Friday, September 28, 2012

Islamic Eschatology: The Minor Signs

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

In an attempt to puzzle together what some in Islam believe concerning the end times, we discover that Islam's minor signs which speak of general trends are a mirror of Christian end time signs. The signs similar between Christianity and Islam cover:

  1. An increase in ignorance concerning the fundamentals of the faith.

  2. Increasing instability of the faith (Muslims becoming Christians overnight).

  3. An increase in false prophets.

  4. An increase in apostasy (as evidenced by Muslims following false christs).

  5. An increase in religious pretentiousness (as in the building of luxurious mosques).

  6. An acceptance of astrology.

  7. An increase in alcohol use and illicit sexual relations.

  8. An increase in natural calamities.

  9. An increase in political corruption.

  10. People longing for death (due to the increase in calamities and wickedness).

  11. Increasing paganism. (Muslims will increasingly follow the life-styles of non-Muslims.)

  12. An increase in war and civil wars (even wars among Muslims).

There are a number of minor signs that are peculiar to Islam. They are as follows:

  1. Women will outnumber men by 50 to 1. (No reason is given, but it is likely due to the expectation of many jihad martyrs in the end times.)

  2. The caliphate (the seat of Islamic authority) will be established in the Holy Land. (This prophecy is a problem. What was meant by "Holy Land?" If it refers to Palestine, it is unfulfilled. If it refers to Saudi Arabia, it was fulfilled 1400 years ago.)

  3. The Arabs will be destroyed. (This is another troublesome prophecy. What does "destroyed" mean? The Ottoman Empire, controlled by Turkish non-Arabs, conquered all the Middle East in the 1500's. Some argue this was a fulfillment of the prophecy. But it did not lead to "the Hour." And now the Arab nations have reasserted themselves.)

  4. The habitations of Medina must be greatly extended.

  5. The Muslims must fight the Turks and "the people whose shoes are made of hair." (This has been applied to past battles with the Turks and the Tartars. Yet, "the Hour" has not come.)

  6. The Arabs must conquer Constantinople. (The city, now called Istanbul, was conquered by Muslims in the 15th Century, but not by Arabs.)

  7. Mecca will be reduced to ruins.

  8. A people will emerge who eat with their tongues as cows do.

  9. Time will contract, with a year being like a month and a month like a week.

  10. Wild beasts will speak to men.

  11. The Euphrates River will uncover a mountain of gold.

In the next part of this series on Islamic Eschatology, we will look at the major Islamic signs of the times.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Islamic Eschatology: Assembling the Puzzle


Note from Nathan Jones: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 rattled the walls of the United Nations in a scathing speech set to his usual theme — death to the "Little Satan" Israel and the "Great Satan" the United States (transcript). To accomplish his firm belief in his divine "historic mission" of the overthrow of the West, Ahmadinejad repeatedly referred to the soon "arrival of the Ultimate Savior" whom he calls "Imam Al-Mahdi." Ahmadinejad explained that when the Mahdi comes he will be the "spring of humanity and the greenery of all ages" that will "mark a new beginning, a rebirth and a resurrection... the beginning of peace, lasting security and genuine life."

Sounds great, right? But, is the supposed coming of the Mahdi truly all peace and flowers and love as Ahmadinejad describes, or does Islamic teaching concerning the end times explain something far more sinister? And, who exactly is this Mahdi anyway whom Ahmadinejad is willing to start a nuclear war over? Find out as Dr. David Reagan explains below Islamic teachings concerning this supposed Muslim savior.

Dr. David R. ReaganBy

The holiest book of Islam is the Qu'ran, often spelled Koran in English. It supposedly contains statements of the Islamic god, Allah, which were given to his prophet, Mohammad, by the Angel Gabriel.

Mohammad was illiterate, so scribes wrote down what he said over a 23 year period of time, until his death in 632 AD. Much of the content of the Qu'ran was delivered by Mohammad while he was experiencing seizures that even his first wife considered to be demonic in nature. The scribes began compiling the Qu'ran shortly before Mohammad's death. The Qu'ran is about the length of the New Testament. (Copies of the Qu'ran can be purchased at any general bookstore. An interactive copy can be found on the Internet at

The second most sacred book of Islam is called the Hadith. It is mainly a collection of Mohammad's sayings that were not considered to be revelations directly from Allah. The Hadith also contains stories about things Mohammad did.

The Hadith was compiled in the 9th Century, about two hundred years after the death of Mohammad. There were several compilations made during that time, but the most authoritative is considered to be the one by al-Bukhari. He collected a total of 600,000 sayings of Mohammad and stories about him (examples). These came from the writings of both friends and family members. Many came from Mohammad's 15 wives. Al-Bukhari verified 7,000 as "genuine." These became the Hadith.

Strangely, the Qu'ran contains very little prophecy about the end times. It mainly affirms that history will consummate with "the Hour" when the resurrection and judgment will take place. So, the Hadith is the major source of Islamic eschatology.

An Islamic Puzzle

It is extremely difficult to piece together the Islamic concept of the end times. The information is greatly disjointed, being spread throughout the Hadith. Also, unlike Christian prophecy scholars, Islamic students of prophecy have not attempted to systematize their concepts into charts and diagrams which show how all the events are related to each other.

I have done my best to piece together all the events of Islamic eschatology, and I believe that what follows is a fair representation. But keep in mind that Islamic scholars disagree on the nature and order of some events, just as Christian experts do regarding the end-time sequence of Bible prophecy.

The most helpful source I was able to discover was a book by Dr. Samuel Shahid called The Last Trumpet. He attempts to show that the major concepts of Islamic eschatology were borrowed from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Christian New Testament, and the concepts of Zoroastrianism. Dr. Shahid is the director of Islamic studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. (See a complete bibliography at the end of this article).

Dr. Shahid proves conclusively that Mohammad secured many of his ideas orally from Christians, Jews, and followers of Zoroastrianism. In the process he got many of the stories and principles confused. For example, the Hadith states that the mother of Jesus was Mary, the sister of Moses!

Dr. Shahid also points out that the Hadith was compiled at a time when Islamic authorities knew much more about the Bible and Christian traditions and literature. Thus, many Hadith passages were manufactured and embellished and were heavily influenced by Christian sources.

Hadith passages concerning the end times are highly contradictory, and thus it is difficult to nail down a lot of specifics. Only a general outline of end time events can be compiled.

The Islamic Signs of the Times

There are both minor and major signs that point to the climactic event in Islamic eschatology — namely, "the Hour," which is the time of resurrection and judgment. There is a Second Coming of Jesus in Islamic end time events, but it is not considered to be the decisive event. Rather, it is viewed as a sign pointing toward "the Hour." The beginning of the end times is marked by the appearance of the Antichrist, who is called the Dajjal.

As with the Christian Scriptures, the order of the major end time events is not always clear in the Qu'ran and Hadith, and therefore, in Islamic tradition they are placed in various chronological order.

Also — as is the case with Christianity — Islam teaches that only God knows the timing of the end time events. But there are signs to watch for that will indicate the season. There are both major and minor signs.

Many of the minor signs have to do with general trends in society. Others relate to specific events that will occur before the appearance of the Antichrist. The major signs relate to specific prophesied events that will occur between the time of the appearance of the Antichrist and "the Hour" of resurrection and judgment. The listings of both the minor and major signs vary greatly.

In the next part of this series on Islamic Eschatology, we will look at the minor Islamic signs of the times.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Revelation Panel: Season of the Lord's Return - Part 4

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Over the last few weeks we have shared with you the opinions of 13 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Revelation. Our panel will continue to answer the eleventh and final question put to them:

#11. Why do you believe we are living in the season of the Lord's return?

Ed Hindson, World Prophetic Ministry
I think the Bible always leaves you with the impression that Jesus could come back at any moment at any time. The whole Church Age is actually described at times as part of the last days in which God is fulfilling His final purpose that He promised Abraham. "I would make you through your seed a blessing to all nations." That is happening through the preaching of the Gospel through the Church in the very age in which we live.

Do I personally think that we are coming down to the time of the end of the end so to speak? Yes, I do. I don't think we dare set any dates. The older I get the longer I realize the grace of God moves effectively while the judgment of God moves slowly. God continues to give people an opportunity to come to Christ.

Still, there are five things going on now that get my attention.

Firstly, Israel is already back in the land. Every end times prophecy indicates they have to be back in the land in the last days for other end time prophecies to be fulfilled. They're there.

