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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Revelation 11:12

And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

For further study - Revelation 11:3-12

As you read our key verse for today, verse 12, it sounds much like the description of the Rapture, Revelation 4:1-2 and I Thessalonians 4:16-17.

However a study of the context in this passage of Scripture indicates that this call from heaven saying to the "two witnesses", "come up hither", takes place at the mid-way point of the seven year Tribulation Period, while the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation Period begins.

This passage reveals the prophecy of the "two witnesses", verse 3, and what is involved in their 1,260 day ministry.

Briefly, there will be "two men" who will give some type of a testimony, which is what a witness does, during the first half of the Tribulation Period. They will be protected by the Lord through various means so that they can reach out from Jerusalem to everybody on earth with the "gospel of the Kingdom", Matthew 24:14.

These two will be kept out of harms way and given miraculous powers so that their ministry will be effective. After these two witnesses are killed, verse 7, and before being resurrected from the dead, verse 11, their dead bodies lay in the Jerusalem streets so that the entire world will see them, via satellite. The "earth dwellers" will "rejoice over them and make merry and bring gifts one to another", verse 10.

The world will "party" and "send gifts", happy that the two witnesses have died. Revelation 7:4-8 tells us that 144,000 Jews from the "twelve tribes of Israel" will be saved and then spread out across the world to reach "all" six billion people on earth with the Gospel message, Matthew 24:14. This evangelism will be as a result of the ministry of these “two witnesses”.

Revelation 7:9 indicates that a large number of people will be saved during these terrible days of judgment. This, all taking place after the Rapture of the Church. Malachi 4:5 tells us that one of the two witnesses is going to be "Elijah". I believe the other is the Old Testament Gentile, Enoch, Genesis 5:19-24.

I believe these two witnesses, who have never died, were transported into the heavens, while still alive. They will return to Jerusalem where they set up their Temple Mount headquarters. Then at the end of their ministry, they die, as every man who has ever lived on earth must do, Hebrews 9:27. Then they will be taken back to heaven at the end of their three and a half years of ministry.

Luke 24:4 records that "two men in white apparel" at the entrance to the tomb of Jesus, saw the resurrection. Acts 1:10 also records that "two men in white apparel" watched as Jesus entered the heavenlies from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. These two, I believe, were Elijah and Enoch who saw the resurrection and the ascension of Christ into heaven telling the disciples the Lord would come back the same way He had just departed.

The "resurrection" and the "Lord's coming" is the message of the “Gospel of the Kingdom”. This will be the message of these two witnesses to the world. Remember, they are the only two witnesses that saw these things happen.

The prophecy pertaining to these two witnesses will be fulfilled, sooner rather than later, maybe today.

PRAYER THOT: Help me Lord to be a witness today of Your soon coming to those who need to know You as Lord and Saviour.
Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

For further study - Hebrews 11:1-21

As we come to our devotional reading for today we will be presented with the "Hall of Fame" of men and women of "faith". I want you to notice that the first six men mentioned in the "Hall of Fame" have an interesting connection to Bible prophecy as well as to "faith".

Our passage starts with the definition of "faith", "it's the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen", verse 1. This is a very important statement about "faith". Notice, it is the "evidence of things not seen".

We don't have to, and in fact, we should not see the things we are "hoping for". Many people say, "show me and I'll believe", the Bible says "believe without seeing". By the way, Romans says, "Faith cometh by hearing, not seeing, and hearing by the Word of God", Romans 10:17.

It's the truth of the Word of God that is the basis for "faith", not things seen. In our extended reading for today, verses 1-21, we see six men who were "men of faith" and also have a unique connection to Bible prophecy.

"Abel", verse 4, was a son of Adam that by "faith" offered a "more excellent sacrifice" looking into the future and the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ. "Enoch", verse 5, was a great preacher, Jude 14, and was one of two men who never died. This makes him one of the two witnesses during the Tribulation Period, along with Elijah.

