Monday, November 30, 2009

Help Please

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

I am so blessed to have so many learned fellow Bible prophecy students interacting on this forum and in the Christ in Prophecy Facebook group. Each of you in your comments and discussions interject so much insight and good fellowship into each and every topic.

I'd really like to add your input into a Bible prophecy conference I am putting together. Though a whole year away, now's the time to begin laying the foundations.

The theme will be "What the Future Holds" and we'll be tackling a range of end time era topics such as the Tribulation, the Millennial Kingdom, Eternity, After Death, and so on. In this area, if you were to come to this conference:

  • What topics would you like to hear?

This Bible prophecy conference, though open to all ages, will be more focused on young adults ages teen to 40. Because this group has specific childcare needs, we'll be offering childcare (say Baby-3rd) for either or both the Friday night and all day Saturday sessions. We'll even have a special Bible prophecy session that's kids only! In this area, I'd like to know:

  • What are your thoughts on a kid's session led by a gifted Elementary pastor?

Most teachers who specifically concentrate on Bible prophecy tend to be older gentlemen. For this conference, I'm looking for a new generation of accomplished preachers to come and speak from a Pre-Mil, Pre-Trib point of view. In this area, I'd like to know:

  • What gifted young preachers who hold fast to these end time views would you like to see come and speak?

We'll open Friday night with a worship concert and have music between the sessions on Saturday. In this area, I'd like to know:

  • What 20-something's Christian group moves you in worship?

Location is everything, and I'm working on nailing down a large, happening church that has the facilities to handle a thousands plus crowd, has a place to hang like a coffee shop, and offers an inviting childcare area. For logistical reasons, we'll be holding it in the Dallas region. In this area, I'd like to know:

  • Any places you would recommend?

Your feedback in the Comments section below is invaluable and most appreciated! I hope each of you can attend as well should we still be waiting for the Lord to return.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stand Fast and Draw the Line

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

One of the most powerful movies I ever saw as a child was on the life of Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi. This movie was hardly a hit with the elementary crowd, especially with blockbusters like Star Wars and Indiana Jones capturing young imaginations at the time. But, those movies didn't influence me like Gandhi's life story of nonviolent resistance. Luke Skywalker never took down the Galactic Empire by initiating mass work stoppages such as Gandhi initiated on the British. And, Indiana Jones never defeated the Nazi armies by going on a fast until they relented and begged him to eat something, as the Muslims and Hindus did during their civil war.

Never by gun or by army did Gandhi make huge institutions stand down, but by passive deeds alone. Now, here was a man who could move mountains by merely being inconvenient. Such influencing power was something worth admiring!


Today's Civil Rights Movement

In this modern day and age, we can look back and rejoice that similar social injustices were defeated by the same passive resistance methods. Men like William Wilberforce peacefully took down slavery in the British Empire. Men like Martin Luther King, Jr., marched until racial equality was recognized. Women rallied until their voices were finally heard at the voting booth. Again and again throughout history discrimination was stood up to and forced back by men and women willing to get a black eye and even give up their lives so that justice would prevail. And, behind every Western movement for moral justice were Christians standing on the Word of God.

Every age battles some form of oppression, and for this generation the battle goes on, though the causes may be different. While the Puritans fled the Old World for the New to escape religious persecution, today there is no place to escape the growing intolerance of those hostile towards the Christian worldview. In a culture that supposedly values "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," the unborn go without a voice, slaughtered by the millions for the only crime of being inconvenient. The very institution of marriage between one man and one woman that God ordained is being corrupted through divorce, sexual promiscuity and apathy, with the historically proven end-result the demise of the nations. And liberty, the freedoms generations have bled and died for, are being handed over in return for false security and slavery to our own selfish desires. These are the forms of oppression this generation must stand up to, or lose every God-ordained freedom that we hold dear.


The Manhattan Declaration

Tired of government regulations telling Christians what they can publicly share from the Bible, tired of threats to force Christian organizations to comply with immoral requirements, tired of seeing the destruction of the foundational family unit, tired of the genocide of our own children going on in our communities — over 150 Christian leaders have proclaimed that enough is enough. They have finally stood up, drawn the line in the sand, and proclaimed that they will not budge where God's moral law is concerned. They have declared that they will certainly engage in nonviolent civil disobedience if forced to render to Caesar what is God's.

Chuck Colson (Founder of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview), Robert George (Professor, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University) and Timothy George (Professor, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University) have drafted a pointed document called "The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience."

The declaration's purpose is to join Christians across denominational lines to:

"...to embrace our obligation to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season."

The truths the Declaration affirms and defends are:

  1. the sanctity of human life
  2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
  3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty

Since The Manhattan Declaration's release on November 20, 2009, over 150 Christian leaders such as Randy Alcorn, Kay Arthur, Dr. James Dobson, Dr. Jack Graham, Jerry Jenkins, Josh McDowell, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Dr. J.I. Packer, Joni Eareckson Tada and others have signed the declaration. They have gone on record saying that they would be willing to stand up for what is right no matter what the consequences.

"Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other antilife act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family."

Tens of thousands of passionate people have joined them in drawing the line in the sand by signing The Manhattan Declaration. I was number 87,934. I encourage every believer in Christ to make a stand for what is moral, to give no more ground to what is unjust, and to defend what is sacred by also signing The Manhattan Declaration.

Remember that Gandhi through passive resistance expelled the British Empire from India. And Jesus Christ, without lifting a sword, defeated the Satanic empire and brought salvation to the believing world. There is power in peacefully standing up for what is right.

Sign The Manhattan Declaration!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Tribulation - A Christian Purgatory?

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Dr. David Reagan and myself recently got together for a Christ in Prophecy TV interview to talk about how some people believe the Church will have to endure the Tribulation. If you are wondering whether the Bible says God wants to punish the Church along with the unrepentant world — read on!

Dr. Reagan: Some people argue that the Church has to go through the Tribulation in order to be purified. Therefore, the Rapture could not occur before the Tribulation because the Church needs to be purified during the Tribulation. What about that?

Nathan Jones: You mean, like a Christian Protestant purgatory?

Dr. Reagan: That is what it amounts to, a Christian purgatory.

Nathan Jones: I get a lot of people who write in who are supporters of the Post-Tribulation Rapture view, the view that holds that the Rapture will occur after the Tribulation. When they write in they are usually very mad because for one they don't think a Rapture before the end of the Tribulation is fair. The writers don't see how anyone who has seen the Rapture should be allowed to repent and be saved as if it was some kind of second chance. Or, they want to be martyrs for Christ to add something extra to their salvation by dying during the Tribulation.

In the end, though, the Tribulation is a special time period where God pours His wrath upon mankind for its continued rebellion against Him, just like He did with the Flood. It's not just a time for the wrath of man or the wrath of Satan, although God will use those. No, it's a distinct time for the wrath of God upon the whole world.

God has promised us in many verses such as 1 Thessalonians 4:17 that the Church will be taken away before this earth shattering Tribulation judgments upon the entire world.

Look at it this way, too, there are so many people killed by the end of the Tribulation there wouldn't be any cleansing. Nobody would be left! The entire human and animal population by the end of the seven years are all very much dead.

Dr. Reagan: Well, too, I get very upset about the thought that the Bridegroom is going to beat up His Bride for seven years to get her purified so He can come and get her. It just doesn't make sense.

Nathan Jones: Picture my dad dragging me outside with a baseball bat and beating me up for seven years and then he said, "Hey, now you qualify to have my love."

It's just not God's M.O. He took out Noah from His wrath. He took out Lot from His wrath. He even rescued Rahab as all the walls of Jericho fell down around her and yet Rahab's house was on the wall. Rescuing His people from His wrath is just the way God works.

Biblically, it is proven again and again. God will remove the Church from this Earth before He pours out His wrath during the Tribulation.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rapture Reference

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Dr. David Reagan and myself recently got together for a Christ in Prophecy TV interview to talk about how some people don't believe the word "Rapture" can be found in the Bible. If you were wondering yourself just where one can find the exact reference — read on!

Dr. Reagan: When I think of the promises of God, I always think of something the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9, he wrote, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has the mind of man conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." But, the next verse says, "God has revealed those things to us through His Holy Spirit." That revelation is, of course, contained in the Bible.

