Sunday, July 6, 2014

"When Will These Things Be?"



Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”  Matthew 24:3  NKJV

When a believer understands that Jesus commanded us all to watch for the signs of His return and they begin to apply themselves by studying what we are taught to look for, most often the question of the possibility of knowing “when will these things be” begins to appear in their hearts and minds.  As Jesus’ disciples show us here, there is nothing wrong with being curious about this and in fact, it is a natural reaction to being told that there will be an end to all things.  While I am convinced that the Bible does not reveal exactly when the events we have been discussing will occur, I believe strongly that there are clues we can use that will help us construct a possible timeline which will help us to be on the alert as Jesus commanded us to be.

I want to state plainly that I am not a prophet, nor am I trying to reveal anything other than what I and many others have learned from studying the scripture.  I am not setting any kind of dates or making any predictions other than sharing with you what I personally believe is a likely timeline for the unfolding of the events we have discussed in the past few weeks.  That said, in a short review, my personal belief for the order of events the Bible reveals will occur during the end times is this; the Rapture, the Destruction of Damascus found in Isaiah 17, the Gog Magog conflict of Ezekiel 38-39, the beginning of Daniel’s seventieth week, the Abomination of Desolation three and one half years later, Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ another three and one half years later, and finally the Millenial Reign of Christ to follow.

Once I arrived at this conclusion, it was a natural step to examine the scriptures to see if there were any clues as to when these events would occur.  I was fascinated to discover that it is entirely possible that each of them, in one way or another, are referred to in light of what time or season of the year they might take place.  While maybe not definitive, when you take all of them together and lay them out in order, a timeline appears that is certainly feasible in light of what is revealed in scripture.  So here then is my conclusion as to not only the order, but possible timeline for these things to be.

A Summer Rapture

Woe is me!  For I am like those who gather summer fruits, Like those who glean vintage grapes; There is no cluster to eat Of the first-ripe fruit which my soul desires. The faithful man has perished from the earth, And there is no one upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood; Every man hunts his brother with a net.           Micah 7:1-2  NKJV

I should make it clear here that I am a firm believer in the doctrine of immanency, and  I believe the Bible makes it clear that the rapture of the Church could happen at any time.  That does not mean, however, that there might not be a clue in the Word as to the season in which it might occur.  We asked the question a few weeks ago about just what this world would look like when the restrainer, the Holy Spirit, is removed from the earth at the rapture.  Most of us are familiar with the observation of the philosopher Edmund Burke when he said “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.  Well, what happens when, according to this passage, there are no faithful men?  Every man is against his own brother, and evil is rampant on the earth.  Talk about all that is necessary to create the “perfect storm” of evil, God simply removes His Church along with the Holy Spirit and there is nothing left to fight against Satan and his forces. 

Since history has shown that Satan’s priority is the destruction of Israel, what do you think he tries to do first?  Does this passage from Micah refer to the rapture of the Church?  I think it entirely possible considering the description it gives as to what the world looks like with the absence of the faithful.  I also believe it is reasonable to consider a summer rapture when the most likely day for an attack of this nature is on Israel’s national day of mourning.

A Day of Mourning; the Destruction of Damascus

“Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?  Zechariah 7:5  NKJV

This scripture refers to the fast of the fifth month, which is observed on the ninth of Av on the Jewish calendar and it usually coincides with either late July or August on our western calendar.   Many believers are familiar with this day as it is the one day in the year where so many tragedies have occurred to the Jewish people throughout their history beginning with the report of the twelve spies in the book of Numbers and many, many others continuing to this day.  If you were to consider the question of when the nation of Israel would come under attack by weapons of mass destruction, it would be hard to ignore the possibility of something of that magnitude occurring on the very day in Israel’s history when so many other national tragedies have taken place.  Isaiah 17 also makes it clear that although justified in their response, the rest of the world takes a dim view of what Israel does.  This of course leads them to think about, and plan a response which many if not most believe is the attempted invasion of Gog.  I believe it only takes the relatively short time of three to four months to come up with their “evil plan.”

