Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Importance of Bible Prophecy: Reasons for Study

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

There are many reasons why all believers should be interested in studying Bible prophecy. Some of the more important ones are listed below:

1) The Quantity — One-fourth to one-third of the Bible is prophetic in nature. In the Old Testament, this includes the Psalms, the Major and Minor Prophets, and many passages in the historical books. In the New Testament, entire books like 1 & 2 Thessalonians and Revelation are devoted to prophecy, as are major passages like Matthew 24 and 1 Peter 3. To ignore Bible prophecy is to ignore a significant portion of God's Word, and we are told in 2 Timothy 3:16 that "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" — and that certainly includes Bible prophecy.

2) The Uniqueness — No other book in the world contains fulfilled prophecies. This includes the sayings of Buddha and Confucius, the Koran, the Hindu Vedras, and the Book of Mormon. And it certainly includes the ridiculous nonsensical quatrains of Nostradamus.2 In contrast, the Bible contains hundreds of specific prophecies that have already been fulfilled — prophecies about towns, cities, nations, empires, and political leaders, as well as prophecies about the Messiah. Consider, for example, the prophecy in the book of Isaiah that a man named Cyrus would be the one who would release the children of Israel from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 44:28). And that is exactly what happened 142 years later (Ezra 1:1-3).

3) Validator of Scripture — Fulfilled prophecy is one of the best evidences I know of that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. As I stated above, the Bible contains hundreds of fulfilled secular prophecies pertaining to cities, nations, empires, and individuals. Isaiah prophesied that Babylon would fall to the Medes and Persians (Isaiah 13:17-20). Jeremiah predicted the Babylonian captivity of the Jews would last 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). Daniel outlined in advance the precise order of four great Gentile empires (Daniel 2 and 7). The destruction of both Judah and Israel was foretold by Moses (Deuteronomy 28 and 29). In the New Testament, Jesus predicted the complete destruction of Jerusalem 40 years before it actually occurred (Luke 21:6).

4) Validator of Jesus — The prophetic scriptures validate Jesus as who He said He was — namely, God in the flesh. The Bible contains more than 300 prophecies about the First Coming of Jesus, but some of these are repetitive. There are actually 109 separate and distinct prophecies concerning the First Coming, and all of them were literally fulfilled.3 Every aspect of the life of Jesus was prophesied — the place of His birth, the nature of His birth, the quality of His ministry, the purpose of His life, and the agony of His death. Consider, for example, the prophecy in Psalm 22:16 that the Messiah's hands and feet would be pierced. That prophecy was written by David about a thousand years before the birth of Jesus. It was written 700 years before the invention of crucifixion as a form of execution. The literal fulfillment of so many prophecies in the life of one individual transcends any mere coincidence and serves to validate that Jesus was who He said He was — the divine Son of God.

5) Revealer of the Future — Prophecy serves to tell us some things that God wants us to know about the future (Deuteronomy 29:29 and Amos 3:7). God does not want us to know everything about the future, but there are some things we must know if we are to have a dynamic hope. Thus, prophecy assures us that Jesus is coming back, that He will resurrect us, and that He will take us to live forever with Him and God the Father. In this regard, Peter likens prophecy to "a lamp shining in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19). Paul makes the same point in 1 Corinthians, chapter 2. He begins by observing that "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 in the next verse Paul says those things have been revealed to us by God through His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

6) Tool of Evangelism — Prophecy can be used as a very effective tool of evangelism, as illustrated in the story of Philip and the Eunuch (Acts 8:26ff). Philip used Isaiah's great suffering lamb passage (Isaiah 53) to teach that Jesus is the Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world. Matthew and Peter both used fulfilled prophecy in the life of Jesus as one of their basic evangelistic tools. In fact, Peter referred to prophecy constantly in his first gospel sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-39). He preached that Jesus had been crucified and resurrected in fulfillment of Hebrew prophecies. Later, Peter referred to fulfilled prophecy as one of the greatest evidences that Jesus was truly the Son of God (2 Peter 1:16-19).

7) Tool of Moral Teaching — People often overlook the fact that the Hebrew prophets were forthtellers as well as foretellers. In fact, the prophets spent most of their time using God's Word to spotlight societal problems. They called their listeners to repentance, true worship, social justice, and personal holiness. One of the great recurring themes of the prophets is that "obedience is better than sacrifice" (1 Samuel 15:22 and Hosea 6:6). That statement means that in God's eyes, obedience to His commands is more important than outward religious practices such as offering sacrifices. Prophecy is thus a great repository of moral teaching, and those moral principles are still relevant today. (See Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:8; and Isaiah 58:3-9.)

8) Generator of Spiritual Growth — Prophetic knowledge encourages patient waiting (James 5:7-8); provokes earnest watching (Matthew 24:36,42); inspires dedicated work (2 Timothy 4:7-8); and enhances our hope (Titus 2:11-14). The result is holy living. Paul exhorts us to "behave properly as in the day," because the time is at hand when the Lord will return (Romans 13:12-13). Likewise, Peter calls us to gird up our minds and be sober and holy as we look forward to the revelation of Jesus (1 Peter 1:13-15).

9) Understanding of Current Events — The Bible contains detailed prophecies about the end times we are living in, and there is just no way to fully understand much of what is happening today apart from those prophecies. Three characteristics of our day and time immediately come to mind: the intensifying decay of society, the growing apostasy in the Church, and the escalating crisis in the Middle East. All three of these situations are prophesied in detail in the Bible. We are told that society will become as violent and immoral as it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39); that the Church will be assaulted with "doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1); and that all the nations of the world will come against Israel over the issue of who will control Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3).

10) Signifier of the Season — One of the most exciting reasons for studying Bible prophecy is that it provides very definite signs that we are to watch for which will signify the season of the Lord's return. It is true that we cannot know the date, but the Bible makes it clear that we can know the season if we are aware of the signs that we are to look for. The Apostle Paul made this point in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 when he wrote:

Now as to the times and the epochs, 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... But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all ons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

According to this passage, Jesus is coming like "a thief in the night" for the world, but those of us who are "sons of light" — that is, those of us who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit — we should not be surprised when the Lord returns because God's Word gives us signs to watch for.

Paul made the same point again in Hebrews 10:25 where he admonished believers to not forsake the assembling of the saints, especially "as you see the day drawing near." What day? He defines it in verse 27 as the day of judgment. So, Paul is making the point here that there are signs we can watch for that will clearly identify the fact that we are living in the season of the Lord's return.

Jesus made the same point in His Olivet Discourse as recorded in Matthew 24. After specifying many end time signs, He said, "when you see all these things, recognize that He [Jesus] is near, right at the door" (Matthew 24:33).


In the next segment of our topic concerning the importance of Bible prophecy, I'll give some advice and counsel concerning some of today's biggest scoffers and we'll also look at why Bible Prophecy is a great source of spiritual food.


Notes

2) David Reagan, "Nostradamus: Prophet or Charlatan?" Lamplighter magazine, November-December 2003, pages 5-7.

3) David Reagan, Christ in Prophecy Study Guide (McKinney, TX: Lamb & Lion Ministries, 3rd edition in 2006).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Importance of Bible Prophecy: Green Pastures for Disciples

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

Although prophecy constitutes almost one-third of the Bible, its importance is constantly downplayed by those who dismiss it as having no practical significance or by those who object to it on the grounds that it is a "fad" that takes people's eyes off Jesus.

A good example of what I'm talking about can be found in the immensely popular best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren.1 He mocks Bible prophecy when he writes, "If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy." He then goes on to characterize prophecy as a "distraction" and says that anyone who lets himself get involved in distractions like studying prophecy "is not fit for the kingdom of God."

Such cavalier dismissals of Bible prophecy fly in the face of scriptures like Revelation 19:10 which says that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Thus, if prophecy is properly taught, there is no reason for it to divert anyone's attention away from Jesus. In fact, it should serve to emphasize the centrality of Jesus.