I say this based upon the three and a half years of ministry for these two witnesses as detailed in Revelation 11:3-12. These two witnesses will die, be resurrected and taken into heaven. This truth from Revelation must be coupled with Hebrews 9:27.

"Noah", verse 7, was another great preacher, with not real good results, he only had seven people believe him. His wife, his three sons and the three wives of his sons. Jesus mentioned in His prophetic "Olivet Discourse" that the return of our Lord will take place at a time when it is like the "days of Noah", Matthew 24:37.

"Abraham", verses 8-19, the "father of faith" is a "man of faith" that plays a key role in Bible prophecy, as it relates to the Jewish people. The Lord promised Abraham, "in the Abrahamic Covenant" that the Jews would be a nation forever and have a land forever, Genesis 12 and 15.

Abraham's son and grandson, "Isaac" and "Jacob", are the "son and grandson of promise". It was through these three patriarchs that God focuses all of Bible prophecy. God made promises to these three, to be fulfilled, in the future. These promises must be fulfilled.

Notice how "faith" plays a role in "things to come", verse 20. I have barely touched the "hem of the garment" of blessings you can receive from this passage on "faith", and the "personalities of prophecy". Please spend more time in this passage, as we await the shout from Jesus for us to join Him in the heavenlies.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for these "men of faith" in the past. Help me to be a "man of faith" in the present, as I look to the "faith".
Friday, November 28, 2008

Acts 17:6

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

For further study - Acts 17:1-14

This passage in Acts, "The Action Book" of first century Christianity is a record of Paul's visit to Thessalonica and also to Berea.

This second missionary journey of Paul would result in a number of Greeks and Jews coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. The trip also relates the story of how young Timothy got involved in Paul's ministry, Acts 16:1-5.

Paul arrives in Thessalonica and goes to the synagogue for three weeks straight to reason with the Jews about Jesus Christ. This method of evangelism is one that Paul used very effectively.

As a result of Paul's reasoning with the Jews from the scriptures in the synagogues, there were a number who trusted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. We must "reason from the scriptures" when we work at the ministry of evangelism.

It is also interesting that Paul went into the synagogue, "as his manner was", verse 2. The synagogue system was not developed until the Babylonian Captivity when the Jews were out of the land, without a Temple, thus the need for a "worship center".

All along God had a plan to use the "synagogues as centers of evangelism". God's plan always works best. We need to find out what His plan is and join Him as a “partner” in that ministry plan.

By the way, notice that Paul was only there for three weeks and with the converts he started a church. It was to these "young Christians" that Paul wrote a letter, I Thessalonians, explaining the "Rapture".

This was "real meat” for young Christians. The "town fathers" did not like what was happening under Paul's ministry and they called together some of the new converts to try and downplay the working of God.

I love the phrase in verse 6, "these that have turned the world upside down are come hither also". Oh, that we could be referred to as those who are “turning the world upside down”.

The motivation of these "world turners" was their understanding that the return of Jesus Christ could happen at any moment, thus they went forward with intensity to serve Him before He did return.

This is evident by what Paul wrote these new converts in Thessalonica about the Rapture, I Thessalonians 4:13-18. As we become more aware of the soon return of the Lord we will go forth to do ministry as those who were turning the world upside down.

Just one last thought from Paul's sojourn in Berea. He preached there and the Bereans heard the Word and then searched the scriptures to see if Paul was correct, verse 11.

This is a great principle, hear the Word preached and study the Scriptures for yourselves to see if the preacher is Biblically correct. Please apply this principle to my teaching.

PRAYER THOT: Help me dear Lord, to understand the Scriptures, in particular the prophetic Scriptures, and then to apply them to my daily life as I await Your call at the Rapture to join You in the heavenlies.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Zechariah 14:4

And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

For further study - Zechariah 14:1-5

Today for our devotional reading I have asked you to read only five verses in Zechariah 14 because it is so jam packed with events that will unfold in a short period of time.

