Thursday, February 26, 2015

Reagan on America's Spiritual Crisis (Part 4 of 6)

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

I was born before TV. When television began to spread nationwide in the 1950's, there were strict codes of conduct for the producers of television programs. Over the years since that time, those codes have eroded to the point that almost anything is allowed on television these days.

The contrast is stunning. When I was growing up, we watched wholesome programs like The Life of Riley, I Love Lucy, Gunsmoke, Dragnet and Father Knows Best. All of these programs taught basic Judeo-Christian moral values.

Today, the channels are flooded with morally depraved reality shows like The Bachelorette, with demented dramatic series like Revenge, with brutally lurid shows like Criminal Minds, with sex-laden situation comedies like Two and a Half Men, and with amoral programs like Californication. Can you imagine such a term? Now we're getting programs that are constantly pushing the homosexual agenda.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate the stark contrast between the early years of TV and today is to compare two programs about families. The Nelson Family — Ozzie and Harriet — blessed American TV from 1952 to 1966. The Osbourne Family — Ozzy and Sharon — polluted the airways from 2002 to 2005. One featured the Nelson family who were loving and supportive of each other. The Osbournes focused on a totally dysfunctional family led by a man-child who lived in a drug haze while the rest of the members of the family were at each other's throats, constantly fighting and cursing each other. The Nelson family showcased moral values. The Osbournes never heard of morality.

Vulgarity is also commonplace in our society today. This growing evil has even been recognized by the secular media. A cover of Time magazine from back in 1990 was titled, "Dirty Words: America's Foul-mouthed Pop Culture." That's a pagan magazine. Way back in 1990 it was talking about how we were already completely polluted by filthy words.

I just want to give you an example of this. On June 24, 2014, an official celebration of the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup was held. The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, got up at the Staple Center before 18,000 people and made this statement: "There are two long standing rules for politicians, they say never ever be pictured with a drink in your hand, and never ever swear. Well, folks, this is a big f---ing day!" Then he held up a bottle of Bud Light. He said that before 18,000 people at that stadium and before 100,000's on television including children! This was not some whisper overheard by reporters. It was a carefully planned thing on his part, and the audience roared, the players stood up, and he was given a standing ovation for such an obscenity on television. That is where we are today in this country.

Back in the 1980's, Steve Allen was the host of The Tonight Show. He made this comment: "We have become a society where vulgarians are entertaining barbarians."

Albert Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, recently commented on this problem with these insightful words:

"The collapse of the barrier between popular culture and decadence has released a toxic mudslide of vulgarity into the nation's family rooms and just about everywhere else. There is almost no remote corner of this culture that is not marked by the toleration of vulgarity, or the outright celebration of depravity. We have now reached the point that obscene language or innuendo is playing in department stores in public venues. The living room has become the locker room. A culture afraid to repress sexuality in any way is a culture headed for destruction."

The radical change in our society can perhaps best be illustrated by what has happened to our schools. I started the first grade in 1945 and I completed high school in 1956. So, I attended grade school from 1945-1956.

During that time, I was never once ever exposed to any drug. Today, kids are confronted with them at the elementary school level.

When I was a kid, we began each day in school with Bible readings and prayer. Every day we did this. We put on Easter programs. We put on Christmas plays. Our English reader consisted of Bible stories with a moral taught at the end.

When I graduated from high school in Waco, Texas in 1956, there were about 100 pickup trucks in the parking lot on any given day, and almost every one of them had gun racks that held a deer rifle, a shotgun, and a 22 rifle. Many of them had a gun or a pistol in the glove compartment. No one was concerned about anyone misusing any of those guns. We had been raised to respect and practice Judeo-Christian morals. But, today, we have guns in the hands of moral pygmies who are willing to shoot each other over a pair of tennis shoes.

The most dramatic way I can think of to illustrate how rapid the deterioration of society has become in America is to consider the results of a survey concerning public school discipline problems. The survey was conducted by the Fullerton California Police Department in conjunction with the California Department of Education. It was conducted in the mid-1940's and then 40 years later the same survey was conducted in the mid-1980's. Consider the differing results, and just sit there and weep. Here are the results:

  • In the mid-'40s, the number one problem in the public schools was talking. In the mid-'80s, 40 years later, drug abuse.
  • Chewing gum versus alcohol abuse.
  • Making noise versus teen pregnancy.
  • Running in the halls versus suicide.
  • Getting out of turn in line versus rape.
  • Wearing improper clothing versus robbery.
  • Not putting paper in waste paper baskets versus assault.

That was published in Time magazine in February 1988. That is how our schools have deteriorated.

Jettisoning Our Christian Heritage

Here's another way to illustrate how quickly our society has become secularized and paganized. This will just knock you out of your seats. Consider these remarks that were made to Time magazine in February 1954 by Earl Warren after he was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by Eisenhower. This is what he told Time magazine:

"I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the Spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses. Whether we look to the first charter of Virginia or the Charter of New England or the Charter of Massachusetts Bay or the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut — the same objective is present — a Christian land governed by Christian principles. I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it. I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country."

I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if our current Chief Justice, John Roberts, were to make such a statement today, there would an immediate effort on the part of Congress to impeach him on the grounds that he had violated the so called "Separation of Church and State."

There is no doubt that we have jettisoned our Christian heritage in favor of a society dominated by secularism and paganism. We are reaping the consequences as we witness the moral collapse of our society. I tell you, it's hard to watch your nation dissolved before your eyes on your watch.

In the fifth part of my teaching on America's spiritual crisis, we'll look at how Christians have been persecuted so far in the United States.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Reagan on America's Spiritual Crisis (Part 3 of 6)

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

Regarding the fate of our nation, I do not believe that the United States is specifically mentioned in Bible prophecy, but I do believe we have a prophetic type that can be found in the Bible. If you'll remember, after the death of Solomon, the kingdom of David was split into two nations — Israel and Judah.

That northern nation of Israel was apostate from the very beginning. It was founded in rebellion against God, and it continued in that condition for 208 years, until it was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC. During those years, it had 19 kings, and not a single one was considered righteous in the eyes of the Lord.

The southern nation of Judah lasted 136 years longer for a total of 344 years before it was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BC. It had only eight kings who were considered righteous in the eyes of the Lord, but at least it had eight.

I believe the nation of Judah is our prophetic type. No other nation has ever been blessed by God as much as we have, except Judah. Think about it. Look at the parallels. This was a nation that had great leaders. It was a nation that had freedom. It was a nation that had prosperity. It was a nation that had great spiritual blessing. The Shekinah Glory of God resided in Jerusalem in the Temple. What a blessing!

I wish I could end there, but I cannot, because there are other parallels, both negative. The nation became engulfed in pride. As it looked around and saw all of its blessings, it began to claim that the blessing were of their own. It became rebellious against God.

In Isaiah 5, the prophet tells how God asked him to compile a list of the sins of Judah. God knew the sins. He knew all the sins of Judah, but he wanted Isaiah to know them. So, he said, "Isaiah, you go out and you come back and you report to me a list of the sins of Judah." Isaiah reported back what he had found: injustice, greed, blasphemy, moral perversion, intellectual pride, intemperance and political corruption. Sounds like America today.

Seventy-five years later, God raised up another prophet in Judah by the name of Jeremiah, and God asked him to do the same thing. He was to compile an inventory of Judah's sins. Jeremiah came up with the same list as Isaiah, but he added one. He said, "In addition to all the things Isaiah found, I have found religious corruption. The prophets prophesy for money. The priests work for money, and not for the Lord God Almighty." So, even they had religious corruption.

He concluded his report with three summary statements, and, boy, look at these statements! He said:

  • "Their faces are harder than rock."
  • "They have a stubborn and rebellious heart."
  • "They do not know how to blush."

