Friday, October 31, 2008

Shadows of the Christian Persecution to Come — Iraq

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

In the first part entitled "The Last Act" of this Shadows article series we looked at what the Bible has to say in Revelation chapters 7, 9 and 20 concerning the incredible amount of persecution believers will endure during the 7-year Tribulation. Those believers who will come to know the Lord as Savior after the Rapture will suffer terribly.

We looked at the reason why the Tribulation Saints will be hunted down and slaughtered by the millions — they're used as scapegoats for the wrath God will beset upon the planet, their refusal to take the Antichrist's loyalty mark, and primarily because Satan hates those who follow Jesus Christ.

We asked, "Was the cost worth it?" The scene of joy displayed by the worshipping martyrs in heaven and the love and protection God will provide them eternally leaves the reader to only conclude emphatically — "Yes!"

We continue to explore what the persecution of believers during the Tribulation will look like. We don't have to look too far past the daily headlines of today to see shadows of the Christian persecution to come.

A Shadow in Iraq

For our second look into the nightmare world of Christian martyrdom, let's focus on the country of Iraq. The country is a powder keg of Muslim violence as Sunnis and Shiites vie for power and Kurds look to form a country of their own, all under the veil of the newly established democracy. Under this new democracy, formed ironically by the historically Christian United States, there is no room for the Christian population. In Iraq, Christians make up 3 percent of Iraq's 26 million people, or about 800,000. Many Muslims in Iraq want Christians out.

Persecution.com reports on some chilling stories of Muslim persecution against Christians in the town of Mosul.

"On Oct. 4 an armed group of suspected Islamist extremists assassinated a man named Hazim Thomaso Youssif in front of his clothing shop, and Ivan Nuwya was shot to death in front of his home, located near a mosque in the Christian-majority neighborhood of Tahrir. Meanwhile on Oct. 6, a disabled 25-year-old shopkeeper was shot and killed in the neighborhood of Karama. Four other Christians, a pharmacy employee, a disabled man who owns a spare-parts store, and two day-laborers have also been killed.

Archbishop Rahho was kidnapped and killed by gunmen in March following Mass. His body was found dumped on the streets."


Persecution.com further reports that the reason behind the persecution of Christian leaders, churches and businesses in Iraq that have been targeted by Islamic extremists is "an effort to wipe out the Christian community's economic activity and drive out believers from the area." Mosul is just where the most recent activities have been committed, as the Christian population has been facing great persecution since the United States began the campaign to remove the dictator Saddam Hussein. That persecution's purpose appears to be working successfully towards its goal, as many Christians have fled Iraq, including half the Christian population of Mosul.


Tribulation Comparison

During the Tribulation, a key strategy to removing believers in Christ is economic warfare. Like those behind the Iraqi persecutions trying to cut off the Christians' ability to make a living, the Antichrist punishes Tribulation believers for not accepting his loyalty mark by cutting them off from commerce (Rev. 13:17). Believers during the Tribulation will need to find alternative means of economy like bartering with fellow believers.

The Tribulation persecutions will differ from today's Christian persecutions in that there will be nowhere for the Tribulation Saints to flee. The whole world will be against them (Rev. 7:9). This will result in many more being slaughtered as they find no refuge to escape the onslaught.

Conclusion

Jesus stated in Matthew 24:9 concerning the last days, "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me." Christians have indeed been persecuted and have suffered terribly since Jesus' first advent. Today is no exception, as millions of believers in Christ have died over the last century due to the workings of satanic principalities and powers that are behind human activity.

But, persecution during the 7-year Tribulation will be the worst in human history. Jesus continued his description in verse 21, "For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again." As bad as it is now, it will be the worse ever then.

Like the darkest darkness before the dawn, though, the Tribulation will be the darkness before the light of Jesus Christ's return. When Jesus returns, the nations aligned against Jesus will be obliterated. Satan, the ruler of the spiritual forces behind the evil in this world, will be banished and later sent to the Lake of Fire. Jesus will usher in an era of peace, righteousness and justice where all of mankind can know freedom and peace. Love will permeate the world.

Believers can rejoice with those who will be martyred awaiting justice at the throne of God, and put their hope in Jesus Christ's promise of his return.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Shadows of the Christian Persecution to Come — India

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

In the first part entitled "The Last Act" of this Shadows article series we looked at what the Bible has to say in Revelation chapters 7, 9 and 20 concerning the incredible persecution believers will endure during the 7-year Tribulation. Those believers who will come to know the Lord as Savior after the Rapture will suffer terribly.

We looked at the reason why the Tribulation Saints will be hunted down and slaughtered by the millions — they're used as scapegoats for the wrath God will beset upon the planet, their refusal to take the Antichrist's loyalty mark, and primarily because Satan hates those who follow Jesus Christ.

We asked, "Was the cost worth it?" The scene of joy displayed by the worshipping martyrs in heaven and the love and protection God will provide them eternally leaves the reader to only conclude emphatically — "Yes!"

Now we'll explore what the persecution of believers during the Tribulation will look like. I don't think we have to look too far past the daily headlines of today to see shadows of the Christian persecution to come.

A Shadow in India

For our first look into the nightmare world of Christian martyrdom, let's focus on the country of India. The following is a current report from a missionary in India working with orphans.

"We have never seen anything like this. We knew that Orissa was the most resistant and hostile State in India as far as the Gospel is concerned. And we brushed off the continuous threats and harassment we faced as we went about His work. But none of our staff imagined that they would see this kind of carnage.

Let me explain. A militant Hindu priest and 4 of his attendants, who were zealously going around the villages of Orissa and 'reconverting' people back to Hinduism, were gunned down by unknown assailants in Central Orissa last weekend. Immediately the Christians were blamed. The cry rose up, 'Kill the Christians!' And the horror began. In the past 4 days, we have first-hand witness to hundreds of churches being blown up or burned and many, many dozens of Christian tribes have been slaughtered. For no other reason than they bear the name of Christ.

Night and day I have been in touch with our Good News India Directors spread across 14 Dream Centers in Orissa... they are right in the middle of all this chaos. In Tihidi, just after the police came to offer protection, a group of 70 blood-thirsty militants came to kill our staff and destroy the home. They were not allowed to get in, but they did a lot of damage to our Dream Center by throwing rocks and bricks and smashing our gate, etc. They have promised to come back and 'finish the job.' Our kids and staff are locked inside and have stayed that way with doors and windows shut for the past 3 days. It has been a time of desperately calling on the Lord in prayer.

More police have come to offer protection. In Kalahandi, the police and some local sympathizers got to our dream center and gave our staff and kids about 3 minutes notice to vacate. No one had time to even grab a change of clothes or any personal belonging. As they fled, the blood-thirsty mob came to kill everyone in the building. We would have had a mass funeral there, but for His grace.

In Phulbani, the mob came looking for Christian homes and missions. The local Hindu people, our neighbors turned them away by saying that there were no Christians in this area. So they left. We had favor. The same thing happened in Balasore.

