Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The Benefit of Studying Biblical Prophecy - Part 2 - Steve Schmutzer - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8647
In my prior installment of this topic, I ruefully noted the not-so-uncommon reaction too many Christians have to studying Biblical prophecy. As I clarified, it's often an unsupportive response that is one-part sarcasm, two parts arrogance, and altogether a disrespect of God's divine Word.
If such people would study their Bible with the reverence and teachable attitude they most need, they would be arrested by the words of 2 Peter 3:3-4. Peter issues a clear warning that one of the indications of the end times would be the arrival of "scoffers" and "mockers" who would belittle the themes of Biblical prophecy - chiefly those matters which point to and promise the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The average Christian may be inclined to feel that such attacks would come from outside the church. This has not been my experience. I've seen instead that the most strident scorners of Biblical prophecy come from within the fellowship of the body of Christ.
The higher up the food chain one goes, it seems the louder the opposition becomes. We have prominent Christian leaders today who are so biased against the proper study of Biblical prophecy that they've become tools of the secular culture against the fundamentals of our faith.
These so-called "Christian leaders" are made of the same stuff the Pharisees were made of. They have a veneer of virtue and righteousness, but they are a sham (Matt. 23:27). Their agenda is their own, and a proper relationship with Jesus Christ and His divine Word is not part of that. Many of these individuals will miss Jesus the second time just as their forerunners missed Him the first time.
It all goes to show that there are great benefits to the proper study of Biblical prophecy, and in Part 1 we touched on four of those:
First, it urges us to live Godly. Seeing ourselves accurately within the present and the future exhorts us to place a priority on the Lord's return. This enables our proper decisions in this life and it equips our faith.
Secondly, it gives us comfort and hope. If all we had to live for were the degenerate conditions of planet earth, then we would "have no hope" (1 Thess. 4:13). But our imminent rapture gives us immeasurable hope that the world cannot comprehend (Titus 2:13).
Thirdly, it provides a blessing. As Revelation 1:3 underscores, that blessing is the result of a right response to the prophetic Word of God. Those who do not permit the truths of Biblical prophecy to impact their lives are completely missing out.
Lastly, the study of Biblical prophecy gives us stability. There are a lot of wacko people and ideas out there. It's important to have the proper grounding in truth so as to recognize and repel the "clever cunning of men" (Eph. 4:14).
Already, we can see that the benefit of studying Biblical prophecy is self-evident. But there is even more to gain by engaging in the effective examination and application of the prophetic Scriptures. Here are four more reasons to do so:
IT IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF SPIRITUAL HEALTH
Popular pulpit themes today emphasize fostering "Christian community," tithing, loving our neighbor, finding Jesus in our trials, showing care, and so on and so on. These approaches have their place, but churches that constantly sip their doctrines through a straw stay immature and unhealthy.
It wasn't like this in the early church. When Paul taught his "baby Christians" in Thessalonica, he didn't feed them the pabulum of socially-acceptable "devotionals." He fed them real meat. If you compare the text of 2 Thessalonians against the backdrop of 1 Thessalonians, you will find Paul emphasized the doctrines of the end times.
The early church of Thessalonica may have only been weeks or months old, but Paul used his limited time with them to teach them about the antichrist, the Day of the Lord, the Rapture, and the second coming of Jesus Christ. In fact, Paul was blunt in reminding them of this. He asked in 2 Thess. 2:5, "Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?
The cowards in our pulpits today could learn much from Paul's example. Paul considered the prophetic Scriptures to be an essential part of spiritual health, and so he dispensed them up front.
IT AVOIDS IGNORANCE
Paul didn't want the believers under his care to be "ignorant and uninformed" (1 Thess. 4:13), and so he compelled them to study and learn the prophetic Scriptures. Churches which avoid the prophetic themes of the Bible are far more "ignorant" than they think they are.
This matter takes on a critical dimension when we understand that "....the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10). I'll translate. You cannot fully comprehend the person and work of Jesus Christ until you study and understand the prophecies which fully reveal Him."
This is an ice cold dash of water to the face of anyone who has set aside Biblical prophecy as unimportant or as being the "non-essential part of God's Word." The truth is - they are showing their ignorance! They only know Jesus partly because they've chosen to partly learn of Him.
IT IS HELPFUL IN COUNTERACTING MATERIALISM
This is one of those "rubber meets the road" reasons. It's a practical reality check. Want that new boat? How about that second kitchen you're planning to build? Do you really need 55 pairs of shoes? Why does your family of four have seven mountain bikes?
The truth is most of us have too much stuff. It clutters our lives, our closets, our garages, and our storage spaces. It also clutters our relationships, clouds our values, and claims our heart (Matt. 6:21).
He who dies with the most toys doesn't win anything, and he's probably going to lose something so much more important. A proper understanding of the truth that we won't take our material possessions with us, that we don't even own our very lives, and it's all going to disappear anyways (2 Peter 3:10, Luke 12:20) keeps our hearts and minds in the place they need to be.
The penitent study of Biblical prophecy reinforces to us over and over that we need to get our priorities right. It motivates us to frame our decisions with an eternal perspective. As the words of the great hymn say, "And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of his glory and grace." So true!
