Monday, March 31, 2014

A Psalm 83 War: Clarification by Dave Reagan

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

Is Psalm 83 a prophecy about an end time war between Israel and its neighbors, or is it something else?

Many people like Joel Rosenberg dismiss it and point instead to the war of God & Magog in Ezekiel 38 and 39 as the next end time prophetic war that will take place in the Middle East. But, there are many other respected Bible prophecy experts who argue strongly that the next end time war prophesied for the Middle East is the one described in Psalm 83.

A major controversy has erupted in recent years among Bible prophecy experts who believe in Premillennialism, the view that Jesus will return to this earth at the end of the Tribulation to reign for a 1,000 years. The controversy centers around Psalm 83.

It began in 2008 with the publication of this book Isralestine by Bill Salus of Prophecy Depot Ministries. The thesis of this book is that Psalm 83 describes an end time war between Israel and the nations that share a common border with it, namely Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Bill Salus theorized that the Israelis would win this war overwhelmingly resulting in peace for their nation, but the peace would be short-lived because the Arab world would turn to Russia. The Russians would come down against Israel with certain specified Muslim allies in what the Bible calls the War of Gog & Magog, described in detail in Ezekiel 38 and 39. Russia's Muslim allies will be made up of an outer ring of nations with no common border with Israel today. The Psalm 83 War on the other hand would be one between Israel and the inner ring of nations that surround it.

So, what about it? Is Psalm 83 a prophecy about an end time war that could occur any moment, or is it describing something else? I contacted Bill Salus and his major critic, Tommy Ice, and asked if they would present their arguments. Both graciously agreed to do so.

Dr. Tommy Ice is the Director of the Pre-Trib Research Center that you can find at pre-trib.org. This website contains a treasure trove of articles about end time Bible prophecy.

Tommy Ice has presented his objections to Bill's thesis, which you can read here. Bill Salus responded next, which you can read here. I am now going to clarify some points.

Tommy Ice vs Bill Salus

Dave Reagan Clarifies Some Points

When Bill Salus first published his Psalm 83 War theory in 2008, I endorsed it immediately with a feature article in our September/October Lamplighter magazine. I did so because I had always taught that a limited war in the Middle East between Israel and its immediate neighbors would result in a victory for Israel that would, in turn, motivate the Arab world to cry out to Russia for help. That would lead to a Russian invasion of the area, with the Russians accompanied by the outer ring of Muslim nations mentioned in the War of Gog and Magog from Ezekiel 38 and 39. Although I had taught this for years, I had never made the link between Psalm 83 and a war of Israel with its immediate neighbors, which are those with whom it shares common boundaries.

I still believe this is the most likely scenario: first the limited war of Psalm 83, and then the broader war of Ezekiel 38 and 39.

One of the immediate objections to Bill's thesis took the form of an accusation that he was inserting events that must take place before the Rapture, but that objection was unfounded. Bill never placed any event before the Rapture. According to his thesis, the Rapture could occur before these wars, or during them, or after them. Bill has been consistent in arguing that the Rapture is a signless and imminent event that could occur at any moment.

Basically, those who object to Bill's thesis about Psalm 83 simply argue that the Psalm is a prayerful lament against the enemies of Israel. Do you know what? It could very well be. Bible prophecy is not always clear, and that provides legitimate grounds for honest differences in interpretation.

I want to thank both Tommy Ice and Bill Salus for agreeing to share their viewpoints about Psalm 83. If you would like to study this issue in greater detail, I would recommend a particular video by Bill Salus entitled, Psalm 83.

Check out our other interviews of Bill Salus, author of the Psalm 83-themed book Isralestine. The "Christ in Prophecy" episodes are available online here and here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Psalm 83 War: Defense by Bill Salus

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

Is Psalm 83 a prophecy about an end time war between Israel and its neighbors, or is it something else?

In the previous segment, Dr. Tommy Ice, who is the Director of the Pre-Trib Research Center, listed his objections against Psalm 83 being about a future war. In this segment, Bill Salus of Prophecy Depot Ministries, who wrote the Psalm 83-themed book Isralestine, will respond to Dr. Ice and state his reasons for why he believes Psalm 83 is indeed prophetic.

Tommy Ice vs Bill Salus


Bill Salus' Defense of a Psalm 83 War

First of all, I highly recommend Tommy Ice who is an excellent teacher when it comes to talking about the Pre-Trib Rapture. Often I will refer people to the Pre-Trib Rapture website. I think that he has done a lot of outstanding work on it.

I do also agree with him that Psalm 83 is a prayer of lament, also called an imprecatory prayer. Asaph is calling upon the Lord to intervene and he is beseeching God to deal with His adversaries.

