Israel’s Strike – Part 2

So, I was wrong. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last. A few days ago, I posed a question about Israel’s Foreign Ministry strike, and though I had not yet said it in my blog, I wondered if this was a move on Israeli leadership to prepare for a military attack on Iran. Israel’s strike ended a couple of days ago, so my theory is a little flawed. While my interpretation of the Foreign Ministry strike was wrong, the basis for my theory is still as solid as Stone Mountain. I think we must read about current events with the perspective that God is working his plan, and if we are perceptive enough, we may be able to connect the dots of Bible prophecy with current events in real time. With that said, we must also acknowledge the fact that there is no way to know for sure, in real time, that our perceptions are exactly right. Most of the time, prophecy is rightly interpreted only after the dust has settled and current events have been moved into the category of history. When you wrongly misinterpret an event, do not quit studying and analyzing.

Here’s the Stone Mountain part of my interpretation. Israeli leadership has basically put the world on notice that they would disable Iran’s nuclear capabilities if the rest of the world did nothing to stop them. Other world leaders have only warned Iran with little hand slaps, so I think we can expect Israel to act – probably sooner than later. What does this have to do with Bible prophecy? Ezekiel 38-39 says that Russia (Magog) will be a prominent world power in the last days, and the Russian leader (Gog) will rally a coalition of five nations to attack Israel. Actually, there will be more than five, but five are named specifically. Ezek. 38:8 says that this attack will happen in “the latter years.” History confirms that this battle has not yet happened and scripture specially says it will take place in the last days. This attack, however, will fail as God will win the battle for Israel.

Note a few things about Israel before this attack takes place. Ezek 38:8 says “they are living securely, all of them.” Verses eleven and twelve speak to the coalition’s motivation: “I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates, to capture spoil and to seize plunder.” The thing I can’t get past is that Israel will be living securely in unprotected cities. Israel is far from being unprotected right now. They are threatened on their borders to the north and east by Syria, Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups who hate the Jews. They are threatened by Iran, who has said they plan to “wipe Israel off the map.” When this mighty attack, prophesied by Ezekiel, happens, Israel will be caught by surprise. The only way this will happen is for the current threats to be non-existent. While it is impossible to predict the future with specific certainty, we can look at the Scripture and note that something must happen that leads Israel to drop their guard. That “something” must include removing the current threats. It seems to me (note I said “it seems to me” and not “the Bible says”) that the secure feeling could happen in response to a military strike on Iran that somehow cleans up that part of the world so as to provide security to Israel. The “cleaning up” could include the destruction of Damascus and the crippling of Syria. Isaiah 17 prophesies that Damascus will be destroyed: “At evening time, behold, there is terror! Before morning they are no more” (Isa 17:14). The Stone Mountain part of this blog is the Word of God. We can be sure God’s Word is true, so something is going to happen to Damascus and something is going to happen so Israel feels secure. Getting real specific is only conjecture, but I think we can agree that something must happen. It is the something that we must anticipate as we keep our eyes on the Middle East and our prayers going up for Israel.

Israel and Bible Prophecy

Is Israel preparing for their next move? Something really interesting happened in Israel that is unprecedented, and one cannot help but wonder if another piece on God’s prophetic stage is being moved into place. An article on the Global Times website (see link below) Sunday told of a major strike affecting Israel’s Foreign Ministry workers that is “effectively shutting down all diplomatic services in Israel and around 103 foreign missions abroad.” This kind of shut-down has never happened, and one cannot help but wonder if something significant is about to happen. The strike will bring all diplomatic activities to a halt. There will be no official visits abroad, and no passports or visas will be issued. It does kind of make you wonder if the mother hen is gathering all her chicks so they will be safe when Israel launches a war against Iran.