Is prophecy practical? Consider that all the New Testament writers testify to the fact that living with the anticipation of the Lord's return will motivate holy living. What could be more practical than that? Here are some examples:

The Apostle Paul: "The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" — Romans 13:12-14.
The Apostle Peter: "The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God... so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" — 1 Peter 4:7-11.
The Apostle John: "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" — 1 John 3:2-3.

U.S. News Cover

Prophecy does not have to be either faddish, other-worldly, or impractical if taught properly. Nor does it have to be a playground for fanatics. It can and should be green pastures for disciples.


In the next segment of our topic concerning the importance of Bible prophecy, I look at the many reasons why we should study God's prophetic word.


Notes

1) Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), page 286.

Monday, February 27, 2012

God's Order of Events: Final Judgment and Eternity

Nathan JonesMP3 PDFBy

What will be the ultimate fate of Satan and of you?

On Monday, January 30, 2012, I was interviewed by host Brian Thomas of Blessings to Israel Ministries on his "God First" program. During the 45-minute interview we discussed the prophetic sequence of end time events, placing each event into its proper chronological order.


Blessings to Israel Ministries


8) The Great White Throne Judgment

Nathan Jones: Revelation 20 starting with verse seven tells us of Satan's last act of rebellion, "When a thousand years were over Satan will be released from his prison. He will go out and deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, and to gather them for battle. Their number are like the sand on the seashore." It's really sad to read about so many people joining Satan in his last rebellion. Going on, "They march across the breadth of the earth and surround the camp of God's people, the city He loves. Then fire came down from Heaven and devoured them. And the Devil who deceived them was thrown into the Lake of burning sulfur where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. And they will be tormented day and night forever, and ever."

Satan and his demons will finally be sentenced to Hell. Praise the Lord! Forever and ever Satan will be in Hell with the False Prophet and the Antichrist, who were thrown into the Lake of Fire earlier at the end of the Tribulation period.

We next get into Revelation 20:11 which starts talking about the Judgment of the Dead. In summary, there are three major judgments: the Judgments of the Just, the Sheep-Goat Judgment, and then we've got what is called the Great White Throne Judgment. This judgment is not for believers, but for those who rejected the Lord and rebelled against God, both alive and dead.

Once the unfaithful are resurrected from their holding place in Hades, they are judged based on their works, just like the Christians earlier were. But, do you know what they're missing? They're missing the ultimate work that saves them which is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. They had refused that sacrifice all of their lives, and so Christ's substitutionary work isn't there to acquit them of their crimes. Even if they were good people according to man's standards in life, they couldn't do enough to get to Heaven because it's impossible to do enough good works to get one into Heaven. The Bible says our works are like filthy rags. Without Jesus' work on the cross they will be found wanting.

At the Great White Throne Judgment, Jesus will open the Lamb's Book of Life. This book has within it all the people who've accepted Him by faith over the centuries. If your name is not in this book, you will sent to where Satan was already just thrown. He was throw along with all those who rejected Him into Hell. This is also called the Second Death or the Lake of Fire. Its Jesus' final victory over sin and death. And, that's it! There's no more sin and no more death after that.

In life, those who wanted God to leave them alone get what they wanted, but they will still have the punishment of their sins upon them. They will still have to endure their punishment because God is a just God. He's a loving God, but He's also a just God. Without having accepted Christ's salvation, they have to pay the ultimate punishment which is separation from God in Hell.

Brian Thomas: So, for the Atheist who says that when we die we go off into nothingness, there will be a rude awakening for them when they find that not only will their spirit continue on but their physical bodies will be resurrected for judgment and punishment.

Nathan Jones: Yes, indeed. How can an Atheist go around saying there is nothing after this life? Really, how would they know? None of them have ever died and come back, and even if they could they couldn't come back because according to their belief they would have been annihilated. It's ridiculous. Such a belief is merely a wish. It's a hope. And, ironically, it's a faith.

Through the ministry I answer the questions that come in and we once had this one Atheist write in. Atheist always fly in guns blazing with all these "evidences" they believe support why God couldn't exist. They try to dumbfound you with all these supposed evidences. As I was reading this guy rant on and on about this and that, he finally paused and broke down. It became the most refreshingly honest email conversation I've ever had with an Atheist. He admitted, "You know what? I really do believe there is a God. But you know? What I don't like about God is that there are two choices. I don't like that it is either Heaven with Him forever or Hell where I'm destroyed. Why can't God," and he used lots of explicatives here, "just leave me alone. Why can't God leave me alone?" Then the veil came back down over his face again so to speak and he started back up with all his arguments about why God doesn't exist, even though he just told me that He did. He fell back into that stupor once again.

Atheist in their heart believe that God exists, at least the ones I've talked to. Nobody spends their whole life trying to disprove something unless they really and truly believe it exists. So, they really do believe there's a God.

You're so right, Brian, it will be a terribly rude awakening when they finally stand before God after rejecting Him all of their lives. The Bible indicates that God will say something like, "You got what you want. You wanted me to be out of your life, so now I will totally be out of your life." But, unfortunately for them, the Bible tells us that God is our life. He's what holds us together. He's what binds us. Without God we are "unbound."

Without God we are also utterly alone and desolate. By rejecting God, the choice they make is to be alone forever. This is so sad. It's awfully sad, because they will spend eternity in Hell where there is fire, there's abject loneliness, this never-ending feeling of falling, complete pitch darkness, and worst no fellowship with God. You exist trapped with your memories of loss and regret forever. Hell is an awful, awful place.

Because Hell is so tragic, it should be a great motivator to get believers in Christ out there sharing the Gospel with those who are lost and heading there.


8) The Eternal State

Brian Thomas: The Great White Throne Judgment is when God addresses sin completely for all of eternity. Afterwards, the Bible says a new Heaven and new earth will come into place. Can you speak on that for a moment?

Nathan Jones: Revelation 21 has a wonderful description of our eternal home of Heaven on earth.

You know, Brian, that we were created to have fellowship with the Lord forever. That's our purpose and existence — to fellowship with the Lord forever. Such intimate fellowship is impossible in this current sinful condition, for we are not able to see God face-to-face. But, in the eternal state, we will see God face-to-face once more.

Revelation 21 tells us, "Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth. For the first Heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea." In this passage we are told that we will be with the Lord forever in a new Heaven. That new Heaven is what's called the New Jerusalem. It's a super city that God is building. The city is about 1,500 miles wide and long and high. Maybe it's pyramid shaped or maybe it's cube shaped, we aren't told. If it was on the Earth of today, it would stretch from the Atlantic Ocean to Colorado, and from our border with Canada down to our other border with Mexico. The New Jerusalem is indeed a super city.

The New Earth is a revived earth and a redeemed creation. The creation is currently under a curse, but the curse will totally be lifted. God will reform the Earth, and Heaven will be brought down onto the New Earth. The New Jerusalem will reside on the New Earth and that will be the capital city where we all will live.

The New Earth's description is awesome! We know that God dwells there. We get to meet God finally face-to-face. Our glorified bodies will have the capability of seeing God, as our earthly bodies just can't hack seeing the awesome blindingness of God. The flesh is weak and so our eyes would melt out if we were to see Him in our earthly bodies. God's just that powerful and that strong. But, in our gloried bodies we will have the ability to see God first-hand.

God is the light source of the New Jerusalem. If there is still a sun, moon and stars, they will produce light, but they'll be weaker than the light from God.

Revelation 21 tells us the city is built out of precious metals and jewels. The gold streets are as clear as glass. Twelve foundations support the city, being made of different precious stones. Giant pearls are used for the twelve gates.

The precious building blocks of the New Jerusalem is all materialistic, which is all wonderful and all, but the heart of Heaven is God and that we will dwell with Him. We will be given access to the throne room of God! From that throne a river of life flows forth. We will get to see the Tree of Life growing on each side of that river, which we read about in earlier in Genesis. The Tree produces crops once for each of the twelve months. It provides food for the nations.

Living in fellowship with God means there is no more sorrow and no more tears. There will be no more suffering. Life in Heaven means perfect joy.