Secondly, there's a crisis in the Middle East. Biblical prophecies of the last days imply these nations will be coming against Israel at the time of the end. The fact that there is so much hostility in the Middle East today against Israel ought to tell us we're moving very close to seeing that fulfilled.

Thirdly, the predictions of a global economy in the end times that the Antichrist will eventually control are being realized. We already have a global economy. It already exists! Fifty years ago that would have been unheard of. Actually, critics of Bible prophecy back then said, "How could one person control the economies of the whole world?" Well, now it's very obvious how through computer technology.

Fourthly, the thing that gets my attention is the development of weapons of mass destruction. If the prophecies in the book of Revelation of trees burning up and the grass burning up are to be taken literally, then the very weapons that can accomplish that have already been invented.

The fifth thing is the rise of apostasy in the last days. We are seeing it today worse than ever before. It's one thing for a person to say, "I don't believe the Bible. I don't believe its message. I don't believe it's inspired. I don't believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I don't believe the plan of salvation. I reject the whole thing out of hand." But, it's another thing for people to stand up and say, "Oh, I believe the Bible. I even believe it's the inspired Word of God. I even believe it's inerrant in what it intends to say to us spiritually. But, I don't believe that Jesus really meant what He said, or that Jesus really claimed to be divine, or that the promise of salvation is really an eternal promise." We are seeing a denunciation of the basic fundamental principles of Christianity today within the Church that claims to be evangelical. It still claims they believe in Jesus and preach the Gospel of Jesus and yet they're denying the very essential elements of that Gospel.

So, Israel is back in the land. The Middle East is in a crisis. The global economy already exists. Weapons of mass destruction have already been invented. And, the Church today is almost on a toboggan slide toward apostasy and unbelief. All of those to me are like flashing red lights that yell, "Hey! You're running out of time. You'd better be ready. He's coming soon!"

Don McGee, Crown and Sickle Ministries
Yes, I believe we are living in the season of the Lord's return. My reason for believing this is rooted in the relatively recent yet unquestionably literal fulfillment of God's promise to bring the Jewish people, dead as a nation for almost 2,000 years, back to life as a reborn nation in their own homeland. Yet, what it so mind boggling is that though mostly all Christians have some level of familiarity with these Scriptures and though they can plainly see that what is happening perfectly fits with those Scriptures, they vehemently deny that it has anything to do with end time prophecy.

The signs listed by Jesus in Matthew 24 are those events that immediately precede Jesus' Second Coming. We are witnessing the appearance of many of those signs today. And, since the Rapture of the Church precedes the Second Coming by seven years, then the only conclusion that makes any sense at all is that the coming of Jesus for His Church is imminent.

David Reagan, Lamb & Lion Ministries
I believe with all my heart that we are living on borrowed time. I believe Jesus is at the very gates of Heaven waiting for His Father's command to step out on a cloud and return to gather His Church from this world. My belief is based on the end times signs revealed in the Bible. These signs that are all around us today literally shouting that Jesus is coming soon.

What are the signs that point to the fact that we are on the threshold of the Tribulation with the Second Coming on the horizon, and the Rapture just right around the corner? Well, there are so many that it is really difficult to get a handle on them. I might hasten to point out that this is a rather recent phenomenon; this fact that there are so many signs. Back in the early 90's I had the opportunity to speak at a prophecy conference that was held in Orlando, Florida. There I met a man I had heard about all my life but I never had met personally. He was a great man of God by the name of Albert Peak from Abilene, Texas. He's gone on to be with the Lord now. He was 80 years old at that time and his topic was on the signs of the times. I'll never forget what he said. He got up and the very first thing he said was this, "Sixty years ago when I started preaching you had to scratch around like a chicken to find two signs pointing to the soon return of Jesus. Not so anymore." Then he said something I will never forget, "I am no longer looking for signs. I am listening for a sound; the sound of a trumpet." I wanted to say, "Amen! That is what I'm doing, I'm listening for that sound."

Do you realize that 100 years ago there was not one objective, tangible, measurable, identifiable sign that Jesus Christ was about to return. There was not even one 100 years ago. We are a unique generation. The very first tangible measurable sign that you could get your hands on that came on the world scene was the Balfour Declaration made on November 2, 1917. It was prompted by the fact that during World War I the Ottoman Empire became an ally of the Germans, and therefore when the Germans lost World War I the Ottoman Empire also lost World War I. Just as the German Empire was carved up, the Ottoman Empire was also carved up. Part of that Ottoman Empire was an area known as Palestine, which today constitutes modern day Israel and Jordan. But, in that day, it was called Palestine. Nobody argues with that. That particular piece of territory was given to the British and they were to become the tutors of the people there to lead them toward self-government. What happened was that the British issued the Balfour Declaration and it said, "His Majesty government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

As a result of World War I, God then prepared a land for the Jewish people. The British said they were going to make it a homeland for the Jewish people. The leading evangelical of that time a man by the name of F.B. Meyer whom many are probably familiar with him from reading his books on prayer. He was the leading evangelical in London at that time. Immediately recognizing the significance of the Balfour Declaration, Meyer sent out a letter to all of the Evangelical pastors of England. In that letter he made this statement, "The signs of the times point toward the close of the times of the Gentiles and the return of Jesus who can be expected at any moment." He called for them to come to London for a meeting in late December, and they did come. They formed an organization called the Witness Movement International which still exists to this day. It sends out people all over the world to preach the soon return of Jesus, because they recognized the significance of the Balfour Declaration.

Before the Witness Movement International could have their first meeting, another momentous event occurred. That was the liberation of Jerusalem on December the 11th of 1917 when General Allenby took the city without firing a shot. Israel is back in the land to stay, and so we the generation that has witnessed this amazing miracle will also witness the miracle of the Rapture of the Church.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Revelation Panel: Season of the Lord's Return - Part 3

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Over the last few weeks we have shared with you the opinions of 13 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Revelation. Our panel will continue to answer the eleventh and final question put to them:

#11. Why do you believe we are living in the season of the Lord's return?

Nathan Jones, Lamb & Lion Ministries
The signs of the time sure point to Jesus' return being soon. For example, we've seen great advancements in technology throughout the world. I'm a Web Minister so I'm working in technology all the time. Well, the book of Daniel actually talks about technology with people coming to and fro and increasing in knowledge.

We are also witnessing society collapse into becoming just like the days of Noah. Noah's time period was so corrupt that God had to destroy the whole world, except Noah and his family. The world is really just so corrupt right now and yet continually increasing its wickedness. Added to that is sign of spirituality where the Church of the last days would grow more apostate. Revelation 3 describes the Church of Laodicea being the last during the Church Age and it is apathetic towards spiritual things. Between the world and the wayward Church, we are living in a very apostate time. So, the spiritual signs are just all around us.

Of course, the greatest sign especially is that Israel is back in their land again. Israel is a nation once more, something 1,900 years in the making. We are here to see God work through Israel once again. The Bible says that the generation that sees Israel become a nation once more will know Jesus is coming back very soon.

Terry James, Rapture Ready
Yes, I do very strongly. Look at all of the things that have happened in the headlines just within the past decade, and particularly within the last couple of years, even the last few months. Look particularly where it concerns the nation of Israel. No matter which way you look on the prophetic horizon you see these events that Jesus talked about that would soon proceed His return.

Many of the signs of the end times that have very strong implications of what Jesus talked about in the Olivet Discourse we see all beginning to happen and have been for many years. I'd say they began probably since World War I or just before when the wars and rumors of wars Jesus warned us about began. Jesus said in Luke 21:28 that when you see all of these things begin to come to pass then look up and lift up your head for your redemption draws nigh. He also told us as Christians as recorded in Mark 13:37, "What I say to one..." (and He's referring back to all of these signs He had just given in the Olivet Discourse to watch out for), "...I say to all, 'Watch!'"

Tom McCall, Tom McCall Ministries
"In the season of the Lord's return" — that's a nice phrase. Yes, we're not date setters. We can't place a time for when the Rapture will occur. Many have tried to do that and failed, bringing dishonor to the Gospel and to the prophetic teaching.

We live in a time when so many of the signs Jesus gave us pointing to His return are shaping up and coming to pass. Why wouldn't we be anticipating the Rapture of the Church and the subsequent things that follow? We're now looking for the Christ to return. We are looking for our redemption. We're not looking for the Antichrist, because he won't be revealed until afterward.

