Friday, May 28, 2010

Axis of Evil

It amazes me when I see people with divergent ideologies ban together for some common purpose. It is especially striking when that purpose is to oppose God. North Korea is exporting their nuclear and ballistic missile technology to Iran and Syria. At a minimum this threatens the peace but it is a rather direct threat to Israel, the apple of God’s eye (Zechariah 2:8).

None of these countries have any love for Israel and are collaborating to “cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more” (Psalm 83:4, NKJ). But it is not just Israel that is the focus of the rouge nations, there is evidence that Iran is collaborating with Venezuela. Hugo Chavez has no love for Israel either but he is more of a threat to his neighbors in the Americas.

The old proverb, “birds of a feather flock together” is very true. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (NKJ) As those who are of the light and love God should seek communion with fellow light bearers, we can expect those of the darkness to commune together.

Jesus told us that evil doers will indeed collaborate together… “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” (Luke 11:17-18). We can expect to see more of this as we get closer to the Lord’s return because, “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13).

Most people are in denial about the root cause of what threatens the peace in the world. They don’t see the connection between the national leaders with evil intent and the idea that they are acting in opposition to God. Psalm 2:2-3 says, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.”

As long as people don’t even recognize what is behind the nations preparing for war, there is no way mankind can stop the path we are on in this world. The Bible tells us that more and more nations will drawn into the axis of evil to the point where all nations will be represented at the battle of Armageddon; Revelation 16:14-16.

Fortunately, “you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (1Thessalonians 5:4).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sola Scriptura

I’ve been discussing different biblical interpretations with an amillennialist friend who thinks the Church has replaced Israel in God’s economy. Those interactions have reinforced for me the importance of sola scriptura – regarding God’s Word as our only authority.

The idea that God is done with Israel for all time is called Replacement Theology. Those who believe the promises God made to Israel now apply to the Church have to go through all manner of liberal interpretive contortions to explain Romans 11. Replacement Theology is a doctrine of demons that is one of the roots of anti-Semitism. It was used by Nazis to justify persecution of the Jews.

It is frustrating trying to debate a biblical issue with someone who does not take the Bible literally. If you don’t take the Bible literally and in context, proof texts do not mean what they say; they can be interpreted to mean anything you want them to say. If everything in the Bible has some overriding spiritual meaning outside of what the clear text says, the only way you can ever know what it says is through some extra-biblical source (including one’s own feelings). And this is not sola scriptura.

The reason I take the Bible literally is that God used His prophetic Word to lead me to Jesus… since the prophecies of the first coming of Christ were literally fulfilled, we should expect the prophecies of His return to be literally fulfilled as well. For the person who does not take the Bible literally, the book of Revelation is not hard to understand, it is hard to believe.

It has been a blessing getting to know the Lord better through studying His prophetic Word as Revelation 1:3 promises. I investigated different methods of interpreting Bible prophecy and found the approach with the fewest unresolved conflicts is to just take Scripture literally… if the plain sense of a passage makes sense, seek no other sense or you’ll end up with nonsense. There is obvious symbolism in some apocalyptic passages but this is a common literary technique that improves our understanding and is usually even explained by the accompanying text.

We can trust God’s Word to accurately represent what God wants us to know. If God is almighty enough to have created this world, His omnipotence is sufficient to have accurately brought us His Word and preserved it through time even using His flawed subjects. The Bible is the main physical resource God gave us for getting to know Him personally during this age. Having to depend on some scholarly human intermediary to tell us what God really said is inconsistent with the reason God gave us His Word.

God has gone to great lengths to make it possible for us to have a personal relationship with Him. Genesis 1:26-27 says we are created in the image of God. The most profound aspect of this is that we have a free will to make choices with eternal ramifications. It is not possible to have a truly satisfying relationship unless both parties are free to accept or reject the other. God loved us so much that He was willing to risk our rejecting Him in order to bless us with the experience of a genuine personal relationship with Him. Not even angels can have the depth of personal relationship with our Creator-Savior that He made possible for humans, see 1 Peter 1:12.

The problem with our having a free will is that everyone has used it to pursue personal agendas rather than get on board with God’s plan. The Bible calls this lack of regard for God sin and it is a problem we all have… “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NKJ). The problem with sin is that it separates us from God. We were created for a purpose and sin keeps us from realizing that purpose... “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Fortunately for us, God intervened and made it possible for our sins to be forgiven… “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins by giving His own life in our place. He is the only one who could do this because He is the only one who ever lived a sinless life. Jesus lived a sinless life because He wasn’t just a man, He was also God. I know that this is a difficult truth to embrace with our mortal minds, but God helps those who are truly open to Him to accept it. And He has promised us… “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

I pray that all who read this post will chose to accept Jesus into their lives if they haven’t already. And I pray that they will experience the blessings of having God speak directly to them from a literal reading of His Word.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One World Conspiracy

A persistent conspiracy is that the secretive Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission and Bilderbergs are working behind the scene to bring about a world government. This conspiracy has a ring of truth because many of our crises are fabricated by society’s elites to invoke a response that drives us closer to more centralized control.

WorldNetDaily reports that one of the proponents of the one world conspiracy is getting some official legitimacy. Author Daniel Estulin, of the book "The True Story of the Bilderberg Group", has been invited to speak about this secretive cabal before the European Parliament in Brussels June 1.

Estulin’s book explains how the web of people and organizations has become a “shadow government whose top priority is to erase the sovereignty of all nation-states and supplant them with global corporate control of their economies under the surveillance of 'an electronic global police state.’”

I’m sure Estulin will be successful selling a lot of books warning about one-world government conspirators because this trend is undeniable. Certainly it is consistent with what the Bible says will happen in the seven years leading up to the return of Christ. But believing that secretive cabals are behind the trend toward a one-world government denies what is really going on.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (NKJ). It isn’t cabals of human conspirators plotting to install a one-world government, Satan and his fellow fallen angels are tempting key people to take actions that bring it about.

God is in control and He is allowing Satan and his minions to have more influence in our world in order to set the stage for the Tribulation. As God said before the last time He poured out His wrath on earth at the flood, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever” (Genesis 6:3). And as we reached the point when the timing was right for Jesus to come the first time, this will be the case when He returns… “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4).