The New Jerusalem is the capital city of the universe. Now, the Bible doesn't tell us exactly, but I think because we have forever to be with God that all that creation God made out there — all those planets and galaxies, and stars which are being discovered more and more every day which is God's domain — who knows, maybe He will let us go out there and explore them all. Maybe when God says that we will be governors and mayors over cities, maybe that also means whole planets or solar systems even. Such a possibility can boggle the mind!

Besides the eternity to explore God's wonders, we will get to explore God's infiniteness. As we work and learn, we could end up having like ten PhD's in just the first 100 years. The learning never ends!

Also, the fellowship with the Lord never ends. The fellowship with all those loved ones we have lost over the years will resume forever. That's what the Bible teaches, and it's all due to Christ's victory over sin.

Back with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they lived in a perfect world. They had personal fellowship with God. They walked and talked with Him, but then sin broke that relationship. But, God has used all these thousands of years to get mankind back to that fellowship with God once again and forever.

Our sin will be forgotten, as Isaiah 65:17 tells us, "Behold I will create a new Heaven and earth and the former things will not be remembered nor will them come to mind." Everything that was sinful and evil in the world will be forgotten. Mankind will once again spend forever in fellowship with the Lord, And that's the overall plan of God for the world — to bring us back into fellowship with God forever.

Brian Thomas: It is going to be wonderful time. I so much look forward to it. It's going to be great!

Nathan Jones: Like you said earlier in the beginning of the program, Brian, about growing up under this false idea that some people have that when we die we are just a bunch of ghost floating around bored to death on clouds playing harps, what an awful existence that would be. Who could get excited about that? I think Satan uses that misconception about Heaven. Satan uses that false idea about what Heaven's like to get people side-tracked. They end up thinking that they'd better enjoy life on earth now because Heaven sure sounds dull.

Heaven is awesome to discover if only people just truly read about it in the Bible. Just open up Revelation 21 & 22 and you can read about how amazing our eternal life is going to be with God. Now that's something to get excited about! Share Heaven with other people and get the news out to as many people as possible to lead them to the Lord so they can share in Christ's love and fellowship in Heaven too one day.

Brian Thomas: Knowing about what our eternal destiny is truly about really helps us as Christians learn and see what's going to happen. It gives us focus in life. And, I think it gets us more motivated to go out and proclaim the Gospel as it strengthens our testimony.


God's Plan For You

Nathan Jones: If you have listened to or read this interview, then you've learned what God's plan for the ages is. You know what God's purpose in your life is — to have personal fellowship with Him forever, and while you're on earth we do good works for Him.

Give your life to the Lord. Accept Jesus Christ in faith. Jesus died for your sins because He loves you and wants you to be saved from Hell. He wants to share eternity with you.

Pray, "Dear Lord, please forgive me of my sins and be my Savior." Just pray that out of your heart, expressing your repentance for what you have done wrong and ask Jesus to forgive you and be your Savior. The weight of guilt will be gone.

After you've given your heart to Jesus Christ, go show the world that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior by being baptized by water. Also, join a church so that you can have fellowship with other believers and so you can learn about the Lord in Bible study and prayer and worship.

I invite you to check out our resources and to learn more about Bible prophecy by visiting our website.

Brian Thomas: If you have not yet accepted Christ, please do so while you still have time. And, for those of us who are already Christians, please take this message and and proclaim the coming of our great Messiah and all the wonderful things we have to look forward to.

Keep looking up because Christ is coming soon. Many blessings to you all!

Friday, February 24, 2012

God's Order of Events: The Millennial Kingdom

Nathan JonesMP3 PDFBy

What is the purpose of the Millennial Kingdom for Jesus and for the Jews?

On Monday, January 30, 2012, I was interviewed by host Brian Thomas of Blessings to Israel Ministries on his "God First" program. During the 45-minute interview we discussed the prophetic sequence of end time events, placing each event into its proper chronological order.


Blessings to Israel Ministries


6) The Millennial Kingdom

Brian Thomas: Often while growing up and I hear this myth even today, that when Jesus Christ comes back He is going to destroy the earth by burning it up and we will go off to Heaven with Him leaving the earth to cease to exist. Is that the case?

Nathan Jones: No, no, no. Gods got a plan. He's not done with the Jews. He didn't do all of the Tribulation just to get the remnant of the Jews saved and then go up to Heaven and that's the end of that. God made certain promises to the Jewish people as a nation. They are especially set apart for a future blessing. Some Christians don't like that idea, though, believing in Replacement Theology. But, the Lord made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that their descendants would:

  1. possess the land from the Euphrates River to the Nile River
  2. have someone ruling on the Throne of David forever
  3. be a special priestly group of people.

To accomplish this, according to Revelation 20, Jesus has set apart a thousand years for what we call the Millennial Kingdom. The Latin word milla means "thousand," so a millennia is a thousand years when Jesus sets up His kingdom to rule and reign on the earth from Jerusalem. This also fulfills the promises made to the Son of God that He will rule and reign over an earthly kingdom. The saved people who survived the Tribulation will live on into that thousand years, and the Jewish people in particular will be considered a special priestly group of people during that time.

Those of us who were raptured will be there on earth during the Millennial Kingdom living in our glorified bodies. We'll be helping those who are living there in their earthly bodies. The Bible says that we will reign during that time as well. We'll be administrators, officials, and teachers helping those those people over the thousand years.

The Millennial Kingdom is characterized by the curse being partially lifted. That's when the wolf will lie down next to the lamb and the lamb will not fear the predator. The lion will eat straw like an ox, instead of meat. They won't be carnivorous anymore, and I guess neither will we. Kids can play with poisonous snakes without fear of being bitten. In other words, the natural enmity between man and animal-kind will be no more.

The Millennial Kingdom will also be a time when all that decimation of the Tribulation will be erased by Jesus. He will rebuild the planet very quickly and it will be as garden like as it was in Eden.

The curse won't totally be removed because people in their earthly bodies will still want to sin. They're still going to want to act badly because that temptation is there, even if it won't be Satan and the demons tempting the people anymore. Each person will be responsible for their own falling into sin. So, there will be sin during the Millennial Kingdom, but not nearly at the levels at which it is today.

During the Millennial Kingdom Jesus will rule and reign physically right here on earth. People can go up to Jesus and talk right to Him face-to-face. With Jesus present and quite visibly in charge, it will be the most peaceful time in the planet's history.

Brian Thomas: That's going to be a wonderful time!

There's such a difference in looking at Jesus' First Coming versus His Second Coming. At Jesus' First Coming, He came as a suffering lamb. He didn't receive glorification from the world. He was humiliated, ridiculed, mocked, you name it. But, when Jesus comes back the second time, the Bible says He will be as a conquering lion ready to rule the Millennial Kingdom.

Those symbols of Christ's two comings tie directly to the name of your ministry, Lamb and Lion, do they not?

Nathan Jones: You caught onto what the ministry's named after. That's good! People get the order mixed up all the time. I know I did when I first heard it. I kept on calling it Lion and Lamb. The founder, Dr. David Reagan, jokes that over the years people have had some crazy names for our ministry like "Lame and Blind" and" Lemon and Lime." People can remember our ministry's name just like you said if they remember that Jesus first came as a suffering lamb to sacrifice Himself on our behalf, but when He returns He will return as the conquering lion. He will be the king over all the world. That explanation of the order of Christ's comings helps people remember our ministry is named Lamb & Lion Ministries, and our website URL is lamblion.com.

Brian Thomas: Right. Now, during the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ it will be a theocracy. Jesus will reign supreme as the leader over the entire world. He's going to have His government, the only world government. So, that means that any leader of any nation such as a President or Prime Minister will all have to answer to Jesus Christ concerning the rules and laws that He will make, correct?

Nathan Jones: Correct. There's even a Millennial Kingdom example given concerning Syria and Egypt. During that time period there will be a feast each year and everyone will come into Jerusalem and celebrate that feast. The nations that start rebelling by refusing to go, God will hold the water back giving them a drought until they repent of their rebellion.

