Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Elijah is Coming Before the Seven Year Tribulation - by Gary Stearman - www.prophecywatchers.com
The biblical story of Israel spans centuries. It features dozens of landmark events, heroic narratives and spiritual events and a longstanding relationship with God. One of its key features is the life of a man, who is unlike any other. His life story cuts through the epochs of biblical history, tying them together in a way that clearly demonstrates the divine nature of Holy Scripture. He is the man called Elijah, whom God uses in a distinct and powerful way.
Often, we read the Bible piecemeal, a little here and a little there, dipping into favorite Scriptures and skipping others that present an interpretational challenge. Relying upon Scripture for help and guidance is central to the Christian faith, since it offers uplifting help, wisdom and inspiration.
But reading in this way often overlooks the big picture. The Bible has large-scale structure, expounding historic and prophetic themes that cut across many of its books and historical periods. Properly linked, they give perspective and meaning to the long view of history, linking past, present and future.
The man mentioned above perfectly plays out this role. The person, character and spiritual work of Elijah presents just such an epic vista. During three key historical periods, he appears as God's representative, bearing a specific message. It is noteworthy that each of these periods is marked by Israel's departure from true faith in their Lord.
He arrives on the scene in ninth century B.C., during the reign of the evil King Ahab. He performs his many appointed missions - including his defeat of Baal's prophets and shutting off the rain for three-and-a-half years. Then, with Elisha as a witness, he is taken directly to heaven. At the end of the Old Testament, in one of the key Old Testament prophecies, his return is promised.
Elijah is seen again in the New Testament as a spiritual presence represented by John the Baptist, who announces the Messiah. Peter, James and John witnessed him at the Transfiguration, as a prophetic figure. James invokes his name in connection with a prophecy that foreshadows the Tribulation period.
Finally, he will return during the Tribulation. As in the days of King Ahab, he confronts an evil apostasy that threatens to overwhelm not only his own people, but the whole world. His presence is an essential part of Scripture. He is the Lord's highly-favored messenger.
MALACHI: "MY MESSENGER"
The book of Malachi, whose name literally means "my messenger," contains a key prophecy about Elijah. Significantly, it is central to the hope of every Jew who looks forward to the coming of the Davidic Kingdom.
This prophecy has been integrated into the Jewish Passover Seder as a Zionist hope, with the promise that Jerusalem will rise as Israel's capital.
Written in the fifth century B.C., Malachi's prophecy is directed toward a disillusioned people, a century after Haggai and Zechariah had urged the completion of the Second Temple. Those prophecies, though encouraging, were not yet fulfilled... indeed, they are not completely fulfilled to this day.
During that period, the Jews were discouraged. In their extreme doubt, they voiced the question that has been on the lips of the Jews in every generation: Does the Lord really love us? The opening words of Malachi's prophecy directly address this question:
"1 The burden of the word of theLORD to Israel by Malachi. 2 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, 3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. 4 Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever. 5 And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel" (Mal. 1:1-5).
The Jews, persecuted and dispersed, have asked the question again and again: Do you love us? The Lord's answer to their question is quite plain. He simply asks them to recall what happened to Esau, the man who sold his birthright, allowing Jacob to claim it. The blessing that came through Isaac to Jacob is still in effect. This is the message of Malachi to Israel. He pleads with them to consider this simple fact.
Malachi then proceeds to enumerate Israel's continual lapses in faith. He reveals the corruption of the priesthood, rampant idolatry, epidemic divorce and remarriage and failure to fulfill the law of the tithe. Ultimately, says Malachi, Israel's failure is wrapped up in their failure to trust the Lord.
Then comes Malachi's conclusion. It predicts judgments of the Day of the Lord. Yet, the six concluding verses of his prophecy close the canon of the Old Testament with a promise that reaches into the far future:
"1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. 3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. 4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Mal. 4:1-6).
That day is described in terms that are as easy to understand as they are foreboding. But Malachi's proclamation is softened with two promises. First, the "Sun of righteousness" will rise on Israel's behalf. This, of course, is a reference both to the person of the resurrected Christ and the coming time when He stands on Israel's behalf. The day begins with sunrise.
Second, and of equal importance to the understanding of the prophecy, the prophet Elijah will return to Israel before the Tribulation, here called the "day of the LORD." This pretribulation return of the prophet will be the signal that another era of miracles is underway. A natural question arises: Just how long before the Tribulation will Elijah appear? A bit later, we shall examine this question in the light of the New Testament.