A Hannukah Gift; God Defeats Gog

‘Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid—consider it:     Haggai 2:18  NKJV

And again the word of the LORD came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: ‘I will shake heaven and earth. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots And those who ride in them; The horses and their riders shall come down, Every one by the sword of his brother.                Haggai 2:20-22  NKJV

In his book Armageddon, Appointment With Destiny, author Grant Jeffrey does a masterful job of examining and explaining all of the feasts and fasts of the nation of Israel.  In his book he devotes an entire chapter called “Russia’s Day of Destruction in Israel” to the Gog Magog conflict where he not only answers virtually every question someone might have about the identity of the invading force, he also speculates as to the timing of the conflict.  By comparing the language describing what occurs, and especially God’s response to the invading force, he comes to the conclusion that this passage from the prophet Haggai most likely is referring to the Ezekiel 38,39 prophecy.  It is also his conclusion that by referring specifically to the twenty fourth day of the ninth month, God is telling us exactly when these events will occur.  This day, the twenty fourth of Chisleu on the Jewish calendar, is the day before Hanukkah, which normally occurs in late November or December on our calendar.  I think it is entirely possible that the space of time between the Ninth of Av and the day before Hanukkah is more than sufficient for the planning and assembling of the forces of Magog by Gog.  How special would this Hanukkah be for all of Israel to awaken to find the entire invading force has been slain, not by their own might, but by the power of God the Father?

Peace on Rosh HaShanah?

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;  Daniel 9:27a

How long has the world waited for peace between Israel and its enemies?  At times many would believe that peace is an impossibility given the lack of success in coming to any type of an agreement.  It is with this in mind that it doesn’t bother me a bit to think that it takes nine months before the antichrist confirms a covenant.  I also believe it is telling to notice the word God chooses to use in this prophecy.  The word translated confirm, in the Hebrew is gabar; which means “to enforce or prevail”.  Now I ask you; does that sound like a mutually agreed peace?  It would seem to me that Israel’s enemies are somehow forced to abide by this agreement by the antichrist without really wanting to.  I chose Rosh HaShanah as the day this peace begins for two reasons.  The first reason is that many if not most scholars believe the last three feasts of Israel in the fall are prophetic as to the second coming of Christ.  Since the seventieth week of Daniel is exactly seven years in length, it logically begins and ends about the same time.  I also am intrigued by the use of the trumpet on Rosh HaShanah.  The last sounding of the trumpet on this feast day is called the Tekia shofar.  Throughout Israel’s history, it has been described as a long blast signaling victory or good news.  What better news would Israel want to celebrate than knowing peace with their enemies has finally been accomplished?  

Abomination in the Spring?

But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”        Daniel 9:2

Obviously it follows that if we place the beginning of Daniel’s seventieth week in the fall, the middle of the week which is three and one half years later will occur in the spring.  In fact, not only will it occur in the spring, it will arrive during the spring feasts of Israel.  If you recall, it was during this time that Jesus entered Jerusalem and told the religious leaders of the day that He was the Son of God.  When it comes to prophecy in the Bible, I make it a point to never believe in coincidence.  It seems to make perfect sense that the antichrist will choose the exact same time to stand in the temple and proclaim himself to be God.  History will repeat itself as his claim will be rejected by many resulting in the antichrist reacting in anger towards those who reject him. It is now that the final three and one half years of Daniel’s seventieth week begin, and by declaring war on the nation of Israel the antichrist plunges the world into the period of time which Jesus called the Great Tribulation, and God called the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.  The antichrist’s attempt to destroy the nation of Israel will only lead him to destruction, but in the process involve the entire world in a war that is not only unwinnable, but leads directly to where God has arranged the final outcome to occur.

Armageddon and the Second Coming in the Fall?

Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say: “Blow the trumpet in the land; Cry, ‘Gather together,’ And say, ‘Assemble yourselves, And let us go into the fortified cities.’ Set up the standard toward Zion. Take refuge! Do not delay! For I will bring disaster from the north, And great destruction.”                                   Jeremiah 4:5-6  NKJV

Here we are, seven years after the covenant of peace between Israel and its enemies right back where we started and notice again the reference to blowing a trumpet.  Is Jeremiah telling us that Armageddon and Jesus return to Jerusalem occurs on Rosh HaShanah?  I believe that he is, but only time will tell if this is the correct interpretation.  Yet considering the fact that God has told us specifically that the seventieth week of Daniel would be two thousand five hundred and twenty days in length, broken up into two halves with each being twelve hundred and sixty days, and that there are just coincidently twelve hundred and sixty days between Passover and Rosh HaShanah, I think it’s a safe assumption God wanted us to know this was when these things would occur.  Of course, as I said, I could be wrong, however we should also consider that there are two more appointed feasts that closely follow during this month, and the prophetic implications they provide give support to our conjectured timeline.  Ten days after RoshHaShanah comes Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  This day is considered to be the holiest day on the Jewish calendar for it is on this day that they were commanded to mourn for their sins.  It was also on this day, the only day of the year, when the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to sprinkle the blood of sacrifice before the Mercy Seat of God.  It certainly seems appropriate that now that the Great Tribulation is over Israel will stand before their God and mourn for their sin.

