Posts tagged ‘rapture’

The Rapture of the Church

I have been wanting to write about the rapture for a few years, but have not felt the okay from the Spirit until now. ¬†So I am a little excited about this post ūüôā

I was raised in the Baptist church, and the idea that there were those in the church who did not believe there will one day be a rapture was a bit of a surprise to me. ¬†When I went off to a Christian college, and sat through a theology class where they told us that their denomination didn’t believe in a rapture of the church because it is only found in one verse in the Bible, I was dumbfounded. ¬†My thought was then, and still is, “So it is okay to say that an idea in the Bible is not true because there is only one verse.” ¬†That is a very slippery slope no Christian should set foot upon. ¬†NEVER disqualify ANY Scripture, EVER. ¬†When you do, you disqualify the very Word of God. ¬†Remember that ALL SCRIPTURE IS INSPIRED BY GOD (2 Timothy 3:16). ¬†But enough of that soap box.

I want to go back to the base argument that the rapture is only mentioned once, because that is also an erroneous statement.  I will go through a number of those passages shortly.

The first thing I want to do is explain the word itself. ¬†Rapture comes from the Latin word rapio. ¬†The same word in Greek is harpazo. ¬†According to Wikipedia’s definition of the word, it means to catch up or take away. ¬†Thayer’s Greek Lexicon expands on that definition for the word harpazo: ¬†to seize, carry off by force; to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly; to snatch out or away. ¬†And Strong’s defines harpazo as: to seize, catch away/up, pluck, pull, take by force. ¬†Now lets look at some of the passages where it is seen.

Acts 8:39 (NKJV) – “Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord¬†caught¬†Phillip¬†away,¬†so that the eunich saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.”

Matthew 13:19 (NKJV) – “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and¬†snatches away¬†what was sown in his heart. ¬†This is he who received seed by the wayside.”

John 6:15 (NKJV) – “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and¬†take¬†Him¬†by force¬†to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.”

John 10:12 (NKJV) – “But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf¬†catches¬† the sheep and scatters them.”

Acts 23:10 (NKJV) – “Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and¬†take¬†him¬†by force¬†from among them, and bring him into the barracks.”

2 Corinthians 12:3-4 (NKJV) – “And I know such a man–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows–how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”

Here’s a favorite one. ¬†John 10:28-29 (NKJV) – “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone¬†snatch¬†them¬†out¬† of My hand. ¬†My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all and no one is able to¬†snatch¬†them¬†out¬† of My Father’s hand.”

As you can see from these passages, the word harpazo is used several times in the Bible, and is used in varying contexts, some spiritual, some physical, some good, some bad.  The point is that it is not a word that is used only once.

I’m sure you noticed that I didn’t list any verses using harpazo in reference to the church body. ¬†Well of course I saved the best for last ūüôā ¬†Let’s take a look at Scripture passages that do talk about the rapture, harpazo, taking up of the Church. ¬†Not all of them have the exact word in them, but all point to the same event.

Generally the first passage referred to regarding the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.  We will look at that one, but I want to go back further in the history of the New Testament first.

I’d like to start by looking at where the Church will go when Yeshua (the Hebrew name of Jesus) raptures it. ¬†Look at John 14:2-3 (NKJV) – “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. ¬†I go to prepare a place for you. ¬†And if I go and prepare a place for you,¬†I will come again and¬†receive you to Myself;¬†that¬†where I am, there you may be also.

One of the arguments I have heard against the rapture of the Church is this:  why would He come back part way from heaven, only to go back again.  I have also heard that because there is no rapture, this verse then must mean that Jesus will gather us to meet Him, and then we will go directly to reigning with Him during the millenium, or thousand year reign, on earth.

In order to truly understand the meaning of this passage, one must understand Jewish custom. ¬†In these verses, Yeshua, who was speaking to His Jewish disciples, was making reference to a wedding ceremony. ¬†Jesus often referred to His followers as His bride. ¬†This is the context in which we must read these words. ¬†Jewish weddings happened in 2 stages. ¬†In the first stage, the bride would be betrothed, or would commit herself to marrying the groom. ¬†After the betrothal, both would go back to their respective father’s homes. ¬†The bride would prepare her wedding attire, and the groom would pay the bride price (Yeshua’s death on the cross), and ¬†prepare a place for her, a home where they would live together. ¬†When the home was completed, the groom would go to the bride’s father’s home, physically pick up the bride, who didn’t know when he was coming, and carry her to his father’s home where they would consummate the marriage and celebrate the wedding feast, which lasted 7 days. ¬†Jesus’s disciples understood this analogy when He spoke it to them. ¬†He was going to prepare a place for us, and then come to take us to be with Him there.

How do we know that this place that Jesus is preparing for us is in heaven, and not on earth? ¬†First of all, because we know where Jesus went after His death and resurrection. ¬†Acts 1:9 says – “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was¬†taken up,¬†and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” ¬†Oh! ¬†Did you catch that harpazo? ¬†Luke 24:51 says – “Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and¬†carried up into heaven.” ¬†So the bride will be¬†taken up/snached up/carried away by the groom to the home that He has prepared for us in heaven.

It should also be noted that, aside from the home that Messiah is presently making for us in heaven, there is also¬†reference to the Church’s presence in heaven during the time of Great Tribulation in Revelation 19:6-8 which says – “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! ¬†For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! ¬†Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ ¬†And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”

After the marriage of the Lamb, Yeshua will return to earth to set up His kingdom, and the armies in heaven will be with Him. ¬†Who are the armies? ¬†The saints, His bride. ¬†Look at the words. ¬†Revelation 19:11-15a – “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. ¬†And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. ¬†His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. ¬†He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. ¬†He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. ¬†And the armies of heaven,¬†clothed in fine linen, white and clean,¬†followed Him on white horses. ¬†Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. ¬†And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.” ¬†(A long passage to point to one line, but I couldn’t leave out the impressive description of Yeshua.) ¬†See the words used to describe the armies of heaven. ¬†They are clothed in fine linen, white and clean. ¬†These are the same words used to describe the bride of the Lamb just a few verses earlier (arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright).

Now let’s look at how the Church will get to heaven. ¬†I want to go back to Acts 1. ¬†The disciples had just witnessed Yeshua being raptured up to heaven and are standing there gawking up at the sky when two angels appear and say to them (vs 11), “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? ¬†This same Jesus, who was¬†taken up from you into heaven,¬†will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”¬† This is the same thing we see in¬†1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, and I quote it here from the New King James Version. ¬†“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. ¬†And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be¬†caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. ¬†And thus we shall always be with the Lord. ¬†Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

Another reference to this passage is found in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. ¬†1 Corinthians 15:50-53 – “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. ¬†Behold, I tell you a mystery: ¬†We will not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. ¬†For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptable, and we shall be changed. ¬†For this corruptable must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” ¬†In 1 Thessalonians Paul tells believers that we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. ¬†Here in 1 Corinthians, he expands on that by telling us that our bodies will be changed at that time from corruptable, mortal bodies to incorruptable, immortal bodies since the former cannot inherit, live in, heaven.

If we are to take the Bible as God’s Word, full of His truth, we must look at these passages and agree that the Church will be raptured, taken up, caught up, snatched away to heaven, by the groom to the place He is preparing for His bride, where we will celebrate the wedding feast of the Lamb, and from where we will return, clothed in fine linen, riding on white horses, to be with Yeshua when He sets up His reign on earth after the Great Tribulation.

This has been a very full post, but I want to address the when of the rapture because Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians to “comfort one another with these words.” ¬†But what comfort is there if the rapture comes after the Great Tribulation and we must all live through it? ¬†So let’s look at a couple of things with this in mind.

First, if the rapture happened at the end of the Tribulation, we would go to heaven, then turn around and come right back down for the millenial kingdom. ¬†What then would the purpose be of the home that Yeshua is making for us? ¬†And when would we celebrate the wedding feast of the Lamb? ¬†Remember, too, that the time that the bride is at the place prepared for her at the groom’s father’s house is a week, 7 days celebrating the marriage feast. ¬†The Great Tribulation is 7 years. ¬†The analogy is not coincidental. ¬†Since the bride did not arrive half way through the wedding feast, but at the beginning, it can also be understood that the Church will be raptured at the beginning of the 7 years’ of tribulation.

Let’s quickly look at some other passages that help to give us the hope and assurance of the rapture and the deliverance from the Great Tribulation.

