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Harbingers and Hedges

You will, I hope, indulge me a bit of personal reflection in this week’s commentary. The message was a haunting one. It came from the television set in my office while I sat at my desk. I often like to take time out to click through the religious channels on the cable package that has several hundred channels. That probably sounds ludicrous—a blind guy going through the TV channels. But, I assure that, having been blessed with relatively good eyesight for more than fifty of my seventy-five years, I am, through vividly remembered sights and sounds, able to visualize (if that is the word) what’s going on with each channel. It almost seems as if I’ve been given second sight of some sort, so vivid are the cerebral images that are produced—i.e., I hardly miss not being able to see while locked into the channel surfing.

This is particularly true when it comes to “watching” and listening to preachers that were my favorites back in the pre-1994 days when I still had eyesight.

Dr. Charles Stanley sounds older, slower, and less dynamic in his presentations, as do Hal Lindsey and David Jeremiah. But, the power of the presentations they still faithfully give more than makes up for the diminished strength and quality brought about by their advanced ages.

Nonetheless, I still see them in my mind’s eye the same as they appeared on my screens those twenty-something years ago.

In the case of old reruns of the pastors and evangelists who have gone on to their eternal rewards, their images, of course, have not been tarnished by the lessening of strength and power in their speaking. They “look” and sound exactly the same to me.

So it was that last Sunday I clicked on a channel with the remote, and Dr. Adrian Rogers was holding-forth in his inimitable fashion.

Dr. Rogers, who was pastor at Belleview Baptist Church in Memphis for many years, went to be with the Lord a number of years ago. But, his Love Worth Finding television ministry continues. It is one of my favorites; much like Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible program is one of my favorite radio presentations that has continued since his death in 1988.

Dr. Rogers often spoke on the decline of the America we all love and want to see return to morality more in line with those ways the Founding Fathers first sought to institute. He was dealing with one such theme in the sermon last Sunday.

That message is what sparked the thought to write on “Harbingers and Hedges.”

America has, Rogers said, had a great, heavenly hedge of protection. He was thorough in emphasizing that the United States was in no way under the same covenants as God’s chosen nation, Israel. But, he did want it known that, like in the case with Israel, the Lord of heaven chose this nation for special purposes.

The proof of the hedge He placed over America is the material blessings it has been given. No other nation has ever existed that has produced for the entire world material goods that have brought the world out of the darkness of the past.

The US has been among the most spiritually blessed nations ever to grace the earth’s surface, he correctly stated.

There is a kinship between America and Israel that cannot be denied, he further instructed. Both nations have had at the centers of their foundings God’s providential Influence over the leaders who were instrumental in bringing both countries to birth and to apex positions among the peoples of history.

Just as Israel’s brilliance of conceptual level of functioning blessed all of mankind, America’s industry and ingenuity blessed the human race and continues to do so.

Israel brought the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ to the entire world. America continues to carry to the very ends of the earth the gospel message that Jesus Christ alone is the way, the truth, and the life—the only way to God the Father and eternal life.

Then the pastor, who so loved both Israel and America, painted the not-so-flattering picture of ancient Israel and modern America. They both were given great hedges of protection.

Rogers used Job, the faithful man after God’s own heart, as an example of the hedge that God provides for His people. When Satan came, wanting to test Job’s faith, the devil said the following:

Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. (Job 1:9–10)

We know how Job remained faithful and was blessed far beyond any loss he suffered during his ordeal of testing by Satan.

Adrian Rogers then brought home the truth of what happens when God takes His mighty hedge of protection from any person or nation that becomes incorrigibly unfaithful and rebellious. The biblical stories are replete with Israel acting like an unfaithful wife to her husband, the Lord God. The nation has suffered immensely because of such egregious sin. Prophecy foretells that Israel will yet suffer the worst of all persecution for remaining in rebellion and unfaithfulness.

When the nation finally does recognize Christ as Messiah—while He is returning to put an end to Armageddon—she will again be the apex nation of the world. Like Job (who did not rebel or become unfaithful in any sense), Israel will be blessed of God beyond all the nations of planet earth. She will receive far more than anything she lost in all her history of being persecuted.

America was in gross sin and immorality even those many years ago when Dr. Rogers gave that sermon. And we have witnessed God’s great hedge of protection being removed a layer at a time, because there is a concerted effort by leaders and people alike to move farther and farther away from the God of heaven who has so wonderfully blessed this nation.

