Friday, April 13, 2018

RUSSIA, THE UNITED STATES AND ISRAEL


By Matt Ward -

Since the end of the first Gulf War in 2001, missile defense has been an absolute priority for Israel. In 2001, Saddam Hussein, in an effort to draw the Jewish State into a war he knew he was going to lose, fired 39 Scud Missiles at Israel in a failed attempt to fracture the fragile Arab coalition formed against him. Though ultimately Saddam Hussein's attempt to draw Israel into the conflict failed, many missiles did manage to find their targets and innocent Israeli's died as a consequence.
Since then missile defense has become a matter of the greatest strategic military importance for Israel. To this end, in early March, elements from the United States and Israeli militaries began a joint training exercise known as "Juniper Cobra." Five thousand US and Israeli troops trained together with the aim of successfully defending Israel from missile attack should a war break out in the Middle East. The training included live fire drills, missile defense simulations, field training and computer simulations of multiple attacks against Israel from multiple fronts, all at once. (1)
The strategic threats Israel faces in 2018 are much direr today than they ever were in the 1990's or early 2000's. Hezbollah, to Israel's north, has acquired a truly enormous arsenal of missiles and rockets. Conservative estimates put the Hezbollah arsenal at well over 100,000 rockets or more-all of which are aimed exclusively at Israel, and all of which now have the ability to reach any part of the Jewish state for the first time.
In any future confrontation with this Lebanese terror group, there is a genuine risk that Israel's defensive solutions, sophisticated though they are, would be completely overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the barrage they would face. Israel would be rapidly swamped by the deluge of rockets and missiles fired at her.
Yet, that is not the only, or most significant, threat Israel must manage. Hamas, towards Israel's south has also managed to acquire, despite their often repeated claims of abject poverty, a truly huge arsenal of rocketry. Add Iran into this mix, and the existential threat of their nuclear weapons program and their genuinely sophisticated ICBM systems, and it becomes clear that the Israeli strategic military landscape is a formidable one.
Juniper Cobra is part of the joint response to these threats. Not aimed at any individual scenario, it deals with the development of "complex scenarios," which include simultaneous attacks from multiple enemy countries and militant groups.
The US and Israel are preparing for a war in which the Jewish state will face a "multidirectional threat." In other words, they are preparing for a war in which Israel will be attacked, at the same time, from all sides.
Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, chief of Israel's air defense command, relays that they do this "...because this scenario is real."
Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich is not over-exaggerating; Iran has been very busy of late. In late January - early February, Iranian leader, Hojatoleslam Seyed Ebrahim Raisi, was pictured closely scrutinizing the Israeli-Lebanese border. Raisi was not there simply to enjoy the fine views; he was examining Hezbollah fixed border positions directly facing Israel and, ominously, inspecting the border formations Israel's army had taken up to counter them.
That this man would visit the Israeli-Lebanese border is highly significant. He is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's leading successor and the second most important person in Iran. Nobody commands more attention or wields more power other than the Ayatollah himself, than this man. And he seemed to be very interested in Israel's borders and in her ability to defend and repel an organized and sustained attack, and in the capability of Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, of launching just such a meaningful attack.
Accompanied by Revolutionary Guard commanders and Hezbollah officers, he then received a thorough briefing on both the battle readiness of Hezbollah units and IDF military build-ups along the Lebanese, Syrian and Golan border areas. Concluding the visit, Raisi held extensive and wide-ranging talks with Hassan Nasrallah, secretary general of Hezbollah, before departing back to Tehran.
According to Israeli military and intelligence sources, the gist of Raisi's message was that Hezbollah has now become a genuine fighting force in the Middle East, experienced and battle-hardened by the Syrian civil war. Raisi's pep talk concluded with darker tones, referring to the growing spirit of resistance against Israel in the Muslim and Arab world, exemplified by the Palestinians and their "struggle." He clearly signposted Iran's approaching endgame for its proxy group:
"It was Hezbollah's fighting capacity alone that generated resistance in the Islamic countries. Allah willing, we shall soon witness the liberation of Jerusalem!"
Yet Raisi is not the only high-profile Shiite to visit Lebanon in recent months. On December 2nd, 2017, Qais al-Khazali, head of the pro-Iranian Iraqi Aasaib Ahl al-Haq militia, also visited the area, also for a firsthand look at Israel's border formations and military set up. It is widely believed in Israeli intelligence circles that Qais al-Khazali performed this surveillance on behalf of the Iranian al-Quds General Qasseem Soleimani himself, the legendary Iranian supreme military commander in Syria and Iraq.