 While some say it is speculation that Israel will go to war with Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has basically guaranteed it to happen if Iran is not stopped from pursuing nuclear arms. The world community has slapped Iran on the wrist, but no one has stopped the Uranium enrichment process and other steps the Muslim nation is taking to prepare the means necessary to “wipe Israel off the map” (as was stated by former Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). While the world looks on Iran’s initiative with apathy, Israel has been preparing to go to war.

How does all of this fit into Bible prophecy? It is difficult, and really impossible, to look at Bible prophecy in advance and pinpoint with accuracy a particular event as being a definite fulfillment of Bible prophecy. We can, however, study the Bible and watch current events unfold knowing they are probable fulfillments of ancient prophecies. I think we can even predict probable actions and reactions based upon what the Bible says. We must acknowledge up front that while these events will happen, we do not know when they will happen. We can predict a certain outcome based upon Bible prophecy only to discover our predictions may end up being fifty years too early. With that said, it would do us well to consider Bible teaching as we seek to understand what is going on in our world. I really believe this kind of study will lead us to understand that Christ’s return is closer than we may think.

I am planning to share my thoughts in a couple of days as to what this means as it relates to end-time prophecy. Before I do so, I would love to hear from you. While this move in Israel could just be a strike of discontented workers, it could also mean something else. Does it make you wander if something is going on? If so, what do you think could happen? Share your thoughts below under the “Leave A Reply” section. I’ll share your thoughts for other readers to enjoy.

I’ll share some of my thoughts on Thursday, 4/3.

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/850288.shtml#.UzspkWdOXIU

Some Thoughts About Russia

I’m going to take a flying leap and predict something based upon biblical prophecy. I insinuate this in my book Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days that I hope to have out in the next month or two. I believe that one sign of the imminence of the last days is the rising strength, global popularity, and even world dominance, of Russia. Ezekiel 38 speaks of an alliance formed between Russia and five other nations, and this coalition will go south and attack Israel. God will defeat this alliance single-handedly in such a way that there is no doubt that God won that battle, not Israel. In order for Russia, who could be considered the modern-day equivalent of Magog, to create this coalition, they must have some political pull and at least regional popularity.

 When the Soviet Union was disassembled in 1991, Russia became a small player on the world stage. The crumbling of the USSR must have had prophecy students scratching their heads in surprise because this meant that a major world power in the last days had just been minimalized. Is it possible that this is yet another sign God is offering us to give evidence that the last days may indeed be upon us? I would not be surprised to see Russia regain the Ukraine as it would strengthen Russia’s power as a nation. Should we be surprised at the recent prominence of the Russian President, Putin, in appearing to solve the Syrian problem, and more recently the Ukrainian problem? I’m not saying the problems are solved, but Putin seems to be the knight in shining armor on both issues. There was a time when someone from the U.S. would have been brokering peace, but now it is Putin. While I hate to make predictions and have them not come true, I will not be surprised if Putin ends up getting a peace prize for his actions. My prediction is that Russia will continue to grow in prominence while the United States will continue to decline in importance on the world stage. It may be that our days as a super power are numbered, and our opportunity to influence the world has been reduced. In the last days, Russia will have the approval of the world. Anyone who stands with Israel will be distained.

Asleep At The Light

Some years ago, my family and I went to Salt Lake City to attend the Southern Baptist Convention. It was interesting to go into the heart of Mormonism to convene with representatives of the largest evangelical denomination in the world. One morning while driving to the convention hall, I sat in very slow moving traffic and figured this was typical Salt Lake City rush hour. As we inched forward, I discovered there was a stalled car at the red light causing the slowdown. I pulled into the lane to the left of the car to ease around it, and at the same time I did so, a man walked up to the window of the stalled car and tapped on the glass. I saw to my surprise that the car was not really stalled. The problem was that the driver of the car had fallen asleep at the light.

