Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Connecting Psalm 83, Destruction of Damascus, Ezekiel 38-39, the 6th Seal and Armageddon

Just a reminder…….this blog is a compilation of posts that build on the information shared in previous posts.  So, if this is your first visit, you may want to check out previous postings regarding this subject or check out the personal verse-by-verse commentaries posted on my website regarding the subject passages (Psalm 83, Isaiah 17, Ezekiel 38-39, Revelation 6 & Revelation 19).
As I was spending time yet once again in the subject passage in Ezekiel regarding the war most popularly known as Gog/Magog and thinking about its timing in relation to end times events, a flash of understanding hit me that fit the prophetic puzzle pieces together more clearly yet again.  I get so excited when I feel like the Lord is revealing things to me, and I can’t wait to get it recorded and share it.  Most of my research indicates that end times scholars usually fall into one of two camps regarding the timing of this war—before the tribulation and as part of Armageddon.  I now believe that the scripture makes application to both, much like the prophecy in Isaiah 61 that Jesus read in the synagogue in Nazareth. 

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, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn….”

Jesus declared Himself the fulfillment of the first portion of that prophecy (highlighted in bold), but stopped His reading at a comma preceding “the day of vengeance,” the reference to His return at Armageddon.  That comma has represented almost 2,000 years at this point in time.

Circumstances are changing quickly in the Middle East.  More radical groups are gaining control or making power plays in the nations of that area as the people rebel against their dictatorial leaders. 

I still think it likely that this will culminate in a war between Israel and her neighbors as described in Psalm 83 that will result in the destruction of Damascus when Israel retaliates as they have declared they would.  When Israel is victorious, it will set the stage for the attack by Gog’s coalition.  It also explains why these nations are not mentioned as part of that coalition.

The members of the Gog coalition will have their own motives for joining together for this attack.  Russia has vested interests in those nations, especially in Syria and Lebanon, that will be jeopardized by Israel’s victory.  The recent discovery of a great gas field off the coast of Israel will serve as another incentive, not to mention gaining control of other valuable assets in Israel.  Turkey is one of Gog’s primary allies, and they will be very angry to see their desire to reestablish an Islamic Caliphate over that region disappear.  The leaders of Iran, Gog’s other primary ally, are focused on bringing about conditions that will result in the return of their Mahdi.

Though men are the instruments, God is very clear in declaring through Ezekiel that He is the One who goads Gog into attacking.  It seems to be His intervention on Israel’s behalf that prepares the hearts of the 144,000 Jews who will be set apart as God’s witnesses among the nations when the believers are raptured.  Gog’s defeat will cause many to acknowledge Almighty God as the God of Israel (38:16 & 39:7).

The prophet goes on to declare that when Gog attacks Israel, God’s “fury shall come up in my face.”  His response will be to cause a great “shaking” (earthquake, bombs, both?) in the land of Israel.  Events will provoke great fear among all creatures and men on the earth.  Mountains will be thrown down, high places tumbled, and walls destroyed.  Gog’s army will be so crazed with fear that they turn on one another.

Along with the great shaking, God will send pestilence with blood and a powerful storm raining down great hailstones, fire and brimstone (nuclear aftermath?). 

In chapter 39 we are told that God is giving the dead carcasses to the carnivorous beasts and birds to devour.  This, in fact, clouded my understanding as I tried to equate this declaration with that of verse 17. 

The prophet then goes on to add that not only will Gog’s armies experience His judgment, so too will the land of Magog (Russia/Turkey) and those dwelling carelessly in the “isles” (Hebrew = habital areas, coasts, countries, islands); in other words, other places on earth that aren’t part of his army.  Conclusion, the effects of this war are far reaching.

Next, we are given a detailed method that will be used to cleanse the land and dispose of the dead bodies that seems to mirror the guidelines that would apply to a nuclear aftermath.  This cleanup will take seven months.  Ezekiel also makes a point of telling us that the weapons of her enemies will be used as fuel by Israel for 7 years. 

These are some of the primary reasons that I believe Gog’s attack will occur prior to the 70th week of Daniel we know as the tribulation.  When Jesus returns to establish His kingdom, the focus is on the forces of Antichrist positioned against the believing remnant in Bozrah (Petra?) and against Jerusalem in Megiddo.  I do not believe Jesus would require such a long or careful cleanup period, nor would Israel need to be dependent on weapons for fuel during His Kingdom. 

