Thursday, July 19, 2018

FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD




By Pastor Mike Taylor


“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
53:2  For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
53:3  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
53:4  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
53:5  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
53:6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
53:7  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
53:8  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
53:9  And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
53:10  Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
53:11  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
53:12  Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:1-12)

During the beginning of the Lord’s Supper services to remember the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, this passage is always read. It gives a biblical description of the supreme sacrifice that Jesus imparted on our behalf. Of all the prophecies of the Bible concerning the birth, life and death of Jesus (and there are over 300 of them) the last two days of His life and His death, captured the majority. No prophecy is more important than the death and resurrection of our Lord.

We speak of prophesy on this website. We look backward from the time of Jesus birth and His life, up including His death and just as important, His resurrection. All prophecy is about Jesus. To coin a phrase “It’s all about Him”. But do we even realize the immense sacrifice and the enormous amount of pain and suffering that Jesus endured for one reason, and one reason only? The  reason for his death was for US…for all mankind. Jesus became sin to Him who knew no sin. Paul writes:
5:21  “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”(2nd Corinthians 5:21)

But knowing all that, do we even grasp what Jesus went through to accomplish the greatest feat performed on this earth, the salvation of men and women who believe in Him? Those who have seen the “Passion of the Christ” may get a Hollywood idea of how much suffering Jesus went through, but looking past the Catholic details that are not found in scripture, the depiction is thoroughly gruesome and hard to watch. But let’s take a closer look at what modern movies can only give a representation of the barbaric form of torture known as crucifixion. It is where we get the word “excruciating” or “out of crucifixion”.
THE “SCIENTIFIC” EXPLANATION OF THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS CHRIST

I had a brother in Christ send me an email that gave a condensed version of the barbaric and inhumane torture that was endured by my Lord God.  It was hard to read, but the following touched my spirit with such remorse and an emotional response that should bring tears to the eyes of anyone who loves the Lord Jesus, as it did mine. Crucifixion was started by the Phoenecians, but was perfected in its brutality by the Roman Empire.
What did Jesus endure?

“At the age of 33, Jesus was condemned to death.  At the time crucifixion was the "worst" death possible. Only the worst criminals were condemned to be crucified. Yet it was even more dreadful for Jesus, unlike other criminals condemned to death by crucifixion Jesus was to be nailed to the Cross by His hands and feet.

Each nail was 6 to 8 inches long. The nails were driven into His wrist. Not into His palms as is commonly portrayed. There's a tendon in the wrist that extends to the shoulder. The Roman guards knew that when the nails were being hammered into the wrist that tendon would tear and break, forcing Jesus to use His back muscles to support himself so that He could breath.  Both of His feet were nailed together. Thus, He was forced to support Himself on the single nail that impaled His feet to the cross. Jesus could not support himself with His legs because of the pain, so He was forced to alternate between arching His back then using his legs just to continue to breath. Imagine the struggle, the pain, the suffering, and the courage.

Jesus endured this reality for over 3 hours. Yes, over 3 hours! Can you imagine this kind of  suffering? A few minutes before He died, Jesus stopped bleeding. He was simply pouring water from his wounds. From common images we see wounds to His hands and feet and even the spear wound to His side... But do we realize His wounds were actually made in his body. A hammer driving large nails through the wrist, the feet overlapped and an even larger nail hammered through the arches of His feet, then a Roman guard piercing His side with a spear. But before the nails and the spear Jesus was whipped and beaten.

The whipping was so severe that it tore the flesh from His body. The beating so horrific that His face was torn and his beard ripped from His face. The Crown of thorns cut deeply into His scalp. Most men would not have survived this torture.  Jesus had no more blood to bleed out, only water poured from His wounds. The human adult body contains about 3.5 liters (just less than a gallon) of blood. Jesus poured all 3.5 liters of his blood; He had three nails hammered into His members; a crown of thorns on His head and, beyond that, a Roman soldier who stabbed a spear into His chest...All these without mentioning the humiliation He suffered after carrying His own cross for almost 2 kilometers, while the crowd spat in his face and threw stones (the cross was almost 30 kg of weight, only for its higher part or cross member, was where His hands were nailed).”

Reading this abbreviated explanation of the death of Jesus put an urgency in me to convey to the true believer, and hopefully, the non-believer  to make it real in their mind just what Jesus endured for you and me. So I went to Google and started reading about Roman crucifixions  and it gives you pause in your thought processes when  you envision what this would have looked like, if  you had   been standing  at the foot of the cross that Jesus died upon as the apostle John did. Also Mary, His earthly mother, and other women who had followed Him during His ministry were there. While looking at many explanations online I went to this site:
http://www.cbcg.org/scourging_crucifixion.htm

On the site, several medical doctors and pathologist give the anatomy and the physiology of what happens to a person who goes through a Roman crucifixion. As mentioned above about Jesus was brutally whipped, as scourging was a prerequisite to finally being crucified.