Qais al-Khazali, on behalf of Iranian General Soleimani, was assessing how to more effectively deploy Hezbollah's now tested and battle-hardened forces right along the full extent of Israel's northern border.
These visits were highly political in nature too. Qais al-Khazali's visit came just one day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. The message of these visits, and their timing, was a clear one; no matter what was discussed between the Israeli and Russian leaders, Tehran has no intention of withdrawing militarily from Syria and, additionally, would be extending its presence right into Lebanon with the aim of directly confronting Israel itself at some point in the very near future.
That Iranian and Shiite aim of confronting Israel may be a desire granted sooner rather than later. Russian President Vladimir Putin is currently under the most enormous pressure. Putin has miscalculated badly in recent weeks, and he now finds himself increasingly boxed into a corner by the international community.
And it all began to go wrong for Putin in a quaint little English town called Salisbury, with the poisoning of two seemingly harmless individuals - an old man and his thirty-year-old daughter. It would seem at this point unthinkable that Vladimir Putin did not directly authorize the poisoning and attempted assassination of Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia.
The international reaction to this attack, the first use of chemical weapons on mainland Europe since the end of the Second World War, and in Britain of all places and against and amongst civilians, has provoked a diplomatic whirlwind against Russia that seems to have genuinely caught the Russian leadership off guard.
Then, just days ago, came Douma. In another act of senseless barbarity, someone - the Syrian regime or another actor, launched a horrific chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma, killing and maiming many, including babies and children.
The West was quick to point the finger of blame at Assad and Russia; Russia vehemently denied it. Indeed, Russia to this point has denied that chemical weapons have even been used in Douma. However, despite the swift and strong Russian denials, babies and young children foaming at the mouth paint a completely different picture. Somebody did use chemical weapons. The question is who.
The tone of the Security Council emergency session called to discuss this heinous act was unprecedented, and the rhetoric coming from politicians and leaders all over the Western world would seem to indicate that the West is pretty sure that they think it was Assad.
What Putin cannot have foreseen, or in any way anticipated, was that the United States and its chief allies, the UK and France, all seem to be holding him directly and personally responsible for both the chemical weapons attacks in Syria and in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter is being tied together by the international community at the United Nations with the chemical weapons attack in Syria.
It is against this background that the large Syrian air base, known as T-4, and operated extensively by Iran as a forward-operating base, was then attacked on Sunday night. Russia believes this attack came from Israel, and Russia's tone and attitude towards the Jewish State has immediately shifted.
The Kremlin's longstanding modus operandi with regards to Israel's military strikes in Syria in the past was to make no comment. That has now changed. This time, the Kremlin condemnation of the Jewish State was swift, reporting that two Israeli F-15 jets carried out the attack using guided missiles launched from within Syrian airspace.
Russia has asked Israel for their "explanations." Israel, as always, has made no comment. Sergei Lavrov, the outspoken Russian Foreign Minister, told reporters that the "air strikes carried out on Sunday were a dangerous development."
Dangerous indeed, because Russia seems to now suspect that the Israeli strike is a US test, to see what Russia's response would be ahead of a potentially larger US operation that may come any moment now. Russia has warned of "grave consequences" if they do.
It is impossible to say, at the point of this writing, what may happen next, as developments on the ground are fast moving. The US or her allies may strike in Syria, or they may not. Russia may retaliate, or she may not. One thing is certain though; the events of the past few weeks, the obvious preparations being made by Iran and Hezbollah for war against Israel, the poisonings in the UK and the chemical weapons attacks in Syria - all being brought into sharp focus through the prism of Syria - may be pushing Putin firmly into the embrace of an alliance prophesied about eons ago by the prophet Ezekiel.
Recent events, especially if there is further military action taken against the Assad regime by the West in the coming days and weeks, may make Putin finally turn on the West's regional Achilles heel, Israel.
These events, and whatever lies just up ahead, may make Putin turn completely against Jerusalem and decide that supporting a war against Israel, which Syria, Iran and Hezbollah have long since been planning for, is actually the best long-term way of hitting back at America and her allies after all.

