Miracles at the Crucifixion of Christ

The Bible records five miraculous events occurred at the Crucifixion of Christ: 3 hours of darkness, an earthquake, the temple veil tearing in half, graves opening and the dead being raised to life, and the conversion of the Roman Centurion and his guards.

This short video summarizes amazing new evidence that substantiates the Bible’s account.

Narrated by Brett Olsen

Sodom and Gomorrah PROOF (God leaves EXAMPLE for all GENERATIONS)

(KJV) scripture additions done by GabeTheStreetPreacher.

___________________________________________________________

Four new photos below were sent to us by Jake Wilson, who visited the city of Admah, one of the five cities of the plain destroyed by fire and brimstone:

Above:   Multiple door openings into open chambers on a horizontal plane show us man-made construction.  Jake Wilson

Above:  Arched opening with square inserts indicate man-made construction of these formerly limestone buildings that have been reduced to ashen remains.      Photo Jake Wilson

Above:  Looking out from the interior of the remains, we can see an arched opening.  Photo Jake Wilson

_______________________________________________________________________

The five cities of the plain have been located and the evidence is staggering.  For the first time in modern history we have found round balls of brimstone, or nearly pure sulfur, embedded in an ashen area near the Dead Sea, which show clear signs of having once been ancient building structures! 

Above:  Lighter colored formations can be seen near the Dead Sea.

Above:  ziggurat stands amidst ashen ruins in Gomorrah, with darker terrain in rear.
Government sign with gate, attempting to keep vehicles out.

Josephus Saw the Cities — Why Can’t We?

The cities were located in the plain, so they should not be located in the low area now covered by the Dead Sea.  These cities were well known in the first century, as Josephus said, “The traces or shadows of the five cities are still to be seen.”  If Josephus could see them, then we should be able to see them also.  The water level of the Dead Sea has fallen since the time of Josephus, so the areas Josephus saw in his day are still visible today.

Biblical Warning For All

The cities of the plain were destroyed as a warning for all that this same event will happen again one day to the wicked.  One would think God is capable of preserving this ancient lesson for us to see and to learn from.

Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens”  Genesis 19:24.  “Turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly”  II Peter 2:6.  (The word for “example” means an exhibit for warning.)

Analysis of the Brimstone

These sulfur balls are mostly golf ball sized, and some have burn marks all around them!  Webster’s Dictionary says that “brimstone” = sulfur.  Accordingly, we have found the absolute proof that we have finally located Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities of the plain!

Above at left is brimstone with a burned, hardened shell that has the unburned sulfur inside, and next to it is brimstone without a burned shell.  The photo at right is a shell or capsule with unburned sulfur inside.  Tiny crystals are on its surface which were formed when the sulfur was burning and was in a liquid state, then it burned out.


Above:  Located on the side of a ziggurat, this brimstone in a shell is opened to reveal the unburned sulfur inside

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
click here and then click subscribe

Each of the cities of the plain contain evidence of brimstone which God rained down upon the cities to destroy them.  The brimstone is composed of 95 percent sulfur, with trace amounts of magnesium which create an extremely high temperature burn.  This is the only place on earth where you can find 96 percent pure monoclinic sulfur in a round ball.  This brimstone is NOT from any type of geo-thermal activity as there is no evidence of such in the area, and geo-thermal sulfur nodules are only 40 percent pure sulfur and are of the rhombic type.

Above:  holding a chunk of ash that has a burned ring which surrounds an unburned ball of sulfur

Above:  removing the lid from a brimstone shell reveals a round ball of sulfur inside

Become a Patreon supporter by making a small donation
each month to our ministry:  www.Patreon.com/arkdiscovery

Above:  Jason cut this brimstone out of the material

Above:  Brimstone with burn ring

Analysis of the Ash

God rained down upon these cities was so hot that it burned the limestone blocks that were used in the construction of the cities.  The ash there today is composed of Calcium Sulfate and Calcium Carbonate which are by-products of the limestone and sulfur burning. 

Everything in these cities burned and turned into ash, including the buildings themselves as the Bible says that the cities were to be destroyed also.  The Bible told us that God rained down “fire and brimstone”  When God rains down fire, it is a consuming fire, just like the time of Elijah when God sent down fire to destroy the stone altar, the limestone buildings here were totally destroyed and turned into ash. 

 Above:  The extremely high burning temperatures created a multi-shaded layering of ash that was formed by thermal ionization, caused by electrons repelling and attracting, creating a swirling effect in the remains. 

Above:  layers of multi-shaded ash, crumble in your hand.  Dead Sea and sphinx in rear

Cities Visible in Satellite Photos

The cities are almost entirely turned into white ash, and can be seen in the satellite photographs below.

Notice each of the cities stand out from the surrounding terrain because of the white ash contained within them.  The city of Zoar was a “little one” or a newly built city that was square.  As cities grew or expanded they quickly lost this square shape.

Genesis 10:19 indicates the five cities formed the Canaanite border, thus the could not have been grouped together at the south end of the Dead Sea as popularly believed.  They form a north-south line along the Jordan/Dead Sea area.  Gomorrah is located at the base of Masada, and in 1998, additional formations were found in Jordan on the opposite of the Dead Sea from Gomorrah in the Lisan Peninsula, including a large cemetery area containing 1,000,000 graves.  The same structures as found on the Israeli side were also found on the Jordanian side –  ash, brimstone and even ceramic tile.

Above –  looking southwest at the southern end of the Dead Sea

Above – The northern end of the Dead Sea, looking southwest

Man-made Formations

Man-made formations are found in the cities, including ziggurats, sphinxes, windows, arched doorways and walls resembling double Canaanite city walls. 

Above:  On the left is a ziggurat and on the right a tower

Above:  ziggurat shape on raised platform composed of white material

Above:  Ninety degree angles extending out from a wall demonstrating unnatural architecture

Above:  Arched doorway still stands today

 
Sphinx Shapes

Unique shapes are visible in the cities that are not found in nature, including sphinx shapes like the ones below. 

Above: This sphinx formation on a raised platform is about 40 feet long and was made of a different whiter material than the surrounding platform. It may have been a worship figure or god and was made of a special material.   Masada in rear.

Above:  Another sphinx shape sits at the edge of the city.  They thought it would protect them, but it too
was consumed in the destruction of fire and brimstone.

Sulphur Crystals

The extreme heat caused unusual specimens that can be found in the cities, including the creation of sulfur crystals.  Below are photos of a large slab of crystals found by our Ark Discovery Team.

Above:  The top layer is a solid slab of sulfur crystals created by a complete layer of
brimstone underneath that was burning, then turned to a liquid, then cooled down
leaving this layer of crystals.  Approximately six feet long.

Above:  Here we can see the brimstone underneath the crystals that are on top.

Above:  another shot of the brimstone underneath and the crystals on top

Above:  In another area, we found sulfur crystals which are a remnant of the consumed brimstone.
 

Above:  two feet in diameter clump of crystals.  Another group was found later when I
broke open a large clump “live” on video. 

Above:  more crystals resulting from the sulphur burning, turning to liquid, and cooling into crystals

Anomalies

More evidence of the extreme heat was found. 

Above:  this specimen shows signs of having been melted, with the upper portion
bubbling and the lower section pooled into a solid.

Above:   Specimen that some people think resembles bone, with the marrow in the middle. This looks similar to the specimens found by Dr. Lennart Moller, author of The Exodus Case

A spear head and a cache of burned gold which is now gold salts, burned bones, jars, and tile have also been found by others who have visited the cities.

Most photos by Kevin Fisher.

(original link)

Jesus Of Nazareth -Full Movie

Jesus Of Nazareth Full Movie English HD

Robert Powell was born on Thursday, June 1st, 1944, five days before D-Day, on Tuesday, June 6th, 1944, in Salford, Manchester, England. In 1964, he started his acting career while attending Manchester University. In 1967, he made his film debut, and later landed his first starring role in The Italian Job (1969). Some of his well-known movies include Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth (1977), Ken Russell’s Tommy (1975) and Mahler (1974), the sequel or remake of The Thirty Nine Steps (1978), and the popular TV series, Doomwatch (1970). Robert ended his bachelor life, when he married Barbara “Babs” Lord, on Friday, August, 29th, 1975. They are parents of two children (1 son & 1 daughter). In 1982, Robert won the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival for his performance in Imperative (1982). He won the best actor award at the Paris Film Festival for Harlequin(1980). For his portrayal of Jesus in Jesus of Nazareth he received best actor awards from TV Times and Italian TV Times, the international arts prize at the Fiuggi Film Festival, grand prize at the Saint-Vincent Film Festival, and a nomination as best actor from The Irish Academy of Film and Television arts. In reference to his role as Jesus in Jesus of Nazareth, Robert said, “I hope Jesus Christ will be the last in my line of sensitive young men for quite a while.”

Questions about the End Times part 22

What will happen when Jesus returns?

Question: “What will happen when Jesus returns / comes back?”

Answer:
The second coming of Christ is referenced many times in Scripture, with over 1,500 passages in the Old Testament and one out of every 25 verses in the New Testament mentioning the Messiah’s return. The large amount of material devoted to this important event underscores what God says in Amos 3:7: “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”

In short, the return of Christ brings about what is referred to as the kingdom of God in Scripture—God’s absolute rule over His creation, including humankind. To accomplish that, Jesus ushers in two different judgments, two different resurrections, and two different eternities.

When Jesus returns, He will be ready for war (Revelation 19:11–16). The nations will be gathered to fight against Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2) in what we call the battle of Armageddon. But that will be the day Jesus returns: “His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south” (verse 4). It will be a unique day in the history of the world: “On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness . . . a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light” (verses 6–7). God’s enemies will be defeated, and the Antichrist and the false prophet will be “thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Revelation 19:20). Jesus will set up His kingdom, and “The Lord will be king over the whole earth” (Zechariah 14:9).

In establishing His kingdom on earth, Jesus will first set up a judgment for those who are still alive after the tribulation and who are on the earth at the time of the second coming. This is referred to as the “judgment of the sheep and the goats” or “judgment of the nations” (Matthew 25:31–46). Those who survive this judgment will remain on earth and enjoy a time of peace and prosperity with Christ for 1,000 years (referred to as the millennium; see Revelation 20:4–6). Those who are found guilty in this judgment are cursed and consigned to “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Satan is bound and forbidden to act during the millennium (Revelation 20:1–3).

During this time there will also be a resurrection of all believers in God (Revelation 20:4–6). These resurrected believers will join believers who are alive at the time of Christ’s coming and those Christ brings with Him from heaven, and all will live with Jesus during His 1,000-year earthly reign.

At the end of the millennium, Satan will be released, and one final battle will occur, which will rapidly be won by Christ (Revelation 20:7–9). Satan is then permanently consigned to the lake of fire. At this point the second resurrection will occur, and another judgment. Unbelievers will be resurrected and judged at what is referred to as the great white throne judgment; based on their works, they will be assigned to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11–15).

So, the return of Jesus will usher in two different eternities—one with God and one without Him. This truth is captured in two verses in the book of Malachi: “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire. . . . Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves” (Malachi 4:1–2).

What happens when Jesus returns? Evil is defeated, the earth is restored, and God wins. Your response to Jesus’ return depends on your relationship with Him. It will either be, as John MacArthur calls it, “the greatest calamity in all of human history” or the fulfillment of the Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13). Faith in Christ makes the difference. “But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:8, NLT).

What is wrong with date-setting for the end times?

Question: “What is wrong with date-setting for the end times?”

Answer:
“88 Reasons Jesus Is Coming Back in 1988!”
“October 21, 2011, is the end of the world!”
“December 21, 2012, is the end of the world!”
“Jesus is going to return during the year of Jubilee!”
“Jesus is going to return during the next blood-red moon!”

Pronouncements like these surface every few years, and many gullible people make life-altering decisions based on them. The primary reason that date-setting for the end times is wrong is that Jesus told His disciples, in reply to their question about the timing of future things, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:7).

The date-setting predictions people make have always been wrong. Always. Throughout history, self-proclaimed prophets, well-meaning preachers, and outright charlatans have declared with certainty that a specific date in the near future was the day Jesus would come back. And then He didn’t. Those prophets had just proven that they were not true prophets (Deuteronomy 18:21–22). Jesus said that no man knows the day nor the hour of His return (Matthew 24:36), yet some rationalize their date-setting by saying that we might not know the day or hour, we can still get pretty close. Apparently not.

One reason God has not told us “the day or the hour” when Jesus will come again is that He wants us to live our lives by faith, for His glory, before an unbelieving world. He wants us to be involved in our communities (1 Thessalonians 4:11), serving our churches (Ephesians 6:7), and raising our children to know and honor Him (Deuteronomy 6:6). One common response to end-times date-setting is that people stop engaging in life. They pack up, preparing for the Apocalypse. One such group in the 1830s followed a preacher named William Miller. Miller became convinced that Jesus would return in October of 1844, and he was able to convince many others, some of whom sold their possessions, quit their jobs, and waited for the end. Miller was wrong. Jesus did not return in 1844, and the non-event became known as the Great Disappointment. Followers salvaged Miller’s reputation by claiming that Jesus had, in fact, returned—spiritually—to the heavenly temple. The disillusioned group was ripe for a new leader and soon found themselves uniting under the leadership of “prophetess” Ellen G. White and became known as the Seventh-day Adventists.

