Although Popular, It's a Dangerous View of the End Times – Jonathan Brentner - https://www.jonathanbrentner.com/https/jonathan-brentner-g8fgsquarespacecom/config/2022/9/12/its-popular-but-extremely-dangerous
It’s perhaps the most significant question one can ask today regarding biblical prophecy. The inquiry draws a line in the sand with each group holding fast to what they believe.
The question is this: Will the Lord restore a glorious kingdom to Israel during Jesus’ thousand-year reign upon the earth?
Most pastors today would answer “no” to that question. They believe God rejected the nation of Israel after the Hebrew people crucified His Son. As a result, the Father transferred his physical kingdom promises for Israel to the church, albeit in a spiritual sense.
This is replacement theology. Because these pastors believe that the church has replaced Israel in God’s prophetic program, they see no scriptural significance in the reemergence of Israel as a nation. As a result, they do not believe we live in the last days, nor do they recognize the signs of the rapidly approaching Tribulation period.
On the other side of the line stand those of us who believe that God’s covenants with Israel remain in effect to this day. We believe that Israel’s miraculous reappearance as a nation is highly significant for understanding the last days; it has opened the door for the fulfillment of a host of other biblical prophecies that we see coming to life.
I absolutely believe the latter group has the words of Scripture on their side. Once a pastor or teacher messes with God’s Word by dismissing the clear intent of prophetic passages, which is necessary to hold to any version of replacement theology, it opens the door to apostasy as others follow their lead in ignoring the clear intent of other biblical texts.
I believe it’s dangerous to hold to any view of the end times that dismisses God’s promises regarding a restored Israel in the last days.
Why am I so convinced that the Israel remains the key to unlocking biblical prophecy even though it’s unpopular to do so, even among many who claim to believe the Bible?
It’s because of . . .
THE ORIGINAL INTENT OF THE AUTHORS OF BIBLICAL PROPHECY
In order to cross the bridge to arrive at replacing Israel with the church in God’s prophetic program, one must retrofit the original intent of the authors of biblical prophecy with interpretations that would have been foreign to them at the time they wrote.
We all agree that Christ fulfilled all the prophecies for His first coming according to the authors’ intent. Since that is the case, what makes the prophecies regarding His return to earth so different? Why must we disregard the words of the text in the latter approach?
Isaiah 9:6-7 is a classic example of how the deniers of a kingdom for Israel employ differing means of interpretation in the same passage. Everyone agrees that the opening words of this passage received a literal fulfillment. Jesus came to earth as a baby. We can take the descriptive names of the Lord in verse 6 at face value; they mean what they say.
However, a great many pastors tell us that we cannot take the words about the Messiah sitting on the “throne of David” literally. These words don’t mean what they say, they tell us, because He will not rule over a physical kingdom.
When Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her about the birth of Jesus, he confirmed a literal understanding of the entire text of Isaiah 9:6-7:
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33)
What other way could Mary have possibly understood Gabriel’s words if they did not signify a physical kingdom of Israel with her Son reigning on the throne of David just as Isaiah prophesied? So not only is a literal understanding of the entire passage of Isaiah 9:6-7 consistent, it fits with the message that Gabriel gave to Mary in announcing the birth of the Savior.
Replacement theology requires that one change the clear sense of the words both Isaiah 9:6-7 as well as in Luke 1:32-33. Why would we do that?
GOD’S “EVERLASTING” COVENANT OF THE LAND
The words of Psalm 105:7-11 state that God’s covenant of the Land with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is an “everlasting covenant.”
God’s promise of the Land for Israel remains in effect because we have not yet reached the end of “everlasting.” Do you recognize the inherent risk for us as New Testament saints of saying that a promise of God is no longer valid when He said it would be in place “forever?”
Consider also the words of Jeremiah 31:35-36 regarding the future of Israel:
Thus says the Lord,
who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar--
the Lord of hosts is his name:
“If this fixed order departs
from before me, declares the Lord,
then shall the offspring of Israel cease
from being a nation before me forever.”
Since the fixed order in the heavens remains in place, the “offspring Israel” remain a nation in God’s sight.
Could the Lord be any clearer regarding the permanent place of Israel in God’s prophetic program? I don’t think so.
