Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
How Do You Know? - Pete Garcia -
I like to think I am a very curious person and always have been. I can be a little obsessive-compulsive (OCD) at times, especially on topics I find intriguing (my wife can attest to that).
Recently, it is all about the UFO and strange and unexplainable phenomena we see happening all around our planet with greater frequency. I think I have a healthy appreciation for those sort of things. I know they exist; but I am not buying into the world's explanation of them being little green guys who are only trying to help humanity out. I believe they fall into a category of fallen angels, who in their varying rank structures (Eph. 6:12), were instructed to misguide and confuse humanity about life on other planets. Somehow, their increasing activity and overt deception is tied to the soon coming Rapture of the Church.
My borderline OCD regarding information of varying stripes is equally applicable to what happens when we die and about how we understand time. When a famous theologian dies, and for the sake of argument, let's say they were truly born-again but held to some aberrant views on eschatology for example; I always wonder what their first thoughts are when they get to heaven and realize they had it completely wrong. Nevertheless, this also got me thinking about my own eschatological views. How can I know I am right? How do I know that the Pre-Tribulation position is the absolute correct view? Taking this out even further, how do I know my hermeneutical position of Dispensationalism is correct? Why is my view better than say, the Reformed position, or the Roman Catholic one? For these, and many other questions, I have to rely on Scripture.
Author's note: One of the most frustrating things about debating theology is that both sides of a position or issue, always claim the Scriptural high ground, as if, only their interpretation is the correct one. Jim Jones got people to follow him to Guyana and drink purple Kool-Aid because they thought he was a Messiah. Mormonism gets people to follow an entirely different Bible. Jehovah Witnesses rewrote their Bible to say something completely different. Hebrew Roots nuttos twist Paul's teachings so that it appears he is arguing FOR Christians being under the Law. Snake handlers. Prosperity gospel pimps. Truth be told, any position can be taught from Scripture.
The real test is not getting the Bible to say what you want it to say, but for that view, position, or doctrine to flow together logically and consistently with every other doctrinal position. Then and only then, can that view have any merit. Which is why I am a futurist from the Pre-Millennial persuasion, who holds to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture position, from a distinctly dispensational hermeneutic.
This is not to say that Pre-Millennial Dispensationalism has everything worked out perfectly, because we don't. There are simply some things we either cannot know, or will not know this side of the veil, because they have not yet been revealed. Nevertheless, for as much as can be revealed, I believe this position to be as good as we can get at present.
If my position on the rapture conflicts with my understanding of the nature and purpose of the Church, or on salvation, then my theological position is inconsistent, and therefore, incorrect to some degree. I believe that any particular position or interpretation has to be validated by the sum of the whole, rather than just the individual parts. For example, any rapture position in and of itself, can be proven from Scripture. The real test is whether that rapture position aligns itself with the rest of Scripture in a consistent manner. For the purposes of this article, we will be looking at the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Here are some principles that have guided me along the way.
1. You interpret and then anchor your doctrinal positions from the clear and simple passages, rather than from ambiguous and complex ones. For example:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4:16-17
a. Clearly, the Bible teaches that a "catching up" (harpazo [Greek], rapturo [Latin], rapture [English]) will happen. The argument should never be about if it happens, but only when it happens.
b. This clear and in-depth teaching comes from Paul, who was NOT an apostle to the circumcised (Jews), but to the Gentiles and the Church. Although the church consists of both Jew and Gentile, it is neither Jew nor Gentile, but something new. (1 Cor. 10:32, Gal. 1:11-16, 2:7, 3:26-29, Col. 3:11)
c. Since the Church was something new (2 Cor. 5:17-21), and this message was first revealed to them (the church at Thessalonica), then it must be viewed in context that this message applies to the Church and not to national Israel, which was a separate and distinct body of people who still had their own divine destiny to fulfill (Daniel 9:24-27).
d. This is why trying to pin the Church's future on events found in the Olivet Discourse (remembering both the audience and the timing), is bound to cause confusion. Jesus (pre-Calvary) was speaking to Jews (His apostles) about events tied to Israel's future, not the Church (which had not yet been built). He mentions a rapture-like event, but does not go into any details (Matt. 24:40-44). He leaves this to Paul to reveal at the appropriate time and to the appropriate audience.