“The usual instrument was a short whip with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals.  For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post.  The back, buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers (lictors) or by one who alternated positions.  The severity of the scourging depended on the disposition of the lictors and was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death.  As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues.  Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.  Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for hypovolemic shock.  The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive on the cross.  After the scourging, the soldiers often taunted their victim.”( CBCG.org)

As mentioned, scourging was designed to weaken the individual to a point of near death by loss of blood and death would come from any number of reasons, but the most likely would have been the hypovolemic shock, or a loss of blood, and/or asphyxiation due to inability to expand the chest and the inability to inhale oxygen to sustain life while on the cross. Ponder on the words that you read in the article of the medical aspects of a man crucified and then ask yourself, “Why did Jesus do it?”
FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD….

It comes down to this very statement. God knew before the foundation of the world that to redeem His creation, mankind, that He Himself would have to become a man and die in their place.
5:6 “ For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
5:7  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
5:8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
5:9  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
5:10  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”(Romans 5:6-10)

 Do you fully understand the meaning of that passage? We were enemies of God. We were lost in our sins. We had NO hope of coming back to God, as God cannot allow sin into His presence. Here we were doomed by our own sinful nature. We were destined to die in our sins and being separated from God for all eternity. Understand, God didn’t have to do it. The Lord Jesus didn’t have to do it. God could have let us wallow in our sins, live our short, mortal lives and cast the whole lot of us into a devil’s hell. But He didn’t….WHY?
THE ANSWER IS AMAZING LOVE!!
3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
3:17  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
3:18  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”(John 3:16-18)

What can explain why God so loved the world, that He came into this world as a mortal human being to accomplish one thing, to die for the sins of all who will put their faith and trust in Him? 

The Prophet Micah adds, "Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy."(Micah 5:7)

God is love, and love is kind, but perhaps our approach to His forgiveness has been prosaically legal. The Scriptures reveal that God does kindness with intensity of will and readiness of mind. He forgives with all His heart because He delights in mercy! He says, "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies." God's nature works to give mercy, not punish; to create beauty, not destroy; to save, not lose.

John 3:16 is the definition of the LOVE of God. The passage is the whole point of the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ. As God is love, His love is extended toward us. Jesus came to do the Father’s will and that was to save all who will come to Him and put their faith and trust in Him. For He alone can save you. Jesus said,
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Me."( John 14:6.)

Many read the first verse of this passage in John 3:16, but fail to read the next two verses. God doesn’t want to condemn His creation, He wants to save it. Because of His unfathomable love for the “work of His hands”, His creation, you and me. He applied mercy and grace mixed with that love. The definition of this kind of “MERCY” is not receiving what you sorely deserve, and “GRACE” is receiving something you cannot earn. It is UNMERITED FAVOR. Note verse 18  of John 3 of the above passage. You must believe in His only Begotten Son. You must believe that He died, that He suffered a torture that was taken on your behalf  and that He died in your place. You must believe in your heart and your mind, not just a passing intellectual knowledge, but an embracing with your whole heart and soul that this is truth, and that God the Father raised Him , Jesus Christ, from the dead after 3 days and He is alive and coming back to collect what He has already bought, His creation. And foremost before the prior can happen, you must believe that you are a sinner…lost in your sins and destined for eternal death and separation from God for all eternity in a devil’s hell. Hell, because it will be devoid of what God is…peace, love, hope, righteousness, happiness, joy, and glorious light. You cannot be good enough, perform enough good deeds, give to the poor, tithes to the church, or attend Church services at your chosen denomination. We all fall short. As the Bible says, “Our righteousness are as filthy rags” in His sight. For all have sinned.
3:22  “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
3:24  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”(Romans 3:22-24)

SEPARATION FROM GOD FOR ALL ETERNITY


Let me put this in maybe something you can grasp concerning what scripture says about what Jesus experienced during His life up and until He died on the cross for you and me. Paul speaks of what Jesus experienced in His life while alive on this earth, Hebrews:
4:15  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”(Hebrews 4:15)

