Monday, December 28, 2009

After Christmas

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us … And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. (Luke 2:15, 17)

Well, it is over. The floor under the tree is empty. The stockings hang limp on the mantle. The guests are all gone or at least packing. The tunes on the radio are all back to the same old stuff: no more Christmas carols, no more “Santa Baby.” Come Monday morning it’s back to work and the same old routine. Nothing much has changed until we do it all again next year – Lord willing.

Perhaps in the rush and the noise of the season the wonder of it has become dull and tarnished. Oh that it would continue to capture for us the awe that the shepherds experienced as witnesses to the birth of the God made flesh! The angel had announced, “behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (v. 10). This same announcement has been proclaimed now for over 2000 years: “Unto you is born … a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (v. 11). “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). The Creator who “hath made heaven and earth of naught;” “who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7) – the form of a helpless, needy baby boy. Is that not simply incredible! Furthermore, “being found in the fashion as man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of a cross” (Philippians 2:8) so that “with His blood mankind hath bought.”

This gospel, these “good tidings” witnessed by the lowly shepherds, was and still is worthy of proclamation. After the lights, after the tinsel and bobbles and trees, after the final carol is sung and after Christmas is done, the awe and excitement must continue on, and we must make known abroad the things “which the Lord has made known unto us.” EEC

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Worthy of Worship

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him … (Matthew 2:11)

The magi that trekked many difficult and dangerous miles across the hot, arid desert in search of “he that is born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2) were possibly part of the left over remnant that remained in Babylon after the Jews returned to their land. Perhaps they were pagans trained in the school of the Prophet Daniel. At any rate, they were familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures and the prophecies of the coming Messiah. So, they acted in faith on the Word of God, and came in search of the promised King.

When they found the child, they did an astonishing thing. They fell down and worshiped Him! What a scandalous thing, especially if they were Jewish; for in the first of the Ten Commandments God emphatically states, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). In the second commandment, God prohibits idol worship and says, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). The Greek word translated “worship” in our text is proskunéo, and it means to prostrate oneself in homage or to do reverence to or adore (someone or something). Such a display of reverence is reserved only for God. Neither men nor angels can rightfully accept the worship of men (Acts 10:25; 14:11-15; Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). Yet here, neither Mary nor Joseph protested the magnanimous display of reverence lavished upon this small child. For here, though small, helpless and in need of care and protection, was God Incarnate. This was Emmanuel, God with us, deserving and worthy of worship. EEC

Monday, April 13, 2009

Unlikely King

Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech 9:9)


"Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls." (Matt 11:29)


What would you expect to see, if you met a king? Certainly he would be dressed in the finest cloths bejeweled with symbols of his status. Perhaps he would dress in a military uniform with a sash embroidered with the purest gold and silver thread and decked with diamonds and precious stones and an enormous badge bearing his coat of arms, declaring his reign. Undoubtedly his hands would be weighed down by massive rings on each finger that he would flash gracefully in a kingly greeting. He would stand erect and proud with a slight backward tilt of the head so as to gaze down upon his adoring subjects. His entourage would also be similarly arrayed but in no way matching the king's attire. All coming before the king would first need to be filtered out by the king's underlings, and if per chance you managed to make the cut, you would humble yourself before the king and bow deeply (as our President did before King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia) and avoid making direct eye contact with him.

Such is what one might expect from an earthly king, but Jesus did not present Himself in such a manner. As He entered Jerusalem on His final week, His entourage was a motley band of rugged fishermen, a hated tax collector and some Jewish rebels. His ride was a humble little donkey colt that could barely support His weight, not the gleaming white steed becoming of a conquering ruler. His clothing was of the common sort, not the fine linen worn by royalty. And as He looked down upon He adoring subjects, His heart broke for them and He cried, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes" (Luke 19:42), for the same adoring masses that were cheering, "Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord," would soon turn into a jeering mob shouting "Crucify! Crucify!"

An earthly king wants to be served. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. An earthy king expects his subjects to give their lives for him. Jesus came to give His life a ransom for many. An earthly will take all that you own for his own purposes. Jesus gave up the splendor of heaven, where all of creation was at His beck and call, to assume the form of His creation, and give to them eternal life. An earthly king executes lawbreakers without mercy. Jesus by His grace, mercy and love, was executed by sinners. When an earthly king dies, here is great pomp and ceremony and the world mourns his passing. When Jesus died, His death was witnessed by a few brokenhearted women and one young disciple. He was hurriedly and unceremoniously placed in a borrowed tomb and forgotten. When an earthly king dies, he remains dead, but when Jesus died, He reclaimed His lifeless body on the third day and rose to life again.

This most unlikely king said He would return for His own "that where I am, there you may be also." When He comes again, every knee shall bow and every tongue will proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. When He comes again, He will come as Victorious King astride a blindingly white charger, arrayed in His royal attire: royal crown and robes inscribed with His title: KING of kings and LORD of Lords. Unlikely king? Not hardly!

Notes:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools

April Fools


The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." ( Ps 14:1)[1]

For since the creation of the world [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Rom 1:20)

Atheists are some of the most miserable people I know. They hate it when people pray to the God they try so desperately to deny, so they expend enormous amounts of energy and money to stop believers from praying to a person whom they say does not exist. I believe that if I were truly an atheist, it would not bother me for someone to pray to some imaginary deity. Since, as they claim, God does not exist, what’s the harm? Somehow, I believe that the burr under their saddle is that deep inside they really do believe that God exists even though they try to deny Him, and these praying people just keep reminding them of the fact.

