Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Daniel's 70 Weeks: Part 5 - By Alice Childs - http://www.raptureready.com/2018/02/22/bible-study-daniel-chapter-9-part-5-alice-childs/
In this final part of our study of Daniel 9, I'd like to conclude by jumping ahead for just a bit to the New Testament book of Matthew chapter 24, which is a parallel to the passage of Daniel chapter 9. This passage in Matthew is referred to as Jesus' Olivet Discourse in which He is speaking about this same period of time, the 70th week of Daniel. This same Olivet Discourse is also covered in Matthew 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21, all of which are specific to Israel. In this discourse, Jesus is addressing the very events that will take place during the 70th week of Daniel at the "end of the age."
At this time, Jesus was speaking to His disciples. He was addressing Israel and the Jews specifically. He was NOT addressing the Church at all in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21. We need to keep this foremost in our minds as we move from the Old Testament to the New to gain further insight into what will be occurring on earth with regards to Israel during this last seven years.
We begin with a discussion of the Olivet Discourse from Jesus to His disciples and recorded in Matthew 24. In this passage, Jesus gives a summation, an OVERVIEW of events that both lead up to the Tribulation, as well as giving an overview of events that will occur DURING this final 70th week. Again, the Olivet Discourse was written specifically to the Jews. These are clear dispensational distinctives that must be kept in mind.
Although all scripture is written FOR our edification in this church Age, not all passages are written TO the Church. We must keep in mind the three (3) classes of people to whom the Word of God speaks:
(2) The Gentiles, and
(3) The Church of Jesus Christ.
"Give none offense neither to the Jews (1), nor to the Gentiles (2), nor to the church of God (3)" (1 Corinthians 10:32).
In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus is addressing the Jews, first with regards to the coming destruction of the Temple and of the ensuing worldwide dispersion of the Jewish people, which did indeed occur in 70 AD, and then later on in these passages to the Jews who will be living in Israel in "that day" - i.e. the Time of Jacob's Trouble (reference Daniel 9).
Who were Daniel's people? The Jews. There was no Church in existence when this prophecy was given to Daniel. At the time that Daniel lived, there were only two classes of people: Jews and Gentiles.
God gave to Daniel specific and detailed prophecies regarding His (God's) plan for the ages for the Jews. Earlier in chapters 2 and 7 of the book of Daniel, God revealed the rise and fall of the great Gentile empires that would affect the people of Israel from that time on through to what is right now becoming the revived Roman Empire. These prophecies were given with astonishing detail and precision.
How do we know that Jesus was also speaking to a still future Jewish audience here in Matthew? For one thing, the Church was not even in existence until her birth at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 after Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, and ascension back to the Father.
Stay with me here because things do get a bit tricky to keep up with.
Although the Church is NOT the entity being addressed by Jesus here in the Olivet Discourse, in the verses relating the events that will be occurring and what the state of the world will be like BEFORE the Tribulation BEGINS, we can know from both history and current events that even though the CHURCH is not addressed at all during the Olivet Discourse, up to a certain point, we who are living during the Dispensation of Grace (the Church Age) ARE in fact living during the "birth pains" portion of the end times right now.
Even though Jesus' target audience was Jewish, up to a point, even though we are not DIRECTLY addressed, the Church IS part of certain events that LEAD UP TO the beginning of the actual "Day of the Lord."
For example, in Matthew 24, verses 1-8, Jesus is giving a GENERAL OUTLINE of what the world will be like LEADING UP TO the actual beginning of The Tribulation. And since scripture clearly teaches a pre-tribulation rapture, then although the Church is not addressed, we are clearly here during the time preceding the rapture but gone before the Tribulation begins.
Although Jesus is addressing the Jews specifically in this entire passage, these first 8 verses also encompass ALL who are living on earth (including the lost Jews, the lost Gentiles, and the redeemed Church who, at this point, ARE ALL STILL HERE ON EARTH during this run-up time before the actual event occurs that will initiate the start of the Tribulation. Up until this point, all three classes of people (the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church) are still here TOGETHER even though we are not addressed or even hinted at as being here.
However, beginning in verse 9, events from here on out shift from the "birth pain" times in which the Church IS still here on earth, to the time AFTER what would become known as the rapture of the Church, to the moment when the final seven-year countdown begins.
