Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The Hope of Glory - Pete Garcia -
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
With September 23rd right around the corner, I found it necessary to write to you concerning the hype and the hope of the Revelation 12 sign. My intent here is not to curb your enthusiasm pertaining what may or may not be an event, but to guard it. First let me add my concern that on both sides, i.e., the militant supporters and cynical critics of this event, have wrought much division to the body of Christ. They have done this by remaining dogmatic in their opinions over a speculative event that may not pan out to be anything, or it may end up being everything. While one side lobs half-truths, the other returns fire with trolling and threats. I have tried to keep an open-mind concerning this and I would like to bring both the positive and negative points out concerning Revelation 12 and the attention it has recently gotten.
But let me begin with some positives concerning the Revelation 12 Sign "movement" if I can call it that. Anytime a passage of Scripture gets global attention, I think that is a good sign. It gets people asking questions about the Bible that they normally wouldn't. Furthermore, it gets Christians back in their Bibles acting like they should have been, like Bereans. It also directs people's attention to the return of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Inevitably, this will, even if unintentionally, wake some people up from the slumber this world has blinded them with. Lastly, much good scholarship concerning the doctrine of the Church, the Rapture, and timing in general has come because of this.
The negatives than are that some will be convinced that something will absolutely have to happen on September 23rd. If September 23rd comes and goes without anything major or significant changing, many who planted all their hopes and dreams on that date will become disillusioned and drift away from the faith. Those who are not Christians will inevitably use this as simply one more thing they can pin on those "wacky" Christians who are waiting for a Messiah who will never come. I believe that Revelation 12 movement may only further validate the scoffing as found in 2 Peter 3:3-4 by fueling the skeptics to ask "Where is the promise of His coming?"
The Bottom Line
Pinning all of our Rapture credibility and our hopes on a specific date (for whatever reason) is both foolish and irresponsible. I understand that those serious about this date are not calling for a Rapture, but there are some who are. No matter how solid our evidence seems, our God sees the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10), so His ways may not seem logical to us at the present, no matter how much we want Him to conform to our patterns and logic. Secondly, relying on extra biblical sources cannot and should not be substituted for clear, biblical teachings on any given subject, no matter how compelling they may seem.
So with those issues out of my way, there has been much said by both the proponents and opponents concerning the September 23rd Revelation 12 issue. Even though I am not a believer in this event per se, I find myself supporting its claims more than denying them, simply because there has been such poor scholarship done in critiquing it on the side of our prophecy 'experts.' Some of the false charges have been:
The child in Revelation can only be Christ
I would like to address these point by point (in the same order) to clarify some of the misconceptions put out there by well-meaning theologians, pastors, and media personalities.
None of the serious supporters of the Revelation 12 have stated that the Rapture will definitively happen on September 23rd or 24th. Some of them have added that the convergence of all the events together makes a strong case being then (or even in 2017), but none are telling folks to sell their things, move to the mountains, and wait for that day. That was what Harold Camping did, and I haven't seen anyone in this group with any clout do that so far.
John N. Darby, Harry Ironside, Michael Svigel, Chuck Missler, and other bible scholars have held views that Revelation 12 is a strong Pre-Trib passage as well as the child also being the church. This view is not outside the mainstream.
While I agree with the general statement that "no man knows the day or hour," I also have to balance that against another later statement by Jesus in Revelation 3:3, in which He holds the Church accountable for knowing the hour of His coming.
In context, when Jesus explained the Olivet Discourse, He answered truthfully that 'no man' knew. At that point of time, in His incarnation, this was not yet revealed to Him.
We then see post-Calvary, resurrection, and ascension that the Father gave the Son the Revelation of things to come, which makes it all too reasonable to believe that Jesus was told the when and how (Rev. 1:1) because He is the (Rev. 1:8).
This, in my opinion, strengthens the argument for the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 representing the seven stages (or eras) the church would progress through.
Revelation 12 is nestled in the middle of Revelation. That does not, however, mean that all the events are nestled snuggly in the middle of the 70th Week. Rev 12 (like Rev 11 and 13) are parenthetical insertions which span all or part of the entire seven years. Furthermore, Revelation 12 seems to be outlining events in a corporate manner that parallel Christ's first coming (which were singular). For instance:
This appears to make much more sense in keeping with the "prophetic" or "future" nature of Revelation (Revelation 1:1, 3, 19, 4:1-2). In other words, this isn't simply a rehashing (or historical rendering) or Christ's life, death, resurrection, and ascension, but something much more intriguing.