THE 9TH OF AV

 - BY J.L. Robb -

 
The Jewish calendar is different than the modern calendar used by most of the rest of the world. Instead of 2018, the current year on the Jewish calendar is 5778. That date starts with the creation of man 5778 years ago and is based on the biblical ages of early man.
 
Since BC and AD refer to a change in the calendar of the day because of the birth of Jesus, our Messiah, it is not recognized since they do not believe that Jesus was the messiah foretold by their very own prophets. The rabbis of Judah were a stubborn bunch, and the children of Israel are described throughout the Bible as "stiff necked." The designation of Before Christ and After Christ began to slowly come into effect around 525 AD.
 
In the Jewish calendar, all holidays occur on exactly the same date, according to the calendar, which is based on solar cycle and lunar cycle. A year can be 12 months or sometimes, 13 months; and the months have 29 or 30 days. In contrast, the modern calendar has 12 months of 28, 29, 30 and 31 days.
 
The first month of the Jewish year is the month of Nissan. In the current year, the month of Nissan runs from March 18-April 15 and always includes Passover.
 
The month of Av is also the Month of Mourning, specifically Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av, for good reason. This month has proven so catastrophic throughout Jewish history, a fast occurs for three weeks before the 9th of Av. This year, the 9th of Av is July 21, 2018.
 
The consensus: The Jewish people have experienced several major tragedies in history that have occurred on the 9th of Av.
 
The lists of events vary somewhat, but below is an example:
 
1. Hebrew year 2448 (1312 BC): Moses decided to delay conquering Canaan because the spies he sent in reported the people were giants, and the cities were well-fortified.
 
The Lord said to Moses, "Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders."
 
So at the Lord's command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites.
 
Numbers 13:1-3 NIV
 
When the spies returned after forty days, all but two insisted that they not invade. While the land indeed was a land of milk and honey, the people were giants and fierce. As a result, the Israelites spent a total of 40 years in the desert, a year for each day the spies were gone.
 
2. Hebrew year 3507 (587 BC): Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians destroyed Solomon's Temple (the First Temple). The two remaining tribes of Israel (Judah) were exiled and more than 100,000 Jews were killed.
 
3. Hebrew year 3830 (70 AD): The Second Temple, built after the defeat of Nebuchadnezzar, was destroyed by the Romans. In the process, more than two-million Jews died from war or famine/disease.
 
4. Hebrew year 3895 (135 AD): The Jews continued to rebel against Rome after the Second Temple was destroyed. The new Roman emperor, Hadrian, made promises of a Jewish homeland and a rebuilt temple; but he later reneged.
 
Under Jewish guerilla-leader Bar-Kokhba, the final battle took place at Bethar where thousands of Jewish refugees had fled during the war. The old temple grounds were plowed smooth, Jews were exiled again; and more than 100,000 were killed. The Romans continued construction of pagan city Aelia Capitolina, built on the ruins of Jerusalem.
 
Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord's support and say,
 
"Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us."
 
Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.
 
Micah 3:11-12 NIV
 
5. Hebrew year 4855 (1095AD): Pope Urban II declares the First Crusade to rid Jerusalem of Islamic takeover. During the first month, 10,000+ Jews were killed.

6. Hebrew year 5050 (1290 BC): England expels all Jews.

7. Hebrew year 5252 (1492): Spain and Portugal expel all Jews and confiscate property.

8. Hebrew year 5674 (1914 AD): World War I declared.

9. Hebrew year 5702 (1942 AD): Jews begin their deportation from Warsaw to the Treblinka concentration camp.

10. Hebrew year 5754 (1994 AD): The Jewish Community Center, Buenos Aires is bombed with 86 killed.
 
In researching this topic, one article from www.ohr.edu, a Jewish site describing these tragedies, ends like this:
 
In the future, to that same degree that the ninth of Av has been a day of tragedy, it will be a day of great happiness. For on the 9th of Av, the Mashiach will be born from the tribe of Yehuda (whose symbol is the lion).
 