In other words, between verses 8 and 9 of Matthew 24, several things not mentioned here at all but which are significant pieces of the entire end-times puzzle that are found in other books of the New Testament, will have occurred. Between verses 8 and 9 of Matthew 24, the following events will have taken place:
(1) the rapture of the Church ( as recorded in the books 1 and 2 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians)
(2) the rise to global prominence of the "man of sin" - the Antichrist
(3) the confirmation of a covenant between Israel and "the many" (many other nations) brokered by the Antichrist
(4) the global rise to power of the Antichrist
(5) the rebuilding of the Jewish temple on its ancient site
(6) the acceptance of the Antichrist as their Messiah by national Israel
(7) the midpoint BETRAYAL of the nation of Israel by that same false messiah three and one half years into the last seven years when the Antichrist turns on Israel and begins his full on persecution of the Jews
Many of these events not mentioned in Jesus' discourse take place BETWEEN verses 8 and 9. Jesus here is not giving a blow-by-blow account of these last seven years, but rather a generalized overview, a synopsis if you will, of what ISRAEL can expect to happen during the "end times," which encompass both the time BEFORE the Tribulation begins - i.e. the "birth pains" time in which the Church (until the moment of the rapture) is also living, AND the events that will transpire after The Tribulation begins and onward to the end of these last seven years.
He is giving a summary, answering the disciples' questions regarding the end of the age as it pertains to ISRAEL. Jesus was answering in a general way questions posed to Him by the disciples who were JEWISH and whose questions pertained to what would happen to ISRAEL at the end of the age. This is yet another reason (besides the fact that the Church had not yet been birthed) why Israel alone was the focus of the Olivet Discourse.
We must remember when studying the Bible to keep clear the distinctions between national Israel (the Jews), the Church, and Gentiles who are non-believing, non-Jewish peoples. Unbelieving Jews are just that - unbelieving JEWS.
The New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were addressing Jews still living under the Dispensation of Law, since the new Dispensation of Grace under which we, the Church, are living right now had not yet begun. The Dispensation of Grace began at Pentecost with the birth of the Church (See Acts chapter 2).
In this present Dispensation of Grace, the entity known as the Church is made up of BOTH believing Jews and believing Gentiles who are, upon salvation, made ONE in Christ. Upon salvation, each Church-Age believer becomes part of the "body" of whom Christ is the Head - also called the Bride of Christ - of whom Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom.
This Dispensation of Grace will end with the resurrection of the "dead in Christ," which will occur a nanosecond before the rapture of the living saints; both the dead and the living who are "in Christ" make up the Church.
During the last seven years that are the final completion of Daniel's 70th week, the Church will not be on earth at all. The Church in her Immortal and now glorified bodies will be in Heaven during this time, seated around the throne of God (Revelation chapters 4-5). After the event of the resurrection /rapture, God's focus once again returns fully to national Israel to finish up her final seven years of the old Dispensation of Israel under Law.
The Jews will then have their seven years (the last "week" of years under the Dispensation of Law) to both finish and fulfill the entire 490 "weeks" of years that the Lord purposed expressly for the Jews, according to Daniel chapter 9. This particular time is also called THE Tribulation (to be distinguished from general tribulation, which we all endure).
The insight into what events will be like and the things which will happen to the Jews during this last seven years, after the ending of the Church Age at the rapture of the Church, are found in the 24th chapter of Matthew, verses 9-31 in particular, and in the book of Revelation chapters 6-19.
During this Discourse in verse 31 of Matthew chapter 24, Jesus pauses in His narrative of events that will be occurring on earth during the Tribulation and goes back to a time BEFORE the Tribulation begins.
In verse 31, the "elect" mentioned here are the believing (saved) JEWS (NOT the Church) whom Jesus sends His ANGELS to collect. (Bear in mind that at the rapture of the Church it is Jesus Himself who comes into earth's atmosphere, not to the earth, and it is Jesus Himself who calls His bride to "come up here" to meet Him in the air).
How do we know the elect referred to here are believing Jews? We know it because, in the context of the passage, all of this takes place at the end of those last seven weeks of the Tribulation period when Jesus is about to physically return to the EARTH to rescue and liberate Jerusalem from the gathering armies of the earth.
Remember, from AD 70 until Jesus returns, the Jews have been scattered among all the nations. And even though the majority of Jews worldwide have returned to the land of Israel, there are still Jews living in nations all over the world. In fact, the Gentile nations will be judged by how they as both individuals and as national entities treated the Jews, whom Jesus called these "my brethren" during the Tribulation (Matthew 25: 31-46).
The "elect" spoken of here in verse 31 are Jews. The believing Jews living in Jerusalem at the midpoint of the Tribulation are told to flee into Bozrah - to Petra, to be protected. The believing Jews worldwide will be either helped or betrayed by the Gentile countries wherever they may find themselves. This is why, at Jesus' return, He sends His holy angels to gather His believing "elect" from every point under heaven.