Every time I read that I think of my dear wife. She is so sensitive to that sort of thing. She knows how to blush. She is just horrified by the ads on TV and the things that they advertise. She says, "There is no sanctity anymore? Does not anyone have any sensitivity anymore?" She covers up her eyes and hits the mute button when some of these advertisements air. We are talking about advertising all kinds of things that shouldn't even be mentioned in public, and that's where we are today.

Let me give you two examples that we are right there.

I'll note a recent edition of an Archie Comic book which is a publication aimed at children. It features and celebrates a same sex marriage on the front cover. This is aimed at children!

Or, consider what the U.S. Air Force did in June of 2013. They ordered the removal of a painting by one of the greatest Christian artists in the world, Ron DiCianni. They ordered that his painting be removed from the dining hall of Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. The painting was titled, "Blessed are the Peacemakers." It depicts a modern-day policeman in front of a medieval knight. At the bottom of the framed version there is the word "Integrity" with a reference to Matthew 5:9 which says, "Blessed are the peacemakers." The Air Force ordered this painting be removed from the dining hall because one person complained to the Pentagon and said the painting made him quote, "feel terribly uncomfortable, disheartened and disappointed." This man needed a psychiatrist!

Two months later in August of 2013, the Air Force used your tax money and mine to invite a drag queen and her group called "Jewels and the Brunchettes" to perform at a Los Angeles Air Force Base on Diversity Day. When challenged, an Air Force spokesman defended the action by stating that drag is a symbol of gay pride and unity. That is just unbelievable! It is beyond my comprehension to believe this sort of thing is going on.

The Moral Slide of America

Let's consider the parallels once again between Judah and the United States. Ancient Judah was blessed by great leaders, freedom, prosperity and spiritual blessings. Like Judah, we have drifted into pride and we have drifted into rebellion. And, as with ancient Judah, God has responded with warnings and judgments. Now we are courting His destruction.

This leads me to two of the saddest passages in the Bible. I can almost hear God weeping when I read these. They are found in 2 Chronicles 36:15-16, "And Yahweh, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers," this is speaking of Judah. "Because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place," the Temple, "but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Yahweh arose against His people, until there was no remedy."

This brings us to a very important question. Why should the United States be treated any differently?

The answer, of course, is that God is not treating us any differently. He has raised up prophetic voices to call us to repentance. He has sent national and remedial judgments. Our response has been one of patriotism, when the needed response is repentance.

After 9/11, my wife noticed an explosion of bumper stickers saying, "God Bless America!" One day she turned to me as we were driving down the road and she said, "Those bumper stickers are wrong, because God has already blessed America." So, she went home and she designed her own bumper sticker which said: "America Bless God!" Not, "God Bless America."

The 9/11 attacks were a wake-up call for our nation. But, instead of awakening and instead of getting on our knees in repentance, we reacted like a sleepy man who hits the snooze button on his alarm clock, rolls over, and goes back to sleep. So our society has continued to slouch toward Sodom and Gomorrah.

Let me take a moment to emphasize to you how serious the decay of our society has become. Only a person my age can appreciate how radically and how quickly our society has disintegrated. I was born in 1938 when autos still had running boards and gasoline was 20 cents a gallon.

When I was born, abortionists were sent to prison. Pregnancy out of wedlock was thought of as scandalous. Homosexuality was considered unnatural and immoral. Pornography was despised as a perversion. Drugs were something you bought at the drug store. Marriage was sacred. Living together was taboo. Divorce was a disgrace. Homemaking was honored, and day care was provided by mothers in their homes. Child abuse was unheard of. Ladies did not curse or smoke.

The word "damn" was considered flagrant in a movie. In fact, the very first movie to have that word was Gone with the Wind. In 1939, a release was held up for Gone with the Wind so that over three months Hollywood could debate over what they were going to do. They finally changed the Hollywood code and allowed the movie. It ended with that word. One time in the whole movie that word was said. In 2013, a film called The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio had the "f-word" in it 544 times in 180 minutes!

In the fourth part of my teaching on America's spiritual crisis, we'll look at how America has jettisoned its Christian heritage.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reagan on America's Spiritual Crisis (Part 2 of 6)

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

Let's now quickly apply the particular principles taught in the last part of my teaching about how God relates to the nations to the United States.

As I pointed out, I believe God raised up this nation with the purpose of using our great natural resources and technical ingenuity to spread the Gospel all over the world. As we fulfilled this purpose, He poured out blessings upon us, blessings like unparalleled freedom, prosperity, immense power and worldwide influence. He blessed us as no other nation has ever been blessed since the time of ancient Judah. He even gave us the blessing of serving as the key nation in the rebirthing and nurturing of the nation of Israel. What a blessing that was!

But, we became enamored with our wealth and our power, and we began turning our back on God. The Almighty Dollar became our god. Greed became our motivator. Gambling became a national pastime. Sex became our obsession. We became the largest consumer in the world of illegal drugs. We kicked God out of our schools. We legalized abortion. We are in the process of legalizing same-sex marriage. And, we became the moral polluter of planet earth through our violent, immoral and blasphemous movies and television programs.

As we wallowed in the sexual revolution of the 1960's, God raised up voices like Pastor David Wilkerson to call this nation to repentance. When we refused to repent, the remedial judgments began to fall.

Let me just pause here and say that all things that happen bad to a nation are not necessarily remedial judgments. Many calamities are just simply the products of natural forces. A true remedial judgment can be determined by its magnitude or by its timing or both.

Considering those factors, I believe that some of the remedial judgments we have experienced in recent years are these:

  • The Vietnam War occurred on the heels of the sexual revolution of the 1960's.

  • The 9/11 attacks, where God allowed the terrorists to be successful in attacking the two symbols of American pride. Have you ever thought about that? They were successful in attacking the two symbols of American pride. And what were those symbols? The Twin Towers in New York which represented our wealth, and the Pentagon in Washington, DC which represented our power.

  • Then there's Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Undoubtedly in my mind, its God's response to our immorality and our forcing Israel to abandon the Gaza Strip. We forced Israel to get out of Gaza, and you can see what the result of that was. It became a terrorist nest. The storm formed suddenly in the Gulf of Mexico on the very last day of the Gaza withdrawal. It was not a hurricane that came across the Atlantic Ocean. It formed in the Gulf of Mexico. The very last day of the Gaza withdraw it hit New Orleans just as it was getting ready to host its annual homosexual festival.

  • The September 2008 Market Crash again was a response to our attempts to strong-arm Israel into surrendering its heartland. That crash occurred on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the market fell. I tell you, I nearly fainted when I saw this in the paper. The market fell 777 points — 7-7-7. It was like God signed it with His signature. The symbol of man is 6-6-6. The symbol of God is 7-7-7, perfection to the utmost. That's exactly how many points it fell.

  • Another of these judgments is the type of leaders that we deserve. It is no accident that our current President is the most pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-Capitalist, anti-Israel leader in the entire history of our nation. His mistreatment of Israel should be of particular concern to us because the Bible says God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel. Also, we are told in Joel 3:2 that God will severely judge all nations who are involved in dividing the land of Israel in the end times. That is exactly what we are trying to do.

In the third part of my teaching on America's spiritual crisis, we'll look at Judah as a prophetic type.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Reagan on America's Spiritual Crisis (Part 1 of 6)

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

Our nation is spiritually sick to the very core of its existence. We have lost all sense of decency. We have been desensitized to evil. We are shaking our collective fist at God. And in the process, we are literally crying out for the wrath of God to fall upon us.

Here now I provide the evidence of our rejection of the very One who has blessed us so richly.

There are many things that contribute to this problem of America's spiritual crisis, but the fundamental problem is rooted in the apostasy that is in the Church which today is running rampant. Here's an example of such rampant apostasy which I actually saw advertised on a blasphemous church sign: "Jesus had two dads and He turned out just fine." Can you believe a church would put that on a sign? It's unbelievable!

I'm going to be touching on some very sensitive political issues, so I want to begin with two disclaimers.