IT HELPS US TO WORSHIP
I need to be blunt. "Worship" is not throwing up your waving arms, rolling your eyeballs back in your skull, twitching spasmodically, and divesting yourself of any conscious engagement with Biblical truth. Many churches today showcase little more than emotional frothing in a sea of peer pressure.
True worship is an issue of the heart, and it is seldom defined or measured by prescriptive outward antics. It is the result of encountering divine truth and subordinating one's will to it. It stems from a permanent relationship rather than a passing ritual.
By its divinely-ordained nature, reverent worship follows a recognition that God Himself has been revealed. It is only divine truth - and a right response to that truth (see Rev. 1:3) - which can impact our emotions so that our worship brings proper glory and honor to God.
God's truth, including His absolute sovereignty in our lives, holds infinite value to the humble heart, and it is worthy of our greatest passion. It is why Job - after receiving wave after wave of traumatic news - "fell to the ground and worshipped" (Job 1:20). How many of us would do that?
I confess I'm not moved much by most praise and worship songs today. But one hits me at my core nearly every time: "Revelation Song," originally written by Jennie Lee Riddle.
The words are pretty much lifted straight out of prophetic Scripture (Revelation 4), and they are a resplendent picture of our future King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Really, worship is a right response to encountering God, and the prophetic Scriptures are chock-full of examples of this, particularly in Revelation. As we take in the magnificence of what is yet coming, our hearts and minds are moved to deep and passionate - and true! - worship.
The themes of this article are those I could continue expounding on for a long time, but I wish to conclude by returning to the premise that the study of Biblical prophecy has multiple and profound benefits in the life of the faithful believer. Satan knows this well, and so he has marginalized the importance of the prophetic Scriptures. Too many in the church today are heeding his seductions and abandoning the truth they most need to embrace.
Sir Isaac Newton stated a long time ago, "About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation, in the midst of much clamor and opposition." We live in a time where his words ring true.
May the Holy Spirit graciously minister to our hearts and minds, and may we be led as faithful servants even more deeply into the wonderful truths and benefits of the prophetic Scriptures.
The Israel Deception - By Matt Ward -
Following the May 14th US Embassy transfer to Jerusalem, and the subsequent Palestinian provocations at the Israeli-Gazan border, Israel has been under intense worldwide scrutiny, and has suffered exceptionally harsh criticism for essentially defending her borders and her innocent communities within. This criticism has come, as expected, from a wide cross section in the Muslim and Arab world, but also and especially in the West, from those within the mainstream of the Christian church.
These seem to be men and women who have bought wholly into the false doctrine of replacement theology, and they are quite cynically using this recent crisis to further their ultimate goal of delegitimizing Israel.
This is an essential issue because there are many that stand on the fringes of Christianity who are confused and unsure over where they should stand on this issue. To be clear, as a Christian, where you stand on Israel is, I believe, an absolutely pivotal issue.
In my opinion, this is not even an issue about the Jews and whose land it actually is; it is much more important than that. At its heart, this is an issue that pertains to the integrity of God Himself.
At its core, this is an issue about trust; can we as Christians trust and take God at His word, or not? Simply put, does God lie? If the answer to that question is "no, God does not lie," then one has to seriously ponder some of the positions professing Christians and Christian leaders have taken over the last week regarding Israel.
Israel is besieged all about, literally and metaphorically. Current issues over Israel's recent use of force, and the perceived rights or wrongs of a US Embassy switch to Jerusalem, are now being used deceitfully and mixed up with replacement theology to further a clear anti-Israel agenda. To a great extent, this has always been so. But it should not be like this within the church.
Replacement theology is growing exponentially within our churches today. It the wholly unbiblical belief that the nation God once called the "apple of my eye" (Zechariah 2:8) has been replaced by the Church and that the current "entity" in the Middle East known as Israel is an unlawful, terrorist usurper of the innocent Palestinian people.
It is a lie spawned in the pit of hell. It is unbiblical; it's demonstrably false and it is wrong.
I have actually read articles over the last week on mainstream Christian websites, not only bemoaning Israel generally but also openly questioning her legitimacy as a nation state. Tied into this, always subtly, is an insinuation that modern Christian advocates and supporters of Israel have to varying degrees "got it wrong" about Israel and her place in God's order.
Some have even gone so far as to strongly suggest that the reason for God's rejection of modern-day Israel is because of Israel's past disobedience to God, and because of their rejection of Jesus Christ. This argument has been the classic basis of all true anti-Semitism for the last two thousand years, and has led to countless massacres, pogroms and holocausts because of it. Shamefully, we now find it commonplace in the mainstream Christian church.
If this is true, that Israel has been rejected because of her past disobedience and rejection of Jesus, then I say woe to the Church of today. Does our church today really look like an obedient one to you? Apostasy is rampant, as is compromise in all areas of life and seemingly at all levels of leadership, with one or two very notable exceptions. The Jesus taught in many pulpits today is a "different Jesus" (2 Corinthians 11:4) from the one originally taught by the apostles of Our Lord.
