Is the Glory of God Departing America? - By Dr. David Reagan/Lamb & Lion Ministries -
The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that "there is nothing new under the sun." Some interpret that to mean the more things change the more they stay the same. Others simply assert that although technology and what passes for knowledge has changed, the heart of man has not changed. The Bible proves time and again the truth of the great hymn: "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love."
Sadly, that truth does not just relate to individuals, it relates to peoples and nations as well. Kingdoms, city-states, and nations rise and fall. There is yet to be a nation under heaven that has not wandered away from the very God who has poured out blessing upon it.
Some have been characterized by faithfulness to biblical Christianity -- at least in cultural mores. But, the societies that once reverberated with Christian truth throughout the Western world have succumbed to a post-Christian ambivalence toward truth itself.
How did the West stray so far, and is there hope for America, teetering on the brink of that same fate?
We can learn much from the example of Israel and Judah. Made up of God's own Chosen People, those nations were destined for greatness. Their people were blessed as no other nation, raised up literally to bear testimony to what a relationship with the living God could mean. Long before America sang of God's grace being shed on our land, His unmerited favor fell on the Jewish people. He did not choose them because they were more worthy. Moses made it clear that He did not even choose them because they were mighty in number, but rather because of God's love and grace (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
Did the Jewish people appreciate the singular privilege of such a blessing? Did they revere the God who poured out such blessings? Clearly not. That is why the Lord repeatedly sent prophets to warn, to call to repentance and to declare judgment.
Consider the situation in Israel immediately following the period of the Judges. The book of that name tells us repeatedly that "in those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). There were a few individuals who lived upright and exemplary lives.
Ruth tells of one such man named Boaz, who foreshadowed his descendant who would become the ultimate kinsman-redeemer. But, First Samuel describes a people who were generally going through motions rather than seeking hard after the Lord. Even the priests and religious leaders had grown apathetic toward God.
The text tells about the worthless sons of Eli -- Hophni and Phinehas. Although serving as priests of the Lord, they did not know Him. Their disdain for God and self-serving interaction with the people was well-known. Eli recognized their evil ways -- from helping themselves to the sacrifices dedicated to the Lord to sexually cavorting with women at the very doorway of the tent of meeting. And yet, he did not take action to hold his own sons accountable and ensure reverence before God.
In 1 Samuel 4, the people found themselves drawn up in battle against their ongoing foe, the Philistines. After straying from God under the errant spiritual leadership of men like Hophni and Phinehas, Israel found itself defeated. The Israelites expressed complete surprise, exclaiming, "Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines?" (v. 3).
Their solution was to trot out the Ark of the Covenant, presuming upon the Lord's protection. In other words, although their hearts were clearly far from Him, the Israelites looked to their god-in-a-box as the ultimate weapon or the surest talisman.
Viewing God as a Good-Luck Charm
How many people today wear a cross necklace or WWJD bracelet or some other such bobble, not to shamelessly proclaim, "Jesus is Lord," but because they think God is obligated to shield them from all harm if they just cover themselves in Christian symbols? Sort of like the old horror movies where the vampire could be driven back by a mirror or a cross. But God is not a cosmic good-luck charm to wear when the going gets rough.
Samuel records the results of such callous treatment of God and disrespect of His Shekinah Glory hovering above the Ark's Mercy Seat. To their dismay, Israel was soundly defeated once again and the Ark was captured. On top of that, Hophni and Phinehas -- the two men whose position as priests should have given them insight to know better -- were killed. When a young man brought news of the tragedy back to Eli, the chief priest of Israel fell over, broke his neck, and died.
The Bible is unflinching in its description of Eli. It says that Eli was very old and could no longer see, and that he was very heavy. It also says that Eli had judged Israel for 40 years. Taken together, it is instructive to consider why those traits are specifically included.
The Symbolism of Eli
At 98 years old, Eli had clearly lived a long time. He had seen much, stretching back into the period of the Judges. During his lifetime, the Jewish people had established themselves in the land and had been served by a series of judges -- men and women who offered unifying leadership.
Eli had seen Israel beset by trials from the very people they were supposed to eliminate from the land. He had witnessed the tribes fracture and drift from their pledge to serve only the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And, he had served as high priest to the Lord at Shiloh -- where the Ark resided in the tent of meeting. It is not unreasonable to think that at 98 years old, Eli should have been at the pinnacle of his priestly wisdom and influence. And yet...
He did not effectively intervene to deal with the evil behavior of his sons. He did not counsel the Israelites to seek the Lord instead of just trotting the Ark out like some holy talisman or charm. In short, other than his wise counsel that young Samuel should respond to the voice he kept hearing by saying, "Speak LORD, for Your servant is listening," Eli seems to have been ineffectual in his role as judge and high priest. In short, he lacked the wisdom of his own age.
Scripture also says that Eli could no longer see. That is meant as a description of physical limitation, but it seems an obvious commentary on his spiritual state as well. Although he was aware of his sons' wicked behavior, he closed his eyes to it and allowed them to continue their evil ways.
Moses had warned that disobedience to God would lead the Jewish people into spiritual blindness. He wrote, "The LORD will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart; and you will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you" (Deuteronomy 28:28-29). Even in his old age, Eli had to recognize that Israel had lost its way and become blind under his leadership.
Interestingly, Eli is one of the few characters in the Bible whose girth or weight is deemed worthy of comment. The first was arguably Eglon, king of Moab. Because the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, God strengthened Eglon to execute judgement. Judges 3 explains that Israel served Eglon for 18 years, until Ehud the Benjaminite struck down Eglon and led Israel to victory and 80 years of peace. The Bible says that Eglon had grown so obese that when Ehud thrust a sword into the Moabite king, his belly fat closed over the blade.
Why is the record of Eli's weight mentioned? Because Eli's weight is also relevant to the story. Upon hearing of the loss of the Ark, Eli fell over backward and broke his neck -- "because he was old and heavy." How does a priest get heavy? It is implied that Eli had followed the self-serving practice of his sons who not only plunged their three-pronged forks into the sacrificial meat, but also demanded uncooked fatty meat. First Samuel 2:17 describes such behavior as despising the offering of the LORD.
None other than celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey has put a culinary twist on the subject, declaring:
I always say, "Never trust a fat chef," because they've eaten all the good bits! Trust a skinny chef because you know they haven't indulged and eaten everything.
Am I condemning those who tend toward the hefty side today? Not at all. I'm stepping on my own toes even making this observation because I'm already tending to exceed the Air Force weight standards I maintained so carefully for 34 years.
But, in the era in which Eli lived, Israel's economy was driven by agriculture. Most people would have been lean due to a limited diet and tireless work. The picture of a priest who can only be described as heavy is worthy of remark because it offers a contrast. The clear insinuation is that Eli had indeed indulged and eaten himself into obesity -- taking advantage of the priestly office he held.
There can be no escaping the fact that America is one of the most overweight societies in the world. It is as if we have become so accustomed to the bounty of food that we no longer moderate our own intake. As such, the scourge of high blood pressure and heart disease and other weight-related ailments is at an all-time high -- and growing every year. And, certainly, that physical description of our society goes hand-in-hand with its increasingly anemic spiritual health.
A Time of Testing
The last comment on Eli's life was that he judged Israel for 40 years. What an interesting length of time. 40 years or 40 days appears over and over in Scripture. The Bible mentions that specific number 146 times. Moses lived 40 years in Egypt and 40 years in the desert before God called him to service.
He spent 40 days on Mount Sinai on two separate occasions and gave the Hebrew spies 40 days to observe the Promised Land. The Jews then wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Nineveh was given 40 days to repent before destruction fell. And, Jesus was tempted by Satan over a 40-day period.