Realize that Jesus experienced everything that you experience in this life. He lived in an evil world with temptations  all around those who lived at this time. There were sins of the flesh, of the mind, prostitution, homosexuality, and total lawlessness (as is today), but Jesus resisted and overcame them all.  But Jesus never experienced one thing until hanging on that cross. He had not experienced it in all of eternity prior and I’m not sure that in His human form realized what was coming would be like, as it’s not revealed when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and asked His Father to let this cup pass from Him.
22:41  “And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed,
22:42  saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."
22:43  Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.
22:44  And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”(Luke 22:41-44)

Jesus must have known it was coming, as He is God, but had never experienced it in His fleshly body, as He never had for all  eternity
Jesus had experienced everything that we have to endure, but one aspect.  He experienced on the cross what I think what He dreaded the most

Jesus had always been with the Father. The Father and He were One, as Jesus told the Jews of His day:


10:27 “ My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
10:28  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
10:29  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
10:30  I and my Father are one.”(John 10:27-30)

Jesus had always known the Father. They had never been separated, but that changed on the cross, and it scared Jesus to His very mortal being.

15:33  “Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
15:34  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”(Mark 15:33-34)

Have you figured it out yet? Up to this point, Jesus had been tempted in all aspects, just as you and I are, but at this one point in time, when God the Father turned His back on Him because of the sin laid upon Him and couldn’t look, Jesus knew totally everything that you and I  experience,  even separation from Almighty God, His Father.  It frightened my Lord and He cried out aloud. It should scare you too, as it scared Jesus, so should you cry out to God and cry,
“Lord Jesus Save me. I come to you a humbled, broken, repentant sinner, asking for you to forgive me of my sins. I believe you died and rose again so that I too, may live. I don’t want to be separated from the love of God. I want to spend eternity with you and be alive forevermore in your Kingdom.  Cover me with your own precious blood that you poured out on Calvary’s cross, because I can’t do it myself. I need you to come into my life and my heart , as my God and become the Lord of my life” 

If you say those words and mean them in you heart, Jesus will honor your cry to save you. Then you can partake of the sacrifice He paid for in His own blood and look forward to the future prophecies that are “all about Him” to be completed in the near future. Now Jesus was separated from God for a short time that it required for Him to make atonement for the sins of the whole world, but can you think of being separated from the love of God for all eternity with no hope of reprieve, or redemption, or hope to get out?  The bible speaks of a place of this separation where the worm dieth not.
“And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”(Isaiah 66:24)

It is describing an awful, hellish place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, (I presume from the pain,  maybe of your mind) where the worm that eats on a dead body never dies, as you will never die, but tormented for all eternity.  People don’t like to think that God would ever do such a thing, to banish a person to such a place, because as they put it…God is Love. That’s true, God is love, but God is also a God of judgment, a God of justice, and a God of consuming fire. Paul described what men do not want to attribute to the God of the universe, but God is love, but just in His judgments: Hebrews 12:
12:25  “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
12:26  Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
12:27  And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
12:28  Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
12:29  For our God is a consuming fire.”(Hebrews 12:25-29)

This is what Jesus came out of LOVE to save us all from. Save us from separation from God, being banished to a place that designed for Satan and his demons, not mankind. God is not willing that any should perish and go to such a place, but it is a decision left to the individual.
3:9  “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”(2nd Peter 3:9)
PROPHECY FULFILLED

You know that prophecy is being fulfilled during these last days in this world we live in, but without this prophecy being fulfilled in its entirety concerning the sacrifice Jesus paid for the souls of men and women, the future of this world, our world, and this life we live, would not mean anything. Because of what He did 2000 years ago, we who know the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord of our lives, have a prophecy that will be completed, possibly in my lifetime, most likely sooner than I can even imagine. That prophecy that was fulfilled started in agony and pain will end in complete victory in Jesus, from the time when He arose again until He comes again in the clouds of heaven to receive a people, a Bride, unto Himself. From the beginning of the first resurrection begun by Jesus Christ, we look forward to the coming of our Lord and a continuation of that mystery, known as the first resurrection.
51  “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”(1st Corinthians 15:51-53)

Many scriptures give assurance that Jesus will come again to remove those who have put their faith and trust in Him. (just search my website. I have many to prove the point) There are those that have trusted in the supreme sacrifice in His own blood, to save them from what is coming, to save them from the coming tribulation and ultimately, separation from God. Then there are those that will  never, ever make that decision to put their faith and trust in Him and believe and embrace what He did 2000 years ago. I pray that what I have written here gives you feelings of deep heartfelt thankfulness for what Jesus did, love for the One who loved your first, and a deep sorrow for what Jesus had to go through to save you and me. I pray you fall on your knees and cry out to our God, our Savior, and confess your sins to the saving of your soul. Yes, the crucifixion was barbaric and horrific, but Jesus did it willingly, without disobedience to the will of the Father, as They both knew, it was the only way to save mankind from what was lost in the Garden of Eden, our spiritual innocence and then nail our death sentence to the wood of His cross. What started out as a horrific incident that condemned an innocent man to death by the ruling Roman and Jewish authorities, became what we all will experience. To those who believe in Him at the coming of our Lord God in the clouds for His people…they will sing VICTORY IN JESUS. 

