Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Why Teach the Rapture of the Church? - by pastor Mike Taylor - http://pastormiketaylor.blogspot.com/2018/04/why-teach-rapture-of-church.html
47 "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." (1st Corinthians 15:47-54)
The above opening verses describe a reality that many of us will experience, I believe soon in this time of the end of this age. It describes the 'Harpazo" or the forceful removal of the church from this earth in a instant, or the twinkling of an eye. Some people just cannot wrap their minds around such a concept. Many don't believe what the Bible shows us to be truth.
Paul was the first to make this known to the world, as it had never been taught before Paul called it a "mystery" or something not revealed in the past. The prophet Isaiah approached the doctrine in chapter 26, when he described the coming of the Lord to those in his time period.
19 "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
21 For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain." (Isaiah 26:19-21)
I've noticed that as you read Isaiah, much of the words the prophet writes lines up with the prophecy that John wrote in the final book of your Bible or Revelation of Jesus Christ. But until Paul fleshed out the concept and actually addressed the coming of the Lord for His church, then many people who read the Old Testament couldn't see what Isaiah was saying.
A FIRST CENTURY BELIEF
I've spoken of the doctrine that was believed in the 1st Century church but was squashed in the Middle Ages by the ruling theocracy of a "church" whose main goal was power and authority over other men. The doctrine was revived in the 19th century, as the Reformation gave men the ability to discern through God's Holy Spirit what the Words of God written actually meant. This doctrine was written for our time, not when it was written, as we are the last generation before Jesus comes again.
I've always believed that the Bible clearly teaches a Pre-Trib (HARPAZO) rapture of the church, not because I look for a so called "great escape" as some scoff, but because I embrace the belief that it is "Victory in Jesus" and that the church is not appointed to wrath that falls on this earth starting in Revelation chapter 6 all the way through chapter 19 of the destruction in Divine retribution of those who are in rebellion against Almighty God and God judges them as His patience has come to an end.
The Bible clearly teaches a Pre-Tribulation rapture that puts the last days and the Tribulation into context that is consistent with the overall flow of Bible prophecy.
That is the only reason I teach and believe in the removal of God's church prior to the Tribulation as it makes no difference to me if someone else does not believe in the doctrine and embraces another point of view, as the timing of the rapture plays no role in our salvation. Of all the doctrines of the Bible, this one is hotly contested among "brethren" who do not believe what they read, or fail to discern the meaning of the Words.
We are saved by faith through grace and the person believes that He is coming again, as promised, and will keep all of the many other promises that are spelled out in your Bible, including being an Advocate before the Righteous Judge of all the earth.
The believers faith is in the scripture that I so love to quote and believed as a small boy that God the Father sent His Son into the world to save all who come to Him.
16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)
But,( there's that word) the timing of the rapture of the Church is central to the understanding of the overall BIG picture of the last days.
We are in the last days and it is a different era than the coming Tribulation period. The "last days" are used throughout the whole of the Bible in the context of the "Church Age" that we are now coming to the end of the period known also as the "Age of Grace".
It all began at Pentecost when the newly indwelt by the Holy Spirit apostles rushed from the upper room to the street proclaiming the salvation of God and the population thought they were drunk.
"Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But THIS IS THAT WHICH was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass IN THE LAST DAYS saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:" (Acts 2:13-17)
The last days that we speak of is the Age of the Church that we are living in and near at its end, whereas the 70th week of Daniel prophecy is called the "Time of Jacob's Trouble also known as the Tribulation. These are two different "dispensations" of God and it is central to the understanding of the times that we now live in.
The apostle Paul referred to this age, as the "dispensation of the grace of God".
2 "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)" (Ephesians 3:2-4)
Paul called the conclusion of this present time the "Dispensation of the fullness of times".
9 "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ." (Ephesians 1:9-12)
DISPENSATIONS OF THE BIBLE
During our current dispensation, believers are indwelt by God's Holy Spirit as the Apostle John reminds us:
2 "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1st John 4:2-4)
Note the context of what John speaks of? The spirit of anti-Christ is already in the world, even in John's day, but this spirit cannot overcome the Church saints, because He Who dwells in us (The Holy Spirit) is greater than the spirit of anti-Christ.