I am now writing the seventh and final book in a series about the last days, a journey I began with Part One in 2011. I had a calling. The End Part Seven should be available late summer, hopefully.
 
In the process of thinking up a good title, a title with meaning, I came across the phenomenon of the 9th of Av tragedies. I decided to make that the title: The 9th of Av
 
According to the quote above,
 
For on the 9th of Av, the Mashiach will be born from the tribe of Yehuda (whose symbol is the lion)...
 
the Jewish Messiah will be born out of the tribe of Judah and will come as a lion to save them from yet another tragedy on the 9th of Av.
 
Could the date of Armageddon start on this date, as the quote predicted? We do not know the day and time, but this date would be a good guess. The middle of summer is a difficult time to fight a war.
 
Unfortunately, Israel missed this part of the story from Isaiah, where the Messiah from Judah would first come as a lamb going to slaughter. Had they not, they would have understood, like thousands of other Jews did, that the Messiah had already come.
 
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53:7 NIV
 
When Jesus, the Lion of Judah, returns, even liberal churches of today will understand that Jesus is neither liberal or pacifist by their definition, nor is he all-inclusive.
 
"Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals. Revelation 5:5-6 NIV
 
The news is good though. The ending is happy for those who make the cut.
 
"'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:4 NIV

Thursday, April 12, 2018

PROPHETIC MALNUTRITION

 - BY Steve Schmutzer -

 
How well will your car perform if you've removed one wheel? Would you sit down in a chair with a leg missing? Do you trust a plane with only three of its four wings?
 
These questions may seem absurd, but they each have something in common. In each case, 25% of something important is missing. And in each scenario, you would be at risk if you settled for less. No reasonable person would willingly choose to put themselves in these situations.
 
So why do we choose to regard the Bible differently than we would regard the car, the chair, or the plane? I'll pose the same question another way, but with greater relevance this time: "Why do so many pastors, teachers, and "Christian leaders" choose to ignore, revile, dilute, and misrepresent the 25% of God's Word which comprises the prophetic Scriptures?"
 
Here are a few compelling facts to consider from the "The Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy" by J. Barton Payne:
 
There are 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 in the New Testament for a total of 1,817 prophecies.
 
These prophecies are included within 8,352 verses of the Bible.
 
Since there are 31,124 verses in the Bible, the 8,352 verses that contain prophecy constitute 26.8 percent of the Bible's volume.
 
So I'm being conservative here. That's actually a bit more than 25% of the Word of God!
 
The entire Bible has prophetic themes woven throughout. It is prophetic at the very beginning in Genesis chapter 3 when the conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent was foretold. And it is prophetic at the very end of Revelation when the reign of Christ is anticipated for all eternity. The prophetic Scriptures so dominate the whole Bible that they're impossible to avoid unless one intentionally changes their gait through its pages the same way one avoids stepping on cracks in the sidewalk.
 
Digging a bit deeper here uncovers more to think about. Over 1500 of the prophecies of the Bible are devoted to Christ's Second Coming. For every prophecy in the Old Testament about Jesus' First Coming, there are eight about His Second Coming. Christ's return also comprises one of every five verses in the New Testament.
 
Here's where the rubber meets the road. If the Bible makes prophecy a priority, so should we. If an emphasis of the New Testament is the Second Coming of Christ, we should make that an emphasis too. If prophetic themes crop up all the time throughout the entire Word of God, we should be seeing prophetic themes salting many of our sermons and lessons.
 
But we don't.
 
It was not always like this, and we can look at Paul's example as a case in point. We know Paul as the converted persecutor of early Christians, and as the agent through which the Holy Spirit authored most of the New Testament. We are less familiar with Paul's activities during his missionary journeys, but it's here that I want point out something important.
 
It concerns the church of Thessalonica which Paul visited on his second missionary journey. His time with them was brief as Acts 17:2 may suggest. He followed that visit up with the letters we call 1 & 2 Thessalonians, and now it gets interesting.
 
Word had come to Paul that apostate teachings had entered the young Thessalonian church, heresies which conflicted with the things he had personally taught them. Chapter two of 2 Thessalonians dives right into the problem and it concerns the second coming of Jesus Christ. Paul dispenses a healthy portion of meat in this chapter, but he asks in 2 Thessalonians 2:5, "Don't you remember when I was with you I used to tell you these things?"
 