All our dream centers are under lock down with the kids and staff huddled inside and police outside. The fanatics are circling outside waiting for a chance to kill. Others were not so fortunate. In a nearby Catholic orphanage, the mob allowed the kids to leave and locked up a Priest and a computer teacher in house and burned them to death. Many believers have been killed and hacked into pieces and left on the road... even women and children. At another orphanage run by another organization, when this began, the Director and his wife jumped on their motorbike and simply fled, leaving all the children and staff behind. Every one of our GNI directors that I have spoken to said: 'We stay with our kids.... we live together or die together, but we will never abandon what God has called us to do.' More than 5000 Christian families have had their homes burned or destroyed. They have fled into the jungles and are living in great fear waiting for the authorities to bring about peace. But so far, no peace is foreseen.

This will continue for another 10 days... supposedly the 14 day mourning period for the slain Hindu priest. Many more Christians will die and their houses destroyed. Many more churches will be smashed down. The Federal government is trying to restore order and perhaps things will calm down.

We ask for your prayers. Only the Hand of God can calm this storm. None of us know the meaning of persecution. But now our kids and staff know what that means. So many of our kids coming from Hindu backgrounds are confused and totally bewildered at what is happening around them. So many of their guardians have fled into the jungles and are unable to come and get them during these trying times."

You'll notice that the assassination of a prominent Hindu leader is immediately blamed on the Christians, even though world news reported that the Hindu leader had many enemies within his own faction. With a "viable" excuse now in hand, the mob feels it now has justification for acting out on its hatred of Christians. A mob is formed to provide group strength. The mob lets loose atrocities upon the Christians, involving no discernment for women and children, attacking the very people who have helped their neediest — the orphans. The executions are not remotely humane but involve torture. The democratic governing authorities do little to stem the mob's unlawful rampages, letting the mob act out for them so as not to get their own hands dirty.

Please heed the missionary's prayer to "uphold all this in fervent prayer." You can learn more about the persecution of Christians in Orissa, India at Persecution Update India.

But, as much as this scene in India makes one heart-sick, image it on a global scale. In the Tribulation, believers in Christ can expect the same treatment that this scene foreshadows. As the only righteous opposition to man's evil desires, believers will be hated. The judgments upon the planet for man's wickedness will be blamed on believers and Jews. This will give the unbelieving population the motive to attack. The Antichrist's government will at first look away from the atrocities, but when the believers don't comply with his loyalty mark, the Antichrist will legalize the wholesale persecution of the Tribulation Saints. With persecution on a global scale, the Tribulation Saints will have nowhere to find asylum and will die horrifically by the millions.

Note: If you are a believer who happens to come upon this article during the Tribulation, there is one place you may find some semblance of protection — Israel. God will protect Israel up until Jesus' Second Coming. Most of Israel will be destroyed and two-thirds killed, but there is your best chance of surviving to the end of the Tribulation.

In the next post, we will look at another shadow of the persecution against Christians that is to come.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Shadows of the Christian Persecution to Come — The Last Act

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

The persecution of believers in Christ during the upcoming 7-year Tribulation will be incredible. Revelation 6:9-11 describes the plight of that era of believers:

"When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, 'How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?' Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed."

Revelation 7:9-17 elaborates:

"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.' All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: 'Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen!"

Then one of the elders asked me, 'These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?' I answered, 'Sir, you know.'

And he said, 'These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, 'they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'"

We can derive from these passages that the result of the opening of the fifth seal judgment is the mass persecution of those who have come to know Jesus as Savior during the Tribulation. The scope of this persecution is global, effecting believers in every nation. The intensity of the persecution falls nothing shorter than the mass slaughter of "multitudes that no one could count."

Why this mass slaughter of believers in Christ?

Firstly, since the fifth seal follows the Antichrist's leading the globe into world war resulting in billions dead, killer diseases and mass starvation; it would appear on the surface that the Tribulation Saints are made the scapegoats for the chaos.

Secondly, Revelation 20:4 tell the reader that people will be persecuted and killed for not accepting the Antichrist's loyalty mark on either their forehead or right hand. "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years." These Tribulation Saints will refuse to worship the Antichrist and pledge allegiance to him. For such a betrayal, the Antichrist will have them hunted down and killed.

Thirdly, and the real look at the spiritual battle that goes on behind the activities of man, believers in Christ are persecuted for their faith in the true King of Kings – Jesus Christ. As Jesus stated in John 15:20a, "Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." Satan's hatred of God spills over onto all those who love and are loyal to Him.

Is the cost worth it?

Despite the great suffering this era of believers will endure, the Bible records that their eternal rewards for making a stand for their Messiah makes the persecution worth enduring. The martyrs get to stand before the throne of God and be the servants of the Almighty forever and ever. They are promised the impenetrable protection that only God can provide. They will receive joy in place of their sorry, and peace and contentment in the place of their sufferings. They will join the multitudes of believers from the Old Testament era, Church Age and one day the Millennial Kingdom in eternal life and love with their Creator and King.

Will their suffering be worth it? Their praises proclaim it is!

What will the Tribulation persecution look like?

In the next post, we will look at a shadow of the persecution against Christians that is to come.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Event Invitation From Dr. Reagan

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Greetings in the name of Jesus, our Blessed Hope!

I am writing to personally invite you to a special reception that we are hosting on Saturday, November 1st.

The reception is to honor Cathy Cotter-Smith, a very talented artist and art instructor at Collin College.

Cathy and her husband, Jack, accompanied our video crew to Israel last March. While we were shooting television programs, she made sketches and watercolor paintings of the sites that we visited. We have since assembled her wonderful paintings into a Holy Land calendar for 2009.

On November 1st, all her Holy Land paintings, together with other paintings by her, will be on display and for sale at the 14th Street Gallery in Plano, Texas. We will also have copies of the 2009 calendar for sale for only $5.

Please join us between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. My wife, Ann, and I will be there to welcome you. Our staff will have refreshments for you. And, of course, Cathy and her husband will be there to greet you and talk with you about the paintings that will be on display.

The 14th Street Gallery is located at 1412 14th Street in Plano, Texas. That's east of the downtown area. The gallery is on the south side of the street. There is a small sign out front, and we will have balloons tied to the sign. There is parking in the back of the gallery.

Cathy and all of us here at Lamb & Lion would be greatly blessed by your presence. Please plan to join us for a good time of fellowship.



The ministry has prepared a very special calendar for 2009 printed in full color and featuring 12 watercolors of Holy Land scenes by artist Cathy Cotter-Smith.
Order online or call 1-800-705-8316.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Return of the Golden Calf

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

What comes to mind when you encounter a golden calf?

Calf #1
For many, a golden calf reminds them of the story in Exodus 32. As the story goes, the Israelites, fairly fresh from leaving Egypt, were getting impatient while Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments. They implored Moses' brother Aaron to "come, make us gods who will go before us." Aaron consented and ordered gold collected and fashioned into the likeness of a golden calf. The people then gathered around their newly made idol to "to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry."

On the mountainside, God told Moses what was happening in the foothills below. The people had betrayed God, even after freeing them from slavery. In such fury, God told Moses that His "anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them." Moses interceded, put the people straight, and destroyed the abominable idol.

Calf #2
The golden calf returned hundreds of years later during King David's grandson's time when Israel split into two kingdoms. In 1 Kings 12, Jeroboam, the first king of the northern ten tribes, knew he couldn't solidify his people if they kept going to Judah to worship at the Temple. And so, Jeroboam made two golden calves, and just like Aaron declared "Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." This again provoked God into anger. Worship of the golden calf eventually destroyed the Northern Kingdom, as recorded in 1 Kings 13:33-34, "This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth."

