Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Tale of Two Brides



As I was researching the subject of the Church as the Bride of Christ, I came across this study by Jack Kelley of Grace thru Faith who I have quoted often in this blog.  I thought I would let you read it today as I believe it is a great answer to the questions many have concerning the Church, and our position before the Lord.  Enjoy.

A Tale Of Two Brides
Saturday, July 24th, 2010

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Whenever I get several questions on the same subject within a few days, I assume someone is trying to give me a topic for the feature article. This is especially true if it’s unrelated to anything I’ve recently written about, as was the case this week.
The questions this time concerned a view taught by some that Israel is the bride of God and the Church is the bride of Christ. In the Bible, God often describes our relationship with Him in terms of a marriage. He does this for our edification, to help us understand Him better. For example, when Paul said he wanted to present us to the Lord as a pure virgin (2 Cor. 11:2), he meant that just as a virgin bride has never been defiled by any sexual relationships before being joined to her husband in marriage, he didn’t want us to be defiled by any false doctrine or idolatry before being presented to the Lord at the rapture.
As for Israel, one of the most intimate portrayals of the way God felt toward His people can be found in Ezekiel 16.

The Bride Of God

‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. (Ezekiel 16:3-5)

When God called Abraham, He was creating the Israelites out of the idol worshiping Gentile world. Right from the beginning the world seemed to be at odds with them.

” ‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels. Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, you who were naked and bare.
” ‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine. (Ezekiel 16:6-8)

This is reminiscent of the night Ruth came to the threshing floor and asked Boaz to spread the corner of his garment over her (Ruth 3:9). It’s a sign of promise and protection. You could say this was the point at which Israel became the bride of God.

” ‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezekiel 16:9-14)

God treated Israel like a king treats his queen, lavishing her with blessings the likes of which the world had never seen. But as the rest of the chapter shows, Israel became unfaithful and used these blessings to court the surrounding nations with their pagan gods, showering the gifts God had given her upon them to win their favor. Finally He had enough.

” ‘You adulterous wife!” He shouted. “You prefer strangers to your own husband! Every prostitute receives a fee, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors. So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.” (Ezekiel 16:32-34)

In His anger God divorced His unfaithful bride (Jere. 3:8).  He gave Israel over to the nations to be stripped and cut to pieces, but promised that after they were done with her, “Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 16:42, 60, 62)

And so Israel went from being an innocent bride to becoming an adulterous wife. About 150 years before Ezekiel wrote this, the prophet Hosea had been raised up to act this story out in his own life, a live action parable of God’s relationship with Israel. At God’s direction he married a prostitute, and when she left him and returned to her former profession, Hosea provided her lovers with gifts. When she was no longer desirable and was sent to the slave auction, Hosea bought her back and took her home. It’s the story of Israel’s rebellion and redemption.

Shortly before the 2nd Coming, Israel will discover that one like Hosea has purchased her out of slavery with His own blood, the price of redemption. (Hosea and Yeshua, the Lord’s name in Hebrew, are both derived from yasha, which means to save.) And so, the adulterous wife will yet be reconciled to her Husband, and He’ll renew His vows with her. (Isaiah 54:5-8) The Old Covenant will be replaced by the Everlasting Covenant (Jer. 31:31-32).
Isaiah described it for us.

In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain. (Isaiah 4:2-6)

The word for branch is tsemach, and refers to the Messiah, who made the reconciliation possible. With the curse gone the land will flourish like never before. After the end times judgments that follow the 2nd Coming, only believers will remain on Earth, and everyone left in Jerusalem will be holy. The pillar of cloud by day and fire by night remind us of when the Lord sheltered the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21). The Hebrew word for the canopy is chuppah, the wedding canopy, and the one for shelter is sukkah, the booth each Israelite builds on the feast of Tabernacles to commemorate the time the Lord spent with them in the wilderness. The entire creation will rejoice at this long overdue reconciliation.