But this same prophet, writing of the same Anti-Christ who will come in the flesh during the Tribulation will over come the saints says:
"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to OVERCOME them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." (Revelation 13:7)
Since the Apostle John wrote both passages, and they cannot be simultaneously true, the flow of the Bible is interrupted if the Church Age is concurrent with the Tribulation.
I've spoken of this in past messages, that if the 'Anti-Christ' is given power to overcome the saints, will he also be given power to overcome the Holy Spirit? Since John tells us that He (Jesus) had overcome the world, the Anti-Christ cannot overcome those who have God's Holy Spirit, but John tells us that he will overcome the saints. So the only explanation is that those who are saints in the Tribulation are not sealed with God's Holy Spirit and are not the church, but Tribulation saints. The Holy Spirit will still be moving, but each saint must guard their salvation to the very end as they will not be sealed with a guarantee of their salvation.
This is showing that God is not given the Anti-Christ power over Himself, the Holy Spirit of God. That leaves two possibilities apart from the Pre-Tribulation rapture in an analysis of the passage.
The first is that Jesus lied to us, that He would come to us and never leave us and we would always have the Comforter, that is until the tribulation comes and the Comforter would be withdrawn from the Church or the vessels He indwells and leaves them on their own to battle the Anti-Christ. Now we know that Jesus is God and does not lie, and He said He would NEVER leave us or forsake us. So strike that possibility.
The apostle Paul makes that clear that the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn back to Pre-Pentecostal manifestations on the earth, before the "WICKED' is revealed:
6 "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2nd Thessalonians 2:66-10)
The Holy Spirit is the power of God holding back complete evil overtaking this world, and He indwells each believer who has come to Christ Jesus and proclaimed by faith, their Savior. For when the Holy Spirit indwelled believers are removed, then Satan will be allowed to attempt to destroy all mankind and receive worship for himself.
For a pre-Trib Rapture to be a false doctrine means our generation was chosen out of all others in Church history to face the greatest spiritual trial the world has ever known -- without the Comforter that Jesus promised would indwell us until He comes. That is a biblical contradiction.
The second possibility is that John was either lying or mistaken when he said the spirit of antichrist cannot overcome indwelt believers.
In either case, the promises of Scripture are broken. Since we know that Scripture cannot be broken, and that Jesus never lied, as He was sinless, then the only possible explanation is that the Pre-Tribulation rapture is the Truth of God's Word.
THOSE WHO DON'T BELIEVE.
In all my years in the ministry, I have heard every explanation of why the belief in a pre-Trib rapture of the church is nothing but a "great escape" and scoff that it is a false doctrine. Those who misunderstand the clear meaning of God's Word have not had their eyes opened to the words of Paul as I have spoken of this great Mystery, that only Paul reveals the truths of "Grace through Faith" and the "Harpazo or rapture of the church" which until the Apostle Paul had never been spoken of in the Words of your Bible. That is why in each case, Paul calls it a "mystery" or something that had been hidden. I believe the One who opened the "mystery" to Paul was none other than our Lord Jesus when Paul was in the wilderness for 3 years being taught before he even showed himself to the other apostles in Jerusalem.
But, its opponents will spare no effort to 'prove' that it is a false doctrine, as if the timing of the Rapture were somehow of eternal significance. It is not.
The eternal significance of the Rapture is this:
14 "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1st Thessalonians 4:14-18)
POINT AND COUNTER-POINT
Now with these two opposite opinions clearly in view, let us try and pull this all together by starting with the Words of Jesus in Matthew:
3 "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." (Matthew 24:3-6)
Jesus warned that there will be one who comes in his own name and will deceive many, as most of Israel will be fooled:
"I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." (John 5:43)
Even today, Israel has been looking for a "political messiah" much as they did in the time of Jesus that would rid them of the Roman occupation and today, to give them "peace and security" in their own land from their enemies that surround them. There will come a man, possibly soon, who will give them what they have been longing for, at least temporarily, and will receive him as their "messiah".
