Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Persecution of the Christian Church - Pastor Mike Taylor -
" Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." (Matthew 5:10-12)
21"And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord." (Matthew 10:21-24)
When I was growing up, I never occurred to me of all the persecution that goes on in the world. To me it was just history and really didn't concern a growing boy in the Midwest. I often wondered, "why would anyone persecute another person, just because they believed in Jesus Christ". It was very puzzling to me.
I knew about historical persecution that has been with us for the last 2000 years, since the Roman Empire and I knew that the early Christians were slain because it was perceived that their exclusive religion was a threat to the balance of power within their rule.
It wasn't because these new "Christians" as they were come to be called, were introducing a new god to their already many pagan gods that they worshiped. They knew about many gods that came and were borrowed from the Greeks. They just changed the names that were more popular to their own culture. Most of the time, the Romans were happy to add more gods to their pantheon of religious observances. The more the merrier. They adapted from other cultures including Greek art and literature, and historical myths.
So to the pagan Romans, another god, just didn't make much difference, as the Romans extended their rule throughout the Mediterranean and policy was just to absorb the local deities and cults of other people they conquered, rather than eradicate them.
Rome never felt obligated to promote one pagan god over another, or accept one particular cult. They were a very religious people, although blind to the truth, they were tolerant of other people's beliefs. They actually believed that their devotion to these gods, were the reason why they were able to conquer most of the known world. They based their religion on knowledge, prayer to these gods, and ritual sacrifices, rather than faith and doctrine.
So why did the Roman Empire turn against those who proclaimed Jesus Christ as their only God? Because Christians were not like the rest of religious Rome. They promoted the belief in One True God that provided them all things. And that is where the problem AROSE from. If Jehovah God was the One True God, that meant that the rest of their gods were false. They didn't have rituals, but relied on prayer and faith.
Jesus claimed He was the only God, and that "No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me."
It logically follows then, that the Roman polytheist was doomed, according to Christian theology. The population in those days found that sort of doctrine threatening, even hateful. In fact, that was the charge under which they were persecuted -- they called it a hate crime. Hmmm...where have I heard that before?
Now how could this be? The fact is, the claims of any Christian in the time period made it the enemy of every other belief structure promoted on earth.
Why is that? Because, according to Jesus, any worship of any other god, idol, or anything in creation was in fact, worshiping of the devil. Satan was the cause of the persecution that resulted from those who embraced and made Jesus Christ the center of their religion and we know Satan hates anything to do with Jesus Christ.
Remember what Jesus said concerning pagan worship, and the worship of false gods?
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." (Matthew 10:34-36)
ROME MAKES A QUICK DRESS CHANGE
When the Roman Empire imploded and was taken over by the new Caesars who renamed themselves "popes" and changed their soldier uniform for a robe and fish hat known as the miter, modeled after the fish god Dagon, persecution continued unabated and surpassed the level of persecution that the Roman Empire committed by millions. The amount of those who died at the hands of the "holy" Roman Empire, known then as the so called "church" has flucuated from 50 million on up, but you will find the priest of today who attempt to minimize the amount of carnage and try and justify the amount slain as insignificant. When is even one life killed out of desire for complete control and power, a minimal incident? Not to mention that one person was over 50 million people or more. This carnage continued to include the Protestant Reformation when many of their priest and followers became fed up with their "terrorism" of the population who would not follow the letter of their "law".
FALL OF THE "HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE"
The fall of this Gnostic religion came at the hands of a general in Napolean Bonapartes siege of Rome, including the Vatican when in 1809, Pope Pius VII was held prisoner at Castle Savona at Genoa, and was taken to France in the cold winter and left outside for days outside its gates. Thus the papacy was broken.
Not until the United States Constitution First enumerated freedom under the Bill of Rights, protecting freedom of religion, did persecution take a downward trend. As those who came to this country were looking for religious freedome and ability to worship God however they chose.
America had not known religious persecution during my years of growing up, but all that is slowing changing in our modern times as Christianity is numbered along with terrorist groups, especially Fundamental Christianity as a hate crime group. IN the past, Christianity was the default religion of this nation, so no protection was needed, because our Constitution guaranteed those rights, but all of that is changing.
We see Christian businesses that refuse to lower their Christian beliefs to accommodate unbiblical behavior, whether it be same sex marriage, homosexuality, or anything that goes against a Christian's beliefs. Was a time that no one thought of marriage as anything but one man, one woman for life. But as the divorce rate has sky rocketed, and life of anyone from the womb to the grave was not deemed sacred, then the nation, this nation has gone further down the road to political and religious ruin.