One of the greatest promises of God's Word is that one day soon He will send His Son for His Church. Jesus will appear in the heavens. His appearance will be heralded by the shout of an archangel and the blowing of a trumpet. The dead in Christ will be resurrected and those living who have put their faith in Jesus will be caught up to meet Him in the sky, being translated in route from mortal to immortal. This promise is called the Rapture.

I have found that the moment you start talking about the Rapture people always seem to jump down your throat and say, "Ah, come on, that is a concept that is not even in the Bible. You can't find it anywhere in the Bible." What about it?

Nathan Jones: They haven't read 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Now, in our modern English versions the verse will say "caught up." The Bible wasn't written in English, though, it was written in Hebrew and Aramaic and Greek. In the original Greek 1 Thessalonians 4:17's "caught up" is harpazo. For 1500 years we had the Latin Vulgate translation of the Scriptures before the English version, and that version has the Latin word for harpazo as rapio (or rapiemur or raptus depending on the declension), where we get the word "rapture."

The idea behind the reference to the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is to be caught up, snatched up, taken away. The act is similar to me going to Papa John's and snatching up that pizza and taking it away home — same meaning.

Dr. Reagan: Well, you are so exactly right, the concept is certainly there. I mean, you could talk about the fact that the word "trinity" is not in the Bible.

Nathan Jones: Well, the word "Bible" is not in the Bible.

Dr. Reagan: The word's "Shekinah Glory" of God is not there in our English translations. But, those are terms that we have developed to express a truth that is in there. Clearly the Trinity is a truth that is in the Bible. The Skekinah is a truth that is in the Bible. The Rapture is a truth that is in the Bible. But, in this case of the Rapture, the word really is in there, it's just been translated.

Nathan Jones: It is so much easier to say "Rapture" than "The Great Catching Up" or "The Great Taking Away."

Dr. Reagan: In English we have to use a term like "taking out, snatching away, catching up," and we all like to talk in shorthand. So, what we have done is just go back and pick up the Latin word rapio, put it into English as "rapture," and that word is actually there in 1 Thessalonians 4 using the only translation we had for 1,500 years, which was the Latin Vulgate. That was the translation that says the Rapture. So, that is what we use.

"Rapture" is a biblical term and it is a biblical concept. People who say it is not just simply do not understand what's going on in the text.

Nathan Jones: Exactly!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pre-Trib In My Inbox

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

As Web Minister for Lamb & Lion Ministries, I get the blessing of responding each day to an in-boxful of questions related to Bible prophecy. Many of these questions come from people wanting to know about the return of Jesus Christ. They want to know when the Rapture will happen — before, during, or at the end of the Tribulation. Here's how I answer:

The timing of the Rapture — the removal of the Church in relation to the seven years of the Tribulation — confuses a lot of people because there are a lot of good theories out there as to when it will happen. People ask, "Will it happen before the Tribulation... the middle of the Tribulation... at the end of the Tribulation?"

For me, the best thing I ever did was to evaluate which theory has the most biblical support. I sat down and wrote out all the different proof texts that each of the views use. I ended up writing a six-part article series titled Why I Believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture to help me present the results of my biblical search — that the Bible overwhelmingly makes an argument for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. In those articles I presented eleven different arguments as to why a Pre-Tribulation Rapture makes more sense than the other timing theories. The following are a few of those arguments.


Imminency

One of the most important arguments for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is the imminency of Christ's Return. The verses on the Rapture (Jn. 14:1-14; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thes. 4:13-18) tell us that nothing has to happen before the Rapture for it to occur. It could occur at any time. But, when we look at the Second Coming verses (Zech. 14:1-12; Matt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-27; Lk. 21:25-27; Rev. 19) there are all sorts of events that have to happen before Jesus returns to the Earth — world devastation, the Antichrist, a one world government, and so on. So, the imminency in the timing of the Rapture tells us that nothing has to happen before it does, which also tells me that it is a separate event and it has to happen before the events of the Tribulation.


Trumpets

There are a number of different timing views, one such is the Mid-Tribulation Rapture view. Supporters of this view believe the Rapture hinges upon the sounding of the "last trumpet" (1 Cor. 15:52) and equate that trumpet as the Seventh Trumpet Judgment of God that is blown mid-way during the Tribulation (Rev. 11).

To recap the order of the judgments during the seven years of the Tribulation — it begins with the first four Seal and all seven of the Trumpet Judgments during the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation, then the last three Seal and all seven of the Bowl/Vial Judgments during the second 3 1/2 years.

I believe the Jewish feasts are God's way of showing that the "last trumpet" will most likely be the last Feast of Trumpets during the Church Age. The trumpet heard at the Rapture should not be confused with the last trumpet of the Trumpet Judgments.

That God would strangely leave the Church to have to suffer through half the Tribulation just doesn't make sense. Why doesn't God either take us out at the beginning or just leave us to suffer throughout the entire seven years? To remove us at the mid-point seems rather indiscriminate.


Heavenly Bodies

Then there is the view that the Rapture happens at the end of the Tribulation, called the Post-Tribulation Rapture. The most glaring problem with this timing view is that when Jesus returns at the Rapture He will change the believers' earthly bodies to the glorified bodies we are going to live in forever. If the believers u-turned and returned right back to Earth (for the Post-Trib view doesn't see the Rapture and the Second Coming as separate events), then who lives on into the Millennial Kingdom in human bodies that are capable of bearing children? Glorified bodies are like angels' bodies in that they will never reproduce. Because of this discrepancy, the Post-Tribulation Rapture view is totally unworkable.


Wrath

Then there is the Pre-Wrath Rapture view, which places the timing of the Rapture at the last quarter of the Tribulation, about five and a half years into the Tribulation. This view holds that believers in Christ will have to endure the Seal and Trumpet Judgments because they say those judgments are from Man and Satan, but believers will be exempt from the seven Bowl/Vial Judgments (Rev. 16) because they say those judgments are straight from God.

But, wasn't it Jesus who opened up the very first seal that started the judgments? Revelation 6:1 tells us this is so. And, Revelation 8:2 tell us that the trumpets for the Trumpet Judgments were handed out before God, clearly indicating that the wrath again comes from God Himself. Revelation 15:1 goes on to tell us that the Bowl/Vial Judgments complete God's wrath, not begin it. Revelation makes it crystal clear that the wrath poured out on the Earth from the very beginning of the Tribulation comes from God, making null the foundational point of the Pre-Wrath Rapture view that God's wrath comes only with the Bowl/Vial Judgments near the end of the Tribulation.


Deliverance

One verse that comes to mind when discussing God's wrath poured out during the Tribulation is 1 Thessalonians 1:10. This verse says that we are "to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." The Church is promised here and in other verses (Lk. 21:36; Rom. 5:9; 1 Thes. 5:9; Rev. 3:10) that we are going to be delivered from the wrath that is to come. And, since the Tribulation is about the pouring out of God's wrath upon this Earth, why would believers in Christ even be around then? We will be taken out to be saved from that wrath, just as these verses promise.


Suffering

A number of Christians who don't hold to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view point out that Christians have been suffering for 2,000 years. Christians were thrown to the lions in Caesar's time. Today, we have news reports from Pakistan and India that Muslims and Hindus are burning Christian houses and burning believers alive. "Why shouldn't we also suffer as well?" they ask. But, the Tribulation is a different set apart time like the Flood was for the pouring out of God's wrath upon the Earth in judgment for man's continued rebellion against Him. God's wrath on Earth during the Flood and then the Tribulation are specially set apart times compared to the day-to-day suffering all believers experience.

It is true, believers in Christ are not promised that we will be free of tribulation and increasing persecution. But, there is the tribulation we all face to varying degrees and then there's the Tribulation when half of humanity will die during the first 3 1/2 years. This will be a tribulation unlike the world has ever seen.


Escapism

One of the accusations that comes quite often from people who don't hold to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is that we are merely escapists, unwilling to truly suffer for the Lord. We are accused of making up a fantasy escape plan to avoid the unpleasantness of the difficult times ahead.

In reply, I can only say, "Amen!" You know, it is one thing to suffer under the hand of man or even under the hand of Satan, but to suffer under the hand of the living God, well, that's a terrifying concept. Who could survive? As Revelation 6:17 states, "For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"

I can be assured it is okay to be an escapist because the Bible tells us I have no choice in the matter. Jesus will come to take His Bride the Church up to Heaven before He pours out His wrath upon the world during the Tribulation.