People like to think in terms of human conspiracies because if people are behind it, people can change the path we’re on. While human decisions are certainly behind the trend toward a one-world government, unseen spiritual forces are spurring things along. But it wouldn’t mean we could fix the problem ourselves even if there were no spiritual conspirators working against us. Our human nature prevents us from consistently doing the right thing. As we needed God’s intervention to make a way for our sins to be forgiven, we need Him to help us with the mess we’re making of this world. Jesus came the first time to save us from our sins, He is returning to set things right on earth.

Every day I see more and more reasons why we sorely need Jesus to return. The stage being set for a one-world government is just one more thing showing we don’t have long to wait.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Perils of Socialism

By now I hope most Americans have buyer’s remorse about the government they have voted into power and will send a strong message about this at the polls in November. The first 18 months of the Obama administration has done more to make the United States into a socialist country than any other government in our history.

The fruits of socialism are well known and predictable. All you have to do is look at the Soviet Union or Cuba for example. Yet today’s advocates of socialism think they can do better. We see this happening in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez is threatening to seize Polar, the country’s largest food producer because of food shortages resulting from government imposed price fixing. This is classic socialism; the government creates a crisis with onerous regulations, and then swoops in to fix the problem by taking control of the business.

Socialism destroys all that it touches. Vengas, a natural gas company was seized by the Venezuelan government and now gas is even scarcer. Because of this, many of the Venezuelan people are wise to the ways of Hugo Chavez and the employees of Polar are resisting the take over because they know their jobs are at stake.

The only way socialist governments can maintain power over their people is to become totalitarian. Don’t be deceived, that is the ultimate goal for the elites who strive for a bigger government. The advocates of socialism sell their vision to the public with the lie of getting something for nothing but what they really want is more power for themselves. Socialist elites are always opposed to the freedom and independent spirit that comes from having a relationship with God because this competes with the government as the savior of the people.

Unfortunately socialism is the direction the world is headed. The world’s socialist elites will make good use of the birth pangs of the Tribulation to convince people to yield more of their freedoms to the government. The theme of this is, “don’t let a good crisis go to waste.” And the Bible tells us that the government in place before Jesus returns will be a totalitarian one… “that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:17, NKJ).

Don’t think for a moment that our government leaders don’t know the impact of their moves toward socialism. They secretly long for not only totalitarianism here in the U.S.; they want to see it worldwide because only a world wide government can solve the great global problems of mankind. They are driven to achieve this with a religious fervor. And this means the economic and political power of the United States must be sacrificed…

President Obama recently declared that he would seek a new "international order." This is a clear indication that the Obama administration is willing to yield U.S. sovereignty in exchange for more global cooperation. Talk about your slippery slopes. This is exactly the mind-set of the ten kings that will yield their power to the Antichrist… “These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast” (Revelation 17:13).

Those who scoff at the idea that we are headed toward a world-wide government think “all things continue as they were from the beginning” (2 Peter 3:4). But God has told us that changes are coming. He said in Habakkuk 1:5, “look among the nations and watch-- be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.” Geopolitical developments can happen very fast, “the end of it shall be with a flood” (Daniel 9:26).

It is a dangerous thing to scoff at God’s Word. The Almighty Creator-God will be vindicated. I pray that any scoffers reading this would open their hearts to Jesus so that they my exit the "broad way to destruction" (Matthew 7:13).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Synthetic Cell

News reports last week heralded the achievement of injecting computer-generated DNA into a bacterium cell that was able to reproduce. If mankind can create life, the biblical account of creation is disproved and thus we are free from having the obey the unseen Triune Godhead, "Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us" (Psalm 2:3, NKJ).

It is interesting to note that the mainstream news report failed to mention that though some scientists are excited about the genome of the cell being synthetic, the developers explain that the recipient cell's cytoplasm is diluted with each division. So upon closer investigation, it doesn’t look like scientists were able to manufacture a synthetic cell after all. This reminds me of a humorous story about scientists thinking they do not need God to create life. God challenges a representative of the disbelieving scientists to a contest who proceeds to grab a handful of dirt to get started and God tells him he’ll have go get his own dirt.

It bothers me that so many people today assume that faith in Christ is in conflict with science. It seems like so much of science today is all about pursuing evidence to disprove the biblical view of the world. This has led to the conventional wisdom that science is the enemy of faith. But it wasn’t always this way. The scientific method was developed by Christians during the Renaissance period who sought to understand God more by studying His creation. God blessed Western Civilization in revealing things to us that have enabled great benefits to mankind. God will not bless science that seeks to pull people away from Him. Indeed, Romans 1:28 says, “even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind.”

A debased mind is a mind that is not rational. It is people who think they are being unemotional and logical but are in fact “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” (Ephesians 4:14). And there are a lot of agendas in play today using science to promote their world view such as global warming.

As I consider the pervasiveness of science seeking to put God in His place, I can’t help but think the era of God blessing mankind through scientific discoveries is over. The Bible tells us that during the Tribulation living conditions will degenerate to the bare basics. So the closer we get to this time period will likely result in living conditions getting worse rather than better as birth pangs that foreshadow it.

Knowing that the Rapture of the Church precedes the Tribulation is a great comfort to me as I see developments that are sure to bring God’s wrath on the earth. My heart goes out to all who have not experienced the blessings from knowing the literal truth of God’s Word.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dreaming Dreams

I’ve had two dreams this week both involving train travel. Last night’s dream was especially vivid and more easily remembered than most. I normally don’t even recall that I have had a dream. I know dreams are my subconscious at work but can’t help but think that the Holy Spirit didn’t have some influence in this case.

When I have traveling dreams it is usually about air travel since that is the mass transit I have done the most by a wide margin. So train travel to me has something of a mystical quality to it. Dreams often involve symbolism and it seems likely that, at least for me, train travel represents the Rapture of the Church. Especially when I consider some of the details in last night’s dream.

In last night’s dream, I found myself in a large building without windows and was participating in some sort of non-descript tour. As I discussed with some of my fellow travelers the prospect of meeting the train for the next phase of our journey it became clear that no one knew when the train would arrive. One of my fellow non-descript travelers said we didn’t need to worry about catching the next train because there’d be others and we are coming back to our present location anyway.

Another traveler told me not to be concerned about catching the train and pointed to colorful markings on the floor saying the train would have to come in the building and we could catch it then. Well while the markings might have described a path for some vehicle, there was no train tracks associated with them. And even if the train did follow the path defined by the markings, there was nothing to indicate that it would stop for us in the building. So I decided I needed to leave the building to be in a position to watch for the train.

