Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The Fall Feasts of Israel - A Bible Study by Jack Kelley -
The fall is arguably the most important time of the year in Judaism. Three of Israel's holiest days are celebrated then, and all in the space of 3 weeks. They are Yom Teruah, also called the Feast of Trumpets, followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and 5 days after that by Sukkot, the weeklong Feast of Tabernacles. They all have both historical and prophetic fulfillment and, following the pattern of the spring feasts, the prophetic fulfillment will occur during the time of each feast. Therefore, Christians study them for glimpses into the future as well as to gain a better understanding of Jewish history and culture. In 2017 they occur on September 21-22 (Feast of Trumpets), September 30 (Yom Kippur) and October 5-11 (Feast of Tabernacles).
Happy New Year
Gentiles are sometimes confused in their studies of these holy days by the fact that the Lord changed the Hebrew calendar at the time of the first Passover (Exodus 12:2). What had been the 7th month was thereafter to be the first, moving the beginning of the year to the spring, 14 days before Passover.
But the people have always retained their original calendar as well, observing a religious year which begins in the spring, and a civil year beginning in the fall. This is why the Feast of Trumpets is also known as Rosh Hashanah (which means "head of the year") sometimes called the Jewish New Year. This year Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the year 5778.
The Feast of Trumpets is a time of new beginnings. According to some Jewish traditions, the creation was completed on that day, and therefore Adam was born then as well. Also, based on the view that John the Baptist was born in the spring, around Passover, and his birth preceded the birth of Jesus by 6 months (Luke 1:36), it's possible to place the birth of the Messiah on the Feast of Trumpets. These events combine to give the day its historical fulfillment.
Unlike other Jewish feasts, the Feast of Trumpets takes place on a New Moon, when just a sliver of the Moon appears in the night sky. Since this has to be confirmed by eyewitness sightings, the weather has to be very clear to observe the rising of the New Moon, and it's not always that way. For this reason, the Feast of Trumpets has come to be known as the feast where no one knows the day or the hour.
According to Matt. 24:29, the Sun, Moon, and stars will all go dark at the end of the Great Tribulation to signify that the most terrifying judgments ever to be visited on Planet Earth have ended. Some time afterward the Lord will return on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. Four times within the span of 28 verses the Lord said the people on Earth at the time will not know the exact time of His return in advance, using a form of the phrase "you will not know the day or the hour" (Matt. 24:46, Matt. 24:42-44, Matt. 24:50, Matt. 25:13). This leads some scholars to speculate His return will coincide with the Feast of Trumpets. If so the 2nd Coming will be the prophetic fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets.
Of the Lord's coming with power and great Glory, Zechariah 9:14 tells us,
Then the LORD will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign LORD will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south, and the LORD Almighty will shield them.
And Matt. 24:30-31 adds,
"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."
Others think that the Rapture of the Church will happen on the Feast of Trumpets, but I'm convinced that the rapture is a number specific event rather than a date specific one, meaning the Church will be raptured when "the full number of Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:25). If so, the rapture of the Church could happen on any given day, although Acts 15:13-18 makes it clear that the rapture will have to precede the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week.
Religious Jews believe that in Heaven, books recording the deeds of mankind are opened on the Feast of Trumpets for an annual review of man's behavior. At that time, God writes down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life in the coming year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but certain actions can alter His decree.
The actions that change the decree are repentance, prayer, and good deeds (usually, charity) and must be completed in the ten days before Yom Kippur. For that reason, these ten days are called the Days of Awe where each man's destiny hangs in the balance as he goes about repenting and asking forgiveness from friends and neighbors for the sins he's committed in the year just past, and performing acts of charity. A common greeting among Jews during the 10 Days of Awe is, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."
On the first afternoon of the Feast of Trumpets (it's a two-day celebration) Orthodox Jews go to a running brook or stream where fish swim and throw pebbles or crumbs they've gathered into the water, symbolizing God's casting away of their sins. While doing so, they recite Micah 7:18-20.
"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our fathers in days long ago."
This is one of the most eloquent descriptions of God's grace to be found anywhere in Scripture. It reminds God of His promise to be merciful to them in the coming judgment of Yom Kippur.
The fish's dependence on water symbolizes their dependence on God. The fact that fish can't close their eyes reminds them to be thorough because God sees everything. This ceremony is called Tashlich, Hebrew for "You will cast," a reference to hurling their iniquities into the sea in Micah 7:19.