First, I am neither a Republican or a Democrat. I am a Monarchist. And I say that because I have devoted my life to doing everything possible to prepare the way for the coming of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He's going to reign with a rod of iron from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. He's going to bring righteousness, and justice and peace to this earth, and I can hardly wait.

Here's the way social commentator, Todd Starnes, recently put it in one of his books: "We don't need more Americans bowing down to the Democrat donkey or the Republican elephant. We need more Americans bowing down to the Lion of Judah."

And that thought brings me to my second disclaimer. I do not believe that either the Democrats or the Republicans are the hope of America. Rather, I believe that Jesus is our only hope. And, because I believe Jesus is our only hope, I therefore believe we have little hope because we have turned our backs on God.

This point was illustrated after the horrible Connecticut school shooting when someone designed a t-shirt which says: "Dear, God, why do you allow so much violence in our schools? Signed, a Concerned Student. Dear, Concerned Student, I'm not allowed in schools. Signed, God." That pretty well sums it up.

I would like to begin with two foundational scriptures. The first is Psalm 33:12: "Blessed is the nation whose God is Yahweh." The second one is in Proverbs 14:34: "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people."

How God Relates to Nations

In 2003, a book of mine was published entitled America the Beautiful? The sub-title was, The United States in Bible Prophecy. The third edition was published in 2009, and most of what I'm going to share with you is in this book.

I began the book by outlining some principles that the Bible reveals about how God relates to nations. In the book I go into each one of these in detail and provide all the scripture references, but here I will only mention each one briefly.

First, God establishes nations and defines their boundaries. Consider these words of Paul, spoken in his sermon at Athens: "God made from one man every nation of mankind having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation."

Second, God determines when a nation will cease to exist. A nation can be the most powerful one on the face of the earth, like ancient Babylon or modern day Russia, but all of its power will be of no avail when the Lord decides the time has come to bring it down. And that can happen overnight, regardless of the nation's power.

Third, God has a purpose for each nation, both general and specific. The general purpose of all nations is to enable their citizens to seek God by providing an atmosphere of freedom, security and tranquility. Additionally, God will call nations to perform specific duties. The greatest example of all, of course, is the nation of Israel, a nation called to be a witness of God. But, it's interesting to note that God has called other nations to relate to Israel in specific ways. For example, He called some nations to bless Israel, some to test Israel, some to discipline Israel, and some to judge Israel.

In regard to specialized purposes, have you ever stopped to ponder what was the unique role that God might have had in mind for the United States when He raised up this nation? As I look back on the last 200 years of our history, I have concluded that God's special purpose for America was to evangelize the world for Jesus, working through our incredible natural resources and technical ingenuity. Of course, another special purpose for us was to serve a key role in the establishment of the nation of Israel and the protection of its security.

Number four, God blesses and disciplines nations in accordance with their obedience to Him and their treatment of the Jewish people. With regard to the Jews, God told Abraham, "I will make you a great nation, I will bless you, I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you." Accordingly, history is literally littered with the corpses of nations that came against Israel or who persecuted the Jewish people. Those that survived, like Spain, Britain and Russia, were stripped of their world empires.

Number five, God holds nations in contempt. Now, on the surface, this may seem contradictory in nature. After all, God is the one who creates the nations and He is the one who has them for His purposes. Why then does He hold them in contempt, as we are told very plainly in Isaiah chapter 40 that God holds the nations in contempt? Why is that? Well, it's because of their pride and their rebellion and because they serve as idols.

This is beautifully illustrated in the book of Daniel in the contrasting visions that God gave Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel, which were visions of great world Gentile empires. The vision that Nebuchadnezzar had was a great statue with a gold head and silver chest, and so forth. It was magnificent. It was beautiful. It was glorious because this is the way man sees the kingdoms of the world. But, when He gave the same vision to Daniel, it was a vision of ravenous animals devouring each other. That is the view of the nations in God's eyes.

Number six, God forgives and blesses a nation when its people repent. The only thing that touches God's heart as deeply as faith is repentance. This is illustrated throughout the Bible. One of the greatest examples is that of Jonah. God sent Jonah to Nineveh to tell them of their impending judgment. The king put on sackcloth and ashes. He repented before the Lord. He called the entire nation to repent. The result was that God relented from destroying them.

Number seven, God destroys a nation when its rebellion becomes entrenched, reaching a point of no return. I want to look at this particular point in more detail because it is one that is very important for our nation. I want us to see how God deals with a rebellious nation, for the Bible says there's a definite pattern that God uses when dealing with such a nation.

First, God will always raise up prophetic voices to call the nation to repentance. He does this because God never pours out His wrath without warning.

Second, if there is no repentance, God will place remedial judgments on the nation. These can take many forms. For example, in Deuteronomy 28 there is a long list of the types of remedial judgments God will place on a nation, including such things as natural disasters, political confusion and corruption, crop failures, economic calamities, rebellious youth, rampant disease, even epidemics of divorce, defeat in war, among many other things including giving the nation the kind of leaders it deserves. Think about that. That's sobering.

If the people of the nation still refuse to repent, God will deliver the nation to destruction. In this regard, the Bible makes a chilling revelation, namely, there is a point of no return. Thus, many years after Jonah, God raised up another prophet to send to Nineveh, a prophet by the name of Nahum. This time Nahum was told that Nineveh had a (notice these words) "an incurable wound." And, sure enough, there was no repentance as before and the nation was destroyed.

Later, the prophet Jeremiah used the same terminology of "an incurable wound" with reference to the nation of Judah. In fact, Jeremiah was told by God to stop praying for Judah! Ezekiel was told the same thing, but he was told it in even stronger terms. Ezekiel was told that if the most righteous men who had ever lived — Noah, Daniel and Job — were to intervene for Judah, it would be of no avail except for themselves and their families, because the nation had reached the point of no return and was going to be destroyed.

There is a point of no return. When the wound becomes incurable, God delivers the nation from judgment to destruction.

God is patient. He is long-suffering. But, He cannot be mocked. He will deal with sin sooner or later. Consider these words from Nahum 1, "A jealous and avenging God is Yahweh; Yahweh is avenging and wrathful. Yahweh takes vengeance on His adversaries. He reserves wrath for His enemies. Yahweh is slow to anger and great in power; and Yahweh will by no means leave the guilty unpunished."

In the second part of my teaching on America's spiritual crisis, we'll look at how God has judged the United States.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The End Times Sign of Coming of the Lord

Nathan JonesMP3By

What does it mean for the world when Jesus returns?

In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista and I will look at the tenth and last end times sign Jesus prophesied in Luke 21:25-36 — His own return.

The Truth Will Set You Free

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The Tenth Sign

Vic Batista: Reading through Jesus' teachings in Luke 21, with its parallel chapters in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, is like taking an incredible journey through the different signs of the end times. The tenth and final sign that we'll be discussing I believe will light up people's lives.

As we see the development of end time events, we can know that the Lord is coming back soon. And, as we look at Luke 21, we learn even more about this incredible sign of the Lord's return.

Nathan Jones: The Bible says that during the Tribulation period a one-world leader — the Antichrist — is going to conquer and rule the world. Matthew 24:21 reports, "For there will be great distress unequal from the beginning of the world until now and never to be equaled again." This is called the Great Tribulation which occurs during the last 3.5 years of the 7-year Tribulation. The Antichrist is going to greatly persecute the Jews during that second half.

The Antichrist starts the Tribulation by making a peace treaty with Israel so he can go out and conquer the world unimpeded. But by the time of the last 3.5 years, he breaks his covenant and slaughters two-thirds of the Jews. There are currently about 12 million Jews in the world today, so we're talking about 7-8 million Jews who are going to be slaughtered. Because the slaughter will be so severe, the Jews will look at this time as the greatest of their persecutions, even more so than Hitler's Holocaust during World War II.

Despite the horrors of the Tribulation, it will end on a high note, for it ends with the return of Jesus Christ. His return is the tenth sign that Jesus in Luke 21 and Matthew 24 gives us.