As soon as I stepped out on the porch of the building I heard the train whistle and realized that I just had time to make if to the train station. I had left something in the building but knew I’d miss the train if I went back for it so I decided it was of no consequence as I made my way to the train station. Then the alarm went off and I woke up.

Joel 2:28 says, “it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (NKJ). I’m certainly in the “old men” category and wouldn’t be surprised if my two train dreams this week was the Holy Spirit reinforcing the need to be ready… “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13).

Revelation 4:1 says, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here…’” I think it likely that when the Rapture occurs, there may be a split second decision some or all of us will need to make. All who truly love the Lord and are ready for His coming for us will be taken in the Rapture. Remember Lot’s wife… “his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26).

Here are some other passages that reinforce the danger in looking back when Jesus comes for us…

“And Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended. but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13 ).

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

“Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38).

“But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39).

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

Indications are that we do not have long to wait for the Rapture. So it would behoove us to, “watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). Now is not a time to neglect prayer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Labels

I was asked to explain my position on various theological perspectives that affect a person’s interpretation of eschatology. Addressing the various labels used to describe how people view the End Times helped me to clarify why I take the positions I do on Bible prophecy…

I came to Christ as a result of becoming convinced that the Bible had to be from God because it includes prophecies that have been fulfilled exactly as given. And I have been blessed by getting to know the Lord better through studying His prophetic Word as Revelation 1:3 promises. In the process, I investigated the different methods of interpreting Bible prophecy and found the best to be an approach that takes the most literal view of Scripture… if the plain sense reading of a passage makes sense, seek no other sense or you’ll end up with nonsense. There is obvious symbolism in some apocalyptic passages but this is a common literary technique that helps us better understand it and is usually even explained by the accompanying text.

It is interesting to note that the many prophecies about the Messiah’s first coming were literally fulfilled, so we should expect the many more prophecies of His return to be literally fulfilled as well. Scripture reveals that God has gone to great lengths enabling us to experience a personal relationship with Him. The Bible is the main physical resource God gave us for getting to know Him personally during this age. Having to depend on some scholarly human intermediary to tell us what God really said is inconsistent with the purpose of the Bible.

I would describe myself as a futurist since I believe that prophecies in the Bible do help us predict what will happen in the future. Historicists must spiritualize the Bible to apply prophecy to what is happening today. I know it may sometimes appear that I’m doing that because what happens today certainly foreshadows and sets the stage for a future fulfillment of prophecy. But most prophecies associated with the Lord’s return pertain to the Tribulation period which we are not in yet.

I am certainly not a proponent of preterism which holds that most or all of the End Times biblical prophecies refer to events which have already happened in the first century after Christ's birth. It is pretty obvious that Jesus has not returned yet. Anyone reading passages about the Lord’s return thinking they were fulfilled during His First Advent would have to apply a pretty non-literal interpretation.

I am a dispensationalist. It does make sense to me that God has related to human beings in different ways throughout history. While “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), Scripture is clear that God has used diverse ways of revealing Himself to us during different periods of history. Replacement Theology is flat wrong. The Church has not replaced Israel as would have to be concluded from any honest reading of Romans 11.

I am a premillennialist. I believe there will be a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ on the earth prior to the eternal state as God has promised in Revelation 20:4. And I also believe that the Rapture of the Church will occur before the 7-year Tribulation. I’ve looked at the arguments for the different views on the order of End Time events and found premillennialism to be the one that takes the most literal view of the Bible and has the fewest unresolved conflicts.

I am a young-earth creationist. I take the Genesis creation account literally. If God truly is Almighty, why didn’t He bring about the Creation exactly like He told us He did? If we start having to apply some spiritual interpretation to the plain sense meaning of the Bible in Genesis, where does this stop? How can we believe anything the Bible says? This is a fundamental issue because, “if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). In other words, if you don’t believe the Genesis account of creation, you will not believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. There is a lot of scientific evidence supporting the idea that the earth is only thousands of years old that materialists can not explain.

I am also a Protestant. The main reason for that is sola scriptura along with the other “solas” representing the key theological beliefs of the Protestant Reformation which disagreed with the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. Wikipedia has a good description of these beliefs. I believe the five “solas” to be fundamental issues… Not having a right view of these fundamentals is a critical matter of salvation because it reveals a wrong view of God as revealed in His Word. As Jesus said in John 8:24, "if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." Most of my other labels are “disputable matters” that have no bearing on salvation (Romans 14:1). Where a person stands on the five “solas” does reveal the status of their relationship to God.

It is helpful to consider which labels we’d use to describe ourselves since we should, “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15, NKJ). I’d encourage you to make sure you understand what you believe and why you believe it. We can’t always predict when we’ll have an opportunity to defend the faith.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Greek Debt Crisis

The Greek debt crisis has been threatening to plunge the world into another recession but has apparently been averted due to a bail-out from Germany. A Stratfor analysis of this situation has served to reinforce my minority view of the Tribulation geopolitical structure.

It is interesting to note that the bail out of Greece was not part of a European Union action. It was done as one nation-state helping out another because of their own self interests. Stratfor’s analysis is that this is evidence the EU is unlikely to ever operate as a unified country. We know the EU is essentially the Revived Roman Empire which will play a key role in the worldwide Tribulation government but their inability to act as a single unified country would tend to disqualify them for being the power structure from which the Antichrist will emerge.

Certainly a serious crisis could change the situation in Europe but a potential melt-down of the Euro was a pretty major event from at least a financial stand-point. And it has called into question the legitimacy of the European Union itself as a sovereign political entity. The alternative to the Revived Roman Empire being the power structure from which the Antichrist will come is the Revived Ottoman Empire. I believe it to be more likely that the Antichrist will emerge from the coalition of Islamic states that Turkey is in the process of organizing.

Revelation 13 tells us that religion is a key tool enabling the Antichrist to secure power over people. This means that Revived Ottoman Empire will serve better than the Revived Roman Empire as a power base to launch the Antichrist. The European states have no over ridding common purpose as the Islamic states do. The religion of the European states is only ostensibly Christian. Christianity was part of the European historical culture but today there is only a remnant of Bible believing Christians active there. The real religion of Europe is secular humanism. And the post-modern religion of secular humanism is inherently weaker than Islam as a unifying force.