In this last election, the Christian of this nation finally woke up and saw the peril this nation was in, and their choices were limited to two candidates, one who was an obvious criminal and not fit to be voted as POTUS, and another who although not perfect, as he had many things in his past that the liberal left has tried to sway the opinion of America, as they just could not believe that their democrat darling would not be elected and continue the past administration slide to a one world government and our abdicating our sovereignty for a one world coalition through the United Nations. But thank the Lord, the right man got into the White House....Love him, or hate him, he has a vision to make American Great Again, and no one can say that he hasn't begun just that in the last year and the first year of his presidency. May God give him 7 more.
I truly believe, that POTUS Trump slowed the downhill slide of this nation, at least temporarily and has become a staunch friend of our only ally in the Middle East that is a democratic government. I remember what God said to Abraham when He made him promises concerning his coming offspring who would become as numerous as the stars of heaven.
2 "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3, And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 12:2-3)
Because of our becoming a friend of Israel, the blessing will come to this nation, if and I say if, Trump steers clear of dividing Isreal for any reason. God will bless us, if we bless Israel. Anytime that Israel was put into a corner, or action taken trying to take land away from God's people, which is God's land, catastrophe hit these shores. It's high time that we treat Israel for what she is. Many ask me why I support Trump. I believe even though he is flawed, (but aren't we all) God may use him to further benefits to Israel and defend her. He may even be a modern day King Cyrus for the near future benefit of God's people and His land. That is until God pulls everyone out of the way for the Gog-Magog war, but I believe that happens in the coming Tribulation.
THE COMING PERSECUTION IN THE TRIBULATION
As we wind down this age, called in the religious community, "the Age of Grace, or the Age of the Church", the return of Jesus Christ becomes more apparent, but as we don't know the exact time of His return things could get rather dangerous in the coming years. The label of being a Christian Fundamentalist could be the most dangerous label to affix to any person having the misfortune of living through the horrific time known as the Tribulation.
But what is a Christian Fundamentalist? It is a person or persons who stand for the fundamental doctrines found in your Bible and are believed by faith.
By the turn of the 20th century, American theological conservatives had identified five basic Christian fundamentals which most of you will recognize from the my basic statement of faith:
If one holds to those five basic Christian truths, then one is a Christian fundamentalist and therefore, a "intolerant hater" that the Department of Homeland Security considers a threat to national security. But only Christian fundamentalism is viewed by the federal government as a threat. They are the ones that advocate the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and are against dividing God's land, including Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The secular world is going awash again for anti-semitism and being against the only people that God has called "His people"
They have believed the promises of God when speaking of Israel and supports Israel's right to exist and to defend herself. To the Christian community this belief exist in their doctrine as well as in their politics. And as we know, the world hates us for that.
This position will not be tolerated in the coming Tribulation, as the horrors that abounded in the Middle Ages will return on steroids headed by a man they call the False Prophet. As Jesus told His apostles in Matthew 24.
15 "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
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.
22 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 24:15-24)
Here Jesus was speaking to Jewish men relating what will happen to their nation in the end of days. In this chapter, the focus is on Israel, not on any other people, but this terror will spread to all other religions who do not bow the knee to the same Gnostic Church that inhabited the Middle Ages, and will come to power once again, all but for a brief flash of their former glory, which will end in flames.
To be a Jew or a Christian in this horrifying 7 years will be an immediate death sentence. As we read the book of Revelation, we don't know exactly when the mark of the Beast will be poured out on the people of the Book, and the remnant who come to belief in Jesus Christ, but the book of Revelation gives us a good clue what will happen.
2 "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints."(Revelation 15:2-3)
"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb."(Revelation 14:1-4)
There are many verses in this apocalyptic book that gives an impression of mass executions, although the last two passage quoted remind me of those who are Jewish by birth, but there are others that speak of worldwide persecution of all who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, "A servant is not greater than his master." If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me." (John 15:18-21)
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." (Revelation20:4)
But as we learned in the past series of the study of Revelation, the True Church of the Living God who believes by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will not be on this earth to see the culmination of the most horrific time in all of man's evil history. The Bible is full of verses that support that even though we have tribulation on this earth every day, we have to put our faith and trust in the only Way, the Truth and the Life, back to God our Father in heaven. Let us quote just a few, that says that the coming persecution of the Christians and Jews during this coming Tribulation of 7 years will not touch us.
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ", (1st Thessalonians 5:9)
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." (Romans 5:7-10)
"19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
21 For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain." (Isaiah 26:19-21)
Jesus proclaimed our coming reward and a companion verse, I believe of the above passage.....
" Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." (John 14:2-4)
What is the way? I will tell you in a moment........
And a big one, in just a short verse tells us that the True Church of the Living God will NOT see the coming wrath of God that starts in chapter 6 of Revelation when Jesus opens the first seal for the title deed of all Creation.
