Prophecy Update Newsletter
April 25, 2017
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Are We Rapidly Approaching the End of the Age? - By Michael Hile - http://www.raptureready.com/2017/04/21/the-church-is-a-buffer-2/
Jesus' disciples came to him privately while He sat upon the Mount of Olives and asked Him three questions (Matthew 24:1-3). One question dealt with the time of the destruction of the temple. The other two questions were concerned with the end of the age. "...What will be the sign of your coming...?" and what will be the sign of "...the end of the age?" The "end of the age" question was answered by Christ at the beginning of His Olivet discourse.
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-14
Producing Good Fruit
Jesus told the Pharisees and Sadducees that they needed to produce good fruit (righteous works) like a tree that brings forth good fruit. If they did not produce good fruit, worthy for repentance, they were spiritually worthless to God. As a tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire, so would their destiny be if they did not produce good works that were worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:7-10, 7:15-20; Luke 3:7-9, 6:43-45).
Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 3:8-10
The principle that a tree should bring forth good fruit was taught by Jesus on several occasions. In the parable of the barren fig tree, Jesus used a fig tree (symbolic of Israel) that had not produced fruit for three years to represent the nation of Israel. The fig tree in the parable had not produced any good fruit (ripe figs) during the three years of Christ's ministry to the Jewish people. Jesus was telling the Jewish nation that His ministry with them was drawing to a close, and if they did not produce fruit within the next year, their opportunity to repent and accept Jesus as their Messiah would soon pass.
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, 'Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?' And he answered him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'" Luke 13:6-9
Since Israel did not produce good fruit (ripe figs) at Jesus' first coming, the nation was cut down, as a tree, in A.D. 70 by the Roman army, and the Jewish house of worship, the temple, was destroyed. Jesus' prophecy about the destruction of the temple, with not one stone left upon another, was accurately fulfilled (Matthew 24:2). As King Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom was cut down like a tree, taken from him and later restored, the nation of Israel, represented by the fig tree, was cut down for failing to recognize Jesus as their Messiah and not recognizing "the time of their visitation" (Daniel 4:1-37, Job 14:7-9, Luke 19:41-44). The Kingdom of God was taken away from Israel but will be restored after the Lord refines them "as silver is refined," and tests them "as gold is tested" at the end of the age (Matthew 21:42-43, Zechariah 13:7-9, 14:1-16).
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him. Matthew 21:43-44
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
Figs are symbolic of the Jewish people in several places in the Scriptures (Jeremiah 24:1-10, Hosea 9:8-10). When Israel did not produce good figs at Christ's first coming, He cursed the fig tree, which is symbolic of the Jewish nation of Israel (Matthew 21:17-20; Mark 11:11-14, 19-22).
And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it... And when evening came they went out of the city. As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered." And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God." Mark 11:11-22
The question posed earlier in Matthew concerning "What will be the sign of your coming?" is answered by Jesus with a parable (Matthew 24:32-34, Mark 13:28-30, Luke 21:29-32). The importance placed on this particular parable, as distinguished from the other parables, is magnified by its appearance in three of the gospels. In Matthew and Mark's versions of the parable of the fig tree, Christ tells us to "learn a parable of the fig tree" while Luke's version instructs us to "look at the fig tree and all the trees" ("look," "watch," or "behold").
Matthew's Version of the Fig Tree Parable
From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:32-34
The practical application Jesus gave was to be learned from observing the fig tree. When you see a (literal) fig tree with branches full of sap (becoming tender), and producing new leaves, these signs meant that summer was near. The spiritual application, hidden to many, teaches when the fig tree (symbolic of Israel) comes back to life, we are to know that Christ's return is near. The generation that sees Israel come back to life will not die off until all the events involved with the second coming of Christ take place. All current and future generations were to watch the fig tree (Israel) for signs of new life. This parable could not be properly understood until after Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans, and the Jewish people were scattered throughout the world.
Luke's Version of the Fig Tree Parable
Luke's version of the parable of the fig tree gives additional insight into what to watch for in order to understand when Christ will return (i.e., "the sign of your coming").
And he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Luke 21:29-32
We are told by Jesus in many Scriptures to "watch" for Christ's return (Matthew 24:42-43, 25:13, Mark 13:33-37, Luke 12:37-40, 21:36, Philippians 3:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6, 2 Timothy 4:8, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 9:28, Revelation 3:3, 16:15).