All this reinforces my expectation that the Antichrist will emerge from the Revived Ottoman Empire, a coalition of Middle East Islamic states led by Turkey. It is exciting to live during a time when current events help us better appreciate God’s prophetic Word. It is certainly not a time to be dogmatic about traditional interpretations of apocalyptic Scripture because new information is helping us have a better feel for how God will fulfill ancient prophecies. As Daniel 12:4 says, “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (NKJ).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hastening the Coming

The trends we see in the world today make it pretty clear to anyone who considers their implications that we are headed toward some sort of culmination of history. The Bible tells us these trends indicate that Jesus Christ is returning to fulfill the promises He made to us. The Bible also tells us how we should conduct ourselves in the interim: “what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:11-12, NKJ).

God expects His followers to not only look for Jesus to return but to actively work to bring His return sooner. Now those who think all religions are the same will lump this idea in with radical Islam that engages in Jihad seeking to cause sufficient turmoil between nations to summon their messiah, al Mahdi. Muslims believe that al Mahdi will return in the midst of a great conflagration between nations to lead the world in worshiping Allah.

The belief of radical Muslims that they can cause al Mahdi to come by waging war is what makes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad so dangerous. Those who think Bible-believing Christians want to do the same do not understand the distinctions between Islam and Christianity…

Islam is like all the other man-made religions of the world where people earn favor with God and their salvation through their own efforts. Christianity is unique since the Bible tells us that we can do nothing to earn salvation… “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Biblical Christianity is so different from the world’s religions that it should not even be called a religion; biblical Christianity is better described as a relationship with God.

Another distinction is that Islam is a religion of death whereas true biblical Christianity is a religion of life. Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves; you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16). The fruit of Islam is death. Where ever Islam goes there is war and death. They way Islam obtains converts is by threat of death, the Koran teaches that it is good to kill infidels, and the only way a Muslim can be sure they are going to heaven is to die in the process of killing infidels. True biblical Christianity values human life since all people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

Those who think biblical Christianity is just a different brand of religion like radical Islam fear giving Christians political power because they think we will seek to fulfill Bible prophecy by forcing Armageddon on the world. I discussed this fear in another blog. While that fear should be real with Islam, it is not the case with Christianity.

Don’t think the Church's enthusiasm for the Rapture means that we are working to bring on the Tribulation. The Tribulation will be a terrible time when at least half of the population on the earth will die. It also marks a time of great deception when it will be easier to believe lies than the truth (see 2 Thessalonians 2:11). We don’t want to go through that time ourselves nor do we want any of our associates to either.

God is in control of when things happen; there is nothing we can do to make the Tribulation come any sooner. God will not allow the Antichrist to emerge until the timing is within His permissive will… “for the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

How then does the Christian speed up the return of Jesus if we can do nothing ourselves to cause Bible prophecy to be fulfilled? I believe that 2 Peter 3:11-12 tells us the work of the Church can bring the Rapture sooner rather than later. The next major event in the history of the Church is the Rapture. There is no prophetic event that has to happen prior to it and there is no reason why it couldn't happen even several years ahead of the Tribulation. However, I would expect the Rapture to be so disruptive it is hard to imagine there being much time between it and the Tribulation.

Besides 2 Peter 3:11-12, Romans 11:25 also indicates that God has in mind a set number of people for the Church: "blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." So given that, believers working to grow the Body of Christ can hasten the return of Jesus for the Church. When the set number of people God wants in His Church is reached, our work here is done; we’re out of here. So the quicker we can complete the Church, the sooner it will be that Jesus returns for us.

Of course it is really God that builds the Church. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). So in that sense, we can’t even work to bring on the Rapture sooner than God’s timing. But we can pray and God blesses His followers by working through us. We get to participate in what He is doing in the spiritual growth of those He brings into our lives. The more diligent we are to act in obedience with God, the more rewards we will experience.

So, all who look forward to seeing Jesus at the Rapture should pray for the Lord to deliver us and, “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Purpose of Evil

As I watched the 60 Minutes story on the Deep Sea Horizon disaster in the Gulf, I was struck by the potential scope of this event. There are unprecedented amounts of oil now drifting about in the ocean that could cause environmental damage all along the Gulf coast for years to come.

I expect it will be years before we start drilling off our shores again. This will serve to make us even more dependent on the oil from the Mideast and it will drive up the price of everything. With that in mind I was surprised to see the price of oil dropping this morning. Fears that recovery from the global recession is going to suffer a setback due to the European debt crisis have made commodity speculators bearish. It would seem that economic factors still trump environmental concerns at least in the near-term. But dropping oil prices is a short term trend that will be eclipsed by the Gulf environmental damage which will not go away any time soon.

While the official cause of the Deep Sea Horizon disaster has not been determined yet, the evidence that has been made public points pretty accusingly to British Petroleum. It looks like BP executives insisted that the rig operator, Transocean, overlook safety issues to reduce the cost of the drilling operation. So greed looks like the root cause. Of course we need to be careful in passing judgment based on a story from 60 Minutes which has a liberal bias in their reporting. The liberal bias is that since use of oil damages the environment due to global warming then all oil companies are bad, all off-shore oil drilling is doubly bad, and indeed capitalism itself is bad. But despite the bias, if the 60 Minutes story is accurate I’d say the days of BP being allowed to exist as a company are numbered.

It is tragedies like the Deep Sea Horizon disaster that will cause the public to accept more governmental regulation and more general intrusion into our lives. We are on a fast track to bigger government and every disaster that foreshadows the Tribulation accelerates that process. It seems that no one wants a good crisis to go to waste.

As we consider the increasing incidence of evil as we rush headlong to the Tribulation, it is helpful to keep the big picture in mind… God's will always triumphs over evil. It certainly looks like good and evil are struggling with evil making headway against good. But ultimately it is good, God's will, that will prevail. The Bible tells us the end of the story and thus it is inevitable that good triumphs over evil.

God allows evil to run its course to serve His purposes. His higher purpose in allowing us to be exposed to evil is to enable us to exercise free will. Our capacity to exercise free will is the most profound aspect of being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). God gave us free will because He wanted us to experience the depth of personal relationship with Him that is only possible if we are free to accept or reject that relationship. So life in this fallen mortal world is a test to determine who will spend eternity in the presence of the Creator.