"10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (Revelation 3:10-11)
The above verses giving a Divine promise from our Lord and Redeemer that the church will not see any portion of God's Wrath. As I have mentioned in the past, the phrase in Revelation 3:10, "Keep thee from" is a Greek word "EK" is translated "out of being separated from the event by time and space" not through the Tribulation as some believe, but removed from its having anything to do with God's Church.
Sadly, on earth, tribulation has overcome those who still live. They either take the "mark of the beast" whenever it is foisted upon the people, or reject it and pay their rejection with their lives. How do I know that the church is not on earth, besides the obvious verses above? Jesus told us,
33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Each person on this earth that belongs to Jesus Christ, has a deposit, an earnest of the Holy Spirit residing within himself, or herself. Satan cannot overcome the Holy Spirit, so this side of the Tribulation, the Church who follows after Jesus Christ cannot be overcome by Satan . But wait a minute, the coming of the Anti-Christ says he will overcome the saints?
"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." (Revelation 13:7)
If Satan cannot overcome the saints while they are indwelt by God's Holy Spirit, then the only explanation, is that the Tribulation saints have no such guarantee. They are not sealed as the Church is and has been. They must guard their salvation at every event that comes against them. But on the flip, if God allows us to overcome within the church, then how can Satan overcome us, or has the Holy Spirit been removed and left us defenseless as Paul told us?
6 " And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders," (2nd Thessalonians 2:6-9)
Since Jesus only spoke truth, then He will not leave us defenseless and if the AC can't overcome those with God's Holy Spirit seal on their lives, then it further proves, the church is not on this earth. Only those who accept Jesus as Savior, after the Holy Spirit is pulled back to Pre-Pentecostal times will allowed to be overcome by the Anti-Christ and Satan. Pre-Trib Christians cannot be overcome.
TRIBULATION ON THE HORIZON
Make no mistake about it, reader. Tribulation and its persecution is coming. It will make what that Gnostic Church did in the Middle Ages pale in comparison. Not to mention all the plagues, and destruction from God's wrath raining down on the nations who are in rebellion against a Holy God. At that time, God has been most patient, but the judgments grow stronger and stronger in an ever crescendo type of judgment, as God attempts to turn men to repentance and give Him glory. But sadly, millions will not and will swim in their idolatry and unrighteousness. When it becomes clear that the remnant of mankind that is left on the earth cannot be redeemed, Jesus will come and finish wiping this planet clean of all human life that are in rebellion against Him. (Revelation 19:11-15)...
Will you escape what is coming upon the earth? Will you be able to claim VICTORY in Jesus?? Frankly, you will not with the coming judgments of God's wrath and the depravity of sinful men who take human life indiscriminately, unless you repent and turn to Jesus. How can a person get this victory? By believing on the One whom God hath sent.
28 "Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:28-29)
That's the key, my friend. Jesus has already come to this earth. He has already paid the price for your salvation. Jesus is at the right hand of the Father now, just waiting for the go ahead and come to bring God's Children home, and His own bride. Will you be among them? Or will you succumb to the wrath and worldwide death that men will bring upon humanity, and the wrath of God who slays rebellious mankind as grapes are crushed in the winepress? I would say that it is an easy choice, if you know your destination. That destination would be heaven in acceptance or hell in rebellion. I call on those who believe that this world is headed for sure destruction, to come to Jesus while you have the chance in this life, as there is NO OTHER chance once death sweeps over your face. How do you receive Jesus in this life? Glad you asked?
16 " For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 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.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:16-19)
Then out of sheer joy, you wish to tell others. Tell your loved ones, tell your friends, tell your co-workers, or anyone you happen to meet. Jesus said, "if you Me deny before men, I will deny you before my Father in heaven"....Tell everyone.
8 "But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."( Romans 10:8-11)
The END of this age is right in front of you...you only have a short time left, should you live, to make a decision for Jesus Christ, as you, and none of us are promised even tomorrow. Jesus could come tonight, so we must be ready all times. I ask you......ARE YOU READY? Persecution during the tribulation is just over the horizon or right around the corner. It's close, very close.
This is pastor Mike Taylor, praying for your salvation. If you need prayer, counseling, or just a listening ear, email me at email@example.com, or visit me online at www.pastormiketaylor.blogspot.com, God bless you all,
TILL WE MEET AT JESUS FEET
Israel Is Fighting A Five-Front War - By Yochanan Visser -
Israelis used to talk about the "next war" and are familiar with warnings about imminent threats to the existence of the Jewish state or, alternately, theories which offer a "solution" to our hundred-year-old conflict with the Arabs. Often, the various theories are based on wishful thinking or on Einstein"s definition of insanity.
If Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was to hold a "State of the Nation" address in the Knesset today, he would most likely say Israel is strong, thriving and flourishing. He would add that he has managed to keep Israel out of the Middle Eastern quagmire once called "The Arab Spring" which has devastated countries and contributed to the rise of ISIS and Iran in the region.