Opponents of the Revelation 12 sign openly scoff at the notion that the Child/child in Revelation 12 could also represent the Church.
The child in Rev 12 is differentiated between huios (masculine) to teknon (neuter) who did not ascend but was 'harpazo'. From my understanding of Luke 24:51, Jesus was anapherō (carried up, not snatched up) to heaven.
If it was meant to convey Christ here in verse 12:5, why use harpazo if that is not what actually happened? This is why I believe John was told to use this particular phrasing.
The Church is also promised to rule with a 'rod of iron' (Rev. 2:26-27). And as Christ is the head, and the Church is the body, it is not inconceivable that we also will rule in some capacity as Scripture indicates.
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. Matthew 24:36
This verse has been the champion of anti-date setters for millennia and for good cause. I believe it has tempered the tendencies of believers who are living through incredibly difficult times to not want to jump after every sign and symbol as their ticket out of here. My main issue with continuing to use this as the catch-all verse is that later, revelatory passages seem to conflict with it. Scripture as given to the Apostle Paul (the mysteries revealed) and even Jesus Himself seem to indicate that we should know the hour and the day.
But first, notice what Jesus doesn't say; "But of the day and hour no one knows or will ever know." The passage was written in the present-tense, and thus seems to indicate the truth of what was known at that point in time. In His human form, Jesus rightly stated that "no man knows" because, at that time (context here), He was both fully God and fully man. But in His humanity, He willingly and obediently limited Himself in His power of omniscience to trust fully in His Father's plan. Just as we humans can't see into the future, it stands to reason, that God becoming a man, would limit Himself in like-manner so as to be tested as we are in all things (Hebrews 4:15). Yet, He did it without sinning. Doubt is intricately tied to not knowing, which as James 1:6 and Hebrews 11:1 point out, destroys faith. Jesus demonstrated perfect faith in the Father, which would by necessity mean He limited Himself in what He knew if He were to be tested in every way as we mortals are.
But as indicated in Revelation 1:1, Jesus was given the Revelation at some point after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. This was what the Apostle John, imprisoned on the isle of Patmos in 95AD, was witness to. In His seven letters, Jesus tells the church at Sardis this:
Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. Revelation 3:3
As Robert Breaker academically points out in his great YouTube videos, the opposite of not knowing what hour He will come, is knowing the hour He will come. This then supports Hebrews 10:25 in that we will see the Day approaching. Well, if we truly had no way of knowing anything concerning our Lord's return, both Rev. 3:3 and Hebrews 10:25 couldn't be true. How can we see the Day approaching if we had no way of knowing what or when that Day was? The Apostle Paul includes a similar theme in 1st Thessalonians 5:1-6:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
The Messiah (Jesus Christ) was prophesied in the Old Testament of having two comings. We know that in hindsight, but the first century Jews mistakenly believed that it was only one coming. They also believed that when the Christ did come, He would immediately usher in the Kingdom in that same arrival. Even Jesus's disciples didn't fully understand this after all was said and done (Acts 1:6-7).
The First Coming was explicitly given to the Jews in the 70 Weeks of Daniel prophecy. This narrowed it to the year of His entry into the city of Jerusalem to which we know as Palm Sunday (Luke 19:41-44). Were the Pharisees and Sadducees wrong for not recognizing the time of their visitation? Absolutely, Jesus held them accountable for not knowing (Matthew 16:1-4). Likewise, I believe, given the number of warnings and admonitions to watch and be ready in the New Testament, the Church will also be held responsible for being caught off guard. Why watch if we don't know what we are watching for? Watchfulness has both a singular and corporate application:
While it is impossible to know exactly when the Rapture will occur, I believe that the compounding nature of mankind's sin (there is a fullness coming), the convergence of prophetic events, and the timing in relation to Israel's rebirth as a nation, all must be taking into account. I also believe that although we won't know the specific day of the Rapture, we should recognize the season. Furthermore, as Christ literally fulfilled the Spring Feasts in order, it stands to reason that He will also fulfill the Fall Feasts literally in order as well. How the feasts tie into the Church's departure, is up for debate.
