PART II- LOOKING FOR A RED SKY
In PART I we reviewed the global landscape as well as that of the Church. Chaos is not pretty. Our culture is imitating the norms of Gomorrah. And the Church, the body of Christ is mired in infighting and apostasy and moral confusion. In the the depraved and falling moral standards we practice, we are mimicking the Days of Noah. Jesus said: “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:37) (KJV)
We live in an age of upheaval, confusion, corruption and disruption. It is not hyperbole to say that this fact is confirmed in the news every day. And any visit to the news sites can leave us astounded, dismayed and furious. Yet there is a strange danger in all of this. In increasing numbers, many are in some way, becoming accustomed to the chaos; used to the anarchy. Becoming, in an uncomfortable way….comfortable with this New America. And it is an America in which the landscape has been drastically altered. Moral certitudes, etched in stone for millennia, have fallen. Right and wrong have traded places. Political ads tout a loyalty to the new morality, praising abortion and homosexual marriage. And the world rushes toward this New Gomorrah without pause or hesitation, forgetting in the process, the wisdom of the centuries, unaware and unconcerned with either God’s Truth or His timeline. But that is something we CAN know. And what’s more: God holds us responsible to do so.
Jesus to the multitudes: “Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is. And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is. Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?” (Luke 12:54-56) Yet the world scoffs at the notion that we can have such knowledge. Even pastors, the shepherds of the flock – and I’ve talked to many – dismiss the notion that we the End Time’s clock is running. 2Peter 3:3-4 warns “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’” Today we live in the age of he sceptic, not just about Christ’s return – but with regard to the whole validity of scripture, the rapture, the creation….It is all up for debate. But God has given us a template with which to test these things; His prophetic word. Those prophecies come in great detail and specificity. We can look at them and compare them to where we are now.
Now in the Old Testament, the fig tree had been used as a symbol of Israel. In Matthew 24, Jesus is giving His followers a picture of the conditions that will precede His return in glory. After laying out some of the happenings of this chaotic time, He says this. “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:32-35) So let’s start to break down those signs and see just where we might be.
ISRAEL: THE SUPER SIGN
The number one sign that we are approaching the Second Coming lies in the reestablishment of the State of Israel. The Jewish nation had been scattered both in AD 70 with the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem – and again at the end of the Bar Kochba rebellion in 132 AD. The people had been chased from the Holy Land to the four corners of the earth. But the scriptures have consistently prophesied that they would one day return and possess the Land. So this regathering of the Jews is an important proof of the veracity of the Bible as well as a sign of the near-end of the Age . A favorite passage of mine pointing to this is found in Isaiah 11:11-12. “In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people…he will assemble the scattered peoples of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.” What’s really neat about that passage is that it was given before Israel had returned from the Babylonian captivity – before they had come back the first time. So this second re-gathering signals the near-end of history. Israel will be in the Land to receive the Messiah when He comes in glory and power. We can trace the trajectory of that return from the Zionist movement of the late 19th century through even the Holocaust – which opened the door to gain the world’s approval for the Jewish occupation of a part of the Promised Land. The Jewish nation had done what no other nation has ever done – survive over 1,800 years without a homeland. Elsewhere in Isaiah, God promised them He would again call them home. “I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west; I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’” (Isaiah 43:5-6) And their permanent occupation and right to do so was confirmed elsewhere in the writings of the prophets including this passage in Ezekiel 37:25. “They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever.”
Along the way in this story other prophecies were fulfilled – promises that God had made to His special people. He promised a restored language and one was given through h the offices of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda beginning in 1881. After Israel’s final expulsion from Palestine in the 2nd century, hybrid languages had been adopted by the Jews living in the various lands where they settled. Yiddish for instance is the combination of German and Jewish and Hebrew and Spanish combined to form Ladino.[i] But modern Hebrew was developed – and brought back from near extinction to become the official and spoken language of the Jewish state. Zephaniah foretold this coming to pass. “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord.” (NASB) Other prophecies were fulfilled regarding the restoration of the fertility of the land and the increase in rainfall. If you need proof of God’s prophetic word you need look no farther than Israel.
Another key prophecy that points to the end is the predicted centrality of the status of Jerusalem as the focal point of world politics. Here are the words of Zechariah 12:2-3. “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.” Jerusalem is at the center of world conflict today. And all the world, with the exception of the United States and a couple of other brave nations are arrayed against it and want to take it away from Israel and award it to the fictional Palestinian people. We can see it’s importance in the headlines of almost any given time. As I write this in November of 2018 Hamas has ,just bombarded Israel with nearly 500 rockets in a 24 hour period. They have been reported to have recruited 17,000 children in their fight against Israel. They’ve been rioting on the Gaza / Israeli border since the spring. Their goal: For Jerusalem to serve as the Palestinian capital. And right now Hamas in Gaza is not the only issue. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have been preparing for what they believe is an inevitable three-front war that would include Hamas in the south, Syria and a resurgent Hezbollah in Lebanon. Add in a couple of more players and you could have the Psalm 83 War. In 2006, Hezbollah. In 2006 Hezbollah had about 20,000 fighters, and maybe 12,000 to 13,000 rockets and missiles. Today they boast about 45,000 troops and as many as 130,000 rockets and missiles. They have transformed themselves from a large terror group to a medium sized army.[ii]
THE FAILING CHURCH
Ever since Pau’s struggle with Gnosticism in the 1st century, the Church has been in a struggle with heretics and apostates. These messengers of Satan preach another gospel which has over two millennia, seduced many – and even today are leading many astray. 1Timothy 4:1-3 reads: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” Last time out we discussed many of the failures of the modern church. The truths of the faith have not been adequately passed on to the next generation and we are living now in a time when the basic foundations of the faith are lost on many. Even the deity and exclusivity of Christ is lost on a generation that condones gay marriage and sex outside of marriage. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Another big lie of the enemy is Replacement Theology; the misguided notion that the Church has replaced Israel. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God’s promises to Israel are sacrosanct. They are geographical in nature. They are permanent in nature. And the fact that a sizeable portion of the Church has chosen to ignore them has led many toward anti-Semitism and pro-Palestinian positions that are wholly unbiblical.
The breakdown of Romans, Complicated thing, and I’m afraid I will not do it justice here. However, I offer this scripture for your consideration. “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” It seems to be talking pretty plainly about the ethnic nation of Israel turning to Messiah in the Last Days. Now look at Zechariah 12. In that chapter, the prophet is talking about the End Days struggle involving the Israel and its enemies. In verse 8 we read: “In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” Then in verse 9: “It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” That is describing the heartfelt conversion of the Jewish nation. [Even today I am getting reports that many in Israel are coming to know Messiah.] Conclusion: Replacement Theology is a big fat lie.
[i] Dr David Reagan, The Revival of the Hebrew Language, Lamb & Lion Ministries, Lamplighter Magazine, March / April 2014
[ii] Hezbollah: From terror group to army, Haaretz, December 7, 2016