Sunday, May 25, 2014

A World Without God

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

Have you ever taken the time to consider what this world would be like without the presence of God?  Imagine if you can what life would be like if there were only the forces of evil present, without the influence of good to counterbalance the evil thoughts and deeds of a sinful world.  Jesus referred to this time to come by comparing it with what life was like in Noah’s days.

“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.     Matthew 24:37  NKJV

We only need to look back to Genesis to see how God describes this time, and what man was like in those days.

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.       Genesis 6:5  NKJV

Did you notice He says that every intent of man’s thoughts will be evil continually?  What do you think that will make everyday life like when every man is looking to do evil?  In regards to our discussion of the order of events which make up this period of time, I think this is all the explanation we need to understand the how and why of the future conflicts that are prophesied to occur.  Many believe that the destruction of Damascus spoken of in Isaiah 17 is the next major event on God’s calendar, and I would wholeheartedly agree.  Yet many also wonder why it has not yet occurred.  I would suggest my answer to that question is found in the following passage.

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.     2 Thessalonians 2:6-7  NKJV

Have you ever wondered about all that the Spirit might be restraining in the world around us today?  I believe that we only need to look at what we are told will happen once He is removed to understand all that He is holding back.  Some hold to the belief that the rapture of the Church begins the tribulation period but personally I believe that it precedes it by a short time in order for the conflicts that usher in the acceptance of the man of sin to occur.  I believe that the destruction of Damascus is the first event that will take place which begins the journey to the eventual reign of the antichrist.

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.      2 Thessalonians 2:8-10  NKJV

It seems only logical that if this man of sin will rise to power by enforcing a peace between Israel and its enemies, there must be a conflict which demands it.  Obviously a situation exists in the Middle East right now that many believe has the region primed for this conflict to occur.  If you look closely at a passage from the book of Psalms you will find a situation described which many believe is being fulfilled before our very eyes.

A Song. A Psalm of Asaph. Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, And do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, And consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You: The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah       Psalm 83:1-8  NKJV

If we take these ancient names and place them on a map of the Middle East today we find that what is described here is the very situation which exists right now in the region surrounding Israel.  Some have described this passage as a “war” of Psalm 83, however if you read it carefully you will see it only describes a geopolitical reality, and not an actual war.  I and many others believe that the prophecy of Isaiah 17 tells us exactly what happens as a result of this situation when Israel’s enemies decide to provoke her to such an extent that the result is the complete destruction of Damascus.

The burden against Damascus. “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap.   Isaiah 17:1  NKJV

Is the Holy Spirit restraining the forces of evil that will soon seek the destruction of Israel?  In my opinion there is no question that this is the case.  Certainly there have been conflicts and wars in Israel’s past, but the future attempt at their total destruction prophesied in the Word of God has yet to occur.  One other thing we should also consider is that Israel’s enemies realize that the United States is, at least right now, Israel’s strongest ally.  What would the effect be on this nation if the rapture were to occur today?  

How many of the current population of America would disappear?  How many of our troops in the armed forces would vanish?  Would we still be able to come to Israel’s aid, or would their enemies see it as a perfect opportunity to attack, setting in motion the events of Isaiah 17?  As I see it, the first event on the prophetic calendar will be the rapture, followed closely by Isaiah 17, and then by a response from the world, the likes of which we have never seen.  Next week, the rise of Gog.

Keep watching.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

It’s All About God

“You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes.”             Ezekiel 38:16  NKJV
A fact that quickly becomes apparent to anyone who chooses to study the subject of the end times is the differences of opinions that many hold as to the order, if not the reasons, for the events which signal the end of this age.  I recently finished reading a fictitious trilogy concerning one possible scenario which, although entertaining, was certainly at odds with what the majority of biblical scholars teach regarding both the sequence and timing of some of the events which make up the period of time that precedes the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Now let me be the first to say that I don’t for a minute consider myself to be an authority on eschatology, but it is a subject that I have spent a great deal of time studying over the past decade or so.  So what I would like to do, in however long it takes, is share with you my thoughts on this period of time and my conclusions as to the order of events as I see them revealed in the scriptures.  I believe that if we study God’s Word diligently the answers to our questions will be self-evident and we will begin to see and understand exactly what God has in mind for this world.

It’s all about God.  One of the very first things I noticed when I began reading and studying the end of this age is that virtually every verse refers to the name or person of God.  We see that the events which are to occur are very personal by the use of Me, My, I, Lord, and God when describing what will happen.  As I thought about this fact it occurred to me that it certainly appears as if God intends to make it unmistakable that all of the events we read about which will happen during that period of time will be coming from Him, the God of the universe, and not some random act of nature by which man might try to explain away using manipulated scientific reasoning.