We as believers need to know what the signs are so that we'll be prepared for the Rapture. Afterwards, people will have some guide as to what has happening to them being left behind. I think that is one reason why the Left Behind series was so popular, because God is going to use those books as a guide book of a sense to those who have been sadly left behind.

August Rosado, Today in Bible Prophecy Ministries
I believe that we are simply because of what Paul the Apostle said in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, "But of the times and seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write unto you. For ye yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord shall cometh as a thief in the night." So, even though we don't know the day and the hour of the Rapture of the Church, I do believe that we are indeed living in the times and the season of the coming of the Lord as Paul said in that passage I just quoted.

I know that every day that goes by is a day closer to the Lord's soon return. We are living in the last days. We've been in the last days for the past 2,000 years since the birth of Jesus Christ. I believe that when the Rapture takes place those last days will turn into the end times. So, every day that goes by is a day closer to His return. Maranatha!

Ever since Israel became a nation on May the 14th of 1948, God's prophetic program has just kept on rolling, and ever since then we've been living in these last days. We see what is going on in the European Union right now. We see what's going on in the Middle East. We see Iran looking to obtain nuclear weapons. We see Russia giving Syria all the technology to go to war against Israel in these last days. So, everything that we see happening right now has indeed already been prophesied by Jesus Christ concerning His coming back soon. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 21:28, "That when you see these things begin to come to pass," (not when they were fulfilled, but when they begin to come to pass), "look up, lift up your head, for your redemption draweth nigh."

In the last part of this series on reading and understanding Revelation, our remaining panel of experts will continue to answer the eleventh question: "Why do you believe we're in the season of the Lord's return?"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Revelation Panel: Season of the Lord's Return - Part 2

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Over the last few weeks we have shared with you the opinions of 13 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Revelation. Our panel will continue to answer the eleventh and final question put to them:

#11. Why do you believe we are living in the season of the Lord's return?

Jack Kinsella, The Omega Letter
Yes, I believe we are. The main reason I believe that is because of the restoration of Israel. The fact that Israel has been reborn on the exact same piece of real estate that it was scattered from 2,000 years before would be amazingly significant even if the Bible didn't say in Luke 21 that we'd know that when this happens this is going to begin the generation that's going to see all these things come to pass.

Look at the fact that the Bible predicts that we will have a global government, a global economy, and a global religion in the last days. Israel will be the linchpin upon which all these things rest. Then you look at the fact that Israel was restored in 1948, it makes all these other end times prophecies possible.

The European Union was born through the Benelux Treaty of 1948. The GATT Treaty which became the World Trade Organization was signed in 1948. The World Council of Churches was born in Amsterdam in 1948. Take all these events together and you'll see that every one of them is a parcel in some way of an over-arching end times picture, which all began with the restoration of Israel. The Lord said that when these things begin to come to pass to lift up your head for your redemption draws nigh. "Verily, I say to you, this generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled." Just watch these global unification events developing. They could go in one of two possible ways, but they tend to always trend along with what the Bible says will happen. So, the evidence is overwhelming when you look at it altogether.

Ken Humphries, Treasured Truth Today Ministries
Yes, I do. I think there are a number of reasons why.

Scripture taught us that before Jesus would come back to this earth Israel would have to be back in their land. That's always my first thought when thinking about it being the end times. We are taught that just as Israel had to be in the land for Jesus' birth, so they will have to be in the land for Jesus' coming back to this earth. In 1917 General Allenby, a British General by the way I should add, went into Israel and liberated it from the Turks. From that moment that land became British mandated territory until May 1948. That land had been given over to the League of Nations, but instead was handed back to Israel. This was the beginning of the regathering of God's people back into God's promised land. Today they are still there at somewhere about 7 million, ready on day to put their faith in Yeshua as Messiah and to hail Jesus' arriving when He comes back to this earth.

Some other sign that comes to mind is the fact that there has been a resurgent of Russian power which of course comprise the armies of the north who will be involved in that great battle of Gog and Magog. The resurgence of the occult is another sign that we see again scripturally foretold to us.

Concerning nature, Paul talks about nature wanting redemption, calling out as it were for its redemption. Nature wants to be made new. I feel because of the natural phenomenon shaking the world up today that nature is not only groaning for her redemption, but that nature is squealing out for redemption.

So, all of these signs that are happening around us are just a few ways that tell me the coming of the Lord is very near.

Mark Hitchcock, Faith Bible Church
Ye, when I look at our world today I see things lining up that are setting the stage I believe for the Lord's coming. The events of the end times cannot occur in a vacuum. It's not like all of a sudden the end times are just going to puff out of nowhere, like Israel became a nation and then all the following events are going to line up quickly. There has to be time for stage setting.

Ever since the Jewish people were regathered to their land and the modern state of Israel was founded in 1948, especially during these last 60 years we've seen Israel regathered back to their land. We've also seen at least the beginnings of a reuniting Roman Empire in Europe. We've seen the nations of Gog and Magog combine as a coalition that's gradually beginning to come together. We've got radical Islam uniting its adherents. We've got globalism on the rise. We have a worldwide cry for peace in the Middle East, pointing to the event the Bible says that starts the seven year Tribulation with a peace treaty between the Antichrist and Israel. All these things have really come on the world scene in the last 60 years.

That the focus of the whole world is on the Middle East should make us expectant that the Lord is coming is near. While none of us know the time and we can't set a date, I do believe that Jesus Christ still could come back at any time. When we look today at world events, they are shaping up exactly the way we should expect them to if the Lord's coming is very near.

In the next part of this series on reading and understanding Revelation, our remaining panel of experts will continue to answer the eleventh question: "Why do you believe we're in the season of the Lord's return?"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Revelation Panel: Season of the Lord's Return - Part 1

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Over the last few weeks we have shared with you the opinions of 13 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Revelation. Our panel will now answer the eleventh and final question put to them:

#11. Why do you believe we are living in the season of the Lord's return?

Daymond Duck, Prophecy Plus Ministries
Yes, and for so many reasons. Everything you look at, whether it is nature or technology or politics or whatever, all contain end times signs right now. The world looks like you can go to bed one night and the whole thing could blow up while you're sleeping. You could wake up the next morning and the whole world could be in turmoil. There could be an economic collapse. Or, Israel could have bombed that nuclear reactor in Iran. Or, Syria could have fired a biological weapon into Israel and Israel then destroys Damascus in one night as Isaiah 17 foretells. The stage is set.

We've got events happening that the Bible teaches have never existed before. Jerusalem — the cup of trembling and the burdensome stone — Zechariah singled out that one city that in the last days to the nations would be a cup of trembling and a burdensome stone. Prophecy singles out one city that will be rebuilt — Babylon — and people have been wanting to rebuild that city. Singled out are a group of nations which the Antichrist would rise out which is the newly formed European Union. So, the prophetic stage is set and amazing things have been happening and are about to happen.

In order to track all buying and selling during the Tribulation, somebody would have to have invented computers and the World Wide Web, as well as instituting barcodes and barcode scanners in every store, getting them placed in every country on this earth.

In order for people to see the Two Witnesses who were prophesying in Jerusalem during the first half of the Tribulation and then are killed by the Antichrist and are left lying dead in the street, somebody would have had to have invented televisions and the television cameras. Those signals would need to be beamed across satellites in orbit.

Man has to be blind to overlook what's going on in this world today.

Al Gist, Maranatha Evangelistic Ministries
There is no doubt that we are living in the season of Jesus' coming. I wish I could tell you what day it was going to be, but I can't do that, as no one can. But, Jesus tells us clearly that we need to be ever watchful for His return.

Jesus gives us many, many signs to be looking out for that will tell us when His return is getting close. He says in Matthew 24, "Know that it is near, even at the doors." Obviously this is not something that God expects us to wonder about or guess at, rather it's something that we can really know for sure that it is near. We can see that His return is near by the fulfillment of the signs He gave. There are signs that deal with nature. There are signs that deal with politics. There are signs that deal with society. There are many, many signs that deal with the nation of Israel and what's going on in the Middle East.

What's interesting to me is that there are so many signs and that literally dozens of signs are now being fulfilled simultaneously. You simply cannot write that off as coincidence. The fulfillment of the signs tell us that we are living at the end of the Church Age and that our Lord Jesus is coming soon to take His people home.