My question here is a simple one: If God so readily abandoned Israel for disobedience, then why today do we believe that God will not also abandon us for our own rampant corporate disobedience? Why will God not just raise up another people for Himself who will be obedient, as they preach that He has done with Israel?
I want to be clear. If you are a Christian, then the very basis of your faith should be the words of God Himself, as recorded in scripture. There should be no other basis for revelation outside the Bible. If this is the case, and we are being intellectually honest, then the only conclusion you can draw regarding Israel is an unequivocal one. The land currently occupied by Israel belongs to them alone.
But the Bible goes further. It also states that the land due to Israel extends far, far beyond her present borders, deep into Egypt and out into present-day Iraq.
The Bible clearly teaches that "God does not change" (Malachi 3:6). In preaching, or subtly suggesting that God has essentially abandoned Israel for the Church, the church of today has robbed itself of its own assurance of its own eternal security in God. If God abandoned Israel because of sin and disobedience, then we in the church are doomed because God is an impartial God "who does not change." The same standards He applied to Israel will be applied to us also.
The reality is that God has not abandoned Israel at all, just like He will not abandon us. Instead, God has allowed Israel to "...experience a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in." (Romans 11:25). God has not forgotten about Israel. He is currently dealing with the Gentile world, and the signs all around us indicate strongly that this Gentile dispensation is about to come to an end.
After this, God will once again turn His full attention to dealing with the remnant of Israel, then finally "...all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:26).
Israel's future is irrevocably bound up in the character of God. When Christians question the future of Israel in God's plans, believing God to have abandoned his once "holy inheritance," they are actually bringing into question the integrity of God Himself. They are calling God a liar and exposing Him to public shame, because God promised the children of Israel,
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6).
This issue, at its core, is a question about honesty. Is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob a God of integrity or not? Is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ true to his word or is He not? Essentially, is God a liar?
In Romans, the apostle Paul, who was taught through revelation by Jesus Christ Himself, wrote to his own people, the Jews, and addressed this question head on, "I say then, has God cast away his people?" (Romans 11:1). This exact statement has been suggested many times this past week.
Paul immediately and emphatically answers his own question in the very next sentence, "Certainly not!" The Greek translation of this term implies that this notion is so unthinkable and so unimaginable that it should not be something that even enters into our minds!
God has not finished with Israel, and yet has a great future for her. He made solemn, irrevocable covenants with Israel to back this up.
God has instituted no less than four separate Covenants with His people throughout time; The Abrahamic Covenant; the Land Covenant found in Deuteronomy; the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant, inaugurated by God's son, Jesus. God keeps His covenants, and He made them expressly so that we who follow Him can know with certainty that we can trust Him.
Jesus Himself testifies to this truth,
"For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (Matthew 5:18).
The Abrahamic Covenant
Still in effect today, the Abrahamic Covenant was conferred on Abraham, Isaac and then onto Jacob, whose name God changed into Israel. On Israel's deathbed, God subsequently conferred this covenant, and confirmed it, with each of Israel's twelve children, who would later go on to become the twelve tribes of Israel.
There are two types of covenants in the Bible: conditional covenants and unconditional covenants. A conditional covenant is an agreement dependent on both parties for its fulfillment. If either party fails to meet its obligations, then the covenant is cancelled.
The Abrahamic covenant is not a conditional covenant. It is an unconditional covenant. An unconditional covenant is an agreement between two parties where only one of the parties has to do something. The Abrahamic Covenant is not dependent upon Abraham, but on God. Abraham had to do nothing to ensure its fulfillment; the obligation and responsibility rests alone with God.
The ceremony performed in Genesis 15 indicates the unconditional nature of this covenant. In Genesis 15, Abraham halved some dead animals; and God Himself, and alone, moved between the dead animals laid out on the floor. The smoking furnace and the flaming torch represent God, and God Himself put Abraham into a sleep so deep that he could not physically pass between the animals.
God was binding Himself to this agreement with Abraham. In effect, God was saying "...if I do not fulfill the exact terms of this agreement, then let what has happened to these dead animals happen to me!" God was staking His own life on its exact fulfillment.
This is one of the main reasons why Satan hates Israel and the Jews so much. If Satan can destroy the Jews and modern-day Israel, then he can prove God to be a covenant breaker. God, because of this covenant, would then be obliged by His own standards of holiness and justice to reap the consequences of this broken covenant.
In the Abrahamic Covenant, still in force today, God promised Abraham three main things: the land, descendants after him who would make a "great nation," and the promise of blessings and ultimate redemption.
This covenant will receive its ultimate fulfillment in the Messianic Kingdom (Gen 12:1-3; 12:7; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-21; 22:15-18). All other covenants in the Bible are based on the foundations laid by this one unconditional covenant.
The Land Covenant (found in Deuteronomy)
This covenant is crucial because it ensures Israel's inheritance, despite their potential future unfaithfulness. This covenant guarantees Israel's repentance and future restoration to the land in the millennial reign of the Messiah, a time now fast approaching (Deuteronomy 30:1-10).
The Davidic Covenant
The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:8-16) is also an eternal covenant. It guarantees Israel an eternal King who will rule from David's throne forever. Every Christian in the world today, including those who subscribe to replacement theology, prays for the fulfillment of this Davidic Covenant from their very first experiences in Christianity, most without recognizing it.