In short, Israel appears enjoying a "quiet" period, that"s the general line of thinking.
There"s more than meets the eye, however, and an assessment of the reality on the ground shows a very different picture and makes clear that Israel is already engaged in a war, a covert one.
One could call it a "low-intensity conflict" but the fact is no day passes by without news which supports the conclusion that the IDF is fighting an asymmetrical war against implacable foes on five fronts.
Over the last year we have witnessed the heating up of the northern border in both Syria and Lebanon, an uptick in Palestinian terror attacks, a renewal of rocket fire from Gaza, continuing attempts to infiltrate Israel via so-called terror tunnels and most recently a sharp increase in attempts to attack the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
For example, in Gush Etzion, the largest bloc of Jewish communities in Judea, there were three attempts by Arabs to infiltrate the city of Efrat and Carmei Tzur, a small Jewish village along Road 60 to Hevron, this over the past month alone.
In all cases, local security and emergency teams managed to foil the terror attacks, but it is an indication that terrorists are heeding Fatah"s recent call to attack "settlers", meaning Jews living in Judea and Samaria, the biblical heartland of Israel.
Then there is Gaza, where Hamas again allows rocket fire against villages and towns in southern Israel and continues to organize infiltration attempts via tunnels and the security fence surrounding the enclave.
The worsening of the humanitarian situation in Gaza could easily spark a new conflict with Israel according to Israeli security experts, and Hamas is reportedly again preparing for war as a way-out of its self-created Gazan swamp.
Over the past few days, Hamas-leader Yahya Sinwar has raised the level of alert among the various Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip and has moved the command echelon to underground facilities. He thinks Israel intends to launch a pre-emptive assault on Gaza within the next few days.
Sinwar ordered the measures after the IDF stepped up its retaliatory attacks against Hamas targets in the Gaza strip and because he mistook a joint American-Israeli drill and an exercise by the IDF"s Paratroopers Brigade as preparation for imminent war.
In reality, the joint American-Israeli drill, dubbed Juniper Cobra, is a biennial exercise which will this year focus on missile defense in a two-front scenario, while the Paratrooper drill could be a preparation for military action against Iran and its proxies.
Another front where Israel is fighting a covert war is the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt where Wilayat Sinai, the local ISIS branch, continues to pose a serious threat not only to the regime of President el-Sisi but also to the Jewish State.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that Israel has carried out airstrikes on positions of Wilayat Sinai a hundred times.
The Israeli intervention in Sinai was coordinated with the el-Sisi regime, according to the NYT, and started after the ISIS affiliate downed a Russian civilian plane in northern Sinai in 2015, killing all aboard.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) uses drones and unmarked helicopters and warplanes in the campaign against Wilayat Sinai, which formerly operated under the name Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.
The NYT report, which was based on intelligence obtained from unnamed American officials, formed the first concrete evidence of the changing relationship between moderate Arab countries and Israel. This relationship is now based on the idea of the "enemy of my enemy is my friend".
Most attention in Israel, however, went to developments along the two northern fronts last week.
On the Syrian Golan Heights, the Iranian-Russian-backed pro-Assad coalition launched an offensive against the ISIS-affiliated Jaysh Khaled bin al-Walid militia, which still controls a pocket of territory near the Yarmouk river.
According to citizen-reporters in the area and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the IDF was also involved in the battle and launched rockets at the ISIS affiliate. SOHR later erased the report about Israel"s intervention.
The Syrian army offensive against the Jihadists on the southern Golan comes after Assad"s forces re-conquered an area adjacent to the Druse town of Khader and the demilitarized zone near Mount Hermon in northwest Israel.
The fifth front were Israel is facing huge challenges is Lebanon, as became apparent last week when Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned that Lebanese residents of Beirut would spend a lot of time in bomb shelters whenever Hezbollah and its allies dared to launch rockets at Tel Aviv and other Israeli population centers.
Liberman made his remarks after Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu traveled to Moscow to discuss the growing Iranian threat via Hezbollah in Lebanon with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Netanyahu reportedly shared intelligence with Putin which proved Iran is building missile production facilities in Lebanon, and works on the production of advanced missile guidance systems which can convert crude rockets into precision weapons.
These guided missiles form a strategic threat to Israel, and this is the reason the government in Jerusalem embarked on yet another diplomatic offensive to draw attention to the growing Iranian threat against the Jewish state from Lebanon and Syria.
The urgency of the matter was further underlined by a rather unusual action by IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis who wrote an open letter to the Lebanese people. In the letter, he warned of danger to the entire future of Lebanon because of "the takeover of those who take their orders from Tehran."
The latest diplomatic offensive by the Netanyahu government to draw international attention to Iran"s encroachment on Israel"s northern border via Hezbollah and Shiite militias in Syria which operate under the command of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), is doomed to fail.
