Sunday, December 30, 2012

A FRESH LOOK AT THE REVELATION GIVEN TO THE APOSTLE JOHN ON PATMOS


It’s been a full four years since the last series of blogs I posted on the book of Revelation.  It seems that developments on the world stage since that time have rapidly fallen into place to support events outlined in scripture.  Scientific and technological capabilities are rapidly evolving that also align with the biblical scenario pertaining to the times preceding the Lord’s return.  With these things in mind I would like to take another journey through this very important book of the Bible.  In fact, it is the only book that promises a blessing to those who will read it, pay attention to what they are reading and stay aware of the truth it reveals (from the Greek).
Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”

Sadly, there are many pastors today who ignore that promise and declare that the teaching of prophecy is a waste of time.  Anyone who spends much time in the word of God will quickly learn that a great deal of scripture is devoted to prophecy.  Many of the prophecies of scripture have already been fulfilled, and testify to the veracity of those yet awaiting fulfillment.  God declares His reason for sharing prophetic events through the words of Isaiah.

Isaiah 48:3–7 “I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them. Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them. They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them.”

In other words, prophecy is one of the primary proofs of the authority and power of God that affirms the truth of His word.   According to the Apostle Paul, the witness of creation alone leaves one without excuse when he/she stands before Almighty God in judgment.

Romans 1:18–21 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

The words of the Psalmist echo the witness of creation.

Psalms 19:1–3 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”

God is so gracious and merciful and so desires to save us that He goes the extra mile so to speak by testifying of Himself through the declaration and fulfillment of prophecy. 

Jesus expected the religious leaders of His day to recognize Him in light of the prophecies from the Old Testament scripture.  He obviously thought that the spiritual leaders of the people should have recognized “the signs of the times” pertaining to the coming of the Messiah.

Matthew 16:1–4 “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.”

In spite of the doom and gloom and the wickedness of man that pervades the headlines of the news today, I am excitedly anticipating the future based on my study of the prophetic scripture.  As a born again child of God, I know that my future is one of happiness and blessing far beyond what I could ever imagine.

1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

I pray that you too will accept God’s gift of salvation and so be able to look forward to the future with that same anticipation.  I also pray that as we take another look at this book of judgment and hope you will read the book of Revelation for yourself.  I will share as honestly and simply as I can my understanding of its truth, but you are ultimately held accountable to consider my thoughts in the light of scripture.  Paul worded it this way in his commendation of the Bereans.

Acts 17:10–11 “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These 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.”

Note that the Bereans were eager to hear the teaching of God’s word, but they didn’t blindly accept the teaching as truth just because it came from the mouth of the great Apostle Paul.  They compared what was taught to the words of scripture. 

(to be continued…)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

THE GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL

Continuing our look at Luke's account of the Christmas story...
Luke 2:15-16 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The shepherds didn’t waste any time, they decided to go immediately to Bethlehem to see this wonderful child whose birth the angels of God had announced to them.  The fact that Luke says they came with haste and found the baby and his parents indicates to me that this might have been the very place that these shepherds kept their flocks when not grazing them in the fields.

Luke 2:17-20 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

After seeing with their own eyes the confirmation of the message the angel had given them, they couldn’t wait to spread the news.  Research indicates that shepherds were not known to be trustworthy and were not allowed to testify in the courts.  It seems, however, that their passion concerning what they had experienced was sufficient to cause those who heard their testimony to consider what they said with wonder and amazement.

Evidently, the shepherds first told their story to Mary and Joseph; and Luke tells us that Mary basically memorized what they had said and thoughtfully considered all they told her.  I am sure that she was keeping a mental record at the least of all the miraculous events that surrounded the birth of her child.  I am sure they would serve to strengthen her as her Son began His ministry and as she watched Him suffer on the cross.

The shepherds couldn’t wait to share the good news of the birth of the Savior.  During this Christmas season it would be good for every person that professes Jesus as Savior to examine his or her own heart in light of their enthusiasm.  Are you just as excited to share the good news of the gift of salvation that is available to every person?

