Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
No Word in the Bible that Means Rapture...Really? - by Pastor Mike Taylor -
"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:4:17 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."(1st Thessalonians 4:16 -17)
Very familiar verses for all prophecy writers and readers alike has been the subject of much debate and confusion over the last 150 years. Many critics believe that this verse is talking about the church being taken up in the air at the seventh trump that the seventh angel blows to signal the bowl judgments spoken of in Revelation chapter 16. That would be a Post-Tribulation model. But are they right?
I had a brother in Christ, who at the very mention of the word "rapture", became very irate and bellowed, loudly, quote "there is no scripture in the bible that speaks of a rapture." end-quote. But is he right, or just ignorant of the fact that Paul and many writers pointed to a "catching away" of the church and there are found many instances in the bible that support that doctrine? You can find examples of this teaching in both New and Old Testaments. Let's take a journey through biblical chapters and see what we find, shall we?
Noting the above verse quoted in the start of this message, note the underlined words to "be caught up". Are there any other verses in the bible with the same words that mean the same thing as this verse does? The Greek word for this phrase is "harpazo" #726 in Strong's Concordance that was translated into the Latin Vulgate as "rapiemur" and came from the derivative of the Greek word #138 in Strong's Concordance "haireomai" which literally means "to seize, catch away up, pluck, pull, or take by force", hence the modern English word "rapture", that often maligned word, that many in the conservative church movements equate with some type of emotional display or escape hatch for those who disbelieve the church goes through the Tribulation. Getting back, are there any other verses that use the exact same word used here of "harpazo"? Turn with me now to 2nd Corinthians:
"I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."(2nd Corinthians 12:2)
Paul is speaking of himself being caught into paradise and heard things, that I believe he shared with the church during his days when he wrote his epistles. He calls it a mystery...what is the word he used....? Correct, it was the Greek word,
"harpazo". Paul was snatched in the spirit into heaven. Paul uses the word twice. The Old Testament is full of the prophecies concerning the second coming of the Lord God at the end of the age, but in Paul's epistle, especially in this letter to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians, Paul speaks of a mystery that would not have been a mystery to those who studied the Torah or the major/minor prophets, but here refers to this mystery, or something that previously had not been known. And further, Paul equated it with the known Feast of Trumpets, referring the last trump that is blown at it's conclusion and not referring to John's description in Revelation, as John had not even written the last book of the Bible when Paul wrote these letters to the churches. So even in that respect, they are not the same trumpet and should not be confused with each other. One trumpet expresses indescribable joy and the one in Revelation heralds the beginning of indescribable horror that slays nearly all of mankind.
Now let's turn to another verse that speaks of this same snatching away, but in a different context.
(Matthew 11:12) , "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence , and the violent take it by force ."
(Matthew 13:19) "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. "
Different context, but same meaning...to be snatched away, by force. Now another, found in Gospel of John it is used four different times.
"When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force , to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone."(John 6:15)
12 "But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming , and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth : and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep."(John 10:28-29)
28 "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish , neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
30 I and my Father are one." (John 10:28-30)
Again, in Acts 23:10, Jude 1:23, Revelation 12:5 "And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne."
Let's not forget Phillip the apostle when he had baptized the Ethiopian eunuch after explaining who Isaiah chp. 53 was speaking of and revealed to Him that Jesus was the Messiah,
"And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing." (Acts, 8:39)
If you've been keeping count, that is 13 times in the New Testament including the ones I didn't quote , but gave reference to, that the word "Harpazo" is used and it means in every instance to be removed by force, without warning being snatched away...not each mention of the Greek word "Harpazo" has to do with with the mystery that Paul speaks of, but it shows that the word was used repeatedly to speak of with the same definition and example.
WHAT ABOUT THE OLD TESTAMENT?
Good question. Is there anything that can point to a parallel word that has the same meaning used in Greek in these passages found in also in the Old Testament.? Matter of fact, there is. There a examples of men being "snatched up" and removed from this earth. Let's start with the earliest known example in Genesis:22 "And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (Genesis 5:22-24)
Here the word for the underlined phrase "took him " is the Hebrew word #3947 in Strong's, "leqach" which means to "receive, reserve, seize, send for, take away, or fetch".
