the other side of the world, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan have all seen their wheat crops devastated by the horrible drought this summer. Australia has also been dealing with drought, and in India monsoon rains were about 15 percent behind pace in mid-August. Global food production is going to be much less than expected this year, and global food demand continues to steadily rise. What that means is that food inflation, food shortages and food riots are coming, and it isn’t going to be pretty.

The United States exports more food than anyone else in the world, and that is why the entire globe has been nervously watching the horrific drought in the United States this summer with deep concern.

It has been the worst drought in more than 50 years, and it has absolutely devastated corn crops all over the nation. According to Bill Witherell, the U.S. corn crop this year “is said to be on a par with that of 1988 crop, the worst in the past thirty years.”

Sadly, this will be the third year in a row that the yield for corn has declined in the United States.

That has never happened before in the history of the United States.

And coming into this year we were already in bad shape. In fact, U.S. corn reserves were sitting at a 15-year low at the end of 2011.

So where will we be at the end of 2012?

The official estimates for corn yields put out by the U.S. government just keep dropping, but many fear that they aren’t dropping quickly enough. There have been some reports on the ground from some areas of the country that have been very distressing. The following is from a recent Wall Street Journal article….

Meanwhile, scouts with the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour on Monday reported an average estimated corn yield in Ohio of 110.5 bushels per acre, down from the tour’s estimate of 156.3 bushels a year ago. In South Dakota, tour scouts reported an average yield estimate of just 74.3 bushels per acre, down from 141.1 bushels a year ago.

Those are catastrophic numbers.

But farmers are not the only ones that have been impacted by the dry weather. A recent article by Chris Martenson summarized some of the other effects of this drought…..

Even though the mainstream media seems to have lost some interest in the drought, we should keep it front and center in our minds, as it has already led to sharply higher grain prices, increased gasoline costs (via the pass-through of higher ethanol costs), impeded oil and gas drilling activity in some areas (due to a lack of water), caused the shutdown of a few operating electricity plants, temporarily reduced red meat prices (but will also make them climb sharply later) as cattle are dumped in response to feed- and pasture-management concerns, and blocked and/or reduced shipping on the Mississippi River. All this and there’s also a strong chance that today’s drought will negatively impact next year’s Winter wheat harvest, unless a lot of rain starts falling soon.

Ranchers have had a particularly hard time during this drought. If you expect to pay about the same for meat this time next year as you are doing now you are going to be deeply disappointed. The following is from a recent Reuters article….

The worst drought to hit U.S. cropland in more than half a century could soon leave Americans reaching deeper into their pockets to fund a luxury that people in few other countries enjoy: affordable meat.

Drought-decimated fields have pushed grain prices sky high, and the rising feed costs have prompted some livestock producers to liquidate their herds. This is expected to shrink the long-term U.S. supply of meat and force up prices at the meat counter.

All over the western United States pastures have been destroyed and there is not enough hay. It would be hard to overstate the damage that this nightmarish drought is doing to our ranchers….

I spoke with Caldwell [of Indiana horse rescue] and a number of other horse-rescue organizations around the country by telephone this week. The relentlessly hot dry weather, amplified in many areas by wildfire, has been devastating to farmers, ranchers and other horse owners.

‘Everybody is using their winter hay now. The pastures are destroyed and they probably won’t recover before winter,’ said Caldwell. ‘The price of hay has doubled, and the availability is down by 75 percent.’

Caldwell is somewhat sanguine about his own lot, but not optimistic about what lies ahead.

‘Today the problem is not nearly as bad as it’s going to be,’ he told me. ‘It’s terribly bad today, but it is going to get a lot worse.’

But of course as I mentioned earlier this is not just an American problem.

The truth is that the entire globe is facing a rapidly growing food crisis.

According to the UN, the global price of food rose 6 percent in the month of July alone.

According to the World Bank, global food prices actually rose 10 percent during July.

Either figure is really, really bad.

The other day, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Program issued a joint statement in which they stated the following….

