PROPHECY

 

Why Jerusalem

Do you care what takes place in Jerusalem? Do you wonder why you should care? After all, what does it matter to anyone what happens there. Well folks, it matters to God! So lets take another look and see if it deserves more attention than we gave it in the past.

Lets start with God's promise to Abram in Genesis 12:1-3. The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

So Abram took his family and travelled to the land of Canaan. There the Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land" (Gen:12-7). Generations later, when the Israelites returned from captivity in Egypt, the Lord confirmed this to Moses. He showed Moses the land from Mt. Nebo to the western sea, from Dan to Zoar and said, "This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob saying, I will give it to your descendants."

About now I can hear the protests: "That was Palestine they took over, and they killed all the Canaanites to get it".... but you see Palestine was not a country; Palestine means the land of the Philistines, which at the time included what is now Jordan. The portion of that land where the Jews crossed the Jordan River was occupied by Canaanite tribes. By the way; the Canaanite were the offspring of Ham, the Grandson of Noah. Had they not violated the covenant God made with Noah and his offspring by their evil ways this might have been a family reunion. In any event, God is sovereign and I for one have no intention of second guessing Him.

We have seen in Genesis where God gave His favored portion of the world to Abram and his descendents. Now in Zachariah 2:8 He warns those who would harm His Possession. "For thus says the Lord of hosts: He sent Me after glory, to the nations that plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for for their servants." He shows His everlasting love for Jerusalem despite its many rejections; in Matthew 23:37 Jesus said,"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Jerusalem has seen much destruction, usually because of these rejections.

Beginning in 606BC Jerusalem faced destruction from Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and lastly Rome. The Jews were slaughtered and scattered by the Roman General Titus in A.D70. From that time until 1948 Israel existed only in the hearts of the Jews dispersed throughout the world. But always there is left a remnant that God rebuilds from. In 1948, after over 2000 years of domination, Israel became an independent nation. The faithful returned from many nations reestablishing language and tradition as foretold in Ezekiel 37:21, "Then say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land." Ezekiel 37 is a prophecy of the regathering of the Jews and in verse 27 God again confirms his choice. "My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people."

Ezekiel and Zechariah both foretell of the great end battle between Israel and the many nations that come against her. Zechariah 14:3-4 states; Then the Lord will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two.

So much prophecy of things not yet fulfilled involves Jerusalem that I wouldn't take my eye off of her for one moment.

 

The End Signs

When will the end come, and what will be the sign? The Apostles asked this of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 24:3, and He told them what signs would be seen preceding His return, and, the end of this age. There are several questions that usually come up about now. Why should I believe prophecy; wasn't that all in the past? How can I tell when this is happening; all this language seems pretty vague to me.  

Prophecy is an expression of GOD's will given to us through appointed messengers, or directly by the urging of the HOLY SPIRIT. Prophecy comes as warnings, promises, directives, and prediction. Future events are sometimes cloaked in poetic language that becomes most obvious only after the event, keeping us ever watchful and expectant. As much as a third of the Bible is prophetic and proving its accuracy can be overwhelming, however there are a few that I consider to be most obvious.

Consider the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on "Palm Sunday". Zechariah 9:9 predicted Jerusalem's King would enter riding on a donkey. Daniel 9:26 told of when it would happen. And these predictions were written 483 years before the event. The rebirth of Israel in 1948 was foretold by Ezekiel 4:3-6 over 2500 years ago. Incidentally, several students of prophecy have mathematically determined that these predictions were correct to the day.

We know from Matthew 26:14 that Judas agreed to betray Jesus for 30 silver coins, a price one would pay for a slave, a symbolic trifling amount. Matthew 27:3-10 describes how Judas, filled with remorse, threw the money back into the temple which the chief priests used to buy the "potters field" to bury foreigners. Look back at what Zechariah 11:13 foretold; " And the Lord said to me, Throw it to the potter--the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of the silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter. Read in Psalm 22:16-18 the words of the psalmist; "they have pierced my hands and feet" and "they divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing". After Jesus was nailed hands and feet to the cross the soldiers gambled for his clothing: Matthew 27:35 "When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots". Incidentally, any Jew making a prediction in his own spirit would have had the Christ stoned because that was the Jewish method of execution. It was the Romans who took away the right of the Jews to execute criminals which led to crucifixion, which was the Roman method. If you accept the accuracy of prophecy, lets look at the future.

Matthew 24:1-50 describes what you can expect to see as the time of the end draws near. For now,lets just look at vs:3-8 for some specifics. As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?" Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, I am the Christ, and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. The term "birth pains " is significant because although there always have been these events, you must watch for an increase in frequency and degree of, as a woman in labor. Ponder over some of these statistics: There have been over 100 million people killed in wars since 1900. Since the end of World War II ,there have been a total of 150 wars, killing a minimum of 1000 people in each. Purges in Russia, China, and Cambodia, tribal warfare in Rwanda and Sudan, ethnic wars in Bosnia and Iraq have made the words genocide and ethnic cleansing common terms. The World Bank claims that 800 million people go hungry, and 40,000 die of starvation each day. Crop damage due to bad weather has cost insurance companies 48 billion in the first half of the 1990's compared with 16 billion in all of the 1980's.

Pestilence, (plague) is on the increase. Drug resistant diseases like Tuberculosis are rampant. Viruses that cause Aids and Ebola are unstoppable. UNAIDS reports that over 6.4 million had died by 1996. The World Health Org. predicted that 40 million would be infected by the year 2000. Earthquakes are increasing. The Universal Almanac reports that there were 21 major quakes reported from the year 1000 to 1800. Between 1800 and 1900 there were 18 major quakes. Between 1950 and 1991 there were 93 major quakes. Other organizations while not having the exact same numbers still show a significant increase in frequency of both quakes and major quakes. Jesus said of his return " As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the second coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:37. In Genesis 6:11 the earth is reported as "corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence." The FBI reports that in the United States murder happens every 22 minutes, someone is raped every 4 minutes, a robbery is committed every 26 seconds. There are estimates that unreported crime could multiply those estimates five times. A report in the Washington Post in 1994 cited murders and suicides occurring at a rate of a 145 a day. And much of the increase is due to juveniles.

Look around for yourself and see the impact of TV, Movies, and Music on our morality. The UN claims that 30 million abortions are performed every year. A study reported in Time Magazine estimated that 46 percent of American women will have an abortion by the age of 45. Homosexuality destroyed Sodom. It used to be hidden. Now you are intolerant if you don't embrace it. Are we nearing the end of the age? Even Atheists sense the downward spiral. To all of this, add pollution, global warming, rain forest destruction, nuclear and biological weapons and then judge for yourself.