Paul speaks of Enoch this way in the book of Hebrews:
"By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away (translated him). For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God." ( Hebrews 11:5)
The word used for "translated, or taken him away" is the Greek word, metatithemi, Strongs #3346, which means "transport, exchange, change sides, carry over, change, remove". Scoffers will use the passage in verse 13 of that same chapter,13 "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." (Hebrews 5:13)
But to use that verse as proof that Enoch died contradicts verse 5, and the bible cannot contradict itself. So Enoch was "snatched away, removed" from this earth alive and did NOT see death, but verse 13 applies to all others who lived by faith.
Another example is the prophet Elijah and we will turn to 2nd Kings
" And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal." ( 2nd Kings chapter 2:1)
And as we read down "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."(2nd Kings 2:11)
What is the Hebrew word for the phrase "would take up" in verse 1 of the above passage? It's the word and the equivalent word as used in the example of Enoch, as this word is "Leqach" used to describe the snatching away of Enoch. Some will make a convoluted argument that both men are dead and died in faith, but they use logic that is beyond their grasp of the infinite, not believing that God is Sovereign and He can do whatever He wishes to do, apart from their finite analogies. They will use "did not see death" and try to explain the second death. That's stretching the meaning of the text and we have no clue to do so. It's best to take what the Word says literally and not add your own meaning, by adding or subtracting from God's message. They will say that he lived 365 years and no longer, but you can't count eternity, because it's without time. So again, they try to rationalize their preconceived ideas to support their doctrine of "believers in Jesus Christ" not being removed bodily from this earth in an instant....or the bible says, in the "twinkling of an eye."
Note that we have covered Enoch, Elijah, Phillip, Paul, our Lord and Savior, and finally the Church itself, the bride of Christ being described with the words "snatched up, or plucked by force" from the earth.
But still the critics will not believe. I point them to some passages that mirror each other and tell us why these examples were given to us. First is Isaiah:
"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,)
And her companion verse, spoken of by my Lord,
"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know."(John chapter 14:2-4)
What do these companion verses say to you? They tell me that Jesus will bring us unto Himself and we will be rewarded a mansion in the New Jerusalem, as He promised. There we will wait for the indignation, or His wrath to be over-past or to subside. These verses speak of resurrection, changing from mortal to immortal, and not being present when His wrath comes upon this earth, both the resurrected dead in Christ, and the living who are both changed as Paul spoke of in the very first verses of this message.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE RAPTURE IS A MODERN ONE?
In recent years, many opponents of the pre-tribulation rapture view have made dogmatic assertions that this view was never taught before 1820 A.D. There have been attempts to attribute the origin of this view to John N. Darby.... but this is false and misleading. Ephraem the Syrian wrote, in 373 AD, "For all the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins." ... revealing that the early church fathers themselves were indeed teaching this.
This text was originally a sermon called "On the Last Times, the Anti-Christ, and the End of the World." There are four existing Latin manuscripts (the Parisinus, the Augiensis, the Barberini, and the St. Gallen) ascribed to St. Ephraem or to St. Isidore . Some scholars believe this text was written by some unknown writer in the sixth century and was derived from the original Ephraem manuscript.
The sermon describes the events of the last days, beginning with the rapture, the Great Tribulation of 3 1/2 years duration under the Antichrist's rule, followed by the Second Coming of Christ. In Ephraem's book "The Book of the Cave of Treasures", written about 370 A.D., he expressed his belief that the 69th week of Daniel ended with the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah. Although this does not prove that the doctrine of the Rapture is correct, it does show that even early Church Theologians were teaching this and it is NOT a modern device of an immature girl and John Darby, as some claim, but a doctrine of the early church.
The glorified Jesus, the Great I AM, that I AM spoke of this in the His precious Word, as Ephraem the Syrian did, when our Lord spoke in Revelation:
"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."(Revelation 3:10)
As I have hammered home the interpretation of what Jesus was telling John, that the Greek word for "Will keep thee from" is the Greek Word "EK" which literally means to be taken from the time and period of the event. That abolishes the theory that the church goes "through" the coming Tribulation, instead of as Jesus spoke, to be removed from the time of the event.
Paul echoes what Jesus spoke to John some 30 years later, when he penned these verses,
"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."(1st Thessalonians 5:8-10)
POINT AND COUNTERPOINT!!