They have never believed up to this point that they needed a "spiritual Messiah" to save them from their sins, as they had the Law of Moses, even though we know the law kills and no one is able to keep the law perfectly. Jesus was the only "Man/God" on earth who ever did. It is why the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah, as they were looking for a warrior King, much like King David to destroy the Romans. Jesus just didn't fit their pre-conceived notions of who their "Messiah" would be, as they needed a warrior, not a suffering servant who came to die for the sins of the world.
So if one looks at the coming Anti-Christ, should you be so unfortunate to actually see him in the flesh, then if he is standing on the ground, instead of meeting you in the air, then you will know that he is an imposter, no matter what magic trick he performs to attempt to deceive you.
In summary, the Pre-Tribulation rapture is NOT a "great escape" for the church, is is a necessary evacuation of the Holy Spirit's restraining influence and allowing Satan to have full sway of men and women upon the earth to deceive and destroy them. So since the Holy Spirit resides in each of the Church members, or the body of Christ as a deposit of future glorification, then with the Holy Spirit being withdrawn, so will every believer that has His Spirit residing within our spirit.
If you remove the doctrine and the removal of God's people from this earth in the coming rapture of the church, then the chronology of Bible prophecy is thrown into chaos.
Although the doctrine of the rapture of the church has no "salvation value" as we are saved by "Grace through Faith" not of works, lest any man should boast, it has no eternal consequences to anyone that they must believe in the Pre-Tribulation rapture. They can believe or choose not to believe in this doctrine, as it has no salvation attached to it. I find no particular need to convert a believer to my own understanding of the last days. BUT, I stress the doctrines, as those who have not come to faith in Jesus Christ will be faced with the coming horror known as the Tribulation and the even more destructive Great Tribulation that will destroy nigh 80-90% of all mankind. Prophecy is a great witnessing tool to those who are lost.
I believe those who are found in Christ, when the trumpet sounds and they realize that they are being taken to meet Jesus Christ in the air will be as I am, raising my hands and praising God, knowing that they have been wrong to reject the doctrine. I have people in my own family who fear the coming tribulation and what will happen to their children and other loved ones. Sadly, they have no blessed Hope of being removed from this planet before the wrath of God falls upon all who are left.
10 "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (Revelation 3:10-11)
Our Risen Lord proclaims to the Apostle John when speaking of the coming Tribulation that He will remove each of us from this planet, not through the Tribulation as some believe, but completely away from the time and space of this coming event. I have proclaimed in the past of the Greek Word that tells us this in the phrase "will keep thee" which states to be forcefully removed from point A to point B away from the time period or place.
But those who fear the coming Tribulation who do not have the assurance that "we are not appointed to wrath".
8 "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." (1st Thessalonians 5:8-11)
Yes, my reader, Jesus is coming soon and will catch many believers asleep, and the whole world will wonder where millions of people have gone to. The left behind leadership will attempt plausible excuses and explanations of what has happened, but they speak falsely and attempt to blind the masses to the "snatching away" of the Church of the Living God who has been their blessed Hope.
11 "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:11-14)
To re-emphasize I must restate that salvation is given by God as a gift of His grace. It is through faith in the finished work of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, when He shed His blood on a Roman instrument of death, the cross. His shed blood if full payment for our sins, and His resurrection is our guarantee of our future glorification to be just like Him.
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2 "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1st John 3:1-3)
SO WHY TEACH THE RAPTURE?
But I have said all this to answer the question, "Why teach a pre-tribulation rapture of the church?" Because without this doctrine that draws the Bible's prophecy into a coherent chronology of events, then Bible prophecy has no context, as without it, it makes no sense. I believe God has been most clear in the concept of the removal of the Church and I warn those who are playing church, warming a pew, or use the church as nothing but a social event, have missed the message of salvation and are doomed to endure, or most likely die in the coming Tribulation.