Go all the way back to Deuteronomy where Moses prophesies¬†much about the future of Israel. ¬†In chapter 32:21 God says this – “They [Israel] have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; they have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. ¬†But I will provoke them to jealousy by¬†those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by¬†a foolish nation.” ¬†The foolish nation, and those who are not a nation are the Gentiles, to whom God would bring salvation after the Judean leadership rejected Jesus. ¬†Paul also quotes this in Romans 10:19. ¬†What would provoke Israel to jealousy for God? ¬†I’ll tell you.

Just yesterday I was reading comments on a Facebook post about a Jewish man who had become a follower of Messiah. ¬†He commented time and again about how Judaism was just a show. ¬†That the actions the people took, the feasts and holidays were in appearance only, not acts of the heart, and not a lifestyle. ¬†A very traditional, and obviously orthodox Jewish woman, argued in multiple strains of conversation. ¬†Her perspective as a Jewish person in DNA and in faith is that God is the only god (she is right), and that salvation is for the Jews only. ¬†Worship of Yeshua is idolatry in her mind. ¬†What would make this woman, and the whole ¬†nation of Israel so jealous of God that they are driven to anger? ¬†Obviously not the Christian faith, or the followers of Yeshua. ¬†What would cause the nation of Israel to become so jealous that they would turn their hearts once again to true worship of God? ¬†What do you suppose is going to be Israel’s reaction when millions of people around the world disappear, and they begin to realize that the people who disappeared are the Christian Church? ¬†Won’t they react like the brother of the prodigal son? ¬†I was here all this time, yet You throw a feast for this one?

God also promises to keep us from the time of trouble. ¬†That would be a reference to Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), and the Last Days which Jesus taught about in Matthew 24, one and the same. ¬†In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 Paul says, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who¬†delivers us from the wrath to come.” ¬†And again in chapter 5, verse 10 – “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

A very telling verse is in Revelation among the letters to the 7 churches. ¬†To be fully understood, however, the reader must recognize that these letters have a 3-fold purpose. ¬†The first was as letters to the actual churches addressing their current state. ¬†The second is as letters to individual Christians to help examine their faith. ¬†The third is prophetic covering the entire Church Age with the first letter going to the earliest church as a whole, and the seventh going to the final church body. ¬†The 6th letter is addressed to the Church in Philadelphia, and says this in chapter 3:10 – “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”

This then is the hope that Paul speaks of. ¬†Will we go through tribulation? ¬†Absolutely. ¬†Jesus said we would. ¬†And we do. ¬†We are. ¬†Look around you. ¬†We suffer pain, sickness, death. ¬†Christians all over the world deal with persecution in very wide variances of degrees, from facing mockery to facing death. ¬†But this is nothing compared to the tribulation that is coming during the time of God’s wrath when He punishes the world for rejecting Him and His Son. ¬†That is the time that Jesus talks about preceding His return, the 2nd coming of Christ, which will result in the establishment of His earthly kingdom. ¬†Recall from 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15 that the rapture will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. ¬†It will be lightening fast. ¬†But the Bible says about the 2nd coming of Jesus that all the people of the world will look up and see Him coming and they will mourn. ¬†Matthew 24:30 – “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” ¬†Yeshua doesn’t say that they will look up and bam, He is there. ¬†He says they will see Him¬†coming. ¬†Coming is an ongoing action, not an instantaneous happening. ¬†They will see Him and they will mourn. ¬†I guarantee you that mourning won’t be a flash in the pan either. ¬†Especially since this is where we pick up with Revelation 19 again. ¬†Recall that description of Jesus? ¬†Eyes like fire, crowned with many crowns, robe dipped in blood, and followed by the saints wearing fine linen. ¬†If you pick it up there, verses 15-17, you see that He comes to judge the world. ¬†“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. ¬†And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. ¬†He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. ¬†And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: ¬†KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

At the time of the rapture, Jesus comes to take His church out of this world. ¬†God then sends judgement on all the nations of the world who rejected Him. ¬†This is known as the Last Days, and as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble because the entire world will eventually turn against Israel. ¬†Israel will scatter, many fleeing to Jordan. ¬†The antichrist will seek to completely wipe out all of Israel during this time, but God will preserve a remnant. ¬†And then…”Then I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication, when they will look toward Me whom they pierced. ¬†They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son and grieve bitterly for Him, as one grieves for a firstborn.” ¬†Zachariah 12:10. ¬†That is the second coming of Christ, when all that remains of Israel will be saved, not just physically, but spiritually when they finally realize that Yeshua is their long-awaited Messiah.

Our salvation does not depend on whether or not we believe there will be a rapture of the Church, or when we think it will take place. ¬†Some may question then why I take the time to write about it and discuss it. ¬†I do it for this reason: ¬†“Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

It’s Undeniable: The End Times are Here…NOW

Here is a 2-part series, published on another site first.

For two thousand years, Christians all over the world have been watching the signs of the times, with an eye on the clouds, always waiting and wondering when Yeshua (Jesus) would return.  

They have witnessed, lived through, and died at the hands of unspeakable evil.  The words of Yeshua in Matthew 24 have been forever on our lips. There have been earthquakes, famines, pestilences, false prophets, wars and rumors of wars.  And always we have wondered how much worse can things get?  Surely this present evil is the last straw, the one which will bring God to the point of judgment.  Yet Yeshua has lingered- God‚Äôs patience for mankind reaching far beyond what our own sinful hearts can.  So when leaders in the Christian world today speak of the soon return of the Messiah, many scoff. Perhaps they have been so hardened by the wait that they no longer believe.

There is a problem with what 2000 years‚Äô worth of Christians have looked at to determine the signs of the times, however.  In my 3-part article ‚ÄúWho is Israel? And What Role, If Any, Does She Play in God‚Äôs Kingdom‚ÄĚ I explain how the Gentile church‚Äôs anti-Semitic history has not only removed the Jewishness from Jesus, Christianity, and the Bible, but has also effectively eliminated the importance of the Old Testament.  This, then, is the problem.

What Yeshua said in Matthew 24 was not the be all, end all of end time prophecy.  To get the complete picture, one must study a great deal of the Old Testament.  In fact, sixteen of the OT books are books of prophecy.  Many of the prophecies written there have already been fulfilled in the first coming of Messiah, and the events that happened to the nation of Judah in the year 70 AD when the Jews were scattered throughout the world.  Many others have not.  The only way to truly understand end-time prophecy is to study the Old Testament.

This is the year 2016, and I am telling you that the time of Yeshua‚Äôs return is near, very near.  Not because of the evil of this present age, not because of the increase in natural disasters, not because there is unbelievable unrest all over the world.  I am telling you this because of what is happening to and around Israel.  

Israel is the key to understanding end-time prophecy.

The rapture, the 2nd coming of Messiah, the Tribulation, they all center on Israel, not the Church.  When Israel became a nation in her own land in 1948, the ball was set in motion because that was a prophecy that had remained unfulfilled until that time.

I want to address a couple of terms.  First, the House of Israel and the House of Ephraim are one and the same.  They are the 10 tribes of Israel which became the Northern Kingdom after the time of King Solomon.  They were eventually assimilated by Assyria, not to be heard from until this past decade in which the remnant God preserved has begun to awaken and return to the Promised Land.

Second, the House of Judah was the 2 remaining tribes, which became the Southern Kingdom of Israel, or just Judah.  They were taken captive by Babylon (where they were first called Jews), but allowed to return to Jerusalem 70 years later (a fulfilled OT prophecy).  These same Jews were the ones who centuries later bore Yeshua (Jesus), and later played a major role in crucifying Him.  As a consequence, another 70 years later, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, and all the Jews were scattered throughout the world.  The land of Israel was gone, and the people were no longer a nation.  Finally, the Whole House of Israel is all 12 tribes of Israel, the House of Israel/Ephraim and the House of Judah, united as the original nation of Israel that God designed.

With this quick lesson in terminology under our belts, let’s start digging into what Ezekiel has to say about what is happening in our world today.