The Church is a specific group of believers in Jesus Christ. It is not a building ... nor is it any particular denomination or religion. It is also known as the Body of Christ. The Living Church of God is a living organism that began at Pentecost -- see Acts 2:1-4 and culminates at the rapture -- see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. It does not include anyone who was a believer prior to or after the two above-mentioned events. The terms saints or elect refer to another specific group of believers. This group includes all the Old Testament saints, as well as those who become believers in Christ after the rapture. I've made many references in past messages that the Tribulation is designed for two things, and two things only and that is:
-Pouring out of God's wrath on an unrepentant, and rebellious world,
-refining Israel as silver is refined in the fire....and we are NOT included in that refining. Why?
Because there is no need, as Jesus paid it all at the cross, and to think otherwise smacks of "catholic purgatory" that Jesus blood and sacrifice just was not sufficient to fully save the sinner. A serious mistake by a past ruling Theocracy.
There is a marked difference in the Bible when you look at references to the Church compared with references to the saints or the elect. The Church is always referred to in very narrow and distinct terms, whereas the saints or the elect are always referred to in very broad terms. More pointed, however, is the fact that the word Church never appears again after Revelation 3:22 -- you'll only see the words "saints or the elect" mentioned throughout the rest of the book -- and this is directly after a very significant reference to this "catching away by force" , that Jesus mentions in Revelation 3:10
ASSESSMENT and CONCLUSIONS
What is the tribulation? It is the wrath of God. When does it start? When the first seal is broken in chapter 6 of Revelation by our Lord, Jesus Christ. What are we not appointed to? We are not appointed to wrath, but salvation through Him, Jesus Christ our Lord. How will the tribulation begin to commence? When the Church of God is removed out of the way. Isaiah 26:19 we covered above, and in 2nd Thessalonians
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let (the Holy Spirit), until he be taken out of the way.
2:8 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:
2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
2:10 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 2:7-10)
But forewarning to those who belong to a "church"...these bible verses who speak of the removal of the CHURCH will not be everyone who sits in pew, or says some "hail marys" in some repetitive fashion, or think their pope, priest, or their pastor can usher them into God's Kingdom. It's not about being Catholic, or Protestant or something somewhere in between. It is solely dependent on the application of the blood of Jesus Christ to your life and clothing your spirit with His Righteousness. There are many verses that point solely to Jesus Christ being the "Way, the Truth and the Life". No man can come to the Father in Heaven except through Him. All roads do not lead to eternal life, but believing in your heart of hearts and accepting His free pardon for your sins through Grace and faith in the only Begotten Son of God.
"For God so loved the world, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17, God sent not His Son to condemn the world, but the world through Him might be saved." (John 3:16-17)
God has given us example after example. He has given us story after story to show the TRUE children of God being removed out of the way. He has given us words to show that HE WILL remove the TRUE, blood washed church before His wrath is poured out on this earth. How much more clear does He need to be? When someone remarks, "the rapture is not found in the bible", then my reader, you can direct them to passages that show they misunderstand. And if they still don't get it, then that's Ok...you can explain it to them on your way up to meet the Lord in the air
"Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved" Don't be left behind when all hell breaks loose on this earth in the coming Tribulation, which may be sooner than anyone cares to think of....maybe even this year??? Are you ready?
This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying God's salvation in your life and to ready for the soon return of our King of kings, and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, our Savior. If there is anything I can help you with, pray with you about, or just listen, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Or visit me online at www.pastormiketaylor.blogspot.com , for more messages based on the Word of God. God bless you all,
Till we meet at Jesus Feet.
Iran Instigating Israel-Gaza Conflict - Aaron Klein -
The massive escalation of Gaza terror rocket and mortar attacks aimed at Israeli civilian population zones over the last twenty-four hours combined with the terror kite onslaught indicates that a desperate Hamas continues to do Iran's bidding despite the potentially disastrous consequences.
In a notable development, Hamas issued a joint statement with the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad terrorist organization officially taking responsibility for the salvo of 45 rockets and mortars fired toward southern Israeli towns. The barrage of projectiles followed the IDF's targeting of Hamas infrastructure after some 20 brush fires in southern Israel were sparked by flammable kites, balloons and assorted other objects launched as part of Hamas's continued campaign against Israel.
The deceptive joint statement by Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed that the two terror groups "targeted seven Israeli military positions near Gaza... in response to continued Israeli aggression against resistance sites in Gaza."
