Tag Archives: Israel

Spiritual Israel

21 Feb

By Doug Batchelor & Steve WohlbergAn Amazing Fact

The European cuckoo is known as a “brood parasite.” The females lay their eggs in the nests of smaller bird species—like the reed warbler. In turn, these unsuspecting mothers unwittingly incubate, feed, and raise the young impostors, typically at the expense of their very own offspring.

One of the most sorrowful tragedies of nature is watching a reed warbler working herself to death to satisfy the voracious hunger of a greedy cuckoo chick while her own young, already weak with starvation, are pushed out of the nest.

Another Brood Parasite

The devil has successfully planted a dangerous lie in modern Christian theology, and it has been unwittingly hatched, adopted and nurtured by most evangelical churches—and now this parasite is pushing out Bible truth with a bigger-than-life-deception. Sadly, this adopted falsehood is growing fat with attention while true interpretations of prophecy are starving with neglect

Today around the globe, millions interested in Bible prophecy have their eyes fixed on Jerusalem. To be fair, it is really not all that difficult with the legitimate news value that comes from that never-ending quagmire of strife and bloodshed between Palestinians and Israelites. Christians are constantly speculating about the modern state of Israel, a rebuilt Jewish temple, and a Middle East Armageddon. These subjects are being discussed through magazines, books, radio, television, the Internet, the pulpit and at Bible prophecy conferences.

It is amazing how many Christians fully buy into this connection of end-time Bible prophecies concerning the nation of Israel. For example, best-selling author Dave Hunt echoes these views on the back cover of his popular book, A Cup of Trembling. He writes: “Fast-moving events in the Middle East point almost daily toward the grand finale—the time of greatest suffering for the Jewish people worldwide, which will climax in the terrifying battle of Armageddon and the glorious return of Messiah to rescue Israel and reign over the world from David’s reestablished throne in Jerusalem.”

A Foundation of Sand

This “Middle East” approach to prophecy became popular among mainline churches in the 1980s with a series of books from Hal Lindsey. In his bestsellers, including The Late Great Planet Earth and Countdown to Armageddon, Lindsey employed this very literal dispensational approach to prophecy, making several very specific, and very errant, predictions. He wrote that a secret rapture of the church would occur in 1981, which would be followed by the building of a new Jewish temple, the advent of the Antichrist, the great tribulation, the invasion of Israel, the battle of Armageddon and the millennium—all by 1988.

Despite every single one of these predictions falling flat, his books continue to sell, making for most a standard that all end-time prophecy is viewable only when filtered through “nation of Israel glasses.” Worse, the seeds of error they contain have sprouted and become firmly rooted in many churches. Now millions of Christians are vigilantly guarding a styrofoam monument with no prophetic veracity, and building on the crumbling sand of popular evangelical trends. What are the primary pillars holding up this diversionary doctrine? While there remain some differences of opinion among these evangelicals regarding the role of modern Israel in the end-times, the majority agrees on the following five events as core prophecies:

1.The rebirth of the state of Israel in 1948.

2.A soon-coming seven years of “Great Tribulation.”

3.The rebuilding of the Jewish temple on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

4.The Antichrist’s rise during the tribulation; He’ll enter the temple to proclaim Godhood.

5.A final war against Israel, which will result in Armageddon.

It’s Happened Before!

Here is the big question: Are all of these end-time prophecies in Scripture regarding Israel and the temple speaking of the literal nation of Jews and a physical building, or is there a deeper spiritual application?

Do you remember when Jesus came the first time? His people misunderstood and misapplied the prophecies regarding His kingdom. They eagerly waited and watched for Him to establish a literal, earthly kingdom. Jesus constantly explained that His first coming was to establish a spiritual kingdom. He said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21).

But because the persistent and popular teachings of the day focused on a muscular messiah who would overthrow the Romans and seat himself on David’s throne, the disciples brushed aside or simply ignored Jesus’ comments regarding His spiritual kingdom. They tried to make these spiritual prophecies literal, and the crucifixion crushed their expectations of an Israel with dominion over all the Earth. Longing for freedom from political oppression, they lamented, “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21 NKJV).

Even after His resurrection, the disciples still clung to these popular views that had ingrained themselves in their minds, hoping still for an imminent, literal kingdom. “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). They wanted so much to believe their own view that the devil was able to blind them to the plain truth.

Is it possible that today’s church at large is making the same mistake by misapplying prophecies regarding spiritual Israel and the temple—interpreting them in a literal sense without basis? If so, they could be preparing to embrace a diabolical deception—not to mention experience a devastating disappointment!

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:7). We hope this study of end-time prophecy will clear the muddled understanding of prophecy so prevalent in today’s Christian faith.

The Name “Israel”

It is impossible to clearly understand the subject of Israel apart from a careful study of the Old Testament. The first time the name “Israel” appears in Scripture is when it was spoken to Jacob after his long night of wrestling with a powerful opponent. The heavenly stranger finally said, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Genesis 32:28). Thus the name “Israel” was at first a name of heavenly origin applied to Jacob alone. It represented his spiritual victory over sin, through wrestling in prayer and claiming God’s grace.

Jacob had 12 sons who later moved into Egypt. The descendants of these sons eventually multiplied into the 12 tribes, which were later forced into slavery by the Egyptians until the time of Moses. Then God told Pharaoh through Moses, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn … Let my son go” (Exodus 4:22, 23). Note here that the name “Israel” is expanded to include Jacob’s descendants. Therefore, the name “Israel” first applied to a victorious man, then to his people. You’ll soon see why this is a very important point!

Israel, God’s Son

About 800 B.C., the Lord spoke through the prophet Hosea, saying, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1). Yet by this time, the nation of Israel had failed to live up to the spiritual meaning of its name. You see this verse in Hosea explodes with tremendous importance, when we look at the New Testament.

Approximately 800 years after Hosea’s prophecy, we learn, “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king” (Matthew 2:1). Because Herod felt threatened by this new child king, he sent soldiers who “slew all the children that were in Bethlehem” (v.16). Joseph was warned of the impending crisis in advance when “The angel of the Lord appeareth to [him] in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word” (v. 13). So the family arose and “departed into Egypt” (v. 14).

Matthew writes that the child Jesus remained in Egypt “until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son” (v. 15). Notice that Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1—which originally referred to the nation of Israel coming out of Egypt—and actually declares it more perfectly “fulfilled” in Jesus Christ! (Please don’t miss this important point that a prophecy in the Bible can have a duel application with both a literal and spiritual fulfillment.)

Here, Matthew has only touched the surface of a truly shocking principle developed throughout his gospel.

Matthew’s Amazing Revelation

A careful study of Matthew reveals even further that Christ’s story actually repeats the history of ancient Israel, point by point—but He overcame where they had failed. Notice the following amazing parallels between the history of ancient Israel and Jesus Christ:

■In the Old Testament, a man named Joseph has dreams and goes into Egypt to preserve his family (Genesis 45:5). In the New Testament, another Joseph likewise had dreams and goes into Egypt to preserve his family (Matthew 2:13).

■When the young nation of Israel comes out of Egypt, God calls it “my son” (Exodus 4:22). When Jesus comes out of Egypt, God says “Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Matthew 2:15).

■When Israel leaves Egypt, her people go through the Red Sea. The apostle Paul says they were “baptized unto Moses … in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2). Jesus is also baptized “to fulfill all righteousness,” and immediately afterward God proclaims Him, “my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:15-17)

■After the Red Sea crossing, the Israelites spend 40 years in the wilderness—led by the pillar of fire, God’s Spirit. Immediately after baptism, Jesus is “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness” for 40 days (Matthew 4:1, 2).