Atheists are such unhappy people. They try to fill the void in their souls with material stuff, with wine, women and song, or with noble causes, but all their efforts pass through them like sand through a seine. They dislike being alone in the quiet, because they know that they are not alone. Their demons haunt them, and even so, they understand that God is there. So they entertain themselves in noisy venues in attempt to drown out the nagging silence. They will venture to sports events, but they wait until after the kick off, the tip off, the puck drop, the first pitch or the green flag, because to enter sooner would subject them to the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag where they would hear, “One nation under God.” If I were an atheist, having God in the Pledge would not bother me, because it is just another word like all the others that are mindlessly chanted – no harm done.

Atheists are such discontented people. They truly do not enjoy life much, so they lash out at those that do. They want to take Christ out of Christmas for everyone so that they can enjoy a godless “Holiday Season.” They would like to turn Easter into a “Spring Festival” with Easter egg hunts, Easter bunnies and Easter parades, but let’s not publicize anything about the resurrection of Christ “whom God raised from the dead” (Acts 3:15). That is just another reminder that there is a God, and that Jesus died for their sin and they are accountable to Him. So they protest any celebration that would remind them of their responsibility to God. If I were a true atheist none of those holidays would trouble me, because all those things are meaningless, if there is no God.

Atheists are such gloomy people. They need a holiday just for them, and this is it – April Fools’ Day! It is already on the calendar. Perhaps our liberal Congress and President could declare it a national holiday. Even Christians could participate. God has already declared, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.” (Ps 14:1) They are rotten. What they do is sickening, and they really do no good at all. Has any atheist ever built a hospital? Has any atheist ever established a university? When they do get involved in some “good” thing, it is always at the detriment of all society. For instance, the battle over global warming, embryonic stem cell research, Planned Parenthood, various “conservation” movements and so on. There is no excuse for them because the clear evidence they have they reject, so that the appellation ascribed to them is entirely appropriate – FOOLS.

Happy April Fools’ Day!

Notes:

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quoted is from THE NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE UPDATE. (The Lockman Foundation, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ready for What’s Next? (Part 4)

But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble (Ps 37:39)[1]

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom 5:3-5)

In the popular Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the main character, airline pilot, Capt. Rayford Steele, is a nominal “Christian” who attends church under duress in effort to keep peace in the family. His wife, Irene, and his son, Raymie, are zealous Christians, but Rayford does not share their enthusiasm. As the saga unfolds, millions of people all over the earth instantly disappear leaving only their clothes behind. Irene and Raymie are among the missing and Rayford and his college-age daughter, Zoe, are left behind. Soon, nominal Christians who had the “head knowledge” but no heart conviction, realize that the “rapture” has taken place and that the true Christians have been taken to heaven by Jesus. Those that are left behind will have to endure seven years of Tribulation.

The purpose behind the series is to encourage Christians to remain steadfast in their walk with the Lord, and to provide hope that their faithfulness will save them from the wrath to come. It should also spur Christians to witness, knowing that those who are lost will have to live through the greatest judgment of God the world has ever seen. If you know and understand what is coming, you certainly would not want your friends and loved ones to go through that terrible time that is certainly coming and worse yet, to be lost for eternity.

Many evangelical Christians today embrace the view held by theologians such as Tim LaHaye, that is that Christians will be spared the seven-year Tribulation period when Jesus returns “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess 4:16-17). However, close examination of the proof texts used to support this view are inconclusive to say the least, and require significant amounts of eisegesis to arrive at such a conclusion. In fact, even a good student of the Bible cannot derive such a conclusion without the “guidance” of an end-times prophecy “expert.” I am of the opinion that God’s Word was purposefully composed in the language of the common man, so that the common man could read it and understand it for himself (with the aid of the Holy Spirit) without the help of any expert. One of the fallacies of the Roman Catholic Church is that they have usurped the power of the Holy Spirit to interpret the Scriptures for the common man, and have given that authority to the clergy and specifically, to the Pope. This was one of the major travesties that gave rise to the Reformation. This is not to say that our evangelical scholars are attempting to do the same, but only to point out that the “mysteries” of the Bible are not so ambiguous that the common layman cannot understand them.

Having said that, the proof texts used to substantiate the Pre-tribulation Rapture are extremely vague when read within their context. Many of these verses were covered in Part 3 of this series, so I will not rehash them here. I would, however, like to draw attention to one of the strongest verses in support of the Pre-tribulation Rapture. In Revelation 3:10 Jesus is addressing the Philadelphian Church. This is the only church against which Jesus had nothing negative say, and because of her faithful and persevering character, Jesus gave the following promise: “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” The “hour of testing” is the seven-year Tribulation period which is detailed in chapters 5-19 in the book of Revelation. This church is the church that will be kept from the Tribulation. Now, was this literally the Philadelphian Church that existed at the time of John’s writing or was this symbolic of “church-age” to come? If we accept it as literal, then this promise has been fulfilled and does not apply to us; but if it is symbolically referring to a future church period, then it is plausible that the promise could apply to us, provided that our church holds up to the Philadelphian standard.

Clarence Larkin first attributed symbolism to the seven churches addressed in Revelation 2-3 and subsequent eschatology scholars have hitched a ride on his band wagon. Larkin proposed that the seven churches referred to “Seven Church Periods that would have to elapse before Christ could come back …”[2] The Philadelphian Church Period [3] precedes the final Laodicean Church Period [4] and supposedly “covers the time period between 1750 and 1900.”[5] However, Larkin points out “that the characteristics of all these Periods continue on in the Church down to the end.”[6] It has been over 100 years since Larkin’s Philadelphian Church Period ended and there has been no Rapture and no Tribulation. I do not say that by way of skepticism or cynicism, but I only point out the fact. In one respect, the Philadelphian promise has been fulfilled at least twice, firstly with the literal Philadelphian Church and secondly by the end of the Philadelphian Church Period. Both have been kept from “that hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world.” But if one keeps in mind Larkin’s remarks that all of these church characteristics continue until the end, then certainly there are churches today, and Christians today, that conform to the standard of the Philadelphian Church, and it is those churches and those Christians that will escape the Tribulation.