 I was thinking about this event the other day as I was reflecting on Revelation 3:1-3: “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” In many cases, the Church may have the reputation of being alive, but spiritually she is really dead. Unfortunately in our world, our indicators of “life” may not be God’s indicators of life. Large numbers of people, excellent music, and exciting children’s programs do not necessarily mean the Church is really spiritually alive. While the Church is asleep, we find ourselves sitting at a “green light.” We are living in a time of incredible opportunities. There has never been a time in the Church’s history where we have a front row seat to the setting of the prophetic stage as we are experiencing today. While no one can say with certainty that the events happening around us are definitely pieces of the prophetic puzzle being fulfilled, we can say that these events definitely have a prophetic ring to it. People are beginning to ask questions and circumstances are causing people to look around for greater solutions than the ones previously tried. The “green light” is the green light of the gospel. God is saying “Go!” as the world is facing greater challenges and encountering immeasurable need. If we do not actively move out and share our faith in loving and convincing ways and if we do not stand firm on the truth of God, choosing daily to walk in obedience to God’s commands, we are simply sleeping in the comfort of our self-deception thinking we are spiritually alive while in truth we are spiritually dead. Are you asleep at the light? Is your church asleep? Wake up!

The Pot Is Being Stirred in the Middle East

Some amazing things are happening in the Middle East (even this past weekend), and it would do us well to keep our eyes upon that region. Remember that Ezekiel 38-39 speaks of a tremendous battle taking place against Israel sometime in the future. Israel’s enemies will be a coalition of nations, led by Russia (Magog), consisting of Persia (Iran), Cush (Sudan/Ethiopia), Put (Libya), Gomer (maybe Germany), and Beth-Togarmah (maybe Turkey). Many think this battle will take place just before the Tribulation Period, and the weapons, etc. of the defeated army will provide fuel for Israel to burn during the final 7 years before Christ’s Second Coming (Ezekiel 39:9). While we do not know for sure when this battle will happen, Ezekiel tells us a few things about it.

  • The coalition will be led by Russia (Magog) and the Russian leader (Gog means leader).
  • Israel will stand alone against her attackers (keep this in mind as I refer to a NY Times article in a moment).
  • Israel will be “a land that has recovered from war” (Ezek. 38:8) and “a peaceful and unsuspecting people” (Ezek. 38:11).
  • God will bring an amazing victory that will turn many Jewish people to trust Him.

While I could be wrong with my conclusions, allow me to share a few thoughts about how I see this coming about. God seems to be saying through the prophet that Israel will go to war and recover before this attack by the coalition, and this initial war brings about for Israel a time of peace that causes them to let their guard down. I cannot imagine this happening as long as Iran is still a threat and Hezbollah and others are on the loose. Something must happen to minimize these threats. This weekend some things happened that at least indicate the “pot has been stirred” one more time.

In a New York Times article from yesterday, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted as decrying the actions taken by the United States and others who appear to be snuggling up with Iran through a Geneva accord. Israel fears that while this agreement looks like Iran is stopping their nuclear weapons ambitions, this accord will actually just give them the cover needed to complete their nuclear bomb program. Netanyahu calls this agreement an “historic mistake,” and the article stated, “with many Israelis viewing the United States as having abandoned its credible military threat against Iran, they have stepped up talk of a strike of their own.” This article also indicated that “the weeks of harsh and personal condemnations leading up to the agreement on Saturday left Israel sidelined in the Geneva process.” The weekend events, and reactions to the events, seem to be pointing out several common themes presented by Ezekiel thousands of years ago:

  • Israel is standing alone.
  • This could be the war from which Israel recovers that leads to an attack by Russia and her bedfellows.
  • A war that defeats Iran (it would also need to include Hezbollah and other threats) would bring Israel to a time of supposed peace.

I believe current events reveal we are moving toward the last days. What are your thoughts?

 

Is Prophecy being Fulfilled in the Middle East?