While the Americans recently targeted Hezbollah by imposing new sanctions on the terror organization, they still support the Lebanese army despite evidence it has become another Iranian division controlled by Hezbollah.
The European countries are even worse and in the main, still view Hezbollah as an umbrella organization with a banned military arm and a legitimate political division. As a result, Hezbollah is able to operate freely in most European countries, recruiting new members and raising funds.
Israeli experts such as Dr. Ely Karmon of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya now advocate another approach, in which Israel takes Iran directly to task about its belligerent activities in Syria and Lebanon.
Karmon says Israel"s deterrence policy in Lebanon is not working because Iran and Hezbollah are not impressed by threats to destroy Lebanon"s infrastructure or the prospect Lebanese citizens will have to spend time in shelters in a possible future conflict.
Karmon recalled how Iran finally gave in during the eight years it was at war with Iraq.
"It should be remembered that the decision of Ayatollah Khomeini to accept the end of the eight-year Iraq-Iran war in 1988 came only after a wave of deadly missile bombings of Iran"s capital," Karmon said.
"Israel should threaten Tehran directly," he asserted.
Estimating Risks of an Israel-Iran Nuclear War
- By Louis Rene Beres -
"For By Wise Counsel, Thou Shalt Make Thy War." - Proverbs, 24,6
For the moment, an Israel-Iran nuclear war is logically out of the question. After all, Iran is not yet an operational nuclear power, and there is no point in presuming any possibilities for a scientific investigation. Nonetheless, in national survival matters, prudence should take innovative forms, and the July 14, 2015 Vienna Pact (JCPOA) concerning Iranian nuclear weapons will not constrain Tehran indefinitely.
Jerusalem will have to plan accordingly.
This conclusion is especially compelling because a tactically successful preemption against Iranian weapons and infrastructures is no longer plausible. Even back in 2003, when my own Project Daniel Group had offered an early report on Iranian nuclearization to then-Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, Iranian targets were already more daunting than was Iraq's Osiraq reactor on June 7, 1981.
To the limited extent that they may even be estimated, the risks of a future Israel-Iran nuclear war would ultimately depend upon whether such a conflict was intentional, unintentional, or accidental. Apart from applying this critical three-part distinction, there could be no good reason to expect any systematic strategic assessments from Tel Aviv. Once applied, however, Israeli planners must always understand that their complex subject is markedly unique and without precedent.
Still, it is essential that competent Israeli strategic analysts soon do their best to examine all current and future nuclear risks from Iran. In this connection, it may be sensible to study what is currently happening between Washington and Pyongyang as a suitable "model" for ascertaining Israel's long-term existential threats originating from Iran. To wit, in examining the more-or-less overheated rhetoric coming from both US President Trump and North Korean President Kim Jung-Un, it appears that neither leader is paying close attention to the particular risks of an unintentional or accidental nuclear war.
This means that both Trump and Kim now seem to assume the other's complete rationality.
If no such mutual assumption existed, it simply would make no sense for either president to deliberately strike retaliatory fear in the heart of the other.
In the past, Mr. Trump has openly praised feigned irrationality as a US security strategy. But such a preference is not without assorted inherent dangers, and could rapidly become a double-edged sword. Most worrisome, perhaps, is that although neither side may actually want a war, either or both players could still commit catastrophic errors during their competitive searches for "escalation dominance."
There are assorted "hidden messages" here for Israeli planners in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
An unintentional or inadvertent nuclear war between Washington and Pyongyang (or, in the future, between Jerusalem and Teheran) could take place not only as the result of misunderstandings or miscalculations between fully rational leaders, but also as the unintended consequence of mechanical, electrical, or computer malfunctions. This should now bring to mind a corollary distinction between unintentional/inadvertent nuclear war and an accidental nuclear war. Though all accidental nuclear war must be unintentional, not every unintentional nuclear war would necessarily occur by accident. Rather, an unintentional or inadvertent nuclear war could sometime be the result of certain fundamental misjudgments about enemy intentions.
"In war," says Prussian strategist Carl von Clausewitz famously in his classic On War, "everything is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult."
In fashioning a successful "endgame" to any future nuclear confrontation with Iran, it would be vital for Israel's leaders to understand that this sort of crisis is about more than maximizing any relative "correlation of forces" or missile-interception capabilities.
As a nuclear war has never been fought, what will be needed is more broadly intellectual guidance than Israel could ever reasonably expect from even its most senior and accomplished military officers.
There are no recognizable experts on fighting a nuclear war, not in Washington, not in Pyongyang, not in Jerusalem, not in Tehran.