I pray that all who read this post already have or soon will believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. Coming to this point is infinitely better sooner rather than later. When Jesus returns, it will be “to execute judgment on all” (Jude 1:15, NKJ). We can not know the "day and hour" of His return (Matthew 24:36) so the wise thing is to be ready now. All indications are that we do not have long to wait.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Positive Signs

A regular subscriber to this News Wisdom blog asked me a provocative question, “Must every 'sign' of prophecy unfolding be of evil advancing?” The short answer to this is obviously no, but the most striking evidence that we are accelerating toward what Jesus called the “Great Tribulation” in Matthew 24:21 is indeed the growth of evil. The signs Jesus gave us to watch for in His Olivet Discourse were all increasing consequences from evil. Matthew 24:7 says, “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places” (NKJ).

Scripture also tells us, “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). So the growth of evil is a trend we can expect in the world as we get closer to the return of Jesus. However, even with the growth of evil there are still some good developments to watch for as we get closer to the return of Christ…

Jesus indicated that there would be at least one positive trend associated with the end of the age in the Parable of the Wheat and Tares (Matthew 13:24-30). The wheat in this parable represents followers of Christ that “grow up” among the followers of Satan. So along with the growth of evil, we can expect to see growth in the Body of Christ. This is in fact happening today in some surprising ways. There is a revival of evangelical Christians in Latin America that is challenging the dominance of the traditional Catholic Church there. And the house church movement is fueling the growth of the Body of Christ in China despite (and maybe because of) the official government animosity toward religious freedom.

Contrary to perception that Christianity is strictly an American religion, there are Bible-believing Christians everywhere. This is true even in Muslim countries though believers keep quiet about their faith there due to persecution. I’ve heard some pretty incredible stories about Muslim conversions to Christ involving direct revelations of Jesus. If the Church is not permitted to operate, God will make a way to save those who He chooses to save (consider Luke 19:40).

I think the direct revelation conversions of people living in Islamic cultures is a sign that we are beginning to see the “latter rain” of the Holy Spirit spoken of by the prophet Joel. Peter referred to this at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit first indwelt the Church (see Acts 2:16-18). Joel 2:28 says, “it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” I take it that the “former rain” of Joel 2:23 refers to the pouring out of God’s Spirit at Pentecost and the “latter rain” is when this happens similarly at the end of the age.

The fact that miraculous conversions are occurring in Islamic countries where Christian missionaries are forbidden tells us that we are close to the end of the Age of Grace. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” It is the Lord’s plan to save at least a remnant of people from all nations. The Church will praise Jesus in heaven singing, “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). We are seeing Jesus build this diverse body of believers today despite the best efforts of Satan and his followers to squelch it.

Another set of positive signs are technological advancements that help us see how God can fulfill prophecy through natural means. I made some comments about this in my blog yesterday. Daniel 12:4 says, “but you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” The growth of travel has been striking. Throughout most of history the furthest anyone could go in a day was about 30 miles with the assistance of a horse. Now this is the average daily commute for Americans. And in the last few decades it has become pretty routine to travel to the other side of the earth within a day. In a general sense we are seeing knowledge increase today in the growth of the Internet. And more significantly, developments are giving us better insight into what the prophetic Scriptures tell us is going to happen. More and more of the puzzle pieces are fitting together in our day.

It is inevitable that evil will advance until Christ returns. But the good news to believers is that Christ is returning. And what appears to be bad news from a worldly perspective really can be good news from a biblical perspective. For example, Jesus was executed by a slow and painful method… pretty bad news from a purely human perspective. But God has a way of turning bad news by human standards into good news when you consider the spiritual implications. Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified in order to pay the penalty for our sins. Thus, God turned a human tragedy into the greatest event in all of history.

When I draw attention to the bad things indicating we are close to the Tribulation, Bible-believing Christians should be mindful that this time period is preceded by the Rapture where followers of Jesus will be given immortal bodies and ushered into God's presence. This point is certainly lost on those who do not follow Christ... it is pretty fantastic and can only be understood by those who have been blessed with the faith to believe. But anyone may join us; “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31, NKJ). This is an open offer to everyone because, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

I pray that all who read this have already chosen or will choose to spend eternity with Christ before their opportunity to do so expires.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Israel’s Next War

It is easy to become complacent about yet another war in the Mideast. There have been many wars involving Israel that have not lead us to Armageddon so why shouldn’t this trend just continue? There are several very good reasons why Israel’s Next War will fundamentally change the geopolitical situation in the Mideast. Here are a few of these reasons that come immediately to mind…

God’s Promises to Israel
First of all, God is in control despite appearances in this materialistic world. God has given Israel a lot more land than they currently occupy; Genesis 15:18 says it is God’s will for Abraham’s descendents to occupy the land from the Nile to the Euphrates rivers. Those who think this promise includes the descendants of Ishmael ignores passages such as Deuteronomy 1:8 which make it clear that God intends for Israel to occupy this land. Preterists will say this promise was fulfilled in past history but passages like Ezekiel 37:25 makes it clear that God’s promise about the land of Israel is forever. Others will say this promise is to be fulfilled in the far future after Jesus returns. This is true but there is nothing that says it couldn’t be fulfilled prior to Jesus returning. And it is interesting to note that every serious conflict Israel has been drawn into has resulted in their controlling more land.

The Timing is Right
Another reason the next Israeli war will fulfill Bible prophecies is that there are so many indications we are in the season of the Lord’s return. Besides all the trends leading even observers without a biblical world view to conclude history has to be headed toward some sort of spectacular culmination, 2011 seems to be a good candidate for when the Tribulation could potentially begin.

Technological Advancements
Many of the prophecies about end-time events that people once had to think would have to be supernaturally fulfilled can now be done through natural means. And God virtually always works through natural means, “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7, NKJ). His true followers understand His omnipotence and generally recognize fulfillment of Bible prophecy as a miracle even when God uses natural means. A good example is how the two prophets of God during the Tribulation will be seen by the whole world (Revelation 11:3-12)… in an age of satellite TV, such exposure is not a mystery. I produced a PowerPoint Bible study titled, “Importance of Technology” addressing several of these prophetic technological advancements.