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. (Isaiah 35:1-2) You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.(Isaiah 55:12)

The Bride Of Christ

During the time of Israel’s rebellion, the Lord turned to the Gentiles once again to take a people from among them for Himself (Acts 15:13) called the Church. He loves the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word to present her to Himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephes. 5:25-28)

Right from the beginning the Lord determined to do everything necessary so that the Church’s exalted position could never be lost. Before the Church was ever born, the Lord compiled a list of every one of our sins and carried it to the cross with Him where He forgave all of them in advance (Colossians 2:13-14). This allowed Him to always look upon us as if we’ve never sinned at all (2 Cor. 5:17), as if we’re just as righteous as He is (2 Cor. 5:21) having been made perfect forever by His once-for-all-time sacrifice (Hebrews 10:12-14). God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even while we were still dead in our transgressions and has already seated us with Christ in the heavenly realms (Ephes. 2:4-6).

Having prepared the way, the Lord went to His Father’s house to make a home for us, promising to return and take us there to be where He is (John 14:2-3). On a day no one could have predicted in advance He’ll meet us in the clouds and in a flash we’ll be gone, our old sin infested bodies replaced with new immortal ones, specially designed for eternal life with Him. The place He’s preparing for us will be enormous and made entirely of gold and precious gems, its radiance such that it will light the world (Rev. 21:24). The Kings of the Earth will bring their splendor into it and we will take our place in the Royal household of God, the place He’s seen us in since before the foundations of Earth were laid.

What’s It All About?

Of course all this marriage terminology is metaphorical. God doesn’t marry humans in the sense that we think of marriage. And how could God marry Israel and Jesus marry the Church when God and Jesus are one and the same? Jesus is what God looks like when he wants to take on a physical appearance. (Hebrews 1:3)

I believe the sense in which we’ll be married comes from the closeness we’ll feel, the intimacy that can only by achieved through a long term committed relationship. It’s really how two become one. Our hearts are knit together. In our present fallen state this is difficult to achieve even in marriage. Untold numbers of husbands and wives can speak of the loneliness they feel because instead of growing closer they’ve drifted apart.

New believers often experience a closeness with the Lord they’ve never felt with another human, and those who no longer conform to the pattern of this world but allow themselves to be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:2) can retain much of that closeness. Yet even then we come to understand how our sin nature prevents us from becoming as close to the Lord as we’d like to be.

We can only imagine how it will feel when that barrier to intimacy is finally removed. During the entire beating and crucifixion ordeal the only suffering that was too great for the Lord to bear in silence was when He took our sins upon Himself and the Father had to turn away, unable to look upon Him (Habakkuk 1:13). We’ve never had His kind of intimacy with the Father, but He had never been deprived of it and when He was it caused Him more pain than anything else they (we) did to Him. Paul said when the barrier comes down we’ll know as we’re known (1 Cor. 13:12), and John promised that when the Lord appears we’ll be like Him because we’ll see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). We’ll finally have the kind of intimacy with Him we’ve always craved.

The comparison of the adulterous wife to the virgin bride is meant to symbolize the difference between Law and Grace. The former shows what we can make of our selves, an adulterous wife, and the latter shows what God can make of us, a virgin bride. Speaking of this in Ephesians 5:32 Paul said it’s a profound mystery, and believe me that was not an understatement.

The truth is that the Church has been no better behaved than Israel. Before the first Century had ended the Lord was complaining of neglect.

“Yet I hold this against you, you have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen. Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Rev. 2:4-5)

And from the 4th Century until the 16th the Church was worse than dead, it was a force for evil in the world. There have been several major revivals since then, yet today only a small percentage of born again believers holds to a Biblical world view.  Most cannot be distinguished from the unbelieving world. Even so, because of God’s grace, Jesus continues to see us as His radiant bride, holy and blameless.

At the End of the Age the Lord will pour out His Spirit of Grace on the people of Israel like He has on the Church (Zechariah 12:10). As they realize that Jesus also died for their sins, they too will experience the immense benefits of His Grace. The blood guilt they’ve borne since the crucifixion (Matt. 27:25) will be finally pardoned (Joel 3:21) and they’ll truly be one with the Lord.