We live in a time that the scripture identifies as “the last days.”  Jesus is coming soon to take His bride home to the Father.  Those left behind because of their unbelief will face enduring the most horrendous times ever experienced by those on planet earth, a time that would end in the destruction of all flesh were it not for the return of Jesus as King. 

Matthew 24:21–22 “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”

My prayer is that if you have found your way to this blog, you will heed the truth of scripture that is presented here.  All you have to do is admit before God that you are a sinner in need of a Savior and place your faith in God’s provision for you in the person of His Son Jesus.

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God….”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

1 Corinthians 15:1–4 “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures….”

Saturday, December 22, 2012

JESUS IS BORN!


Luke 2:1-2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

This chapter begins with a time marker; Cyrenius was governor of Syria.  Research reveals that Cyrenius served two terms as governor, thereby dispelling any accusations of inaccuracy in the scriptural record.

Caesar Augustus, the first emperor of Rome, is ruling the empire at the time; and from the perspective of those living in Bible lands, this would seem to be the whole world. 

Luke 2:3-5 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

The call for taxation necessitated a census and called for everyone to report to “his own city.” Jewish laws determined property ownership as inherited and according to the tribal allocations.  Joseph was of the royal line of David and was required to go to Bethlehem, approximately 80 miles from Nazareth.

The fact that Mary was great with child indicates that she was probably in her last couple of months.  Research reveals differing opinions regarding whether Mary had to go with Joseph.  The fact remains that she did go and that her going was in fulfillment of prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

Micah 5:2 “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Luke 2:6-7 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

As prophesied, Mary gave birth to Jesus while they were in Bethlehem.  They had not been able to find temporary lodging, so had taken shelter in a cave or some other structure in which the animals were kept.  Luke provides details of the baby being swaddled and laid in a manger, a feeding trough.

The fact that Jesus is identified as Mary’s firstborn son implies that she subsequently gave birth to at least one more son.  Matthew records that he had several brothers and sisters.

Matthew 13:53–56 “And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?”

Luke 2:8-14 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke now records some other details regarding witnesses to the circumstances of the birth of Jesus.  In the outlying countryside around Bethlehem there were shepherds watching over their sheep.  An angel of the Lord shining with the glory of God appeared before the shepherds.  This makes me think of how Moses’ face shone after a prolonged time in the presence of the Lord.

The angel told the shepherds that they had nothing to fear; he was bringing them good news that would bring joy to all people.  The Savior, Christ the Lord, had been born that very day in Bethlehem, the city of David.  In fact, they could go and see the baby for themselves; they would find him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.  It was highly unlikely that there would be more than one newborn child that could be so characterized and therefore identified as a sign.  The angel was suddenly joined by a multitude of angels giving praise to the glory of God and His desire for peace on earth and to show His favor toward man.

I couldn’t help but think it interesting that the coming of the Good Shepherd was first announced to shepherds.  The declaration of the angels as “Christ the Lord” was again a confirmation that Jesus was the foretold Messiah and was indeed the Son of God.

John 10:11–14 “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep….I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.”

I also think it is significant that the announcement was made at night.  In the dark of this evil world there had been born a baby that was to become the light of the world who would give life to fallen man and allow for man to be at one (from the Greek for peace) in fellowship with God again.

John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

John 12:44–46 “Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”

(to be continued…)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

THE VIRGIN CONCEIVES


In this post we will begin to take a look at Luke’s account of the revelation of God’s plan to send His Son Jesus as our Redeemer.

Luke 1:26-29 …the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to deliver a message to a young woman named Mary in the city of Nazareth in Galilee.  The girl is identified as a virgin, one who has never had a sexual relationship with a man.  Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David, and in Jewish culture this was as binding as marriage.  The fact that Joseph is of the house of David is significant since the Messiah was to be a descendant of David; and from an earthly perspective, this would be determined by his paternal heritage.  Luke later records that God was true to His promise to David since Mary was also a descendant of David through his son Nathan.