2. Doctrinally consistent means a consistent interpretation across both the Old and New Testament.
a. We understand that what was concealed in the Old Testament is often times, revealed in the New. However, that does not mean the Old Testament was not relevant to its audience then. Jesus and the Apostles viewed the Old Testament as being both true and relevant even in their day (Matt. 5:17), and confirmed their own "new testament" doctrinal revelations against it for validation (Mark 14:49, Luke 24:27-45, Acts 2, 7)
b. Israel means Israel in both the Old and New Testament. Israel does not mean (nor ever meant) the "Church." There are zero passages in either testament that says as much. Any view that promotes replacement theology or supercessionism has to take passages out of context, or pervert them to arrive at that conclusion. The Church could not be Israel because the Church could not have existed UNTIL after Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (Hebrews 9:16-17). How do I KNOW that? Because Christ said as much;
d. All of national and ethnic Israel's future hinges upon the 70 Weeks' Prophecy as given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel in Daniel 9:24-27. Since the Church was not present in the first 69 Weeks of years, then we should also have no place or reason to be in the final week of years, or Daniel's 70th Week. This final week of years is for national / ethnic Israel, not for the Church. Jeremiah 30:7-11, Daniel 9:24, 1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9, Rev. 3:10, etc. confirms our absence in this future, terrible, period of human history. This means that Jeremiah, Daniel, Paul, John, and Jesus are all in agreement on this point.
e. Furthermore, this reality reinforces Jesus's warning to Israel that they would no longer see Him UNTIL they say "blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" (Matt. 23:39). The Church has already embraced Jesus as the Christ. 2,000 years later and national Israel has yet to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
f. So if the Church has no rhyme or reason to be inside the 70th Week, then that automatically rules out Pre-Wrath, Mid-Trib, and Post-Trib as viable candidates for when the Rapture (harpazo) occurs.
3. God reinforces these principles using strong passages and situations to convey clear doctrines across the entirety of the Bible. For example, Genesis 18:22-23.
Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. And Abraham came near and said, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? (Gen. 18:22-23)
a. Three take aways from these passages
b. Although an argument from silence, we are also shown deliverance by type (Enoch), and our noticeable absence in the two passages that go in-depth about this time period (Dan 9:24-27 and Rev. 4-19). If the Church (ekklesia) was meant to go thru the Tribulation (Daniel's 70th Week), then Scripture should say so forthrightly...or else, we could say God was purposely and deceitfully withholding vital information, which of course, He has not, since that would violate His own holy nature (Isaiah 46:9-10, Amos 3:7).
Some might be wondering why I included the UFO stuff at the front-end of the article, which then quickly morphed into a theological discussion. The first reason is that both topics deal in the realm of deception and sleight of hand. I believe there is mounting evidence that other beings (demons/fallen angels/principalities) are increasingly making their presence known for the purpose of deception. The reason they are doing so, as far as I can tell, is that the Rapture of the Church is pressing closer and closer. Satan is busy building his false pretext for why many people go missing.
Bad theology works along the same lines of deception, because it also comes from the doctrines of demons. Bad theology comes from corrupted interpretations and skewed biases. However, the second you dig below the surface, you realize there is no substance to them. Somewhere in the past (depending on who you ask), many of the popular theological positions found in Christendom today were corrupted by men who long ago departed from the normative, historical, grammatical, literal interpretation of Scripture. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 1:4).
To be clear, the Bible is not corrupted, nor does the Bible teach multiple positions on any given doctrine. We (mankind) are corrupted and begin to teach things that depart from the actual text (and context) of Scripture.