Both Israel and the Church will have amazing, not-to-be-believed relationships with the Lord in the age to come. They will be of a different nature and in a different location, at least for the first 1000 years, but neither group will envy the other. The adulterous wife will be reconciled with her husband, her sins forgiven and forgotten, just like ours. The bride will be among those rejoicing, and they’ll both be looking with heartfelt gratitude to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). 

07-24-10

Keep watching.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Bride of Christ



“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.     Ephesians 5:31-32  NKJV

On several occasions in the past I have had the opportunity to share something with other believers during small groups or Sunday School classes when studying Paul’s letters to the churches.  It might not be an earth shattering revelation but I have enjoyed seeing the look on peoples’ faces when I explain what I am thinking, and it goes something like this.  If you have ever participated in a study of Paul’s writings with others in a group setting, and discussed among yourselves just what Paul was trying to say, you are doing exactly what the church members did in Paul’s day when they received his letters.

If you think about it in that light, does it not make sense that when the members first read the letter there were differing opinions about just what point Paul was trying to make?  I am sure there were some very spirited discussions, along with the perplexed looks when Paul said something which at first glance did not seem to make a lot of sense.  When it comes to the “mystery” of the Church, and it’s special relationship with Christ, I believe there was probably quite a lot of discussion considering that Paul spent much of his time teaching and clarifying questions on that subject.

Something that I discovered about this relationship, however, came only after I had spent several years focusing on eschatology and the future of the Church, and studied the writings and commentaries written by Jewish scholars.  Why Jewish?  Simply because they, like the believers in the early churches Paul wrote to, had an advantage that most of us in the west simply do not, and that is the understanding and familiarity with the steps and procedures of a Jewish wedding.  As I began to study and learn more about the complexities surrounding this celebration, I began to understand exactly why Paul chose to explain the relationship between Christ and the Church in this way.

Many of you may already be familiar with what I am talking about, but for those who may not be, I will take a little time today to explain why Paul, inspired by God, uses the picture of a Jewish wedding and the traditions which accompany it to illustrate where we, as the body of Christ, finds ourselves today.

Choosing the Bride.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.     John 15:16  NKJV

Jesus chose those who believe to become His bride, the Church.  All who respond to His invitation become members of the body of believers known as the Church and are referred to by Paul as the bride of Christ. 

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.      2 Corinthians 11:2  NKJV

Paul here assumes the position of the father of the bride and explains that the Church has been betrothed to Christ, and as the father, he is concerned with how the Church conducts itself while waiting for the wedding.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.     Ephesians 5:25-27  NKJV

Paying the Bride Price.

After choosing the bride, in Jewish culture a price to recompense the family had to be agreed upon.  Jesus paid that price by dying for His bride on the cross.

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.  John 19:30  NKJV

The phrase “It is finished!” is the Greek word “teleo”, which not only means to bring to a close, but also to pay a tribute or price.  As the bride of Christ, the Church was paid for by the blood of Jesus.

Building the Home.

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  John 14:2  NKJV

After choosing a bride, and agreeing to a price, the future bridegroom goes away to build the house in which he and his bride will live.  He cannot return until the home is completed, and his father inspects it and declares it ready for habitation.  When complete and given permission, the bridegroom will return for his bride.  During this time, the bride is to watch and wait because she has no idea how long it will take or when her bridegroom will return.

The Return for the Bride.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  John 14:3  NKJV

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’  Matthew 25:6  NKJV

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17  NKJV

After receiving permission to fetch his bride from his father, the bridegroom comes with a shout and the blowing of a ram’s horn.  It usually would occur at midnight, and he would call out for his bride to join him for the ceremony.  When Paul tells us in his letter to the Thessalonian church that Jesus will return in the clouds and call for the Church to join Him, it mirrors this tradition perfectly.  At some future date, known only by God the Father, Jesus will receive permission to return for His bride, the Church, and He will call out with a shout and a trumpet blast, for us to join Him in the air.