In Israel's history, the emergence of miracles has been the exception, rather than the rule. They arise during distinct periods, later chronicled with respect to the effects they produced. They are never seen without some connection to a major turn of history. In other words, great historical miracles - which represent a temporary suspension of natural law- come for a purpose during a specific period of time.
The first period was seen in the days of Moses, when the laws of nature were suspended during the Exodus and the giving of the Law at Mount Horeb. The second came in connection with the era of Elijah and Elisha. The third was seen in the first century, during the life of Christ and the founding of the church. They were administered by Jesus and the Apostles. The fourth will come during the Tribulation.
It is important to note that the first of these periods was brought through Moses. The next two came through Elijah. The final, future appearance of miraculous events will be overseen by the two witnesses. It is fitting that this culmination of Gentile history will be administered by both Moses and Elijah.
In a very major way, Elijah is the single sign to Israel that the coming of the Kingdom is near. It is no accident that their hope is placed in him. By the grace of God, he has been written into the most significant and commonly observed of their national festivals. Each year, during Passover, they watch for his appearance, just as they have for centuries.
The Seder, or order of the Passover has emerged in its present form through a series of editions over the centuries. At some point, its rituals began to include Elijah, no doubt as a recognition of Malachi's prediction that he would return to rally Israel in the difficult times of the Day of the Lord.
The Passover Haggadah ("telling" or "recitation") is traditionally set around a dinner table and encompasses the Passover meal. An acting out of the Exodus, it incorporates many symbols that recall Israel's deliverance from Egyptian bondage. Preparation for the event is a complex tradition that begins with a search for any uncleanness in a home ... a ritual cleansing.
Then, the table is set with food items that symbolically recall the life under Egyptian slavery and the events of the plagues called down by Moses. Central to its observance is the presence of a goblet for each participant, into which will be poured four servings or cups that recall the four verbs of Exodus 6:6,7. Notice that they represent four stages in the redemption of Israel ... thanksgiving, sanctification, redemption and relationship:
"6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: 7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians" (Ex. 6:6,7).
Since the days of the Talmud, approximately 25 centuries ago, Jews have taught that even the poorest man in Israel should take the four cups in remembrance of Messiah's ultimate coming to establish the Kingdom. Israel's progress from thanksgiving on through to an ultimate close relationship with the Lord is the hope of the chosen people.
Though it is set in the historical period of the Exodus, the true meaning of the Passover is seen in the future Exodus that will bring the elect of Israel back to Israel, the one described in the closing words of Malachi's prophecy.
But in addition to the four cups taken by all, there is a fifth cup that is set upon the table, sometimes accompanied by an entire place setting which is left vacant throughout the meal. This is the cup of Elijah.
A Haggadah entitled, The Family Seder, by Rabbi Alfred J. Kolatch, describes it as follows:
"Elijah's Cup. A special, decorative goblet is placed on the table, which is called the Cup of Elijah. It is filled with wine, along with all others, after the meal is over and the Grace has been recited. Elijah, the great prophet in Israel, who dominated the Palestinian scene 28 centuries ago, and was the conscience of Israel in the days of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, has become synonymous in Judaism with the Messianic Age. In his lifetime, Elijah fought the forces of paganism, and the Bible pictures his death in miraculous terms. He did not die, but ascended to heaven in a chariot, and vanished. His return was looked forward to, and was to mark the advent of an age of harmony, peace and understanding among all peoples, and all nations." (p. 5)
At the pouring of the fourth Passover cup, custom bids the host to observe that someone should go to the door to see whether Elijah is there. It is left unlatched so that if he should appear, there would be no barrier to his entry. Another well-known Haggadah observes, "Whereas each participant in the Seder drinks from his own cup, the cup of Elijah is traditionally a large chalice, and many have the custom that it is shared by all. Once the cup of Elijah is filled to the brim, the door of the house is thrown open, perhaps to symbolize our inviting the spirit of the prophet who is to be the harbinger of the ultimate Redemption. Tradition has it that Elijah drinks from this cup, whose contents are then distributed among all Seder participants."
The following recitation accompanies Elijah's cup: "Pour Your wrath upon the nations that do not recognize You and upon the kingdoms that do not invoke Your Name. For they have devoured Yaakov [Jacob] and destroyed His habitation. Pour Your anger upon them and let Your fiery wrath overtake them. Pursue them with wrath and annihilate them from beneath the heavens of Hashem [the Lord]." (From Bondage to Freedom, Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.)
Even this brief glimpse of the Passover ceremony emphatically demonstrates that the Jews view Elijah as the bearer of the news that they have awaited for centuries, namely the Lord's coming to deliver them. Jews have never forgotten that at the outset of the Tribulation, Elijah brings the message that their redemption is about to enter its final stage.