In Our Lord's Prayer, the line "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven..."(Matt 6:10) is a direct and explicit reference from Jesus Christ of the time yet future when a descendant of David will sit on David's throne and rule Israel and the world from Jerusalem. This did not happen during Christ's first incarnation - in fact the opposite. Jesus was rejected and despised by Israel.
A time is coming soon when Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, will fulfill this statement. He will not come in meekness and humility like the first time, but in majesty and awesome power to sit on David's throne where he will rule all the nations of this earth from Jerusalem. At this time, the name of Jerusalem itself will be even changed to "the throne of the Lord" (Jeremiah 3:7), reflecting the worldwide eminence of this great Jewish city.
Jesus, it also needs to be pointed out, when he returns will be returning as a racial King - a Jewish King, and he will rule all with a "rod of iron" from an eternal Jewish capital city. We Christians testify to this truth each and every Christmas when we send simple Christmas cards to one another inscribed with the famous biblical story,
"But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end'" (Luke 1:30-33).
This part of the verse never happened during Jesus' first ministry. Its fulfillment relates to the time yet future when the Davidic Covenant, which is predicated upon the Land Covenant and in turn the Abrahamic Covenant, will be fulfilled.
A Jewish King ruling the world from a Jewish country. He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Messiah and the eternal King, Jesus.
The New Covenant
We all look forward to the time when,
"The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them" (Isaiah 11:6).
This prophecy will become a reality in the millennial reign of Christ. The New Covenant, ushered in by the Son of God Himself, is crucial to the fulfillment of the other Covenants that find their own ultimate fulfillments in the Messianic Kingdom.
It is because of the New Covenant, paid for in the blood of Jesus Christ spilt on the Cross, that the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, The Land Covenant and the Davidic Covenant are all possible. It all hinges upon God's son, Jesus.
It is through this New Covenant and the blood shed by God's Son that provision is made for Israel's national forgiveness of sin, for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and complete regeneration based on the perfect substitutionary work of the Messiah who was slain for sin, (Lev 17:11; Jer 31:31-37; Ezek 36:24 - 28).
It is the same blood that brings us individually into relationship with God that will also bring the nation of Israel into relationship with the very same God we look too. The blood of Jesus saves all that look to Him for forgiveness, and Israel will soon look to their Messiah in repentance and faith,
"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son" (Zechariah 12:10).
Our own salvation is intimately bound up with the salvation of Israel. It is the same blood that we claim as a propitiation for our own sins that will also provide the atonement for Israel's national sin. To reject Israel's future salvation is to therefore bring our own into doubt.
Our God is a faithful God, and He has sworn over and over again to deliver Israel, physically and spiritually. The attacks upon Israel's legitimacy, intensifying over the last week, are essentially attacks upon the very nature and integrity of God.
God made an eternal covenant with Israel, and He staked His own life on fulfilling that covenant to Israel,
"I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God" (Genesis 17:7).
God does not change His mind, or revoke covenants because of disobedience:
"...the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind" (1 Samuel 15:29).
God loves Israel:
"...and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written:
'The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this ismy covenant with them
when I take away their sins.'
"As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable" (Romans 11:26-29).
Do not believe the growing lie taught in many churches that modern-day Israel is of no consequence to God. It is a deception. The time is approaching when there will be no more confusion in anybody's mind as to how important and beloved Israel really is to God.
But first, God declares that,
"I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves" (Zechariah 12:2-3).
The beginnings of this process are clearly upon us right now. God is soon once again going to deal with His "holy inheritance." Time is short, so be about the Lord's business whilst you still can.
Nearing Midnight: Prophetic Proof - Terry James -
We know we are at the end of the dispensation of grace for specific reasons. A number of these come to mind.
Evil men and seducers are growing worse, as the Apostle Paul forewarned. The time has come when "they"-meaning religionists who claim to know Christ but do not-will not "endure sound doctrine."
All of Paul's "perilous times" prophecies are in view, as we have dissected many times. False accusers, for example, are in our daily headlines, with lies being told for political gain or just to heap hatred upon ideological enemies.
There is a denial that God should be found anywhere in humanistic governance. As stated many times, here, Psalm 2 is in play as never before. The international community, i.e., the UN and those within every other such globalist forum, want to "break the bands asunder" that bind the human race to any form of godly mooring.
We know these are the last days because there are scoffers that say in mocking derision: "Where is the promise of his coming, for since the fathers fell asleep all things are as they were from the beginning?"
In addition to all the above, proof that we are in prophesied times of the end occurred Monday, May 14. Israel reached what many Bible prophecy observers view as the span of a generation-70 years since its refounding into modernity. This, many believe, is the gist of the prophecy the Lord gave while expounding on things to come atop the Mount of Olives.
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:32-35)
Israel is generally considered the prime signal of where we are on God's prophetic timeline. That strange nation has reached its 70th birthday so far as its modern incarnation is concerned. A generation is defined by God's Word as 70 years in one specific instance. Therefore, Jesus, who is the Word, giving this Olivet Prophecy about the fig tree-often the symbol for Israel-makes the modern nation's 70th anniversary living proof to many that the end of the age is upon this generation.