In the time when the bridegroom is away preparing their future home, the bride is busy preparing herself to be, as Paul states, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing”.  I have mentioned often in the past my personal experiences watching my daughters prepare to meet their bridegrooms, and describing the lengthy, arduous process.  The question all believers should continually ask themselves is how hard are we preparing to meet our Lord when He returns for us?  Are we striving to serve and clothe ourselves in righteousness, or are we more concerned with the world around us and the cares of this life?  My prayer is that the Church focuses on being the best bride she can be, especially considering the price the bridegroom paid for her.

Keep watching.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

When Will These Things Be?



Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”  Matthew 24:3  NKJV

When a believer understands that Jesus commanded us all to watch for the signs of His return and they begin to apply themselves by studying what we are taught to look for, most often the question of the possibility of knowing “when will these things be” begins to appear in their hearts and minds.  As Jesus’ disciples show us here, there is nothing wrong with being curious about this and in fact, it is a natural reaction to being told that there will be an end to all things.  While I am convinced that the Bible does not reveal exactly when the events we have been discussing will occur, I believe strongly that there are clues we can use that will help us construct a possible timeline which will help us to be on the alert just as Jesus commanded us to be.

We are currently in the Jewish year of 5777, a year that many are now calling the year of convergence.  Interestingly enough, there was a seminar held yesterday at Maranantha Church in Southern California which carried that exact title and discussed this very subject. http://maranathachapel.org/convergence.html The sheer number of events which many believe are signs of the end that are set to occur this year is amazing, and so much so that it would appear even skeptics are asking questions.  Again, without setting any dates for specific prophetic events to occur, I thought I would revisit a post from 2014 in which I discuss the subject of what the Bible tells us will happen, and the order in which I believe they will happen.

My personal belief for the order of events the Bible reveals will occur during the end times is this; the Rapture, the Destruction of Damascus found in Isaiah 17, the Gog Magog conflict of Ezekiel 38-39, the beginning of Daniel’s seventieth week, the Abomination of Desolation three and one half years later, Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ another three and one half years later, and finally the Millennial Reign of Christ to follow. Once I arrived at this conclusion, it was a natural step to examine the scriptures to see if there were any clues as to when these events would occur.  I was fascinated to discover that it is entirely possible that each of them, in one way or another, are referred to in light of what time or season of the year they might take place.  While maybe not definitive, when you take all of them together and lay them out in order, a timeline appears that is certainly feasible in light of what is revealed in scripture.  So here then is my conclusion as to not only the order, but possible timeline for these things to be.

A Summer Rapture

Woe is me!  For I am like those who gather summer fruits, Like those who glean vintage grapes; There is no cluster to eat Of the first-ripe fruit which my soul desires. The faithful man has perished from the earth, And there is no one upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood; Every man hunts his brother with a net.           Micah 7:1-2  NKJV

I should make it clear here that I am a firm believer in the doctrine of immanency, and I believe the Bible makes it clear that the rapture of the Church could happen at any time.  That does not mean, however, that there might not be a clue in the Word as to the season in which it might occur.  The question is often asked about just what this world would look like when the restrainer, the Holy Spirit, is removed from the earth at the rapture.  Most of us are familiar with the observation of the philosopher Edmund Burke when he said “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.  Well, what happens when, according to this passage, there are no faithful men?  Every man is against his own brother, and evil is rampant on the earth.  If you want to talk about all that is necessary to create the “perfect storm” of evil, God simply removes His Church along with the Holy Spirit and there is nothing left to fight against Satan and his forces.

Since history has shown that Satan’s priority is the destruction of Israel, what do you think he tries to do first?  Does this passage from Micah refer to the rapture of the Church?  I think it entirely possible considering the description it gives as to what the world looks like with the absence of the faithful.  I also believe it is reasonable to consider a summer rapture when we examine closely the Feast of Pentecost, or Shavuot which we will do next week.  That scenario would also precede the most likely day for an attack of this nature on Israel, their national day of mourning on the ninth of Av.