Calf #3
Now, almost 3,000 years later, the Golden Calf has returned, and this time to Sotheby's art auction house in London. As Mediabistro.com (Fri. Aug 1, 2008) reported in their article "Worshiping Damien Hirst's Golden Calf," world renowned artist Damien Hirst, known for works of art ranging from a jewel-encrusted human skull to exotic animals encased in formaldehyde, released his "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever" 2-day auction on September 15-16, 2008. Bloomberg.com (by Scott Reyburn, Tues. Sept. 16, 2008) reports the auction took in a whopping $126.6 million, making Hirst the greatest financially commanding living artist in the world today.



The piece most commanding attention was "The Golden Calf," a 13 feet tall and nearly 12 feet wide once-living 18-month-old calf. Its horns are made of 18-carat gold and it wears a golden headpiece straight out of the Illustrations section of the Bible. The calf is suspended in a silicone and formaldehyde brew-filled tank plated in 18 karat gold and set atop a Carrara marble plinth. Lucky number lot 13's winning bid for "The Golden Calf" came from Cheyenne Westphal, Sotheby's European chairman of contemporary art, taking instructions from a client by phone. The calf was expected to have fetched at least 8 million pounds.

Quoted Sotheby's Oliver Barker of the Biblical allusion gone pop, "It indicates the idolatry of man to false idols, man's impatience, brazen imagery, but also, it draws you in because the beast himself is... so incredibly beautiful."

Calf #4
Now, I'm not saying that people are going to parade around "The Golden Calf" naked in drunken revelry, worshipping it... though who knows what the new owner's plans are. I am also not saying that the calf"s return has anything to do with the world financial crisis, though the coincidental timing is quite intriguing.

What I will conclude from the Bible is that God hates — that's right, hates — idolatry. An idol is more than just a statue. It is an extension of the human heart to rebel against the One who loved us from the womb and has great and wonderful plans for our lives. Idolatry is rebellion. Rebellion against God by definition is Evil. The symbol of evil in man is... "The Golden Calf."

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Mysterious Woman

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Who is the "woman clothed with the sun" in Revelation 12. Is this Mary, the mother of Jesus?

Revelation 12 is one of the most important chapters in the book of Revelation because it explains the cosmic struggle that is portrayed in the book.

The first six verses of Chapter 12 constitute a parenthetical passage. But unlike the previous ones in the book, this one is a flash-back rather than a flash-forward. It is designed to help us better understand why the Tribulation will take place.

What the chapter in effect says is that the Tribulation is the consummation of a cosmic battle between God and Satan that has been going on in the supernatural world since the revolt of Man in the Garden of Eden. It reminds us that Satan tried to stop the First Coming of the Messiah, just as he is now trying to prevent His Second Coming. The chapter is full of symbols. Let's take a look at them.

Meaningful Symbols

The first symbol in chapter 12 is "a woman clothed with the sun," with the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head (12:1). Many different interpretations have been given of this imagery. Some commentators claim that this woman represents the Church. Catholics claim she is Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Here is a classic example of why it is important to let the Bible interpret itself, wherever possible. The point is that this imagery comes right out of Joseph's dream in Genesis 37, where the sun stood for Jacob, the moon for Rachel, and the stars for Joseph's brothers (Genesis 37:9-11). So, we can conclude that this woman represents the nation of Israel, the descendants of Jacob.

The woman is pregnant and is about to give birth. This refers to Israel providing the Messiah to the world. In verse 3 "a great red dragon," which is Satan, tries to devour "a male child" when He is born — which, of course, is exactly what Satan tried to do when he motivated King Herod to send his army to Bethlehem to kill all the babies at the time of Jesus' birth. But the male child, Jesus, is "caught up to God and to His throne" (the Ascension) where He waits "to rule all the nations with a rod of iron" (12:5).

These verses remind us that there is a great cosmic struggle going on over the dominion of planet earth. God originally gave that dominion to Man (Genesis 1:28), but it was stolen by Satan when Adam and Eve gave in to his temptation and rebelled against God. Consequently, Satan is now "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31) and "the whole world lies in the power of the evil on" (1 John 5:19).

But one of the reasons Jesus died on the Cross was to make it possible for Man to reassert his rightful dominion over the earth. This is one of the many delayed benefits of the Cross (our glorified bodies being another one). Jesus will reclaim dominion over the earth when He returns at the end of the Tribulation. We saw Him doing that in the flash-forward about the "strong angel" in chapter 10. In chapter 5 verse 13 we are told that the heavenly hosts sing about that glorious day: "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wikipedia Redefines Truth

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

How would you define "truth?"
Would it be how Jesus defined "truth" when He stated "I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6)? Or, would you define it as the world's largest free online encyclopedia — Wikipedia — defines it.

Should we care?
First off, why should you care if Wikipedia has a different view than Jesus on what "truth" is? Simson L. Garfinkel, contributing editor of MIT's Technology Review and a professor of computer science at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, wrote an article titled Wikipedia and the Meaning of Truth (Nov/Dec 2008). In his article he states why we should care.

"Why should we care? Because — Wikipedia's articles are the first — or second—ranked results for most Internet searches. Google's search algorithms rank a story in part by how many times it has been linked to; people are linking to Wikipedia articles a lot. This means that the content of these articles really matters. Wikipedia's standards of inclusion — what's in and what's not — affect the work of journalists, who routinely read Wikipedia articles and then repeat the wiki claims as 'background' without bothering to cite them. These standards affect students, whose research on many topics starts (and often ends) with Wikipedia."

If you have every used Google to look something up or did research on the Web, more than likely you have used Wikipedia. It has become the de facto place to go for information. And, while most know that like any periodical it has to be viewed with a wary eye, in the end, we just usually take the info from it and run with it.

Defining
This is how Wikipedia defines "truth":

"The meaning of the word truth extends from honesty, good faith, and sincerity in general, to agreement with fact or reality in particular. The term has no single definition about which a majority of professional philosophers and scholars agree, and various theories of truth continue to be debated. There are differing claims on such questions as what constitutes truth; how to define and identify truth; the roles that revealed and acquired knowledge play; and whether truth is subjective, relative, objective, or absolute."

If you're blinking with mouth gaping, then you're not alone. To sum up what they are saying — they don't know!

The gobbldy-gook of philosophical terminology and redirects run down the monitor paragraph after paragraph, overall reminding me of Shakespeare's line in MacBeth, "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." In this case, their definition signifies nothing.

Redifining
But, while the Wikipedia entry on "Truth" signifies nothing, a look into the backdoor of Wikipedia's policies shows they do indeed have a working definition of "truth." Wikipedia's litmus for what volunteers post for each subject is tested on three core content policies:

  • verifiability

  • no original research

  • neutral point of view

Wikipedia does not allow original research to be posted, but if two other people corroborate with each other on that research, even if the source material's author doesn't agree (see Jaron Lanier's experince in the article), then the corroborator's views are what is taken as fact.

