This message is so well written, and expresses my feelings completely.
This message is so well written, and expresses my feelings completely.
by Alan Carr
1 Cor. 15:51-57
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a]
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God!He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thes. 4:13-17
13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
WHEN TRUMPETS FADE
Intro: These verses that we have read this morning give us a little insight into a future event known as “The Rapture”. While this word itself does not appear in the Bible, the event is real nonetheless. We get the word “Rapture” from the Latin translation of the Greek word arpazw (harpazo). It means just what the King James Bible says it does, “caught up“. The Rapture is that future event when the Lord Jesus Himself will return in the clouds above this earth and will catch away all the saved people of the world. It is a time that is known in the Bible as “The Blessed Hope Of The Believer“, Titus 2:13. This future event will be the focus of our preaching this morning.
While the return of our Lord is spoken of many times in the New Testament, there are only three passages which deal with the Rapture in any detail. I have read two of them this morning. The other is found in Revelation 4:1-2a, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit:…” I want to draw your attention to one common theme that punctuates each of these references. That common theme is the mention of the “trumpet”. We are told in clear language that the Rapture will be a time that will be heralded with the sound of trumpets.
When the writers of the New Testament used the imagery of trumpets, the people to whom they were writing were well acquainted with what they were saying. However, we modern readers need to be educated about the significance of the trumpet.
In the Bible, trumpets were used for four specific purposes.
1. To Proclaim Victory
2. To Call An Assembly
3. To Announce A Warning
4. To Call The Troops To Battle
It is clear to see how the trumpets fit with the idea of the Rapture. All four of these events will take place when the Rapture comes about.
1. Victory over the world will be announced by the church.
2. The saints will be called to assemble themselves in the presence of the Lord.
3. The trumpets will announce a warning of judgment to the world.
4. The angelic troops will be summoned to battle.
Also, in the society of that day, trumpets were heard on a daily basis. The Roman army, which occupied most of the civilized world at that time used trumpets to carry out the movement of their troops. Typically, when a Roman legion moved, there would be three blasts from the trumpets. The first would tell the troop to strike their tents and to prepare to move. The second would alert them to fall in and line up. The last trumpet would be the signal to move out. Notice what Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:52. He tells us that we are leaving at the “last trump”. When the trumpet sounds, it will be the signal to move up to glory!
Folks, when the trumpet sounds, all those who are saved by grace will be leaving this world. It is that event that I want to preach about today. I want you to know that before the sound of that trumpet blast fades from our ears, several great and precious events will take place. Allow me to share them with you this morning as we think on the thought, “When Trumpets Fade.”
I. OUR LORD WILL HAVE RETURNED1 Thes. 4:17
A. In Fulfillment Of His Promise – Before the Lord Jesus went to the cross, He promised His disciples that He would return for them one day, John 14:1-3. He later reaffirmed this promise to the Apostle John, Rev. 22:20. Just as sure as there is a blue sky above us He will return as He promised He would! Even as He was ascending back into Heaven, angelic messengers were dispatched to tell the Apostles of the Lord’s impending return, Acts 1:9-11, “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
B. In Fulfillment Of His Purpose – While the Lord was making His promise to return some day, He also stated His purpose, John 14:3. The Lord desires to receive His bride unto Himself, Eph. 5:25-27. After all, He paid the ultimate price to redeem her from her sins and to cleanse her from her filthiness! He died on the cross to purchase His Bride and He wants her to be with Him in His heavenly home.
II. ALL DEPARTED SAINTS WILL HAVE BEEN RESURRECTED 1 Thes. 4:13-16; 1 Cor. 15:52b
A. Their Present Condition – 1 Thes, 4:13 tells us that those saints who have departed are “asleep“. This does not refer to “soul sleep“. It refers to the fact that their bodies are asleep. When a saint of God leaves this world, they are immediately ushered into the presence of the Lord. This was the conviction Paul Held, 2 Cor. 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.“; Phil. 1:23, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” Presently, all those who left this world in a saved condition are in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ill. The question may arise as to what manner of body they possess. Certainly they do not have their glorified bodies yet. However, it would seem that they possess some sort of a spiritual body. When Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, they possessed bodies that could be seen and recognized, Matt. 17:3. Whatever form they are in this morning, they are certainly in a place free from the cares, pains and burdens of this world. The Bible is clear when it teaches us that “nothing that defileth shall enter” Heaven, Rev. 21:27.)