Zechariah 14 is not a stand-alone chapter, but must be combined with Revelation 19:11-20 to help you realize how the return of the Lord Jesus Christ will actually take place.

However, allow me to only deal with these five verses in this devotional time. In verse 1 we see the phrase, the "Day of the Lord" which is used seventy-two times in the Old Testament and is that period in time when the Lord intercedes in the affairs of man, personally, right here on the earth.

The specific usage of this definition refers to the time just preceding, and the actual day, that Jesus returns to the earth, verse 4. Verse 2 reveals how the "campaign of Armageddon" begins with all the nations of the world gathering at Jerusalem.

This verse answers the question often asked about the United States in Bible prophecy. The United States is never mentioned by name, but if the United States is included at all in Bible prophecy, it is only referred to in this verse as one of the nations that will gather to witness the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

The scenario, prophetically, that leads up to this point, is the destruction of the literal city of Babylon in modern day Iraq, which will serve as the headquarters for the worldwide, governmental, economic, political system, headed up by Antichrist.

The Lord will destroy that system and the city in one hour, Revelation 18:10, 17 & 19 and Revelation 16:17-21. Then the Satanic trio, Satan, Antichrist and the False Prophet rush to Jerusalem and bring the nations of the world together, with their armies, into Jerusalem by the means of signs, wonders and miracles, Revelation 16:13-16.

When the armies of the world are gathered in Jerusalem, under the leadership of Satan, Jesus will come from heaven to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, verse 4.

There will be some geographical changes in Jerusalem and those armies gathered to fight along side Satan and against Jesus will flee for the "Valley of the Mountains", verse 5.

The "Valley of the Mountains" is the Jezreel Valley that is 1,000 square miles in size, surrounded by different mountain ranges where the actual "Battle of Armageddon" will take place when Jesus goes there and speaks "death" to around one hundred million soldiers from the armies of the world.

This will not be a "nuclear battle", Jesus speaks and all the soldiers and animals that they might have used in the war effort will be killed at His spoken word, Revelation19:15.

Space will not allow for additional "prophetic truth" that would indicate how close we are to this prophetic scenario being fulfilled, Let me just say that everything is ready for these prophecies to be fulfilled.

Please remember, seven years before the Lord steps down on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the Rapture happens, when the Archangel shouts, the trumpet sounds and Jesus shouts for us to join Him in the air where we will ever be with Him in the heavenlies. The Rapture could happen today.

PRAYER THOT: Help me, Lord, to warn as many people as I can of this coming time of great judgment upon the earth. And help me to show them how to be prepared for this event by coming to know You as Lord and Saviour.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Daniel 11:40

And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.

For further study - Daniel 11:36-45

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has made secret contacts with Syrian President Basher Assad and has expressed Israel's willingness to give back the Golan Heights if the Syrians will break off relations with Iran and stop supporting Islamic terrorist organizations.

The Israeli Prime Minister says it would be worth giving up the Golan Heights for peace with Syria according to this recent report. As I write this devotional, the Prime Minister of Israel is not denying nor confirming the report.

Our devotional for today speaks to this issue of peace or war between Israel and Syria. Let me give you some more information about our passage of prophetic truth for today.

There are three pronouns used in these ten verses, “he, his, and him”. These pronouns are all referring to the "Antichrist" the Satanically energized world religious and political leader during the seven-year time of judgment yet to come called the Tribulation Period. The "King of the North" as defined earlier in Daniel 11, is modern-day Syria. (see my audio series, The Daniel Papers.)

The "King of the South," also defined in Daniel 11:4-7, would be modern-day Egypt. Verse 40 in our reading reveals how the alignment of Arab and Islamic nations, led by Russia, will begin to make their way into Israel to destroy the Jewish state. Almost in concert, the two nations, Egypt and Syria, will come "against him," verse 40. Remember the "him" is the Antichrist.