■At the end of the 40 years, Moses writes Deuteronomy. At the end of Jesus’ 40 days, He resists Satan’s temptations by quoting three Scriptures—all from Deuteronomy!

■In Psalm 80:8, God calls Israel a “vine” that He brought “out of Egypt.” Jesus later declares, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1).

■In the Old Testament, the name “Israel” first applied to one man: Jacob—representing his spiritual victory over sin. Even so, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the Israel who came “out of Egypt.” He is the one victorious man who overcame all sin!

More Striking Evidence!

The list of parallels between Jesus and Israel goes on but consider just a few more points.

For example, after healing a group of people, Jesus modestly “charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias [Greek for Isaiah] the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets” (Matthew 12:16-19). Here the writer quotes Isaiah 42:1-3, a passage that originally applied to “Israel, … my servant” (Isaiah 41:8). Yet Matthew again tells us it is “fulfilled” in Jesus Christ!

The apostle Paul also follows the principle in his letters of applying statements originally made about the nation of Israel to Jesus Christ. God called Israel “my firstborn” in Exodus 4:22. Yet Paul said it was Jesus Christ who is “the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15).

The clearest example is when God calls Israel “the seed of Abraham” (Isaiah 41:8). However, Paul later writes that Abraham’s seed does not refer to “many,” but to “one, … which is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). Thus we discover that repeatedly in the New Testament, statements that once applied to the nation of Israel are now applied to Jesus Christ. The Messiah is now “the seed.” Therefore, Jesus is the very essence of Israel! This is an explosive truth, and it cannot be ignored if we are to truly understand the role and identity of modern Israel.

A New Nation

Yet there is more. Remember that the name “Israel” not only referred to Jacob, but also to his descendants—who became Israel. The same principle is seen in the New Testament.

For example, the Lord told the ancient Israelites, “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). In the New Testament, Peter applies these exact words to the church: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9).

Likewise, immediately after Paul’s statement in Galatians 3 about Jesus being “the seed,” he then tells his Gentile (a non- Jew) converts, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). Thus in the New Testament, the name Israel not only applies to Jesus Christ, but also to those who are born in Christ—His Church! In other words, all true Christians are now God’s spiritual Israel.

The church is called the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), which is one reason why James, when writing to the church, addresses it as the 12 tribes that are scattered abroad (James 1:1). From the very beginning, the church has understood Israel to mean a spiritual body of Christ.

Double Vision

Have you ever been hit so hard on the head that you start seeing double? Well, from what we have studied together, the Christian world needs a loving “bonk” on the head with this New Testament truth, so that more people start “seeing double” about the subject of Israel! According to the New Testament, there are now two Israels. One group is composed of literal Israelites “according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3, 4). The other is “spiritual Israel,” composed of Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus Christ.

Paul writes, “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). How’s that for proof! That is, not all are part of God’s spiritual Israel who are of the literal nation of Israel. Paul continues: “That is, They which are the children of the flesh [physical descendants of Abraham], these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (v. 8). The children of the flesh are only natural descendants of Abraham, but the children of the promise are counted as the true seed. Today, any person—Jew or Gentile—can become part of this spiritual nation of Israel through faith in Jesus Christ.

God Looks on the Heart

Just as there are two Israels, there are also two kinds of Jews. First, there are the Jews who are only natural, physical descendants of Abraham. Second, there are the Jews in Spirit who believe in Jesus Christ. Paul writes, “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest on the law, and makest thy boast of God … For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision [Gentiles] keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? … For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:17, 25, 26, 28, 29).

Did you catch that? The implications are staggering! Someone who is “called a Jew” because he is a physical descendant of Abraham, and yet who lives as a lawbreaker, “is not a Jew”—at least, not in God’s eyes. His “circumcision is made uncircumcision.” It is revoked. Thus to God, he is a Gentile. And a believing Gentile, who through faith keeps “the righteousness of the law,” his uncircumcision is counted for circumcision. Thus to God, he is a Jew.

John the Baptist paved the way for this principle when he warned the Jews not to trust their literal ancestry for salvation. “Bring forth therefore fruits meet [worthy] for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:8, 9).

Later, Jesus echoed this same principle in a showdown with the religious leaders. “They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham … Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:39, 44).

Paul also writes, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Thus, according to Paul, a real Jew in the sight of God is anybody—Jew or Gentile—who has personal faith in Jesus Christ!

Eventually, this truth hit Peter between the eyes, and he told a room full of Gentile converts, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34, 35).

Eating with the Patriarchs

Remember also when Jesus marveled at the faith of a Gentile soldier. He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness” (Matthew 8:10-12).

Jesus’ declaration stunned the listening crowd. The idea of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sitting and eating with Gentiles was taboo, unless they had been converted to the Jewish faith! (Acts 10:28).

This is also an underlying theme in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The Jews feast on the Word, but they do not share it with the Gentiles starving for truth. Therefore, they are cast out of the kingdom. But Lazarus [the Gentiles], the one who lay outside the gate hungering for the crumbs of truth, abides in Abraham’s bosom (See Luke 16:19-31).

The Road to Building a New Temple

Let’s now follow a brief but directly related tangent.

If we want the fog to clear from around the subject of prophetic Israel, we must also consider the Jewish temple. Many who have focused their attention on a literal nation fulfillment are also expecting the ancient Jewish temple to be rebuilt.

Some of the contemporary so-called Christian “Zionists” who have written on this rebuilding include Thomas Ice, Randall Price, Grant Jeffrey, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Dave Hunt, and John Hagee. Their combined published book sales exceed 70 million in more than 50 languages. This shows their views to be extremely influential, and therefore they cannot be simply dismissed. A significant proportion of evangelical, Charismatic, Pentecostal, and fundamentalist Christians worldwide endorse this view.

In the same way the devil has misdirected focus from spiritual Israel to the literal headlines concerning the Middle East today, he has also confused people on the subject of the temple. Oddly, most of the speculation and hopes for a rebuilt temple spring from one vague ethereal reference in the New Testament dealing with the antichrist power. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4, we read, “Let no man deceive you by anymeans: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (emphasis ours).

Since the Romans destroyed the last Jewish temple in AD 70, many naturally assume that in order for this antichrist being, a specific person in their view, to sit in the temple, it will have to be rebuilt. But let us follow the Biblical clues.

A Spiritual House

Just before King David died, he wanted to build a permanent temple in Jerusalem. Nathan the prophet told David that he would not be able to build this house for God, but that his son Solomon would do it.

First Chronicles 17:11, 12 recounts, “And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will establish his throne for ever.”

Later, David said the Lord told him “Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts” (1 Chronicles 28:6).

But this is one of the clearest examples in Scripture of prophecy having duel applications. Yes, history records do show that Solomon was the son of David and that he built a physical temple, but the New Testament says that Jesus was the true “Son of David,” who was to build a temple and kingdom that was to last forever. Jesus clearly taught that He had come to transfer the attention from a physical building of worship to something greater: His body, the church.

John 2:19-21, says, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.” Jesus’ prophecy concerning the pride of the Jewish nation and the destruction of the temple inspired the most intense rejection of His teaching. Here are some high points of this truth:

■“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).

■“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:1, 2).

■“We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands” (Mark 14:58).

■“And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Mark 15:38).

And even as Jesus hung on the cross, His mockers reminded Him of His teachings. “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40). But of course, Jesus was not speaking of rebuilding the physical temple. He meant to build a spiritual one.

The New Testament Perspective

After the veil in the temple ripped from top to bottom and the early disciples were excommunicated, we find an unusual indifference among the early believers, nearly all Jews, regarding the Jewish temple. Because they knew Jesus to be the true Lamb of God, and that the Jewish temple was designed to accommodate animal sacrifices, the New Testament writers saw the temple as irrelevant. They recognized the establishment of a new spiritual temple and priesthood. See some amazing Biblical evidence for this below, with our emphasis in bold:

■“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (1 Corinthians 3:17, 16).