It has been observed that the number 40 seems to symbolize a time of testing or probation or trial. Obviously, Eli was not the only judge to serve for 40 years (Othniel, Deborah and Barak, and Gideon each judged that long). Saul and David and Solomon also reigned for 40 years each.
But, Eli's tenure is marked by a steady decrease in faithfulness and respect for God -- as manifested by his own sons. The people of Israel clearly failed that period of probation when they treated the Ark of the Covenant so disdainfully.
What application can be made to our society from Eli's tragic end? Eli was old enough to have seen great blessing, and to have known better than to have strayed from truth. The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, often declared the United States to be the oldest democracy in the world.
Although we could quibble that ours is a republic, the fact remains that our nation is old enough to know how to act better than we do. Instead of statesmen and leaders, we are served by men and women who give lip service to truth but seldom act upon it.
Why did Eli's sons -- and Eli himself -- stray so badly? It seems that Eli tolerated too much. That was the offense Jesus cited against the church of Thyatira in Revelation 2. How much of America's decline has occurred because Christians have silently tolerated too much?
Regarding sight, Puritan (and later Massachusetts Governor) John Winthrop proposed a society that "shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people upon us." And yet, our nation seems to embody the church at Laodicea, to whom Jesus said: "You say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and yet you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked" (Revelation 3:17).
Our nation also seems to embody the people Jesus spoke of in Mark 8:18 when He quoted from Jeremiah 5:21: "Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see; who have ears but do not hear."
And, how much could be written about America's heavy girth? We are one of the most obese nations in the world. How much of our collective and individual bulk reflects a tendency to overindulge -- selfishly consuming to an unhealthy extreme?
Are we physically or spiritually fit to run a race? Paul admonished the Corinthians (and us, by extension) to run in such a way that they could win (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Many of us would be hard-pressed to amble for an extended period, let alone sustain the physical and spiritual pace Paul maintained throughout his life as a Christian.
Regarding the 40-year period of Eli's service as judge, I would observe that America has definitely entered an era of steady decline. Our economy is booming, unemployment is at record lows, but most people sense that something is terribly amiss. If the current era represents our time of national testing, or probation, or trial, we are certainly failing. It is obvious that we are demonstrating a steady decrease in respect for God and faithfulness to His Word.
An Unnamed Voice
There is one other significant player in 1 Samuel 4, although she is never named. Eli's unnamed daughter-in-law understood the gravity of losing the Ark. Upon giving birth to Phinehas' son, she declared that the boy be named Ichabod, saying, "The glory [of the Lord] has departed Israel" (1 Samuel 4:21). Her sadness and despair are palpable.
I am convinced that the glory of God is leaving America. What was once a shining city on a hill has become a twisted caricature of unholy self-righteousness. Like the ancient Israelites, we think we are immune from harm because we like to think of ourselves as a Christian nation.
Would Jesus not say to us as He did the Israel of 2000 years ago, "You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me'" (Matthew 15:7-8).
God's Incredible Patience
Of course, that was not the end of the story for ancient Israel. In God's good time and because of His graciousness -- meaning His willingness to extend unmerited favor, God restored the blessing on Israel and then Judah.
Still, time and time again they strayed -- until His patience was at an end. He sent prophet after prophet to call the Jews to repent. Jeremiah said it this way (Jeremiah 2:1-13):
1) Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
2) "Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, 'Thus says, the LORD, "I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, the love of your betrothals, your following after Me...
4) Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel.
5) Thus says the LORD, "What injustice did your fathers find in Me that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty?
6) They did not say, 'Where is the LORD?'
11) Has a nation changed gods when they were not gods? But My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.
12) Be appalled, O heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate," declares the LORD.
13) For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
A sad summary of Judah's attitude is captured in 2 Chronicles 36:
15) And the LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place;
16) but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against His people, until there was no remedy.
Our Nation's Future
David Reagan has long declared that judgment is overdue for America. Many agree. Ruth Bell Graham, convinced that our society was deserving of the wrath of God, said, "If God doesn't punish America, He'll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."
The question remains whether there is any hope for America. Every indicator screams that we are accelerating our headlong rush away from the living God and into a hellish abyss. Abandoning the God of our fathers, our nation seems determined to embrace the sexual revolution and cast our lot with post-Christian secular Humanism.
If that be the case, our nation will soon join the long line of societies that have been relegated to the dust bin of history. Once vibrant and alive, we are in the process of withering up and becoming just another collection of dry bones in a long, twilit valley.
So, can these bones live?
To cite another prophet's very wise response when the Lord asked him that exact question, "O Lord God, You know" (Ezekiel 37:3). Indeed He does.
Without a miracle of God, America's dry bones will not experience another great awakening. The division and rancor within our society are driving us further apart, not together. We are a living fulfillment of Romans 1, and God is undoubtedly giving us over to our own depraved minds (Romans 1:28).
Until Jesus Christ calls us to Himself, we must have and share hope, even as we await our Blessed Hope. Many are being deceived. Eventually some will realize that they are wandering in darkness and seek the light. If modern Pontius Pilates ask of us, "what is truth?" we know the Person who is Truth.
Redemption may never come for our nation, but it will come for individuals who put their faith in Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul cites a partial list of the unrighteous acts that can be covered by the blood of Jesus.
There is now -- and never will be -- condemnation for any who are in Christ Jesus. Even as darkness descends and society turns away from Him, the God of Hope offers joy and peace to all who believe in Him by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
Until He does come, follow Paul's example. To paraphrase his charge (2 Timothy 4:7-8):
Fight the good fight, finish the course, keep the faith, for in the future there is laid up for you the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to you on that day; and not only to you, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Although Eli's daughter-in-law saddled her son with the tragic name, Ichabod, it conveyed a tragic truth: the glory of God had departed Israel. We must face a similarly tragic truth today: the glory of God is departing America.
But, our hope is not built on the sinking sand of an apostate culture. We can encourage each other because we know that the manifest glory of God is coming again soon in the person of Jesus Christ.
My prayer until He does will remain: Godspeed!
But of that Day and Hour - by Randy Nettles -
But of that day and hour no man knows, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:36-37
Chapter 24 in the book of Matthew has always been a mystery to me. To quote Winston Churchill (regarding Russia): "it is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma". Many Bible experts differ in their opinions regarding Matthew 24 and especially verses 36-44. The late Bible teacher Jack Kelley and renowned researcher Thomas Ice are two eschatological astute scholars who believe/d that the whole chapter is describing the Tribulation and the subsequent 2nd Coming.
Many other teachers, including writers Terry James and Gene Lawley, believe Matthew 24 is talking about two different end-time events. In their reckoning, the first part of the chapter describes the Tribulation and 2nd Coming, while verses 36-44 describe the Rapture of the Church.
I have struggled to come to a conclusion regarding which of these two differing opinions is correct. I have changed my mind several times throughout the years regarding this eschatological topic. I always assumed verses 36-44 were talking about the 2nd Coming since Jesus was answering the disciple's questions about the end of the world, and we know the Rapture occurs at least 7 years prior to his return to the earth. The previous verses of 23-31 are definitely speaking about Jesus' return (2nd Coming) after the Tribulation. All the experts are pretty much in agreement on this point.
Verses 32-35 sum up the timing of when the 2nd Coming is to occur. In these verses, the modern nation of Israel is compared to the fig tree. When the fig tree's branch is tender and leaves start appearing, then you know summer is near. Likewise, in verse 34, the generation of Jews that were born when Israel became a nation in 1948 will not pass until "all these things are fulfilled". Moses described a generation as being 70-80 years old in Psalm 90:10. Do the math. The modern nation of Israel will be 80 years old in 2028.
