Kings Of the North and South Update

Kings Of the North and South Update – Commentary by Jack Kelley – http://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/kings-north-south-update/

Over the past five years or so I have written several times about the Middle Eastern kings of Daniel 11 known as the kings of the north and the south. In these studies I’ve shown how these two kings will become prominent again in the end times as the Shiites (king of the north) and the Sunnis (king of the south) vie for supremacy in the Islamic movement. Before getting a look at what’s currently happening in this coming clash, let’s have a quick review of their origins.

The Two Kings In History

 t was June of 323 BC. As Alexander the Great lay dying on his bed in Babylon, having conquered the known world, he was asked who would inherit his kingdom. “Give it to the strong” he reportedly said, even though he had a son who should have been his heir. The four generals who were his principal commanders assumed it was a reference to them, and after Alexander’s death they divided the kingdom among them.

Two of the four generals, Cassander and Lysimachus, are not mentioned in Daniel 11, but the other two, Seleucus and Ptolemy, became the first kings of the north and the south. As his part of the Empire, Seleucus gained control of what we now know as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of Turkey. Reigning for a time from Babylon in modern Iraq, he built a new capital city 20 miles to the south east on the Tigris river and named it Seleucia.  Eventually he moved his capital to Antioch in Turkey, where it remained.

Ptolemy took Libya, Egypt, the Sudan, Israel and Jordan, and chose Alexandria in Egypt as his capital.

The descendants of these two kings fought each other for control of the known world for the next several hundred years and their history is summarized in Daniel 11:2-35, although it was prophecy when Daniel received it from an angel. This period is capped off in Daniel 11:31-35 with the Maccabean revolt, when the last important king of the north, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, was defeated (165 BC).

The angel didn’t tell Daniel anything about the king of the south’s demise, since it didn’t directly involve Israel.  But history shows that over time the Ptolemys became weaker and weaker.  The last King of the South was actually a queen named Cleopatra, famous for her romantic involvements with Julius Caesar and then Mark Antony, both Romans.  Upon her death in 30BC what was left of the Ptolemaic Kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire, and the kings of the north and south were no more.

The Two Kings In Current Events

Now lets take a look at how current events may be hinting at a return of these two kings before concluding with what the angel told Daniel would happen concerning them at the end of the age.

About four years ago, Saudi Arabia, having been one of our most important allies in the Middle East, began rebelling against US policy. This was done partly as an expression of anger over the way the US helped oust Egypt’s Pres. Mubarak, a close friend of the Saudi King, and partly over their frustration with America’s lack of action against Iran.

The Saudis are fearful of Iran’s efforts to establish themselves as the dominant regional force and have embarked upon a more independent course of action, promising to defend the Gulf States against Iranian meddling themselves instead of relying on the US. Saudi Arabia does not want Iran to emerge as the leader of the Islamic Middle East and is determined to make sure that doesn’t happen, even if it comes to war. For example, they have offered to help Israel attack Iran’s nuclear facilities when the time comes. They also provided the funding for the Egyptian military’s overthrow of the US supported Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, and replaced the foreign aid the US withheld from Egypt afterward.

For its part, Iran has all but taken control of Syria and Lebanon, the former with elite troops and the latter through their client Hezbollah. Iran is heavily involved in supporting the Syrian government although by many accounts Syria’s existence as a nation is now largely theoretical. If it wasn’t for the fact that a good part of Damascus is still standing and is still the seat of the Assad Government, Isaiah 17 would already have been fulfilled. That this prophecy against Damascus hasn’t been fulfilled is due solely to Iran’s support, not Syria’s strength. Iran is also the true driving force behind Iraq’s efforts to dislodge the Islamic State from their midst. Iran now has so much influence in Iraq that it too could soon become a client state. These commitments are costing Iran $6-8 billion per year in addition to the manpower they’ve allocated. I believe the growing Shiite coalition will evolve into the modern day king of the north.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Kuwait, who have formed a Sunni alliance to counteract Iran’s growing influence, are moving toward becoming the king of the south. I don’t think its any coincidence that these two alliances occupy real estate once under control of the historical kings of the north and the south.

This animosity between Shiites and Sunnis is displayed in the crisis currently unfolding in Yemen, where Iran has taken the side of the Houthi rebels in their effort overthrow the Yemeni government, and Saudi Arabia and Egypt have come to the government’s defense. They have been joined by Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Pakistan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates, all Sunni states.

A confrontation seemed be inevitable as a nine ship Iranian convoy, suspected of bringing loads of arms to the rebels, made its way toward Yemen. Saudi Arabia has said the Iranian ships would be prevented from entering Yemen’s territorial waters. The Saudis have already closed Yemeni air space to any foreign carriers, military or civilian, and are determined to deny Iran access to Yemen by sea as well. As of this posting, the Iranian convoy has reversed course and appears to be heading back to Iran. It’s still being tracked by the US, Saudi, Egyptian, and UAE fleets, and some US officials are warning that “This isn’t over yet.”