It's easy to overlook the layout of this situation, but here it is:
 
The Thessalonian church was new in its faith and organization.
 
Paul didn't have a lot of time with them, but he used what little he had to emphasize the themes of prophecy.
 
Specifically, Paul taught these early believers about Christ's Second Advent, about the Antichrist, about the Rapture, and about the Great Tribulation.
 
It's time for a reality check. This was a young church, right? Yup. And the believers faced external persecution and internal discord just like believers do today, correct? Mm-Hmm. And the congregation was trying to minister to the needs of those inside and outside the faith, right? You bet.
 
So what gives with this emphasis on prophecy? Shouldn't Paul have focused on Christian community, the love of Jesus, responsible tithing, and what it means to really care? Let's get real here, eschatology? Isn't that the fringe stuff that's not really central to our faith? Shouldn't he have emphasized Jesus since it's all about Jesus anyway?
 
Maybe it's the church of today that needs to learn something from the church of yesterday. Our pastors, teachers, and "Christian leaders" would be wise to take a cue from Paul. It's high time we reintroduced 25% of the divinely-inspired Word of God back into our regular diets.
 
I have to be brutally honest here. I'm alarmed at the posture of the greater church towards the prophetic Word of God. In an abject display of 2 Peter 3:4, the average church today doubts and belittles the very doctrines Paul considered vital to the faith of a believer and to the health of a congregation. Trapped within the clutches of Rev. 3:15-20, the church today is blind to its own prognosis. It has vaccinated itself against receiving the full truth by permitting only a portion of it to have any effect.
 
I'm concerned that we've allowed the good to become the enemy of the best. To repeat a phrase I touched on earlier, it's common to hear, "It's all about Jesus." This is a standard line that many folks parrot when they find themselves confronted by spiritual issues that challenge their personal preferences and zones of comfort.
 
I'm not going to argue with the essence of that line, but I'll offer a perspective that some people who are quick to deploy it have not adequately considered. In Rev. 19:10 it says, "For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Let me put that another way: prophecy is designed to reveal the full person and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
This is a problem for anyone that justifies placing prophetic doctrines on the back burner so they can "focus on Jesus" instead. It's problematic for them to say, "It's all about Jesus," because their choices incriminate them. They cannot maximize their relationship with God when they refuse to wholly understand Him the way the entire revelation of the Bible intends for them to.
 
It's like having a bunch of Facebook "friends." Saying they are your friends hardly means you share the sort of bond with them that the discipline of a fully-vested relationship brings about.
 
I'll come full circle here and wrap it up. The 25% of Scripture which is prophetic uniquely reveals the person, plans, and purposes of Jesus Christ. As such, it was divinely-intended to be a vital part of the believer's spiritual diet. Any other choice results in spiritual malnutrition and an arm's-length relationship with our Lord and Savior.
 
Just as Paul realized that one's relationship with Jesus will lack a great deal of meaningful dimension if His future plans and dramatic end-time return is discounted, so we will be less effective with the good news of salvation if we do not proclaim 100% of the testimony of Jesus.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

WHEN THE RAPTURE?


BY PASTOR MIKE TAYLOR



50 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
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.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1st Corinthians 15:50-55)


In the letter to the church at Corinth, Paul speaks of a “mystery”. This is not to be confused with a detective thriller or a murder mystery, as the word “mystery” comes from the Greek word “Musterion” which literally means “secret or a hidden thing”. Many in our modern era think of a mystery like Sherlock Holmes, or Agatha Christie, but this it not what Paul is referring to.
Paul's use of the word “mystery” is defining a much hidden doctrine which describes the “rapture” or the Harpazo of the church, which literally means to “remove by force from one place to another”. This was a truth that had yet, not been revealed.
You cannot claim it with the Day of the Lord, as the doctrine of the return of Christ to reign and rule and had been thoroughly written about in the Old Testament and it was very much one of the oldest prophecies that was recorded in scripture. Just to name a few recorded in Daniel:


And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Daniel 12:1-3)