"So what is Truth? According to Wikipedia's entry on the subject, 'the term has no single definition about which the majority of professional philosophers and scholars agree.' But in practice, Wikipedia's standard for inclusion has become its de facto standard for truth, and since Wikipedia is the most widely read online reference on the planet, it's the standard of truth that most people are implicitly using when they type a search term into Google or Yahoo. On Wikipedia, truth is received truth: the consensus view of a subject. That standard is simple: something is true if it was published in a newspaper article, a magazine or journal, or a book published by a university press — or if it appeared on Dr. Who."

What Garfinkel means in the above quote is that Wikipedia believes "truth" is what consensus says it is. Very post-modern!

Prophecy and Truth
One of the end-time signs leading up to Jesus Christ's return is a pulling away from the source of truth — Jesus, the Word of God. The Apostle Paul warned in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."

Jesus stated in Matthew 24:37, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man." People will trade truth for falsehood in the last days, and so they have. People will return to what life was like in the days of Noah, when the foundations of righteousness were pulled down and replaced with the mob's version of ethics, which is really lawlessness.

Isaiah warns in 5:20, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."

When Jesus returns, truth will be restored on the rock that is Jesus Christ — the very meaning of "truth."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rex Farrye — The New Messiah Only One Person Has Heard Of

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

Born in Bethlehem on December 25, 1974, to a young woman named Jasmine. Now lives on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Flip-flops around with 12 devoted followers. Heals the sick and raises the dead for free from his humble "Miracle Camp." Claims his father is a space alien. This is Rex Farrye, the New Messiah.

Farrye is claimed to have stated, "I am of this world because my mother is of this world... I am not of this world because my father is not of this world. Some say I am the Messiah. Some say I am not." His purpose in life: "to bring love into the world."

Here are some of Farrye's supposed miracles:

  • vanish and reappear hundreds of miles away

  • move or destroy objects just by looking at them or waving his hand

  • raises people from their deathbeds

  • raised a dead woman from her coffin

  • heals... "just as likely to make a wart vanish as help a quadriplegic move again"

The CIA is supposedly keeping a very close eye on Farrye who is said to be planning a world tour "to bring his message of love — or hate — to a global audience." People are said to be wondering, "For whom is Farrye working: the forces of light and peace and good, or the forces of darkness and evil and war?"

Jesus has the answer in Mark 13:5-6, that in the last days many false prophets would come claiming to be the Messiah. "Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many." Jesus also warned in verses 21-22 that in the last days many deceitful people would create a hubbub about supposed new Messiahs coming on the scene. "At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect — if that were possible."

So here's the kicker, from all indications it would appear that Rex Farrye falls into the second category — the workings of a deceitful imagination. Rex Farrye would seem to be a hoax.

Whose imagination would come up with this imaginary New Messiah? The originator of the Farrye story is a man named Derek Clontz. Clontz is "an herbalist, author and journalist of international reach with his articles on alternative medicines, parapsychology, conspiracies, UFOs, the strange, the odd, and the fantastic." Clontz reported on the New Messiah and his miracles in his March 3, 2008, article titled New Messiah or Evil Anti-Christ: Just Who is Rex Farrye?

How can we know Rex Farrye is fictitious? The biggest evidence is that there is no corroborating story. Clontz claims the Jerusalem Post reported on Farrye, but no such story can be found. Google "Rex Farrye," and all the surfer gets is a few posts seeking corroboration. Fakemessiah.com agrees, "This may all be all a hoax. We acknowledge that Derek Clontz is the only one reporting on this Rex Farrye. Google search also reveals nothing on 'Laycie Datnoff' who Derek Clontz claims is a 'freelance journalist who has reported on Farrye and his ministry'. According to posts on Derek's Blog, Rex Farrye and/or his followers have the ability to cause this news blackout. Let's watch and search out more about this. There may be nothing to this at all."

Why would Derek Clontz make up a story about a new Messiah? As one commented looking for corroboration on the existence of Rex Farrye stated on Bibleprobe.com, "A freelance journalist will do anything to get their name in the news." Sensationalism, to make money, to get attention — these are the reasons why most people will lie.

"For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain." — Titus 1:10-11

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Get Your Kicks On Route 666

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

If you need a smile today at the expense of many state Department of Transportation offices and their somewhat humorous problem, then this Southeast Outlook article by Lisa Griffin (Oct. 9, 2009 ed.) is for you. The title says it all — "Signs With 'Mark of the Beast' Become Targets for Theft."

The number 666 long has been claimed by Christians as the mark of the anti-Christ who will rule the Earth in the last days; the one who "... forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name" (Rev. 13:16-17). Scripture reveals the connection to the number: "... If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666" (Rev. 13:18).
Authorities in New Jersey aren't too keen on the numerical association, as metal signs at mile marker 66.6 on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State parkway are disappearing as fast as replacements can be erected. Officials don't know whether the thieves are religious individuals who are upset about the numerical association, Satanic worshipers or college students, perhaps in search of dorm decorations.
Other states that have experienced similar thefts repeatedly have adopted the solution of renaming the locations slightly and using signage with numbers such as 66.61.
For now, New Jersey officials say they plan to continue replacing the signs, which cost about $50 each.

OK, I'll admit, I had a Yield sign in my room as a kid. Who gave it to me I can't remember, but I think it made its way back. So, if you're out for kicks to get a highway sign with a prophetic bent to decorate your garage or bedroom, the DOT would like them back please. For those who have a genuine problem with signs that bear the "666," then check out this previous post — Stop Panicking Over the Mark of the Beast.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture: Part 6

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

In Part 1, I covered what I call the "bedrock" foundational tenets about the Bible and its interpretation that provide the foundation in which to analyze the reasons for why I believe the Bible teaches a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. The following are my two final reasons.


10) The Bible shows God rescues the righteous from His wrath.


Being a Christian means having to endure suffering and trials at the hand of man (Jn. 16:33; Phil. 1:27; 1 Thes. 3:3; 1 Pet. 4:12-13). But, the Bible has many examples of those who put their faith in God are exempt from God's wrath. Noah and his family were removed from the Flood waters that in God's wrath were used to judge and cleanse the earth. Lot and his wife and two daughters were made to leave Sodom and Gomorrah before God burned the towns up with fire and sulfur. Rahab's family was set apart when Joshua's army invaded Jericho.

Could believers be miraculously protected during the Tribulation, like the Israelites were during the plagues on Egypt? Yes, the 144,000 Jewish evangelists from Revelation 7 and 14, for instance, will be divinely protected. But, the slaughter of believers during the Tribulation will be so massive that they are certainly not under any special protection (Rev. 7:9-17; 20:4).


11) The Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is not too new to discount.


Some will argue that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is just "too new" to be considered viable. Critics will point to the origin of the modern Pre-Tribulation view and credit John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) with its founding. But, is that assessment historically accurate? Indeed, it is not.

The Early Church fathers' such as Barnabas (ca.100-105), Papias (ca. 60-130), Justin Martyr (110-195), Irenaeus (120-202), Tertullian (145-220), Hippolytus (ca. 185-236), Cyprian (200-250), and Lactantius (260-330) wrote on the imminent return of Jesus Christ, the central argument for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view.

Biblical truth is determined by Scripture, and not how that teaching has been perceived at different times during history. When Augustine began spiritualizing the Bible, his view of a non-literal interpretation took hold of the church until the Renaissance, obliterating the Premillennial and Pre-Tribulation Rapture views in favor of Amillennialism. But, some Medieval writers such as Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373), Abbot Ceolfrid's Latin Codex Amiatinus (ca. 690-716), and Brother Dolcino wrote statements that distinguish the Rapture from the Second Coming.