Whether it happens in Yemen or somewhere else, a serious confrontation is looming between Shiites and Sunnis. The stakes are high because the privilege of reigning supreme over Islam, and perhaps the whole world, is seen as the victor’s reward. (Wild cards in this coming confrontation are Turkey, which is mostly Sunni, but is friendlier toward Iran than Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and the so-called Islamic State, which is also Sunni, but is not friendly toward anyone.)

The rivalry between these two sects of Islam goes back to the death of Mohammed, when there was a battle over the right to succeed him, and continues to this day. Most of their beliefs are identical but there are some differences. For example, they both believe in al Mahdi, but they don’t agree on who he will be or what he will do. Many Shiites believe he’s the 12th Imam, who will appear at a time of great crisis in the world to establish the Islamic Caliphate, or Kingdom, and enforce world wide conversion to Islam. Sunnis believe he will revive the faith, but will not necessarily be connected with the end of the world.

The Two Kings In Prophecy

Now lets move into the future and see what the angel told Daniel about things still to come. If you read it carefully you’ll notice that three separate kings are in view in Daniel 11:36 & 40 and their identities must be discovered to fully understand what will happen in the days leading up to the End of the Age.  They are the king who exalts himself,  the king of the north, and the king of the south.

First, the king who exalts himself. The angel told Daniel this king would exalt and magnify himself above every god and would say unheard of things against the God of gods. (Daniel 11:36-37).  In 2 Thes. 2:4 Paul said the anti-Christ will exalt himself over everything that is called god or is worshiped. In Rev. 13:6 John said the anti- Christ will blaspheme God and slander His name.  So it looks like the king who exalts himself and the anti-Christ are one and the same.

When the anti-Christ first comes on the scene in the aftermath of the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39, he’ll look to the world like a great peacemaker. Daniel 8:25 says He’ll use the promise of peace to deceive people into feeling secure. He will distribute gifts of power and influence and will even confirm a treaty allowing Israel to build the third Temple and reinstate their worship of God there (Daniel 9:27).  As he gains public support he’ll use force to subdue countries who don’t fall into line. He’ll make his close followers into rulers, giving them conquered lands as a reward for their faithfulness (Daniel 11:39).

But when he moves to consolidate his control of Planet Earth by going to Jerusalem to assert his divinity, the king of the north and the king of the south will both try to stop him (Daniel 11:40).

Satan has always used man’s need for a religion to help him achieve his goal of world dominance, but eventually he will have to make himself the only acceptable object of worship, unencumbered by any religious system. And just like the Jews were incited to murder when Jesus claimed to be God, so these Islamic kings will be outraged when the one they thought was the promised servant of Allah makes the claim that he actually is Allah.

In Islam there’s a saying, “Allah was not begotten nor does he beget.” When the anti-Christ proclaims himself to be God he will be committing blasphemy against both Allah and God. When that happens, it’s easy to see how the kings of the north and south, with massive armies under their command, could forget their differences and team up against him. Nothing inflames the followers of Islam like an attack on their religion.

This tells us that even among Islamic countries there will be resistance to the anti-Christ’s rule. It’s important to remember that there’s disagreement among the various branches of Islam over how and by whom world dominance will be achieved.  But he’ll bring them all into submission, and after invading many other countries, he’ll arrive in Jerusalem and set up his headquarters there (Daniel 11:42-45), where he’ll walk into the New Temple and claim to be God ( 2 Thes. 2:4). 

In Matt. 24:15 Jesus said this declaration will be the primary cause of the Great Tribulation and will trigger its beginning.  This is because it will be the event that pits Satan and his man directly against God and His Anointed, as King David prophesied so long ago (Psalm 2:2-3).  The anti-Christ’s defeat of the kings of the north and the south could be the reason for all the world to unite behind him and declare, “Who is like the Beast? Who can make war against him?” (Rev. 13:4)  And as Daniel was told, the anti-Christ will be successful until the time of wrath is completed because this is the way God has determined it will happen (Daniel 11:36).  No one on Earth will be able to stand against him.

But when his time has come to an end, he’ll be defeated. Where the kings of the north and south will have failed, the King of Kings will be successful and at the end there will be no one to help this self exalted king (Daniel 11:45).

If, as I believe, the current unrest in the Islamic Middle East is leading to the re-appearance of the ancient kings of the north and south, then the appearance of the anti-Christ cannot be far behind. And that’s another reason for us to believe that the days of the Church on Earth are truly numbered. You can almost hear the Footsteps of the Messiah.

What Does The Bible Say About Israel’s Future?

What Does The Bible Say About Israel’s Future? – Commentary by Jack Kelley –
http://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/isaiah-17-an-oracle-against-damascus/

Contrary to all the polls and predictions Benyamin Netanyahu and his Likud party have won another election. Some Israeli observers are calling this a landmark victory, because it came in spite of (or maybe as a reaction to) unprecedented external meddling in the country’s election process.

Now the challenge will be to form a coalition with some of the other political parties because it takes nominal control of at least 61 seats in the Knesset (parliament) to have a workable government and Likud only controls 30. Netanyahu will now have 42 days to accomplish this through negotiations with some of the other party leaders for the remaining 31 seats. Because of the size of Likud’s victory this is not expected to be a difficult process, and Israel should wind up with a decidedly nationalist government.

