Archive for January, 2016

This is part 2 of the chapter 15 excerpt from The Cost of Our Silence

history5-newspapersOn May 14, 1948, a most remarkable event took place when the nation Israel was born in one day, as prophesied in Isaiah 66:8. This is unprecedented in all of history: Over five million Jews have returned to Israel, and as predicted, the remnant was restored (Isaiah 11:11-12; Ezekiel 37:21-22; 38:8). Never before in history has a people been dispersed and scattered among the nations of the earth and then return to their homeland from the north, south, east, and west (Isaiah 43:5-6). Nearly a million Jews traveled south from Russia alone, tens of thousands have left France, and the emigration of Jews to Israel from other nations continues.

About the size of New Jersey, Israel is not just the center of the universe, but the center of attention politically, spiritually, and geographically. The Bible was proved true when Israel became a desolate wasteland for about 1,900 years, but today we see the fulfillment of several more prophecies, such as Israel will bud and blossom, and fill the whole earth with fruit (Isaiah 27:6; Isaiah 35:1-2). Israel now exports fresh produce to the world to the tune of 800 million dollars each year, including over 200 million dollars from flowers and plants.

Nearly uninhabited and desolate a century ago, this little nation exports well over 40 billion dollars’ worth of goods. Tourism is one of Israel’s major sources of income and economic growth, attracting a record 3.54 million foreign tourists last year. According to the World Bank, exports of total goods and other services Israel provided to the rest of the world were over $91 billion (USD). How is this possible? Some suggest it is because of the increased rainfall while others point to Israel’s irrigation technology. Let’s not forget God.

According to the prophets Amos and Joel, the mountains of Israel would one day flow with sweet wine, and God would restore the people so they could rebuild ruined cities (Amos 9:13-15; Joel 3:18). They would plant vineyards and gardens, enjoy the land, and God promised they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them. Amos and Joel are among the first biblically prophetic books written sometime between 750 BC and 835 BC.

The prophet Isaiah also describes forests of trees filling the formerly barren land and specifically mentions the cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, juniper, pine, and cypress trees (Isaiah 41:18-20). God fulfilled His promise to open up rivers, springs, and fountains of waters so people would know the hand of the Lord has done this. In the last hundred years, approximately one billion trees have been planted in Israel. This is all part of Bible prophecy!

Just as predicted, the city of Jerusalem had been destroyed, trampled underfoot by the Gentiles (Luke 21:24) since AD 70. According to prophecies, Jerusalem would be – and was – rebuilt on its own ruins (Jeremiah 30:18; Zechariah 12:6) and reestablished in 1948. The Jewish people finally regained full control of the city during the Six-Day War in 1967. On June 7 of that year, the Israeli army broke through and returned Jerusalem to the Jewish people for the first time in 1,897 years! Israel has been attacked many times and even outnumbered, and yet – somehow – this tiny nation has not only survived, it has thrived.

Another major prophecy that was fulfilled is the restoration and revival of Hebrew as the spoken language (Zephaniah 3:9). According to Jewish News, the process began in October 1881 as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and his friends agreed to exclusively speak Hebrew in their conversations, leading to Hebrew becoming the national language of Israel once again.

Around that time a belief existed that “one of the criteria needed to define a nation worthy of national rights was its use of a common language” in the society, but the language had not been spoken as a mother tongue since the second century. Because of his goal to reestablish the language, Ben-Yehuda is said to have raised his son to speak Hebrew throughout his childhood while sheltering him from other languages. One of the keys to its revival was the development of the first Hebrew schools in small communities during the early 1900s. Regardless of how man thinks it happened, we must acknowledge that God made it happen.

The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel. Thus declares the Lord who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him, “Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it (Zechariah 12:1-3).

Similar to Old Testament times, the very existence of Israel and Jerusalem causes surrounding nations to tremble; their hatred of the Jews is almost irrational. In modern times, Hitler tried wiping out the Jews, as will the Antichrist during the tribulation. As news reports today are filled with the global conflict over Israel, many nations have formed an alliance against Israel (Psalm 83:4-8), particularly Muslim nations sworn to her destruction…

WHAT ABOUT ISLAM?

How does Islam fit in to the end times? Several years ago, author Joel Rosenberg said, “To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it. A new evil is rising in the world.” We can see evil be spoken of as good right before our eyes whether it is on our television screens or the Internet.