B. Their Promised Completion – 1 Cor. 15:52b tells us that the departed saints will be raised “incorruptible“. That is, they will be changed! When they left their body, it was destined for the ground from which it came. However, when the Lord Jesus returns, He will bring their spirits back with Him, He will raise their bodies and glorify them. He will then place the spirits back into those newly glorified bodies!
(Ill. There will be more said about that future body in just a moment!)
(Ill. How will all this happen? Certainly, to our mortal minds it is a great mystery. However, if you take the time to look back at the times our Lord shouted while He was on this earth, you will discover that each time He did so, dead folks got out of their graves.
1. He shouted in Bethany and Lazarus lived! – John 11:43-44
2. He shouted at Calvary and some lived! – Matt. 27:50-52
3. He will shout from the clouds and all the departed saints will live – 1 Thes. 4:16.
There is power is the Word of our Lord!)
III. ALL LIVING SAINTS WILL HAVE BEEN RAPTURED – 1 Thes. 4:17; 1 Cor. 15:51-52a
A. The Church Will Leave Instantaneously – Notice the use of words that imply speed and swiftness, 1 Cor. 15:52, “moment” – This word speaks of an “indivisible point in time. A span of time so short that there is none shorter.“; “twinkling of an eye” – Scientists have determined that the blink of an eye is 1/30th of a second in duration. That is fast! However, a twinkling is event faster than that, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000th of a second! Then in 1 Thes. 4:17, Paul uses the term “caught up“. This phrase means “to snatch away, to seize with force, to claim for oneself.” It refers to a sudden event when the saints of God will be “snatched from this world with force and claimed for the glory of God.“)
(Ill. The whole idea here is one of speed! There will be no forewarning. There will be no announcements on TV, on radio, or in the papers. There will be no announcements from the pulpits. God will not proclaim in a booming, Charlton Heston voice that the end is nearing. It will just happen! My friend, if you have ever listened to anything in your life, then listen to this. You need to be ready! Jesus Himself said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”, Matt. 24:44.
If He were to come today, would He find you ready? Oh friend, do not be deceived, it could happen! Today could be that glorious day when the Lord returns for His people. Will you be in that number that hears the shout, that hears the trumpets and that leaves this world in an instant? Only if you are born again! Be ready, He is coming!)
(Ill. Can you imagine the chaos that will ensue when this event takes place? All babies missing! Most children gone! Some husbands and wives missing. Many Cars, planes, trains, etc without drivers. Television personalities taken right off the air. It will be a time of great hysteria and mayhem. Some of you had better prepare for it, because you may experience it first hand! Why not come to Jesus before that happens?)
B. The Church Will Leave Intact – In 1 Cor. 15:51, Paul tells us that “all” will be changed. The Rapture will not be an event enjoyed by a select few. But, every born again believer will have a part in the Rapture of the church! The body of Christ will not be fragmented! Part will not be taken and part left behind to endure the Tribulation. When the Rapture comes ALL the saints will go together!
(Ill. Because of the lives they have lived, some will not deserve to go, but they will go nonetheless. All the redeemed of all the ages will leave this world as one when the trumpet sounds. There are no second class citizens in the Kingdom of God! Saved is saved and lost is lost! All the saved will go, all the lost will stay behind!)
IV. ALL SAINTS WILL HAVE BEEN RECONSTRUCTED – 1 Cor. 15:52b-57
A. Changed Physically – At the moment of the Rapture, all the saints will experience a radical change. These mortal bodies will be changed to immortal ones. The bodies that are destined to perish will be made like the body of our Lord. A body that cannot experience death, decay or disease. A body that will shine with the brilliance of 10,000 suns. What a day that will be!
B. Changed Perfectly – When this change comes, it will remake us into the image of our glorified Lord. 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” We do not know a lot about our Lord’s glorified body, but we do know:
1. It is a body not bound by time or space – John 20:19.
2. It is a body that can enjoy food and fellowship – Luke 24:36-43.
3. It is a body that can never die – Heb. 7:25.
4. It is a body that shines with a heavenly brilliance – Rev. 21:23; Matt. 17:2
All of this is enough to let me know that I want one of these bodies some day. All the saints will wear a glorified body when we arrive in that Heavenly home!)
C. Changed Permanently – The language of our texts tells us that we will no longer be mortal. These new bodies will never wear down or wear out, but they will last throughout eternity. They will be a perfect in 10,000,000 years as they were the day we received them! Notice what Paul says about this body in 2 Cor. 5:1, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.“
V. ALL SAINTS WILL BE ENJOYING A REUNION – 1 Thes. 4:17
A. With Our Loved Ones – Notice the phrase “together with them in the clouds“. This indicates that all the children of God will be together forever in Heaven. Imagine being reunited with spouses, parents, children and grandparents. Imagine seeing your departed loved ones in their new glorified bodies in the presence of the Lord Jesus! What a glorious privilege has been given to all the saints of God!
