Saturday, October 3, 2020

Signs of the Times - What They Mean Part Two

Hey Friend,

Last week, I posted Part One of this two part series on the signs of the times.  Before reading on, you may want to go back and read the beginning of the series for the sake of continuity.  

Before getting into the signs, let's first examine why 30% of the Bible is filled with prophecy.  Even though God is mysterious, He does not want us to remain in the dark.  He doesn't do anything until He reveals it first.  All of human history is about God continuing to reveal Himself to those who want to know Him. The God of the Bible is not a secret keeper. 

The reason God gives us prohecy in the Bible is so we will be prepared for everything that will happen.  God wants His children to be informed so they will face the future with courage and certainty.

After the first and second signs (Part One) let's jump into some other signs that are taking place, before our very eyes, that the Bible prophesies will happen as we get close to the Day of the Lord.  

3.  The Great Falling Away:  2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 tells us that the day Jesus gathers us in the sky for the Rapture will not happen unless the falling away or apostasy comes first.  Paul is reminding the Thessalonians that Jesus will not return until there is a worldwide falling away from truth.  This apostasy will be a widespread rejection of Biblical Christianity, including both theology and morality.

Many people are increasingly claiming the Bible contains "hate speech."  In the past few years there has been a dramatic increase of people, in the US, who check "none" on surveys that ask for religious affiliation.  The US is quickly catching up with the rest of the world that claims to be Atheist, Agnostic, or of a faith other than Christianiy.  

In 2007 a Harris Poll found that 12% of Americans had forsaken religion altogether.  That number doubled to 24% in just eight years (2013).  The numbers for 2020 are not out yet, but experts expect that percentage will have grown exponentially since 2013.  A 2015 Pew Research Center poll found that 35% of millenials claim no religious affiliation.  What will 2020 numbers reveal?

2 Timothy 3:1-9 describes what the moral climate of the world will be like in the last days:  For men (and women) will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money,...disobedient to parents, unthankful,unholy,unloving,unforgiving...without self control,...headstrong...lovers of pleasure...immoral...will be led away by various lusts...having no fear of God.

Jesus said that the end times would be very much like the days of Noah and Lot (Luke 17: 26-30).  In both stories, sexual immorality pervaded the society.  In both cases the culture devolved to the point of moral anarchy and depravity (pornography, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, pansexuality, transsexuality, adultery, prostitution, orgies, illicit sexual acts). Marriage, as a God-ordained sacrament between a man and a woman, was/is mocked.  

The last time God saw the world as being this immoral and violent was in the days of Noah, and then again in the days of Lot, and we know what happened then...God is compassionate and long-suffering, but He is also a just God.

4.  Growing Lawlessness:  Just prior to the Antichrist (who is described in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 as "the lawless one,") entering the world stage, Jesus will come and rapture His Bride, the church of believers. The "Rapture" is a term coined to describe the gathering of the elect unto Jesus.  There is always discussion about whether this happens before the Tribulation, mid-Trib. or post-Trib.  Scripture describes this time as the world being without the law.  Do scenes of burning cities with mobs demanding we abolish the police (symbol of the law in our society) flash to the forefront of your mind?  In 1980, the Court declared that the posting of The Ten Commandments  (God's Holy Law) in classrooms was found to be in violation of the First Ammendment.  We are living in a postmodern, post-Christian, and post-Bible culture.  The authority of Scripture is under attack, even from the inside of many churches. 

5.  Natural Disasters, Disease, and Plagues with Increasing Frequency & Intensity:  The Bible describes natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, as well as diseases (SARS, COVID-19) will come more often and with greater intensity - like the labor pains of a woman as she gets closer to giving birth.  

6.  Five Prophecies Regarding Israel:  The Bible gives conditions of the end times that specifically relate to Israel.  It tells us ALL these conditions will occur within a single generation.  (Matthew 24:32-34).  What Jesus is telling us here is that one generation will see all end times fulfilled.  Every generation has had some of the signs that Jesus mentions, but we are experiencing every sign.  Let's look at Israel...

A. Israel is Regathered Twice:  (foretold in Isaiah 11: 10-12) The Bible prophesies that the people of Israel will be gathered together twice after being scattered.  The first time was in 586 BC when, after a seventy year exile in Babylon, the Israelites began returning to Jerusalem and in 516 BC the Temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt.  