In Scripture, “everlasting” means “everlasting!” I cannot understand how anyone can look at Jeremiah 31:35-36 and Psalm 105:7-11 and then claim that the church has replaced Israel. I don’t see how it’s possible to do that. And these are just two of a multitude of passages where the Lord promises to restore Israel to place of greatness in the future.
THE REPEATED PROMISES OF THE RESTORATION OF A KINGDOM TO ISRAEL
In Acts 1:6, the disciples asked Jesus this question:
“Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Jesus responded with these words:
“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”
The exchange between the disciples and Jesus tells us much about the permanence of God’s promises to Israel.
The disciples believed that the Lord would restore a kingdom to Israel based on repeated Old Testament prophecies that say exactly that (i.e., Jeremiah 30:3, 32:44; Zephaniah 3:20; Amos 9:14).
Jesus did not disagree with the premise of their question regarding the future restoration of a kingdom for the nation of Israel, He only told them that their timing was off.
Jesus diverted their attention to the task at hand, that of spreading the Gospel, but He never equated the church with the kingdom that the disciples asked Him about, never.
The word “restore” points to something that previously existed, it cannot signify something new such as a spiritual kingdom, i.e. the church.
The New Testament never equates the church with the kingdom of Israel.
One pastor roared with laughter when I began using Acts 1:6-7 in my case for a restored Israel. That pretty much ended the conversation.
The scoffers will take issue with God’s promise to restore a kingdom to Israel. Jesus, however, did not do so and neither should you. The disciples’ timing was off, but not their belief in the repeated Old Testament promises stating that God would restore a kingdom to Israel.
THE LORD’S HONOR AS A PROMISE-KEEPING GOD
Given the history of the Jewish people, one might ask this, “Why would God bless His people with a future glorious kingdom?”
Ezekiel 36:22-38 provides the answer. It’s all about the Lord’s honor as a promise-keeping God. Pay close attention to what He says in verses 22-23:
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.”
The Lord must preserve His honor as a covenant-keeping God. He cannot renege on His promises to Israel, or to King David for that matter. His must “vindicate the holiness of” His “great name.” He will do that by restoring Israel to a place of greatness in His kingdom.
Ezekiel 36:29-38 describes a future and glorious restoration of Israel that the world will not see on full display until after Jesus returns to the earth after the Tribulation period. I say this because:
A normal understanding of the words tells us the Lord has not fulfilled the full extent of the passage.
The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit promised to Israel in verse 27 couldn’t have become a reality until after Pentecost (see John 16:5-6), which places the fulfillment of the physical promises after the start of the church.
The blessings that result from God’s work in the hearts of the Jewish people are totally physical in nature (Ezekiel 36:29-38). Only since 1948 do we get a sense of how God intends to bless the Land.
One cannot apply the words of Ezekiel 36:22-38 to the church without doing incredible damage to the clear intent of the passage. If the words of Scripture mean anything, and they do, these promises apply exclusively to Israel.
Please, please do not let anyone tell you that the words of Ezekiel 36:22-38 apply to the church. That’s simply impossible.
ALL THE OTHER KINGDOMS IN DANIEL ARE PHYSICAL
I’m always amazed when I hear a preacher equate the final kingdom in the book of Daniel with the church. All the other kingdoms mentioned in the book of Daniel are physical realms with a king. What makes anyone think that the Lord’s kingdom in the book of Daniel will be different from all the others?
Please know with utmost confidence that church is most certainly not the rock that destroys the kingdoms of this world (Daniel 2:34-35, 44). It’s an instantaneous destruction, not a gradual one as demanded by those who believe the rock is the church.
In Matthew 26:64, Jesus places the fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14 at the time of His Second Coming. The final kingdom is absolutely not the church; it’s the promised millennial reign of Christ.
Jesus believed He would receive the kingdom of Daniel 7:13-14 when He returns to earth. Why would anyone claim otherwise?
REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY OPENS THE DOOR WIDE FOR FURTHER APOSTASY
I believe that replacement theology, the teaching that God has transferred His covenant promises from Israel to the church in a spiritual sense, opens the door wide for further apostasy to enter the church.
Once a pastor employs a method of interpretation that ignores the clear sense of the words in a prophetic context, it always leads to others dismissing the true intent of other biblical texts.