B. With Our Lord – As great as that reunion with our loved ones will be, it will be eclipsed by another reunion. This same verse tells us that “so shall we ever be with the Lord.” My friends, one day, we will see Him Who died for us on the cross! We will look at His face. We will be able to bow before Him in adoration and worship. We will be in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ! I can imagine no thrill any greater in this universe than to see the One Who loved me enough to lay down His life in payment for my own. Hallelujah! Just the thought of that is enough to make a Baptist shout! Glory! Glory!
Conc: Well, I’ve done a lot of preaching this morning and I have tried to describe several events that will happen when the Lord returns for His church. But please remember, all this will take place before the sound of the trumpet fades away. Are you ready for that event? Have you been washed in the blood of the Lamb? If Jesus came back for His church today, and He could, would you go, or would you be left behind? What I am asking is this: Have you ever come to the place where you knew you were lost? Have you confessed your sins to God? Have you placed your faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you received Christ as your personal Savior? Are you saved? If you are, then you have a reason to rejoice this morning! There are exciting things ahead for the children of God! If you are not saved, I beg you to come to Jesus right now! This is the only time you have to be saved! If the Lord is tugging at your heart and is calling you to come to Him, then please come! Don’t delay another minute. It is too dangerous! Jesus may come at any time and you really need to be ready when He does. Will you come to Him right now while there is still time? Will you be saved so that you too can be ready for that meeting in the air? Jesus is coming! Don’t be caught unprepared!
NEW EVIDENCE SHOWS IRAN ENRICHING URANIUM TO 27% PURITY, UP FROM 20%: Nuclear talks in Baghdad go nowhere; next round in Moscow
by Joel Rosenberg
Posted: May 25, 2012 in Uncategorized
“The U.N. atomic agency has found evidence at an underground bunker in Iran that could mean the country has moved closer to producing the uranium threshold needed to arm nuclear missiles, diplomats said Friday,” according to the Associated Press. “The International Atomic Energy Agency has found traces of uranium enriched up to 27 percent at Iran’s Fordo enrichment plant, the diplomats told The Associated Press. That is still substantially below the 90-percent level needed to make the fissile core of nuclear arms. But it is above Iran’s highest-known enrichment grade, which is close to 20 percent, and which already can be turned into weapons-grade material much more quickly than the Islamic Republic’s main stockpile, which can only be used for fuel at around 3.5 percent.”
Meanwhile, the nuclear talks held this week in Baghdad between Iran and six world powers went nowhere. The only thing agreed upon was to hold more talks. The next round is scheduled for June 18-19 in Moscow. This will give Russian Czar Vladimir Putin an opportunity to dramatically shape the future of the showdown between Iran and Israel. How will he use it? Putin is reportedly headed to Israel in June, though as far as I know the dates are not yet set. But clearly next month is going to be a critical moment in Russian-Iranian-Israeli relations. UPDATE (5/25): Russia’s Putin to visit Israel in June.
All this comes as Iran’s top military commander said his country was fully committed to completely destroying the State of Israel. “The Iranian nation is standing for its cause and that is the full annihilation of Israel,” Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi , the Iranian military’s chief of staff, said in a speech to a defense gathering Sunday in Tehran.
Located in The Tigris-Euphrates Valley, Babylon has been referred to as “the cradle of the human race” for a good reason – the Garden of Eden was located somewhere in it.
The Old Babylonian Kingdom was at its peak at about the time of God’s calling of Abraham, who was from Ur of the Chaldees.
However, after many centuries of conflict, the old Babylon Empire eventually became subject to the Assyrians, from about 885 to 607 B.C. It was during that period that the Assyrians conquered and took into captivity the northern kingdom of Israel, from which the “Lost Ten Tribes” never returned.
Babylon was divided into Accad to the north, and Summer (“Shinar” of the Old Testament) to the south. Along with Ur and the city of Babylon itself, other major cities were Uruk, or Erech (Genesis 10:10), Larsa, or Ellasar (Genesis 14:1), Sepharvaim (2 Kings 17:24), Eridu, and Calneh (Genesis 10:10).