■“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

■“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

Sadly, even after God provides all this clear biblical evidence that His temple today is a spiritual one, the church, many Christians are waiting for the Jews to rebuild a physical temple on the site where the mosque of Omar (Dome of the Rock) now sits—also known as the Temple Mount. Yet there is no prophecy, promise, or commandment in the Bible that says the temple would be rebuilt again after the Romans destroyed it. Though it might very well be rebuilt, Jesus’ prophecy that not one stone would sit upon another seemed to be of an extremely final tone.

So what does the verse in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 mean? Simply this: This antichrist power would seat itself over the church of God claiming the worship that belongs only to Jesus Christ. Historically, Protestant scholars have consistently applied Paul’s words to the papal power, and to its influence within Christianity.*

But now, let’s return to the “nation” of Israel.
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*For more information about this prophecy, order Steve Wohlberg’s book, The Antichrist Chronicles: What Prophecy Teachers Aren’t Telling You!

All Israel Saved?

Since we’ve gone this far, we might as well go all the way! Only Jews will be saved. Furthermore, all Jews will be saved! Now after you pick yourself up from the floor, allow us to explain these bold statements.

We all know that people are saved under the new covenant, right? Now notice the wording of this new covenant: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31).

And in the book of Hebrews, Paul expands on this concept: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. … For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:8, 10-12).

The new covenant is made “with the house of Israel”! God never makes a salvation covenant with Gentiles. In fact, nowhere in Scripture do you find any saving covenant made with anyone but Israelites! So if you want to be saved, you must be born again as a spiritual Jew. This is not to say that all Christians must now be circumcised and sacrifice lambs, but we must have the spiritual equivalent of these things—Jesus, the Lamb of God (the final sacrifice), and circumcision of the heart.

God does not have one method of salvation for Jews and a different one for non-Jews. Everyone is saved the same way under the same program—by grace through faith. Paul uses the analogy of an olive tree to explain that all Gentiles who are saved are grafted into the stock of Israel. “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root [supports] thee” (Romans 11:17, 18).

The Christian religion is based on a Jewish manual called the Bible. (In this light, it is difficult to understand how any professed Christian could be anti-Semitic.) Christianity is not a new religion, but rather the completion of the Jewish faith. So with this in mind, we can now better understand what Paul meant when he said, “And so all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). Some take this verse to mean that God will ultimately save all literal Jews. If this were true, it would contradict every principle of God’s dealings with humans throughout history and Scripture. God is not a racist. In Jesus’ eyes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek” (Galatians 3:28).

We are saved based on choices we make regarding God’s provision, not on national status or physical citizenship. But if, when Paul says that “all Israel will be saved,” he is speaking of spiritual Israel, and if we understand that we become a “true Jew” only by a choice, then it all makes sense.

Israel’s Purpose

The primary functions for the Jewish nation were to preserve Scriptures and introduce the Messiah to the world, which was accomplished at Pentecost. We read, “Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). And in Acts 2:5, “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.” These converted Jews then took the truth back to their respective countries.

Jesus was also very concerned that the early ministry of His apostles was to focus specifically on the literal house of Israel. “These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5, 6).

But after Jesus’ death, the Jewish Sanhedrin (supreme court) officially rejected the message of the gospel through the Spirit-filled preaching of Stephen. They even executed him. From that point on (AD 34), God opened the doors to the Gentiles.

■“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46).

■“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47).

Prophetic Applications

How does all of this apply to prophecy? The greatest book about prophecy, the book of Revelation, talks about Mount Zion, Israel, Jerusalem, the temple, the Euphrates, Babylon and Armageddon. Thus it is clear that Revelation uses the terminology of the Middle East in its prophecies. But sincere Christians all over the earth are applying these prophecies to literal places in the Middle East and to the modern nation of Jews. Yet once we grasp the New Testament principles discussed in this study, we are able to finally see that there is something wrong with that picture. We should be seeing error messages all over the place!

Remember that when Jesus came the first time, the devil had bamboozled God’s people into making the spiritual prophecies about the Messiah carnal and physical. Satan is doing the same thing today with the subject of Israel. Yet the plain, biblical truth is that Revelation centers on Jesus Christ and God’s Israel in the Spirit, not the Israel of the flesh. And with this correct understanding of spiritual Israel, suddenly other prophecies in the New Testament take on a whole new meaning! It’s now easy to see that the 144,000 of Revelation 7 and 14 are not literal Jews and the new temple will not be earthly, but rather the Body of Jesus and the church (John 2:19, 20).
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An Amazing Fact: “Fools Gold,” or iron pyrites, a mineral composed of iron sulfide, actually contains no gold at all. The mineral is brass yellow and has a metallic luster. The resemblance of pyrite to gold caused many prospectors to mistake it for gold, which is how it became known as fool’s gold. Even though it is often found in the vicinity of gold, it is easily distinguished from the real thing by its brittleness.
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Conclusion

This “counterfeit gold” dynamic is also found prevalent in the area of spiritual truth. The Bible teaches that even gold comes in varying degrees of purity: “And the gold of that land is good” (Genesis 2:12). Millions are toting around heavy bags bulging with spiritual “fool’s gold.” They are rejoicing, believing they have discovered something to make them rich. It sparkles on the outside, but when they get to the bank of heaven, they discover this currency is worthless.

Furthermore, the tragic fact is that the popular literal focus miserably fails to grasp the true power of God’s promise. And this failure to recognize this principle will result in false Middle East interpretations and ultimate deception.

Don’t forget that “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). And remember, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Share with others the truth that now “there is neither Jew nor Greek, … for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28, 29).

Let us not live in the flesh or accept popular, convoluted teachings that focus on an earthly state. Rather, let us live in the Spirit. Like Jacob of old, let us wrestle in prayer and cling to Jesus until by faith we hear Him say, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Genesis 32:28).

Shalom.

For more eye-opening information,
order Steve Wohlberg’s book,
Exploding the Israel Deception,
or Doug Batchelor’s new booklet,
Who Will Sing the Song? –
Understanding the 144,000.

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A Solemn Warning to God’s People

7 Dec

There are too many of God’s professed people living in ease and comfort and continuing on with their lives as if nothing is about to happen.           For some time now I have heard people tell me that we must continue “living life as normal”, and that we cannot start living as if tomorrow           was our last day.  Now I would love to know where this teaching came from, because it is neither Biblical, nor does it come from the            spirit of prophecy.  What did Jesus even say?  He said in Luke 17:26 that “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also            in the days of the Son of man.” … What was it like in the days of Noah, when Noah was warning the people that the earth was soon           to be destroyed?  The people were “eating, drinking, marrying” etc, as if nothing was about to happen.  And Jesus is WARNING           us NOT to be like this.  Because what happened to those who carried on “living as normal”?  They were destroyed!

Ezekiel 9

If we as God’s people are not willing to heed the warning found in the message to the Laodicean church (Revelation 3), and this message             found in Ezekiel 9, then we have a problem.  God, in His mercy, is giving us plenty of warning to get right with Him.  In His mercy, He is             showing us that merely “knowing” the truth about the end times and the mark of the beast is NOT ENOUGH to get us through.             Because if we really had a love for the truth, then that truth would stir us into action for Christ Jesus and His people. So let’s take             a look at what Ezekiel 9 says and what the spirit of prophecy says about it.

Ezekiel 9:2-6 …’And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a              slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and              stood beside the brasen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the              house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; And the LORD said unto him, Go through the              midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the              abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let              not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man              upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary.’