Israel Has Returned to the Land
It is interesting to note the detail in which Isaiah 43:5-6 has been fulfilled; “Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not keep them back!' Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.” Israel has returned to the land in the same order as this Scripture passage describes! The Jews first returned to the land of Israel from the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Jordan 1930-1940), then Western Europe after WWII, then Russia starting in 1988, and finally Ethiopia (Operation Solomon, Summer, 1991). Israel has been in wars since 1991 that have not resulted in massive geopolitical changes but the next two conditions were not previously in play…

Israel’s Enemies will use WMDs
I think we’ll soon learn what happened to the Weapons of Mass Destruction (chemical warheads) that Saddam Hussein is known to have had in Iraq. President George W. Bush was maligned for attacking Iraq under false pretenses but the evidence that Saddam had chemical weapons was pretty conclusive… so what happened to them? Many analysts think they were transferred to their brothers in Syria. This might explain why Syria has been so bold in provoking Israel lately; they think they have the capacity to bring to fruition the vision of Iarael’s Islamic neighbors to, “cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more” (Psalm 83:4). Syria must figure they can get away with this due to their support from Iran, Turkey and Russia while the United States has become burned out on war in the Mideast, is accommodating toward Islam, and is no longer standing by Israel. Syria’s existential threat to Israel will force them to use a nuclear weapon to destroy Damascus in fulfillment of Isaiah 17:1.

All Nations Oppose Israel
In past wars Israel could always count on the United States to stand by them. That is no longer the case. Despite the rhetoric from the Obama administration, their actions have made it clear that our government can not be counted on to support Israel in a war. Our diverting bunker buster weapons intended for Israel is but one example of these actions. This development puts the world in the condition necessary for Zechariah 12:3 to be fulfilled, “it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”

Considering all this brings Habakkuk 1:5 to mind: “Look among the nations and watch-- be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.” It is hard not to have a sense that these days are rapidly approaching.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Russia's Interest in the Mideast

It has be a regular pattern for Russia to align themselves with the Islamic nations in the Mideast. And now, for the first time since 1944, a Russian head of state is visiting Syria. Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, will meet Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, in Damascus during a three day visit to the region.

Those who think Ezekiel 38 describes the next war in the Mideast and that Russia is Magog are keenly watching these developments. I do not think that Russia is Magog, nor do I think that Ezekiel 38 describes the next war in the Mideast, but I do think Russia's interest in the Mideast will play a key role in what happens next.

Russia is certainly aligning themselves with the Mideast Islamic nations to increase their political power in the world. But these alliances also promises to boost the two main sources of hard currency benefiting the Russian economy: oil and weapons. The tensions in the Mideast are good for Russia's weapons business since most of the Mideast Islamic nations are armed with Russian-made equipment.

It is also important to note that Russia's oil business will benefit from a war in the Mideast. A war there would at least threaten to disrupt oil supplies causing the price of oil to go up. The amount of oil Russia can supply is pretty well fixed so this would be a sure way to increase their oil revenues. Thus I would expect Russian President Medvedev to convey all sort of assurances to Syrian President al-Assad they they will support them if there is war with Israel. This encouragement may be all Syria needs to join with Hammas, Hezbollah and Iran against Israel.

I'm convinced that the next war in the Mideast is described by Psalm 83...
"Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, 'Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more'" (Psalm 83:1-5, NKJ).
Russia is not named among the nations God allows Israel to overrun in Psalm 83 but that doesn't mean they don't play a role in encouraging Israel's enemies.

It should also be noted that the U.S. economy will be harmed by the price of oil going up. This is icing on the cake to Russia since they are competing with us for influence in the world. And as the U.S. is less able to exert our will in the world, it makes us more willing to cooperate with the world community of nations... a condition necessary for a world government to emerge.

No-doubt there are many even in this country who are cheering-on Russia because they want to see the price of oil go up. Besides forcing the U.S. to be more of a team player in the world, higher oil prices will reduce consumption of oil and the man-made carbon dioxide emissions they think is causing global warming. God is giving us over to this debased thinking so that mankind will get to experience the results of these objectives. It will not be the Utopian vision they imagine it to be. Jesus called it the Great Tribulation in Matthew 24.

I thank the Lord that the most literal interpretation of Scripture makes it clear that true followers of Jesus will not suffer God's wrath.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pushing Israel to the Edge

A recurring theme in the trends we are seeing today are the unintended consequences of actions taken that are contrary to God's will. We are seeing this today in the U.S. policy forcing Israel to make peace with those who consider it their religious duty to rid the world them.

The Obama Administration sees Israel as a destabilizing factor in the Middle East and so have been taking actions to limit their political and military power while building up their enemies. Forgetting the fact that this amounts to poking a finger in the apple of God's eye (see Zechariah 2:8), this might be a workable strategy if it were not for the real destabilizing factors in the region. Former U.S. Gen. Paul Vallely reveals how Iranian submarines have been equipping Israel's enemies with Scud missiles armed with chemical weapons.

The United States and Israel's enemies are pushing Israel to use a final resolution to the Palestinian problem. It is likely that all this is going to come to a head by the fall of this year. The radical Islamic Mullahs running Iran and their proxies want to draw Israel into a conflict which they see as a necessary prerequisite for their messiah, al Mahdi to emerge. And Israel is being pressured to do something about Iran's nuclear ambitions before they loose their technological edge.

You would think that there is a grand conspiracy to cause war to happen in the Mideast. There is indeed a conspiracy but it is not a human one. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12, NKJ). Fallen angels are working behind the scenes tempting people in key positions to take actions that look like world leaders are conspiring to together against Israel. This is evidence that God is removing His restraint of evil in the world; we are seeing more irrational ideas being put into action... "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting" (Romans 1:28).

God promised Israel, "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you" (Genesis 12:3). The United States has unwittingly decided to risk the curse of God in not standing by Israel in the face of their terrorist enemies. This was inevitable per Zechariah 12:3 and reveals how close we are to the Lord's return. Hopefully the Rapture of the Church will happen before the full consequences of our Mideast policies are fully realized.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hope for America

There are a lot of discouraging trends in the world today that threaten the blessed life we enjoy in the United States. But I’ve seen signs of hope this week despite all the otherwise negative developments.

I spent most of the week at a conference for Texas Instruments Field Applications Engineers. Besides networking with my current constituents and old friends I have worked with in the past, I learned some useful things about how TI is poised to significantly grow our market share for embedded microprocessors.

Texas Instruments really is a great company to be associated with… we are aggressively investing in manufacturing capacity even in the midst of a recession. And while R&D really is all-“D” for most of our competitors, TI is one of the few semiconductor companies investing in “R” through our Kiby Labs. And we are introducing microprocessor solutions that offer unprecedented capabilities.

One good example is in the field of industrial automation (which includes manufacturing robotics). I will not go into the details here but we now have solutions that enable an order-of-magnitude reduction in cost for industrial automation systems. People who fear losing their manufacturing jobs due to them moving to China really should be more fearful of being replaced with an automated system. With industrial automation costs coming down, robots will be used for more and more operations previously done by manual labor.

