Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The Signs of The Times: PART 2 - By Ron Ferguson -
THE DANGERS: In studying and teaching prophecy, there is a great danger to go too far with trying to understand events. This has been a common failing by some who begin making predictions and claims; only one of those has to fail, and all credibility is lost. As an example of this, I will post this review from TIME Magazine. In the 1970s and in 1988, I was teaching Revelation in the places where I was living, and we had to debunk these silly ideas which were sweeping the churches at that time. "Edgar Whisenant published a book in 1988 called 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988, which sold some 4.5 million copies. Whisenant once famously said, "Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong." When 1989 rolled around, a discredited Whisenant published another book, saying the Rapture would occur that year instead. It did not sell as well, nor did later titles that predicted the world would end in 1993 and again in 1994. The genre's most popular tales are in the Left Behind series, written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, which, though they do not predict an end date, provide a vivid fictional account of how Earth's final days could go. The 16 novels have sold more than 63 million copies worldwide." As mentioned earlier, this is what happens to those who made predictions in the past, and now again, predictions for 2020 or for some other year, or who try reading events into blood moons or distorting a person's name to make it read something someone wants it to read (like President Trump = "the last trump" [1 Thess 4, KJV] the trumpet leading to the Rapture). All biblical prophecy is literal, but making it fit the times is something that needs caution. For example, in Zechariah 14, Jerusalem is surrounded by all the nations' armies (yes, that is what the verse says), and it is written in terms the writer knew in his own day. With modern warfare, things are different, and Jerusalem could be destroyed with just one bomb. However, taking the Zechariah passage literally, Jerusalem WILL be surrounded and WILL be sieged as Zechariah says. (We must take note that Zechariah 14 is set for the Second Coming [time of Armageddon] and beyond. It ends the Tribulation; and if you study Revelation taking note of the judgments of God through those 7 years, it seems only a small minority of people are left on earth. Mind you, right through the Tribulation, people have the opportunity to repent, but this is typical of their attitude (Rev 9:20-21). I caution again - anyone calling him or herself a prophet is not one. There are no prophets past the completion of scripture. These are false prophets, and we are warned about many false teachers arising. Study the Bible, comparing scripture with scripture, and have all that you find meld together as a flawless whole. If a Bible prophecy does not fit harmoniously with other biblical prophecies, then you are applying it wrongly. There were commentators who lived a few hundred years ago who really did not understand the position of physical Israel, mainly because back then no one remotely saw the beginning again of the Jewish nation; that happened in 1947 thanks to WW2. These commentators used to take the Old Testament prophecies about Israel and apply them to the Church, which is where they placed their fulfillment. Look at Joel 2 and 3, where these great chapters deal with Israel's future and restoration in terms that could never be applied to the Church, and it does not fit; but a lot of commentators try making it fit the Church. That is what happens when you force prophecy to fit some wrong theology or wrong event or wrong timescale. That, though, is a different kettle of fish from the modern herd, those who arise and claim for themselves the title "prophet." We know from chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel that Gog and Magog and their allies will be part of the world's armies in Israel at the end of the Tribulation, leading up to Armageddon. This is one small part - Ezek 38:1-6, "The word of the LORD came to me saying, Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him . . . Persia, Ethiopia, and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer with all its troops; Beth-togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all its troops - many peoples with you." There you see Persia (Iran) and the nations of the remote north (of Israel), which has to be Russia and its allies (and possibly current Islamic nations). They will have a hatred for Israel, and assemble for the battle of Armageddon. Today, Iran is building its forces and supplying Israel's enemies in 'Palestine' with weapons. Iran is threatening to exterminate Israel. Also, Russia is developing a military base in Syria where Putin and Assad are in an alliance. Assad is one of the world's most evil men. This is most significant: Gog and Magog is taking shape. These are the signs of the times. Jesus said of His Jewish believers in the Tribulation, "You will be hated of all men for My Name's sake." The world will increasingly hate Israel, and has started to legislate against God's nation. Here is a report on the United Nations vote on Israel from 30 November 2017: "The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to disavow (disallow) Israeli ties to Jerusalem as part of six anti-Israel resolutions condemning Israel it approved on Thursday in New York. The vote was 128 in favor and 9 against, with 35 abstentions. The resolution came as the Trump Administration decided to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem. "In New York, only nine countries out of 193 UN member states fully supported Israel's ties to Jerusalem: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Togo, Guatemala, Palau, Honduras, the United States and Israel itself, voted against the UN resolution. There were 35 abstentions. The full list of abstaining countries (a bit cowardly of them) was: Antigua-Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, the Bahamas, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Haiti, Hungary, Jamaica, Kiribati, Latvia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda and Vanuatu." When speaking on "the signs of the times," one must be careful not to read too much into what is observed, because it is possible that events in coming years or even months might alter or clarify one's view. We read the signs of the times according to our current estimations. False prophets and false teachers are definitely on the increase, and because of the social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), have worldwide exposure. There are two of these at present who have huge YouTube followings, and I am following the errors on both sites. One is an Arian (from the Arianism heresy in the 300s A.D. that taught Jesus was begotten of God in heaven = He was created by God and has existed from that time, and many other falsehoods). The other believes we are in the Tribulation and explains the 4 horses of Revelation 6 as matching world events now. He reads messages into numbers and signs of the moon.