‘We need to act urgently to make sure that these price shocks do not turn into a catastrophe hurting tens of millions over the coming months.’

If the price of food at our supermarkets suddenly went up 20 percent that would really stretch our family budgets here in the United States, but we would survive.

On the other side of the globe, such a price change can mean the difference between life and death. The following is from the CNN article mentioned above….

But step outside the developed world, and the price of food suddenly becomes the single most important fact of human economic life. In poor countries, people typically spend half their incomes on food — and by ‘food,’ they mean first and foremost bread.

When grain prices spiked in 2007-2008, bread riots shook 30 countries across the developing world, from Haiti to Bangladesh, according to the Financial Times. A drought in Russia in 2010 forced suspension of Russian grain exports that year and set in motion the so-called Arab spring.

Already, 18 million people in Niger, Mali, Chad, Mauritania and Senegal are dealing with very serious food shortages.

In Yemen, things are even worse….

Yemen has a catastrophic food crisis. Nearly half the population, 10 million people, does not have enough to eat. While 300,000 children are facing life threatening levels of malnutrition.

The United Nations says Yemen is already in the throes of a disaster.

‘The levels are truly terrible. Whatever we do thousands upon thousands of children will die this year from malnutrition,’ Unicef’s man in Yemen, Geert Cappelaere, said.

‘In some areas child malnutrition is at 30%, to put it in context, an emergency is 15%. It is double that already.’

But this is just the beginning. These food shortages are going to spread and we will eventually see food riots that will absolutely dwarf the food riots of 2008.

Many scientists fear the worst. Some are even now warning that food shortages will become so severe that they will eventually force much of the globe on to a vegetarian diet….

Leading water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying that the world’s population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.

Humans derive about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050, according to research by some of the world’s leading water scientists.

‘There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations,’ the report by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said.

The days of very cheap meat are coming to an end. Meat will be increasingly viewed as a “luxury” around the globe from now on.

Sadly, there are some in the financial world that actually intend to make lots of money off of this crisis….

The United Nations, aid agencies and the British Government have lined up to attack the world’s largest commodities trading company, Glencore, after it described the current global food crisis and soaring world prices as a ‘good’ business opportunity.

With the US experiencing a rerun of the drought ‘Dust Bowl’ days of the 1930s and Russia suffering a similar food crisis that could see Vladimir Putin’s government banning grain exports, the senior economist of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, Concepcion Calpe, told The Independent: ‘Private companies like Glencore are playing a game that will make them enormous profits.’

Does that disturb you?

It should.

Driving up the price of food for starving people is not a good way to make money. Food is one of our most basic needs. When people are deprived of food they become very desperate.

Just look at what is already happening in Spain. The economic crisis in that country has just begun, and people are already looting supermarkets. You can see a video news report about Spanish activists looting 3 tons of food from local supermarkets right here.

Much of that food was donated to food banks, but in the future I am sure that the desperate “activists” will not be so generous when things get really tight.

In other areas of Spain, large numbers of people have been filmed digging through trash dumpsters for food.

Could you ever see yourself doing that? Don’t be so sure that hunger will never come to America. Right now, a record 46.7 million Americans are on food stamps, and anti-hunger organizations all around the country are reporting more of a need than ever before.

For now the federal government is able to feed the tens of millions of Americans that do not have enough money for food, but what happens when a day comes when the federal government stops doing that?

And what happens if the drought in the United States continues throughout the winter and into next summer and Dust Bowl conditions return to the United States?

In a previous article entitled “17 Signs That You Better Start Preparing For A Nightmarish Global Food Crisis”, I detailed some more of the reasons why people need to start preparing for food inflation and food shortages.

In the past we could always go out to the supermarket or to Wal-Mart and fill up our shopping carts with huge piles of very cheap food whenever we wanted to.

It will not always be that way.

Get prepared while you still can.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4116

SERMON: REDISCOVERING THE POWER AND PURPOSE OF BIBLE PROPHECY — Part 1

 

REDISCOVERING THE POWER AND PURPOSE OF BIBLE PROPHECY — PART 1

* In Luke 12:51-56, the Lord Jesus said these words: “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” And He was also saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out.And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way.You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?”