Ten days later, on Yom Kippur, judgment is rendered, the books are closed, and everyone's fate is sealed for another year.
Yom Kippur was the only day of the year when it was permissible to speak the Name of God. Yes God does have a name, but it's not Jehovah or Yahweh. These names were created out of the four letters that Hebrew scribes used to represent God's name in the Old Testament. Wherever the word LORD appears all in caps, you'll find the Hebrew letters JHVH, (or YHWH) in the Hebrew text. Theologians call these four letters the Tetragrammaton, which is Greek for "four letters." So, in effect these four letters are God's initials, standing for His real name.
Early English language translators added an E, an O, and an A, (vowels they took from Elohim, a form of the Hebrew word meaning God and Adonai, Hebrew for Lord) to JHVH and created the name Jehovah. We used to think that was God's name, but it's really a man-made construction. And in Hebrew, the four letters are pronounced yod, hay, wah, hay, which probably gave rise to the "Yahweh" we use today. It's not His real name either.
It was forbidden for Jews to speak God's actual name except for once a year on Yom Kippur when it was spoken ten times. After the Temple was destroyed, the Yom Kippur ceremony changed, and the name of God ceased to be used and was eventually lost. No one alive today knows God's real name, and it probably hasn't been spoken on Earth for about 1700 years. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Philippians 2:9-11 says that Jesus, or if you prefer the Hebrew, Yeshua, is now the name above all names.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Back to Yom Kippur. During a great and awe-inspiring ceremony at the Temple, two goats were brought before the High Priest. One was a goat "for the Lord" to be presented as a sin offering as commanded in Lev. 16:7-10. The other was called "the scapegoat" because all the sins of the nation were symbolically placed upon its head, and then it was led outside the city. The goats had done nothing to deserve this but were chosen to demonstrate the fact that only the shedding of innocent blood could atone for the sins of the people. This symbolically set aside the sins of the nation, made their sin offering acceptable, and gave them peace with their Creator. The people spoke the Name of God in heartfelt thanks.
Here are a couple of interesting tidbits from Jewish tradition. When the goats were brought before the High Priest, their respective roles in the ceremony were determined by lot. Two golden lots were placed in a golden bowl, and as he placed his hand upon the head of each goat, the High Priest reached into the bowl and pulled out one of the lots. Before the cross, the goat that was to be presented to the Lord as a sin offering always turned out to be on the right hand of the High Priest. After the cross it never was.
While the scapegoat was symbolically receiving the sins of the people upon its head, a scarlet ribbon was tied from one of its horns to the door of the temple. When the time came for the goat to be taken into the wilderness, the ribbon was cut, leaving some on its horn and some on the door. At a predetermined location outside the city, the goat was pushed off a cliff and fell to its death. Before the cross, at the moment of the scapegoat's death, the remnant of ribbon on the temple door turned from red to white symbolizing the passage from Isaiah 1:18, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow." After the cross this never happened again. The One Who now sits at the right hand of the Father and Who had fulfilled the dual role that the two goats only symbolized had come and forever taken away the sins of all who would choose to accept Him. (Source: The Fall Feasts Of Israel. Authors Mitch and Zhava Glaser, Publisher Moody Press.)
The Law Is Only A Shadow ...
In Christendom a view holds that the Lord Jesus began His ministry on Yom Kippur, announcing in effect that the judgment that was due mankind would be borne by Him (Luke 4:16-21) and that man no longer need live in fear of judgment nor have to endure the 10 Days of Awe every year.
It's easy to see the Lord in the role of our sin offering, His shed blood having purchased our pardon forever (Hebrews 10:11-14), but He was also our peace offering. "He is our peace, Who has broken down every wall." (Ephe 2:14) For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Jesus), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)
In the prophetic sense, Tribulation survivors from the nations will receive their fulfillment of the Yom Kippur judgment in the days immediately following the Lord's return. This is described to us in the Sheep and Goat judgment (Matt 25:31-46) where Gentiles who've cast their sins at the foot of the cross during the Great Tribulation will be granted life in the Kingdom and those who haven't will be sent away for death. The willingness of those described as sheep to risk their lives by ministering to believing Jews during the Great Tribulation will be evidence of their faith. (Old Testament mention of this event can be found in Joel 3:1-3.) In Matt. 19:28 the Lord told His disciples that the judgment of Jews who survive the Great Tribulation will take place then, too.