The Pandemic of Lawlessness
There is one important matter emerging as we look at the Signs of the Time. I call this a pandemic because it has gone worldwide. Let us consider these verses: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, "Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him [THE RAPTURE], that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. [THE DAY OF THE LORD COMES AFTER THE RAPTURE.] Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction." The man of lawlessness is the Antichrist/World Leader who arrives on the scene with the opening of the first seal in Rev 6:1. Lawlessness is rebellion, and the one who fits that description is Satan who rebelled against God and was cast from heaven. Those who do not follow God are sons of rebellion. It is Satan and his demonic forces who stir up lawlessness in the world. Decent people in June of 2020 were horrified and saddened at the unfolding events over the death of a man in the USA. As a result of that, there have been protests worldwide, marches with banners saying "black lives matter," and emerging from that, an attack on statues and institutions everywhere, but not in totalitarian nations like China and North Korea. Why is this movement of protest and rebellion the way it is? Nothing will justify the way the black man in the US died, but why is it that we are seeing such violence and retribution and anger being spread throughout because of it? These people are protesting against the violence that killed him, but are themselves far more destructive and horrifying and violent than the initial act. Then to follow that wickedness and to turn against statues of ones like Winston Churchill and Captain James Cook, and even a threat to Abraham Lincoln's Memorial, is a sinister move. It can only be understood in terms of increasing lawlessness in this world. I believe we must expect that as we near the end of the Church age, because it won't be long before this world finds itself in the Tribulation where lawlessness will be rampant, because the lawless one will have control. There is no time to talk about the anarchists and agitators, mainly from the left, who inflame these protests. Personally, I get really saddened about the unfolding of chaos the nations are entering, but I know lawlessness will increase. Paul says so: 2 Thess 2:7, "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way." (The Restrainer is the Holy Spirit, but that is another topic.) Our redemption is drawing near (and fast). The Lord is our Hope! The rapture is our blessed hope. LASTLY, THE VIRUS: There is a lot of discussion about this corona thing from what could be called "Christian websites," from the utter ridiculous to some sane comments. Can we say anything about its relationship with the signs of the time? No doubt, this is the greatest tragedy to hit the world since the second world war, but can we read anything into it or match it with some Bible prediction? There is no link whatever to any biblical event or prophecy. This is another health disaster like the Spanish flu was in 1918/19 when one-third (or 500 million) of the world's population was inflected, and at least 50 million people died. That is over 300 times more than those who have died with corona. The Spanish flu (from bird origins) was a pandemic as corona is. I have said this before, but what I see in it is God allowing a slight glimpse into what is one small detail of what the soon-coming Tribulation will contain. The fourth horse at the start of chapter 6 (verse 8) is a pale or dappled horse and represents "pestilences" which include infections, diseases, etc.; following the third horse which is famine; following the second horse which is wars and rumours of war when peace is taken away from the earth. All that follows the first horse in Revelation 6:2 which is the appearing of the Revived Roman Empire, or Antichrist if you like. The Church WILL NOT ENTER THE TRIBULATION, FOR THE RAPTURE TAKES THE CHURCH AWAY BEFORE ANTICHRIST CAN BE REVEALED. 1 John 4:1, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world." Matt 7:15, "Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves." 2 Timothy 2:15-16, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth, but avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness." Look up, for your redemption draws near. The Lord is coming again, and that should be soon.