Ephesians 5:6 tells us to "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient." The Church has been cleaned, they are no longer disobedient and deserving of God's wrath. Romans 5:9 assures us that "since we have now been justified by his [Christ's] blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!"

Noah was an escapist. Lot was an escapist. And so, it is not a bad thing to be called an escapist. Jesus in Luke 21:36 even instructs us to pray for an escape, saying "be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." Well, if Jesus told me to pray to escape, then I am going to pray to escape.

Now, should I be willing to die for Jesus Christ? Most certainly, yes! But, that doesn't mean that I have to go through the Tribulation to somehow prove my mettle to God.

No, the Bible overwhelmingly supports the timing of the Rapture as happening before the Tribulation.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Differences Between the Rapture and Second Coming

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

As Web Minister for Lamb & Lion Ministries, I get the blessing each day of responding to an in-boxful of great questions related to Bible prophecy. Many of these questions come from people wanting to know more about the return of Jesus Christ.

Concerning Jesus' prophesied return, it comes as a surprise to some to find out that the Rapture is an event that is going to occur separate and apart from the Second Coming. Here's how I explain it:

When you look at the Bible verses on the Rapture — John 14:1-14, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 — and then you look at other verses that talk about the Second Coming — Zechariah 14:1-12, Jesus' account in Matthew 24:29-31 and in Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-27, and Revelation 19 — when compared they tell a different story. We go into reading these verses as if they are supposed to be all about the Second Coming, but discover there is a vast difference between the two accounts.

For instance, if you look at the verses particularly about the Rapture, they tell that when Jesus comes He comes in the air. Believers are brought from the ground up into the air to be with Christ. But, in Second Coming verses, the order occurs the other way around — Jesus is coming down and He actually lands on Earth. So, for the Rapture Jesus is up in the air, but for the Second Coming Jesus comes to the ground.

Also, take the Mount of Olives. In the Rapture verses believers in Christ are brought up into the air and Jesus is waiting for them. But, in the Second Coming verses Jesus comes down to Earth and when He lands (especially in Zechariah 14 explains this) the Mount of Olives splits forming a new valley on the East side of Jerusalem. For such a remarkable event, there is oddly no mention of that in the Rapture verses.

It is like the Rapture and the Second Coming are two different stories — two different events — and so I think that is indeed the case.

Again, let's look at the location of believers in Christ during these events. The believers are brought up to Heaven in the Rapture verses, but when Jesus comes back to Earth there are believers on the Earth. So, if Jesus brought all the believers up at the Rapture, how could there be believers still on the Earth at the Second Coming? A significant time lapse would have had to occur between the Rapture and Second Coming for so many people to come to believe in Jesus as Savior. So, again, these have to be two separate and distinct events.

When you read like 1 Thessalonians 4 and you compare it to Revelation 19 you find they don't have anything in common except that they both focus upon Jesus Christ. In one account Jesus appears in the heavens, but in the other account He comes down to Earth. In one He appears for His believers and the other He returns with His believers.

Even the nature of Christ's return is different. In the Rapture account He is appearing as a Deliverer and as a Bridegroom for His Bride, but in the Second Coming account He is coming back to Earth for the purpose of pouring out the wrath of God upon those who have rejected the grace, mercy and love of God, and He comes with His believers and He comes to be a King. They have to be two different events because the stories just don't line up.

What these differences mean is that the Second Coming of Jesus is going to occur in two stages — first the Rapture for the Church and second the later return to the Earth of Jesus with His Church to reign.

Having the Second Coming in two separate stages solves a problem with the differences in accounts, in that the Bible tells us that we cannot know anything about the timing of the Lord's return (Matt. 24:36-24). And, yet, if we go over to the book of Revelation we'll see it says that once the Antichrist signs a peace covenant the time will be exactly seven years until Jesus returns (Dan. 9; Rev. 11). These scriptures give us the exact amount of time that God is going to pour out His wrath on this Earth — 84 months. So, when Jesus in Matthew 24 speaks about not knowing when Christ's coming will happen, it has to be referring to the Rapture. Even Jesus says He doesn't know when He is supposed to come back to the Earth. If the Antichrist signed a peace treaty and then 3 1/2 years later desecrated the newly rebuilt Temple, Jesus could say, "Okay, I've got this many days before I am going to show up."

Because of these differences in the accounts, the Rapture and the Second Coming must be separate events within Jesus' prophesied return.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving And Spiritual Blessings

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very blessed season of Thanksgiving!

During this Thanksgiving season are you counting your blessings? I hope so. We all need to be doing that. What do you consider to be your greatest blessing? Is it your health, your job, your family? What about spiritual blessings? Are you counting them? If so, what are they?

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year — a time of family, fellowship, and good food. I have many wonderful memories of family gatherings at Thanksgiving and I am sure you do, too. Personally, I believe that for a Christian every day of the year should be a day of thanksgiving. I have found over the years that a heart filled with thanksgiving is one of the best medicines for emotional and physical health.

I make it a point at least once a month if not more frequently to sit down and make a list of things in my prayer journal that I am thankful for. I sometimes spend as much as 30-45 minutes working on the list. And, in the process, I try to think about things that we tend to take for granted — things like pure water, electricity, air conditioning, a house to live in and a car to drive.

Did you know that 80% of all sickness in the world is attributable to unsafe drinking water? Did you know that if you keep food in a refrigerator, clothes in a closet, and sleep in a bed with a roof over your head, you are richer than 75% of the entire population of the world? Did you know that out of every 100 people in this world 18 struggle to live on less than one dollar a day and 53 struggle to live on two dollars a day?

We have so much to be thankful for in this country, and we tend to be so unthankful. We fret over the fact that we don't have a color TV set in every room, when most of the world lives without access to electricity. It's one of the reasons that I believe that every American teenager should be sent to live a couple of weeks in a third world country like Mexico just to see how most people in the world are involved in a daily struggle to merely survive. All of us in the United States should be living with an attitude of gratitude.

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Psalm 100 which is labeled with a superscription that says, "A Psalm of Thanksgiving." It is the only Psalm that bears such a label. And it says in part, "Shout joyfully to the Lord all the Earth, serve the Lord with gladness. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise." That is the attitude we should live with, even in tough times when things are not going smoothly for us.

The thing we should be most grateful for is the salvation that Jesus provided for us through His sacrifice on the cross for our sins. What a glorious gift! And, it is precisely that — a gift. The Bible teaches very clearly that the forgiveness of our sins is something that cannot be earned. It is a free gift of God through faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Have you ever thought about the fact that salvation by grace through faith is one of the things that sets Christianity apart from all other religions?

Every other religion in the world teaches the satanic concept of salvation through good works. Christianity alone teaches that one cannot be saved by good works. Our only hope is the righteousness of Jesus which is applied to us when we put our faith in Him. Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas has a wonderful way of putting it. He says, "Every religion in the world except Christianity is spelled 'D-O,' only Christianity is spelled 'D-O-N-E.'" In other words, Jesus did it all for us by sacrificing His perfect life for our sins.

A second spiritual blessing I want to thank God for is one that is yet to take place. It is based upon a promise of God that can be found in John 14, 1 Corinthians 15, and 1 Thessalonians 4. It is called the Rapture of the Church. The apostle Paul describes the Rapture in detail in 1 Thessalonians 4 beginning with verse 13. When Paul finishes his explanation of it, he writes in verse 18, "Comfort one another with these words." The promise of the Rapture is supposed to be a source of great comfort to those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ.

Don't pass up this Thanksgiving season without accepting Jesus as your Savior. Remember to thank Him for His loving sacrifice on your behalf. Give praise for the great hope Jesus has given us, for we know that those who love Him will soon be gathered home to Heaven.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fighting for Freedom

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

The National Religious Broadcasters is a Christian organization on the front lines of the battle to preserve freedom of religious speech in this nation.

The NRB was founded 65 years ago at a meeting held at Moody Bible Church in Chicago. Its formation was motivated by the fact that evangelical denominations were unable to obtain radio time because what little time was available for religious purposes was controlled by the mainline Protestant denominations through the Federal Council of Churches.