Even so, I would be hard-pressed to lay the whole burden of proof on only one verse. That there will be a rapture – a catching away – of the church there is no question. [7] The Bible is clear in that regard, but as to the timing – whether it takes place before the Tribulation, in the midst of the Tribulation or at the end of the Tribulation just prior to Christ’s return – the matter is more nebulous. Hope placed on escape from “that hour of testing” is misplaced hope, but hope placed on God’s grace is never misplaced because He has promised His presence along the way. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deut 31:6) Jesus also promised, “I will not leave you as orphans;” (John 14:18).

The most applicable maxim in these times of uncertainty is “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” While there is nothing wrong with hoping to escape the Tribulation, it would be more prudent to prepare to endure the Tribulation. If the Lord wills that we pass through the time of Tribulation and we are prepared to do so, God will strengthen us to endure the hardships, and our eyes will see the manifestation of His power. On the other hand, if our hope has been placed in the hope of the Rapture and it does not come to pass, we may lose our faith, and all we will see is the misery.

The Day of the Lord is very near at hand, and we need to be ready. The godless government that God has placed to rule our nation is historic for more reasons than the fact that we have our first black President. The outcome of this administration’s policies will impact not only our nation, but the whole world. The economic interdependency of the nations, especially as they look to the US for leadership, is raising the storm clouds of a one world government which will give rise to the world leader that we know as the Antichrist. Therefore it behooves us to be alert and watchful to the events going on in our nation and the world. Paul exhorts us in 1 Thessalonians 5:6: Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. There are many around us oblivious to the signs of the times and their only concern is for how this economic downturn affects them personally. Their focus on their immediate circumstances blinds them to the bigger picture. Others are almost giddy at the prospect of how “big brother” will meet all of their needs. We need not be blind or asleep, but be watchful and assess the situation with a sober mind under the control of the Holy Spirit. Paul goes on to say, “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation." (1 Thess 5:8) We are “of the day.” We are not in darkness. All of these things should be clear to us, but as we see these things clearly and soberly analyze the situation, we should fearlessly prepare for battle. Our armor is faith in God our Savior who will accompany us through the worst of trial and will fill us with His love for one another and for the dying lost. Our mind is kept sober and protected by the helmet that is the hope of our eternal salvation, not the hope of temporary relief from a world of trouble. Paul encourages us to “comfort each other and edify each another, just as you also are doing." ( 1 Thess 5:11) We need to encourage one another and build up one another. During the time of Tribulation, we will need to heavily depend on each other, so we may as well start practicing that now. Finally, Paul urges us to “stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.”( 1 Thess 5:11) This will not be a time for wishy-washy Christians that vacillate between opinions. We need to know the Word and hold firm to its teachings. If we are not in the habit of personal Bible study and prayer, there is no better time to start than now. We will not be able to withstand the trials that are about to come if we confront them with our own opinions or the opinions of some religious “expert.” We need to know what God’s Word has to say for ourselves.

If Larkin and the many modern evangelicals that hold to a Pre-tribulation Rapture are correct and God spares us from the “hour of testing which is to come upon the whole world,” our preparation will not have been in vain. We can gladly receive our Lord’s commendation, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matt 25:21, KJV). I hope that Larkin and the others are right, but I am preparing in case they are wrong.


Lead on, O King Eternal, we follow not with fears;
For gladness breaks like morning where’re Thy face appears;
Thy cross is lifted o’re us; we journey in its light:
The crown awaits the conquest; lead on O God of might.
[8]


Notes:
------
[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quoted is from THE NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE UPDATE. (The Lockman Foundation, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995).
[2] Larkin, Clarence, The Book of Revelation, (Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, Philadelphia, 1919), p. 18.
[3] Revelation 3:7-13
[4] Revelation 3:14-22
[5] Larkin, p. 27
[6] Ibid.
[7] 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53; John 14: 3
[8] Shurtleff, Ernest W., “Lead On, O King Eternal,” The Baptist Hymnal (Nashville, Convention Press, 1975), Hymn 420, third stanza.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The New American Tea Party

Obama and the New American Tea Party Protest Movement
Friday, several thousand Americans gathered to protest the spending and tax policies of President Barack Obama in over forty cities across the United States in what has come to be known as the New American Tea Party.
http://www.associatedcontent.comarticle/1519729/obama_and_the_new_american_tea_party.html

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ready for What’s Next? (Part 3)

January 18, 2009

Volume 3, Number 4

"The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; in the last days you will clearly understand it." (Jer 23:20)[1]

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. (2 Tim 3:1)

In the last two articles, we learned that Christ's first coming was accurately foretold by the prophets more than 400 years before the event. On closer examination, we also learned the incredible improbability that one man could perhaps fulfill just eight of those prophesies, much less 48. Yet Jesus fulfilled every one of the prophecies concerning His first coming. Based on the precision of biblical prophecy in regard to Jesus' first coming, we can place complete confidence in its forecast of His second coming. With one eye on the Bible and the other on recent history and current events, we were able to see that Christ's return is very near at hand. Jesus said, "… when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:28)