To me, it would make sense that He either return for His Church in 2017 or 2018 at the latest, given the significance of the specific timing relating to Israel's return as a nation (parable of the fig tree). Then again, I am not God so His ways and thinking trump my understanding. He may have some other design that is more in keeping with the fullness of time than anything I can conceive. With that said, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, we should be excited about the soon return of our Lord. Given our current state of affairs both here and abroad, things will not continue on indefinitely. As Pastor J.D. Farag once noted, our world has a shelf-life.
So we temper our hope against the hype by staying in the word of God and testing everything by it. While the Revelation 12 movement has many positive aspects to it, like with everything else, we must put it to the test. And it may be that September 23rd comes and goes, but that should not diminish our hope in the Lord's soon return. My hope was never in a date, but in a Person, the God-Man Jesus Christ. The hope we have was made possible by Jesus Christ, who redeems us from sin and death. We are not simply being saved to be saved, But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:4-7)
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. Luke 21:28
IDF holds largest exercise in 20 years to prepare for imminent Hezbollah threat - By Anna Ahronheim -
IDF holds largest exercise in 20 years to prepare for imminent Hezbollah threat
The IDF is set to launch a large-scale exercise in preparation for a potential faceoff with the Shi'ite terror group, that continues to pose an imminent danger to the country's security.
Amid rising tensions on Israel's northern border, the IDF will be launching Monday evening its largest drill in close to 20 years, with tens of thousands of soldiers from all branches of the army simulating a war with Hezbollah.
The drill is unique and unprecedented in scope, the army has affirmed, and it will enable forces to maintain a high level of readiness in an ever-changing region.
According to military assessments, while it is unlikely that Hezbollah attack Israel in the near future, the northern border remains the most explosive and both sides have warned that the next conflict between the two would be devastating.
The IDF is preparing itself for a different kind of war on the northern front. According to the military, while the drill itself is set to focus only on the border with Lebanon, a potential future altercation would not be contained only in the part of the border and would spread to the entirety of the northern border.
While the primary threat posed by Hezbollah remains its missile arsenal, the IDF believes that the next war will see the terror group trying to bring the fight into the home front by infiltrating into Israeli communities to inflict significant civilian and military casualties.
The two-week long drill will focus on countering the increased capabilities of Hezbollah and is expected to include simulations of evacuating communities which sit on the border with Lebanon.
During the drill, soldiers will play the role of civilians being evacuated, but with close to 1 million Israelis living in Israel's north, an estimated quarter million would be evacuated in case a war breaks out with the Shiite Lebanese terror group.
Named after Meir Dagan, the former head of the Mossad, the exercise will see thousands of reservists and all the different branches of the IDF- Air Force, Navy, Ground Forces Intelligence, Cyber- drilling their ability to work side by side in case such a war should break out.
In an attempt to secure the exercise but also simulate what it would be like in case of a real war, no soldiers will be allowed to bring in their phones or any other digital devices.
Hezbollah has rebuilt its arsenal since the last war fought between the group and Israel back in 2006, with at least 100,000 short-range rockets and several thousand more missiles that can reach central Israel. According to some Israeli analysts, the next war with Hezbollah might see 1,500-2,000 rockets shot into Israel per day, compared to the 150-180 per day during the Second Lebanon war 10 years ago in which 121 soldiers and 44 civilians were killed and over 2,000 injured.
In addition to having rebuilt their arsenal, Hezbollah has changed from a terror group fighting guerilla style targets to an army with battalions, brigades and over 40,000 fighters who have gained immeasurable battlefield experience from fighting in Syria on the side of President Bashar al-Assad.
But while the threat still looms large, Israel has made it clear that it will continue to work to prevent the group from acquiring advanced weaponry, striking weapons convoys in Syria destined for the group at least 100 times in the past five years.
North Korea and Iran -
North Korea offers Iran a test case in the wonders of obtaining nuclear weapons. And it offers the world a sharp rebuke for past inaction and a foreboding warning for the future.
The situation playing out now with North Korea is a nightmare scenario of the dangers of nuclear proliferation.
It offers a partial preview of the sorts of dangers the world would face if Iran ever obtained nuclear weapon capability. And it vindicates the use of preemptive military strikes to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of autocratic regimes, like the one that was launched - according to foreign news sources - by Israel a decade ago, on September 6, 2007.
On Sunday, North Korea, a country run by a madman, conducted its biggest nuclear test to date, setting off an explosion that Pyongyang said was caused by the detonation of an advanced hydrogen bomb. The tremor that resulted was said to be 10 times more powerful than the tremor picked up after the last test a year ago. Since 2006 North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests.