At the end, Jesus will have all the living, surviving believers gathered before Him. There, just prior to the beginning of the Kingdom, He will enter into judgment to divide the Gentile "sheep" - those who are believers, whom He will grant entrance into His kingdom along with the believing remnant of Israel - from the "goats." The "goats" are all those who survived but who are not believers in Him, who will be cast into outer darkness and who will NOT be granted entrance into His Millennial Kingdom.
In context, verse 31 of Matthew 24 is speaking of the elect "believing Jews" whom Jesus will gather unto Himself. He offered this "gathering unto Himself" to Israel once before when He lamented that He longed to gather them (Israel) unto Himself as a hen gathers her brood; but Israel was at that time unwilling (Matthew 23:37). However, at the end of the Tribulation, God will bring about the last gathering of the now-believing remnant of Israel (Deuteronomy 30:1-4; Isaiah 11:12).
Around the time of His return to earth at the end of the Tribulation, all believing Israel (the one third of Israel whom Jesus protects and preserves throughout the Tribulation) will be gathered to Him to go into the Millennial Kingdom under the leadership of their Messiah King, in order to receive ALL of the benefits of God's unconditional covenant made by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Remember, the Church and Israel are separate entities. The Church will have already been taken to Heaven at the rapture (Revelation 4:1).
In the next few verses, Jesus breaks the sequence of His description of Tribulation events, and goes back in time to give some insight into what will be the MAJOR end-times sign that will alert the Jews (and subsequently us too) that the time of the end is drawing near. Israel is always God's timepiece.
In verse 32, Jesus tells the inquiring disciples about what will be the "super sign" that alerts Israel (and the world) that the end times are getting close. That "super sign" is of course the rebirth of the fig tree, which symbolizes Israel.
Jesus was telling them about the coming destruction of the Temple and the subsequent worldwide dispersion of the Jewish people; so now He backtracks to the REBIRTH - the REGATHERING of the Jewish NATION back into her homeland of Israel AFTER Israel's worldwide diaspora has ended, but BEFORE the Tribulation begins (reference Ezekiel 37).
We now know from our vantage point of history looking backward that Israel was indeed "reborn" as a nation in her own ancient land of Israel on May 14, 1948. That was when the "fig tree" of Israel began to bloom.
Jesus then goes on in verses 32-33 to give a description of the attitude and general tenor of the times AFTER the rebirth of Israel but just BEFORE the Tribulation time begins (a period of time that is still in the "birth pains" era, leading up to the beginning of the Tribulation). Again, Jesus completely leaves out any mention of the Church because of the following:
(1) Jesus had not yet gone to the cross to fulfill His purpose to die for the sins of the world, to be the Savior of mankind, and
(2) the Church had not yet been brought into existence in her time.
Finally, Jesus goes back to what is happening where He left off in verse 31. He picks up again the narrative of events that will happen in verses 38-39. In context, these verses are referring to the days of both Noah and Lot, when the WICKED were taken away in judgment while the righteous were kept in safety.
In the following verses, still staying within context of the judgment imposed by God upon the wicked of both Noah's day and the wicked of Sodom and Gomorrah of Lot's day, the "one taken and one left, " IN CONTEXT, is referring to those taken here as being the wicked taken away in judgment.
This is the position of scholars such as Dr. Thomas Ice; and this writer is also in agreement with this position. The entire context of Matthew 24 is of a SEPARATION being made between the righteous and the wicked at the time of the end of the Tribulation.
In verses 40-51, Jesus is here describing events that MAY have a double or parallel fulfillment both BEFORE the Tribulation begins (in the time we are living in now - the time BEFORE the rapture occurs), and a parallel description of events that may still be in play AFTER the Tribulation begins.
The verses referring to people "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" certainly describe life going on as usual BEFORE the rapture and the subsequent Tribulation - life events such as we see occurring now.
However, (and this is ABSOLUTE CONJECTURE and SPECULATION on my part, so let's get that established up front) there MAY also be a far more sinister meaning of Jesus' comment regarding the "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" statement that applies to the time DURING the Tribulation. After all, in context, the passage of the Olivet Discourse is recounting events that will take place during Daniel's 70th week, which pertains to Israel, not the Church. Keep that in mind.
We know from scripture that once the Tribulation commences (beginning in Revelation 6 when the Lamb of God in Heaven breaks the first seal, which begins the Tribulation period on earth), the relative normality of life on earth devolves quickly into anything but normal LIFE lived as usual.