For the LORD will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon— That He may do His work, His awesome work,  And bring to pass His act, His unusual act. Now therefore, do not be mockers, Lest your bonds be made strong; For I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts, A destruction determined even upon the whole earth.       Isaiah 28:21-22  NKJV

If you have followed my teaching for any length of time, it should be evident that I believe the Bible makes very clear the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church.  I also believe this is the very next event on God’s calendar, which will set the stage so to speak, for everything else which follows.  The rapture will leave a world devoid of believers, who then must reason away what has just, and will shortly happen.  What is soon to occur is going to be a work of the almighty God of the universe, and not a naturally occurring phenomenon.  Yet there will be those who try to explain it away, in this verse called “mockers”, simply because they have no intention of acknowledging the fact that there is a God.

“In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them. “It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.                Zechariah 12:8-9  NKJV

Has there ever been a time in your life when you cried out to God to “do something!”?  I think most of us have, and understand how easily we can become frustrated when we don’t necessarily see with our own eyes the evidence that God is working.  As we mature, we come to the knowledge that God not only is in control but is also continually working on our behalf behind the scenes in ways we cannot fully comprehend.  Yet the time is coming where God will directly involve Himself in the affairs of this world and choose to act in ways that will leave no doubt whatever that it is He who is in control and He alone who possesses omnipotence. 

“It shall come to pass in that day That I will answer,” says the LORD; “I will answer the heavens, And they shall answer the earth. The earth shall answer With grain, With new wine, And with oil; They shall answer Jezreel. Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’ ”  Hosea 2:21-23  NKJV

This period of time we are discussing, the end of the age, is one of the most written about subjects in the Word of God.  Yet as we know from our study of scripture, it has not yet begun.  Although we see the hand of God arranging events predicted by the Word as signs of the final period of time we know as the tribulation, it has not yet begun.  Obviously something more must occur, some event must take place which sets the final days into motion where God will once again directly intervene in the affairs of this world.  It is my belief that the next big sign the world will witness is the rapture of the church.

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.        2 Thessalonians 2:5-7  NKJV

Can you imagine a world without God?  The truth is, when all true believers are removed from this world by the Father, that is exactly what you will have.  Is it any wonder then about what the Bible tells us will happen?  Although this world appears to be primed and ready for all the Word of God tells us will shortly occur, the forces of evil are being held in check until that time when the voice of our Father calls us home.  So on my list of the events which are soon to come; I believe the rapture of the Church is going to be the first one we see.  And when that happens, when we go home along with the Holy Spirit who indwells us, what will be left to restrain the forces of evil?
Next on my list: the coming Destruction of Damascus.

Keep watching.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ready To Inherit?

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.  Galatians 4:4-7  NKJV

Tell me you have never dreamed about inheriting a fortune.  Whatever the reason, most all of us have, at one time or another, thought or dreamed about what it would be like to suddenly find out a long lost relative has passed on and left us a fortune.  Yet more often than not, our lot would probably be summed up by the popular bumper sticker that says “We’re spending our children’s inheritance”.  Have you ever considered, though, that as believers in Jesus Christ we not only become children of God, but also heirs, and are guaranteed an inheritance which waits for us as a gift from our Father?

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  Matthew 25:34  NKJV

In all honesty, what sounds better to you?  An inheritance here on earth which will eventually pass away, or inheriting the kingdom of God which is eternal and everlasting?  Given a choice like this one, I find it hard to believe that there are those who choose to pass on what God offers us as a reward for becoming one of His own.  So let’s look briefly at a few of the things we are promised when we make the choice to become a member of God’s family, and give our love to Him because of what He has done for us.

We become His children.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.                          John 1:12-13  NKJV

In order to inherit, we must first become part of the family.  When we choose to accept the sacrifice of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ as payment for our sins we are given the right to become God’s children.  When that occurs, we also receive the legal right to inherit as one of God’s heirs.

As heirs, our inheritance is guaranteed.

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.  Ephesians 1:13-14  NKJV

In this world, when someone is adopted there are legal papers which record the adoption and serve as proof that the individual has become a member of a new family.  Yet there is no guarantee that there will be an inheritance waiting in the future.  When we become members of God’s family, we immediately receive confirmation of our adoption in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which also serves as the guarantee of our future inheritance. 

As heirs, we must to wait to inherit.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  1 Peter 1:3-5  NKJV

Here on earth, if in fact we are in line to receive an inheritance, there is really no way of knowing exactly when that might occur.  It also follows that if it is rooted in worldly possessions, there is always the possibility that when we finally receive it, it may not be worth as much as it once was, or possibly worth nothing at all.  When it comes to our heavenly inheritance, however, we know exactly when and where we will receive it, as well as God’s promise that it will always retain its value. 

Our rewards are different from our inheritance

According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  1 Corinthians 3:10-15  NKJV

Here is the best news of all.  Not only will we receive an inheritance, we are also given the right to earn rewards which will be our gift to God when we finally meet Him at the throne.  This is our way of thanking Him for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection have provided the way for us to be adopted into His family.  Unlike our inheritance, however, rewards are not guaranteed.  The only guarantee we have is that on that day, our works here on earth will be tested by fire to show whether or not they were of value to the Father.  

Our inheritance is promised by the Father, and waiting for us in Heaven.  The question we must ask ourselves is just what are we doing here on earth that shows God how thankful we are that He has chosen to adopt us into His family?  After all, does anyone know just how much time we have left to do that?

Keep watching.