Now, go with me to the opening of the 6th seal in Revelation 6.  It was the phrase “my fury shall come up in my face” that made me connect to the reference to the coming of God’s wrath as referenced in 6:17.  Then I started to make other connections.  The 6th seal judgment includes a great earthquake (shaking), the sun turns black and the moon turns red, stars fall and the heavens roll together like a scroll (nuclear?).  Every mountain and island move out of place.  Men call out for death in their fear; they recognize these events as “the wrath of the Lamb.”  Though described a bit differently, these judgments mesh well with Ezekiel’s record of God’s judgment against Gog’s army.

This would certainly set the stage for the rise of the Antichrist as the world’s Savior and establish conditions that would facilitate the signing of a 7-year covenant with Israel.  Yes, I believe that the first five seals are open and represent the birth pains described in Matthew 24.  (See the commentary on Revelation 4-7 on my website for an explanation.  My understanding of those chapters changed once I took off self-imposed blinders.  I’m still trying to put more of the details into place, but when I feel I’ve been given new understanding, I can’t wait to share it.  Some of that commentary as well as that of Ezekiel 38-39 will have to be revised as soon as possible.)

Now, back to Ezekiel 39.  As I came to verse 17, I realized that this could be another one of those prophetic time jumps (a la Isaiah 61 referenced at the beginning of this post)—this time to Armageddon and the second coming. 

God declares at this point that He is preparing a great sacrifice for the carnivorous birds and beasts in Israel.  Revelation 19:17-18 is a mirror passage—though not as detailed.  The prophet declares that this sacrifice is followed by God “setting His glory among the heathen.” I believe this is a reference to establishing Jesus on His throne.

Verse 22 of Ezekiel 39 helped affirm this revelation in my mind.  Ezekiel states that “the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward.”  That statement was always one of those puzzle pieces that didn’t quite fit in connection with Gog’s attack.  It fits perfectly, however, with Armageddon and the return of Jesus as King.

Not only will Israel recognize their Messiah, it seems that the Gentile nations will finally understand the truth of the prophecies of scripture.

It is then that God will complete what was started in 1948 with the reestablishment of Israel as a nation.  ALL the Jews will be brought home to Israel to fulfill God’s covenant with Abraham.  God will pour out His Spirit on the house of Israel as part of the New Covenant as foretold by both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and Jesus will reign as King in fulfillment of God’s covenant with David.

This flows in beautifully with Ezekiel’s record that follows regarding the building of the millennial temple and reapportionment of the land among the tribes of Israel within the Promised Land.

Any input?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The 10 Most Important Chapters in the Bible

I hope all of you are having a good start to this new year and that studying the scriptures and learning more about the Savior and how to live to glorify Him were included on your list of new year resolutions.  My life is still in a state that doesn’t allow consistent time for working on the blog, but I am still praying for all that find their way here and praying that you will find information that is helpful in your study of scriptures—especially as it pertains to the study of prophecy.  I hope you are also taking this time to go to my website and utilize the resources provided there.
As I was lying in my bed last night listening to J. Vernon McGee, he made reference to the many lists he had seen that identified the most important chapters in scripture.  Personally, I’ve never seen such a list, but I couldn’t help but immediately starting to compile one in my head; and I thought I would share my thoughts with you.
Genesis 1 – Tells us how we and our world came into being.
Genesis 17 – Establishes God’s eternal, unconditional covenant with Abraham and his descendants through Isaac, a son birthed by Sarah.
Exodus 20 – Gives us the 10 Commandments, the foundation code of morals.
Isaiah 53 – The primary prophecy of God’s plan of redemption through the crucifixion of the Messiah.
Daniel 9 – The primary prophecy given to Daniel that is the key to understanding end times prophecy.
Matthew 24 – Most detailed account of Jesus’ teaching regarding the future and the signs that would precede His return to establish His Kingdom on earth.
John 3 – The way to eternal life as explained by Jesus, the Savior, “the only begotten Son of God.”
Romans 8 – A chapter that, I think, best summarizes solid theology and provides so much hope and comfort to the child of God.
1Corinthians 15 – Identifies the gospel in a nutshell, establishes the importance of the resurrection of Jesus, and introduces the truth of the teaching known as the rapture.
Revelation 19 – The prophecy that details the return of the Lord Jesus as King of kings and Lord of Lords.
Any input?