So, since the bulk of the Olivet Discourse from verse 9 onward of Matthew 24 is describing events that will be taking place DURING Daniel's 70th week, what could Jesus be referring to regarding the "they" who will be "eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage" during this time of utter global destruction?
Let's take a SPECULATIVE look at what Jesus' statements regarding these things MIGHT mean in light of what conditions will be like on earth during the Tribulation and of the attitudes of the Antichrist lovers and followers - the reprobates who will be on earth during the Tribulation.
Might it not be possible that, DURING the Tribulation, the reprobates who will follow the Antichrist will be fully engaging in the same type of diabolical behavior involving the same types of forbidden deeds that the Nephilim of Noah's day were involved in, hence the reference to the "days of Noah and Lot?"
We know from scripture that, during the antediluvian or pre flood time, all flesh (except for Noah) had been corrupted by the group of fallen angels who "left their first estate" and "took" all of whom they desired from among human women in order to procreate with them. The offspring of such an unholy and forbidden union between fallen angels and human women were the Nephilim - a hybrid race whom God absolutely abominated, and whom He destroyed in the flood (Genesis 6; Jude).
The tampering with God's created order by the fallen angels and the further tampering with animal kind by their offspring, the Nephilim, were rampant in pre-flood times. These non- human offspring of fallen angels and human women were involved in the same types of abominations that modern-day reprobates are involved in now.
The reprobates of today are also tampering with human genetic structure through the corruption of both human and animal DNA. The modern-day scientists and geneticists are working to produce human/animal chimeras - the "marrying" of corrupted flesh with humanity through genetic engineering. They're not only attempting to create human/animal chimeras, but also to "marry," as it were, humans and machines by interfacing human biology with machines through the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The modern-day reprobates, whose religion is science, hope to one day soon merge machines with humanity in order to create human/AI that will "become "gods" themselves.
These modern-day reprobates, who are even now on the cutting edge of technology in both genetics and robotics, will be the acolytes of the Antichrist system during the Tribulation. Even now, right this minute, in our present-day time before the rapture, these people are already mimicking, trying to surpass the abominations that were done during the antediluvian time when fallen angels "left their first estate" and "took" human women and mated with them, producing the Nephilim of Genesis 6.
These aforementioned atrocities, along with the rabid "marrying" of Sodomites, transgenders, and every other ungodly perversion that was prevent in Lot's day as well, are exactly what we are seeing repeated now. These ungodly things will undoubtedly continue on into the Tribulation.
This behavior will likely continue by the Antichrist followers during the Tribulation as well as becoming more widespread and more vile, with all of the diabolical and evil passions in which they want to indulge in now.
As I stated earlier, this idea of the "eating and marrying" as pertaining to the lifestyles and appetites of the reprobates during the Tribulation is simply conjecture on my part, and must be examined in light of what scripture actually states. Conjecture must always be admitted and treated as such. We dare not be dogmatic on that which scripture does not fully explain, and we dare not go past and state as truth those things upon which scripture is silent.
Suffice it to say that right now in the time in which we are living, the time BEFORE the rapture occurs, we certainly are witnessing a deceptive "life as usual" appearance, even though every perversion known to man is being passed off and indulged in as "normal." It is even now bearing the putrid fruit of depravity that will explode into full, vile bloom during the Tribulation once the Church along with the restraining hand of the Holy Spirit is removed.
The events Jesus speaks of next in this passage reveal what will be happening at the end of this seven-year period, at the time when He returns bodily to earth (not in the air as in the rapture). At the rapture, Jesus Himself appears in the air and calls the Church up to meet Him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). In contrast to the rapture, the "gathering" in Matthew 24:40-51 is when Jesus sends His ANGELS to gather the WICKED from the earth to remove them to certain judgment. Again, the Church is NOT referenced in the Olivet Discourse.
As stated before, the Olivet Discourse is a general overview given in answer to the disciples' questions regarding the end times and the Kingdom that belongs to Israel, not a blow-by-blow chronological recounting of all of the events that will take place during the last seven years. For a more in depth chronology of events during The Tribulation, read Daniel 9 and Revelation chapters 6-19.
In contrast, the Church - Christ's "body/bride" - is "not appointed" to endure God's wrath. In the verse below, the Apostle Paul is explicitly addressing the Church.
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
We, the Church, are to always be looking forward to our "blessed hope," which is the pre-Tribulation rapture spoken of in the books of Thessalonians and Corinthians. The rapture of the Church ends the Dispensation of Grace (the Church Age).