Don Perkins, According to Prophecy Ministries
I do believe we are living in the season of our Lord's return for a number of reasons. Number one, current events in light of Bible prophecy are happening the nation of Israel. There are so many other things that are happening that are indicators of our Lord's return. As a result of them, I believe that the Lord's return is at hand.

Now, I do believe that there are no signs that point to the Rapture. All the indicators that our Savior has given in Matthew, Mark, Luke and the other Scriptures all point to the literal return of Christ at His Second Coming, a different event than the Rapture. So, therefore, we can see the signs or indicators that point to the Lord's Second coming. How much more then is the Rapture close? I believe it's even closer than the Second Coming.

Gary Fisher, Lion of Judah Ministries
The first reason I believe we are living in the season of the Lord's return would be how on May 14th, 1948, the world experienced a great phenomenon. It was recorded in the Bible centuries ago. It was the birth of the nation of Israel. Isaiah 66:8 reads, "Who has heard such a thing? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? Can a nation be born in one day?" The answer is yes! We know from that Scripture that it is a miraculous birth because the birth pains came after the birth. And so, we have this great sign to tell us these are the last days. God says that when you see the birth of the fig tree, you'll know that everything in the Bible is about to be fulfilled. We are the generation that's seen Israel grow from a little fledgling nation of 50,000 about the turn of 1900's after being scattered all over the world for 2,000 years, to come back and with just 500,000 people on May 14th, 1948 declare statehood.

Today there are 7.1 million Jews living in Israel and they're asking this question more than ever, "Who is this Messiah? Who is this Jesus?" There are 100 Messianic congregations in Israel. God said when he got the children of Israel back to the land of Israel he would put that seeking in their hearts and it would ultimately result in Zechariah 14:10, "When they will look on Him whom they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son." We are living in the days when all of that is a possibility for the first time in 2,000 years.

In the next part of this series on reading and understanding Revelation, our remaining panel of experts will continue to answer the eleventh question: "Why do you believe we're in the season of the Lord's return?"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Revelation Panel: Personal Testimonies - Part 3

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Over the next few weeks we will continue to share with you the opinions of 13 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Revelation. While being interviewed, the panel had the opportunity to answer a very personal question. The responses were inspirational, encouraging and insightful. The members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts and now Dr. David Reagan were asked to address:

#10. Why have you devoted your life to the teaching and preaching of Bible prophecy?

David Reagan, Lamb & Lion Ministries
I'd like to share my testimony as to why I have devoted my life to the teaching of Bible prophecy.

Before establishing Lamb & Lion Ministries in 1980, I spent twenty years teaching International Law and Politics at the university level. I'd grown up in a typical Amillennial church that ignored Bible prophecy, except for once a year when the pastor would deliver a message condemning Pre-Millennialism by arguing there is not one verse in the Bible that even implies Jesus will ever put His feet on this earth again.

My life was changed in 1967 during the Six Day War. When the Six Day War broke out, because I was a professor of International Law and Politics, I followed that Six Day War very carefully. I'll never forget that when the war was over I read a very interesting news article one day that said that when the Israelis decided that they were going to take the Old City which was under the occupation of the Jordanian forces, the logical way to do it was to hit it from the West over at the Jaffa Gate, but certainly not at the Eastern Gate because all that territory was under Jordanian control. The Israelis, always relying on surprise, decided, "No, we're going to hit from the eastern side. We'll come around under the cover of darkness and hit from that side." While they were discussing that they also discussed the possibility of blowing open the Eastern Gate with satchel charges and catching the Jordanians by surprise.

Then the article revealed that when that suggestion was made an Orthodox rabbi was there who said, "No, you'll do that over my dead body, because that gate is supposed to be closed until the Messiah returns." I had no idea what the rabbi was talking about. I had grown up in a church that did not teach Bible prophecy. I knew nothing about Bible prophecy. So, I got out a concordance and I looked up the word "gate" and I started looking at verses. Guess what? I discovered Ezekiel 44 which has a prophecy that says the Eastern Gate is going to be closed and it will not reopen until the Messiah comes.

Next, I got out the Encyclopedia Britannica and I started reading about the Eastern Gate. It said that no one knows for sure why this wall was closed, but the best story is that when these walls were being rebuilt in the 1500's by Suleiman the Magnificent that a rumor swept Jerusalem that the Messiah was coming. Suleiman called the rabbis in and asked, "What does this mean?" They replied, "When the Messiah comes he's going to come from the east. He is going to go through the Eastern Gate, and he's going to run all you aliens out. He is going to become the Messiah and the ruler over the earth." The rabbis were dismissed and the order was given: "Seal up the Eastern Gate! Put a Muslim cemetery in front of it. That will take care of the Messiah because He won't walk in a Muslim cemetery and He can't go through a gate that's closed."

That's a special story for me because that's what got me interested in Bible prophecy. I was hooked from that point on. I could not believe that I was seeing a prophecy fulfilled right before my very eyes at that time in the Twentieth Century. And so, I started studying Bible prophecy intently. That's why I call the Eastern Gate the "Gate to Prophecy" as far as it concerns me personally. Well, that's how I got interested in Bible prophecy. That's one of the reasons we have on our television show Christ in Prophecy a reproduction of the Eastern Gate behind us.

Signs of the Times

As I began to study Bible prophecy I began to discover what's called the "Signs of the Times." These are signs from both the Old and New Testaments that we are told to look for that will mark the season of the Lord's return. Those signs convince me that we are living in that season. That's when I decided to give up my academic career and devote the rest of my life to proclaiming the soon return of Jesus.

The Bible makes it clear that no one can know the date of the Lord's return. But, the Bible makes it equally clear that we can know the season if we know the signs to watch for. For example, consider these statements in 1 Thessalonians 5 beginning with verse 1, "Now as to the times and the epics brethren you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you, yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night." That's where we would stop reading in the church that I grew up in. The pastor would use those two verses to convince us that there was nothing that we could know about the Lord's return.

When I started studying Bible prophecy seriously I did not stop reading there, though. I continued and I made a great discovery. Listen to verses 4-6, "But you brethren, are not in darkness." In other words, you believers are not in darkness. "That the day should overtake you like a thief. For you are sons of light. You are sons of day. We are not of night, we are not of darkness. So then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober."

Jesus is coming like a thief in the night for the world. He will also surprise those Christians who do not know God's prophetic Word. But, for those who know Bible prophecy, His return will be of no surprise because He has given us signs to watch for. They are also signs that we can understand, because we are children of light in that we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who will help us to understand God's Word. Again, we cannot know the date of the Rapture of the Church, but we can definitely know the season.

We are surrounded today by signs of the times that are just literally shouting from the heavens that Jesus is coming soon. Those signs include signs of nature, signs of society, spiritual signs both positive and negative, signs of technology, world political signs, and the signs of Israel which are the most important of all.

So then, look up, be watchful, for our redemption is drawing near.

In the next part of this series on reading and understanding Revelation, our panel of experts will answer the eleventh question: "Why do you believe we're in the season of the Lord's return?"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Revelation Panel: Personal Testimonies - Part 2

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Over the next few weeks we will continue to share with you the opinions of 13 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Revelation. While being interviewed, the panel had the opportunity to answer a very personal question. The responses were inspirational, encouraging and insightful. The remaining members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts were asked to address:

#10. Why have you devoted your life to the teaching and preaching of Bible prophecy?

Ken Humphries, Treasured Truth Today Ministries
That's probably the simplest question that I could ever answer! I came to know the Lord when I was 16, recognizing that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. I had listened to a message on John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." The preacher preached something like this, he said, "You know, it's not the desire of the sovereign God that any should perish. Peter tells us in his epistle, 'It's not the will of God that any should perish.'" And, he said, "It's not the will of the Divine Sovereign that any shall perish. It's not the will of the dying Son that any shall perish. Father forgive them. Not the will of the Detecting Spirit that any should perish, because He wants to lead men to Christ. It's not the will of departed saints that any should perish, because they will be praying in Heaven for their unsaved loved ones, no doubt. And, it's certainly not the will of dead sinners that any should perish. Luke 16 speaks of the rich man that died and went to Hell. In Hell in the other side of the grave he was very conscious. He was conscious of thirst, conscious of torment, and conscious of truth because he had five brothers back home and he wanted somebody to go back and tell them." When I heard that sermon my heart just burst open and I cried out to the preacher, "I need to get saved tonight." And he was still preaching! But, I did and I was saved that night.