Ezekiel 36:7-12 (TLV) ‚Äď

Therefore thus says Adonai Elohim: ‚ÄėI have lifted My hand. Surely the nations that surround you will themselves suffer scorn.  ‚Äú‚ÄėBut you, mountains of Israel, you will shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit for My people Israel; for their return is near.  For behold, I am for you. I will turn to you. You will be tilled and sown.  I will settle a large population upon you‚ÄĒthe whole house of Israel, all of it. The cities will be inhabited. The desolate places will be built up.  I will multiply man and beast upon you. They will increase and be fruitful. I will cause you to be inhabited as you were before. I will do better for you than at your beginnings. You will know that I am Adonai.  I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk upon you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance. You will no longer deprive them of children.‚Äô‚ÄĚ

These verses are a promise from God that He would someday return the whole house of Israel to the land He promised them. This little bit of wording is so important in understanding what is being said here.  God said ‚Äúthe whole house of Israel, all of it.‚ÄĚ  Israel has not been united since the civil war divided it after King Solomon died.

As I mentioned above, the House of Israel was assimilated by Assyria, and not heard from again.  That was during the time of the great prophets of Isaiah and Jeremiah, in 722 BC.  The House of Judah, which was captured by Babylon and returned to Jerusalem 70 years later, around 538 BC, was again evicted in 70 AD.  The two houses of Israel have not been the ‚Äúwhole house‚ÄĚ since some time in the upper 800s BC.  And none of the nation of Israel, Judah or Israel/Ephraim, were in the land of Israel from the year 70 AD onward‚Ķuntil 1948.  

In that year, Israel was established as a nation again, and given at least a portion of the land that God had promised to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Even then, this was only the Jews‚Ķthose of the House of Judah.  The House of Israel remained lost; lost to the world, but not to God.  God had promised to preserve a remnant of each of the tribes and return them to Israel.  This began in the late 1990s.

Small communities all over the world, who have maintained the Israeli Law of Moses for thousands of years began to awaken- a miracle of God.  They began to recognize themselves and their culture as being of Israel, and they began to seek to return to the land of Israel.  In 2005 Israel approved measures allowing these groups to begin returning home.  These groups are not Jewish, because they are not of the House of Judah (the tribes of Judah and Benjamin), but they are Israelites, from the House of Israel, identifying with the 10 lost tribes who were assimilated 2700+ years ago.  God is bringing the whole house of Israel back to the land.

In Ezekiel 37:15-22 God told Ezekiel to take two sticks.  On one, he was to write the name of Judah, and the other, Israel, each stick representing one of the two houses.  He was to bind the sticks together to symbolize that they would become one stick/nation again.  In verse 24 we are told that ‚ÄúMy servant David will be king over them.‚ÄĚ  Obviously, this was not in reference to King David, for he had died long before.  This is a reference to the millennial reign of Yeshua when He returns to set up His kingdom on earth, His thousand year reign.

End-time point number one:  the two houses of Israel (Judah and Israel/Ephraim) will be united as one nation again, and be brought back to the land of Israel by the time that Yeshua begins His thousand year reign on earth.  Judah has been back in the land since 1948, and the remaining tribes of Israel have been making their way back gradually since 2005, becoming the whole house of Israel that God talked about.

Next, take a half step back in Scripture to Ezekiel 36:27.  Here God tells His people that He will put His Spirit within them, and that they will keep His laws, and obey His rules.  Israel has returned, but they do not keep God‚Äôs laws- the Law of Moses as described in Exodus and Leviticus.  Even the most orthodox Jew who desires to keep the Law is unable to do it completely, because there is no temple.  Certain parts of the Law must be done at the Temple and require animal sacrifice.

With a Muslim mosque standing on the Holy Hill where the Temple of God must stand, how can this be an indicator that the end times are here?

This is how- which brings me to End-Times Point Number Two:  A third Temple will be built at some point during the end times because the AntiChrist will desecrate it.  A group of Orthodox Jews have begun to raise money and build the artifacts for the third Temple, including the altar, which will allow them to resume complete obedience to God and His Law, and which God Himself foretold in Ezekiel 36.  In fact, recently, the altar was completed to the great excitement of many who are following the progress, including myself.

The original Temple that King Solomon built was destroyed when Jerusalem was taken captive by Babylon, and its artifacts were taken as booty.  A second temple was built when Judah returned from that captivity 70 years later, and the artifacts were returned.  This temple was destroyed 70 years after the crucifixion of Yeshua.  The book of Revelation talks about a third Temple, the one that will be rebuilt during the first 3 ¬Ĺ years of the Great Tribulation, and which will be desecrated by the Anti-Christ.

PART TWO

In part 1 of this article we examined two End-Time Points:  The first is that God promised to not only unite the divided Israel (the House of Judah, and the House of Israel, sometimes called the House of Ephraim), but also to return them to the land of Israel and rule them under one king, David (symbolic of Yeshua/Jesus).  In 1948, Judah was returned to the land of Israel, and as of 2005, the ten lost tribes of the House of Ephraim were beginning to return as well.  What remains is for that process to be completed and for Yeshua to return for His thousand year reign on earth.

The second point is that the book of Revelations speaks of a third Temple during the Great Tribulation, one that will be desecrated by the Anti-Christ.  God said, through Ezekiel, in chapter 36, that He would put His Spirit in the people of Israel and they would again obey His Laws (the Law of Moses).  This obedience to the Law is currently limited without a Temple because animal sacrifice, and certain other ordinances require the Temple and the altar.  In the past few years, a group of Orthodox Jews have been working to rebuild the Temple artifacts (which includes the recent completion of the altar) in preparation for the third Temple, as soon as they are able to do so.  Currently, a Muslim mosque stands on God‚Äôs Holy Hill, but rest assured, God will not allow this mockery forever, and with the building of the artifacts, that time appears to be nearing soon.

The world is currently setting the stage for the Gog/Magog war.  In Ezekiel 38:1-6, God gives a list of nations that He will turn toward Israel, and bring up against her.  It seems to be a general consensus that Gog/Magog is Russia.  Gog was a title for a prince, while Magog was the nation.  Also listed is Rosh (northern part of Russia that borders with Europe), Meshech (Moscow), and Tubal (Tobolsk of Siberia).  Verse 3 says, ‚ÄúThus says the Lord God:  ‚ÄėBehold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.‚Äô‚ÄĚ

In verses 5-6, God states that Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer and Togarmah will join Magog in this attack on Israel. Until 1935, the present day nation of Iran was called by its ancient name of Persia.  Gomer is believed to be possibly Germany, or at the very least part of the land which is now Turkey.  Togarmah is known to be in what is now Turkey.

Ezekiel 38:8-12 ‚Äď ‚ÄúAfter many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely.  You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you.‚ÄĚ   ‚ÄėThus says the Lord God: ‚ÄúOn that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan:  You will say, ‚ÄėI will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates‚Äô‚ÄĒto take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land.

What does this passage tell us?  First of all, notice that the people of Israel will be brought out from the nations and will be living in the land of Israel.  We know from part 1 of this article, and the review above, that the whole house of Israel is now in the process of being united, and living in the land.

Second, these verses speak of the people of Israel dwelling in safety.  Israel today faces many threats, to be sure.  However, their determination to never again go through anything like the WWII holocaust has led them to build up one of the best, if not the best military defense systems in the world.  They recognize that they need to be able to completely and independently defend themselves because there is no guarantee that any other nation will come to their defense.  The recent vote by the United Nations to allow Iran a pathway to obtaining nuclear weapons is a case in point.  Israel has certainly become a nation secure in its own defense.

Finally, this coming battle is not the Battle of Armageddon.  That battle is when Messiah returns at His second coming and defeats all the armies of the world.  The battle talked about here in Ezekiel is commonly called the Battle of Gog and Magog. The Battle of Armageddon will begin when all the nations of the world, led by the Anti-Christ, surround Israel with the intent to destroy her, completely obliterate her.  The Battle of Gog has a completely different intent.  Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, Ethiopia, and probably Germany, will surround Israel in order to plunder her riches.

Is Israel really wealthy enough to care about plundering her?  In the fall of 2015, a huge supply of oil was discovered in Israel‚Äôs Golan Heights that is estimated to be billions of gallons.  What does Russia need most?  Oil.  Around the same time as the oil find, Russia began to test the waters militarily.  They moved into Syria under the pretense of fighting ISIS.  How would the rest of the free world respond to their military advancement?  Well, it gave the news outlets something to talk about for a while.

Let‚Äôs bundle some of this together.  Israel is now so secure in their ability to defend themselves that they have signed agreements with none other than Russia and Turkey.  The end of last month, Israel and Russia signed an agreement in an effort to stabilize relations in the area.  At the same time, they signed an agreement with Turkey that would allow Israel to build a pipeline through Turkey to enable the transportation of natural gas to Europe.  What better evidence of Israel‚Äôs sense of security than agreements with these two nations?  This most certainly could lead to the ‚Äúunwalled villages‚ÄĚ mentioned in the passage above.