I term Israel "strange" because of the fact that it is like no other in human history. Having been completely destroyed as a nation, its people dispersed into all the world and its language dissolved, yet it is now back in its God-given land. It has its native language again-Hebrew-and is the center of worldwide attention.
As I often remind, no matter which way the cameras and microphones turn to capture other stories, they always, without fail, turn right back to that one spot on planet earth that is God's touchstone-to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, where the Holy of Holies sat and will reside again one prophetic day.
So, Israel is in the headlines again this past week. The hatreds of the world are in full display to prove God's Word about the rebellion of the globalists found in Psalm 2.
Satan is in a rage because he above all else has wanted to completely destroy Israel and the Jewish people. If he could do so, he would make the Creator a liar, and his own fate in the Lake of Fire could be avoided.
But, God's Word is truth. Things are unfolding exactly as God foretells, and right on time. Further proof of God's prophetic truth is reflected in an excerpt or two from the following news story:
(May 9, 2018 / JNS) In the past 70 years, no single country's stock has risen faster or farther than the State of Israel. Once a resource-poor, existentially endangered nation-state comprised of refugees from post-Holocaust Europe and Muslim countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Israel has emerged into a world economic, military and diplomatic superpower.
In just one week, Israel's elevated status is being put on full display, in no small part due to the unlikely and oft-polarizing duo of U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu...
It is, of course, fitting that the very date-May 14-of the new embassy's opening ceremony corresponds both with Yom Yerushalayim ("Jerusalem Day") on the Hebrew calendar and the 70th anniversary of Israel's Independence on the secular calendar...
While the Jewish state's stock is rising, Israel's enemies are imploding. Though Iran has expanded its reach across the Middle East-wreaking havoc on Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen-severe cracks have been exposed in the dictatorial regime of the Islamic Republic. During the past year, public protests against the regime's corruption have broken out across the country. And in the past several weeks, the value of Iran's currency, the rial, has plummeted, throwing Iran into severe economic uncertainty even before the impending onset of the "highest level of economic sanctions" about to be imposed by the United States. ("Jerusalem is rising as Israel's enemies falter," Alex Traiman, JNS.org, May 13, 2018)
Proof of the truth of God's Word is found throughout Bible prophecy. We are witnessing that proof each and every day as issues and events of our time emerge from the headlines.
Israel, although hated by most of the world leaders, is blossoming. So is the United States of America under this presidential administration.
Iran, arguably Israel's chief enemy, whose Islamist leaders call Israel the "little Satan," and America "the big Satan," are sinking deeper into the curse promised to all who curse God's chosen people.
There is no illusion here that terrible times are not to soon unfold for the Jewish people. It is prophesied. But the end of it all will be a glorious outcome beyond any ever bestowed upon any nation or people:
I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants shall also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with you, and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. (Genesis 28:13-15)
Erdogan's Turkey: A Caliphate In The Making? - By Zvi Mazel - http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/
The new crisis with Israel initiated by Recep Tayyip Erdogan following President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the Gaza so called March of Return demonstrations, taken together with his decision to advance the presidential election, should be regarded as an integral part of his bid for regional hegemony.
Under his leadership, Turkey has become a major player in the Middle East. In order to further his vision, he is active virtually everywhere. This is a major departure from the policy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, who not only abolished the caliphate and separated religion from the state, but also turned his back on the Arab world, which he saw as a burden hampering his country's progress toward parity with the developed West.
Erdogan's new course is fraught with danger. Granted, it has given Turkey a welcome prominence on the world stage. But it has also embroiled the country in conflicts with many of its neighbors (Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Syria), worsened already poor relations with Cyprus and triggered a confrontation with Russia. At one point, Ankara's only friend in the region was Qatar - another strong supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Turkey's aggressive foreign policy was matched by boldness on the home front. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), an Islamic political group Erdogan founded with Abdullah Gul, has won the most votes in every national election since 2002, establishing a dominant position that allowed him to establish a presidential regime. The political opposition was neutralized after the failed military coup of 2016, which Erdogan used skillfully to consolidate his rule.
Yet this polarizing figure is also the same man who once pledged to pursue a "zero-problems" policy with Turkey's neighbors, in accordance with the neo-Ottoman vision propagated by Ahmet Davutoglu, for many years Erdogan's closest advisor before succeeding him as prime minister in 2014-2016. Turkey could assume a greater role in the world, Davutoglu believed, by using Muslim solidarity to regain its preeminent position in the former Ottoman lands of the Middle East. Islam would be the glue binding them together.
This program appealed to Erdogan, a devout Muslim. In 2004, he proclaimed his support for Hamas and, following its electoral success two years later, lavishly hosted Hamas leaders in Ankara, demonstrating for all to see a sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood that would grow to the point that Turkey is considered today that organization's strongest base.
Perhaps to garner prestige in the Arab world and support for his endeavors in the region, then Prime Minister Erdogan worsened his country's traditionally good relations with Israel. In 2009, following Israel's "Cast Lead" operation in Gaza, he insulted Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos, calling him a murderer and walking out of the meeting. In 2010, he initiated or facilitated the Mavi Marmara flotilla to embarrass Israel and, following that incident, downgraded diplomatic relations. Previously excellent military contacts between the two countries came to an end, as did intelligence cooperation.