I began then to attend a Bible study by one of our pastors back home, a Pastor Willie Mullan. Mr. Mullan was a great man in teaching prophetic truth. I'd been listening to him for about two years. The point came to me on one occasion, "I really need to think this through for myself." I began to study with my simple mind. I'm not an academic, but with my simple mind I began to study. I found that I could believe in nothing other than the fact that Jesus Christ and the Apostles had taught us in His Word that He could come at any moment. His coming was imminent, and we should be ready to meet the Lord. We needed to get right with others so that there is nothing between us and God. From that moment on I began to study more deeply. As I said, I'm not an academic. I'm a simple soul. But to me, there is no message quiet like the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ed Hindson, World Prophetic Ministry
First of all, because prophecy is in the Bible itself. It's part of the Word of God. We are told to declare the whole counsel of God.

Twenty-five percent of the Bible is prophetic in nature. It needs to be taught, believed and understood. There are approximately a thousand total prophecies in the Bible, and 500 of them have already been literally fulfilled. The other 500 we would then assume are yet to be literally fulfilled. If they are not literally fulfilled, how are you ever going to know they were fulfilled? If you make the fulfillment only spiritual or symbolic, anybody could read anything into a passage and claim that they was already a fulfillment of some sort.

The prophecies about Jesus himself, approximately 109 predictions of the First Coming, they were all literally fulfilled. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He rode into town on a donkey. He was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. He was pierced through his hands and His feet. He rose from the dead. Those were literally fulfilled.

There are many Christians who do not hold our view of prophecy that would argue strongly, 'Oh, yeah, literal fulfillment for the First Coming." But, then they want to make symbolic and spiritual fulfillment for the Second Coming. Why would you do that? The First Coming prophecies were not spiritually fulfilled, but they were literally fulfilled. Therefore, the 300 prophecies specifically about Jesus related to the Second Coming will also be literally fulfilled. When somebody says to me, "How do you know we are not in the Kingdom yet? How do you know the King hasn't come back?" Zechariah 14 tells us the Mount of Olives hasn't split in half yet. Christ has not come, sat on the Throne of David in Jerusalem and is not ruling the world with a rod of iron. The nations are not in obedience to Him at this point and time. That is yet to happen in the future.

Nathan Jones, Lamb & Lion Ministries
I believe that Bible prophecy tells us what our future is. It tells us that we win. It tells us that Satan loses. That information is very important because it is a hope for God's people. We live in a world where there is so much sin and so many people who are hurting. They need that hope. We can have that hope when we read about Bible prophecy. Thirty-one percent of the Bible is Bible prophecy, so clearly God wants us to know that God wins out in the end and Jesus reigns forever. That news just gets me excited!

Bible prophecy is a fantastic apologetic. The people who study Bible prophecy increase their faith in God, and that just gets me so excited as well. I want to tell everybody about Jesus. That's what Bible prophecy makes me feel.

Terry James, Rapture Ready
It's one of those things that has to be a spiritual answer. The Lord has put it in my heart and my mind to teach Bible prophecy. This is my passion. It's not simply for the excitement, because certainly in our time you get more guff about believing in Bible prophecy sometimes than you get accolades for. So, it's not for accolades to teach, but from a human standpoint.

I believe God's prophetic news wants to be delivered at this time in history. I think we are right at the end of the age. I think the headlines attest to that.

My ministry begins with that we should first of all devote our lives to Jesus Christ and His Great Commission that He gave us as Christians. If you're not a Christian you should surrender to him and ask Him to come in and save you. But, if you're a Christian, you should also surrender your life to Christ and then be devoted breaking the whole Word to the whole world. That means including Bible prophecy, because we are where we are in God's prophetic timeline. It's never been more important to include Bible prophecy in our preaching messages.

Tom McCall, Tom McCall Ministries
I've given my life to the teaching of Bible prophecy and the whole Bible because it is so important to the understanding of where we are and what's happening, especially in this age where we see so many things shaping up for the prophetic end times.

Israel is back in the land, and is of course is the key to the whole prophetic plan. Israel returning as a nation is the time clock of the Lord. If Israel were not back in the land other things might seem coincidental. But, with Israel back in the land, we have to pay attention to everything that is going on around in the world like the apostasy of the Church which is certainly an end time feature. We see all the nations of the earth almost like a knee jerk reaction going against Israel, and so anytime anything happens, to them it's Israel's fault it seems. The United Nations has condemned Israel every time it has a chance to do, moreso than any other nation.

Then there is the reshaping up of the Roman Empire revived in Europe. And, I see the Gog and Magog situation forming with Russia and Persia and Ethiopia and Libya all in the news these days, with the impending possibility of an outbreak of war. There's also the concentration on the immediate neighbors of Israel with the idea of Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17 being just on the verge of becoming a reality. With all this happening, why wouldn't we be interested in Bible prophecy? Many people have come to Christ because of the teaching of the reality of Bible prophecy.

I'm a fan of a number of things. I love Biblical Archaeology because I think things are coming to earth that have been hidden. Nobody cared about what was in these mounds for 2,000 or 3,000 or 4,000 years, and now they're digging them up. Every time archaeologists turn a spade they find something that verifies the historicity of the Bible which suggests that the prophecy of the Bible is just as real as the history.

Gary Fisher, Lion of Judah Ministries
I was in the Air Force in 1972 and after basic training my first duty assignment was in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1973 the Yom Kippur War broke out. A few days before that I had bought a book called The Late Great Planet Earth. I went on a temporary duty assignment in Little Rock, Arkansas and we were given the task of taking bombs from the Red Stone Arsenal and putting them on airplanes and sending them to Israel to fight the war. While I was there working 12 hour shifts, every chance I got that book would come out of my hands. It was the first book I ever read on Bible prophecy. Israel was all over this book. I was so fascinated, for the very first time I was reading something with modern-day relevance from the Bible. This event was going on in my life as I was watching the planes going down the runway and taking the bombs to fight this war, so it really had an impact on me.

When I got back to Charleston, South Carolina and my spirit settled down a little bit, inside I knew that God was active in history. Jesus was coming soon, I was convinced of that, and I needed to do something about it. So, I slipped out of the house in January of 1974 and into a little Southern Baptist church in Charleston, South Carolina where I accepted Jesus into my heart. He immediately put in my Spirit that it was Bible prophecy that took me there. It was the one tool that God used to convince me that I needed to get serious about Him.

I thought from that moment on there are many other Gary Fishers out there and Bible prophecy is the only tool that will reach them. And so, I set off on a task to learn everything I could about the subject, and I'm still learning. There are thousands and thousands of Gary Fishers out there that need to hear Jesus is coming soon. We need to be able to articulate why we believe that. So, that is my task in life, and I will be doing it until I see Jesus face to face. Today would be good!

In the next part of this series on reading and understanding Revelation, Dr. David Reagan will personally answer the tenth question: "Why have you devoted your life to the teaching and preaching of Bible prophecy?"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Revelation Panel: Personal Testimonies - Part 1

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Over the next few weeks we will continue to share with you the opinions of 13 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Revelation. While being interviewed, the panel had the opportunity to answer a very personal question. The responses were inspirational, encouraging and insightful. The members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts were asked to address:

#10. Why have you devoted your life to the teaching and preaching of Bible prophecy?

Al Gist, Maranatha Evangelistic Ministries
That's a long story, but let me try to make it short for you. Years ago I reached a point in my Christian growth where I became dry. I needed something more. I began to pray, "God. give me something fresh from your Word; something that I can be excited about."

At that time I knew nothing at all about Bible prophecy. Shortly after that I was reading through some books in the Christian book store and I came across a book that dealt with the Mark of the Beast of all things. I had heard about that, but I didn't really know anything about it. So, I begin to read that book and it really got my interest. That was the beginning of an insatiable appetite for Bible prophecy.

I became a student of Bible prophecy about 30 years ago. I studied it for many, many years. I was a pastor for 15 years. I preached and taught Bible prophecy. I taught through Daniel and Revelation many times. It just became a love of my life. But, when God called me into doing full-time evangelism I initially started out just preaching evangelistically trying to lead people to Christ. I saw many people saved in those early days of our evangelistic ministry.