Preparing for a Certain, Yet Uncertain Future

Most Christians believe that Christ is coming again, and many would agree that the time is very close at hand. However, there are varying views as to how this will transpire. The time when Christ will physically rule over all the nations of the earth is commonly referred to as the millennial kingdom or the millennial reign of Christ. This comes from the recurring reference to 1000 years in Revelation chapter 20. This is the only place in the Bible that Messiah's reign is given a definite number of years. The Old Testament speaks of Christ's earthly reign without reference to a specific amount of time.[2] There really is no conflict here when one remembers that Old Testament prophecy focused on the physical nation of Israel; in fact, all end-time prophecy does. To the prophets of the Old Testament, there was an unseen valley between the peaks of two great mountains. The first mountain was His First Advent and the second was His Second Advent. What the Old Testament prophets could not see was the valley between the two mountains that we call the Church Age. Beyond that, Messiah's reign, as viewed by the Old Testament prophets, coincides with the creation of "new heavens and a new earth;"[3] they are practically the same thing. What the book of Revelation does is present a clearer picture of King Jesus and His reign on earth and in the eternal "new heaven and new earth" – something that was not revealed to the prophets of the Old Testament. The common factor is that Christ will reign forever.

Among Christians, there are three major views concerning the millennial reign of Christ on earth and how that will take place: amillenial, post-millennial and pre-millennial. The amillennial view says that there is no thousand year reign of Christ on earth. They see the 1000 years described in Revelation, Chapter 20 as allegorical in describing the Church Age, the end of which will usher in eternity. The reign of Christ is seen as having begun in His life or following His resurrection and ascension.[4] Prophesies concerning Israel are attributed to the Church which replaces Israel as God's chosen people. One preacher jokingly said that upon Christ's return to reign on earth the amillenialists would be recognized as the ones standing around saying, "Ahhhh!"

The post-millennial view believes that Christians will evangelize the world until the world becomes a better place for a thousand years. At the end of the thousand years, Christ will return and eternity will begin. Obviously, hopes for such a thing are dismal as we see our world in a fast downhill slide toward depravity. Finally, the pre-millennial view accepts the 1000 years described in Revelation, Chapter 20 as the literal 1000-year reign of Christ on earth at His second coming. All the promises of Israel's rise to world prominence will be fulfilled. The nations of the world will come to worship Christ at His temple in Jerusalem,[5] and He will reign over all the nations[6] as foretold by the prophets of old.

Most evangelical Christians hold the pre-millennial view of end-time prophecy, but even here there are differences in opinion as to how it will all come to pass. There is this idea of the "rapture" of the church that supposedly takes place before Christ's return. The word "rapture" is never used in the Bible, but the concept is derived from a passage in 1 Thessalonians where Paul writes: For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thess 4:16-17) The phrase "caught up" translates the Greek word harpazo, which means to seize. Translated to Latin, the word is raptura from which we get rapture. It is not the concept of rapture that is in question, because it is clear that a catching away will take place. The question comes in the timing of the rapture. When will it take place?

In the pre-millennial camp there are three views of the rapture. The first and most popular view (for obvious reasons) is the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This view holds the hope that the Church will be raptured before the seven-year tribulation period described by Daniel the Prophet, by Jesus Christ and by John the Apostle,[7] and we will be spared the horrors of that time. The second view is the Mid-Tribulation Rapture. In this view the Church will be raptured in the middle of the Tribulation when the Antichrist reveals himself, and just before the beginning of Great Tribulation – the last (and worst) three and a half years of the seven-year Tribulation.[8] Finally, the Post-Tribulation Rapture view claims that the Church will endure the seven-year Tribulation and not be raptured until the moment just before Christ returns. Understandably, this is the least popular view.

Any of these three views could be right. Most of us would naturally favor a pre-Tribulation rapture view. Most of our favorite pastors favor this view. The authors of the great Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, favor this view. Personally, I like it because it means we will not have to endure the suffering that will be brought upon the whole earth during that time. But, what if that view is not right? What if we, the Church, have to endure the Tribulation, either half or all the way through to the end? Are we prepared to face that? Are we strong enough in our faith to endure that?

What is the basis for a belief in a Pre-Tribulation rapture?

As quoted above, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 assures us that there will be a rapture: "the Lord Himself will descend with a shout … the dead in Christ will rise first … then we who are alive and remain will be caught up [raptured] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air …" This provides for us a sequence of events: (1) the Lord will descend with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God (I believe this will be audible), (2) those that have died "in Christ" – Christians that have died in the past – will rise first, (3) then we who are alive and remain will be raptured together with them, (4) we will meet the Lord in the air, and (5) we will always be with the Lord. Nowhere does it give a clue as to the timing of this event. At what point in time does this happen? Does it occur before the Tribulation starts? Does it happen at the time that the Tribulation begins? Does it take place in the midst of Great tribulation or at the end when Christ returns? This verse cannot be used to substantiate a pre-Tribulation rapture. Later on, 1 Thessalonians 5:2 tells us that "the day of the Lord [referring to the Lord's judgment] so comes as a thief in the night." This verse could be used in support of a pre-Tribulation rapture because IF it is certain, Christians and the world in general will not be expecting it. Furthermore, the next verse (v.3) says, "For when they say, "Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction will come upon them …" "They" and "them" are not "us" Christians. This would not be true for Christians living in the Tribulation period, because the signs have been made very clear to us. Additionally, Paul says (v.4), "But you, brethren, are not in darkness so that this Day [the Day of the Lord] should overtake you as a thief." Why would this admonition matter, if the church is not present through the Tribulation? If we are in heaven, this would not apply to us, yet Paul speaks as if it does. As one reads on, one comes to 1 Thessalonians 5:9 telling us that "God did not appoint us for wrath …" but when read it in context, Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to be sober and watchful in this present world so that these things should not catch them (or us) by surprise. So, is the "wrath" spoken of the Tribulation or is it hell? The next part of that verse says, "but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." Ultimately our destiny is eternal life with Christ, not salvation from the trials and tribulations of this life, so this verse can hardly be used as an argument for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes to these Christians to inform them as to how they will recognize the "day of the Lord."[9] Evidently these Christians interpreted the persecution they were experiencing as the time of Tribulation. Paul then tries to ease their minds and set their thinking straight concerning Christ's second coming. He tells them that first of all, there will be a falling away from (Greek: apostasía; English: apostasy), or leaving of the faith. We see this happening today in many of our major Christian denominations. Even in our strong Christian homes, our children are abandoning their faith (or perhaps in reality, our faith) and following after the ways of the world. What is frightening is that there seems to be no reversal of this trend. A second sign that Paul offers is the revelation of the "man of sin" or the Antichrist. This coming world ruler is prophesied in Daniel 11:36-37 and Revelation 13:1-10. The question is, why would Paul offer this second sign to Christians, if Christians will not be here to witness it?