Where Is America In Bible Prophecy? - By Bill Salus -
This article is written from the teachings on the DVD entitled, The Prophetic Mideast Wars. The DVD unpacks Ezekiel 38:13 to unmask the mysterious modern-day identities of ancient Tarshish and their young lions, or "villages" in some translations.
Additionally, it examines their specific roles within the prophecy. If Tarshish is the UK and the young lions are partially represented by the USA, then the ramifications for the future of America are staggering!
Ezekiel 38 and 39 involves at least fifteen participants in the prophecy. They are:
1.) The Victor: God,
2.) The (intended) Victim: Israel,
3.) The Invaders: Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer, and Togarmah.
4.) The Protestors: Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish and their Young Lions.
The prophecy informs that, in the latter years the invaders will attack Israel to capture plunder and booty. They covet Israel's economic prosperity and conspire militarily to confiscate this livelihood as part of their spoils of war. As the victor, the Lord prevents this from occurring by utilizing supernatural means to defeat these invaders.
Meanwhile, as the epic event unfolds, the protestors complain about the evil intentions of the invaders. Their protests are lodged in the questions in Ezekiel 38:13 quoted below. Ultimately, after the invaders are conquered, Israel graduates from being the intended victim and instead becomes the resultant benefactor.
"Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, 'Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?" (Ezekiel 38:13)
The modern-day equivalents of these protestors today are commonly understood and taught to be:
1. Sheba: Yemen,
2. Dedan: Saudi Arabia and perhaps parts of the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) Arab Gulf States,
3. Tarshish: Either the UK or Spain,
4. Young Lions: Either the colonies that came from the UK, namely North America
or the offshoots of Spain, mainly the Latin American countries.
Ezekiel 38:13 imparts several important clues to the reader. One of them is that the merchants (of Tarshish) are concerned about the motives of the invaders. They are not referred to as soldiers, politicians, athletes, entertainers, etc., but as merchants. The Hebrew word used by Ezekiel is clearly talking about commerce.
Being labeled as merchants in Ezekiel 38:13 insinuates that at least some of the protestors have commercial interests at stake within Israel at the time of the Magog invasion. This is not a new phenomenon. According to Ezekiel 27:12, Tarshish has been conducting foreign trade in the Middle East for centuries.
These merchants appear distraught over the possibilities of the invaders seizing Israel's national assets. This raises the questions, "If they are concerned about protecting their foreign trade relations within Israel, why do they not appear to be fighting alongside the Jewish state in this conflict? Why don't they coalesce militarily to oppose the Magog coalition?"
In 1990, George H. Bush had no problem assembling an alliance of nations against Saddam Hussein's Iraq in Operation Desert Storm. That American led coalition was comprised of several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, who is represented as Dedan in Ezekiel 38:13. However, in the Ezekiel invasion, a Desert Storm scenario does not seem to be repeated.
This might mean that passive political leadership is in place, but more likely implies that the protestors lack military prowess at the time. Maybe, these abstaining countries are concerned that their forces won't match up against the invading armies. This is the possible conclusion that I favor.
Who was Tarshish?
According to the Table of Nations in Genesis 10, Tarshish was Noah's great grandson through his son Japheth, who fathered Javan, who in turn fathered Tarshish.
And the sons of Javan: Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. Of these were the isles of the nations divided in their lands, everyone after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. (Genesis 10:4-5, ASV)
Where was Tarshish?
The two most favored locations for Tarshish among historians, archaeologists and Bible teachers are Spain or Britain. My research leads me to conclude that Britain is the location of "Tarshish" and the North American countries most resemble their "young lions."