The question remains: "Why would Jesus (who had been talking about his return to the earth with power and great glory) change the subject from the 2nd Coming and then start talking about the Rapture in verses 36-44? Earlier in verse 30, he described his return as a visible manifestation that all the earth would witness. No unbeliever will see Jesus in the sky at the Rapture...only the believing raptured Church. They are two totally different earth-shattering events. Also, Jesus never really discussed the Rapture with his disciples. He hinted at it in a few places, but it was a mystery until it was revealed later to Paul.
On the other hand, if Jesus was talking about the 2nd Coming in verses 36-44, how could it be compared to the days of Noah? Although it was a very wicked generation in those Antediluvian days, people were going about their everyday activities such as eating, drinking, and marrying before the flood came and took them away. They had no idea what was coming for them, even though Noah had warned them. Likewise in Luke 17:20, the same can be said about the days of Lot before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; for they were also eating, drinking, buying and selling merchandise, planting crops, and building houses. They also had no idea they were living in the last days before their great Tribulation.
However, when Jesus returns after the 7 year Tribulation, the remaining people who are still alive will not be going about their normal activities. They will just be trying to survive. "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake, those days shall be shortened. Matthew 24:22
So how do we reconcile this mystery/enigma/riddle? I believe we have to go back to the beginning of the chapter in Matthew 24:3 where the disciples asked Jesus 3 questions: 1) When shall these things be? 2) What shall be the sign of your coming again? 3) What shall be the sign of the end of the world? The Jews (even the disciples) have always required a sign before they would believe.
The first question was regarding the timing of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus never answered this question for some reason. In hindsight, we know it occurred in A.D. 70.
Jesus answered the disciple's questions out of order. He answered the third question first. What shall be the sign of the end of the world? He describes the events and details in verses 4-31, thus answering their question. These are all signs that the end of the world (as we know it) is near and Jesus will be returning to the earth soon.
Jesus answered the second question last. What shall be the sign of your coming? He replies to this question in verses 36-44. In these verses, I have come to believe that he is speaking of the Rapture and not the 2nd Coming. The Rapture is the answer to the disciples 2nd question. The supernatural sign that precedes Jesus' 2nd Coming is the Rapture. It is proof that Jesus will come again physically to the earth.
If millions of people from around the world disappear all of a sudden (in the blinking of an eye) on a particular day and hour, and you are not one of them, you had better come to the conclusion that this is a supernatural sign from God. He wants those left behind to know that the end is near and Jesus is coming again, just as the Bible says. This time he will not come for salvation, but for judgment and punishment.
Genesis 7:7 is a brief description of events immediately preceding the flood when Noah, his sons, his wife, and his son's wives went into the ark. "And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth" (Genesis 7:10). Noah, his family, and the animals were shut up in the ark for 7 days before the flood began. I wonder what the waiting was like before they heard those first (ever) raindrops falling on the ark's roof.
"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37). The Rapture will precede the 2nd Coming by at least 7 years...probably more. During this interval, the Antichrist will appear on the world scene and Daniel's "70th seven" prophecy regarding world events will resume. After 7 years of the greatest Tribulation known to man, Jesus will return to the earth to destroy his enemies and set up His Millennium Kingdom. The translated saints (who were raptured earlier) will return with Him as part of the armies of heaven.
We will only be witnesses at the Battle of Armageddon, for Jesus will defeat the Antichrist and the nations of the world by Himself.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he has on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, And Lord of Lords. Revelation 19:11-16
Who is this that comes from Edom (Jordan), with dyed garments from Bozrah; this that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength? It is I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Why is your apparel red, and your garments like him that treads in the wine fat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth. Isaiah 63:1-6
Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
Randy Nettles firstname.lastname@example.org
Connecting the Prophetic Dots - By Todd Hampson -
I'm a child of the 70's and it was definitely a different era. Video games were just entering the scene and we didn't have cell phones, so we had other activities to keep us busy. Most of them were outdoor activities, so we wouldn't break the house or drive our parents crazy, but there were a few indoor activities that were popular in my generation as well. Two that come to mind are: Connect the Dots, and Paint By Numbers.
I loved Connect the Dots because at first it just looked like a bunch of random dots on a page. But as we drew lines from each numbered dot to the next one, a picture would begin to emerge. What at first seemed like unconnected and completely random dots formed into a very clear picture right before our eyes.
Paint By Numbers, on the other hand, was less appealing to me. You could already make out the picture, and the only goal was to mind-numbingly paint all of the 1's blue, all of the 2's red, all of the 3's white. You get the picture (pun intended). By the time you finished, you felt like Rembrandt; but all you were doing was filling in the colors like a drone. Sorry to anyone who loves doing Paint By Numbers. Stick with me here. I promise it will be worth the time.
When it comes to Bible prophecy-or any area of complex theology for that matter-we often prefer a Paint-By-Numbers approach. We want it all spelled out neatly for us without having to do too much work or think too deeply about what we believe and why we believe it. I'm all for simple childlike faith, but as we grow in our walk with the Lord, we should begin to crave meat instead of milk. This does not make God love us more or put a "Super Christian" emblem on our chests, but it helps us to be grounded more deeply in God's word, and it helps us better understand the times in which we live.
As Bible prophecy students, we must take the Connect-the-Dots approach. We have to put in the hard work of studying scripture-particularly the Old Testament prophets (major and minor), the Olivet Discourse, epistles such as 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, and the book of Revelation. Then we must apply that to what we see today. That means we need to view the daily news cycle in light of Scripture.
If God is sovereign, nothing is random. Nothing. He sees all of history simultaneously. For us, our present intersects with eternity one moment at a time. He knows the end from the beginning as if it has already happened. He paints a very clear picture of what the end-times will look like; and my friends-when I connect the dots I see today, I am convinced that a very clear picture is emerging before our eyes.
A couple times a year I try to do a post where I provide a snapshot of the prophetic landscape as I see it. I'd like to Connect the Dots of a few prophetic end-time sign categories to see what picture is emerging. Space does not allow for me to cite all relevant verses for each category, but this is where I would encourage readers to roll their sleeves up and do some dot-connecting of their own.
Things are happening so fast and in such detail that I've shifted from citing a bunch of supporting Bible verses to encouraging readers to be skeptics and try to disprove the dots I'm connecting. I don't do this for debate or ego purposes. My goal is to force people (if they really want to know the truth about the times in which we live) to study the details themselves. I have found that this moves people from having a general knowledge to forming strong convictions-and it provides a clear view of the signs of the times. When you have to wrestle with concepts, you form convictions as you study the details. As you do, the Holy Spirit reveals things that are hidden in plain sight.
With all of that as a backdrop, here are a few major clusters of dots that have so clearly connected in our day that these signs seriously cannot be understated. One caveat. I know I'm missing some signs here. There are simply too many to cover, and they are developing too quickly to cover accurately in a single post. It's enough to make your head spin.
The unprecedented series of events leading to two forced elections in close proximity have served to kick the Deal-of-the-Century can further down the road. Everything surrounding this deal makes it the perfect candidate for the covenant the Antichrist will strengthen and push over the finish line sometime after the rapture occurs. The Deal of the Century could very well be the core framework for the end-time covenant spoken of in Daniel chapter 9.
I can't stress this enough, but every single detail related to Israel's rebirth as a nation has been fulfilled exactly as foretold in Scripture. Specific prophecies about the land, the people, the wars, the economy, the military, Jerusalem, the events leading up to (and following) her rebirth, the global rise in antisemitism (just ask The Squad), and so much more-have all occurred precisely as predicted in the Bible. This dense cluster of dots has connected to form a very clear and compelling end-time mega-sign.