People who lament the trend of automation usurping manufacturing jobs need to just face reality and prepare themselves for the inevitable change. This is nothing new; we no longer need stagecoach drivers or typewriter repairmen either. Technology by nature causes jobs to become obsolete. And with the accelerating pace of technological innovations, new jobs will come and go with greater frequency.

Industrial automation has enabled manufacturing companies in the United States to be competitive in the world market despite our higher labor costs. Workers need to recognize that we are rapidly moving toward a service-based economy. As more manufacturing becomes automated, the best opportunities for workers will be to customize products for users. There is always demand for value that can be added to manufactured products.

I see hope for America in Texas Instruments. The innovation TI makes possible typifies what enables America to be competitive in the world economy. Innovations people need are blessings from God… “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17, NKJ). God is in control and He rewards those who apply His principles. TI does a better than average job of applying God’s principles which has led to being recognized as one of the world’s most ethical companies.

Even more important to me, it is encouraging to work for a company that recognizes the importance of faith in God. TI management has encouraged faith-based diversity initiatives official sanctioning employee activities such as weekly Bible studies and even a worship service during lunch time on-site. Just yesterday we had several TI sites conduct observances of the National Day of Prayer. Followers of Christ know that nothing of value happens apart from God, so prayer is a critical part of applying God’s principles on the job.

God promised Israel that, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NKJ). Embedded within this promise is a principle that applies to our employers and nations… God blesses those who act in obedience to Him.

There has never been a time when prayer for our institutions has been more important. Please pray that TI and our nation will take the actions necessary to continue in God’s favor despite the gathering clouds on the horizon.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Unstoppable Islam

Democracy in Iraq appears to mean they will effectively be an extension of Iran with a Shiite Islamic religious government. A deal between the country's two biggest Shiite Muslim alliances has allowed them to squeeze out the Sunni-backed secularists from controlling power in the government. So despite our best efforts at nation building, it looks like Iraq will be another Islamist state. I don't expect this development will change our plans for the U.S. Army to bug-out of Iraq. This will no-doubt make for even more chaos in that war-torn country.

In the midst of chaos, people tend to choose a strong law-and-order government over freedom. We have seen this over and over in history with the Nazis, Stalin, and more recently with the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hamas in Gaza. Islam with their Sharia Law makes for the sternest law-and-order government around. And the Islamist approach of intimidating people to follow them and not tolerating any other religion has been very effective in gaining converts.

I believe the religion of the Antichrist will be some form of Islam. Since all the world will worship the Antichrist, there has to be some religion that forces the people to submit. By the way, Islam means "submission." Besides Islam, the only other candidates for a world-wide religion are secular humanism and some new age form of apostate Christianity. I do not see either of these prevailing against Islam. We have seen how the secularists are faring in Iraq. And false Christianity has no power without the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 13:4 says, "So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" (NKJ) This is what we are seeing today with Islam. As God removes his restraint of evil in the world, there will be more chaos and thus more opportunity for Islam to flourish.

I am convinced that the Rapture of the Church occurs during a time of chaos among the nations. I don't look forward to more chaos, but it is a comfort to remember that God has a plan for us as we see increasingly chaotic times.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Order of Events

It certainly looks like war in the Mideast is inevitable. Every day there are multiple news items describing how Israel’s enemies are preparing. And the US government has been reinforcing the idea that Israel is on their own. This sense of isolation will make Israel more likely to act decisively with their nuclear weapons when they are forced to defend themselves.

So this might be a good time to review some of the prophecies that have been fulfilled by Israel and look at what is likely to be next in chronological order…

God enables the people of Israel to return to the Land of Israel… “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel’” (Ezekiel 37:12, NKJ).

God orchestrates circumstances to bring together Jews that have been in dispersion from all over the earth and rally them under their own national flag… “He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12).

God arranges for the ancient cities of Israel to be rebuilt and inhabited… “I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt” (Ezekiel 36:10).

God will revive the Hebrew language which was all but dead as a spoken language due to the Jewish Diaspora… “I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord” (Zephaniah 3:9).

God allowed Israel to meet Muslim/Arab resistance… “I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the insults of the people of Ammon, with which they have reproached My people, and made arrogant threats against their borders” (Zephaniah 2:8).

God arms Israel and establishes an army for their defense… “breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army” (Ezekiel 37:10).

God allows the ancient Muslim nations to confederate together against God and be committed to the destruction of Israel… “They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’ For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You” (Psalm 83:4-5).

God allows a war between the Muslim Confederacy and Israel enabling Israel to decisively defeat their enemies… “the envy of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim. But they shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west; together they shall plunder the people of the East; they shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab; and the people of Ammon shall obey them” (Isaiah 11:13-14).

God reshapes the geopolitical reality of the Mideast allowing Israel to expand their borders… “‘the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘That I will cause to be heard an alarm of war in Rabbah of the Ammonites; it shall be a desolate mound, and her villages shall be burned with fire. Then Israel shall take possession of his inheritance,’ says the LORD” (Jeremiah 49:2).

God allows Israel to dwell securely in their land… “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan: You will say, 'I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates'’” (Ezekiel 38:10-11)

The Rapture could occur at any point of these last several developments. As we see the stage being set for these prophecies to be fulfilled we know that “it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Next in the Mideast

A growing body of prophecy watchers now believe that the next war in the Mideast is likely to be described by Psalm 83. Those expecting Ezekiel 38 to describe the next Mideast war are dwindling because of several issues with a literal interpretation…

While the nations described in Ezekiel 38 are far from being friendly toward Israel, they are not directly adjacent to them. The nations immediately adjacent to Israel are not mentioned in Ezekiel 38 which begs us to ask why. Many prophecy watchers are now saying that Psalm 83 offers the explanation.

Another problem with Ezekiel 38 describing the next war in the Mideast is that Ezekiel 38:11 refers to Israel as a land of “unwalled villages.” I used to rationalize that this does not apply to the security walls in Israel because these are no defense against a modern mechanized force. But the prophecies about the Lord’s first coming were literally fulfilled so we should expect details related to His return to be literally fulfilled as well. So something must happen to enable Israel to be confident enough about peace that they can remove their security walls.

I have also come to the conclusion that the term “Gog” in Ezekiel 38 is a reference to the Antichrist. The only other place the term “Gog” is used in the Bible is in Revelation where it describes a world leader who opposes Christ at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. So this means that Ezekiel 38 must occur during the Tribulation and thus may not describe the next war in the Mideast.