Military installations were not the target. The rockets were launched toward Israeli towns. And the projectiles were not in response to "continued Israeli aggression" but rather followed Israeli self-defense against Hamas-orchestrated incendiary device attacks.
Islamic Jihad answers directly to Iran and cannot make a major move in Gaza without explicit permission from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Hamas is risking an all-out war that can devastate the terrorist organization. Already Gaza's Hamas dictators are teetering on the brink after their border riots failed to achieve much, and there is widespread and growing anger in Gaza over the territory's all but collapsed economy. While Hamas may be attempting to use the violence to pressure Israel into some sort of ceasefire, it must know that it is playing with its own survival in the event of a full-blown conflict.
Already turned away from other state-sponsors, Hamas understands that it needs Iranian patronage and its strategic alliance with Tehran and seems to be allowing Iran to heat up Israel's southern border.
In a previous analysis that is worth reviewing, I document the reasons Iran may want to start a conflict in Gaza:
Iran has been humiliated and strategically devastated by Israel's repeated strikes against Iran-run military bases in Syria and has been feeling the pressure.
The IDF released satellite photos showing the devastation its warplanes wreaked on Iranian bases during the bombing campaign earlier this month that marked the largest IDF action inside Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. This after Iranian forces in Syria fired a volley of around 20 rockets aimed at IDF positions on the Golan Heights - the first time Iran was accused of directly rocketing Israel.
There have since been more airstrikes in Syria attributed to Israel targeting Iran-run bases. The volleys started after Iran brazenly dispatched an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) into Israeli territory in February before it was quickly shot down by the Israeli military. An IDF investigation revealed the Iranian drone, sent from the Iran-run T-4 airbase in Syria, was carrying explosives and seemingly deployed to attack an Israeli target.
Iran doesn't want more Israeli bombardments in Syria, so it must be careful not to provoke another fierce response. Instead, Iran seems to be acting to divert Israel's attention to the Gaza Strip. It is likely heating up the southern border, perhaps even briefly, as both retaliation and a signal to Israel that Iranian proxies can be turned on at will. For now.
The continued Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror campaign serves as further evidence of Iran's designs to spark a major conflict on Israel's southern border.
Gaza Terrorist Kites: Twisted Reenactment of Samson Burning Philistine Fields - By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz -
"Shimshon went and caught three hundred foxes. He took torches and, turning [the foxes] tail to tail, he placed a torch between each pair of tails." Judges 15:4 (The Israel Bible™)
The thousands of incendiary kites and balloons that Hamas operatives have launched into Israel have caused horrific damage in a new low-tech form of terrorism the IDF is finding difficult to combat. Two rabbis weigh in, finding the spiritual roots for the terror-kites which suggest spiritual methods of defeating them.
For almost three months, Israel's southern border has been plagued by massive Hamas-led protests. With limited resources and technology, the terrorist organization has devised a new method of attacking Israel: kites and helium balloons carrying incendiary devices high over the border and into Israel. The IDF has implemented different methods of countering this new form of terrorism, including drones, but all have produced limited success. Thousands of kites and balloons have set more than 250 fires since the March of Return protests began March 30, burning an estimated 6,000 acres of land, or approximately seven square miles.
Rabbi Yekutiel Fish, the author of the Hebrew Torah blog, Sod HaChashmal, recently wrote about the terror-kites. Rabbi Fish discovered a clue in the Bible connecting them to a similar occurrence of agricultural arson but with Israel playing the role of the aggressor. The clue appears in Hebrew in the verse preceding Samson burning the Philistine's fields.
וַיֵּלֶךְ שִׁמְשׁוֹן וַיִּלְכֹּד שְׁלֹשׁ־מֵאוֹת שׁוּעָלִים וַיִּקַּח לַפִּדִים וַיֶּפֶן זָנָב אֶל־זָנָב וַיָּשֶׂם לַפִּיד אֶחָד בֵּין־שְׁנֵי הַזְּנָבוֹת בַּתָּוֶךְ׃ Judges 15:3
The rabbi showed that beginning with the letter 'ו' (vav) in the word 'Shimshon' (Samson), a skip of every fourth letter produces the letters that spell 'עפיפון' (kite).