All throughout the final seven years of "The Time of Jacob's Trouble," the redeemed Church in our glorified, immortal bodies will be in HEAVEN, while on EARTH God will protect and preserve a remnant of national Israel. He will bring this Jewish remnant through the Tribulation (one third of them - Zechariah 13:8-9) so that, by the end of that last seven years, "ALL of Israel" (that is the entirety of Israel that will be left alive at the end of these last seven years) will be saved (Isaiah 63; Zechariah 13:8-9).
The (then) believing one-third Jewish remnant alive at the end of the seven weeks of "Jacob's Trouble" will have recognized Jesus as having always been their true Messiah, and will have finally acknowledged Him, accepted Him, and will have called out to Him to rescue them.
These one third remnant Jews, then rescued and reborn, will follow their King into His earthly kingdom still in their mortal bodies and will at last receive all of the covenant blessings that the Lord had made with their ancestor Abraham millennia ago.
They, along with the few surviving Gentile believers, will all enter into the Kingdom still in their mortal bodies. These two groups (believing Jews and Gentiles) will procreate and populate the Millennial Kingdom. Thus, God's purpose for the Tribulation period will have been accomplished when He returns at His Second Coming to bring justice and set up His earthly Kingdom.
God's ultimate goal for the Tribulation is not merely purposed for the Jews alone, but to also deal with ALL of the aftermath of sin that has for millennia wrecked and ruined His perfect creation. Part of the purpose for this seven years will be to put an end to ALL rebellious mankind. In short, these are God's end purposes for the Tribulation:
(1) to bring an end to ALL sin and rebellion
(2) to fulfill ALL of the covenant promises to the at-last believing remnant of Jewish people with regards to the LAND that God Himself covenanted to Abraham and his physical descendants regarding the land of Israel
(3) To eventually (at the end of the Millennium) deliver ALL of the redeemed of ALL ages and dispensations to the Father, along with everything completed at the end of the 1,000-year Kingdom on this earth when Time finally merges with eternity.
Always keep in mind the clear distinctions between Israel and the Church. Each are separate entities both loved and used by God for His purposes, but each having differing purposes and differing roles in God's Plan of the Ages. The Church never has and never will replace national Israel.
Though the Church is "not appointed to wrath" (that is the wrath of God that is in full effect during the Tribulation), this does not mean that the Church is now, or ever has been, spared PERSECUTION. The Church has always, since her beginning at Pentecost, suffered tremendous persecution in this world. The collective body of the true Remnant Church will continue to suffer persecution ranging from mild to severe, right up until the instant that the rapture occurs. However, persecution is NOT the same thing as the "wrath of God."
A clear distinction between Israel and the Church will clear up all confusion. "Rightly dividing" the Word of God also demonstrates the incredible precision dovetailing seamlessly together both the Old Testament and the New.
I hope you have enjoyed traversing the 9th chapter of Daniel with me, and that we all now have a clearer understanding of the distinction between Israel and the Church, and that we now have come to a better understanding of WHY God is most definitely not finished with national Israel.
God bless you all, and let's keep studying the Word until Jesus calls us Home. MARANATHA!
End Times Prophecy Rapidly Unfolding As Middle East Military Heavyweights Israel, Iran Threaten Collision Course Over Syria - By Guy Taylor -
Iran and Israel are on a collision course over Tehran's expanding footprint in Syria, raising the odds of a direct clash between the region's two military heavyweights that could quickly draw in other combatants.
With Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, Iran's most potent military ally, emboldened by their success in upholding Syrian President Bashar Assad, Israel is growing more and more wary of being attacked by missiles not just from southern Lebanon but also from inside Syria.
Israel has been sporadically bombing Hezbollah positions in Syria for the past three years. But the situation reached new heights this month when what Israel said was an Iranian armed stealth drone was intercepted and downed over Israel and an Israeli F-16 fighter jet was in turn shot down by anti-aircraft fire from inside Syria during a retaliatory airstrike.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif traded belligerent taunts at a major security conference in Munich this week, with the hard-line Mr. Netanyahu brandishing a piece of the downed drone and warning that Tehran "should not test Israel's resolve."
"Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around our neck," he said. "We will act if necessary not just against Iran's proxies but against Iran itself."
Mr. Zarif mocked the tough words and noted the Israeli leader's political problems at home. Calling Mr. Netanyahu's presentation a "cartoonish circus," the Iranian minister said the downing of the Israeli fighter jet had crumbled Israel's
Hezbollah, which the U.S. has listed as "foreign terrorist organization" since the late 1990s, said in a statement after the downing of the Israeli F-16 that the struggle had reached a "new strategic phase" aimed at curtailing Israeli's incursions into Syria.