At the same time, Erdogan implemented a plan to neutralize the army and the courts, formerly the bulwarks of Turkish secularism. In this he had the misguided support of the European Union, which felt that the special powers granted to the army were detrimental to democracy and human rights, and thus constituted a major obstacle to the country's joining the EU. All army officers - including the chief of staff - who had regular contact with Israel were arrested and accused of plotting against the president.
In the early stages of the Syrian civil war, the Turkish authorities supported President Bashar al-Assad, but changed their view and called for his immediate ouster when they grasped that the stream of refugees endangered Turkey itself. Likewise, Erdogan's government did not immediately oppose Daesh, also known as Islamic State (ISIS), letting young Muslims transit through Turkey to join the terrorist organization and turning a blind eye to oil smuggling from Daesh-controlled territory.
Taking advantage of the chaos created by Daesh in Iraq, Turkey sent troops to the north of that country and set up a military base near Mosul. Because Erdogan then believed that good relations with the Iraqi Kurds would prevent them from siding with the Kurdish opposition in Turkey, part of their mission was to train both Kurdish peshmerga and Turkmen fighters. Ankara justified its incursion by the wish to protect the local population and the Turkish border. Strong protests by the Iraqi prime minister were to no avail.
When the government in Baghdad opened the battle to retake Mosul, Erdogan wanted Turkish forces to take part in the fighting. He pointed to Turkey's historical responsibility for the region - hinting that his country, as the heir of the Ottoman empire, held special rights. The United States joined Iraq in opposing the move, and this time he had to back down.
The situation in Egypt set off another crisis. Following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Turkish government announced that diplomatic relations would be frozen until Morsi was freed and restored to office.
Meanwhile, Ankara was foiling attempts at reconciliation with Cyprus after the 1974 Turkish occupation of the northern part of the island. He also blocked efforts by the internationally recognized Cypriot government to develop offshore deposits of natural gas.
The downing of a Russian Su-24M fighter bomber in November 2015 (after it strayed into Turkish airspace for a few seconds) put a temporary end to this aggressive policy. President Vladimir Putin reacted swiftly, halting Russian tourism to Turkey and boycotting Turkish agricultural imports. Then, in Moscow, he hosted the leader of the pro-Kurd Turkish People's Democracy Party.
President Erdogan understood he had gone too far and decided to change tack. He apologized and made his peace with Russia, and even agreed to renew diplomatic relations with Israel.
However, "peace" with Russia came at a price. Turkey aligned itself with Moscow's policy in Syria: supporting the Assad regime, letting Iran entrench itself in the country and joining the fight against Daesh. In return, Erdogan was invited to the Astana summit, where Iran and Russia drew up the map of a new Syria to emerge after the civil war.
Ankara sees the Syrian Kurds as a direct security threat. Specifically, Turkey has targeted the People's Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian Kurdish militia set up with assistance from the PKK - against which the Turkish army is waging a bloody counter insurgency.
Assuming he was now free to advance his own objectives, Mr. Erdogan sent troops into northern Syria to fight the Kurdish autonomy and drive it beyond the Euphrates River (Operation Euphrates Shield August 2016 - March 2017). A second operation, code named Olive Branch, against the Kurds began in January. Erdogan sent his army to occupy the Afrin enclave in North West of Syria which borders with Turkey but in the same time increased the tension with the US who has been cooperating with the Kurds.
Lastly Erdogan severed his covert ties with Daesh and brought Turkey into the international coalition against that organization. In retaliation, the organization launched terrorist attacks that had a devastating impact on Turkey's tourist industry.
In 2016, President Erdogan fired his faithful ally, Prime Minister Davutoglu, after he opposed constitutional amendments instituting a presidential regime and denounced corruption scandals that allegedly involved Erdogan and his son. The constitutional amendments, approved by a slim majority in the referendum carried out according to the constitution, will let the president fulfill his long-term ambition of becoming the absolute ruler of his country.
Those amendments will confer Erdogan extensive powers. He will be both President and Prime Minister and will appoint the judges of the supreme court and the prosecutor general. The changes were to take effect in November 2019 after the next presidential election but recently Erdogan decided to advance the election for June 24 after having secured of the support of National Movement party for his candidacy to the presidency.
Perhaps this is the prelude to establishing a new Islamic Caliphate and bringing an end to Ataturk's revolution.
In the aftermath of the July 2016 coup, Erdogan eliminated all possible threats to his rule. This crackdown focused on his rival Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic philosopher who had established a dense network of schools, institutions and proteges that exerted great influence on Turkey's government, legal system and society.
Fearing for his safety, Gulen had chosen exile in the U.S. - but this did not shield him from accusations of having organized the coup. Turkey demanded his extradition; a demand rejected by the U.S. courts until proof of his involvement can be produced. Erdogan has responded by claiming that the U.S. was complicit in the so-called Gulenist plot.