What are we to watch for? Several signs and indicators are given in the aforementioned Scriptures for the general time of Christ's return, and we are to watch for them as the Scriptures command. In the parable of the fig tree, Luke records Jesus' specific words where He said to "Watch the fig tree and all the trees" (Luke 21:29). (1)
When the fig tree (Israel) and all the trees (Gentile nations) come to life, the parable of the fig tree, which is a date specific and generation specific prophecy, begins its countdown to the return of Christ and the setting up of the Kingdom of God.
Has the Fig Tree (Israel) Put Forth Leaves (come to life)?
The Jewish people, displaced from their homeland for centuries, began showing signs of life during the second half of the 19th century (1850-1900) when waves of Jews (aliyah) started coming back to the land of Israel. Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), the "Father of Zionism," was the visionary behind the modern return of the Jewish people and reestablishment of a Jewish homeland. (2)
Herzl organized the first world congress of Zionism that met in Basel, Switzerland, in August 1897 and became the first president of the World Zionist Organization. (3) The goals of the organization were set forth in the Basle Program: "Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine, secured under public law." (4)
The Balfour Declaration, dated November 2, 1917, paved the way for the United Nations partition resolution for Palestine on November 29, 1947 and the subsequent formation of the state of Israel on May 14-15, 1948. The fig tree (Israel) came back to life during the first half of the 20th century (1900-1950), and Israel is now producing young figs (potential Jewish believers) that will be harvested at the end of the age.
Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?" says the Lord; "shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?" says your God. Isaiah 66:7-9
For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant. Job 14:7-9
In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit. Isaiah 27:6
And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. 2 Samuel 7:8-10
Have All the Trees (Gentile nations) Put Forth Leaves (come to life)?
Trees are symbolic of nations, kingdoms, and empires in several places in the Bible (Daniel 4:10-26; Ezekiel 17:22-24, 31:3-18; Judges 9:7-21). In Luke's version of the fig tree parable, many trees are pictured as coming to life around the same time as the fig tree (Luke 21:29-32). Jesus said to "watch the fig tree and all the trees." When they begin to show signs of life, by producing leaves, you are to "know" that the generation that sees this take place will also be the generation that sees the Kingdom of God established on earth.
So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Matthew 24:33 NASB
So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Mark 13:29 ESV
So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the Kingdom of God is near. Luke 21:31 ESV
The parable of the fig tree does not say that "we might know," or "we should know," that "the Kingdom of God is near." Christ proclaimed in all three gospels; Matthew, Mark, and Luke, that when "the fig tree and all the trees" put forth leaves, we were to definitely and emphatically "know" and "recognize" that "the Kingdom of God is near." The generation that witnesses "the fig tree (Israel) and all the trees (Gentile nations)" come to life was specifically chosen by Christ to usher in the Kingdom of God at the end of the age. When the fig tree (Israel) puts forth leaves, the generation that sees this take place is to "know" and "recognize" that His coming was "near, at the very gates."
The Proliferation of Nations
The growth of nations in the world is a long, evolutionary process where the date of a country's "formation" cannot always be objectively determined. England and France, for instance, were sovereign kingdoms during the medieval period, however England is not now a sovereign state (having passed sovereignty to the UK in 1707), and France is a republic founded in 1792 but refers to itself as the French Fifth Republic, formed in 1958. (5)
Independence dates for widely recognized states prior to 1919 should be treated with caution, since prior to the founding of the League of Nations, there was no international body to recognize nationhood, and independence had no meaning beyond self-recognition from the sovereign state itself (the role of the League of Nations was taken over by the United Nations after the Second World War). (6)
Since the formation, expansion, division, dissolving and reorganizing of nations is subject to wars, internal conflicts (coup d'état) and changes in leadership and governing bodies, the number of independent, sovereign states (also nations, countries) in the world has been subject to change. Factors for determining statehood have included independence dates, dates of constitutions, symbolic foundation dates and, more recently, international recognition from the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations. Dates of national formation vary slightly among varied sources, however the total number of independent, sovereign nations in the world today is considered to be 195-197 by several sources. (7), (8), (9), (10)
Before the 20th century (1899 and earlier), there were 44 countries that had achieved statehood. The 20th century saw 147 new sovereign states added, with many splitting off from the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Soviet Union. The first half of the 20th century (1900-1950) saw 38 new states created while the second half (1950-2000) experienced an unprecedented addition of 109 new, sovereign states. Only five nations have been recognized as sovereign states in the 21st century (2000 to date). (11)
The number of new nations in the world multiplied quickly after World War II (1945) and continued at a rapid pace for the next 50 years. This proliferation of new nations during the second half of the 20th century (1950-2000) abruptly ended on October 1, 1994 after Palau became a nation. Only five nations have become sovereign states since 1994 with the last, South Sudan, receiving statehood on July 9, 2011.