Jesus obviously did not return when the Temple fell and Jerusalem fell in 70 AD. And, when Jesus returns at the Rapture, the Scriptures says He doesn't set foot on the ground, but rather He's up in the clouds and we are taken to meet Him up there. So, the Rapture is not the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

We actually know the end of the Tribulation is when Jesus will put His feet back on the ground again. He returns to the Earth and touches ground once more.

"There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and the tossing of the seas. Men will faint from terror apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man come in the cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place stand up and lift up your head because you redemption is drawing near." - Luke 21:25-28

Vic Batista: Hallelujah! I am so excited about Jesus' return.

The Blessed Hope

Vic Batista: It's so sad today how we have all these misleading end times teachings out there. There's the Pre-Wrath Rapture view and the Post-Trib Rapture view and so on. These faulty Rapture views do a terrible disservice to the blessed hope Paul talked about, right?

Nathan Jones: Yes, that's true. There's no blessed hope for the Church if we get to be slaughtered throughout the whole course of the Tribulation. The Antichrist not only declares war on the Jews after he's conquered the world, but all those who get saved after the Rapture. They will be called the Tribulation Saints. Upon giving their lives to Jesus Christ, their salvation is pretty much a death sentence.

I'm not saying ISIS will bring about the Antichrist, but let's just use a modern day example. ISIS beheads anybody and everybody who disagrees with them. The Antichrist will do the same thing. He wants the whole world to worship him, so he puts down every people group, every religion, and everything else that stands in his way. And, the result is that the slaughter of the Tribulation Saints throughout the Tribulation will be incredibly terrible. Now, what kind of blessed hope is it for the Christian Church if we are slaughtered? As a matter of fact, Revelation tells us that great multitudes beyond count are martyred for the sake of the Lord. So, clearly, anything not a Pre-Tribulation Rapture cannot provide that blessed hope. The blessed hope of Jesus' return is to rapture the Church before the Tribulation happens. And, there are many verses that support this view.

Vic Batista: Absolutely! That's why as Christians and specifically as prophecy Bible teachers we can agree to disagree, but the reality is that there is no hope in any view that is not Pre-Tribulation Rapture. I don't see the grace of God in some of the other views. That's why I love the way that you are bringing clarity to these end time events.

The Remnant Saved

Nathan Jones: Israel is being brought back to the land of Israel and eventually faith in God because God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the writings of the biblical prophets all promised throughout the Old Testament that Israel would be restored as a people group again. They will finally give up their idolatry and return to Yahweh. Before the First Exile, the Israelites were exiled as an idolatrous people. They worshiped Baal and so many other false god. They were spiritually adulteresses with these idols. The First Exile cured them of that sin.

Then the Israelites came back to Israel once more when the Persians under Cyrus the Great sent them back. The remnant ended up giving their heart to God.

Fast forward 500 years when Jesus the Messiah came at His First Coming, the people wouldn't accept God again. They rejected His Son. And then, 40 years after Jesus was crucified, in 70 AD the Jewish people were dispersed throughout the world yet again.

Despite these constant rejections of God by His people, God's promises were not forgotten. God said that He would restore a faithful remnant.

The Tribulation is called the "Time of Jacob's Trouble" in Jeremiah 30:7 for a reason. It truly is as bad as it could be for the Jewish people. As sinful people sometimes we cannot come to repentance before God unless our lives have become so awful that we finally cry out to God for help. The Tribulation will be that worse time in human history for the Jewish people, and generally the world at large. The populace that was left behind will face 21 judgments from God which basically destroys most of the earth's population and the ecology. But, such awful hardships get the remnant of the Jews along with many Gentiles to accept Jesus as Savior. Jesus said He would not return until they said, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

When Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation, and it's a good thing He comes back because pretty much most of the world will be close to being totally destroyed, that's when the remaining Jews will give their lives to Jesus Christ. Jesus then sets up His Kingdom on earth as He defeats Satan and the Antichrist. He'll restore the earth back to a paradise once again.

The Jewish people who believed in Jesus as Savior will live on through the Millennial Kingdom as a priestly group for the people in their earthly bodies. And we who are the Church, we will also be there, but in our glorified, eternal bodies. We get to be there in Christ's Kingdom, too, and we also will serve the Lord. There will also be believing Gentiles who survive the Tribulation who will join the believing Jews, and they will form the nations of the earth.

Vic Batista: Hallelujah that we are included in Jesus' Millennial Kingdom! God has so many wonderful things prepared for those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. So exciting are the joys that wait us in the future! And, it all starts with a relationship with Jesus Christ. That's why I encourage people right now to turn to the Lord while there's still time. Jesus loves you and He has a wonderful plan for your life.

The Big Picture

Vic Batista: Nathan, we continue to see the unfolding of a lot of incredible end times signs. The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians about the return of the Lord and how everything lines up with the Word's portrayal of end time prophecies.

Nathan Jones: Exactly. If anyone needs to get an idea of what's going on in the world, they just have to look at Jerusalem. Watch the news. Read the news. Just as Jesus told us would happen, doesn't it seem to you that the world is obsessed with Israel and Jerusalem? It seems like the UN exists to do nothing but make resolution after resolution against Israel. Israel can't build a house even without the whole world condemning them. They can't defend themselves against enemies like Hamas without the whole world condemning them as well. It's ludicrous!

Vic Batista: Absolutely. People need to realize that there's a reason why all this focus of the world on Israel is taking place. This is not just coincidence, this is Bible prophecy being fulfilled.

Nathan Jones: Exactly! Zechariah prophesied that the whole world will focus its attention on Israel. And now, even today, the whole world focuses its attention on Israel. It blames them for everything. You look at such a crazy disproportionate behavior and you think, "That's nuts!"

There is a reason for the hatred of the Jews. God uses anti-Semitism to drive the Jews back to the land of Israel. When the Lord has all the Jews regathered back to Israel, the Tribulation starts when the Antichrist makes a covenant with them. They will feel like they are finally at peace for the first 3.5 years, but the Antichrist will break that covenant so that those years will become the worst time period in all of human history. Then a remnant of the Jews will be refined out of that time who will accept Jesus as Messiah upon His return. That return is what all of these events are leading up to.

For those people who see all this happening and understand what it means, they're like, "Wow! I live in a time period where Jesus is coming back." So they have to ask themselves, "Am I ready for Jesus to return?"

Vic Batista: Nathan, that's a very good question. I believe that needs to be a question that should be asked by everyone, otherwise we may find believers in Christ are asleep when it comes to Bible prophecy and the events that are going on around us.

Nathan Jones: Many people really are asleep at the wheel, and it's sad. Clearly we as Christians deal with a lot today, and I don't blame churches for having endless sermons on how to live in this difficult life. Marriage, divorce, even sexuality — you name it — there are so many problems we deal with on a day-to-day basis.

But, when we understand God's prophetic Word which is 31% of the Bible, we can know what God wants us to know about the future. When we have that big picture — that 30,000 foot view — then we can understand where our lives fit in the big schemes of things. That helps us live our lives better. It helps us live our lives more holy, and we will evangelize more because we know the time is short. And, when we see the world falling apart around us, we can understand that's part of a bigger picture of God's plan. We know how it will end. It ends with Jesus coming back victorious. With that knowledge, we should get excited and have hope for the future.

Vic Batista: I love that! That is what Bible prophecy is — it's our hope. As we turn to the last page of the Bible, we know that in the end we win. Those who are with Christ, those who are following Him, well no matter what's happening in their lives right now, there's always hope.

Nathan Jones: When people usually look at Bible prophecy, they hear all the gloom and doom and destruction. We've covered plenty of that when reading about the ten signs Jesus provided in Luke 21. But, all that horror leads up to Jesus Christ returning.

The earth and all the terrors that are happening right now and will happen are such a tiny, minuscule, short time in human history compared to the thousand years reign of Jesus Christ. He's going to bring peace, righteousness and justice to the world. Then we'll live in the eternal state in a super city called the New Jerusalem on the New Earth. God reformats the earth. It will be a time when there's no crying, no tears, no suffering, and that goes on forever.