My prayerful hope is that, one day, America will be restored and become one of the “sheep’” nations, not one of the “goat” nations, Matthew chapter 25.

The harbingers are all about us, as I believe Jonathan Cahn did a God-ordained job of presenting in his novel, The Harbinger. Still, there seems little movement back to the Lord, rather a government and increasing majorities within the populace that demonstrably prove daily that they prefer to remove any and all godly ties.

I believe God’s hedge of protection will remain, but to a diminishing extent—for the sake of His children, all born-again people, including, of course, those not in America—until the moment He calls “Come up hither!” (Revelation 4:1).

Let us pray that that is the case, while we watch and work in God’s great cause: the salvation of souls.

 

 

 

 

 

Prophetic Indicators in View

Those who are watchful for Christ’s soon return from the pre-Millennial, pre-Trib view of Bible prophecy see this present time as inundated with significant signs. We more and more often these days hear the term “convergence” bandied about. “Convergence” is used to define the coming-together at once of most of the indicators the prophets–particularly Jesus–gave for the end of the Church Age (Age of Grace).

Two signals fitting within that definition, I believe, are in the news while we continue to observe these troubled but exciting times. I say “exciting,” because the signs are indicators that our Lord must be very near that moment of shouting from the clouds of Heaven, “Come up here!” (Revelation 4:1-2).

First, I would like to again look at the prophecy Jesus gave about when He will next be revealed to mankind in a catastrophic way. As those who read these commentaries regularly know, I believe Christ was talking about our present time very near the end of the Church Age in this prophecy.

The Lord, as recorded in Matthew 24:36-42 and Luke 17:26-30, said it would be just like the days of Noah and the days of Lot when He intervenes or is revealed. I believe this has to be the time of the Rapture. He said people will be buying, selling, building, planting, marrying, etc. It will be business, I believe He was saying, even better than usual when the Rapture occurs.

But, we have to look into other aspects of the way it was in Noah’s day in order to find reference to the prophetic signal I wish to examine here. We go to Genesis chapter 6 for that perspective:

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. (Genesis 6: 5-6)

Paul, the great apostle, further enlightens on how it was in Noah’s day:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.  (Romans 1: 21-25)

The following item in the news is quite telling, in my opinion, regarding how this generation fits within God’ prophetic timeline.

“So many millennials read their horoscopes every day and believe them,” [Coco] Layne, who is involved in a number of nonreligious spiritual practices, said. “It is a good reference point to identify and place people in the world.”

Interest in spirituality has been booming in recent years while interest in religion plummets, especially among millennials. The majority of Americans now believe it is not necessary to believe in God to have good morals, a study from Pew Research Center released Wednesday found. The percentage of people between the ages of 18 and 29 who “never doubt existence of God” fell from 81% in 2007 to 67% in 2012.

Meanwhile, more than half of young adults in the U.S. believe astrology is a science…

Melissa Jayne, owner of Brooklyn-based “metaphysical boutique” Catland, said she has seen a major uptick in interest in the occult in the past five years, especially among New Yorkers in their 20s. The store offers workshops like “Witchcraft 101,” “Astrology 101,” and a “Spirit Seance.”

“Whether it be spell-casting, tarot, astrology, meditation and trance, or herbalism, these traditions offer tangible ways for people to enact change in their lives,” she said. “…

Astrology isn’t the only spiritual field overwhelmed by demand: Danielle Ayoka, the founder of spiritual subscription service Mystic Lipstick, said her customer base is growing exponentially. The self-described astrologer sells a “mystic box” subscription, which includes crystals, “reiki-infused bath salts,” and incense customized to the unique energy of the current moon cycle for $14.99 a month. She says she’s seen 75% increase in her audience in the past year. (Why millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology, MarketWatch, Rapture Ready News, Oct. 21, 2017)

Second of the prophetic indicators I think appropriate to mention here involves the incessant assault by the globalists elite.

The drive to construct the New World Order, as President  Herbert Walker Bush termed it, continues at a stepped-up pace. President Donald J. Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again” has sent the one-worlders into a frantic effort to get our thinking back on track. –Back on the track upon which President Obama faithfully took the U.S., in line with recent presidents who came after Ronald Reagan, who, for the most part, was a staunch advocate for American sovereignty.

Now, the son of the first President Bush has weighed in, demonstrating where his strongest allegiance lies. Without mention of Trump’s name, Bush 43 unloaded on any thought of America being given first place over the more important globalist agenda.