Those who favor a pre-Tribulation rapture often point to the first four chapters of Revelation to garner support. They draw attention to the fact that in the first three chapters, Jesus is addressing churches that existed at the time of John's writing. Then suddenly in chapter four John says, After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things." Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. (Rev 4:1-2) Following this, the church on earth is never addressed again. John's visionary rapture is therefore equated to the rapture of the church, but this "coincidence" cannot be supported without involving a great deal of eisegesis – reading things into the text. Saints are spoken of by John in his vision, but often it is unclear if the saints are in heaven or on earth. In Revelation 13:7, 10 and 14:12, the saints spoken of are being martyred on earth. Pre-tribbers will argue that these are the Tribulations saints that were saved "after" the rapture, but we have yet to undeniably prove the pre-Tribulation rapture. Now, just because John is given this heavenly perspective of the seven-year Tribulation does not necessarily qualify him to be the representation of the raptured Church in heaven.

In his latest book, What in the World is Going On?, Dr. David Jeremiah affirms the pre-Tribulation rapture by citing John 14:1-3. "All true Christians will be caught up from the earth and raptured into the presence of the Lord before the seven-year period of evil, the Tribulation, breaks throughout the earth. This will fulfill the promise He made to His disciples in John 14:1-3. … Followers of Christ who are raptured will be spared the trauma of death and the coming disasters that will occur when the Tribulation breaks out upon the earth."[10] In the passage cited by Dr. Jeremiah, Jesus promises that He is going to prepare a place for us, and that He will return for us "that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:3) Again, this promises His return, but it does not specify "when" He will return. Furthermore, even though one might imply the rapture from this promise, the timing issue remains unknown.

Some who insist on a pre-Tribulation rapture rely upon God's past record in saving His people from judgment. They will often refer to Enoch who did not experience death, but was taken into the presence of God.[11] Noah and his family were saved from God's judgment upon the earth by the global flood.[12] Lot and his family were saved from God's judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah.[13] Elijah did not see death, but was taken into heaven by a whirlwind.[14] As one examines these examples closely, they can hardly be used as models for a pre-Tribulation rapture. Enoch was taken up by God for his faithfulness in a sinful world, and he did not escape the judgment of God upon those around him, unless one considers death the judgment of God. In that case, one might have a valid point.[15] Noah and his family were saved, but they had to endure the hardships of the global flood. The ark was huge, but can you say "cabin fever?" Imagine being cooped up in that floating zoo for almost an entire year! That is tribulation! Lot was spared God's judgment, but that was mostly due to Abraham's pleading to the Lord on his behalf and not due to any merit on Lot's part.[16] Lot's family was scarcely the model of holiness. Lot did not want to get too far away from Sodom even though he knew of the coming judgment.[17] His wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back toward the city during their escape[18] and later both of Lot's daughters got him drunk and committed incest with him in order to produce children.[19] Lot was not exactly rapture material. His name never made it to the Hebrews 11 "Faith Hall of Fame," so he is indeed a poor example to support the pre-Tribulation rapture. Finally, Elijah was not taken up to save him from tribulation but simply because God decided that his work on earth was done – for that time. Some believe that Elijah will return to earth to finish his work as one of the two witnesses described in Revelation 11:1-13 during the Tribulation. If this is true, he will not escape the Tribulation.

Christ is coming soon. The scene for His appearance is rapidly being set. All of humanity is running to and fro, totally focused on their personal wants and desires, and completely oblivious to the perilous times in which we are living. Sadly, many so called Christians are caught in the same downward spiraling vortex of human depravity being sucked down into the very pit of hell. Their only hope is on this tenuous concept of a pre-Tribulation rapture. For all our sakes, I pray that it comes to pass. But Christian, if you have to walk through the coming test of fire known as the Tribulation, are you prepared to do battle with the enemy? Are you embarrassed or ashamed to stand for Christ in these days? Will you stand for Him when the real test comes? If you fear the loss of your job for sharing your faith, will you succumb to the mark of the beast in order to buy and sell?[20] Are you ready for what's next?

Notes:

------------------------------------------

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quoted is from THE NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE UPDATE. (The Lockman Foundation, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995).
[2] Isaiah 11:4; Jeremiah 3:17; Zechariah 14:9
[3] Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-2
[4] Acts 2:33-36
[5] Isaiah 60
[6] Revelation 19:15
[7] Daniel 12; Matthew 24:4-26; Mark 13:5-23; Luke 21:8-24; Revelation 5-19
[8] Matthew 24:15-28; Mark 13:14-20; Luke 21: 20-24
[9] 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
[10] Jeremiah, David, What in the World is Going On? (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 2008), pp. 98-99.
[11] Genesis 4:3-5; Hebrews 11:5
[12] Genesis 6:13-22; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20
[13] Genesis 19
[14] 2 Kings 2:11
[15] Genesis 3:19
[16] Genesis 18:16-27
[17] Genesis 19:18-22
[18] Genesis 19:26
[19] Genesis 19:30-38

[20] Revelation 13:16-18

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Imprimis

Imprimis

"If we cherish what is distinctive about Western civilization, then—whatever our religious convictions—we should respect rather than denigrate its Christian roots." From the article.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ready for What’s Next? (Part 2)

Volume 3, Number 3
January 11, 2009


But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. (Isa 11:4)[1]

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. … From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev 19:11, 15-16)

Through His Word, God precisely pointed us to the first coming of Christ. Based on this past record, we can trust the biblical indicators for His second coming. With an eye on current events, let us examine what the Bible says about Christ’s Second Advent.