So who is the one with the “writer’s inkhorn” by his side?  This is none other than the SEALING ANGEL who places the seal of God             upon all of God’s true people.  Take a look at what Ellen White says about the one with the writer’s inkhorn …

“I saw angels hurrying to and fro in heaven. An angel with a writer’s inkhorn by his side returned              from the earth and reported to Jesus that his work was done, and the saints were numbered and SEALED. Then I saw Jesus, who had been              ministering before the ark containing the ten commandments, throw down the censer. He raised His hands, and with a loud voice said, “It is              done”. And all the angelic host laid off their crowns as Jesus made the solemn declaration, “He that is unjust, let him be              unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy,              let him be holy still”. (E.G.White, Early Writings, p.279)

Now you may say, “big deal! This is just confirming that God will seal those who refuse the mark of the beast”.  But is it             THAT simple.  Is it just a case of waiting until the Sunday law comes along, refuse to go along with it, and we will be sealed?  No, I’m             afraid it’s not THAT simple.  Because anyone who truly loves Christ Jesus will not sit back waiting for the Sunday law to come along.  They             will be ACTIVE in God’s work.  They will be ACTIVE in turning away from sin.  They will be ACTIVE in doing good works.  They will be ACTIVE             in getting the truth out there and warning the world.  Which is why people in the lukewarm Laodicean state are so wretched.  Because even             though they know the truth, they are doing NOTHING about it.  They think that they are safe and continue to live life as normal, waiting             to see what happens.

Now does God say in Ezekiel 9 that the sealing angel will seal those who merely “know” the truth and keep the sabbath day?  No.             The sealing angel with the writer’s inkhorn seals those who are sighing and crying for the sins that are committed in the earth and in             the midst of God’s people.  In other words, those who have been truly CHANGED by the truth.  Those who have humbled themselves             before God and turned away from sin themselves and are hurt and cry for the sins that are committed in the midst of the church. Those who             warn others with the truth they have been shown.

Ellen White states that Ezekiel 9 will be LITERALLY fulfilled.

“Study the 9th chapter of Ezekiel. These words will be literally fulfilled; yet the time is passing,              and the people are asleep. They refuse to humble their souls and to be converted. Not a great while longer will the Lord bear with the              people who have such great and important truths revealed to them, but who refuse to bring these truths into their individual experience.              The time is short. God is calling; will you hear? Will you receive His message? Will you be converted before it is too late? Soon, very              soon, every case will be decided for eternity.” (E.G.White, Manuscript Releases, Vol.1, p.260)

My friend, please heed the warning.  Please put the sacred truths that have been revealed to you into ACTION.  Do not be one of the many whom             the Lord will spue out of His mouth, because they didn’t have a love for the truth.  Please give your ALL to Christ Jesus now and let Him             use you to further God’s kingdom on earth.  Please get right with God now before it’s too late and probation closes forever.

What did God say will happen to those who do not have a love for the truth? … 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 …’And with all deceivableness of              unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send              them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.’

They will be deceived!

“While the man of business is absorbed in the pursuit of gain, while the pleasure lover is seeking              indulgence, while the daughter of fashion is arranging her adornments – it may be in that hour the Judge of all the earth will pronounce              the sentence: “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” (E.G.White, Last Day Events, p.230)

“When probation ends, it will come suddenly, unexpectedly – at a time when we are least expecting it.              But we can have a clean record in heaven today, and know that God accepts us.” (E.G.White, Last Day Events, p.230)

The people are perishing.  Please do what you can to warn them!