ISIS is beheading and persecuting Christians and “infidels” worldwide as was prophesied in Scripture (Matthew 24:9). The growing terror this generation is witnessing is part of the predicted end time lawlessness, and political correctness in America often gives the terrorists a pass. This should be another wake-up call for America, as we are in the midst of a dangerous combination of events. Ignorance is partly to blame while a complicit liberal media attempts to cover for Islam, but even Christian leaders have been complacent when it comes to discerning prophecy and world religions.

There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims, accounting for 23% of the world’s population. In America, estimates suggest 3.5 million; 250,000 of which may be classified as those committed to radical Islam. Until recently, most Americans have looked the other way, but with instant news and Internet access, we hear about Christians or Jews being killed on a weekly if not daily basis. (Please check out Voice of the Martyrs at persecution.com) We have been warned about this persecution in the pages of the Bible, and we are to have a reverent fear of God rather than a fear of man.

Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, and the gospel is the power of God for salvation. God has purchased people from every tribe and nation with the blood of Christ (Revelation 5:9). As ISIS continues their murderous rampage, spreading terror in places like Syria, Iraq, Nigeria (Boko Haram), and elsewhere; there are also reports that more Muslims are hearing the truth about Jesus for the very first time and are coming to faith in Christ. Other followers of Muhammad are turning to the only living God and Savior because of the godless reign of terror. God is at work through the Holy Spirit in the most terrible times even when we don’t see the results right in front of us.

Joel Richardson and Walid Shoebat are two who suggest the Antichrist will emerge from Turkey, Syria, or Iraq. Modern Turkey is practically immersed in what used to be the Assyrian Empire, and Turkey’s role in the end times seems to be supported by the prophets Isaiah and Micah as they refer to Assyria’s opposition to the Messiah. Many others who have studied Bible prophecy, such as Hal Lindsey and David Jeremiah, point to a European Antichrist (which is the standard view among Christians), because it is doubtful the Jewish people would support an Islamic leader. How it plays out sure will be interesting.

A majority of Muslims would never work with any other global government or religion unless it included or endorsed Islam and Shariah Law. According to the Bible, the Antichrist will be of Roman descent and will rise to power in Europe. Can you imagine Muslims submitting to or supporting a European leader? Particularly those seeking a Caliphate (a form of Islamic state including religious and political control or leadership) will not rest until Islam dominates the nations. ISIS is unwilling to coexist with other religions or political systems, period.

We cannot deny the truth regarding the deception and oppression of Islam. Due in part to modern technology, some Christians in the West have reluctantly discovered the brutality of a people who show no mercy to those who oppose their agenda. In addition, since ancient times, Islamic forces have stormed through villages and cities in vicious killing campaigns, beheading and slaughtering the innocent they consider to be infidels. The fact this is happening today should be of no surprise to those who are informed.

One problem many of us in America have is we now find our country enabling Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and other terrorist organizations either directly or indirectly. It is no longer any secret the Obama administration openly supports Islam – remember the president’s 2009 speech in Cairo when he first signaled his loyalty to Muslim nations? Now, ever since the “Arab Spring” in early 2011, Sharia Law has been implemented in several Islamic countries, and the persecution of Christians has reached record levels as a result.

Dedicated followers of Islam have been seeking a caliph to carry on the prophet Muhammad’s original vision of Islamic domination through conquest. Many believe they have their man in Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. “Abu who?” You may be asking. It shouldn’t surprise us that American news consumers do not know who he is. Always protecting the president, few media outlets reported in 2010, one year after President Obama released Abu Bakr al Baghdadi from an Iraqi jail, Baghdadi formed ISIS, and they have been on a bloody rampage of terror, death, and evil ever since.

 

revelationSome see the rapid advancement of Islam as part of the prophecy regarding the last days authority given to the beast for forty-two months to engage in war against the saints and overcome them (Revelation 13:5-7). Allegiance and worship is demanded by this “beast,” and all those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will follow him. Whether or not the final Muslim caliph is the Antichrist the Bible refers to remains unclear.

The fact is that pure Islam aims to dominate the world, and the hateful savagery of deceived, dedicated followers cannot remain hidden any longer. Be reminded, Islam means “submission,” and a practicing Muslim disciple is one who has submitted his life to Allah. Let’s be clear – their movement will continue to advance for a time. However, according to Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, Islam will suffer at least a partial defeat when they come against Israel.