The visions of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation are full of technological details that must be in place in order for various events to occur during the 7-year tribulation period. There are monetary, military, DNA, AI, communication, data-mining, biologically integrated, and other technological developments occurring in our day (at exponential, breakneck speed) that make the foretold events possible. The more technology advances, the more it lines up with the events of the tribulation period. Cashless systems, autonomous weapons, chip and neurological implants, DNA manipulation, the internet, satellite communication, nuclear weaponry, the surveillance state, and many other current and emerging technologies are all related to end-time Bible prophecies.
The geopolitical landscape could not be more ripe for end-time events. The players and details of Ezekiel 38 continue to fall in place like a movie script. Again, there are so many details in place and casting shadows that we could detail them in a series of blog posts like this one. You simply can't study the details of Ezekiel 38-39 (or expand that out to 36-39 if you have time) and not have your mind blown at how spot-on the prophecy is. And it is forming right before our eyes-if you have eyes to see!
In addition to Ezekiel 38, we also see the extreme instability of nations. There are truly wars and rumors of war increasing like birth pains, just as described by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse. Part of that prophecy included division within countries, not just animosity between countries. We see this on the daily news. The US has (in my opinion) never been more divided-with the exception of the civil war which was (again, in my opinion) God's judgment for the sin of slavery. But even in that case, our country was divided in two. Today it seems it is divided into 50. There is no human solution to our perplexing problems.
Aside from the struggles in the US, there are internal divisions in Iran, China, Syria, Nigeria, South Africa, Venezuela, Italy, England, Spain, France, Germany, and others countries. Divisions between globalism and nationalists, the clash of cultures from the influx of refugees, races, tribes, "isms," and many other factors make the global landscape more volatile than ever before.
Couple this with the ongoing conflicts and ever-declining relationships between superpowers like the US, Russia, and China who increasingly find themselves with military assets in the same theaters. Let that sink in for a moment.
The tension between Nationalism and Globalism has been brought to light the past few years like never before. Brexit and Trump have been lightning rods to highlight the demarcation lines. What used to be considered conspiracy theory is now known fact. The gloves are off; and though key globalist figures remain hidden behind the scenes, their end-time agenda (knowingly or not) lines up perfectly with the prophecies of Daniel and John.
Even with the booming economy of the US (though economic manipulators are attempting to scare the markets and effect the next election by using the R-word-recession), the national debt is 22.5 trillion dollars. This number is so big we can't grasp it. It is-in my humble non-mathematician opinion-too big to pay back. At some point, events will converge, causing it to collapse. I believe (based on Matthew 24:37-39) that it will collapse as a result of the rapture and related events. Right now, the only thing holding it together is a bit of supernatural crazy glue. When the US economy collapses, the financial tsunami will circle the globe. This will help provide the perfect scenario for the antichrist to emerge and bring order out of chaos.
The Brexit-can has also been kicked down the road, but is about to come to an end. No one knows exactly what economic ripple effects this will have in the EU this fall. Stay tuned!
There is a connection between this sign category and the next. Spiritual factors naturally bleed into cultural trends. One of the recent mass-shooters was (based on scores of handwritten notebooks found at his house) a Satanist. Much of what our society calls "mental health" is really spiritual warfare-demonic influence that has invaded the hearts and minds of people as we continue to kick God out.
Some high-profile figures have recently turned from their faith. Author Joshua Harris and Hillsong singer and songwriter Marty Sampson both recently made comments about no longer believing in Christianity. There are people claiming to be Christian witches, Christian mediums, and other self-contradictory and wholly unbiblical combinations.
On the bright side, there is a great awakening among Muslims in Iran, Indonesia and other places, as well as an exploding underground church in China. The gospel has gone full circle around the globe, and perhaps this is part of a last ingathering before the rapture can occur. The times of the Gentiles is almost up!
I remember when Columbine was a big deal. It was unprecedented. Now it's expected. Sadly, we're just waiting for the next mass shooting to occur-and they do, regularly. So much so, that most of them are not reported in the national news. Over 40 people were shot in one weekend recently. Unless you live near Chicago, you probably never heard about that.
Just 20 or so years ago, pro-abortion folks said they wanted abortions to be "safe, legal, and rare." Now many of those same people are proposing legislation that allows abortions to be administered by health technicians instead of "real" doctors (What doctor really goes to medical school with plans to become an abortionist?). They also encourage cross-border, secret (i.e. Illegal) abortion access, and states such as New York have passed legislation that allows babies to be killed at the moment of birth. There is an actual movement (complete with a book and website) called "Shout Your Abortion." What could possibly be holding back the judgment of God except for his foreordained timing?
There is no respect for the innocence of children. They are exposed to immorality almost everywhere they turn. Libraries around the country regularly have "Drag Queen Story Time." Come on. That is wrong on so many levels that there shouldn't even be a debate about it.
Here's a snapshot of what I'm talking about. Last weekend, a movie called Good Boys released. It stars three young boys and is rated R for all of the reasons you would expect a movie to be so rated. The purpose of the movie is to juxtapose the innocence of children with the most vulgar of adult vices and ungodly behavior-in the name of "comedy." Innocence lost.
We tend to focus on the US when it comes to these signs. The news is dominated by non-stop political spin. But, just recently there have been several devastating convulsions of nature around the world that we've not even heard about. There have been devastating floods and landslides across parts of South Asia from heavy monsoon rains.
Right now, there are record-breaking heat waves and droughts, and several major wildfires. Russia, for example, is on track to have its worst year ever recorded for wildfires. There are also major wildfires in Alaska, Greenland, Paraguay, and other places-including areas of the Amazon rainforest. And don't forget, 2018 saw America's most destructive wildfire season ever.
Just within the past month, there have been 646 earthquakes with 9 of them registering 6.0 or higher (and several more that registered 5.9). The two major earthquakes that hit California this summer triggered 16,000 smaller earthquakes. So, between July 4th when the 6.4 quake hit (possibly a prophetically significant day, I might add) and July 19th or so when the aftershocks died down, there were 16,000 earthquakes-an average of 1,066 earthquakes per day. That is significant. The one-two punch of the 6.4 and 7.1 quakes in just a few days definitely got the country's attention.
The two mega-signs are Israel and convergence. They are like bookends of the categories and serve to show us how late the hour may be. Prophetic details are converging in our time unlike any other time in history. This is one of those statements I don't want you to take my word for. Please pray for eyes to see as you study these things for yourself and see if they are not true.
I know this can seem crazy to the world, but let's be crazy for Christ's sake. In the words of the Apostle Paul from 2 Corinthians 5:13, "If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God."
As we connect the dots of the day-let's be sure to pay attention to the picture that emerges before our eyes. Lord, give us eyes to see!
By Todd Hampson | ToddHampson.com
Time of the Signs - By Terry James -
This generation of passengers on Planet Earth is passing through a corridor John the apostle and prophet called "the last time" (1 John 2:18). More to the point, we are somewhere near the very end of that corridor, and signs the size of billboards are on either side of the broad way that leads the world's inhabitants toward Armageddon. The only way to miss those gargantuan signs, for the true child of God, is to deliberately ignore them, choosing instead to focus on things of this world that perspective hides in the distant blackness.
We are, as my good friend Chuck Missler says, in the time of the signs. They are signs so dramatic, so blatant, that the whinnying and violent snorting of the four horses of the apocalypse can almost be heard as they angrily paw the earth with rage, straining to burst to full gallop, determined to carry their death-dealing riders on their missions of globe-shattering devastation.
Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things and the One who holds all of creation together (Colossians 1:16-17), gave the signs that would be most prevalent at the time just before His return to earth. These primary signals are found in three of the Gospels: Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. We will first look at the Matthew account of the signs He gave for the final generation of human history, just before His second advent.
Sign 1: Deceivers who Claim Christ
Jesus was directly asked by His disciples: 1) When would the things Jesus prophesied be? 2) What would be the signs of His second coming? and 3) When would be the end of the world?
He gave the following answer: "...Take heed that no man deceive you, For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matt. 24:4-5).
Jesus gave "deception" as the first major sign that will alert the spiritually attuned believer that His second coming is near. Jesus, as recorded a few verses later, amplified His words on "deception" that would be manifest at the very end of the age:
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many" (Matt. 24:11).
The Lord begins by saying that Many will come in His name. This means, I think, that these end-times deceivers will claim to come as true believers in Jesus Christ. They will use His holy name to convince the undiscerning that the individuals making the claim are of the Church, the body of Christ.
These are those who will be among the individuals Jesus condemned, as recorded in the following Scripture: "But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all [ye] workers of iniquity" (Lk. 13:27).
However, this prophecy that Jesus gave as the first sign of the very end of the age goes, I'm convinced, much deeper. These deceivers will be declaring that they, themselves, will be Christ-like, not in the sense of being a true Christian who is a Spirit-filled follower of Jesus Christ, but in the sense that they have powers and abilities like Jesus himself. They will claim to be the special conduit from God, used by the Almighty to read minds, receive special telepathic words from Him upon command, and even to raise the dead.
But, it will all be smoke and mirrors. There will not be a single validated case of any of these supposed miraculous activities direct from the portals of heaven to the mortals of Planet Earth.
The question to ask, then, while considering the time of the signs and whether we are indeed at the very end of the age as predicted by Jesus is: Do we see today any sign, any indicator, that there are such "deceivers" among us?
There have always been deceivers and those specifically claiming to be Jesus Christ. Some have been certifiable lunatics, some have been proven charlatans, and have faded into the darkness of the exposed and deposed. Today, it seems, to me at least, they are announcing their Christ-like powers from the very billboards mentioned earlier-the ones lining either side of that broad way that leads to destruction during these troubling days.
We see many of them as glitzy, projected TV images calling the gullible to give their money to special programs they proclaim God has told them about, which can make the members of their audiences healthy, wealthy, and wise beyond their wildest imaginations.
These promote the outward-turning message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ only in a minimal way, their messages designed to turn thoughts inward to the feel-good message that God wants them to materially prosper. Viewers are deceived because they can see through glazed, mesmerized eyes that the wealth message certainly works for the rich and famous purveyors of the prosperity gospel. Their desire to obligate the God of heaven to provide overflowing wealth and health, based upon the TV magicians' special formulas for success, make the deluded open their wallets with glee.
Paul the apostle's prophetic words ring true for our time: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
Others, appearing more sophisticated and high-minded, claim to have Christ within their pontificating, but are turned far from truth found in God's Word. These ecclesiastical elitists fit the mold of false prophets/teachers found in forewarnings of Paul and Peter:
List of 2 items:
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come...For men shall...[have] a form of godliness, but [deny] the power thereof..." (2 Tim. 3:1, 5).
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Pet. 2:1
These, though under the guise of Christian clergy, join the ecumenists who proclaim that there are many ways to God and heaven. By this heresy, they deny the Lord Jesus, who said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the father, but by me" (Jn. 14:6).
Sign 2: Wars and Rumors of Wars
The second sign of the very end of the age given by Jesus is in His declaration: "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet" (Matt. 24:6).
"What is so different about hearing of wars and rumors of war?" one might ask. Such has been part of the human condition since history first began to be recorded. The key to what makes this profoundly different is found in Jesus' words in Matthew 24:21: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
The Lord himself said that the time of the end will be worse than any in history. This declaration, by its very nature, makes the "wars and rumors of wars" He predicts well beyond the norm. We see just how far beyond the norm they will be, as recorded in His next statement: "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matt. 24:22).
Christ's words indicate something of humankind-ending power. This statement follows His warning of wars and rumors of wars for the very end of the human history timeline that immediately precedes His second advent. All flesh will die if Jesus doesn't return upon His divinely scheduled appointment time!
The question naturally emerges: Do we see any such power upon the world scene today? I, perhaps, don't even need to go into answering that-at least not very deeply. That power to destroy all flesh has been on the scene as a major sign of where we are on God's prophetic timeline since 1945. The first atomic bomb test at Alamogordo, New Mexico, flashed that sign across the night desert sky in a stupefying instant. Soon "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" incinerated and blew apart almost 200,000 Japanese citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The hydrogen bomb tests, coupled with intercontinental ballistic missile developments, made the whole world aware that the planet's inhabitants could well be living on borrowed time. These weapons, yielding unfathomable power to destroy, continue to scream from the billboard of forewarning while this generation nears the denouement of the age. Weapons of such horrific magnitude must certainly be the subject of and reason for Jesus' "wars and rumors of wars" sign being issued for the terminal generation. And this prophetic sign must, it follows, because of that world-destroying weaponry being ubiquitous today, refer to our present generation of earth dwellers.
Third-World powers and terrorist organizations lust after weapons of mass destruction. Potential for developing atomic weaponry is on the agenda of governments. North Korea, Iran and other nation-states race forward with nuclear programs, defying the international community as the G-8 and others try to prevent World War III.
Sign 3: Nations and Kingdoms in Distress
The most obvious category given by Jesus that we are in the time of the signs is that involving the geopolitical disposition of nations. No observer of the world scene today who believes that God has told the end from the beginning can look at the way countries are prophetically juxtaposed and not see the end times are upon this generation. Let's look more closely at this third end-times prophecy Jesus put forth while on top of the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Jerusalem of His time while still in His flesh body: "Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (Lk. 21:10).
The Lord forewarned tremendous ethnic upheaval at the time just before His second advent. We've looked many times at the Greek term used here, translated into the KJV as "nation." The Greek term is ethnos, meaning "ethnic" in English. Jesus said that the end times would be marked by ethnic hatred and strife.
"Kingdom" against "kingdom" can be interpreted nation-state entities or countries will be at war or about to go to war. These wars and rumors of war will present unprecedented levels of danger to the peoples that inhabit the "kingdoms," is the implication. We have looked at why this is so. The nuclear and other threats from weaponry of mass destructive capability brings our time to this level of concern.
Jesus, when considering the Luke account of His Olivet Discourse, goes on to express this fact in expanding upon the time of the signs: "And there shall be...upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity..." (Lk. 21:25b).
Threat of calamitous destruction, should there be all-out nuclear war, is obvious. Worry about such potential catastrophe certainly fits Jesus' prediction of end-times perplexity and distress among the nations. The causes of this Armageddon-like potentiality, however, seem to be now coming into focus.
During the Cold War, there seemed little rhyme or reason why kingdom should rise against kingdom and want to destroy each other and the rest of the world with thermonuclear warfare. The unofficial doctrine termed "Mutually Assured Destruction" (MAD), in fact, kept the superpowers, with their potentially world-ending nuclear stockpiles, from doing the unthinkable-attacking each other just for the sake of empire building or stopping empire building. Again, there was no rhyme or reason-at least not enough-that convinced the leaderships of the superpowers to pull the nuclear trigger. Warfare on such a horrific scale was absolutely a no-win scenario for all concerned.