What's neat to consider is that we read about Syria today where their President al-Assad is slaughtering his own people. There's a rebellion against his rulership. We know that Israel is going to have to deal with Syria prophetically so that Damascus will be destroyed. To think that the oldest city in the world will be destroyed. We also read about Egypt when in 2011 their people toppled their President Mubarak. Egypt is getting rid of their peace treaty with Israel and the Muslim Brotherhood is taking over. These two nations hate Israel with a burning passion. There's a satanic rage that fuels their drive to hate Israel. And yet, we read that during the Millennial Kingdom which will initially be populated by only people who believe in Christ. Syria and Egypt are nations that will be reformed once again with believing people. Egypt will be a Christian nation once more. Syria will be a Christian nation once more. The whole world begins as a Christian nation. The old enemy nations of today will become the future friends of Israel.

Over the time of the millennia, children will be born to the people who entered into it from the Tribulation, and they too will have to make a decision for Christ or not. Over that thousand years we also discover that the life span of people will be considered very long. If a child dies at 100 they are considered just a babe. The enormous life spans people had before the Flood will return once again during the Millennial Kingdom. Those children will have their massively long life spans to choose God or not.


7) The Second Gog-Magog Battle

Nathan Jones: The next prophetic event happens at the end of the Tribulation when God releases Satan from the Abyss he's been held captive in for the last thousand years.

Brian Thomas: When Jesus Christ comes back He will set up His Millennial Kingdom which will last for a thousand years. Just before the beginning of His Kingdom Satan was locked up in the bottomless pit by an angel and will be unable to influence the people on earth. The children who will be born during the thousand year earthly reign of Christ will have to make a decision concerning Christ, and many unfortunately will reject Him. The earth's population will be great due to longer life spans among many other things, so there will be a lot who will refuse to accept Christ. At the end of the millennial reign, Satan will be released from the pit and come to earth to influence the inhabitants of the earth. Then what will happen?

Nathan Jones: Like you said, there will be a huge population on the planet of people still living in their fleshly bodies. They will still want to sin, but they don't have a rallying point to rally around to declare their independence from God. It's amazing to think that they'll live in a paradise, they'll have Jesus personally there loving them, and it's the best the earth has been since the Garden of Eden, and yet so many of the people born in that era will still refuse to accept Jesus as Savior. They'll still want to rebel against them. They'll still want to do their own sinful things that hurt their bodies and hurt other people. Just amazing!

So that these rebellious people can have a rallying point in which to finally face judgment, God releases Satan from the Abyss. Satan immediately goes out across the planet and gathers the nations of peoples who want to rebel against God. Satan then leads a revolt at Jerusalem against Jesus, and just like what happened at Armageddon, with just a few words Jesus totally defeats those armies. They probably won't even have weapons because it says during the Millennial Kingdom that people will have beaten their swords into plowshares and pruning hooks. In other words, there won't be any weapons of war during that time. So, I don't know what Satan plans on attacking with, maybe big sticks with nails in them, or something bizarre like that. I don't know. But, we do know that Satan is going to attack one last time and Jesus puts him and his rebellious hordes down instantly. We can read all about the final rebellion in Revelation 20.

Isn't it amazing that humanity can be so depraved that even in a utopia they will still wish to join Satan and fight against Jesus? They actually think they can overcome the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

This finally rebellion is called the Second Gog-Magog Battle because it has a number of similarities to the first one described in Ezekiel 38-39. The most glaring difference is that this attack is worldwide in scope and not just a few nations raging against Israel as Ezekiel describes.

Brian Thomas: Thank you for pointing that out, because so many are surprised to hear that there will be two Gog-Magog wars in the future — one prior to the Tribulation and one at the close of the Millennial Kingdom.


In the last part of this series on God's order of events, Brian and I will discuss the final judgment — the Great White Throne Judgment — and on into eternity.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

God's Order of Events: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Nathan JonesMP3 PDFBy

What is the purpose of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?

On Monday, January 30, 2012, I was interviewed by host Brian Thomas of Blessings to Israel Ministries on his "God First" program. During the 45-minute interview we discussed the prophetic sequence of end time events, placing each event into its proper chronological order.


Blessings to Israel Ministries


4) The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Brian Thomas: As the coming seven year Tribulation comes to a close with the Battle of Armageddon escalating and it looks like the whole earth is about to be completely destroyed, Jesus comes back to earth and brings it all to a close. This is known as the Second Coming. Those of us who were raptured in the Rapture of the Church before the Tribulation, we return then with Jesus, correct?

Nathan Jones: Amen, yes! There are 500 verses in the Old Testament, and 1 in every 25 in the New Testament, which talk about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. There's nothing more prophesied about in the Bible, even more than Jesus' First Coming which was only covered by 300 prophecies. Since there are 500 prophecies foretelling Jesus' Second Coming, it's clearly an event that God wants us to know about. We can read about the Tribulation and know that when Jesus comes again at the end of that horrible time, it culminates in Jesus' glorious victory.

For those who want to read up on the Second Coming, some great verses are Zechariah 14:1-21; Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; and especially Revelation 19. They all give a lot of exciting details concerning the Second Coming of Jesus.

We read especially in Revelation 19 that Jesus returns with both His angelic forces and with those of us who are saved who have already been raptured. We will come back with Jesus, but we don't engage the enemy. This is our chance to fight God's enemies, but we won't because Jesus does all the conquering. He defeats the Antichrist's forces all by Himself. Praise the Lord our God can do that! His Coming is going to be the ultimate victory for Jesus over the Antichrist and over all of His enemies, and we will be there with front row seats to witness it.

Brian Thomas: Amen, that's going to be a great day! I often imagine it happening with the people dwelling on earth during the Tribulation one day looking up and there comes Jesus cracking open the sky and we'll all be riding with Him on white horses. That's going to be just a magnificent scene!

Nathan Jones: One of the primary reasons for the Tribulation is for Israel to be so forced into a position of compromise that they finally have to admit that the Messiah is Jesus Christ their Savior. The Bible talks about how when Jesus returns those in Israel will mourn and weep when they finally realize that for 2,000 years they could have had the Savior. They could have had Jesus Christ, but they had denied Him all that time. So, when Jesus comes again into Jerusalem, a third of the remainder of the Jews will turn to Jesus as Savior and will finally accept their Messiah.

The salvation of the remnant of the Jewish people will be an awesome occurrence to rejoice in the Lord in, because many of the Jews right now have spiritual blinders on. They just can't perceive that Jesus is the Messiah despite all of the evidence. Sure, there are many Messianic Jews out there, but overall most Jews do not understand and will not accept that Jesus is the Messiah. But, when Jesus returns, they will see Him as the Messiah that they've been waiting for all these years. Zechariah 12:10 says as Jesus is rescuing them from the onslaught by their enemies, they will weep and be in anguish that they had missed the Messiah all of this time and that they had to go through all of the Tribulation to finally realize that Jesus is the Savior. The Jewish remnant will finally accept Jesus and welcome Him with open arms when He comes back.

Brian Thomas: An excellent point and you are right that there's a very small percentage of the Jewish people who are Messianic. But, as you said, at the return of Christ they will accept Jesus and finally realize that He is the Messiah. God's whole plan comes together where the Church and the nation of Israel will sort of all be merged together as one big happy family in Christ.

Nathan Jones: Right, and upon Jesus' Second Coming He also defeats the Antichrist and the False Prophet. Jesus also sends we can assume the demons to Hell and Satan to a deep holding pit called the Abyss.


5) The Sheep-Goat Judgment

Nathan Jones: Jesus isn't done judging His enemies at His Second Coming, for we get another prophecy where the Lord gathers all peoples including the believing elect from the four corners of the world together for another judgment. This is the next prophetic event called the Sheep-Goat Judgment. We can read about the Sheep-Goat Judgment in Matthew 25 and the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13:36-43.

To summarize the judgment seat judgments up to this point, we've had the Judgment of the Just which occurred in Heaven which is for believers to receive their rewards. Now we come to the second out of three judgments — the Sheep-Goat Judgment. This judgment will be for all the people on the earth who were able to survive to the end of the Tribulation, which considering the seven long years of calamity and devastation, that's quite an accomplishment.