AHAB AND JEZEBEL
One of the most interesting aspects of the Tribulation is that one of the two witnesses has the power to withhold rainfall. This takes us back to the first appearance of Elijah, in which he is specifically empowered to do exactly this.
"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 16:30-33).
Ahab came to power as king of Israel in a period of divisive political competition. Following Solomon's death, the kingdom had split, and now, many were searching for ways to bring Israel's warring factions together.
Ahab echoed the behavior of Solomon, who took many foreign wives as a method of cementing relations with alien kings and tribes.Ethbaal was a high priest of Sidon, a man of great power and wealth. Flavius Josephus, in describing the history of Baal-Astarte (Ishtar) worship, gives the genealogies of Phoenician kings descended from Hiram. Of one of the kings, he writes, "... he was slain by Ithobalus (Ethbaal), the priest of Astarte, who reigned thirty-two years and lived sixty-eight years." (Against Apion, I, 18). In other words, during his lifetime, this man was a ruthless dictator and a leading figure in the promotion of Baal worship.
In his wholesale promotion of Baal and Ishtar, Ahab felt that he was securing political and economic stability for Israel. He had linked his fortunes with evil power. Josephus writes, "Now Ahab, the king of Israel, dwelt in Samaria, and held the government for twenty-two years; and made no alteration in the conduct of the kings that were his predecessors, but only in such things as were of his own invention for the worse, and in his most gross wickedness. He imitated them in their wicked courses, and in their injurious behavior towards God; and more especially he imitated the transgression of Jereboam; for he worshipped the heifers that he had made; and he contrived other absurd objects of worship beside those heifers; he also took to wife the daugher of Ethbaal, king of the Tyrians and Sidonians, whose name was Jezebel, of whom he learned to worship her own gods. This woman was active and bold, and fell into so great a degree of impurity and wickedness, that she built a temple to the god of the Tyrians, which they called Belus and planted a grove of all sorts of trees; she also appointed priests and false prophets to this god." (Antiquities, VIII, Xiii, 1, 2)
It was at this apex of evil that Elijah walked upon the scene with a decree from the Lord:
"1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. 2 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, 3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. 4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. 5 So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. 7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land" (1 Ki. 17:1-7).
Here, without genealogy or credentials, one of the greatest of all biblical figures rose to prominence in an instant. Because Gilead is mentioned, he must have come from the hilly region east of the Jordan River. In English, the name Elijah translates to, "Yah (Jehovah) is my God." His was the voice of doom before the wicked king. And as is often the case with absolute monarchs, the result of his declaration was no doubt interpreted as a threat against the kingdom. The death penalty would be the immediate result.
So the Lord told him to flee back to the east of the Jordan, to the brook Cherith. Soon, however, his prophecy began to be fulfilled, and the brook went dry and he fled northward to Zarephath, where a poor widow sustained him until it was time for his reappearance before Ahab.
Upon the occasion of His rejection at his own synagogue in Nazareth, our Lord once recalled this event:
"24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias [Elijah], when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow" (Luke 4:24-26).
Three and a half years had passed, and rain had not fallen. Israel was deep in sin and despair, with false leadership and a false religion. Jezebel had killed many of the prophets of God; the rest had gone into hiding. Now, the Lord had Ahab's attention:
"1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. 2 And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria" (1 Ki. 18:1,2).
Now, the stage was set for the famous contest between the prophet of the Lord and the prophets of Baal, to see who could bring back the blessing - and the rain - to Israel. Jezebel had gathered to herself many false prophets ... eight hundred and fifty, to be exact! In the end, they could not entice their god to accept the sacrifice of a bullock laid out upon a bed of wood. But the Lord answered Elijah, accepting the sacrifice with fire, even after Elijah ordered it thoroughly soaked in water:
"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. 40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there" (1 Ki. 18:38-40).
The story of Elijah continues from this point. We are told that he fled from the wicked Jezebel, who had sworn upon her god that he should die. In fear, he fled to Mount Horeb. But he returned after forty days. The lives of Ahab and Jezebel were soon ended. Another prophet - Elisha - was called. Soon after that, Elijah was taken, alive and in his physical body, to heaven. It happened as he and Elisha walked:
"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" (2 Ki. 2:11).
Why had Elijah come? Quite simply, he had entered the world when Israel, wracked by evil and led by a wicked dictator, was struggling to survive the deep wound of the divided kingdom. Israel and Judah were set to collide, both with each other and with external enemies ... Assyria and Babylon.