In the short term, if you believe Netanyahu’s promises, this means the possibility of a Palestinian state becoming a reality is not at all certain, if it ever was. Same goes for the possibility of Iran acquiring the ability to produce nuclear weaponry. I believe it was his public stance on these two issues that resonated in the hearts of Jewish voters and won the election for him.

Some people have written me wondering if I think this will set the end times back a little on the belief that Netanyahu is a stronger defender of Israel’s territory than the other leading candidate. But I think the opposite might be true. Where Israel is concerned, Arab strategy has always been to get as much as possible through negotiations (land for peace) and then get the rest by going to war. Those who are willing to negotiate can keep making concessions to avoid war.

Netanyahu has promised no Palestinian state (although he has since softened a little on that), no divided capitol, and more construction in East Jerusalem. If he sticks to these promises there won’t be much to negotiate. The effect of this could be to convince the Arabs that they will have to fight to get the rest of the things they want. (Of course what they want is no more Israel.)

It’s rumored that the US and other countries will turn to the UN in an effort to force Israel into negotiations with the Palestinians. If so, we may be seeing early hints of the fulfillment of Zechariah 12:3 when all the nations of the world will gather against Jerusalem.

But it’s not my job to offer political commentary or human speculation. It’s my job to report on what the Bible says. So let’s begin.

Psalm 83 / Isaiah 17

The combined fulfillment of these two prophecies could well be the next event on the prophetic calendar. In Psalm 83 the psalmist listed a group of adversaries plotting to “destroy Israel as a nation, that the name of Israel will be remembered no more” (Psalm 83:4). The fulfillment of these prophecies are not recorded in history, but may soon become a reality. A careful study of the names of Israel’s adversaries listed in Psalm 83:5-8 shows they all occupied lands adjacent to Israel in their time. The current occupants of these lands appear just as determined to destroy Israel as their historic counterparts were. If the Psalmist’s prayer is answered, Israel will emerge victorious. Damascus will no longer be a city, and the threat from the proxy groups controlled by Russia and Iran who are lurking just across Israel’s borders will have been neutralized.

For more detail, read Psalm 83 … Preview Of A Coming Attraction & Isaiah 17, An Oracle Against Damascus – http://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/psalm-83-preview-of-a-coming-attraction/ and http://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/isaiah-17-an-oracle-against-damascus/

Ezekiel 38-39

The defeat of Israel’s next door neighbors will fulfill one of the preconditions required for the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 to take place. In Ezekiel 38:11 the Lord revealed these thoughts in the mind of Gog, the supernatural leader of the armies of Magog. “I will invade a land of unwalled villages. I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people – all of them living without gates and bars” (Ezekiel 38:11). This certainly cannot be said of Israel today. But it could be the case if Hezbollah, Syria, the PLO, Hamas, and other contentious neighbors had recently been defeated. The absence of these neighbors from Ezekiel’s list of Israel’s attackers lends credence to the notion of their prior defeat.

However it happens, a large contingent of forces armed and controlled by Russia and consisting of Muslim fighters from around the Middle East and Eastern Europe will suddenly swoop down from the north onto the mountains of Israel. They will descend like a cloud over central Israel, having the goal of conquering the Jewish nation with overwhelming force.

In Ezekiel 38:16 God admitted that He Himself will have orchestrated this attack as a demonstration of his power to the nations of the world. With His signature acts of a great earthquake, plague, torrents of rain, hailstones, burning sulfur, and turning the attackers against each other, He will decimate this invading army and Israel will once again emerge victorious (Ezekiel 38:19-23).

For more detail, read The Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 … Part 1 – http://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/the-battle-of-ezekiel-38-39-part-1/

Daniel’s 70th Week

The realization that it was God who won their victory over the Russian/Muslim invaders will make Israel will respond just as God predicted. “From that day forward, the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God” (Ezekiel 39:22). They will renew their national Old Covenant relationship with Him. Employing the altar they have recently completed, the priesthood they’ve been preparing will again offer sacrifices to their God. After a 2,000 year pause, Daniel’s missing 70th Week will have begun. With the help of an emerging world leader, they will begin constructing a Temple. Many will believe peace in the Middle East has finally arrived.

But too late, they will realize they’ve made a covenant with death, something God also predicted (Isaiah 28:15) The emerging world leader who everyone saw as a great man of peace will turn out to be a conqueror bent on conquest (Rev. 6:2), and war will soon be the order of the day across 1/4th of the world, accompanied by the disease, famine, and death that always follows (Rev. 6:8).

Then this leader will commit an act of blasphemy that in Jewish history has been called the abomination of desolation, previously committed only by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 BC. He will stand in the Temple he helped build and declare himself to be God (2 Thes. 2:4). This is the event Jesus said would signal the beginning of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:15,21). It will take place in the middle of Daniel’s 70th Week.