National Religious Broadcasters

Today, the NRB is focusing its efforts on protecting churches in general and religious broadcasters in particular from government encroachment on their freedoms under the Constitution. Specifically, the NRB is trying to prevent hate crime legislation from curtailing the right of preachers to speak out against sins like homosexuality. The organization is also battling to prevent the pending Employment Non-Discrimination Act from requiring churches and ministries to hire homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons.

The major battle the NRB is fighting relates to the "Fairness Doctrine." The Fairness Doctrine was a government regulation, created in 1949, which required all broadcast media to give equal air time to opposing points of view whenever controversial issues were presented. For the 38 years that this regulation governed America's airwaves, it had — by its very nature — a chilling effect on the freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.

In 1987, the FCC, at the request of President Ronald Reagan, eliminated the intrusive and ill-conceived Fairness Doctrine. But there is a new effort to re-institute the doctrine in order to limit conservative talk radio and religious broadcasting. The NRB is fighting this effort and is supporting alternative legislation called The Broadcaster Freedom Act.

Finally, the NRB is the organization that is constantly calling on the FCC to enforce broadcast decency standards.

We are a proud member of the NRB, and I serve on the President's Council. You can find their website at www.nrb.org. Put the NRB on your prayer list and pray for the success of its efforts to preserve freedom of religious speech in this nation.

(Editor's Note: NRB Today reports breaking events as they occur in Washington D.C. concerning religious freedoms.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Busy Week In Prophetic Fulfillment

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Students of Bible prophecy are always keeping a close eye on the news, looking for events that fulfill what the Bible explicitly says will lead up to Jesus' soon return. This past few weeks the news has been filled chock full with set-up events that have arranged the players in their proper place for an epic prophetic event.

Read through the following headlines and summaries and see if you can recognize just which prophetically appointed event we're looking at. (I'll give you a hint: there's more than one.)


1. Iran Leaders Pave Way for Messianic 'Mahdi'
Iran last week held a multi-day conference... to plot what can be done to hasten the coming of the messianic, endtimes personage known as the Mahdi. Shiite Muslims believing the Mahdi is a messianic figure who will return after an apocalypse to elevate Shiite Islam to the status of the only true religion, with the consequence that all false religions, including Sunni Islam, will be vanquished. Israeli military intelligence experts are convinced that Ahmadinejad's expressed religious devotion to the Mahdi is genuine.

2. Famous quotes by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
"Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury,”
"The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land. As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map."

3. 5 more nuke plants spotted in Iran
Deep-cover MI6 agents who found the previously secret underground uranium enrichment plant near the Iranian holy city of Qom have discovered a staggering five more similar plants.

4. Iran Has Enough Uranium to Build at Least 2 Bombs
IAEA indicates that Iran now has at least 1,508 kgs of low-grade uranium. Thus, Iran now appears to have the essential materials to move steadily towards building two atomic bombs as soon as it makes the political decision to do so.

5. Gaza rockets can now reach Tel Aviv
The head of Israel's Military Intelligence on Tuesday November 2nd warned that Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip now possess missiles capable of striking Tel Aviv.

6. Iran Threatens Oil Transport Route
With the prospect of Israel bombing Iran's nuclear facilities looming, Tehran has renewed its threat to shut down the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which up to 40 percent of the world's oil supplies pass.

7. Sudan wins a seat on the UN Human Rights Commission

8. Turkey: An Ally No More
Turkey has taken a radical turn in their international policies, abandoning almost overnight its 2 decades long relationship with Israel. On October 13, 2009, Turkey cancelled a joint military exercise with Israel and instead signed a treaty with Syria that includes plans to strengthen military ties and to end visa requirements for each country. Syria is one of Israel's most aggressively hostile border enemies.

9. Armenian-Turkish Accord
In the news is the historical geo-political establishment of protocols for full diplomatic relations between the Armenian and Turkish peoples. Armenia is also full member of the Russian-led military alliance known as the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

10. Large Quantities of Natural Gas Found off Haifa Coast
Israel continues to explore the mother lode of natural gas deposits. Noble Energy and a consortium of exploration and drilling companies have after 5 years of drilling at the Tamar site 56 miles west of the northern port of Haifa discovered an estimated 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

11. Russian-Syrian-Iranian Axis
Russia, Iran and Syria have entered a defense pact that is in the process of altering the balance of power in the entire Middle East. The facts reveal a long, steady Russian commitment to the Iranian nuclear program and arms supply to Syria.


Painting A Prophetic Picture

Russia and Iran allies? Turkey turning on Israel and siding with Iran. Russia playing behind the scenes giving nuclear know-how and weapons for an attack on Israel? Mismatched countries now united by their Islamic hatred and jealousy of the Jews. Israel discovering exceeding wealth in natural gas? This all sounds very familiar, like I read it somewhere in the Bible. Indeed I did, in the book of Ezekiel, a prophet who wrote God’s prophetic word down almost 2,600 years ago.

Ezekiel in chapters 38 and 39 tell in great detail of an epic battle that will change the very world we live in — called the "Gog-Magog Battle." In this battle God entices the greed of a ruler designated "Gog" to lead the modern equivalents of Russia, Turkey, Armenia, the "Stan" countries, Iran, Sudan, Ethiopia, Lybia, and Algeria in an effort to plunder and annihilate Israel. Their effort is in vain, though, for God miraculously destroys the invading Muslim horde with His signature fire and brimstone, earthquakes and hailstones.

The alliances for this battle are already in place. Israel will be forced to deal with this threat in the very near future. In their present humanistic ideological mindset the Jewish nation doesn't yet see that God has got their backs, so they will feel forced to act, and act expediently, or face extermination.

But first, there are the surrounding jihadist nations bordering Israel like Jordan, Egypt, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria who bewilderingly sit out the Gog-Magog Battle for Israel to contend with. And then, there is the question about whether the Church will be here for such a "time of Jacob's trouble."

The current news paints a grand picture showing that we are on the dagger's edge of the fulfillment of a great number of end time prophetic events.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Daniel: On the Timing of the Lords Return

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

A wonderful end time theme in the book of Daniel relates to the timing of the Lord's return. Daniel provides us with several clues. The first is found in Daniel 9:24-27 in the prophecy of the 70 Weeks of Years.

In this famous prophecy, Daniel tells us that all the prophecies concerning the Jewish people will be fulfilled at the end of a period of 490 years. His prophecy then makes it clear that there will be a gap between the first 483 years and the final 7 years. We know from the book of Revelation that the final 7 years of this prophecy will constitute the Great Tribulation when God will pour out His wrath upon the rebellious nations of the world and in the process will bring the Jewish people to the end of themselves, resulting in the salvation of a great remnant.

So, the first clue as to the timing of the Lord's return is that it will take place at the end of the Tribulation. This timing is confirmed in the New Testament book of Revelation (19:1-16).

Daniel establishes this timing again in chapter 12. There he refers to the Great Tribulation as "a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time" (Daniel 12:1). He says that some of the Jewish people will be "rescued" at the end of this terrible period at the time when the rest of the Jewish righteous will be resurrected. Again, this is at the end of the Tribulation and will occur when the Messiah returns. (This "rescue" is described in Zechariah 12:10.)

Chapter 12 of Daniel provides us with two more clues as to when the Messiah will return. These clues are what we call "signs of the times." The first is found in verse 4 where Daniel is told that the fulfillment of all the prophecies he has been given (including, of course, the return of the Messiah) will occur at "the end of time" when travel and knowledge will be greatly increased. That explosion occurred during the 20th Century and continues to accelerate to this very day.

Then, in verses 8 and 9 Daniel is told that his prophecies will not be understood until "the end time." We must be in that time today for we are now understanding end time prophecies that no one has ever understood before due to historical developments and technological inventions.

For example, most end time prophecies revolve around a reestablished nation of Israel. How could those prophecies be understood before the re-establishment of Israel in 1948, an event that most people denied could ever happen right up to the very day that it occurred?

And then there are many prophecies that could never be understood apart from modern technological inventions. How could the whole world look upon two bodies lying in the streets of Jerusalem (Revelation 11:9)? Satellite television has made that possible. How could one-third of the earth be burned up in warfare (Revelation 8:7)? The advent of nuclear weapons has made this possible. The list goes on and on.