"This clearly links Samson's burning of the Philistines' fields with the kites the Palestinians are using to burn Israel," Rabbi Fish said to Breaking Israel News. "Samson tied the torches to the tails of foxes and the Palestinians tie them to the tails of kites. The kites are the revenge of the Philistines on what Samson did to them by burning their fields in Timna."
Rabbi Fish explained that the Palestinians, "the spiritual descendants of the Philistines," resorted to kite arson in a final desperate measure after they sensed Samson's ultimate revenge approaching. As an explanation, Rabbi Fish cited a section of the Jerusalem Talmud based on the verse concerning the Philistines gouging out Samson's eyes.
Then Shimshon called to Hashem, "O Hashem! Please remember me, and give me strength just this once, O Hashem, to take revenge of the Philistines, if only for one of my two eyes." Judges 16:28
Rabbi Fish said that by toppling the pillars of the Temple, Samson killed many Philistines, which was immediate and sufficient revenge for one eye. But, according to the Jerusalem Talmud, the revenge for Samson's second eye will come before the Messiah.
"The Palestinians in Gaza can sense the revenge for Samson's second eye is about to come and their fear is causing them to strike out in a Samson-like manner, by burning the fields of Israel," Rabbi Fish explained.
"But this is all for the benefit of Israel," Rabbi Fish assured, bringing Samson's riddle that stumped the Philistines.
"Out of the eater came something to eat, Out of the strong came something sweet." Judges 14:14
"The word 'Az' (strong) hints at the word Aza (Gaza)," Rabbi Fish explained. "In the end-of-days, a sweetening of the judgements of Israel will come out of Gaza. Because of the evil they do to us, Israel will be forgiven."
Rabbi Levi Sudri, an award-winning Bible expert, agreed that the Philistines in the the guise of the Palestinians, are striking out at Israel.
"The basis of the conflict with the Palestinians is over their identity," Rabbi Sudri told Breaking Israel News. "The Palestinians are a nation that is not a nation. They are a reincarnation of the Philistines, which is why they are so entrenched in Gaza, the former stronghold of the Philistine and why they call themselves 'Palestinians', which has nothing to do with the land they occupy. They are trying to fool the entire world into believing that they are the true owners of this land."
Sudri agreed that the Palestinians' attack has its source in Samson burning the fields of the Philistines but noted that it contained another element that was a nefarious twisting f the Bible.
"They are burning fields in Israel as revenge for Samson burning their fields, the fields of the Philistines," Rabbi Sudri said. "The problem is that Israel is trying to put out individual fires, literally and figuratively, rather than relate to the root source of the problem which is identifying who is who, what is the truth and what is a lie."
"This whole confrontation is a reenactment of the confrontation between David and Goliath. But what they have done is flipped the story around," Sudri said. "The Palestinians are trying to portray themselves as David. That is why they show the young Palestinian boys wielding slings against heavily armed IDF troops. They are portraying Israel as the Philistines. Goliath represented war fought with technology, which the Palestinians are claiming is Israel."
"In the world today, appearances and pretty stories are more important than the truth. This requires that the weak and small side has a just cause. The Palestinians are portraying themselves as David facing off against Goliath in an attempt to sway world opinion and to change their fate. But the truth, if you look at history and current events, is that Israel is the 'David', outnumbered by the 'Goliath' of all the Arab nations."
Sudri noted that the narrative of the Palestinian 'David' versus the Israeli 'Goliath' is the narrative that appears most prominently in the media.
"But that type of judgement is not what God asks from people," Rabbi Sudri said. "We are required to look at the truth and do justice. If the strong have justice on their side and the weak are evil, God requires us to recognize who is good and who is evil."
"We are about to enter ben ha'metsarim", Rabbi Sudri said, referring to a three-week period of mourning between the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha b'Av, the Ninth day of the Month of Av; commemorating the destruction of the Jewish Temples. This corresponds to June 30-July 21 according to the Gregorian calendar. "These are spiritually difficult times for Israel when our enemies can do serious damage to us if they succeed in pulling us into war. The only way to overcome the Palestinians at this time is to remember that we are Jews, we are David, and they are the Philistines, they are Goliath. The best way to do this is to learn this story in the Bible, over and over."