But, where I think Thomas Ice falls short is seeing the prophetic aspects within Psalm 83. He thinks it's just a prayer of lament and not a real prophecy.

Let's start with 2 Chronicles 29:30. Hezekiah says he commends the Levites to sing the praises of King David and Asaph who is the author of the psalm and he calls him — a seer. The Hebrew word is clearly talking about a beholder of visions, or in other words, a prophet. Asaph wrote 12 psalms, and Psalm 83 is one of the most prophetic of his psalms. Asaph was a prophet.

King Hezekiah would have been very interested in and would have known that Asaph was a prophet, because among the confederacy that Asaph talks about in Psalm 83 is a member called Assyria. At the time that Asaph wrote, Assyria wasn't even in the picture. They weren't even really one of Israel's enemies until many decades later. But, they were an enemy of Hezekiah. Assyria had come into the fray with Israel during Shalmaneser II around 850 BC, and Hezekiah was around 701 BC. Assyria was already interacting with Israel problematically as they destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC. So Hezekiah around 701 BC had to deal with King Sennacherib of Assyria. Hezekiah would have been very concerned about what is going on with Assyria and he would have known that Asaph had spoken about Assyria in a prophecy.

Another thing when we talk about this prophecy, among the confederacy of nations aligned against Israel that Asaph talks about in Psalm 83, he talks about a place called Gebal, along with Assyria. Now with Gebal, you don't even hear about them until Ezekiel 27. Ezekiel wrote long after Asaph. Asaph wrote about 1,000 years BC. Ezekiel wrote about 500-600 years BC, so he wrote well after Asaph had died. Therefore, Psalm 83 has to be a prophecy because Asaph was not just saying, "God help us with these enemies around us." Asaph listed the very specific group of ten groups, though of course Israel has many more than ten enemies in today's point in time. But, he listed a specific ten, and two of them weren't even in the fray at 1,000 BC. Asaph was talking about a future scenario.

Asaph also talks about these enemy peoples as in a habitation condition. He's talking about a confederacy. He calls the very first member the "tents of Edom." He's listing some population, some people group, in a habitation condition. Now, biblically speaking, that would even be military encampments or refugee conditions. The Edomites the descendants of Esau have ethnical representation in the Palestinians today. I do believe what Asaph was trying to tell us which became a reality in 1948 would be a Palestinian refugee crisis and they would play a part in this overall confederacy. I think the Palestinians find their face in prophecy today.

When Asaph mentions Assyria, we find they actually help the children of Lot. So, you have a confederation member who is assisting another confederation member. The children of Lot would represent Jordan for the most part today. At no time in Jordan's history did Assyria ever help Jordan until they were involved in wars with Israel in 1948 and 1967. Jordan was not one of the stronger members in that war. So, I think that as well is a prophecy, from that perspective. Asaph was a prophet.

One of the things that Dr. Ice talked about which is a little bit disturbing to me is that he says when my friends speak about Psalm 83 or I hear radio interviews about Psalm 83 at best it should be said that a Psalm 83 War is just utter speculation. First of all, that ignores an enormous amount of research I've done throughout the years. And second, I wasn't the first one to write on Psalm 83. This is not my brain storm, idea, or hypothesis. Mutually respected people such as Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum first wrote about it in his book The Footsteps of the Messiah. David Dolan wrote about Psalm 83 in his book Israel in Crisis before I even wrote about it.

When Dr. Ice talks about my friends who are supposedly speculating, well let's unpack that a little bit. We are talking about Hal Lindsey who advocates the similar Psalm 83 hypothesis. Dr. David Reagan, Chuck Missler, Gary Stearman, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum as I said, and a lot of notable and very respected names support a Psalm 83 War. So, from my perspective, I don't think those guys took my word for it concerning the interpretation of Psalm 83 without them cracking open the books and figuring out for themselves whether it was a true prophecy or not. I think just broad-brushing that a Psalm 83 War is just speculation is a little bit tenuous.

In the first part of the interview with Dr. Ice, he could only cover a modicum of what he has written in a dissertation around 2011 called "Consistent Biblical Futurism." In that he devoted sections 10, 11, 12 and 13 to Psalm 83. I certainly invite you to Google it and read up if you really want to hear all of his general arguments against a Psalm 83 War. At the same time I would invite you get my book Psalm 83: The Missing Prophecy Revealed where I address every objection that he's made, and every objection everyone else has made about why Psalm 83 is perhaps not a prophecy for our time.

I do want to quote one thing that Dr. Ice says right in the beginning of his dissertation, he says, "Consistent futurists believe that future Old Testament prophecy will start to be fulfilled after the Rapture of the Church, except the prophecy of the Rapture itself." What he's saying there is that Bible prophecy apart from the Rapture will be fulfilled after the Rapture. And, as you read his teachings on futurism, more specifically he is putting coming prophecy all into the catch-all closet for during the coming 7-year Tribulation period. In essence, he's pretty much declaring all prophecy apart from the Rapture will find final fulfillment in Daniel's 70th Week, otherwise known as the Tribulation period.