Former President George W. Bush delivered a public repudiation of President Donald Trump’s political identity, suggesting many aspects of the current administration are fueling division in the United States and around the world…

“We cannot wish globalism away,” Bush said, noting that the United States must sustain “wise and sustained global engagement” for the future of the country.

Bush indirectly accused Trump of fueling dangerous ideologies that threatened the unity of the United States and global stability, spending a large portion of his speech complaining about social ills in the country…

Bush urged Americans to “recover our own identity,” citing a commitment to global engagement, free and international trade, and immigration.

“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, and forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America,” he lamented…

Bush’s decision to publicly criticize Trump’s presidency is unusual after he made a point of rarely challenging President Barack Obama while he was in office. (Source: George W. Bush Emerges to Bash Trump, ‘Nativism’: ‘We Cannot Wish Globalism Away,’ Charlie Spiering -Breitbart, Oct. 21, 2017)

George W. Bush had qualities I admired in a president. His holding to his father’s desire to bring the world back to configuration like it was during the days of Babel is not one of them. Globalism is a satanic, not a godly, concept. It will eventuate, however. We are seeing stage-setting for producing the platform from which Antichrist’s regime will rule with an iron fist.

Here’s what the Lord says about that effort we see in development at present:

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 bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Psalms 2:2-9)

Muslim Antichrist at Hand?

While ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), formerly ISIS, rampaged toward establishing its intended caliphate, some who propose that the prophesied Antichrist will come from the Eastern leg, not the Western leg of the ancient Roman Empire proclaimed they have their candidate for who will be the man of sin in view.

The late Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was one that some thought fit the description of the son of perdition, according to the proclamations.

A number of written and stated beliefs declared that the first beast of Revelation 13 will be a Muslim. A number of books, even by born-again former Muslim terrorists, have for several years been saying Antichrist will soon emerge as the Mahdi—the messiah figure prophesied in the Koran.

Headlines for the several years just past seemed to have validated that Islamist power was supernaturally growing as it set its sights on destroying Israel. What the military powers of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Hafez al-Assad, Anwar El Sadat, and all of the Arab hordes couldn’t do, the relative handful of ISIS terrorists seem to have been doing. For a time, they were able to move aside militaries of the region–like the American-supplied and trained new Iraqi armed forces. They were establishing sharia or Islamist law everywhere the butchers invaded.

The Trump Administration has taken a more strident and successful tact against militant Islam. Despite ISIL being in full retreat for now, there is still adamant belief by Eastern-leg prophecy pundits. These still make their point that soon history will prove the Antichrist to be not from the Western European sphere involving Rome, but a man of terror the Muslims claim will climb from a deep well somewhere to rule the world and make all bow the knee to Allah or lose their heads.

“See,” the Eastern-leg pundits say: “Islam’s primary means of execution is beheading. Revelation, chapter 13, plainly says the first and second beasts will demand the first beast be worshipped as God, or heads will roll.”

Everything, these say, points to prophecy shaping rapidly in which Islam will rule the day—will indeed establish a global caliphate.

So, let’s think on this punditry for a bit.

What does the Bible say about Antichrist and his rise to power? We should be able to appropriate a considerable degree of perspective on what we see developing in the Middle East presently and what the Bible has to say about this prince that shall come.

First, we look at the most familiar biblical truth on the man who will be Antichrist.

Daniel the prophet, under divine inspiration, gave us the following piece of the puzzle as we seek perspective:

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:26)

Most everyone of the pretrib, premillennial system of eschatology agrees that this is referring to the destruction of the Jewish Temple and to the city of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Whether we look to historians such as Edward Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) or to the great Josephus, the Jewish historian, we learn that the forces that destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple were those of Emperor Vespasian, who sent his son, General Titus, to do the job.

These men were born near and raised in and around the city of Rome, not Mecca, Medina, or Constantinople. Their troops were from the legions of Rome, even though claims are being made that Rome enlisted many from the conquered regions of the Middle East.

The Scripture, nonetheless, points directly to the Romans.

Next, we ask: What characteristic will this beast, who will ultimately become the world’s last and most evil dictator, first exhibit when he comes on the end-times scene?

Again, we go to the prophet Daniel.

And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many. (Daniel 8:25 a,b,c)

And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. (Daniel 11:21)

He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province. (Daniel 11:24a)

Get it? This coming Antichrist, Daniel tells us, will appear at first to be a peacemaker, although he will be the greatest deceiver of all time, second only to his father, Satan, in deceptiveness and ferocity. Revelation 6 foretells that he will come riding on a white horse and with a bow, but with no arrows in his quiver. This indicates plainly that he will come as a false peacemaker.