For those of all ages who reject the Lord's vicarious atonement, the prophetic fulfillment of Yom Kippur will come at the end of the Millennium in the so-called Great White Throne judgment. For the last time, the books will be opened, and the unsaved dead will stand before God to be judged according to their works. Everyone whose name is not written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, begins five days after Yom Kippur. It's a harvest celebration that was the inspiration for the American Thanksgiving Day. It began as a seven-day feast (later expanded to eight) when all the tithes the Israelites had set aside during the year were brought to Jerusalem for a joyous time of national celebration and thanksgiving for the Lord's bountiful provision. The aroma of delicious foods cooking over open fires permeated the whole city. For seven days wherever you went, there was an air of joy and festivity as the people remembered their Provider and gave thanks. (Deut. 14:22-26).
Historically the Feast of Tabernacles commemorates the time of God's dwelling with the Israelites in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt. Its prophetic fulfillment comes in the Millennium when the Lord will once again dwell among His people; with the Church in the New Jerusalem (Rev 21) and with Israel in the Promised Land (Ezekiel 43:7). From that time forward the Holy City on Earth will be called Jehovah Shammah, which means "The Lord Is There" (Isaiah 62:2 & Ezekiel 48:35).
Somewhere along the way, a water libation ceremony was added to the Feast of Tabernacles. Each morning a procession of priests would descend the steps from the Temple to the Pool of Siloam and dip a silver pitcher into the water. Carrying the water back to the altar, they would pour it into the ground that had been exposed by the removal of a paving block near the altar, while offering prayers for rain. The purpose of this daily ceremony was to remind God to bring the fall rains needed to prepare the ground for planting. In Israel, it doesn't rain during the summer, and the ground gets very hard. Gentle rains are needed to soften the ground so it can be prepared for the fall planting.
On the last day of the feast the High Priest himself would officiate, and on this day instead of a silver pitcher, one of pure gold would be used. The High Priest would be dressed in all his finest and attended by a huge contingent of similarly attired priests, blowing trumpets, singing psalms, and waving palm branches. When it was first described to me, I was struck by its beauty and pageantry. I've since read that extra balconies were set up around the Court of the Priests so more people could observe it.
One year just as the High Priest was about to pour the water into the ground, a loud voice interrupted the ceremony shouting, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him" (John 7:37-38). It was our Lord Jesus, and He was referring to the Holy Spirit, who believers would soon receive. This caused many to believe that He was indeed Israel's Messiah. (We're not told what the High Priest's reaction was, but it couldn't have been pleasant.)
Let's Get Spiritual
Following the thought that events that were external and physical in the Old Testament are often internal and spiritual in the New, there is a sense in which these holy days also reflect the life of every believer.
As Jesus came to live in the world at His birth (Feast of Trumpets), so He comes to live in our hearts at our new birth. As He required the shedding of innocent blood to reconcile Himself with Israel (Yom Kippur) so He shed His own Blood to reconcile Himself with us. As He dwelt with the Israelites in the wilderness of Midian (Tabernacles), so He dwells with us in the wilderness of Earth. "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age," He promised. (Matt 28:20) Even so, Come Lord Jesus. (Rev. 22:20) You can almost hear the Footsteps of the Messiah.
Gut Instinct - By Matt Ward -
On March 8, 1983 U.S. President Ronald Reagan, in a speech to the National Association of evangelicals in Orlando, Florida referred to the Soviet Union for the first time as the "Evil empire." In his developing "roll back" strategy against the encroachments of communism, Reagan openly called for the West to begin the process of "writing the final pages of the history of the Soviet Union."
These comments unsettled many in Moscow, and caused abject terror throughout the Soviet military. Yuri Andropov, the ailing Soviet leader, was already by this point utterly convinced that the Unites States of America was planning to launch an imminent and massive preemptive strike on the Soviet Union. The aim of the U.S. strike, so Andropov thought, was to bring the Soviets down to their knees and therefore secure the West's hegemony in what the West believed was an approaching post-communist new world order.
It was something Andropov was determined, at all costs, to either avoid or react effectively to. He had resolved that when this U.S. first strike did come, the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction would mean that there would be nothing left of America to survive what he saw as such an impetuous attack.
The Soviet military therefore acted accordingly, and began to enshrine a belief in a "U.S. preemptive first strike" as standard and accepted Soviet military thinking of the time. In 1983, the Soviets did not believe it was a question of "if" the U.S. would attack, but "when."