Dr. Ice goes on to say, "Bill Salus has set forth the speculation that Psalm 83 prophesies a separate end time war that will take place at the end of the current Church Age before the Rapture. Salus teaches that before Tribulation, before the Battle of Magog which will take place before the Tribulation and even before the Rapture toward the end of the current Church Age, Israel will be invaded by the nations surrounding it." First of all, I want to clarify when I read that I emailed Dr. Ice and I said, "Please point out where I said that, or were you gleamed that thought, because I certainly don't know where that is coming from. I never wrote that." He never responded to me.

And so, I want to go on the record right now that in all my works I've made it perfectly clear that I do not believe that Psalm 83 has to precede the Rapture. Now, it might. The Rapture could happen before, it could happen during, or it could happen after Psalm 83, but I believe in the doctrine of imminence as does Dr. Ice does. I believe we should be looking for the return of Jesus Christ at any given moment. But, I also see from watching the geopolitical situation in the Middle East that Psalm 83 is also very imminent and it could happen, and we need to be prepared for it.

Now I want to talk a little bit about the Psalm. Asaph is petitioning God about a concern — a genocidal attempt on the Jewish people. He's saying these nations surrounding Israel are going to form a confederacy and they are going to form a plan. These are a contemporary confederacy of Arab states. These Arab states share common borders with Israel. They are going to form a contemporary confederacy. They are going to make a plan to destroy the nation of Israel so that the name of Israel will be remembered no more.

If Psalm 83 is a prophecy for our time, that means they don't want peace with the Jews today. The Arab and the Palestinians do not want peace with the Jews. They don't want a two state solution. They want one more state where they can fly the flag of Palestine over it. And, I think this threat against Israel is a very real concern. It certainly is with Israel, and it should be a concern for you as supporters of Israel.

Dr. Ice has made the comment about how if this is a prophecy, how come it's not contained in the writings of the major and minor prophets? Well I point out in my book, Psalm 83: The Missing Prophecy Revealed, that the prophets did talk about it. I point out about 150 verses that I think apply to the prophets addressing these very population groups from Psalm 83: Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, Gebal, Assyria, Ishmaelites and Hagarenes. I put maps in the book, of course, of who they are. They're the Arab states sharing common borders with Israel. I call them an inner-circle, and inside of that inner-circle you've got terrorist populations which have evolved, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, of course you've got the Palestinians. I will let you read through my book and you will see that I believe Asaph has spoken along with the other prophets very much about these nations coming against Israel.

I think the problem that Dr. Ice runs into is because he believes that in consistent futurism that the judgment of all the nations will occur during the Tribulation period. I think he gravitates towards that view, and I certainly respect his view on that. He sees the judgment of the nations happening during the campaign of Armageddon as the Lord is returning. When Jesus returns He will deal with the Antichrist single-handedly, and He's fighting off the armies of all the nations.

What I point out is that the Israeli Defense Forces today are instrumental, for they are a tool of the Lord, to fight off the Psalm 83 Arabs. In my book I show scriptures such as Ezekiel 25:14 dealing with Edom, "I will execute vengeance by the hand of my people Israel,". Note, not by the Messiah, but "by the hand of my people Israel on Edom, and they'll show them my fury and vengeance."

Obadiah 1:18 is also a very important prophecy. "The House of Jacob will be a fire, the house of Joseph a flame, but the house of Esau shall be stubble." Esau is the father of the Edomites. The Edomites are the "tents of Edom" in this prophecy.

Asaph also petitions the Lord in Psalm 83:9-11 to deal with this Arab confederacy in the manner of historical Jewish military precedent. At the time of Gideon, when he defeated the Midianites, the Lord empowered Gideon to defeat the Midianites. Some 300 men kill 120,000 Midianites. Asaph asks God to deal with them like Barak the general did at the time of the Canaanites when the Israelites won because they were empowered by God. Asaph is petitioning the Lord to deal with them by empowering the Israeli Defense Forces through the manner of historical precedent, and that's what has been done this very day.

As I conclude, I'll say again I certainly respect Tommy Ice. I just don't agree with him for falling short on calling Psalm 83 a prophecy. I invite you to certainly read all the things he said, but pick up my book and read it too, because I think Psalm 83 is on the nearby horizon and that also means that Jesus could come at any given moment. Thank you.


In the third and last segment of our study of a potential Psalm 83 War, Dr. Reagan will clarify some points.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Psalm 83 War: Objections by Tommy Ice

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

Is Psalm 83 a prophecy about an end time war between Israel and its neighbors, or is it something else?