Revelation 11:3 tells us that the Tribulation will consist of two periods of 1,260 days, but then Daniel 12:11 gives us 1,290 days and then 1,335 days, so we've got 30 days here and 45 days there for a total of 75 extra days. Bible prophecy students have long been wondering what those 75 extra days are for, as they extend to after the Tribulation but before Jesus sets up His Millennial Kingdom. What are those days used for? Well, many theologians believe that those 75 days will be used to judge the people of the world in the Sheep-Goat Judgment.

The Sheep-Goat Judgment will be held on the earth, particularly the prophet Joel elaborates in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, so that could be the Kidron Valley near Jerusalem. We're not too sure as the whole typography of Israel will be pretty much changed due to the decimations occurring during the Tribulation time, but we know it will definitely be in Israel where the world's remaining people will be gathered.

A separation will occur at this judgment. Let me first say if anyone survived those 21 Tribulation judgments, then most likely by this point there are very few people left on the planet by then. I can't tell you how many as I don't know, but the population attending this judgment may not be too large. For those who took the loyal mark of the Antichrist and rejected Jesus as their Savior, they will be judged, and the passages say they will be classified as the Goats. They are the ones who are destined to be sentenced to Hades to await final judgment. The rest of those who survived the Tribulation and had accepted Jesus as Savior will be a remnant left of believing Jews and believing Gentiles. They will be considered the Sheep. They will be allowed to live on into Christ's Millennial Kingdom in their earthly, human bodies.

The purpose of the Sheep-Goat Judgment is to populate Christ's Millennial Kingdom initially with only believers, winnowing out the chaff of the rebellious.


In the next part of this series on God's order of events, Brian and I will discuss Christ's Millennial Kingdom culminated tragically by the Second Gog-Magog Battle.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

God's Order of Events: The Tribulation

Nathan JonesMP3 PDFBy

What immediately follows on Earth after the Rapture of the Church?

On Monday, January 30, 2012, I was interviewed by host Brian Thomas of Blessings to Israel Ministries on his "God First" program. During the 45-minute interview we discussed the prophetic sequence of end time events, placing each event into its proper chronological order.


Blessings to Israel Ministries


3b) The Tribulation — Earth

Brian Thomas: So, the Rapture of the Church occurs and believers in Christ are caught up to Heaven. While there we are at the Judgment Seat where we get our rewards. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb occurs and then we prepare to return to earth. But, as these things are taking place in Heaven, something else is occurring down on earth. Can you speak to that for a moment and explain what's taking place on earth?

Nathan Jones: Certainly. While raptured believers are celebrating, rejoicing and partying you could say with the Lord up in Heaven for seven years, those left behind on the earth have to suffer under the wrath of God. The wrath of God Jeremiah 30:7 says is the "time of Jacob's trouble." It will be a time when God takes His focus off of the Church because the Church isn't on the planet anymore. God removes the Restrainer — the influence of the Holy Spirit through the Church — that holds evil back in the world. God allows the world to become so bad that it forces the world though primarily a remnant of Israel (because God's focus is back on His promises to Israel) to accept Jesus as the Messiah.

The Tribulation will be an absolutely awful time period. Twenty-one judgments will befall mankind.

If I might just add this, we are not absolutely sure about one particular prophetic battle called the Ezekiel 38-39 Gog-Magog Battle and its possible predecessor battle of Psalm 83. This massive battle Ezekiel describes enjoins Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, and a number of other Islamic countries joining together as a coalition to try to annihilate Israel. Through God's supernatural victory over these overwhelming odds, He steps back into human history so everyone knows that there is a God who defends Israel. God annihilates the armies of Gog and Magog, and Ezekiel says He sets fire to their countries. The forces it says in the book of Joel retreat back to the outer northern most parts, possibly Siberia. God's purpose is to be made known to the world once again.

I believe this prophecy in Ezekiel 38 & 39 called the Gog-Magog Battle happens probably either just after the Rapture but before the Tribulation or just as the Tribulation begins. But, either way, this terrible attack that is going to come down hard on Israel will be very close to or near to the beginning of the Tribulation. So, we have the Gog-Magog Battle to consider in the prophetic sequence of events.

But, back to the Tribulation. Again, the Tribulation is seven years long. We can read about it in Revelation and in Daniel that God pours His wrath out upon the world partly as an effort to turn the people's hearts back to Him. Sometimes it takes terrible disasters to change a heart. Just think about Hurricane Katrina that came through a few years back and how it just utterly annihilated New Orleans. But, many people's faith in God was restored because of that natural disaster. So, the Lord uses disasters to bring repentance and to bring people back to Him. That's also the primary reason for the Tribulation.

The Tribulation countdown starts when the Antichrist makes a peace treaty with Israel, which you can read about in Daniel 9:26-27. That event will begin exactly the seven year count down for how long the Tribulation will last.

The Bible divides the judgments into sets of seven — seven seal judgments, seven trumpet judgments, and seven bowl judgments — for a total of 21 judgments. The awful reality of these judgments is that they pretty much annihilate most of the earth's existing population.

The Tribulation will see a world ruler called the Antichrist come on the scene. He'll claim he has the answer to all the world's crises, for there will be terrible famines. The world ruler will institute a one-world religion through his number two man called the False Prophet.

Satan and his demons during the middle of the Tribulation will try to take over Heaven once again, but they will fail and God will finally cut off their access. The satanic forces will also be instruments of judgment during their remaining time while they are on earth, for they know their time is short. Satan personally posses the Antichrist, empowering him further. The Antichrist will spend most of his time after world conquest oppressing the Jews and oppressing those who come to know Jesus as their Savior.

The Tribulation culminates with the next prophetic event which is the Battle of Armageddon.


4) The Battle of Armageddon

Brian Thomas: The Battle of Armageddon is a term that we hear so often, not just from Christians but even in the secular world. They use that phrase very often when things happen, such as natural disasters and especially wars. You hear often people say, "This looks like Armageddon." So, please, talk if you will about the Battle Armageddon. Where it is located and who are the key players in this event?

Nathan Jones: Well, the Battle Armageddon isn't a bunch of drillers who get on a space shuttle and fly up to an asteroid and blow it up. We saw that with Bruce Willis and other movies. So many Hollywood writers seem obsessed with Armageddon, and many think that any battle is the Battle of Armageddon. In truth, Armageddon is the battle to end all battles.

We read about this great battle in Revelation 19:11-21. The passage speaks of this final battle and places it at the end of the Tribulation. Bible prophecy students have given it the name Armageddon.

Actually, it's a misconception that Armageddon is just one battle, as in reality it's a series of battles that cover a few different locations. At this point in the Tribulation the Antichrist has conquered the world, but the armies from the East — more than likely China, and maybe Japan and some of the other eastern nations like India who in the beginning had joined with the Antichrist — they want to rebel against him. The eastern armies cross over the Euphrates which has dried up, and they enter into northern Israel into the Valley of Jezreel. I've been there twice and it truly is a massive valley. Napoleon once said that all the armies of the world could be fielded on that plain, and it really could. It's gigantic! And so, once in the Valley of Jezreel the Antichrist's armies will start fighting against the eastern kings' armies and they will start annihilating each other.

In the middle of this insurrection is when Jesus returns onto the scene in what is called the Second Coming, which we will get into next. Jesus will come and with just a word He is going to destroy both factions. Note this, all Jesus has to do is speak to win. God's that powerful! When it's said God holds the world together, well it's true, He really does. God holds the world together and us. So, Jesus by just saying a word or so causes those two armies to literally fall apart and the soldiers die there on the fields. The passage says that there is so much blood that it flows as high as a horse's bridle. We are talking about four to six feet high the blood filling that valley. And again, Jezreel is a massive valley, so we're talking about a lot of the remains of humanity getting together to fight and die there one last time.

Jesus then leaves Jezreel and moves towards Jerusalem. There He engages the rest of the Antichrist's armies who are besieging Jerusalem. Israel has already been trampled by the Gentiles, particularly trampled by the Antichrist at the middle of the Tribulation, and he's still trampling Jerusalem by the end. The Antichrist will be totally besieging the city to defeat it because Satan knows that if he can kill the Jews he has thwarted God's plan, and it looks like he's really getting close to accomplishing that. But, again, when Jesus arrives He easily defeats them.