But Elijah's work had spared them for a time. He established himself as the archetype of what the Lord's special messenger would look like. He was sent at a critical moment in history to remind his people that the Lord is both present and watchful. He would return again in the future at another critical juncture in history.
JOHN THE BAPTIST
The personal history of Elijah is somewhat clouded. We are not told much about him, his connections or his background. But we think of him as a solitary man who probably lived in the wilderness much of his life.
Following Ahab's death, his son Ahaziah came to rule. After being seriously injured in a fall, he sent his messengers to plead before Baalzebub, god of Ekron, for a prophetic ruling upon his failing condition. Elijah was instructed to go before the king's messengers, to inform them that because they had sought some sort of blessing from a pagan god, the king would die. They returned to Ahaziah with this report. He asked about Elijah:
"7 And he said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words? 8 And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite" (2 Ki. 1:7,8).
From this description, we think of Elijah as a man of sparse needs and simple tastes, dedicated to the Lord, rather than the niceties of life. In fact, his image strongly reminds us of another famous biblical personality. Rising, as if through the mists of time, we see him in the New Testament:
"1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias [Isaiah], saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins" (Matt. 3:1-6).
John came down the Jordan River, traveling much of the same territory as Elijah. Dressed in simple garb, and eating only the necessary food to keep himself alive, he presented a dramatic figure. It is not difficult to see him as an extension of the ancient prophet. And indeed, he serves the same function, arriving as he does at a critical time in Israel's history.
Much in the manner of Elijah, he greets the spiritual leaders of national Israel with unvarnished condemnation:
"7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matt. 3:7).
Notice that his rebuke is accompanied by a prophecy. Little did they know that they were about to enter into a forty-year period that would culminate in the destruction of their Temple. Furthermore, he presented them with a prophecy of Jesus' Second Coming, unfulfilled to this day, but every bit as powerful as when it was first pronounced:
"11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matt. 3:11,12).
This prophecy, immediately preceding his baptism of Jesus, gives John the distinction of announcing both Christ's first and second comings. Truly, he fulfills the role of God's messenger. Without a doubt, he perfectly conformed to the archetype of Elijah.
John was later imprisoned for having criticized Herod Antipas' incestuous cohabitation with the woman called Herodias, pronouncing their union unlawful. For this pronouncement, and at the whim of her daughter, he was beheaded.
Not very long after that, Jesus, accompanied by Peter, James and John, ascended a mountaintop and assumed His glorified form. To the astonishment of the disciples, Moses and Elijah appeared and began to speak with Him. Jesus explained the amazing event to them:
"9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. 10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist" (Matt. 17:9-13).
Without attempting to explain the meaning of Jesus' words in depth, the New Testament order of events is unequivocal. John the Baptist came as the Lord's messenger, to announce the arrival of the Messiah. He baptized Jesus. He was arrested, then killed. Next, the disciples experienced the presence of Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration.
Taking Jesus own words as literal in intent, Elijah came first in the person of John, then after John's death, he appeared to the disciples as himself.
In other words, he first announced the Messiah, then the coming Kingdom. As Jesus said just before His transfiguration, "28 Verily, I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matt. 16:28).
There, on the mountaintop, Elijah stood as though already in the Kingdom Age. The disciples had gazed at him as through a window in time, that allowed them to see into the future.
Elijah's divinely-appointed role is consistent throughout Scripture. He is the one designated to address Israel at key points in history, so that they might take the appropriate action under his leadership.
In the future, when He arrives as prophesied (just before the Day of the Lord), Elijah will fulfill another three-and-ahalf-year period, just as he did in the days of Ahab. Only this time, he will be battling someone far more sinister: the antichrist. Elijah will arrive as the Temple of the Tribulation is being established. Notice in the following description, that Elijah wears crude sackcloth, just as in earlier appearances. And, as in the days of Ahab, he is able to stop rainfall, which he apparently does for forty-two months, or three and a half years:
"1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. 3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will" (Rev. 11:1-6).
WHEN DOES HE COME?
As mentioned earlier, when looking at the prophecies concerning Elijah, a natural question arises: Just how long before the Tribulation will he arrive? Malachi's words make it clear that he does come before the Tribulation.
In the preceding Scripture, two witnesses, almost certainly Moses and Elijah, administer the will of the Lord in the days when the Tribulation Temple is built. The "forty and two months" are the dark days at the beginning of the Tribulation, when Gentiles dominate Jerusalem, and the antichrist rises to power. Rain is withheld during this period.