Now, in this, our generation's time of the signs, a reason to go to Armageddon-like war might just be in view. The catalyst that just might be a large part of galvanizing the nations of the world into a collective mindset that throws MAD out the window of sanity, thus bringing all into the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2), isn't so far-fetched to contemplate.
The thirst, thus the lust, for petroleum looks more and more like a potential reason to cause all to gather at Megiddo on the plain of Jezreel. The nations in distress, with perplexity, exactly describes the industrialized nation-states of Planet Earth while they scramble to secure for themselves the black liquid gold that can fire their engines of wealth production.
While there is talk of alternative fuels, none of practical development and implementation looks to be in view for decades ahead. The oil-rich Middle East is the logical place to look first in the attempt to secure energy-producing fuels. Oil in the region surrounding God's chosen nation, Israel, is the quickest, most accessible such arena of supply.
The Nations in this Time of the Signs
The alignment of the nations pertinent to Bible prophecy, as they are presently positioned and are dynamically rearranging, are eerily similar to the configuration Jesus and the Bible prophets forecast for the time just before Christ's return to put a stop to Armageddon, and to prevent the end of all flesh on Planet Earth.
Rosh (Russia) sits due north of Jerusalem. The nation who will produce the evil leader called "Gog," those of us who hold to pre-trib rapture eschatology believe, struggles internally and externally to become again a superpower to rival the United States. To do this, that prophetic nation will need energy to fire the engines of its industrial base.
Iran, the area where ancient Persia largely sat, is in the throes of international turmoil while it seems inalterably determined to produce nuclear weapons. At the same time, it is allying in many ways with Russia, in keeping with the Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophecy that foretells its joining forces with Gog to attack over the mountains toward Israel. All the while, its leader declares his desire is to erase all Jews from the Middle East.
Nations of the area of the ancient Roman Empire have put aside centuries of disputes and warring to form a reviving Roman Empire. The EU looks more and more to fit the prophetic Daniel 9:26-27 template in a way that can be denied only by those who refuse to acknowledge that Bible prophecy is to be interpreted as literal.
The great dragon nation, China, is perhaps the oil-thirstiest of all of the industrial giants. The prophetic scenario is not difficult to embrace that this behemoth, which by itself could field the astonishing, prophetically stipulated 200-million-troop force, will move toward the Middle East at some point yet future.
Despite recent attempts to slow the use of petroleum a degree, this emerging industrial titan, with its one-and-a-half-billion people, looks to be developing into becoming the king of the kings of the East of Revelation 9 and 16.
Modern Israel, the greatest sign in this time of signs, is positioned almost precisely where the prophet Zechariah foretold, as recorded in Zechariah 12:1-3. Most all of the distressed, perplexed nations of the world seem focused on God's chosen people as the key to war and peace in the Middle East, thus the key to world peace. Again, modern Israel sits at the center of the region where the planet's greatest pools of petroleum reside beneath what the world calls the Holy Land. It is a land destined for man's most destructive war, then to become the heart of Christ's glorious 1,000-year kingdom.
The Rapture Will Occur Before The Tribulation - By Daniel Payne - https://www.raptureready.com/2019/08/11/rapture-will-occur-tribulation-daniel-payne/
For generations, true believers-born-again of the Spirit-have been waiting for their Savior to suddenly appear in the clouds above them, and deliver them from their earthly trials.
Many of these watchful believers have been mocked and scorned for their patience and hope in the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ. False teachers, who either do not understand or deny God's Word, have led the charge against the hope of the Rapture occurring before the Tribulation.
How can anyone - after actually reading and believing God's Word - conclude that the Rapture happens after the wrath and horrors of the Tribulation and not before?
God's Word lists the order of events as plain as day:
"Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Then-just two verses later...
"For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape" (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).
Rapture: (1 Thess. 4:17) before Tribulation: (1 Thess. 5:2-3).
Again, first "we shall be caught up together...in the clouds". "Then sudden destruction comes upon them"-not us.
The Apostle Paul had just revealed the Rapture to the Thessalonians in chapter four. Then, literally just two verses later, he answered the obvious question as to when the Rapture would take place:
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you" (1 Thessalonians 5:1).
It's obvious that the Rapture is to take place before all of the destruction of the Tribulation (Day of the Lord), otherwise Paul wouldn't have focused on the fact that the Day of the Lord will arrive as a thief in the night.
Paul was associating the timing of the Rapture with the arrival of the Day of the Lord.
What difference would the sudden arrival of the Day of the Lord make if the Rapture was to take place at the end of it? Remember, Paul was still on the subject of the Rapture when he said that the Day of the Lord arrives suddenly and unexpectedly, as a thief in the night to those who are not ready.
If the Rapture was to take place at the end of the Tribulation, then Paul would have talked about the events that will take place at that time (cosmic signs, etc.).
He said that those who are ready and watching-the true believers-have no need to be concerned about the arrival of the destruction of the Day of the Lord. We need not concern ourselves with the judgment of the Tribulation because we will not be here.
If Paul was teaching that the Rapture is to take place at the end of the Tribulation, then 1 Thessalonians 5:2 should say something like:
"For you yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord lasts seven years, so..." or "the time of wrath during the Day of the Lord lasts seven years, as spoken of by Daniel...."
However, Paul did not speak of any of the events that are to occur during the Tribulation or how long they will last; Paul only spoke of the arrival of the Day of the Lord. It's obvious then that the Rapture has no part during the Tribulation, let alone after:
"For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2).
We are commanded to watch and be ready for the Rapture, when we will meet our Savior face to face and when:
"We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).
"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief... Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober... For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:4, 6, 9).
Now, concerning Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians.
Apparently, false teachers had used Paul's teaching of the Rapture from his first letter, and its associated timing with the arrival of the Day of the Lord, as a pretext to trouble them into a cold-hearted deception.
They were tricked into believing that the persecution they were currently enduring was in fact the actual Tribulation, i.e. the wrath of the Day of the Lord. They were frightened into believing that the Tribulation had already begun.
(Side Note: This cruel tactic is vulgarly similar to that used today by those who seem to enjoy ridiculing those of us who believe in the doctrine of the Pre-Trib Rapture. Just as the false teachers in Thessalonica knew full well that the Thessalonians were taught that the Rapture will occur before the arrival of the Day of the Lord, so also do the false teachers of today know that we're also taught that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation.
Both sets of cruel-hearted false teachers try to deceive those who long for the return of their Savior into believing that they will miss a gathering to meet the Lord in the air before the Tribulation. Consequently, we will then have to endure the trauma and pain of God's Tribulation judgment on the world that currently rejects His salvation and the legitimacy of His nation Israel.
They love to mock us as if it's some sort of satisfaction for them that we'll be suckered into having to endure the wrath of the Tribulation, exactly like the false teachers did way back in Thessalonica).
How was it that the Thessalonians could be so easily deceived by the false teachers? Because they were already enduring persecutions and tribulations that they were no doubt told by the false teachers were signs that the Tribulation had already begun.
"So that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure" (2 Thessalonians 1:4).
Paul began his letter of comfort to them-2 Thessalonians-by commending them for their "patience and faith" in all their "persecutions and tribulations."
Paul then went on to speak of the rest that the faithful Thessalonians would have during the time "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those" who are persecuting them (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).
In order to make sense of exactly what Paul was teaching the Thessalonians in reference to the Day of the Lord-whether or not he taught them that they would have to endure through it or be raptured before it-let's make all of the Thessalonians part of either group 1, or all part of group 2 below:
Post-Trib Rapture Gathering: The Thessalonians were taught by Paul and believed that they would somehow have to endure through the entire Tribulation (Day of Christ, Day of the Lord), survive (to be alive for the gathering in the air) and not take the Mark of the Beast. They would have to wait to be gathered together to meet the Lord in the air until after the Tribulation ends.