After Jesus defeats the Antichrist, He sentences the Antichrist and the False Prophet to the Lake of Fire. Satan is cast into a deep pit, held there for a thousand years.

So, that's the Battle of Armageddon. There's a lot of fighting and so many people will die during that epic war, but the true victor is Jesus Christ.

Jesus' return at Armageddon also is the next coinciding prophetic event — Second Coming of Christ.

Brian Thomas: With the Battle of Armageddon, I've heard many people say that the Scripture seems to hint that nuclear warfare will be very prominent as the Tribulation is coming to a close and it looks as if mankind is going to almost totally destroy itself through nuclear warfare and similar means. Do you see during the Battle of Armageddon and even during other parts of the Tribulation nuclear warfare?

Nathan Jones: It's a weird mix. We can read a lot about the effects of nuclear warfare, like the skin melting off of people's bodies. Do you remember the first Indiana Jones movie? I was a kid then and had nightmares for weeks watching that Nazi melt when he opened the Ark of the Covenant. That's kind of how the melting of the bodies are described. When Jesus returns there is a melting of the armies, and I don't know if that is Jesus Himself doing that or that's the result of the armies nuking each other.

We do know earlier during the Tribulation when the Antichrist starts his campaign after he makes the treaty with Israel, he starts galloping around the world conquering it. A massive third of the world is destroyed in just the first year or two of the Tribulation. There is then more destruction and pretty much half the world — that's 3.5 billion people — will have died within the first 3 1/2 years.

A number of the physical effects that we read in the judgments afterwards, especially from the Bowl Judgments, sound like the result of nuclear radiation. The atmosphere isn't much there anymore on the earth to protect it from the solar radiation, so people are scorched. People are also covered in boils, and we know that radiation produces boils on the skin. Radiation rather melts a person, and their teeth start rotting out.

There's definitely a nuclear arsenal I believe involved in the Tribulation. The Bible in Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 well describes Damascus being destroyed in one day by Israel, and the speed of its destruction could only be nuclear in nature.

We can also read that a lot of the soldiers of that time are riding horses. They are shooting from bow and arrows, and it's rather likely by the end of the Tribulation the infrastructure of the world will be so destroyed that people will resort to having to go back to horses again. Or, they could be out of bullets so they are going to have to fashion bows and arrows. So, there's a weird mix of ultimate technology and old fashioned warfare being used at Armageddon.


In the next part of this series on God's order of events, Brian and I will further discuss the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

God's Order of Events: The Rapture of the Church

Nathan JonesMP3 PDFBy

What immediately follows in Heaven after the Rapture of the Church?

On Monday, January 30, 2012, I was interviewed by host Brian Thomas of Blessings to Israel Ministries on his "God First" program. During the 45-minute interview we discussed the prophetic sequence of end time events, placing each event into its proper chronological order.


Blessings to Israel Ministries


2) The Rapture of the Church

Brian Thomas: So, the Day of Pentecost is when the Church Age began, and we're looking at about 2,000 years now that the Church Age has been in existence. What brings the Church Age to a close, or is there even a close to the Church Age?

Nathan Jones: Yes, the Church Age does have an ending and that is the Rapture of the Church. We can read about it in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." That passage, along with a number of other passages like 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, tell about the return of Jesus for the Church.

What happens at the Rapture is that Jesus comes back in the clouds. There's a loud trumpet sound and the archangel calls to all the believers who are alive in Christ. The dead in Christ who have already died during the Church Age will be resurrected. Those of us who are saved and alive will be raised just after them, and we will be taken up to Jesus in the clouds and be with the Lord forever. We will get our new glorified bodies. The rest of the people who have disbelieved in Jesus and rejected His salvation will be left behind.


3a) The Tribulation — Heaven

Brian Thomas: So, the Church Age comes to a close when Jesus Christ returns at the Rapture of the Church. Then what happens? Do we go off to Heaven to live for eternity?

Nathan Jones: Technically speaking, yes, we do live on for eternity. But, there's say a parallel time that's going to be happening on Earth during our time in Heaven. There will come a seven year Tribulation period which will befall the earth. It's seven years of intense wrath pummeled down upon the world for its continued disobedience to God.

The purpose for this time of tribulation is firstly that God wants people to come and accept Him as Savior. So, what God does is He releases 21 intense judgments upon the world, forcing people to choose Him or not.

Secondly, God will also use this time period of pouring out His wrath upon the evil of the world to regather Israel back into their land which forces them to acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah.

Thirdly, God will have Jesus the Messiah return and fight the unbelieving remnant and set up His kingdom on earth.

It's important to note that the Tribulation on Earth is not for the Church. The Church will not be here for the Tribulation for we are promised by God over and over again that we will be spared from the wrath of God. Colossians 3:4 promises, "When Christ who is your life appears than you will also appear with Him in glory." 1 Thessalonians 1:10 reveals, "Wait for the Son from Heaven whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." And, probably the best verse for assuring Christians we will not have to live through that seven year Tribulation is Revelation 3:10, "Since you have kept my commands to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth." Only unbelievers are stuck here for seven years plus maybe a little longer after the Rapture.

For those of us who are raptured up to Heaven, we have a different series of events coming to us there while the Earth faces the Tribulation. There are three events that will happen to us while we are up in Heaven:

1. The Judgment Seat of Christ
This can also be called the Judgment of the Just. The Judgment of the Just is for believers to receive their rewards for the good works we did while on Earth. Now, remember that we are already saved. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus is the only way to get saved. So, when we get up to Heaven, this judgment isn't for our salvation as that's already been accomplished by Christ. This judgment is only about receiving the rewards that we will receive in the service of Christ. You can find our more about this judgment in 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Revelation 19:6-9.

While the Tribulation rages over the earth, in Heaven the Church will receive our rewards for the good things we've done in life. We will be judged based on our motives, the quality of our work, and the quantity of our work. How we actually use the gifts that God has given us to serve Him while we are on the earth then really matters.

The rewards, beyond the spiritual reward of just how amazing it is to be with God finally face-to-face, the Bible reveals are special crowns and white robes. We're told we'll be given new names to go along with our new bodies.

It'll be pretty wonderful. I'm so looking forward to that!

2. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
Jesus will hold a celebration in what is called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. It's like a giant party. The Church is called the Bride of Christ for a reason. God will have a personal fellowship with mankind once again. That one-on-one, deep, personal relationship will be restored.

Somehow over the years Christians have gotten this idea that Jesus is dull and God is stuffy, but you know, many times when we read about Jesus during His earthly ministry He was attending a party. Jesus loves to celebrate good things. Jesus is going to celebrate that His Church after 2,000 plus years is finally up with Him in Heaven at an event called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

3. Preparation for the Second Coming
The third thing that we'll be doing while we are up in Heaven is preparing to return with Christ back to earth. We return with Christ at His Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation, which we'll get into a little more later.

So, those are the three things that believers can look forward to experiencing when we get to Heaven.

Brian Thomas: Great! Back to the Judgment Seat of Christ for a moment, I hear quiet often people say that we will have to stand before God someday and answer to every single thing that we've ever done. All of our sins and wicked thoughts are going to be broadcast for all to see on a huge billboard in Heaven and everyone is going to see it as we stand there embarrassed and ashamed before God. Will that really be the case?

Nathan Jones: The whole idea of a big billboard or big TV to me sounds like quiet a fantasy. We are all destined to die once and then face judgment, the Bible tells us that. But, again, this is a celebration. This is a time of gift giving from the Lord. How many people show up for a kid's birthday party and see the parent reading a laundry list of all their kid's failings before they give them their birthday presents? Never! It doesn't work that way.