The Proof God Exists - By Britt Gillette -
Many people claim God doesn't exist, and I often hear people say there's no proof or evidence to believe in God's existence. "You just have to accept it on faith," they say. "There's no evidence." This statement is made as if it's a fact. But is it? No way. Nothing could be further from the truth. People can prove God's existence in any number of ways. But for me, one piece of evidence stands above all others. It's inarguable. We can all see it. It's a modern-day miracle - proof of God's existence in plain view of everyone living in the world today. What is this rock-solid evidence?
If you haven't guessed already - it's the modern-day nation of Israel.
Evidence God Exists
Approximately 4,000 years ago, the Bible says God promised Abraham, "I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars" (Genesis 22:17), and "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you" (Genesis 12:3). God kept His promise, and we are all witnesses. Despite centuries of persecution and national tragedy, both the Jewish people and the nation of Israel endure.
How many others can make the same claim? How many other groups of people have been conquered, enslaved, and persecuted all over the world yet managed to not only survive, but retain their unique cultural, religious, and ethnic identity? Only the Jewish people can make this claim. And it's proof the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the one true God. Why do I say this? Because after all that's happened over the centuries, the Jewish people continue to thrive and the nation of Israel still exists - just as God promised.
A Promise From God
Almost everyone knows the story of how God used Moses to deliver the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage. But thousands of years ago, God promised a day will come when the world will no longer refer to the God of Israel as the one who rescued His people from the land of Egypt. Instead, they will refer to Him as the one who brought His people back into the land of Israel from all the countries in the world where He had exiled them (Jeremiah 16:14-15).
This prophecy began its fulfillment nearly 2,000 years ago when Jesus told His disciples the Temple will be destroyed and the people of Israel will be scattered among the nations to serve as slaves. This happened in A.D. 70. Titus and the Roman legions attacked Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and took the surviving Israelites to every corner of the Roman Empire to serve as slaves. Any other nation would have been broken. Any other people would have assimilated over the next 2,000 years.
History tells us this is true. After all, have you ever met a Carthaginian? How about a Babylonian? Me neither. Yet the Jewish people miraculously survived as a distinct people for nearly 2,000 years without a homeland of their own. And that's not just in the face of Roman conquerors. They survived the Spanish Inquisition, Hitler's Holocaust, and numerous other atrocities. How is this possible?
There's only one explanation - God said they would. The survival and success of the Jewish people proves God's existence. But for those who need further convincing, God provided another miracle in our day and time - the miracle of the restored nation of Israel.
The Rebirth of Israel
How many conquered nations have reappeared? How many nations have been destroyed, their people taken to other lands as slaves, and then nineteen centuries later they reappear? As far as I can tell, only one - the nation of Israel. Not only is this a historical first, it was foretold more than 2,000 years in advance.
God promised the Jewish people they would survive and thrive despite the hardships they faced (Isaiah 43:1-13).
He promised to call them from "among the nations" (Ezekiel 39:28), from "the farthest corners of the earth" (Isaiah 11:12), and from "north, south, east, and west" (Psalm 107:3).
He promised to bring them home and display His holiness to the nations (Ezekiel 20:41-42). He promised to welcome them home from the lands where they were scattered (Ezekiel 20:34).
He said He would restore them to the land of Israel from distant lands (Jeremiah 30:3, 10). And God promised, though scattered among the nations, His people would never forget Him, and He would bring them back into the land of Israel (Zechariah 10:9).
As early as the days of Moses, God made this promise: "Even though you are banished to the ends of the earth, the Lord your God will gather you from there and bring you back again. The Lord your God will return you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will possess that land again" (Deuteronomy 30:4-5, NLT). God kept His promise. Modern-day Israel is the proof.
So What Happens Next?
The existence of the Jewish people in the reborn nation of Israel should convince anyone the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is real. His fulfilled promises are on full display in our own day and time. But God made additional promises as well:
He said when He brings His people back into the land of Israel, the desert will bloom (Isaiah 35:1), and the Lord will return to destroy Israel's enemies (Isaiah 35:2-4). Through Jeremiah, God said once He brings His people back into the land, He will raise up a righteous king who will rule the land with wisdom - the long-awaited Messiah (Jeremiah 23:3-6). Through Micah, God promised to gather His exiles and form them into a strong nation. Then, He promised to rule from Jerusalem as their king forever (Micah 4:6-7).
Over and over again, the prophet Isaiah relayed God's promise to bring back the exiled people of Israel and form a new nation. Through Isaiah, God promised to restore the nation of Israel and raise its flag among the nations (Isaiah 11:12). And then?