The church has long since been taken to heaven. Remember, Malachi clearly states that Elijah comes to Israel before the unfolding of this period, and Paul clearly states:
"1 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 2 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 3 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief" (1 Thessalonians 5:2,3).
According to these words, the church departs before the Day of the Lord. In that case, it is possible that there could be a slight overlapping transition between the dispensation of the church and the dispensation of the Kingdom period.
If we are as close to the Tribulation as many think, Elijah could be here today. But he will certainly not reveal himself to the church. As Malachi wrote, he comes to his Jewish brethren, to bring spiritual revival. The rapture must come first, then he will reveal himself. Whether he's already here or not is really a moot question. But even now, he could be hiking along the Jordan, occasionally watching as new Christians come to be baptized in the ancient river, just as Jesus was. Perhaps he's one of the West Bank settlers, working at some craft or trade.
If the witness of history tells us anything, it tells us that when he does return, it will be in some humble form. He will appear as a man of genuine character and great strength, but modest in appearance, perhaps wearing clothes that give him an impoverished appearance-the attire of an outdoorsman.
Another Passover is coming. As this is published, it is only days away. Holding to a centuries-old custom, some blessed Jewish household will leave its door ajar, so that Elijah may come in and partake of the Passover. Perhaps this year, he will come and share their celebration. Keep watching!
Israel vs. Hezbollah: The Third Lebanon War - By Dr. Ehud Eilam - https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/israel-hezbollah-lebanon-war/
Ever since the 2006 war, Israel has preferred to contain Hezbollah rather than fight it directly. So determined was Israel to avoid going to war with the terrorist group that it tolerated its significant military buildup. Since 2012, however, the IAF has carried out hundreds of sorties inside Syria aimed at stopping the delivery of advanced weapons to Hezbollah. Israel can continue to delay the arming of Hezbollah, but it has already become quite strong, and a war could occur even if neither side wants it.
Tensions between Israel and Iran's Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, have reached the point where war might well ensue. Neither side wants this, at least not right now, but it could still occur, either as a result of miscalculations and or of a rapid escalation that got out of control.
The two sides confronted each other in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s, and their 34-day war in the summer of 2006 ended in a tie. According to the IDF's strategy document of 2018, the next time Israel and Hezbollah go to war, the IDF will be eager to strike the group hard in order to achieve a fast victory.
This will not be easy. Hezbollah does not have a clear center of gravity that can be wiped out and thereby bring Israel a quick and clear victory. The organization also enjoys vast support from the Shiite community in Lebanon.
The IDF has many more weapons and much more manpower than Hezbollah-but Hezbollah has up to 150,000 projectiles aimed at Israel. All of Israel is within Hezbollah's missile range, but it would primarily target the north of the country. The sheer quantity of rockets available to Hezbollah means that Israel's defense systems such as the Iron Dome would only be able to intercept some of them. The only way to completely stop the firing of missiles and rockets would be to run a large-scale offensive inside Lebanon.
The IAF has been training to launch thousands of sorties aimed at destroying Hezbollah targets, mainly its rockets. But the IAF might not be able to accomplish this mission by itself, especially if rockets hit its airfields. Israel might have no alternative but to also conduct a major ground offensive.
This would not be like 2006, when Israel hesitated and was reluctant to carry out a large-scale land attack for fear of incurring heavy casualties. In the next war the concept might be the opposite. In other words, reducing Israeli casualties, both on the front line in Lebanon and in the Israeli rear, might require starting the war with a large-scale ground attack.
Many in the IDF seek to prove that Israel is willing to carry out a ground offensive, even if its costs might be high. The concept is that Israel's foes should not assume that Israel is afraid to put its ground units in harm's way and will always prefer to rely on air power. In the Gaza Strip operations of 2008-09 and in 2014, Israel conducted limited ground attacks and depended on the IAF.
But Israel should not launch a ground offensive just to prove a point if conditions are not right. If there is a limited confrontation and both sides express their willingness to end it soon, then sending ground units into Lebanon could pointlessly extend the war. Starting a war with a major attack is not always the right option.
The IDF might penetrate deep into Lebanon, advancing dozens of kilometers on the ground. Israeli ground units probably will not reach Beirut as they did in 1982, but they might advance further than they did in 2006. Long-range penetrations might be carried out not with armor but with airborne assaults. Crack units such as the new 89th commando brigade (established in 2015) can land from the air. These would be risky operations as Israeli troops would be isolated far behind enemy lines, receiving help mostly from aircraft that would deliver supplies and provide fire support.