Those that dismiss the prophetic significance of Israel’s reemergence as a nation also remain blind to the numerous converging signs telling us that we live in the last days. They don’t see the threatening storm clouds of the seven-year Tribulation as well as the certainty of God’s judgment on America and the rest of the world that’s also right at our door.
For more about the clear and present danger of replacement theology, l refer you to my book: The Triumph of the Redeemed – An Eternal Perspective that Calms Our Fears in Perilous Times.
ISRAEL IS THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING BIBLICAL PROPHECY
Israel unlocks biblical prophecy. If your pastor regards the prophecies concerning Israel as literal, you will likely hear references to the end times and Jesus’ appearing in his messages.
If he believes God’s kingdom promises to Israel now belong to the church in a spiritual sense, you will not hear anything about the “blessed hope” of Jesus’ appearing.
Just as the Lord will surely keep His promises to the nation of Israel, so will keep His solemn Word to us. Jesus is coming for His saints before the wrath of the Day of the Lord begins (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11) and He will most assuredly take us to the place He’s preparing for us in His “Father’s house” (John 14:1-3).
Jesus promises eternal life to those that believe Him (John 3:15, 10:27-19). Just as “everlasting” means just that for God’s promise of the Land to the descendants of Jacob, so “eternal life” signifies unending glory for us as New Testament Saints.
We have a joyous hope that’s truly beyond our imagination.
My book, The Triumph of the Redeemed-An eternal Perspective that Calms Our Fears in Perilous Times, is available on Amazon. In it, I go into more detail regarding God’s promises to Israel and why He most certainly will restore a kingdom to the nation in the future. Please consider ordering my book while it’s offered at a discount price on Amazon.
Note: Please consider signing up for my newsletter on the home page of my website at https://www.jonathanbrentner.com/ . It will greatly help me in reaching more people. Thanks!
The Bible — Both Prophetic and Reliable – Todd Hampson - https://toddhampson.com/news/the-bible-both-prophetic-and-reliable/
The following is an excerpt from the introduction of my upcoming book, The Chronological Guide to Bible Prophecy. I trust it will inspire you to embrace God’s word as both prophetic and reliable.
We…have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place.” — 2 Peter 1:19
At its core, the Bible is a prophetic message and it is completely reliable. Fulfilled prophecy proves Scripture’s reliability. The concepts are two sides of the same coin. Fulfilled prophecy is a strong apologetic (defense) that the Bible is from God. The Bible is the only religious book that claims to be the very Word of God and backs up this claim with hundreds of specific fulfilled prophecies. Prophecies are promises. A promise is only as good as the character and ability of the promise-maker.
We read this bold statement from God in Isaiah 46:9-10: “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” In a similar manner, Jesus—after telling the disciples some of what was to come—said these words in John 16:4: “I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them.”
I’ll readily admit that as Christians, we believe some out-of-this-world stuff! We believe in creation and miracles, a global flood and supernatural plagues, the incarnation (where God became man), the resurrection of the dead, the future rapture of the church, a time when God judges the entire world, and the creation of a new heaven and earth. We have not personally witnessed any of those things. So why would we believe they are true?
Experts say that about 26 to 33 percent of the Bible was prophecy at the time it was written. About 75 to 80 percent has already been fulfilled. That is a big down payment that ensures the remaining 20 to 25 percent will in like manner be fulfilled. The single greatest reason we can trust the seemingly insane claims about supernatural events of the past and the miraculous events related to our future is the clear and compelling apologetic of fulfilled Bible prophecy.
Even more compelling is the fact that the 26 to 33 percent of the Bible that is prophetic in nature is not peripheral content—it is inherently connected to the core message of the Bible! If you have read any of my other books, you’ll recall that I often refer to prophecy as the central nervous system of the Bible. Biologists study systems in organisms—the digestive system, the cardiovascular system, the muscular system, etc. None of those systems can work without the central nervous system. They are all connected to it and rely on it. Just as humans and animals can’t function properly without a healthy central nervous system, the Bible can’t be accurately understood without the all-important prophetic passages.
All the key teachings (doctrine/theology), stories, people, and themes in the Bible are somehow connected to Bible prophecy. This is because the Bible (though penned by at least 39 human writers on three different continents over a period of 1,500 years) was inspired by God, who knows everything that is to come. And only God can bring about the perfect fulfillment of every prophecy given in Scripture.