Many accuse dispensationalism as being new and heretical. They primarily do this by attempting to falsely associate dispensationalism (John N. Darby) to Margaret McDonald. However, when you read Margaret's actual vision, it (the vision) actually promotes the Post-Tribulation Rapture position, which is wholly incompatible to dispensationalism. Furthermore, John N. Darby did not "invent" dispensationalism any more than Martin Luther invented the doctrine of justification by grace through faith.
God the Holy Spirit, revealed these truths to these men in a way and at a time that was appropriate. Darby simply codified what the Bible has always taught. But he could only do so when he departed from the Augustinian view of allegorical interpretation and returned to the original hermeneutic of the literal, grammatical, and historical interpretation of Scripture. I simply ask that anyone reading this be a Berean and sincerely ask God to reveal whether the things I teach here be true.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ-Ephesians 4:11
The Sound Of The Shofar Blowing In Jerusalem For Rosh Hashana Marks The Start Of The Most Prophetic Month In Bible Prophecy -
The Feast of Tabernacles which falls right on September 23rd, is perhaps the most important of all the feast days in this month, and it is the main one connected with the first and second advents of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ
September is a very special month both in Israel and in the lives of the Jewish people. In it we have the Feast of Trumpets, commonly celebrated as the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles, or Succoth. Today marks the beginning of the first one, the Feast of Trumpets.
"Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD." Leviticus 23:24,25 (KJV)
In the days leading up to Rosh Hashana this year, Jews gathered in Jerusalem from all over the world to say selichot prayers, or prayers of forgiveness to God and ask for His mercy as the Jewish people enter into their season of repentance. On September 18th they will celebrate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and on the 23rd they will celebrate the Feast Of Tabernacles. These three events together are what the Jews call their 'High Holy Days', and as you will see, for a very good reason.
The Feast of Tabernacles not only coincides with the day where Jesus began His earthly ministry, it is also a feast day that will be commanded to be celebrated throughout the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ as well. And if any person or nation won't observe the Feast of Tabernacles, their is a punishment associated with do that. What is it that is so important about the Feast of Tabernacles? Let's take a listen to what the prophet Zechariah has to say about it.
"And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles." Zechariah 14:16-19 (KJV)
In our calendar, September is the ninth month, but not so in the Jewish calendar
The Jewish calendar is different from ours, but the clues are right in the names of the months themselves. In our calendar, September is the ninth month, but the word "sept" means 7. We call October the tenth month, but "oct" means 8. November for us is 11, but "nov" means 9. December is 12 for us, but "dec" means 10. The seventh month for the Jewish people is one of the most important on their calendar, if not the most important out of all of them.
Even though our calendars are different, God still works it out so our ninth month is the Jews seventh month, and it's even right there in the name of the thing. How amazing is that?
The Feast of Tabernacles which falls right on September 23rd, is perhaps the most important of all the feast days in this month, and it is the main one connected with the first and second advents of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. Contrary to Roman Catholic myth, Jesus was not born anytime in December and certainly not on the 25th. December 25th was the pagan Roman celebration known as Saturnalia, and has nothing to do with Jesus Christ or the Bible.
Jesus Christ appeared to the world at His birth in the end of September, on or near the 23rd, on the Feast of Tabernacles. When He was transfigured in glory and has Moses and Elijah appear with him as a witness to the disciples who were gathered there, what very telling word does Peter blurt out? See for yourself.
"And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid." Mark 9:2-6 (KJV)
Peter said let's make some TABERNACLES! Why do you think he said that? The gospels said he had no idea what he was really saying, and in fact, Peter was prophesying. What will be the main feast day for a thousand years in the Millennium? Zechariah has already shown us that it will be the Feast of Tabernacles.
Interestingly, the passage has the events of the Mount of Transfiguration taking place "after 6 days", have you ever noticed that when you read it? Matthew's gospel backs up Mark's and again mentions that Jesus appears in His glory after "6 days".