Now, what do we know about the Islamist Mahdi? According to the Koran, he will come lopping off the heads of all who won’t bend the knee as he sweeps with his supposedly divine scimitar across the world. He will come from his well of hibernation with hatred for everyone and everything that doesn’t agree with him or the Koran.

But, doesn’t Revelation say the means of execution during that horrible period known as the Tribulation will be beheading?

Yes, indeed it does so. Remember, however, that many regimes throughout history—not just Islamist ones—have used beheading to instill fear within the general populaces. Remember, too, that the apostle Paul himself was thought to have been beheaded—by the Roman Empire.

Daniel foretold that long before the prophet Mohammed, or Islam, or Constantinople—the Eastern leg of the Roman Empire— finally came on the scene, Antichrist (the prince that shall come) will be from Rome. The prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70, hundreds of years before Mohammed was born.

The Koran predicts a violent entrance of their messiah into the world, and certainly, the Muslim world seems intent on bringing that Mahdi in. For example, consider the many people recently crucified as ISIS attempts to establish its caliphate across the region. This is anything—false or otherwise—but a “peaceful” entrance onto the world scene, as Revelation and Daniel prophesy for the true Antichrist when he rides onto the stage of history.

However, we can see the geopolitical road being paved for that first beast of Revelation 13. That means that Christ’s call to His church—“Come up hither!”—must be very near at hand, indeed.

 

 

 

Peripheral Prophecy Pondering

Dr. Mark Hitchcock, speaking at the opening of the Prophecy Watcher’s Blessed Hope Prophecy Conference in Norman, Oklahoma, a little over a week ago, reminded me of a question some have had over the years. I, too, have asked the question. Why does the Gog-Magog coalition of Ezekiel 38–39 apparently mount a land invasion rather than simply nuke Israel?

It is a peripheral issue to be sure, but one that is interesting to ponder in light of current goings-on just to Israel’s north.

It is true that Ezekiel saw a massive military juggernaut invade “like a cloud to cover the land.” This could indicate a cloud of aircraft, but, not necessarily. A land invasion in that arid region would certainly kick up a lot of dust. We saw some of that kind of action during both Gulf Wars.

My friend Mark mentioned that some believe certain technological problems might be at the heart of it being a land invasion. The conjecture is based upon the same thought as expressed in Salem Kirban’s novel of many years ago titled 666.

Kirban portrayed the Russian-led attack, primarily from the north of Israel, as being one conducted with ancient weapons—horses and all—just like Ezekiel has it. I forget the technology that had, in the fictional account, rendered the modern weapons of war inoperable. But, they fought totally with, basically, weapons like the prophet describes.

The weapons were mostly of wood and other material that readily burns. So, Israel was able to use the weapons as fuel for heating, etc., once the flesh-and-blood part of the force, five-sixths having been dispatched by the Lord, was no longer a threat.

Dr. Hitchcock brought up the possibility, according to what some believe, that electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) weapons might be used to render all modern weaponry useless by the time  the Gog-Magog invasion takes place.

EMP, of course, disrupts electronic circuitry of all instrumentalities not protected when a nuclear explosion takes place in the atmosphere. All computer and other electronic circuitry on land, and even in the air near where the explosion takes place, supposedly will be fried. Thus, nuclear warfare, some believe, will help fulfill—in the most literal sense—Ezekiel’s prophecy about horses, sword, bucklers, and shields used as weaponry in that future time.

At present there is much dispute about Iran’s (area of ancient Persia) nuclear program. Persia is given as one of the primary members of the Gog-Magog coalition military force. That force obviously, according to Scripture, doesn’t use nuclear force against Israel in that prophesied attack. So, the question is: Why not?

Perhaps it is the EMP scenario. However, there are other possibilities.

Gog, in his evil thinking, wouldn’t want Israel’s “spoil,” as it is called in the KJV, contaminated by radiation from nuclear weapons. Another is, the Gog-Magog force wouldn’t want to go into a nuclear-radiated territory in order to occupy it.

They want to completely destroy Israel and do away with every Jew, that’s for certain. But it seems the main thinking in Gog’s satanically inspired brain is to take the riches in the region.