So, on the morning of September 26, 1983, Lt. Col Stanislav Petrov took his seat as Commander of the top secret Soviet military command center, located just outside of Moscow. It was to be a day he would never forget. Only a small handful of men since the dawn of time can genuinely lay a claim to having affected the course of human history, Lt. Col Stanislav Petrov can certainly make such a claim. Petrov's cool head single handedly saved the whole world from certain annihilation that late September morning.
At age 44, Petrov's job was simple-he was to monitor the Soviet Union's early warning satellites and act accordingly in the event of a hostile United States launch. He was doing just that when his radar screens showed that five Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles had been launched by the U.S. and were racing towards the Soviet Union.
All his training and all Red Army protocol demanded that he act in a very defined and specific way - pick up the telephone and order an immediate and full nuclear counter strike against the United States. But he didn't. Petrov did not order the counter strike because his "gut instinct" told him that the warnings were a hoax, a malfunction of some sort, a glitch. So, for twenty minutes he waited, and sweated. He waited to see if he was correct. Holding out against the most enormous pressure, Petrov refused categorically to initiate the Soviets retaliatory launch protocols and thereby trigger a certain nuclear Armageddon. Twenty-five minutes later, when the bombs did not start to fall, he realized at last, that he was right.
It later emerged that the false alarm was the result of a Soviet satellite mistaking the reflection of the sun's rays off the tops of clouds for a missile launch. The world had a lucky escape that day; another morning with another man or woman in charge and human history could have been irrevocably different.
This past week at the United Nations, President Donald Trump gave one of the most important speeches of his presidency so far. Using the most unequivocal and direct language, President Trump addressed the burgeoning issue of North Korea head on, and in the clearest language possible threatened to "...totally destroy North Korea."
Trump is right in making such a public statement. It is necessary to be absolutely unequivocal in a time such as this. At this point it seems obvious that Kim Jong Un wants to acquire nuclear weapons so badly, and achieve the ability to hit the United States with them so much, that sanctions, threats and other types of economic incentives will no longer work.
Pyongyang is not going to abandon its goal of achieving a deliverable nuclear weapons system. As a result, short of direct intervention, North Korea will get deliverable nuclear weapons soon. A North Korean nuke is practically a forgone conclusion at this point. North Korea, Japan, the South Korean's and the world need to know where Trump and America stand.
Now they do, and it couldn't be more clear.
Yet huge danger lays just up ahead. This North Korean nuclear device will pose at least three significant problems for the United States and her allies. The most immediate threat is also the most obvious one; that North Korea may try to use this device against the United States of America directly. This is perhaps the most unlikely outcome of the three, at least at this point.
The other two consequences for the West are much more understated and subtle, yet no less dangerous for it. The immediate victim of a viable North Korean weapon will be the alliance system that currently exists in East Asia. The day that sees North Korea get a deliverable nuke, will be the same day that U.S. influence in the region begins to plummet.
South Korea and Japan depend exclusively on the United States for their own security, and currently sit underneath the U.S. nuclear umbrella. This is the reason Japan and North Korea have not, up until this point, sought their own nuclear arsenal. As a North Korean nuclear weapon becomes a present day reality, this will increasingly lead others to question the credibility of the United States' own commitment to defend Japan and South Korea.
Would the U.S. really launch a full retaliatory nuclear strike against North Korea, risking their own cities and millions of their own citizens lives, to defend Japan or South Korea? Would the United States risk New York in order to save Seoul? Japan and South Korea are not sure, and neither is Kim Jong-un.
It is this "de-coupling" of the U.S. alliance system, and the decline of US influence in East Asia, that would be the first significant victim of a viable North Korean nuclear weapon. It was this exact same fear that led Britain and France during the Cold War to seek their own independent nuclear arsenals, rather than to rely exclusively on the U.S. nuclear umbrella and the promise of future U.S. retaliation should the Soviet Union invade or attack western Europe.
It is likely, therefore, that a North Korean nuclear weapon would also see the beginnings of a general and widespread East Asian nuclear arms race. This nuclear arms race, in turn, leads us into the third significant danger posed by a North Korean weapon.
There is a significant danger that at some point in the future, because relations are so poor and distrust is so prevalent, that Japan, South Korea or the United States through human error or by design, might become locked into a cycle of mutual military escalation that would inevitably end in a nuclear exchange. This is perhaps the greatest danger the world will face in the event of fully nuclear North Korea.
It is highly likely that once North Korea has a viable weapon that they will act much more recklessly towards South Korea or Japan, with non-nuclear conventional weaponry. In North Korean minds it would be unlikely that the United States would intervene in a regional conflict between themselves and Japan or South Korea, as they would at that point have the ability to counter the United States at a nuclear level.