Creation of the League of Nations and United Nations
The forerunner of the United Nations was the League of Nations, an organization conceived in similar circumstances during the first World War, and established in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles "to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security." The League of Nations ceased its activities after failing to prevent the Second World War. (12) The name "United Nations" was coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was first used in the "Declaration by United Nations" on January 1, 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers. In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter.
The charter was signed on June 26, 1945 by representatives of the 50 countries. Poland, which was not represented at the conference, signed it later and became one of the original 51 member states. The United Nations officially came into existence on October 24, 1945, after the charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and a majority of other signatories. United Nations Day is celebrated on October 24th of each year. (13)
The Growth in Membership of the United Nations
Only independent, sovereign states can become members of the United Nations (UN). There are currently 193 member states in the UN, with the last member, South Sudan, joining on July 14, 2011. The main functioning bodies of the UN are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. All were established in 1945 when the UN was founded. (14)
The growth of membership in the United Nations was rapid during the second half of the 20th century (1950-2000). At its inception in 1945, 51 countries (original members) joined the organization. By 1950 there were 60 members, 80 in 1956, 135 in 1973, 185 in 1994, and 193 in 2011. (15) There are 54 countries and territories not currently in the United Nations. (16) On November 29, 2012, Palestine was granted the status of "Non-member observer state" but hasn't yet been admitted to the UN as a full member. (17) As of 2015, there are two permanent non-member observer states at the United Nations: The Holy See and Palestine. (18)
The Judgment of Nations
The judgment of nations and peoples at the end of the age (the harvest) is found throughout the Old and New Testaments and in corresponding passages in the book of Matthew (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43; 25:31-46, Zephaniah 3:8, Zechariah 14:1-19). Jesus' description of the end of the age after His return involves the gathering of all nations together by His angels, who will separate the people, as the sheep and goats are divided. The saved (sheep) will inherit the Kingdom of God and eternal life, and the unsaved (goats) will suffer the same fate as the devil and his angels.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world...' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels... And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. Matthew 25:31-46
Because the nations of the world have scattered the Jewish people throughout the world for nearly 2000 years (A.D. 70 to present) and have been, since Israel became a nation in 1948 till now, persistently harassing Israel to give up their land to obtain "peace and security," God will, at the end of the age, take vengeance on those who have been afflicting and oppressing His people (Deuteronomy 32:35-36).
For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it. Joel 3:1-3
The Peace and Security Agreement
While the nations of the world, with the United States taking the lead, are currently engaged in Middle East peace talks to force Israel to accept a diabolical peace agreement, these unwitting persecutors of Israel do not realize they are setting a trap for themselves that will lead to their "sudden destruction" (Luke 21:34-36, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, Revelation 3:10).
This judgment from God upon the global leaders, who are continuously pressing Israel to accept a false peace covenant (Isaiah 28:18, Daniel 9:27), will come upon them in the same manner as a woman having birth pangs. The implication is an increase both in frequency and intensity of warnings that will end abruptly with their "sudden destruction."
The four main participants pushing the Israel-Palestinian peace process, referred to as the Quartet (US, Russia, EU, UN), who use the words "peace and security" on a regular basis in their speeches and formal documents, send veiled signals to those who are watching for signs of Christ's return, that we are living in the "times and seasons" of the rapture and the day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:1-11).
The words "peace and safety" or "peace and security" are ancient code words used by the apostle Paul, in his essay to the Thessalonians, that could not be fully understood until Israel had been restored to their land and the Israel-Palestinian peace process had become a major concern of all the nations in the world.