One more observation about Ezekiel 38 from the “literal interpretation” category… Ezekiel 38:4 describes the army attacking Israel as riding horses. Now this could be symbolism for a mounted, mechanized force or the way Ezekiel used to describe this since there were no tracked vehicles in his day. Or it could be that some prior war will eliminate the mechanized weapons and literal horses will need to be used. It is interesting to note that the EMP from nuclear weapon air bursts fries electronics thus rendering modern vehicles inoperative. The Tribulation will be characterized by one war after another so it would not surprise me that combatants are reduced to using primitive weapons.

Considering all this leads one to conclude that there must be a war that precedes Ezekiel 38. Psalm 83 does appear to better describe the geopolitical situation that most immediately threatens Israel today. The motivation of Israel’s enemy in Ezekiel 38 is “to take great plunder” (Ezekiel 38:18, NKJ). On the other hand, Psalm 83:4 says, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” This is indeed the motivation of the series of Palestinian Intifadas that have made Mideast peace impossible.

The nations mentioned in Psalm 83:6-8 describe Israel’s immediate neighbors that will surely be drawn into any conflict involving the Palestinians. Wikipedia leads me to make the following associations for the Psalm 83 nations that oppose Israel:

Edom refers to the descendants of Esau and Jordan is the modern nation that best fit where they settled. The Ishmaelites were part of the Midianites that settled in Iraq, Jordan, and Arabia. Moab was the son of Lot and his daughter and it also refers to Jordan. Hagrites means the followers or descendants of Hagar and has come to mean any Muslim. Gebal refers to Lebanon; Ammon is Jordan; Amalek is associated with Mecca (Saudi Arabia or Al-Qaeda) and symbolic of the archetypal enemy of the Jews. Philistia refers to the Philistines who at various times were in Gaza, Syria and Egypt. Tyre is Lebanon and Assyria refers to portions of Syria and modern-day Iraq.

There have been other Mideast wars involving these nations before but this next war will be different. Israel’s neighbors now have more destructive capacity and they have demonstrated a willingness to pay a high price to kill Jews. Hezbollah based in Lebanon is now armed with more improved missiles than most governments in the world. The next war that Israel faces will be an existential one. The enemies of Israel will not wait for Iran to get a nuclear weapon, they are in a hurry to get rid of them to make way for their messiah, al Mahdi. “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12).

We know that God will allow Israel to deal a deadly blow to those who try to “wipe them off the map.” Zechariah 12:6 says, “In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left.” Israel will probably have to use their nuclear weapons to stop the missiles from raining down on them. This will certainly bring an end to the Palestinian problem and make Israel’s neighbors a non-issue in the later Ezekiel 38 war. We know that Damascus, the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world will become “a ruinous heap” (Isaiah 17:1).

The Psalm 83 war will also set the stage for the Antichrist to come on the scene. Such a major tragedy demands a charismatic world leader to emerge that can promise peace to Israel. This peace will enable Israel to build their temple in Jerusalem that must be in place by the mid-point of the Tribulation per Daniel 9:27.

The Psalm 83 war will throw the world into a panic. I can’t think of a better time for the Rapture to occur when there is such a major distraction. Indeed, 2 Thessalonians 2:11 says, “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” that explains away the Rapture of the Church.

So as we see the Psalm 83 war about to take place, “look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28).

Monday, May 3, 2010


Immigration has been a hot topic lately due to a new Arizona law giving police more authority to deal with crime from illegal aliens. I’ve been amazed by all the attention this topic has been getting in the media, but I think there are good reasons for this…

Conservatives are making a big issue out of demanding that laws be enforced to stop the growth of illegal aliens. But there can be no useful immigration reform unless we can control our borders. Our federal government has not demonstrated the will to do any serious control of our borders. I think one reason for this is that there are powerful political forces in this country who would really like to see no distinctions between nations; they envision one big worldwide community.

A desire to break down the boundaries between nations is evidence of the spirit of Antichrist who “shall intend to change times and law” (Daniel 7:25, NKJ). The law this is referring to is God’s law including His setting the boundaries of the nations… “He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord” (Acts 17:26-27).

God has a purpose in maintaining boundaries between nations. Those who oppose the Lord seek to break down those boundaries. Psalm 2:2-3 expresses this attitude, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’” Psalm 2 goes on to relate the consequences of such opposition to God.

There are very good reasons why we should encourage immigration but it does need to be controlled. We should encourage a lot of immigration because it would make up for the diminishing birth rates of this country. God has told us how we should regard immigrants… Leviticus 19:33-34 says, “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt” (NIV). As God brought people to Israel so that they could learn about Him and be saved, the US is one place in the world where this can happen today. We don’t have to go to all the world to teach the gospel if representatives from all the world come here.

One reason why liberals would like to see people struggling over the immigration issue is that it has the potential to divide conservatives. I’m a conservative who would like to encourage more immigration because of its benefits; the more people assimilated into our way of life, the better. But I acknowledge that immigration needs to be controlled with secure borders. I know that there are other conservatives who even want to deport long term residents of this country. That would cause more problems than it would solve. Liberals would like to see us at odds with each other over these differences so that they can stay in power.

The reason many conservatives cite for needing to control our borders is that it would be a hedge against terrorism. We should do our due diligence to control our borders but to think that this is what will keep us safe from terrorism is misguided. The 9-11 terrorists were all here legally. “Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Psalm 127:1, NIV). Let’s not lose sight of the real source of this nation’s security. When we are attacked, God allows this to happen for a reason… it should shake us up enough to seek His deliverance.

Longer term, I expect the politicians running our government would like to see the immigration issue become even more of a crisis. That way they can institute some sort of national identification system to have more control over people. Certainly our liberal government has been doing everything they can to usurp more and more power from the people. Any move toward a universal identification system prepares the public for the day when the Antichrist “causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-17, NKJ).

It is amazing to me how those who oppose God look forward to a good crisis. They see this as a way to make changes that would otherwise be rejected by the public. This is one reason why I think the return of Christ is near. God has been allowing His enemies to cause crises and prolong them with increasing frequency. This trend will eventually culminate in the Tribulation when God allows mankind’s evil to come to a head.

Call me an escapist if you will but it is comforting to me that the most literal interpretation of Scripture reveals a pre-Trib Rapture. Come soon Lord Jesus!