Another scenario is, of course, that Iran will indeed give up its nuclear ambition. That would mean that Russia, too, and any others would have given up their nuclear weapons for whatsoever reasons by the time of the Gog-Magog assault.

This, in my thinking, is the least of the possibilities.

Maybe Israel will have been so weakened by the covenant made with Antichrist as given in Daniel 9:26–27 that Israel will be the proverbial sitting duckThus, ol’ Gog won’t believe he needs to use the nukes.

As part of considering all of this, it is more than of just passing interest that President Trump is about to nuke the nuclear deal President Obama made with Iran—this, even in the face of rebellion by all others in the deal, including U.S. allies.

The globalists, as I view the satanically influenced architects of the tremendous backlash against anything this president does to keep America sovereign, turn a blind eye to the fact that the ayatollahs allow no inspections of their key nuclear development facilities.

Mr. Obama completely cast aside President Reagan’s rubric for negotiations with diabolists such as Russia and Iran: “Trust, but verify.”

It seems those American allies, under the influence of globalist group think, have joined the insanity in giving the Israel-hating Islamists the benefit of a doubt, as the saying goes. The excerpt that follows makes the point, I think.

Global powers, including key US allies, have said they will stand by the Iran nuclear deal which US President Donald Trump has threatened to tear apart.

Mr. Trump said on Friday that he would stop signing off on the agreement.

The UK, France and Germany responded that the pact was “in our shared national security interest.” The EU said it was “not up to any single country to terminate” a “working” deal.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the US was “more isolated than ever.” (Iran nuclear deal: Global powers stand by pact despite Trump threat – BBC, Oct. 15, 2017)

Developments in Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Israel are all part of another of the things Mark Hitchcock and many of us who spoke discussed at the conference. The word of the hour is convergence.

Convergence—the coming-together of practically every signal for the end of the age—is upon this generation. Developments north of Israel at the present moment are possibly the most significant of all of the signals that Christ’s Second Advent is near.

Since that great event will take place at least seven years later than the Rapture of the Church, we who name the name of Jesus should be in a state of anticipation of, not in fear of things to come.

When you see all these things begin to come to pass, then, look up and lift up your head, for your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:28)

Laodicea on Display

Prophecy coming to fulfillment was on full display while America’s number-one Christian preacher–in terms of numbers he draws to his events—gave the many thousands in attendance his version of “hope” for their lives.

Joel Osteen wrapped up his confirmation of this “hope” that resides within each by having them repeat his gleefully shouted words.

(I paraphrase, because I couldn’t find a transcript of the TV program.)

He said with a toothy smile, while holding up a Bible, “Repeat what I say!

He then proceeded:

“I am favored by God!” (The audience jubilantly repeated the words.)
“I am special!”
“I am destined for something great!”
“I am important!”
“I am deserving of all things good!”
“I will overcome all problems!”
“I will defeat all depression!”
“I will take control of my own destiny!”

You get the point. This went on for many such “”I wills” and “I ams.” The many thousands were in rah – rah ecstasy by the time the head cheerleader concluded.

I heard no mention in Mr. Osteen’s sermon, I guess you could call it, of any of the “I wills and I ams” giving glory to the one who makes hope possible. I heard nowhere America’s most popular pastor of the moment mention the biblical ”hope” that is in reality at the heart of the Christian’s glorious destiny–salvation from soul-destroying sin through the shed blood of the only begotten Son of God.

Instead, I heard the glorification of self, and how good everyone is, and how deserving everyone in attendance was to receive the very best God is obligated to bestow.

More troubling, as the program came to an end, was the perception that the “I wills and I cans” the mesmerized thousands shouted, repeating Osteen’s words of self-praise, reminded me of the “I wills” of Isaiah 14:13-15: “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

Jesus, resurrected and at the right hand of His Father, gave John, who penned Revelation, a vivid picture of the church that will, literally, make Him sick. That church was the last one the Lord addressed while going through the seven churches of the Church Age: And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:14-17)

The Laodicean church bases its thoughts and actions on terms of 1) self-glorification and 2) physical prosperity, i.e., wealth. This end-of-days’ church is “lukewarm”; that is, it is tepid so far as teaching and preaching the gospel. This church preaches and teaches that people are good and deserving of God’s total blessings and adoration. It does not teach and preach that people are not good, that they are lost in sin, thus need a Savior.

The Laodicean church teaches and preaches that all is well, if money and physical comforts are in abundance. That prosperity is the key to a glorious future is the message sweet to the taste of those who sit in its luxuriant pews. It appeals to self, the same as did the serpent to Eve in Eden.