A Day of Mourning; the Destruction of Damascus

“Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?  Zechariah 7:5  NKJV

This scripture refers to the fast of the fifth month, which is observed on the ninth of Av on the Jewish calendar and it usually coincides with either late July or August on our western calendar.   Many believers are familiar with this day as it is the one day in the year where so many tragedies have occurred to the Jewish people throughout their history beginning with the report of the twelve spies in the book of Numbers and many, many others continuing to this day.  If you were to consider the question of when the nation of Israel would come under attack by weapons of mass destruction, it would be hard to ignore the possibility of something of that magnitude occurring on the very day in Israel’s history when so many other national tragedies have taken place.  Isaiah 17 also makes it clear that although justified in their response, the rest of the world takes a dim view of what Israel does.  This of course leads them to think about, and plan a response which many if not most believe is the attempted invasion of Gog.  I believe it only takes the relatively short time of three to four months to come up with their “evil plan.”

A Hannukah Gift; God Defeats Gog

‘Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid—consider it:     Haggai 2:18  NKJV

And again the word of the LORD came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: ‘I will shake heaven and earth. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots And those who ride in them; The horses and their riders shall come down, Every one by the sword of his brother.                Haggai 2:20-22  NKJV

In his book Armageddon, Appointment with Destiny, author Grant Jeffrey does a masterful job of examining and explaining all of the feasts and fasts of the nation of Israel.  In his book he devotes an entire chapter called “Russia’s Day of Destruction in Israel” to the Gog Magog conflict where he not only answers virtually every question someone might have about the identity of the invading force, he also speculates as to the timing of the conflict.  By comparing the language describing what occurs, and especially God’s response to the invading force, he comes to the conclusion that this passage from the prophet Haggai most likely is referring to the Ezekiel 38,39 prophecy.  It is also his conclusion that by referring specifically to the twenty fourth day of the ninth month, God is telling us exactly when these events will occur.  This day, the twenty fourth of Chisleu on the Jewish calendar, is the day before Hanukkah, which normally occurs in late November or December on our calendar.  I think it is entirely possible that the space of time between the Ninth of Av and the day before Hanukkah is more than sufficient for the planning and assembling of the forces of Magog by Gog.  How special would this Hanukkah be for all of Israel to awaken to find the entire invading force has been slain, not by their own might, but by the power of God the Father?

Peace on Rosh Hashanah?

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;  Daniel 9:27a

How long has the world waited for peace between Israel and its enemies?  At times many would believe that peace is an impossibility given the lack of success in coming to any type of an agreement.  It is with this in mind that it doesn’t bother me a bit to think that it takes nine months before the antichrist confirms a covenant.  I also believe it is telling to notice the word God chooses to use in this prophecy.  The word translated confirm, in the Hebrew is gabar; which means “to enforce or prevail”.  Now I ask you; does that sound like a mutually agreed peace?  It would seem to me that Israel’s enemies are somehow forced to abide by this agreement by the antichrist without really wanting to.  I chose Rosh Hashanah as the day this peace begins for two reasons.  The first reason is that many if not most scholars believe the last three feasts of Israel in the fall are prophetic as to the second coming of Christ.  Since the seventieth week of Daniel is exactly seven years in length, it logically begins and ends about the same time.  I also am intrigued by the use of the trumpet on Rosh Hashanah.  The last sounding of the trumpet on this feast day is called the Tekia shofar.  Throughout Israel’s history, it has been described as a long blast signaling victory or good news.  What better news would Israel want to celebrate than knowing peace with their enemies has finally been accomplished? 

Abomination in the Spring?