Many people like Joel Rosenberg dismiss it and point instead to the war of God & Magog in Ezekiel 38 and 39 as the next end time prophetic war that will take place in the Middle East. But, there are many other respected Bible prophecy experts who argue strongly that the next end time war prophesied for the Middle East is the one described in Psalm 83.

A major controversy has erupted in recent years among Bible prophecy experts who believe in Premillennialism, the view that Jesus will return to this earth at the end of the Tribulation to reign for a 1,000 years. The controversy centers around Psalm 83.

It began in 2008 with the publication of this book Isralestine by Bill Salus of Prophecy Depot Ministries. The thesis of this book is that Psalm 83 describes an end time war between Israel and the nations that share a common border with it, namely Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Bill Salus theorized that the Israelis would win this war overwhelmingly resulting in peace for their nation, but the peace would be short-lived because the Arab world would turn to Russia. The Russians would come down against Israel with certain specified Muslim allies in what the Bible calls the War of Gog & Magog, described in detail in Ezekiel 38 and 39. Russia's Muslim allies will be made up of an outer ring of nations with no common border with Israel today. The Psalm 83 War on the other hand would be one between Israel and the inner ring of nations that surround it.

So, what about it? Is Psalm 83 a prophecy about an end time war that could occur any moment, or is it describing something else? I contacted Bill Salus and his major critic, Tommy Ice, and asked if they would present their arguments. Both graciously agreed to do so.

Dr. Tommy Ice is the Director of the Pre-Trib Research Center that you can find at pre-trib.org. This website contains a treasure trove of articles about end time Bible prophecy.

We are going to begin with Tommy Ice presenting his objections to Bill's thesis, and then Bill will respond.

Tommy Ice vs Bill Salus


Tommy Ice's Response to a Psalm 83 War

My problem with the Psalm 83 theory by Bill Salus is that Psalm 83 first of all does not contain a prophecy. It's an individual lament psalm, or a national lament, written by Asaph.

Asaph was complaining 3,000 years ago about the enemies that surround Israel. I'll admit that when you read it you'd think you are reading about the modern situation in Israel, which shows that in 3,000 years things really haven't changed. It's basic Anti-Semitism.

In some of the lament psalms, like Psalm 79 for example, you have the Lord answering a request. He will then give a prophecy about what He is going to do in response. In Psalm 83, you don't have the Lord answering it. Therefore, there's just an assumption that there's going to be a battle behind Asaph's request. There may or may not be.

Psalm 83 does not contain a prophecy. It just contains the lament or the complaint that Asaph is giving.

Secondly, when you look at the parallel passages (well, they are not really parallel), but those that mention the 10 nations or people groups that wish to destroy Israel that are mentioned in Psalm 83, these are also mentioned by the prophets later on. If you want to look at the development of Old Testament prophecy in any detail relating to Israel, you have to start with the book of Deuteronomy. It has an outline of prophecy. You really don't have much prophecy being given until the prophets come in after the Psalms and they start fleshing out this problem with Israel's enemies.

For example, you have Psalm 2. That is the psalm where it says, "kiss the son less he be angry... why are the nations in an uproar?" Later on in the prophetic books, when we learn the outline of Israel's prophecy, you realize that Psalm 2 which was given 3,000 years ago fits into the idea of the Tribulation. These nations are going up against God and He is going to judge them in the Tribulation.

In the Old Testament, there are what I call "Synoptic Prophets." These are just like the Synoptic Gospels, with synoptic meaning "the same". The Synoptic Gospels are Matthew, Mark and Luke. They are similar, but John has like 93% difference in its gospel account. The same is true in the four Major Prophets — Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Each one of those prophets has a section relating to the judgment of the nations. Most of these nations or people groups that are given in Psalm 83 are included in the judgment of the nations. For example, in Isaiah 13-23, you have a section similar to Jeremiah, I think nine chapters long. You have another section in Ezekiel that is seven chapters long. They say a lot of the similar things. And the context of the judgment of the nations is going to be at Armageddon basically, in other words in conjunction with the Tribulation.

If there's going to be an actual fulfillment of Psalm 83, these other prophetic books talk about the judgment of those people groups in conjunction with the Second Coming, when Jesus is going to judge the nations. That is the very purpose of the Tribulation. In fact, Isaiah 24-26 talks about the judgments of the nations basically for their rejection of God.

We learn from Revelation 3:10 that the Tribulation's purpose is to test the earth dwellers. That phrase "earth dwellers" comes from Isaiah 24-26. That terms used 11 times in the book of Revelation. These are the people who oppose God. And so, the Tribulation is the time in which those nations listed in Psalm 83 will be judged.