There is one last point about any still-estimable risks of a future Israel-Iran nuclear war. From the standpoint of Jerusalem, the only truly successful outcome could be a crisis or confrontation that ends with a reduction of Iranian nuclear warfighting capabilities and intentions. Therefore, it would represent a grave mistake for Israel to ever settle for any bloated boasts of "victory" that were based only upon a one-time or singular avoidance of nuclear war. It follows that Israel ought never to be taking such existential risks with Tehran if the best outcome could only be a status quo ante bellum.
Providing for Israeli national security vis-Ã -vis a still-nuclearizing Iran ought never become a seat-of-the-pants "game" - that is, the sort of stance seemingly assumed by US President Donald Trump opposite North Korea. Without any suitably long-term, systematic and deeply-thoughtful plan in place for avoiding a future nuclear war with Iran, a nuclear conflict that is deliberate, unintentional or accidental could sometime ensue. And at every stage of its expected competition with Tehran, Jerusalem should never lose sight of the only rational "use" for its presumptive nuclear weapons and doctrine. That is stable deterrence.
Delivered From Wrath To Come - By Grant Phillips -
The Wrath of God
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:1)
When God destroyed the world with a flood, He first removed Noah and his family from danger. When He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, God removed Lot and his family from danger. These two families were not under condemnation because they walked in the Spirit (except for Lot's wife). When God pours out His wrath during the Tribulation, He will first remove His Bride, the Church.
God promised to never destroy the world again by water. He reminds us of His promise every time we see a rainbow in the sky. However, He has also promised that He will one day destroy the world by fire. That day is quickly coming upon the world at large. First, it will be a day of great Tribulation, seven years of hell on earth. One thousand years later, "But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:7)
All those who have been saved through faith in Jesus will be saved by God's grace. All the saints, both Old and New Testament, will never suffer condemnation or the wrath of God.
The word "wrath" is mentioned 198 times in the KJV and usually refers to God's wrath.
John the Baptist had this to say about God's wrath:
"Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Luke 3:7)
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3:36)
In the book of Revelation God's wrath is mentioned at least ten times: 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:10: 14:19: 15:1; 15:7; 16:1; 16:19 and 19:15.
God's wrath is not a heavenly tantrum as some try to indicate. When you get right down to where the rubber meets the road, God's wrath is divine justice required by God's law. Whether we are talking about God's Law or man's law, law is to be obeyed but if not obeyed, requires judgment. The difference between God's Law and man's law is that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). There is always judgment if the law is not obeyed. (If man were as judicial with his law as God is with His, we would have far less crime than we do today.)
If it were not for John 3:16 (et al.) we would all suffer God's wrath and Romans 8:1 above would not apply to any of us. Thanks to Jesus, we who call upon His name are not condemned, because He suffered our condemnation. He took our punishment that the Law provides; death. Thanks to Him, we who are His are not under the Law.
"For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. (Romans 6:14-15)
"But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." (Galatians 5:18)
It is very clear that the Church will not suffer God's wrath during the seven year period of the Tribulation. Jesus will remove us from this earth prior to the Tribulation. The Church age will end at the Rapture. Remember, all those saved in the Church age are not under the Law and, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:1)
"And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
"Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Romans 5:9)
Neither will His own stand before Him to be judged at the White Throne judgment and be cast into the Lake of Fire.
God's Word is very clear that His wrath only comes upon those who are not His. The entire world was destroyed except those who were His at the flood. All of Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities were destroyed except those who were His. During the Tribulation, God's wrath will come down upon those who have never come to Him through Jesus. Even then, He will save those who will call upon Jesus.
"Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." (Ephesians 5:6)
Every person who rejects salvation through Jesus will be judged by the Law, and the punishment is always death (Romans 6:23).
If you are still wondering if the Church will go through the Tribulation (although I don't know why), keep in mind that Jesus is coming as a bridegroom for His bride at the Rapture. Ask yourself, and be honest, from everything the Bible says about Jesus, would He ever pour out wrath upon those who He died to save, His bride? Why would He take our punishment from the Law if He were going to allow us to suffer punishment by the Law anyway?
Only the children of disobedience will suffer His wrath. That is the way it has always been throughout the Bible, and that is exactly how it will all end. I praise God that Jesus took my stripes, and that by His stripes I am healed. I will never worry about His wrath, but instead enjoy His love and many promises.
Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com
Rapture Ready: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html
How Has Christ Changed You? - Nathele Graham -
"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24. David loved God. He was known as a man after God's own heart, not because he was perfect but because his desire was to please God. When David sinned he didn't make excuses but he repented and asked God to forgive him. Two lessons that every Christian can learn from David are repentance and the desire for God to show us where we need to change our thoughts and attitudes. David didn't wait until he saw a problem in his own ways, but he asked God to search him and lead him away from sin. Our desire to please God should be stronger than our desire to please the world. Jesus will help us all change and become more like Him. He met many people when He walked among men and He changed many lives. Today, He still changes lives.