Another reason date-setting for the end times is wrong is that it tends to disregard Jesus’ final command to His followers. Shortly before He ascended back into heaven, Jesus told His followers to “go into all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). He did not say, “Focus your energies on trying to figure out when I’m coming back.” He gave us several parables that encourage an attitude of readiness, but that readiness does not mean sky-watching. It means being faithful in all He told us to pursue, like holiness (Hebrews 12:14), cross-carrying (Luke 9:23), and loving the people He brings across our paths (Romans 13:8). Jesus urged us to store up treasure in heaven (Luke 12:33), to seek unity with other believers (John 17:22–23), and to work as harvesters in His fields (Luke 10:2). He said nothing of trying to predict the date of His return. When we become preoccupied with trying to predict the unpredictable, our priorities are not in the right order.

Date-setting for the end times—and then being proven wrong—also prompts derision from unbelievers. Skeptics already mock the supernatural and discount the Bible as nonsense (1 Corinthians 1:18). They often look for reasons to mock Christianity. When a public figure announces an end-times date with the same authority that he or she proclaims the gospel, it only serves to validate the skepticism. It is fine to say, “It appears the signs that Jesus gave are unfolding, so I believe His return may be soon.” That sentence is merely a personal opinion and leaves room for error. But when date-setters declare with finality that a certain date or time frame must be the right one, they only invite greater derision, which reflects poorly on the name of Christ.

If God wanted us to know when His Son is returning, He would have made that clear in His Word. As it is, He clearly said that we would not know. All we have to go on is what He revealed to us, and the date is simply not in Scripture. Any speculation is only that. Some get involved in date-setting for the end times in order to appear wise, attract attention, or raise money; others may have less dubious motives. Regardless of why, date-setting for the end times is wrong. We should consider the signs Jesus gave and then live in such a way that we wouldn’t be ashamed if He came this very hour (1 John 2:28).

What is the great deception in the Bible?

Question: “What is the great deception in the Bible?”

Answer:
Usually, when people speak of the “great deception,” they refer to 2 Thessalonians 2:11, which predicts that God will, in an end-times judgment, send “a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.” This great deception is associated with the satanic work of the Antichrist and his “displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie” (verse 9).

The same passage in 2 Thessalonians also speaks of a great apostasy that will take place before the man of lawlessness is revealed. Similar apostasies are predicted elsewhere: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). Of course, people are complicit in the deception, for they reject the truth and prefer lies: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3–4).

Jesus spoke about a time to come when the deception will be especially great when false messiahs and false prophets will appear. Even the people of God could be deceived if it were not for God’s providential protection: “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24, see also Mark 13:5–6, Luke 21:8).

All of these deceptions are instigated by the devil. However, 2 Thessalonians 2:11 also speaks of the deception as God’s punishment on people who refuse to believe the truth. The context seems to be similar to that of the gospel passages above and speaks of one to come who will be especially deceptive: “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12, ESV).

In this passage, after people have refused the truth for so long, God causes them to believe what is false—a “strong delusion.” This is not an instance where God actively deceives people; rather, God is simply giving those who reject the truth what they really want.

We see a similar pattern in Romans 1:18–25 where people reject God’s truth for so long that He simply abandons them to their own sinfulness. They have, as it were, crossed the point of no return:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

Much the same thing happened to Pharaoh after he refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt, and God hardened his heart. It was not as though Pharaoh would have been an obedient follower of the Lord if God had not hardened his heart. Pharaoh set his heart against the Lord, and God simply confirmed for all time Pharaoh’s decision (see Exodus 8:15, 32; 9:34; 10:1).

The deception spoken of in the Gospels has to do with false prophets and/or messiahs who appear and seem to be authenticated by miracles. Taking the futurist position, we see the great deception spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2 as a future event associated with the coming of the Antichrist after the rapture of the church. “Those who are perishing” will willingly embrace the imitation and follow the beast of the end times; they will perish “because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (verse 10).

We don’t know exactly what the great deception will be, only that it will be a strong delusion capable of swaying the world’s allegiance toward the Antichrist. The Bible says that, in the time of the Antichrist and false prophet, there will be many signs to bolster their lies. The false prophet “performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth” (Revelation 13:13–14). It is hard to imagine, but the deception during the tribulation will be worse than all of Satan’s other deceptions. The Antichrist will have a deadly wound healed, his “image” will breathe and speak and give orders, etc. (Revelation 13:12, 15).

In the broader sense, anyone who rejects the truth of God is being deceived, and at some point, God may simply abandon him to the deception that he has willingly embraced. There are plenty of false teachers today who claim to teach God’s Word. Some claim to be Christians, and some claim to bring a word from God from outside of the Bible. It is vitally important that every Christian compare every teaching with what the Bible says and spend the time necessary to evaluate what is being taught. This is the mission of Got Questions, and in keeping with that mission, we would encourage every reader to compare what we say with Scripture as well.

Question: “Will the Antichrist be gay?”

Answer:
In a passage that many Bible interpreters understand to be a double prophecy about Antiochus Epiphanies and the end-times Antichrist, Daniel 11:37 reads, “He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all” (NASB). The fact that the Antichrist will “show no regard for . . . the desire of women” leads some to believe that the Antichrist will be gay/homosexual.

The question is what is meant by “the desire of women”? Is it referring to a desire for women, or is it referring to something that women desire? Either is a possible translation of the Hebrew text. If “desire for women” is the proper understanding, the Antichrist’s forsaking of it could be an indication that he will be gay/homosexual. But, if “something women desire” is the proper understanding, the phrase would point in a different direction entirely.

While the NASB, KJV, and NKJV translate the phrase as “the desire of women,” other translations render it differently.

The NIV and ESV translate the phrase as “for the one desired by women” (NIV) and “to the one beloved by women” (ESV). If this rendering is correct, Daniel 11:37 is saying that the Antichrist will show no regard for “something/someone women love.”

The NLT and CSB translate the phrase as “for the god loved by women” (NLT) and “the god desired by women” (CSB). If this rendering is correct, Daniel 11:37 is saying that the Antichrist will not regard the “gods of his father, or the god desired by women, or any other god.”

Essentially, the NIV, ESV, NLT, and CSB all agree that the phrase is referring to “something that women desire,” with the NIV and ESV leaving the something unidentified, while the NLT and CSB identify the something as the “gods” the Antichrist will forsake. This rendering likely makes the most sense. The Antichrist will forsake all gods because he will essentially view himself as God: “He will magnify himself above them all.”

Further, contextually, it would be strange for Daniel 11:37 to insert a reference to homosexuality, especially in such an unclear way. For Daniel 11:37 to say that the Antichrist will be gay, it would have to read something like, “He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers, and he will be gay, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all.”

So, while the Antichrist’s showing no regard for “the desire of women” could indicate that he will be gay/homosexual, that is not the only possible interpretation of Daniel 11:37, and it is definitely not the most plausible interpretation.

(original link)

Questions about the End Times part 21

What does it mean that heaven and earth will pass away?

Question: “What does it mean that heaven and earth will pass away?”

Answer:
The Bible consistently warns us that this world will not last forever. “Heaven and earth will pass away,” Jesus said in Matthew 24:35. His statement was in the context of end times’ prophecies and the eternal nature of Jesus’ words: “My words will never pass away.” This means that trusting Jesus is wiser than trusting anything in this world.

Jesus also refers to the passing away of heaven and earth in Matthew 5:18. In Revelation 21:1, John writes of a new heaven and a new earth in the eternal state, having seen that “the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (cf. Isaiah 65:17 and 2 Peter 3:13). To “pass away” is to disappear or be no more. This refers to the physical heaven and earth—the material world and all it contains—but not to the spirits/souls of the inhabitants of those places. Scripture is clear that people will outlast the current material universe, some in a state of eternal bliss and some in a state of eternal misery, and that the current universe will be replaced by another that will never know the contamination of sin.

The method of this world’s destruction is revealed in 2 Peter 3:10–12: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire. . . . That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” In Noah’s day, the world was destroyed with water, but God promised to send no more global floods (Genesis 9:11). In the Day of the Lord, the universe will be destroyed by fire.

The prophet Isaiah foretold the passing away of heaven and earth, too. “All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree” (Isaiah 34:4). The Lord assures His people that, even as the heaven and earth are passing away, His salvation is secure: “The heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail” (Isaiah 51:6).

Knowing that heaven and earth will pass away gives us perspective in life. This world is not our home. “We are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Jesus tells us to have the proper priorities: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth. . . . But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19–20). And Peter, after reminding us of the temporary nature of this world, says, “Dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14).

Is an eclipse a sign of the end times?

Question: “Is an eclipse a sign of the end times?”

Answer:
Numerous biblical passages link end-times events with astronomical phenomena. The sun, the moon, the stars, meteors, and possibly even eclipses are mentioned in connection with end-times Bible prophecies. For example, when asked about the timing of the end times, Jesus says, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars” (Luke 21:25). It’s natural that, whenever strange or rare astronomical phenomena occur, many wonder if the end times are approaching.

Eclipses and “blood moons” seem to especially stoke end-times hysteria. Some point to Matthew 24:29 as connecting a solar eclipse with the end times: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light” (ESV; see also Isaiah 13:10). During a solar eclipse, the sun is significantly darkened and the light normally reflected by the moon is gone. Also, during a lunar eclipse, the light normal reflected by the moon significantly decreases. So, yes, there does seem to be a possible connection between an eclipse and the end times.

With that said, there is no way to connect a specific eclipse with the fulfillment of end-times prophecy. Eclipses are actually quite common, with a total solar eclipse occurring somewhere on Earth approximately once every 18 months. Partial solar eclipses occur several times per year. Total lunar eclipses occur virtually every year in most parts of the world. Since the time that Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew 24, there have been thousands of total and partial, solar and lunar eclipses. None of them seem to have had any significance to end-times Bible prophecy. So, there is no way to know a particular eclipse in the future will have a connection to the end times.

Also, it is important to look at the rest of what Jesus says in Matthew 24, which is known as the Olivet Discourse. The possible eclipse is just one of several signs that Jesus mentions. Here is the whole of verse 29: “Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’” People pick up on the dark sun and moon, but they tend to ignore the stars falling and the planets shaking. Also, Jesus specifies that this sign will come “immediately after the distress,” a reference to the abomination of desolation in verse 15. This will be a time when “there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (verse 21). In fact, so terrible is that time that, “if those days had not been cut short, no one would survive” (verse 22). This is no regular eclipse that Jesus speaks of but one that occurs in the middle of the tribulation with a multitude of other signs. It will be the worst time of trouble the world has ever seen.

It is important to remember that Jesus said no one knows the day or hour of His return (Matthew 24:36). Since eclipses can be pinpointed to the very second, it would seem an eclipse cannot be the precise moment of Christ’s return. Our curiosity about when the rapture will occur, who the Antichrist will be, when the tribulation begins, and what exactly the abomination of desolation is must remain unsatisfied for now.

The apostle Peter gives us practical instruction in light of the end times: “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat” (2 Peter 3:11–12). We know that we will then see the new creation, “where righteousness dwells” (verse 13). Living our lives in light of Christ’s return means living in holiness and anticipation. Trying to calculate the timing of end-times events based on astronomical phenomena is not something the Bible calls us to do.

Will bitcoin / cryptocurrency be the one-world currency of the end times?

Question: “Will bitcoin / cryptocurrency be the one-world currency of the end times?”

Answer:
Bitcoin is what is called a cryptocurrency—“money” that is completely virtual and is neither distributed nor regulated by a centralized government. The “crypto” part of cryptocurrency refers to the heavy cryptography (encoding) used to request, confirm, and record the transactions within the context of a decentralized system. The advantage of the system is that two parties can exchange payment without the use of a third party (such as PayPal, VISA, banks, or the federal government) to validate the worth of the currency. More importantly, by replacing the third party with cryptographic proof of the transaction, both parties can remain completely anonymous. The relationship between national governments and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin is dynamic and ranges from being ignored, to being outlawed, to being taxed.

Bitcoin, created in 2009, is the most popular cryptocurrency. Like other cryptocurrencies, bitcoins are earned by computers that solve complex mathematical problems, specifically those that are needed to ensure the authenticity of bitcoin transactions and the relationships between those transactions. This process is called “mining” and now is often done in series of mainframes dedicated to that purpose.

Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin, carefully regulates how many new bitcoins will be “minted,” and that number decreases by half every four years. Ultimately, only 21 million bitcoins will be available. Although 80 percent of all bitcoins will have been mined between 2009 and 2018, it’s expected that all 21 million bitcoins will not be mined until 2140.

From the beginning, bitcoins became the currency of choice for many in the web’s black market. They are used to buy and sell drugs, weapons, and stolen art and to engage in human trafficking. Many who engage in ransomware (viruses that threaten to delete the information on your computer unless you pay) demand payment in bitcoins. They are also popular with people who wish to gamble online on overseas sites (which is illegal in the U.S.) or donate to charities the government doesn’t approve of (like Wikileaks). But, over the years, more reputable businesses have accepted bitcoin payment including the video game platform Steam, Overstock.com, Microsoft, and Tesla.

The idea of a one-world currency is vaguely suggested in the Bible. Revelation 13:16–17 says that the Antichrist will require everyone to have the mark of the beast to engage in any financial transactions. It’s unknown what exactly this mark will be, but it’s entirely possible that some kind of cryptocurrency will be involved. That would certainly be more efficient than printing and distributing a standardized physical currency all over the world. It’s possible that the mark of the beast will be what allows people to access the cryptocurrency in their virtual accounts. One man in Iceland has already implanted a chip in his hand to access his bitcoins.

