Monday, December 29, 2008

Conflict in Israel: The "rules" of engagement

We've seen this scenario too many times to count. The "rules" of engagement - "rules" which have been determined by a combination of the media and the Islamic terrorist groups; "rules" which follow a predictable pattern. Before looking at these rules, we must remember one important fact: there is no desire for peace by these terrorists - only the desire to completely destroy Israel, so that it no longer exists. This is not a secret, because the terrorist groups in the region, namely Hezbollah, Hamas and Fatah make their intentions quite clear.

The terrorist groups and the media have set up these rules of engagement, and it goes something like this:

1. The terrorist groups launch missiles into Israel. Over and over. Last week alone, to cite one such example, approximately 80 missiles were launched from Gaza, into Israel, every day. Yet this fact received virtually no coverage in the mainstream media. No one seemed concerned that missiles were being launched into Israeli cities, farms and children's schools every day.

2. The terrorist groups launch these missiles from locations that are embedded in their communities, ensuring civilian deaths should Israel take any action to prevent these missiles from being launched. In other words, the terrorist groups set up a scenario that will certianly lead to civilian deaths. They do this for a purpose (see below).

3. Israel warns the terrorist groups (in this most recent example, from Gaza, courtesy of Hamas) over and over to stop the missile strikes or Israel will have to take action. Hamas ignored the pleas, while expecting, at some point, a response from Israel. Hamas then places more civilians in harms way, also known as "human shields" (their words, not mine). The mainstream media ignores the Israeli pleas for Hamas to stop the missile attacks.

4. Israel finally takes action, and destroys the Hamas missile assembly locations and the missile firing locations. As expected, some of those civilians in the immediate area are hurt and/or killed, just as Hamas planned. The media and the Muslim population becomes "outraged" and goes public with the breaking news of Israeli "occupation".

5. The world condemns Israel for their "aggressive action".

In these last days, the truth seems elusive. Prophecy watchers have been observing the recent missile attacks against Israel on a daily basis, with almost no media attention. Now that Israel has finally taken action, we see the predictable "outrage" and media coverage of Israeli's response - as if Israel just decided to "invade" the region, unprovoked.

This most recent conflict may differ from previous conflicts however in a few important ways. Of course, the predicted media/Muslim response has gone according to the usual plan, aka the "rules of engagement", but Israel may ignore the media this time:

There is much speculation that Israel will continue into Gaza with ground troops, which would ensure a broader and longer lasting conflict.

Additionally, Iran has publically made a call to all Muslims to enter the region and fight along with the Hamas terrorists
(article here). This sounds very similar to the build up preceeding the predicted epic battle described in Ezekiel 38-39, and represents another step towards further escalation.

Hezbollah has also threatened to invade Israel from the north, and as a result, if this does happen, Israel has threatened Syria (who backs Hezbollah, along with Iran) with military action. This marks a much more aggressive approach by Israel, than the usual limited response.

This situation could spiral out of control quickly. With every passing day, if this conflict continues to escalate we may see one or both of the following scenarios - all potentially significant prophetically:

- Creating more public attention and pressure towards confirming a peace plan in the middle-east; a situation always ripe for the anti-christ to arise and finally "confirm" such a plan, according to Daniel 9:27.

- Creating the scenario predicted in Ezekiel 38-39, which will involve a massive, epic invasion of Israel by the surrounding Muslim countries, as led by Iran and Russia - only to be supernaturally and dramatically ended by God Himself.

Whatever happens with this current conflict, will most likely result in either a small "stepping stone" towards a greater prophetic fulfillments, or, this conflict could actually result in a specific, dramatic prophetic fulfillment (as stated above). At this point its hard to know.

Either way, we'll be watching.

UPDATE: Joel Rosenberg's Weblog is providing some excellent updates on this stutation blogspot here

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Conflict in Gaza: Is this the beginning?

Despite repeated warnings and pleas from Israel to the terrorist group Hamas, missiles have continued to land on Israeli soil from Gaza. Hamas ignored these warnings and finally Israel took action.

Israeli air strikes have now destroyed several Hamas
buildings and the death count in Gaza already exceeds 150 according to
a reuters article, as the Israeli military targeted the Hamas infrastructure and pledged more strikes if necessary.

As usual, its difficult to know if this most recent conflict will escalate
into something bigger, involving more of the surrounding terrorists
groups, or if yet another "cease-fire" will be created. We know from
biblical prophecy that one of these conflicts will escalate into a
broader war - one that will be supernaturally and dramatically ended by
God (Ezekiel 38-39).

Another article from Jerusalem reveals a number of reasons that this
most recent conflict may escalate.