Consider any one the most recent provocative actions by North Korea against the South or against Japan, including firing ICMB's over the sovereign territory of another independent nation, any of which could spark a rapid escalation. This escalation cycle would be very hard, or even impossible to stop or escape from.
The most pertinent question now is exactly how will nuclear weapons affect the behavior of North Korea on the international stage? Nobody knows for sure, but the unspoken fear is that a nuclear weapon would lead North Korea to act more provocatively, especially towards their most immediate neighbors and empower them to take bigger risks. It is how we handle just such lower-level provocations that will shape the future of East Asia and even the world.
Currently, the United States and the West lack any type of real understanding with North Korea in the way we had with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The doors, on both sides, are firmly shut and they are locked. There is no communication or last lines of communication to be used in a crisis. There is, therefore, no margin at all for error.
On its current course, North Korea will acquire a viable and deliverable nuclear weapon soon. Equally, at some point in the near future it is almost certain that North Korea will probe and provoke Japan, South Korea or the United States again, especially when emboldened by a nuclear status they genuinely believe will give them parity with the United States of America.
When that provocation does come, one hopes there will be men and women with cool heads and sound minds, like that demonstrated by Lt Col Stanislav Petrov in 1983, men and women who will pull us all back from the brink. My gut reaction though tells me that this will probably not be the case. East Asia and the world, are about to become much more dangerous places.
"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:7-8).
Rumors of War: North Korea Threatens to Shoot Down U.S. Bombers; Says, 'United States Has Declared War on Our Country' - John Hayward -
In a briefing to reporters outside the U.N. Millennium Plaza Hotel in New York City on Monday, North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho threatened to shoot down U.S. strategic bombers even when they are flying outside of North Korean airspace.
"The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country," said Ri. "Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country."
Ri's comments were part of a steadily escalating rhetorical volley that began with President Trump's address to the U.N. General Assembly, in which he memorably sneered at North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as "Rocket Man" and said he was on a "suicide mission for himself and his regime."
"The U.S. has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea," Trump said last Tuesday at the United Nations.
On Saturday, U.S. bombers flew close to the North Korean coast in a show of force that took them further north than any American fighter or bomber has flown during the 21st century, according to the Pentagon.
North Korea has long complained about U.S. bomber flights near the Korean peninsula; it's one of the reasons they occasionally threaten to attack Guam, where American B-1B bombers are based. The North Koreans have demanded an end to joint U.S.-South Korean military drills as a precondition for any further negotiations about their nuclear missile program, which they refuse to halt in any event.
On Saturday, Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho parodied Trump's "insults" against Kim Jong-un by telling the United Nations that "none other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission."
"In case innocent lives of the US are harmed because of this suicide attack, Trump will be held totally responsible," said Ri. He also called President Trump a "mentally deranged person full of megalomania," who holds the American "nuclear button" in his remarks.
"The dangerous reality is that the gambler who grew old using threats, frauds, and all other schemes to acquire a patch of land holds the nuclear button. This is what constitutes the gravest threat to international peace and security today," the foreign minister declared.
Trump, as is his custom, responded to Ri's speech with a tweet:
"Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!"
In his comments Monday, Ri repeatedly referred to Trump's comments as equivalent to a declaration of war against North Korea. He claimed North Korea's nuclear missile program is "to all intents and purposes, a war deterrent for putting an end to nuclear threat of the US and for preventing its military invasion, and our ultimate goal is to establish the balance of power with the U.S."
He added that Trump's "Rocket Man" insult makes their "rocket's visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more."
150 Years Since Mark Twain's Prophetic Israel Revelation in 'Innocents Abroad' - By Eliana Rudee -
"This whole land shall be a desolate ruin. And those nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years." Jeremiah 25:11 (The Israel Bible™)
On his landmark visit to Israel 150 years ago, American literary giant Mark Twain witnessed what he did not then know was the start of the prophetic return of the Jewish people to the land. The renowned travel book that became the foundation for his success, Innocents Abroad, painted a picture of a holy land whose desolation would serve as the beginning point of prophecy brought to life.
In June of 1867, Mark Twain embarked on a journey to Europe and Ottoman Palestine, now Israel. Unimpressed, he described the Holy Land as "unpicturesque" and "unsightly", even "desolate". From September 24-25, 1867, Twain stayed at the Mediterranean Hotel, now called the Wittenberg House, in the "Old Jewish Quarter" (now the Muslim Quarter of the Old City). At the time, Jews in the Old City had just become a majority, but the margins were slim.