Amazing Future

Daniel's incredible prophecies make it clear that both wrath and glory lie before us. We are on the threshold of terrible days of Tribulation, but they will be followed by a glorious age when all the saints of God, both Old and New Testament, will reign with Jesus in their glorified bodies over all the nations of the earth.

Daniel's prophecies also make it clear that God is in control. He is on the throne, He is directing the course of human events, and He has the wisdom and power to orchestrate all the evil of Satan and Man to the triumph of His Son.

The overriding theme of Daniel is the absolute sovereignty of God. As we try to cope with the increasingly pagan and evil world we live in, let us be reminded of the words of Daniel recorded in chapter 2, verses 20-23a:

"Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
And it is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men,
And knowledge to men of understanding.
It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And the light dwells in Him.
To Thee, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise..."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Daniel: On the Triumph of Jesus Christ

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

A great end time theme in the book of Daniel is the absolute triumph in history that God will give to His Son. Jesus was vilified and crucified at His First Coming, but when He returns, He will be vindicated and glorified.

The first glimpse of this triumph is given to us in chapter 2. Remember Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the giant and beautiful statute of a man? The last Gentile kingdom, the one represented by the feet and toes made of clay and iron is supernaturally destroyed (Daniel 2:34-35).

Do you remember how it was destroyed? "By a stone cut out without hands" (verse 34). It struck the feet and crushed them, bringing down the entire statue, and then "the stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (verse 35).

The Stone

Daniel explains that the stone represents the kingdom of God coming to earth, destroying the kingdom of the Antichrist and putting an end to all Gentile kingdoms (verses 44-45). Zechariah and Revelation reveal this will take place at the Second Coming of Jesus.

The next vision of the Lord's triumph is presented in Daniel chapter 7. We are told in verses 13 and 14 that Daniel experienced a night vision in which he saw the "Son of Man" (Jesus) presented to the "Ancient of Days" (God the Father). Jesus was given "dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him" (verse 14). In verses 18 and 27 we are further told that the "saints of the Highest One" (the Redeemed) will reign with Jesus over all the world.

This vision of the future reign of Jesus with His saints is a persistent theme of Bible prophecy, found in both the Old and New Testaments. (See: Isaiah 2:2-4, Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 11:4-9, Zechariah 14:1-9, 2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 2:26-27, Revelation 3:21, Revelation 5:9-10, and Revelation 20:4.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Daniel: On the Terror of the Antichrist

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

A major theme in the end time prophecies of Daniel is the Antichrist and his demonic rule. Daniel could be called the prophet of the Antichrist because he supplies us with more information about this tyrant than any other prophet, including John in the book of Revelation.

Take Daniel 7, verses 8, 25 and 26 for example. The prophet describes the Antichrist as a prideful man full of boasting, as a blasphemer, as a persecutor of the Jews, and as one who will change the law and the times. (He will, of course, change Western law because it is based upon the Bible, and he will change the calendar because it is related to the birth of Jesus.)

We are further told that he will persecute the Jews for three and a half years, and then, suddenly, he and his empire will be destroyed.


Symbolic Types of the Antichrist

Further insights into the Antichrist's character and methods can be found in chapter 8 where Daniel begins to focus on him by presenting a series of symbolic types of the Antichrist.

These symbols were presented to Daniel in a vision that was given to him three years after his dream of the series of beasts, recorded in chapter 7. Once again Daniel saw a succession of animals.

The first was a ram with two horns, one longer than the other (verses 3-4). The angel Gabriel reveals to Daniel that this ram represents the Medo-Persian Empire (verse 20). The "longer horn" would thus represent the man who came to dominate this kingdom — namely, Darius the Great. The two qualities that Daniel emphasizes about this man are his strong will and his ego, as manifested in his doing as he pleases and magnifying himself in the process (verse 4).

Daniel next sees a male goat with "a conspicuous horn" between its eyes. This goat moves quickly and attacks the ram, destroying him immediately (verses 5-7). Again, Gabriel explains to Daniel that the male goat represents the Greek Empire which will overthrow the Medo-Persian Empire (verse 21). The "conspicuous horn" was, of course, symbolic of Alexander the Great.

Daniel's description of the Greek Empire puts the emphasis on the power of its army and the swiftness of its victories. This corresponds to the fact that we are told in Revelation that the Antichrist will conquer the whole world in three and a half years. Another thing emphasized by Daniel is the ego of the conspicuous horn. We are told that he "magnifies himself exceedingly" (verse 8).

Daniel wraps up his description of the male goat by telling us that his conspicuous horn will be broken and replaced by four other horns (verse 8). This prophecy was fulfilled in history when Alexander the Great died suddenly at the age of 33 and his Empire was divided into four kingdoms headed up by four of his generals.

Verse 9 of chapter 8 brings us to the third of the symbolic types of the Antichrist. Reverting to the terminology of chapter 7, Daniel calls this individual "the little horn." He says he will rise out of one of the four divisions of Alexander's kingdom and that he will move toward "the Beautiful Land," which is Israel.

This person proved to be a Greek tyrant who arose to dominate the Seleucid area of Alexander's empire, an area that included Syria and Israel. His name was Antiochus. He was a mad man who considered himself to be divine. He gave himself the title, "Antiochus Epiphanes," which meant "Antiochus the Manifested God." The Jews nick-named him "Antiochus Epimanes," meaning "Antiochus the Madman"! It was a title he well deserved.


The Quintessential Type of the Antichrist

Let's look first at the prophecy and then the historical record. In Daniel 8:9-12 we are told that the "little horn" will trample down the Jews, blaspheme God, violate the Jewish Temple, and stop the sacrifices. Daniel even tells us how long the desecration of the Temple will last: "For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored" (verse 14). This most likely meant that the sacrificial system would be suspended for a total of 1,150 days since there were two sacrifices per day, one in the morning and the other in the evening (Exodus 29:38-43).

The Jewish historian, Josephus, has provided us with a detailed historical record of the fulfillment of these prophecies in the brutal reign of Antiochus. The details can also be found in the non-canonical books of 1 & 2 Maccabees.

Antiochus Epiphanes

According to these sources, while Antiochus was involved in leading an invasion of Egypt, a rumor swept Jerusalem that he had been killed. This news prompted a former high priest named Jason to revolt. Jason had been deposed by Antiochus, and he now saw an opportunity to get his position back. So, he attacked Jerusalem with an army of 1,000 men. The quick and brutal response of Antiochus is recorded in 2 Maccabees 11-16:

"When [Antiochus] came to hear of what had happened, he concluded that Judea was in revolt. He therefore marched from Egypt, raging like a wild beast, and began by storming the city. He then ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy everyone they encountered, and to butcher all who took refuge in their houses. It was a massacre of young and old, a slaughter of women and children, a butchery of virgins and infants. There were eighty thousand victims in the course of those three days, forty thousand dying by violence and as many again being sold into slavery. Not satisfied with this, he had the audacity to enter the holiest Temple in the entire world... With his unclean hands he seized the sacred vessels; and his impious hands swept away what other kings had presented for the advancement, the glory and the honor of the place."

The atrocities of this mad man are spelled out in even greater detail in 1 Maccabees 1:23-67. There we are told that he stripped the Temple of everything — all its silver, gold and precious vessels — "leaving the place a shambles."

Two years later he attacked Jerusalem again. He pillaged the city, set it on fire, tore down its houses, and took the women and children captive. He then issued a proclamation ordering the cessation of all Jewish customs. He banned sacrifices and feasts and observance of the Sabbath. He ordered that all new-born sons were to be left uncircumcised. And he made it a capital offense to own a copy of the Torah.

He then once again proceeded to defile the Temple. He "erected the abomination of desolation" above the altar. This was a statue of the Greek god, Zeus.

The passage in 1 Maccabees gives the exact date when Antiochus desecrated the Temple by erecting the statue of Zeus: "On the fifteenth day of Chislev in the year one hundred and forty five." This converts to December 8, 168 BC. We are told later in Maccabees that the Temple was cleansed and the altar restored by Judas Maccabees on Chislev 25 in 165 BC, representing a period of 1,150 days, exactly as prophesied in Daniel 8:14 (1 Maccabees 4:52).