Please heed the solemn warning found in Ezekiel 9

Armageddon

22 Oct

By Joe Crews

ISRAEL’S FINAL WAR
The signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty on March 26, 1979, marked an emotional moment in the history of the Middle East. After years of bitter animosity punctuated by military conflict, an Arab nation and a Jewish nation embraced each other with promises of peace.
What did it signify for the little pocket of Zionism whose struggles for survival have drawn United States approval and support? Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, before his death, was unable to provide the security and permanent peace which has eluded Israel since the days of Abraham. The answer to Israel’s dilemma is clearly revealed in the fantastic prophecies of the Bible.
According to the Word of God, Israel will not find true deliverance from her enemies until it is secured for her by the kings of the east. Her last war has not yet been fought. The book of Revelation describes an alliance with some powerful defenders who finally destroy the oppressors of Israel and establish her in eternal security. Those allies are given the enigmatic title “kings of the east” in Revelation 16:12. They actually intervene to deliver Israel during the war of Armageddon, described in the Bible as the final conflict to take place on this planet. All nations will be involved in this battle, but Israel will be the only victor.
Our purpose in this study is to answer a number of questions. What is the nature of that final war of Armageddon? How can all the countries of the world be involved in it? How is it possible for only one group, the people of Israel, to survive this holocaust? Who are the mysterious kings of the east that effect her victory? And finally, how is Israel delivered from her enemies by the drying up of the Euphrates River, as described in Revelation 16:12?
First of all, we need to find out if the present nation of Israel is the same Israel which is designated in the book of Revelation as the people of God. Some tremendous prophecies are found in that book, most of them concerned with saving the embattled remnant group of faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Those followers are sometimes referred to as the “tribes of Israel” and spoken of in the context of Jewish customs. Does this mean that the literal nation of Israel—the one which is fighting with tanks and bombs—will completely reverse itself and become Christians? Will they lay aside their Zionist ambitions to kill their attackers and espouse the peaceful principles of the Sermon on the Mount—the one about loving the enemy and turning the other cheek?
Millions of Bible students believe that this kind of spectacular conversion must take place in order for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled. They base their belief upon the prophecies found in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, etc., regarding Israel’s restoration and final triumph. Are they correct? It is true that the prophets painted glowing word pictures of Israel’s future and recorded scores of promises about her authority over other nations. But is the Israel of the Old Testament the same Israel of the book of Revelation? Were the promises unconditional and irrevocable? Will the literal, fleshly descendants of Abraham turn en masse to the Messiah, be restored as a nation, and saved as a people?
PROMISES TO ISRAEL CONDITIONAL
A careful study of the Bible reveals that those promises of the Old Testament were not unconditional promises at all. Repeatedly, the nation of Israel was warned of the dire consequences of disobedience. Both blessing and curse were set before them, depending on obedience or disobedience. Because of continued patterns of rebellion, God allowed them to be decimated and scattered into Babylonian captivity for seventy years. Many prophets were raised up by God to foretell their return from that captivity. Some modem commentators have made the mistake of applying those prophecies of restoration to some future gathering of Israel. They refuse to see that the restoration spoken of by Isaiah and Jeremiah has already taken place.
There is neither time nor space to record here a fraction of the graphic threats of rejection made to Israel. Over and over God gave warnings like this: “And if thou wilt … do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever … But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments … Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people” (1 Kings 9:4-7).
Finally, as related through the prophet Daniel, God allotted a probationary period of 490 years for the Jewish people to see what they would do about the Messiah (Daniel 9:24). That prophetic time period of 70 weeks (a day for a year, Ezekiel 4:6) began with the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem (Artaxerxes’ decree in 457 B.C., Ezra 7:11) and ended in A.D. 34. In that same year the gospel began to go to the Gentiles, Stephen was stoned, and Paul went forth to begin his unique ministry to the non-Jews. The occasion marked the formal and final separation of Israel from its covenant relationship.
Jesus had explained to the Jewish leaders in the clearest possible language that their rejection of Him would seal their own rejection as the children of the kingdom. “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43).
There is no mystery as to why the hundreds of specific Old Testament promises were never fulfilled to Israel. They utterly failed to meet the conditions of obedience. Otherwise, they would have inherited the earth, been delivered from all their enemies, and made Jerusalem the worship center for all nations.
WHO IS TRUE ISRAEL?
The big question is this: Will God’s promises fail just because the literal descendants of Abraham did not meet the terms of the covenant? Were the promises transferred to that other “nation” to whom Jesus said the kingdom would be given? Or must we still put our faith in some future turnaround that will restore national Israel to the divine favor? All those points will be completely clarified the moment we establish one basic rule of biblical interpretation. Without this principle in mind no one can properly understand the books of Daniel and Revelation, nor can we identify the true Israel of today.
Here is the rule: There is a primary, local, literal application of prophecy which points to a future, worldwide, spiritual application. By applying this principle to the Old Testament Scriptures there is absolutely no confusion as to the place of Israel in prophecy and history.
All the glorious promises were primarily aimed toward immediate blessings that God wanted to bestow on the nation. But in a secondary sense they pointed forward to a larger spiritual fulfillment on a worldwide level. Even though the local fulfillment failed when Israel failed to be faithful, the promises were never nullified or withdrawn. They will be honored, but only to that “nation” which Jesus said must replace the Jews as receivers of the kingdom. Who is that nation and people? The New Testament is saturated with the most explicit statements as to who the new Israel is.
Peter describes those “which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God” in these words: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, 10). Here is the new nation which replaces the nation of Israel. The Gentiles who will receive the true Messiah now enter into the New Covenant, ratified by the blood of the cross, and become the true spiritual Israel of God. They who were not God’s people become His “holy nation.”
Will they receive the very same promises that were given to Abraham’s descendants? Indeed, the Bible says that they are counted as the actual seed of Abraham. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). Paul makes it even clearer in Romans 9:8. “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” Again, Paul wrote, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart” (Romans 2:28, 29).
Notice that true Israel will be characterized by circumcision of the heart and not of the flesh. What is heart circumcision? “Ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11). Don’t miss the significance of that text. Just as the Old Covenant was represented by the cutting off of the physical flesh, so the New Covenant would be exemplified by the cutting off of the fleshly nature of sin. In other words, all who accept Christ and are born again are the truly circumcised and the only true Jews. And according to Paul they also will inherit the promises made to Abraham.
After the crucifixion of Christ, there is not one indication that the literal Jews were accorded any recognition as the children of God. It is true that the door was left open through the preaching of the apostles until A.D. 34 , the end of Daniel’s seventy-week prophecy. But from that time on no recognition is given to Israel as a nation. Israel henceforth is God’s people, made up of all those who accept the Saviour, whether Jew or Gentile. The Old Testament imagery and terminology is still used, especially in the book of Revelation, but Israel is now the church.
So we can see that there was no failure of the promises at all. They simply were transferred to the true spiritual Israel, which is the church, made up of all true believers in Christ. And the things that will happen to the church spiritually were foreshadowed by what happened to ancient Israel in a literal sense. Let’s look at a simple example of this principle in operation.
In the midst of Ezekiel’s portrayal of Israel’s victory over her enemies and influence over the nations, he began to describe a magnificent temple that would be built. Several chapters (40-48) are devoted to the precise measurements and physical appointments of that temple. Yet the temple has never been built. Other prophets referred to the program of building or restoring such a temple. Amos prophesied, “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11).
Many modern interpreters apply this promise to some future construction of a physical temple. But the Bible principle is that there is a secondary, worldwide fulfillment which is not physical, but spiritual. The New Testament confirms this by explaining how the prophecy of Amos has been fulfilled. “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up” (Acts 15:14-16).
Please notice how the Old Testament temple prophecies apply to the living church! The physical temple has now become the spiritual temple of the church, made up of Gentiles and all true believers. No one should now be looking for any restored, literal temple to be built. The body of Christ’s church is now the temple (1 Corinthians 3:16), and we are the “lively stones” of that “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5).
Some have felt confused because much of the Old Testament terminology is carried over into the New Testament description of the church—words like kingdom, nation, Israel, temple, Jerusalem, Zion, tribes of Israel, etc. Even Christ said to the Pharisees, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, (literal Israel) and given to a nation (spiritual Israel) bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). This is one reason the futurists and dispensationalists believe the book of Revelation pertains to the literal Jew in modem Israel. But there is no cause for such confusion. The explanation had been so clearly made in so many places that the New Testament writer assumed all were aware that the church now replaced national Israel.
THE TWO BABYLONS
As we enter into a study of Armageddon, it is tremendously important to keep this great rule of interpretation before us. The vast confusion on prophecy today stems from ignorance of this principle. Let us repeat once more that the kingdom prophecies given by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc., have a double application—one to be fulfilled locally; the other to be fulfilled on a worldwide scale in the last days. And the church takes the place of the nation as God’s true chosen people. With this background we are prepared to study the subject of Armageddon. That world-ending conflict is tied closely to the things we have just stated about spiritual Israel and a secondary application of prophecy. A most amazing parallel exists between what happened to ancient Israel and the events concerning spiritual Israel in the book of Revelation.
Ancient Israel Spiritual Israel
Jer. 50:33,34 Persecuted by Babylon Rev. 17:6
Dan. 3:13 Forced to worship image Rev. 13:15
Dan. 4:30 Called “Babylon the Great” Rev. 17:5
Jer. 51:13,14 Babylon sits on many waters Rev. 17:1
Isa. 44:27,28 Rescued—dried Euphrates Rev. 16:12
Jer. 51:6-8 Called out of Babylon Rev. 18:4
Isa. 45:1 Rescuer called the anointed Dan. 9:25
Isa. 41:2, 25 Both rescuers from east Mat. 24:27, Rev. 7:2

You will notice that God’s people had almost the same experience in the Old Testament and the New Testament. They were forced to worship an image and were rescued by someone from the east who dried up the river Euphrates to set them free. Within this broad outline there are scores of other astonishing similarities between the two Israels—one literal and the other spiritual.
It is obvious that the church—God’s people of the last days—will be persecuted and threatened with death just like ancient Israel. In the book of Revelation they are delivered from spiritual Babylon in connection with the battle of Armageddon. “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. … And he gathered them together in a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Revelation 16:12-16).
These verses are filled with great meaning. They reveal that three powerful forces will be utilized by Satan in preparing the way for Armageddon. Those three—the beast, dragon and false prophet—stir up the political powers of earth to take part in that war. It is apparent that those three are religious powers, at least in their claims, because they work miracles to impress the governments of the earth. Miracles are only operative within the realm of religion.
Time and space does not allow us to give all the biblical evidence to show how these three symbols incorporate all the modern forms of counterfeit religion. Rejecting the authority of God’s law and choosing the easy traditions of pagan worship pattems, these combined ecclesiastical systems will wield a mighty influence in drawing all the world into the battle of Armageddon.