Luke 1:30-33 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Mary was naturally frightened at the sudden appearance of the angel and didn’t understand His message.   Gabriel comforted Mary and told her the wonderful news that she would give birth to the Messiah—the dream of every Jewish girl.  Gabriel told her that she was to name the child JESUS (savior, deliverer).  He went on to explain that this child would not be just another deliverer (e.g. Moses); He would be called or known as “the Son of the Highest,” a reference to the Supreme God.  It is emphasized that the Lord God will place Him on the throne of His ancestor, King David.  The angel goes on to declare that once He is placed on that throne, He will rule the house of Jacob (Israel) forever!  His kingdom will endure and His throne never usurped.

Gabriel’s words have a direct connection to the words of the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 9:6–7 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”

Luke 1:34-35 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Mary believed what Gabriel told her, she just didn't understand how it could happen.  She understood the facts of life, and she had never had sexual relations with a man.  Gabriel explained that the Holy Ghost would work a miracle in her; her son would be the Son of God in the flesh.

Luke 1:36-38 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Before leaving Gabriel told Mary that her cousin Elisabeth, who had been considered barren, had become pregnant in her old age; and, in fact, was six months along.  I am sure that this was meant to be an encouragement to Mary.  In light of events concerning both women, the angel declared that “with God nothing is impossible.”  Mary humbly yielded herself to the will of the Lord and declared her faith in Him and her belief in the message delivered by Gabriel. 

Mary’s declaration of faith says a lot about the young woman chosen to give birth to the Savior.  According to Jewish law, it was life-threatening to be found with child by what would be perceived as an adulterous relationship.

John 8:4–5 “They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?”

I think that Mary’s faith led her to believe implicitly that God would ensure her safety and the birth of this child, but she could not have been so sure that Joseph or even her parents would believe her.  It was certain that her character would be questioned and that she faced becoming an outcast.  Let’s take a look at Joseph’s response as recorded by Matthew.

Matthew 1:18-19 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

Joseph was evidently an honorable and compassionate man.  He didn’t want any harm to come to Mary, so he decided to pursue a private divorce that would preserve his reputation and spare Mary and her family as much as possible.

Matthew 1:20-21 & 24-25 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

God knew Joseph’s heart, so he sent the angel of the Lord to him in a dream to tell him that Mary had not been unfaithful to him and that he should not fear taking her as his wife.  Joseph was told that Mary had in fact been chosen to give birth to the long-awaited Messiah.  He was told that her pregnancy was a miraculous work of the Holy Ghost in her.  The angel also told Joseph that he was to name the child Jesus, which means savior or deliverer.  The child would be the promised Redeemer. 

Joseph did not question his dream.  I believe that Mary’s reputation and her report of Gabriel’s visit to her helped confirm in Joseph’s mind that his dream had been from God.  They both decided to trust in God’s provision for them in spite of the ridicule they would face from society, and so they were officially married.  Point is made that Joseph and Mary did not consummate their marriage until after Jesus was born. 

(to be continued...)

Friday, December 14, 2012

BORN TO DIE TO REIGN


As we head into this Christmas season, I wanted to take some time to focus on the true reason for the season—the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Redeemer and coming King. 

It is truly amazing to me to see how quickly long-accepted and cherished truths and traditions are being rejected and transformed to accommodate the decaying moral culture and so-called political correctness of our day. 

I grew up in a time when Christmas was a national celebration of the birth of Jesus and the atmosphere at that time of year was permeated with Christmas carols and nativity scenes alongside all the Santa Claus stuff.  Schools proudly staged performances in which the students reenacted the Christmas story and sang carols to the delight of family and friends. 

I believe the founders of our nation who crafted the constitution would be appalled to see how their words have been tortured to support judicial rulings that have resulted in an ongoing erosion and elimination of the very freedoms it was crafted to protect.  Our founders intended for us to have the freedom to worship God as we please without the interference of the government.  The ruling elite in America today are doing their best to eliminate the influence of God and his word in our society. 

I am reminded of the words of Jesus as He taught His disciples regarding the days before His return:  Matthew 24:-11-12 “…many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold….”  (NIV)

God is the source of all true love; so it is no wonder to me that as the time approaches for the Lord’s return, society is becoming morally decadent as His truth is rejected and false teaching is embraced by the masses.