Tarshish settled in the isles or in some translations the coastlands. In addition to the verse above, the theme of Tarshish in connection with the isles shows up in Psalm 72:10, and Isaiah 23:6, 60:9, 66:19. A careful reading of these verses uncovers a clear connection between Tarshish and a geographical location associated with isles or coastlands. One example is below.
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall render tribute: The kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. (Psalm 72:10)
The isles alluded to could be the British Isles, which are a group of oversized islands off the northwestern coast of continental Europe that consist of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles.
Many of the maps that display the location of ancient Tarshish locate it around or beyond the Strait of Gibraltar. The Strait of Gibraltar is the westernmost part of the Mediterranean Sea before it merges with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the water barrier that separates Southern Spain from Northern Morocco.
It is far to the west of Israel, which is also a point made in Psalm 48:7. The Psalm says, "As when You break the ships of Tarshish With an east wind." This implies that the ships are coming to the Middle East from the west, rather than the east.
Bible prophecy expert Dr. Mark Hitchcock points out a possible connection between Tarshish and Britain in his book entitled, "The Late Great United States." Hitchcock states:
"Some archaeologists believe that Tarshish was the ancient name of Britain. "Tarshish" can also mean "beyond Gibraltar" depending on your translation. Tarshish and her villages or young lions -- in other words Britain which then settled Canada and the United States and Australia."
Dr. J. R. Church, the founder of Prophecy in the News, says the following about Tarshish in his book called, "The Guardians of the Grail."
"An inscription discovered in 1780, on a cliff above Mt. Hope Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island, contained an engraving that read "Voyagers from Tarshish this stone proclaims." ... Believed to be inscribed around 533 B.C....Harvard University has found five locations within the United States where the merchants of Tarshish had colonies."
Another respected Bible prophecy experts that advocates this same connection is Dr. David Hocking, of Hope for Today Ministries. We shared a speaking platform together on July 3, 2011. During that event, Dr. Hocking provided several sound biblical, historical and archaeological reasons that support America as the Young Lions of Tarshish. Dr. Hocking's conclusion that he gave at the event is quoted below. You can watch this entire event at this website: https://vimeo.com/26460214
"If you ask me today if the USA is in Bible prophecy, I would have to say on the basis of historical documentation and on the basis of the British museum and all of its records around Glastonbury that it begins with Great Britain (Tarshish), and undoubtedly as a seed-bearing people it refers to the USA as the "Young Lions."
What was Tarshish famous for?
Tarshish's claim to historical fame was primarily two-fold. First, they were known for their vast wealth and abundant mineral and metal resources. We glean this from historical accounts as well as several Scriptures. One example is found in Ezekiel 27:12, which says, "Tarshish was your (Tyre) merchant because of your many luxury goods. They gave you silver, iron, tin, and lead for your goods."
This verse, written around 587 BC, acknowledged that "tin" was among the primary metals that came from Tarshish. Cornwall, a county on England's rugged southwestern tip, was the only major source of tin in Europe for the past 2,500 years. In the 19th century there were approximately 400 mines in Cornwall employing 18,000 people. It is also true that the mountains of Wales, just north of Cornwall have been a source of all the minerals and metals listed above in Ezekiel 27:12.
On September 13, 2019, the Heidelberg University issued a report entitled, The Enigma of Bronze Age Tin. The report examined Bronze Age tin from the second millennium BCE from Israel, Turkey, and Greece. Below is a summary statement from their findings:
"The tin artefacts from Israel, for example, largely match tin from Cornwall and Devon (Great Britain)."
Second, Tarshish gained renown for their extremely sturdy ships. These seaworthy vessels would take extended voyages to transport their exports and imports across the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. These ships of Tarshish are alluded to at least nine times in the Bible.
The ships of Tarshish were carriers of your (Tyre's) merchandise. You were filled and very glorious in the midst of the seas. (Ezekiel 27:25)
What About Tarshish Today?
Ezekiel 38:8, 16 notifies that this is a prophecy that finds fulfillment in the last days. Ezekiel 38:13 places Tarshish in the epic event. Since these appear to be the last days, then it's safe to say that ancient Tarshish has a modern-day equivalent. This logical deduction applies geographically in the world, and geo-politically in the Middle East.