The New Babylonian Empire, which existed from 606 to 536 B.C., fully conquered the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C. It was then that the Babylonians under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar completely devastated the city of Jerusalem, looted and burned the original Temple of God, built by Solomon and carried the people of Judah, including the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel, off into captivity.
In 536 B.C., after 70 years of supremacy, the Babylonian empire, the “head of gold” in Daniel’s Statue, came to an end when it fell to the Persians. A future Babylon is referred to in the Book of Revelation and has many prophetic applications that have yet to be completed (Revelation 18:1-24).
The Babylonian Empire was a civilization of Babylonians in Lower Mesopotamia (central and southern Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. The Persian Empire later grew near the Babylonians region.
Babylonia emerged when Hammurabi (1696 – 1654 BC) created an empire out of the territories of the former kingdoms of Sumer and Akkad.
The Amorites being a Semitic people, Babylonia adopted the written Semitic Akkadian language for official use, and retained the Sumerian language for religious use, which by that time was no longer a spoken language. The Akkadian and Sumerian cultures played a major role in later Babylonians culture, and the region would remain an important cultural center, even under outside rule.
The earliest mention of Babylonians in the city of Babylon can be found in a tablet from the reign of Sargon of Akkad, dating back to the 20th century BC. Following the collapse of the last Sumerian “Ur-III” dynasty at the hands of the Elamites (2002 BC traditional, 1940 BC), the Amorites gained control over most of Mesopotamia, where they formed a series of small kingdoms.
During the first centuries of what is called the “Amorite period”, the most powerful city states were Isin and Larsa, although Shamshi-Adad I came close to uniting the more northern regions around Assur and Mari. One of these Amorite dynasties was established in the city-state of Babylon, which would ultimately take over the others and form the first Babylonian empire, during what is also called the Old Babylonian Period.
Scary to think the world is coming to this. Although, the Bible clearly points to things getting worse.
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Another interesting website regarding the rebuilding of Babylon. Important information in relation to Prophecy.
Also read the following by Joel C. Rosenberg.
Posted: April 13, 2012 in Uncategorized
Bible prophecy indicates that in the End Times, the nation we know today as the Republic of Iraq — known variously in Scripture as Babel, Babylon, Babylonia, Mesopotamia and Shinar — will emerge as the global center of wealth, power and terrible evil. Eventually Iraq will pose a direct and existential threat to the State of Israel, particularly during the Tribulation.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein and his regime in 2003, Iraq has not been a regional threat, much less a danger to Israel. Some have assumed, therefore, that Iraq would no longer play a major role in Middle Eastern or global affairs in the future. But such a conclusion would be a mistake. As I wrote about in my first non-fiction book, Epicenter, those who read, understand and believe Bible prophecy have been watching for Iraq to: 1) begin rebuilding its offensive military capability; 2) begin rebuilding its economy; 3) continue rebuilding the ancient city of Babylon into a major center of commerce and tourism.
Interestingly, all three developments are currently underway.
IRAQ IS REBUILDING ITS MILITARY
Now that the Iraqi government has forced the American military out of their country, they have embarked on a dramatic arms build-up, including the purchase of American weapons systems that could be used for offensive purposes in the future. Examples:
IRAQ IS REBUILDING ITS ECONOMY
Now that the war of liberation is over and most of Iraq has been pacified and stabilized from the terrorist insurgency, Iraq’s economy is not only growing but is poised for hyper-growth. Analysts expect Iraq’s GDP to grow by more than 9% annually for the next few years, and expect Iraq’s oil production to nearly triple by 2017.
IRAQ IS REBUILDING THE CITY OF BABYLON
Largely overlooked by Westerners is the fact that the government of Iraq is moving forward with plans to protect the archaeological remains of the ancient City of Babylon, in preparation for building a modern city of Babylon. As I wrote in 2009, the project — originally started by the late Saddam Hussein — is aimed eventually at attracting scores of “cultural tourists” from all over the world to see the glories of Mesopotamia’s most famous city. What’s more, the Obama Administration has actually helped contribute U.S. taxpayer dollars to “The Future of Babylon Project” through the State Department’s budget. Read more at the World Monuments Fund website for the rebuilding Babylong project.
In 2011, I noted that the New York Times had published an intriguing article on Iraqi efforts to preserve, protect, restore and then rebuild the ancient city of Babylon and make it a draw for tourists, with U.S. taxpayer assistance. The Times reports that a modern Babylon museum will open later this month. Times’ reporter Steven Lee Myers also posted a fascinating four minute video walking through some of the rebuilt ruins of Babylon, and explaining Iraqi efforts to protect and restore numerous Biblical sites.