So, when people look at Bible prophecy and they only think of the death and the destruction, they need to realize that it's only for a short period of time. The true hope is knowing our eternal lives are coming after that.

Vic Batista: Absolutely! These signs Jesus provided are for us to know simply what's going to transpire. We don't believe that we are going to be here to live through all that horror due to the Rapture, but we do believe that as Christians we do have a responsibility. We see the alarms sounding. We see the clock ticking. We see everything sort of wrapping up. It's like an urgent call for us to wake up, to move forward, and to preach the Gospel by order of the Great Commission. That all has to be motivated by the Holy Spirit and a relationship with the Lord. Once someone opens their heart to receive Jesus and the Holy Spirit comes in, He does His work through us.

Nathan Jones: Exactly. If we recognize the signs of the times, we can know that we are living in a time when Jesus' return is just around the corner. He could come at any moment.

The Rapture will happen in the time it takes to snap. When the Rapture happens, no one is going to be expecting it. Jesus compares the Rapture to a thief. You don't know when a thief is going to break into your house. Jesus is going to come and break into this world and there are going to be a lot of people who are going to wake up spiritually when the Rapture happens. They are going to be like, "I can't believe I waited too long." If only they knew about the Tribulation and the horrors that they are going to have to live through. The Rapture to the world left behind will be just the beginning of the horrors that are to come.

The End to Waiting

Nathan Jones: And so, we have to ask people, "What are you waiting for?" If you know Jesus Christ died for your sins, then what are you waiting for? Give your life to Him now before it's too late. You could die at any moment, and if you're dead, there's no chance for you to accept Jesus' free gift of salvation.

Vic Batista: That is why we want to encourage people to take that opportunity to give their lives to Jesus Christ. We know there isn't a canned way for people to come to know the Lord, but could you lead people in a prayer so they can come to Jesus?

Nathan Jones: If you are ready to accept Jesus as your Savior, and if you believe in your heart that He is the Son of God and that He died for your sins and He rose again to defeat death, then that victory over death can be yours as well. Just pray in your heart something that expresses what you are believing such as: "Dear, Jesus, please forgive me of my sins and be my Savior." Jesus promises that when you come to Him in repentance, He will forgive you of your sins. He will give you that blessed hope and He will give you that future of eternal life with Him.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The End Times Sign of Jerusalem: Focus of Hatred

Nathan JonesMP3By

Why does the world hate Israel and the Jewish people?

In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista and I will look at the ninth end times sign related to Jerusalem prophesied by Jesus in Luke 21:20-24.

The Truth Will Set You Free

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Because Israel Is God's Prophetic Time-clock

Vic Batista: What does Jerusalem have to do with the preparation for what the Bible says is coming concerning the end times?

Nathan Jones: The city of Jerusalem has been in prophecy for well over 2,000 years. Jerusalem is the ninth of the ten end times signs Jesus gave us in Luke 21 and parallel in Matthew 24 and Mark 13. I would even call Jerusalem the "Super Sign" because so much prophecy concerning the end times revolves around what happens to that city.

Jesus said concerning Jerusalem in Luke 21:20-24 is:

"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let those in the city get out and let those in the country not enter the city, for this is a time of punishment and fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those for pregnant women and nursing mothers. There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."

Vic Batista: We see in this passage part of God's plan for the future of the Jewish people. We see the time-clock is now moving much faster than it was 2,000 years ago. Israel became a nation again in recent history, and end time events since are moving along much more quickly.

Because Israel Is God's Object Lesson

Vic Batista: Nathan, have you noticed the hatred towards the Jewish people is growing around the world? Today's hatred is going to lead into an even worse hatred of the Jews during the Tribulation, right?

Nathan Jones: Right, and it's clear that's because God has made Israel the object lesson for all of human history. The Jews live in a covenant promise with God, but they've rejected God in their rebellion against Him. Now He sends judgments upon them to bring a remnant back in faith to Him. Once repentance is given, God will bless them again. That cycle goes on and on and on throughout Jewish history.

Israel got to the point in its history where it became so evil that God exiled them, just as He promised way back in Moses' time. Hundreds of years before Israel first became a nation, Moses prophesied that the Jews were going to eventually be exiled. And that's what happened. First the northern tribes were exiled in 722 BC, and then in 586 BC Judah and Jerusalem were exiled to Babylon. God said they would stay in exile for 70 years, and for 70 years there they stayed in Babylon. Then Cyrus the Great, who was prophesied by name by Isaiah 150 before Cyrus was born, granted an edict to allow the Jews to go back to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the Temple. Israel rose to became a nation again out of an exile. Amazing!

The Jews remained in Israel all the way into Roman times, that is until the Romans exiled them again in 70 AD. The Jews in Jesus' time were always rebelling against the Roman Empire. The Romans had finally had it by that point, so in 67 AD they sent a general named Titus Vespasian to deal with the rebel province, and he besieged Jerusalem for three years. When his armies finally broke through the walls of Jerusalem, they behaved exactly as Jesus prophesied. They came in, they destroyed Jerusalem, and they destroyed the Temple by setting it on fire.

Earlier, in Matthew 24, we read where Jesus said that not one stone of the Temple would be left upon another. And that's what the Romans left. When the gold in the Temple melted and dripped in-between the stones, the Romans in their fury crowbarred the stones apart and threw them down down into the Kidron Valley in order to reach the melted gold. Literally not one stone was left upon another. The Jews were then exiled out of Jerusalem a second time, and once out of Israel they were scattered to the four corners of the earth. This is all just as the Bible prophesied!

Vic Batista: Prophecy is so precise. That's what I love about the Bible. That's one of the many reasons why people need to take time to study Bible prophecy. Get a hold of all these wonderful resources, because they're thrilling! When you start to see events play out, happening exactly the way the Bible says, your faith in the truth of the Bible and God Himself will grow immensely.

Nathan Jones: The Bible is always 100% accurate concerning prophesies that were made. When Jesus said that the Temple would fall, He gave ten signs of things that would happen to show the time was upon them, and those signs happened just before the fall of the Temple. In 70 AD, 40 years after Jesus' ministry, the Temple fell just as Bible prophecy said it would.

Another amazing prophecy which occurred almost 1,900 years later in May of 1948 is that Israel became a nation once again. Jerusalem is in the hands of the Jewish people once more. The Third Temple has not yet been built, but we know that in order to fulfill Jesus' prophecies about the fall of the Temple there has to be yet another Temple built in the Last Days. A Third Temple has to been built in order for these end times prophecies to apply to that building as well.

We are living in the time period where we've see Israel become a nation again. We're also seeing a supernatural hatred of the Jews. People all across the world hate the Jews, and you have to wonder why. How can anyone hate a people group as much as they hate the Jewish people? But, they do. I believe such hatred is satanically backed. As we are getting close to Jesus' answer to that second question the Apostles asked concerning what will be the signs of the end of the age, we can know that we are living in that age now because Israel is a nation once more.

Vic Batista: Absolutely! I believe something incredible is going on. These events related to Jerusalem and other end time events are beginning to unfold. I believe that we could be the generation that's going to be alive when the Rapture happens.

Nathan Jones: That I believe is what Jesus was saying in Matthew 24 when He gave the object lesson of the fig tree. He said that when the fig tree re-blossoms, we'll know that the time is short. The fig tree was a symbol for Israel. So, when Israel re-blossoms and becomes a nation once more, Jesus said that would be the generation, or the people or the race, who would see the return of Jesus Christ.

Israel has been a nation since 1948. We've seen Israel become the focal point of the world's attention. How crazy that a country only the size of New Jersey could have the whole world obsessed over it! The world clamors for control over Jerusalem and tells the Israelis what they can do with their own land. They can't even build an apartment without an uproar. You know such attentions means something. It shows that the world's insane focus on Israel is leading up to Jesus rapturing the Church. Then the world's persecution of Israel throughout the following seven-year Tribulation will worsen until Jesus' Second Coming.