Millenial Reign Begins on Tabernacles

And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be— “The LORD is one,” And His name one.  Zechariah 14:9  NKJV

And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.                  Zechariah 14:16  NKJV

The next, and last Feast day on the Jewish calendar arrives just five days later when Israel celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles.  This was the day in Israel’s history when Solomon’s Temple was dedicated and the Ark of the Covenant finally had a permanent resting place.  Many also believe that this day was in fact the day of Jesus’ birth, and there are several good reasons to believe that.  One is that in the book of John we are told that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.  Just coincidently, the Greek word for “dwelt” is “tabernacle”.  It certainly seems fitting that Jesus assumes His throne in the New Jerusalem on the same day He first arrived.

My purpose in sharing all of these things with you is to hopefully stimulate you to watch with the intensity I believe God wants from all of us when He commanded us to watch for all of these things.  It has always troubled me that if you were to ask one hundred believers if they felt it was important to follow all of God’s commandments one hundred would say yes of course.  Yet ask those same one hundred if they are watching for Christ’s return and I suggest the number who would reply yes would appall you.  As I said before, I am not trying to predict the future here, but all that we have talked about in the past few weeks has already been told to us by the Father through His prophets in His Holy Word.  It is, and has always been, up to us to diligently search the scriptures to “find out whether these things were so”.

If you have never taken the step of asking Jesus to forgive you of your sins and to come into your heart and save you from eternity without Him, I encourage you to do that right now.  Simply tell Him you are sorry for your sin, ask Him to forgive you, and accept the sacrifice He made to die for your sin, and He has promised not only to forgive you but to make you one of His own and come into your life and provide all the help you need to begin to live for Him.  I am convinced His return is much closer than we may think.

Keep watching.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Millenium and Beyond



And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.    Revelation 20:4-6  NKJV

Who has ever read about the Garden of Eden and not thought a bit about just what it would be like to live in a situation like that?  While not exactly the same, there is coming a period of time which the Bible tells us will last one thousand years where this world will be a very different place than it is now.  It is most often referred to as the Millenium, which comes from the Latin words Mille and Annum (1000/year).  This word, however, is never used in the Bible but rather the word “Kingdom” which Jesus referred to when He instructed us to pray “Thy Kingdom come”.  

It is at this point in time that Jesus receives the promise given to Him by the Father which is to receive the world as His inheritance.

“Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.” “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.    Psalm 2:6-8  NKJV

The prophet Daniel also saw this time in a vision and he describes it this way;

Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.  Daniel 7:14  NKJV

How different will this earth be during the Kingdom Age?  As I read how the Bible describes it I can’t help but think back to the way things were in the Garden and what it was like when all of creation lived in harmony.  In fact, many scholars believe one of the purposes of the Kingdom is to demonstrate what life would have been like if man had not chosen to sin in the Garden of Eden.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying. “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, Nor bring forth children for trouble; For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, And their offspring with them. “It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” Says the LORD.    Isaiah 65:17-25  NKJV

What the Bible describes here is almost beyond belief, yet it is also a perfect way for God to demonstrate His power by establishing an environment so completely different than any this world has ever seen.  One thousand years of peace and harmony combined with perfect justice as Jesus rules from His throne in Jerusalem along with His saints.  Yet as hard as it seems to believe, in spite of living in the presence of all this,  there is still in man a sin nature which Satan can exploit if allowed to do so.  This is, unfortunately, exactly what will happen at the end of the Kingdom Age when God releases Satan in order to weed out the last of the unfaithful living on the earth.

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.    Revelation 20:7-10  NKJV

Even though the world has seen one thousand years of Christ’s perfect rule, and experienced how good life can be when God is in charge, there are still going to be so many who rebel that they are described “as the sand of the sea”.  There is, however, one bright spot in all of this and that is the fact that we have finally arrived at eternity.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.            Revelation 20:11-15  NKJV

Now that all have been judged and sin is no more, creation is ready to be what God has intended from the very beginning.  John is the first to see the very thing we are all hoping and praying and waiting for.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”            Revelation 21:1-5  NKJV

Just how close are we to seeing all that we have talked about these past six weeks?  I think it’s safe to say, especially if you have been keeping up with the events in the Middle East the past few weeks, it would appear that we are a lot closer than many people think.  In fact, although just my opinion, I would have to say to you that I hope your bags are packed.  Next week; “When Will These Things Be?”

Keep watching.

If you are interested in a little update on the current  situation in the Middle East, feel free to go to this website and read a few of their recent posts.


http://utopiathecollapse.com/