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
The Day of the Lord and the Day of Redemption
The code words "peace and security," that are used frequently in the ongoing Israel-Palestinian peace process, signal the imminent arrival of "the times and seasons" of the catching up of the saints (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The repetitive use of the words "peace and security" by the globalists is also a harbinger of the "sudden destruction" linked to "the day of the Lord" that follows the translation of the saints (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
The rapture of the saints, which comes as a thief in the night (Matthew 24:42-44, Luke 12:35-40, Revelation 3:3, 16:15), and the day of the Lord, which also comes as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10), may well be describing events that are closely connected (contiguous). (Rapture-1 Thessalonians 1:10, 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, John 14:1-3, Titus 2:11-14; Day of the Lord-1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Joel 1:15-20, 2:1-11, Amos 5:18-20, Zephaniah 1:7-18)
The apostle Paul describes two types of people: Those who are caught off guard by "the day of the Lord" and those who escape "the day of the Lord." There are those who are in darkness, and those who are not; those who are overtaken, and those not overtaken; children of the light and day and those of the night and darkness; some who are awake and others who are asleep; some who are watching and are sober and others who do not watch or remain sober; those who receive wrath, and those who receive salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:4-9).
The day of the Lord brings wrath to some (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, 9; Luke 21:34-35, 2 Peter 3:10), and the day of redemption brings salvation to others (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30, Romans 8:19-23, Luke 21:28, 36, 2 Peter 3:9). For those living just prior to "the day of the Lord," the only way to escape "the day of the Lord" will be removal before it begins, which will be accomplished by the catching up of the saints on "the day of redemption" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30
Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Luke 21:28
But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day (the day of the Lord) come on you unexpectedly. For it (the day of the Lord) will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things (the day of redemption) that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:34-36 NKJV
The Parable of the Net
The coming to life of many nations during the 20th century also lends additional support and meaning to the Parable of the Net (also dragnet) where many people (also nations) are gathered together for judgment at the end of the age. Is there solid, Scriptural proof in the Bible that confirms we are nearing "the end of the age," and the generation that is now present on earth will see the return of Christ and the establishment of His Millennial Kingdom?
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:47-50
Are we living in the "times and seasons" just before "...the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus?" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, 9-10, 2 Peter 3:3-14, Jude 14-18).
The prophet Daniel was not given understanding of events that would take place at the time of the end; however, he did understand that God would give wisdom to those living in the end times who knew the Scriptures, especially the prophetic Scriptures, and understood "the times and seasons" of the coming of the Lord (Daniel 2:20-23, 2 Timothy 3:14-16, 1 Chronicles 12:32, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18-5:1-11).
But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase... but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. Daniel 12:4, 10
World Government and the Rise of Antichrist
The total number of sovereign, independent nations present in the world grew from 44 at the end of the 19th century (1900) to around 195 nations in just over 100 years. Nearly all the nations of the world (193) have agreed to the United Nations Charter and have become members since its formation in 1945. Since the growth of new nations in the world appears to have reached its climax, and the majority of nations now belong to a world order (UN) that wants to eliminate national borders and form a one world government, are "all the trees" (Gentile nations) alluded to in Luke's parable now in place for the rise of Antichrist and implementation of global government? Are we approaching the end of the age where one global ruler will create a surveillance society and control all commercial transactions involving buying and selling? (Daniel 7:15-27, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Revelation 13:1-18).
And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.
All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain... And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. Revelation 13:6-18 NASB
Watch the Fig Tree and All the Trees
Does conclusive evidence exist in the Scriptures and today's headlines that reveal the "times and seasons" of Christ's return? (Acts 1:7-9, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Hebrews 10:23-25, Luke 21:28-32). Are we seeing prophetic stage setting take place in the Middle East with Russia (Magog), Iran (Persia) and Turkey (Togarmah) forming alliances that will come against Israel as predicted by the prophet Ezekiel over 2500 years ago? (Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39).
A significant, but concealed indicator of the approaching end of the age is contained in Luke's version of the Parable of the Fig Tree. Jesus said to "Watch the fig tree and all the trees." Watching "all the trees," as we now know, meant watching all the nations as they come alive in conjunction with Israel before the end of the age. The proliferation of new nations during the 20th century gave new meaning to "watch...all the trees."
"The fig tree" (Israel) officially came back to life in 1948, and "all the trees" (Gentile nations) have come alive, some before, and more after Israel became a nation in 1948. There were seventy-five nations present in the world when Israel became a nation on May 14-15, 1948. After Israel's rebirth as a nation, 120 nations have been recognized as independent, sovereign states. (19)
Jesus told His apostles before His ascension that it was not for them "to know the times or the seasons" when the Kingdom of God would be established on earth (Acts 1:6-7). Rather, Christ reserved the understanding of this mystery about "the times and seasons' of His return for the generation that would see "the fig tree and all the trees" come to life (Luke 21:29-32, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18-5:1-11).