And the prophet Zechariah spoke of the same subject in chapter 12 of the book:
In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:8-10) and again in chapter 14 of the same book:
4 “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” (Zechariah 14:4)


This is but two of the prophets that proclaim the “Day of the Lord” not to forget Amos and Joel, and near every Old Testament prophet from Isaiah to Malachi have something to say of the “Day of the Lord” so no, it was not a mystery to anyone who had read the Old Testament from the Torah into the major and minor prophets as they all made reference to the “coming of the Lord”.
Besides the Apostle Paul, Jude the brother of Jesus made reference to Enoch who Jude proclaims him, the “seventh from Adam” who prophecied the same event noted in the Old Testament, that the coming of the Lord will come with “TEN THOUSANDS” of His saints.........
14 “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
This is the same picture that John gives us in the 19th Chapter of Revelation that closes out this book of the Apocalype and describes it even further...
11 “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords.” (Revelation 19:11-16)


The Apostle Paul cannot be referring to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, as that was dealt with in many books of your Bible, Old and New Testament.
So what is this “mystery” that Paul speaks of? Paul is speaking of a “hidden thing” that God had not made known to men before Paul. Where did Paul come to knowledge of this mystery he speaks of?
Remember after Paul received his sight from Ananias and laying his hands on him . Immediately, Paul went into the wilderness. I believe that was most likely the Arabian desert and stayed their for 3 years before he even revealed himself to the other apostles and began preaching in the synagogues throughout Israel. I believe this is where Paul received his “revelation” of the mystery of the rapture of the church and it came directly from the “Master” Himself, Jesus Christ, who revealed things to him that were not lawful for men to hear.
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (2nd Corinthians 12:2-4)


This is where Paul was “schooled” in the things of God that had not previously been revealed. It is where Paul introduced “faith through Grace” of our Lord God, and a “mystery” of the rapture of the church. Previously, even Jesus came and preached the Kingdom of God, but until Paul was given the visions or an eye witness to things that had been unrevealed to other apostles. Paul spoke of these two mysteries that had never been approached by any other Biblical writer in the Old or the New Testament.
First Rapture, then Tribulation


As the end of this age draws to a close, I have many people who are beginning to wonder if we might already be in the Tribulation, even now. Quick answer to that question is “We're not. Not just yet”

Many people have a hard time grasping the belief of the Pre-tribulation rapture of the Church. I have some even in my own family who think I am “way out there” for believing such a thing, saying there is not any evidence for that belief found in the Bible. I have to smile to myself (or frown depending on the person saying it), as they can't see the forest for the trees, but rely on men to give them the interpretation of what the Bible speaks of, instead of allowing the Bible to interpret itself.

I had one man, who charged that there is not one word in the Bible that speaks of a “rapture” as if that meant something, as if they interpreted what is written. Then they would see it staring back at them, as they read in the New Testament, especially the words written by Paul the Apostle.

There are several words that are not in the Bible, like try to find the word “Bible” in scripture. Does its absence from the text mean there is “no Bible”? Of course not. It is something all people accept as they have the book in their lap which is defined as “what it is” even though the word is not mentioned.

I have others who babble on mindlessly about “Margaret McDonald and C.I. Scofield, or John Nelson Darby, before pronouncing Dispensationalsim and the Pre-Tribulation Rapture as a modern day “invented” doctrine. I say “mindlessly” because they don't know what they are talking about, not realizing that the subject was doctrine within the 1st Century church, but was squashed by the likes of the Theocracy that ruled in the Dark Ages. Each are just parroting somebody else's research and embracing it as Gospel, not realizing that they have no basis for the belief, save to believe somebody else.

I have dealt with the Margeret McDonald and John Darby argument in the past, and won't go into it further here, save to note that Paul wrote of the Rapture 1800 years before this little girl and the preacher who they credited this doctrine and proclaim it as nothing but myth of a deranged girl and a heretic of a preacher.

SO WHAT DOES THE BIBLE ACTUALLY SAY?

Before making an argument based on what the Bible doesn't say about the Rapture, it is most helpful to focus on what the Bible does say about the rapture.

Beginning in a passage in the Old Testament, Isaiah first comes to mind when he spoke of us being hidden in our chambers.