Pre-Trib Rapture Gathering: The Thessalonians were taught by Paul that they would be gathered together in the air to be with the Lord forever before the Tribulation (Day of Christ, Day of the Lord) begins.
Again, we know from Paul's letter that the Thessalonians actually believed that they were already in the Tribulation. If they were all part of group one from above-and since they believed that the Tribulation had already begun-why then would they be upset (before Paul's second letter arrived) that Christ was absolutely about to return within seven years or less and end their Tribulation suffering?
You might say that they would be upset that they would still have yet to endure the remainder of the Tribulation woes, and that is why they were so troubled. That makes perfect sense except for one thing...
(Please keep in mind that we're still talking about Group 1 from above here.)
Why then would it be a comfort and a relief to them if the Tribulation time clock had not already begun counting down to the return of their Savior? How could the fact that the Tribulation hadn't yet begun-as Paul is telling them in this his second letter-and that now the return of the Lord would even be farther away, be of any immediate comfort to them? Especially when the true horrors of the Day of the Lord could still arrive at any time?
How is it such a great comfort to know that the Day of the Lord has not yet begun even though you're still going to have to be present on earth throughout the destruction once it does finally begin? That just doesn't make any sense.
It's far more likely that they belonged to Group 2, and they were upset that Christ had already returned and they missed the "gathering together to Him," and that He left them behind to endure the Tribulation.
The great comfort to them would then not be that the Tribulation has not yet begun and could still arrive at any time, but that the Lord Jesus had not yet arrived and the Rapture can still occur at any time.
In keeping with his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul associated the timing of the Rapture (2 Thessalonians 2:1) with the arrival of the Day of the Lord:
"Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
Paul told the Thessalonians that the Antichrist will "be revealed in his own time" (2 Thessalonians 2:6). Paul is still associating the Tribulation with a time ("his own time") after the Rapture. He was telling the Thessalonians that they could know that the Rapture (2:1) had not yet taken place because the apostasy and the revealing of the Antichrist had not yet taken place.
The Antichrist will be revealed-to those who read or have read a Bible-the moment he confirms the peace treaty with Israel. Many false candidates have come over the generations, but only one will be revealed by exactly matching the biblical description.
Paul's primary focus was not on the Thessalonians having to watch for the events that would occur during the Tribulation; his primary focus was on them being aware of the details that would happen before the Tribulation (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 5-7).
Then he explained what would happen after the Rapture, beginning in verse 8:
"For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming" (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
Then, after Paul explained some of the events that would take place during the Tribulation, he reminded the Thessalonians that they would not have to endure such events:
"But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
Interestingly, in the verse above, the Greek word used for "salvation" is "soteria." Its precise meaning is determined by the surrounding context.
The same word "soteria" is found in Philippians 1:19:
"For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ."
Paul was assuring the Philippians that their prayers were powerful enough to affect his escape from a Roman prison.
Paul never spoke of any major celestial events that would immediately precede the Lord's return for His saints at the Rapture (in 1 Thessalonians chapter four). However, when the Lord returns with His saints, there will be great cosmic signs and wonders:
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:29-30).
"Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, 'Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all...'" (Jude 1:14-15a).
In closing, God's Word explicitly lays out the timing of the Rapture as occurring before the arrival of the judgment of the Tribulation.
Jesus and His apostles warned us to specifically watch for only Jesus Christ Himself, not the many events that will take place during the Tribulation.
We were also exhorted by Jesus and His apostles that while we are watching for His return, we should not give ourselves up to the errors of the false teachers who increasingly say He is not coming.
"This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles" (2 Peter 3:1-2).
What "commandment of the Lord" is Peter referring to?
"Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will" (Matthew 24:42-44).
The Lord Jesus exhorts us again in Revelation to persevere and continue to watch for His return:
"Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth" (Revelation 3:10).
Jesus commends us for our perseverance in holding to the traditions of our hope in His imminent return. Then He tells us of a crown we will receive if we continue to love, hope in, and watch for His soon return:
"I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown" (Revelation 3:11).
Paul describes this same crown:
"In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8).
Paul tells us again to stand firm in his teachings of our hope of the Rapture:
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us" (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
Peter also tells us to stay focused on the return of Jesus and not be deceived by the false teachings of unprincipled men:
"Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation'" (2 Peter 3:3-4).
"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).
"You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness" (2 Peter 3:17).
We cannot let the evil that is rapidly closing in around us cause us to lose our hope in the Rapture by being deceived by false teachers. We must continue to persevere, no matter how much longer we have to wait, while continuing in our hope and love of the imminent return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
"He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming quickly.' Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20).
A Kingdom without End - By Pete Garcia -
Originally published at the Omega Letter, Wednesday, July 31, 2013
"Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us." Psalm 2:1-3
It has not been lost on me, that the United States is/was the greatest nation on the face of the planet and in the history of the world. Not even at the height of Rome's imperial power, could she match the dedication to keeping a republic governed by laws, a guarantor of personal liberties and to the standard of living we have achieved.
As a nation of immigrants, we attracted the best and brightest this world had to offer, and in so doing, we became the unparalleled leader in education, technology, innovation, and the arts.
So, are we to believe that a nation who split the atom and broke the sound barrier, sent a man to the moon and created the internet, cannot solve the issues that are seemingly unfixable today?
Solving illegal immigration is a bridge too far?
Balancing the budget now is the equivalent to putting a man on Jupiter?
I know we know how to fix the problems. It's just that those who have the ability to fix it aren't brave enough to do it. Just look at President Trump. The entire swampy-establishment and the media have risen up against him at every turn.
We KNOW what to do to fix the problems, we just refuse to do it. As I have said before, these problems aren't by chance; these problems were purposely designed to put us in unwinnable situations. They (those who militantly support globalism) need us to fall as a the lone super power, so they can dismantle the US and turn us into a subservient regional power. As a wise man once said, either you're eating at the buffet, or you are the buffet.
Welcome to buffet Americana.
Is it a small world after all?
"Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce." - James A. Garfield President of the United States
Imagine that you think that all empires are intrinsically bad, and the only way to fix starvation, pestilence, wars, and other global problems facing our planet, is to first rid the world of competing interests, which all nations and empires have.
Every nation wants to be on top, and that is the problem. Now, theoretically, if you had just one system, then you would remove nationalism, and by default, remove wars and other afflictions that competing empires have. That is the rub with globalists; they really believe that what they are doing, is for the betterment of all mankind.
That is to say, I don't think they are sitting behind closed doors, smoking cigars, twiddling their fingers while devilishly laughing and trying to figure out how they can dominate the huddled masses...well, perhaps the George Soros-types are. But for the rest of them, I think they have good intentions. Well, we all know what lines the path to hell.
Our national enemies know that they can't go toe to toe with us militarily, so they have had to look for soft spots in our national armor. Going back as far as the middle of the 18th century, they (globalists) have sought out ways to make us more European (i.e. socialist). One way to do that is with a Central bank.
One after the other, attempts were made by these globalist to make these United States dependent upon a European-styled Central bank. Presidents' Andrew Jackson through William McKinley was able to keep the globalist hounds at bay. However, when Woodrow Wilson (Democrat) was elected president in 1912, they knew they had their man. The 1913 Federal Reserve Act, which was subversively passed in Congress on Christmas Eve, had just enough members present to make a quorum to pass it and which President Wilson quickly signed into law. In fact, it happened so quickly, that most of Congress didn't know what happened until well after the fact. Thus began the long, sordid history of our nation's economic demise. To date, the Federal Reserve has never been audited.