Let‚Äôs move on to verse 13 ‚Äď ‚ÄúSheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you [Gog], ‚ÄėHave you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?‚Äô‚ÄĚ

Barely over a week after the Russian and Turkey deals, Israel revealed agreements with four African nations: Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.  They have offered humanitarian assistance and military aid, as well as education and training in the areas of science and military for decades.  In an effort to make Israel known as an independent military superpower in the region, they have now made this information public.

When the Gog alliance comes against Israel, there will be nations who will openly question their actions, but none will come to her aid.  Israel will stand alone.  The merchants of Tarshish are nations of East Africa.  Sheba and Dedan are England and Spain.

What about the United States?  Last fall, I wrote an article called King of Kings‚ĶLord of Presidents (published on http://www.madisonscpc.net), in which I stated that I believe God is going to place Donald Trump in the office of president.  God has a plan to use this pagan leader to fulfill His purposes for the US.  This was confirmed for me when a contributing writer for Madisons CPC, Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, published a 3-part series entitled Trump: The Russian Connection in which she chronicles an amazing friendship between Donald Trump, a number of his campaign personnel, and highly influential Russians.

It will be interesting to see how that relationship plays out in the days, months, and years ahead now that Donald Trump is indeed President of the United States.

The world may turn their backs on Israel when the Battle of Gog begins, but God will not.  For the first time in centuries, God will make Himself known in a very obvious way.  Israel will know that God has not forgotten them.  And the rest of the world will know that Israel is still God‚Äôs chosen people, the apple of His eye.

As Russia, Turkey, Iran, Libya, Ethiopia, and Germany come against Israel, God will show the fury of His wrath.  There will be an earthquake so great that Ezekiel 38:20 says, ‚Äúthe fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence.‚ÄĚ  The mountains will crumble.

God will confuse the Israel‚Äôs enemies so that they will destroy each other.  There will be pestilence, flooding rains, hailstones, fire, and brimstone from heaven.  The whole world will know that He is GOD!  At the same time, the homelands of these warring nations will come under God‚Äôs judgement, as well.  The death toll of Israel‚Äôs enemies will be so great that it will take Israel seven months to bury all the dead, and seven years to completely destroy all of the weapons left by them.

The stage is set.  The only questions remaining are when, and what about the Christians?  Don‚Äôt they say anything? Do anything?  Some religious scholars believe that the Rapture will come before this time.  With the disappearance of millions of Christians, the world will be in complete chaos, including the markets, and will create a tremendous need to have control of massive oil reserves.  It would also explain the lack of the voice of the church in defense of Israel.

However, other scholars say that there is no evidence pointing in either direction, and so we Christians could very well be here on earth to witness the Gog/Magog war.

Yeshua said no one knows the day or the hour, not even Him.  However, He didn‚Äôt want us to be clueless either.  If He had, He would not have given us all the prophecies and signs that point to the end.  Prophecies are undeniably being fulfilled.  We cannot know the day or hour, but we can recognize the season, and it is now.  Prepare the way of the Lord, for He cometh!!

Keep one eye on Israel, and one eye on the clouds.  Come quickly Lord Yeshua!

*Scripture passages taken from the Tree of Life Version and the New King James Version.

The 7 Feasts of Israel and Their Link to Messianic Prophecy

Hello!

I have just finished a 3-part series about the Feasts of Israel and what part they play in the Messiah’s life. ¬†It is absolutely amazing, and something we Gentile Christians miss far too often. ¬†I promise you, you will be amazed! ¬†These posts were originally published on another site. ¬†I will post all three here for ease of access.

PART ONE

At the time of Moses, God commanded Israel to celebrate seven feasts.  They were Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Weeks, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles.  Passover through Weeks were spring feasts, while Trumpets through Tabernacles were fall feasts.  The question is, if these feasts were commanded for Israel to follow, what does it matter to the Church?  There are two primary answers.  First, as people grafted into the tree of Israel, every Christian should know and understand these feasts.  Truthfully we should follow them in some way on the appropriate days as well.  I’ll get more into that later.  The second reason is that each of these feasts is intricately connected to Messianic prophecy, some fulfilled, and others yet to be.

Before we begin looking at the feasts, let’s take a brief look at the Jewish calendar.  Israel today, and always, has followed a lunar calendar.  The first day of the month is the day after the new moon, with the first sliver of the moon.  The 14th of the month is always the full moon.  Every month is always 28 days.  This was established by God at the time of the Exodus.  The Jewish day (according to God in the creation story…and the evening and the morning was the first day) begins at sundown and ends the following sundown.  So the Sabbath actually begins Friday night at sunset, and ends Saturday at sunset.  The days of the week do not have names, as we do.  Sunday is the first day of the week; Monday is the second, and so on.  Saturday is not day six.  It is simply Sabbath.  The same was originally true of the months of the year.  Names were given during the time of captivity in Babylon.

Just as we, with the solar calendar, have a leap year in which we add a day to sort of readjust the calendar for the ¬ľ rotation, the Jewish calendar has a leap month, so to speak. ¬†There is a 19-year cycle in which an extra month is added to the yearly calendar in years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19. ¬†This does not have anything to do with our topic, but it is interesting.

One last thing about the Jewish calendar.  Just as we have different year markers, so do they.  By that I mean, the first of our calendar year is January 1.  A fiscal year can begin anytime a company chooses.  And for those of you, like me, who live in the education world, the new year begins in August or September.  In fact, I am known to wish my fellow teachers, and my students a happy new year on day one back to work.

Israel has a religious calendar and a civil calendar.  The religious calendar begins in the  spring.  The first day is in the month of Nissan, which comes during our time of March and into April.  The first day of the civil year is in the fall.  It is the 7th religious month, but the first civil month.  This is when they celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the new year, and when the number of the year turns over to the next.  In the month of Tishri (our September/October) this fall the Jewish year will turn over from 5776 to 5777.  Their years are calculated according to dates in the Bible from the time of creation.  So much for billions of years.  Since Jews, by in large, do not recognize the Christian calendar with BC and AD (before and after Christ), they use the terms Common or Christian Era (CE) and Before the Common Era (BCE).

With this information, let’s get started on the feasts.  The first feast is probably the most familiar for the Christian.  It is Passover.  Passover was instilled by God before Moses even led Israel out of Egypt.  The Passover was the last of the ten plagues inflicted upon Egypt for not allowing God’s people to leave.  The Israelites were commanded to select a year old male sheep, without blemish, on the 10th day of the first month (Nissan).  They were to take it into their home for four days.  On the 14th they were to sacrifice this lamb, roast it, and eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.

Very specific instructions were given.  It is especially important to note the lamb was to be without blemish.  They were also told not to break any bones.  The lamb was not to be moved outside of the house, and if any of the meat was not eaten, the whole thing was to be burned up.  The people were to brush blood from the lamb on the sides and top of the door frame of their house, and no one was to leave the house before morning.  That night, God went through all of Egypt and killed every firstborn male, human and beast, that was not covered by the blood.  It was the blood of the lamb that brought salvation from slavery in Egypt to the people of Israel.

Some of the keywords of this story should ring little bells in the mind of the Christian.  The lamb without blemish whose blood brought salvation, for one.  The Israelites were commanded to keep the Passover every year on the same date as a memorial to what God had done for them.  Yeshua (Jesus) was brought up observing the Passover and observed it during His adult life.  In fact, it was during the observance of the Passover that we find some striking parallels.

On the 10th day of Nissan, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, Yeshua, entered into Jerusalem in preparation for the Passover. ¬†During the Passover meal, Yeshua took the bread (unleavened bread) broke it and said, ‚ÄúThis is my body.‚ÄĚ ¬†(Leaven, in the Bible, represents sin.) ¬†Yeshua equated the unleavened (sinless) bread to himself. ¬†Yeshua also took the cup of wine and said, ‚ÄúThis is my blood poured out for many.‚ÄĚ

The Passover meal (and now what we call the Last Supper) was eaten at night, on the 14th of Nissan.  That date carried over to daylight…still the 14th, still Passover.  At nine a.m., Yeshua was put on the cross.  Six hours later, at three p.m., He died…on Passover.  The lamb without blemish, whose blood brought salvation from the slavery of sin.  The unleavened/sinless bread that was pierced for our sins.  The blood on the doorpost…taken upon ourselves through communion…that delivers us from eternal, spiritual death.