According to a New York Times article sent to me by my friend, Jim Wells, Brigadier General Herzl Halevi of the Israeli army is surprised Israel has not yet attacked Iran. Halevi is the commander of the Israeli army in Northern Galilee, and he is set to leave his post on November 28. Though he is surprised the attack has not yet happened, he is convinced it will happen during his successor’s tour. Though this article may not appear to have any impact on us, it is interesting to think about what is going on in the Middle East in light of Bible prophecy.  Two significant events on the prophetic timeline, and possibly the last two events before the rapture (though the Bible does not say these things must take place before the rapture of the Church), are the destruction of Damascus (see Isaiah 17) and the attack on Israel by Russia and a 5-nation coalition that Ezekiel calls the Battle of Gog and Magog (see Ezekiel 38). Halevi’s comment about the forthcoming attack on Iran could point to an important piece of the puzzle leading to fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Even though Iran has indicated they will attack Israel without provocation, an attack on Iranian soil to wipe out Iran’s nuclear capabilities will be all the provocation Iran and her allies would need to retaliate against Israel. Ezekiel 38 also says that Israel will stand alone in this significant battle. If Israel attacks Iran right now, the rest of the world would certainly look upon this attack as aggressive. It seems many political leaders around the world are having a difficult time seeing Israel’s perspective that this attack would be a preemptive strike necessary for the future of Israel. If the world looks upon Israel with disfavor, I can easily see how no one will go to Israel’s aid when Iran retaliates.

We are living in exciting times. For the first time in history, the perceptive Bible student is able to watch current events unfold and connect many of them to Bible prophecy. While some of our “connections” are conjecture, it is easy to see the possibility of Christ’s coming in our lifetime. Let’s prepare as if the last days are upon us. Let’s proclaim Christ because the world is desperate to know Him and will be eternally lost if they wait too late. Let’s stand firm in the days ahead honoring Christ with our faithfulness and fruitfulness.

Thoughts on Haiyan

The stories coming out of the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan have been heart-breaking and disturbing. While the number of deaths is unknown as I write this, the Red Cross has ordered 10,000 body bags in preparation for removing the bodies of those who were killed in this tragedy. Some have wondered if 10,000 body bags will meet the needs they will encounter. There are a lot of ways we should respond to this horrific tragedy. First, we should pray for those who have been so horribly affected. There are mothers and fathers weeping over their deceased children. There are families who survived the storm only to face the possibility of starvation. We can also give financially to help those who are suffering at this time. There are numerous agencies doing good work in the Philippines, but I would encourage you to use wisdom as you choose an organization through whom you can give to assist in the relief effort. I suggest you use one that has a good track record of careful stewardship of funds in the past. The Southern Baptist Convention offers a good means of support, as I am sure there are numerous other organizations, such as Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision. I like donating through the Southern Baptist Convention because 100% of the donation goes to the cause. All overhead is paid through other means.

I want to mention another response that we should have as we prayerfully consider the suffering of the people of the Philippines. Jesus made reference to the coming natural disasters as His return draws ever closer. Matthew 24:7-8 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” I suppose one could say I am outside the bounds of scripture when I connect typhoons to earthquakes, but I don’t think I’m too far out. While I acknowledge the specific prophecy is about earthquakes, I do believe the global climate of upheaval that will usher in the return of Christ will be stimulated by natural disasters of all kinds. Remember that global instability will be essential for the rise of the Antichrist and for the formation of a global government and currency. Disasters are fuel for the fire that will lead to global unification. It is my belief that as Christ’s return draws ever closer, natural disasters will continue to increase. Let’s pray for the people affected by this horrible disaster, but let’s also pray that God will give us eyes to see the signs of our times and ears to hear His call to faithfulness and fruitfulness in these last days.