Daniel Seeks Understanding

At this point in chapter 8 Daniel has been given a vision of three kings — Darius, Alexander the Great, and Antiochus Epiphanes. All of these are symbolic types of the Antichrist, but Daniel does not understand this.

Alexander the Great

So, Daniel asks the Lord for an explanation of the vision (verse 15). In response, the Lord sends the angel Gabriel who tells him that the vision "pertains to the time of the end" (verse 17).

He emphasizes this again in verse 19 where he tells Daniel that the vision relates to "the final period of the indignation" (the Great Tribulation) and that it "pertains to the appointed time of the end."

These words of explanation make it clear that Antiochus and the other kings were only symbolic types of the Antichrist. The true Antichrist would not come until the end times.


The True Antichrist

This brings us to Daniel's revelation of the real Antichrist who will combine the features of Darius, Alexander, and Antiochus. A frightening description of him is presented in Daniel 8:23-26, so frightening, in fact, that Daniel was "astounded" and "exhausted" and fell ill for several days (verse 27). He is described as being:

  1. Insolent (verse 23)
  2. Skillful in intrigue (verse 23)
  3. Supernatural in power (verse 24)
  4. Destructive (verse 24)
  5. Willful (verse 24)
  6. Shrewd (verse 25)
  7. Deceitful (verse 25)
  8. Egotistical (verse 25)
  9. Blasphemous (verse 25)

The only good news in this passage is the assurance that is given to Daniel that the Antichrist will ultimately be destroyed supernaturally by God (verse 25).


Further Information About the Antichrist

The next reference to the Antichrist is found in chapter 9 in Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks of years (9:24-27). Daniel is told that a decree will be issued to rebuild Jerusalem and that 69 weeks of years later (483 years) the Messiah will be "cut off" and Jerusalem will be destroyed again.

In verse 26 we are given a clue as to the identity of the Antichrist. We are told that the Antichrist will come from the people who will destroy the Temple following the death of the Messiah. Those people were, of course, the Romans. So, the Antichrist will be of Roman descent.

Then, in verse 27, it is revealed to Daniel that the last week of years for the Jews — the 7 years of the Tribulation — will begin with the signing of a covenant between the Jews and the Antichrist, most likely a covenant guaranteeing the peace of Israel and allowing them to rebuild their Temple.

But it is also revealed that 3 1/2 years into that last 7 year period of time, the Antichrist will double-cross the Jews. Like Antiochus, the Antichrist will desecrate the Temple, stop the sacrifices and desolate the city.

However, once more we are assured that the Antichrist himself will be destroyed in the process. Daniel is told that destruction will be "poured out on the one who makes desolate" (verse 27).


The Fate of the Antichrist

The ultimate destruction of the Antichrist is affirmed once again in Daniel's final passage about him. It is found in Daniel 11. Once again Daniel presents a series of ruthless kings that are symbolic types of the Antichrist. Interestingly, the three most important all have names that begin with the letter A:

  1. The fourth king of Persia after Darius: Ahasuerus (verse 2)
  2. Alexander the Great (verse 3)
  3. Antiochus III, the Great (verse 11)
  4. Antiochus Epiphanes (verse 21)

Once more, Antiochus Epiphanes is presented as the classic type of the Antichrist (verses 21-35). He is characterized as despicable, deceptive, a man of intrigue, and a person whose heart is set against God. He is also presented as a warrior who will conquer and plunder and who will ultimately desecrate the Jewish Temple by stopping the sacrifices and erecting an "abomination of desolation."

At verse 36 a sudden transition occurs as Antiochus Epiphanes morphs into the end time Antichrist:

"Then [in the 'end time' (verse 35)] the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god, and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation [the Tribulation] is finished..."

In addition to being a willful egotist and blasphemer, as this passage states, the verses that follow indicate he will also be a militarist and a person obsessed with money.

Beginning in verse 40 we are given an overview of the end time military campaign of the Antichrist that will take place in the Middle East, possibly in response to a rebellion by the nations in that area (verses 40-45).

We are told that the Antichrist will invade the "Beautiful Land" (Israel) and that he will be attacked by the "king of the South" and the "king of the North" (most likely Egypt and Syria). He will conquer all the nations of the Middle East except Jordan, which he will be prevented from entering (most likely because the Jewish remnant will be hiding there).

He will proceed to Egypt in order to plunder its riches. But "rumors from the East and from the North" will disturb him (possibly armies from Russia and the Far East that are revolting against him). He will retreat to the area "between the seas" (the Valley of Armageddon) to await the arrival of these armies. It is in this valley that he will "come to his end" (Daniel 11:45, Joel 3:9-17, and Revelation 19:14-21).

This whole section of Scripture could be called the "Campaign of Armageddon" because it leads the Antichrist to that valley where he and his armies will suffer total defeat in an instant when Messiah Jesus returns and speaks a supernatural word of destruction (Zechariah 14:12 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Daniel: On the Times of the Gentiles

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Let's take a look at the prophecies God gave Daniel about the end times, especially concerning "the Times of the Gentiles."

Two years after Daniel's arrival in Babylon, when he was about 17 years old, God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream that greatly disturbed him. The king demanded that his wise men tell him two things — first, what he had dreamed and second, the meaning of the dream. Needless to say, the wise men were confounded.

When Daniel heard of the king's unusual request, he turned to God in prayer seeking a revelation of both the king's dream and its meaning. God responded by revealing these mysteries to Daniel. And Daniel, in turn, responded to the Lord with a psalm of praise (Daniel 2:20-23a):

Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
And it is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men,
And knowledge to men of understanding.
It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things...

This psalm is very important for it summarizes the theme of the whole book of Daniel — namely, that God is sovereign, that He has a purpose in history, and that He has the wisdom and the power to orchestrate the affairs of men and nations to the triumph of His divine will.

Later in the book, Nebuchadnezzar makes a similar proclamation about the sovereignty of God after he has experienced the chastisement of God's discipline (Daniel 4:34b-35):

[God's] dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth...


Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

In chapter 2, beginning with verse 31, Daniel begins to reveal to Nebuchadnezzar both his dream and its meaning. He tells the king that in his dream he saw a magnificent and awesome statue with a head of gold, a chest of silver, thighs of bronze, and legs of iron. The feet of the statue were made of a mixture of iron and clay. He reminded the king that as he was admiring the statue, a large stone suddenly appeared — a stone that had not been cut by human hands. This supernatural stone suddenly struck the feet of the statue and the entire statue was destroyed. The stone then quickly grew into a great mountain that "filled the whole earth."

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

In verse 36 Daniel begins to explain the meaning of this mysterious dream, and what ensues is a breathtaking overview of Gentile empires from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to what we now call the Second Coming of the Messiah. Daniel reveals that the parts of the statue represent a succession of empires:

  1. Head of Gold — Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian Empire.

  2. Chest of Silver — The kingdom that will supplant Babylon, which Daniel later identifies in chapter 8 as the Medo-Persian Empire.

  3. Thighs of Bronze — The next kingdom in the series which, again, Daniel identifies in chapter 8 as Greece.

  4. Legs of Iron — The fourth kingdom in the series which we know from history was the Roman Empire which ultimately split into two parts.

  5. Feet of Clay and Iron — The last Gentile empire of history. The unstable combination of clay with iron suggests a loose confederation of nations that will exist in the area of the old Roman Empire.

  6. The Supernatural Stone — Symbolic of the return of the Messiah who will destroy the last Gentile kingdom and will put an end to Gentile rule by establishing the kingdom of God on earth.


The Age of Gentile Rule

As you can see, this prophecy is amazing in its scope, stretching thousands of years from the time of the Babylonian Empire to the establishment of the Millennial reign of Jesus upon this earth.

It is a period of time that the Bible refers to as "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). It begins with the fall of the last king of Judah, Zedekiah (586 BC), and will continue until Jesus returns and re-establishes the throne of David in Jerusalem.

I think it is very interesting to note that this period of Gentile domination of the world is emphasized in the very language of the book of Daniel. In chapter 2, verse 4, the language shifts from Hebrew to Aramaic, the language of the Gentile nations at that time. And the text continues in Aramaic until the end of chapter 7. It switches back to Hebrew at chapter 8 because the focus shifts at that point from the times of the Gentiles to the ultimate fate of the Jews.