Second Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all Scripture is God-breathed.” Second Peter 1:21 tells us that those who wrote prophecy “spoke from God” and were “carried along by the Holy Spirit.” In other words, God told them what to write. That is why the whole Bible tells one complete story—a story that is tied together by prophecy and in every way ultimately points to Jesus!
As we chronicle the statistics and the themes of prophecy in the pages of this book, my prayer is that you will be in awe of God, who has given us a compelling and reliable book that point us to his Son and the amazing future promised to each believer who chooses to follow him. I hope you let the concrete statistics and logical facts of prophecy strengthen your faith as a believer in Christ—or break down the walls of skepticism if you are not yet a believer.
I was once a skeptic too, but I could not explain away the undeniable proofs of fulfilled Bible prophecy. That is what led to my salvation, my love of God’s Word, and an insatiable desire to plumb its depths—only to find the Bible to be inexhaustible and more beautiful than I ever imagined.
The mystery of Nicodemus revealed - By Joseph Farah - https://www.wnd.com/2022/09/mystery-nicodemus-revealed/
"Nicodemus came at night so he wouldn't be seen by men
Saying, 'Master, tell me why a man must be born again.'"
– Bob Dylan, "In the Garden," 1980
I have always found the story of Nicodemus, told in three separate passages in the Gospel of John, among the most fascinating stories in the Bible. Like much of Scripture, there's a lot more to it than meets the eye.
Here was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin whose very Greek name has two seemingly relevant meanings – "Innocent Blood" and "Victory of the People." With a name like that, Nicodemus might have been expected to be on the lookout for the Messiah who would restore the world to the way it was intended to be at Creation before the fall. Or maybe we read too much into some Bible names.
But Nicodemus discreetly came to Jesus by night, proclaiming Him "a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him."
Before we go any further, consider the fact that the central conflict in all four gospels is between Jesus and the religious authorities of His day – chiefly the Pharisees, who spied on Him, heckled Him and plotted against Him, and the ruling Sanhedrin, which sought to have both Herod and Pontius Pilate crucify Him.
Yet Nicodemus comes to Jesus one night calling him a miracle-working teacher from God, we learn in John 3:1-21.
Note that Jesus doesn't smile and thank him for the kind words. He didn't think, "Gee, I wonder if maybe Nicodemus can win over his fellow Pharisees and his colleagues on Israel's ruling council and get them off my back?" Nor did he make small talk. Instead, seemingly out of the blue, but more likely reading Nicodemus's thoughts and his heart, Jesus responds: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
What is Jesus doing here? He is sharing the Gospel. We should know that because we're told in all four gospel accounts that the Gospel Jesus preaches was "the gospel of the Kingdom" – His Kingdom. Jesus knew that something was holding Nicodemus back from surrendering himself entirely to Jesus. It wasn't enough to see Him as just a "teacher from God," or as a worker of miracles, or as someone God was with. To be saved by Jesus, one must see Him as the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God, the King of kings and the Lord of lords and respond accordingly.
Jesus didn't beat around the bush with Nicodemus. In effect, He told him what he needed to do – be "born again," born of the spirit, born anew or born from above. It was time to ensure his very salvation, which doesn't come from acknowledging that Jesus is "a teacher come from God," a miracle worker or someone who God is with.
Nicodemus responds: "How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"
Jesus answers: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
Nicodemus, one of the most revered, learned and powerful men in Israel asks: "How can these things be?"
Jesus answers: "Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Then Jesus shares with Nicodemus what has become one of the most familiar and oft-quoted verses in the Bible – a shorthand version of the "gospel of the Kingdom" that Jesus preached throughout Galilee, Judah, Samaria and Jerusalem: "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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God," Jesus continued. "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
I suspect these words had a very profound effect on Nicodemus. After all, he had come to Jesus when it was dark, perhaps so his own deeds would not be reproved by his high and mighty friends. Nicodemus saw the light, but had not yet come to surrender to the light.