When the chains of allegorical interpretation began to fall off beginning with the Reformation in the 1400 and 1500s, writers such as Joseph Mede (1586-1638), Increase Mather (1639-1723), Peter Jurieu (1687), Philip Doddridge (1738), John Gill (1748), James Macknight (1763), Thomas Scott (1792) and Morgan Edwards (1722-1795) all wrote concerning the Rapture occurring separate from the Second Coming. Even in the more modern church, those like William Witherby (1818) were precursors to John Darby in support of the view. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is indeed then not only biblical, but supported throughout Church history.


Closing Thoughts


I thank you for coming down this mental journey with me concerning why I believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. Hopefully it has confirmed or challenged some of your eschatological ideas. Bear in mind, though, that one's end-time views have no bearing on the doctrine of salvation. What is to be celebrated is that our salvation will one day lead us upwards to be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ forever and ever.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture: Part 5

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

In Part 1, I covered what I call the "bedrock" foundational tenets about the Bible and its interpretation that provide the foundation in which to analyze the reasons for why I believe the Bible teaches a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. The following are two further reasons.


8) The Church is busy elsewhere during the Tribulation.


While the 7-year Tribulation is occurring, the Bible records the Church will be busy with three events. None of the three have to do with suffering on a world being destroyed.

The first event the raptured Church will participate in is a judgment by God — the Judgment of the Just. This judgment on works is not to determine eternal destiny, but to determine degrees of reward (2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 19:6-9).

The second event is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This feast celebrates the spiritual marriage of Christ's Bride — the Church — to her Savior. Revelation 19:7-9 shares this wonderful celebration, "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, 'Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' And he added, 'These are the true words of God.'"

The third event follows the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and is the Church's preparation to follow the King of Kings into the Battle of Armageddon at the conclusion of the Tribulation. This event is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Zech. 14:1-21; Matt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 19:11-21). Revelation 19:14 identifies the Church in their "fine linen, white and clean," which was given to them during the first event — the Judgment of the Just. The Church and angelic forces follow the King of Kings into His Second Coming to the earth, but only Jesus Himself will engage in battle and with mere words defeats the nations in siege against Jerusalem.


9) There needs to be sheep to separate from the goats.

If the Church is raptured at the end of the Tribulation, receives their glorified bodies, and then immediately u-turns back with Christ for the Second Coming as the Post-Tribulation Rapture view holds, then what believer in Christ will be available for the Sheep and Goats Judgment of Matthew 25? The only people left on earth would be unbelievers, called goats. No believer — sheep — would be available for God to put into the sheep category.

Since those who are in glorified bodies will be like the angels in that they aren't given in marriage or reproduce (Matt. 22:30; Mk. 12:25), then a believing, unglorified, human remnant must make it into the sheep category and go on to produce the nations during the Millennial reign of Christ (Ezek. 43:13-27; Isa. 19:21; Isa. 65:20-22; Rev. 20:7-10). This would mean that people would need to come to Christ during the Tribulation yet after the Rapture to produce this Millennial population.


I will finish posting more reasons why I believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture in Part 6 - the final installment of this article series.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture: Part 4

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

In Part 1, I covered what I call the "bedrock" foundational tenets about the Bible and its interpretation that provide the foundation in which to analyze the reasons for why I believe the Bible teaches a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. The following are two further reasons.


6) God's wrath involves the whole 7-Year Tribulation.


The view that the Rapture will occur at the mid-point of the Tribulation is based upon 1 Corinthians 15:52 which states that the Rapture will occur at the blowing of "the last trumpet." This Mid-Tribulation Rapture view then declares this trumpet to be the last of the seven trumpets in Revelation 11 that is blown at the mid-point of the Tribulation. Why of the 114 references to trumpets in the Bible these two are identified as one and the same only defies sound Bible study. The context clearly shows the last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15 is blown for believers whereas the seven trumpets of Revelation 8, 9 and 11 are sounded for unbelievers. The Revelation trumpets therefore can have no relevance for the Church.

The Pre-Wrath Rapture view has the Church raptured just before the bowl judgments (Revelation 16) that occur during the last quarter of the Tribulation. The bowl judgments are the only judgments this view considers to be the wrath of God, leaving the Seal and Trumpet judgments as wrath from man and Satan. But, isn't it Jesus Himself who breaks the seals that launch each of the Revelation 6 seal judgments which occur at the beginning of the Tribulation? Also, the seven angels who blow the trumpets that initiate each of the trumpet judgments are given their trumpets at the throne of God (Revelation 8:2). And, Revelation 15:1 states that the bowl judgments at the end of the Tribulation finish the wrath of God, not begin His wrath.

Because these judgments are initiated by Jesus Himself at the beginning of the Tribulation, the whole Tribulation must be God's wrath, which the Church is exempt from.


7) The Old Testament and Revelation leave the Church out of the Tribulation.


The focus of the Tribulation — to pour out God's wrath on the earth just like the Flood (Isa. 24:22; Zeph. 3:8; 1 Thes. 5:3; 2 Thes. 2:12) and to bring the Jewish people to accept Jesus as Messiah (Mat. 23:39; Lk. 13:35) — is addressed by the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation to the unbelievers and the Jewish people. In any biblical content concerning the Tribulation/Day of the Lord, the Church cannot be found.

The whole concept of the Church was a mystery to the Old Testament prophets. They focused on the nation of Israel. The Book of Matthew is written to the Jewish people, whom Jesus is addressing in Matthew 24. In the Book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3 cover the Church Age, but then there is no mention of the Church until after the Tribulation/Day of the Lord chapters 6-18. In Chapter 19, the Church returns to the texts and can be found, not suffering, but celebrating with Christ at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and preparing to return with Jesus to earth.


I will continue posting more reasons why I believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture in Part 5.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture: Part 3

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

In Part 1, I covered what I call the "bedrock" foundational tenets about the Bible and its interpretation that provide the foundation in which to analyze the reasons for why I believe the Bible teaches a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. The following are three more reasons.


3) The Rapture and the removal of the "Restrainer" occur at the same time.

In 2 Thessalonians, the church at Thessalonica was afraid due to a false report that they had entered the Day of the Lord (Tribulation) and had somehow missed the Rapture. The Apostle Paul assured them that the Antichrist would not be revealed until a restraining force would be taken away so that the Man of Lawlessness could be revealed.

Because the revealing of the Antichrist coincides with the beginning of the 7-year Tribulation starting with his peace treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:27), then the Restrainer has to be removed before the Tribulation. As the Holy Spirit also works in salvation (Jn. 16:8-11; 1 Jn. 5:7) during the Tribulation, then it is the Church that must be the Restrainer that is removed. Therefore, the Rapture and the removal of the Church must coincide, and at the beginning of the seven years.


4) The Tribulation is for Israel's redemption.

Jeremiah 30:7 describes the Tribulation as the "time of Jacob's trouble" — "How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it."