“The Babylon project is Iraq’s biggest and most ambitious by far, a reflection of the ancient city’s fame and its resonance in Iraq’s modern political and cultural heritage,” the Times reported, noting that “in November, the State Department announced a new $2 million grant to begin work to preserve the site’s most impressive surviving ruins. They include the foundation of the Ishtar Gate, built in the sixth century B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar’s father, Nabopolassar, and adorned with brick reliefs of the Babylonian gods Marduk and Adad.”
“The American reconstruction team has refurbished a modern museum on the site, as well as a model of the Ishtar Gate that for decades served as a visitors’ entrance. Inside the museum is one of the site’s most valuable relics: a glazed brick relief of a lion, one of 120 that once lined the processional way into the city. The museum, with three galleries, is scheduled to open this month, receiving its first visitors since 2003. And with new security installed, talks are under way to return ancient Babylonian artifacts from the National Museum in Baghdad. The fate of Babylon is already being disputed by Iraqi leaders, with antiquities officials clashing with local authorities over when to open it to visitors and how to exploit the site for tourism that, for the most part, remains a goal more than a reality. Even now they are clashing over whether the admission fee should go to the antiquities board or the provincial government.”
(Photo by New York Times: Iraqi women walking through the city of Babylon that is currently being rebuilt.)
Very interesting article in relation to Prophecy.
Click on map to enlarge. Notice importance of world events as they relate to this map.
kept us reminded of that wonderful personal relationship
we can have with our Lord by just talking to Him.
Prayer Changes Things!
He knows what’s going on.
He just wants us to talk to Him about it.
He wants to talk to us, too.
He wants to know we care enough to stop what we’re doing
and offer up our concern to Him.
Posted: February 18, 2012 in Uncategorized
The debate seems increasingly to be over “when,” not “if” Israel will launch preemptive strikes against Iran. A story in a major British newspaper today reports the Obama administration realizes that economic sanctions aren’t working well enough to stop Iran from vigorously pursuing nuclear weapons, and thus makes an Israeli war with Iran all the more likely. According to the story, some experts believe that the Israelis won’t strike in the April to June window suggested by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, but might wait until the fall during the height of the U.S. presidential elections. “Earlier this month, the US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, told the Washington Post that he thought the window for an Israeli attack on Iran is between April and June,” the story noted. “But other official analysts working on Iran have identified what one described as a ‘sweet spot,’ where the mix of diplomacy, political timetables and practical issues come together to suggest that if Israel launches a unilateral assault it is more likely in September or October, although they describe that as a ‘best guess.’” Expect more speculation — and even disinformation — to keep the “experts” guessing. Should Israel strike, it will be hard, fast and without notice.
By Joel Rosenberg
Posted: February 18, 2012 in Uncategorized
The butchery of the Assad regime is horrifying to behold. More than 6,000 Syrians have been brutally murdered by the thugs in Damascus. The evil Assad government must be brought down and brought to justice, or face judgment.
Bible prophecy tells us in Isaiah 17:1-3 and Jeremiah 49:23-27 that Damascus will be destroyed as a city in the last days. Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly when or how this will happen, but I believe that day is steadily approaching. Indeed, it may not be far off. I’m currently writing a political thriller called The Damascus Countdown about how this could play out.