With Mr. Assad's government, backed by Russian and Iranian military muscle moving ever closer to victory in the Syrian civil war, Israeli planners also warn that Iran and Hezbollah are trying to shape the strategic landscape to their advantage.
"In the northern arena, there is a change coming due to the strategic developments in the Syrian internal fighting. The Iranians and Hezbollah, who are backing [Mr. Assad], are getting freed up to start building their power," Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, head of Israeli Defense Forces operations, told Israeli Army Radio this week, adding that the prospect of a war with Iran this year was higher than it had been in a long time.
Richard C. Baffa, a senior researcher at the Rand Corp., said recent events underscored "the fragility of the situation and how easily miscalculation could lead to rapid escalation."
Mr. Baffa said in an interview that neither side seeks an escalation, but he sees signs that if a war does break out, it will be much larger than the border clashes between Israeli forces and Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006.
Hezbollah is able to maintain a "broader northern front that includes Syria," he said, and the group "has far more missiles and rockets that can target Israeli infrastructure and population centers."
At the same time, he said, the perception that Hezbollah won in 2006 by "not losing" points to the "fact that the Israelis will see the need for a decisive win" should things escalate.
Israeli officials fear Iran will demand a permanent presence inside Syria, the price it will exact for its efforts in support of Mr. Assad.
"Iran is determined to build a military presence and military capabilities in Syria the way they built Hezbollah in Lebanon for many, many years," said Amos Yadlin, a former head of the Israeli Defense Forces' Military Intelligence Directorate.
Mr. Yadlin, who spoke on a conference call hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on Wednesday, said further escalation would pit Israeli forces against an Iran-backed alliance that may even include elements of the Syrian military.
Mr. Yadlin, who currently heads the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said it was Russian President Vladimir Putin who played the critical role in preventing the recent clash from exploding into an all-out war.
The situation was "on the way to a huge escalation, and then came the telephone from President Putin," he said. "President Putin has a unique position in the Middle East, not only in Syria. He is the only one who can pick up the phone to everybody - to each pair of enemies: the Saudis and the Iranians, the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Kurds and the Turks, and in this case, the Israelis, the Syrians and the Iranians."
While this time the confrontation "was basically contained," Mr. Yadlin said, "I am not sure it is going to be contained next time."
But wariness over Moscow's mounting influence in the region is widespread.
Three days before the Feb. 10 incident, the International Crisis Group warned in a report that the "rules of the game that contained Israeli-Hezbollah clashes for over a decade have eroded" and said Russia may be in a unique position to restore them.
"Only Moscow is in a position to mediate a bolstering" of the agreement with Syria and Iran last year meant to keep Iranian-backed forces inside Syria from getting too close to the Israeli border - and risking a response from Tel Aviv.
Without Moscow's restraining hand, "a broader war could be only a miscalculation away," the think tank warned.
Despite its recent moves in the region, Iran's government is keenly aware and also a bit wary of Russia's potential power over the situation, said Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
"This role of Russia as the kingmaker ... certainly concerns the Iranians because they're watching to see whether Moscow will sell out their interests, which are certainly not identical to Russian interests," she said, stressing the size of Tehran's investment in Syria in recent years. Hundreds of senior officers from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have died in the Syrian civil war, and there is even grumbling back in Iran about the extent of the military's commitment to the war.
But "the Iranians are there to stay," Ms. Maloney said.
"What we've seen over the course of recent weeks is an attempt by the Iranians both to consolidate their gains in Syria but also to test the limits," she said. "They've been looking to, I think, establish exactly where the Israeli red lines are and see how far they can test the tolerance of the Israelis."
U.S. 'on the sidelines'
Washington has not been a central actor in the rising tensions between Iran and Israel, said International Crisis Group President and CEO Robert Malley, who served as the top Middle East specialist on President Obama's National Security Council.
The Trump administration "is content allowing Israel to take the lead in pushing back against Iranian and Hezbollah influence in Syria, which has become, by the way, the guidance principle of U.S. policy in the Middle East, which is too thwart, either directly or through others, Iran's advances," he said.
"I'm not sure that [the Trump administration] is egging anyone on," he said, "but it's certainly sitting on the sidelines and allowing Israel to push back."
Tony Badran, a fellow the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the current dynamic has "come at a cost for Israel," which has so far engaged only in tactical strikes against Iranian military assets.
"It does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran's growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran's other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched," Mr. Badran wrote in an analysis this week.