Because Israel Is Wealthy

Vic Batista: We are discovering part of the reason for why all eyes are on Jerusalem. Israel discovered some incredible amounts of natural resources. These resources are more of a cause for all sorts of countries to have their eyes on Israel.

Nathan Jones: For a long time people wondered about the prophecies in Ezekiel 38 & 39 which describes a great war where Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, and some of those 'Stan nations get together because they want to come down and attack Israel. The leader of this coalition comes from Russia. He wants to pillage Israel and steal its money. This leader from Russia covets Israel's wealth.

For centuries people have been wondering how Israel could become a nation again and where Israel would then be getting its wealth? The Israelis are good with money and they process diamonds, but there's nothing there worth conquering a country over. But, in the last few years, Israel has unearthed major gas finds in the Mediterranean Sea and they are still looking for oil. The thought is that Israel is now going to be independently wealthy because of their newly built gas line. Israel won't depend on Arab oil anymore. Israel will be able to export it as well which will make them competition for Russia, which is the major exporter in the north. The perfect reason now exists for why Russia desires Israel out of the picture. Russia wants to come and take her gas lines, and that's the precipitation for this war which we call the Gog & Magog War.

So, the pieces are falling into place and prophecies are starting to make sense.

Because Israel Is Not Yet Ready

Vic Batista: We need to recognize that our time is so short. We see prophecies lining up. The Lord is returning soon. That's why we I encourage everyone who doesn't have a relationship with the Lord, now is the time to come to the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and prayer. Maybe you pray a simple prayer down on your knees and repent of your sins. Jesus promises you can be saved if you put your faith and trust in Him.

Nathan Jones: Jesus gave us these end times signs for a reason. He wants us to know that He's coming back soon.

Knowing this now, ask yourself. "Am I ready?" Is your heart ready to meet your Maker? Have you given your life to Jesus Christ? Have you asked for repentance of your sins? Are you on His side, or are you still shaking your fist against Him? You now know that if you are against Him, you will be left behind when the Rapture happens. All you have to do if you are ready is to give your heart to Jesus Christ.

Pray in your heart or out loud right now, "Dear, Jesus, please forgive me of my sins and be my Savior." Jesus promises that He will forgive your sins. He will give you a new life, and you'll receive that blessed hope of the Rapture and eternal life with your Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The End Times Sign of Jerusalem: An Unmovable Rock

Nathan JonesMP3By

Will the Jewish people lose control over Jerusalem?

In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista and I will look at the ninth end times sign related to Jerusalem prophesied by Jesus in Luke 21:20-24.

The Truth Will Set You Free

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An Unmovable Rock

Nathan Jones: The story of the Jewish people didn't end with the destruction of the Temple. In 70 AD the Romans marched the Jews out of Judea, for they had also destroyed most of the surrounding land. They didn't want the Jews to have their own country anymore because they perceived them as causing trouble all the time for the Romans. So, just as prophesied so many times in the Old Testament, the Jewish people were exiled a second time. For about 1,900 years since, the Jews have been exiled to the four corners of the earth, just as the Bible said would happen. And, just as the Bible said would happen, the Jewish people would be regathered back to the Holy Land to rebuild their own country once more.

In May of 1948, Israel became a nation again. Since then, the labor pains for Israel started. Zechariah 12:2-3 tells us:

"I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounded people's reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her I will make Jerusalem an unmovable rock for all the nations and all who try to move it will injure themselves."

Notice there, Pastor Vic, that the verse says, "all the nations." When the Romans attacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, it was just the Romans and the countries that their empire represented. But, we know from Zechariah and the other prophets that a second attack will be coming against Jerusalem. All the nations of the world this time will gather against Jerusalem. There is a future, prophetic fulfillment of the 70 AD attack. Jerusalem will one day see all the nations of the world led by the Antichrist surrounding her and trying to destroy her one more time.

Vic Batista: That's a very good point, because we see that it says "all the nations." We can look today at a map and see how clearly all the nations that surround Israel pretty much hate Israel, right?

Nathan Jones: The last time I looked, statistically there are 360 million Arabs surrounding Israel, and they're all hostile and bent on destroying Israel. There's a supernatural hatred going on. You can hate somebody for doing wrong, but people hate the Jews just because they are Jews. They have all sorts of excuses as for why they hate the Jews. "They are money grubbers." "They stole our land," even though it can be historically proven that the Jewish people bought all their land. These Muslims may have all these excuses, but the source for all this unbridled hatred is Satan working in the hearts of the people of this world. He's building up this hatred. We are seeing this not only among the Muslims, but other people groups from around the world as well. Even the Japanese have terrible anti-Semitism. What do the Japanese and the Jews have anything to do with each other?

There reason for this growing anti-Semitism is that Satan knows his time is short. Jesus is coming soon, and in an attempt to thwart Jesus' plan, Satan demands the Jews be annihilated. He almost succeeds. During the Tribulation the Bible records that two-thirds of the Jewish people in the world will be killed for their faith in Yahweh. There are about 13.4 million Jews in the world today. That means that there will be 9 million Jews killed during the Tribulation. Compare that number to the Holocaust there where 6 million Jews killed. What we are talking about is another holocaust that's coming upon the world. It'll be more destructive than the Holocaust of World War II.

Vic Batista: How incredibly sad to think that America is not far behind in joining the nations of the world in their anti-Semitism. There are certain changes in attitude that we are seeing in America toward Israel and the Jews. We need to be very careful that we're not courting the wrath of God.

Nathan Jones: We do have to be careful. We as a nation have given up on God. We have pushed Him out of every corner of society. We've told Him to get out. When a nation has that kind of mindset, we risk falling under the supernatural influence of Satan. And, we are seeing that very think happening in the United States.

There's always been an undercurrent of dislike for the Jews in America, but we know that there's now also an underlying hatred of all things God. There is a growing hatred of Christians and greater hatred of the Jews.

God Steps In

Nathan Jones: The Rapture will take the Church — those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior — out of here, but the Jews and unbelieving Gentiles will remain because they haven't given their lives over to Jesus yet. A great war is coming in those last days, likely close to the Rapture. We can read about it in Ezekiel 38 and 39 where Russia will lead a coalition of Islamic nations such as Iran and Turkey and Libya and all those 'Stan countries. They will come against Israel, but God will enter into human history again and defeat Russia and all those nations supernaturally. He'll destroy their armies, and when He does, Ezekiel says the world will know that God's stepped back into history. The text then tells us that all of the Jews of the world will flee out of all of the countries of the world, and they will come back to Israel. That will be the final fulfillment of the Jews regathering back to Israel.

Pastor Vic, your church is Calvary Chapel Aventura, and the town of Aventura is primarily Jewish, right?

Vic Batista: Yes. Well, the surrounding area is.

Nathan Jones: You're down in Miami, and the electorate all knows Broward County has a strong Jewish presence. That means that any Jew living in your area and throughout the world that hasn't accepted Jesus as Savior will see this war happen. The Bible calls it the War of Gog and Magog. It's when God steps in and destroys the armies of Russia and Iran and Turkey and other nations. The Jews will either want to flee to Israel because Israel will be strong again, or because of the intense persecution that will follow. The Jewry of the world will flee out of the countries of the world and return back to Israel, just as Ezekiel prophesied.

Vic Batista: Excellent point! And that's why we pray for the nation of Israel and we pray for Jerusalem. We need to continue to support them and pray for the Jewish people, because God has great plans for them.

Christian Palestinianism

Nathan Jones: It's sad that Christians when they give up on the literal interpretation of the Bible and go with a spiritualized interpretation will adopt more of a liberal theology. They discount the Bible as God's Word, and that also changes their mindset. We are seeing especially among the liberal denominations a change away from supporting to condemning Israel. It's called Christian Palestinianism. This idea believes that Christians need to be against the Jews and boycott them all because of all those "poor" Palestinians. These Christian Palestinianists really haven't read their history and don't understand what's going on in the Middle East. It's not all those "poor" Palestinians.