"Oh, victory in Jesus, my Savior forever,
He sought me, and He bought me with His redeeming blood,
He loved me err I knew Him, and all my love is due Him, He plunged me to VICTORY beneath the cleansing flood"

Yes, those who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did for us, will be able to sing this blessed song for all eternity...Will you be able to join us in that song?

This is pastor Mike Taylor, praying that God reveals Himself to you, though His Holy spirit and you confess Jesus as Lord. If you need prayer, counseling, or just a listening ear, email me at 
realteam1999@sbcglobal.net, or visit me online at www.pastormiketaylor.blogspot.com. God bless you all,

TILL WE MEET AT JESUS FEET. 


Thursday, July 12, 2018

PROPHECY IS BEING REVEALED

 
"Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." Isaiah 28:16. 

I often wonder what went through the minds of the prophets of old when God instructed them to write something like this. Did Isaiah think He meant that a building would be built there with a solid foundation and a perfect corner stone? Whether Isaiah understood it or not he knew that these words were from God. The men who sorted through the scrolls to compile the Old Testament must have also thought it strange, but the Holy Spirit led them to include it in Scripture. Centuries would pass before the meaning would be made clear by a fisherman who had followed Jesus and believed in who He was. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, 

"Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded." 1 Peter 2:6. 

Peter knew that Jesus is the corner stone and foundation that our faith is built upon. The Jewish leaders may have recognized their Messiah if they had believed prophecy, but they were blinded by tradition and misinterpretation. Have we learned from their mistakes? Not really. Many Bible teachers ignore prophecy because it's "too vague" or they try to twist it to fit their purposes. We live in the end times disclosed by Biblical prophecy and we need to pay attention.
 
A key to understanding prophecy is to believe what God says. Trying to force prophecy to fit human understanding is like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. If the square peg (human understanding) is adjusted to fit the round hole (God's information) then it fits nicely. Throughout Scripture we see that God's prophetic messages are always correct. Daniel was a highly educated young Jewish man who lived in Jerusalem. Then the Babylonian army attacked, Daniel was taken prisoner, and Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. Though living in a pagan culture Daniel never failed to honor God Almighty throughout his life. He had a prophetic letter written by Jeremiah to those who Nebuchadnezzar had taken captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. 

"For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." Jeremiah 29:10. 

Daniel didn't try to come up with a replacement theology regarding who God really meant would return after 70 year, but he believed that God said what He meant. As time went on he realized that the captivity was soon to be over and that the Jewish people soon would be re-gathered in the land and city that God had given to them forever. 

"In the first year of his reign I Daniel, understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem." Daniel 9:2. 

Daniel took the prophecy of Jeremiah seriously and his reaction was to fast and pray. We need to take a lesson from Daniel. Prophecy is information God gives us and He means for us to understand. There are many end time prophecies being fulfilled today and we need to take them seriously. Maybe we should fast and pray.
 
Space restricts mentioning all of the end times prophecies, but let me first state emphatically that the "church" has not replaced Israel. We have our own place in God's timeline, but Israel is still the main subject of these prophecies. Let's start by looking back to the time when Jesus began His ministry on earth. Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies during the time He walked through the Holy Land proclaiming the Good News to all who would listen. When Jesus began His ministry He entered into the synagogue in Nazareth and read from Isaiah. 

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, and set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." Luke 4:18-21. 

The passage He chose is found in Isaiah 61:1-2a and described His first coming. He didn't read the entire passage from Isaiah but said that this Scripture was fulfilled. What did the rest of the passage say? 

"...and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn: to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." Isaiah 61:2b-3. 

Verse numbers were added long after this was written and verses 1-3 are one sentence. The portion of the prophecy that Jesus read tells of the first coming of Christ, which is why He stopped where He did. The rest describes the Tribulation period when the wrath of God will be poured out and also the Kingdom Age. Today we can look back and fully understand that Jesus was the One prophesied, but we also need to understand that the full prophecy will be fulfilled in the future...the near future.
 
What do we miss by not taking God at His word? For centuries many so called Bible scholars taught that Christians had replaced Israel since the Temple had been destroyed and the Jews had been dispersed to all nations. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's too bad these "scholars" didn't believe prophecy just as Daniel believed it. God said that Israel would be reestablished as a nation and in 1948 it happened.