Prophecy watchers will be paying close attention to this situation in the Middle-East.

Israel is also in the midst of their election cycle, with elections to be held in early Feburary. This election will determine how Israel will react to the terrorist groups and, more importantly, how Israel will deal with Iran as they enter the "nuclear club"; those nations who possess nuclear weapons.

These are certianly interesting times in Israel. Any noteworthy change in and around Israel is potentially loaded with prophetic implications. This recent incursion into Gaza, combined with new political leadership in Israel, in a matter of weeks, could make subsequent developments very interesting.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Season

During the Christmas season, we focus on the amazing, miraculous birth of Jesus. It is a wonderful time for a Christian, as we consider the enormous impact of the birth and life of Christ Jesus. It is a time of reflection and celebration. As glorious and prophetic as the birth of Jesus was, evil still lurked. We know from the scriptures that King Herod, upon learning of Christ's birth, immediately began a process of trying to have Him killed:

"...Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." (Matthew 2:13).
"...and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem." (Matthew 2:16).

This process hasn't changed in over 2,000 years. As we celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus, evil still lurks in this world.

The New York Times, hardly a biblical prophecy news site, has declared that Iran now has enough nuclear fuel for one nuclear weapon. This "tipping point" is something that prophecy watchers have been waiting to see. Many of us believe that the last remaining prophecies will fall like dominoes - once the "powder-keg" is ignited. This "powder-keg" could very well be Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

At the same time, we see renewed calls for the total destruction of Israel. Hamas Cleric Muhsen Abu 'Ita, representing Hamas, a puppet organization for Iran, has again called for the "annihilation" of Israel.

At the same time, Iran's leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - a leader who controls the use of nuclear weapons in Iran, again declares that "Israel is at the end of its life".

Connecting those dots doesn't take a lot of imagination. The person responsible for the development of nuclear weapons in Iran is also calling for the total destruction of Israel.

Just as Herod could not succeed in killing Christ Jesus, those who oppose the God of the Holy Bible, and those who reject the fact that Jesus is indeed the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords - will not succeed in their efforts.

While we celebrate the Christmas season, the other side plots evil. Just as Herod attempted to eliminate Christ, in an effort to destroy God's plan, we see the same form of evil again attempting to thwart God's plan. This is nothing new. Throughout history, we see efforts to divert God's plan - only these efforts ALWAYS fail. God's overall plan marches on, completely unaffected by such feeble, human efforts.

Their threats, their attempts to instill fear, their efforts to divert God's plan - all should be of no significance to us. We know how the story ends. Just as Herod failed, so will today's terrorists fail. The best they can do is to attempt to instill fear. But we should have no fear:

"I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies" (Psalm 23:5). What an image. The symbolism of this image is profound. In the very presence of our enemies, we can literally rest assured that God's plan will prevail - and we should have no fear - to the point of comfortably sitting at the table, prepared for a meal - in the literal presence of the enemy.

At the time of Jesus' birth, evil rose and attempted to destroy Christ, and in turn, God's plan for mankind. Similarly, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, the same evil plots against, and opposes the God of the Holy Bible. Just as Herod failed, so will today's efforts to eliminate God and His plan.

As we sit at our tables this Christmas, we should remember the promise issued in Psalm 23. Evil will not prevail. The forces opposing Christ Jesus will not prevail. Only God will prevail. As we celebrate Christmas, we should also remember God's promises. At the conclusion of Psalm 23, we know our fate:

"...and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalm 23:6).

Our ultimate fate. It will not change, nor will it be diverted by the evil that exists on earth today. The birth of Christ ultimately led to the sequence of events, over the next 33 years, that ensured us of this fact:

We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

God's plan. It will not be changed nor diverted, despite the feeble efforts by evil men.

Thank you Father, for the miraculous, divine birth of Christ Jesus, and everything that He did for us.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

One more step; another sign comes into focus

We know from Revelation 13:16-17, that the Antichrist and his "partner-in-crime", the False Prophet, will institute a financial system in which every human on earth will be required to take the "Mark of the Beast". This "mark" will be placed on the right hand or the forehead, and will be required in order to buy or sell anything. This mark will also indicate that the person receiving the mark has "officially" decided to worship the Antichrist.

The seven-year Tribulation will ultimately force people on earth to make a decision. Will they decide to worship Jesus Christ, or will they worship the Antichrist? Every human on earth will be forced to make this epic decision. Ultimately, thats what the Tribulation boils down to - a single decision which will determine the ultimate fate of every human on earth at that time. Deciding to receive the Mark of the Beast serves as a visible indicator of the fact that that individual has decided to follow the Antichrist, and effectively - reject Jesus.