Signs of His Second Coming

The first and most significant sign is that of the rebirth of the nation of Israel. In 70 AD, the armies of Rome razed Jerusalem along with Herod’s Temple. The Jews were dispersed throughout the world never to return to their land again, and the land was trodden down by the gentiles.[2]

We need to understand that Bible prophesy is always centered on the nation of Israel. All prophecies concerning the reigning Messiah indicate that He will come to an established nation. In order for Christ to establish His earthly kingdom, the nation of Israel must be in place. So it is significant that on May 14, 1948, the nation of Israel was reborn. This was foretold by Old Testament prophets around 2500 years ago.[3]

On May 14, 2008, Israel celebrated the 60th anniversary of its rebirth. Although it is surrounded by hostile Muslim nations that have pledged its destruction, it survives under the watchful protection of God for He has promised never to permit its complete destruction again.[4] In speaking to the mountains (the land) of Israel, God makes this promise: “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘I have sworn that surely the nations which are around you will themselves endure their insults. … Yes, I will cause men — My people Israel — to walk on you and possess you, so that you will become their inheritance and never again bereave them of children.’” (Ezek 36:7, 12) The nations rage against Israel,[5] but they shall never again overcome her.

Another significant prophecy linked to the rebirth of Israel came from the words of our Lord Jesus. Likening Israel to a fig tree, Jesus compared the rebirth of Israel to the budding of a fig tree. We know that when a tree begins to bud, spring is just around the corner. In the same manner, Jesus said, when Israel is reborn, “This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.”[6] The three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, include this illustration. “Only Luke, however, indicates that ‘all the trees’ would simultaneously ‘shoot forth’ along with the fig tree. This seems to indicate that Israel’s neighboring nations, long dormant and of little consequence in world affairs, would again grow and become significant in the latter days. Witness the resurgence in recent decades of such ancient nations as Egypt, Syria, Iran (same as Persia), Iraq (same as Babylon) and others.”[7] Some have argued that “this generation” referred to the generation of Jesus’ time. After all, it is argued, it was that generation that witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the razing of the temple. They witnessed the terrible atrocities described by Jesus in His discourse. However, in the Greek text, “the word ‘this’ is the demonstrative adjective, and could better be translated ‘that generation.’ That is, the generation which sees all these signs (…) shall not have completely died away until all these things have taken place.”[8] My father, who is currently 82 years old, was 21 years old when Israel was reborn. Jesus promised that his generation would not pass away until all prophecy is fulfilled. This indicates that the time is very short.

Another sign pointing to the Second Coming of Christ is the global importance of oil and its impact on the global economy. “Few would question the fact that oil has become the new basis for our world economy. … Surely the world’s fascination with oil – a hot commodity with a source in lands hostile … to Israel and to us – qualifies as a sign”[9] Israel’s hostile neighbors wield a heavy club with which to beat the world into economic submission. Yet with all of that oil, not a drop has been discovered on Israeli soil. However, God’s promise to Israel upon their return to the land, is that He will treat them better than before.[10] “While little oil has ever been found in Israel, today there is a growing belief that there may be significant oil deposits under its surface. Two major oil companies have been formed to explore oblique references to oil found in the Bible. … John Brown, an evangelical Christian and founder and chairman of Zion Oil and Gas, believes that there is indeed oil in Israel. He is certain that several biblical passages indicate where rich deposits might be found.”[11] Brown is referring to Deuteronomy 33:24 “More blessed than sons is Asher; May he be favored by his brothers, And may he dip his foot in oil,” and Genesis 49:22-26 “Joseph is a fruitful bough, A fruitful bough by a spring [well] … From the God of your father who helps you, And by the Almighty who blesses you With blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath … May they be on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head.” Where the toe of Asher and the crown of Joseph meet, there be oil! The significance of oil in the last days and the economic collapse is prophesied in Revelation 6:6, “And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.’” It would be interesting to see how the discovery of oil in Israel will play out in these last days.

Another sign that we see developing and gaining strength in these days is the revival of the Roman Empire known to us by its pseudonym, the European Union (EU). Daniel, in his prophetic book, told of four great kingdoms that were to come on earth.[12] The first and second existed in his day and took the form of the Babylonian and the Persian empires. The Greek and Roman empires followed after that. Of the four empires foretold by Daniel, three were conquered by the subsequent empires, except for Rome. Rome sort of just fizzled out. Daniel describes a fourth empire as the legs of iron on the colossus that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The iron legs, representing strength and power, were supported on feet with made of a mixture of potter’s clay and iron. The ten toes representing ten kingdoms and the mixture of clay and iron represents the fragmented nature of the latter kingdom.[13] So we see Rome sort of crumble on its own and now in these latter days, it is attempting to reunite like a phoenix rising out of the ashes.