Then, God fulfilled His promise again in 1948.  For almost two millennia, the Hebrew people had been scattered around the world.  The extreme persecution under the Nazis and their ultimate defeat in WWII precipitated a huge and miraculous move back to their homeland for the second time - just as Isaiah foretold.  

B.  Israel Born in One Day:  Isaiah wrote again:  Who has heard such a thing?  Who has seen such a things?  Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day?  Or shall a nation be born at once?  On May 14, 1948, Great Britain's colonial mandate for Palestine expired, they released the territory, and in one day President Harry Truman recognized this new nation and the world saw the establishment of the State of Israel.  It all happened on a single day.  

C.  Israel is Regathered from the North:  As Israel began to rebuild, Jews who lived in Europe or the Americas came by the thousands.  Between January 1989 and December 2002, 1.1 million Jews immigrated to Israel from Russia.  This was foretold in Jeremiah 16.  

D.  Jerusalem is Retaken by the Jews:  In 1948, Jews were returning to Israel.  Then, in 1967 Israel engaged in the Arab-Israeli Six Day War.  On June 10, 1967, the Jews regained control of the city, and it has remained in their hands. 

E.  The Land of Israel is Divided, Coupled with Worldwide Anti-Semitism:  Israel has been forced to relinquish control of portions of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Sinai Peninsula.  The tug-of-war continues over The Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem.  Nations like Russia, Iran, and Syria (and many others) are very vocal in their aspirations of wiping the Jewish State of Israel off the map.  ** There will be a period of peace in the Middle East before all hell breaks loose and Jerusalem is "ground zero" for the final battle**

So, what does all this add up to?  In Joel 3: 1-2 God reveals to us that in the same time period (or generation) that He regathers Israel back into her land (beginning 1948), He will also enter into a final judgment with ALL nations regarding the mistreatment of the Jews and for dividing the land.  

So a key question here is How long is a generation?  How long is the "generation" that will include all the prophecies regarding Israel?  With the Lord, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day.  But, if we read what the Bible says about a "generation" it says in Psalm 90:10:  If the days of our lives are 70 years; and if by reason of strength they are 80 years...then that would mean that possibly ??? we could have the birth of Israel (May 14, 1948) AND the Day of the Lord/Judgment all within an 80 year period... 

1948 + 80 years = 2028 

There are those who believe Christ will come "pre-Tribulation," some who believe "mid-Tribulation," and others who believe "post-Tribulation."  No matter which way you slice it, you can't escape that Jesus is coming again and no one will know the exact day or the hour.  We simply need to be ready.

Hmmmm....We are seeing so many end times events being fulfilled or getting ready to be fulfilled.  When you just look at what is happening in Israel alone, it is a compelling argument that time is ticking away on the prophetic clock.  Add in the other signs and I come to the conclusion, with many others, that we need to:

Plan like Jesus isn't coming back for 100 year, but live like He is coming back today!

Remember how stupid Noah appeared in the eyes of his contemporaries.  They thought they could get away with everything and anything. No one feared or respected God. They mocked Noah for building a huge ark when they had never seen a drop of rain fall from the sky.  When the rain started, I'm sure there were many people who were banging, desperately, on the closed door of the ark to no avail.  

Like God sent the ark for Noah, He has promised the Rapture for His beloved Bride - the church of believers in His Son, Jesus Christ.  If you have repented and asked Jesus to be the Lord of your life, you will be feasting with Jesus at the wedding supper of the Lamb while the world will be experiencing a Tribulation that will make 9/11 look like a Sunday School picnic.  

So what are we to be doing?  Live for God, not this world.  Put Jesus first, no matter how the world mocks you.  Surround yourselves with other believers who will hold you accountable, and by all means minister to your family, friends, neighbors, and strangers; work diligently in your job; contribute generously to your church with your time and your finances as well as support global missions; and vote righteously when it comes time to cast your ballot.  YOU can make a difference!

When you witness to the Light in the middle of the darkness, you will have no reason to be ashamed when you see Jesus face-to-face. 

"Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."  (Hebrews 10: 24-25)

Once again, I offer this prayer as an invitation to give your life to Christ or as a re-dedication if you are already a believer...

Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins and rebellion against Your authority.  I receive You into my heart as my Lord and Savior.  I also receive Your blood on the cross as the payment for all of my sins and believe I'm totally forgiven by You.  Thank You for the free gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.  Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and give me the power to change and follow You all the days of my life.  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Thanks for hanging in there and reading.  May you be blessed...

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