19 “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
21 For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” (Isaiah 26:19-21)


This almost mimics the words that Paul spoke of in the letters to the Corinthians as noted in the opening verses and to the Thessalonians:
13 “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14” For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:14-18)
Again, our Lord Jesus told us that He would separate us from the coming wrath when He spoke to the Apostle John:


10 “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Revelation 3:10-11)


I put part of the verse in italics to draw attention to the words “I will keep thee” which as I have in the past brought to your attention what this passage means as the book of Revelation is written in Greek and the word used in Greek for this phrase “I will keep thee” is something I love to remind those who scoff at the idea of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture and I will do so here, as well. The word in Greek for the afore-mentioned phrase is the Greek word “EK”...if you look it up, this is the meaning of the word:
ἐκ  (ek) (governs the genitive)
  1. (of place)
    1. (of motion) Out of, from
    2. from, with the source of
    3. to denote change from one place or condition to another
    4. to express separation of distinction from a number
    5. (of positionoutsidebeyond
  2. (of time)
    1. (of particular points of timejustafter

The means that our Lord will remove us out of the way, not through, but away from the time and the event that our Lord is speaking of...and He is speaking of the coming Tribulation. The Rapture removed God's Church from their position on earth, to the heavenly realm, as Isaiah so aptly put it, that we will hide in our chambers, until the indignation is past.

Then to add to the doctrine, Paul speaks of in several places of “we are not appointed to God's Wrath”...and that is what the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation is all about.


8 “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” (1st Thessalonians 5:8-11)


This is but one of the passages that speak of being saved “out of” and away from God's Wrath.
8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
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 5:8-10)




Notice from these verses, and there are many more that are peppered throughout the Bible, which describes the movement of believers from this earth to heaven, to be hidden away in our chambers. Some ask, what chambers...Jesus said it best and another clue to the sudden removal of the Bride of Christ from this earth...


2 “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2-3)


Note that Jesus is creating a place for us and will come again to RECEIVE YOU UNTO MYSELF. Not coming to where we are, but bringing us to where He is....Jesus is at the right hand of the Father God in heaven and He will bring us to this third heaven and we will be adopted as sons and daughters in the “family of God”. This will all happen at the Bema Judgment seat of our Lord Jesus, where He gives rewards for service and we are adopted, because we will have the same rights as a spouse has with her husband...We are the Bride, and Jesus is our husband in the spiritual sense of the words.




So by this short study, I pray you can see, that the mystery that Paul speaks of is not the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus, and the rapture of the Church and the Second Coming are NOT the same event
And things that are different are NOT the same.  What would be the point of Rapturing the Church then, anyway? The Lord returns to establish His kingdom on earth, so why pull out all the Christians?
Who is He gonna rule?

"And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And He shall set the sheep on His right Hand, but the goats on the left." (Matthew 25:32-33)

This verse highlights another problem with other views of the coming rapture of the church. If the post Tribulation model is correct, then if all the believers are removed at the Second Coming, that would also include the Tribulation saints. Where would the believers in mortal bodies come from, if they are raptured at the Second Coming?
Who would be able to enter into Christ's Kingdom? Enquiring minds want to know. The answer would be no one, as all rebellion has been extinguished and the saints have been changed, so the Post Tribulation model doesn't make sense when reading God's Word.

LET US NOT FORGET DANIEL

Then there is Daniel's 70 week prophecy. The Church was absent for the first sixty-nine weeks -- the countdown was suspended at the Cross so the Church could be born.
Daniel makes it clear that all 70 weeks are determined upon Israel.

"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." (Revelation 19:7-8)

If the Bride is made ready to accompany Christ to the earth at the Second Coming, (while part of the bride is still on earth during the Tribulation) then how does the Bride (the Church) also come with Christ at His Return? You see, it doesn't make sense, if you believe any other rapture model. Those who are tribulation Saints are not the church. They are saints, as we are, but they are not the Bride. They are the guest at the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” Which speaks of the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins. The wise didn't let their lamps go out, or the sign of the Holy Spirit. Those that let their lamps go out, were overcome with the evils and the persecution of this world and are not allowed into the marriage as guest.\

There is the example of Enoch: "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (Genesis 5:24) Not only does Enoch prefigure the Rapture, note that Enoch's Rapture was pre-Flood,  and not mid-Flood or post-Flood.
The Scriptures are plain, clear and concise on the topic of a pre-Tribulation Rapture -- provided one interprets the Bible literally, instead of figuratively or symbolically.