In the Book of Matthew, whose primary audience is the Jews, Jesus explains to his Jewish followers what life will be like during the Tribulation. Also, Revelation 12 describes picturesquely a woman who gives birth and has to flee due to persecution during the Tribulation. The context shows the woman is Israel. And again, the Battle of Armageddon is the world against Israel. Two-thirds of the Jewish people will be killed from these battles. These texts and others show that the Tribulation is meant for the redemption of the Jewish people.

Why are the Jews the object of persecution during the Tribulation? For one, Satan hates the Jewish people for giving the world the Scriptures and the Messiah, as well as he wishes to thwart God's promises to the Jews (see Bedrock #4). Secondly, the Jews have to be so desperately brought low that they finally call out to their Messiah "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" (Mat. 23:39; Lk. 13:35). The Tribulation, then, is used for Israel's redemption which also results in the punishment of the wicked. The Church does not fit into this scenario, and are left out of the purposes of the Tribulation. They would need to be removed — caught up — before the Tribulation begins.


5) The Tribulation is not for the Church.


The Tribulation is God's wrath upon the unbelieving world, and not for those who are saved from Christ's resurrection to the Rapture — called the Church. Yes believers have suffered all throughout human history, but there is a special time (just like the Flood) set apart called the Day of the Lord for God's wrath. Christians suffering and the Tribulation/Day of the Lord are different.

True believers in Christ during the Church Age, represented by the Church of Philadelphia, are promised in Revelation 3:10, "Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth." Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, "and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." He also states in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:9 states, "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" Ephesians 5:6 states, "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient." Colossians 3:4 states, "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Again and again, Scripture states the Church is not meant to endure God's wrath.

I will continue posting more reasons why I believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture in Part 4.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture: Part 2

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

In Part 1, I covered what I call the "bedrock" foundational tenets about the Bible and its interpretation that provide the foundation in which to analyze the reasons for why I believe the Bible teaches a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. The following are two of those reasons.


1) The Bible describes the Rapture and Second Coming as different events.


The Bible must see the Rapture (Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thes. 4:13-18) and the Second Coming (Zech. 14:1-21; Matt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 19) as separate events, because when the verses are compared they describe two very different scenarios:

  1. Rapture — believers meet Christ in the air

    Second Coming — Christ returns to the Mount of Olives to meet the believers on earth

  2. Rapture — Mount of Olives is unchanged

    Second Coming — Mount of Olives is divided, forming a valley east of Jerusalem

  3. Rapture — living believers obtain glorified bodies

    Second Coming — living believers remain in same bodies

  4. Rapture — believers go to heaven

    Second Coming — glorified believers come from heaven, earthly believers stay on earth

  5. Rapture — world left unjudged and living in sin

    Second Coming — world is judged and righteousness is established

  6. Rapture — depicts deliverance of the Church from wrath

    Second Coming — depicts deliverance of believers who endured wrath

  7. Rapture — no signs precede it

    Second Coming — many signs precede it

  8. Rapture — revealed only in New Testament

    Second Coming — revealed in both Old and New Testaments

  9. Rapture — deals with only the saved

    Second Coming — deals with both the saved and unsaved

  10. Rapture — Satan remains free

    Second Coming — Satan is bound and thrown into the Abyss

Since the Rapture and Second Coming clearly are different events that do not occur at the same time, this would rule out a Post-Tribulation Rapture scenario.


2) The Rapture is described as occurring at any time without warning.


Jesus stated in Matthew 24:42,44 to "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come... So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Not only do believers in Christ not know when to expect Him, but the Father Himself seems to have left Jesus out on the exact time His Son is to return. As Jesus stated in Matthew 24:36, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." These and other verses (Mat. 24:36,42,44,50; 25:13; 1 Thes. 4:18; Tit. 2:13; 1 Jn. 2:28; 3:2-3) indicate that Jesus' arrival will come when nobody expects it.

The Second Coming, on the other hand, is preceded by many events, such as the rise of the Antichrist (Rev. 12:13-17; Zech; 13:7-9), a treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:27), the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple (Mat. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:3-4; Rev. 11:1-2), as well as plagues and judgments and persecutions destroying most of the world's population (Rev. 6-18). The Book of Revelation reports these events as occurring during the 7-year Tribulation, which Revelation reveals precede the Second Coming.

Because the Rapture could happen at any moment and without warning and the Second Coming is preceded by so many signs, then the Rapture and Second Coming must be different events. The Rapture has to occur before the seven years' worth of signs, because Christians are called to look for the Lord's return rather than signs such as the Antichrist's arrival. Once the signs begin, then the seven year countdown begins towards its end with Christ's return at the Second Coming.

Jesus' imminent return dismisses any of the other viewpoints related to a rapture that occur within or at the end of the Tribulation.


I will continue posting in Part 3 why I believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture over the coming days.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture: Part 1

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Frequently I am asked to explain or defend the end-time view of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. For that topic, lots of Bible verses, readings and references rattle around in my skull. I can extract each like a Powerball out of an air machine and present it to the inquiring mind, but never in a linear, comprehensive manner in which I particularly appreciate. And so, this article is my attempt to organize my brain on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view. You’re welcome to come along on the journey!

Taking It to the Bedrock

My belief that there will be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church stands on the bedrock of the following foundational tenets.

1) The Bible is the Word of God
The 66-book canon called the Bible is God’s inerrant, infallible message to mankind, explaining His purposes and plans for the ages (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). No other document can be reliably trusted, nor remotely reach the bar for the requirements of authentication that the Bible attains to so easily.

2) The Bible is to be Interpreted Literally
God means what He says and says what He means. God wants His creations to know His will plainly. While God does indulge in picturesque descriptions and parables, an explanation almost always follows or context is provided for explanation. Spiritualization of text, therefore, has no proper place in interpreting Scriptures. Any eschatological viewpoint must then be thrown out if it is based on the reader’s desire to spiritualize the Bible into whatever ethereal meaning they desire. Take the Bible for its plain sense meaning.

3) The Church and Israel Are Separate Entities
Israel is not the Church and the Church is not Israel. A believer in Christ becomes a member of the Church, whether Jew or Gentile (Rom. 1:16), but a member of the Church does not become a form of spiritual Israel. God’s promises to Israel as a people and nation (see next tenet) are not the same as for the Bride of Christ, the Church.

4) A Literal 1000-Year Millennium
The Bible describes a future, literal 1000-year time period. The Greek word "chilias" for "one thousand" appears six times in Revelation 20, clearly marking the time period as having 1000 literal years. The purpose of this time period is for Jesus Christ to have an earthly kingdom from which to base His rule and to fulfill His promises (Gen. 13:14-17; 15:5,18-21; 2 Sam. 7:16-19; Isa. 10:21-22; 11:1-2; Jer. 23:5-8; 30:22; 31:31-34; Ezek. 11:18-20; 34:24; 36:24-28; Mic. 7:19-20; Hos. 3:5; Rom. 11:26-29).

5) A Literal 7-Year Tribulation
An upcoming time period has been set aside for God to pour out His wrath upon the evil of the world, to regather Israel back into its land, to force Israel to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah, and for the Messiah to return and fight for His believing remnant (Deut. 4:26-31; Isa. 13:6-13; 17:4-11; Jer. 30:4-11; Ezek. 20:33-38; Dan. 9:27; 12:1; Zech. 14:1-4; Matt. 24:9-31). This time period begins with a covenant between Israel and the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27). The length of the Tribulation is seven years long, described in a variety of ways as "one seven" year block (Dan. 9:27), "times, time and half a time" (Rev. 12:14), consisting of two "1260 days" periods (Rev. 11:3), or two "42 month" periods (Rev. 11:2; 13:5).

6) Jesus Will Return Again to Earth
The Bible says Jesus will physically return again to earth (Zech. 14:1-21; Matt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 19). Jesus returns is to defeat His enemies, set up His throne, restore Israel, rule with "a rod of iron" and share His authority with those who overcame in Him (Mat. 19:28; 25:31; Acts 1:3-6; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21).

7) The Bible Teaches About a Rapture
1 Thessalonians 4:17 speaks of an event called "the Rapture", Latin "rapio," Greek "harpazo," which means "to catch up, to snatch away, or to take out." "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." Paul states that the concept of the Rapture is meant to encourage believers during this Age (1 Thes. 4:18). Other references on the Rapture are Jn. 14:1-14; I Cor. 15:51-58; and 1 Thes. 4:13-18.

These bedrock statements about the Bible and its interpretation provide the foundation in which to analyze the reasons for why I believe the Bible teaches a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church, which I will begin over the next 5 entries.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Iron Mixed With Clay – The Brittle European Union

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

The Prophet Daniel 2,500 years ago had a vision of the four major empires that would dominate over the Holy Land up until the time Jesus Christ returned. The final form of the fourth empire of Rome would still contain some power, but be brittle in its structure and cohesion.

"As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay." — Daniel 2:42-43 (NIV)

The current torchbearer of the Roman Empire is the 27-nation bloc rising superpower based at Rue de la Loi in Brussels, Belgium — the European Union (EU). It is currently being tested by the world financial crisis, and true to prophecy, it is failing.

A Tuesday, October 7, 2008, Newsmax.com article titled European Union Tested by World Economic Crisis reports on how brittle the EU has been performing under the crisis:

"[The EU] hasn't taken sweeping joint action to deal with the global financial meltdown. Instead, it's essentially left member countries to go it alone with a patchwork of measures aimed at keeping banks afloat. Frustrated investors want to know why, and some have begun to question whether the EU — at its core, an economic union — will survive. Although the EU pledged to act as one to calm roiled markets, it hasn't done much beyond a move Tuesday to boost guarantees on savings accounts."

"By relinquishing key decisions to its members just as they're turning to EU headquarters for guidance at a time of crisis, the bloc could see decades of attempts to forge unity simply disintegrate."

"EU members have clashed repeatedly on deploying troops to Afghanistan or even whether to send 24 of their estimated 12,000 military helicopters to Darfur. They've bogged down completely on more thorny issues, such as how to respond to terrorism or recognize an independent Kosovo."

"EU leaders have forfeited 'a chance for Europe to find new leadership and credibility on the world stage,' Italy's II Sole 24 Ore financial daily said Tuesday. Instead, it warned, the leadership vacuum thrusts the entire bloc into 'a suicidal position.'"

"If the EU can't forge a common response to a collapse that transcends borders, involves multinational lenders and has pushed the euro currency down to its lowest level in a year, some wonder: What's the point of having an EU?"

The European Union's united military strength and formidable Euro currency makes the EU quite powerful. But, the lack of central leadership makes the EU unable to act in a crisis, and therefore brittle.

For the European Union to become a force to react to crisis, they will have to give emergency powers to a common leader who can effect change with power over its current 27 nations. The EU will indeed get that person at some point in the form of the man the Bible calls the Antichrist. Once he has stabilized the European Union, he can then assimilate the missing part of the old Roman Empire — the Middle East.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Out of the Ashes of the World Economic Collapse

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

Is the world facing an economic collapse? Let's take a sampling of this week's headlines:


  • United States
    Wall Street panic rolling over consumers worldwide
    (By Michael Conlon, Reuters, Wednesday, Oct 8, 2008)
    "The worst financial crisis since the 1930s was stark reality for millions on Wednesday as retirement savings evaporated, jobs disappeared, stock market values slipped again and a dramatic cut in interest rates by central banks from Europe to Asia did little to stem three weeks of near panic."

  • Iceland
    Iceland Teeters on the Brink of Bankruptcy
    (Newsmax.com, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008)
    "This volcanic island near the Arctic Circle is on the brink of becoming the first ‘national bankruptcy' of the global financial meltdown... they are watching helplessly as their economy implodes, their currency losing almost half its value, and their heavily exposed banks collapsing under the weight of debts incurred by lending in the boom times."

  • Japan
    Japanese stock market plummets 9.4%
    (The Jerusalem Post, Wednesday, Oct 8, 2008)
    "Japan's stock market plummeted 9.4 percent Wednesday — its biggest one-day drop in 21 years — as investors rushed for the exits on deepening fears over the global financial crisis... The Nikkei index has lost a staggering 24 percent in the last two weeks."

  • China
    Japanese stock market plummets 9.4%
    (The Jerusalem Post, Wednesday, Oct 8, 2008)
    "Also Wednesday, Chinese stocks fell as investors spooked by the global financial crisis unloaded insurers and other financial shares."

  • United Kingdom
    UK announces £50b. 'radical' plan to stabilize banks
    (The Jerusalem Post, Wednesday, Oct 8, 2008)
    "The British government announced a 50 billion pounds (US$87.5 billion) plan on Wednesday to partly nationalize major banks, with taxpayers taking stakes in a bid to shore up a financial sector hard hit by the world financial crisis."

  • World
    Fed, central banks cut rates to aid world economy
    (By Jeannine Aversa, Yahoo! Finance, Wednesday, Oct 8, 2008)
    "In a rare coordinated move, the Federal Reserve and other major central banks from around the world slashed interest rates Wednesday to prevent a mushrooming financial crisis from becoming a global economic meltdown... The central banks of China, Canada, Sweden, and Switzerland also cut rates. The Bank of Japan said it strongly supported the actions... Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Wednesday that global financial markets remain severely strained... The worldwide gloom followed a sell-off in U.S. markets late Tuesday, where major stock indexes slid 5 percent."

The answer is clearly "Yes!" The world economic system is clearly tumbling in a free-fall. But, where will it end? What will rise up from the ashes of a world economic collapse? History has shown:

  1. Spiritual Revival — When most people lose their support structure, they finally call out to God for help. Hitting the hard times begins a renewed calling out to God and swelling church attendance.

  2. War — Countries scramble to obtain resources when supplies are short, and put their efforts into militarily securing lands rich in oil and minerals.

  3. Poverty — Loss of jobs means loss of income, and poverty runs rampant starting hard with the third world countries.

  4. Disease and Death — With lessening money for medicine, diseases spread, epidemics rise, and many tragically die.

  5. Slavery — People become indentured servents, or worse slaves, to their governments. The consistent theme among every country's bailout plan is the nationalization of banks. Each government now owns their people's mortgages, lands, businesses, retirement accounts and insurance policies.

  6. Globalization — The size of governments globally just multiplied exponentially. Governments are scrambling to find a global solution with an overall world organization to manage a new world economy. A world government will need to be created to manage this economy. A global president would be needed to run the world government.

The current world economic woes may only be birth pains that hopefully will settle in time. But, the birth eventually has to come. World leaders are already calling for unification and restructuring of world finances. What in good times would take years or even decades to implement, in difficult times forces a rapid response.