"And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias." Matthew 17:1-4 (KJV)
What's the importance of "after 6 days"? How about 6,000 years of human history, the Rapture of the Church, the time of Jacob's trouble and then the Second Coming which sets up the thousand year reign of King Jesus in the 7,000th year of human history? Matthew has a huge prophecy time clue on display for all the world to see, and yet somehow the vast majority of the bible "scholars" seem to miss it every time.
If I had to pick a date for the return of Jesus Christ at the Second Coming, care to guess what it would be? Yep, I would pick the Feast of Tabernacles at the end of the 7th month. So we can clearly see how the 3 major feasts days for the Jewish people which happen in the seventh month are connected with the first and second advents of the Messiah, as well as the Thousand Year Reign. The main thread that runs through all of them is the Feast of Tabernacles.
Lastly, in case you think we are overstating the importance of the Feast of Tabernacles and the word "tabernacles" itself in connection with Jesus, then take a look at this very important verse from John's gospel about that.
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." John 1:14 (KJV)
The word "dwelt" in the passage comes from the Greek word σκηνόω, transliterated as "skēnoō" and what does that word mean? Oh, I think you already know the answer to that one, but here it is anyway.
σκηνόω skēnóō: "to fix one's tabernacle, have one's tabernacle, abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent), tabernacle, to dwell" source
Jesus appeared the first time and "dwelt among" His people for 33 years, He will return at the Second Coming to again "dwell among" His people this time for a thousand years. And every year for a thousand years the main feast that He will order to be celebrated will be the Feast of Tabernacles.
For this and for all the reasons previously stated in this article, we are able connect Jesus' first coming, His second coming and the entire Millennial Reign with the Feast of Tabernacles. Now what about the Church?
Prophetic events connected with the Church take place in the springtime.
"My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away." Song Of Solomon 2:10-13 (KJV)
The Church of Jesus Christ is taken off the Earth before the time of Jacob's trouble for a whole variety of reasons, but mostly because it's JACOB'S TROUBLE, which has nothing to do with the Church. Replacement theologists, who are always stealing Israel's blessings, also try stealing their curses by putting the Church in the Tribulation but that will not work.
Many prophecy "experts" mistakenly try and put the Rapture of the Church in the Fall at the Feast of Trumpets, but that will not work. The Church is connected to the Feast of Firstfruits which takes place at the time of year when Spring is melding into Summer. Remember, the Rapture of the Church kicks off with a VOICE "as of a trumpet", not an actual trumpet itself. The blowing of actual trumpets, as in the Feast of Trumpets, is connected to Israel.
"After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter." Revelation 4:1 (KJV)
I will bless them that bless thee
So pray for the Jewish people during these incredibly important Biblical feast days, for they herald world-changing events that have already taken place and that will take place soon in the days after of the Rapture of the Church. Genesis 12:3 is still in full effect.
"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." Genesis 12:3 (KJV)
Now you know a little more about how end times prophecy connects with events taking place in Israel right now.
Jacob's Sheep - By Daymond Duck -
Jacob was the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham.
His name means "usurper," someone that will wrongfully take things that don't belong to him.
He tricked his brother Esau into selling his birthright for a bowl of pottage (Gen. 25:29-34).
With his mother's help, Jacob tricked his almost-blind elderly father, Isaac, into blessing him with the blessing that Isaac intended to give to Esau (Gen. 27:1-29).
Esau planned to kill Jacob, but their mother, Rebekah, got word of it; and she urged Jacob to flee to her brother Laban's house in Syria (Gen. 27:41-43).
Jacob wound up in Syria where he met Laban's youngest daughter, Rachel, with a flock of her father's sheep (Gen. 29:1-17).
Jacob fell in love with Rachel and served her father seven years (one week of years) so he could marry her (Gen. 29:18-20).
Laban tricked Jacob (the usurper reaped what he sowed), and he married Rachel's older sister, Leah, instead (Gen. 29:21-26).