ARMAGEDDON—SATAN VS. GOD
Before we try to determine the identity of the “kings of the east” and what it means to “dry up the river Euphrates,” we must understand more clearly what Armageddon really involves. The Scriptures picture it as the final decisive struggle which climaxes the age-long war between Christ and Satan. The entire world is involved because the good and evil people are scattered among all nations of the earth. Armageddon represents the all-out effort of Satan to destroy the people who dare to obey God in the face of threatened torture and death.
Armageddon is but the climax of a 6,000 year program by Satan to keep God’s people from being saved. As the adversary, whose self-seeking caused him to be cast out of heaven, Satan declared his purpose to overthrow God and take over His universal government. Listen to his boast in Isaiah 14:13, 14. “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
This incredible claim of Satan exposes the heart of his plan to set himself up in place of God. To subvert the worship of God’s subjects to himself it would seem both natural and necessary for Satan to build his appeal around religion. Working in the guise of counterfeit religious systems and false worship, he has woven a clever composite of truth and error down through the ages. His masterpiece of deception will occur at the end-time when he works through the beast power to enforce a mark of loyalty on every person. Those who refuse the mark will be sentenced to death, and thus, the final obstacle will be removed for Satan to claim all creation as his followers. So reads the blueprint of Satan’s strategy.
GOD DWELLS IN ZION
Now notice, again, where Satan wanted to sit. He said, “I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.” Why did he say that? This point is very important. The expression “mount of the congregation” is undoubtedly referring to the holy mount of God’s dwelling place. Throughout the Bible it is spoken of as mount Zion. “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2).
The striking thing is that God’s place, mount Zion, is located in the sides of the north. Now we understand why Satan wanted to sit on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. That is where God will gather His people, His congregation. Mount Zion is a place of safety. Satan wants to destroy the congregation or people of God. He would penetrate the very elect by his deceptions and take them, along with the throne of God. The psalmist said, “Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion” (Psalm 9:11).
Originally, Zion was the designated spot where the temple was located, in the north part of Jerusalem. Later, it came to be known as a symbol of the city of Jerusalem. It also is applied throughout Scripture to the whole of God’s people. But after the Jews rejected Jesus the term Zion became the designation for the church. Thus in the New Testament it no longer identifies an earthly location, but a people—the people of the church who are scattered throughout the world, or else the spiritual place of God’s presence and protection.
All through the Bible God is described as drawing or gathering His people to Zion where they can be safe with Him. “Blow the trumpet in Zion, … call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation” (Joel 2:15, 16). “For in mount Zion … shall be deliverance” (Joel 2:32). In Revelation 14:1 the redeemed are pictured as having been delivered from the beast power of the previous chapter and are safe in mount Zion. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”
But while God programs a gathering of His people to Himself in Zion, Satan also has a gathering program. It is a gathering of his forces for Armageddon. “For they are the spirits of devils … to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty…. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Revelation 16:14, 16). This gathering is to counteract God’s gathering His saints to mount Zion. Joel also speaks about that same gathering; “Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about … Let the heathen … come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat … The Lord also shall roar out of Zion … but the Lord will be the hope of his people” (Joel 3:11, 12, 16).
This is another description of that final conflict called Armageddon. The valley of Jehoshaphat is just another title for the place of battle. It will involve every nation on earth. The “heathen” is a term to describe those who are not God’s people. Satan will marshall the kings of the earth and all the wicked people to oppose the faithful saints of God. The Lord will be involved in the battle (“The Lord shall roar out of Zion”), because He fights for His people. In essence, it is a tremendous contest between Christ and Satan with followers of both sides being involved.  Here is where we get to the heart of the subject. The verse calls attention to the Hebrew word for Armageddon. Apparently, the word is rooted in the Hebrew term “har moed,” which means “mount of the congregation” or “mount of the assembly.” Do you see where this leads us? That same term (har moed) was used by Satan when he said, “I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation.” This ties the battle of Armageddon to the original threat of Satan to capture and destroy the congregation of God—in mount Zion.
And the final attempt of the evil one to carry out his threat reaches down to the very last events of this earth. John the Revelator described it under the sixth plague. He saw unclean spirits going out to the kings of the earth, working miracles, and gathering them to Armageddon. These are religious forces working on the political rulers and influencing them to destroy God’s faithful ones.
If you want to read the thrilling account of God’s part in Armageddon, study Revelation 19. “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 … And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses clothed in fine linen, white and clean … and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:11-15).
Several things stand out in this symbolic picture of Christ and His second coming. The armies of heaven make war and “smite the nations” (Verse 15). These are the nations which were stirred by evil spirits in Revelation 16:14. Christ prevails in this Armageddon clash. Notice that this war is described as treading the winepress of the wrath of God. In Revelation 15:1 the seven last plagues are designated as “the wrath of God.” Since the battle of Armageddon is set up under the sixth plague, and the plagues are called the wrath of God; and since Christ’s army makes war by treading the winepress of God’s wrath, we must conclude that Revelation 19 is a clear picture of Armageddon.
Incidentally, the vials of the wrath of God were poured on the whole earth. “Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.” (Revelation 16:1). This is why all the nations are involved in Armageddon. The good and evil of all the world will be drawn into it. Since God’s people are scattered in every country, the entire earth is spoken of as being affected by the plagues, one of which is Armageddon.
EUPHRATES DRIED UP
We are now prepared to examine Revelation 16:12 and let the Bible interpret the “drying up of the great river Euphrates” to prepare the way for the “kings of the east.” Whatever these events are, they occur as Armageddon approaches a violent climax.
In order to understand this prophecy, we must refer to the parallel experience of ancient Babylon. Six hundred years before Christ was born, the pagan kingdom of Babylon was the great enemy of God’s people. For 70 years they held the Hebrew people in subjection and bondage. Finally Babylon was overthrown by Cyrus the Mede, and the Israelites were delivered. Cyrus came from the east and captured Babylon by diverting the Euphrates River, thus getting access under the water gates of the channel. God said to Babylon, “I will dry up thy rivers. … Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus … to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut” (Isaiah 44:27; 45:1). God “raised up the righteous man (Cyrus) from the east” (Isaiah 41:2). Cyrus is referred to by God as the “anointed” and “the righteous man.”
According to the principle of interpretation, the literal account in the Old Testament must be applied in a spiritual sense at the end-time. Thus, we read in the book of Revelation about spiritual Israel (the church) being oppressed by ‘‘Babylon the Great’’ (Revelation 17:5, 6). This Babylon is not a physical kingdom but a counterfeit religious system manipulated by Satan. God’s people are finally delivered from the power of spiritual Babylon by the drying up of the waters of the river Euphrates. “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared” (Revelation 16:12).
The startling similarity to the Old Testament story is obvious, but we must remember that the secondary application cannot be literal. The immediate fulfillment is always literal and local, but the last-day fulfillment reaches worldwide and has a spiritual application only.
So we do not expect a literal Cyrus to dry up a literal river to deliver a literal Israel. We have already discovered that all God’s true people are spiritual Israelites. Now what does the water represent? “The waters which thou sawest … are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, andtongues” (Revelation 17:15). In this chapter Babylon the Great is pictured as sitting “upon many waters” (Revelation 17:1). The waters are identified as people and nations who give support to the great Babylon harlot (false religion) who persecutes the true saints (Revelation 17:6).
So the drying up of the waters would represent the withdrawing of support by those people who had been followers of the Babylon system. This is one of the final events that happens just before the coming of Christ. The people recognize that they have been duped, and in a rage they turn on each other. Zechariah describes what takes place under this seventh plague as Armageddon reaches its climax. “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem (God’s people); … And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour” (Zechariah 14:12, 13).
John described the scene thus, “These shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire” (Revelation 17:16).  Just as literal Euphrates in ancient Babylon was turned from an asset to a means of destroying her, so the supporting waters (people) of the spiritual Babylon turn into the means of her destruction. This drying up of support prepares the way for the “kings of the east” to come and deliver the people of God from the hand of Babylon.
WHO ARE THE KINGS OF THE EAST?
Who are these “kings of the east”? Here is one of the most exciting aspects of the battle of Armageddon. Just as God’s place in Zion was located in the “sides of the north,” so His approach is always referred to as from the east. Why? Because anciently Zion was the actual hill north of the city of Jerusalem. Anyone coming from the east had to angle north because of the impassable deserts, and come into Zion from that direction. This is why both north and east are used in the Bible for God’s quarters. “And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God” (Revelation 7:2).
Christ will return to this earth from the east. “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:27). The “kings of the east” are exactly the same as the armies of heaven in Revelation 19 who triumph over “the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies” (Verse 19). God’s glory was described by Ezekiel as coming from the east. “He brought me to the gate … that booketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east … and the earth shined with his glory” (Ezekiel 43:1, 2).
John revealed the breathtaking majesty of Christ leading the armies of heaven to make war. “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses … And he hath on his vesture and his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:14, 16). What a picture! The kings of the east riding forth against “the kings of the earth” and of the whole world. Spiritual Babylon and all the forces who followed her are destroyed by the King of kings who shall reign forever and ever.
Cyrus, the man from the east, who saved literal Israel from the hands of ancient Babylon, was a type of the “kings of the east” who wouldsave spiritual Israel from Babylon. Just as Cyrus was called the “anointed one” and “the righteous man,” so Jesus was designated by the same titles.
By now we can easily conclude that the second coming of Christ is really the only hope of Israel. God and Christ, the true Kings of the east, will burst upon this world at the midnight of man’s extremity. When the mark of the beast is being enforced and every human plan of escape has dissolved, God’s faithful ones will be snatched from certain death.
ALL EYES ON THE EAST
What a tragedy that millions of Christians are looking in the wrong direction and expecting events to transpire that can never take place. Their eyes are fixed on the east all right, but on the Middle East where hate-filled sons of Abraham try to destroy each other with American and Soviet weaponry. What kind of travesty it would be to expect those political planners and militarists to fulfill the beautiful predictions of Isaiah’s “lion and lamb” world of peace.
True it is that, for a moment, Isaac and Ishmael may stop fighting. It is also true that one of the signers of the agreement is called Israel. But let no one still cling to the empty hope that this Israel has anything to do with God’s true people. They have been replaced by another nation, obedient and faithful—who have come from every kindred, tongue and people. They are the true Israel. They will never take up arms to fight anyone. They will live as Jesus lived and choose death before dishonor.
The frail confederacy of peace signed March 26, 1979, would be less than futile, even if national Israel were still the chosen people of God. Years ago a similar alliance was formed and God appraised it in these words: “Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. … For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose. … This is a rebellious people, children that will not hear the law of the Lord” (Isaiah 30:3, 7, 9).
God is looking for those who will trust in right instead of might. To such He will provide deliverance from every enemy through the conquering kings of the east. Let us take our eyes away from the oil fields and politicalintrigues of the east and fix them on the eastern skies, because it is from there that our true allies will save us.
CLOTHED FOR ARMAGEDDON
Now we have been able to harmonize all the verses of Revelation 16:12-16 except that strange verse 15, which appears to be completely out of context with all the others. Why did the Holy Spirit inspire the placing of such a verse in the setting of Armageddon? “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Then follow the words, “And he gathered them together into a place called … Armageddon.”
What do proper clothes have to do with preparation for the approaching contest between Christ and Satan? And why is the wardrobe important for the ones waiting for Jesus to come? Revelation 19:7, 8 gives the surprising answer: “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.” Like a searchlight these words illuminate the meaning of Revelation 16:15. Those garments symbolize the righteousness of Christ with which every soul must be arrayed who would be ready to meet the Lord. The battle of Armageddon will be fought over the issue of Christ’s righteousness. Only those who have trusted completely in the merits of Christ’s sinless life and atoning death can triumph with Him over the forces of evil. “And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11).
Here is the winning combination which finally will cast down the accuser of the brethren. The saints gained the victory by their simple faith in the sufficiency of the cross. No confidence in the flesh. No faith in the works of the law to justify. His merits alone to cleanse and to empower. So the combination is threefold: 1) faith in the righteousness of Jesus, 2) fearless sharing of the “word of their testimony,” and 3) “they loved not their lives unto the death.” In other words, they would rather die than sin.
When the cross has done this to a person, he can survive all the concentrated attacks of a thousand Armageddons. Demons, fallen angels and Satan himself must flee in terror before the authority of a Christ-filled life. True faith produces full obedience, and therefore, true righteousness by faith includes sanctification as well as justification. Those who would lay down their lives in death rather than disobey God will be the only ones who will refuse the mark of the beast.
Multitudes, with something less than true righteousness by faith, will not feel that obedience to all the commandments is worth dying for. Many will reason that Christ’s obedience has been imputed to them, and therefore they need not be concerned about the works of the law. Such do not understand the full gospel. It is the “power of God unto salvation”—not just forgiving power, but keeping power. We are not just saved from the guilt of sin, but from the sin itself.
So Armageddon and preparation to meet Christ focus on a personal relationship with the Saviour. Clothed in the armor of His righteousness, the saints will prevail even in the face of a death decree. If you do not have the sweet assurance of that spiritual protection now, puton His robe this very moment. Woven in the loom of heaven, it contains no thread of human devising. Shattering the authority of sin in the life, it claims the merits and the power of Christ’s life and atoning death. May this be your experience today.