Then there was a guy by the name of Dave Reagan preaching not far from me. I went to hear him and he was talking about the Rapture of the Church. I knew immediately that God was telling me, "That needs to be your thing." During that meeting in Jennings, Louisiana, I walked down the aisle and I knelt down. I said, "Lord, I know you want something from me, but I can't perceive what it is." It was almost as if I heard the voice of God that I needed to preach about the imminent return of Jesus. So, very gradually, I started directing my messages in that direction. And, for the last 10 years that has been the theme of our ministry. I believe that's my calling. That's what I will be doing until Jesus takes me home.

August Rosado, Today in Bible Prophecy Ministries
I've given my life to the teaching of Bible prophecy because it motivates me to live holy. It motivates me to live godly and righteously in this present day. That's from Titus 2:12, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present age." That's what Bible prophecy does. It motivates us to live holy and righteously. It motivates us to pray, "Maranatha! Even so come, Lord Jesus." It motivates us to win precious lost souls in these last days. So, that's why I've devoted my life to the study and teaching of Bible prophecy.

Daymond Duck, Prophecy Plus Ministries
God did it to me! I was saved when I was 17 years old, but I didn't live like it. I was asked to teach Sunday school about my mid-30's. I started teaching, but I was totally unqualified for it. I came across verses about the Rapture and the Second Coming and I thought, "What in the world is this all about?" So, I started studying, and I actually studied as much as I could as fast as I could and I really literally strained my eyes trying to absorb what that was all about. I just loved the subject. God laid it on my heart. He's never let me turn lose of it. It's the love of my life. Some people their love is fishing or golf or whatever, but mine is studying Bible prophecy.

Don Perkins, According to Prophecy Ministries
The Lord called me into this area of ministry. All my life back when I was a young man I was taught you should never study the book of Revelation. And yet, the Lord called me into this area. When He did I found it to be such a blessing. It blessed me so much to understand the end of the story, and that God really wanted us to know that book. So, for me, when I realized that He called me to this area I surrendered my life totally to it, and it has been such a blessing ever since.

Jack Kinsella, The Omega Letter
It's because that's what the Lord told me to do. It's just that simple. I got saved when I read Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth back in 1975. I read the book because I was trying to deprogram my sister who had read it and became a Christian. I was a Catholic at the time, and we went to church every time someone we knew died. I didn't want to have her break that tradition. But, that's how I got saved. The Lord called me to ministry almost that very day. He said, "Now you work for me." And, I have ever since.

Mark Hitchcock, Faith Bible Church
I've given my life to the teaching of Bible prophecy because when I was in my early 20's I began to really get serious about studying the Bible. I began to read through the Bible and even read those parts of the Old Testament. I would get back there and I would get so lost I didn't know what I was reading about. So, I would always ask God to feed my soul with something. He was gracious enough to do just that.

I began to realize that I couldn't really understand the Bible if I didn't understand prophecy. That was really the motivation for me. People ask me, "Why do you love Bible prophecy?" My response is, "Because I love the Bible." The Bible is 28% prophecy at the time it was written. So, to me you can't understand the Bible without understanding prophecy. I want to understand the Bible. So, if a person really loves the Word of God then they are going to love the prophetic Word, and that's really where my love of Bible prophecy comes from.

In the next part of this series on reading and understanding Revelation, the remaining members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will continue to answer the tenth question, and a personal one at that: "Why have you devoted your life to the teaching and preaching of Bible prophecy?"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Revelation Panel: The Millennium - Part 2

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Over the next few weeks we will continue to share with you the opinions of 13 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Revelation. One of the most controversial concepts concerning Bible prophecy is the belief that at the end of the Church Age and following the conclusion of the Tribulation Jesus will return to this earth to reign for a 1,000 years. The Catholic Church rejects this idea and so do the majority of Christian denominations. So, what about it? Is Jesus returning to reign or not?

The members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will sit this one out now as Dr. David Reagan and Nathan Jones continue to address:

#9. Is Jesus returning to set up an actual thousand year long kingdom?

Amillennial Mantras

Dr. Reagan: I would like to start off by looking at the Millennial Kingdom in the the Old Testament itself. I grew up in an Amillennial church, a church that didn't believe that Jesus would come back and reign, and we never studied the Old Testament. We were a "New Testament Church."

We had three mantras in our church concerning Bible prophecy. One was — all Old Testament prophecy has been fulfilled. Not one prophecy has been left to be fulfilled. They based that on a statement by Jesus in Luke 24:44 where He said, "All things which are written about me in the Law of Moses, and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." Certainly they must be fulfilled, but it doesn't say they have already been fulfilled. There are lots of prophecies about the Second Coming in the Old Testament.

The second mantra was the Old Testament was nailed to the cross and therefore is completely irrelevant to us today. That was based on Colossians 2:14 where it speaks about having cancelled the debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us, and taking it and nailing it to the cross. The church taught then that the Old Testament was nailed to the cross, so that's it. But, that verse doesn't say the Old Testament was nailed to the cross. It says the debt of sin that we owed was nailed to the cross through what Jesus did on the cross.

The third mantra was there's not one verse in the Bible that even implies that Jesus will ever put His feet on this earth again. Well, I discovered some in the Old Testament like Zechariah 14, which says the Messiah is coming back to the Mount of Olives and when His foot touches the mountain it is going to be split in half, and He will become King over the earth that day. The other one I discovered was in Ezekiel 43:7 where God says, "This city Jerusalem is the place where the soles of my feet will be forever." So, there are some references to Christ's kingdom in the Old Testament.

Old Testament References

Dr. Reagan: Now, let's look for a moment at this fundamental issue. Is the concept of the Millennium mentioned only in the New Testament? I've had Amillennialist just scoff and say, "Well, it is only mentioned in the book of Revelation in one chapter." As, if that makes it irrelevant or unimportant if something is mentioned in one verse! To me it is important. But, they just seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that there is any mention of the Millennial Kingdom in the Old Testament.

What do you think? Is there any mention of the Millennium in the Old Testament?

Nathan Jones: Oh, definitely, definitely. As a matter of fact, when you asked me about that for our series of interviews on Revelation, I actually went and researched and I ended up with four pages of verses. Those don't even include the longest which is Ezekiel chapters 40-48. There are nine chapters right there that are purely about the Millennium.

Dr. Reagan: Give me an example.

Nathan Jones: Let's take Psalm 2:6-9. "I have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill. I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.'"

That's probably the first clear verse that I've got on my list which talks about Jesus having a kingdom right here on earth. It will clearly be a physical kingdom where Jesus will rule over the nations of the world, and not totally in a spiritual sense, though that's certainly an aspect of it. But, Christ's kingdom will be by physical rulership where He is actually on this earth.

Dr. Reagan: There are so many verses like that in the Old Testament. One chapter that immediately comes to mind is over in the book of Isaiah in chapter 9, one that people quote all the time, but they just seem to spiritualize a part of it. Isaiah 9 beginning with verse 6 declares, "The government will rest on His shoulders... a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us." That's the birth of Jesus. That's the birth of the Messiah.

Then it says, "The government will rest on His shoulders."That didn't happen at the First Coming. "His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. And there will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace. And on the throne of David which is in Jerusalem, He will reign to establish and uphold justice and righteousness from then for forevermore." Jesus has never reigned on the Throne of David. He has never established peace and righteousness on this earth. But, it's going to happen one of these days. How can we ignore passages like this?

Nathan Jones: We can't. But, a lot of people ignore them because they spiritualize them.

You and I had a different upbringing. I went to a lot of churches growing up and they always taught that the Old Testament was important. I grew up learning about these verses, so it kind of surprises me when people say we should never bother learning from the Old Testament.

Dr. Reagan: What a blessing you had!

Nathan Jones: It was a blessing.

Dr. Reagan: I think for example of the very first gospel sermon ever preached by Peter on the Day on Pentecost. What did he do? If you go and read that sermon in Acts 2, all he did was quote the Old Testament. The prophet said this, and Jesus fulfilled it. The prophet said this, and Jesus fulfilled it. The prophet said this, and Jesus fulfilled it. The people asked, "What do we need to do to be saved?"

Then, look at Paul. He said to Timothy that he had known from childhood the Scriptures that are necessary to lead him to salvation. That's talking about the Old Testament. The New Testament didn't exist when he was talking about those verses.

Nathan Jones: During Jesus' whole ministry He was quoting Scripture. Everywhere you read He is quoting, and at that time they didn't have a separate Old Testament and New Testament, what we call the Old Testament.

Dr. Reagan: One of the greatest of all of the prophecies I know of in the Old Testament about the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ is in Isaiah 2. How about taking that one for us, that is so beautiful, so great, and so powerful. Why don't you just read it.