Jacob served Laban seven more years (another week of years, the length of the Tribulation Period), and he married Rachel (Gen. 29:27-28).
Time passed; Jacob had fathered 11 children, and he decided to take his family and go back home to Israel. But Laban didn't want that, and he asked Jacob what he would charge to stay with him in Syria (Gen. 30:25-28).
To make a long story short, Jacob said he would stay a little longer if Laban would give him all of the off-breed speckled and spotted cattle, sheep and goats in his herd (Gen. 30:29-34).
Not many of the animals were off-breed, and Laban agreed (Gen. 30:35).
But Jacob bred the full-breed animals with off-breed animals; and he soon had a big herd of cattle, sheep and goats (Gen. 30:36-39).
This time it was the trickster Laban that reaped what he sowed.
Jacob eventually took his spotted and speckled animals back to Israel; and because of their rarity, the sheep became known as Jacob's sheep.
It was approximately 2015 that a story appeared that said there was a herd of Jacob's sheep in Canada.
Some Jews believe that the sheep that were sacrificed at the Jewish Temple in Israel were Jacob's Sheep.
Their wool was used in priestly garments, and their horns were used to make Shofars.
And I am wondering if some of the spotted sheep produced sheep without spots (Out of a flock of sinners, comes One that has no sin).
Anyway, on Mar. 22, 2016, it was reported that the Canadian herd of Jacob's sheep would soon be moved to Israel.
It took 11 flights; but 119 head of Jacob's sheep were taken to Israel, and they were moved around several times after they got there.
In June 2017, the herd got a disease, and 48 sheep died.
On Aug. 20, 2018, it was reported that the Israeli government has given the owner of the sheep almost 100 acres of land at Migdal Eder, which means "The Tower of the Flock."
Migdal Eder is near Bethlehem Ephratah, the place where Jesus was born (Gen. 35:19-21; Mic. 4:8, 5:2).
The Tower of the Flock was used by priest-shepherds that kept watch over the Passover lambs without blemish and spot that were sacrificed at the Temple.
When a lamb was born, the priest-shepherds wrapped it in swaddling clothes (strips of cloth) and put it in a manger (or a stall) for protection until it got strong enough to stand and walk without bumping into things.
Some of these priest-shepherds were in the field with sheep when an angel appeared to tell them that Jesus had been born in Bethlehem.
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger (Luke 2:13-16).
That was the first coming of Jesus; but there is another prophecy, and it is about the Second Coming of Jesus.
"And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem" (Mic. 4:8).
The dominion (or reign of David) will exist again, and the Messiah will establish His kingdom in Jerusalem (one reason why moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is so important).
Jesus came the first time as the Lamb of God without spot and blemish, but He will come back as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16).
The angel Gabriel appeared unto Mary and said, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:30-33).
Students of Bible prophecy know that the Jewish Temple will be rebuilt, the animal sacrifices will resume, and a herd of sacrificial animals will be needed.
Now, the owner of Jacob's sheep has property at the Tower of the Flock.
One more thing: The Romans, Ottomans and others were in control of Israel and the Tower of the Flock for hundreds of years.
They turned the area into a barren wasteland.
Sheep called Jacob's sheep might not exist if they stayed there.
Some wound up in a foreign country where they survived. And now, a herd is back in Israel at the Tower of the Flock, Israel is no longer a wasteland, there is talk of rebuilding the Temple, and it has been 70 years since Israel became a nation.
Prophecy Plus Ministries, Inc.
Daymond & Rachel Duck
Was Jesus' Body Really Buried in a Tomb?
- Lee Strobel - www.biblegateway.com
Wearing blue jeans, white socks, and a dark-blue sweater with red turtleneck collar, William Lane Craig, Ph.D., D.Th., lounged on a floral couch in his living room. On the wall behind him was a large framed scene of Munich.