"The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon," he wrote. "As Iran's position strengthens, and as Israel's military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.
"To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy - and fast," Mr. Badran added. "Rather than leave Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran's assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel's red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hezbollah-controlled order there."
Nearing Midnight: Israel and Invincibility - Terry James -
The shooting down of an Israeli military jet over Syria as it apparently attacked an Iranian military site seems to have exposed a long-held fear of Israel's enemies of the region. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, following a statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chided that the shooting down of the fighter jet on February 10 had shattered the myth of Israel's "so-called invincibility." It is thought to be the first loss of an Israeli military plane to hostile fire since 2006. Zarif, in his glee over the shoot-down, said, "Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbors," accusing Israel of "mass reprisals against its neighbors and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon." He added, "Once the Syrians have the guts to down one of its planes it's as if a disaster has happened." His caustic remarks came following Netanyahu's holding up a piece of what he called an Iranian drone and accusing Iran of desiring to impose an empire across the Middle East. The Israeli engagement with Syrian and Iranian military as of late has some quite astute prophecy watchers speculating that the Isaiah 17 destruction of Damascus, the Psalm 83 war, or even the Gog-Magog war of Ezekiel 38 might be in the making. Bill Salus of Prophecy Depot Ministry, for example asks: "an Israeli F-16 was shot down by the Syrian Air Defense Force after conducting an air raid on Iranian-backed positions inside Syria. Does this set the stage for the fulfillment of the Isaiah and Jeremiah prophecies concerning the doom of Damascus?" Many who write are concerned about Israel and its precarious position amongst the Mid-East haters. Particularly, there are concerns about Benjamin Netanyahu and the political intrigues by which he is surrounded. Not unlike in the case of our own president, it seems the enemies of sound thinking, democracy, and sanity are assaulting Netanyahu at every turn. So far, the globalists and all the others who come against these men are failing in their attempts to bring them-and their nations as democracies-down so that the world order can become reality in order to achieve their evil desires. The Iranian's snarky remark about the myth of Israel's invincibility having been shattered betrays a deeper-seated anger. It involves the same sort of resentment the so-called "deep state" and Swamp "establishment" harbors for Donald Trump and Bibi's hate-filled enemies have for him. The resentment and hatred seems to me to marinate in anti-God vitriol. Satanic fury is at the bottom of the rage. It's as if Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif knows-or at the very least strongly suspects-that God has provided Israel with some degree of invincibility. The loss of a single plane to anti-Israeli, military fire in 12 years is reason to jubilantly proclaim Israel's invincibility is smashed. They mockingly call that invincibility "myth." But you have to know that down deep in the Arab-Islamist psyche, they sense that it's not a myth. The devastating Arab forces losses of the 1948 war at Israel's rebirth into modernity, the 1956 war and 1967 wars led by Gamul Nasser, and the 1973 Yom Kipper war led by Anwar Sadat amount to strong evidence. Israel's seeming invulnerability to defeat must make invincibility seem far more to them than "myth." I'm convinced that Egypt's Sadat came to the conclusion that Israel's God indeed assures Israel's invincibility. He thus wisely made peace with Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin while President Jimmy Carter looked on all those years ago. God does assure that Israel will be a nation forever. But, at the moment, the Jewish state is not God's nation in the sense of being the eternal Israel, as promised. Israel is the Lord's chosen nation-chosen to one day be His people and His nation. This will happen when the remnant of surviving, believing Jews at Christ's return look upon their Messiah. There is coming a time before then when they will seem anything but invincible. The Tribulation -the time of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7)-will be the worst time ever for Israel. Satan, through his tyrant Antichrist, will wreak more devastation on the Jewish race and the nation Israel than have all the tyrants down through human history. But, in the truest sense of the word invincible, the Jewish race-the nation Israel-is the one national entity God-guaranteed to never perish from the earth. "This is what the Lord says, 'He who appoints the sun to shine by day, Who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar - the Lord Almighty is His Name; Only if these ordinances vanish from My sight,' declares the Lord, 'will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before Me.'" (Jeremiah 31:35-36)
A Closer Look at the Rapture (Part II) - A.V. Rauf -
As we continue with this series, we must understand the importance of the eternal nature as well as the temporal nature of redemption. When we are "born-again," our old self is crucified and we are redeemed to both go to Heaven and to reign with Christ in the Millennium. Yet while on earth, which is our temporal abode, we all fulfill a purpose in this temporal life on this temporal earth. This is done collectively as the body of Christ so that we can ultimately facilitate the coming of the future kingdom. Our navigation device on this earth is the Holy Bible itself:
II Timothy 3:16-17-All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Some may say, "Oh, well you are so heavenly-minded that you're of no earthly good." I beg to disagree. Being correctly heavenly-minded if anything should directly affect your conduct on earth. Whether or not we, as born-again believers fulfill such a calling will then determine the very magnitude of our status and rewards when Christ does return.