The current popularity of bitcoin doesn’t mean that bitcoin will be the Antichrist’s one-world currency. In fact, it probably won’t. Bitcoin is only one of over 1,000 different virtual currencies, including Litecoin, Ethereum, Zcash, Ripple, and Monero. It’s more likely that, if the Antichrist uses a form of cryptocurrency, it will be original and more advanced than anything we have today.

Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies could be precursors to the money eventually used in the end times. But this is pure speculation. The Bible doesn’t mention computers, let alone cryptocurrency. Until 1998 cryptocurrency wasn’t even a word, and there’s no saying what new technological and sociological changes will come before the tribulation and the appearance of the Antichrist.

With that in mind, should Christians use bitcoin or any other type of cryptocurrency? Got Questions Ministries does not give investment advice, but there is nothing in the Bible that would prohibit using cryptocurrency if it is legal in your area. At the time of this writing, the value of bitcoin has soared. Many believe this is a bubble that will soon burst, so buyer beware.

Today’s cryptocurrency is not a sign that the tribulation has begun or that the Antichrist is on the scene. Christians will be raptured before the Antichrist rises to power (2 Thessalonians 2:7). In the tribulation, new Christians will refuse to receive the mark of the beast. If the mark is required to access cryptocurrency, tribulation saints who have that cryptocurrency will simply lose their money.

Will Christians see the Antichrist, or will the rapture occur before then?

Question: “Will Christians see the Antichrist, or will the rapture occur before then?”

Answer:
There are different views regarding the timing of the rapture in relation to the events of the tribulation period and the appearance of the Antichrist. Our ministry holds to a pretribulational view of the rapture—the view that all believers in Christ will be taken to heaven before the events of the tribulation period begin. First Thessalonians 4:13–18 describes the rapture, giving the order of events like this: Jesus comes from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16), the dead in Christ rise first (1 Thessalonians 4:16), and living believers are “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air. We believe this event ends the church age, and believers will “be with the Lord forever” following the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

We believe that, after the rapture, the seven-year tribulation period that is described in Daniel and Revelation will begin. Revelation 13 refers to a “beast” who will rule with absolute authority during the second half of the tribulation: “The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months” (Revelation 13:5). The Antichrist will be defeated at the second coming of Jesus described in Revelation 19.

Since Christians will be raptured before the beginning of the tribulation, we who are alive during the church age will not see the Antichrist’s rise to power. It is possible that we will see him on the world stage, but we will not recognize him as the beast, because he will not yet have made his move toward world domination.

The fact that the Antichrist is not revealed until after the rapture is taught in 2 Thessalonians 2. Speaking of the Day of the Lord, Paul writes that the tribulation will not begin until after the Antichrist is already revealed: “That day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (verses 3–4). Also, the revelation of the Antichrist must come after something else, because right now there is something “holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed” (verses 6–8). We believe this One who “holds back” the Antichrist is none other than the Holy Spirit. When the restraining influence of the Spirit is removed from this world—along with the church that the Spirit indwells—then the Antichrist will have free rein.

Will Christians see the Antichrist? No, at least not in his role as described in Revelation. The removal of the Restrainer’s influence precedes the revealing of the Antichrist. Evil is hindered right now, but, once the church age ends, the obstruction will be gone, and the rebellion will have the upper hand, at least temporarily. At the end of the tribulation, “the Lord Jesus will overthrow [the Antichrist] with the breath of his mouth and destroy [him] by the splendor of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). The ultimate doom of evil is sure.

We should note that there will be people who come to faith in Christ during the tribulation period. Many of these people will be Jews who believe in Jesus (Revelation 7). These believers will not only see the Antichrist but endure severe persecution because of him. These tribulation saints will either die during the tribulation or live to see the second coming of Jesus Christ (Revelation 19).

What does it mean that there will be scoffers in the last days?

Question: “What does it mean that there will be scoffers in the last days?”

Answer:
Two passages in the Bible say that “in the last days, scoffers will come.” Second Peter 3:3 and Jude 1:18 both explain what that means. A “scoffer” in this context is one who mocks Christ, ridicules the things of God, and opposes the gospel. Both Peter and Jude were writing warnings against false teachers who were intent on leading others astray. The word scoffer refers to one who denies the truths of Scripture and entices others to go along with his error.

Scoffers have been present since the Garden of Eden. Satan’s first temptation of man was in the form of scoffing at God’s command: “Did God really say—?” (Genesis 3:1). Scoffers dominated Noah’s day (Genesis 6:5–8; Hebrews 11:7), leaving God with little choice but to destroy them all and start over with Noah, the only righteous man on earth. Scoffers refuse to believe the word of the Lord and set themselves up as their own gods (2 Chronicles 36:16). The psalmist warns against the digression that leads from casual association with wicked people to sitting “in the seat of scoffers” (Psalm 1:1, ESV), embracing their worldview—and sharing their fate.

Although scoffers have always been a part of this fallen world, Scripture seems to indicate that, as the Day of the Lord draws nearer, the scoffing will increase. Peter describes these scoffers as “following their own evil desires” (2 Peter 3:3) and questioning the second coming of the Lord Jesus (verse 4). Thousands of years have passed since Jesus ascended into heaven, promising to return for His faithful ones (John 14:1–4; Revelation 22:12). Scoffers point out the lapse of time and mock those who still wait and yearn for His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:7).

Jude describes the scoffers of the last days as people who follow ungodly desires and create division in the church (Jude 1:18). They may even present themselves as church leaders, but they “do not have the Spirit” (verse 19). Paul goes into more detail about the condition of the world before Jesus returns: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (2 Timothy 3:1–5). Scoffers will fit right in with such a crowd.

We already see an increase of scoffers in our world today, and several factors may be contributing to that rise. Constant access to media, the internet, and other forms of technology provide an open platform for anyone with an opinion, and scoffing at everything once thought honorable is a favorite pastime. Scoffers are emboldened on social media by others who can instantly approve of their mockery. Many people are educated beyond their intelligence, and this new world without moral boundaries is producing scoffers instead of thinkers. Many try to use scientific training to say that, since the reality of the Creator God cannot be proved by man’s understanding, God must not exist. In rejecting Scripture, mankind has lost its moral compass, leaving us with no way to determine right or wrong, good or bad, truth or lie. In this climate, anyone who claims to know the truth is a prime target for scoffers.

Arrogance leads to scoffing, much as it did before the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–4). When people become puffed up with their own importance, they begin to challenge anything that threatens their high opinion of themselves. Once we have removed the idea of God from consideration, then anything goes. Scoffers have tried to redefine marriage, obliterate gender binarism, and create a fantasy world in which reality becomes whatever we feel it is. Not long ago, such a mindset was the definition of insanity. Now we are told it is the ultimate wisdom. Romans 1:21–22 has never been more relevant: “Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”

The proliferation of scoffers is a sign of the last days. They profess themselves to be wise, but they are really fools (Psalm 14:1). Regardless of the eschatological timeline one prefers, we can all agree that the number of scoffers and deceivers is increasing rapidly, just as Scripture warned us it would (2 John 1:7). It is critically important that every Christian take seriously the commands to study and meditate on God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15; Joshua 1:8) so that we won’t be led astray by the lofty-sounding ideas presented to us by scoffers (2 Corinthians 10:5).

(original link)


eclipse sign end times

heaven and earth will pass away

Questions about the End Times part 20

Does the Old Testament truly predict a second advent of the Messiah?

Question: “Does the Old Testament truly predict a second advent of the Messiah?”

Answer:
The Old Testament does prophesy the second coming of Christ, also referred to as the second advent of the Messiah. Some Old Testament prophecies concern the first advent, when Christ was born as a human being. Others concern the second advent, which is the ultimate triumph of this Messiah. It’s important to remember that prophecy does not describe the future in the same detail as history describes the past. So, while the prophecies of the Old Testament certainly describe both the first and second advents, most early interpretations of these prophecies melded them into a single event. Particularly during the years leading up to Jesus’ birth, it was assumed Messiah would be a political/military figure with an immediate worldly kingdom (Luke 19:11). In the light of Jesus’ ministry, it is possible to understand the true purpose of Christ and the real nature of His kingdom.

A careful look at Old Testament prophecies shows an underlying assumption of two advents. Micah 5:2 and Isaiah 7:14 predict the first advent. Separately, Isaiah 53:8–9 predicts a suffering and dying Messiah, who will be given life and greatness according to Isaiah 53:11–12. Daniel 9:26 describes the Messiah being killed after His appearance. At the same time, prophets such as Zechariah (Zechariah 12:10) say this same “pierced” Messiah will be seen again by His enemies. So the clues are there.

Many Old Testament prophecies foretell the ultimate triumph of Christ, which will occur at the second advent. These include statements from the books of Zechariah (Zechariah 9:14–15; 12:10–14; 13:1; 9:14–15); Amos (Amos 9:11–15); Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:18; 32:44; 33:11, 26); and Joel (Joel 3:1); which describe the Messiah coming in triumph to lead Israel into salvation. Note that these are in the context of passages such as Deuteronomy 30:3–5 and so are predictions of the time of Messiah’s final victory.

Also, Scripture records Jesus making direct comparisons to Old Testament prophecies when making His own claims to a second advent. For example, His words in Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27 parallel the descriptions of Isaiah 52:15 and Isaiah 59—62.

All in all, the Hebrew Scriptures indicate that the Promised One would appear, be cut off, and then reappear in victory. The first advent has occurred; the second is still future. Both the New and Old Testaments predict a second advent of the Messiah.

What role does Iran play in the end times?

Question: “What role does Iran play in the end times?”

Answer:
There are several biblical prophecies of the end times that mention Iran, called Persia or Elam in the Bible. Given the fact that Iran is often in the news as a nation seeking armaments (possibly nuclear) and repeatedly issuing threats against Israel, students of Bible prophecy are taking note.

Iran does have a role to play in the end times, but, first, a little history of Iran and its neighborhood, as it relates to biblical history. Jeremiah prophesied that Elam, a nation east of Babylon, west of Persia, and south of Media, would be conquered and then rise to power again (Jeremiah 49:34–39). True to that prophecy, Babylon conquered Elam in 596 BC. But then Persia, under Cyrus the Great, took control of that area, and the Elamites and Medes became part of the Persian Empire. The Medo-Persian Empire ascended to power and conquered Babylon in 539 BC, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 21:2. This happened during the time of Daniel (Daniel 5); in fact, Daniel later resided “in the province of Elam” in Persia (Daniel 8:2). Persia is the setting for the book of Esther and the first part of Nehemiah.

Alexander the Great’s conquests put an end to Persia as a world power, fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel 8. In the following centuries, Persia was ruled by the Seleucids, the Parthians, the Sassanians, the Romans, the Byzantines, and finally, in AD 636, the Muslims. In 1501, the state of Iran was founded.

In the New Testament, men from Iran are mentioned indirectly as “Parthians, Medes and Elamites” were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9). All three of these people groups were Jews who lived in the area of ancient Persia, modern-day Iran, and they were present in Jerusalem to witness the birth of the church.

Iran’s involvement in the end times will be as one of the nations involved in the battle of Gog and Magog, which probably occurs during the first half of the tribulation. Ezekiel 38:5 specifically mentions Persia as an ally of Magog/Russia. Other nations included in this coalition will be Sudan, Turkey, Libya, and others. This vast army will come against Israel, who at that time will be “a peaceful and unsuspecting people” (verse 11).

The outcome of this end-times invasion is predicted: God supernaturally intervenes, and Gog’s coalition is utterly destroyed. “On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals” (Ezekiel 39:4–5). Iran, allied with Russia, will think their invasion of Israel is a sure victory, but God has different plans. In protecting Jerusalem, God will send a strong message to the world: “I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel” (verse 7).

What is the image of the beast?

Question: “What is the image of the beast?”

Answer:
The book of Revelation contains an apocalyptic vision of two beasts emerging from the sea and land to take control of the world. It’s in this vision (in Revelation 13) that the image of the beast is first mentioned.

The first beast is a ten-horned, seven-headed monstrosity empowered and given authority by a dragon (Revelation 13:1–2). One of the heads is mortally wounded but is healed (verse 3). The beast is blasphemous against God and actively persecutes God’s people on earth (verses 5–7). It not only rules the world but receives the worship of the world’s inhabitants (verses 4, 7–8). The first beast is a symbolic picture of the Antichrist, and the dragon is Satan (cf. Revelation 12:9).

The second beast is a two-horned, deceptively benign creature that shares authority with the first beast (Revelation 13:11–12). The task of the second beast is to cause everyone to worship the first beast. As the second beast deceives the world with miracles, it orders that everyone “set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived” (verse 14). It also requires that everyone receive the mark of the beast in their forehead or right hand (verses 16–17). The second beast is a symbolic picture of the false prophet.

The Bible does not provide many details concerning the image of the beast. We know this, however: the false prophet will have “power to give breath to the image of the first beast so that the image could speak” (Revelation 13:15). This breathing, speaking image of the beast will then demand worship. Anyone who refuses to worship the image of the beast will be killed. Revelation 20:4 says that the mode of execution for those who do not worship the image of the beast is beheading. It is likely that the image of the beast is the “abomination that causes desolation” in the rebuilt temple, mentioned in Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15.