 "And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them saith the LORD thy God." Amos 9:14-15. 

Israel was re-established as a nation n 1948 and the Jewish people are returning. Many nations are trying to wipe them off the map, but God says that this time they are there permanently. I believe God. He also said that when they are brought back the second time they will be one nation rather than two (Israel had been the Northern Kingdom before being conquered by Assyria and Judah had been the Southern Kingdom which had been conquered by Babylon). 

"Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for Great shall be the day of Jezreel." Hosea 1:11. 

Today all twelve of the Jewish tribes are returning to the land God had given to Abraham and it's called Israel. There are many more prophecies regarding Israel being re-established. These have been fulfilled and we can be sure that all of God's prophecies will be fulfilled.
 
I'm always disappointed when I look at the news and see what passes as newsworthy. In America it seems as if the latest Hollywood scandal is more important than what's happening in places like Damascus and how that relates to prophecy. 

"The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap." Isaiah 17:1. 

This prophecy speaks of an end time event and today Damascus is nearly a ruinous heap. There are many other happenings in the Middle East that are much more relevant to life than the latest celebrity who hates Donald Trump or who's getting a divorce. Have you been keeping track of the peace deal that Jared Kushner is going to present to Israel and the surrounding nations? I'm not saying that Mr. Kushner is the Anti-Christ. In fact, speculation about that is silly. Christians will be taken Home in the Rapture before the man of sin is revealed. On the other hand we need to look at the signs of the times. There will be a covenant which this evil man will confirm so this could be that covenant, but that's speculation.

 "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" Daniel 9:27 (Also see Daniel 12:11). 

This is from a prophecy that was given to Daniel regarding the end of time. The "week" is a seven year period of time that's known as "Daniel's 70th week" and "the time of Jacob's trouble". This prophecy, as well as others, tells us that it has nothing to do with Christians...Christians don't do sacrifices and oblations. The Jewish priests will do these sacrifices in the rebuilt Temple, which must be there in order for the man of sin to desecrate it.

"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains": Matthew 24:15-16. 

Jesus took Daniel's prophecy seriously. By reading Daniel 11:31, Daniel 12:11, and Revelation chapter 13 we know that this happens half way through Daniel's 70th week and marks the beginning of the Great Tribulation. Today the Temple Institute has everything they need to be used in the Temple as soon as they're allowed to rebuild it. The signs of the times are happening quickly, so watch and be ready.
 
This brings us to the Rapture...a blessing for everyone who's accepted Christ for salvation. The seven year period in Daniel's prophecy is the final seven years of the age, and Jesus said that the last half of that week will be worse than anything that has happened before. God's wrath will be poured out upon those left in the world who will serve Satan and hate God Almighty. Remember, this is the time of Jacob's trouble, which means that the nation of Israel will be the focus of much hatred. The word "Rapture" isn't in our English Bible but if we had a Latin Bible we would see it. The Greek word is harpaz┼Ź and means to be seized by force or snatched away. It's used in numerous Scriptures, including John 10:28 &29, Acts 8:39, 2 Corinthians 12:2 & 4, and 1 Thessalonians 4:17. In Revelation we read letters to seven churches which give a prophecy of the church age, ending with the Laodicean church, which is very much like today. Jesus isn't welcome inside the congregation. With that final letter the "church age" is over and the next event is the Rapture.

 "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter." Revelation 4:1. 

The Greek words "meta tauta" are translated "after this" and "hereafter" and means first the preceding happens and then the next thing. In this instance the description of the church age is over, the catching up to Heaven is next, and John is told he will see what follows that event. Revelation chapters 4 and 5 tell of Christians in Heaven. It'll be awesome. Revelation chapter 6 begins the judgment of God when the Lamb opens the first seal. The following chapters tell of the horrendous wrath that will be poured out upon those who rejected Christ and haven't been Raptured.
 
Prophecy is one of the most intriguing subjects contained in God's word. As we approach the final days of world history the prophecies are becoming more clearly understood. When Daniel was given the end time prophecy he wanted to know the meaning. 

"But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Daniel 12:4. 

In other words, understanding would come when the end was near. We're at that time in history. I've barely scratched the surface of the list of prophecies being fulfilled today. If you're waiting for a better time to give your life to Christ, don't delay. If there's someone you've put off sharing the Gospel with, do it now. As rapidly as prophecy is being fulfilled, God could call us Home at any moment. Only faith in the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross will save anyone from God's wrath. Accept Him now because it will soon be too late.
 
God bless you all,