In the meantime, followers of Jesus Christ around the world must be praying and working for the spiritual and political liberation of the Syrian people. We need to be praying and working to strengthen the persecuted Church in Syria, and to help believers there spread of the Gospel to every person in that precious country. Make no mistake: God loves the people of Syria. The Apostle Paul came to faith in Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Believers were first called “Christians” in Antioch, Syria. And our God and Father wants every Syrian to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. We need to act now and share the good news with Syria before judgment comes. For God is not going to allow this current evil to go unchecked much longer. In Genesis 12:1-3, the Lord told us that those who bless the children of Israel will be blessed, and those who cursed them will be cursed. The Syrian government faces judgment for killing its own citizens, but also for killing so many Jews and Israelis over the years, and cursing the State of Israel on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, since we don’t know when the judgment of Syria’s government will happen, the U.S. government — and our allies — can and must take decisive steps to stand with and for the people of Syria against the Assad regime. This past week, 58 foreign policy experts urged President Obama to take strong, specific action. Among their recommendations:
The experts noted: “For eleven months now, the Syrian people have been dying on a daily basis at the hands of their government as they seek to topple the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad. As the recent events in the city of Homs—in which hundreds of Syrians have been killed in a matter of days—have shown, Assad will stop at nothing to maintain his grip on power. Given the United Nations Security Council’s recent failure to act, we believe that the United States cannot continue to defer its strategic and moral responsibilities in Syria to regional actors such as the Arab League, or to wait for consent from the Assad regime’s protectors, Russia and China. We therefore urge you to take immediate steps to decisively halt the Assad regime’s atrocities against Syrian civilians, and to hasten the emergence of a post-Assad government in Syria. Syria’s future is not purely a humanitarian concern. The Assad regime poses a grave threat to national security interests of the United States. The Syrian government, which has been on the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list since 1979, maintains a strategic partnership with the terror-sponsoring government of Iran, as well as with Hamas and Hezbollah. For years, it facilitated the entry of foreign fighters into Iraq who killed American troops. For years, it secretly pursued a nuclear program with North Korea’s assistance. And for decades, it has closely cooperated with Iran and other agents of violence and instability to menace America’s allies and partners throughout the Middle East….The Syrian people are asking for international assistance. It is apparent that American leadership is required to ensure the quickest end to the Assad regime’s brutal reign, and to clearly show the Syrian people that, as you said on February 4, 2012, the people of the free world stand with them as they seek to realize their aspirations.”
I agree. Time is running out, according to Bible prophecy. Now is the time for the free world to speak out, and act decisively. Now is also the time for followers of Jesus Christ to do our part.
Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad has put it at odds with other countries in the Arab world.
Russia drew a lot of flack from Arab countries and the West when it vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at pressuring Assad to stop his crackdown on protesters. That has some analysts in Russia doubting whether the Kremlin really has a cogent strategy for the Middle East.
The dilemma for Russia policy in the Arab world can be illustrated by two very different events that took place this week.
On Tuesday, crowds of Assad supporters in Damascus greeted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the country’s foreign intelligence chief, Mikhail Fradkov.
Lavrov said Russia was willing to serve as a mediator in the conflict, although Assad’s forces continued their assault on the opposition. Meanwhile, a very different scenario was playing out in New York.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, appeared at a hastily called news conference to deny rumors that he had threatened the prime minister of Qatar. The rumors, which were widely circulated in the Arab media, said Churkin had warned the Qatari leader that Russia would “wipe Qatar off the map.”
“There was nothing, not even any hints of any threats, intimidation, rudeness from me or from the prime minister of Qatar, for that matter,” Churkin said.
Russia’s relations with Qatar have been strained since December, when customs officials in Doha allegedly manhandled Russia’s ambassador to that country.
Although Churkin denied using any bullying tactics, he added something that sounded vaguely like a warning.
“Apparently somebody is trying very hard in order to drive a wedge between Russia and the Arab world. If it’s somebody who is really coming from the Arab world, I think there is a very good Russian saying, which they, I think, should keep in mind: ‘Don’t spit into a well. You may well need it for a drink of water,’ ” he said.
At this point, it’s unclear who needs whom.
Analyst Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Moscow Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, says Russia doesn’t really need Syria as a trading partner. He says Russia’s support for Syria is part of a pragmatic effort to contain Islamic extremism by balancing opposing factions.
“Russians understand there are no nondictatorship regimes in the Middle East. There is no chance for democracy of the Western style in the Middle East. And we try to make balance,” Satanovsky says.
But other analysts say Russia needs to be careful of its image in the Arab world.
Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, points out that Russia’s stand on Syria puts it at odds with important members of the Arab League, such as Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia has enormous leverage on the global oil market. Saudi Arabia has resources that could be used to minimize Russia’s control of parts of its own country,” Trenin says. He means the North Caucasus, the region that includes volatile areas such as Chechnya.
Trenin says that what Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, tried to do in Damascus this week should have been done months ago, when the Arab Spring protests first erupted.
“If Russia wanted to uphold its prestige as an important player, it needed to engage more fully in looking for a peaceful resolution to the Syrian conflict,” he says.
Both analysts say one of Russia’s main concerns is keeping a lid on Islamic radicalism, the kind that is spreading in the Muslim parts of Russia’s own territory.
Satanovsky says Russian policy seeks to play off the Islamic fundamentalist regimes of the Arab world against Iran.
In putting such strong and public support behind the Syrian regime, though, Russia has put itself at a pivot point in the major struggles of the Arab World.
It’s not clear whether it has a strategy to affect the balance there.
(click to enlarge)
A riveting and timely survey of things to come!