Those whose eyes are opened by God's Holy Spirit feel the dread of being cast into the tribulation without God. And those who do eventually find God in the coming period of "Jacob's trouble" will most likely die a martyrs death. I warn those who are lost in their sins and have not made Jesus Christ, Lord of their life, changed their mind about God, repented of their sins, and asked Jesus into their heart and lives that there is coming a time that I would not want my worst enemy to endure. Not them and not you. The obligation to preach the Word of God in prophecy looking forward to the coming of our Lord for His Church and the beginning of the Tribulation is what I have been called to do. As a minister of Christ I can do no other.
Search your Bible, and be a good Berean and find out if what I have said is true. Ask God to lead you into all Truth...as Jesus said "Thy Word is Truth".
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2nd Timothy 2:15)
We are to study diligently, as it is our insurance of not being fooled by false teachers or false prophets and succumb to end time deception that Jesus said would be a sign of our times. As a Watchman on the Wall, I plead with you to look to Jesus now, the Author and Finisher of our faith. The Harpazo of the Church, (rapture) is close, even at the door, as Jesus will someday soon burst through the clouds and cry with a loud voice "Come up hither".....WILL YOU BE READY?
This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying you find Jesus before the Trumpet calls. If you need prayer, counseling, or just a listening ear, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org , of visit me online for more biblical messages from the Word of God. God bless you all.
TILL WE MEET AT JESUS FEET
Lies of The "Occupation" - By Stephen M. Flatow - http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=2206
A Pennsylvania high school teacher, who says he was deprived as a teenager, is now taking it out on his students--by lying to them about Israel.
Sam Schindler, co-founder and history teacher at the Stone Independent School, a private school in Lancaster, Pa., explains in The Forward this week how the "truth" about Israel was hidden from him.
His teachers only taught him about the positive side Israel, he complains. "What was kept from me then were images of the occupation, of pulverized houses, of bloody civilians and of terrified children. ... The occupation or lives of Palestinians never appeared."
So now, Schindler is getting his revenge. He's been teaching his students at Stone Independent all about "the occupation and oppression."
And--big surprise--at the end of last semester's course, Schindler is proud to laud their findings. He notes that "the class collectively reached a universal conclusion about Israel and Palestine: The oppression of Palestinians is not sustainable, nor is it justifiable."
Dear Stone students, I'm sorry to tell you that Mr. Schindler has been lying to you. Israel's occupation of the Palestinians ended 23 years ago.
Here's what Mr. Schindler didn't tell you. When Yitzhak Rabin was elected prime minister of Israel in 1992, he faced a dilemma. On the one hand, he recognized that allowing the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"), and in the Gaza Strip, would pose a grave threat to Israel's existence. Israel would be just nine miles wide in its middle, living next to a state run by terrorists and fascist dictators.
But on the other hand, Rabin didn't want Israel to continue ruling over the Palestinian Arabs who reside in those territories. So he and his aides devised the Oslo Accords, which ended Israel's occupation of the Palestinians and gave them something close to statehood, but without endangering Israel.
In 1995, Prime Minister Rabin withdrew Israel's forces from the cities in Judea-Samaria where 98 percent of the Palestinians reside. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon later withdrew from all of Gaza. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinians came to an end.
The only "occupation" of the Palestinians currently in force is the 23-year occupation by the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, and the occupation of Gaza by Hamas, which is now entering its 11th year.
If any of you ever has the opportunity to visit the "occupied" Palestinians, you'll be surprised to discover that the Israeli "occupiers" whom Mr. Schindler taught you about are nowhere to be found. There's no Israeli military governor. The Israeli military administration that once ruled the Palestinian-inhabited areas was dismantled long ago.
The Palestinians' schools are run by Palestinian principals and teachers. The courts have Palestinian judges. The streets are policed by the Palestinian police and security forces.
When elections are held, the candidates and the voters are all Palestinians. Pretty much the only thing that the P.A. can't do is import tanks, planes, Iranian "volunteers" or North Korean missiles.