For more detail, read The 70 Weeks Of Daniel – http://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/the-70-weeks-of-daniel/

Great Tribulation

When He gave this sign to Israel almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus also warned them to flee into the mountains when they saw it, saying this would begin the greatest time of trouble the world has ever seen. Those who are believers will flee, but those who are only Jews by heritage or tradition will accept this imposter. They will think he’s the long awaited messiah and worship him, even as he begins a concerted effort to wipe their believing brethren off the face of the Earth.

God will help the believers escape to a place prepared for them in the desert (Rev. 12:14) and will protect them there while He launches the most severe series of judgments in the history of the world. According to Jeremiah 30:11, His purpose in doing so will be two fold. First, He’s going to completely destroy all the nations to which His people have been scattered, and second, He’s going to to discipline Israel, purifying them in preparation for opening their eyes so they’ll finally be able to recognize the messiah.

Toward the end of the Great Tribulation, this will happen. “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; 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” (Zechariah 12:10).

This will be the moment the Lord has been waiting for. 2,000 years ago Israel had asked for a miraculous sign from Him.

He said, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:39-40).

Having waited in vain for Israel to accept this undeniable proof that He is their Messiah, He left them. It was 40 days after His resurrection, and their time of testing was over. This too had been prophesied long ago.

Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me (Hosea 5:15).

Finally, in their hour of desperation, they will admit their guilt and mourn for Him. And the Lord will say,

Their blood guilt which I have not pardoned, I will pardon (Joel 3:21).

They will finally understand what the preceding 2,000 years has been all about. It has been about God waiting for Israel to admit that their Messiah had come and they did not recognize Him.

2nd Coming

Upon His return the Lord will first go to Petra, where the believing remnant of Israel will be, and defeat all the enemy forces surrounding His people there (Isaiah 63:1-6). Then He will go to Jerusalem to free His city and defeat the forces gathered against Him there. The anti-Christ, who had deceived the whole world, will be captured and thrown live into the Lake of fire, and all his armies will be destroyed (Rev. 19:11-21). At the end of the day He will be King of the whole Earth, and His name will be the only name (Zechariah 14:9).

Millennium

In the Millennium, Israel will once again be God’s most favored nation on Earth. In fact, He will dwell among them as He did in Biblical times, only this time it will be forever (Ezekiel 43:7). They will occupy all the land he originally promised to them. Peace and prosperity will be the order of the day (Isaiah 66:12), since the nation’s age old enemies will have all been vanquished. Only during the time of Solomon have they even come close to having the quality of life they will soon enjoy, with all the promises God has made to them finally coming true.

Summary

When you understand the prophetic view, you can see that everything is falling into place, just like God said it would. Because their hearts remain hardened against Him, there will be some very difficult days ahead for Israel. They will be abandoned by all their friends, at the mercy of their enemies. Even the nation’s self reliance, declared so confidently in the Prime Minister’s recent speech before congress, will be insufficient to save them.

But He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4). He’s been waiting patiently for the time to come when they will realize that only He can save them, and will humble themselves before Him to ask for His help. Even this has been foretold.

“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence” (Hosea 6:1-2).

When that time comes, He will save them and restore them. He will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34). Once again they will be His people and He will be their God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins (Isaiah 40:2). Finally.

No One Knows The Day Or The Hour

No One Knows The Day Or The Hour – A Bible Study by Jack Kelley – http://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/prophecy/no-one-knows-the-day-or-the-hour/

Those who ignore the study of end times prophecy are fond of quoting this famous line which appears in various forms in Matt. 24:36, Matt. 24:42,44, Matt. 24:50 and Matt 25:13 as their justification. But earlier in the same passage, the Lord had admonished all who would read His words of prophecy to understand them (Matt 24:15) and elsewhere the Apostle Paul wrote that the events leading up to the end of the age should not take believers by surprise (1 Thes 5:4) implying that we should have done enough homework to see them coming.

Since the Bible cannot contradict itself, these passages must have been aimed at different audiences. And sure enough, a closer look reveals that to be the case. In Matt. 24:36, Matt. 24:42,44, Matt. 24:50 and Matt 25:13 the Lord was only speaking to people remaining on Earth at His Second Coming, while in Matt. 24:15 he was issuing a warning to those who would be living in Israel early in Daniel’s 70th Week. We know this because He mentioned a Temple which doesn’t exist yet. Of course in 1 Thes 5:4 Paul was addressing the Church.

What Paul was saying is that while we won’t know the exact timing of things, we should understand the sequence of events leading up to the Day of the Lord. And perhaps no event in the sequence is more important than the Rapture of the Church, especially as it relates to the Great Tribulation.

That being the case, it seems to me that the first thing we should do in trying to understand all this is to clarify two things. One is the purpose of the Great Tribulation, and the other is the nature of the Church.

The Purpose of the Great Tribulation

The phrase Great Tribulation makes reference to a defined period of time, not a general condition. While the Lord warned the disciples that tribulation (trouble) would be characteristic of life in this world (John 16:33), He clearly identified the Great Tribulation as having a specific beginning and end. It will begin when the abomination that causes desolation predicted by Daniel is erected in the Temple (in the middle of the last 7 years of history) and will end just prior to the Lord’s return, three and one half years later (Daniel 9:24-27, Matt. 24:15-21).