In spite of the declaration by many today that truth is relative, that just is not true.  Truth is by definition a statement of fact or actuality.  Whether or not one chooses to accept truth does not change its reality. 

There are many today who refuse to accept God’s word as declared in scripture as true.  At some point in the future, these people will find themselves face-to-face before the Lord in fear and trembling because of their rejection of that truth.

God has announced His Being through His creation so clearly and abundantly that scripture declares that men will stand before Him without excuse if they choose to reject that testimony. 

Romans 1:18–21 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Today, more than ever before, scientific studies are revealing more and more regarding the power, intelligence and wisdom of our Creator. 

The computer has basically joined mankind once again in a common language, and the call for a one-world government is getting louder and louder.  I am reminded of God’s words in Genesis when describing His thoughts regarding man’s accomplishments at the tower of Babel.

Genesis 11:6 “And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”

This is another reason why I feel the time is short.  God confused the languages to thwart man’s rebellion at Babel.  This time I believe that He is allowing mankind to make the advances necessary to prepare for the coming one-world ruler commonly known as the Antichrist, Satan’s ultimate deceiver.  This leader will actually control the known world for 3.5 years before the Lord Jesus returns as King to destroy His enemies and establish His kingdom.  The control he is able to establish will be made possible by the technological advances of our time.

Because God knew all before creating one thing (awesome truth to ponder), He declared His love for us by formulating a plan for our redemption before we ever sinned.  His plan is so radical and beyond our understanding that people stumble in the light of its truth. 

Man needed a perfect, willing sacrifice to suffer the judgment of our sin.  It was man that sinned, and it was man that had to be judged for that sin. 

Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned….”

Since the sin nature of man is inherited through the Father, only a man born of a virgin could qualify as that sacrifice.  Not only would he have to be born of a virgin, he would have to live a life without sin in complete submission and obedience to God.  In God’s wisdom He decided to send His only Son to be born of a virgin and live as a man without sin to qualify as that sacrifice.

(to be continued…)

Monday, December 10, 2012

IMPLICATIONS OF FULFILLED BIBLE PROPHECY

-->
There are many arguments for the existence of God, and bible prophecy is certainly one of the most amazing because who can know the past and future with such accuracy other than the Creator.  In the previous three blog posts we have looked at several of these prophecies.  Statistics of probability only strengthen the argument for the truth of scripture when you consider the amazing number of prophecies that have been fulfilled.  For example, if you asked a crowd of 1000 people of all ages how many had a birthday on July 1, several people might stand who were born on July 1.  Of those standing, you might then ask how many were born in Chicago.  Many of those standing would probably sit down.  Of those remaining, you ask how many like green as their favorite color.  Three questions and you are down to a small number of people.  This is a simplistic illustration of how statistical probability is developed.  We only looked at a few prophecies fulfilled since 1948; we didn’t even address the prophecies of the Messiah that were fulfilled by Jesus or the record of history written in advance as recorded in Daniel 10-11 among many others.

Critical evaluations of the Bible (by foes and fans alike) have been done for a long time, and the amazing statistics of probability related to the prophecies in the Bible are a great validation of its truth. Are the prophecies presented in the previous blog posts in this series that impressive?  I truly don’t think a reasonable person can say otherwise.

My heart is burdened that people everywhere (especially those I know and care about) recognize all God has done to declare His existence, His love and His interest in every person—especially through the revelation of His word.  The Old Testament prophecies are many, and most point to the Messiah, The One who would come to redeem mankind from sin and make possible our restoration to fellowship with God. 

God states in His Word that only by faith in Jesus Christ can one hope to enter His presence in heaven.

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

You can’t earn your way to heaven; you have to accept it by faith.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Notice it says, “Lord” Jesus.  In other words, you are accepting Him as THE authority in your life.  That acceptance is proved by how you live.  The sad truth is that many that claim to be saved are not.

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

They may be doing good works—even miracles—in the name of Jesus, but they aren’t living according to God’s will as revealed in His Word; they are living for self.  His Word is very clear that if we love Him, we will obey Him.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words.