The Church today is abandoning Israel more and more. The result is Israel continues to become isolated more and more. But, Pastor Vic, that's all part of God's plan. He plans on regathering the Jews back to Israel. The anger of the Antichrist will fall upon them, and many will die, but through all the death and destruction the Bible says that a third of the Jewish people will give their lives over to Jesus Christ.

The Remnant Mourns

Nathan Jones: When Jesus returns at the Second Coming, His armies — that's you and me there as well — will be riding on those white horses behind our King. I can't wait! We'll go to Jerusalem and watch Jesus defeat the Antichrist. He will throw Satan into a deep pit. Zechariah 12:10 says that the remaining third of the Jews will look up and realize that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. "Then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn."

The Jews will be fighting their last stand for control of Jerusalem, and that's when their Messiah rescues them. The remnant of the Jews fighting for control of Jerusalem will mourn when they realize the returning King is Jesus Christ, and they'll say in their hearts that Jesus is the Messiah. God's whole plan for Jewish history is coming down to that point where God saves a remnant of Jews during the Tribulation, along with a remnant of Gentiles.

The Time Is Short

Nathan Jones: As we get ready for the Rapture of the Church, we pray that people will now give their lives and hearts over to Jesus Christ.

Vic Batista: Jerusalem is an incredible sign for us in these last days. We pray and encourage people to come to Jesus Christ right now, because the time is short.

Nathan Jones: It is. it's very short. This ninth sign has been horrible, but the tenth one is glorious and wonderful — the return of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we know that our time is short.

We are coming up to the Rapture of the Church. So, have you asked yourself, "Will I be left behind?" Have you given your life and heart to Jesus Christ? If you repented of your sins and asked, "Dear, Jesus, please forgive me of my sins and be my Savior." Jesus promises to forgive you, to take away your guilt, and to give you the promise of the Rapture and life forever with Him in Heaven.

Vic Batista: That is absolutely true. We encourage people with what the Bible says in John 3:16, "That God so loved the world." God loves you. God has a plan for you. It starts in the Word of God and culminates in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

In the third and last segment of our discussion on the end times sign of Jerusalem, Vic and I will look at why the world hates the Jewish people.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The End Times Sign of Jerusalem: Vespasian's Victory

Nathan JonesMP3By

How accurately did Jesus foretell the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD?

In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista and I will look at the ninth end times sign related to Jerusalem prophesied by Jesus in Luke 21:20-24.

The Truth Will Set You Free

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Three Questions

Vic Batista: Nathan, before we get into the end times sign of Jerusalem, could you give a quick recap of the background behind Jesus' teaching in Luke 21, paralleled in Matthew 24 and Mark 13?

Nathan Jones: The Apostles had asked Jesus three questions:

  1. When will the Temple fall?
  2. What will be the sign of the end of the age?
  3. And, what will be the sign of Jesus' coming?

They wanted to know what would be the signs that would proceed His coming. We know that Jesus is coming back to rapture the Church, that is those people who believe in Jesus as Savior, off this planet before a terrible seven year time period called the Tribulation befalls the world. It's when God's wrath will be poured out on the world, and as a result, much of the planet's population and the ecology will die. Jesus will return at the very end of this time, and it's called the Second Coming. That's when Jesus will defeat evil and set up His 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom. His Kingdom will be characterized as a time of peace, righteousness and justice that will reign throughout the land. That time has been what those faithful to God have been looking out for millennia.

By asking the second and third questions, the Apostles had inadvertently pointed out that the Second Coming will be divided into two stages. The Rapture is the first stage and then the Second Coming is the second stage.

Jesus said that ten different signs would occur before His return, and they would come more frequently and more intensely and with much more destruction the closer humanity rocketed to those fateful days. Jesus said there would be a huge influx of false prophets, there would be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilence, signs in the skies, Christian persecution and other signs.

Vespasian's Victory

Vic Batista: Nathan, you've taken us through eight out of the ten end times signs, so now let's look at another sign. What is the ninth sign Jesus gave us in Luke 21?

Nathan Jones: The ninth sign that Jesus talked about was the fall of Jerusalem.

Remember when the Apostles were asking, "When was the Temple going to fall?" They asked that just across the valley from the Temple in Jerusalem. They had been oohing and aahing over how amazing it was, that is until Jesus declared that it was going to be destroyed. He even said that not one stone would be left upon another. The fulfillment of that prophecy happened in 70 AD.

We can read about how bad the fall of Jerusalem would be in Matthew 21:20.

"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies you will know that its desolation is near. Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let those in the great city get out, and those in the country not enter the city for this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers. There will be great distress in the land and wrath against His people. They will fall by the sword and be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles to the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled."

That scenario Jesus described was played out exactly when the Roman General Titus Vespasian and four legions marched into Jerusalem. From 68-70 AD, they besieged Jerusalem. The Romans starved the people in the hopes they'd surrender. The historian Josephus left us detailed stories about the horrific suffering that went on in Jerusalem. They were stories of how the starvation was so bad that even cannibalism was occurring.

When Titus' armies broke through the walls, they slaughtered the Jews en mass. A recorded 1.1 million estimated were killed and 98,000 Jews captured. Josephus wrote:

"The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without. Men and women old and young and servants and priests, those who had fought and those who treated mercy, were hewed down in discriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceeded that of the slayers. The legionnaires had to clamor over heaps of dead to carry on the work of extermination."

Vespasian's victory was so fierce and so brutal that when his victory was complete, it was reported that he refused to accept the wreath of victory that was always given to the victor. The reason he said was, "There is no merit in vanquishing a people forsaken by their God."

Vic Batista: Wow! The works of Josephus are a great resource which provide so much history about the destruction of Jerusalem.

Nathan Jones: Josephus was also a Jew who lived during that very time. His rebellion against Rome was shortened when he was captured by the Romans and then switched sides. The Romans used him as a historian to record the slaughter of his own people and all the other events that went on during era. Josephus recorded some horrible, horrible stories.

The reason for the fall of Jerusalem was because the Jews had rejected Jesus as the Messiah. So, just as Jesus said, the Temple fell, which occurred in 70 AD. Jesus said not one stone would be left upon another, and that's absolutely what happened. The Romans came in and they were mad. It'd been three years since they'd begun to besieged the city. They'd chopped down most of the trees in Israel to use as their fortifications. They swept into the city and then they looted the Temple. The soldiers set fire to Temple and the fire melted all the gold which oozed down into the cracks between the stones. History records that the Romans pried up all the stones to get at the gold that had melted and then solidified between the stones. Literally they lifted up every stone off the Temple so that there was not one stone left upon another. Then they threw the stones all down into the Kidron Valley. And so, the Temple was totally destroyed, exactly as Jesus said it would.

Absolutely 100%

Vic Batista: That's why we encourage everyone to be reading the Word of God, because everything that's written in this book comes to pass 100% of the time. What an incredible prophecy that was literally fulfilled! That's why Jesus is the only true prophet. We have so many so-called prophets today, such as Nostradamus and so many others, and yet much of what they say is pure nonsense, right?

Nathan Jones: Today's prophets' prophecies are totally make-believe. In Deuteronomy you can read about how if what a prophet says does not come true then we know they are not a prophet. Just forget them. Don't be afraid of them. So many people are out there predicting this and that. They are setting the day that Jesus is supposedly going to come back, though Jesus said we cannot know the day or hour. There are prophesying the demise of countries, economic collapses, and other impossible things. All these so-called prophecies are extra-biblical.

We must go to the Bible for knowing the future, for the Bible is the very Word of God. When Jesus came at His First Coming, well 300 general prophecies and 109 distinct prophecies had foretold about that coming. These were very specific prophecies like what town He would be born in, which was Bethlehem Ephrata, what tribe his family would be part of, what His lineage would descend from, that He would be born of a virgin, and many other different yet specific things. Jesus fulfilled all 300 prophecies. That means that 100% of these prophecies were fulfilled!