The IDF would not stay there for long. The goal would be to annihilate Hezbollah's rockets and then withdraw. It would be like a large-scale raid, not a conquest. Israel would not go back to the 1990s, when it was entangled in an endless fight inside Lebanon that cost it dearly.
Elite units such as the 401st armored brigade would advance on the ground. The IDF would rely on Merkava Mark 3 and 4 tanks and heavy armored personal carriers (the Achzarit and the Namer, together with the old M-113). The IDF's sophisticated C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence) network would assist too, but the IDF should not depend on it too much in case it fails.
Senior Israeli officials have warned several times about the severe ramifications of turning Lebanon into a fire base against Israel. Hezbollah deliberately hides its rockets in urban areas. Israeli firepower, aimed at the rockets in those areas, would inevitably inflict substantial collateral damage.
If Hezbollah opens fire first, targeting Israeli cities, it will force Israel to react immediately and in a massive way. An Israeli preemptive strike is unlikely, though surprise is crucial in capturing Hezbollah off guard.
The IDF has an overwhelming edge over Hezbollah, but the latter has relative advantages, mainly its missiles/rockets. The two sides will continue to try to avoid a costly war, but a war might still occur-against the will of one or even both of them.
Nearing Midnight: Why God's Wrath Is Inevitable - Terry James - https://www.raptureready.com/category/nearing-midnight/
"My God [or my Jesus] would never send anyone to Hell."
This is a statement in one form or another I've heard many times, and I'll bet you have, too.
The world of quasi-Christianity presents a view of Heaven, God, and Jesus as love that holds no person ultimately responsible for sinful activity. While many of the mainline sorts of these folks claim to preach from the same Bible as we do, they deny the concepts of Hell and eternal punishment for sin. These, like the current Catholic pope, hold that everyone will somehow make it to Heaven, because all are loved by God.
This is why, for example, the Catholic Church and most reform brands coming out of Catholicism believe that prophetic portions of the Bible and the book of Revelation (the "Apocalypse," as the Roman Catholic Church would have it) are to either be spiritualized or allegorized-or should have been left out of the canon of Scripture altogether.
That God's judgment and wrath are on the way to a rebellious, evil world system lost in sin just doesn't register within quasi-Christianity.
"Evil will be dealt with by simple, God-ordained dismissal when all is said and done" seems to be the answer when these are questioned about the Bible's truth about wrath and judgment, because God is only love.
I don't intend to paint all reform congregants or all Catholics in this way. But, this is a growing heresy-a burgeoning, blasphemous trend within so-called Christendom.
The following examples document how far this world is going in a direction opposite of God's prescribed way to live, and are, I think, evidence of why God's judgment and wrath are-and must be-inevitable because of mankind's incorrigible rebellion.
A new study by LifeWay Research says that 47 percent-nearly half-of all Mainline Protestant pastors now support same-sex marriage. This is up 15 percent from ten years ago. increase over the same time period.
According to the report at LifeWay, "Around a third (32%) say they see nothing wrong with civil unions between two people of the same gender. Almost two-thirds (63%) say they disagree, with a majority (54%) strongly disagreeing."
The study aligns itself with the evidence that is persistent in mainline Protestant denominations-such as the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), the United Methodist Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), all apostate denominations that ordain women and, in many cases, homosexuals. (Jeff Maples, "New Study Shows Nearly Half of Mainline Protestant Pastors Support Gay Marriage, Reformation Charlotte, Rapture Ready News, February 28, 2020)
Jesus forewarned that at the time of His next catastrophic intervention into the affairs of wicked mankind, people would be conducting life like people did during the days of Lot. The sodomite lifestyle is now condoned by an ever-broadening swath of clergy. And, according to this ecclesiastical agglomerate, there will be no ultimate judgment or wrath from Heaven for this sinful conduct.
The second example must be even more angering to the loving God who sits on the throne:
In a shocking move Tuesday, nearly every Democratic senator voted against requiring that medical care be provided to babies who survive abortions.
A cloture vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act garnered the support of 56 senators, compared to 41 who voted to block it.
All 53 GOP senators and three Democratic senators voted to proceed, while 41 Democrats voted no, meaning the measure fell short of the 60 votes needed for cloture, ending debate.
The bill requires, in part, that medical personnel "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child [who survives an abortion] as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age."...
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who sponsored the bill, rightly observed from the Senate floor prior to Tuesday's vote, "Every one of us should be able to say without any hesitation, 'leaving babies to die is unacceptable.' THIS AIN'T HARD STUFF, PEOPLE!!
This should be a 100 to zero no-brainer."...