But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”        Daniel 9:2

Obviously it follows that if we place the beginning of Daniel’s seventieth week in the fall, the middle of the week which is three and one half years later will occur in the spring.  In fact, not only will it occur in the spring, it will arrive during the spring feasts of Israel.  If you recall, it was during this time that Jesus entered Jerusalem and told the religious leaders of the day that He was the Son of God.  When it comes to prophecy in the Bible, I make it a point to never believe in coincidence.  It seems to make perfect sense that the antichrist will choose the exact same time to stand in the temple and proclaim himself to be God.  History will repeat itself as his claim will be rejected by many resulting in the antichrist reacting in anger towards those who reject him. It is now that the final three and one half years of Daniel’s seventieth week begin, and by declaring war on the nation of Israel the antichrist plunges the world into the period of time which Jesus called the Great Tribulation, and God called the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.  The antichrist’s attempt to destroy the nation of Israel will only lead him to destruction, but in the process involve the entire world in a war that is not only unwinnable, but leads directly to where God has arranged the final outcome to occur.

Armageddon and the Second Coming in the Fall?

Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say: “Blow the trumpet in the land; Cry, ‘Gather together,’ And say, ‘Assemble yourselves, And let us go into the fortified cities.’ Set up the standard toward Zion. Take refuge! Do not delay! For I will bring disaster from the north, And great destruction.”                                   Jeremiah 4:5-6  NKJV

Here we are, seven years after the covenant of peace between Israel and its enemies right back where we started and notice again the reference to blowing a trumpet.  Is Jeremiah telling us that Armageddon and Jesus return to Jerusalem occurs on Rosh Hashanah?  I believe that he is, but only time will tell if this is the correct interpretation.  Yet considering the fact that God has told us specifically that the seventieth week of Daniel would be two thousand five hundred and twenty days in length, broken up into two halves with each being twelve hundred and sixty days, and that there are just coincidently twelve hundred and sixty days between Passover and Rosh Hashanah, I think it’s a safe assumption God wanted us to know this was when these things would occur.  Of course, as I said, I could be wrong, however we should also consider that there are two more appointed feasts that closely follow during this month, and the prophetic implications they provide give support to our conjectured timeline.  Ten days after Rosh Hashanah comes Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  This day is considered to be the holiest day on the Jewish calendar for it is on this day that they were commanded to mourn for their sins.  It was also on this day, the only day of the year, when the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to sprinkle the blood of sacrifice before the Mercy Seat of God.  It certainly seems appropriate that now that the Great Tribulation is over Israel will stand before their God and mourn for their sin.

Millenial Reign Begins on Tabernacles

And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be— “The LORD is one,” And His name one.  Zechariah 14:9  NKJV

And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.                  Zechariah 14:16  NKJV

The next, and last Feast day on the Jewish calendar arrives just five days later when Israel celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles.  This was the day in Israel’s history when Solomon’s Temple was dedicated and the Ark of the Covenant finally had a permanent resting place.  Many also believe that this day was in fact the day of Jesus’ birth, and there are several good reasons to believe that.  One is that in the book of John we are told that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.  Just coincidently, the Greek word for “dwelt” is “tabernacle”.  It certainly seems fitting that Jesus assumes His throne in the New Jerusalem on the same day He first arrived.

My purpose in sharing all of these things with you is to hopefully stimulate you to watch with the intensity I believe God wants from all of us when He commanded us to watch for all of these things.  It has always troubled me that if you were to ask one hundred believers if they felt it was important to follow all of God’s commandments one hundred would say yes of course.  Yet ask those same one hundred if they are watching for Christ’s return and I suggest the number who would reply yes would appall you.  As I said before, I am not trying to predict the future here, but all that we have talked about has already been told to us by the Father through His prophets in His Holy Word.  It is, and has always been, up to us to diligently search the scriptures to “find out whether these things were so”.

If you have never taken the step of asking Jesus to forgive you of your sins and to come into your heart and save you from eternity without Him, I encourage you to do that right now.  Simply tell Him you are sorry for your sin, ask Him to forgive you, and accept the sacrifice He made to die for your sin, and He has promised not only to forgive you but to make you one of His own and come into your life and provide all the help you need to begin to live for Him.  I am convinced His return is much closer than we may think.

Keep watching.