As mentioned in the previous post, the strong emphasis on the fact that Enoch walked with God is synonymous with that of a New Testament believer who is striving to walk in the spirit:
Romans 5:8-11- For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
There is another rapture that takes place in the Bible that is the rapture of the prophet Elijah:
2 Kings 2:1-12- And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. 3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. 4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. 5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. 6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on. 7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan. 8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. 9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. 11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
What one must understand in regards to Elijah's ministry is that God raised him up to deal with the Ahab and Jezebel and the priests of Baal among other things:
1 Kings 16:29-33-And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. 30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. 31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. 32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.
1 Kings 18:17-39- And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? 18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. 19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table. 20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. 22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: 24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. 25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. 26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. 28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. 30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. 31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: 32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. 34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. 35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. 36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
We read in the above account that the priests of Ba'al, who were actually Hebrew priests seduced by the paganistic beliefs of Queen Jezebel, could not make it rain when they called upon their God Ba'al. Why am I mentioning this and how does it apply to us today?
Interestingly, Jesus Christ referred to Queen Jezebel (metaphorically speaking) to point out false religion and spiritual seduction which would be taking place in the Church prior to His return. OUCH!!!
Revelation 2:19-24-And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. (To be Continued....)
Daily Jot: No fear engagement - Bill Wilson -
As we look at the headlines about school shootings, government corruption, visceral division with anyone who disagrees, and a lack of honest leadership in the political arena, it may be easy to get discouraged. There are so many things that need fixed. We need people to engage. Christians need to engage with our society-not just inside the four walls of church in their clubs-but with all of society. This is no time for the weak-hearted or for America's Christians to disengage and throw in the towel. It seems we have been doing that since the 1960s, and it hasn't worked. Christ is the answer to this dark and dying world, and you are his vessel. Think about that.
You have a calling. And much bad doctrine has been taught about this. The Holy Scriptures say in Romans 8:28 "that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." It's not your purpose, but "HIS" purpose. Romans 11:29 says that "the gifts and calling of God are unchangeable." So when people are saying that you have to find your calling, it is really understanding that you are called "not according to our works, but according to his own purpose (2 Timothy 1:9)." Christ is our example. He is the way the truth and the life. He showed us how to engage according to his purpose. It takes courage to conduct Christ's purpose in this world, in this country today.
Psalm 31:24 says, "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all you that hope in the LORD." As Christians, our hope is in the Lord. We are to be ever watching for his return. As Galatians 6:9 says, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." And Jesus promises in Matthew 10:22, "And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved." We, as Christians, are not to stand by and allow evil to advance just because we have read the end of the book and we win. We are to not be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good. The Lord says to be of good courage and that his gifts will never change--you are equipped.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." We are reminded that it isn't easy in 2 Corinthians 4:8,9: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed..." Verse 6 tells us, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." We should not fear man. Man cannot take our soul. So we need to take heart during these times. Have courage. Put on the full armor of God and speak boldly as we ought to speak. And having done all, stand.
Daily Devotion: God's Part and Our Part - By Greg Laurie -
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. -Philippians 4:13
David said, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1). If you are always in want, then maybe the Lord is not yet your shepherd. If He really is your shepherd, then you will find satisfaction and fulfillment in Him.
The apostle Paul's contentment came as a result of his close and intimate fellowship with Jesus, which allowed him to be lifted above his circumstances. It gave him the strength to deal with whatever came his way. He wrote, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
Paul was essentially saying, "No matter what comes my way, I can do it through Christ." This is a great balance, because it shows us our part and God's part. Paul wasn't saying that the Christian should do everything for himself or herself. Nor was he saying that God will do everything for the Christian. God will do certain things, and then we must respond to the things that He does.
The power and resources are there, but we must appropriate them. God has given us the strength to be the men and women He calls us to be, but we must appropriate it.
Only God can enable, but only we can yield. Only God can guide, but only we can follow. Only God can convict us of our sins, but only we can repent of them. God won't step over the boundary of our free will and make us do what He wants us to do. If He did, then we would be nothing more than robots. But because He wants us to act out of our own free will, He initiates, and we must respond to what He is doing.
It is God who is working, but we must yield to Him.
FROM THE HEART
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