While no man knows the day of the hour, it doesn't stop some folks who have popped up on my Christian forums to state that the rapture of the Church was April 6th. No really!! The guy was serious, although I have not had a response from him on his “little error”. Then I have another “sister in Christ” who proclaims that the rapture will “definitely” be during the year of the Jubilee and will end on April the 19th...so Jesus will come between now and then. What will each do when their predictions come to nothing? Do they want to look like another Harold Camping and destroy their witness? The Bible makes clear that we don't know the day or the hour, but we know the season. WE are “definitely” in the season of the Lords return. Jesus said that there was one key to let us know the hour is at hand.

ISRAEL THE KEY TO END TIME PROPHECY

32 “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:32-26)


It is the only sign Jesus gave for the timing of His return. Oh, we'll see many things that Jesus laid out to be looking for in the same chapter, BUT the birth of Israel was the sign of a generation would not pass who saw Israel reborn in a day, and would see Jesus back on earth reigning and ruling for 1000 years. He told us in His Word that a generation is 70 years, 80 years by strength, but is full of sorrow and then we fly away. Simple math will show that the season is right upon us. We don't know the day or the hour, but the timing of His return could be any year that Paul spoke in the opening passage, which is a reference to the Feast of Trumpets. Paul speaks of the “last Trump” which is used to end the autumn feast every year.


Now Jesus fulfilled each “Feast” on the very day of the Jewish observances, as they are not Jewish, but given to all mankind as a plan of redemption. The next one is the coming Feast of Trumpets, which has the “last Trump” that Paul speaks of . As God is a God of order, then logically and prophetically, God will keep the fall Feast observances in order, as He did the Spring feast, and I look and listen for the sound of a trumpet every fall about that time. Will it be this year, next year, and a year after that? A generation of the rebirth of Israel is 70 years this May...how much time does the Church have to wait before Jesus breaks through the clouds and cries aloud “Come up Hither”?...It may be sooner than anyone of us can imagine.



The Pre-Tribulation Rapture is often called the "Blessed Hope" by those who look for His return before the Tribulation begins. Those who believe the Church will go through the Tribulation sneeringly call it the 'Great Escape'.
Don't let anybody steal away your Blessed Hope:

"For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised,your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." (1st Corinthians 15:16-19)


Praise our God, the rapture happens before the Tribulation, and if you look around you, Tribulation is festering on our front door steps. You can call it the “Blessed Hope”, or the “Great Escape”, but be not fooled my friend, He IS COMING and with the state of Global affairs, it can't be much longer.

DON'T BE CAUGHT BY SURPRISE

Will you be ready? WE only have possibly a short time before Jesus breaks the heavens and splits them wide open and the tribulation starts in earnest with the pouring out of His Righteous Wrath that grows stronger as time passes by. We know in our spirits that the time is close at hand. Again. Will you be ready.?
How do you get ready? Believe these next verses in your heart and soul and repent of your sins and follow Jesus and you will be ready.


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.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
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)


Then confess to your friends and loved ones what Jesus just did for you.
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:8-11)


That is the key. I know it sounds simple, but that is the beauty of the Gospel. It is so simple, even a small child can grasp the meaning of those Words when believed in their spirit. I did it when I was 10 years old...one of my grandsons was 6 years old and knew exactly what he was doing, as we questioned him. It is not age specific, but heart specific....open your heart to the calling of the Holy Spirit, as He wants to save you right now. Do it before the Lord returns, and you then have to endure the horror that is coming...called the Wrath of God, or the Tribulation.



This is pastor Mike Taylor, praying you make that decision for Christ right now, and don't put it off one more minute, as you are not promised tomorrow....AS Today is the day of salvation...not tomorrow....If you need prayer, counseling, or just a listening ear, then email me at realteam1999@sbcglobal.net, or visit me online at www.pastormiketaylor.blogspot.com for more biblical lessons from the Word of God..
God bless you all..



TILL WE MEET AT JESUS FEET