Daniel’s prophecy is pointedly Jewish in its perspective and so is the Great Tribulation. Until the Lord coined its New Testament name in Matt 24:21 it was referred to as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble in the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is where its purpose is explained.

In Jeremiah 30:1-11 the event is foretold and in the last verse its purpose is explained. “Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.” The idea is that Israel has to be purified to receive their coming King, and the nations who rejected the King and persecuted His people must be destroyed.

The timing of the passage is also made clear. It will take place after Israel is re-gathered in the land, and will result in David becoming their King again (Jere. 30:8-10). There have been two re-gatherings since the passage was written, but the first, beginning in 535 BC, didn’t result in David becoming their King. In fact they have had no legitimate King at all since about 600 BC. Neither were all the nations completely destroyed then.

The second re-gathering began after World War 2 and continues to this day. Though the population of Israel keeps growing, so do the Jewish populations of all the nations to which the Jews have been scattered. In fact there are about as many Jews outside of Israel as there are in the land. All that will change when the Lord calls all His people to return to their Promised Land following His victory in the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 (see Ezekiel 39:28). Because of this amazing victory the Jewish people will restore their national covenant with God, build a Temple in which to worship Him, and Daniel’s missing 70th week will begin.

So the purpose of the Great Tribulation is twofold; discipline (purify) the people of Israel so they’ll be prepared for the coming Messiah, and completely destroy the nations to which they had been scattered.

The Nature of the Church

According to Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, the Church is nothing less than a new race of mankind, coming from among both Jews and Gentiles but sharing a destiny with neither. (Ephe. 2:15-16) The problem had always been that God could not dwell in the midst of His creation. The sins of the people eventually drove Him away. At the cross, He reconciled all things to himself, things in heaven and on earth (Col 1:19-20). This meant that He can now be at peace with His creation for the first time since the Fall of Man. He accomplished this by paying the price for all the sin of mankind. Now, for anyone who would accept it, a full pardon for behavior past, present and future is available, free for the asking (Matt. 7:7-8).

Accepting this pardon qualifies any person, young or old, Jew or Gentile, good or bad to become a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). And it permits God to look upon this person as if he or she is without sin altogether; and in fact as if he or she had never sinned to begin with. It also required the division of mankind into three groups: Jew, Gentile and Church. (1 Cor. 10:32)

It’s critical that we understand God’s perspective. To Him the Church is without sin, holy and blameless, and has been since the cross (Ephes. 5:25-27). Whatever sins we as individuals have committed (or will commit) have been forgiven and forgotten. It’s as if they never happened (Ephe 1:4-8). At the cross, the Church became as pure and holy as God Himself (2 Cor 5:21), so finally God has a people with whom He can live in peace.

What’s the Point?

First, not needing purification, no purpose is served by the Church enduring the Great Tribulation. Second, the focus of the Great Tribulation is Israel and God’s focus seems to be either Israel or the Church, never both. (This was explained by James in Acts 15:12-18.) If you take the view that the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 occurs before Daniel’s 70th Week begins, and realize that one outcome of that battle is that Israel turns back to God, (Eze 39:28-29) then you know the Church’s days on earth are numbered.

Then there are passages of Scripture that indicate the Church won’t be present for any of the end times judgments. Look at these examples:

In Romans 5:9 and 1 Thes 1:10 Paul promised that the Church will be rescued from God’s wrath. The Greek preposition translated “from” in both these verses means “from the time, place or any relation to the event. ” Jesus Himself confirmed this in Rev. 3:10. Speaking through the Church in Philadelphia, He said, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” 1 Thes. 5:9 says the Church was not appointed to suffer wrath, and with the seal judgments of Rev. 6 His wrath will have begun. Therefore the rapture of the Church will have to precede Rev. 6.

Also, the 2nd letter to the Thessalonians only makes sense if Paul had taught them the pre-trib rapture view. A careful reading shows that they had received a forgery claiming the Day of the Lord had come (2 Thes. 2:2) . If Paul had taught a post-trib view their response would have been something like, “The next 7 years will be very difficult, but then the Kingdom will come.” Instead it was alarm, such as they would feel upon learning they had missed the Rapture. And if they had missed the rapture, that would mean they weren’t saved. That would certainly be cause for alarm.

Other Hints of a Pre-Trib Rapture

The period of the Great Tribulation is the most thoroughly documented from a time standpoint of any Biblical event. From various verses it’s described as 3 and 1/2 years, or 42 months, or 1260 days long. These are all equivalent times. It begins the day the anti-Christ stands in the Temple in Jerusalem and proclaims himself to be God and it ends 1260 days later. How do you have a “secret rapture” at the end of the Great Tribulation when any knowledgeable believer will be able to mark the day of its end on his calendar?

The Sheep and Goat Judgment of Matt 25:31-46 clearly portrays events following the Second Coming as the Lord establishes His Kingdom on Earth. The sheep are symbolic of believers and the goats of non-believers. The judgment concerns people who have survived the Great Tribulation. Sheep go into the Kingdom (Matt. 25:34) and goats go into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). There couldn’t be any sheep on Earth for this judgment if all believers had just been raptured, but if the Church will be raptured before the end times judgments begin, then there will be at least 7 years for a new crop of believers to be born again. Some of them will survive the Great Tribulation to become the sheep of the Sheep and Goat judgment.