Since then, the Old City, Jerusalem, and Israel has begun a redemption process in which in addition to the land giving fruit, there is a revival of Jewish life, an ingathering of exiles, and Jewish sovereignty in the land. Indeed, Twain's book, which was published 30 years before the first World Zionist Congress, has often been used to support the Zionist idea that Palestine was a "land without a people for a people without a land."
According to Daniel Luria, the Executive Director of Ateret Cohanim, an organization that works to reestablish Jewish roots in the Old City of Jerusalem, when Twain visited, the Old City was a "backwater town for the Ottomans, not a glorious city like it is today." But now, he told Breaking Israel News, "We are living in the realization of the prophecies that Twain witnessed. Only when the Jewish people returned to the land was it built up. Am Yisrael (the Jewish people) returned and finally we see the true unfolding of the redemption process."
Twain's descriptions in Innocents Abroad gave evidence to Jeremiah's prophecy of destruction of the Holy Land, followed by an end to desolation. Jeremiah prophesied in 25:11 and in the Book of Lamentations that "This whole land shall be a desolate ruin." Echoing the Biblical words, Twain wrote, "Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes.... desolate and unlovely."
Of the Jezreel valley (in Israel's lower Galilee region), Twain wrote, "Stirring scenes [...] occur in the valley no more. There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent-not for thirty miles in either direction. There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation. One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings."
He described the Galilee as "the sort of solitude to make one dreary [...] Come to Galilee for that [...] these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never do shake the glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague perspective; that melancholy ruin of Capernaum: this stupid village of Tiberias, slumbering under its six funereal palms [...] We reached Tabor safely [...] We never saw a human being on the whole route."
"It's an interesting reflection to see how far we've come, with the Hula Valley, Jerusalem, and the sites and seas he visited," said Yoni Shapira, founder of Landmark Heritage Services and lecturer on the Holy Land in the 19th century through the eyes of Mark Twain. "Twain would not have recognized the land if he saw it today."
Twain's descendant, Tommy Waller, is a witness to the transformation that the Holy Land has seen since Twain's visit 150 years ago, and has actually become part of its redemption. Twain was Waller's great-great-grandmother's nephew, and "It is interesting," noted Waller to Breaking Israel News, "that a cousin of his would come here to Israel and say the opposite that he said 150 years ago. But they say there are no coincidences in Israel."
Waller, the founder of an organization called HaYovel which brings Christian volunteers to work on the land and strengthen independent farmers in Israel, only understood the prophetic nature of his ancestor's, and then his, time in Israel when he first began to harvest grapes in Israel. In Jeremiah 33:11, it is prophesied that the land would later flourish: "For I will restore the fortunes of the land as of old-said Hashem."
Waller echoed this prophecy, saying, "Where he saw desolation, I'm seeing restoration. Where he saw rocks, I'm seeing vineyards.
"Our volunteers talk about how beautiful the land is. Not about desolation, but communities and farming land - the opposite of what it once was. It's a prophetic place," he said.
Waller argues that although Twain was "making fun of the land," he essentially strengthened the prophetic truth of what would happen in the future as the Jewish people began to return. "He wasn't trying to be an advocate of Israel, we was trying to write a good article. But as it turns out, he's an Israel advocate whether he would like it or not," said Waller.
During his travels in Jerusalem, Twain purchased a Bible as a keepsake and inscribed it in English and Hebrew for his mother. The Bible, made of "Balsam-wood from the Jordan," "oak from Abraham's tree at Hebron," and "olive-wood from the Mount of Olives", was surprising for an adamantly secular writer who described the land so unemotionally, called religious passions "emotions of the nursery," and questioned the link between "The Land" and "The Book."
Shapira explained that the norm of the day was for Westerners to look at Jerusalem as an exotic place through orientalism and a Biblical lens. But Twain saw Jerusalem as it was, "A place of desolation, over population, disease, swamps, and animals," looking past the romanticism that many artists and travelers portrayed.
Twain, who was a freemason, was cynical about organized religion and critiqued "American vandals abroad" who brought back merchandised items and called them part of reality, Shapira told Breaking Israel News. Nevertheless, Twain respected his mother's devout Christian approach and knew that she would appreciate a Bible from Jerusalem with "Yerushalayim" - "Jerusalem" - written on it in Hebrew.
