By Nathan Jones
Does the rebirth of Israel relate to a rise in Christian persecution?
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.
The Three Questions
Vic Batista: We are going to talk about signs of the times, and particularly we will be focusing on the persecution of Christians, as Jesus foretold in Luke 21 and Matthew 24.
Nathan Jones: It's great to include Don McGee in our study. Don McGee is a long-time friend of Lamb & Lion Ministries. He has been one of my teachers over the years, so it is a great blessing to have him share his knowledge.
Vic Batista: Don, would you be able to share with us your contact information? How can individuals be able to get a hold of you in case they want more information about your ministry?
Don McGee: Certainly, and I thank you for that opportunity. People can contact us at Crown & Sickle Ministries. If they would like a phone number, it is 985-748-2943, or they can contact us on the web at crownandsickle.com, or they can reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vic Batista: Today's subject matter is one that is very important. When talking about the signs of the times, we have to look particularly at Luke 21:12. It reads, "But before all these things they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, deliver you up to the synagogues and prison, you will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake."
Nathan, could you recap for us briefly some of the other end times signs Jesus gave in Luke 21 before we jump into our next sign along with Don McGee?
Nathan Jones: The context chapters are from Matthew 24, Luke 21 and parallel in Mark 13. The Apostles were at the Temple in Jerusalem and they are "oohing" and "awing" over the splendor of the Temple. Then Jesus announces, "This whole thing will be destroyed, not one stone will be left upon another." And, they are like, "What?!" By the time they get across the valley to the Mount of Olives, they ask Jesus three questions:
- When will the Temple fall?
- What will be the sign of the end of the age?
- And, what will be the sign of Jesus' coming?
When they were looking to know what signs would point to when the Temple will fall, we know from history that the date was 70 AD. What will be the signs of the end of the age? This is the referring to the end of what we now call the Church Age. What will be the sign that Jesus is coming? We know from prophecy that that's referring to the Second Coming at the end of the seven-year Tribulation that is coming upon the earth.
Jesus gave them ten signs that they could look out for to know when the Temple would fall, and for us today that the Lord is coming really soon. Those signs would increase in frequency and intensity the closer they got to the actual event. The signs Jesus gave we are talking about earthquakes, famines, plagues, signs in the sky, and others. Christian persecution is the eighth of the ten signs that the Lord gave us.
Israel at the Center
Vic Batista: We see that there are just a lot of these signs of persecution going on even today, starting with the regathering of the nation of Israel. What an incredible sign! Don, I was going to ask if you could skip a little ahead to the ninth sign and tell us a little bit about the miracle of the regathering of the nation of Israel.
Don McGee: Well, Vic, there is no precedent for what has happened in Israel. Never in the course of humanity has a nation of people, that has been for all practical purposes dead by being dispersed throughout the world, been resurrected as a nation again. The Jews have been brought back together again as a nation, having their own state. The prophet Ezekiel in chapter 37 prophesied that this would indeed happen. There's been no precedent whatsoever in the secular world. But, it did happen. God brought those people back together as a nation in 1948.
Interestingly, the regathering of the Jews is just beginning. All the Jews of the world are going to be brought back to Israel who are not in Israel today. The Bible says they will be coming when the vast majority, or an overwhelmingly majority, and some even say when every last Jew, will be brought back to the land of Israel. Of course, that will not happen until the Tribulation period which follows the taking out of the Church at the Rapture. But, Israel's return signals the nearness of the Last Days which are characterized by a tremendous persecution of Jews and Christians.
The idea of a nation of people being brought back to their land from the graveyards of the Gentile world is a phenomenal miracle! I believe it parallels the Resurrection, if I can use that term of the Hebrew language.
Latin is often called a dead language, though it is still used in the halls of academia, but that's just about it. No one really knows a lot about Latin today. Compare Latin to Hebrew as a biblical language. Hebrew is alive and well and vibrant and dynamic in not only the nation of Israel, but in other places, too. We see a parallel between what happened with the revival of the Hebrew language and the Hebrew nation. I believe the revival of the language was necessary for the completion of the Hebrew nation as the Jewish people.
God is a wonderful God. When He says He's going to do something, He's going to do it. All we have to do is watch these signs occurring. When we observe them, and as we study them, our faith grows. The Word teaches us that we can have faith, and our faith grows by reading the Word of God. And, I'd add, by watching what God is doing in Israel today, it's just a great boost to our faith.
In the second segment of our discussion on the end times sign of Christian persecution, Vic, Don and I will look at the how the ultimate price the Apostles paid brought people to salvation in Jesus Christ.