This perfectly describes what we see today in the EU which is comprised of nations having once belonging to the old Roman Empire.[14] This revived Roman Empire will be on earth when God sets up His earthly kingdom. “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” (Daniel 2:44-45) The EU is currently composed of 25 member nations. Twelve of those are within the original, boundaries of the old Roman Empire. Israel is not part of the current “Roman Empire,” but “It has been proposed, however, that if Israel would sign a peace treaty with its hostile neighbors, it would be offered membership in the EU.”[15]

Europe is more integrated today than at any time since the days of ancient Rome. The iron and clay toes described in Daniel 2, speak of weakness and instability. The best interpretation of this unstable mix is that the combination of clay and iron represents the diverse racial, religious, and political elements that will comprise this final form of the Roman Empire. … While the EU has great economic and political clout, the cultures and languages of its various countries are so incredibly diverse that it cannot hold together any more than iron and clay, unless unity is imposed and enforced by an extremely powerful leader.[16] “Paul-Henri Spaak, the first president of the UN General Assembly, first president of the European Parliament, and onetime secretary general of NATO is credited with making this stunning statement: ‘We do not need another committee. We have too many already. What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of all people, and to lift us out of the economic morass into which we are sinking. Send us such a man and be he god or devil, will receive him.’”[17]

Any thinking person, armed with the Word of God, can look upon our global economic meltdown, and see the puzzle falling into place. Along with this, Jesus promised that there would be wars and rumors of wars.[18] Of course, there are those that will readily remind us that the world has always been at war in one place or another. The Bible also warns us about those naysayers that will come in the last days.[19] By way of reminder, end time prophecy is centered on the nation of Israel, not the world in general; so the wars and rumors of wars are those that concern Israel and not the fighting that goes on in South America or Africa or anywhere else. Israel should be our focus when we look at end-time prophecy.

Jesus also spoke of earthquakes in various places.[20] Government sources that gather this kind of data indicate that there has been a considerable rise in number and intensity of earthquakes around the world in just the last decade. Some of this is attributed to more (in number) and more (in quality) sophisticated methods of gathering data. That may be true. The point is that we are certainly more aware of such things than ever before. Only a few months ago, a small earthquake was experienced in Irving, Texas, which is nowhere near the “ring of fire” that normally experiences earthquakes. The tremor was insignificant yet unprecedented.

Jesus told his followers, which includes modern Christians, that in the end days, we would be hated for His name’s sake.[21] There have been more Christians throughout the world martyred in this last century than at any other time in Christian history. Even in our beloved United States of America, founded on the Word of God, Christians, especially evangelical Christians are awarded the same status as Islamic terrorists. What used to be subtle discrimination is becoming more and more blatant, and it only promises to get worse. Jesus also said that lawlessness would abound and that the love of many would grow cold.[22] Crime in the streets of our cities is growing steadily worse. There is even corruption at our highest levels. Our school boards embezzle monies that should be directed toward the education of our children. We have state governors putting vacated US Senate seats up for sale to the highest bidder. Even our future president must have something to hide because he refuses to produce documentation proving his eligibility to hold the office. And with all of this, we show more concern for the spotted owl than for the unborn child.

Are your ready for what’s next? The fig tree has already budded. It has put forth its bloom, and its fruit is ripening on the branch. Jesus is at the portals of heaven just waiting for His marching orders. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus! Maranatha!


Look, ye saints! the sight is glorious:
See the Man of Sorrows now;
From the fight return victorious,
Ev’ry knee to Him shall bow;
Crown Him, crown Him,
Crowns become the Victor’s brow.

Crown the Savior! angels, crown Him;
Rich the trophies Jesus brings;
In the seat of pow’r enthrone Him,
While the vault of heaven rings:
Crown Him, crown Him,
Crown the Savior King of kings.

Sinners in derision crowned Him,
Mocking thus the Savior’s claim;
Saints and angels crowd around Him,
Own His title, praise His name:
Crown Him, crown Him,
Spread abroad the Victor’s fame.

Hark, those burst of acclamation!
Hark, those loud triumphant chords!
Jesus takes the highest station;
O what joy the sight affords!
Crown Him, crown Him,
King of kings, and Lord of lords!
[23]


Notes:
________________
[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quoted is from THE NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE UPDATE. (The Lockman Foundation, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995).
[2] Isaiah 63:18
[3] Isaiah 66:8; Ezekiel 36:24
[4] Isaiah 10:20; Isaiah 62:8; Ezekiel 36:1-12; Joel 2:19
[5] Psalm 2:1-9
[6] Matthew 24:32-34; Mark13:28-30; Luke 21:29-32
[7] Morris, Henry M. The New Defender’s Study Bible, (World Publishing, Nashville, 2006), p. 1551.
[8] Ibid., p. 1441.
[9] Jeremiah, David, What in the World is Going On? (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 2008), p. 27.
[10] Ezekiel 36:11
[11] Jeremiah, pp. 37-38.
[12] Daniel 2:41-43; 7:7, 24
[13] Daniel 2:41-43;
[14] Daniel 7:7, 24; Revelation 13:1-10
[15] Jeremiah, p. 60.
[16] Ibid., pp. 63-64.
[17] Ibid., p. 65.
[18] Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9
[19] 2 Peter 3:3-4
[20] Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11
[21] Matthew 24:9; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17
[22] Matthew 24:12
[23] Kelly, Thomas (1769-1855), “Look, Ye Saints! The Sight is Glorious,” The Baptist Hymnal, (Convention Press, Nashville, 1991), Hymn 169.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ready for What’s Next? (Part 1)

Volume 3, Number 2
January 3, 2009


The LORD has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God. (Isa 52:10)[1]

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

We have just celebrated the first advent of the Messiah, and we now look forward to His second advent when He comes to reign on earth as KING of Kings and LORD of Lords. Just as His first coming was precisely foretold by the prophets of old, so His second coming has been predicted. Since the prophecies about His first coming were fulfilled with accuracy, we can trust that the prophecies about His second coming will also come to pass with equal accuracy.