Babylon Falls

18 Oct

Revelation 18

18:1-3 God Calls His People out of Babylon: Just before probation closes and the seven last plagues are poured out, “another angel” cries “mightily” and “the earth” is “lightened with his glory.” This angel represents a gracious message of salvation. It is the final and most powerful warning given to the world. It is so strong that every person on earth is forced to choose sides in the conflict between Christ and Satan. God’s people, energized by the Holy Spirit, take this message to the world with “great power.”

They provide a marvelous demonstration of God’s character of self-sacrificing love as they plead with the people to choose God and “worship Him,” reinforcing the first angel’s message of Revelation 14:6-7. They give the warning that “Babylon the great is fallen” repeating the second angel’s message of Revelation 14:8. They fervently implore God’s people who are still in Babylon to “come out of her” (vs. 4) and “be not partakers of her sins.” She has chosen to reject God, and her time of punishment is at hand when she will “drink of the wine of the wrath of God,” which is the third angel’s message of Revelation 14:9-11.

When this angel gives his loud cry, the “Christian” churches of the world have joined themselves to Babylon. The angel declares that they have “fallen,” and describes them as “the habitation of devils,” “the hold of every foul spirit” and as “a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” They have become spiritually, morally and doctrinally corrupt. They have rejected the Holy Spirit and embraced the most vile sins, chosen false doctrines over pure Biblical truth and have turned to spiritualism for wisdom and advice. Evil angels, posing as the spirits of dead loved ones, lead them astray; Satan himself appears as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), even going so far as to impersonate Christ. Thus, the churches will have cast aside their Biblical foundations are deceived

18:4-8 The mighty call, “Come out of her my people,” strengthens as Babylon is reaching the height of her power, the time when she has the universal support of the kings of the earth. In contrast of God’s people who are showing His character of love to the world, the churches of Babylon have begun to persecute God’s commandment-keeping people. They demand the strict enforcement of the Sunday law and call for a death decree upon those who will not obey this man-made edict rather than God’s commandment. God’s people, who are still scattered among many denominations, see the contrast between those who give this message and those who persecute them. They recognize the voice of their Saviour as He calls them out of Babylon.

In Daniel’s time, after seventy years of captivity, God’s people were called to leave their comfortable homes, come out of Babylon and return to Israel. Jeremiah 51:6. When the call is given to come out of spiritual Babylon, God’s people who are in churches will reject Bible truth and approve of sin must give up their comfortable traditions and unBiblical doctrines and come out. Christ says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27.

Babylon views herself as a “queen” ruling over the kings of the earth and no longer powerless. She says I “am no widow;” she sees her rise to power and deems herself secure in heaven’s favor, but her “sins have reached unto heaven.” It is time for God’s judgments to fall.

The seven last plagues now fall on Babylon, the great city, and on all its inhabitants, those who have received the mark of the beast. See Revelation 16. The terms “one hour” (vss. 10, 17, 19) and “one day” (vs. 8) indicate that the plagues are sudden and only last a relatively short time before Babylon is completely destroyed.

18:9-24 In the rest of the chapter the angel depicts the destruction of Babylon in an allegorical manner, borrowing most of his imagery from portions of Isaiah 47, Jeremiah 50-51, and Ezekiel 26, 27.