European globalists have been seeking our demise ever since we became a nation in 1776. They hate our Constitution because first and foremost, we recognized that our rights didn't come from men, but from God. They hate our Constitution because it brilliantly defeated their attempts at bringing us back under the thumb of the European powers from whence our forefathers had come.
The founders knew first hand, what tyranny looked like. They knew because they had grown up under it. Their parents and grandparents grew up under it. They knew history, and they knew that one tyranny after another had reared its ugly head in Europe which is why they were able to specifically pinpoint and articulate the powers our government could and could not have.
This is why a frontal assault would never prevail against us. European globalists, and later American globalists, had to feverishly work to redefine and reshape men's understandings not just about political liberty, but religious and economic liberty as well. With naked fascism and communism rearing its ugly head again in Europe, these globalist socialists knew the American people then would never support it. Their 'ace in the hole' if you will, was the backdoor. They made inroads into the education and entertainment industries by way of progressive-liberalism
They knew that the US Constitution was too powerful an intellectual argument to overcome by force, so they sought a backdoor to make inroads into the hearts and minds of Americans. Their liberalistic ideations came over the Atlantic to our universities and seminaries and began spreading like the ideological black plague in our most prestigious educational institutions. (Harvard, Yale, Columbia)
Since the founders were largely Christians, the Constitution was based both on the concept of Western (Greek-Roman) styled government, with Judeo-Christian values. This is what the globalists had to destroy first, and they did so by relentlessly pursuing three key agendas:
Attack the validity of the Bible. Promote ecumenicalism through existentialism, neo-orthodoxy, and the social gospel.
Replace Judeo-Christian philosophy with secular humanism and moral relativism, Biblical Creation with Darwinian Evolution, and corrupt Capitalism with the extremes of unchecked greed and Marxist-Socialism.
Control "the progressive message" through media, academia, pulpits, and politics. Intimidate by political correctness, judicial legislation, ridicule, and lastly violence.
Liberal leaders that would later come made economic entanglements that would prove disastrous to our national defense. (Ex., OPEC vs. Israel).
We are at such a compromised state today, in so many ways and on so many levels (I.e., the swamp), there no longer remains a viable option for us as a nation to ever lead effectively. Which is why as of late, Presidents largely have to operate in a perpetual state of gridlock. With the exception of Trump, the last four presidents insisted on 'coalitions' and 'leading from behind' to cast off any sort of political responsibility that might be laid at their feet.
To be blunt, we have too many competing interests to be able to see clearly anymore. If there is a cause out there, believe me, there is a thousand lobbyists for them. The removal of absolute truth, common morality, and a clear American agenda meant this nation was ripe for the introduction of political correctness, which is choking the life out of our national sanity.
Welcome to 1984
If we actually followed the laws that are already in place, we wouldn't have half the problems we currently have. In today's America, you need a draconian intelligence apparatus (think Patriot Act) and a militarized police force, in order to combat the increasingly violent and disturbing crimes that are occurring with increasing frequency across the nation.
But the increasing violence due to drug cartels, gang activities, lone gunmen, and organized crime serves a crucial, yet purposeful role in the diminishing of freedoms we currently enjoy by those politicians who disable the existing laws that would have curtailed such illegal activities in the first place. So the need for militarization of police and federal agencies become a 'necessary evil'.
That is why we have become an ever-expanding surveillance state because we have been sold on the notion that it is for our own good. That message is then sold to the American public as trying to combat global terrorism, global poverty, global warming, financial sabotage, political subterfuge, etc. At least, that is how it is being packaged for the average "low-information voter" thru the 24/7 media. In the end, they are counting on the dumbed down, average American to feel good about trading their freedom for security.
Hegelian Dialect anyone?
That is why our borders will never be secured. That is why our 'war on drugs' (depending on the state) will be just enough to warrant funding, but never enough to actually stomp out the problem. That is why government spending will remain unchecked and our debt will continue to skyrocket. They need our economy and our currency to crash, so they can introduce their own new, digital currency, which will forever wipe away the average person's anonymity.
The first groups of people who always get threatened first, when pay cuts are put on the table are: Police/firemen, teachers, and the military. Never is wasteful government programs like these brought up. Never are politicians themselves willing to take pay cuts, or retirement/pension reductions. Prisons remain overcrowded with an increasingly violent population that can never be allowed back into a population...until the budget is on the line.
You see, these things are created to invoke fear into the public's mind, for the sole purpose of using that fear against the public at a later point.
Do you remember the anger at France at the beginning of the Iraq War for not supporting our efforts? I mean, we threatened to rename French fries with Freedom fries!
Just think back for a moment, on how the government effectively (through the media) directs our national anger over the last 30 years. In the late 70's-early 80's it was Ayatollah Khomeini. In the 1980's it was Libya's, Moammar Qaddafi. In the 90's it was Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il. After 9/11, it was Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. We definitely love to hate someone out there. Granted, these are all evil and wicked despots and deserve our anger, however, as long as we got an enemy number one, the government has someone they can redirect our national anger towards.
It is by treachery that the US has ultimately fallen into permanent intentional disarray. Satan is, after all, the architect behind men's scheming for millennia. He needs the US to decrease so that the EU can increase. He cannot have his global one world order if the US remains on top, and still married to her Constitution. So, if he can't destroy the US outright, he will corrupt it from within. And having witnessed all the mighty empires who have come before us, either toppled militarily or crumble from within, Satan's plan for total global domination will answer both. He will have all the nations under one system.
Furthermore, he has his man, the Antichrist will remove any disloyalty or infidelity to the Beast by instituting a permanent "mark." This mark dooms someone in this life for refusing it but damns them in the next for taking it. Whatever the 'mark of the beast' ends up being, it will be the ultimate mark of loyalty that can never be undone.
Despite what it appears, the Revived Roman Empire is on the rise. Economic turmoil has produced an incredibly high unemployment rate in Europe, particularly amongst the youth. We have seen historically that when nations are at this point, they get desperate. In their desperation, they will turn to a man who usually ends up having ulterior motives. There is a wandering generation alive today, who are now ripe pickings for either draft into compulsory military service, or who through the promise of a steady paycheck, will fill the ranks of this man's future beast's army.
The structure and leadership are in place already courtesy of 60 plus years in NATO, and more recently, the EUROGENDFOR. What's lacking now is the proper motivation. Europeans largely feel unthreatened at the moment and know that the US would never allow Islamic, Russian or Chinese forces to attack or invade without coming to the EU's aid.
But what if the US could not come? What if something happened to the US that removed us overnight from being the global protectorate of law and order on the planet? How quickly would the EU move to bolster its military ranks in order to fill the vacuum that was suddenly presented at our departure from the world's stage?
A day is coming when both through the removal of His Bride, the Church, and His passing of the tribulum over Israel and the earth, that He will institute His own kingdom here on planet earth. Of this kingdom, Jesus Christ will reign (along with His bride) with an iron scepter. Justice will reign perfectly perfect, and nature will be restored to what it once was at the Garden of Eden. Those who make it into the Millennial Kingdom will enjoy long lives under the rule of a perfect King in a perfect environment. (Isaiah 65:17-25).
Man has long sought to create their own godless utopia here on earth, but it has failed time and time again. When God removes His Bride, mankind's first real chance to do as they please will get immediately hijacked by Satan and will turn those last seven years into a hell on earth. It will become so terrible, that if Christ did not personally intervene and cut it short, no flesh would survive (Matt. 24:22).
"And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." Daniel 2:44