Altogether, some 40,000 Turks were arrested for their alleged participation in the failed July coup, including more than 10,000 military personnel and thousands of judges, teachers and journalists. Most were subsequently released, but many lost their jobs. Others are still in custody and awaiting trial.
These repressive measures were calculated to instill fear and discourage people from joining opposition groups and demonstrations such as the Gezi Park protests in 2013, when secular Turks spontaneously organized a mass movement against the Erdogan government in the heart of Istanbul.
Meanwhile, the president has worked to whip up nationalist and anti-American sentiment. Students are encouraged to join uniformed paramilitary units and parade in the streets to demonstrate their fealty to the leader. The Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate is issuing directives explaining to young people the importance of martyrdom to defend a new and Islamic Turkey, while the creation of Islamic schools is encouraged. The government is also exhorting families to have three to five children.
The West has watched helplessly as a NATO ally starts to slide into what could become an Islamic dictatorship, flouting human rights and the EU's core standards of law and order. Then there is Turkey's rapprochement with Russia, which has become a serious issue for NATO.
Turkey is a major partner in NATO and one of the procurement group that is developing and manufacturing the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter, of which it has ordered 116. Yet in December 2017, the Turkish government signed a contract to buy two S-400 air defense batteries from Russia, even though these missile systems are not compatible with NATO equipment.
Ankara has also taken to threatening the U.S., warning that when Turkish troops complete their takeover of Afrin in northern Syria, their next target will be Kurdish-held territory near Manbij, where American troops are training mostly Kurdish units that make up the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). So far, the U.S. has only asked the Turkish authorities to show "moderation," but Washington has a tough decision to make. It must either withdraw from Syria, as President Donald Trump recently suggested, or risk a military confrontation with a NATO ally with the alliance's second largest army.
The EU is also in a quandary. It made a 6 billion-euro deal with Turkey to stop the flow of refugees from Syria, promising in return to restart talks on EU membership and waive entry visas for Turkish citizens. But the accession negotiations remain stalled and no EU country has shown readiness for a waiver that could allow millions of Turkish Muslims into Europe with no vetting whatsoever. President Erdogan has made threats against some EU member states, including Germany and the Netherlands, after they refused to allow the ruling AKP to hold campaign rallies on their territory. He even threatened lately France over President Macron's meeting with a SDF delegation and expressing his concern over the Afrin operation in the last Brussels summit on 24 March.
Erdogan seems to feel that he has been given free rein. That explains why his troops took Afrin, inflicting severe hardship on the Kurdish civilian population, which is largely made up of refugees. The Assad regime vigorously protested this invasion of Syrian territory and even sent reinforcements that proved no match for Turkish army and their allies in the so-called "Free Syrian Army."
Turkish troops have also set up observation points near Idlib, one of the "de-conflicting" zones established at the Astana summit. Erdogan has indicated that he wishes to take part in the attack on this largest remaining bastion of anti-Assad rebels that is being prepared by pro-Assad forces and their allies Russia and Iran.
Resumption of diplomatic ties with Israel has not cooled Turkey's support for Hamas. When Qatar expelled the movement's leaders in 2017 under pressure from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, they quickly found refuge in Turkey, where they continued to plan terror attacks against Israel. Ankara still sees itself a close ally of Qatar. In accordance with a 2014 treaty, Turkey set up a military base in the country and reinforced its small contingent in a show of solidarity after Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Egypt imposed an embargo on the emirate.
On the surface, relations between Ankara and Tehran are good; they are joint sponsors of the Astana process and have exchanged visits of their top military leadership last year. Nevertheless, Turkey is closely monitoring Iranian penetration into Iraqi Kurdistan and its efforts to set up a safe route for its militias through Syria and into Lebanon - skirting the Turkish border. Shia Iran and Sunni Turkey have conflicting interests and are both striving for regional hegemony.
Of late Turkey is extending its reach to the Red Sea. A military base was built in Somalia to train Somali soldiers according to an agreement signed in October 2017. Two months later, Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir granted Turkey an indefinite lease of the strategic island of Suakin in the Red Sea, midway between the Suez Canal and the Bab el-Mandeb strait and a departure point for ferries to Jedda in Saudi Arabia.
Suakin was once the seat of an Ottoman governor and the Turks are allegedly interested in restoring historical buildings of that era - and perhaps establishing a naval base as well. A direct Turkish presence in the Horn of Africa is perceived as a threat by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with whom the Erdogan government is feuding. The Sudan treaty also indirectly strengthens Ethiopia in its dispute with Egypt over the Nile dam project.
Potential for escalation
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has gone as far as to say that Turkey is part of a "triangle of evil" with Iran and jihadi terror movements, and he accused Erdogan of trying to revive the caliphate. Some of these views appear to have been shared by members of the Trump administration, including former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, who said in December 2017 that Turkey and Qatar are "sponsors of radical ideology."
Regarding relations with Israel it's believed that they will be marked by periodical crises. Erdogan will continue to vilify Israel in order to enhance his image among the Arabs as a great Muslim leader in his unrelenting march to the caliphate. Relations will probably not be severed because it might hurt the Turkish economy whose success is vital to the advancement of Erdogan's ambitions.