Then He promised the wolf and the lamb will lie together. Leopards will lie down with goats. Even a baby will play with a cobra and not be bitten! (Isaiah 11:6-9). How is this?
Because the heir to David's throne (Jesus Christ) will rule over the nations, transforming the world into a place of peace and tranquility (Isaiah 11:10). And when does God say this will happen?
After His people are re-gathered from distant lands and the ends of the earth (Isaiah 11:11-12). After Israel is reborn as a single, unified nation (Isaiah 11:13). In other words, in our day and time. Because the Bible says shortly after Israel is restored, Jesus will return to earth and rule from Jerusalem!
God didn't promise to restore Israel and then send the Messiah a thousand years later. The prophets intimately linked these two events. And they're not the only ones. Jesus Himself did. He said "And Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end" (Luke 21:24). Today, the Jewish people control Jerusalem. It's the capital of Israel. Then Jesus said, "When all these things happen, look up, because your salvation is near" (Luke 21:28).
The things Jesus said to look for are here. Israel is a nation again. The Gentiles no longer control Jerusalem. So look up. Jesus is coming!
Daily Jot: The science of discernment - Bill Wilson -
President Donald Trump held a rally in Duluth, Minnesota last night at a hockey arena. The venue was packed with "thousands" of people. The AP report about the rally was full of one-liner "tweet"-like sentences that showed the visceral toward the president under the guise of reporting just the facts. Certain word phrases were used: "Trump is complaining," Trump is also falsely accusing the media," Trump is continuing to rail," Trump has been interrupted several times," Trump is "returning to his hardline immigration rhetoric," and "Trump is accusing the media..." Can anyone detect the bias here?
In determining a narrative about a topic, there are words to use and words to lose. For example, if you don't want the narrative to give the feel to people that something is unsafe, you may choose words that establish security or protection. You may not use the word "safer," because it implies that something is unsafe. In just this one story by AP about the Trump rally, there are many words designed to create bias. Words like "accusing" implies that there is no substance to the claim. If the reporter was unbiased, the sentence may read, "Trump also said media coverage of..."
The words "Trump is complaining" also indicate that the president has no case regarding his complaint. Use of words like "hardline" imply that the president is aligned with right-wing, or nazi-like approaches. These are subtle ways that the media injects its bias against the president while at the same time claiming to report "just the facts." Compare this reporting to that of the previous "president" where softer words were used, explanations about not upholding the law were painted with a word brush of thoughtfulness and reason. When a writer wants to escalate an emotion toward a topic, aggressive words are used. When a writer wants to deescalate, softer words are used.
This is media bias. In reality, it is fake news. The AP took a very positive rally with mainstream Americans and turned it into a suspicious-looking, bigot-slanted, hate event by the words it used to describe the gathering. The reporting looked straightforward, but it had a message with it. 1 John 4:1-6 speaks about discerning the spirits, and it is not unlike discerning the news. Verses 5-6 say, "They are of the world: therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them; We are of God: he that knows God hears us; he that is not of God hears us not. Hereby, we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." The science of discernment for disciples of Christ is to discern the spirit of the worldly things to know the truth-in news or in other aspects of life.
Daily Devotion: The Best Is Yet to Come - By Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. -Proverbs 4:23
C.S. Lewis said, "People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on 'being in love' forever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake . . . not realizing . . . the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one."
Romance and attraction are the initial thrill in a marriage, like the ignition of a car. They fire up the engine. Then the engine needs to run. You need to maintain that engine and keep going in the same direction, doing what God has called you to. You will find that whatever problems you have in your marriage, you can get through them. There are exceptions. But for the most part, you can work through your difficulties.
A study was done of married couples who had serious conflicts but decided to stay together. It revealed that two-thirds of unhappily married spouses who stayed married reported their marriages were happy five years later. They simply hung in there.
It proves what the Bible has said all along. So let's do it God's way. Make your marriage your most important relationship. Put the needs of your spouse above your own. Choose selflessness instead of selfishness. Keep sex for you and your spouse only. Do everything you can to cultivate and weed the garden of your marriage. Then watch what God will do.
Whatever state your marriage is in, hang in there. The best is yet to come. Don't give up. Don't abandon your marriage.
FROM THE HEART
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