* In the first century in the Roman-occupied land of Israel, people were living in a time of great anxiety. They were worried about their own future. They feared war and drought and famine and natural disasters. They desperately wanted and needed a Savior. Yet Jesus rebuked them. Why? He scolded them for having all the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures that told them so many details about who the coming Messiah would be, but not carefully studying those prophecies in the Word of God. They weren’t observing the prophecies and comparing them to current events. They weren’t “connecting the dots.” They weren’t realizing the power or purpose of Bible prophecy.  Thus they were missing the fact that Jesus Himself was the Messiah,  was standing in their midst, and was ready, able and willing to save them from their sins and their sadness.

* Today, we, too, are living at a time of great anxiety. People are worried about their own future, and the future of the world. There is a growing threat of a major war breaking out soon in the Middle East between Israel and Iran. Various nations in Europe are collapsing economically. The American economy is in deep trouble and we are facing the very real threat of fiscal and moral implosion. We’ve seen an explosion of violence and a murder wave even in small towns in America. We’re facing all manners of natural disasters, including terrible drought, historic fires, and now another serious hurricane aimed again at the Gulf Coast.

* What’s remarkable is that all of these trends here in the U.S. and around the world are consistent with Bible prophecies about the “last days.” We are seeing End Times Bible prophecies coming true all around us, all of which tell us that we are steadily approaching the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Yet far too few people are studying the Word of God. They aren’t connecting the dots. They don’t understand the power and purpose of Bible prophecy. Thus they are missing the fact that Jesus Christ is calling them to Himself. He wants to save them from their sins and sadness. He came to offer the free gift of eternal life, and abundant life. And He’s coming back in person soon. 

* Personally, I’m fascinated with Bible prophecy, and have been for most of my life. I write non-fiction books and speak around the world about prophecy because it intrigues me so much and I feel compelled to share these truths with anyone who will listen. At the same time, I also write novels based on the premise, ”What if?” That is, what if certain prophecies were  to come true in our lifetime? What would that look like? What would that feel like? I don’t know for certain when or how these events will come to pass, but novels allow me to play a ”war game,” as it were. They allow me to get people thinking about what these prophecies are and considering what they mean and how they could affect our lives.

* I believe it is vitally important that people rediscover the power and purpose of Bible prophecy — now more than ever – and this is what I’d like to speak about for the next two nights.

* Unfortunately, many pastors, priests and ministry leaders here in the U.S. and around the world are not teaching Bible prophecy — as I see it, there are four major reasons for this.

First, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of belief in the power of God’s Word. Sadly, many pastors today don’t really believe the Bible is the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God. The Lord Jesus once remonstrated the Pharisees because they were misinterpreting Scripture. He said, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29) Too many pastors and priests today are the same way. They not carefully studying the whole Bible. They’re not trying to understand the “whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27, KJV). They don’t really believe that prophecy comes from God, and therefore they don’t teach these prophecies or help people understand why God gave us prophecy. Yet Bible prophecies are so exciting because they are intercepts from the mind of the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God of the Universe. Prophecies tell us what is on the heart of God. They warn us to stop certain behaviors, and encourage us to be holy and walk more closely with the Lord. They are also storm warnings of future events. They tell us dramatic events that coming, and how we should get ready and be prepared to be found faithful and worthy when those moments come. Prophecies call us to serve Christ with boldness and courage so we will not be ashamed when we stand before Him face to face in the not-too-distant future. The Bible says that God gave us prophecies to build up and encourage followers of Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, “One who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation….One who prophesies edifies the church.” (I Corinthians 14:3, 4b) Isn’t that what every believer needs, to be built up, encouraged and consoled?