It was there, fresh with a master of arts degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Birmingham, England, that Craig studied the resurrection for the first time, while earning another doctorate, this one in theology from the University of Munich. He later taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and then served as a visiting scholar at the Higher Institute of Philosophy at the University of Louvain near Brussels.
While he is internationally known for his writings about the intersection of science, philosophy, and theology, he needed no prompting to discuss the subject that still makes his heart beat fast: the resurrection of Jesus.
Before looking at whether the tomb of Jesus was empty, I needed to establish whether his body had been there in the first place. History tells us that as a rule, crucified criminals were left on the cross to be devoured by birds or were thrown into a common grave. This has prompted John Dominic Crossan of the liberal Jesus Seminar to conclude that Jesus' body probably was dug up and consumed by wild dogs.
"Based on these customary practices," I said to Craig, "wouldn't you admit that this is most likely what happened?"
"If all you looked at was customary practice, yes, I'd agree," came his reply. "But that would ignore the specific evidence in this case."
"Okay, then let's look at the specific evidence," I said. With that I pointed out an immediate problem: the gospels say Jesus' corpse was turned over to Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the very council - the Sanhedrin - that voted to condemn Jesus. "That's rather implausible, isn't it?" I demanded in a tone that sounded more pointed than I had intended.
Craig shifted on the couch as if he were getting ready to pounce on my question. "No, not when you look at all the evidence for the burial," he said. "So let me go through it. For one thing, the burial is mentioned by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3 - 7, where he passes on a very early creed of the church."
Craig agrees with various scholars that this creed - a statement that Christians would recite to summarize their beliefs - undoubtedly goes back to within a few years of Jesus' crucifixion, having been given to Paul, after his conversion, in Damascus or in his subsequent visit to Jerusalem when he met with the apostles James and Peter.
"This creed is incredibly early and therefore trustworthy material," Craig said. "Essentially, it's a four-line formula. The first line refers to the crucifixion, the second to the burial, the third to the resurrection, and the fourth to Jesus' appearances. As you can see, the second line affirms that Jesus was buried."
That was too vague for me. "Wait a minute," I interjected. "He may have been buried, but was it in a tomb? And was it through Joseph of Arimathea, this mysterious character who comes out of nowhere to claim the body?"
Craig remained patient. "This creed is actually a summary that corresponds line by line with what the gospels teach," he explained. "When we turn to the gospels, we find multiple, independent attestation of this burial story, and Joseph of Arimathea is specifically named in all four accounts. On top of that, the burial story in Mark is so extremely early that it's simply not possible for it to have been subject to legendary corruption."
"How can you tell it's early?" I asked.
"Two reasons," he said. "First, Mark is generally considered to be the earliest gospel. Second, his gospel basically consists of short anecdotes about Jesus, more like pearls on a string than a smooth, continuous narrative.
"But when you get to the last week of Jesus' life - the so-called passion story - then you do have a continuous narrative of events in sequence. This passion story was apparently taken by Mark from an even earlier source - and this source included the story of Jesus being buried in the tomb."
While those were good arguments, I spotted a problem with Mark's account of what happened. "Mark says that the entire Sanhedrin voted to condemn Jesus," I said. "If that's true, this means Joseph of Arimathea cast his ballot to kill Jesus. Isn't it highly unlikely that he would have then come to give Jesus an honorable burial?"
Apparently, my observation put me in good company. "Luke may have felt this same discomfort," Craig said, "which would explain why he added one important detail - Joseph of Arimathea wasn't present when the official vote was taken. So that would explain things. But the significant point about Joseph of Arimathea is that he would not be the sort of person who would have been invented by Christian legend or Christian authors."
I needed more than merely a conclusion on that matter; I wanted some solid reasoning. "Why not?" I asked.
"Given the early Christian anger and bitterness toward the Jewish leaders who had instigated the crucifixion of Jesus," he said, "it's highly improbable that they would have invented one who did the right thing by giving Jesus an honorable burial - especially while all of Jesus' disciples deserted him! Besides, they wouldn't make up a specific member of a specific group, whom people could check out for themselves and ask about this. So Joseph is undoubtedly a historical figure."