The bible issues a strong condemnation for those who have decided to follow the Antichrist:

"If anyone worships the beast (aka Antichrist) and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath." (Revelation 14:9)

We have been following the developments of the company VeriChip, who developed and produces the implantable RFID - which is currently being inserted into animals and humans. Currently, the selling points for use of this microchip focus on safety (tracking children/pets), health (having someone's medical information available via this insertable microchip), and in some cases "just for fun", as in some countries such as Spain, exclusive night-clubs are inserting this chip into its members.

This week we discover that Microsolf has partnered with VeriChip article here for the purpose of using VeriChip's implantable device for accessing medical information.

Microsoft. Thats a powerful organization with a lot of money and influence. I believe this is a significant development. With Microsoft on board, there is no telling how fast the VeriChip technology will expand - and the potential uses for this technology are limitless. That includes use in financial transactions. Because of rising concerns of "identity theft", and other means of tapping into individual's bank accounts - there is an ongoing call for "technology" to somehow develop something which can prevent these kinds of financial thefts.

The VeriChip has been proposed as a means to prevent the above problems from occuring. If each person had the "chip" inserted, and the capability to manage all financial transactions - then current technology such as credit cards, check-books, debit cards. etc., would all become artifacts of the past.

When has Microsoft done anything thats NOT on an epic scale? Microsoft believes in implementation of their technological advances on a world-wide basis. They don't so anything "small". By their partnering with VeriChip, we should expect to see several things occur - all in line with bible prophecy; a) watch for further developments regarding additional uses of the VeriChip (with an eye on financial uses), b) more promotion of and increased "visibility" of the VeriChip, with the usual marketing efforts that we've come to expect from Microsoft, and c) more widescale implementation of the VeriChip - also increasing public acceptability of such use.

Taking the VeriChip today is not the same as taking the "Mark of the Beast". That won't happpen until the Tribulation. However, we're seeing the stage being set for the Tribulation. This is a big development. I fully expect to see Microsoft dramatically expand the uses and implemention of this technology.

Whatever they do with this technology, one thing is certian. We'll be watching and reporting on the developments.

Another day, another sign comes into focus.

Business as usual for a prophecy watcher.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christian Persecution: Another Sign

One of the noteworthy signs that Jesus warned about, as occuring in the last generation was persecution of Christians.

"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other." (Matthew 24:9-10).

To someone living in the United States of America, it may seem difficult to believe that intense persecution, as directed against Christians, takes place on a daily basis throughout much of the world. Voice of the Martyrs is one of many organizations that closely follows the issue of world-wide Christian persecution, and their stories are quite sobering. Countries such as Vietnam, China, Iran, Iraq, Afganistan, India, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Egypt, Sudan, and Pakistan just to name a few. The list goes on and on.

Churches burned. Christians murdered. Orphanages attacked and children killed. Hidden, underground meeting places for bible study and prayer. Beatings. Imprisionment. Fear. Intimidation. This is daily life for a Christian in many of these regions.

It is generally accepted among those organizations who follow persecution - groups such as Voice of the Martyrs - that approximately 150,000 Christians are killed annually world-wide, simply because they choose to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Just for reading a bible. Just for going to a church. Just for praying to God. Just for becoming a Christian.

One may be tempted to argue that Christians have been persecuted throughout history. What makes this a sign now?

The answer is simple. The world has never seen persecution as it exists today. As a historical reference, one can review the period of Roman persecution, which started with Nero in 64 AD and lasted until the beginning of the fourth century; a period of approximately 250 years. Typically considered as the worst era of Christian persecution - it is estimated that approximately 100,000 Christians were killed because of their faith during that 250 year period.

That figure is now exceeded ANNUALLY. Thats is a staggering, mind-numbing figure. Over 150,000 Christians killed EVERY YEAR simply because of their faith. In Sudan alone, it is estimated that over 1.5 million Christians have been killed by the Janjaweed (an "Arab-Muslim militia"), just since 1984.

Unfortunately, and sadly, this "sign" doesn't receive much attention. But as you read this paragraph, during this very moment, we have brothers and sisters who are imprisioned, fearful, cold, hungry, beaten, starving and separated from their families - simply because they follow Jesus.

But Jesus is watching this situation and He is fully aware of what these brave, courageous saints are forced to endure. He has also promised them great rewards in Heaven:

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven..." (Matthew 5:10-11)

We need to pray for these brothers and sisters daily. Pray that God will give them strength and courage - that God will also give them comfort during their dark days.

Persecution. Another sign of the times.