Out of the ashes of this financial crisis will birth a new world government. And, the Bible calls the final form of human world government the Antichrist's Kingdom.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Historical Prophetic Types

Not only is the Bible resplendent with prophetic verses, it is also full of prophetic types. Prophecy in type is symbolic prophecy. Think of it as prophecy that has come alive, embodied in the life of a person, ceremony or thing.

Passover
Some historical events are prophetic types. A dramatic example is the Passover experience (Exodus 12). To prevent the death of the first born of both man and beast in each family on the day that the Lord passed over Egypt, each Jewish family had to slay a lamb and put its blood on the doorposts and lintels of their houses. This was a prophetic symbol that the salvation of all men would be made possible through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and the appropriation of His blood.

Bronze Serpent
Another historical event with prophetic significance occurred in the Wilderness when the Children of Israel were attacked by fiery serpents (Numbers 21:4-9). A bronze serpent was placed on a pole and lifted up for all to see. Those bitten by the snakes were told to look upon the bronze serpent for healing.

That bronze serpent was a type of Christ. Just as the Israelites bitten by the fiery serpents died, so men bitten by Satan's serpent of sin must suffer spiritual death. And just as the bronze serpent was lifted up for their salvation, in like manner, Jesus was lifted up on a pole to save men from their sins (John 3;14).

Bronze and serpents are both Biblical symbols of sin. Jesus is typified as a brazen serpent on a pole because He took the sins of Mankind upon Himself while He was on the Cross.

Finally, those bitten by the snakes only had to look in faith at the bronze serpent in order to be healed. And in like manner, sinners need only look to Jesus in faith in order to be saved.

Early History of Israel
The early history of the Jewish nation is the story of Jesus in prophetic type. The Children of Israel were born in Canaan, descended into Egypt, emerged through the Red Sea (the baptism of Moses), endured testing in the Wilderness, and then entered the Promised Land. Likewise, Jesus was born in Canaan, descended into Egypt, emerged publicly at His baptism, and led the way to Heaven.

Excerpt from The Christ in Prophecy Study Guide by Dr. David R. Reagan, pages 9-10.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Update on the Prophetic End of Damascus

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

In August I posted an entry titled The Prophetic End of Damascus. The entry covers what Isaiah 17:1-14 and Jeremiah 49:23-27 state will be the future of the longest existing city in the world — Syria's capital Damascus. The Bible states that Israel will destroy Damascus in a day, with such force that a nuclear weapon seems the only probably method.

With all that is going on in the news as of late, why would Israel target Damascus instead of say Iran's capital Tehran? After all, Iran is the country hell-bent (literally) on building a nuclear weapon as fast as it can to "wipe Israel off the map." Why would Damascus be targeted first?

An October 6, 2008, article from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin reported on WorldNetDaily may have the answer. It would appear that while the world is focused on Iran building nuclear weapons, Syria is the country "acting as a covert channel for Iran's program, and it may be getting help from North Korea and elements of Pakistan's A.Q. Khan nuclear network."

What this means to Israel, then, is that Syria is most likely the greater of the nuclear threats to its survival. With Iran and North Korea setting up their nuke shops in Syria, Damascus would have to be removed by Israel to eliminate their greatest potential threat.

According to the Bible, Damascus will indeed get a nuclear bomb, but it won't be one that they have made or want.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Russia-Iran Alliance Stepping Up For Their Defeat

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

DEBKAfile, a news website that uses information networks to keep an eye on the Middle East, has in their report for the week ending October 2, 2008, outlined a series of events that show Russia and Iran are stepping up their alliance with each other and other anti-Western nations like Syria and Venezuela. Their desired outcome being, for those who know what the Bible calls the Gog-Magog Invasion of Ezekiel 38/39, is to attack and destroy Israel.

DEBKAfile reports that Iran continues to go unchallenged in their desire to make a nuclear weapon, mainly because the world is focused on the United States' economic crisis. The United States, busy with the crisis and inert due to looming elections, has created "a deal between the US and Russia in New York [which] sealed a very brief non-sanctions draft reaffirming previous council decisions for the five permanent Security Council members and Germany to table and called for Iran's compliance." This deal has in the interim removed any military intervention the United States would have made on Israel's behalf against Iran. The United States instead is helping indirectly by arming Israel with 25 F-35 stealth fighter aircraft, radar and anti-missile systems.

The result of this lack of posture by the United States has left Israel solely alone in directly stopping the menace from the north. DEBKAfile reports that "the collapse of Israel's foreign policy on Iran comes at an unfortunate juncture... when Moscow, Iran and Syria are cementing their partnership, giving Tehran's nuclear aspirations a strong diplomatic umbrella."

Russia is rapidly creating their world network. "Moscow is pursuing cold war tactics in two new spheres: the Middle East, from its center of gravity in Tehran, and Latin America, resting on Venezuela's anti-American posture and friendly relations with Iran."

Russia also is making their presence known to Israel by docking a Russian nuclear missile cruiser at a Syrian port on Yom Kippur eve.

"A four-ship Russian squadron led by the Peter the Great nuclear missile cruiser will visit Syrian ports after calling in at Tripoli, Libya. It will then proceed to the Caribbean for joint maneuvers with Venezuela. Coinciding with the 35th anniversary of the Egyptian-Syrian Yom Kippur attack on Israel, the Russian warships' arrival in Syria has serious connotations:

1. It means that prime minister Ehud Olmert will be wasting his time if he intends using his talks in Moscow next week with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to ask them to drop their plan for a permanent base at a Syrian port. That plan is clearly going full steam ahead.

2. Moscow is signaling Jerusalem that it is reverting to its old military ties with Damascus.

3. Moscow attaches high importance to its new Damascus-Tehran-Caracas alignment opposite the US-Israel alliance."

DEBKAfile continues to report that Syria is again working on building nuclear weapons with North Korea, who smelling the blood of the United State's waning influence, has yet again begun their nuclear ambitions. This time Russia is also aiding Syria as they have been with Iran in developing their nuclear technologies. While a modern nuclear weapon may be months to a few years off, a more primitive atomic bomb is in the making at a number of sites found by "US satellites [that] have caught covert facilities hidden from the oversight of the nuclear watchdog where suspected weapons activity is underway."

Israel has no choice but to act, and act very soon, or face their own annihilation.

All this posturing by Russia and Iran has a known conclusion. God Himself through the prophet Ezekiel foretells of this massive invasion that God declares must take place, "It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign LORD. This is the day I have spoken of" (Ezekiel 39:8).

God also tells us how it will end. "'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Are you not the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel? At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign LORD. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign LORD. Every man's sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD'" (Ezekiel 38:17-23).

In Ezekiel 39:9-10, God say that His crushing of the Russia-Iran/Gog-Magog invasion will result in a great benefit for Israel. "'Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign LORD."

As frightening as Russia is to us all in their insane dash to proliferate a nuclear holocaust, I do believe that their invasion of Israel will happen after the Rapture. Israel benefiting for 7 years, the same amount of years as the Tribulation, can not be coincidental. This Russia-Iranian alliance will be a terror to the Post-Rapture world, but one that God readily dispatches in all His infinite power.

In the end, no man messes with our Savior!