Before I could ask a follow-up question, Craig continued. "I'll add that if this burial by Joseph were a legend that developed later, you'd expect to find other competing burial traditions about what happened to Jesus' body. However, you don't find these at all.
"As a result, the majority of New Testament scholars today agree that the burial account of Jesus is fundamentally reliable. John A. T. Robinson, the late Cambridge University New Testament scholar, said the honorable burial of Jesus is one of the earliest and best-attested facts that we have about the historical Jesus."
Daily Jot: Red Heifer advances Prophecy Clock - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
The prophecy clock advanced on August 28 when a red heifer was born in Israel. The heifer was bred, examined, and is being raised under the guidance of the Temple Institute's Raise a Red Heifer program. The red heifer is important to prophecy because its ashes are needed to cleanse the Temple and its instruments. In explaining to his disciples the chronology of events of the last days in Matthew 24:15-16, Christ warns, "When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains." This means that there is a fully operational Jewish Temple in Jerusalem prior to the Messiah's return.
The ordinance of the red heifer is found in Numbers 19 where the Lord commands Moses to bring a "red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke" to be slayed outside the camp, and burned with cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet. A clean man is to gather up the ashes of the heifer "...and store them outside the camp in a clean place. They are to be kept for the community of the people of Israel to prepare water for purification of sin (verse 9)." Anyone who touches the heifer in the process is rendered unclean. This ordinance is considered a "chok" by the Jews, a statute decreed by God that cannot be understood by human reasoning, because the true meaning is beyond our intellect.
Daniel 11:31 prophesies that In the end of years the armed forces of the king of the north (beast/antichrist) "shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that makes desolation." This is what Christ is referring to in Matthew 24. Therefore, prior to the Messiah returning there are daily sacrifices taking place in the Temple in Jerusalem. According to Jewish tradition, there can be no official Temple in Jerusalem without the red heifer's blood being sprinkled on the temple and the temple's instruments cleansed according to God's instruction in Numbers. This is why the red heifer is so important to end time prophecy. No red heifer, no Temple.
The "chok" of the red heifer is that it is used for cleansing and purification, yet those who touch it become unclean. Think about the symbolism. The red heifer, examined by the priests to have no blemish, is slayed outside the camp and Its blood and ashes are used for purification of sin. Christ, examined by the priests to have no blemish, was crucified outside the camp and risen for the propitiation of sin. Those priests were most certainly unclean. But even the blood of Christ could cleanse them from their sin. Hebrews 9:13-14 concludes: "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
Daily Devotion: Coming Back to Life - By Greg Laurie -
Then we will not turn back from You; revive us, and we will call upon Your name. -Psalm 80:18
America needs an awakening, but the church needs a revival. We often use the words revival and awakening interchangeably, but there is a distinction. An awakening is when a nation comes alive spiritually, sees its need for God, and turns to Him. A revival is when God's people come back to life again.
Revival simply means to bring back to life, to restore. To be revived is to wake up from a state of sleep. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, "A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. . . . You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping." In other words, if you think you are a great person with no problems, then you are really more asleep than you realize.
Revival is coming back. It is waking up. Revival is getting back to the Christian life as it was meant to be lived. Revival is being in the bloom of first love for a lifetime, walking closely with the Lord. You can't always have those initial emotions you had as a new believer any more than you can have the same butterflies in your stomach you had when you first met your husband or wife to be. That is unrealistic. But your love can grow deeper. Your love can grow stronger.
That is how we ought to be as followers of Jesus. We need the faith of the Christians of the first century, the faith that turned the world upside down. Revival is nothing more or less than a new obedience to God. Then it is, to quote Nietzsche, a "long obedience in the same direction."
Only God can send an awakening to America. But revival can happen right here, right now.
FROM THE HEART
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