What exactly is the nature of the image of the beast? The Bible does not say. The old speculation was that the image of the beast is a statue given the appearance of life. With the rise of new technologies come new theories, including a hologram, an android, a cyborg, a human-animal hybrid, or a human clone. Whatever it is, the image of the beast is the focal point of worship in the “religion of the beast” during the second half of the tribulation. Paying obeisance to the image of the beast is how the deceived people of the world will worship the “man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) who sets himself up as a god in the temple of Jerusalem.

Those who do not worship the image of the beast will suffer the wrath of the Antichrist. But those who do worship the image of the beast will suffer the wrath of God, which is far worse: “If anyone worships the beast and its image . . . they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur. . . . And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image” (Revelation 14:9–11). The first of God’s bowl judgments is aimed specifically at the worshipers of the image of the beast: “The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image” (Revelation 16:2).

Those who refuse to bow the knee to the Antichrist and the image of the beast may be persecuted on earth, but they will be rewarded in heaven: “I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God and sang” (Revelation 15:2–3). The image of the beast is front-and-center in the nightmarish kingdom of Satan, but it will not last. The Bible specifies forty-two months, or three-and-a-half years, that the Antichrist will have worldwide influence (Revelation 13:5). After that, the image of the beast will be destroyed, the two beasts will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20), Satan will be bound (Revelation 20:1–3), and the Lord Jesus will establish His unending kingdom of perfection (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:32–33).

Is ISIS a sign of the end times?

Question: “Is ISIS a sign of the end times?”

Answer:
Many Christians wonder if the rise of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), also known as ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and IS (Islamic State), is a sign of the end times. ISIS has attracted a lot of attention due to its brutal tactics in gaining and maintaining control over territory in Iraq and Syria and its terrorism in other parts of the world (most notably the November 2015 Paris and June 2016 Orlando attacks).

ISIS’s murder of Middle Eastern Christians has been particularly heinous. The way ISIS has been beheading Christians (and other victims) reminds many of Revelation 20:4, which predicts the manner of execution the Antichrist will use during the tribulation; “Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God.” And, of course, the fact that ISIS is attempting to establish its Islamic caliphate so close to the borders of Israel is a definite matter of concern.

There is no biblical prophecy that explicitly predicts the rise of ISIS. The Bible prophesies an increase in wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6), and Jesus declared that persecution will be the experience of anyone who seeks to follow Him (John 15:18–20). Further, Second Timothy 3:1–4 could be seen as a fitting description of ISIS in many ways: “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

But these passages do not specifically predict ISIS. Rather, they inform us what the end times will be like. As a result, we should not be surprised by the rise of ISIS. The world is going to get worse before the end times, and then the world will get exponentially worse during the end times (see Revelation 6–18).

Is ISIS a definite sign of the end times? No. Is ISIS a possible sign of the end times? Yes. Could the actions of ISIS lead to a greater conflict that fulfills one of the end-times wars prophesied in the Bible? Yes. But, presently, the world is united against ISIS. Does that unity set the stage for a global government, as predicted in Scripture? Could the world’s being united against a great evil like ISIS eventually lead to the rise of the greatest evil the world will ever see, the Antichrist?

Ultimately, we will have to wait and see what role, if any, ISIS plays in the end times. At this time, ISIS is simply proof of what the Bible says about how evil humanity can become without Christ (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10–18).

What is the significance of the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem?

Question: “What is the significance of the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem?”

Answer:
The Old City of Jerusalem is surrounded by a wall containing eight major gates. Moving counter-clockwise from the northern-most gate are Herod’s Gate, the Damascus Gate, the New Gate, Jaffa Gate, Zion Gate, the Dung Gate, the Eastern Gate, and the Lions’ Gate. The Eastern Gate, facing the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley, is unique in that it is completely sealed shut. Some commentators see the Eastern Gate’s obstruction as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

The Eastern Gate of Jerusalem is also called the Golden Gate or the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:2). In Hebrew, it is Sha’ar Harahamim, the “Gate of Mercy.” It is currently the oldest gate in the Old City, having been constructed in the 6th or 7th century AD. Also, it is the gate that gives the most direct access to the temple mount—if a person could pass through the arches of the Eastern Gate, he would be very close to where the Jewish temple used to stand. When Jesus entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives in Matthew 21, He used a gate in the same location as the current Eastern or Golden Gate.

The Eastern Gate was sealed shut in AD 1540–41 by order of Suleiman the Magnificent, a sultan of the Ottoman Empire. It’s believed that the reason for the closing of the Eastern Gate was to prevent the Jewish Messiah from gaining entrance to Jerusalem. Jewish tradition states that the Messiah will pass through the Eastern Gate when He comes to rule. The Muslim Suleiman was attempting to thwart the Messiah’s plans with sixteen feet of cement. The Eastern Gate has remained sealed for nearly the past 500 years.

It’s the sealing of Jerusalem’s Eastern Gate that has caused many students of prophecy to sit up and take notice. The book of Ezekiel contains several references to a gate that faces east. In Ezekiel 10:18–19, the prophet sees the glory of the Lord leave the temple through “the entrance of the east gate of the Lord’s house”; the glory then moves east of the city to the Mount of Olives (Ezekiel 11:23). Later, Ezekiel sees the glory of the Lord return to the temple via “the gate facing east” (Ezekiel 43:1–5).

Then, in Ezekiel 44:1–2, we read of the gate being closed: “The man brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, the one facing east, and it was shut. The Lord said to me, ‘This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it.’” Finally, in Ezekiel 46:12 we read that there is one person, a “prince,” who may enter via the eastern gate: “When the prince provides a freewill offering to the LORD . . . the gate facing east is to be opened for him. . . . Then he shall go out, and after he has gone out, the gate will be shut.”

Some interpret these passages in Ezekiel as references to the Lord Jesus Christ. The glory of the Lord coming into the temple is seen as the triumphal entry (Ezekiel 43:2; Matthew 21:1–11). The command to permanently shut the gate because the Lord has entered it (Ezekiel 44:2) is seen as a prediction of the walling-up of the Eastern Gate by the Muslims in AD 1540. And, finally, the “prince” to whom the gate will be opened (Ezekiel 46:12) is seen as Christ Himself at the second coming—the Prince of Peace will return to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) and enter Jerusalem by way of the re-opened Eastern Gate.

This interpretation is popular and leads to much dramatic speculation about how and when the Eastern Gate will be unsealed. However, there are some textual problems with that interpretation.

First, there is a difficulty in connecting Ezekiel’s “gate facing east” with the Eastern Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. Ezekiel specifically says the gate he saw is “the outer gate of the sanctuary” (Ezekiel 44:1); that is, it’s a gate of the temple court, not a gate of the city.

Second, the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem is not the same one that Jesus rode through in His triumphal entry. The modern Eastern Gate was not constructed until centuries after the time of Christ. The original gate that Nehemiah built (and possibly dating to the time of Solomon) is underground, below the current gate, as documented by archaeologist James Fleming in 1969. It was through the lower gate (now underground) that Jesus would have entered Jerusalem in AD 30.

Third, the temple that Ezekiel sees in chapters 40–47 is not the same temple that Jesus was in, and the Jerusalem he describes is quite different from the Old City of Jerusalem that we know of today. The millennial temple (the third temple) measured in Ezekiel is significantly larger than the first two temples, and the Jerusalem of the millennium will have twelve gates, not eight (Ezekiel 48:30–35).

Finally, and most importantly, the “prince” in Ezekiel 46 is not the Messiah. Rather, he is the overseer of Jerusalem during the millennial kingdom. He is not Jesus, but he serves under Jesus’ authority. We know that this prince is not the Lord because he must make a sin offering for himself as well as the people: “On that day the prince is to provide a bull as a sin offering for himself and for all the people of the land” (Ezekiel 45:22). Whoever the prince is, he is a man with a sin nature that must be atoned for.

In summary, the “gate facing east” that Ezekiel describes is different from the Eastern Gate visible today in the old wall of Jerusalem. The current (sealed) gate did not exist at the time of Christ, so the Lord never entered it. The location of the earlier Eastern Gate (the one Jesus entered) is below present-day ground level, and it does not agree with the detailed description of the future temple complex as given in Ezekiel 40–42.

We surmise, then, that the eastern gate of Ezekiel 44 will be part of the future millennial temple complex. It is yet to be built.

How then do we interpret the coming and going of God’s glory and the closing of the eastern gate in Ezekiel’s prophecy? Like this: the prophet sees the glory of the Lord departing from the temple in chapter 10 because of the gross wickedness of the people—this is the first temple, destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Later, in chapter 43, Ezekiel sees the glory return to the temple—this is the new, enlarged temple of the millennial kingdom. In chapter 44, Ezekiel is told that the eastern temple gate “is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it” (verse 2). In other words, in the millennium the glory of the Lord will not depart from the temple. The avenue of the prior exit (to the east) is blocked, symbolizing the permanent presence of the Lord among His people. The eastern gate will only be opened on the Sabbath and the New Moon to allow for the priestly duties of the prince (Ezekiel 46:1–2).

Could an EMP attack be a part of the end times?

Question: “Could an EMP attack be a part of the end times?”

Answer:
Without delving too deeply into the actual science, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack would essentially fry electric circuits and knock out electricity in the affected area. Depending on how wide and for how long an area loses electricity, the effects of an EMP attack could be devastating. So much of the world relies upon electricity. Communications, banking, and transportation would be severely impacted.

The Bible does not specifically predict an EMP attack in the end times. Questions concerning an EMP attack in the end times are similar to questions concerning a nuclear attack in the end times. Does biblical end times prophecy allow for it? Yes. Does biblical end times prophecy explicitly predict it? No. The Bible predicts war in the end times, and another world war is definitely possible. However, the Bible does not predict any specific modern weapons that will be used in the end times conflicts.

The idea of an EMP attack is interesting, though. If EMP attacks were launched worldwide, rendering all technology useless, the world would essentially revert to a state comparable to that of 2,000 years ago. This would mean that the biblical references to swords, horses, etc., in the end times wars could be understood literally (Isaiah 2:4; Ezekiel 38:15; Revelation 14:20). But this is speculation. Most interpreters of Bible prophecy believe the Word of God is simply describing the end times wars figuratively, using terminology familiar to the people who lived at the time the prophecies were written.

So, could an EMP attack be a part of the end times? Definitely. Does the Bible explicitly predict that an electromagnetic pulse will return the world to the Dark Ages during the end times? No.

(original link)



second advent Messiah

Questions about the End Times part 19

Does the Bible say anything about Russia in relation to the end times?

Question: “Does the Bible say anything about Russia in relation to the end times?”

Answer:
With Russia back in the news in a big way, many people are wondering if recent events in eastern Europe have anything to do with end-times prophecy—and, if so, how? Much of the discussion has to do with an ancient prophecy from Ezekiel: “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshek and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshek and Tubal”’” (Ezekiel 38:1–3). The identities of “Gog,” “Magog,” “Meshek,” and “Tubal” are the key to fully understanding the prophecy.

Gog is a person. Whoever Gog is, he is from the land of Magog and is the leader of Tubal and Meshek (some translations add “Rosh” to the list) and a confederacy of other nations: Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth Togarmah (Ezekiel 38:5–6). And, whoever he is, he will have plans to “attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people,” viz., Israel (verses 11, 14, and 18). But, regardless of Gog’s plans, the Lord God is against him and will defeat him soundly (Ezekiel 38:4, 19–23; 39:3–5).

Magog is a land “in the far north,” from Israel’s point of view (Ezekiel 38:15; 39:2). Most Bible commentators interpret “Magog” as Russia—and, indeed, Russia is straight north of Israel, all the way up to the Arctic Circle. According to this view, “Rosh” is a reference to Russia, “Meshek” is either Moscow or the people north of the Black Sea (the area of southern Russia and Ukraine), and “Tubal,” which is always listed with Meshek in Scripture, is identified as a city in Siberia or an area in central Turkey.

Others see “Magog” as a general term used in Ezekiel’s day to identify barbarians living near the Black and Caspian Seas. Regardless of the exact locations of Magog, Tubal, and Meshek, there is no doubt that the general area includes portions of Russia and the former Soviet Union, and possibly some Arab countries.

So, yes, the Bible does mention Russia, although not by that name, in connection with the end times. Ezekiel 38—39 definitely refer to a nation coming from northern Asia to attack Israel. After the Cold War, Russia lost its superpower status, making the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy seem unlikely in some people’s eyes. However, recent events have shown that Russia is gaining strength, and many believe that the invasion of Crimea is just a first step in Russia’s plan to restore its dominance in that hemisphere. It is also interesting to note that, in the Soviet era, Moscow was solidly aligned with several Muslim countries in opposition to Israel. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has continued to make overtures to the Muslim world.

According to the Bible, there will come a time when Russia, in alliance with several other countries, will amass a huge army against Israel, with a view to plunder the Jews’ land. The nations aligned with Russia for this military endeavor are Persia (modern-day Iran), Put (modern-day Libya), Cush (modern-day Sudan), Gomer (part of modern-day Turkey), and Beth Togarmah (Armenia). Most of these nations are currently militant Islamic states with an express hatred of Israel. Ezekiel says that, when the aggressors move against Israel, a few other nations (“Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish”) will remonstrate, as will “all her villages”—possibly colonies (Ezekiel 38:13). Sheba and Dedan are associated with areas of northern Africa. Tarshish could be a reference to Spain (which colonized much of South America), Britain (which colonized the United States), or somewhere in eastern Africa. The objections to Magog’s aggression will fall on deaf ears, however, and the invasion will continue.