Therefore, I think the idea that there's got to be a Psalm 83 War to set up the peace for the Gog & Magog War described in Ezekiel 38 & 39 is built on speculation. The New Testament warns against speculation. A number of times the Apostle Paul warns us about speculation, especially in the Pastoral Epistles.

In truth, we all speculate on Bible prophecy. But, it is one thing to speculate within the framework of clear revelation like the Tribulation or the Millennium and how events are going to play out, because those are settled sequences among literal interpreters of the Bible. We agree that there's going to be a 7-year Tribulation and there's going to be a 1,000 year Millennium. We see the European Union apparently preparing the way for the Revived Roman Empire. We see Israel back in the land, and there are dozens of passages that talk about the Jews returning to the Holy Land. We can speculate within that framework.

I agree with Bill Salus that Ezekiel 38 and 39's Gog & Magog War will probably take place at the beginning or just before the Tribulation. In other words, Gog & Magog will likely occur shortly before the Tribulation, because I believe there will be an interval of time between the Rapture that ends the Church Age and the start of the Tribulation because it will take time for the Antichrist who is being restrained by the Church Age according to 2 Thessalonians 2 to get into place and set up a 10-nation confederacy for his power to arise from among those nations. There's got to be a period of time after the Rapture but before the Tribulation starts. The Tribulation starts as a result of Israel agreeing to or the Antichrist imposing a contract on Israel out of the power of the Revived Roman Empire and by the Beast who is the Antichrist himself. That's all very likely when those events will take place.

I say Bill speculates because he doesn't give a Bible verse or a passage to support based on Psalm 83 a war between Israel and those nations immediately surrounding Israel that will set up a time of peace as required before Gog & Magog can begin. He believes Israel is going to win a war against Israel's neighbors which will set up the basis for the Gog & Magog War.

When you look at the end of Ezekiel 39, I think it is around verse 28 and following, it talks about how the Lord has hidden Himself from the nation of Israel. That appears to refer to the period from the time of Christ to the Tribulation period, because the Old Testament is focused on that 70th Week of Daniel, which is another name for the Tribulation period. I think the Battle of Gog & Magog has to be related to the Tribulation period because it is during that time when Israel is going to come to know Christ and by the end be vindicated at last.

Before the Tribulation, it appears that God is not working directly or prophetically during the Church Age, because the Church Age is a time in which you have general trends and characteristics, but not specific prophecies, that are occurring to set up the Tribulation. When the Church Age began in Acts 2, we did have some of Israel's prophecies that were fulfilled, such as the destruction of Jerusalem, which Jesus foretold in Luke 19. Some of those prophecies transitioned into the Church Age.

Apparently, as we transition out of the Church Age and into the time of Israel for the Tribulation, you are going to have things like Israel returning back to their land again. But, these prophetic events which are talked about in the Old Testament, I believe have to take place either near or in relation to the Tribulation, or be directly in the Tribulation itself. That's why people who believe that prophetic events are going to happen during the Church Age are called historicists, versus people who take prophecy more literally and who believe in the 70th Week of Daniel believe these events will happen in a future to the time of the Church Age.

Since there are no other passages that actually teach what Psalm 83 teaches, then I think the theory is pure speculation. The rational for this given in Bill's book Isralestine is that there needs to be something that happens that brings about peace in Israel which will set up the peace requirement for Ezekiel 38 and 39. That's a speculation built upon a speculation. And yet, when I hear people on the radio or talk to friends who believe in the Psalm 83 theory, they talk about it like it is going to be an actual event. At best it ought to be noted clearly that a Psalm 83 War is pure speculation. It is pure speculation because as I say there is no prophecy behind it and there's nothing else directly related to it.


In the second segment of our study of a potential Psalm 83 War, Bill Salus will offer his response to Dr. Ice's objections.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Israel Tour 2014: Day 10 in the Miracle of Israel

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

Day 10 of Lamb & Lion Ministries 2014 Israel Tour was a sobering, educational journey into the tremendous sacrifices the Jewish people have made to produce the miracle that is by God's hand the resurrecting of the nation of Israel from nearly 1,900 years of death. This is just as Bible prophecy had foretold would happen (Ezek. 36-37; Mat. 24:32-34).

We climbed Mount Herzl to visit the cemetary of Israel's fallen heroes. We walked through World War II at Yad Vashem and mourned for the six million Jews that had their lives forcably taken to the Nazi death machine, though not in vain. We saw the physical proof that our Bible today has remained unaltered over the millennia by looking over the Dead Sea Scrolls. And, we learned at the Ministry of Tourism how tourism can keep the peace.

Herzl
Our pilgrims each put a stone of remembrance on top of Theodore Herzl's tomb. Herzl is the "Father of Zionism" who in the late 1800's began the push for the Jewish people to get their own homeland.