The Passover Feast was a celebration of what God had done for Israel and continues to be for them.  But as with many Jewish symbols established by God, there was a shadow of something more- a prophecy that was fulfilled in Yeshua.

There are six more feasts to cover, and we will get to those in future parts of this article, so please be watching for them.

PART TWO

In the first article of this series, we learned the Jewish calendar, established by God, is a lunar calendar.  The months are 28 days long, beginning on the first sliver after the new moon, with the middle of the month always being the full moon.  Each new day begins at sundown and ends at sundown the following day.  An understanding of the Jewish calendar is important to understand how and when the 7 Feasts are held, when the Sabbath actually is, and how these times relate to events in the life and death of Messiah.

We also looked at the first of the 7 Feasts God commanded the Israelites to observe, Passover.  Passover was not only a memorial to the physical salvation God gave the Israelites when He brought them out of slavery in Egypt, but also a symbol of the spiritual salvation that was given by Yeshua (Jesus) when He died on the cross.  In fact, Yeshua fulfilled the prophecy that is the Passover Feast when He became the young male lamb without blemish that was sacrificed for our salvation.  You can read that full article here.

Today we continue with the remainder of what are known as the Spring Feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Feast of Weeks or Pentecost).

The Passover always begins at sundown on the 14th of the month of Nisan, regardless of what day of the week it was.  Because it was the 14th of a lunar month, it was also on a full moon.  The year that Yeshua was crucified on Passover, the 14th happened to begin (at sundown) on a Friday.  The very next day, the 15th was the day beginning the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  That year it would have started on the Sabbath.  This was why Yeshua had to give up His spirit before sundown on Passover.  It was normal for a crucified person to take up to three days to die.  Yeshua died in six hours, so there would be time to bury His body before the Sabbath, which was also the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

 

Unleavened bread, called Matzah, is bread made without yeast.  The Israelites in Egypt were commanded to make the dough for their exodus without yeast, because they would not have time to wait for it to rise before they fled.  They ate Matzah during the Passover meal and then carried uncooked Matzah dough with them when they left Egypt.  The bread itself is symbolic.  Leaven or yeast, in the Bible, is representative of sin.  When the bread is made, it is pierced all over, and covered with stripes, to make sure no rising takes place.  Then it is broken and eaten.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts a full seven days.  The number seven in the Bible is very significant.  It means completeness or wholeness.

As with all of the Feasts, Unleavened Bread has Messianic prophetic meaning.¬† Yeshua was the Passover Lamb who was crucified on Passover.¬† He was also the unleavened bread; the bread that was completely without sin- pierced and striped for our sins.¬† Isaiah 53:5 (TLV) ‚Äď ‚ÄúBut He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities.¬† The chastisement for our shalom [peace] was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed.‚ÄĚ

This is not a presumption made by people wishing to put meaning where there is none.¬† Consider the words of 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 (TLV): ‚ÄúFor I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you‚ÄĒthat the Lord Yeshua, on the night He was betrayed, took matzah; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‚ÄėThis is My body, which is for you.¬† Do this in memory of Me.‚Äô‚ÄĚ

Yeshua, the Lamb without blemish, sacrificed on Passover:  prophecy fulfilled.

Yeshua, the lineless unleavened bread, broken and buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread:  prophecy fulfilled.

The third Feast follows on the heels of Passover and Unleavened Bread.¬† In fact, it can sometimes fall in the middle of Unleavened Bread.¬† The Feast of First Fruits was first celebrated after the Israelites were at long last in the Promised Land and had produced a crop.¬† It was the celebration of the spring crops and the act of giving back to God the first fruits of what He had provided for them.¬† Again, Passover was the 14th of Nisan, and Unleavened Bread, the 15th, regardless of the day of the week.¬† The Feast of First Fruits was on the Sunday following the Sabbath that was during the time of the 7-day-long Feast of Unleavened Bread.¬† It is always on a Sunday.¬† Because Passover and Unleavened Bread were on Friday and Saturday in the year that Yeshua was crucified, it worked out perfectly that the very next day, the Sunday which would be the Feast of First Fruits, would be the third day, on which Yeshua was raised from the dead. ¬†1 Corinthians 15:20 (TLV): ¬†‚ÄúBut now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.‚ÄĚ

Feast prophecy #3:  fulfilled.

The last of the Spring Feasts is the Feast of Weeks.¬† It is exactly 50 days after Firstfruits.¬† Recall that Firstfruits is the Sunday after the Sabbath that is within Unleavened Bread.¬† Count from that Sabbath 7 weeks ‚Äď 49 days from Sabbath to Sabbath, then add one more day to make 50.¬† Like the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks is always on a Sunday.¬† If you are good with calendars, you have perhaps already figured out that Weeks is what the Gentile church calls Pentecost (its Greek name).

All of the seven Feasts are given as commands in Leviticus 23.  Passover is mentioned, but most of its instructions were given in Exodus 12.  Leviticus records the Law as given to the people of Israel through Moses by God on Mt. Sinai.  Jewish tradition says that it took exactly 50 days for the Israelite people to travel from Egypt to Mt. Sinai, where they received God’s Law.  It was obedience to this law that determined God’s presence with the people.  In fact, in Exodus 32 we have the story of the golden calf.  Moses went up to Mt. Sinai to receive the Law from God.  While he was there, the people gave him up for dead, gathered gold jewelry, melted it down and made a golden calf to worship.  As a result, two very significant things happened.  The first is that about 3,000 men were killed for their leadership in building the calf (of interesting note is that no one from the tribe of Levi participated, and thus they received the blessing of being the tribe of priests).  Remember that number.

The second thing was that the Spirit of God would no longer be present within the camp.  Up to this point, God dwelt in the midst of the people.  He lead them by manifesting Himself as a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night.  From this point on, His angel led the people, and God only met with Moses, outside of the camp, at the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 32:34; Exodus 33:1-3).

Now we jump back to the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost after Yeshua’s death and resurrection.  In the wilderness, at the time of the Feast of Weeks, God gave the people His Law, obedience to which determined how God dwelt with or manifested Himself with the people.  On the Feast of Weeks, after Yeshua went back to Heaven, God sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within His people, all who believe, both Jew and Gentile.  God’s presence was no longer dependent upon our obedience, but upon the belief and acceptance of the perfect obedience of Yeshua.  Because He was sinless, our acceptance of His sacrifice meant that we could never lose the presence of God within us by any doing of our own.

Note also the number I emphasized earlier:¬† 3,000.¬† Three thousand men were lost in the wilderness due to their disobedience to the Law; their rejection of God as the God who saved them from bondage.¬† Acts 2:41 (TLV): ¬†‚ÄúSo those who received his message were immersed, and that day about three thousand souls were added.‚Ä̬† Hundreds of years after 3,000 souls were lost, 3,000 were redeemed for their acceptance of God‚Äôs salvation from bondage, the bondage of sin.

Feast #4:  prophecy fulfilled.

PART THREE

In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we studied the Jewish calendar and four of the seven feasts established by God.  The first four are the spring feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Weeks, and First Fruits.  They are all more than God-ordained feasts.  They are all also Messianic prophecies, which have been fulfilled.

Today we will look at the remaining three feasts, the fall feasts:  Trumpets, Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Tabernacles (Sukkot)- all have yet to be fulfilled.

What is the significance to the long wait between the two sets of feasts?  You will recall that the spring feasts were all fulfilled through Messiah’s death, burial, resurrection and the coming of His Holy Spirit.  Each feast represented something significant about what happened in Israel’s past, but was also a prophecy that shadowed the coming of the Messiah.  They were all tied into the spring harvest, as well.

The Feast of First Fruits (on which Messiah was raised to life, and is called the First Fruits of the resurrected) is, in fact, the festival to give thanks to God for the spring harvest.  The spring harvest is the smaller harvest; its first produce is to be offered up to God as a sacrifice.  During the summer, the wheat crops are grown, and the larger crop is harvested in the fall. This is commemorated with the Feast of Trumpets.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that Messiah is the first fruits of those to be resurrected, and those who belong to Messiah are the seconds (1 Cor. 15:20-23).  Yeshua (Jesus) was raised to life on the day of the Feast of First Fruits.  The summer growing season is the time we are living in now.  The time after the spring harvest when the new seed is planted and grown for the greater harvest in the fall.  That harvest will be when Yeshua calls His church to Himself.

This opens up an interesting discussion regarding the Rapture of the Church.  Why believe that the Feast of Trumpets prophecy will be fulfilled by the Rapture?  During this feast, the shofar, or trumpets, are blown.  The trumpets were a signal to all Israelites to stop what they were doing and gather at the temple, whether the harvest was complete or not.  It was a call to gather before the presence of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52* says, ‚ÄúBehold, I tell you a mystery: ¬†We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed‚ÄĒ In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last shofar. ¬†For the shofar [trumpet] will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.‚ÄĚ

 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17* ‚Äď ‚ÄúFor the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the blast of God‚Äôs shofar, and the dead in Messiah shall rise first. ¬†Then we who are alive, who are left behind, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air‚ÄĒand so we shall always be with the Lord.‚ÄĚ

Both of these passages tell of a trumpet blast before all believers, dead first, then living, will be called into the presence of the Lord. ¬†Yeshua, Himself, made this promise. ¬†Look at what He says in John 14:2-3*: ¬†‚ÄúIn My Father‚Äôs house there are many dwelling-places. ¬†If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? ¬†If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you may also be.‚ÄĚ

In these verses, Yeshua was speaking in symbolic terms that the disciples, as Jews, would understand.  It was traditional for a groom to leave His bride with her family while he went off to build a home for them.  Once that home was completed, he would return to get her.  He would literally pick her up and carry her to their new home where they would live together.

In Matthew 25, we know that Yeshua refers to Himself as the groom. ¬†His bride is the body of believers, both Jew and Gentile, who make up the Church [This does not include the unbelieving Jew. ¬†Jeremiah 8:20 ‚Äď ‚ÄúHarvest is past, summer is over, yet we are not saved.‚ÄĚ ¬†A remnant will be saved during the Tribulation.]. ¬†Yeshua was telling his disciples that when He left, He was going to prepare the marriage home, then come back and physically lift, and carry away, His bride to live with Him.

Now saying that the Feast of Trumpets will be the Rapture leads to another discussion, because we can pinpoint a date for the Feast of Trumpets.  Just as Yeshua fulfilled each of the spring feasts on their specific, and chronological dates, we can, at the very least, suspect that He will fulfill the fall feasts in a similar manner.  The Feast of Trumpets is always on the first day of the seventh month, the month of Tishri. This would be the first sliver after the new moon in September for us. Obviously, we cannot know the year, but I want to give you something to consider when it comes to date-setting.

Yeshua said plainly that no one knows the day or the hour, not even Him or the angels, only the Father (Matthew 24:36).   He was not talking about the Rapture of the Church in this passage.  He was talking about the Tribulation and the 2nd coming.  We can know this, because if we continue reading this passage in context, and without the chapter and verse breaks that have been added in, Yeshua wraps up this segment by talking about the Great White Throne Judgement (Matthew 25:31-46).  This is HUGE!  What He was saying is that no one knows the day or hour that He will return physically to earth and set up His earthly kingdom (the Millennial, or thousand year reign written about by John in Revelations 20).  Of course, all this being said, who can know the mind of God?

Here is what we have so far.  We know for a fact, that Yeshua personally fulfilled the prophecies of the first four feasts, the spring feasts, on their respective dates and in chronological order.  We know that we are currently living in the summer growing season before the fall harvest.  If one studies the Scriptures, specifically the Old Testament, one can also see quite clearly that God is a god of patterns.  It is a much bigger lesson than I have time to go into here.  But knowing this, and knowing what we do about the spring feasts, can we not then also know with some certainty that the fall feasts will also be fulfilled at least on their respective dates and in chronological order?

This next part gets a bit dicey. ¬†I want to wrap up this series with this article, so I am going to move on to the next fall feast, the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. ¬†This was the feast that every Israelite obeyed or was excommunicated. ¬†It was the day when all Israel turned their hearts to God and confessed and mourned their sin. ¬†Prophetically it will be the day when all Israel, as one, recognizes that Yeshua is their Messiah, and mourn that they rejected Him. ¬†Zechariah 12:10* says ‚ÄúThen I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication, when they will look toward Me whom they pierced. ¬†They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son and grieve bitterly for him, as one grieves for a firstborn.‚ÄĚ ¬†Chapter 13 describes God‚Äôs forgiveness of the Israelites for this sin. ¬†As Hosea forgave his wife, the harlot, God too, will forgive His wife, Israel the unfaithful, and redeem her to Himself. ¬†This atonement will mark the ending of the Great Tribulation, and usher in Yeshua‚Äôs return to earth for His kingdom (Zechariah 14 and Revelation 20), which then also is the last feast, the Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles.

The Feast of Tabernacles is the feast the Israelites celebrated to honor God’s presence with them as they wandered through the wilderness and lived in sukkots (tabernacles…tents).  It is the time when Yeshua will live and reign in person on earth, His second coming.  This is also the only feast that will continue to be celebrated throughout eternity (Zechariah 14:16-19).

Every year, on that set date, all people of the earth will come to Jerusalem (the new Jerusalem) to worship in the presence of the King.

The dicey part?  We know the dates of the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.  Atonement is on the 10th day of the 7th month (Tishri, the same month as the Feast of Trumpets), and the Feast of Tabernacles is on the 15th day of the same month.  Yeshua said that no one knows the day or the hour, and He was referring to His second coming, which would be the Feast of Tabernacles on the 15th of Tishri.  But, we also know that feast prophecies have been fulfilled on the exact dates and in the exact order.  What a conundrum!

I have prayed and prayed about this. ¬†I have read and studied this. ¬†As I sit here writing what I have learned, I share with you what is on my heart. ¬†I believe that the Day of Atonement for Israel will come, and when it comes, it will usher in the 2nd coming of Yeshua, in that order, as the feasts have been celebrated for thousands of years. ¬†Because no one knows the day or the hour, except the Father, I believe these dates will be re-established at new times. ¬†It is on the date of Yeshua‚Äôs 2nd coming that we will all celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for eternity. ¬†As with anyone with the gift of prophecy, and anyone who studies God‚Äôs Word for that matter, we can all be certain to not have a complete understanding of everything. ¬†One thing I am certain of‚ÄĒthere are three feasts remaining to be fulfilled. ¬†I have no doubt that they will be. ¬†And I have no doubt that the summer growing period is nearing its end, and fall will be here soon.

The bottom line is this:  Studying end time prophecy is intended to give us hope in God’s promises, and also to drive us to our knees to seek His work in preparing our hearts for those days.  I pray these articles have done that.

*All Scripture passages were taken from the Tree of Life Version of the Bible.

If you have been blessed by these articles, please take a moment to pray and thank God.

 

Eternity, Hanging in the Balance

A few days ago I was listening to Christian radio. ¬†I don’t remember who I was listening to. ¬†I don’t even remember if it was commentary between songs, or if it was a sermon! ¬†It has been a busy week! ¬†But. ¬†I do remember one thing that was very clear. ¬†The Holy Spirit’s voice. ¬†Something on that radio station was said about the Israelites not being allowed to cross into Canaan, and God waited for the next generation to come along before taking them in. ¬†The Holy Spirit spoke to me at that moment, very clearly. ¬†“This could happen now.” ¬†My heart sunk! ¬†He gave me these words, and He gave me this meaning: ¬†the rapture could be postponed in the same manner, and rewarded to the next generation. ¬†What I didn’t know was why. ¬†So I prayed. ¬†And I went back to my favorite Old Testament book, Deuteronomy.

In Deuteronomy 1:19-46 Moses recounts how the Israelites came to the Jordan River, and the border of Canaan, the land God had promised to give to them since the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their forefathers hundreds of years earlier. ¬†The time had finally come. ¬†And after many tremendous demonstrations of God’s faithfulness, power and might, they saw the moment at hand. ¬†The time they and their fathers and grandfathers had waited for. ¬†But they lacked the faith to believe God was mighty enough to hand the land and it’s inhabitants over to them in victory. ¬†They forgot about how God had controlled nature itself when he submitted the Egyptians to the 10 plagues. ¬†They forgot about the time God parted the Red Sea and gave them dry land to cross on, and then washed the enemy away in the same waters. ¬†They didn’t understand the immeasurable love of the God who provided food for them day and night, and water when they needed it, and who stayed with them in a physical, visible presence of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. ¬†They lacked the faith to trust in this God, His goodness and His promises. ¬†And because they didn’t trust Him, after all they had been through with Him, He denied them His reward. ¬†God did not go back on His promise, but He did postpone it for a generation who would honor Him with their faithfulness.

If you follow Christian teachings, it is not hard to find talk somewhere about the possible time of the Rapture?  Is it time?  Will Jesus return soon to take the Church to be with Him?  Events of the times point more and more to that promise.  And many have felt the assurance of the Holy Spirit that the time is near.  Of course no one can say for certain, and no one can name a date and time, but many believe that time to be soon.  The Rapture is the reward for the Church.  But it can be postponed for the next generation.  I believe that is what the Holy Spirit was speaking to me this week.  What would be the reasoning?

Our faith. ¬†We have seen the goodness of God in our lives and in His creation. ¬†Certainly we know His goodness, His mercy, His grace and His love when we look at the cross of Christ. ¬†Yet, when we consider the Rapture, and the time leading up to it, do we fear? ¬†Do we lack the faith and trust to believe in God’s goodness and His perfect plan and timing? ¬†Do we cling to this world trying to hide from Him that we don’t want Jesus to return? ¬†Would we rather go on with life as we know it, or knew it, than to upset the apple cart and begin anew, even if it is in glory with our Savior? ¬†Do we see the persecution of our brethren around the world and fear that God is not in control and powerful enough to protect us? ¬†Have we not drawn near enough to God through the reading of His Word, and through time spent in prayer to know without a doubt His love and His power and His might? ¬†Do we not trust His mercy and His truth and His promise to return for us, to rescue us out of this world of sin and evil, and take us to our reward? ¬†We do want Jesus to come back, right?

I do! ¬†The more I watch the news, the more I long for His return. ¬†The more I read and hear blasphemies against my God, the more I long for an end and the righteousness of Christ to come. ¬†The more I see this world turn boldly to sin and away from holiness, the more I look to the skies to see my Savior return. ¬†If you are not ready, GET READY! ¬†If you say you trust God, then TRUST HIM! ¬†If you can’t, ask Him to give you the faith you need. ¬†Let now be the time! ¬†Let our hearts long for Jesus! ¬†Let us believe in God’s goodness, promises, and perfect timing! ¬†MARANATHA!! ¬†COME QUICKLY LORD JESUS!!!! ¬†AMEN & AMEN

It’s Time for Day Lilies to be Sunflowers!

Recently I attended a conference that had absolutely nothing to do with sunflowers. ¬†However, sunflowers were used as an example of something during the presentation. ¬†I honestly can’t tell you how they linked to the topic, because when I heard the illustration, I grew a bunch of goosebumps and had a worship-my-God-the-amazing-creator-of-all-things moment. ¬†Here is why.

The presenter at the conference told of an experiment that was done with sunflowers. ¬†(Unfortunately, when I asked later, she could not tell me the name of the experiment, and I have not been able to find it.) ¬†In the experiment, sunflowers were planted in a controlled environment, a room. ¬†A bank of lights was put at one end of the room, and turned on at a certain time every day. ¬†The scientist wanted to see if the sunflowers would remember which direction the light came from. ¬†I’m not certain how they were going to measure this. ¬†But what they discovered is that the sunflowers would actually turn toward the bank of light an hour before the lights would go on. ¬†Amazing!!!!

Now, in my attempt to find this particular science experiment, I have sort of accidentally learned more about the sunflower.  Apparently they have an uncanny ability to turn towards the sun as it comes up in the East, and follow it through the day so that it is still facing the sun as it settles in the West.  In the morning, it has turned back and is ready to follow from East to West again the next day.  Amazing!!!!

I’m not a scientist. ¬†In fact, science was always my worst subject in school. ¬†I couldn’t make heads or tails of it then, and still can’t today. ¬†So the next bit of information I share here is going to be the best that I can understand of why sunflowers do this fix and follow every day. ¬†Apparently the “neck” of the flower, which I suppose is the stem, grows in a sort of rotation. ¬†As the sun shines on the East side of the plant, that side of the stem begins to grow stronger and so the plant faces East. ¬†Then the Northern side grows, followed by the Western side, with the flower turning according to its strongest stem-side. ¬†During the night, the south side grows (in the dark? Don’t ask me why!) and so the flower returns back to the East for the morning light. ¬†This could likely go down into the Guinness Book of World Records as the most pathetic science lesson in history!!!!

Of course you are wondering by now why in the world I am making such a weak attempt to share all of this information. ¬†Hang in there, I’m getting to it. ¬†Of course an illustration could be made that we, as Christians, should always be facing the Son of God, Jesus. ¬†Keep your eyes focused on Him as you go throughout your day. ¬†Makes perfect sense. ¬†A great illustration.

I would like to go back to the sunflowers in the room that turned toward the bank of lights an hour before they turned on, however. ¬†And I ask you, isn’t that what we should be doing?

There is another flower that I know of that opens up to the sun. ¬†I am sure there are more, but I am not a florist, or a botanist…too closely related to scientist:-) ¬†We have a patch of Day Lilies that grow every summer out behind our shed. ¬†My boys love to pick them for me. ¬†They are always so excited to offer me this beautiful orange flower, bloomed and open to the sun…and so disappointed at night, when the sun has gone down, and the flower in the vase in the window has closed up and sunk down into the vase.

There are far too many Christians who are like the Day Lily…asleep at the wheel; oblivious to what is happening. ¬†Jesus told us to watch for His return. ¬†Pay attention to the signs. ¬†Matthew 25:42 – “So always be ready, because you don’t know the day your Lord will come.”

In 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 Paul warns us to be alert. ¬†“You know very well that the day the Lord comes again will be a surprise, like a thief that comes in the night. ¬†While people are saying, ‘We have peace and we are safe,’ they will be destroyed quickly. ¬†It is like pains that come quickly to a woman having a baby. ¬†Those people will not escape. ¬†But you, brothers and sisters, are not living in darkness, and so that day will not surprise you like a thief. ¬†You are all people who belong to the light and to the day. ¬†We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. ¬†So we should not be like other people who are sleeping, but we should be alert and have self-control.”

How can a Christian be alert, and watch for the return of the Lord, if they are not awake and paying attention half the time…like a Day Lily that sleeps through the night?

The sunflower not only looks to the sun, and follows it all day long, it remains alert to it, even through the night, by turning to watch for its return each morning. ¬†The sunflower is always ready, even turning it’s face before the sun returns. ¬†Christians must wake up! ¬†The end times are here. ¬†The wars and rumors of wars. ¬†The continual, rapid decline of mankind into greater and greater sin and depravity, turning further and further from God. ¬†The increase in natural disasters. ¬†Prophesy after prophesy are coming true, right now, in our lifetimes! ¬†If you follow the events in the Middle East, it is nearly impossible to miss the signs!!! ¬†The alarm clock is sounding! ¬†We must wake up!!! ¬†We must be ready!!! ¬†God is calling us to a state of readiness, and we cannot afford to be Day Lilies. ¬†It is time for Christians to be like the sunflower…to be SONflowers! ¬†We must follow the Son all day, all night, and be turned, with our faces toward Him, ready for Jesus to make His appearance in the skies. ¬†He is coming…soon, very soon. ¬†Are you watching the skies? ¬†Is your face turned to see Jesus coming through the clouds?

 

BOO! Gotcha!

Nothing can make me crabbier in an instant than one of my kids sneaking up behind me and hollering to make me jump. ¬†Oh, I hate that! ¬†They catch me off guard, and in that moment, I feel completely out of control. ¬†To make matters worse, I am usually pretty aware of where each child is, and what they are doing. ¬†It is rare that I don’t have at least a general knowledge of their where-abouts, so when they manage to make me jump sky high, it means they have caught me in a moment when my alert level was low to begin with. ¬†For that moment when I am spooked, control of my situation, and of myself, has been forcibly yanked away from me. ¬†I am out of control because I have been taken off guard. ¬†Because I hate that feeling so much, I stay alert…always listening and watching…ever aware of where the boys are. ¬†I protect myself this way, and I know when one of them is standing outside the bathroom door just waiting for me. ¬†When they jump, I can just keep going…or use the opportunity to attack and tickle.

Right now the stage is being set for a ginormous “BOO!” ¬†And the world is absolutely oblivious to it. ¬†Even Christians, who should be alert and watching, are going on with life as usual. ¬†But when it comes, the world will be turned on its ear and will never be the same again. ¬†It will change everything. ¬†It will cause far more than a yelp and a rapid heartbeat. ¬†It will be a complete upheaval of the world as we know it.

I am talking about the moment when Christ returns to take His people out of this world to be with Him. ¬†The Rapture. ¬†In my July 15 post, The End Times, I shared with you that God as revealed to me that Jesus is coming soon. ¬†The end is near. ¬†I don’t have a date or a time. ¬†I would never expect that because we are told in the Scriptures that no one but God knows that. ¬†But I do know that it will be within the lifetimes of my children. ¬†As time flies so quickly, and with the view of thousands of years in the history of the earth behind us, even if my boys lived to be 100, Jesus is coming soon!!! ¬†We must be alert!!! ¬†

As I sit in restaurants, walk through stores, or even see people on the television, I think, “Do they have any inkling of what is to come? ¬†Do they realize that Jesus is coming soon and that the world will change forever after that? ¬†Do they know that the day they will need to stand before God Almighty and answer for their lives is looming before them?” ¬†Of course they don’t! ¬†They don’t have a clue! ¬†They expect the world to continue on for thousands of years to come, just as it has for thousands of years in the past. ¬†1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 (NCV) – “You know very well that the day the Lord comes again will be a surprise, like a thief that comes in the night. ¬†While people are saying, ‘We have peace and we are safe,’ they will be destroyed quickly. ¬†It is like pains that come quickly to a woman having a baby. ¬†Those people will not escape.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – “The Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the , with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. ¬†And those who have died believing in Christ will rise first. ¬†After that, we who are still alive will be gathered up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. ¬†And we will be with the Lord forever.”

Believe me, this is not the kind of event that anyone is going to be oblivious to. ¬†The whole world will witness it! ¬†And when every citizen of earth hears the trumpet call of God, and the voice of the archangel. ¬†When every person sees millions of dead people rising to meet Christ in the sky, and millions more living Christians joining them, those who remain will not shrug it off and go about their business as usual. ¬†There will be fear and panic. ¬†Chaos will reign until someone is able to gain control and restore order. ¬†All the Christians will be gone…as will all of the good they brought to the world through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. ¬†What kind of life do you envision this being? ¬†It will not be fun! ¬†Picture all of the movies you have seen about the world after a cataclysmic event…a global warming disaster, a universal nuclear war, an attack by far more advanced alien race…they all paint a picture of complete devastation and survival that is only one by fighting tooth and nail for the basic necessities. ¬†I won’t say that this picture is what is going to be. ¬†It is just what I envision in a world without the presence of the Holy Spirit.

There are two points to be made in this. ¬†First, we Christians need to wake up! ¬†We need to be alert. ¬†We need to watch and prepare ourselves. ¬†We need to be ready for the call of Christ. ¬†We can’t pack a bag of things to take with us. ¬†Nothing that we have here on earth will matter. ¬†We need to change our priorities, our perspective on our life here.

I used to love going to garage sales. ¬†It was so much fun to look through other people’s junk and find a treasure that would look great in my house. ¬†I have no interest in that now. ¬†I find that I see possessions more and more as unnecessary. ¬† Not to say that I don’t buy things. ¬†I just bought a new pair of shoes for vacation so I wouldn’t kill my feet climbing in and out of a monster truck. ¬†I am considering purchasing a small table I can set up in my living room to leave a jigsaw puzzle on for the family to do together. ¬†But I can’t seem to bother myself with spending money of frivolous things that really have no purpose other than to allow me to spend money. ¬†It just doesn’t seem to matter any more. ¬†Why? ¬†Because my perspective has changed. ¬†I know that my life here is only a way-station, a rest-stop. ¬†I’m not going to be here much longer, whether because I die, or Christ returns. ¬†This is not my home, and I would much rather spend my time and money on serving God and preparing my heart to meet Him face to face.

1 Thessalonians 5:4, 6, 8 – “But you, brothers and sisters, are not living in darkness, and so that day will not surprise you like a thief…. ¬†So we should not be like other people who are sleeping, but we should be alert and have self-control…. ¬†But we belong to the day, so we should control ourselves. ¬†We should wear faith and love to protect us, and the hope of salvation should be our helmet.”

The second point is that we need to be bold in sharing the good news of Christ. ¬†Knowing what lies ahead for those who don’t believe in Christ should motivate us to move quickly and speak without fear. ¬†They cannot have the opportunity to accept or reject Christ if they have not been introduced to Him. ¬†Now is the time. ¬†We are living in a life-or-death moment. ¬†May the Spirit of the one true God fill us with the sense of urgency we need to send us out into the world. ¬†The Christians of the early church boldly spread the Good News, and the church of Christ grew. ¬†This is our last stand. ¬†Today, the church of Christ must again go so boldly into all the world. ¬†And that includes our neighbors, our co-workers, the people we meet on the street. ¬†The time has come to leave the cares of this world behind, and grab a hold of the prize before us. ¬†Onward Christian soldiers!!!!

The End Times: It is Time to Share what God has Revealed to Me

Last summer a Christian mentor told me that she believed I had the gift of prophecy.¬† I brushed her off a few times before actually asking her about it. ¬†I confess, at first I thought she was just kidding around. ¬†Then I thought, ‘Oh boy, she is one of those charismatic types that I am not.’ ¬†Finally I agreed to pray that God would reveal to me what He needed me to know.¬† One Sunday morning soon after that our pastor’s Scripture passage began with 1 Corinthians 1:1 (NCV) – “From Paul.¬†¬†God called me to be¬†an apostle of Christ Jesus¬†because that is what God wanted.”¬† I instantly knew that God had called me to prophecy…because that is what He wanted.¬† I surrendered to His leading in this right then and there.¬† Since then He has taken my faith walk on a whirlwind adventure!¬† He has brought such growth and change to my life!¬† It has been absolutely amazing!!!¬† During this period of growth I have learned from God’s Word that prophecy is not necessarily foretelling the future, although I think that is what many people believe when they first think of it. ¬†In fact, prophecy is sharing God’s messages for the edification of His people. ¬†Sometimes that includes His foretelling of things to come (as with the great prophets of the Old Testament…Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel). ¬†1 Corinthians 14:3 says, “But those who prophesy are speaking to people to give them strength, encouragement, and comfort.” ¬†The second half of verse 22 says, “And prophesy is for people who believe, not for those who do not believe.” ¬† It is as a result of this gifting that God called me to write this blog focusing on Christian living.¬† While it is still only a few months old, it has been so humbling to see how God is working through it!

This is all background, though.¬† What I wanted to share with you today is what God has revealed to me over the past year regarding the end times.¬† Obviously God is not going to share a date and a time, for only He knows that.¬† But He has given me this (and I think I may have shared bits and pieces of this in other posts, but I felt led to put it all in one place today)…Jesus will return when the last person who will give their heart to Him does so. ¬†God knows who that person is, and when their heart will turn. ¬†That time is soon.¬† If not with-in my life-time, then in the life-time of my sons (I have 4, 15 years and under, and I am 44).¬† Also, our current president of the United States is a feeler for the Antichrist.¬† He is being used in this position of power to push the limits of what society will allow.¬† There will be others after him.¬† Satan is watching how the people accept or reject the policies that continue to move us away from God.¬† When the time comes that resistance to these types of policies is gone (I’m not sure to what extent “gone” means), then the Antichrist will make his appearance.

An interesting side note:  God has placed a goal on my heart to read through the Bible at least 4 more times, each time in a new copy of the Bible, high lighting, marking, and taking notes so that each of my boys will have a copy after I am gone.  But God revealed to me that those Bibles will be read by people left behind after the rapture, and will benefit them.  When my home is no longer occupied, it will be open and used as a refuge for someone during the Tribulation.

I always try to include Bible passages that support what I share with you.  I want you to know that I do my best to only write what the Spirit shares with me through prayer and His Word.  Obviously, in this case, there is no Bible verse that can tell you whether or not what I am telling you is true and from the Holy Spirit of God.  I encourage you to pray about it.  Seek His guidance and ask for Him to reveal to you whether what I have spoken here is truth or not.  This is how you should approach any teaching from any religious leader or teacher, and I hope and pray that you do the same with my posts as well.  As for me, I believe the revelations I have spoken of here with all my heart.  I have no doubt what-so-ever that they are true and from the Holy Spirit.  If I doubted, I would not share them with you.  I pray that God will reveal Himself, and His will to you in this post.  As always, be watchful.  Be ready.  Jesus is coming soon.  We must prepare our hearts, and we must share His good news with the world.  God bless you!!

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