US President Donald Trump immediate reaction was registered, as is his custom, on his personal Twitter account.
"North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success."
And, in a more strident message, Trump wrote: "South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!" French President Emmanuel Macron urged the UN Security Council to react quickly and decisively.
"The international community must treat this new provocation with the utmost firmness, in order to bring North Korea to come back unconditionally to the path of dialogue and to proceed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear and ballistic program," he said.
China, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency also weighed in.
But what can any of them do? No one wants to play chicken with Kim Jong Un and risk a nuclear Armageddon.
Iran's mullahs, meanwhile, are carefully monitoring the developments. True, North Korea and Iran are radically different culturally. Iran is governed by religious fanatics who look to usher in a messianic age ruled by Shi'ites.
North Korea, in contrast, is run by a secular tyrant.
However, North Korea offers Iran a test case in the wonders of obtaining nuclear weapons. And it offers the world a sharp rebuke for past inaction and a foreboding warning for the future.
A small but aggressive nation with limited economic and military means has succeeded in leveraging its power to intimidate while remaining utterly immune to the influence of the international community - all accomplished by simply obtaining nuclear weapons.
Tehran has an opportunity to watch how the international community reacts - or rather fails to react - when Pyongyang fires a missile over Japan, as it did in August, or when it detonates a hydrogen bomb, as it did Sunday.
Trump might tweet, Macron might threaten, but the real danger of sparking a nuclear war will have a chilling effect on rational decision-making with regard to using military options to stop Pyongyang.
The Islamic Republic's leadership did not need Sunday's hydrogen bomb test to become convinced of the merits of obtaining an atomic bomb. As a nation of Shi'ites surrounded by a Sunni majority, Tehran's motivation from the outset in obtaining nuclear weapons was first and foremost an insurance policy against being bullying around.
Libya's lesson was not missed by the Iranians. The US's toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime under the pretext that he had weapons of mass destruction scared Muammar Gaddafi into disarming his country from nuclear weapons. Less than a decade later he was overthrown.
We do not want to think about what would have happened if Syria had succeeded, with North Korea's help, in obtaining nuclear weapons instead of reportedly being stopped by a preemptive attack. President Bashar Assad had no qualms about using chemical weapons against his own people. We don't know what he would have done had he obtained nuclear weapons.
There is a lesson to be learned from North Korea by the international community as well. Nothing came of the more than two years of negotiations with Pyongyang. No country stopped North Korea. The West ultimately accepted a North Korea with nuclear weapons capability. The same mistake must not be made again with Iran.
Iran: 'If attacked, war won't be limited to our borders' -
Addressing a group of officers in Tehran, Iranian military chief Mohammad Baqeri says even the arrogant West is smart enough to know that a ground war will cost them dearly.
Enemies are unlikely to attack Iran, especially on the ground, the country's military chief predicted on Saturday, saying even "unwise" leaders in the West know that any such conflict would have huge costs for them.
US President Donald Trump, adopting an aggressive posture towards Iran after its test launch of a ballistic missile, said in February that "nothing is off the table" in dealing with Tehran, and the White House said it was putting Iran "on notice."
"In the remote case of an aggression (by enemies), this won't be on the ground because they would face brave warriors," Iran's semi-official news agency Tasnim quoted military chief of staff General Mohammad Baqeri as saying.
"Thank God, even the unwise who lead world arrogance (the West)... can conclude that attacking the Islamic Republic would entail heavy costs," Baqeri said at an air defense exhibition.
"Even if they would control the start of an aggression, they would not have a say about its end and they won't even be able to limit the war to Iran's borders," Baqeri added.
The United States imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran last month after saying the ballistic missile tests violated a UN resolution, which endorsed a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers to lift sanctions.
The resolution called upon Tehran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such technology. It stopped short of explicitly barring such activity.
Iran denies its missile development breaches the resolution, saying its missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons.
It Should Be Expected - By Daymond Duck -
Prophecy buffs expect the Word of God to be fulfilled. For example, as the Tribulation period nears, they expect Jerusalem to be a problem for the world, the religious Jews to talk about rebuilding the Temple, people to talk about establishing a one world government and things like that.