In Summary

There are sound theological reasons why God keeps the exact timing of the Rapture secret. But He has given us plenty of evidence as to its general timing to prevent us from being taken by surprise at the end of the Age. A recent panel of prophecy experts agreed that the most important sign that the end is near is not that any specific Biblical sign is evident, but that all the signs the Lord told us to look for are in some stage of fulfillment.

A bus stop only draws a crowd as the time for the bus to arrive draws near. Then people come to watch for the bus, expecting it to arrive, and wait for it, because they know its arrival is near. Having given us several signs of His return the Lord instructs us to watch, expecting Him to arrive, and wait for Him, knowing that His arrival is near. And since His arrival is near, the rapture is even nearer. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.

Between First Fruits and Pentecost

Between First Fruits and Pentecost – A Bible Study by Jack Kelley – http://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/holidays-and-holy-days/between-first-fruits-and-pentecost/

For some time now, I’ve been puzzled about the time between the resurrection and the ascension, wondering why the Lord lingered during those 40 days. It certainly wasn’t to complete His mission. By all accounts He had already accomplished everything He came to do. It seems like He would have been more anxious to return to His heavenly home.

The Olivet Discourse

My curiosity was first aroused during a review of the Olivet Discourse. To show you what I mean we’ll have to do a quick review of the first 34 verses of Matt. 24. I’m particularly interested in the way the Lord answered the disciples’ questions about the signs of His coming and the End of the age. The disciples were clearly looking for specific signs. But in Matt. 24:4-14 He began by mentioning a handful of general signs that don’t appear to have any clear relevance to time.

First He warned them that many false messiahs would come claiming to be Him. Next came wars and rumors of wars, but He said not to be alarmed by such things, they wouldn’t be signs of the end. Then He gave the “birth pang” signs, famines, earthquakes and, in Luke’s account, pestilence. These are signature signs of coming judgment that Jesus said would lead up to the end.

He said Jews would be persecuted and put to death, hated by all nations. This would cause many to turn away from the Jewish faith to hate and betray each other. False prophets would also appear and deceive many people. The love of most would grow cold but he who stood firm to the end would be saved. I believe the love He was talking about here is the love of God, because this is the love that saves us.

I wonder what the disciples thought about all of this so far. Remember they were under the impression that Israel was 483 years into a 490 year period that would see the culmination of God’s plan for mankind (Daniel 9:24). Up until an hour or so earlier they had assumed that the magnificent Temple King Herod was building was part of the preparation for restoring their Kingdom to its former glory. But then Jesus had told them it was all going to be torn down. Now He was giving them vague and general answers to their specific questions.

Finally, in Matt. 24:15, He gave them the first clear sign. An abomination that causes desolation would be set up in the Holy Place. They knew this had happened once before. The Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes had set one up almost 200 years earlier as part of his demand that they worship him as God. It made the temple unfit for use, and the way the Lord had miraculously cleansed it is still celebrated every year in the Feast of Hanukkah. It was the only time it had ever happened. Jesus said when they saw that happen again, they should immediately flee into the mountains.

He said the abomination of desolation will bring about the Great Tribulation, a terrible time of judgment, the worst the world ever has seen or ever will see. He said if he didn’t bring it to an end at the appointed time no one on Earth would survive, but for the sake of the elect He would bring it to its end. He said when He did that the sun and moon would stop shining and the stars would fall out of the sky (Matt. 24:29). Then they’d see His sign, the only source of light in the dark sky, and finally they will see Him coming in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Matt. 24:30).

In all this He never mentioned the Church. (In fact in His entire earthly ministry, He only mentioned the Church twice, in Matt. 16:18 and Matt. 18:17.) He didn’t even hint at the fact that 2,000 years would separate their time and the time of the first specific sign. He spoke of everything as if it was going to happen to them. It’s also clear He was addressing them as representatives of Israel.

From our perspective we see that He could have been much more specific, especially with the earlier signs. But the clear explanation of how things would actually unfold didn’t come until the Council of Jerusalem 20 years later. In effect, James told the group of early Church leaders, “Israel is being set aside until the Lord takes from among the Gentiles a people for Himself. Then He’ll return to rebuild David’s fallen tabernacle” (Acts 15:13-18). During the Olivet Discourse Jesus had made no mention of this happening.

What Was He Waiting For?

Then there’s the issue of the apparent dead time between the resurrection and the ascension. What was that all about? He didn’t do any public teaching or healing, and there were no other miracles either. After His meeting with the disciples on Resurrection Sunday there were only 6 more recorded appearances. 4 were to the disciples (John 20:26-31, John 21:1-23, Matt. 28:16-20, Acts 1:3-8), one was to James (1 Cor. 15:7) and one was to about 500 others, his only public appearance (1 Cor. 15:6) between the resurrection and the ascension.