Peter and Andrew were the first ones called to follow Jesus. These men made their living as fishermen and probably weren't very refined. "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:18-19. They left their nets and followed Jesus and Jesus would drastically change their lives. As they walked they came to a boat with two more brothers who were fishermen and their father. James and John didn't hesitate to follow Jesus when He called to them. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were young men who had a lot to learn about following Jesus, but our Lord would help them to grow strong in faith. We might think that the disciples were unique men who were gentle and sat quietly at Jesus' feet in order to learn all they could. This image is shattered when we learn the nickname that Jesus gave to James and John. "And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder" Mark 3:17. They earned this nickname. It was James and John who asked if Jesus wanted them to get revenge on the Samaritans who would not receive Him. "...Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?" Luke 9:54b. Jesus rebuked them for this, but it's a little amusing that they were arrogant and presumptuous enough to think they could call down fire from heaven on behalf of Jesus. When we first come to Jesus we're all a little rough around the edges. If we love Him and desire to please Him we will allow Him to search our hearts and help us to change into the Christian He wants us to be.
A person may take part in sin for many years. Tthat sin may bring in much wealth, but the price of sin is steep. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul." Matthew 16:26. When Jesus walked among men, tax collectors weren't known for their honesty. They had lots of money but were outcasts among the Jewish people because they worked for Rome. They also were known to collect money over and above the tax and that money went into their own pockets. Matthew was a tax collector. Was he tired of the way his life was going and the burden of sin it created? Jesus saw Matthew and called him to leave his worldly way of life. Matthew didn't hesitate. "And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him." Matthew 9:9. Just like that his life was changed. Matthew was a faithful follower of Jesus and because he wrote the Gospel of Matthew, generations of Christians have been blessed. Another tax collector who had his life changed was Zacchaeus. "And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich." Luke 19:2. Zacchaeus knew that Jesus was going to pass by so he climbed a tree in order to see Him. Was Zacchaeus just gawking at the celebrity who was passing, or was he hoping that Jesus would change him? Jesus called him down from the tree and said He would visit him at his house. This meeting with Jesus changed Zacchaeus' life. His sin was made clear to him and he knew what he had to do. "And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation I restore him fourfold." Luke 19:8. Being in the presence of Jesus turned Zacchaeus around. Instead of greed he felt the need to restore all he had stolen. Jesus didn't point a finger and condemn him, but His very presence brought conviction to Zacchaeus and he found salvation. "And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:9-10. Jesus still wants to change sinful people. If you're burdened by a heavy load of sin, turn to Jesus. Turn your life over to Him and He will change you.
Sometimes Jesus went out of His way to bring someone out of their sin. One example took place by a well in Samaria. Jesus needed to travel from Jerusalem to Galilee and decided to travel through Samaria. This was the shorter route but not the preferred one. The Jewish people and the Samaritans avoided contact with each other as much as possible. They came to a well where Jesus rested but He sent His disciples into the town. It was there He met a woman who was living a very sinful life. After some small talk, Jesus led the conversation to the sin in her life. He told her to go call her husband. "The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly." John 4:17-18. If you think that God isn't aware of the sin in your life or that your sinful lifestyle doesn't matter, think again. Further conversation revealed that this woman knew that the Messiah would come and reveal all things. It was then that Jesus told her who He was. The woman couldn't control her joy and had to tell others. Right away she left her water pot and went into the town and told others that she had met the Messiah. How many people have you shared the Good News of Jesus Christ with? Jesus didn't condemn this woman, but made her aware of her sin. Another time a woman was caught in the act of adultery and the Scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus for Him to condemn her. These men knew the Law inside and out and they wanted Jesus to stone her as required by Law. Never mind that the Law also required the man who had been with her should have also been stoned. Jesus didn't condemn her, but made those religious leaders aware of their own sin and they left. Jesus didn't condemn this woman, but neither did He accept her sin and leave her in it. After her accusers left He asked if any man had condemned her. "She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." John 8:11. Most of us like the part where Jesus doesn't condemn us for our sin, but we don't like the part about turning away from that sin. Jesus' love will change us if we allow it. Many people go to religious leaders to seek forgiveness for sin. Only Jesus can forgive sin and change lives. A priest is just a human and has no authority over sin. Go to Jesus and let Him change you then "...go, and sin no more."
The hardest of hearts belonged to the religious leaders. They had head knowledge that the Messiah was prophesied to come, but they refused to let go of their religion and accept Him. A Pharisee named Nicodemus was an exception. Curiosity caused him to visit Jesus and ask questions. Jesus told him that he needed to be born of the spirit and not only of the flesh. This was something Nicodemus should have known from his study of Scripture and he was willing to find the truth. This conversation lead to one of the most beloved Scripture. "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." John 3:16. God's love is perfect. We know that Nicodemus was a changed man because he went with Joseph of Arimathaea (another Pharisee) to care for Jesus' body after the crucifixion.