Syria and the Last Days – Part 2

In my last blog I posed a question about the role of Syria in the last days. The Bible has a lot to say about Syria and her role throughout history, especially the capital city of Damascus. Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 17 that Damascus would be destroyed – totally. It’s not just going to be a little something that affects a few buildings in the city. Isaiah said that in the night there would terror, but by morning they would be “gone” (see Isaiah 17:14). It is true that our current crisis could bring about the fulfillment of this prophecy, but it is also true that the United States, Russia, or some other country may broker a deal that solves the current problem. Regardless, one day, Damascus will be destroyed. The reason this current crisis leads us to consider we are approaching the last days is because there will be heightened tensions against Israel in the last days, and Syria will initially play a role in this tension. Syria’s aggression against God’s people will eventually lead to their destruction, as the prophet Isaiah reveals in Isaiah 17. We also know that there will be a coalition of nations to rise up against Israel during the last days. I wrote of this in my book that will be published in the future: Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days:

The tension between the Arabs and the Jews is as old as the sibling rivalry between Isaac and Ishmael (see Genesis 21:8-14). While there are no prophecies that specifically point to a rise of Islamic hostilities in the last days, there are other predictions that require a strong alliance against Israel. Ezekiel spoke of a five-nation alliance with Russia that would attack Israel. Through God’s Holy Spirit, Ezekiel even named these countries, using ancient names of early history (see Ezekiel 38:5-6).

While these five nations are named in Ezekiel, it is significant that Syria is not included. It is possible that Syria could be included in the “many peoples with you” part of Ezekiel 38:6, but it seems more likely that Syria would have been included in the list of nations, if they are still a vibrant nation at the time. I believe Syria is not listed because they will be “gone” (Isaiah 17:14). While the current tensions cannot be determined to for sure be events leading to Syria’s demise, one can easily see how these tensions, or ones like them sometime in the future, could lead to Syria’s destruction causing them to simply not be present for this major battle called The Battle of God and Magog. These current events could very well be setting the stage for the return of Christ and the beginning of the Tribulation Period. It seems all of this involvement of Russia with Iran, and other nations, is simply strengthening the relationships that will one-day form this coalition Ezekiel prophesied. The news over the next weeks and months could be telling of Syria’s destruction or it could just be preparing the Middle East for a strengthened coalition for the future attack on Israel. Regardless, the current crisis gives indication the return of Jesus for His Church could be close. We must be ready! Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior? When Jesus returns for His Church, will you be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air? We may not have much time before His return. You must be ready. Today is the day of salvation.

Syria and the Last Days

As Syria has made the news, I can’t help but think about the correlations to the last days. It is significant that Damascus is a common city in the Bible, but it is noteworthy that Isaiah 17 says it will be obliterated: “Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city and will become a fallen ruin” (vs. 1). Damascus is the capital of Syria and the second largest city in the country. It is also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Some of the earliest, Egyptian records from 1350 BC refer to Damascus (called Dimasqu), and most historians think Damascus was around many hundreds, if not thousands, of years before that. Damascus has never been uninhabited, yet Isaiah prophesies against them predicting their total demise. Being that Damascus has never been destroyed, it is obvious that Isaiah’s prophecy is yet to be fulfilled. When will Damascus be destroyed? How will it be destroyed?

Isaiah 17:14 says, “At evening time, behold, there is terror! Before morning they are no more.” Whatever the means of their destruction, it will take place quickly and decisively. I can only think of two ways this could happen. One could be an earthquake that decimates the city. While this is possible, it is difficult to imagine. The Great Chilean Earthquake in 1960 has been labeled as the most powerful earthquake of all time, yet it did not totally destroy Valdivia, the city at the epicenter. The second possibility is destruction from a modern-day bombing – possibly a nuclear bomb. If there is terror in the evening, and by morning “they are no more,” one can see how a barrage of bombs would bring “terror,” and a nuclear blast would bring total eradication.

Could it be that the events taking place in Syria today are a part of Isaiah’s prophecy from 2700 years ago? What we do know is that one day, Damascus will be destroyed. We will not know that the current conflict is the incident Isaiah is predicting until after Damascus ceases to exist. It will happen, and it is easy to see how the current upheaval could result in Damascus’ destruction.

Now the question is, “Does this mean we are living in the last days?” Just because Damascus might be destroyed, does that have to mean the return of Christ is imminent? I’ll write about that next time. What are your thoughts?