Otherwise the Bible is silent about how He spent His time. There’s no account of discussions being held on how to launch the Church, and He didn’t fill in any of the blanks from the Olivet Discourse. We know why He didn’t go back to the Temple. He told the leaders there they wouldn’t see Him again until they said, “Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:39).

The Unmistakable Sign

Before the cross these leaders had asked the Lord for a sign to prove He was the messiah. Even though His ministry was characterized by miracles that confirmed Old Testament prophecies about Him, He told them the only sign He would give them was the sign of the prophet Jonah. He said just as Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish, He would spend 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the Earth (Matt. 12:40).

And then He did just what He told them He was going to do. Surely they all knew of His resurrection, but none of the officials sought Him out. What do you suppose they were thinking? Many overlook this, but His resurrection was the most unmistakably miraculous sign He could have given them. It didn’t take any faith to interpret, and it couldn’t have been fabricated. It’s as if He had looked them in the eye and said, “I know you’re going to kill me. But after three days I’m going to rise again, and that’s how you’ll know I’m your Messiah. That sign will prove it to you beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

Acts 1:3-5 confirms that He appeared to the disciples from time to time over a 40 day period as we saw above, and says He told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. Then He ascended into Heaven.

After considerable thought, I have concluded those 40 days were Israel’s time of probation, or trial. The Bible contains several such 40 day periods, involving Moses and Israel (Exodus 24:18), Elijah (1 Kings 19:8), Jonah and Nineveh (Jonah 3:4), Ezekiel and Judah (Ezekiel 4:6), and Jesus (Matt; 4:2). There are also 15 references to 40 year periods of trial, and one to a 400 year period (40 x 10). For this reason the number 40 has become associated in the Bible with trial.

Jesus had given them the sign He promised, one that no one else could ever give them, and now He was giving them time to respond. I think His offer of the Kingdom was still on the table during that time. He was waiting for them to accept, knowing they wouldn’t, but waiting just the same.

And consider this. The three day-three night sign may not have been the Lord’s only reason for comparing Himself to Jonah. God had sent Jonah to preach destruction to the Ninevites. It was a simple but devastating message; “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” (Jonah 3:4)

Jesus had repeatedly warned Israel of the consequences for rejecting Him. In Matt. 21:43 He said, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

And remember that first Palm Sunday? “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:41-44) (Note that He called Himself God.)

As it had been with Jonah, this was a straight forward pronouncement of judgment. There was no indication they could change things. But in Nineveh the people repented anyway, from the lowest to the highest. When God saw this He had compassion on them and did not bring the destruction He had threatened (Jonah 3:10).

Could the judgment on Israel have been avoided too? What if after Jesus had given them the “sign of Jonah” they had repented like the Ninevites had? Could they also have stayed the hand of God?

Obviously, God knew the Ninevites would repent. Jonah even accused Him of knowing this and said that was why he ran away instead of warning them of the coming judgment (Jonah 4:1-2).

Just as obviously He knew the Israelites would not. But as I’ve said before, knowing the future is not the same as controlling it. God has given man free will, after all. Had the Ninevites not repented they would have been judged, but because they did repent God demonstrated His mercy and stood down.

Likewise had the Israelites repented, perhaps they could have avoided the judgment that sent them into exile for 2000 years. After all, God will forgive them as soon as they ask Him, and will restore their Kingdom as well (Joel 3:20-21). I just wonder if they could have begun their restoration within that 40 days of trial after the Resurrection. It appears that’s what the disciples thought would happen. Just before He ascended they asked the Lord, “Are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:8).

Let Me Make This Perfectly Clear

Please understand me. Jesus had to die. Right from the Garden it’s been known that it would take the Messiah’s death to redeem us from our bondage to sin. And the judgment of those who rejected God’s remedy for their sins also had to happen, because whether then or now, Daniel’s 70th Week had to be fulfilled. I’m just wondering if Israel could have made the last 2000 years of national suffering unnecessary by responding to the Lord’s offer of the Kingdom while He was still here.

History shows that after the 40 days had expired, Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophet Hosea. “I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” (Hosea 5:15)

Zechariah 12:10 says the time will come when they will admit their guilt, and according to Joel 3:21, when they do God will pardon them. And then they will finally receive the Kingdom He’s been waiting 2000 years to give them.

What Did God Do On The Eighth Day?

What Did God Do On The Eighth Day? – A Bible Study by Jack Kelley – http://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/tough-questions-answered/what-did-god-do-on-the-eighth-day-2/

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:2-3)

These two verses are much different from those describing the preceding days in the creation account. All of them included the phrase “it was evening and it was morning, day … “. Not so for the seventh day. Also the Hebrew word translated rested is shabath (pronounced sha-BAT). We get sabbath from this word. It appears 71 times in the Bible, and 47 of those times it’s translated “cease”. It only means rest 11 times.

Will This Day Ever End?

Now obviously, the seventh day had a beginning and an end just like all the days before and after it. But the fact that there is no mention of this in the text of the creation account indicates that in a spiritual sense this day has never ended. There is no eighth day of creation. God has never taken up the work of creation again, and that’s why a word that also means ceased was used in describing His Sabbath rest.