The “Kings” and governments of the earth thought Babylon would establish God’s kingdom on this earth and solve the problems facing the world. Now they see all that they have worked for destroyed. They “lament” that his dream of an earthly utopia, which would not require dependence on God but only on an external display of surface piety, will never become reality.

The merchants watch the world crash down around them and their riches go up in smoke. They “weep and mourn” and destruction of the financial system which has provided them with riches and luxury at the expense of the less fortunate. The silver and gold, the grand houses and treasure—the gain of a lifetime has all become worthless. A righteous and upright character is the true treasure obtained in this life. The merchants have scorned as worthless the gold of a righteous character, and they have esteemed as priceless the material treasures of this world. Now they are left with nothing.

The multitudes see that they have been deluded by the religious leaders and rulers and taken advantage of by those in control of business. The glory, the glitter, and the promise of ease and luxury have faded to bitter disappointment. The splendor of this glorious new world under the combined power of church and state is seen to mask an inner evil and decay. When the people realize that the leaders they trusted have deceived them, and that they are now eternally lost, they “shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate…and burn her with fire.” Revelation 17:16.

“With violence” Babylon is “thrown down;” its destruction is complete. The sights and sounds of life are gone. She has been punished for her deceptions, for the souls she has lured to destruction, and for all the pain, misery, and suffering she has inflicted on the “prophets” and the “saints.”

The Seven Last Plagues

15 Oct

REVELATION 15&16

 

15:1 Chapter 15 is an introductory scene to the seven last plagues of chapter 16

15:2-4 In verses 2-4 the prophet is given a view of the triumph of the church of God over all her enemies. The plagues which are about to descend upon the earth are fearful, but the saints will be delivered from them.

God’s faithful people have gained the victory over the beast. They stand before God’s throne and “sing the song of Moses.” The song of Moses is a song of victory, because the Lord delivered Israel from Pharaoh and the Red Sea. Exodus 15:1-19. The “song of the Lamb” is the song of His victory and of salvation for His saints

15:5-8 John saw the temple in Heaven open and seven angels came out “having the seven plagues.” God’s glory and power filled the temple and “no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues…were fulfilled.”

The messages of mercy borne by the three angels of Revelation 14 have done their work. The judgement, which began in 1844, is finished and all the saints are sealed. A final and permanent decision has been made by every person. All have either accepted Christ or rejected Him and chosen Satan as lord instead. Probation for mankind has closed. Jesus says, “he that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he who is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11.

16:1 The Seven Last Plagues: These seven angels are messengers of wrath bringing pain and destruction. Like the plagues God loosed on ancient Egypt (Exodus 7:19-12:30) when they persecuted His people, so these seven last plagues are poured out upon those who seek to harm the Lord’s faithful saints at the end of time. These plagues are not universal, or man would perish from the earth. They will, however, be the worst disasters this world has ever known as God’s wrath is poured out unmixed with mercy.

16:2 The 1st Plague—Sores on the Worshipers of the Beast:

These painful sores do not fall upon God’s people, but unto many of the inhabitants of the earth who have the mark of the beast. The “miracle working power” of the beast (Revelation 13:14) is helpless to heal its followers of this plague

16:3 The 2nd Plague—The Sea Turns to Blood:

This second plague kills every living thing in many of the seas and oceans of the world.

16:4-7 The 3rd Plague—The Rivers Turn to Blood:

The beast has “shed the blood of saints and prophets.” By worshiping the beast and receiving her mark, men become guilty of her crimes. They also prove themselves to be guilty of the same spirit which originated those crimes, supporting the death decree for God’s faithful people. Because the saints will not obey the end of time Sunday law, these evil men clamor for their blood—so God gives them “blood to drink.”

16:8-9 The 4th Plague—The Sun Scorches Men:

In addition to the suffering caused by the extreme heat there will also be other effects. Many streams and rivers will be dried up (Joel 1:17-20), causing trees and grass to die, and a great famine. Joel 1:10-12; Amos 8:3. Those who would deny God’s people the right to buy and sell the necessities of life are now starving and thirsty, but the bread and water of the righteous will be miraculously provided to them by their God. Isaiah 33:15-16; 41:17. “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.” Psalm 91:7-8

16:10-11 The 5th Plague—Darkness on the Seat of the Beast:

This plague is poured out on “the seat of the beast.” It fills “his kingdom” “full of darkness,” and causes “pain.” Those who worship the beast find that not only cannot protect them from these plagues, but that the beast itself smitten. The world has loved the darkness of error and hated the light of truth so God gives them darkness.

Those affected by these plagues “blaspheme” God “because of their pains and sores.” It is likely that these plagues are cumulative so that now they have sores, lack of water, scorching heat with drought and famine, and a painful darkness to deal with all at the same time.

16:12-16 The 6th Plague—The Euphrates River is Dried Up:

“The dragon” is Satan in the guise of modern spiritualism, pagan religions, and occult and the new age movement. Revelation 12:3-6. “The beast” is the Roman Catholic Church System revived and healed of its Protestant churches in the United States who influenced the government to make religious laws. Revelation 13:11-18. These three make up “the great city,” “Babylon,” which fights against God’s holy city and people.

These three, “The dragon,” “the beast,” and “the false prophet” send out their demonic messengers and work their miracles to deceive the nations and gather them to the battle of “Armageddon.” Revelation 12:17. They intend to carry out the death decree and destroy God’s people who have refused to worship the beast or his image—those who will not desecrate the Sabbath of the fourth commandment and refuse to comply with the Sunday law. See Revelation 13:11-15.

The “Euphrates” river ran through the ancient city of Babylon; it was quite literally the life of the city. When the armies of Cyrus the Persian, under his General Darius, overthrew Babylon, they did so by digging channels to divert the water. The river “dried up” enough to allow them to march into the city along the riverbed and successfully attack through the inner river gates. They drying up of the Euphrates symbolizes a drying up of support for Babylon the Great.

When things seem the darkest for God’s remnant people and they are surrounded by the armies of the unholy trinity of beast, dragon and false prophet, they hear the voice of Jesus who is approaching with the host of heaven proclaiming to the world that these are His people. The attackers realize that they have been deceived, that they are eternally lost. They are filled with terror and withdraw their support from Babylon and turn on her in rage. Revelation 17:16. This fulfills the prophecy that the “Euphrates” will be “dried up.”

Soon after he conquered Babylon, Cyrus freed the Israelites from captivity and allowed them to return to their homes. Cyrus, the king from the east, became a symbol of Christ the deliverer. God through the prophet Isaiah calls him His “shepherd” and His “anointed.” Isaiah 44:24-45:1. The “kings of the east” are Jesus, the King of Kings, and the mighty host who accompany Him in battle.

16:17-21 The 7th Plague—The Destruction of the Wicked:

From the “throne” of the “Temple of Heaven” “a great voice” is heard “saying, It is done.” The cup of human guilt has been filled up, the true character of the great city, Babylon, has been unmasked and God’s people have been delivered. Finally the seventh plague destroys the wicked.

As the battle of Armageddon commences, God sends great hail on the wicked, and strikes the entire world with a mighty earthquake that levels whole mountain ranges, causing islands to sink beneath the waves and leaves the cities on the earth in ruins. This earthquake takes place in connection with the return of Christ. Isaiah 2:19-21; Revelation 6:14-17.

“The great city” divides “into three parts” as support for Babylon dries up and the alliances between its members disintegrates.

Babylon is judged and punished for her sins and drinks the “wine of the fierceness of His wrath” to the full.

tHESE PLAGUES WILL FALL AFTER PROBATION CLOSES.

ITS SOON TO HAPPEN I HOPE YOU READY

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