Some commentators believe this war is one of the events leading up to beginning of the tribulation. Others believe it will occur close to the midpoint of the tribulation, since Israel will be “dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates” (Ezekiel 38:11)—in other words, Israel will feel secure at that time, possibly because of the covenant they have signed with the Antichrist (Daniel 9:27). Either way, this battle is distinct from the Battle of Armageddon, which occurs at the end of the tribulation.

God promises to destroy Gog’s army: “I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him” (Ezekiel 38:22). The bodies of the fallen army of Magog will be buried, but it will take over seven months to complete the macabre task (Ezekiel 39:12, 14). This supernatural judgment will have the effect of preserving Israel and turning many hearts to God: “And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23). Many will be saved during the tribulation (Revelation 7), and the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38—39 will be one means by which God will bring people to a knowledge of Himself.

There is much we do not know for certain about Ezekiel’s prophecy, including the timing of these events. However, it is clear that Russia will be involved and will in fact lead an end-times league of nations to seize Israel’s land. The prophet Ezekiel comforts Israel in much the same way as Moses had centuries ago: “The LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory” (Deuteronomy 20:4).

What does it mean that Jesus will come in the clouds (Revelation 1:7)?

Question: “What does it mean that Jesus will come in the clouds (Revelation 1:7)?”

Answer:
Revelation 1:7 says, “‘Look, he is coming with the clouds,’ and ‘every eye will see him, even those who pierced him’; and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of him.’ So shall it be! Amen.” This verse brings together two other passages: Matthew 26:64, in which Jesus tells the Sanhedrin they will see the Son “coming on the clouds of heaven”; and Zechariah 12:10, which says that Jerusalem’s inhabitants will mourn when they see “the one they have pierced.”

Some have tried to allegorize Revelation 1:7 by assigning various figurative meanings to the “clouds.” But there is no need to look for hidden meanings here, for the passage means just what it says, as do the two passages it quotes. There is nothing more to make of the statement that “He comes with the clouds.” It simply means that Jesus will appear to all people as He comes to earth out of the heavens.

After Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission, “he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight” (Acts 1:9). As the disciples stood there, gazing after the Lord, two angels appeared and told them, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (verse 11). A cloud is mentioned at His ascension, and the clouds are mentioned at His return.

What does it mean that there will be wars and rumors of wars before the end times?

Question: “What does it mean that there will be wars and rumors of wars before the end times?”

Answer:
In part of His response to the disciples’ question, “Tell us . . . what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3), Jesus responded, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6). Because of Jesus’ words in this passage, whenever there is an explosion of conflict, especially in the vicinity of Israel, many people begin to wonder if the new war is a sign of the end times. If only people would read the rest of Matthew 24:6—“. . . See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet” (emphasis added).

Understanding Jesus’ statement about “wars and rumors of wars” to mean that warfare is a sign of the end times is the exact opposite of what He intended. Jesus was instructing us to not allow wars or rumors of wars to alarm or concern us, because “the end is not yet.” Similarly, Jesus spoke of false Christs (Matthew 24:5), famines, and earthquakes (Matthew 24:7), warning that “all these are the beginning of the birth pains” (Matthew 24:8).

Sadly, all of the things Jesus pointed to as not necessarily being signs of the end times are precisely the things most people look at as signs of the end times. Now, this is not to say that wars and rumors of wars are completely unrelated to the end times. When the Bible speaks of the end times, it describes some intense warfare. But Jesus’ point seems to be that there always has been war, and, until He establishes peace in the Millennial Kingdom, there will always be war. Therefore, wars and rumors of war are not reliable predictors for the end times.

Whether it is a civil war in Africa, strife between Israel and its neighbors, or the war on terror, no conflict today is necessarily a sign that the end times are imminent. No matter what wars and rumors of war are going on around us, our mission is the same, and it just so happens that the mission is what Jesus says is a reliable predictor of the end times, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14, emphasis added).

What biblical prophecies were fulfilled in AD 70?

Question: “What biblical prophecies were fulfilled in AD 70?”

Answer:
Much of importance happened in Israel in AD 70, and many link the events of that time to prophecies in the Bible. In studying this subject, it’s good to remember that prophecy does not describe the future in the same way that history describes the past. That’s why there are varied interpretations of biblical prophecy. Predictions dealing with the end times, a category known as eschatology, are of particular interest to many people. Within modern Christianity, most of these discussions are less about which events are predicted than when the events will happen. The most common point of reference for these opinions is the significant year of AD 70, when the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple.

Virtually all Christian interpretations of biblical prophecy agree that several prophecies were fulfilled in or before AD 70. Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple (Luke 21:6; Matthew 24:2) and, some would argue, the Jewish genocide at the hands of Rome (Luke 23:27-31). Historically, these events align extremely well with Jesus’ statements. There is broad agreement within most Christian interpretations that these prophecies were literally fulfilled in AD 70.

There is debate over whether additional prophecies, such as those found in Daniel chapter 9, Matthew chapters 24 and 25, and Revelation chapters 6—18, were also fulfilled in AD 70 or if they are yet to come. Partial preterism and full preterism hold that most, if not all, of the prophetic events in the Bible were completed by the end of the first century, mostly prior to AD 70. Dispensationalism holds that only the temple destruction and possibly the genocide were actually fulfilled in AD 70 and that the rest of the prophecies will have a future fulfillment during the tribulation.

In terms of historical evidence, there is little to make a definitive case one way or the other. The events of AD 70 can be made to fit certain prophetic claims, depending on one’s perspective. Of course, if one is willing to apply a high enough degree of symbolic interpretation, any prophecy can be made to conform to almost any event. It should be noted, however, that most non-dispensational interpretations require the book of Revelation to have been written prior to AD 70, something that general scholarship does not support.

The most serious difficulties in claiming all the prophecies were fulfilled in AD 70 are theological. In particular, preterism requires scriptural passages to be interpreted with a chaotic blend of extremely literal and extremely figurative language. One would have to interpret words, verses, and phrases that appear in the same discourse, or even the same paragraph, with a different literal-figurative assumption.

The most reasonable interpretation is that the genocide and destruction of the temple were prophecies fulfilled in AD 70, and that the other events described in Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation are yet to occur. They are truly end-times predictions.

Will there be a great apostasy during the end times?

Question: “Will there be a great apostasy / falling away during the end times?”

Answer:
The Bible indicates that there will be a great apostasy during the end times. The “great apostasy” is mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. The KJV calls it the “falling away,” while the NIV and ESV call it “the rebellion.” And that’s what an apostasy is: a rebellion, an abandonment of the truth. The end times will include a wholesale rejection of God’s revelation, a further “falling away” of an already fallen world.

The occasion of Paul’s writing to the Thessalonians was to correct some of the errors concerning the end times that the believers had heard from false teachers. Among the falsehoods was that “the day of the Lord has already come” (2 Thessalonians 2:2). The Christians in Thessalonica were afraid that Jesus had already come, they had missed the rapture, and they were now in the tribulation. Paul had already explained the rapture to them in his first letter (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17). Paul writes his second letter to assure them that, contrary to what they had heard, and despite the persecution they were enduring, the “day of Christ” had not yet come.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul makes it clear that the day of the Lord, a time of worldwide judgment (Isaiah 13:6; Obadiah 1:15), will not transpire until two things happen. First, the falling away, or great apostasy, must occur. Second, the “man of lawlessness” must be revealed, he who is called the “son of perdition,” also known as the Antichrist. Once this person makes himself known, the end times will indeed have come. Numerous speculations about the identity of the man of sin, beginning in the first century, have included Caligula, Caius Caesar, Mohammed, Napoleon, and any number of Roman popes. None of them were the Antichrist.

The man of lawlessness, according to 2 Thessalonians 2:4, is the one who “will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” Clearly, this has not yet happened; no one since Paul’s time has set himself up as God in the Jewish temple. Two thousand years have passed since the epistle was written, and the “day of the Lord” has not yet come. Paul assures us that it will not come until the falling away comes first.

The Greek word translated “rebellion” or “falling away” in verse 3 is apostasia, from which we get the English word apostasy. It refers to a general defection from the true God, the Bible, and the Christian faith. Every age has its defectors, but the falling away at the end times will be complete and worldwide. The whole planet will be in rebellion against God and His Christ. Every coup requires a leader, and into this global apostasy will step the Antichrist. We believe this takes place after the church has been raptured from the earth.

Jesus warned the disciples concerning the final days in Matthew 24:10–12: “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” These are the characteristics of the great apostasy of the end times.

Does China have a role in the end times?

Question: “Does China have a role in the end times?”

Answer:
Many students of Bible prophecy consider Revelation 16:12–16 to possibly refer to China in the end times:

“The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then . . . demonic spirits that perform signs . . . go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. . . . Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” (Revelation 16:12–16).

This passage predicts a massive, climactic conflict known as the Battle of Armageddon. It occurs at the end of the tribulation, after the sixth bowl judgment. At that time, the Euphrates River will be dried up, allowing the “kings from the East” to invade the Near East and march toward Israel. It is the “kings from the East” identification that many associate with China. The Chinese army, or a Chinese-led coalition, will take advantage of the removal of a natural barrier and sweep westward to meet up with the forces of the Antichrist.

When the end-times’ force from China joins with the armies of the Antichrist, the seventh and final bowl judgment will be poured out. The Lord Jesus will return, the most violent earthquake ever will shake the world, and the forces of the Antichrist and the armies of the East will be destroyed (Revelation 16:17–20; 19:11–21).

It is impossible to know for sure if the Eastern confederacy of the end times will include China; however, it seems likely that China will be involved. Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in China’s power and influence. The development of enormous military strength; intimidation of Hong Kong, Tibet, Taiwan, and other regions; pursuit of global economic dominance; aggressive rhetoric on the world stage; and, of course, the persecution of Chinese Christians—all this has been characteristic of China. It is not hard to imagine that the “kings from the East” who one day march into Israel will include China.

Some people identify another battle, mentioned earlier in Revelation, as a prophecy of China in the end times. The association hinges on the mention of an army of 200 million (Revelation 9:16) and occasional reports of China’s capability of equipping such a vast army. There are a couple problems with this view. One is that Revelation 9 says nothing of an army from the East; rather, it speaks of a demonic horde that destroys a third of mankind. The “horses” these beings ride are definitely not normal horses (verse 17). Also, the battle of Revelation 9 occurs after the sixth trumpet judgment; the battle of Revelation 16 involving the kings of the East occurs after the sixth bowl judgment, probably about three and a half years later.

In the end times, many nations, likely including China, will try their hand at conquest. Ultimately, their fight will be against God. The tribulation will be a tumultuous time of warfare, disasters, and divine judgment. But God has it all under control, as Psalm 2:2–6 assures:

“The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
‘Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.’
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
‘I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.’”

(original link)


Jesus in the clouds

Questions about the End Times part 18

Does war with Syria have anything to do with the end times?

Question: “Does war with Syria have anything to do with the end times?”

Answer:
As civil war rages in Syria and other nations ponder potential involvement, some Bible teachers believe we can see biblical end-times prophecy unfolding right before our eyes. The Middle East is a religious-political powder keg and has been for years, but the Syrian Crisis seems to be making the situation that much more explosive. Because of Syria’s proximity to Israel, Egypt’s troubles, Iran’s threats, and the United States’ ultimatums, there is talk of the end times, Armageddon, and World War III.

It is true that, with every passing day, we draw closer to the Second Coming of Christ (James 5:8). And the prophecy of Isaiah 17:1 has yet to be fulfilled: “A prophecy against Damascus: ‘See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins.’” Damascus, the capital of Syria, has a longstanding reputation for being the oldest continuously occupied city in the world. It has never been without citizens or totally destroyed. But Isaiah’s prophecy still stands; there is coming a day when Damascus will be nothing but a “heap of ruins.” The current war in Syria could indeed be one of the events leading up to the capital’s destruction.

There are other verses in the Bible tethered to Isaiah 17:1, but the idea of a ruinous heap suggests that not one building is left standing in Damascus. The city will no longer be a city. Some students of prophecy believe a nuclear bomb could be the means of fulfilling this prophecy; others suggest the possibility of an earthquake. Regardless of exactly how or when it happens, two things we know for sure: God is sovereign and His Word will stand (Isaiah 40:8).

There is much unrest in the Middle East, and the war in Syria is capturing the attention of the whole world. However, this particular conflict, even if it expands to other nations, cannot be associated with Armageddon. That battle occurs near the end of the Tribulation, during the bowl judgments, as the nations of the earth gather to fight against the Lord (Revelation 16:12–16). The war in Syria, if it is indeed part of end-times prophecy, is more likely part of the “birth pains” described in Mark 13:7–8.

In 700 BC, Isaiah wrote of the demise of Damascus. Today, 2,700 years later, many believe that we are close to seeing that long-standing prophecy fulfilled. However chaotic the events on the world stage appear, we know that all things are working toward the fulfillment of God’s Word.

“The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17)—are you ready for His coming?

Will the Holy Spirit be present during the tribulation?

Question: “Will the Holy Spirit be present during the tribulation?”