Another prophecy of Jesus comes into view when we consider the great moral degradation that has taken place in the last half-century. The prophecy is in line with the Laodicean church that, in my opinion, constitutes the majority of so-called Christendom today. Jesus, in His Olivet Discourse, forewarned first and foremost of deception which would mark the time just before His return. Many would, He warned, come in His name, proclaiming themselves to have Christ within themselves–to belong to Him. They would be deceiving themselves and those who followed them, according to what I see in my study of Paul’s words that in the last days evil men and seducers would come, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13).

Again, the apostle Paul put his prophetic finger on our time, and, I’m convinced, the sugary, feel-good sermonettes, the likes of which preachers like Mr. Osteen pour into the itching ears of today’s Laodiceans: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Questions that must be addressed are: Where is the proof that this coming forth of a more sinner-friendly church has done harm rather than good? What’s the harm in embracing all sinners and bringing them into the fold, without the condemnation that the Bible passages on sin throws at them? Isn’t Jesus a Lord of love and all-inclusiveness? Isn’t that accusation of Christianity’s “intolerance” the thing that brings the disdain of the world for the very name of Jesus Christ?

All that has to be said to answer the above is: Churches of America have indeed increasingly moved away from pointing at sin as requiring condemnation and sinners as requiring redemption. The result has been that the increased inclusiveness–this greater toleration of sinfulness, in concert with every imaginable evil gushing from Internet debauchery–has produced a society and culture rivaling that of Sodom and Gomorrah.

One article outlined some problems stemming from the church shirking responsibility in America.

The divorce rate has doubled, teen suicide has tripled, reported violent crime has quadrupled, the prison population has quintupled, the percentage of babies born out of wedlock has risen sixfold, couples living together out of wedlock have increased sevenfold, and gay marriage is now a legalized reality in a number of states, with many believing the end is not in sight. (Bert M. Farias, “The Great Deception in American Church,” Charisma News)

Paul prophesied as recorded in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 that the Restrainer, resident within the church, would one day be removed from planet earth. Antichrist and complete lawlessness will then rule the world when the true church–all born-again believers—are called into Heaven.

The Laodicean church now on display, as forewarned by Jesus, Himself, surely must be a major indicator of where this generation stands on God’s prophetic timeline.

Trump: “Peace has to happen”

It is inevitable. Peace in the Middle East must happen. This, according to President Donald Trump.

The president, while being interviewed on former Governor Mike Huckabee’s initial TBN program, made the declaration.

“I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem.”

He said further, “f we can make peace between the Palestinians and Israel, I think it’ll lead to ultimately peace in the Middle East, which has to happen.”

Trump, in June of 2017, signed a temporary order keeping the American embassy in Tel Aviv. This follows the actions of presidents preceding him.

Some see this as his breaking a promise he made while on the 2016 presidential campaign trail. He received rousing ovations every time he declared he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the city that Israel claims as its capital.

Mr. Trump has said on numerous occasions that his administration is working on a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians that will result in peace for the whole region. He has appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as unofficial diplomat in charge of working to accomplish peace in the Middle East.

Others–including the Benjamin Netanyahu-led government–deny that the president has abandoned the idea of moving the embassy. In his declaration that he wants to give peace a chance before moving the embassy, Trump simply means, in their view, that the move is postponed. To force such an action at this moment in the current volatile geopolitical climate would likely ramp up hostilities.

To watchers on the wall–those who view the world through the prism of Bible prophecy from the pre-Millennial, pre-Tribulation perspective, the president’s declaration and decision on the embassy move should not come as surprise.

Like every other prophetic indicator on the present world horizon, the fact that there is a continuing drive to force peace between Israel and its enemy neighbors is simply something that must be in view while final prophecies near fulfillment. Like Mr. Trump says, peace between Israel and its closest enemy neighbor “has to happen,” from the human point of view.

Like all the world has cried for decades–as wrapped neatly in the lyrics of the song by John Lennon–we must “give peace a chance.”

But, that much-ballyhooed peace process leaves out the one essential ingredient that can make it come to pass. God is ignored. The very Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, is not even considered in their humanistic effort. As a matter of fact, His Holy name is ridiculed and mocked at every turn by most of the diplomatic world. Christ is viewed as the holdup to peace in most instances, rather than the solution to the hatred and war-making that has dominated human history.