Furthermore, Tarshish and their young lions have a relationship with Israel in this prophecy. This beckons the questions, what nation or nations have played instrumental roles in modernity in the Mideast? What countries have been interacting with Israel the most since its rebirth in 1948?
This seemingly rules out Spain as Tarshish and the Latin American countries as the young lions. The Spanish Empire was a dominant world influence in between the late 15th century until the early 19th century. During that time, Spain shared the global power struggle with the Ottoman Empire, which controlled the Middle East between 1517-1917. Today both empires have faded from their former glories and neither has much influence in the geo-political affairs of the Middle East in general and Israel specifically.
Around the end of the 18th century, the second rise of the British Empire began. At its height it was considered the largest empire in history. No other nation in history created as many colonies (young lions).
The empire grew so rapidly that it became characterized by the phrase, "the empire on which the sun never set." By 1922, the British Empire held sway over about 458 million people, one-fifth of the world's population. Moreover, the empire covered more than 13,000,000 square miles, almost a quarter of the Earth's total land area.
The Ottoman Empire's control over the Middle East ended with its defeat in World War I. Subsequently, Britain and France took sovereignty over the territory. When Israel was rebirthed in 1948, it was Britain, rather than Spain, that controlled the subject territory, which at the time was called Palestine.
Presently, America, not Latin America, is playing a young lion's role in the Mideast. In 1979, the USA was instrumental in brokering a peace deal between Israel and Egypt with President Jimmy Carter, and again in 1994 with Israel and Jordan by President Bill Clinton.
It seems as though today, Britain, as Tarshish, is now playing a subservient role behind the young lions of America in important geo-political issues of interest to Israel. On the other hand, Spain and the Latin American countries are not involved much at all in Mideast matters.
I am convinced that the majority of biblical, historical, archaeological, geographical and geo-political arguments for the identity of Tarshish and their young lions favor Britain and America. My conclusions are also based upon a thorough examination of several respectable commentaries that clumsily attempted to connect Tarshish to Spain. In my estimation, the arguments I uncovered in favor of Spain were easily refutable.
If Britain and the USA are mentioned as mere protestors in Ezekiel 38:13, then this should trouble Americans. Why does the greatest superpower that ever existed seem to abstain from fighting alongside Israel at this critical point in its future? We are presently Israel's greatest ally!
The USA, in the past, has consistently voted pro-Israel in the United Nations, even when it was unpopular to do so. We provide Israel with state-of-the-art weaponry and other forms of foreign aid. As of June 15, 2015, Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II.
Why does the USA seem content to remain on the sidelines when Russia and its hordes invade Israel? Is it because America declines from superpower status between now and Ezekiel 38? Britain already has! In only seventy years, between 1920 and 1990, in the midst of Israel's rebirthing process, Britain collapsed as a world superpower. Now the sun always sets on the British Empire. Today the UK only spans 94,058 square miles and has a population of only about 64 million.
It's easy to see why Britain, as Tarshish in the prophecy, would tremble at the thought of fighting against the Magog coalition. But what about the USA? Is America following in Britain's same failed footsteps?
Will America turn its back on God and Israel, like Britain did when it failed to enact the Balfour Declaration, which was drafted in 1917? Britain's failure to provide territory for a Jewish State at the time contributed to the extermination of approximately 6 million Jews in World War II!
Will America's decades long push to divide the land of Israel into two states have the same consequences? Is this type of anti-biblical geo-political behavior one of the reasons that America is portrayed as cowardly young lions in Ezekiel 38:13? Joel 3:2 says that one of the reasons God judges the nations is for dividing his land. In modernity, America is at the forefront of attempting to divide God's land.
This article will hopefully encourage American readers to prepare for the strong possibility that their country is headed for a potentially steep and severe decline!
If you want to learn more about this prophetic topic and how mankind gets from where we are now to the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38, then purchase your copy of the DVD entitled, The Prophetic Mideast Wars at this link.
