Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Leadership Change in Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that he will resign from office, and a successor will be named by September.

The Jerusalem Post reports that this change will trigger political change in Israel. One never knows how things will develop politically in Israel, but any significant change such as this, with new leadership at the top position, can lead to many scenarios:

1. Will the neighboring terrorists states see this an an opportunity to attack Israel?
2. How will the next leader handle the peace talks between Israel and the "Quartet" (US, Russia, EU and UN), which have been
ongoing for years? Will the next leader complete the "peace process" and create a Palestinean State? If so, what will the
borders look like?
3. Will the next leader decide to attack the nuclear facilities in Iran?
4. What will the next leader do with regard to Jerusalem? The Temple mount? The Golan Heights?

All of these big questions will have to be addressed by the next Prime Minister. All of these questions contain implications for prophecy fulfillment.

The situation in the Middle East seems to be progressing at a very rapid pace. It is hard to envision a scenario in which the next Israeli leader will not play a prominent role in prophecy. The next three months will be very interesting as political alliances in Israel will change, and power will shift.

We need to keep a very close eye on the Middle East right now. Any significant development seems to move us one step closer to the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39, which describe the invasion of Israel from an alliance consisting of Russia and Iran, along with a consolidation of other surrounding Islamic countries. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, we may also see the political changes in Israeli leadership which would permit fulfillment of Daniel 9:27. This is felt to be the covenant which creates "peace" in the Middle-East. The same covenant that will serve as a signal that the Tribulation, as described in Matthew 24 and Revelation 6-18, has offically started - That same period of time that the Church will have entered the gates of Heaven.

Keep watching. The vast majority of remaining biblical prophecy will center in and around Israel. Any significant change politically, in the Nation of Israel, has the potential for prophetic significance. The next few months could be very interesting indeed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Daniel's Prophecy: The Last Empire

The Prophet Daniel was given visions of the future of the nation of Israel, as it was ruled by four "gentile kingdoms". These prophetic scriptures are found in Daniel 2 and 7. History has shown that these empires, in successive order, included the Babylonian Empire (626 BC-539BC), followed by the Medo-Persian Empire (539 BC-330 BC), which was followed by the Greecian Empire (330 BC-63 BC) and then the Roman Empire which was in existence at the time of Christ and remained so for approximately 300 years.

Daniel also saw that the same basic Roman Empire (geographically) would also exist at the time of the Second Coming of Christ, only Daniel saw a different type of government structure in place. In Daniel 2:40, he described the first Roman Empire as being like "iron", and indeed thats exactly how the Roman Empire governed at the time of Christ; they occupied towns and cities and ruled them, forcing the occupied people to obey their every rule and law. In Daniel 2:41, Daniel saw a Roman Empire in existance at the time of the Second Coming, only this version of the Roman Empire would be more like "baked clay and partly of iron" (Daniel 2:41). He elaborated in the next two verses: " this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay."

Daniel saw an end times Roman Empire which would grow (Daniel 7:23) and ultimately give birth to a figure known as the Antichrist (Daniel 9:26-27). Daniel 7:19-23 and Revelation 17 give a full description of how this "revived" Roman Empire will grow into a world empire, which also rules over Israel.

Prophecy scholars who take a literal view of prophetic scriptures, particularly John Walvoord and Dwight Pentecost, and later Hal Lindsey have all been predicting, since the 1960's, that we'd see a peaceful union of European States form, which would later grow into a union of countries which would look like the Roman Empire which existed over 1,700 years ago. Such predictions were based on a literal view of the passages above. When this concept was introduced, not long after World War II, it was considered ridiculous - just the idea of a union including countries such as France and Germany was unthinkable. As a result, these literal authors faced ridicule, but they stood firm and continued writing and teaching prophecy in a literal way, based on how prophetic fulfillment has been recorded throughout history.

We watched as the European Union (EU) gathered strength while it grew into a collection of 27 countries, representing well over 500 million people. We also watched as their partner group, the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) joined the union through a staggering array of policies which united each member state with the EU. By combining the map of the EU and the ENP, one can easily see how it is almost identical with maps of the first Roman Empire, which existed at the time of Christ. Additionally, unlike the "original" Roman Empire, which was described in Daniel 2 as "iron", the revival of the Roman Empire, as expected at the time of the Second Coming, is described by Daniel as a "mixture" - something like a confederation described as "iron and clay" - a mixture that is difficult to unite.

Just this week, we have now witnessed a formalized union combining the EU and these Mediterranean countries, now totaling 43 countries and over 750 million people - in the form of a Mediterranean Union which looks exactly like what Daniel predicted. The countries surrounding the southern Mediterranean are predominately Muslim, and the traditional EU countries are predominately Roman Catholic. Iron and clay indeed; just like Daniel's description.

Joel Rosenberg has a fascinating commentary on this union, including pertinent maps.