A Time Gap

Another interesting thing to note is that from our historical perspective, we can clearly see that the prophecy has a major time gap in it, something that is often characteristic of Bible prophecy. The gap comes between the fourth and fifth empires — between the legs of iron and the feet of clay mixed with iron.

The gap is obvious because there is no Gentile empire in history that corresponds to the empire of iron and clay, which Daniel tells us in chapter 7 will be a confederation of ten nations that will come together as a revived Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire ceased to exist in 476 AD. The eastern branch of it continued as the Byzantine Empire until 1453. Over the centuries there have been many attempts to restore the Roman Empire, the two most notable efforts being those of Napoleon and Hitler. But all efforts failed until the aftermath of World War II when it became obvious to European leaders that their only hope for rebuilding Europe was to reach across national boundaries and begin cooperating to build a European superpower.

That effort has produced the European Union, a revival of the old Roman Empire currently consisting of 27 member states which I believe will ultimately be divided into ten administrative regions.


Daniels' Dream

This prophecy about the succession of world empires was reconfirmed to Daniel 48 years later when the Lord gave him a dream. It is recorded in chapter 7.

Daniel saw a series of terrifying beasts that arose out of the sea, the sea being a prophetic symbol for the Gentile nations.

The Beasts of Daniel 7

The first was a lion that had the wings of an eagle. The second was a bear that was raised up on one side and had three bones in its mouth. The third was a leopard with four heads and four wings. The fourth was a beast which Daniel described as "dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong." It had large iron teeth and ten horns.

What Daniel is seeing in this dream is the same succession of world empires that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The difference is that Nebuchadnezzar saw them from Man's viewpoint, as something magnificent and glorious. God reveals them to Daniel as He sees them — a series of ravenous beasts.

As Daniel stares in horror at the last beast, he suddenly notices that another horn — "a little horn" — rises up among the ten horns and pulls three of them out by their roots. This little horn has the eyes of a man and a mouth that is uttering "great boasts." In verse 24 of chapter 7, Daniel is told that the ten horns represent ten kings and that the little horn will subdue three of them and will then begin to speak blasphemies against the Most High God. This is the first appearance in the book of Daniel of the Antichrist who will head up the last Gentile Empire that will encompass the whole world. The fact that the last empire of 10 horns grows out of the head of the fourth beast is a clear indication that the final Gentile empire will begin as a revival of the old Roman Empire.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Daniel: The Remarkable Prophet

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Let's briefly consider who the man Daniel was.

In 605 BC Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, conquered the city of Jerusalem, the capital of the nation of Judah. He removed the Judean king, Jehoiakim, and replaced him with his 18 year old son, Jehoichin.

Eight years later, when Jehoichin also rebelled, Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah again, conquered Jerusalem a second time, and replaced Jehoichin with his uncle, Zedekiah. Ten years later when Zedekiah revived the rebellion, Nebuchadnezzar invaded a third time and decided he was fed up with Jewish rebellion. And so, in 587 BC the Babylonians totally destroyed the city of Jerusalem, including Solomon's Temple, and ended the Davidic line of kings.

Each of the three times Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and conquered Jerusalem, he took captives back to Babylon. After the first invasion in 605 BC he took only a handful of Jewish captives. These consisted of the sons of the elite Jewish ruling class, and one of these was Daniel (Daniel 1:3-4, 6-7).

Daniel Rejects King's Food

Daniel was only about 15 years old at this time, but he distinguished himself immediately as a person of spiritual maturity by refusing to pollute himself with the non-kosher food supplied to him by the king. In similar manner, many years later at age 82, Daniel imperiled his life by refusing to obey an order of King Darius of the Medo-Persian Empire that no one could pray for 30 days to any god except to the king himself. Daniel's refusal to abide by this command prompted the king to throw him into a lion's den, but his life was spared by a miracle of God.

Daniel, throughout his life, was a man of faith and prayer and impeccable virtue. He is referred to by one of his contemporaries, the prophet Ezekiel, as one of the three most righteous men who ever lived, together with Job and Noah (Ezekiel 14:14). In a visitation made to him by the Angel Gabriel, recorded in Daniel 9:23, he was told, "You are highly esteemed" by God.

When we study the Book of Daniel, we are dealing with one of the most remarkable men revealed in Scripture.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Daniel: A Hated Book

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

When I think of the book of Daniel, I am always reminded of a remarkable experience I had in 1983, during the third year of Lamb & Lion Ministries.

It started with a telephone call from a person in the mid-cities area between Ft. Worth and Dallas. He said he was a regular listener to the radio program I had at the time. He wanted to know if I would come to his church on a Sunday evening and speak on Bible prophecy. I told him I would be happy to do so if his pastor would invite me.

"That's the problem," he responded. "You see, my pastor doesn't like Bible studies, and He prefers entertainment on Sunday evenings — like pop singers and dancers. It's not going to be easy to talk him into inviting you, so please give me a jazzy title."

A "jazzy title" instantly popped into my mind. "Let's call it 'The Future of the Late Great Planet Earth.'"

"Hey! That's really jazzy," he replied. "Please pray I will be successful in persuading him."

The next afternoon the man called me back, and he was so excited you could have heard him without a phone. "Praise the Lord!" he shouted. "My pastor agreed to invite you without us even having to argue about it. All I did was tell him your topic, and he said, 'Invite him!'"

What the man did not know, and what both of us were to discover later, after my appearance, is that when the request was made, the pastor was sitting at his desk reading a book entitled, "The Future of the Late Great Planet Earth." It was a vehement attack on Hal Lindsey, and it was a denial of Bible prophecy. The pastor thought that because I had selected the book's title as the title of my presentation, I was going to agree with the viewpoint of the book's author! (God has a great sense of humor!)

When the time came for me to speak, it didn't take long for me to discover that I was in trouble. The pastor introduced me as "an expert on Bible prophecy who will explain to you that there is no such thing as prophecy in the Bible and will illustrate to you why Hal Lindsey is a fool." Needless to say, I was stunned by the introduction.

I stepped up to the podium, tapped the pastor on the shoulder, and whispered, "I'm afraid there has been a terrible mistake. You see, I believe in Bible prophecy, and I believe Hal Lindsey is right on target. Should I forget about speaking and go home?"

The pastor thought a moment and then said, "No, you go ahead and speak, but keep it short."

With sweaty palms and a dry mouth, I stepped up to the microphone and said, "Please open your Bibles and turn to Acts chapter 2." I wanted to show them how the first Gospel sermon ever preached — the sermon by the Apostle Peter on Pentecost — was a survey of Bible prophecy from start to finish, showing how Jesus had fulfilled a variety of Messianic prophecies.

Before I started reading Acts 2, I looked out at the audience and noticed that no one had a Bible! I asked them to open the pew Bibles. A person blurted out, "We don't have pew Bibles in this church." I then requested some men to go through the education wing of the building and collect Bibles from the classrooms. I led three songs while we waited for them to gather the Bibles. When they returned, one of them reported, "We can't find any Bibles in this church!"

At that point the pastor announced that he would get some Bibles out of his office. He came back with about six, and he distributed them among the 200 people who were present.

Once again, I asked them to turn to Acts 2. The pages started rustling — and they continued to do so, because no one could find the book of Acts! So, I took the opportunity to introduce them to the Bible. I explained the division between the Old and New Testaments. I pointed out the types of books in both testaments, and then I led them to the discovery of the book of Acts.

After I made my point with Peter's sermon in Acts 2, I asked them to turn to the book of Daniel in the Old Testament. Suddenly, the pastor stood up and said, "I'm sorry, but I do not allow the book of Daniel to be read in this church."

When I asked why, he responded, "You obviously are not a seminary graduate, because if you were, you would be aware of the fact that Daniel is a fraudulent book. It was written like prophecy, but in fact it was written long after the events it claims to prophesy."

I was stunned. And I decided I was not going to allow the rebuke to pass without a response. I began to present one argument after another in behalf of the validity of Daniel, and each time the pastor just scoffed at me in disdain. Finally, I asked, "Do you want me to go home?"

"No," he replied, "just don't quote the book of Daniel."

I stood there for a moment, still in a state of shock. Then, I resumed by asking the congregation to turn to Genesis 3:15. "I want to show you the very first Messianic prophecy in the Bible." But before I could read it, the pastor interrupted me again.