Second, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of knowledge of — and sound training in — Bible prophecy. There are many, of course, who do believe that the Bible is the very Word of God. However, for a variety of reasons they have never taken the time to study prophecy carefully on their own, and/or weren’t taught it in any detail or depth in seminary or Bible college or seminary. Thus, they understandably feel unprepared and inadequate to help people unpack the truths of these Scriptures. Some prophecies are, of course, complicated and confusing. Some of the names mentioned in prophecies (like “Gog” and “Magog” and “Gomer” and “Put” in Ezekiel 38-39) are strange and obscure. It takes some historical detective work to determine what these things mean, and some pastors decide they neither have the interest nor the time to do the research and teach their congregations clearly and accurately, so they avoid teaching prophecy all together. I understand this, and I’m doing my best to create resources — and point people to other excellent resources that have been helpful to me — to help pastors study and teach prophecy. Because now is the time to rediscover the power and purpose of prophecy. The Bible is clear that God will bless those who study and teach End Times prophecy, and we should be faithful in doing just that. The Apostle John wrote, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it, for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3) Amen.

Third, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a fear of being lumped in with “prophecy nuts” and those who peddle sensationalism. Admittedly, there are, in fact, many nuts who try to teach prophecy. They misinterpret the Scriptures. They draw erroneous conclusions. They sensationalize. And thus they bring dishonor and discredit to themselves. Pastors are right to avoid such false teachers, and to avoid creating an appearance of cheapening the Word of God in these ways. But just because some teach Bible prophecy wrongly, or badly, is no reason for solid teachers to avoid the topic. There are those who teach false regarding the Gospels and the epistles, too. But a good pastor wouldn’t dare skip teaching correctly these books of the Bible. On what basis, then, do we have the right to avoid teaching whole books of the Bible — Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation, among others — just because some charlatans are out their misleading people? Indeed, we should be teaching solidly on prophecy all the more because of the nuts who are out there. We shouldn’t cede the battle for hearts, minds and souls to the nuts. The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word: be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2-3)

Fourth, many pastors don’t teach prophecy because they have a lack of understanding of the times in which we live and the increasingly close return of Christ. At the same time, there are many sincere pastors who love Jesus and love the Word of God but somehow are just not gripped by the remarkable moment of history that we’re in, and the urgent need to prepare men’s hearts for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ for the Church. More than ever, we need pastors who are like the sons of Issachar, “men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (I Chronicles 12:32) More than ever we need pastors who will obey the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ who told us to not be obsessed with understanding the future of the weather, but rather to understand “this present time” and prepare the people under our care to walk with Christ more closely and obey Him more faithfully as the Day of His return for us draws ever nearer.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4100

‘Remarkable’: Dreams And Visions Bringing More Middle East Muslims To Faith In Christ ‘Since The Birth Of Islam’

 

Psalm 70:4, “Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified!’”

CBN Host: “In both Egypt and Syria we’re seeing Christians deciding to leave, some of those who are leaving Syria were actually [Christian] refugees from Iraq. With all this trouble going on, are these Christians running out of safe havens?”

Chris Mitchell – “They are.  …[In] 2003 when the Iraq war started, and then the sectarian violence — the Muslim against Christian violence — thousands left. Some of them fled to Syria. Now those Christians in Syria, they really don’t know where to go. Some may be going to Jordan, which might be the last safe haven for Christians in the Middle East …”

CBN Host: “… Despite the turmoil we know that the Lord always finds a way to reach people. We hear about Muslims having dreams and visions of Christ. Share some of those stories.”

Chris Mitchell: “I think that’s one of the most remarkable things happening in the Middle East right now, and the missionaries that I’ve … talked to … say that more Muslims are coming to faith in Jesus Christ than any time since the birth of Islam 1400 years ago. Many of them are coming through dreams and visions, literally, people having dreams of a man in white who calls Himself Jesus and says ‘Follow Me’ for example. It’s happening in Iran. In fact Iran, some say, is the fastest growing church in the world today and that most of the people that are coming are influenced by a dream or a vision that tells them about Jesus, and then through that they may get a Bible, they may meet a Christian, and it’s sort of [the] initiation of their faith in Jesus Christ …”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4097