Prophecy buffs don't rejoice over the fact that some of these events will happen (for example, they don't rejoice over the fact that the battle of Gog and Magog will happen) because they know that a war like that will cause much death, destruction and misery. But they know that God said it will happen so they expect it to happen.
Below are four recent things that students of prophecy should have expected:
First, on August 13, 2017, the Chief of Israel's Mossad (Israel's intelligence agency) said, "Israel is identifying a presence (in Syria and Lebanon) not only of Iran and Hezbollah, but also of Shiite forces, that are not Iranian, from all over the world . . .."
This eliminates the need for a debate about the identity of Gomer and all his bands, or the house of Togarmah and all his bands, whether they are present in Syria or not, etc. If Shiite forces are gathering in Syria from all over the world, Gomer and all his bands and the house of Togarmah and all his bands are in place regardless of who they are. A gathering of Shiite forces from many nations should have been expected.
Second, on August 23, 2017, Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu spent three hours with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Netanyahu reminded the Russian leader that he has not accepted Israel's demand for Iranian and Hezbollah forces to leave Syria. Mr. Netanyahu presented Mr. Putin with evidence that Iran is building a seaport, airport and military bases in Syria. He warned Mr. Putin that "Israel will not remain passive" and that there will be "a regional war" if Iran continues to stay in Syria and build these threatening facilities.
Prophecy buffs are not surprised that Mr. Putin has not accepted Israel's demand for Iranian and Hezbollah forces to leave Syria. But if the world is as close to the battle of Gog and Magog as some think, Mr. Putin's lack of acceptance and Iran's continued presence and preparation should be expected.
Third, on Aug. 15, 2017, Kentucky Governor, Matt Bevin, told a radio audience, "The proper teaching of biblical virtues in schools would reduce instances of white supremacist violence."
Less than one week later, the governor received a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation saying the that Christian Bible "encourages violence and racism." The group called the Bible "A hate-filled book." They said, "Religious education, and religion in general, would lead to 'increased levels of all manner of societal ills, including: violent crime and homicide, poverty, obesity, teen pregnancy, and infant mortality.'"
This atheist is calling good evil, and evil good. It is to be expected, if society is moving close to persecution under the reign of Satan's Antichrist.
Fourth, President Trump's campaign slogan was "Make America Great Again." This slogan smacks of nationalism (patriotism, pride in one's nation, loyalty to America, etc.). It is Popularism (what the American majority wants). It requires a war with globalism (those who want world government, those who want America to submit to the UN, make America weak, etc.).
Prophecy buffs know that world leaders will cast aside nationalism (patriotism) at the end-of-the-age and opt for globalism (the one-world government of Satan's Antichrist).
But America's acceptance of a Satanic one-world government requires the rejection of Christian values. It requires corrupt politicians that don't care what America's majority wants (Popularism). It means President Trump will lose the war in the White House and the swamp won't get drained.
When President Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, resigned and said, "The Trump Presidency that we fought for and won, is over," it should have been expected. Why? Because the predictions of Daniel the prophet and John the Revelator in the Bible will be fulfilled as recorded.
From Steve Bannon's statement it appears that the shadow government may have managed to stop the draining of the swamp and redirected some of that icky stinking goop into the Trump White House.
The fulfillment of Bible prophecy should not surprise anyone. But the control and foreknowledge of God should amaze everyone. He, and all His deeds, are truly awesome.
Prophecy Plus Ministries, Inc.
Daymond & Rachel Duck
Hurricane Harvey Follows Disturbing Confluence of Natural Disasters, US Peace Talks - By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz - https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/93902/hurricane-harvey-divine-reaction-latest-us-mid-east-peace-push/#v5u04bFxVHzGqyFx.97
"Hashem sat enthroned at the Flood; Hashem sits enthroned, king forever. May Hashem grant strength to His people; may Hashem bestow on His people wellbeing." Psalms 29:10-11 (The Israel Bible™)
Hurricane Harvey, described as the "worst disaster" in Texan history, fits into a troubling pattern of natural disasters striking America at times when the country's leadership is attempting to push Israel into negotiating with its Palestinian neighbors for a peaceful two-state solution involving Israeli concessions.
The category four hurricane, called "unprecedented and "beyond anything experienced" by the US National Weather Service, made landfall Friday night, slamming the Corpus Christi region of Texas with 130 MPH winds and 13-foot storm surges. As of Sunday, at least 50 counties had been declared state disaster areas as a result of what FEMA labeled "the worst disaster" in Texan history. At least eight people were reported as having died as a result of the storm, dozens more were injured, and that number is expected to rise.