The Susan B. Anthony List's national campaign chair, Jill Stanek, a former nurse who witnessed babies born alive during an abortion procedure and then left to die, said in a statement provided to The Western Journal, "It is appalling to see Democrats...vote against compassionate, common-sense bills, including one that simply requires medical care for born children."
Concerned Women for America president Penny Nance linked Planned Parenthood to Tuesday's vote by Democrats.
"It is a very sad day for the unborn, and I pray God's forgiveness over our country. Planned Parenthood and abortion extremists' death grip have once again prevailed through the Democrat party," Nance said in a statement given to The Western Journal. (Randy DeSoto, "God Help Us: 41 Dem Senators Vote Against Protecting Already Born Babies from Being Legally Murdered," The Western Journal, February 26, 2020)
That any baby is murdered, either while in the mother's womb or once born, must wrench the very heart of God, must anger the Creator who loves His creation so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die for mankind's sin. That is love our finite minds cannot grasp.
It takes infinite comprehension to grasp that kind of love. We can only get that kind of understanding through the grace of God-through the salvation process and a regenerate mind given to us when we accept Christ as Savior.
God's love also demands judgment and wrath. He cannot allow unrighteousness in His holy presence. He, in His holiness and righteousness, therefore, must exact a price. Jesus paid that price for sin with His own blood upon Calvary's cross more than two thousand years ago.
Therefore, God's wrath is inevitable. It will be unleashed against all unbelief at the Great White Throne judgment.
To avoid that wrath and judgment, each person must accept the gift of grace that is Jesus Christ and His once-and-for-all-sacrifice for mankind's sin.
Again, here is the only way to avoid the otherwise inevitability of God's wrath falling upon you and me:
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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)
Israel Watch: Churches Against Israel - Jim Fletcher -
One of my favorite topics-unfortunately-is the erosion of support for Israel among American Christians, particularly churches and ministries. Many don't want to hear it, or dispute my findings, but I stand by it all. As the American Church edges closer to fulfilling the New Testament prophecies about apostasy in the Church, one inevitable outcome is an abandonment of God's Chosen People.
I would go so far as to say that the discernment level of most of the nationally known ministry leaders is so low, they can only look up. The astounding naivete of yesterday's powerhouse denominations is mind-boggling.
Witness the recent event at North Carolina State University, in which Southern Baptist Convention President JD Greear (pastor of The Summit Church) dialogued from the stage with Omar Suleiman, an SMU professor and founder of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research.
I was alerted to this by a tweet from radio host Janet Mefferd.
Titled "Hope in the Current Age: A Conversation on Christianity and Islam," the event was ostensibly a friendly chat between representatives of the two religions. Sadly/infuriatingly/tragically, Greear relegated himself to dhimmi status in the presence of his Muslim chum. He also didn't miss an opportunity to bash President Trump and his supporters.
"We need to be able to not only get along with, but to cherish, stand alongside and even fight for people that believe different things than we do," Greear said.
Greear also said that Christians operate from a "posture of fear" (a common talking point among Leftists; it's false propaganda designed to put conservatives on the defensive)
According to a compliant Baptist Press report, Greear said some Christians "To look upon outsiders with suspicion and 'rationalize the faults' of politicians offering political protection to the Christian community."
That last dig is aimed at Trump and his supporters. Astonishing that the head of the SBC would do such a thing.
The deeper question though is, just who is Omar Suleiman?
(Years ago, I attended a lecture by Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, one of the brightest patriots in America today. Gaffney explained how documents captured by the FBI showed clearly that the Muslim Brotherhood intended to harm America in part by fostering dialogue with dupes in the Christian leadership community. This came under the heading of "Interfaith Dialogue," exactly as presented at North Carolina State this past Thursday.)
Suleiman is dangerous, and it's horrifying that Greear would give him space within Evangelicalism.
During one of the Gaza wars, Suleiman said:
"How befitting that the 3rd Intifada starts on the 27th night of Ramadan...."God willing on this blessed night as the 3rd Intifada begins, the beginning of the end of Zionism is here. May Allah help us overcome this monster, protect the innocent of the world, and accept the murdered as martyrs. ameen."
He has also expressed his opinions about the moving of the US Embassy to Jerusalem:
"Your recognition means nothing to us......Your maps mean nothing to us, your embassy is as illegitimate as the occupation it seeks to legitimize. Our land is our land, our dignity is our dignity."