Most Christians would recognize this passage as the first of only two specific references in the King James Version of the Bible where the term "born again" is used. (The other being 1 Peter 1:23.) It was obviously foreign to Nicodemus, a scholar of the Word. Yet Jesus seems astonished that this learned man of the Scriptures is unfamiliar with the concept. So, here's the mystery of Nicodemus: Why would Jesus expect him to understand a concept that is not specifically mentioned elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures?
I'll get to that soon enough, but first I want to explore the rest of Nicodemus's story as it unfolds in parts two and three of the Gospel of John.
The next time we read about Nicodemus comes in John 7 in Jerusalem on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, which will begin in a few days, shortly after Yom Kippur. Jesus was preaching and, we're told, "many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?"
"The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him," it says in verse 32.
Nevertheless, Jesus continues to preach: "Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come. … If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
All this caused great debate among the people listening – some calling Him a prophet, others the Messiah, while the chief priests and Pharisees sought to arrest Him. There was great division among all. When the chief priests and Pharisees demanded to know why He had not been arrested, their own officers answered: "Never man spake like this man."
The Pharisees asked, "Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?"
Enter, again, Nicodemus who demands: "Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?"
The Pharisees ask: "Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet."
Of course, Jesus was no mere prophet. Nor was he born in Galilee. He was born in Bethlehem, the city of King David, from whose royal lineage it was prophesied that the Redeemer of Israel and Savior of the world would emerge.
Nicodemus, meanwhile, is no longer lurking in the shadows. But nor has he pledged himself publicly as a believer.
Then comes the final act – John 19.
Jesus is crucified during another holy week – Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Jesus, of course, being the sinless "Bread of Life." Joseph of Arimathaea asks Pilate for His body. He is joined by Nicodemus who offers an enormously expensive mixture of myrrh and aloes to dress Jesus' tortured, lifeless body before wrapping Him in linen and laying Him in Joseph's garden tomb – from which He would rise three days later on the Feast of First Fruits.
Nicodemus is completely out of the shadows now. There is little doubt he fully understands and embraces what it means to be "born again," reborn spiritually, born anew, born from above. In fact, what we know about his story from those three passages in John is indeed a testament to the new spiritual birth of the believer.
But here's the mystery unraveled: Why did Jesus assume a learned ruler of Israel should have comprehended this new birth before it was ever mentioned in the law and the prophets and the other Hebrew Scriptures?
I can attest to you that while the specific words "born again" appear nowhere in the Tanach, the law and the prophets are indeed replete with the concept of spiritual rebirth. In fact, one of the references is even hinted at by Jesus in John 3:14: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up." That, of course, takes place in Numbers 21. But there's much, much more – beginning in Leviticus 26:40-42: "If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land."
In other words, all it takes is a new heart and a reborn spirit.
Let's first examine what else can be found about this renewed heart and spirit in the Torah – the first five books of the Bible.
Recall when Jesus told Nicodemus: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
Throughout the Bible, God uses the wind as a metaphor for a spiritual force to do His bidding – dry up the earth after the flood, to bring in locusts in an Exodus judgment and to drive them away, to part the Red Sea and to close it again on the Egyptian army, to rain quails upon the children of Israel longing for meat during their Exodus journey.
Two verses especially stand out for me:
Proverbs 30:4: "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?"
Ezekiel 37:9: "Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live."
What is required for the personal transformation necessary to receive this new heart and spirit? The problem from the beginning, God tells us in Genesis 8:21, has always been with man's heart: "And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done."
Personal regeneration and Kingdom restoration has always been through renewed spirit, humbled heart and penitence – sincere turning back to God and away from sin:
Deuteronomy 4:29: "But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul."
Deuteronomy 5:29: "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!"
Deuteronomy 6:5: "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."
Deuteronomy 10:12: "And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul."
Deuteronomy 10:16: "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked."
Deuteronomy 26:16: "This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul."
The entire chapter of Deuteronomy 30 is yet another refresher course on how the new heart and new spirit bring regeneration.
This is why we can truly find the Gospel of personal redemption and creation restoration in every book of the Hebrew Scriptures. And this explains why Jesus expressed disappointment that Nicodemus, a master of His Word, would be flummoxed by the notion of spiritual rebirth.
There are hundreds more key references in the Tanach relevant to this Nicodemus mystery, but here are a few more:
Isaiah 44:3: "For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:"
Isaiah 57:15: "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
Ezekiel 36:24-27: "For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."