While "it is forbidden to attribute divine motivations to such disasters", Rabbi Yosef Dayan, a former member of the nascent Sanhedrin, told Breaking Israel News, "an introspective process is clearly necessary."
One overarching spiritual theme places the disaster in a peculiar context. The storm coincided with the Trump Administration's Middle East negotiating team, led by Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, visiting the region in yet another attempt to jump-start peace talks. The devastation of Hurricane Harvey thus follows in a long line of natural disasters that have accompanied the anti-Israel political process of negotiating with the Palestinians.
Many steps along the way of the seemingly unending Middle East "peace" process have been marked by destructive hurricanes and disasters. President George H.W. Bush signed the Oslo Accords on October 30, 1991, setting the stage for the ill-fated two-state solution and the idea of land for peace. The very next day, a hurricane dubbed "The Perfect Storm" hit the east coast of the United States, destroying Bush's house in Kennebunkport, Maine.
The trend continued in August 23, 1992, when the Madrid Conference moved to Washington DC and peace talks resumed. One day later, Hurricane Andrew, the worst natural disaster recorded in American history, hit Florida.
In 1998, after Secretary of State Madeline Albright gave a press briefing announcing an American-brokered deal that would require Israel to give up 13 percent of Judea and Samaria, Georges, a category 4 hurricane, hit the United States Gulf Coast with winds of 110 mph and gusts of up to 175 mph. In terms of damage, it was the costliest hurricane since Hurricane Andrew, causing $10 billion of damage and killing 604 people.
Less than one month later, when PLO head Yasser Arafat met with Israeli Prime Minister at the Wye River Plantation to discuss the deal, Hurricane Madeline raged off the coast of Texas. The resulting rains and tornados caused over $750 million in damage, and killing 31 people.
In 2005, one of the deadliest natural disasters in US history, Hurricane Katrina, coincided with the expulsion of the Jewish population from Gush Katif, which became part of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, in a much-reviled political move made under pressure from the US government.
More recently, in June 2016, a summit was held in Paris as a prelude to a multi-national conference that would force Israel to unilaterally accept the two-state solution and create a Palestinian state within its borders. As the delegates left the summit, rain began to fall. Over the next 24 hours, the River Seine rose 20 feet, resulting in the worst flooding Paris has seen in decades.
The connection between politics and disasters seemed so clear that in 2015, former Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) claimed that America's anti-Israel policy was bringing down the wrath of God in the form of "natural disasters". Bachmann said that US President Barack Obama had "in effect declared war in Israel", paving the way for divine "cursing of America."
Rabbi Dayan emphasized that even though it is impossible to assign a divine motive to natural disasters, Judaism does not believe in coincidence or happenstance. Everything in the world, even the weather, is a result of man's relationship with God. The rabbi understood a simple and universal message in the recent disaster.
"In the month leading up to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, a divine reminder may be needed to remind us how much our actions affect the world, and how we are all connected, no matter how far away," the rabbi suggested.
The rabbi said that the highest imperative in this process is the relationship "ben adam l'chavero" (between man and his fellow).
"As we prepare for our holiest days, all of us need to pray for those who are suffering," Rabbi Dayan said. "Though we never know what God's motives are, we can be sure that is what He most desires."
Grace and Disaster - By Hal Lindsey - http://www.hallindsey.com/ww-9-2-2017/
Thousands of Texans struggled for their lives against the flood waters of Hurricane Harvey. And, as they did, a University of Tampa sociology professor blamed the disaster on cosmic retribution against Texans. Why? Because so many of them voted Republican.
Kenneth Storey was fired after tweeting, "I don't believe in instant Karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesn't care about them."
People responded that the good were suffering, too. But Storey doubled down. He wrote, "Well, the good people there need to do more to stop the evil their state pushes. I'm only blaming those who support the GOP there."
He later issued what sounded like a heartfelt apology. But his initial response illustrates the revival of pagan superstition across all layers of our society. A few decades ago, most Americans had never heard of "karma." Today, they automatically blame every bad thing on "bad karma."
Christians believe God judges societies as well as individuals for sin. But does that mean we should look at the disaster in Texas as a sign of Texans' sin? Should we see Harvey as God's retribution against Texas? According to Jesus, the answer is a resounding, "No!"