Mr. President, much of your political–electoral–base is made up by those of us who support Israel. We want peace for Israel, the Middle East, the United States, and the world. We know, however, from what God’s prophetic Word has to say, that there will be no peace until the Prince of Peace rules and reigns in the hearts and minds of mankind.

The present call for peace is addressed, I’m convinced, by the apostle Paul as follows:

For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:1)

Mr. President, peace will happen. It will come in two distinctively opposite forms.

The first peace will be a false peace, brought about by the man of sin, the son of perdition — Antichrist.

Daniel the prophet said the following about this false prince that shall come:

And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many. (Daniel8: 25)

The other peace–the real peace–will be brought upon the planet at Christ’s return to make all things right again.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, said the following just before leaving this sin-corrupted world:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

Thy Kingdom Come . . . . By Ed Wood

Matthew {6:9-13} After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (The speaker here is Jesus.)

It is probably safe to say that all Christians, and perhaps a large number of non-Christians as well, recognize the words above which have since become known universally known as the “Lord’s Prayer.” In this article we’ll focus specifically on the ones which concern God’s coming kingdom. Strangely enough, Christians don’t entirely agree on when it will come, or how it will come, or even what it is! Let’s see if we can sort out some of these mysteries.

Let’s see first if there is an equivalence between the “kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of heaven. In the following passage, Jesus relates how one must enter the former and some of those who will be there:

Luke {13:24-30} Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all [ye] workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you [yourselves] thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and [from] the west, and from the north, and [from] the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.

Concerning the manner of entering the kingdom of heaven we have Jesus saying:

Matthew {7:21-23; 8:11} Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity . . . And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

With these passages, it appears that the kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven are clearly one and the same. Let’s see now if we can determine whether this kingdom already exists or is something yet to come. From the Old Testament we have:

Genesis {28:10-12} And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and [put] them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

Ezekiel {1:1} Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth [month,] in the fifth [day] of the month, as I [was] among the captives by the river of Chebar, [that] the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

Daniel {7:9} I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment [was] white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne [was like] the fiery flame, [and] his wheels [as] burning fire.

Luke {2:13} And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  (This is a verse from the account of the appearance of the angels announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds who were tending their flocks in the night.)

This evidence clearly shows this magnificent kingdom is already in existence “someplace” in a realm quite distinct from our own. However, from what we see below, it also appears to be closer than we might think:

Matthew {3:1-2} In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew {4:17} From that time* Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. *The time after John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod..

Matthew {10:5-7} These twelve* Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into [any] city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. *The twelve apostles

Matthew {12:27} And if I * by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast [them] out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. *Jesus

 “The kingdom of heaven is at hand . . . the kingdom of heaven is come unto you.” From what Jesus said and did above, something of God’s kingdom is already here, ushered in by the Lord himself. Yet one must remember that the Bible has to be taken in its entire context, not just by selected passages. What then, are we to make of this?

Revelation {21:1-5} And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.

Clearly the kind of world we are living in now is nothing if not a direct opposite of what God’s kingdom is like. The explanation for this seeming contradiction might be resolved in the verses below:

Matthew {13:31-32} Another parable put he* forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.. *Jesus.

With this passage, we introduce the added element of time. Just like the grain of mustard seed in the parable above, I believe that though Jesus initiated the coming of the kingdom of God during his First Advent, it will only arrive upon Earth in its full maturity after the conclusion of the Millennium with all the characteristics described in the Revelation account.

In the three years of his public ministry, Jesus gave other tantalizing “previews” of this kingdom by his words and deeds. Some appear in the Beatitudes (Matthew chapters 5-7) and show us quite profoundly just how different the standards of this kingdom are compared to those upon which the world has operated ever since Adam and Eve lost Eden. Jesus also healed the incurable, somehow multiplied a few fish and loaves of bread to feed thousands, calmed a raging storm in the Sea of Galilee, and brought the dead back to life just by his word. These actions demonstrated that he had truly initiated the kingdom of God on Earth.

Two Conflicting Kingdom Views

There are two primary differences of thought about the nature of this kingdom in the present world. One says the full benefits of the kingdom are already available while the other maintains that while began with the arrival of Jesus, we do not have access to all of them yet. So, which one is right? The answer is obvious enough, found just by looking at the world around us.