We inch closer day by day to the tribulation period described in the book of Revelation, chapters 6-19. The same literal scholars who have been amazingly accurate for the last 50-60 years, based on a literal view of biblical prophecy, also point to a Rapture of the Church, or the "catching up" as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-52, which we believe will occur prior to this tribulation period. This is the hope and encouragement that was given by the apostle Paul in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, as we face a seemingly ominous world. The beginning of the tribulation period is coming into focus. Revelation 17 tells us that once this revived Roman Empire is formed, it wouldn't last long. The Second Coming of Christ will end this last human empire. Daniel 2:44-45 and 7:26-27 inform us that this last empire, the "revived" Roman Empire will end at the time of Christ's return.

We see the signs every day - warning us that the Tribulation is approaching.

As they say around Thanksgiving: "When you start seeing Christmas decorations, you know that Thanksgiving is near."

We can say the same about the Rapture of the Church: "When you see the signs of the Tribulation, you know the Rapture is near."

Maranatha! Our Lord Come!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

War and Rumors of War: Part II

The rhetoric in the Middle East is heating up at an alarming pace. Just this week, several significant developments have been observed. Joel Rosenberg has summarized several developments in a recent commentary. Once again, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeated his inflammatory claims by stating that the U.S. and Israel are soon to be "annihilated". At the same time, Iran just conducted dramatic missile tests which officially confirm that they now possess the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead which can reach anywhere in Israel. According to abc news, Iran's new Shahab 3 missile travels 1,250 miles and can obviously reach any location within that radius.

At the same time, as reported in The Times, Russia issues their strongest threat to date, by declaring that they will respond by military means if the U.S. places any missile defense systems in the Czech Republic. An agreement doing just this was announced this week, as Condoleezza Rice signed a formal agreement between the U.S. and the Czech Republic. This type of rhetoric between the U.S. and Russia hasn't been observed since the peak of the cold war.

This situation is clearly beginning to reach a criitical point.

The prophet Zechariah informed us of this evolving situation. He was given prophecy which revealed that Israel would be surrounded by her enemies in the latter days. He saw Jerusalem as a "burdensome stone" for the "surrounding peoples", and he informed us that any people who try to lay seige against Israel will be "cut into pieces" (Zechariah 12).

Israel's enemies have obviously neglected to recognize this strong warning from God, through his prophet Zechariah. The prophet Ezekiel gave us more detail in chapters 38 and 39 of these prophetic warnings. Isaiah did the same in chapter 17.

Israel will not be destroyed. We know that both Israel and the Temple will be in existance during the Tribulation period. There will be warfare in and around Israel, but Israel will stand. According to Ezekiel, God will directly intervene, according to His perfect timing - and prevent Israel's destruction.

Israel will stand strong. Those countries involved in the planning of Israel's destruction have ignored the warnings: God's warnings, as written in the Bible. God's warnings are not ambiguous, nor difficult to understand, In fact, the warnings are quite straightforward: "I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment, which I have executed" (Ezekiel 39:21) and "Thus, I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord." (Ezekiel 38:23)

Warnings. Is anyone listening?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

War and Rumors of War

As we watch the Middle East situation, with Israel and Iran on the brink of war, it is almost difficult to distinguish the actual news from the prophetic scriptures. The news is remarkably consistent with the information provided by biblical prophecy. We know from Ezekiel 38 and 39 that an alliance of nations, as led by Russia and Iran will launch a massive invasion of Israel. Isaiah 17 informs the reader that Damascus, Syria will be destroyed completely, never to exist again as a city. It is often speculated that somehow these two events are related. Syria is currently aligned with both Russia and Iran in mutual defense agreements; if one of these countries is attacked, the others will become involved in their defense.

Just this week, several ominous developments have received much public attention.
ABC news is reporting that Israel is planning an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, and it could occur by the end of the year. Such an attack, which is said to have "enormous security and economic repercussions for the United States and the rest of the world", would result in retaliation against Israel and the U.S. Because of the mutual defense agreements, one would assume that Russia and Syria would also become involved.

Iran responded to this threat by a declaration that they would also close off the Strait of Hormuz, which is a major shipping route for our oil. The Jerusalem Post quoted Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, commander of the U.S. Navy's 5th fleet, with the following statement "any attempt to close off the Strait of Hormuz is an act of war" and said that the U.S. simply would not allow this.

So, in one week, we have another prediction that Israel will launch a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. We have Iran threatening to retaliate in a number of ways, including a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz. We have an American officer stating that such actions will be a declaration of war against the U.S. We have tangible, well known alliances between Russia, Iran and Syria and many other alignments of Islamic states in the region. All of this occuring while Iran races to develop nuclear missiles at a time when their president promises to destroy Israel.

According to Ezekiel's prophecies, we would expect to see these alliances formed and this invasion launched, "in the latter days", after Israel had been regathered as a nation. Israel became a nation again in 1948. Since that time we have witnessed these military alliances - alliances that would ultimately come together for the sole purpose of destroying Israel - come together in a dramatic manner. Just as the Bible predicted.

Keep watching. The Middle East is a powder keg at the moment. We know what will happen - the only question is when it will happen. Several experts have now declared that they believe Israel will take action before the end of the year.

We are to watch, but we are not to be alarmed. As Jesus stated in Matthew 24 "You will hear of war and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen."

Wars and rumors of war indeed. Just a matter of time.