Many Muslims, particularly in America, appear to be moderate and do not follow all the tenets of Islam; but why don’t they publicly renounce acts of terror in the name of Islam? Sadly, we cannot ignore or forget what a small number of Muslims did in the months and years leading up to September 11, 2001. They lived among us, assimilated our culture, and carried out a massive act of terrorism that changed America forever.

Some of what I’ve written may be misinterpreted as hate speech due to those who discriminate against all Muslims because of the actions of the radicals. That kind of discrimination is wrong, just like discriminating against all Japanese citizens in America was wrong when their country bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. We must be discerning and loving, but we also need to be informed and never back down from the truth. There are Muslims worldwide working to implement Sharia Law in as many countries as possible to fulfill their goal of global conquest.

Though America doesn’t even seem to be a blip on the radar of end times prophecy, Israel will be the one to stand its ground according to Scripture. Arab nations will come against Israel and will not succeed, but because they love bloodshed, they will be consumed by it, and their land will be desolate (Ezekiel 35:6-7, 15). Some say this prophecy against Mount Seir has already been fulfilled.

Author, evangelist, and prophecy expert Dr. David Reagan of Lamb Lion Ministries reminds us the future of all Arabs isn’t as bleak. He writes:

Like the Jews, a remnant of the Arabs will emerge from the Tribulation with their hearts turned to the one and only true God, Yahweh (Jeremiah 12:14-17). The most remarkable prophecy concerning the future salvation of an Arab remnant is contained in Isaiah 19:16-25. Isaiah says that when the Lord strikes Egypt and Assyria, they will turn to Him and He will have compassion on them and “heal them.” Isaiah then presents an incredible picture of Egypt, Assyria, and Israel living together in peace, worshiping the same God!

There are obvious contrasts between Christianity and Islam, particularly relating to end times doctrines. Nowhere in the world are Christians persecuting unbelievers, threatening lives, attacking places of worship, chasing people out of their own homes and villages while killing any who resist. However, most of us have seen headlines and news stories telling about the gruesome slaughter of Christians in what are now Muslim-dominated cities and countries.

In Mosul, for example, the Christian population was over 100,000 a decade ago. Within a month of ISIS proclaiming leadership and slaughtering minorities, estimates have dropped from 5,000 to around two hundred Christians or fewer. In the summer months of 2014, a statement was issued by ISIS, the al Qaeda offshoot, to dwindling Christian populations where the Islamic State is taking over. They are implementing a “dhimma” contract, a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy. The statement added:

We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this, they will have nothing but the sword,

In some cases, ISIS gives infidels three options: Convert to Islam, pay exorbitant taxes, or be killed. Those of us in the West should not be shocked by the advancing evil in our time. Not only does the Bible predict it, but common sense says as man becomes more godless, evil will spread like disease. The fact remains evildoers need salvation through Jesus Christ.

Our reaction to terrorism and evil should be faith, love, and steadiness because it is for times such as these, Scripture is filled with the words “fear not.” The Holy Spirit that God gives believers in Christ is a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind – not one of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). We are also encouraged to stand firm and in no way be alarmed by your opponents or adversaries even if it means we are called to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:28-29).

In light of current world events including political upheaval, we must revisit these and other relevant Bible passages with a fresh perspective.

…We keep our focus and keep the faith by remembering this life is temporary and every prophecy in Scripture will be fulfilled. We can be confident God’s justice and His judgment will prevail. Malachi 4:1-3 states:

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.”

“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the LORD of hosts.

God is concerned about reconciling the world to Himself and saving the souls of mankind, not about saving the United States or preserving the earth. The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and this world as we know it will pass away and be destroyed, which is why we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:10-13).

…Understanding prophecy will also enable us to keep current events in perspective. With all the bad news, terror, and chaos in a shaky world today, we know how it all ends, and we can have an unshakable hope in a never-changing God. Let us worship Him with reverence and thankfulness because we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28).

Yes, we are to obey Jesus’ command to go and make disciples by the uncompromising preaching of the gospel. However, until we get our own houses in order, call the church back to repentance, and seek personal and corporate revival, our power and effectiveness will continue to be limited. God calls believers to holiness and obedience and says, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance (1 Peter 1:14-16).

… If however, Christians do not see the need to repent, America has no chance of preservation. Has God ever allowed any nation to survive who had so much favor and the blessing of God only to turn its back on Him? Where are the watchmen warning the church about impending danger? Is today’s church reliving history?