Nathan Jones: Sure. Isaiah is great for learning about the Millennial reign. Isaiah 2 beginning in verse 2, "In the last days the mountains of the Lord's Temple will be established as chief among the mountains. It will be raised above the hills. And all the nations will stream to it."

Dr. Reagan: Now, just stop there for a moment. One of the things that people can learn in Bible prophecy is there are a lot of symbolic terms, but they have literal meanings. When you read Bible prophecy you will discover that whenever it refers to mountains, it's always referring to a kingdom unless the mountain is specifically named. So, basically, what this is saying here is in the last days, the days we are in now, the kingdom of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of all the kingdoms. Go ahead with verse 3.

Nathan Jones: "Many people will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.'"

Here comes that verse that we love to talk about in Bible prophecy. "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." Now, that certainly hasn't been fulfilled. Just read in the news and watch on TV — there's war constantly. But, here we are talking about a time period when there will be no war on this earth. We will live totally at peace with the Lord ruling from Jerusalem. Right there that is a major, major Old Testament verse about the Millennial Kingdom.

Dr. Reagan: You would have to do mighty acts of spiritualization to get around that one. I think that is very clear.

Nathan Jones: Exactly!

Dr. Reagan: The interesting thing to me is that the prophet Micah has almost the same prophecy word for word. Either they borrowed from each other or the Lord gave to both of them the same vision and concept and the same wording. In Micah chapter 4 beginning with verse 1 he has exactly the same words. Then he adds some things to it. Micah says, "That in that day I will assemble the lame, and gather the outcast." And he says, "That I will make the lame a remnant and the outcast a strong nation the Jewish people will become the prime nation of the world. And the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion." The Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion? Has He ever done that? No. Mount Zion is Jerusalem. But, according to this verse, from now on forever more the Messiah is going to reign.

Micah even reports in verse 4 that each will have their own vine and their own fig tree. There's not going to be any more homeless or any hungry people. All needs are going to be met. It's a time that has never occurred in the history of the world. It has to be future.

Nathan Jones: What's wonderful about this prophecy is the curse that is on humanity right now makes it hard to grow anything. I can barely grow anything but onions around Texas! The curse includes child bearing pains, along with everything else that was cursed on the earth to make it difficult to live. These will be partially lifted during that time period.

We can get into the verses which talk about the child playing in the pit with the adders, and the wolf lying down with the lamb. In other words, there is going to be peace between the animals and humanity during that time. There's little fear of dying anymore.

Dr. Reagan: You just mentioned one of my favorite passages in the Old Testament about the Millennium. It's from Isaiah 11 where he speaks about the impact upon the environment. It's not just going to be a time of refreshment for us, but for the whole of creation. Jesus died for all of the creation to be renewed and refreshed.

Isaiah 11:7 says, "The cow and bear will graze together." These are natural enemies. Continuing in verse 6, "The wolf will lie down with the lamb." The wolf who wants to eat the lamb, well they are going to lie down together. "The leopard will lie down with a kid, the calf, and young lion and the fatling together, the little boy will lead the cow and bear will graze. The young will lie down together. The lion will eat straw like the ox." There will no longer be any poisonous animals. It says, "The nursing child will play with the hole of the cobra." It won't be poisonous. There won't be meat eating animals. They will go back to being vegetative. All of nature will live in peace with each other and with man. When did that occur?

Nathan Jones: Never! Let's look at all this talk in the news about Jerusalem. The whole world is fighting to take over control of Jerusalem right now. People are wondering if the Palestinians are going to take half of the city or not. But, we can look in Isaiah 33:20-22 where it says, "Look upon Zion the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode" (certainly not now), "a tent that will not be moved; its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes broken again." Skipping down to verse 22, "For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is He who will save us." Jerusalem will be the capital city of the planet during the Millennial Kingdom.

Dr. Reagan: I'm convinced that many people who have an Amillennial viewpoint which is based upon spiritualization of Scripture do so because they simply cannot accept what the Bible says is going to happen with regard to the Jewish people. During the Millennium, God is going to during that 1,000 years fulfill all the promises that He has made to Israel. All the unfulfilled promises will be fulfilled to a group of Jews who are believing Jews, who really believe in the Messiah. He's going to regather them from the four corners of the earth in belief. Right now He is gathering them in unbelief, reestablishing them.

All the blessings of the world are going to flow out through Jerusalem and through the Jewish people, so much so that Zechariah says in Zechariah 8:22, "Many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of host in Jerusalem, to entreat the favor of the Lord. And thus says the Lord of host," (this is incredible), "in those days ten men from the nations, Gentiles, will grasp the garment of a Jew and say, 'Let us go with you for we know God is with you.'" That relationship is going to be exactly opposite from what it is today where the Jew is the object of persecution, the object of blasphemy, and every other persecution. Today most people pour all the fault on the Jews. They blame everything on the Jews. But, in that coming day and time people are going to say, "Can we walk with you because we know God is with you." What a day that's going to be!

Promises Fulfilled

Nathan Jones: It is amazing! God has made some promises. He has promises to the Jews to be fulfilled, just like you just said. He has promised to His Son Jesus. He has promised that Jesus is going to rule and reign over the earth. We are waiting for that to come about.

Dr. Reagan: Jesus will get all the glory and majesty He didn't get the first time.

Nathan Jones: We read in the Bible that we have the promise that Jesus is going to restore the earth. Also, God has made promises to the Church as well. We have our own a place in the Millennial Kingdom to rule and reign with Christ as administrators and teachers and jobs like that. So, all these promises which God made aren't going to just not happen. God always follows through on His promises. It is during the Millennial Kingdom when Jesus is going to fulfill those promises.

Dr. Reagan: Yes. It's not just promises to the Jews. It's promises to the Church as well, because you just mentioned something very important in Daniel 7 where he has a vision in which he sees God the Father giving the kingdom to the Son. And then it says there, "The saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom also, and possess the kingdom." And, verse 27 reveals, "The sovereignty, the dominion, the greatness of all the kingdoms of the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One." That's you and me and all believers!

We are going to reign together with Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus said one of the degrees of reward that we will receive is some will rule over one city, one over five, one over ten. And, we are going to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in our glorified bodies. That's not just found in the Old Testament.

Nathan Jones: No, we can find those promises in the New Testament as well. Second Timothy 2:12 promises, "If we endure we will also reign with Him; if we disown Him He will also disown us." We will reign with Him! Isn't it amazing/ We are just so not worthy, yet through Jesus' blood through His sacrifice, He elevates us to a position of serving with Him where we rule and reign over the people in the Millennial Kingdom who are living there in their earthly bodies. The Church will have been raptured and we will have our glorified bodies to live in them during the Millennial Kingdom.

I just get so excited! I look so forward to the Millennial Kingdom, primarily for the peace that the Millennial Kingdom promises. All the craziness of the world will no longer be here. We'll actually have peace. And, I hope God gives me a big garden to be in charge of and I will just garden for the thousand years. I'm looking forward to that kind of peace.

In the next part of this series on reading and understanding Revelation, the members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will answer the tenth question, and a personal one at that: "Why have you devoted your life to the teaching and preaching of Bible prophecy?"

Friday, September 14, 2012

Revelation Panel: The Millennium - Part 1

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Over the next few weeks we will continue to share with you the opinions of 13 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Revelation. One of the most controversial concepts concerning Bible prophecy is the belief that at the end of the Church Age and following the conclusion of the Tribulation Jesus will return to this earth to reign for a 1,000 years. The Catholic Church rejects this idea and so do the majority of Christian denominations. So, what about it? Is Jesus returning to reign or not?

The members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will now address:

#9. Is Jesus returning to set up an actual thousand year long kingdom?

Gary Fisher, Lion of Judah Ministries
I love this question because in my background I went all over this. I was raised in a church that did not believe in the thousand year reign of Jesus. I had many sermons in my memory that said, "There is not one verse in Scripture that ever says Jesus is going to come to this earth." And yet, in Revelation 20 it says six times, "They came to life and reigned with Jesus for a thousand years." Six times that passage says "a thousand years."

Now, how do we get the term Millennium? "Mille annis" is 1,000 years in the old Latin Vulgate. So, there is going to be a 1,000 year period under which Jesus reigns on this earth.