He jumped to his feet and said, "I'm sorry, but I can't allow you to read that verse because I know you are going to claim that it is a prophecy about the virgin birth, and we don't believe in the virgin birth at this church!"

All this happened at a mainline Protestant denomination.

The pastor's attitude I experienced that evening is commonplace in Christendom today. Daniel is the most controversial book in the Bible. Liberals hate it because they do not believe in the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, and Daniel's book is a great testimony to divine inspiration. That's because it contains some of the most remarkable prophecies in the Bible, prophecies that are detailed in content and broad in scope, stretching from Daniel's time to the day of the Messiah's Second Coming. As one person has put it, "Daniel wrote history more accurately before it happened than anyone has ever done after it happened."

To discredit the book, liberals have tried to argue that it was written long after the time of Daniel by someone who assumed his identity. They usually place the time of its authorship around 100 years before Christ. They are determined to date it after the time of the Greek tyrant, Antiochus Epiphanes, who reigned from 175 to 164 BC. The reason they are so determined to do this is because the book of Daniel prophesies the reign of Antiochus in detail, including the atrocities that he would commit against the Jews.

But the efforts of the liberals to trash the book have all been in vain. One of the strongest rebuttals is the fact that Daniel was included in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. This is the translation of what we call the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek. It was done by a group of 70 Hebrew scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, in about 280 BC — long before the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.

Also, Josephus, the First Century Jewish historian, reports that when Alexander the Great came to Jerusalem in 333 BC, the High Priest showed him where he and his empire were prophesied in the book of Daniel, and he was so impressed that he spared the city from destruction (Jewish Antiquities, vol. 11, p. 311).

But the most important evidence of the book's authenticity is to be found in the New Testament in Matthew 24:15 where Jesus Himself quoted the prophecies of Daniel and thus personally attested to the validity of the book.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Future Has Arrived!

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

I am constantly running across articles by Dispensationalists in which the argument is presented that in order to be a "consistent futurist," you cannot contend that prophecies are being fulfilled today. Instead, it is argued that all end time prophecy relates to Israel in the Tribulation and Millennium. Therefore, all we are seeing today is "stage setting," but not the fulfillment of prophecy.1

I strongly disagree with this viewpoint. First of all, there are four end time prophecies concerning Israel that were fulfilled even before the 20th Century began. They are:

  1. The dispersion of the Jews worldwide — Deuteronomy 28:64.
  2. The worldwide persecution of the Jews — Deuteronomy 28:65-67.
  3. The desolation of the Jewish homeland — Deuteronomy 29:22-28.
  4. The preservation of the Jewish people — Jeremiah 30:7 and Jeremiah 31:36-37.

Some might respond by saying these are not end time prophecies, but they are. The end times or the "last days" began at the Cross. The writer of the Hebrew letter referred to his day and time (the First Century) as the "last days." The Apostle Peter also called the time in which he was living the "last times" (1 Peter 1:5 & 20). And in the same letter he stated that "the end of all things is at hand" (1 Peter 4:7). The "end times" began 2,000 years ago. We are currently in the end of the end times, and we know this because God's Word gives us signs to watch for that will mark the end of the age.

The fulfillment of the prophecies listed above makes it clear that all future prophecies in the Scriptures regarding Israel do not relate to just the Tribulation and the Millennium. Additionally, there are other futuristic prophecies in the Scriptures regarding Israel that were either fulfilled in part or in whole during the 20th Century, and they are prophecies that point to the soon return of Jesus.


Current Fulfillment of Prophecies Related to Israel

Consider, to begin with, the most prolific futuristic prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures — namely, that in the end times the Jewish people will be regathered in unbelief from the four corners of the earth.

This regathering began in the late 19th Century when Theodor Herzl wrote his book, The Jewish State, in which he advocated that the time had come for the Jews to return to their homeland. In 1900 there were only 40,000 Jews in Israel. By the end of World War II this number had risen to 800,000. Today, it stands at nearly 6 million. The Jews continue to come, but there is no doubt this is a prophecy that is being fulfilled before our very eyes.

Or, consider the re-establishment of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948. This was a clear and definite fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It is an accomplished fact, and it is a miracle of God. It is not mere "stage-setting," it is a play that has already been performed in full.

Another accomplished fact is the revival of the Hebrew language from the dead. When the Jews were scattered from their homeland in the First and Second Centuries, they stopped speaking Hebrew. The Jews in Europe mixed Hebrew with German and created a new language called Yiddish. The Jews in the Mediterranean Basin mixed Hebrew with Spanish and created a language called Ladino. But the Bible prophesied that the Hebrew language would be revived in the end times (Zephaniah 3:9), and that is exactly what happened in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries through the efforts of one man — Eliezer Ben Yehuda. Today, the people of Israel speak biblical Hebrew.

Equally certifiable is the reclamation of the Jewish homeland. As pointed out earlier, the Bible prophesied that it would become a desolation after the Jewish people were expelled from it. But the Bible also prophesied that when the Jews returned to the land, it would once again become a land of milk and honey:

"The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passed by. And they will say, 'This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate, and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.'" (Ezekiel 36:34-35)

When the Jews started returning to their homeland in the late 19th Century, it was a total wasteland. Nearly all the trees had been cut down and the soil was badly eroded. The land resembled a desert. Most of the valleys had become malaria-infested swamp lands. The Jewish pioneers began planting trees, reclaiming the soil, and draining the swamps. Today, Israel is the bread basket of the Middle East.

Another prophecy that has definitely been fulfilled in our times is the resurgence of the Israeli military. Zechariah 12:6 says that in the end times, God "will make the clans of Judah like a firepot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among sheaves, so they will consume on the right hand and on the left all the surrounding peoples..."

The fulfillment of this prophecy can be seen today in the incredible military power of Israel. It is one of the world's smallest nations, yet it is ranked by all experts as one of the four top military powers in the world.

Finally, with regard to Israel before the Tribulation begins, the Bible prophesies that Jerusalem will be re-occupied by the Jews (Zechariah 12:2-3 & 6) and that it will become the focal point of world politics (Zechariah 12:3). The Jews returned to the city when it was captured in the Six Day War in 1967, and today, all the nations of the world are coming against Israel over the issue of who will control Jerusalem in the future.


Current Fulfillment of Non-Jewish Prophecies

But end time prophecies regarding Israel are not the only ones we see being fulfilled in whole or in part before our very eyes. Daniel prophesied that in the end times the old Roman Empire would be revived (Daniel 2:31-45), and we can see that being accomplished today in the creation and expansion of the European Union.

The Bible prophesies repeatedly that in the end times there will be a great apostasy in the Church (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1 & 5, 2 Timothy 4:3-4). We are up to our ears in that apostasy today as major Christian denominations ordain homosexuals, approve same-sex marriage, deny the deity of Jesus, and mock the inerrancy of the Scriptures.

In like manner, the Bible prophesies that "in the last days" society will disintegrate into a cesspool of immorality and violence (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Can there be any doubt that those days have arrived?

Daniel was told that the end time prophecies would not be completely understood until the end time — that is, until the time comes for their fulfillment (Daniel 12:8-9). That time must be upon us for we are living in the time when ancient prophecies are being understood for the first time ever, due to historical developments and technological advances.


Taking the Signs of the Times Seriously

I could go on and on, but I think I have made my point. The future has arrived! End time prophecies are being fulfilled today. What we are witnessing is much more than "stage-setting." God is clearly fulfilling promises He made thousands of years ago to the Jewish people. And God is orchestrating the fulfillment of end time prophecies that are not related to the Jewish people.

It is exciting to see these prophecies fulfilled, and I am tired of seeing people attempt to depreciate their importance by flipping them off in a cavalier way as nothing more than mere "stage-setting."

Jesus is coming soon. The signs of the times attest to that fact. God expects us to take those signs seriously because He is about to pour out His wrath upon this world in the Great Tribulation, and He does not desire that any should perish. The fulfillment of prophecy all around us today is God's way of waking us up to the fact that we are living on borrowed time, and we need to use the remaining time to commit ourselves to holiness and evangelism.


Notes

1) A good example of the Dispensational viewpoint on this issue is an article by Ron J. Bigalke, Jr entitled, "Prophetic Fulfillment".