Answer:
The question of the Holy Spirit not being present during the tribulation results from a misunderstanding of 2 Thessalonians 2:7, which reads, “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.” Right now, prior to the tribulation, one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is the restraint of evil. In verses 8 and 9, we learn that the restraining power of the Holy Spirit holds back the “lawless one” (Antichrist) so he is not revealed before God wills it. The passage says the Holy Spirit will no longer restrain the growth of evil, but that does not mean He will have no ministry whatsoever.

In Acts 1:4–5, Jesus promises that His disciples would soon be “baptized with the Holy Spirit.” In Acts chapter 2, Jesus’ promise is fulfilled. In verses 38 and 39, it is written that “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’”

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is thus assured for every born-again believer, and nowhere in Scripture is that promise rescinded. Regeneration is the Spirit’s work; without Him, no one is saved. If the Spirit were not present during the tribulation, no one could be saved. But the fact is that a multitude that no one can number is saved during the tribulation (Revelation 7:9–14). Therefore, those who come to Jesus during the tribulation period will also be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Give glory to God for making that provision, because tribulation saints will need the guidance and direction of the Spirit during that troubled time.

Another good reason that the Spirit must be present during the tribulation is that He is omnipresent. Since He is everywhere at all times, He must be in the world during the tribulation.

At some point—only God knows when—the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit will be removed, the Antichrist will be revealed to an unwitting and unsuspecting world, and the tribulation period will begin.

Will all Israel be saved in the end times?

Question: “Will all Israel be saved in the end times?”

Answer:
Romans 11:26 plainly says, “All Israel will be saved.” The question that arises is: “What is meant by Israel?” Is the future “Israel” literal or figurative (i.e., referring to the ethnic Jews or referring to the Church)? Those who take a literal approach to the promises of the Old Testament believe that the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be restored to a right relationship with God and receive the fulfillment of the covenants. Those who advocate replacement theology basically affirm that the Church has completely replaced Israel and will inherit God’s promises to Israel; the covenants, then, will be fulfilled only in a spiritual sense. In other words, replacement theology teaches that Israel will not inherit the actual land of Israel; the Church is the “new Israel,” and ethnic Israel is forever excluded from the promises—the Jews will not inherit the Promised Land as Jews per se.

We take the literal approach. The passages that speak of future Israel are difficult to view as figurative for the Church. The classic text (Romans 11:16–24) depicts Israel as distinct from the Church: the “natural branches” are the Jews, and the “wild branches” are the Gentiles. The “olive tree” is the collective people of God. The “natural branches” (Jews) are “cut off” the tree for unbelief, and the “wild branches” (believing Gentiles) are grafted in. This has the effect of making the Jews “jealous” and then drawing them to faith in Christ, so they might be “grafted in” again and receive their promised inheritance. The “natural branches” are still distinct from the “wild branches,” so that God’s covenant with His people is literally fulfilled. Romans 11:26–29, citing Isaiah 59:20–21; 27:9; Jeremiah 31:33–34, says:

“And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’ As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

Here, Paul emphasizes the “irrevocable” nature of Israel’s calling as a nation (see also Romans 11:12). Isaiah predicted that a “remnant” of Israel would one day “be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD” (Isaiah 62:12). Regardless of Israel’s current state of unbelief, a future remnant will in fact repent and fulfill their calling to establish righteousness by faith (Romans 10:1–8; 11:5). This conversion will coincide with the fulfillment of Moses’ prediction of Israel’s permanent restoration to the land (Deuteronomy 30:1–10).

When Paul says Israel will be “saved” in Romans 11:26, he refers to their deliverance from sin (verse 27) as they accept the Savior, their Messiah, in the end times. Moses said, “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live” (Deuteronomy 30:6). Israel’s physical inheritance of the land promised to Abraham will be an integral part of God’s ultimate plan (Deuteronomy 30:3–5).

So how will “all Israel be saved”? The details of this deliverance are filled out in passages such as Zechariah 8—14 and Revelation 7—19, which speak of end-times Israel at Christ’s return. The key verse describing the coming to faith of the future remnant of Israel is Zechariah 12:10, “I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” This occurs at the end of the tribulation prophesied in Daniel 9:24–27. The apostle John references this event in Revelation 1:7. The faithful remnant of Israel is epitomized in Revelation 7:1–8. These faithful ones the Lord will save and bring back to Jerusalem “in truth and righteousness” (Zechariah 8:7–8, NASB).

After Israel is spiritually restored, Christ will establish His millennial kingdom on earth. Israel will be regathered from the ends of the earth (Isaiah 11:12; 62:10). The symbolic “dry bones” of Ezekiel’s vision will be brought together, covered with flesh, and miraculously resuscitated (Ezekiel 37:1–14). As God promised, the salvation of Israel will involve both a spiritual awakening and a geographical home: “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land” (Ezekiel 37:14).

In the Day of the Lord, God will “reclaim the surviving remnant of his people” (Isaiah 11:11). Jesus Christ will return and destroy the armies gathered against Him in rebellion (Revelation 19). Sinners will be judged, and the faithful remnant of Israel will be set apart forever as God’s holy people (Zechariah 13:8—14:21). Isaiah 12 is their song of deliverance; Zion will rule over all the nations under the banner of Messiah the King.

Who is the man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12?

Question: “Who is the man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12?”

Answer:
The man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12 is the Antichrist who will come on the world scene at the beginning of the Day of the Lord. This Day, sometimes called the “end times,” starts after the rapture of the church in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11). It is good to note that the Day of the Lord is not a twenty-four-hour period of time; rather, it is an extended period of time that includes the seven-year tribulation, the return of Christ to put down all rebellion against Him, the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth, the final defeat of Satan, and the Great White Throne Judgment.

The Antichrist is given the title “man of lawlessness” because he will oppose in every way the biblical God and His law. He will be completely lawless. Daniel 7 speaks of this man as a “boastful” king who will “try to change the set times and the laws” (verses 11 and 25). He will come offering a false peace to the world and will with his charismatic personality, incredible promises, and breathtaking miracles unite all nations politically, economically, and religiously under his leadership. At the same time, he will make a covenant with Israel for three and one-half years (cf. Daniel 9:27, where “seven” indicates seven years). In the middle of the seven years, the man of lawlessness will break his covenant with Israel, stop their sacrifices (Daniel 9:27), and enter the temple to set himself up as “god” and demand worship (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This is the “abomination that causes desolation” that Jesus spoke of in Mark 13:14.

Satan works through the Antichrist, for Satan himself is not able to become incarnate. By possessing and controlling the Antichrist, Satan is worshiped in the temple where the biblical God is to be worshiped. No wonder the Antichrist is called the man of lawlessness. To act as “god” is the ultimate rejection of the biblical God’s character and laws.

This action of the Antichrist will cause an upheaval in his worldwide kingdom, and forces from the East will gather to fight against him. But instead of fighting each other, the forces of the world unite to fight the King of kings and Lord of lords, who comes to put down the man of lawlessness and his allies in the great battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16; 19:19). Of course, the man of lawlessness loses that battle. He and his false prophet are then cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). The Word of God (Revelation 19:13), Jesus Christ, will be the Victor.

A quick observation of the happenings in our world today reveals that lawlessness is on the rise. Such lawlessness will continue and increase (2 Timothy 3:13), and when the man of lawlessness appears on the scene, he will be welcomed with open arms. Those who have rejected the true Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, will fall for the Antichrist’s empty promise of peace. It is vitally important that each of us is sure that we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and are living for Him. “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come” (Mark 13:33).

Are the sky trumpets people have been reporting signs of the end times?

Question: “Are the sky trumpets people have been reporting signs of the end times?”

Answer:
Strange sounds in the sky, which some call “sky trumpets” or “sky quakes,” have been reported from around the world in recent years. People in the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Russia, the Czech Republic, Australia, and other places have been puzzled by what they describe as low frequency hums, trumpets, or horns that seem to emanate from the top of the sky or from under the earth. Most of these sounds have never been heard before now, which makes the phenomenon unnerving. These noises have a groaning quality overlaid with a metallic, vibrating sound similar to that of musical instruments. In some instances, the sounds seem to include unintelligible voices.

Theories abound about these strange sounds and their origination. The main explanations of the sky trumpets are natural phenomena, alien spacecraft, manmade sounds, and spiritual activity.

Sky Trumpets—a natural explanation? Some say the sounds are the result of solar plasma interacting with the earth’s magnetic field. Others theorize that the source of the sounds is the movement of tectonic plates or a shift in the earth’s north magnetic pole. If these “sky trumpets” or “sky quakes” or “acoustic gravity waves” are naturally caused, then the question is, why weren’t the sounds being reported long before March 2011?

Sky Trumpets—an extraterrestrial explanation?UFO enthusiasts are quick to point to the sky trumpets as corroboration of their theories concerning aliens visiting our planet.

Sky Trumpets—a human explanation? Probably, many of the sky trumpet videos on the internet—maybe most of them—are hoaxes. It is not difficult for a prankster to tweak audio and create a video in which a few of his friends stand gawking at the sky. Other explanations of the sky trumpet videos, besides their all being hoaxes, are that the sounds have an industrial or military cause. One Canadian city has said the so-called sky trumpets heard there were nothing more than the sound of a city worker doing maintenance on a piece of heavy equipment. The internet is full of conspiracy theories concerning top-secret government projects called HAARP and Project Blue Beam. Depending on whom one reads, these projects have to do with controlling the weather, killing people with microwaves, and/or attempting to usher in a New World Order via simulating the second coming of Christ.

Sky Trumpets—a spiritual explanation? And then there are those who attach a spiritual significance to the sky trumpets and look for a spiritual origin. Some see the sounds as demonically generated, believing that Satan’s forces are attempting to frighten and confuse people. Others see the sky trumpets as divine in origin, believing them to be a warning that we are living in the last days.

It is true that trumpets figure into several biblical events. When God gave the Law on Mt. Sinai, His presence was accompanied by “a very loud trumpet blast,” causing everyone in the camp to tremble (Exodus 19:16). It later intensified, and “the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder” (verse 19). The rapture of the church will occur at a time when “the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Jesus said that, at His second coming, “he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds” (Matthew 24:31). Jesus also spoke of “fearful events and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11). And, during the tribulation, there are “seven angels who had the seven trumpets” (Revelation 8:6). Every time one of these angels blows a trumpet, a new judgment befalls the earth (Revelation 8—9).

Those who look for a harbinger of the end times often refer to the sky trumpets as “trumpets of the apocalypse.” However, we know that these sounds, whatever they are, are not the “last trumpet” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:52, because the rapture has not yet occurred. We also know that the sounds cannot be the seven trumpets of Revelation, because the tribulation is not yet upon us.

The most probable explanations for the “sky trumpets,” biblically, would be that they are either natural or manmade. Whether these unidentified sounds are the work of pranksters, the effect of changes to our planet’s magnetic field, or the evidence of a sinister global plot, the fact remains that we just don’t know. No one knows for sure what part, if any, “sky trumpets” will have in the end times. We do know this: the days before the rapture will be characterized by increasing wickedness (2 Timothy 3:1–4) and widespread false teaching (1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:3; Jude 1:18). After the rapture, the deception and wickedness will grow even worse (2 Thessalonians 2:9–11). The only way to escape this confusion is to be born again and live in hope of the imminent coming of Jesus Christ for the church.

(original link)


Questions about the End Times part 17

Why must Elijah return before the end times (Malachi 4:5-6)?

Question: “Why must Elijah return before the end times (Malachi 4:5-6)?”

Answer:
Malachi 4:5-6 offers an intriguing prophecy: “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” To this day, Jewish Seders include an empty chair at the table in anticipation that Elijah will return to herald the Messiah in fulfillment of Malachi’s word.

According to Malachi 4:6, the reason for Elijah’s return will be to “turn the hearts” of fathers and their children to each other. In other words, the goal would be reconciliation. In the New Testament, Jesus reveals that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy: “All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come” (Matthew 11:13-14). This fulfillment is also mentioned in Mark 1:2-4 and Luke 1:17; 7:27.

Specifically related to Malachi 4:5-6 is Matthew 17:10-13: “His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. . . .’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.”

The scribes were the Jewish religious teachers, mostly Pharisees and Sadducees, who provided commentary on the Jewish Scriptures. Peter, James, and John were familiar with their teachings and asked Jesus about Elijah after seeing Jesus with Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8). Jesus clearly stated that Elijah had already come, but, tragically, he was not recognized and had been killed. Jesus then predicted He would likewise die at the hands of His enemies (17:13).

A brief look at the ministry of John the Baptist reveals many notable ways that he was “Elijah.” First, God predicted John’s work as being like that of Elijah (Luke 1:17). Second, he dressed like Elijah (2 Kings 1:8 and Matthew 3:4). Third, like Elijah, John the Baptist preached in the wilderness (Matthew 3:1). Fourth, both men preached a message of repentance. Fifth, both men withstood kings and had high-profile enemies (1 Kings 18:17 and Matthew 14:3).

Some argue that John the Baptist was not the Elijah to come because John himself said that he was not Elijah. “And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not’” (John 1:21). There are two explanations for this apparent contradiction. First, because Elijah had never died (2 Kings 2:11), many first-century rabbis taught that Elijah was still alive and would reappear before the Messiah’s arrival. When John denied being Elijah, he could have been countering the idea that he was the actual Elijah who had been taken to heaven.

Second, John’s words could indicate a difference between John’s view of himself and Jesus’ view of him. John may not have seen himself as the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6. However, Jesus did. There is no contradiction, then, simply a humble prophet giving an honest opinion of himself. John rejected the honor (cf. John 3:30), yet Jesus credited John as the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy regarding the return of Elijah.