In the past, God would allow His people to be attacked so they might turn back to Him. Isaiah wrote to the Israelites:

your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear (Isaiah 59:2). Through the prophet Joel, the Lord told them to return to Him with all their heart, even after all their disobedience and sin, reminding them He is gracious and compassionate (Joel 2:12-13).

[end of excerpt]

*Part of the conclusion to the book:

…Our silence has had tragic consequences, but from now on, let’s be prepared and useful to the Master (2 Timothy 2:21), encouraging people to be saved and lukewarm believers to return to Jesus Christ. These may be the final hours in which to take action… A time is coming when we will no longer be able to speak.

Then comes the end; when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death (1 Corinthians 15:24-25).

 

*Click here if you missed Part 1 of this excerpt!

 

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eastern-gateFrom now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He. John 13:19

(Excerpt from the closing chapter in The Cost of Our Silence)

Three major things happen when we understand Bible prophecy better: Our faith is strengthened, our hope in Christ is encouraged by the fulfillment of prophecy, and we are more excited to tell others!

Did you realize the most dominant subject in the New Testament next to salvation is the second coming of Jesus Christ? His return is our hope.

To those who trust in Him and obey His commandments, God has promised a fulfillment to our hope in Christ and security in His presence for eternity. The entire Bible points to Jesus Christ, and prophecy should encourage us to dig deeper into the Word of God, marvel at its perfection, and trust its truth – particularly concerning what is yet to come.

According to scholars, there are 1,845 references to the return of Jesus Christ in the pages of the Bible. In fact, references to the second coming outnumber references to the first appearance of Jesus by an 8 to 1 margin! We easily get lost and overwhelmed by prophecies and their meaning until we take a closer, more concentrated look. At least one quarter of the Bible is prophecy (some suggest one third), so we must make a sincere effort to understand these Scriptures.

Jesus’ return is highlighted in seventeen Old Testament books, and within the twenty-seven New Testament books, there are 321 mentions of the second coming. This latter number equates to one out of every thirty verses in which the return of Christ is mentioned.

Prophecy indicates believers who are alive when He returns will be ushered into the kingdom of heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). All of the promises in the Old Testament to Israel will be fulfilled as well as the New Testament promises to believers, and Christ will reign as King over the whole earth for one thousand years. This is the end of history as we know it: The earth will be completely destroyed (2 Peter 3:10), and the universe imploded and replaced by a new earth and new heavens in which we will be with Him forever.

Jesus prophesied saying, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away (Luke 21:33). Jesus made this statement over 2,000 years ago, way before the printing press was invented, and today His words remain accurate, trustworthy, and indisputable. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time, and hundreds of millions of Bibles and portions of Scriptures are distributed every year worldwide.

It amazes me with all the evidence and Scripture proving the existence, deity, and truth of Jesus Christ that many still refuse to believe. One reason for this may be the fact His birth and earthly life had one purpose, but His return will have a very different purpose – the final judgment of all mankind…

The “God-breathed” sixty-six books in the Bible were written by forty different authors; men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21 NIV). These messengers of God came from diverse backgrounds, and Scriptures were written in three different languages over a period of 1,500 years on three different continents! There are no contradictions or inconsistencies in the Word of God, and over 25,000 archaeological finds support the fact that people, places, and events mentioned in the Bible are real and accurate. Skeptics who say they need more evidence simply do not want to believe – it is an act of the will.

What human being could have ever manufactured such an intricate plan – a masterpiece combining thousands of years of historical events, as well as prophecies, in perfect and specific detail? More importantly, what man could have created and insured the carrying out of such an elaborate story in advance, well before many of those written about were born, before nations were formed, and years before historical events had even taken place? Over a span of thousands of years, hundreds of prophecies were made by men living in different time periods and who had never met or communicated with one another!

The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting (Psalm 119:160).

FULFILLED BY JESUS CHRIST

In the events surrounding His birth, Jesus Christ – Emmanuel, “God with us” – fulfilled prophecies about the Messiah no other person has fulfilled. Could these events have been manipulated? As for details surrounding the crucifixion and death of Jesus, at least twenty-eight prophecies were fulfilled. Jesus Himself fulfilled more than 300 prophecies. What are the odds? For those who have an open mind, evidence produced by an honest investigation of the life and death of Christ should astound even the most intellectual skeptics and mathematicians.