Widespread revolutions in multiple Arab nations. New powers rising to challenge entrenched despots and ruling bodies. Bitter new conflicts further enflaming the many already in place. And a pall of uncertainty over how it will all play out.
Indeed the Middle East is burning.
How can we make sense of it all?
At first glance the many hotspots may seem without a pattern, without rhyme or reason. But Bible prophecy expert Mark Hitchcock takes a look at Scripture and helps paint a clear picture of what’s taking place, giving insight on current events in Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Syria, and more.
(Sharon’s note:) To read an excerpt from this book, click on the link below. I think you will find it very interesting, as we relate it to our study of prophecy.
Does Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu think the West is taking decisive action to stop Iran from getting the Bomb, or does he think the West is fiddling while Tel Aviv runs the rising risk of burning? That’s the Big Question as tensions continue to mount in the epicenter this week. Iran is making new threats to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil shipments, just days after test-firing missiles over the Strait. The U.S., Britain and France are sending additional naval forces into the Gulf. The European Union is taking new steps to impose an oil embargo on Iran. The U.S. is taking steps to sanction Iran’s third largest bank, though dragging its feet on actually sanctioning Iran’s Central Bank. Adding to the regional tensions, Russia is lashing out at the EU and selling $550 million worth of arms to one of Iran’s key regional allies. Will such Western moves be enough to stop Iran from building an arsenal of nuclear weapons? Personally, I’m not convinced. Such moves would have been good a few years ago. Now they strike me as too little too late, especially after the Obama White House disastrous decision recently to cancel joint military exercises with Israel for fear of being “too provocative” towards Iran. But it doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is what Netanyahu thinks. If he decides the West isn’t doing enough and Iran is going to get the Bomb, then he is going to hit Iran hard, soon, and without warning.
In that context, it’s worth noting a speech Netanyahu gave Tuesday warning his nation that the world has not internalized the lessons of the Holocaust. ”Speaking at the Knesset just days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27), Netanyahu reasoned that the Jewish people must not put their fate in the hands of the international community,” reported the Jerusalem Post. “Posing a rhetorical question, Netanyahu asked, ‘How does the world react to the calls for genocide against the Jews today? Seventy years after the shoa [Holocaust], Iran is calling for us to be wiped off the map, Hezbollah is calling for our extinction, as are many in Hamas….The Jerusalem Mufti [Sheikh Muhammad Hussein] called on Sunday for Jews to be killed wherever they are…echoing his predecessor Haj Amin Al Husseini, who actively helped Hitler and Eichman,’ he said. ‘I do not hear the international community condemning this. I hear them condemning buildings in the West Bank. But I don’t hear them condemning this incitement,’ said Netanyahu.”
Could Netanyahu be signaling that his patience — and that of the Israeli government and military – is running out?
Worth noting: “Two Iranian lawmakers on Monday stepped up threats their country would close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s crude flows, in retaliation for oil sanctions on Tehran,” reports Haaretz. “The warnings came as EU nations agreed in Brussels on an oil embargo against Iran as part of sanctions over the country’s controversial nuclear program. The measure includes an immediate embargo on new contracts for Iranian crude and petroleum products while existing ones will be allowed to run until July. Iran has repeatedly warned it would choke off the strait if sanctions affect its oil sales, and two lawmakers ratcheted up the rhetoric on Monday….For its part, the United States has enacted, but not yet put into force, sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank and, by extension, the country’s ability to be paid for its oil. Some 80 percent of Iran’s oil revenue comes from exports and any measures or sanctions taken that affect its ability to export oil could hit hard at its economy. With about 4 million barrels per day, Iran is the second largest producer in OPEC.”
by Joel Rosenberg
The White House has made two new and serious mistakes on Iran in recent days:
Given that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Iran could have the Bomb by the end of 2012, the U.S. should intensifying pressure on the evil regime in Tehran. This would include dramatically escalating covert ops inside Iran, and making preparations for possible air strikes if there are no other alternatives to neutralizing the Iran threat. Instead, the senior team at the White House just blinked — twice — showing weakness instead of resolve. They have also made it more likely, not less, that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu may conclude this year that he has no other choice but to launch a massive first strike against Iran. Thus: “The United States has stepped up contingency planning in case Israel launches a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. According to the report, U.S. defense officials are becoming increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing to carry out such a strike.” At the moment, Army General Martin Dempsey, the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is heading to Israel for talks about Iran.