The Pharisees and Sadducees were spiritually blind to the signs of Christ's first coming (Matthew 16:1-3). When they asked Him for a sign, Jesus acknowledged their ability to interpret the weather, based upon the appearance of the sky, but they failed to grasp "the signs of the times" present everywhere. How much more are many of the religious leaders of this generation blind to the "signs of the times" that are heralding Christ's second coming?
After observing the coming to life of "the fig tree and all the trees" after World War II and during the second half of the 20th century (1950-2000), we can be assured, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the events that take place just before Christ's return are nearing fulfillment. This means His coming is "near, right at the door."
According to Christ's words, when "the fig tree and all the trees" put forth leaves (come alive), we are to absolutely and confidently "know" the Kingdom of God is near, and the generation that is living at that time "will not pass away until all is fulfilled." The preponderance of Scriptural and global evidence is overwhelming that we are the generation Christ was talking about.
(1) A Literal Translation of the Bible, Jay P. Green, Sr., The Interlinear Bible-Hebrew, Greek, English, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, copyright 1976
Unless specified otherwise, all scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV), NASB-New American Standard Version, or NKJV-New King James Version.
Is Israel planning to strike more Lebanese sites in next Hezbollah war? - By Yonah Jeremy Bob - http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Is-Israel-planning-to-strike-more-Lebanese-sites-in-next-Hezbollah-war-488907
In rare remarks, IDF MAG hints that he would approve more targets than were approved in the 2006 Lebanon War in the event of a new conflict between Israel, Hezbollah.
The IDF Military Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Sharon Afek hinted strongly on Tuesday that he will approve a wider range of Lebanese targets than were approved in the 2006 Lebanon War in the event of a new war with Hezbollah.
Speaking at a Ramat Gan conference of military Judge Advocate General (JAG) officers from as many as 20 countries around the world, Afek said that "Hezbollah's integration into state institutions raises questions of state responsibility."
While legal advisers like the MAG never completely share their hand in advance of a war of what targets they will approve, it is even rare for such advisers to publicly and specifically cite a potential targeting issue.
The statement was that much more unusual with an ongoing line of reports from the security establishment that in a future conflict with Hezbollah, the IDF would "take off the gloves" and attack wider Lebanese targets. In contrast, in the 2006 Lebanon War, the IDF overwhelmingly focused its attacks on Hezbollah controlled areas in order to avoid striking Lebanese-Sunni and Christian areas viewed as unaffiliated with Hezbollah's military actions.
However, since 2006, Israeli officials have said that Hezbollah has taken deeper control of the state and that the Lebanese state is now more directly supporting even Hezbollah's military efforts.
In the meantime, Arab media reported that Lebanon's neighbor Jordan has also warned the former of a possible upcoming altercation with Israel.
Jordan has heeded of the possibility that Israel will launch a military campaign against Lebanon, London-based Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat reported on Tuesday.
According to the daily publication Jordanian king Abdullah told Lebanese President Michel Aoun as well as Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that "there is a possibility that Israel will attack Lebanon."
Al-Hayat alleged that Abdullah made the statement towards the end of the Arab summit that was held recently on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea.
Both the Lebanese president as well as the prime minister have caught the media's attention recently.
Just this past weekend the Lebanese premier paid a visit to south Lebanon, where he strongly critiqued Shi'ite terror organization Hezbollah who have organized a tour for journalists along the country's northern border. Hariri then emphasized that the Lebanese army's presence was still dominant in the south of the country and that it was doing its job in the best way possible. Hariri also called on the UN to "help Israel and Lebanon" to speed the process aimed at obtaining a permanent ceasefire in south Lebanon.
President Aoun himself also sparked controversy some two months ago when he said that Hezbollah's weapons complete the Lebanese military's arsenal in a statement that accentuates the reason Israel is still as guarded as ever in its dealings with its northern neighbor.
Trump calls all US Senators for North Korea briefing - http://www.debka.com/article/26024/WHouse-calls-all-US-Senators-for-NKorea-briefing-
In view of escalating threats from North Korea, all 100 US senators were invited to the White House Wednesday for a rare classified briefing on the crisis from the administration's top security chiefs: Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, National Intelligence director Dan Coats and Chairman of the US chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. Vice President Mike Pence has interrupted his Asian trip to attend. The briefing is set for 1900 hours GMT.