As the metaphorical Elijah, John called people to repentance and a life of obedience, preparing the people of his generation for the coming of Jesus Christ, the One who had come “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10) and to establish the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).

What is the prophecy of St. Malachy?

Question: “What is the prophecy of St. Malachy?”

Answer:
St. Malachy, whose Gaelic name was Máel Máedóc, was born in Ireland in AD 1094. He became a Catholic priest and later the Archbishop of Armagh. Several miracles have been attributed to him, according to evidence investigated by the Roman Catholic Church. He was the first Irishman to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

Malachy was an influential reformer within Irish Catholicism, bringing its liturgical practices into closer agreement with those of Rome. For his efforts, he was appointed legate for Ireland, but during his second trip to Rome, in 1148, he became ill and died on November 2.

Malachy is known today for a set of prophecies, purportedly written by him in 1139, concerning the future line of Popes. His list started with his contemporary, Pope Celestine III and continued through the next 112 Popes. The last Pope would be called Petrus Romanus (“Peter the Roman”), whose reign would end with Judgment Day. Malachy’s vision of the future included a brief, cryptic description of each Pope.

According to Catholic tradition, Malachy’s prophecy remained hidden until AD 1590, when it was first published. It has been a source of conjecture and controversy ever since. The prophecy has recently come into focus again because of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. According to Malachy’s reckoning, Pope Francis I will be the last.

Here are the final five Popes, according to Malachy:

Flos Florum (“Flower of Flowers”) – Pope Paul VI
De medietate Lunae (“Of the Half Moon”) – Pope Juan Pablo I
De Labore Solis (“From the Toil of the Sun”) – Pope John Paul II
Gloria Olivae (“The Glory of the Olive”) – Pope Benedict XVI
Petrus Romanus (“Peter the Roman”) – Pope Francis I

Some people have found “evidence” that Malachy’s prophecy is true. For example, Paul VI’s coat of arms contained fleur-de-lys, thereby associating him with flowers. Other connections between the prophecy and the Popes are more strained and hardly plausible.

The prophecy of Malachy concerning the final Pope is as follows: “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End.” According to Malachy, the final Pope will take the title “Pope Peter the Roman” or a derivative thereof. According to Catholic teaching, the apostle Peter was the first Pope, and, according to Malachy, another Peter will be the final one.

The mention of “persecution” and the destruction of Rome in Malachy’s prophecy have led some to believe that the final Pope will be the Antichrist or the False Prophet of Revelation 19:20. There are others who find a prediction of a “black Pope” in Malachy’s writings.

Because Malachy was immersed in the teachings and dogmas of the Catholic Church, his prophetic utterances and dreams are questionable at best. His prophecy is extra-biblical; for that matter, the whole concept of a “Pope” is extra-biblical. Rather than interpret the end times according to the dreams of a Catholic mystic, we should trust what God’s Word says in the books of Daniel, Revelation, and Zechariah.

The Bible warns about listening to false prophets who speak as though their oracles were given to them by God. Jeremiah 23:32 says, “‘Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,’ declares the Lord. ‘They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least.’”

Does The Harbinger really predict America’s future?

Question: “Does The Harbinger really predict America’s future?”

Answer:
The book The Harbinger: the Ancient Mystery that holds the secret of America’s Future by Messianic Jewish Rabbi Jonathan Cahn has been a best-seller and has sparked controversy and much discussion. There is no question as to Cahn’s passion about alerting his fellow countrymen to the spiritual, economic, and moral dangers that the United States faces. But is Cahn’s interpretation of the book of Isaiah correct, and are those Old Testament prophecies applicable to modern-day America?

The back cover of the book clearly labels the book as “FICTION / Suspense,” and the line following the copyright page says, “What you are about to read is presented in the form of a story…” The rest of that sentence is ambiguous: “… but what is contained within the story is real.” If the author is saying that the book’s content is a real message from God to the USA, then it is important to examine his view of the meaning of biblical prophecy.

The story’s opening dialogue reads, “An ancient mystery that holds the secret to America’s future.” This attention-getting assertion is made by the story’s narrator and lead character, journalist Nouriel Kaplan. Kaplan is attempting to persuade Ana Goren, a media executive, to publish information that Kaplan believes will affect the economic, political, military, moral, and spiritual future of the United States. Even though Cahn presents this information in a fictional vehicle, he asserts that it is “real.” Is it?

In the story, a nameless prophet meets Kaplan on a number of occasions, giving him information about how recent events, including the World Trade Center terrorist attacks of 9/11, the housing boom, the war in Iraq, the 2008 collapse of Wall Street, etc., were predicted specifically by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. The prophet leads Kaplan to understand that Isaiah not only warned his own nation (Israel) about the danger of abandoning God but, in a mysterious way, also predicted America’s contemporary events.

In drawing parallels between Israel and America, Cahn asserts several things: first, that America was founded on a covenant with God as much as Israel was. Second, that America is being released from God’s protection to suffer the consequences of having marginalized Him. Third, that Isaiah predicted all of this.

Cahn’s prophet in the book tells Kaplan that each of the key American events since September 11, 2001, is a harbinger of America’s coming fall; each disaster is another warning from God for America to return to Him. Cahn’s point, couched as it is in a fictional narrative, is that, unless the U.S. changes course, it will suffer the same fate as the ancient nations. That is, God will allow America’s enemies, external and internal, to bring it down. Cahn sees evidence for his claim in the words of Isaiah 9.

Cahn identifies Isaiah 9:8–10 as revealing the main harbinger of coming disaster: “The Lord has sent a message against Jacob; it will fall on Israel. All the people will know it—Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria—who say with pride and arrogance of heart, ‘The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.’” In the original context, God is expressing His anger at Israel over their refusal to repent from their idolatry. Even after receiving God’s discipline in the form of several disasters, the nation of Israel hurled their defiance at God Himself. To paraphrase Israel’s words, they said, “God, You may have allowed our enemies to damage our city, but we will rebuild it even stronger.” This was conscious and deliberate rebellion against God. The Israel of Isaiah’s day would not bow to God, not even under His rod.

Cahn’s prophet in The Harbinger quotes government leaders using similarly defiant words following the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Since U.S. leaders used the words, “We will rebuild” and expressed a “spirit of defiance,” Cahn applies God’s angry words in Isaiah 9 to America. The problem with this interpretation is that when America’s leaders vowed to rebuild the World Trade Center, they were not defying God but the terrorists who demolished it. Israel was defying both their human enemies and God. Cahn’s linking of the two nations with the same prophecy is unfair. The principle behind Isaiah’s prophecy—that judgment may befall any nation that forsakes God—could be applied to America. It may be a fascinating coincidence that Isaiah mentions fallen bricks. The book may be exciting to read. But it is faulty Bible interpretation to take a prophecy clearly meant for Israel and make the details pertain to modern-day America.

Cahn does not claim in his book to be a prophet. Neither does he claim to have received the message of his story directly from God. He writes as a teacher, putting into the mouth of Kaplan what he understands to be both the original and the contemporary meanings of Isaiah’s prophecy. Cahn does not claim that Isaiah uses the name America or the United States in his prophecies. He does not even claim that Isaiah had a dual fulfillment of his prophecies in mind. Cahn’s apparent purpose in his book is to spin a convincing yarn and persuade readers of a real danger America faces in light of Cahn’s understanding of how Israel’s situation in 600–500 BC applies to America’s current situation.

In the book, Cahn creates a fictional means of revealing prophecy from God—clay seals, such as were used to hold impressed signatures on official documents. In The Harbinger, the prophet gives Kaplan a set of nine such seals. Each seal supposedly represents a national event in Israel’s history—a harbinger that warned of final collapse and dispersion into the surrounding pagan nations—as well as a current event in America, heralding ultimate doom if America does not repent.

Cahn connects each seal with a serious American event in the decade following September 11, 2001, and with an object or an event in Israel’s history. Since Cahn is writing fiction, he is free to manufacture not only clay seals but coincidences. His creative way of identifying the coincidences is both fascinating and convincing, as far as the story goes. He sees in the coincidences a pattern of God’s warnings to both His chosen nation, Israel, and the U.S. Each seal and its related dire event are harbingers of ultimate doom. America is being warned to turn back to God.

Persuasive preaching about a real need, yes; accurate interpretation of a Bible text, no. The problem is that Israel is the only nation with whom God has made a covenant, through Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). America is not Israel.

If you read The Harbinger, remember that only time can reveal the validity of what claims to be prophecy from God (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). And, even though the book may use some faulty interpretations, do not close your heart to Cahn’s essential message. He is right that America needs to repent. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). The United States of America very likely will meet the same fate as ancient Israel if its people do not repent. Americans need to give their hearts to God and exercise faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. To that end we should pray.

Are we living in the end times?

Question: “Are we living in the end times?”

Answer:
The Bible prophesies of many events that will occur in the end times. These events can be categorized as natural signs, spiritual signs, sociological signs, technological signs, and political signs. We can look to what the Bible says about these things, and, if the signs are present in abundance, we can be certain that we are, in fact, living in the end times.

Luke 21:11 lists some of the natural signs that will occur before Jesus’ second coming: “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” While we shouldn’t interpret every natural disaster as a sign of the end times, an increase in natural disasters seems to be a warm-up to what is coming next—“birth pangs,” as Jesus called them (Matthew 24:8).

The Bible lists both positive and negative spiritual signs. In 2 Timothy 4:3–4 we discover that many people will follow false teachers. We see now an increase in cultic groups, heresy, deception, and occultism, with many choosing to follow New Age or pagan religions. On the positive side, Joel 2:28–29 prophesies that there will be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16), and we are still seeing the effects of that outpouring in revivals and Spirit-led Christian movements, and in the worldwide preaching of the gospel message.

Along with the signs in the natural and spiritual realms, there are signs in society. The immorality rampant in society today is a symptom of mankind’s rebellion against God. Abortion, homosexuality, drug abuse, and child molestation are proof that “evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse” (2 Timothy 3:13). We are now living in a hedonistic and materialistic society. People are lovers of themselves—“looking out for number one”—and doing what is right in their own eyes. All these things, and many more, can be seen around us every day (see 2 Timothy 3:1–4).

The fulfillment of some end-times prophecies seemed impossible until the advent of modern technology. Some of the judgments in Revelation are more easily imagined in a nuclear age. In Revelation 13, the Antichrist is said to control commerce by forcing people to take the mark of the beast, and, given today’s advances in computer chip technology, the tools he will use may very well be here already. And through the internet, radio, and television, the gospel can now be proclaimed to the entire world (Mark 13:10).

And there are political signs. The restoration of Israel to her land in 1948 is the single most impressive fulfilled prophecy proving that we live in the end times. At the turn of the 20th century, no one would have dreamed that Israel would be back in her land, let alone occupying Jerusalem. Jerusalem is definitely at the center of geopolitics and stands alone against many enemies; Zechariah 12:3 confirms this: “On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” Matthew 24:6–7 predicted that “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” “Wars and rumors of wars” are definitely characteristic of this present age.

These are just a few of the signs that we are living in the end of the age. There are many more. God gave us these prophecies because He does not want anyone to perish, and He always gives ample warning before pouring out His wrath (2 Peter 3:9).

Are we living in the end times? No one knows when Jesus will return, but the rapture could occur at any moment. God will deal with sin either by grace or by wrath. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their savior will remain under the Lord’s wrath.

The good news is that it’s not too late to choose eternal life. All that is required is acceptance, by faith, of God’s free gift of grace. There is nothing you can do to earn grace; Jesus has paid the price for you (Romans 3:24). Are you ready for the Lord’s return? Or will you experience His wrath?

Does the Bible say the United Nations will have a role in the end times?

Question: “Does the Bible say the United Nations will have a role in the end times?”

Answer:
Many believe the formation of the United Nations was a key development relating to biblical prophecy of the end times. The United Nations is not mentioned by name in the Bible, and neither is its predecessor, the League of Nations; of course, that does not mean it is not symbolically suggested in prophecy. The possibility of a one-world government has come and gone constantly over the past 2,000 years since John wrote the book of Revelation. As the United Nations has gained more power, it has provided fodder for various conspiracy theories. At the same time, the rise of the UN is a valid field of study for students of prophecy and for anyone anticipating the New World Order.

A one-world or global government is predicted in Daniel and Revelation. It will come after the rise of a confederation of ten nations or regions (Revelation 13:1; Daniel 7:16–24; Daniel 2:41–42). One member of the confederation will displace three of the other members, subdue the others, and rule over all, led by the satanically empowered Antichrist. It is this confederation of ten nations that is most often connected with the United Nations. If this connection is correct, it may be that the UN or a similar group is mentioned, indirectly, in the Bible, but there is no way to be completely sure before the Antichrist makes his appearance.

Another prophecy that some people connect with the United Nations is found in Revelation 17—18. There, “Babylon the great” or the “Whore of Babylon” is condemned. The first mention of Babel is in Genesis 11, the story of the Tower of Babel. The building of the tower was mankind’s first attempt at “world government” in defiance of God. Babylon the Great in the end times is a similar conglomeration of nations attempting to unite against God. This could be the United Nations or the European Union or some other, yet-to-be-identified bloc of countries associated with the Antichrist. The fact that this evil world system is called a “mystery” (Revelation 17:5) indicates that we do not know all the details yet.