The Damascus Rapture - By Matt Leasher -
Those that study Bible prophecy are well aware of the method of using types and figures in the Bible to shine enlightenment on prophetical events that are still future and to provide more detail as to what is yet to come. In the case of the Rapture of the Church, many point to people and events such as Enoch representing the Church being translated to heaven before the Judgment of the Flood, and Lot being led out of Sodom before the Judgment could be permitted to fall upon Sodom and Gomorrah. But I'd like to do some comparing and contrasting to Paul's experience when He was suddenly struck by the bright appearance of our risen Savior while on the road to Damascus.
Our point of reference is in Acts 9:1-9. This is when Paul was still Saul and hadn't had his name changed yet. The account given in Acts 9:1-9 is commonly referred to as "the Damascus Road" where Saul set out to persecute and murder the disciples of the Lord being as he was still a Pharisee and hated the "people of the Way" (Christians).
It is in Acts 9:3-4 where we can begin to observe some parallels and contrasts that look forward to the Rapture of the Church. It says in Acts 9:3-4:
"And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" (Acts 9:3-4).
Putting aside the fact that Saul was still an unbeliever, a big change had just occurred, and it came suddenly! It's the details of the actual experience itself that I feel may be very comparable to the coming sudden snatching away of the Church at the "appearing" of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Those that hold to the Post-Tribulation Rapture view often argue that us Pre-Tribulation Rapture believers are claiming that there is going to be two Second Comings, making that view unBiblical. This is where this account refutes that.
Here, the Lord Jesus Christ made an "appearance" to Saul but did not physically return to the earth to stay. In fact, Jesus made two other "appearances" to Paul as well. The second one is in Acts 22:17-21 where Paul is testifying to the Jews of his Damascus experience, and then he speaks of when he was praying in the Temple and Jesus appeared to him again with instructions to leave Jerusalem and to go to the Gentiles. The third time Christ appeared to Paul was in his prison cell as recorded in Acts 23:11 where it says the Lord stood by him to encourage him that he would eventually go to Rome to testify of Him.
So from those three accounts, we can see that Christ can make an "appearance" any time He wants to, before He comes to the earth to stay. Since we have the completed New Testament, it is unlikely He will make appearances until His Second Coming, because we now have the completed Word of God at our dispense to bring us to faith and to build our faith. As Paul himself wrote in Romans 10:17, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."
Okay, let's get back to the Damascus Road. The first parallel to the Rapture is the fact that Saul was going about his business when the Lord suddenly appeared to him without warning. This will be the case for the Rapture of the Church. Next, Saul would be changed forevermore after this moment, and we will be changed forevermore at the moment of the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:52). Saul didn't get a new body like we will, but he got a new Spirit!
In Acts 9:4 it says that Saul heard a voice speak to him after he fell to the ground. In contrast, the Church will go up after the Lord descends from heaven with a shout (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
According to Acts 22:9, when Paul was recollecting his Damascus experience he said:
"And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of Him that spoke to me" (Acts 22:9).
Here we are informed that the men with Saul had seen the light but didn't hear the voice. It may very well be that when the Rapture of the Church occurs, the world will most certainly be aware of something supernaturally monumental taking place, but those that are not in Christ will not hear the shout! Just as Christ shouted Lazarus' name to come out of the tomb (John 11:43), the shout for the Bride of Christ will be specifically only for us.
This is also reminiscent of when the Father spoke from heaven in John 12:28 declaring He would again glorify His name in the work of His Son. Some of those that stood nearby thought it was thunder, while others thought it was an angel that had spoken. At the Rapture, the shout to "Come up hither" will only be heard by Christians, while the rest of the unbelieving world may think it is only thunder!
In Acts 26:12-18, Paul recollects for a second time his Damascus experience. This time we are informed that not only did Saul fall to the ground when Christ appeared, but those that were with him all fell too. In fact, in Acts 26:14 it says they "all fell to the earth." From what we know, only Saul was changed, not the others. At the Rapture the whole world will be affected, and the Church will be changed and removed from the earth, but the unbelieving world will remain grounded!
According to Titus 2:13, Colossians 3:4, Hebrews 9:28, 1 John 3:2 and 1 Peter 5:4, the Rapture is described as an "appearing" of Christ. In Acts 26:16, Jesus Himself tells Paul that He has "appeared" to him, as will be the case at the Rapture.