Herzl Cemetary
Mount Herzl's honored dead are laid to rest in the most peaceful garden that would rival any arboretum.

Jonathan Netanyahu
The grave of Jonathan Netanyahu, the commander and hero of the 1976 Entebbe raid that freed the passengers from a highjacked plane. He sadly was the only soldier to die.

Ezekiel 37:14
The monument outside the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum reads from the Ezekiel 37:14 prophecy, "I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.'" We live in the days that this has very thing has come to pass!

Yad Vashem Children
 These broken markers are a symbol for the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered by the Nazis. No pictures are allowed in the museum, but the room for remembering these cut off children is all dark except for reflections upon reflections of candles. The names of the children are read out in three languages.

Janusz Satser Korczak and the Ghetto Children
Felicia adds a stone of remembrance to the monument for Janusz Satser Korczak, an unsung hero who refused to let the Jewish ghetto children taken from his orphanage by the Nazis die in the gas chamber alone. It was said that those listening outside the gas chamber could here him singing and encouraging the kids all the way to their Father's embrace.

Dead Sea Scrolls Museum
The Dead Sea Scrolls Museum's roof is set up to look like the lid of the pots where the 2,000 year old scrolls were found at Qumran. No pictures are allowed of the Dead Sea Scrolls because the light would damage these ancient biblical texts, but they're kept underground in the cool of the dark, though with just enough light for us to be able to marvel at them.

Second Temple
We hopped a DeLorean and traveled to the Second Temple; well, a model of it anyway.

Model of Jerusalem
And a most impressive model it is. Behold Jerusalem in all its miniaturized glory!

Reagan Award
At the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, George Collich accepts on behalf of Dr. David Reagan a special award for leading 45 trips to the Holy Land. Israel wished to honor Dr. Reagan for all he's done over the last three decades to teach people about Israel's role in the world - past, present and future.

Palestinians
It's tragically humorous to read all the MSM news stories this past week about the "big bad Jews oppressing the poor little Palestinians with land grabbing and apartheid." Nonsense! Clueless Media. This "demonstration" of Palestinians here in Jerusalem was really a wedding.

Israeli Soldiers
Israel's heroes of tomorrow are just men and women 18-21 years old. How many will have to die by the ignorant hands of Antisemitism?

Odd Observations

  1. So many Jewish children died at the hands of the Nazis that at the rate the Yad Vashem memorial reads off the names it will take 1.5 years before the next time that name is read again.
  2. When Christians boycott Israeli goods, they need to remember that was the act that started the downward slide into the Holocaust.
  3. Pilgrims to Israel are given the title "Tourism Goodwill Ambassador" and a certificate by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.
  4. My hotel towels have all smelled like honey. Is that smell of dryer sheet even offered in the States?

Day 11 and 12

The final two days of our tour will fit in some exciting biblical spots. God willing, on Day 11 we will hold a special worship and communion service at the Garden Tomb and visit Golgotha. We will move on to what was Kireath Jearim where the Ark of the Covenant was stored in a farm house for 70 years (1 Sam. 7:1), and where Elvis lives on in the hearts and gas pumps of the locals. We'll have our last Israeli meal at the Messianic kibbutz, Yad Hashmona. And hopefully, we will get all this in before heading to the airport for the toughest part of this trip - Day 12 with a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany and onwards for the loooong flight home.

Final Thoughts

How can I sum up this tour?

I used to balk at the word "pilgrimage," as it had connotations of some works-based act for attaining salvation. And yet, "pilgrimage" is what this tour really is, not in the sense that we are seeking salvation, which we already have, but to better understand our salvation and the things we were taught in Sunday school that we long have taken for granted.

For some, it was the trip of a lifetime. For others, a valued learning experience where new friendships were formed. But, for me, it was also a worship experience, for I got to explore Bible prophecy with my new-found brothers and sisters in Christ while in the echoes of my Savior's time here on earth.

It was a journey well worth the taking.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Israel Tour 2014: Day 9 at the Dead Sea

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

Day 9 of Lamb & Lion Ministries' 2014 Israel Tour focused on the Dead Sea region, which is the lowest point on land in all the world. And, it isn't called the Dead Sea for nothing. When God wanted to wipe Sodom and Gomorrah off the map due to "their sin so grievous" (Gen. 18:20), He made the Dead Sea a wasteland. The mineral runoff into the Dead Sea has caused the water to be unlivable for any creature. Jewelry corrodes in just days and metal boats are eaten through in a matter of weeks. The adjacent cliffs are salt encrusted and barren. Fresh water is almost impossible to find. Flies buzz all around like on a carcass. The place even smells strongly of what one would imagine fire and brimestone to smell like.