Meanwhile, “Israeli Cabinet Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Sunday he was disappointed that the U.S. has not expanded sanctions to further damage Iran’s central bank and its energy industry. He also suggested that the Obama administration hasn’t been as forceful as Britain and France in imposing sanctions. ‘In the United States, the Senate passed a resolution, by a majority of 100-to-1, to impose these sanctions, and in the U.S. administration there is hesitation for fear of oil prices rising this year, out of election-year considerations,’ Ya’alon told Israel Radio, according to Haaretz newspaper. ‘In that regard, this is certainly a disappointment, for now.’”
This is exactly why I’m saying we’d better keep praying for peace, while preparing ourselves for war.
Very interesting approach.
The study of prophecy is not to Scare us,
but to Prepare us.
Studying Biblical Prophecy has been a passion of mine since I was a teenager. My first exposure to the subject was from a book entitled “The Bible and Tomorrow’s News”.
Studying prophecy can bring confusion and fear to a lot of people. I think that is because it is hard to understand.
We are attempting to wade into the study of prophecy a little at a time on our blog. We think it will be interesting for our readers to understand the basics as you follow each day’s news and how they are related.
The study can also be a source of encouragement and inspiration. As we understand the relationship of knowledge of the scriptures and motivate our call to share the gospel, it will strengthen all of us.
I have included direct links below to the categories on our blog that will help us as we study.
We encourage comments and discussion of this wealth of knowledge that God has given us in His word.
Sharon & Erick
By Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
Jesus’ disciples asked Him a classic question 2000 years ago: “What shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?”
That remains one of the most prominent questions to this day. The fact is that the signs of the times are all around us. Many are asking, “How long can it be until the end of history, the end of life as we know it?”
In our book Are We Living in the End Times? we list many of the signs of the times apparent in our generation. We believe that while no one knows the day or the hour when Christ will return, we have more reason to believe He could come in our lifetime than any generation before us.
Many leading politicians look to the potential of a world government as the panacea that would bring global peace. That is why the United Nations was formed, yet even with its 60-year incapability to bring about peace, it remains the dream of many world planners.
World government is only one leg of the prophesied three-legged stool of end times globalism. The other two are a one-world economy and a one-world religion. The worldwide interchange of goods and services today, along with the current economic chaos, seems a clear signal that the prophecies of Revelation 13 and 18 may be coming true.
The one-world religion is beginning to form but will really come together right after the Rapture when Christ calls His church to heaven to be with Him in His Father’s house (John 14:1-3). Even today Christianity is one main impediment to the forming of a global religion, which will (according to Revelation 17) be destroyed at the end of the Tribulation period.
God in His mercy may wait one more day, which in His economy of time is a thousand of our years. But we are instructed to watch and wait for Christ’s imminent return, as if it could be today. Because it could!
We believe every Christian and church should share the Gospel faithfully with as many as possible. Our driving passion is that we don’t want anyone to be left behind.
By Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
Of the thirty or more signs of the end of time as we know it, which will culminate with the return of Christ to set up His 1,000-year reign on earth, none is more specific and convincing than the re-gathering of over one third of the world’s Jews into the Land of Israel during the last century and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
The very idea is a miracle itself. Never before in the history of the world has a nation been dispersed from its homeland for so many years without sinking beneath the sands of time. Many great nations, like the Hittites, were so lost after their dispersion that many scoffed at the Bible for even mentioning their existence. Yet archeologists finally dug up irrefutable evidence that they did indeed live and were a great people, just as the Bible said.
The lone exception to that rule of losing ethnic identity after such a dispersion is Israel. More than 1,700 years after being expelled from their homeland, the Jews were plentiful enough to send six million back to Israel, the land God deeded to them “forever.” Just as the Hebrew prophets had predicted, they would be drawn from all over the world “in the last days.”
Ezekiel 36-39 clearly calls the people “the whole House of Israel.” The prophet (inspired by God Himself, who alone can predict history) even provided the names of the enemies of Israel in the End Times – the very neighbors of Israel today who continually plot her destruction.
We can justifiably call the last sixty years of the nation of Israel a direct miracle that cries out for the recognition of God and the supernatural inspiration of the Bible. Wouldn’t the world’s skeptics have had a field day ridiculing the Bible had the Jews never returned to the land? But the skeptics are silent now. The Hebrew prophets predicted the ultimate possession of the land by the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The prophecy also avers that the Son of David will someday rule the world from His throne in Jerusalem, in the land of Israel. His name will be Jesus Christ, “and He shall be called KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16).
Better to accept Him by faith now and bend your knee to Him than wait until you are forced to (Philippians 2:9-11). For then it will be too late.