For there to be so many similar parallels and contrasts between Paul's Damascus experience and the Rapture of the Church is only fitting since Paul would be the one to reveal the "mystery" of the Rapture:
"Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:51).
Sometime after Paul's Damascus experience, he also had an out of body experience where he was caught up to the third heaven to experience the glory that awaits those in Christ (2 Corinthians 12:1-5). Saul may have been knocked to the earth on the road to Damascus, but as he faithfully served the Lord in obedience to his calling, the Lord blessed Paul with a preview of the glory that awaits.
We the Church are busy working for the Lord at ground level on this earth, but we have the blessed words of Christ given to us through Paul of the glory that awaits us also! Let that be encouragement as we continue to fight the good fight and draw nearer to that glorious Day!
With all that said, it is interesting to note that there are three Old Testament prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled that us prophecy watchers have had a close eye on for quite a long time. They are Isaiah 17, Psalm 83, and Ezekiel 38 & 39. Many (including myself) believe that these prophecies will be fulfilled in that order as well. Since the Old Testament prophets could not see the Church Age (1 Peter 1:11), it is unlikely that any of these prophecies will come to fulfillment while the Church is still here. The interesting thing about that, for this commentary, is that the Isaiah 17 prophecy is about the overnight destruction of Damascus!
Since the Greek word for Rapture is Harpazo (Strongs #726), and it literally means "to seize by force, snatch up suddenly, to forcefully pluck," it could be that at the very moment that destruction strikes Damascus, we the Church are simultaneously snatched up to be with the Lord, as those prophecies kick- start the events of the Tribulation. If so, I would call that a Damascus Rapture!
Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!
Hope Under Fire - by Hal Lindsey - https://www.hallindsey.com/ww-7-2-2020/
America is awash in spirituality. Yet spiritual hunger continues to grow exponentially. That's because spirituality that is not anchored in truth does not satisfy. Satan rarely bothers to attack spirituality. In fact, he usually encourages it. One of his great goals is to fulfill the prophecy about people in the "last days" given in 2 Timothy 3:5. It says they will have "a form of godliness but denying its power."
He wants people to spout spiritual platitudes but ignore what God has to say. Why? Because the word of God bridges the gap between the mind of God and the mind of man. Through His word, God's thoughts flow to human minds. Satan wants to block that bridge.
In Genesis 3:1, Satan asked Eve, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'"
"Has God indeed said" remains at the heart of his attack on humanity to this day. In verse 4, Satan's attack goes further - this time directly contradicting God's words. "Then the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die.'"
The wonder of the ages is that God has spoken to human beings. The title of a book by Francis Schaeffer says it perfectly - He Is There and He Is Not Silent. Since His words convey His thoughts to our minds, that's where Satan concentrates his fire.
And today, as never before, the Bible is under assault. Even evangelical Christian ministers are denying major parts of the Bible. One of the world's most influential preachers said the Church needs to "unhitch itself from the Old Testament." While we should always emphasize the difference between law and grace, we have to remember that it is the Old Testament which verifies the New Testament. Jesus didn't just pop in out of the blue. The Old Testament talked about Him for thousands of years in advance of His coming. The Old Testament was His calling card. We can't unhitch the Old Testament without undermining the New Testament.
In Jeremiah 6:16, God said, "Thus says the Lord, 'Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you shall find rest for your souls.'"
In times like these, the whole world needs "rest for your souls." We will find it in the ancient path laid out by God in both the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah 2:5 implores Israel. "Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord."
Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path."
You will find peace, comfort, joy, and power in God's revelation of Himself, and you will find that revelation in the Bible. In Isaiah 30:21, God says, "And your ears will hear a word behind you, 'This is the way, walk in it.'" In John 14:6, Jesus told us exactly what that means. He said, "I am the way."
In Mark 13:31, Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away."
In a time when everything seems to be changing, God reminds us of something that does not change - His Word. Heaven and earth will pass away, but His Word will not pass away. That's something to which we can anchor our lives, our hopes, and all our tomorrows. That's an anchor the whole world desperately needs right now.