The Dead Sea is a testament to the severity of God's judgment when mankind totally abandons morality. But, prophetically it will also be a testament to God's restorative power, which you can read more about at the bottom of this post.

Lion's Gate
On the way to our bus we went through the Lion's Gate in the Arab Quarter. See the little lions? It's also known as Saint Stephen's gate, the site where Stephen was stoned to death and became the first Christian martyr (Acts 6-7).

Church of Saint Anne
Just inside the Lion's Gate, where the Sheep Gate once stood, is the Church of Saint Anne and the healing Pools of Bethesda (Jn. 5:1-15). Judy shows off the beautiful gardens that lie outside.

Jericho
Passing through the Judean Wilderness, we drive by the city of Jericho. With all that room on the surrounding plain, it's easy to imagine hundreds of thousands of Israelites marching around the ancient city walls until they all fell down (Josh. 6).

Dead Sea Cliffs
The barrenness of the Dead Sea region with its steep and rocky terrain covered in veins of white salt is a lonely spectacle to behold.

Ein Gedi
The one spot that isn't barren but is a font of life is En Gedi, the oasis among the desert and popular hideout of King David (1 Sam. 23:29). The falls deep within the rocky recesses provided life to David and his men.

Dead Sea Teaching
Nathan Jones at Ein Gedi teaching on the Dead Sea history of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by God and the way He will bring life back to that dead land once more during His Millennial Kingdom (see below).

Crown of Thorns Bush
Who plants a thorn bush once used to make the crown of thorns from Jesus' Crucifixion in the middle of a park?!?

Dead Sea
The Dead Sea may be absolutely dead, but the morning mist makes for a beautiful setting.

Masada Cable Car
What the people of the First Century would have given for one of these cable cars up to Herod's desert fortress of Masada.

Snake Path
The alternative way to Masada is by a treacherous and long walk up the snake filled, winding path. Kudos, Phillip!

Masada Heights
From these dizzying heights the last holdout of Jews fended off the Roman governor Flavius Silva (played by Peter O'Toole) in 73 A.D.

Siege Ramp
The Romans spent months building a siege ramp to get up to Masada. The Jews who had plenty of water from cisterns and food from their high perch mocked the dehydrated Romans. In the end, rather than be turned into slaves, the Jews committed mass suicide. The Roman victory was turned into defeat.

Caves of Qumran
The caves of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls where discovered. All Old Testament books but Esther were found. It was the greatest archeological discovery of the 20th Century and proved that the Bible you have today has been divinely protected in the copying process over the millennia.

Jordanian Side
This view of the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea shows how fast the water has receded over the years as both Israel and Jordan use the water from the Jordan River that feeds the sea.

Floating
The waters are so full of minerals that people just float on the water's surface. The super salty mud is actually a skin curative, as long as you don't get it in your eyes, that is.

Odd Observations

  1. What does the Dead sea, aka brimstone, smell like? Go to the Dead Sea, or just find some sulfur and take a whiff.
  2. What does the Dead Sea feel like? Find some cooking oil and pour it over your hand.
  3. What does the Dead Sea taste like? Don't ask me! I wouldn't put that nasty stuff in my mouth.
  4. Women love Ahava productes, especially when purchased where they're actually made on the shores of the Dead Sea. "Ahava" in Hebrew means "love."

The Dead Sea in Bible Prophecy

Ezekiel 47 tells us about the promising prophetic future for the Dead Sea. During the upcoming 1,000 year reign of Jesus on Earth, water will pour from the Millennial Temple. This water will flow South into the Dead Sea, making it's waters fresh and alive once more. Ezekiel 47:8 states, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh."

The Dead Sea will no longer be dead, but it will come alive again. Verse 7 describes its new life. "When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river."

Verses 9-12 tell us that the barren terrain will be bountiful, life-giving, and inhabited once more. "Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds - like the fish of the Great Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing."

Everything we saw today - the death, destruction, desperation and desolation - will all be erased by Jesus Christ's return and reign. The Dead Sea is therefore also a living testament that, though our lives begin desolate by sin and death, Jesus can give us life by having a saving relationship with Him.

Tomorrow for Day 10 we will honor the dead who gave their lives to make Israel a nation once more.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Israel Tour 2014: Day 7 & 8 in the Old City of Jerusalem

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

Welcome from the capital of Israel and future capital of Jesus Christ's Millennial reign - Jerusalem! Our rooms have a great northward view of the Old City walls with all its history laid out before our very eyes. We can actually look out from our hotel and see where the Temple once stood.

Not content to just gaze, our stalwart group of pilgrims on Day 7 and our Free Day on Day 8 walked everywhere around the Old City of Jerusalem, taking in the dizzying array of historical sites and ancient smells while traversing its many steep hills and steps. One can't help but stop repeatedly to marvel that we're in the very same place where Jesus and the people of the Bible once lived out their life stories, the very same stories from thousands of years ago that we read about in the Bible today.