Jeremiah 31:31-34: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
Lastly, there's also a more overt connection made in the Bible between the first birth and the spiritual rebirth. The first birth through a mother follows the breaking of the water. Eight days later, in the case of male offspring comes the circumcision of the flesh, a commandment for all baby boys. It is a symbolic act of obedience by parents. The second spiritual rebirth involves, as previously mentioned in some of the biblical references above, a spiritual circumcision of the heart, followed by an immersion, cleansing ritual or baptism in water. This was not a new thing begun when John appeared to call for repentance and herald the coming of Messiah Jesus, but reflective of commandments in Exodus 30, Exodus 40, Leviticus 8, Leviticus 15, 16 and 17.
Is it a mystery that Nicodemus, one of the most learned Bible teachers of his time, was rebuked by Jesus for not recognizing that His Gospel message was one continually prophesied from the beginning and fully integrated throughout all the Hebrew Scriptures? It shouldn't be. Yet many today, with even more information available to them, still retain a blindness about the consistency of the entire Word of God.
Death/Rapture Timing – Terry James - https://terryjamesprophecyline.com/2022/09/12/death-rapture-timing/
The subject of this commentary title is admittedly among the hardest I’ve tried to wrap the aging gray matter around. This, of course, is because it isn’t a provable thing to consider by mere intellectual endeavor. And it is so deep in its implication that it is too labor-intensive if we can’t just allow that we can only look at matters involved with self-agreement that we can’t for sure know the truth about it.
Although I’ve thought about the question/possibility many times, especially since my Good Friday clinical flat-line experience on April 22, 2011, it was a friend of our Rapture Ready website who prompted me to write this article.
The gist of her email to me follows.
“Something you wrote in your ‘Home Going’ blog post was extremely intriguing to me. You stated: It has been conjectured, and I believe, that when Jesus calls us to Himself (Revelation 4:1), those still alive will somehow arrive at that face-to-face meeting with our Lord and Savior at precisely the moment those who have gone through the portal of death will see His wonderful face. God’s eternal realm is outside of the thing called time that He created for man. Anything is possible in that eternal sphere.
If you are saying what I think you are saying, those who have passed on before us, no matter how many years they died prior to that blessed event, could possibly arrive to see Jesus and thus enter Heaven at the same time we who are raptured see Him.”
It is a fascinating question to be sure. Will my dad, who went to the Lord in October of 1992, and my mother, who passed away in February of 2020, arrive at the same twinkling-of-an-eye moment as will I when the Lord Jesus calls us in the Rapture?
This might be a bit presumptuous of me—but you get the question. Like you, I fully expect to hear that call at any moment.
But the question involves further asking whether it makes any difference in terms of God’s timing regarding those who have died arriving in Christ’s presence more than a split second before those who are still living at the moment of Rapture.
The Rapture Ready friend who emailed asked if I could provide more information about my statement. I suggested that she check my late friend Chuck Missler’s website. I know he did lots of things in this area. Sure enough, she found some fascinating studies, learning that another great prophecy scholar, Lambert Dolphin, has done tremendous writing on the topic. She sent me the link to one of Lambert’s articles; here it is if you want to get really deep into the subject of God’s timing in regard to death, the Rapture, and many other areas: http://www.ldolphin.org/time.html.
Our column space here is much too limited to give this subject the treatment it deserves, but the article above will certainly give more than one needs to delve as deeply into these questions as one could want. Here are a few excerpts from Lambert Dolphin’s major study.
“In the experience of the Christian, one’s personal death corresponds exactly with the Second Coming of Christ, though this event will also happen on earth at the definite date and time in recorded human history. This is what Paul meant when he said to be absent from the body was to be at home with the Lord, not as a spirit, but in a resurrection body along with everyone else who knows God. This can be seen at the Martyrdom of Stephen in the book of Acts.