Daily Jot: The Farm Chronicles: July 4th at Myrtle Beach - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
It was the July 4, 1967 week when we took our annual beach vacation with the Heft's to Myrtle Beach, SC. But it was haying season. Bill and Martha Heft and their daughters Jean and Nancy lived on a small farm down the road from us. We had our hay to get in the barn and they had their hay to get in. Sometimes we worked up until the night before we left on that long trip, sweating it out in the hay mow, bale after bale as fast as possible, to not only beat the rain, which was normal for Northeastern Ohio, but also to get the haying done before we left for the beach. Sometimes, we would go help the Hefts because our other neighbor and close friend Warren McCarthy did the baling for both of us. It was a group effort.
Then the morning had arrived. We packed up our Buick Electra 225 convertible and drove over to the Hefts. Then the packing began. You can imagine how much "stuff" Martha, Jean, Nancy, and my Mom-all of them glamour girls in their own way-had to take for a week at the beach. But that trunk on the Buick was like a ballroom and we packed most everything in. Bill was an excellent packer and I believe I learned how to do it well by watching him. All seven of us packed into that Buick. I was the smallest, so I got to sit on a little fold-up camp stool on the floor in the back seat. It was pretty close quarters, but we thought nothing of it. We were going to the BEACH!!!!
The scenery changed quite a bit going from the north to the south. It was often like we were in another country, except the people sort of spoke the same language. We were always amazed that there were tobacco barns and what we were told were old slave quarters as we looked at the farms on the southern highways. We didn't see these things in the north. Along the way, we would stop for gas and a potty break. It was really strange to see signs on the restrooms-Whites Only. Or the water fountains-sometimes there would be two, the cleaner one would have the sign: "White Drinking Fountain." The other one may just have the words "Colored" painted above it. This is also something we didn't see up north.
Myrtle Beach was all decked out for July 4th. It was a festive atmosphere. But a strange thing I noticed was there were no American flags, at least I don't recall seeing any. The streets were lined with the Confederate Stars and Bars. In fact, it became a game to spot an American flag. There was one that I remember. It was at the very top of the roller coaster. All the American flags that were usually there had been replaced with the Confederate battle flag. Must be that they couldn't easily reach that last American flag. When asking about this, we were told that "this here is the South and we do things different than you Yankees." Indeed, they did. I didn't understand at 12 years old what I was experiencing, but it caused me to think.
These trips South in the '60s quietly shaped me and affirmed Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." This statement of equality in Christ is very similar to the Declaration of Independence statement that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Roughly a century had passed since the "War of Northern Aggression," as we were often reminded, and all people in those states were welcomed into the Union with those rights restored, except some were more equal than others. Back in the Buick, we returned home, grateful for the truly wonderful southern hospitality, sunburned to where we could hardly sit, talking of all that we saw and did.
Daily Devotion: Fresh and Flourishing - by Greg Laurie -
They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing. -Psalm 92:14
We think of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as great patriarchs of the faith, and indeed they are. But they were pretty flawed people too.
Abraham, as godly as he was, had serious lapses in his faith. Isaac was biased and didn't listen to the Lord. Jacob's mistakes are legendary.
So when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and said, "I am the God of your father-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6 NLT), I think He was telling Moses that He was giving him a second chance.
I think God was saying, "Moses, I am the God of men who have failed and who need second chances. I am the God of ordinary men and women who have accomplished extraordinary things. That means I can use you."
Moses was 80 years old, an age when people are long past retirement. This shows us that God has a plan for every stage of our lives. God wants to use us when we're young. God wants to use us when were middle-aged. And God wants to use us when we're old.
Researchers have done extensive studies on those who have entered retirement. People who chose to live a life of leisure or no longer had any purpose in life died at a younger age. And in a study that followed 7,000 people at the age of 50 for more than a decade, experts found that people died at a younger age if they felt their lives had little purpose.
As a Christian, your life has purpose. God has allowed you to go through all that you've gone through to mold you into the man or woman that He wants you to be. You have something to offer. You have something to do. God still wants to use you.
FROM THE HEART
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