Concerning Jesus' Second Coming, some 500 verse in the Old Testament and one out of every 25 verses in the New Testament prophesy Jesus return at the Second Coming. These verses provide great detail about the event. So, if 100% of the prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus' First Coming, then what percent will be fulfilled by His Second Coming?

Vic Batista: Absolutely 100%!

Nathan Jones: Yes, 100%! Therefore, we can put our faith and trust in what the Bible says about Jesus Christ, about salvation, and about the future, because we know what the Bible prophesies always comes true. There is no religious book at all in all the world that contains fulfilled prophecy. Only the Bible has prophecies that have been fulfilled. And, when those prophecies are fulfilled, we then know we can put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. We can have the assurance of our salvation once we've accepted Jesus as Savior.

Vic Batista: People can put their faith in the Word of God and what the Bible says about salvation.

Nathan Jones: We can indeed put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ and in what He says about the future.

In the second segment of our discussion on the end times sign of Jerusalem, Vic and I will look at Jerusalem's role in the final days.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The End Times Sign of Christian Persecution: Why God Allows It

Nathan JonesMP3 PDFBy

Why does God allow Christians to be persecuted?

In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista, Evangelist Don McGee of Crown & Sickle Ministries, and I will look at the eighth end times sign of Christian persecution prophesied by Jesus in Luke 21:12-19.

Don McGee

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Today's Persecutions

Nathan Jones: The eighth end times sign Jesus in Luke 21 foretold was a greater increase in the persecution of Christians. The Church was well persecuted since its beginning and all throughout the Roman Empire. There has definitely been persecutions of Christians all over the planet in different areas throughout history. But, as we get closer to the Rapture, we'll see and have been seeing Christians all over the world suffering and dying. And then, after the Rapture and during the Tribulation, anyone who finally believes in Jesus as their Savior will most likely be martyred for their faith. Very few Tribulation Saints will survive the Tribulation to live on into the Millennial Kingdom. So, the persecution of Christians will continue to come more frequently and more intensely the closer we get to Jesus' two-staged return.

Vic Batista: There are some incredibly horrific statistics in terms of the persecution of Christians coming out the last few years. Persecution has been terrible in our present time. Can you talk a little bit about what is going on even in our current events, Nathan?

Nathan Jones: Well, it's just a slaughter! Christians obviously are the biggest targets in the world. The news is filled with ISIS, the Islamic State, which is marching through Syria and Iraq. They are killing everybody who isn't a radical Muslim like they are, even murdering other Muslims who they don't think are as devout as they are. The Christians in those lands have almost been wiped out.

The last few years has also seen Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood trying to wipe out the Christians.

In Nigeria Boko Haram in the north has been coming into Christian villages, bombing their buildings, burning their homes, and chopping up their people with machetes. Boko Haram throws children down wells, steals Christian daughters and forces them into marriage.

The persecution of Christians hasn't been limited to Muslim states, for it has been going on all over the world. We sit here in the West and feel somewhat safe. The United States as a country was founded on Christian values, and the Lord has blessed us greatly for that. He's kept the persecution at bay, but even so, we are starting to see the walls that hold back the persecution of Christians in the United States crumbling as evil people have supplanted the good people. They now control the country. As a result, we are going to see a great persecution happening eventually in the United States.

I don't enjoy it, but it's interesting to read up on the amount of persecution and the stories going on behind the scenes. I can tell you all sorts of stories of different persecutions that are happening to Christians around the world right now.

Vic Batista: That's a very good point, because people are not aware. They think that when we talk about persecution, that it's something that's not going to be knocking on our doors here in the United States of America. But, we are already seeing evidence of the coming persecution. The Muslim religion is moving about in circles of power with the current administration. These guys are relentless. Whoever doesn't worship their god Allah, they are seeking the freedom to go to the extent of killing innocent Christians.

Tomorrow's Persecutions

Vic Batista: But, of course, the persecution of today is nothing compared to what's going to happen in the Tribulation Saints, right, Nathan? What the believers are going to experience in that time will make today's sufferings seem minor. Can you talk a little bit about the persecutions of the Tribulation?

Nathan Jones: After the Rapture of the Church, there won't be a single Christian left on this planet. But, the spread of the Gospel doesn't end with the Church's departure, because God will leave behind Two Witnesses. We aren't sure who they're going to be, but some say Moses and Elijah, or Elijah and Enoch, or they are actually just two Jewish people who will get saved after the Rapture. During the first half of the Tribulation they will witnesses from Jerusalem where they will share the Gospel.

The Lord also has 144,000 Jewish evangelists reserved. They will be saved after the Rapture, and then they will share the Gospel with people all around the world. God will supernaturally protect them so that they are unkillable.

God is also going to send an angel. He will be called the Gospel Angel and he will travel the world to share the Gospel. No person will be left who hasn't heard about Jesus' salvation and been given the opportunity to accept Christ.

God has other avenues to get the Gospel to the people of the Tribulation era. Bible teaching programs will be left behind in article and podcast form. Our Bibles will remain. You name it! These witnessing resources are all going to be left out there to share the Gospel with those people.

We know from the descriptions found in Revelation that there will be millions and millions of people who will come to accept the Lord as their Savior during that time. In fact, Revelation 6:9-11 says, "I saw under the altar of those who had been slain because of the Word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, 'How long sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?'"

Also, it says in Revelation 7:9, "A great multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne in the front of the Lamb." From these verses and others, we know that during the Tribulation millions will be saved. But, when someone gives their life to Jesus Christ at that time, most likely they will be martyred for their faith. It will be a time period when Satan will be ruling directly on the earth through a one-world ruler called the Antichrist. He will have a false prophet. All religion will be about worshiping the Antichrist, who is pretty much Satan acting through the Antichrist. With that form of worship happening, other religions cannot be allowed. Satan will force the world to choose him or not by taking a loyalty mark, which is the name of the Antichrist placed either on the forehead or on the right hand. If the people of that time don't take it, they will be killed. We know from Scriptures that many, many people will come to know Jesus as their Savior during the Tribulation, but they will likely be killed for making that choice.

Vic Batista: Amazing and incredible things will be seen! In the midst of the persecution today, God is going to preserve a remnant. God is always going to protect His Church in this age. The gates of Hell will not prevail against it. And, we know that when persecution comes, the Church of Jesus Christ excels, right?

Nathan Jones: Persecution is an odd thing, isn't it, when you think about it. You can preach to your hearts desire, and you can share your faith with people, but they just kind of yawn and roll over uninterested. But, when you die for something you believe in, that captures people. It gets their attention. They start thinking, "He must really believe in Jesus because He was willing to die for it. I better check Jesus out."

We've seen over the last 2,000 years of the Church how those who have died for their faith have made a greater impact for the message of salvation than they ever had in life. God uses that kind of faith. We live our lives as a Christian, and we are servants of Christ, so we are like soldiers. Soldiers are willing to give up their lives for war, and we will likely give up our lives just as many Christians do around the world. When we die for what we believe in, such a sacrifice makes an impact on people.

God used our sacrifices to advance His kingdom. For example, look at the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire controlled the known world in its time. They heard of this new little group of Christ-followers that was called "The Way" who following this carpenter from some backwater providence called Judea. These Christians continued to grow and flourish even though the Romans tried to stamp them out. They tried to wipe Christianity out by sacrificing Christians to the lions and gladiators, but they just couldn't kill their beliefs off. By 300 AD, the Roman Empire had given up and decided to adopt Christianity as its own state religion. Sure, the Romans messed it up a lot doctrinally, but basically Christianity had taken over the Roman Empire.

And so, the Lord uses the persecution of Christians to proliferate the Gospel and bring people to Christ. That methodology has worked for 2,000 years, and will continue to work throughout the Tribulation.