Mount of Olives
We began our day with a magnificent view from the Mount of Olives. While few olive trees remain and Jewish graves are in their places, this is the location of Jesus' return to earth at the Second Coming. Zechariah 14 tells us that as the Antichrist besieges Jerusalem, Jesus will return to this very spot and split the Mount of Olives into two, forming a great valley from east to west. In victory He will claim His kingship!

Eastern Gate
The Eastern Gate, where Jesus rode in triumphantly on Palm Sunday and will so again as King, after He blows a hole in that gate, that is (Ps. 24:7-10).

Dome of the Rock
On the Temple Mount sits the Dome of the Rock, along with an angry mob of Muslims rioting and throwing stones at a Jewish Knesset member. Their angry roar echoed across the Kidron Valley and up to our spot atop the Mount of Olives.

Beggar
Hey, I saw that beggar five years ago! Don't let his appearance fool you. You'd think he was a cheetah beating us down that steep hill to the Garden of Gethsemene like he did.

George Collich at Dominus Flevit
Elder George Collich preaching with a view of the whole Old City before him. We were one of five groups all from different nations standing there, all preaching and singing praises in our various languages.

Garden of Gethsemene
At the Garden of Gethsemene, whose olive trees are hundreds of years old, and where Jesus went to pray for strength from the Father before He was crucified on our behalf. We needed special permission directly from the Vatican to enter the Garden.

Brother
Brother Husheus Nohatticus, always there at the door to warmly greet one into the Church of All Nations.

Bar Mitzvah
What a day for Bar Mitzvahs! This 13 year old is escorted to the sound of drums and celebration like a high official as he makes his way to the Western Wall to read from the Torah. After the celebration, he stands a man.

Western Wall
A Jewish man there to celebrate his nephew's Bar Mitzvah told me in all his years he'd never seen so many held at the Western Wall in one day. There must have been 25 going on, with all the singing and dancing and women from the back wall throwing candy. We need this custom in the US to help shape our boys into men.

Yarmulka
Tyler showing off his snazzy yarmulka in front of the Western Wall, a retaining wall of the Temple Mount where the Jews go to put paper prayer requests into the cracks between the stones.

Jewish Men
All over Jewish men where being fit in what they joke as "Jewish radar" to aid them in their prayers.

Temple Steps
Darryl teaches us about the significance of this excavation which uncovered the very steps into the now closed Temple entrance where Jesus and the High Priest would have taught from.

Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu
The Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, the very likely location of Caiaphas' house where Jesus had his illegal late night trial and Peter denied Jesus three times (Jn. 18:15-27). That's a rooster up there.

Holy Stairs
Nobody takes the Unholy Stairs.

Orthodox
The Orthodox Jews having a head-bobbing contest at David's Tomb.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the supposed location of Jesus' burial. If Heaven is a place of light and beauty and peace, this is the complete opposite. I've visited Hindu temples that were less idolatrous.

Valley of Gehenna
The Valley of Gehenna, where ancient Caananites used to sacrifice their children and centuries of refuse was thrown into a big, stinking, burning pile. It's the ancient object lesson for Hell (2 Kgs. 23:10; 2 Chron. 33:6; Jer. 7:31). Now, a nice little park.

Dormition Abbey
The beautiful sound of Dormition Abbey's church bells ringing alongside the muezzin's call for Muslims to prayer sandwiched inbetween a hard rock music beat were the backdrop that kept Jerusalem's orange-shirted marathon runners going. The whole city shut down Friday as nearly 20,000 (minus 100 Palestinian protesting party poopers) gave up their grievances and ran around the Old City together for a day of fun in the sun.

Odd Observations

  1. Why at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre would the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi concerning Mos Eisley keep echoing in my head?
  2. How ironic that so many thousands of Jews are buried in the Mount of Olives so as to be the first resurrected upon the Messiah's return, but because of rejecting that very same Jesus' gift of salvation, they will not see that resurrection. Very sad.
  3. In a city where Muslims worship Allah, Jews reject their own Messiah, Christian Catholics bow to idols, and Armenians do, well, whatever they do; the city is truly trampled down by the Gentiles (ie pagans - Rev. 11:2).
  4. Prophecy tells us that the city of Jerusalem as we are looking at it today will not be the Jerusalem of the Tribulation. In worship of himself, the Antichrist will likely tear down all the holy places we visited and turn the town into Gomorrah. Ten percent will be knocked down due to a Tribulation earthquake and shelled flat by the attacking nations of the world. Jesus then splits open the Mount of Olives upon His return. Yes, it'll be a very differernt place soon.

Tomorrow for Day 9 we will go low, deep into the Dead Sea region.