Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Most Absurd Doctrine In The Bible?

"In my Father's house are many mansions...I (Jesus) go to prepare a place for you. And...I will come again and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am." (John 14:2-3).

"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven...and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17).

"Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump...the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52).

The New Believer's Bible puts it this way: "What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These perishable bodies of ours are not able to live forever. But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown.

For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.

When this happens--when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die--then at last the Scriptures will come true;

"Death is swallowed up in victory,
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?"

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (1 Corinthians 15:50-57).

Bible teacher Chuck Missler likes to call the Rapture of the Church, "the most absurd doctrine in the Bible." We agree. Especially when Chuck goes on to say, "If it wasn't so clearly taught in the Scriptures, it would be laughable."

But it is clearly taught.

And Christians have been hoping for centuries for Christ's return, but it hasn't happened yet. Why should our generation be any different?

Because we have indications that no previous generation has ever had. We'll discuss this in more detail later.

Word to the wise: Jesus could come at any time, so make certain you're ready all the time.

News:
  • House passes spending bill to avoid government shutdown
  • Iranian pastor get death sentence for refusing to renounce his Christian faith
  • Europe considers second bailout for Greece

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Students of bible prophecy agree that the Jews back in the Land is the most significant fulfilled prophecy of our time. And though they've been attacked repeatedly throughout their 63-year history, the Bible makes it clear they will never again be uprooted from the Land. (Amos 9:15).

In 1967, Egypt started the 6-Day War and Israel shocked the world with its military superiority. Though grossly outnumbered, the Jews managed to conquer the Sinai, the city of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Since that time, in a quest for peace, Israel has forged formal treaties with Turkey, Egypt and Jordan, withdrawn from Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Lebanon.

But major changes are underway in the Middle East. Arab rebels have overthrown the governments of Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. Syria is enmeshed in a bloody power play. U.S. President Obama, speaking of the revolutions, said: "Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way they will be. The humilitating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open. Technology is putting power in the hands of the people."

That maybe true. However, power is a dangerous thing in the wrong hands. The Muslim Brotherhood is moving into the vacuum.

Last week:
  • The Israeli embassy in Egypt was viciously attacked
  • Americans were warned to "get out of Syria--Now!"
  • Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador and severed trade relations with Israel
  • Israel warned off American tourists
This week:
  • The Palestinians plan to seek statehood recognition from the U.N. Security Council based on the pre-1967 borders
  • President Obama has vowed to veto it. (Ironically, it was Obama who planted the seeds in the Palestinians' heads to ask for pre-1967 borders in the first place. This has put the U.S. in a very awkward position. Note to Obama: you reap what you sow.)
  • Saudi Arabia has threatened to cut ally-ties if U.S. vetos Palestinian Authority bid
  • And Turkey is threatening to send war ships into the Mediterrean if Israel enforces a naval blockade of Gaza
Israel is in a very precarious position.

The irrevocable promise of God to Israel: "I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you." (Gen. 12:3)

And to the rest of us God says: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee."  (Ps. 122:6)

News:
  • Moody's downgrades Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citibank
  • Moody's: Banks no longer too big to fail
  • New polio outbreak hits China

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Damascus Destroyed?

It's important to note that because one out of every four verses of Scripture are predictive, there are bound to be some events that do not fit neatly into our timeline. For instance, Isaiah 17:1: "Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap." Damascus lies sixty miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee and is the capital of Syria. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and this prophecy against it has never been fulfilled.

Rumor has it (along with alleged-Israeli satellite photos) that Saddam Hussein trucked his WMDs to Damascus and hid them throughout the city before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. And Israel has made it known that Damascus is in the cross hairs should Syria be tempted to use them.

Meanwhile, tensions in Syria continue to mount as rebels attempt to overthrow the present regime. Some worry Syrian leadership will strike out against Israel in an attempt to unify the country.

While the timing of Is. 17:1 remains a mystery, its inevitability does not. The deteriorating relations between Israel and her neighbors, along with the instability of the entire region, might make one reconsider living anywhere near the city of Damascus.

A wise man once said: "Challenges can be stepping stones or stumbling blocks. It's just a matter of how you view them."

News:
  • Democrats lose two Congressional seats in special elections. The New York seat went Republican for the first time since 1923.
  • U.S. poverty rate hits 50-year high
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will go to the U.N. on Friday to make statehood bid
  • State Dept. to U.S. citizens: 'get out of Syria'

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"The War of Ezekiel 38"

There are a variety of opinions on just when Ezekiel's conflict will happen. Some place it before the 7-year tribulation; others believe it will occur at the midpoint after the first 3-1/2 years. Still others maintain it's a part of the Armageddon scenario.

But will there be a war with Israel's immediate neighbors first as Psalm 83 seems to suggest?

While the precise timing of Ezekiel's prophecy is unknown, he did leave us a number of clues. For instance:
  • It will happen in the 'latter years', after the final restoration of the Jews to the Land, but before their spiritual rebirth
  • The attack will come from a coalition of nations including an instigator from 'the far North' of Israel. (though Russia is not mentioned by name, it lies directly north of Israel)
  • Persia (present day Iran), Ethiopia and Libya are all specifically included in the list of coalition troops
The prophecy is quite long, covering two complete chapters and almost certainly predicts this war will be nuclear. Ez. 39:11-16 details the clean-up and burial procedures that follow the battle and they sound as if they come straight from a nuclear protocol manual.

So how close are these events? We don't know for sure, but there's an old saying: "When you see Christmas decorations going up--you know Thanksgiving is near."

Here is what we see 'going up':
  • Iranian nuclear ambitions escalating
  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowing to wipe Israel "off the face of the map"
  • Ahmadinejad claiming he's been chosen by Allah to usher in the "end of the world" through a nuclear holocaust
  • A military alliance between Russia and Iran emerging for the first time in history
  • Ethiopia buying Russian-made weapons
  • Russia arming Saudi Arabia
  • Russia selling missiles to Syria
  • Revolutions in the Arab world and deteriorating ties with Turkey
  • Turkey expelling the Israeli ambassador, and terminating trade relations with Israel
  • The governments of Libya, Egypt and Syria in danger of being overthrown by the Muslim Brotherhood--an organization hostile to Israel
  • And just Monday, IDF Chief, Major General Eyal Eisenberg warned of a regional war breaking out as a result of the Arab Spring, with the possibility of WMD being used.
If signs of Ezekiel 38 are springing up all over, how close is Psalm 83?

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas...

News:
  • Texas wildfires destroy 1,000 homes after burning 3.6 million acres over 300 days. The heatwave and drought continue with no end in sight.
  • Atheist group sues over WTC cross at Ground Zero Memorial, while NYC bans clergy from 9/11 ceremony.
  • Torrential rains force thousands to evacuate already soaked U.S.Northeast.