President Donald Trump, who spoke Sunday with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe said: The status quo in North Korea is unacceptable. It's a big problem, has been for decades and we must finally solve it."
As North Korea prepares to mark the 85th anniversary on Tuesday of the founding of its Korean People's Army - a possible date for the regime to test military hardware - its official website warned Monday that Pyongyang will "wipe out" the United States if Washington starts a war on the peninsula.
US commercial satellite images have indicated increased activity around North Korea's nuclear test site, while Kim has said that the country's preparation for an ICBM launch is in its "final stage." Earlier, Pyonyang threatened to sink the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier which is leading a strike group toward the Korean peninsula along with two Japanese destroyers.
Xi told Trump that China strongly opposed North Korea's nuclear weapons program and hoped "all parties will exercise restraint and avoid aggravating the situation." This drew an angry response from North Korean media: The state-owned KCNA news agency suggested Beijing was "dancing to the tune of others" and warned China of "catastrophic consequences".
Trump Cabinet Members Praying, Studying the Bible Together - http://www1.cbn.com/beltwaybuzz/archive/2017/04/24/trump-cabinet-members-praying-studying-the-bible-together
Members of President Donald Trump's cabinet are gathering for prayer weekly.
Vice President Mike Pence and eight cabinet secretaries sponsor the sessions, which occur weekly in Washington.
It's led by the founder of Capitol Ministries, Ralph Drollinger, who started working on arranging the Bible study during the Trump team's transition to the White House.
Sponsors include Vice President Pence; Secretaries Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, Sonny Perdue, Rick Perry, Tom Price and Jeff Sessions; EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
These are some of the most influential people in the U.S. government gathering weekly to grow themselves spiritually.
"In terms of a country's health and direction, when its leaders are seeking God, the nation is in a position to be blessed by God in ways that are 'far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think,'" Drollinger tells Beltway Buzz referring to Ephesians 3:20.
Capitol Ministries also hosts weekly Bible studies in the House and Senate. The ministry has started Bible studies in a number of state capitols and is currently working on expanding into international capitols.
"This has been a wonderful time of prayer and fellowship as I am presently teaching through the Sermon on the Mount - as well has handing out my weekly written Bible study as a homework assignment on a particular topic," Drollinger continued.
Leaders of the Bible study say President Donald Trump is always welcome to join them.
Prayer has been an evident part of this administration with pastors often praying over Trump throughout the campaign.
Nearing Midnight: Posthumous Post Profoundly Personal - Terry James - http://www.raptureready.com/category/nearing-midnight/
Please indulge me as I yet again engage with personal memory of Easter season six years ago. It is a memory that I couldn't put out of the forefront of my thoughts even if I wanted to do so-which I don't.
Good Friday, April 22, 2011 was the day that, after a workout session, I felt as if my chest would explode. It was a widow maker heart attack.
Once the emergency guys got me to the hospital about 2 two miles from our home, my heart stopped. I was instantaneously in the presence of a throng of beautiful young people-male and female-who cheered vigorously, all the while bidding me to join them.
I started to do so, but everything grew dark around me and I was on the gurney being whisked toward the cath lab.
I heard a young man say he had to "hit him with the paddles."
I asked, "What paddles?" and he replied: "Your heart stopped and I had to use the defib paddles."
My heart stopped two more times that afternoon. Each time I was instantaneously in front of the same wildly cheering throng of young men and women who bid me to join them.
The third time I joined them and we were running a victory lap of some sort. They were looking over at me and laughing joyously, with their hands extended at full arms-length into the air.
The sensation was...well... heavenly. I have no other way of describing it. We were running-without any physical exertion whatsoever-toward some wonderful destination. (I have, in reflecting on this experience for years, come to the conclusion we were headed toward the Throne of God.)
I know these were the "cloud of witnesses" of Hebrews 12:1-3.
But, things grew dark again and I was again, after seemingly several seconds, on the cath lab table and the cardiologist interventionist was working on me. He had removed the arterial blockage.
Astonishingly, I had no permanent heart damage and have had absolutely no problem with my engine since. My life, however, continues to be affected every waking moment by that Good Friday trip to somewhere on the heavenly property that I will someday inherit-as will you, if you know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. (We are joint heirs with Christ, God's Word promises.)
So, with that memory indelibly etched in my spirit, I naturally-or perhaps supernaturally would be a better term-was reflecting on my trip of six years ago the other day as Easter 2017 approached.