Now don’t accuse me of promoting the “Great Watchmaker” theory of creation. That’s the one where God created the world and all that’s in it, then set it in motion, and has been just sitting there watching it run ever since. Let’s look at what God has been doing since He stopped creating. We’ll begin in John’s Gospel.

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:16-19)

This tells us that both the Father and the Son have so much to do that they work every day, even on the Sabbath. So they haven’t been just sitting around waiting. They’ve both been working every day from that day to this.

But that’s not the point. The point is this. Since the end of the 6th day, God has never again taken up the work of creation. Where the creation is concerned he has never ceased his Sabbath rest.

What’s External And Physical In The Old Becomes Internal And Spiritual In The New

In Numbers 15:32-36 we read of a man who was caught gathering wood on the Sabbath. It was a violation of the commandment, but the Israelites didn’t know what to do with him. When they inquired of God, He told them to take him outside the camp and stone him to death. God was serious about not working on the Sabbath.

But when we get to the New Testament we find that the commandment to rest on the Sabbath is the only one of the 10 Commandments not specifically repeated. In fact the most frequent reference to the 4th commandment in the New Testament concerns the Lord’s frequent and flagrant violations of it. On six different occasions, the Lord defended working on the Sabbath, each time showing the religious leaders of the day that their rules for keeping the Sabbath were man made, arbitrary, and counter to God’s purpose. For example the priests in the Temple desecrated every Sabbath by working (Matt. 12:5), and the people could water their animals (Luke 13:15) or rescue them from danger (Matt. 12:11) but they couldn’t heal a person (Luke 13:14).

In Romans 14:5 Paul taught that we have the right to either consider one day holier than the others or to regard all days the same, based on our personal convictions. And in Colossians 1:16-17 he said not to let anyone judge us in regard to a religious festival or a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. He said that these things were only a shadow of things that were coming, that the reality was found in Christ.

Somehow the Sabbath commandment was supposed to teach us something about our relationship with Jesus. So let’s find out what it is.

God created the Heavens and the Earth. They didn’t do anything to help, He did it all. At the end of six days, He rested (ceased) from His work because it was finished. He never again took up the work of creating. He made the seventh day, a day without end, holy. There was no eighth day. Then He created a memorial. From that time forward the seventh day was a day of rest where no work was permitted to remind us that when His work was finished He ceased working.

Since we’re trapped in the dimension of time, we can’t have any days without end. So when God set up our calendar He made every seventh day holy, and then the calendar began again. There’s never an eighth day. This was to help us to see that the seventh day, the day of rest, never ends. To underscore the importance of this, He made working on the seventh day punishable by death.

But man missed the point. We thought it was about working on the Sabbath when it was really about resting when the work is finished, and that’s how all this relates to Jesus.

Jesus came to Earth with one job to do. It was to die for the sins of the people so we could be redeemed and live forever with Him (John 1:29). He was making us into a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). We didn’t do anything to help, He did it all. When He died on the cross, His work was done. That’s why His last words before He died were, “It is finished.” Then He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit (John 19:30).

He never had to take up the work of redemption again, for by that once-for-all-time sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (Hebr. 10:12-14). When He ascended into Heaven, He sat down at the right hand of the Father. The redemptive work of our new creation was finished, so He ceased working. This is why some theologians refer to the Lord’s work of redemption as His “completed” work on the cross.

What Is Our Work?

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)

Jesus forgave all of your sins at the cross (Col 2:13-15) and therefore He saved you completely. Hebr. 7:25 confirms that He is able to do this. According to 2 Cor. 1:21-22 God has accepted responsibility for keeping you saved. He has set His seal of ownership on you and put His spirit in your heart to guarantee this. Believing that means your work of salvation is finished and you have entered into your life-long seventh day, your Sabbath rest. It means you’ve done what God requires and the work of your salvation is finished. You will inherit eternal life. “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

Just as God never again took up the work of creation, and Jesus never again took up the work of redemption, you need never again take up the work of salvation. You’re a new creation and the work is finished. Now you rest, as they rested. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

As we can see from the above, the folks who keep asking whether Saturday or Sunday is the correct Sabbath for Christians to keep are asking the wrong question. The real question we should all be asking is whether we are keeping our Sabbath rest or not. It doesn’t matter that you say you’re born again. If you are still working to earn or keep your salvation after saying that you’ve accepted the work Jesus did for you, then you are violating the commandment to keep the Sabbath and are subject to the penalty of the Sabbath breaker in Numbers 15. His was a physical death, but yours will be a spiritual one, because you aren’t doing the one and only work He gave you to do; you aren’t believing in the One He has sent. Instead, you’re believing in your own ability to finish the work you think He only began. And that means you aren’t saved.

There isn’t much time left for the Church. The Lord could come while you’re reading this. Please consider these things carefully. Make sure you’re really saved by grace through faith. Not by works, lest anyone boast. (Ephes. 2:8-9) Remember, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness (Romans 4:5). Believe in the One God sent to save you, enter your sabbath rest, and don’t ever take up the work of your salvation again.