Yes, I think there'll be regrets. The Bible gives us the example of chaff. Threshers would remove the chaff, that is the weeds and stuff that dried with the grain, out of the grain. Chaff is the works that we just failed to do from wasting our time. Instead, we pursued money, we pursued clothes, we pursued cars, we watched TV too much. We just didn't do the works we were supposed to do while on earth. The natural and spiritual gifts that God gave us for service to Him we didn't utilize properly. Yes, those lapses will affect our eternal gifts.

Some verses talk about achieving our rewards already on earth, like when we seek attention for the things that we do, and that attention is the only reward we can expect. People say "good job" and they forget about what you did and that's that. But, our eternal rewards are works that we did for Christ out of our heart and love for Him. Those rewards last forever.

I love this reference in Revelation 19:7-9 concerning the Marriage Supper, "Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory. For the wedding of the Lamb has come and His bride has made themselves ready; fine linen bright and clean was given her to wear. Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints. Then the angel said to me, 'Write blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the lamb," and he added, 'these are the true words of God.'"

So, I'm excited! It's going to be a great time when the Lord's going to reward us, and not a time to dwell on our sins.

The thing about rewards is this, that it's not all about us. Just look at the 24 Elders who are described by John in Revelation who circle the Throne of God. What do they do with those gifts God gave them such as their crowns? They take their crowns off and they lay them at the feet of God, using their rewards as an act of worship. Our rewards in Heaven are eternal reminders of our worship of the Lord, and we will use those to worship Him forever. Isn't it neat that if you like in love help a homeless person, or share the Gospel with somebody, or anything to do to help the spiritual kingdom of the Lord here on earth, that act's got eternal value that will be used to worship the Lord forever. That's going to be an exciting time!

So, no, I don't think the Judgment of the Just is going to be a battering where we are crying the whole time while we're reminded of our sins. Heaven is supposed to be a place without crying or tears. Instead, the Lord is going to use this as a time of celebration and worship, and He's got seven years to do it all in. I think it'll be just totally awesome.

Brian Thomas: I'm looking forward to it as well!


In the next part of this series on God's order of events, Brian and I will discuss the next in the series — the Tribulation of the Earth culminating in the Battle of Armageddon.

Monday, February 20, 2012

God's Order of Events: The Church Age

Nathan JonesMP3 PDFBy

How does the Church Age play into the prophetic sequence of events?

On Monday, January 30, 2012, I was interviewed by host Brian Thomas of Blessings to Israel Ministries on his "God First" program. During the 45-minute interview we discussed the prophetic sequence of end time events, placing each event into its proper chronological order.


Blessings to Israel Ministries


Introductions

Brian Thomas: Greetings in the name of our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! And thank you for tuning in to the "God First" program. My name is Brian C. Thomas and I'm honored and delighted to have today a special guest — Nathan Jones of Lamb and Lion Ministries. Nathan, thank you for coming on today to speak with us.

Nathan Jones: It's a great blessing to be speaking with you about one of our favorite subjects, Brian — Bible prophecy.

Brian Thomas: That's right, it's definitely my passion and your passion as well. We just enjoy getting the message out concerning the soon return of Jesus Christ.

Nathan is here to speak on the topic "Bible Prophecy: God's Order of Events." I invited you on this topic, Nathan, because growing up there were a lot of things that I heard concerning what is going to happen in the future with the return of Christ and eternity that I just accepted as the truth. But, I began to realize that some of what I was taught wasn't exactly what the Bible is saying. For example, I had the impression that when we die we go off to live in Heaven and that's where we spend eternity, floating on clouds as disembodied spirits. But, that's not exactly true. There are a lot of myths out there concerning events of the future that get passed along that are not exactly accurate. So, you are here to explain their proper order and clear up the cloudy areas for us as to what truly will happen in God's order of events.


1) The Church Age

Brian Thomas: Let's begin by speaking about the Church Age. We'll sort of step back a little bit in time then come to the present and then finally go to the future. How does the Church Age fit into Bible prophecy?

Nathan Jones: Ironically enough, the Church Age really didn't fit into Old Testament Bible prophecy. Many times later it was referred to as a mystery. It wasn't understood by the Old Testament prophets. What the Old Testament prophets expected when the Messiah came would be that His Kingdom would begin and that'd be it. They didn't know there was going to be an age called the Church Age in between the two comings of the Messiah.

The Church Age officially began at the Day of Pentecost when the Lord gave the Apostles and the other disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. After that they went out and started sharing the Gospel. You can read in Acts how the Church started growing and flourishing. The Church Age is actually the time period that we live in now, and it's still the time when the Church is growing and flourishing and the Gospel is getting out to the whole world.

In the Old Testament, the Jews were to be the example of holy living. One had to go the Temple in Jerusalem to worship God and you had to follow the laws. And so, people looked at the Jews and they looked at Israel and would say, "Okay, because of their holy example we want to join them and become like them." Missions was all funneled into Israel. Inversely, with the Church Age, it's the opposite missions strategy than the Old Testament Israel model. Instead, the Church Age funnels evangelism through its believers out into the world. Instead of everyone coming to Jerusalem to learn about God, everybody who knows Christ goes out into the world to share Christ.

The Church Age that we live in is directed by the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19-20 reads, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age." This is Jesus talking, giving the Church His Great Commission. He is sending the Church out into the world to get the Gospel across the entire planet. And, when Jesus says, "to the very end of the age," He's talking about the end of this age — the Church Age.

Brian Thomas: You touched on the Church Age beginning at the time when Jesus Christ left the earth or shortly thereafter, correct?

Nathan Jones: Correct. There is some debate whether the Church Age began during Jesus' ministry or at Jesus' ascension or on the Day of Pentecost. I believe it to be the Day of Pentecost because immediately the Apostles go out and start witnessing. That's when we start seeing the word "church" used prolifically. We start seeing that 3,000 more were added to the church, and 5,000 were added to the church, and so on. That's why I believe the Day of Pentecost officially began the Church Age.


In the next part of this series on God's order of events, Brian and I will discuss the next in the series — the Rapture of the Church and what immediately follows in Heaven.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tonight Matters: Should Christians Vote

Nathan JonesMP3 PDFBy

Is it okay or not for a Christian to vote for a non-Christian?

On Wednesday, January 25th I was interviewed by hosts Matt Buff and Jim Fletcher of the Rapture Ready Radio show, broadcast over BlogTalkRadio. During the second hour of their two hour live show we talked about the growing interest in Bible prophecy, the importance of teaching the Creation, Lamb & Lion Ministries' new ministry initiatives in reaching people for Christ, the top five questions every Christian should know, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and how Christians should respond to non-Christian candidates when it comes time to vote. Matt Buff also simultaneously chatted online with people listening to the show, taking questions from the audience.


Rapture Ready Radio


Christian Response to Voting

Nathan Jones: Just interesting to me was how the latest Republican South Carolina primary brought up an ominous point. Beforehand, 143 well known evangelical leaders got together and endorsed Rick Santorum based on the faith of this candidate. You would think that in South Carolina where 75% of the people say they are born-again evangelical Christians that they'd vote for him, but they didn't.

Such an absence of voting for what is perceived the most "Christian" candidate left kind of gives you this idea that maybe the voice of Christianity and Christian leadership in America like the Religious Right which was strongest back in the 1980's is no longer here today. In truth, we just don't listen to our Christian leaders like we used to because we don't have faith in them anymore. We were burned too many times, I guess.

The Christian voice just doesn't sway the political vote anymore in the United States. I'm not saying that Christians need to be all involved in politics or anything, but we still need to make a stand for what's right, because if we can't sway the political vote then we can't have a voice and as a result we're going to see all the laws that protect religious freedom and protect Christianity all fall away. We'll end up seeing the same persecution that we are seeing elsewhere in the world, until we end up a nation like China where you have to register your church and if you say anything against the government they'll arrest or kill you. This very situation is certainly going that way, and Bible prophecy tells us that's what it will be like during the coming Tribulation.

Matt Buff: We've talked on our show quite extensively about the Presidential candidates and their faith in particular, and we've concluded that we're looking at it as a situation where we're not putting in a spiritual leader, as those days are gone. What we're supporting first and foremost is trying to get Barack Obama out of office, and so we have preferences for which candidate best might accomplish this, because we would like to see things turn around in this country at least economically for the time being.