The only time Israeli troops enter Palestinian-inhabited areas is when they are chasing down a terrorist. Going into some Palestinian town for an hour or two to catch a bomb-thrower or a sniper hardly constitutes an "occupation" of the Palestinians.
Yes, Israel has checkpoints set up along its border with the P.A., and it's a shame if that inconveniences some Palestinian travelers. Just like it's a shame that every one of us is inconvenienced every time we have to go through a security checkpoint at an American airport. But checkpoints are set up in Israel and in U.S. airports for the same good reason: to keep terrorists from blowing us up. That's not an "occupation." That's called self-defense.
The current situation in the territories is not a perfect solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. But we live in an imperfect world. The current arrangements in the territories allow nearly all of the Palestinians to live under their own government.
They live in an entity that is close to statehood in every respect except for the few aspects that would most endanger Israel's existence.
Sam Schindler's notions about Israel and the Palestinians seem to have been frozen in his adolescence. He's so angry about having been "deprived" by his own teachers that he hasn't noticed how much the Middle East has changed in the meantime.
It's a whole new world for Israel and the Palestinians, Mr. Schindler. It's time you started telling your students the truth about it.
The End Times According To Zechariah Part 2 - Jack Kelley - https://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/the-end-times-according-to-zechariah-part-2-conclusion/
A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you.
I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. (Zech 14:1-2)
Zechariah 14 ... The LORD Comes and Reigns
A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.(Zech 14:1-2)
As the final battle begins, the armies of the anti-Christ will attack and for a little while control the Holy City. It will be a terrible time for those who have not heeded the Lord's earlier warning to flee into the desert. Their belongings will be taken from them and distributed to their enemies right before their eyes.
Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. (Zech 14:3-5)
When it looks as if all is lost, the Lord will descend to the Mount of Olives, to the place He left from nearly 2000 years ago. As He does, an earthquake will cause the Mount of Olives to split in half forming a deep valley that runs to the Mediterranean in the west and to the Dead Sea in the east. I've been told that on a geological survey map you can see the fault line and trace the path of the coming earthquake. It will run straight through the current Temple Mount just west of the Mt. Of Olives, causing it, the Dome of the Rock, the Al Aksa Mosque and much of the Old City to disappear into the bottom of this valley.
The Lord's return will cause the immediate defeat of His enemies, after which He'll make His triumphal entry into the city followed by His legions of Holy Warriors.
On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime-a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.(Zech, 14:6-9)
According to Ezekiel, the water that will fill this newly formed valley to create a mighty river originates under the Coming Temple, located a few miles to the north. Connecting Ezekiel 47 to this passage, a growing number of scholars have come to believe that the next Temple will be built just north of Jerusalem, and not on the current Temple Mount. (I've held this view for almost 10 years and have documented my reasons in an article called "The Coming Temple".)
In his vision, Ezekiel saw the water flowing from beneath the south side of the Temple and Zechariah shows it doing so on the day of the Lord's return. Since the earthquake will have buried the current Temple Mount earlier in the same day, it's easy to see how this all fits together. In any case, when the cascading water reaches this valley, half flows east into the Dead Sea and half flows west into the Mediterranean, forever drowning the rubble from the current Temple mount.
In the idiom of the day, flowing water was said to be living because it had a voice (as in a babbling brook) and because it nurtured life, whereas a pool of still water became stagnant and caused everything in it to eventually die. The bath of purification (mikvah) had to be taken in living water. Immersion in the mikvah brought ceremonial cleansing from sin and symbolized new life. Christian baptism originated from this Jewish tradition. Jesus compared the Holy Spirit to living water in John 7:37, in that He's the source of our new life, cleansing and nurturing us, and in Ezekiel 47 this living water from beneath the Temple freshens the Dead Sea allowing fish to thrive there again, and fruit trees to grow along its banks.
This will also be the day of fulfillment for Philippians 2:9-11; Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
But that's not all. Psalms 2 and 110 will also be fulfilled along with a host of other prophecies, as the Messiah-King takes possession of that which He's paid for, Planet Earth. In the process the topography of the land surrounding Jerusalem will be forever changed.
The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.(Zech. 14:10-11)
The Arabah contains the Jordan River and the Dead Sea and continues to the Red Sea. It's the lowest place on Earth, over 1300 feet below sea level at the Dead Sea. The area south of Jerusalem will be lowered to match it, while the city itself will be elevated. And finally, for the first time in thousands of years, it will be secure, a City of Peace at last.
This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. On that day men will be stricken by the LORD with great panic. Each man will seize the hand of another, and they will attack each other. Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected-great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.(Zech. 14:12-14)
Shades of Raiders of The Lost Ark! A Neutron bomb liquefies flesh while leaving solid structures like buildings, and apparently skeletons, intact. Some have estimated that as many as 400 million combatants will be assembled for the Battle of Armageddon not counting animals. Perhaps this is what produces the volume of liquid necessary to form a river of blood 175 miles long and 4.5 feet deep as mentioned in Revelation 14:20.
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty.(Zech. 14:16-21)
We also learn from Ezekiel 45:21-25 that three of the 7 Levitical Feasts will still be celebrated in the Millennium; Passover (but no lamb), Unleavened Bread, and Tabernacles. All the nations on Earth, having been repopulated by Tribulation Believers who were too late for the rapture but survived the Great Tribulation, will be required to observe these feasts. The Lord will dwell among His people, and His city will be the Holy City once again. And finally the commandment He gave to Joshua to destroy every trace of the Canaanites will have been fulfilled.
In this brief view of the End Times, Zechariah has revealed an enormous amount of information. These three chapters have given us glimpses of
1. A World Confederation aligned against Israel
2. The Time of Jacob's Trouble (The Great Tribulation)
3. The National Conviction of Israel
4. The presentation and acceptance of Jesus as their rejected Messiah
5. A National Day of Atonement
6. The Cleansing of Their Hearts
7. Purging the land of idols and false prophets
8. The partial success of the invasion of Jerusalem
9. The appearance of the Messiah with the Saints
10. The Victory of God's People
11. A changed and renovated Holy Land
12. The establishment of the Messianic Kingdom
13. The punishment of the Nations
14. The Celebration of the Kingdom Feasts
15. The complete restoration of the people of God to a Holy Nation
No other Old Testament Prophet gives us as much detail about the End of the Age in such a brief description. Not until the Revelation, written nearly 600 years later, would such a clear presentation be made. If you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.
Crown of Life - Nathele Graham - email@example.com
Temptation is a problem for most Christians. Temptation by itself isn't a sin, but when we succumb to temptation we start down the slippery slope to all out rebellion and defiance of God. The temptations of this life go back a long way...back to the Garden of Eden. Every temptation we face has its foundation in the lies of Satan. When we give in and allow the temptation to become action, that's when we leave the narrow path our Lord lays before us. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished bringeth forth death." James 1:13-15. That first sin, which occurred in the Garden of Eden, brought death to the entire world. God had made it clear to Adam that eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil would bring death, but when Eve chatted with Satan and temptation was put before her she chose to believe Satan's lies rather than God's truth. She ate the fruit and Adam chose to follow her in sin. Satan uses the same lies he used all those years ago and they still work. He confuses us, he causes us to question God by twisting His word, and he appeals to our carnal desires. Temptation to sin doesn't come from God, but Satan wants you to fail. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7. It may not be easy to resist temptation, but with God's help you can.
Solomon said that there's nothing new under the sun, and so it is with Satan's tactics. What he used on Eve worked, so he still uses the same ruse to entice us into sin. John described worldly lust in a threefold way. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." 1 John 2:16-17. When we are facing temptation it's hard to remember the bigger picture of God's perfect plan. Christians need to remember that our eternal life is through Jesus Christ and this mortal life we live needs to honor Him. Lust begins when we look at a temptation rather than looking away. When you're tempted to compromise God's truth, make a God-honoring decision and turn away. Don't put yourself in situations where the temptation to sin will move from lust of the eyes to sin. Pride will always be a precursor to sin. Do you feel as if you're being taken advantage of at work? Don't allow pride to cause you to gossip or slack off on your responsibilities. Are you tempted into a sexual relationship that is outside of a one man/one woman marriage? Don't let Satan's lies convince you that it's alright with God. If you keep your heart tuned to Jesus you will find it's easier to resist temptation. Before you know it resisting will become a habit and Satan will leave you alone. Well, he won't leave you entirely alone but will find new ways to attack. Resist him.
Pride was the root of Satan's fall and he is still filled with it. He even tried to tempt Jesus using the same tactics he uses on us. Jesus had been fasting in the wilderness prior to beginning His ministry on earth. Satan first appealed to His physical need by challenging Him to turn stones into bread (Matthew 4:3), then he challenged Jesus' pride by challenging Him to prove He was God by jumping off the temple so the angels would save Him (Matthew 4:6), and finally Satan tempted Him to bypass the cross by offering Him the kingdoms of the world in exchange for Jesus worshipping that liar (Matthew 4:9). Satan twisted God's word in offering these temptations, but Jesus could not be manipulated. He answered each challenge by using Scripture without twisting it. Satan didn't have a chance. Jesus is our example. Sin is dark and ugly, but following Jesus will keep you walking in the Light. "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12. To stay in His light we need to study Scripture and write it upon our hearts. Then when Satan comes at us with lies we will be able to stand strong. We can easily recall God's truth and resist Satan's false offers. That takes effort on our part. Instead of watching television, which is filled with the ugliness of the sin Satan promotes, pick up your Bible and study. Instead of filling your mind with the filth being spewed on the latest sit-com, talk show, or soap opera (which all promote homosexuality, adultery, and demean people) turn to God. Learn His truth, walk in His light, and resist the temptation to sin.
Don't allow yourself to be so prideful as to think that you're immune to falling into temptation and sin. Christians are targeted by Satan to fail in our walk of faith because our failures make Jesus look bad in the eyes of the world. A non-believer doesn't resist temptations because they have no moral standard to use as a guide. A Christian, on the other hand, has Scripture to guide our choices. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:12-13. Scripture is filled with examples of people who faced temptations and either gave in to the temptation or rose above it. King David gave in to temptation when Bathsheba tempted him. When confronted with his sin he brokenheartedly went to God for forgiveness. On the other hand, Queen Esther faced the temptation of protecting her own life and keeping silent or taking information to the king, her husband, that would save the Jewish people. The king could have had her killed for speaking to him without being summoned. Esther didn't give in to fear or the temptation to hide. We face similar choices every day.
The question must be asked: What do we gain by resisting temptation and not giving in? Christians are sealed with the Holy Spirit when we truly accept Christ for salvation and our past, present, and future sins are forgiven, so why not sin, ask forgiveness, and move on. That's not the attitude of a person who has truly accepted Christ. If your desire hasn't changed from pleasing the world to pleasing the One who died for your sin then maybe you need to re-examine yourself to be sure you have truly accepted Him for salvation. Do you truly understand the price that Jesus paid for you to be forgiven? The price was enormous, but His love for us wouldn't allow Him to turn away from the cross. Your love for Him shouldn't allow you to turn away from Him. The temptation to sin tempts every Christian and many Christian's around the world even face death because of their faith. Faithfulness to God will be rewarded. "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Revelation 2:10. Jesus dictated this letter to John to be sent to the ekklēsia (the Christians) in Smyrna. Persecution of Christians has been around since those first men in Jerusalem professed their faith, and it would only get worse. Those who endure and remain faithful to Christ will be rewarded. Many Christians throughout the world face death today because of their faith, but we who still have freedom to openly follow Christ deny Him by falling prey to Satan's lies and giving in to the lust of the flesh. Your resistance to Satan's temptations in the name of Jesus may be the example a non-believer needs to make the decision to accept Christ for salvation. Your resistance might also be the example of strength that a fellow Christian needs to also resist his own temptations.