‘Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.’ (Acts 7:56–8:2)
“As Stephen died he saw heaven opened and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Throughout the New Testament Jesus is ordinarily pictured as seated at the right hand of God. Evidently He stands to receive His bride, the church, at the rapture. Thus all Christians get to heaven at the same moment. In one sense, then, heaven is now empty. There is no value in praying to the Virgin Mary or St. Jude since they aren’t there yet! But as will be seen shortly, there is another sense in which all believers are already in heaven…
“Although our spirits and souls are made new if we know Jesus Christ personally, our bodies are not yet redeemed. It is our present mortal physical bodies (connecting us by the five senses) which link us to the ‘old creation.’ In spirit we already have been ‘raised’ from the dead, we are dwelling in the heavenly places—we are already seated with Christ at the right hand of God. If we had our resurrection bodies ‘put on’ instead of our old earth-tents, we would immediately perceive that we all had arrived in heaven together…
When Time Ends
“All this may sound quite confusing, and it is true it contains great elements of speculation. But let us return to the Scriptures and the problem of what happens to the believer when he dies. Holding firmly to the essential point that time and eternity are quite different, then when a believer steps out of time, he steps into eternity. What was perhaps a far-off distant event in time is suddenly present in eternity if one is spiritually prepared for it. Since the one great event for which the Spirit of God is now preparing believers here on earth is the coming of Jesus Christ for his own, that is the event which greets every believer when he dies. It may be decades or even centuries before it breaks into time, but this particular person is no longer in time. He is in eternity. He sees ‘the Lord coming with ten thousands of his saints,’ just as Enoch did when he was permitted a look into eternity, and at a time when he was the seventh from Adam and the population of the earth was very small (Jude 14).
Where The Ages Meet
“But what is even more amazing is that in the experience of that believer he does not leave anyone behind. All his loved ones who know Christ are there too, including his Christian descendants who were not even born yet when he died! Since there is no past or future in heaven, this must be the case. Even those who, in time, stand beside his grave and weep and then go home to an empty house, are, in his experience, with him in lorry.
“Dr. Custance carries this even further.
‘The experience of earth saints is shared by all other saints, by those who have preceded and those who are to follow. For them all, all history, all intervening time between death and the Lord’s return is suddenly annihilated so that each one finds to his amazement that Adam, too, is just dying and joining him on his way to meet the Lord: and Abraham and David, Isaiah and the Beloved John, Paul and Augustine, Hudson Taylor and you and I–all in one wonderful experience meeting the Lord in a single instant together, without precedence and without the slightest consciousness of delay, none being late and none too early.’ (Doorway Paper No. 37, p. 28)
“This truly astonishing quality of eternity is the reason Jesus could promise his disciples with absolute certainty, ‘And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also’ (John 14:3). That promise not only applied to that generation of Christians, but would apply to all, directly and personally, through all the intervening centuries. This also explains the strange promise at the close of Hebrews 11. Speaking of Abraham, Moses, David, Jacob, Joseph, and others the writer says, ‘All these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.’
“To be ‘made perfect’ is to be resurrected, so this passage specifically states that the saints of old will not be resurrected without us. Either they are disembodied spirits waiting for the resurrection (which we have already seen is not likely) or there is some way by which we can leave time one by one and yet participate together in one glorious experience of resurrection. The proper understanding of eternity supplies the answer.
Eternity Invades Time
“There are other references in Scripture that present this same phenomenon of the apparent eclipse of time. For instance, in Revelation 13:8, Jesus is referred to as ‘the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.’ Now the cross occurred at a precise moment of history. We know when the Lamb of God was slain. But the Bible says it occurred before the foundation of the world. How can an historical event which occurred at a certain spot on earth, in the biblical reckoning be said to have occurred before the earth was even made? The passage does not say that the Lamb was foreordained to be slain before the foundation of the world, but it says he was actually slain then. Surely it means that the cross was an eternal event, taking place both in time and eternity. In time, it is long past; in eternity, it forever occurs. So also would the resurrection, and in the same way, the second coming of Christ. When any Christian dies, he passes from the realm of time and space into timelessness, into the NOW of God when the full effect of these timeless events is experienced by him to whatever degree his spiritual state requires. But the Lord’s return is an event yet to take place in historical time when the Church is complete and the end of the age has come. Perhaps this is the meaning of the Lord’s words: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live’ (John 5:25). (“Complexity of Time,” Lambert Dolphin, http://www.ldolphin.org/time.html)
Again, Chuck Missler always stressed that God created time for mankind on earth. Time, in that regard, is linear. It stretches from one of its ends to the other. God is outside of time, thus we can’t put death and the Rapture within linear time constraints. Both death and the Rapture, for the Christian, is not an ending, but a beginning. I, like my great friend, Chuck, believe that both portals are somehow, inexplicably to the finite mind, infinitely inseparable wonders of the homeward going.