Rabbi Tuly Weisz of Breaking Israel News went so far as to suggest that Twain's eventual fame in the American canon was a result of his unconscious role in the fulfillment of prophecy.
"He wasn't the father of American literature until this visit, when he wrote the postscript to Jeremiah," noted Rabbi Weisz. "As the last one to report on the destruction chronicled by Jeremiah, God used Mark Twain to be a prophet." Rabbi Weisz believes the current flourishing of the Land of Israel is undoubtedly part of Jeremiah's prophecy that the land will be restored.
Nearing Midnight: Revelation 12 Disappointment or Determination - Terry James -
Saturday, September 23, 2017, has come and gone by the time you get this. I'm writing this on Sunday, September 17, 2017. If you are reading this when it is posted on the evening of September 24, 2017, or later, and you know Christ for salvation, the Rapture hasn't occurred.
If you aren't reading this because you are no longer on the planet, or it was never posted because there was no one here to post it, then my commentary is inconsequential. But if you are a believer and you invested heavily in the notion that the date, September 23, and the Revelation chapter 12 Scripture pointed to the Rapture of the Church, you might find the considerations herein worthy of your time.
This is not to point fingers of shame at those who were invested in the September 23 date as tied to Revelation 12. There were many chronological and astronomical/astrological statistics and postulations to support a case that the date and the signs in the heavens meant something of prophetic significance was afoot.
Many-including some colleagues and friends of mine-believe that the sign in the stars that converged on September 23 didn't necessarily point to the Rapture. They believe these strange comings-together of astral bodies is a confirmation from the Lord that the end times are here and Christ coming to put an end to man's rebellion is imminent. These same colleagues and friends, thus believe-and I agree-that they haven't violated the "doctrine of imminence" regarding the unknown time of the Rapture of the Church.
I won't attempt to defend those who did dogmatically predict that September 23, 2017, was definitely when the Rapture would happen. There is no pinpointing the exact day and hour of Christ's coming for the Church. Jesus said so.
To make such predictions is to enter into the folly that so many down through the years have entered. The result is the same. The Rapture did not occur on September 23. What else can be said?
Their disappointment, if they were totally invested in the proposition of Rapture on September 23, is no doubt profound. I, myself, wish it would have happened on that date. As a matter of fact, I prefer that the Rapture happen right now while I'm writing this on September 17.
Now, what do we do from this point forward? I believe we go from disappointment to determination.
We don't have to look at perceived astronomical, astrological, and other anomalous signs to know that Christ's return is imminent. We don't have to look longingly each year for the Jewish holy days-the feasts, etc.-in thinking on the Rapture of the Church.
There are signals of the prophetic stage-setting sort that make it crystal clear concerning the time and season in which this generation finds itself.
The Gog-Magog coalition is practically 100 percent formed. Russia (Rosh), Iran (Persia), Turkey (Torgomah), and all the Arab world of the Middle East are gathering north of and surrounding Israel.
China and the kings of the east are growing in strength and leering westward.
The globalists elite and their minions are in a rage to bring in the Antichrist regime, even though they perceive their quest as attempting to establish Utopia.
The nations of the world are in economic and civil chaos. They are in perplexity with great distress at the center of their troubles.
There is a developing religious universalism in which the pope and many so-called Protestant pastors are proclaiming many ways to God and salvation.
Nature seems to be spinning up as part of the great end-times storm that is most certainly on its way.
Rather than suffer in the throes of disappointment because dates and prophetic events don't work out to fit human calculus, let us be determined to serve our individual and corporate-heavenly-purpose. Let us lift the Name of Jesus during the time between now and when He comes for us who are called by His Holy Name.
We are not left without understanding of the lateness of these last days.
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day:
we are not of the night, nor of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:5)
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
The Miracle of All Miracles - Lee Strobel -
Candy heiress Helen Vorhees Brach flew into O'Hare International Airport on a crisp autumn afternoon, stepped into a crowd, and promptly disappeared without a trace. For more than twenty years the mystery of what happened to this red-haired, animal-loving philanthropist has baffled police and journalists alike.
While investigators are convinced she was murdered, they haven't been able to determine the specific circumstances, largely because they've never found her body. Police have floated some speculation, leaked tantalizing possibilities to the press, and even got a judge to declare that a con man was responsible for her disappearance. But absent a corpse, her murder officially remains unsolved. Nobody has ever been charged with her slaying.
The Brach case is one of those frustrating enigmas that keep me awake from time to time as I mentally sift through the sparse evidence and try to piece together what happened. Ultimately, it's an unsatisfying exercise; I want to know what happened, and there just aren't enough facts to chase away the conjecture.