We certainly do not see the paradise described in Revelation, but a sin-damaged planet that’s getting worse by the hour. Even so, it is not totally divorced from God’s Presence or influence. Perhaps the best way to look at it is how things were during Jesus’ ministry. To be sure, the world was far from an idyllic place while he walked among us that first time, but as we have seen he did introduce aspects of the kingdom of heaven into our world. Yes, it’s true that there were miraculous events recorded in the Bible prior to Jesus’ life, but with the arrival of God in human form, the veil was drawn back more than ever before. His teachings, miracles, and, most of all, his resurrection and ascension were unmistakable revelations of a coming age will be totally different from the one we and our ancestors have experienced since the Fall.

At this point, I think we can agree that the kingdom of God, though initiated nearly 2000 years ago has yet to arrive in its completeness. The next logical question we should address is how that’s going to happen. Again, there are two basic and opposite views.

How the Kingdom of God Will Arrive:  Two More Conflicting Views

The first is called “dominionism” and its adherents claim that the church will slowly transform this world into the kingdom. Once that’s done, Jesus will return to rule and that will be that. Think of it as culminating into a universal Christian theocracy, if you will.

Dominionism, whether overtly expressed or not, has influenced much of the modern church today. For example, from the Book of Common Prayer used by the Episcopal Church we have in this prayer for peace:

O Almighty God, kindle, we beseech thee, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with thy wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquillity thy dominion may increase till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCP page 207).

The petition in the prayer is for God to guide those who lead the nations with the “wisdom” to “in tranquility” turn our troubled planet into a utopia Of course, anyone who is familiar with Bible prophecy is keenly aware that the Last Days will be characterized by anything but tranquility. All human government falls far short of God’s standards, even the best of them. In his God’s eyes they all look “beastly” (Daniel, chapter 7). The worst “beast government” of all will be controlled by the worst beast of all, the Antichrist (Daniel, chapter 7; Revelation, chapter 13).

Here’s a thought: If Christians are to ultimately take over the world, what does the condition of Twenty-first Century Earth say about the kind of job they’ve been doing for the last 2000 years? Shouldn’t things be a whole lot better by now if Christians are supposed to be moving humanity toward utopia through their own efforts?

A final proof of the error of the dominionist viewpoint is that the Bible tells us unambiguously that believers (or saints) will most certainly not prevail by their own methods to establish the kingdom of God on Earth:

Daniel {7:21} I beheld, and the same horn* made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. *The Antichrist.

Revelation {13:6-7} And he* opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. *The beast, referring to the Antichrist.

The rule of the Antichrist, aided and abetted by a second beast known as the false prophet (Revelation 13:11-18), will only end by the return of Jesus, not by anything even the saints of that day can do:

Revelation {19:19-20} And I saw the beast*, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet** that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. *The Antichrist ** The second beast.

Interestingly, this idea of a world take-over by some type of human government is not a new idea, nor is it limited to dominionism. It has parallels to the Islamic belief that it a Muslim theocracy will one day rule the world under the “mahdi.” It can also be found in Hitler’s assertion that his Third Reich would rule the planet for a thousand years and Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s claim that Communism would one day “bury us” (the capitalist countries comprising the free world) in a speech he gave in the 1960’s.

I think what we see here is Satan’s tendency to repeat one of his strategies with only the details and faces being changed. It seems safe to conclude therefore that Dominionism is nothing but a rehashing of an old tactic that has failed every time throughout history because it is nothing more than a lie. The devil is merely exploiting once again the classic human inability to learn much from history.

The alternative to this, for lack of a specific name, we can call “Anti-dominionism” and define it as the course of history being totally under God’s control with the ultimate result of “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). It is only into this new reality, free from the sin that poisoned our universe in the dim past, that God’s Kingdom will finally at long last arrive and only at his direction and timing, not ours!

Concluding Thoughts

Does this mean that we as believers are to just sit back placidly and wait for it to happen? I think not because Jesus said:

Luke {12:35-37} Let your loins be girded about, and [your] lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed [are] those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

Matthew {28:19-20} Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world.

We are to be watching continuously for his return and to be getting out his message while we watch because it is only by the truth that we can stand against the evil that is growing exponentially in our End-Times World. By doing so we will add to the count of citizens who will enter that promised kingdom of God and live forever where:

Revelation {21:4} God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

From all indications, the time is short, maybe even shorter than we can imagine. So, we would be wise to remember Paul’s words as he quoted Isaiah (Isaiah 49:8):

2 Corinthians 6:2} For he* saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation. *God

It’s time to get busy, don’t you think?

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