With the prospect of the most liberal government in the history of our nation, one that for all practical purposes is anti-God and especially anti-Christ, we can start setting our eyes to the eastern sky in propitious anticipation of our Lord’s return.

In this series of articles, we will briefly cover some of the prophecies of His first coming. Next we will look at some of the prophecies of His second coming. Finally, we will analyze our own preparedness for a certain yet uncertain future.

Signs of His First Coming

Before time began, God has had a plan in place for the redemption of His creation. That immediately raises the question as to why God would create something that He would have to redeem in the first place. Why did He not make it so that there would be no opportunity for sin? We might have to ask Him that when we meet Him in heaven, but part of the reason was that He might manifest His glory. Referring to His bringing Israel back to her land after many years of dispersion, God declares, “Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” (Isa 43:6b-7). Why would He do this? “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.” (Isa 48:11) Jesus made a similar statement in His High Priestly prayer: “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24) There is no religion on earth whose god makes such claims. It is inconceivable that any god would love or even care enough for its creation to condescend to their lowly estate, and pay the price for their redemption. On the contrary, all other gods demand that their worshipers tow the line and comply to their every whim otherwise severe punishment will ensue. That is how they get their glory. So when the true God does all He has done for His creation, we are awestruck. We are dumbfounded. We can do no less than fall before His presence in praise, adoration and worship. He is glorious, and He deserves all the glory we can give.

Another reason God planned for redemption was that He wanted a reciprocal love from His creation. Therefore, He created mankind in His own image and in His likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). In doing this, he gave man a free will to choose right from wrong, to obey or disobey, to love God or not to love Him, to accept Him or to reject Him. Though the concept is inexplicable, God wants a genuine relationship with His creation. Even the hardest of hearts recognizes that a relationship between two people cannot be forced upon an individual. A relationship has to be by the mutual consent of the participating parties. Knowing this, and knowing that man would rend the relationship, God devised a plan to set things right again through His own sacrifice.

Part of His plan to redeem His creation was to make His plan clear to mankind, and so He laid it all out in His Word, the Bible. He would send (actually, He Himself would come as) a redeemer to take the penalty of mankind’s sin upon Himself. This Redeemer would be the seed of a woman (Genesis 3:15) not the seed of a man. We see this prophecy was fulfilled in Matthew 1:18. The Savior would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). This was fulfilled in Matthew 1:20 and Luke 1:26-27, 34. He would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and David (Genesis 18:18, 22:18, 28:14; 49:10). Jesus’ genealogy is listed Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38. God told us that His Son would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). His birth is recorded in Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:4-5, 7. The prophet Jeremiah predicted an effort to exterminate Messiah by killing children of Bethlehem (Jeremiah 31:15), and this came to pass and was recorded by Matthew (Matthew 2:16-18). In order to save the Christ child, His parents had to flee to Egypt. This was foreseen in Hosea 11:1 and recorded in Matthew 2:14-15. David declared that He would be called the Son of God (Psalm 2:7) and Matthew testified to it in Matthew 3:17; 17:5. Isaiah said he would be rejected by His own people (Isaiah 53:3), and the fact was recorded in Luke 23:18 and John 1:11. Zechariah foresaw His public declaration to the throne of Israel and His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9) and all four Gospel writers record the event (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-38; John 12:12-15). David said the Lord would be betrayed by a close friend (Psalm 41:9) and we find in Luke 22:47-53 that Judas turned Him over to the Jewish authorities. Zechariah prophesied that He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12) and his prophecy was fulfilled in Matthew 26:14-15; Mark 14:10-11 and Luke 22:3-6. Isaiah told us that He would be killed along with common criminals (Isaiah 53:12) and we read about this in Mark 15:27-28. He would be pierced (Zechariah 12:10, fulfilled in John 19:34; 20:27). The soldiers would gamble for his clothes (Psalm 22:18, fulfilled Matthew 27:35-36). David told us that none of His bones would be broken (Psalm 34:20). When the soldiers came to break Jesus’ legs in order to expedite His death on the cross, they found that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs (John 19:32-33, 36). Isaiah foretold that He would be buried among the rich (Isaiah 53:9). Matthew reports that Joseph of Arimathea (a rich man) requested Jesus’ body and placed Him in his own tomb (Matthew 27:57-60). His resurrection was foreseen by David (Psalm 16:10) and testified by all four Gospel writers (Mark 16:6-7).

Listed above are just 21 of over 300 prophecies concerning Jesus’ First and Second Advent. Josh McDowell in his book More Than a Carpenter quotes from Peter W. Stoner’s book Science Speaks “who says that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies, ‘we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight of the prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power.’ That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000”[2] or one in one hundred quadrillion. In his message of December 21, 2008, God in a Stable, Fact or Fable?, Dr. Robert Jeffress stated that the probability of Jesus fulfilling 48 of those prophecies was 1 in 10 to the 157th power; that would 1 in 1 followed by 157 zeros. Yet, Jesus fulfilled them all, and not one was omitted.

If God so precisely pointed us to Jesus’ first coming, we can trust the biblical indicators for His second coming. Are you ready for what’s next?

O come! O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

O come, Thou, Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.

O come, Desire of Nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel![3]


Notes:
____________________________
[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quoted is taken from THE NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE UPDATE, (The Lockman Foundation, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995)
All rights reserved.
[2] McDowell, Josh, More Than a Carpenter, (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, 1977), pp. 107-108.
[3] Neal, John Mason and Henry Sloane Coffin translation of a Latin Hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” The Baptist Hymnal, (Convention Press, Nashville, 1991), Hymn 76.