The Apostle Paul urges us to “examine” ourselves as to the sincerity of our profession of faith.

2Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”

I believe that time is short and that Jesus is coming again soon.  What soon is—I don’t know.  I do know that I don’t want you to be left behind!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

ON THE PROPHETIC HORIZON

-->
Attack on Israel by surrounding nations not in Gog’s coalition

It is mainly the fact that these nations are not part of Gog’s coalition that makes me believe the coalition described in Psalm 83 will make an attack on Israel that precedes the attack of Gog’s coalition.  The nations today known as Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria along with the “Palestinians” of Gaza and the West Bank make up this coalition and have borders in common with Israel.

Psalms 83:4–8 “They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.”

The UN vote to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders only adds fuel to the fire for this future conflict.

Destruction of Damascus

Damascus is widely recognized as the oldest continuously populated city on the planet.  The prophet Isaiah tells us that the day is coming when Damascus will be completely destroyed. 

Isaiah 17:1 “Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.”

I must admit that events in the news today have me puzzled.  I think it is still possible that Iran will be able to influence those of Hamas in leadership over the Palestinians in Israel to provoke a conflict with Israel that will force the Muslim Brotherhood to join their ranks.  Conditions in Jordan are such that I believe they would join this coalition just to pacify the Muslim Brotherhood that is causing unrest in their own nation.  Hizbullah, the controlling arm of Iran’s influence in Lebanon, would not fail to take advantage of the opportunity to become part of a coalition determined to destroy Israel.  Interestingly enough, this could result in the destruction of Damascus and the fall of Assad from power.  Only time will reveal how this prophecy is fulfilled.

Gog leads a coalition of Moslem nations against Israel

As pointed out in the previous blog post, Ezekiel prophesies that “in the latter years” a coalition of Islamic nations led by Russia will attack Israel at a time when they are living with a false sense of security.  It is the fact that they are living with such a false sense of security that makes me believe that this attack will happen after the threat from their bordering nations has been removed due to their victory over the coalition of nations identified in Psalm 83.

Ezekiel 38:8–12 “…in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them. Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee….And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations….”

Establishment of a Global Government, Economy & Religion

Scripture records that the Antichrist that will rise to power during the tribulation period will establish a global government that will control worldwide economics.  He will have an assistant that will exhibit miraculous powers and will administer control of the worldwide economic system that will be implemented during the last 3.5 years of the tribulation period.  No one will be able to buy or sell without taking the mark of the Antichrist in his right hand or forehead.  Those who refuse to worship the Antichrist will be killed.

Revelation 13:1–8 “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea….and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority….And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Revelation 13:11–17 “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”


It is clear from the headlines around the world in recent times, that the establishment of a global government and economy is looming on the horizon.  The economies of the world are so interconnected that this will be seen as the only viable option to maintain any type of worldwide stability.  Incremental steps have already been taken to pave the way for the implementation of just such a system through the establishment of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.  I found this quote regarding government control of the internet from Bill Binney, the former head of the National Security Agency's Signals Intelligence Division, "...all the infrastructure has been built for absolute totalitarianism."
-->

Rapture

Personally, this is the event that I most anticipate.  Scripture is clear in declaring that there is a generation of believers that will escape death and will experience immediate transformation to resurrected bodies that are incorruptible and immortal.

1 Corinthians 15:51–53 “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

1 Thessalonians 4:14–17 “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

The Lord Jesus clearly declared that no man could know the day or hour of His return. 

Matthew 24:36–37 “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

I think, however, that He clearly expects us to recognize the signs of the times as revealed in His word; that is why He revealed those signs.  He severely rebuked the religious leaders of His day for not recognizing Him as their Messiah since the works and miracles He would do had been revealed by the prophet Isaiah, and Daniel had even revealed the time to expect Him.

Matthew 16:1–3 “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”

Isaiah 61:1–2 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD….”

Isaiah 35:5–6 “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing….”

Daniel 9:24–25 “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 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….”

Daniel specified that from the time that the commandment was issued for the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, 483 years would pass until Messiah was revealed; and Jesus was living in that time.

(to be continued…)