There is a reward for resisting all temptation. You will receive the crown of life. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" James 1:12. You'll want to earn as many crowns as you can for when you stand before Jesus at the Bema Seat Judgment. That's when the way we lived out our faith will matter. "If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved: yet so as by fire." 1 Corinthians 3:14-15. Salvation is by faith but crown's are based on works. On that glorious day you will want a crown. That means when you're tempted to sin you turn away from the temptation because you know that's what Jesus wants from you. You will want to cast that crown of life at Jesus' feet in gratitude for what He did for you.
Look to Jesus for an example to follow and to the Holy Spirit for strength to resist all temptation. Earn that Crown of life.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham's previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is "theopneustos" God breathed.
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Daily Devotion: Americans redefining family morality - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
Americans of all ages and demographics are drifting farther away from the basic moral foundation of the Bible. A recent survey conducted by George Barna's American Culture and Faith Institute asked a 1,000 adults nationwide about the morality of eight family-related behaviors-birth control, divorce, sex outside of marriage, having a baby out of wedlock, watching pornography, having an abortion, polygamy and intimidating or aggressively dominating someone. Barna says that the vast majority claimed that five of those eight behaviors were either morally acceptable or were not a moral issue-birth control, divorce, sex outside of marriage, having kids out of wedlock, and watching pornography.
Almost half of those surveyed (48%) said that having an abortion was acceptable. Barna reports that "at least 15% and as much as 40% of adults do not consider behaviors such as divorce, abortion, and unmarried sexual intercourse to be moral issues. In other words, there are no cultural or religious boundaries that dictate whether such behaviors are appropriate or inappropriate; those behaviors are simply a reflection of individual preferences. For the eight measures examined in the research, an average of one-quarter of all adults (25%) said those behaviors are not moral issues. One-third or more of the public considers divorce, birth control, and having a baby outside of marriage to be amoral decisions."
Born again Christians were different, according to the survey, except on the use of pills or a medical device for birth control where they were roughly the same (86% said it was morally acceptable). Barna says, "born again Christians were much more likely to embrace a more traditional, biblical moral perspective. Even so, a majority of the born again adults deemed half of the eight behaviors to be acceptable: using birth control (87%), getting a divorce (66%), having a baby without being married (54%), and sexual relations between unmarried adults (51%). In addition, about four out of ten born again adults believe that viewing pornography is acceptable (38%)." Surprisingly, 27% of born again Christians said abortion was not a moral issue.
The most disturbing news in the Barna survey is that of religious skeptics-those who are agnostic, atheist, or indifferent to religion. Barna says skeptics, 29% of which are Millennials and 14% of adults 65 and older, constitute the fastest-growing faith segment in America. Skeptics believe that six out of the eight behaviors are acceptable, saying only polygamy and domination are unacceptable. While born again Christians are closer to believing in Biblical definitions of morality than is the general public, Christianity in America is trending with the world and is losing its children to the world. Christ prayed to God the Father in John 17:15-16, "not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." For many, free will is dangerously overriding God's perfect will.
Daily Devotion: It Will Cost You the World - By Greg Laurie -
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. -John 15:7
Someone once approached a great Bible teacher and said, "Sir, I would give the world to know the Bible as you do."
The teacher looked at him and replied, "And that's exactly what it will cost you."
Romans 12 tells us, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (verse 2 NKJV).
How can our minds be transformed? It will happen through the study of God's Word. In Acts 17 we read about those in the synagogue at Berea who listened very carefully when Paul and Silas showed up: "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men" (verses 11-12 NKJV).
I love that they listened eagerly and checked up on what they had to say. They were checking out none other than the apostle Paul, who wrote a good part of the New Testament. That is the right way to listen.
Jesus said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7 NKJV). The word abide means planting your roots deeply into Christ, soaking up the nutrients, growing each and every day, staying in a given place. It is staying in fellowship with Him. That means you study God's Word. That means you memorize it. And ultimately it means that it affects your thinking, your living, and everything you do. We need to approach God's Word this way.
FROM THE HEART
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