You guys at Lamb & Lion gave Mitt Romney a pretty hard time, but I'll be honest with you, I would still take him over Barack Obama any day of the week.

Nathan Jones: Yes, we've had a lot of people write in concerning our "Christ in Prophecy" episode about Romney's Mormon faith.

Of course, we don't endorse any particular candidate. Both Dr. Reagan and myself have said, okay, we've got a humanist with Islamic sympathies who wants to social engineer the country, or we've got a Mormon who is faithful to family with conservative values and has a real love for defending Israel. Hmm, deciding on which candidate is kind of a no brainer.

I'll vote for the guy who stands for most of what the country needs. It doesn't mean I like all that they believe and I certainly don't support their faith. I don't think we're going to get a candidate who truly loves the Lord in the evangelical Christian definition, but we must remember that the Presidency is a secular position and not a religious position.

We also must remember that God ordains secular people to do His will, just as he does Christian people. So, the Lord could use Mitt Romney. Who knows, it might be say Romney who wins the Presidency, and his Mormon faith might be the first to quickly add the post-Rapture United States in joining the one world religion that would dominate the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation. No matter what happens, though, it's all going to be part of God's plan.

Matt Buff: It is all part of God's plan. That's an excellent point.

We look on sites where Christians are just so unsure about Mitt Romney, but it seems like everybody is asking the same thing, "Do I want Romney or the Muslim sympathizer?" Mormons, after all aren't running around the world blowing people up right now.

Jim Fletcher: Absolutely, that's the issue. What a great way to define the current President — a humanist with Muslim sympathies. I think there's a sinister element to Obama that will grow exponentially if he gets a second term.

Bible believing Christians do have to make a decision in this election. Are they going to sit on the sidelines and be lukewarm about involvement in the voting process, like they were with John McCain? Or, are we going to try to make Obama a one-term President. I think that's what's really mission critical right now.

Nathan Jones: Christians have got to look at the bigger picture. I have people writing in declaring, "I refuse to vote because the candidates aren't evangelical Christians who believes this, this and this." I have to remind them that this world we live in is a secular world with secular powers, and we've got to do the best we can to be light and salt in the world. Sometimes that means voting for someone who isn't a Christian but will make the world the best place it can be until the Lord's return.

So, I encourage every Christian out there to vote. Get out there and make a difference with your vote. Wow! Think of it, we live in a country where you actually get a vote. That matters. That means something. We should use the freedom that the Lord has given us.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tonight Matters: Islamic Eschatology

Nathan JonesMP3 PDFBy

What do Muslims believe concerning the end times?

On Wednesday, January 25th I was interviewed by hosts Matt Buff and Jim Fletcher of the Rapture Ready Radio show, broadcast over BlogTalkRadio. During the second hour of their two hour live show we talked about the growing interest in Bible prophecy, the importance of teaching the Creation, Lamb & Lion Ministries' new ministry initiatives in reaching people for Christ, the top five questions every Christian should know, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and how Christians should respond to non-Christian candidates when it comes time to vote. Matt Buff also simultaneously chatted online with people listening to the show, taking questions from the audience.


Rapture Ready Radio


Islamic View of End Time Events

Jim Fletcher: Isn't it scary that the Muslims also have an eschatology?

Nathan Jones: That they do. It's the one that President Ahmadinejad and the mullahs are stressing involving the return of Twelfth Iman. Islam is divided into Shiites and Sunnis and of course there are Sufis, but the primary groups are the Shiites and the Sunnis. The Shiites in particular want the Twelfth Imam to come back and lead the world to total Islamic control.

They also have the Dajjal, which is supposedly their version of the Antichrist.

They also believe that Jesus will come back and he will burn all the crosses and he will kill all the pigs. He and Mohammed will bring Islam to the world and everybody will have to convert over to Islam. Then Jesus will die. It's all very convoluted.

If folks want to read about Islamic eschatology, Dr. David Reagan has written some good articles that delves into that subject matter.

Because Islam believes that the world needs to be conquered for Allah, this view that Hillary Clinton has been espousing which believes we can talk to the Iranians is naive. We've been talking with the Iranians for years believing we can make peace with them, but talking never makes sense, because they believe wholeheartedly their Koranic prophecy. They understand what the end goal is for them, and that's the total subjugation of the world to Islam. And so, it's very naive of our politicians to walk in and think that we can peacefully talk with them and they will just back down. After all, we are Christians who believe in the Bible and we're not going to back down from our belief in the Bible. Well, they're not going to back down either.

It takes someone with no faith in anything to believe that people of faith will just back down from what they believe. I'm sorry, but it makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes because they are so deluded because of their lack of faith and understanding of the Bible. Boy, what a world it would be if we all understood Jesus' love and shared that instead!

Jim Fletcher: And yet, you know if I could have a conversation with Hillary Clinton about what you just said concerning Muslim eschatology, she'd just dismiss it with a wave of her hand and wouldn't even consider that it factors in.


The Awful Result of Apostasy

Nathan Jones: No, and you've got to wonder. Hillary Clinton grew up in an liberal denomination. So did her husband Bill Clinton. So did Barack Obama. They've never heard the real Gospel, but if they had they've rejected it.

It's like Oprah growing up believing that God was jealous of her. She totally misconstrued the verse that God is a jealous God. Yes, God's jealous of people competing with His love, but God's not jealous of you. So, people like this take parts of the Bible and misconstrue them and they just don't get the real Gospel.

You can see then what apostasy does to the Church. it ruins our understanding of how the world really works. If you don't understand from a biblical standpoint how the world really works, you end up with a mess, and the world is in a complete mess right now.

Matt Buff: It certainly is, and even now liberal organizations are noting that Christians are under heavy persecution. It's strange to see that people in the mainstream media are starting to see how people are treating Christians. And yet, here we are with the message of hope and forgiveness which is a totally peaceful message, but we are made out to be the bad guy and the object of many jokes. Just go on TV and use the name of Jesus Christ as a derogatory term and nobody bats an eye, but if you use a derogatory term for homosexuals, well, you might lose your job.

Nathan Jones: Look at all this firestorm around Tim Tebow. Okay, the man prays before a game and he puts John 3:16 on his face makeup, and everyone reacts like he's been chopping heads off of people. They go crazy over him. But, you can have thousands of Muslims walk out in the middle of the street, block traffic, and pray, and nobody bats an eye about it.

I was once asked how come the Atheist aren't mad at the Muslims. Well, they're all technically working for the same guy. They all serve the ruler of this world, and right now the ruler of this world is Satan. They just work in different compartments. So, no wonder these different groups all hate Christians universally, because we are the only opposition to them all.

Satan knows Bible prophecy we like to point that out. Satan knows Bible prophecy in and out, and he knows he's going to lose in the end. In response, we are really seeing a ratcheting up of persecution against Christians. Such persecution of Tribulation Saints is really going to be awful in the Tribulation. But, praise the Lord we believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture which shows that the Church will be raptured before the Tribulation. Sadly, though, during the Tribulation most people who come to faith in Christ will be martyred. That's what our world would be like if Satan was ruling it completely. He would first kill all of the Christians.

Matt Buff: Even now Satan is doing his best to do that right now. We talk about the Rapture so much, but it's an excellent point. We have the blessed hope that we are going to miss the Tribulation period. We are not escape artists, and we are not escapists, we are just claiming what was promised to us in the Bible. I'm glad to know I'll be a part of that taking of the Church up to Heaven, but while we're on this earth I'm sure glad that we stick to our job and keep doing what we need to do to reach people for Christ in all kinds of different ways.

Jim Fletcher: Absolutely! Because we're seeing through the outlines of real tribulation and hardship in this country, that's another reason it's incumbent upon all of us to share the true Gospel with anybody we come in contact with anywhere and at anytime, for time is absolutely growing short.


In the last part of this Rapture Ready Radio interview, Matt, Jim and I will discuss whether it's okay or not for a Christian to vote for a non-Christian.