If you can't take the Bible literally then it's easy to allegorize that word. I have heard sermon after sermon saying, "Well, this could just be representative of 10,000 years or whatever." If you're going to start that we can also take liberty to believe that Creation lasted 60 billion years instead of six days! But, yes, there is going to be a thousand year reign of Jesus on the earth because the Bible says that six times in Revelation 20.

Don McGee, Crown and Sickle Ministries
Yes, I do. I believe it with all my heart. There are any number of reasons to believe this, but the most obvious reason is that it's because the Bible says it will be so. Jesus is going to reign for a thousand years on this earth.

Another reason to believe this is that if you look at other text in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, you will see that God's people are promised to reign during that time. Paul talked about how we will reign with God on this earth. Go back to Isaiah chapter 11. I find this interesting in light of some of the new ideas that we are seeing today. The Church is not going to produce Isaiah chapter 11. There is no way that Church is going to bring in a utopia. This idea of Dominion Theology doesn't fit with Scriptures, probably most importantly if you go to the second Psalm and look at verse 8 you'll see that it is God the Father who gives the Kingdom to the Son and not the Church.

When you take all of these references and put them together with what has been plainly said in Scriptures, I think the only conclusion can be that Jesus is going to rule on this earth from David's Throne for 1,000 years.

Don Perkins, According to Prophecy Ministries
Yes, I do, because Revelation 20 is a physical prophecy of Christ's that He must fulfill. Not only that, but Isaiah 9:6-7 from the Scriptures declares that Christ will sit on the throne of his father David. The Bible says that the authority — the seat of government — would be on His shoulders. We know when Christ came the first time He never officiated as the true king of Israel. He came into Jerusalem on a donkey, but the next few days the people rejected Him. And so, the Millennial Kingdom is a physical prophecy. I believe that Jesus will physically fulfill His kingship in it. So, therefore, I believe that Revelation 20 is a literal prophecy that Christ must fulfill.

Terry James, Rapture Ready
Yes, I do, because there are so many pertinent scriptures that pertain to the length of time in Revelation 20. Not only is there so much talked about in that chapter, but you can also find references to it throughout particularly the Old Testament.

You can find general references to an era that's coming, particularly when Israel will be the head of all nations during that time. And, for example, there is a throne upon which David will sit as co-regent with Jesus; Jesus being the King of Kings over all the universe that is. David will be the regent over the millennial Israel. The nation Israel being reborn I think itself is the very proof that there will be a thousand year reign of Christ coming.

Daymond Duck, Prophecy Plus Ministries
I want to start out with some scriptures as proof of a thousand year reign of Christ coming. "But thou Bethlehem Ephrata, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be..." What? "...ruler in Israel." That's not very hard to understand. "The Lord of host shall reign..." Where? " Mount Zion and in Jerusalem. Behold the days come sayeth the Lord that I will raise unto David a righteous branch and a king shall reign and prosper and shall execute judgment and justice..." Where? " the earth. In His day Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely. And this is His name whereby He shall be called the Lord our Righteousness. And the Lord shall be King..." Where? "...over all the earth." So, Jesus is coming back as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and so I do believe in a literal earthly reign of Jesus Christ.

The reign of Jesus Christ is mentioned many times in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament never tells us how long Jesus will reign, but we know from Revelation 20 where there are six passages about how it will last for a thousand years. I believe that refers to the literal 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ. When the Bible says something just one time we should believe it, but when it says something six times, well I think God knows that a lot of people are going to have trouble believing it. He is trying to get it through their thick skull that His Son is going to reign on this earth for a thousand years.

Now, I know that some people say that the Millennium just means a long period of time, while some will even say we are in the Millennium right now. My understanding of the Millennium is that it will be a time of peace and justice and righteousness here on this earth. Right now we don't have peace and justice and righteousness on earth. We've got just the opposite of that — terrible injustice and all that kind of thing.

The rock in Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2 is Jesus coming back to replace the kingdoms of the earth with His kingdom, and it will fill the whole earth. So, no, we are not living in the Millennium right now. Jesus didn't tell us to pray, "Thank you God for establishing your kingdom on earth right now." He said, pray that it will come, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." I therefore believe in a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ.

Ed Hindson, World Prophetic Ministry
The answer is because the Apostle John says six times in that passage in Revelation 20 — a thousand years, a thousand years, a thousand years. It's almost like He wants you to understand it's a thousand years! Trying to make "thousand" symbolic has really never worked. And, trying to make it literal in the past has never worked.

Jesus' kingdom has got to be a literal kingdom that comes in the future. Because of the order of events in Revelation, Christ has to return after the Tribulation judgments. He has to defeat the Beast and the Antichrist, casting them alive into the Lake of Fire. They remain there for a thousand years. Satan is bound in the Abyss for a thousand years and he can't get out. And then, at the end of the thousand years, Satan is released. Well, when in the world is that going to happen? If you try to say that the whole thing is spiritual, when was Satan bound spiritually? When is he released spiritually? And, what is the purpose of all of that unless there is a literal 1,000 year kingdom on earth? That kingdom is then later merged into the eternal kingdom of God in the New Heaven and the New Earth with the New Jerusalem.

Nathan Jones, Lamb & Lion Ministries
I believe there will be a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ because Revelation 20 says six times that Jesus will reign for a thousand years. It says that Satan will be sent for a pit for a thousand years. The Saints will reign for a thousand years. Then there will be a second resurrection of the unjust who are all those who rejected God throughout history — at the end of the thousand years. Six times Revelation 20 says "thousand years," so to me it's a no-brainer. It just is. A thousand years is a thousand years in Revelation 20.

Tom McCall, Tom McCall Ministries
The Old Testament tells us about the Messianic Kingdom. Many, many times there are prophecies about the Messianic Kingdom. But, what it doesn't say is how long it's going to last. Is it going to be forever and ever and ever? Or, is there a specific time line? We are simply not told as we are not given that information in the Old Testament. We are not given the information in the Gospels. We are not given the information in the Epistles. It's the last book of the Bible that finally gives us the time frame of the Messianic Kingdom on earth. Six times John says it is a thousand years, or "chilia". Again and again — a thousand years, a thousand years, a thousand years. So, why would we assume it is anything other than 1,000 years?

So, yes, I believe Christ's kingdom is a literal 1,000 years. God was providing that information right there as a capstone of the Scripture.

Mark Hitchcock, Faith Bible Church
Yes, I think Revelation 20 is the classic text about the Millennial Kingdom of Christ — the 1,000 year reign of Jesus. The reason I think it's talking about a literal thousand years is based on several basic reasons. One is that the word "thousand" is used six times in seven verses. So, why would you keep repeating a time period over and over again if it's symbolic? You know some will say, "Well, a thousand years just means a long time. It's just symbolic of a long period of time." The problem with that is in Revelation 20 in verse 3 it says that Satan is going to bound for a thousand years. Then it says at the end of the thousand years he is going to be released for a short time. Well, if a thousand years is just symbolic of a long time, then why didn't John just say Satan is going to be bound for a long time and released for a short time? Or, say Satan is going to be bound for a thousand years and let go for ten years? The fact that there is a specific statement of a thousand years with this non-specific statement of a short time to me indicates clearly this is a time period we are to take literally.

The Early Church also for the first 300 years believed that Jesus was going to come back and literally reign on the earth for 1,000 years. Even Papias, one of the Early Church Fathers who studied under the Apostle John, that is what he believed. You'd think Papias would have known what John had taught.

So, to me, the fact that the Early Church held this view and with the text just there in Revelation 20 itself, gives us I think strong evidence that Jesus is going to really reign on the earth when He comes back for a thousand years. It's going to be that great Messianic Age, really this utopia that man has always hoped for.

August Rosado, Today in Bible Prophecy Ministries
There is no justification whatsoever to allegorize Revelation 20. I believe it is explaining a literal, physical, bodily reign of Jesus Christ on this earth. When He comes back at His Second Coming, He's coming back to a literal earth. He is going to be reigning in a literal city which is the city of Jerusalem. And, He is also going to be reigning over literal nations on this earth. There is no justification whatsoever to spiritualize and allegorize that and say He is coming back in our hearts, or there isn't going to be a 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom reign as the Amillennialist are teaching all over this country. There will be a physical, literal, bodily reign of Jesus Christ here on this earth. Glory to God!

In the next part of this series on reading and understanding Revelation, Dr. David Reagan and Nathan Jones will discuss more in detail the ninth question: "Is Jesus returning to set up an actual a thousand years long kingdom?"