One of my things to do every morning is to read The Omega Letter. This email newsletter is well known by most who love Bible prophecy, of course. It is the letter mailed daily to subscribers that was written by Jack Kinsella, perhaps the most prolific such writer I've known.
Jack was a dear, personal friend who went to claim his heavenly property inheritance in 2013. I miss him immensely, as do all who knew him. He was indeed a special friend and Christian brother.
More than that, he was a special teacher of all things biblical-especially of the prophetic Word of God. In that regard I don't miss him, because his many hundreds of articles continue to instruct, implore, exhort, admonish, and inspire on a daily basis. His writing is, amazingly, as fresh as the day he wrote it.
So it was on Saturday before this past Easter Sunday that I opened my Omega Letter.
There it was-Jack's inspiration and exhortation for this Easter. Only it was originally written April 23, 2011. That's right. It was written one day after my trip onto the heavenly property that Jack now owns for all of eternity. I probably shouldn't, but I envy him that fact...
Jack's words were wonderfully poignant and personal that day as he waxed eloquent yet simply in his own inimitable, communicative style.
Since there is no such word as coincidence in God's vocabulary, according to Jack's dear friend Hal Lindsey, I know that the Lord somehow used Jack's and my close friendship to convey this special message on the day following Good Friday.
Jack, in closing that Omega Letter, addresses the question: What happens when we die?
If the Bible is true and Jesus can be believed, then when a saved person closes his eyes in this life, he awakes fully conscious in the next - where he is whisked by the angels into heaven... There is a choice. But it is admittedly limited. One can repent and trust Jesus or one can face God clothed in one's own righteousness and see how things work out...
Jack pointed out in the article that, tragically, the rich man Jesus told about in the rich man and Lazarus story is still in the place of torment, eternally regretting depending on his own righteousness to get him to Heaven. Jack's posthumous post delivers to me the profoundly personal exhortation to do more to reach the lost with the Gospel at every opportunity-opportunity I've been given by having been returned to earth for a while longer.
My Review of "Rapture Ready...Or Not?"
Over the last 35 years, I have literally read hundreds of books on Bible Prophecy and End Time signs. I especially enjoy books on the Rapture, and I have read almost every Rapture-related book published. In all those years, devouring thousands of pages, and millions of words, I have not read a better book on the Rapture than, Rapture Ready...Or Not?
Terry James might be physically blind, but he is spiritually sharp and well discerning beyond most authors. In "Rapture Ready...Or Not?" Terry has nailed the pre-trib Rapture, and removed any doubt what so ever about the Church going through the Tribulation. With great insight and Godly discernment, Terry explains with simple, yet profound words, why and how that he has come to believe the ways he does about the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the End Times scenario. I think after reading "Rapture Ready...Or Not?" you too will believe as Terry does, and be Ready for the Rapture like never before! - Randy Thomas - Publisher / Editor - Prophecy Update
For more information and or to get your copy of "Rapture Ready...Or Not?" use this link: http://www.raptureready.com/terry/book35.html
Are You Missing What God Is Doing While Holding Out For Something Bigger? - Karl Vaters - http://www.christianitytoday.com/karl-vaters/2017/april/missing-god-holding-out-for-something-bigger.html
When we get to heaven will God ask some of us "Why did you look down on the ministry I gave you?"
God doesn't always show up in our lives and ministries the way we want him to.
Because, even though we want to do great things for God, our definition of great isn't always the same as God's definition of great.
We all have great opportunities for ministry. Don't turn them down or belittle them when they don't match your expectations.
To illustrate how this often plays out in our lives, especially as pastors of smaller churches, let me piggyback off an old parable many of you have heard, and maybe even told.
Waiting For God To Show Up
Once upon a time, a man heard that there was a flood coming that would destroy everything around him. He had no way of getting out in time, so he asked God to rescue him and God told him he would.
Shortly after praying, a high-profile 4X4 drove up to the house through the rising floodwaters, stopping at his front door to offer the man a ride.
"No thanks," said the man. "God will rescue me."
As the flood continued to rise, the man found himself stuck on the second floor of the house. A boat floated by, and the people on the boat threw out a lifeline to offer him a ride.
"No thanks," said the man. "God will rescue me."
Later, as the water was about to overwhelm the house, the man was trapped on the roof. A helicopter flew in and dropped a rope ladder.
"No thanks!" yelled the man over the whir of the chopper blades. "God will rescue me!"