It should be noted that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were quick to denounce the formation of the League of Nations. In 1919 the second president of the Watchtower Society condemned both the League and any person who supported it. They did the same when the United Nations was created, passing a resolution condemning it in 1963. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the UN is the “image of the beast” of Revelation 13:1–18 and the “abomination of desolation” mentioned in Matthew 24:15, although there is no clear hermeneutical evidence for either interpretation.

There are many international events which could be interpreted as the fulfillment of various apocalyptic prophecies in the Bible. However, we should be careful not to jump to conclusions. Throughout history there have been major international threats, possibilities of global totalitarian governments, and proud, out-of-control leaders. It may appear that our current situation is more likely to fulfill prophecy than past situations, and we can more clearly “see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). But until we see Christ, we must trust God and continue our efforts to spread the good news of HisKingdom with the resources we have been given.

(original link)



Questions about the End Times part 16

What will be the end times, one-world religion?

Question: “What will be the end times, one-world religion?”

Answer:
The one-world religion described in Revelation 17:1–18 as “the great harlot” will be part of the end-times scenario. The term harlot is used throughout the Old Testament as a metaphor for false religion. The actual identity and makeup of the religion has been debated for centuries and has resulted in a number of different views among Bible commentators and theologians. There are convincing arguments for the one world religion being Catholicism, Islam, the New Age movement, or some form of religion not even invented yet, and an internet search will produce many more possibilities and theories. There is no doubt that some sort of one-world religion under the false prophet will be a part of the end times, perhaps made up of a number of different religions, sects, and isms that are around today.

Revelation 17:1–18 gives us several characteristics of the one-world religion. The false religion will dominate all the “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” of the earth (Revelation 1b, 15), meaning that it will have universal authority, no doubt given by the Antichrist, who rules the world at that time. Verses 2–3 describe the harlot as committing adultery with the “kings of the earth,” referring to the false religion’s influence among the world’s rulers and influential people. The reference to being drunk with the wine of her adulteries may refer to those who are drunk with the power they receive from worshiping the false god of the false religion. Satan frequently ensnares those whose lust for power drives them away from the worship of the true and living God. The alliances forged by the false religion will unite church and state as never before.

Verse 6 describes the harlot as being “drunk with the blood of the saints” and the blood of those who testify of Jesus. Whether they will be martyred at the hand of the Antichrist or by being systematically starved, believers who are on the earth during the tribulation will experience the wrath of the harlot and her power source, the Antichrist. Those who oppose the worldwide religion will be killed, and those who refuse to worship the Antichrist by accepting his mark will be unable to buy and sell, thereby making survival very difficult (Revelation 13:16–17).

Eventually, the harlot will lose favor with the Antichrist, who will want to receive the world’s worship for himself. He will not share the adoration of the world with the prophets and priests of the false religion, no matter how obsequious or fawning they may be. Once the Antichrist gains the world’s amazed attention by his miraculous return from the dead (Revelation 13:3, 12, 14), he will turn on the false religious system and destroy it, establishing himself as God. The deception, Jesus tells us, will be so great that, if it were possible, even the elect would fall for it (Matthew 24:24).

What is the purpose of the thousand-year reign of Christ?

Question: “What is the purpose of the thousand-year reign of Christ?”

Answer:
The Millennium (also known as the Millennial Kingdom) is the 1,000-year reign of Jesus after the Tribulation and before all the people of the world are sent to either heaven or hell. Jesus will reign as king over Israel as well as all the nations of the world (Isaiah 2:4; 42:1). The world will live in peace (Isaiah 11:6–9; 32:18), Satan will be bound (Revelation 20:1–3), and, at the beginning, everyone will worship God (Isaiah 2:2–3). The purpose of the 1,000-year reign is to fulfill promises God made to the world that cannot be fulfilled while Satan is free and humans have political authority. Some of these promises, called covenants, were given specifically to Israel. Others were given to Jesus, the nations of the world, and creation. All of these will be fulfilled during Jesus’ 1,000-year reign.

The Palestinian Covenant, also called the Land Covenant (Deuteronomy 30:1-10)
God has already fulfilled the personal aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant; Abraham did go to the Promised Land, he did have many descendants, and he is the forefather of many nations. Several hundred years after Abraham, Joshua led the Israelites to claim ownership of the Promised Land. But Israel has never possessed the specific boundaries that God promised in Genesis 15:18–20 and Numbers 34:1-12. Not even Solomon ruled over this particular area (1 Kings 4:21–24). Although he did reign from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates, he did not hold the area from Mount Hor to Hazarenan (Numbers 34:7–9)—into present-day Lebanon and Syria. In addition, the covenant God made with Abraham was that he and his descendants would have the land forever (Genesis 13:15; 17:8; Ezekiel 16:60). The current Israeli state may be a step in this direction, but they still do not possess the boundaries God laid out.

The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7)
God’s covenant with David was that his line would never die out and that David’s heir would sit on the throne of Israel forever (2 Samuel 7:16). Biblical scholars agree that Jesus is the fulfillment of this covenant—one of the reasons His genealogy is given for both His adoptive father (Matthew 1:1–17) and His mother (Luke 3:23–38). The Jews understood this when they laid down palm branches and their cloaks as Jesus rode into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1–17). They expected Him to be a military/political leader that would liberate them from the Romans and make Israel a great nation again. But they didn’t understand the nature of Jesus’ work at the time was for the New Covenant, not the Davidic Covenant. The 1,000-year reign will be the beginning of Jesus’ reign over Israel and the earth (Revelation 20:4, 6).

The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
The work of the New Covenant—Jesus’ death and resurrection to reconcile hearts to God—has been accomplished. But we have not yet seen the complete fulfillment. Jeremiah 31:33 says, “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Ezekiel 36:28 gives more specifics: “You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” Isaiah 59:20–21 explains that this covenant is possible because of the Redeemer, and the reconciliation He provides will last forever. This covenant does not mean that every Jew will be saved. But it does mean that Israel as a nation will worship their Messiah. The Old Testament prophets who spoke of this covenant, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and Ezekiel, all wrote that it will be fulfilled in the future. From their time on, Israel has yet to be an independent nation that worshiped its Messiah (Romans 9—11). They will be in the 1,000-year reign of Christ.

Other Promises
Those are the covenants God made with Israel that are to be fulfilled in Jesus’ 1,000-year reign, but the Bible lists other promises that will be fulfilled, too. God promised Jesus He will make His enemies a footstool, and that Jesus’ followers will worship Him freely (Psalm 110). God promised the nations of the world that they would live in peace with Jesus as their ruler (Daniel 7:11–14). And He promised creation that the curse would be lifted (Romans 8:18–23), animals and the earth would be restored to peace and prosperity (Isaiah 11:6–9; 32:13–15), and people would be freed from disease (Ezekiel 34:16). These, too, will be fulfilled during the 1,000-year reign.

The main purpose of Jesus’ 1,000-year reign is to fulfill the prophecies given to Israel and the promises made to Jesus, the nations, and the whole earth. God’s covenants were voluntary and one-sided. He promised He would bless Israel and restore the world in specific ways, and He will.

Does the Bible say that an increase in technology is a sign of the end times?

Question: “Does the Bible say that an increase in technology is a sign of the end times?”

Answer:
Many people over the years have proposed that there would be an increase in technology as the end times approach. Among those espousing this view were renowned scientists Isaac Newton and Francis Bacon. On the frontispiece of Bacon’s Instauratio Magna, ships of learning were depicted passing by the limits of human knowledge, with a quote in Latin from Daniel 12:4. In more recent times, this belief has been supported in books like Future Shock by Alvin Toffler and The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin.

In Future Shock, first published in 1970, Toffler described the results of the rapid advancement of technology he had observed in the 1950s and 1960s. As technology brought ever faster changes in society, certain people were left on the sidelines, unable to cope with the speed of change. That stress and disorientation in people was dubbed “future shock.” Toffler did not attempt to use the Bible in his work, but the concept of future shock was alluded to in works like Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth, which was also published in 1970. Mr. Lindsey has made frequent mention of Daniel 12:4 as a prophecy of this rapid technological advance.

The Bible Code was based on the work of Eliahu Rips and others, who proposed that the history of all mankind was encoded in the text of the Torah and could be found by the process of “equidistant letter sequencing” or ELS. This concept was first proposed by Rabbi Bachya ben Asher in the 13th century, a man who is recognized as introducing the use of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) into the study of the Torah. According to this theory, the Hebrew word for “computer” is encoded in Daniel 12:4, thus giving apparent confirmation that technology would indeed have exponential advances with the advent of computers.

With this background information, we are still left with the question, “Does the Bible say that an increase in technology is a sign of the end times?” The short answer is “No.” Working backwards through the previous information, the concept of ELS has been heavily debated in both academic and religious circles. Intriguing discoveries have been made, but the methods by which they appear are suspect at best. The concept proposed by Rabbi ben Asher is related more to divination than to Bible study, and God condemns any method of discerning hidden knowledge (Deuteronomy 18:10,14).

But, as Toffler observed, there certainly has been an exponential increase of technology, and it appears to be gaining ground even more quickly. So what does the Bible have to say on this matter? Let’s take a look at the text in question, Daniel 12:4, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Daniel was told that the meaning of his prophecy would be sealed until the time of its fulfillment was near. The majority of Bible scholars through the ages have understood the last two phrases to reference the prophecy itself. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s critical commentary (published 1871) identified the meaning as scrutinizing every page to discover God’s purposes in the events foretold. John Darby translated the passage “many shall diligently investigate,” and Samuel Tregelles rendered it “many shall scrutinize the book from end to end.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary (c. 1700) said, “Then this hidden treasure shall be opened, and many shall search into it, and dig for the knowledge of it, as for silver. They shall run to and fro, to enquire out copies of it, shall collate them, and see that they be true and authentic. They shall read it over and over, shall meditate upon it, and run it over in their minds.”

Many passages of Scripture refer to what will happen at the end of the age, but no other passage seems to deal with increasing knowledge or technology as a sign for us. A greater sign is the advancement of the gospel which Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:14 and which He commanded us to proclaim in Matthew 28:19-20. God’s goal for mankind isn’t to advance as far as we can or to know all we can discover, but rather that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Why is God going to send a strong delusion in the end times?

Question: “Why is God going to send a strong delusion in the end times?”

Answer:
The Bible makes it clear why God is sending a strong delusion in the end times: “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). Simply put, God sends a strong delusion to those who choose not to believe the gospel of Christ. Those who take delight in mocking and rejecting Him, He will condemn.

It is a person’s choice whether to accept and believe the truth of Jesus Christ as presented in the Scriptures. To receive the truth and the love God offers is in keeping with its teachings, “This is love for God: to obey His commands” (1 John 5:3). Conversely, to know the truth and not obey it is to face the wrath of God: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). Frankly speaking, there is no more dangerous condition for man than to know the truth and refuse to obey it. To do so is to harden the heart and make God’s condemnation sure.

When one knows the truth and refuses to obey it, he is subject to any lie, any deception, any untruth that humanity can conjure up. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21-22). Paul goes on in the next few verses to describe the mindset and behaviors of those who disbelieve (see Romans 1:29-31). As a result of human foolishness and arrogant disdain of the things of God, “God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28). And correspondingly, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).

Isaiah puts it succinctly: “They have chosen their own ways, and their souls delight in their abominations; so I [God] also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring upon them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in My sight and chose what displeases Me” (Isaiah 66:3-4).

When people know the truth and refuse to receive it, when they refuse to obey it and hold it in unrighteousness, “they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:12 NLT).

“God is love” (1 John 4:16). He is not some cruel monster who deliberately and inwardly delights in preparing people for everlasting condemnation. But He earnestly and lovingly proclaims the gospel of Christ, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Throughout the Scriptures, God urges people to accept the truth. But when people reject Him and spurn His message, then—and not until then—God hardens them and turns them over to a deluded mind to wallow in their wickedness to their eternal damnation. This is what the Lord says about those who choose to reject the truth: “They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So the Lord does not accept them; He will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins” (Jeremiah 14:10).

How can I overcome my fear of the end of days?

Question: “How can I overcome my fear of the end of days?”

Answer:
The best way to overcome a fear of the end of days is to be spiritually prepared for it. First and foremost, you must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in order to have eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10). Only through Him can you receive forgiveness of sin and have eternity with God. If God is your Father, there’s really nothing to worry about (Luke 12:32).

Second, every Christian should live a life worthy of the calling we have in Christ. Ephesians 4:1-3 teaches, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Knowing Christ and walking in His will go a long way towards diminishing fear of any kind.

Third, Christians are told what will happen in the end, and it’s encouraging. First Thessalonians 4:13-18 notes,

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Rather than fear the future, we are called to anticipate the future with joy. Why? In Christ, we will be “caught up” to meet Him and we “will always be with the Lord.”

Further, Scripture says we do not need to fear Judgment Day: “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:17-18).

The apostle Peter reveals that, even if our future holds suffering, we need not fear: “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed” (1 Peter 3:14). Peter and many other early believers endured much hardship and even death because of their faith in Christ. Suffering is not to be feared; it is a blessing when it is borne for the name of Jesus.

Those who do not know Christ do not have the promise of peace for the future. For them, there is a real concern because they have not settled the issue of where they will spend eternity. Those who do know Christ do not fear the end of days. Instead, we strive to live a life worthy of our calling, live with confidence, suffer patiently, anticipate Jesus’ return, and rest in the knowledge that our times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15).

(original link)