To sum up: the potential for escalation is there. The Arab world will never countenance a renewed Turkish hegemony in the Middle East. Washington, deeply worried by the aggressive policy of a fellow NATO country against the Kurds - American allies - along with Turkey's ties to Russia and Iran, is still looking for a suitable path of action. Moscow is unhappy with Ankara's growing involvement in Syria, which puts it at loggerheads with the Assad regime and will make resolution of the civil war more difficult.
There could be a long and costly military operation between the Turkish army and Syrian and Kurdish troops. Saudi Arabia and Egypt are looking for ways to dislodge Turkey from its new Red Sea strongholds. Finally, President Erdogan's activism and military gambles might begin to erode his public support at home, despite his apparent overwhelming popularity.
Daily Jot: A tribute to a true ministry pioneer - Bill Wilson -
In 1992-93, I began a journey with William Agbeti of Ghana. We accomplished a lot of things together for the people of Ghana, and still are going strong. Our goal is to show Christ through our example and work to the impoverished, the neglected, the endangered. And we do. Along the way, there are many people who come beside us and make an impact. The Butlers, Enoch and LaGretta, are such people. We have separate ministries, but we work so very closely together. I can't begin to tell you how generous the Butlers have been, providing housing, transportation, food, love and prayer during the past 25 years. William and I are truly grateful for our relationship. Last week, LaGretta went home to the Lord.
From Busuafise, a very rural area constantly under Islamic threat, where the Butlers planted a church and William and our ministry watered and helped grow it, William writes: "Last Sunday was a long-planned day for free feeding of some 100 needy children, giving out donations of used clothing to their parents, and cutting sod to signify the gradual commencement of construction works on the Redeemer MINISTRIES grounds for active rural ministry. It didn't happen as planned. Word reached us of the passing on of our much-beloved Madam LaGretta Butler, wife of Bishop Enoch Butler, founder of Christ Fellowship Church, the local church we always fall on and cooperate with to organize the poorest of the poor children and parents for our feeding programs. She died in the US and was the buried day before our planned program.
"Naturally, in respect for LaGretta, we suspended every activity and gathered with the local church for a service, prayer for the departed soul of LaGretta, her husband and family. LaGretta, together with her husband, have travelled so many times to Africa to do ministry. The couple has planted various churches, established a school, given out lots of scholarships, and adopted a few children in the country. LaGretta's life was total dedication to the service of God and mankind. She and her husband left behind all the good things in the US to embrace a life of uncertainties, medical risks and various challenges to do ministry in Ghana. The Butlers avoided the city centers and launched deep into rural Ghana where the gospel of salvation was most needed and where needs were most felt.
"Their brand of ministry was beautiful to behold, and an encouragement to many. Today, the legacy LaGretta has left behind is there for all to see--a small thriving local church, good education for many, some of whom are still in college, with some employed in places like the Ghana Police Service, whilst others are serving as ministers of the gospel. Above all, hundreds of souls have been won through their efforts for Christ. As we mourn the passing on of LaGretta, our own Bill Wilson, The Daily Jot, has beautifully captured our feelings and the feeling in heaven right now, powerfully saying, "Sadly for us, but glory for her!" Yes. It's so sad for us, but glorious in heaven right now for LaGretta."
Enoch and LaGretta are true examples of those of who, like us, are the little guys. We don't have big ministry staffs or flashy television shows or corporate jets. We quietly obey the Lord's instructions to work in unity with Brothers and Sisters in the Lord to make a difference for the forgotten. When you support The Daily Jot, that's what you get. When I mourn LaGretta's passing, I'm honored to know that she was a woman who fed the hungry, took in the stranger, and clothed the naked. It is both inspiring and comforting that LaGretta has now heard in heaven the words spoken by our Savior in Matthew 25:20, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant...enter thou into the joy of the Lord."
Daily Devotion: A Surprising Source of Joy - By Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who delights greatly in His commandments. -Psalm 112:1
Years ago, I was in my backyard and saw a brightly colored bird nestled in the grass. It was not the kind of a bird that is typically seen in the wild. It was the kind of bird someone would have in a cage. I thought maybe it was someone's pet that had flown away.
I also noticed that my German Shepherd was looking intently at the bird. I thought, "That bird's days are numbered. His minutes are numbered." So I got down on the bird's level and put my finger out. Sure enough, he jumped right on my finger. I walked into the kitchen with this beautiful little bird sitting on my finger. Cathe and I decided it must be someone's pet bird that got away. We borrowed a cage from a neighbor down the street, set it up on the counter, and opened the door. The little bird couldn't get in there fast enough. Immediately he was hopping from perch to perch, chirping away. Happy days were here again.
We may think it seems cruel to put the poor bird in a cage. But that bird didn't want to be free. He didn't see the cage as something that kept him confined; he saw it as a barrier that kept my German Shepherd out.
In the same way, if you want to be happy, you will live within certain parameters. Psalm 112:1 says, "Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments" (NKJV). The word blessed could be translated "happy happy." In other words, super happy is the man or woman who fears the Lord and delights greatly in His commandments.
The way to be a happy person will be found in what we do as well as in what we don't do.
FROM THE HEART
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