In his book, Science Speaks: Scientific Proof of the Accuracy of Prophecy and the Bible, Professor Peter Stoner (1888 – 1980) calculated the probability of one man fulfilling a handful of Messianic prophecies. Stoner was Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College in California and Chairman of the Science Division at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. His research revealed the mathematical probability of one person fulfilling just eight of the prophecies was a mind-boggling one chance in 1017 (one, followed by 17 zeros)! The word impossible comes to mind.

The odds of one person fulfilling forty-eight prophecies equal 10 to the 157th power! Imagine the astronomical odds overcome as Jesus Christ successfully fulfilled hundreds of prophecies – which He has – and there are more to come when He returns.

God leaves nothing up to chance. Rather than provide a lengthy list here, let’s take a look at just a handful of key Bible prophecies about Jesus Christ fulfilled by Him:

  • The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem of a virgin; He will be called Immanuel and live in Nazareth (Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:23).
  • He will be a prophet like Moses, enter Jerusalem triumphantly, riding on a donkey (Deuteronomy 18:15; Zechariah 9:9; John 12:12-19).
  • He will be rejected by His own people and betrayed by one of His followers for thirty pieces of silver (Isaiah 53:1-3; John 1:11; Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-16).
  • The Messiah will be mocked, taunted, spit upon, severely beaten, and flogged (Psalm 22:7-8; Isaiah 50:6; 53:5).
  • He will be tried and condemned to die by crucifixion (Psalm 22:14-16; John 19:15-16).
  • His hands and side will be pierced; His garments will be divided by casting lots, but His bones will not be broken (Zechariah 12:10a; Psalm 22:16-18; 34:20; John 19:36).
  • The Messiah will bear the sins of many and pray for those who kill Him (Isaiah 53:12b).
  • He will suffer with sinners, die with criminals, and He will be buried with/by a rich man (Isaiah 53:12a; Matthew 27:38, 57-60).
  • The Messiah will be raised from the dead (Psalm 16:10; 30:3; 1 Corinthians 15:4-8).
  • He will make His enemies a footstool for His feet; He will be exalted and will sit at God’s right hand (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 12:2; Acts 2:32-36; Hebrews 10:12-13).

Another interesting point occurred when Jesus told the disciples the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed. They asked Him when that would happen and what would be the sign of His return. The first thing He said was, See to it that no one misleads you (Matthew 24:4). Jesus immediately went on to explain some of the signs to come, such as wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, false teachers, and the persecution of Christians. We are seeing all of these things today, including nations fighting nations, all of which He described as the beginning of birth pangs (Matthew 24:8).

A new level of evil has arisen as people justify more sinful behavior, bringing us to new heights of godlessness. Persecution of the godly will increase, and evil men will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:12-13). Some believers have departed from the faith, and even Christians are being seduced by doctrines of demons. This is a wake-up call to the remnant!

Though many good churches exist in America and people are still being saved, it is only by the grace and mercy of God and the presence of active, committed believers, His true church, that the Holy Spirit’s presence and power is restraining more evil in our land. I certainly would not want to be around when the church is gone and Christians are raptured.

Believe it or not, with all the warnings from Scripture and the signs we are beginning to witness, people will still be surprised and caught off guard when Christ returns (1 Thessalonians 5:2-5).

You may have heard the story about Ruth Graham responding to Billy Graham after she read a draft of a book he was writing. She said to her husband, “Billy, if God doesn’t punish the United States of America, He’s going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!” Some sources indicate she made that statement in the mid-1960s, not long after the Bible and voluntary prayer to God were banned from government schools.

…At the return of Jesus Christ, He will enter the city through the now cemented and sealed Eastern Gate (Ezekiel 44:1-3; Nehemiah 3:29). This significant city gate is one of eight gates to Jerusalem and was walled up by Muslim conquerors in the 16th century. Just as the Bible teaches, the Eastern Gate to the city remains closed and will be sealed until the Messiah returns. The glory of the Lord will come by way of the gate facing toward the east (Ezekiel 43:4). The Eastern Gate is the only one that has been shut for 500 years.

This is both interesting and significant due to the fact the city walls and gates in Jerusalem have been torn down and rebuilt more than once. And when they were rebuilt, it was always on the same spots. The oldest city gate, the Eastern Gate was the only one not to be rebuilt by Suleiman the Magnificent around AD 1540. In addition, some of the massive stones in the wall were identified as masonry from the 6th Century BC, which is during the time the prophet Nehemiah rebuilt the city walls and gates.

Read the entire book excerpt here: