Monday, August 1, 2022

Greater Than The Exodus


God’s mighty hand was clearly evident in the days of Moses when the Lord broke the grip of Pharaoh and forcibly removed His people Israel out of Egypt in “the exodus”. God’s ten powerful plagues rocked Pharaoh and the people of Egypt, as the Nile River was turned into blood; as three days of thick darkness engulfed the land of Egypt; as a total destruction of the economy of Egypt took place by several more plagues; and finally, as the angel of death struck down the firstborn in every house not covered by the blood of a passover lamb. Then followed Israel’s exodus out of Egypt. Again, the Lord’s power was seen in the appearance of the pillar of cloud which protected Israel for a night against the Egyptian armed forces; which in turn was followed by the parting of the Red Sea, enabling Israel to flee on dry ground. With all that supernatural activity, it is no wonder that almost every Old Testament book after Exodus, in some way, mentions Israel’s exodus out of the land of Egypt.

However, amazing as the exodus was (and it certainly was), it will be dramatically overshadowed by another powerful work of God which will be witnessed by all who live on the earth in the end times. The covenant-keeping God will bring about the return of His chosen people Israel from all over the world to the land given to Abraham. This final return of Israel will require even greater power on the Lord God’s part; greater than that needed in springing Israel from Egypt. The prophet Jeremiah expressed it this way.

“Therefore behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they no longer will say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land from all the countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will live on their own soil.” (Jeremiah 23:7-8)


Today we are witnessing what Jeremiah wrote about. We are witnessing the Lord’s mighty hand removing His people from the gentile nations. We are witnessing millions of Jewish people returning to the Land given to Abraham 4,000 years ago. This is the final restoration of Israel before their messiah, our Lord Jesus returns to earth. There is no other restoration of the nation of Israel given in the Bible. This is it!

Jeremiah’s contemporary, Ezekiel, repeatedly taught that this restoration has two distinct parts to it, and that there is a specific order to it. First, there is a physical restoration back to the land given to Abraham, and second, there is a spiritual restoration back to the Lord their God. The physical restoration of the Jewish people has been going on for all of the twentieth century. It began decades before Israel became a nation in 1948. Millions of Jewish people, from between 80 and 100 nations, have now returned to the Land.

Is the first process of a physical return about done? That is a very real possibility. And if that is the present reality, it is about time for the spiritual return of Israel to the Lord their God. It is during the seven-year Tribulation period that millions of Jewish people will be saved (Rom. 11:25-27; Zech. 12:10). Israel must come to faith in Jesus, as He will not return to an unbelieving people (see Matt. 23:39). The beginning of Israel’s spiritual awakening takes place when God destroys the invading hordes at the Gog/Magog battle (Ezek. 38-39), which is probably immediately before the Tribulation period actually begins (Ezek. 39:22). (This battle was the subject of the February, 2022 Scofield article). Then, in the Tribulation, with the 144,000 Israelite evangelists blanketing the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, millions of Jews and gentiles will come to place their faith in Messiah Jesus, the Savior. The sheer number of those coming to faith in Jesus will make this the greatest time of evangelism in all of human history.

But let us return to Jeremiah 23 where the prophet speaks of the coming of Messiah and the establishment of His kingdom rule, which comes after the regathering of the Jewish people from all over the world. Jeremiah 23:1-8 is a condensed version of the truths found in much greater detail in Ezekiel 34-39. But there are several significant truths that Jeremiah makes.

  1. GOD HIMSELF IS GOING TO GATHER ISRAEL BACK TO THE LAND.  The Lord says that the leaders of Israel are evil, having exploited, neglected and abused the people of Israel (Jer. 23:1-2). In light of their careless indifference to God’s people, God Himself would assume the responsibility of gathering His scattered people from the gentile nations. God was committed to doing this, and He is doing it. Against all odds and all historical precedence, after some two millennia, He brings them back. But it is not easy, as the gentile kings and their people (not to mention Satan) will resist this return. Psalm 2:1-2 teaches that these plan and plot against God and His Anointed One. They actively fight against Them. But the great power of God, exceeding the powerful activities of the exodus, will bring this about. We can only imagine the millions of stories that already exist about how God’s intervention and power brought that family out of Russia, or that man out of Iran, or the group that came through an amazing series of events made it from Venezuela. I imagine that in Jesus’ kingdom, over a cup of perfectly brewed coffee, we will regularly listen to testimonies of God’s incredible power of deliverance and relocation. Even today, there are Arab people who call Israel “occupiers” of the land, and that the nation of returned Israelites should not exist. Yet, these who speak are the occupiers of Israel’s land and want to drive Israel into the sea (note the relevant discussion of this very thought process found in Ezekiel 35). But Israel is there to stay. In Psalm 2:6, the Father declares that He actually has already “installed His king” on Zion. In God’s eyes it is a done deal. His power will insure it all.

  2. NATIONAL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED. Jeremiah 23:6 is quite clear. Israel shall be saved. Jesus, the OT prophets and the NT apostles all declare that God will redeem His people and bring them into the New Covenant (Jer. 31-31-34; Ezek. 36:24-28; Rom. 11:25-27). God, who always keeps His covenant commitments, will bring this second restoration to pass because He has promised to do so. Again, this spiritual salvation of Israel chronologically takes place after the physical return to the Land.

  3. THE MESSIANIC REIGN OF JESUS WILL THEN TAKE PLACE. Jeremiah lists many things that will characterize this kingdom when Jesus comes back to earth to rule as the king. Here are a few.

  • Messiah Jesus will rule during the Messianic Kingdom.  Of course, Jesus will be fulfilling God’s covenant promises to King David (2 Samuel 7; Psalm 89) and as the son of David, will be the king of Israel, and king of the whole earth, which is His inheritance (Ps. 2:8; Heb. 2:5). His reign will be characterized by righteousness, and His dealings with His subjects will always be fair. It is hard for us today, surrounded by corruption, deceit, graft and injustice, to imagine a world that is led by a righteous leader. It is also pointed out (23:5) that the Messiah will rule wisely. He rules with God’s wisdom, always doing what is best for all in His kingdom. Again, this is hard to fully comprehend because no such rulers exist today.

  • There will be other righteous rulers in this kingdom.  Jesus will not be the only notable, good ruler. Jeremiah 23:4 teaches that God is going to establish many righteous rulers. Who are these? We know that David will be ruling under Messiah Jesus (Ezek. 34:23-24). The Twelve Apostles will have rulership responsibilities over Israel (Matt. 19:28). And many OT and NT scriptures declare that faithful believers will get to be part of the administration in Messiah’s kingdom. Wow! That is something to look forward to for sure. Jeremiah speaks of the totally different lives that His people will have. They will have leaders who take good care of them, with the result that they will live their lives in complete security and without any fear and stress (23:4, 6).

  • This messianic age will be a time of prosperity. Jeremiah 23:3 tells us what we would expect. Prosperity in every area will be what characterizes this 1,000-year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:1-10). As parallel scriptures are studied, it is revealed that there is non-material prosperity, as this era will be dominated by peace, joy, freedom and the presence and ministries of the Holy Spirit. A life with no fear, guilt or anxiety. A world characterized by joy and peace is what the Messiah has in store for His people. And, as most Bible students are aware, the rejuvenated earth will produce in abundance as it never has before. Desert regions will be fertile and fruitful (Isa. 35). Physically, abundance will be the lot of God’s people. And there will be prosperity in the health of mankind, as disease and deformities no longer are part of our experience (Isa. 35). Even so, come Lord Jesus!

FOR US TODAY

For all believers, our best days lie ahead of us. We cannot, of course, set dates, but we can observe what is happening in our world right now. God, in great power, is bringing His covenant people back to their land. After God scattered them (Ezek. 36:19), He is fulfilling His promise and bringing them back. We are witnesses to this powerful working of God on behalf of His people Israel. What we are seeing is no fluke event, lucky break or religious hallucination. It is God at work. A work which signals that we are in the end of the end times. For we who are in the church, this should be a “heads up” that our final redemption is close at hand. Each of us would be wise to ask, “am I rapture ready?” 

The OT prophets spoke without stuttering about the first coming of the Messiah, the son of David. And people waited and waited. But God was not a minute late or early about the timing of Jesus’ entrance into the world through Mary. The Apostle Paul said, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His son, born of a woman…” (Gal. 4:4). He came. And while we wait for His return, we need to daily remind ourselves that “in the fullness of time, Jesus will return to this world, and to a regathered people who will believe in Him.” As those who have put our trust in Jesus, may we covenant with ourselves and with our Lord Jesus to live ever more intentionally for Him TODAY. After all, He is going to return. Perhaps today.


Friday, July 1, 2022

THE BIBLE’S VIEW OF THE COMING GLOBALISM

We live in a very divided country, with some promoting globalism, while others are focused on American nationalism. Globalists, often led by people with political power and/or incredible wealth, do not like people who promote the greatness of America. Nationalists resist the idea of a new world order. Globalists push for a new world order. They often use socialist/communist ideas as they work towards a one-world structure. In their view equality, peace and prosperity for all can be reached only if the world would rid itself of the focus on individual nations. Authority needs to be centered in one place. But as believers, we need to remember that nations were God’s idea and were established for mankind’s benefit (Genesis 11). We can be pretty sure, therefore, of the real origin of this alternate idea; another doctrine of demons. 

Those “Progressives” (“regressive” might be a better designation) push for a centralized world government, understanding that nationalism needs to be dealt with and diminished. So, if you are wondering why we have people in places of authority who appear to be bent on diminishing the United States, it is because they want to lessen its power and position; something which is necessary for a “new world order.” Their unrighteous policies and purposeful attacks on God’s standards of morality, family and life itself should be resisted. That we need to do. However, having done what we can, we need to remember that globalism will eventually win out because the scriptures say so. There are actually two different forms of globalism coming according to the Bible. The first one is Satan’s one world order, and the second is the one world government headed up by Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

THE COMING GLOBALISM OF THE EVIL ONE

The first form of globalism that will come is the one created by the Devil and his minions; demons and evil people. The Scriptures set forth a number of key points about this coming control of the world by Satan and his forces.

(1) Satan is the “god of this world” who has power over the nations of the world.  

The Apostle John clearly declared that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). And Satan, in his temptations of the Lord Jesus, offered to give Jesus the kingdoms of the world in exchange for bowing down to him (Luke 4:5-7). It should be noted that Jesus did not bow down, but did not deny that Satan had such authority. It is, therefore, clear that the Devil is going to be the force behind the future globalism, through which he plans to be worshipped and exalted. So, this is a matter of major concern to the Devil. It is the direction he passionately desires the world to go. And he has many with power and money who are on board with his goal.

(2) Satan’s future globalization is centered on a man. Most people, who have some knowledge of the Bible, know about the Antichrist. Satan gives to him great power and authority which will extend to every people group and nation (Rev. 13:7). For the first time ever, a man will actually be a dictator of the whole world. This, of course, means he will do what Jesus did not do, and that is worship Satan. And Antichrist will have another individual (named the False Prophet) who will exercise religious and economic authority (under the Antichrist) over the whole earth (Rev. 13:14). The emphasis of scripture is on the whole earth being dominated by these.

(3) There are stages in this Satanic globalization.  While there can be interpretive differences at this point, normal, grammatical interpretation appears to lead to the following understanding. The Antichrist will become the ruler of one western nation. As the ruler of this one nation, he will militarily defeat three other western nations. As Daniel 7:8 and 24 foretell, he will “subdue” them by force. Apparently, seven other nations simply submit to Antichrist (Rev. 17:17). So, Antichrist now heads up an eleven-nation western empire. This takes place in the first half of the seven-year period of the Tribulation. Antichrist is declared to be a “man of war” because he is very skilled at warfare (Dan. 11:41-45; Matt. 24:6; Rev. 6:4). Then, at the mid-point of the Tribulation several game-changing events take place and he is catapulted into his role as world ruler (under Satan). Revelation declares that “the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast (Antichrist)”, and “authority to act for forty-two months (second half of the Tribulation) was given to him” and he was given “authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation” (13:3, 5, 7). This second half of the Tribulation will be the closest Satan ever gets to his goal of being like God and worshipped. And, though many have desired it, this will be the closest any man ever gets to be dictator of the entire world.

(4) This move towards globalization will not go smoothly because of the inherent sinful and rebellious nature of man.  The delusional socialists of our day believe in the inherent goodness of man. They think that man is good at his core, but is corrupted by society, capitalists, injustices, racism and other things. But man is not good. He is sinful and born that way. This reality will be manifested in the seemingly constant conflicts and resistance to the Antichrist (and Satan) in his rise to power (Matt. 24:7). Antichrist is constantly at war. And even as the Tribulation draws to its end, “the kings of the whole world” rally to war in the campaign of Armageddon (Rev. 14:19; 16:14). While it is true that they all unite against Christ when the “sign of the Son of Man” appears in the heavens (Matt. 24:30), it is highly unlikely that they originally came with their armed forces to do battle with the Lord Jesus (They would have had no clue that He was coming very shortly). More probable is that their sinful, rebellious nature propelled them into the “winepress of the wrath of God” to unseat the Antichrist. It appears that the future globalization of the Evil One will be an ongoing struggle and not some utopia. Universal peace, prosperity and bliss can never happen because of the evil, sinful nature of mankind. This is a point lost on today’s globalists.

THE COMING GLOBALISM OF THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY

As would be expected, God’s future globalization is in stark contrast to what the counterfeiter Satan will produce. There are several basic truths about this.

(1)God’s future globalization is centered in the God-Man, Christ Jesus.  The Bible is clear that the Lord Jesus is the One who will fulfill the great covenants of the Old Testament. As the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus will rule on a refurbished earth for one thousand years (Rev. 20:1-10). People of the Book have longingly looked ahead to this time and to His coming. He is the focus of this coming age. God, on oath, has declared that this will take place (Ps. 89:3-4, 27-37), and in fact, God the Father has already established Messiah’s rule on Mt. Zion (Ps. 2:6).

(2) There are no stages in God’s globalization. It will come suddenly, dramatically and powerfully as Jesus returns to earth in power and great glory (Rev. 19:11-21). It is at His Second Coming that He sits on His throne and rules in His kingdom (Matt. 25:31). At that time, all living unbelievers will be judged and sent to Hades, which means that on Day #1 of His messianic kingdom, there are only believers on the earth. All the earth and all the nations of the earth are declared to be the “inheritance” of Messiah Jesus (Ps. 2:8). Daniel 7:14 adds that “to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him.” Hebrews 2:5 teaches that God the Father has given ruling authority, not to angels, but to the Son who will rule over the “inhabited earth” (that is, Jesus’ rule is not in heaven but on the earth where people live). Jesus Messiah ruling over all the nations is God’s idea of globalization.

(3) This move into globalization will go smoothly. The prophets are abundantly clear that righteousness is what will characterize the kingdom of Messiah (Isa. 11:4-5). The world will live according to God’s righteous standards. There will be no challenge of Christ’s righteous rule. Those born in the kingdom age will still have a sin nature and should they externally sin and rebel, they will experience immediate judgment. Psalm 2:9 states that He will “rule with a rod of iron.”  The “rod of iron” is found in the book of Revelation (2:26, 27; 12:5; 19:15). There will be no outward sinning and challenging of King Jesus. There is zero tolerance for rebellion and blasphemy by criminals. (Won’t that be a refreshing change!)

The Bible is quite clear on the issue of globalization. Evil globalization will come first, and will briefly flourish, and then be swept away forever by the grand and glorious globalization of the Almighty One. This is the future.

Satan has always counterfeited God’s perfect plans and ideas. Undoubtedly, the Evil One’s idea of globalization is stolen from what will be true when the Lord Jesus Christ reigns over all the earth. His will be a magnificent kingdom, which will be characterized by peace, joy, meaningful, abundant living. This is our future, thanks to the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

COMING INTO THE SANCTUARY OF GOD

Asaph looked at the world around him and saw how evil flourished and how the people that could care less about God and His righteous ways, had wealth, power and seemed to avoid so many of life’s troubles. They were godless but had it so good. Apparently, he thought, devoting oneself to serving the Lord God was not all that it was advertised to be. He became discouraged and depressed (Psa, 73:1-14). Why wasn’t God doing something about all this unrighteous behavior and godless attitudes? This troubled condition remained with Asaph until he “came into the sanctuary of God” (Psalm 73:17). That changed him. There he was reminded of God’s fixed, ultimate realities.

Often as God’s believing people, we today have Asaph’s perspective, as we look at people with money and power who dominate the world stage, but have no use for God’s standards. These are often the “movers” and “shakers” in our culture. These can be found in great numbers in politics, business and in the world of entertainment and athletics. Many of them have a deep-seated hatred for Christianity. And they do what they can to set aside God’s standards regarding marriage, life and sexuality. They promote all kinds of evil. Concerning such people, the Apostle Paul states: “they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32).  But nevertheless, these seem to prosper in many and varied ways. They seem to dictate our cultural life. The solution for any believer who feels like Asaph (which most of us have at one time or another) is to enter God’s sanctuary; that is, return to God’s truth and see what He has says is going to take place. Things which He, on oath, has promised to be true. 

Let’s take a minute and get back into the Scriptures (enter the sanctuary of God), and be reminded of some things that God declared will come to pass. It is unlikely that Asaph learned brand new truths when he “entered the sanctuary”. But there he was reminded of truth that had drifted into the background of his thinking; truth which no longer was directing his day-by-day living. For believers today, the following two truths always help us shed the “Asaph syndrome”. 

  1. God’s Sovereign Control and His Predetermined Plan

The Almighty One is longsuffering when dealing with sinful people, but that must never be interpreted as indifference to evil or impotence in dealing with rebels. He has purposes which, without any doubt at all, will come to pass, and that perhaps very soon. King David, in Psalm 2, noted that the leaders of nations, as well as their people, rage against God’s standards and authority over them. They want Him out of their lives. These arrogant, foolish people actually think that the Creator can be dismissed from their lives. (Does this sound at all familiar?) Their wicked scheming and their power seem irresistible. And the believer appears powerless before them.

But the Almighty God is not at all impressed, nor is He intimidated by great men and powerful nations. The Prophet Isaiah put it this way:

“Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales….All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded as less than nothing and meaningless….He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, but He merely blows on them, and they wither, and the storm carries them away like stubble. To whom then will you liken Me that I should be his equal? Says the Holy One.”  (Isaiah 40:15, 17, 23-25)


Isaiah is pretty clear about how fragile and temporary are these “great” ones. This is clearly something we need to remember when having an “Asaph moment.”

Getting back to Psalm 2, David informs us that God “laughs” and “scoffs” at these leaders and their people. The time is coming, and perhaps right soon, when His patience will end and He will in “anger” and “fury” judge these arrogant creatures of His. God’s coming wrath on these, whether in the period of the Tribulation (Rev. 6-18) or at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:12-15), will silence these rebels forever. Their horrifying and crushing judgment will force them to bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord (Phil. 3:9-11). This undeniable truth regarding their terrible end is a significant point that shook Asaph out of his distorted, demoralizing thinking (Ps. 73:17) when he entered the sanctuary of God. 

And the same holds true for us. These prideful, foolish unbelievers may appear to be unbeatable. They may seem to have irresistible power. But their time of fame and power are brief, and they face the anger and fury of the Almighty. This profound truth must not be forgotten or marginalized in our thinking. It is not fashionable today to speak about the judgment of God and His wrath to come. But unless these people repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, there are horrors that are coming upon them unlike anything they have experienced before, or even imagined. The coming wrath of God is very real and it does give perspective to us as we view our current culture.

  1. The Trumpet Announcing Our Last Days

Jesus promised that since He was going away to heaven, He would return for us, His people (John 14:3). And Jesus always keeps His promises. This return will be signaled by a blast from God’s trumpet, declaring the end of the church age on the earth and the beginning of our entrance into an incredible, magnificent, glorious future (1 Thess. 4:13-17). When we hear the loud sound of the trumpet, we will immediately be changed and receive our glorified, resurrection bodies, which will give to us a much greater capacity to understand and appreciate the great days that we will begin experiencing. Not only will the trumpet sound, but simultaneously Jesus will shout (“come up here”?) and Michael the Archangel will speak (ordering Satan’s forces out of the way?). What a moment of introduction that will be. (It does seem so much closer these days!). 

Following this meeting in the air with Jesus and myriads of angels and saints, we will return to heaven and experience the amazing time of Jesus generously rewarding His faithful servants. This is then followed by that wonderful moment of the “marriage of the Lamb”, when the church is uniquely, and forever, united to Jesus. Great will be the rejoicing and the enjoyment will be unparalleled. Then, with King Jesus, we will return to the newly conquered earth where we will thoroughly enjoy the “marriage supper”, which is the millennial/messianic age. And what a time that will be. The dominant atmosphere of this age is that of joy (Heb. 1:9; 12:2; Ps. 45:6; Matt. 25:21). What a change from this age which is dominated by stress, pain, grief, disappointment and distress. The rule of Messiah Jesus will be characterized by peace, not by conflict between neighbors, families and nations (Isa. 9:6); characterized by righteousness, not by injustice, evil and hypocrisy (Isa. 11:4-5); characterized by prosperity and health, not by the curse, poverty and disease (Isa. 35:1-10). Our Savior reigns supreme and what a one thousand years that will be!

And then, if that isn’t good enough, the Creator God will bring into existence a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1).  It is a return to God’s “plan A” which was inaugurated in Eden. Forever, we will experience paradise conditions, full unhindered fellowship with our Savior-God; and lives that have meaning and satisfaction to them. And that is our forever situation. Eternity really is a long, blessed time!

When Asaph went into God’s sanctuary and got his thinking adjusted with biblical truth, he had to admit: “what was I thinking?”  Or as he actually stated it: “then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.” (Psa. 73:21-24). 

Have you been having some “Asaph moments” in recent days as you observe the juggernaut of unrighteousness plowing its way through this world of ours? It happens to most of us at one time or another. Perhaps, at this moment you might find it helpful to spend some time in the sanctuary of God? We should remember two basic things. First, the best of times and the worst of times lie ahead, perhaps right around the corner. For unbelievers who remain in stubborn rebellion against God, it will be the very worst of times. For believers, our best days lie ahead of us, thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ.

And the second thing to remember is that we are placed, at this time and in this culture, to be lights in this ever-darkening world. Paraphrasing Mordecai’s words to Queen Esther: “We are not here by accident, but have been placed here in this culture at this time to shine for Jesus Christ”. This is not the hour to retreat to the safety of our basements to ride out the storm. Each of us needs to purposely and daily make ourselves available to the Light of the World. It is amazing what Jesus can do with the believer who is available to Him. And it is amazing the change in us when we “enter the sanctuary of God.”


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Troubled Times: Fertile Ground For False Prophets


       It does seem that when people and nations are facing difficult and stressful times that there arises an abundance of those who claim to have a special word from God. And these are often given a hearing. Perhaps this is because people, in troubling times, are generally anxious to know what is going to take place and are more susceptible to listen to someone who claims to have a word from God.  The Lord Jesus spoke of such a thing being true in the Tribulation period when He stated: “many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many” (Matt. 24:11). This coming troubling time indeed will produce many falsely claiming to speak for the true God.

FALSE PROPHETS IN THE PAST

    In the days when Judah was under the irreversible judgment of God, Jeremiah exposed false prophets who rose up in his day claiming to speak for Jehovah. Jeremiah made observations that were true in his day and in ours as well. Jeremiah noted that they claimed God as their authority; but God said, “I have heard what the prophets have said who falsely prophesy in My name, saying, I had a dream, I had a dream!’ (23:25). And also, “they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord” (23:16). Their claim was that God had spoken to them through their dreams. But their dreams did not come from the Lord, meaning that they were either self-generated or that they came from the Evil One. These false prophets were countering Jeremiah’s message from the Lord that Babylonian judgment was coming; and instead, were saying “you will have peace” and that “calamity will not come upon you” (23:17). The consequences of listening to the false prophets were that Judah was “led astray” (23:32); that Judah will “forget My name” (23:27); and that Judah was led “into futility” (23:16). The messages of the false prophets were things that the people wanted to hear, but the end result would be so very damaging. And this is always the case with false prophets.

Ezekiel, who also ministered in those troubling times of Babylonian judgment, also noted that the false prophets were those “who prophesy from their own inspiration (heart)” (Ezek. 13:2). He forcefully emphasized that their pronouncements were “lying divinations” (13:6, 7, 9), and that the result was that God’s people were being “misled” (13:10). Ezekiel exhorted them instead to “listen to the word of the Lord” (13:2).

FALSE PROPHETS OF TODAY 

The phenomenon of troubling times producing false prophets continues today in the church. However, unlike the days of the Old Testament prophets, today we have the internet which has become the fertile ground for producing hundreds of such false prophets. Very recently, I watched a “prophet” tell a group of his latest dream that he had received, allegedly directly from the Lord. To me, the content of the dream was bizarre at best. (Perhaps it was something he ate just before bedtime.) But what struck me in a greater way was the response of those who listened to him. They were enthralled, enthusiastic and excited about this latest word from God. There was no questioning of his claim that this came from God, and an absolute acceptance of the interpretation of this bizarre dream. Zero discernment was exhibited. And there was simply no turning to the Scriptures to give support, or to challenge, this supposed new word from the Lord God. 

In watching such false prophets, certain realities are clearly there. First, there is no exposition of the inspired Scriptures. Any passing references to the Scriptures are lifted out of context and generally misused. Second, it becomes clear that the Bible is not adequate in and of itself. This is, of course, the fundamental problem with the claim that the gift of prophecy is for today.  The Apostle Peter declared that everything we need to live godly lives is found in the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:3-4). Today’s “prophets” are saying, “no, the Scriptures are not complete and we need more for life today”. Peter could not disagree more. Third, if one would take the time to research these “prophets”, it would be discovered that they often have past prophecies that never came to pass. For example, there were many “prophets” who declared that God had spoken to them and told them that Donald Trump was going to be reelected in the last election (and this includes the “prophet” that I mentioned earlier that I was listening to). Now, of course, reasons are given as to why they misspoke, but Deuteronomy 18:22 gives no such wiggle room. Moses clearly said that a real prophet of God is never wrong. And incidentally, false prophets were to be executed (18:20). Implementing that verse might well cut down on the sheer number of false prophets today.


OUR RESPONSE AND PERSPECTIVE TODAY

The phenomenon of false prophets in times of trouble is a reality for us to deal with today. So, what should be our response and perspective in light of these ever-growing number of prophets?

  1. REJECT THEIR CLAIMS.  The question is not “can God raise up prophets”?  Of course, He can. But will He modify what He has said about His own word? The issue is the adequacy of God’s inspired Word. Once the canon of Scripture was completed there was no longer a need for apostles or prophets. The Apostles of Christ were the designated channels through whom Christ’s revelation would come (see John 16:12-14). The Apostles authenticated the truth given to them through the working of miracles (2 Cor. 12:12). These alone were responsible to communicate God’s new revelation to the church. Anyone today can make claims about their visions and dreams, but they are not apostles and are simply part of a long line of false prophets. Always, analyze them, their claims and their “prophecies” in light of the authoritative, inspired Word of God. They will always end up terribly inadequate and erroneous. There really is no biblical reason for accepting their authoritative claims.

  2. FOCUS ON THE SCRIPTURES AND THEIR TEACHINGS.

Of course, the Bible is to be our focus. I would suggest that there are three prophetic areas that we might especially consider as we think about the future of this planet. First, as always, zero in on the nation of Israel. There is no question that Israel, not the United States, is the focus of biblical prophecy. Prophecies that teach us about the final restoration of Israel are important to think about. God declared that there would be a two-fold restoration of national Israel (Ezek. 34-37). First, there would be a political/geographic restoration out of the nations of the world back to the land given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This geographic restoration, when completed in God’s eyes, would then bring about the second restoration; a spiritual restoration back to the Lord God. This spiritual restoration will take place during the Seventieth Week of Daniel (Dan. 9:24-27), also known as the Tribulation. We are seeing what appears to be the final times of the first restoration, which means that the second will likely soon follow.

A second prophetic focus is on Europe.  As one analyzes Daniel 7, it becomes apparent that the restoration of the old Roman Empire, to some extent, is the focus of the first days of the Tribulation period. The Antichrist will rise to power and become the dominant ruler of an eleven-nation confederacy, which would put the action in Europe. Antichrist will conquer three of those European nations and, apparently, the other seven will simply acquiesce to his demands and submit to him (see also Rev. 17:12-18). The Antichrist does not arise from one of the 10 nations but comes from an eleventh nation. It is within the realm of possibility that NATO’s return to life in the current Russia-Ukraine war could end up having significance.

A third focus is on the Gog-Magog war of Ezekiel 38-39, which involves Russia, Iran and numerous Islamic nations. Their massive invasion of Israel will bring about their complete destruction and will be the event that triggers the beginning of Israel’s spiritual restoration (Ezek. 39:22). This passage was discussed in our February, 2022 article. The exact timing of this war is not absolutely certain, but would appear to be just prior to the actual beginning of the Tribulation. 

A FINAL THOUGHT.  We, of course, have many other prophecies to think about and focus on, such as the Rapture and the Judgment Seat of Christ. So, we are not saying that the above three things are to be the entirety of our focus. But God has given to His people all that we need to know about the future. We, therefore, must also remember then not to give ground to these self-proclaimed men and women who say that God has spoken to them and thus they are speaking authoritatively and prophetically for Him. They are not. We must kindly, but firmly, resist these claims and give due diligence to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and to those Apostles of His who spoke all that we needed to know. Our task is to become better students of His Word.  

Sunday, April 3, 2022

CURRENT EVENTS AND THE COMING OF JESUS- Dr. Benware


The believer who holds to the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ constantly lives in a tension of truths. One set of those truths involves the statements of the Lord Himself.  He said we cannot know the exact time of end time events, yet He also stated that we should be observant to the events around us, which signal the end of days. So when dealing with prophecy and current events we feel this tension so much of the time. Probably many believing people had this experience at the time of the first coming of Jesus. Luke’s gospel reveals that there were some people (probably because of Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks) who were expecting their Messiah to arrive very shortly in Israel. And sure enough, at just the right moment, God sent forth His Son into the world born of the Virgin Mary.

So, as we contemplate the world around us, we do see movements and events which, like storm clouds, are growing dark and ominous. They definitely could be indicating end time events. But like the believers at the time of Jesus’ first coming, they didn’t know for sure until “at just the right moment, God sent for His Son.” We live in such a time of the tension of truth. Some points for us to consider.

(1) THE RUSH TOWARDS GLOBALISM.  Most of those connected with Scofield Ministries know that Revelation 13 is crystal clear that the end game for Satan is to rule the world and be worshiped. This he will accomplish through the Beast (a.k.a. the Antichrist) and the False Prophet. A one world society is not what God desired but it is what the Evil One wants. God’s idea was to have nations, and Satan is always against God’s ways and plans. Globalists today want to create a one world order, apparently not knowing (or caring) that this is a demonic idea. Just a few weeks ago President Biden stated: “Things are shifting. There is a New World Order forming and we have to lead it.” Now, I don’t know if this is his idea or one of his handlers, but whatever the human source, it is a demonic philosophy which will fully mature in the Tribulation period. This openness to a one world order will materialize, whether sooner or later. But it is with us today and is growing.

The Covid pandemic revealed and brought about some amazing realities. We saw how fragile “strong” people were, and the willingness to submit to most anything an authoritarian government required. This attitude is what will be true in the end times of the Tribulation. The globalists saw how the global economy could be manipulated and how it brought about the largest transference of wealth in the history of the world. The pandemic excited them. Now, as never before, we too can imagine how the world could be economically controlled by the Antichrist and the False Prophet, and the infamous “666”. More world crises will accelerate the move towards globalism and especially if a person arises who can grab hold of the reins and bring some order from the chaos. And believers know who that will be. (Read Revelation 13)

(2)  THE DISINTEGRATING OF MORALITY IN WESTERN CULTURE. It is the west where the Antichrist arises and where, along with the nation of Israel, end time events are focused. Western culture is important in the end times. Satan’s purpose of pushing for gay marriage, rampant immorality, trangenderism, homosexual and lesbian lifestyles is to destroy the family as God created it. When one looks carefully at the Mosaic Law code given to Israel, it becomes clear that the family was essential to the health of that nation. So for example, kidnapping and adultery (which struck at the heart of a family) were capital crimes. The kidnapper and the adulterer were put to death. The destruction of the God-ordained family is a huge step forward for this one world, new world order. Families, which are central to nations, need to be muted in their influence. So we should not be surprised when the Disney Corporation states that ideas of gay marriage and transgenderism will be a central part of their stories. We should not be surprised when school boards approve and push for so many family destroying ideas. Who would have thought that having drag queens read stories to kindergarteners was a great idea. Who would have thought that encouraging first graders to contemplate whether or not they would like to change their sexual orientation was healthy? All of it comes from the Evil One, and it does support Satan’s purpose in bringing about the end game.

(3) THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR. We wrote a little about this last month as we thought about the Gog-Magog war of Ezekiel 38 and 39. Because of Russia’s mounting war crimes and their growing isolation from the nations of the world, this seems to be a war with long-term consequences, no matter how the hot war ends. As we noted, if this war morphs into the middle-east (Syria, Iran, etc.) then that hot war of Ezekiel could be on the immediate horizon. This would bring the world into the event of the end times. But there are other matters that this current war influences as well. For example, Ukraine is a breadbasket for Europe and many other nations. Just last week a Ukrainian farmer said that at least 30% of their fields will not be planted. This is part of the reason why predictions of the coming scarcity of food is being talked about by many. Famine does become a significant component of life in the Tribulation period. 

For the first time in a long time NATO sees its need to be far stronger militarily. The empire of the Antichrist emerges in Europe with his eleven nation confederacy. And at that time, the world at large recognizes that the Antichrist is a man of war and one who likely cannot be defeated. We, of course, don’t know what the outcome will be of the present war in Ukraine, but it appears that this war will have continuing worldwide effects on a number of fronts. The ripple effect could continue into the Tribulation period.

This is not Grampa’s world nor is it his culture. We cannot go back to those days. We know that God is truth and He is sovereign. What He says will come to pass and He is not impressed or intimidated by Putin, Biden, Xi, or anyone else. (Read Psalm 2 and Isaiah 40). We know this. But these theological realities do not set aside what His people might be doing.

WHAT SHOULD FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST DO?   

  • Be bold and proactive in sharing the gospel. Life has changed and it seems very unlikely that we will ever return to “normal.”  We as believers in the coming King, need to look in the mirror and probably make some changes. This is no time for us to be “silent witnesses”.  If you are nervous and a bit stressed by world events, can you imagine what an unbelieving person with no real hope feels like. We know because of the rising suicide rate, the increasing use of alcohol and drugs to mute life and just the general despair out there. We need to be asking the Spirit of God daily to help us speak up for Jesus and communicate the gospel. The “great commission” is not just for pastors and church workers. These folks need the Savior and witnessing “by our lives”, though important, is not enough. This is the great need.

  • Be bold and proactive in our personal worlds. Being active in doing what we can to support that which is right and good. We are not called to clean up the culture, but where issues of God’s truth and righteousness are involved, then isn’t it a righteous thing to be proactive? Encourage the men and women who are directly in this culture war with support. Vote for those who support the standards of God. If the local school board needs to be rebuked for its demonic ideas, speak up. Boycott Disney, and let them know. There are numerous avenues we can follow.

I am not advocating “bringing in the kingdom” by our efforts. But just like Daniel and Joseph impacted the pagan world of their day and pleased God in doing so, we probably could do as well.

We need to become fearless.  If a person fears God, they will not fear men. For some of us, we are afraid of what men could do to us and so we fail to look for and expect opportunities to represent Christ in our public worlds. What are we willing to set aside or give up to represent Christ in a public way?

You remember that Mordecai reminded Esther that she was in her position for “such a time as this.”  You and I are here in America at such a time as this because that is where the Lord has sovereignly placed us. World events and cultural trends say this could be the final days. God is sovereign and His plans will not be thwarted. But this does not set aside our need to represent our Lord Jesus Christ in such a time as this.


Monday, February 28, 2022

Ukraine, Russia, Gog And Magog

        Much of the world’s attention is presently focused on the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. And at this moment, it is unclear how this new war in Europe will turn out. Wars are messy things, and the reporting of them is often murky at best. But many believers, knowledgeable of Ezekiel’s prophecies (Ezek. 38 and 39) wonder if the attempt by Russia to take over Ukraine has any biblical significance, particularly in relationship with the Gog/Magog battle of the end times. There are some basic truths and some present realities that should be considered.

  1. Russia is the leader of the invasion of Israel discussed in Ezekiel 38. Back in the 19th century, the lexicographer Gesenius identified “Rosh” as Russia. Since then, there has been a focused study on identifying the players in the Ezekiel 38-39 battle. There is now good, solid evidence that the names involved (going all the way back to the table of nations in Genesis 10) ended up north of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea; the territory of modern-day Russia and some other countries. Ezekiel is quite clear that the leading invaders come from the extreme north (north of Israel), and there is only one nation that is in the furthermost north country, and that is the nation of Russia. Russia will be joined by Iran (called Persia by Ezekiel) and a number of other Islamic countries in this coming invasion of Israel.

The leader of Russia is called “Gog” and is seen as a man who is quite    arrogant and sees himself as a great conqueror who cannot be defeated. He believes he can take Israel because of the huge, well-equipped army that he puts together. He is, of course, dead wrong. But being wrong, delusional and extremely self-focused has never deterred Gog-like tyrants in the past and will not in the future.

  1. The territory of Ukraine is part of the territory of the invading forces. It is unclear as to the outcome of the present invasion of Ukraine, but looking at a map reveals that Ukraine is, in fact, part of the territory that will house the invaders of Israel in the last days. Apparently, Ukraine will be absorbed by Russia at some time prior to the Ezekiel battle.

  2. The timing of the Ezekiel battle is in the last days. Ezekiel specifically refers to the “latter years” (38:8) and the “last days” (38:16), as well as several references to “that day” (38:14, 18; 39:8, 11). When Old Testament writers use these terms, they are referring to the days of Messiah’s coming, when God will bring about the fulfilling of His covenant commitments to His people Israel. While the timing of this battle has long been a subject of discussion among Bible students, it does seem that it will take place just before the Tribulation.

  3. Russia and Israel today. At this moment in time, the world’s attention is on the Ukraine-Russia conflict. However, Russia is presently saying and doing things which likely indicate some changes on the horizon. There seems to be a growing strain in the Russia-Israel relationship. These could be a pretext for future Russian aggression. Consider the following: (1) this past week in the United Nations, the Russian deputy ambassador said that “Russia does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”  As most readers know, the Golan Heights are strategic to Israel’s ability to defend itself and Israel will never let go of that piece of real estate. This is no small matter. (2) Israel has, without Russian interference, bombed many places in Syria where Hezbollah was stockpiling rockets and ammunition. But now, the Russian rhetoric has changed and they are saying that these pre-emptive strikes are “crude violations of Syrian sovereignty.” And Russian jets are engaged with Syrian jets in “exercises” often near the Golan Heights. (3) The rhetoric also is changing to the point that the Israeli incursions into Syria are “problematic”. (4) Less known is Vladimir Putin’s delusion that he is the savior of the Christian world (here read the Russian Orthodox Church). And with the Russian Orthodox church’s presence in Jerusalem, one can only imagine what tales of abuse or offenses might be conjured up. Gog is going to devise an “evil plan” according to the prophet (38:10) when it comes to invading Israel.

  4. The reason for the coming invasion of Israel. Ezekiel is quite clear that this invasion is motivated by several factors. One is the wealth that Israel has accumulated since becoming a nation. This is not the place to discuss the trillions of dollars in the Dead Sea minerals or the vast natural gas deposits of Israel’s coast. But Ezekiel 38:12-13 states that Israel’s wealth is definitely attractive. Israel’s strategic location (38:12) is also attractive to Russia. Since ancient times the land area of Israel has been that important bridge between Asia and Europe. And dictators, including Gog, see that land as a marvelous chunk of real estate. Israel occupies, as Ezekiel declares, the “center of the earth.” And we must not forget that Israel is hated by the nations of the earth. Antisemitism has been with us for millennia and one cannot imagine that it will not be a contributing factor in this end times attempt to annihilate Israel.

  5. The One who engineers the invasion is God Himself. It is important to note that it is God Himself who orchestrates when this invasion will take place. It almost seems that Gog really doesn’t want to do this, at least at this moment in time. So, God drags Gog down to the land of Israel (38:4, 8; 39:2). Whatever Gog’s timing and plans might be, he will be divinely forced to change his plans and head for his demise on the mountains of Israel. 

  6. The results of this coming invasion. God always has purposes in what He does, even though we often don’t fully understand them. But God, through Ezekiel, has made clear His basic reasons for what He will do in this case. He will, using a variety of means, totally destroy Gog and his immense army. First and most important, the total destruction of Gog and his allies will trigger the nation of Israel coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (39:22). This destruction of a huge invading force will bring about a spiritual response in Israel similar to what took place when the army of Egypt was destroyed at the Red Sea in the days of Moses. The Scriptures are clear that the tribulation period exists primarily for the salvation of people, beginning with the nation of Israel. (The timing of this battle is not absolutely clear but probably occurs after the Rapture of the church and before the start of the tribulation period). God wants to save man and multiplied millions will come to faith in Jesus Christ during that time period. A second purpose is that the nations of the world will see God and respect Him in a way they haven’t for millennia (39:6-7, 21, 27). Today, so much of the world views the Lord Jehovah (if they think of Him at all) as being on vacation and out of touch with what is going on, or really powerless to do much about all this. That secular attitude towards the Creator God, which marginalizes the Lord God, will be dramatically changed. And while many will not turn to Him in faith, they will no longer dismiss Him as irrelevant as they do today. 

Some concluding thoughts.

       Jesus was clear that predicting the exact time of end time events is something we are not capable of doing. So, we just can’t do that. Setting dates has always proved disastrous. However, Jesus also was clear that we are to be observant about what is going on in the world. And He warned that we must not “fall asleep” spiritually and be unprepared for the arrival of end time events. God, on oath, said He was going to do these things. Sometime might be our time. Therefore, being passive about all this is a really poor choice.

       So, as we observe events in our world and as we look at Scripture, we are to live intentionally for Him, keeping one eye on the heavens. If all of these current events do flow into last day events, we will not be unprepared.