Daily Jot: Joe Biden’s Democracy - Bill Wilson – www.dailyjot.com
Joe Biden believes that those who want to make America great again are a threat to democracy. He speaks the truth. In Biden’s mind and those in leadership of the Democratic Party, anyone who supports a Constitutional Republic is a threat to their brand of democracy. Their brand of democracy is the lawless rule of a perceived majority as led by an “elected” dictator or oligarchy that governs how it sees fit. It is elected by unqualified voters, dead people, and party loyalists, and maintains its power through fear, crisis and confusion. It assumes the moral high ground by demonizing the smallest of dissent, and uses unelected government agencies to hold compliance and oppress opposition. Joe Biden’s democracy.
In an August 31 speech to the nation, Biden repeatedly characterized Americans who supported Donald Trump as a threat to democracy, a threat to the American way of life. Biden said, “MAGA Republicans do not respect the constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law, they do not recognize the will of the people…MAGA forces are determined to take this country backward. Backwards to an America where there is no right to choose. No right to privacy. No right to contraception. No right to marry who you love. They promote authoritarian leaders and they fan the flames of political violence…We are not powerless in the face of these threats. We are not bystanders in this ongoing attack on democracy.”
He continued, “There are far more Americans, far more Americans, from every background and belief, who reject the extreme MAGA ideology than those that accept it. And folks, it’s within our power, within OUR HANDS, yours and mine, to stop the assault on democracy. I believe America is at an inflection point. One of those moments that determines the shape of everything that is to come after. And now, America must choose, to move forward or move backwards. To build a future or obsess about the past. To be a nation of hope and unity and optimism, or a nation of fear, division, and darkness.” Biden’s words came against a dark red backdrop flanked by Marine guards that even the mainstream media characterized as Hitler- or Stalin-esq and compared the scene to hell. Biden politicized the military just as he has the FBI and the IRS.
Is this the same Biden who said in his inauguration speech on January 20, 2021, “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation. I ask every American to join me in this cause”? Apparently, Biden considers only those who voted for him as Americans. In fact, he has threatened dissenters no less than three times—February 10, 2020; June 24, 2021, and August 30, 2022—with the use of F-15 fighter jets if they thought “the tree of liberty is watered with the blood of patriots.” Ask yourself who is the real danger to the Constitutional Republic? As Christ said in Matthew 24:4, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” This is unprecedented for a US President. The words and visuals are within earshot and eyesight. Do you have eyes to see and ears to hear?
Daily Devotion: Be a Nice Person - by Greg Laurie – www.harvest.org
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. —Ephesians 4:29
https://harvest.org/resources/devotion/be-a-nice-person/ - Listen
Every now and then, cell phone videos showing someone on a rant pop up on social media or the news. The people in those videos are really upset about something, and they’re screaming and yelling. Don’t be like those people. Ever.
You are a child of God, so be known for your generosity. Be known for your love and compassion, not for your anger. The Bible tells us, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29 NLT).
If you disagree with someone, that’s fine. But don’t be obnoxious; be nice. I’ve found that the greatest joys in life come from a relationship with God and from relationships with others. Also, some of the simplest joys in life are before us every day. Savor the sunset. Enjoy the meal. Linger with your family and friends. Have fun.
All too often, we’re thinking about what’s coming next: “When this comes, I will be so happy. When that happens, it will be so great.” But what about the present moment? Don’t be in such a rush to get to the next thing.
I sometimes find myself in a group where everyone is on their cell phone. In such situations, I send everyone a text that says something like this: “Be here now. Let’s put these phones away. Let’s have a conversation with each other.”
When you sit down for a meal, don’t take your cell phone to the table. If you’re wearing a watch that sends you alerts, take it off. Have a conversation with the people around you.
As followers of Jesus Christ, let’s be known as encouragers, not discouragers. Let’s be known as people who build others up, not as people who tear others down.
FROM THE HEART
Let Us Make the Short Time We have Left,
Count for ALL of Eternity!
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