The flood rose and the man drowned.
When he arrived in heaven, he asked God "why didn't you rescue me like you promised?"
To which God responded, "I sent a truck, a boat and a helicopter. Why weren't they good enough for you?"
God's Idea Of Success Is Different Than Ours
I think a lot of pastors are like that man. Including me, at times.
We're regularly offered great opportunities for ministry. But sometimes we turn them down or belittle them because they're not what we expected.
The church isn't big enough, the ministry doesn't match our idea of greatness, we don't feel called, and the like.
I wonder if, when we get to heaven and ask the Lord why our ministry wasn't bigger, he'll respond with, "I gave you a hurting church to pastor, neighbors in spiritual and moral crises, and a family that needed you to be a loving spouse and parent. Why wasn't that ministry big enough for you?"
Daily Jot: The ex "president's" militant arm Antifa - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week pointed his finger directly at the ex-"president's" Administration and said that the lack of border security and immigration law enforcement allowed the lethal MS13 gang to take root in the US. The Daily Jot has reported in the past how MS13 and the Islamic State have infiltrated the US and work in tandem in drug and human trafficking, death and destruction-both allowed to incubate and mature under the lawlessness promoted by the previous Administration. There is yet another group that not only the previous administration allowed to foment, but that the leftist political machine is utilizing as a militant arm of far-left liberal politics, putting American citizens in harm's way.
Edmond Kozak of PoliZette reports that this militant group ventured into the public in a big way during a pro-Trump free speech rally at the University of California Berkeley campus on April 15. Masked men and women wearing black violently disrupted the Trump rally by throwing bricks and M-80 explosives into the crowd and physically assaulting the Trump supporters. Some footage of the event documented one attacker hitting a peaceful Trump supporter over the head with a bicycle chain and lock. According to The Gateway Pundit, the police chief in Berkeley ordered officers to stand down and allowed the violence. Trump supporters fought back in self-defense and the group, numbering in hundreds, ran away.
Finally, police arrested 23 and confiscated knives, stun guns and poles from the attackers of the militant group that calls itself Antifa. Antifa stands for "anti-fascist action" and, by its own definition, is an organization of anarchists and communists fighting to end fascism. In reality, they are the militant arm of the radical leftists who are protesting President Donald Trump and his Administration. Antifa is working unofficially and deniably in collaboration with the ex-"president's" Organizing for Action, which boasts a following of protesters some 30,000 strong with 250 offices across the country. OFA is the Soros-funded $40 million front group for the ex "president's" shadow government and leads other non-profits in signaling protests across the country. Antifa shows up as the "enforcer" to violently dispirit pro-Constitutional Americans.
Antifa is a terrorist group similar to Hamas, which is one of the militant arms of the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority, for example, poses as the legal representative of the "Palestinian" people, but in reality, it is calling the shots on terrorism in Israel. Antifa is emerging as the shadow government's militant arm. Of course, there is plausible deniability because of the "arm's-length" association with the group. But the members are the same, the beliefs are the same, and the goal is the same-to undermine the US government and foment a socialist takeover of America. This is not a drill. It's real. Jesus said in Matthew 24:4, "Take heed that no man deceive you." Do not be deceived by denials, especially when these people justify violence in the name of protecting social justice and free speech while, in reality, they oppress both.
Daily Devotion: A Conquering Victor - Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. -Luke 9:51
It offends me when movies about the life of Christ present Him as losing control, almost as though everything was going great until one of His disciples betrayed Him, and He was taken against His will and crucified.
This was always the plan of God from the very beginning. Jesus spoke of it frequently. He would tell His disciples, in effect, "Guys, listen to what I'm saying. I am going to be betrayed. I am going to be crucified. And I am going to rise again on the third day." Somehow this went right over their heads. They just didn't get it.
Jesus did not go into Jerusalem as a helpless victim; He went as a conquering victor in full control of the circumstances. And here is the amazing thing: He knew what was ahead.
I think all of us, at one time or another, have wished we could have known what the future was. We've thought, "If I would have known this, I would have never done that." But there are times when I'm glad I don't know what is ahead. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
Jesus knew everything. That is why, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Bible says He sweat, as it were, great drops of blood and said, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42).
So the Bible says He "steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51). He would let nothing or no one stop Him from His course.
Why? He knew there was no other way we could be forgiven of our sins. He knew there was no other way we could come into a relationship with Him. So He went to the cross for you and me.
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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