Occasionally bodies turn up missing in pulp fiction and real life, but rarely do you encounter an empty tomb. Unlike the case of Helen Brach, the issue with Jesus isn't that he was nowhere to be seen. It's that he was seen, alive; he was seen, dead; and he was seen, alive once more. If we believe the gospel accounts, this isn't a matter of a missing body. No, it's a matter of Jesus still being alive, even to this day, even after publicly succumbing to the horrors of crucifixion.
The empty tomb, as an enduring symbol of the resurrection, is the ultimate representation of Jesus' claim to being God. The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17 that the resurrection is at the very core of the Christian faith: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."
Theologian Gerald O'Collins put it this way: "In a profound sense, Christianity without the resurrection is not simply Christianity without its final chapter. It is not Christianity at all."
The resurrection is the supreme vindication of Jesus' divine identity and his inspired teaching. It's the proof of his triumph over sin and death. It's the foreshadowing of the resurrection of his followers. It's the basis of Christian hope. It's the miracle of all miracles.
Daily Jot: The National Anthem - Bill Wilson -
There is a tremendous amount of controversy, derision and division surrounding protests taking place during the National Anthem. From time to time, there have been protests over the years during the National Anthem. None of them have been popular by the majority. Respect is always the overriding issue-the Veterans Administration estimates that some 650,000 of 42 million who served our country have died in battle since the Revolutionary War. They gave their lives that we as citizens can enjoy the benefits of freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. The National Anthem represents our country, the bravery of the men and women who have fought for it, and God's miraculous hand on America.
When people protest during the National Anthem, their message appears to be that something is drastically wrong with our country. They are using the National Anthem to draw attention to what they believe is wrong. To many, there can be nothing so wrong with our country that a time of solemn reverence for those who bravely defended our nation and the many blessings of God upon this country should be interrupted. Many believe there can be no logical connection between what is being protested and honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. The question often is asked, 'Under what dire circumstances is it appropriate to interrupt such a solemn moment to protest?"
Others say that it doesn't matter because of freedom of speech-that those who sacrificed their lives for our country did so to preserve the very essence of the First Amendment. Certainly, the avenue of protest should always be open. That's one of the ways that we draw attention to wrongs committed in a free society. It's what leads to the preservation of equal rights under the law. The current protests during the National Anthem have gone beyond protesting a "wrong" in our society by becoming a politically charged, party line battle, and the issue that started it is seemingly lost in the rhetoric. The effect has been to divide, arouse anger, name calling, and, as often is the case, alternative agendas.
Here are some observations: Logic, facts, and the venue need to make sense when deciding where, what and how to protest. For love of God and country, and out of respect for those who sacrificed that I may enjoy the benefits of our freedom, I want these protests to end. Also the very true story should be told as to how the protesters are working with law enforcement in their communities to actually solve the problems they are protesting. Leaders in times like these should be statesmen and try to solve issues rather than inflame them. I'm reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God." The argument over the National Anthem's use as a protest venue will never end. Agree or disagree, we need to come together and heal as one nation under God.
Daily Devotion: The Highest Privilege - By Greg Laurie -
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." -Isaiah 6:8
The greatest moment in my life was the day that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. That day changed the course of my life.
When I started going to church, it was an entirely new world to me. I had no knowledge of the Bible or of church in general. I was unfamiliar with the way Christians thought and reasoned. But I wanted to learn more about the Lord. And most important, I wanted to have this relationship with God. I couldn't get enough.
I had a friend named Gregg whom I had known since elementary school. After I became a Christian I remember telling him, "Gregg, I know you're worried that I'm going to become fanatical. But I want you to know that I will never be one of those Christians who carries a Bible, wears a cross, and goes out on the streets talking to people about God and saying things like, 'Praise the Lord.' I won't be that way, I promise you." I think he felt reassured.
Two weeks later I ran into him in Newport Beach. In that short period of time, I had already gone out on the streets and was telling people about the Lord. In my hand was a Bible, around my neck was a cross, and before I could catch myself, I actually said, "Praise the Lord!" Gregg looked at me, I looked at him, and we both started laughing.
God was changing me, and I wanted to reach out to other people with the message of the gospel. I wanted to be used by God. And it amazes me that the Creator of the universe, the almighty God, would condescend to work in my life.
It is the highest privilege conceivable that God would want to use us.
FROM THE HEART
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