Some people came to Him one day and told Him about a terrible thing that had happened to a group of Galileans - people "whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices." (Luke 13:1 NASB)
Jesus didn't point out the obvious evil of Pilate's actions. Everyone could see that. Instead, He addressed an issue few understood. He said, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:2-5 NASB)
The disaster at the tower in Siloam was obviously well-known to Jesus' listeners. In those days, if a snake bit a man, people assumed the man was guilty of some terrible sin and was receiving due retribution. After suffering through a shipwreck and finding safety on the island of Malta, the Apostle Paul was judged in this way.
Acts 28:3-4 says, "When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, 'Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.'" (NASB)
Paul simply shook the snake back into the fire, and went about his work. When he didn't die, or even have swelling in his arm, the natives decided he was a god. Their superstition took them from one extreme to the other - and they were wrong both times.
On another occasion, the Lord's disciples saw a man who had been blind since birth. Following the thinking of their day, they asked, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?" (John 9:2 NASB)
Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him." (John 9:3 NASB) And Jesus healed the man.
Jesus made it crystal clear that we are not to judge people (or their parents) just because something bad happened. The world is not as God made it. It is fallen. And in such a world, terrible things can happen. Don't point the accusing finger at a suffering soul just because he or she is suffering. To some degree, we all suffer because of the world we live in and its fallen nature.
You would think the old superstitions would have died by now. They have not. Even Christian people sometimes point to a man in a wheelchair and proclaim that, his faith is insufficient, or there is sin in his life - otherwise God would heal him. Don't usurp God's position as judge. Have love and mercy on those who are afflicted. Don't feel superior just because you're not in a wheelchair, or because your house did not flood.
As I pointed out earlier, among non-Christians, it's even worse. People who know nothing else about Eastern religions have fully embraced the idea of karma.
The old superstitions have not gone away. But among followers of Jesus, they must. We, of all people, should address these disasters with compassion - knowing that we are ill-equipped to judge.
It is important to note, though, that Jesus did not say God's judgment never falls. In fact, He repeatedly said, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
He urged them to stop feeling superior because of their health and seeming security. Those things can fail. If health is the sign of your moral standing, live long enough and it will testify against you. Instead of feeling good about yourself because you think you deserve your good health, Jesus said to examine yourself, and repent.
Our prayers continue to go out for the people in all the areas damaged by Harvey, and especially for the families of those whose lives have been lost. We urge everyone to give to one of the many ministries geared toward disaster relief.
Remember, "Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5 NASB)
Daily Devotion: What's Your Story? - By Greg Laurie -
"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." -Romans 10:17
Everyone likes to hear a good story-especially a true story. And when it comes to sharing your faith, one of the most effective tools in your evangelistic toolbox is your personal testimony.
A testimony is a powerful bridge builder. It's a way to connect with your listener so that he or she can see how you came to be who you are and why you believe what you believe. It's a way to engage people, build a bridge, and help them see how they can come to faith as well.
Another great thing about sharing your testimony is that you can indirectly preach the gospel. You can say something like, "Before I was a Christian, my life was going nowhere. There was an emptiness in it, and I wondered what was wrong, what was missing. But one day, I went to a church service and heard the pastor say . . ."
Or you might say, "Someone came up to me and shared these words with me. . . . I heard it, I believed it, and I responded to it."
You can actually share the gospel while you are telling your own story. And when you're done, you can say, "What do you think about that? Have you ever heard that before? Have you ever considered who Jesus is?"
What's your story? Everyone has one. Everyone has a testimony, and every testimony is valid.
When you get down to it, every Christian's testimony is essentially the same. We were all lost. We were all separated from God. We were all guilty and lonely and afraid to die. And we were all on our way to Hell. But Jesus Christ, in His grace, intervened in our lives and transformed us. That is your story, and it is worth telling.
FROM THE HEART
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"Folks, it's all beginning to unravel. America is in more danger of falling than at any time in its history. But I believe Bible prophecy predicts this very decline. From this point on, we believers have to get serious. We are going to face discouragement, disillusionment and, most certainly, persecution in the time between now and the Rapture. But don't be discouraged or disillusioned. The coming turmoil will provide us unrivaled opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel. So be ready to share your faith and your hope with those who need Christ. We still have time to reap a great harvest of souls for God's kingdom!" - Hal Lindsey
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