While we live on this side of Heaven we will never fully understand God's love. First we need to understand just how ugly sin is and that it separates us from God. We all sin and that sin condemns us to an eternity of separation from God. Only belief in Jesus Christ will allow you to spend eternity with God. Accept Him through faith, then allow Him to change you. The disciples left everything to follow Jesus. Most of the Pharisees had head knowledge of the coming Messiah, but Nicodemus allowed Him into his heart. The Samaritan woman also had head knowledge of the coming Messiah, but when she met Him at the well she was changed. The prostitute found forgiveness and mercy from Jesus. Many other people had demons cast out and others were healed of afflictions; their lives were changed forever. God's love is pure and perfect. He doesn't want to condemn you, but to bring you to salvation and work change in you. "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." John 3:17-18. We condemn ourselves.
How has Christ changed you? If you claim to be a Christian but your life hasn't changed since you met Him, maybe you haven't really met Him. Be like King David and ask Him to search your heart for wickedness. He will lead you "...in the way everlasting."
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham's previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is "theopneustos" God breathed.
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Daily Jot: National Tragedy
- Bill Wilson -
The school shooting in Florida is a national tragedy. No one wants children to be harmed. Life is precious. Apparently, the shooter had extraordinary mental issues, anger issues, bully issues and something tripped his lever to do the most horrible act-the taking of some 17 lives, changing the lives of families, friends, teachers, professionals forever. It is difficult to understand how these terrible things can happen, and especially happen to those who love God. But we must understand, without excusing such acts, that living in a fallen world, and in a society as broad, diverse, and as large as America, these things will happen. There is a lot of blame and finger pointing right now. Surely there is a better way.
The politicians will shout "gun control." Trouble is, guns are inanimate objects. Guns do nothing without a human using them. It is the human factor that turns things evil, that commits the atrocities. Over history, there is no end to the evil that humankind perpetrates upon itself. It is written in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" A man without God, without Christ, is a man without peace, a heart of stone. It's not about taking guns away from society-those who want to use guns for evil will always find them-it is, however, about finding ways to bring Christ into the hearts of those in society. Politicians always tend to see what they can take away. What about giving?
Salvation is a lasting gift. It is eternal for those who love God. Jesus told us in Matthew 28:19 to "go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." The actual Greek translation says "disciple all the nations." It's not about the "sinner's prayer," which isn't in the Bible; it's not about a big show of someone accepting the Lord; it's how they are transformed through the Holy Spirit, the Word, and the mentoring of others. The definition of disciple is: "one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another; such as a Christianity." This means to be a disciple, you need to have been discipled.
To disciple, one has to make contact, engage with someone, be a witness, an example. This is not done by sitting in church and thinking that you have checked that part of your life off for the week. It's true mentoring and reaching out, touching hearts. This is what we are commanded to do by our Lord and Savior. We, the ambassadors of Christ, cannot be disengaged from society. When we are, the human factor, the desperately wicked, flourish. We are to overcome such evil with good. I'm not saying that school shootings would stop in this day and age if everyone was doing what the Lord commanded, but I do believe they would be less likely. Schools, in particular, have taken God out of the classroom, leaving the hope of salvation to chance, wickedness free reign. As Christ's ambassadors on earth, we still must make a difference.
Daily Devotion: Hope for Tomorrow - By Greg Laurie -
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." -Matthew 14:27
Are you afraid of an uncertain future right now? Are you discouraged, feeling as though you have failed? Jesus knows where you are at this very moment. He knows what you're experiencing.
After Jesus had just fed 5,000 people with a handful of loaves and fish, He told His disciples to get into their boat and go to the other side. So they obeyed Him. Meanwhile, Jesus went up on a mountain to pray.
Then, as the disciples were making their way across the Sea of Galilee, a huge storm came. This was worse than most storms the disciples had seen before. It got worse and worse. There were overhead waves, and they began to despair of their lives.
The Bible tells that when the boat already was a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves, Jesus went out to them during the fourth watch of the night, walking on the water. When the disciples saw Him, however, they were terrified. They thought He was a ghost. So Jesus immediately said to them, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid" (Matthew 14:27 NKJV).
There is a simple reason they didn't have to be afraid: Jesus would help them weather the storm. Maybe you're feeling discouraged right now. Maybe you're thinking, "I don't know what will happen to me." Jesus is on board the life that has invited Him in. If you have asked Him to be your Savior and Lord, then He is there with you.
This means that God will complete the work He has begun in your life-even if you have failed, even if you have made a mistake. God has a future for each of us. So be courageous. He is with you, and there is a brighter tomorrow for you.
FROM THE HEART
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