Just so you'll know, it's a waste of breath to ask questions of people like Greear. He is insulated from answering the rank-and-file. One could ask members of the SBC's Executive Committee just why the denomination's president is appearing with such a dangerous individual, a person so hate-filled when it comes to Israel and Jews. And make no mistake: Suleiman also hates you as a Christian. He was no doubt thrilled to share the stage with a useful idiot (Lenin's term for those who unwittingly help totalitarians dupe free populations) that has now mainstreamed Islam's hate-rhetoric among evangelicals.
Israel has many enemies. It's important to realize a good chunk of those come from the leadership within American Evangelicalism.
The Just Shall Live by Faith -
But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I take no pleasure in him.-Heb 10:38 NET
Seemings and feelings are often substituted for faith. Pleasurable emotions and deep satisfying experiences are part of the Christian life, but they are not all of it. Trials, conflicts, battles and testings lie along the way, and are not to be counted as misfortunes, but rather as part of our necessary discipline.
In all these varying experiences we are to reckon on Christ as dwelling in the heart, regardless of our feelings if we are walking obediently before Him. Here is where many get into trouble; they try to walk by feeling rather than faith.
One of the saints tells us that it seemed as though God had withdrawn Himself from her. His mercy seemed clean gone. For six weeks her desolation lasted, and then the Heavenly Lover seemed to say:
"Catherine, thou hast looked for Me without in the world of sense, but all the while I have been within waiting for thee; meet Me in the inner chamber of thy spirit, for I am there."
Distinguish between the fact of God's presence, and the emotion of the fact. It is a happy thing when the soul seems desolate and deserted, if our faith can say, "I see Thee not. I feel Thee not, but Thou art certainly and graciously here, where I am as I am." Say it again and again: "Thou art here: though the bush does not seem to burn with fire, it does burn. I will take the shoes from off my feet, for the place on which I stand is holy ground." -London Christian
Believe God's word and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock which ebbs and flows, but your sea. -Samuel Rutherford
Keep your eye steadily fixed on the infinite grandeur of Christ's finished work and righteousness. Look to Jesus and believe, look to Jesus and live! Nay, more; as you look to him, hoist your sails and buffet manfully the sea of life. Do not remain in the haven of distrust, or sleeping on your shadows in inactive repose, or suffering your frames and feelings to pitch and toss on one another like vessels idly moored in a harbor. The religious life is not a brooding over emotions, grazing the keel of faith in the shallows, or dragging the anchor of hope through the oozy tide mud as if afraid of encountering the healthy breeze. Away! With your canvas spread to the gale, trusting in Him, who rules the raging of the waters. The safety of the tinted bird is to be on the wing. If its haunt be near the ground-if it fly low-it exposes itself to the fowler's net or snare. If we remain grovelling on the low ground of feeling and emotion, we shall find ourselves entangled in a thousand meshes of doubt and despondency, temptation and unbelief. "But surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of THAT WHICH HATH A WING" (marginal reading Prov. 1:17). Hope thou in God. -J. R. Macduff
When I cannot enjoy the faith of assurance, I live by the faith of adherence. Matthew Henry
Daily Devotion: Your Only Regret - by Greg Laurie -
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:16
Some nonbelievers might look at Christians and think we waste our lives and our time. Look at all the things we give up. Look at all the parties we've missed when we're in Bible studies or worship services instead.
They'll say, "What's wrong with you? Why do you have to go to church so much? And what is it with you that have to listen to Christian radio and read Christian books? Aren't you getting enough of that already? And why do you go out and feed homeless people or give your money to people on the other side of the world affected by some natural disaster?"
Why would we do that? Because we're people whose lives have been changed by Jesus Christ. And we know the only hope for this world is the gospel of Christ. Believe and follow-that is the primary purpose of the church in the world. It is to let our lights shine and preach the gospel to every living creature.
It isn't about programs; it's about people. It's about the gospel and doing our part to get this message out to even more people. We are all called to do that as Christians.
You can't do everything, but you can do something-and so can I. I can't win everyone to the Lord, but I can win some. Someone wisely stated, "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do."
Do what you can, while you can. Do what you can for the glory of God. Because on that final day, your only regret will be that you didn't do more.
FROM THE HEART
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"Folks, it's all beginning to unravel. America is in more danger of falling than at any time in its history. But I believe Bible prophecy predicts this very decline. From this point on, we believers have to get serious. We are going to face discouragement, disillusionment and, most certainly, persecution in the time between now and the Rapture. But don't be discouraged or disillusioned. The coming turmoil will provide us unrivaled opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel. So be ready to share your faith and your hope with those who need Christ. We still have time to reap a great harvest of souls for God's kingdom!" - Hal Lindsey
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