Why would the text say that Syria and Egypt are going to attack the Antichrist? The answer is that before both Arab nations move against Israel, the Antichrist will have “confirmed” a peace agreement between Israel and her enemies, Daniel 9:27. So, to attack Israel is like attacking the Antichrist who has just guaranteed Israel's peace.

Verse 41 tells us that the Antichrist will rush back to Israel, go to the north and destroy Syria, then go south to take care of Egypt, verses 42 and 43. At that time, all of the other nations aligned against Israel will attack, verse 43 and Ezekiel 38.

This scenario described in prophecy seems to be coming near to being played out politically according to the report that Israel's Prime Minister is ready to give back the Golan Heights to Syria.

However, I must hasten to tell you that this prophetic scenario does not actually begin until after the Rapture of the Christians. The stage is being set, all the actors are in place ready for the end-time drama to be played out. Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.

PRAYER THOT: Help me, dear Lord, this day to live as if the Rapture could happen in the next moment.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ezekiel 37:22

And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.

For further study - Ezekiel 37:15-23

This passage of scripture, selected for today's reading, is a prophetic passage that many Bible prophecy students have either ignored or have not been able to understand.

It is a prophecy that seems to be saying that the "ten lost tribes" of Israel will in the last days be found and they will be reunited with the two tribes known as Judah. According to Jewish history there are no "ten lost tribes" of Israel.

The record found in Ezra speaks of "all twelve tribes" being back in the land some 2,500 years ago when Cyrus gave permission for Zerubabbel to take almost 50,000 Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, Ezra 1.

The list in Ezra 2 mentions a number of people from tribes other than Judah and Benjamin. Two examples are verses 28-29, Bethel and Ai are in the tribe of Ephraim, verse 28; and Nebo is in the tribe of Reuven, verse 29.

This means that the families of "all twelve tribes" were in the land. Notice Ezra 6 where it speaks of the "dedication service" of the Temple when they offered twelve "he goats" according to the number of the tribes of Israel, Ezra 6:17.

Even the fact that Ezra 6 uses the term "Israel" indicates that it's speaking of all twelve tribes back in the land at the time of the building of the Second Temple.

In Ezekiel 37:11 it states that the "bones", in the dry valley, are the "whole house of Israel". That means representatives of all twelve tribes have been coming back into the land of their forefathers, even though they are coming in unbelief, as the text states they should.

Therefore, the passage for our devotional reading for today is a prophecy of two "Jewish states" during the Tribulation Period that will become one state again at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when He will cleanse the Jews, and they will be His people, and He their God, verse 23.

The "two sticks" represent the two Jewish states, Israel and Judah. This prophecy is also revealed in Malachi 2, Jeremiah 3:18 and Ezekiel 35:10, when it refers to "two nations". Now, that's the prophecy. (For more, see my audio series on Ezekiel, "Dry Bones and Two Sticks")

The current events that play into this scenario are many. For a number of years this prophetic concept has been discussed among the religious Jews. The former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told US President George W Bush that Israel was on the verge of civil war, Jew against Jew.

With the disengagement of the Gaza, the Annapolis Middle East Peace Summit and pressure from the Unites States, the European Union and the United Nations, the Israeli government has called for the removal of the Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria, several hundred thousand Jewish settlers.

This call has been met by calls for a "second" Jewish state. There is now a campaign to come up with a "flag" for the second Jewish state, and an "anthem" as well. There are very serious Jewish scholars that are now calling for this "second Jewish state", a prophecy that Ezekiel wrote about 2,500 years ago.

The stage is set and all the actors are getting into place, the curtain is about to go up on the final act in this prophetic drama for the last days. Only one thing must happen before all of these prophecies will be fulfilled, and that's the Rapture, which could happen, today. Keep looking up ... Until.

PRAYER THOT: Thank you Lord for the understanding of Bible prophecy for the last days. It helps me to recognize where I am on Your time clock. Help me to live expecting You to come today.
Monday, November 24, 2008

Jeremiah 50:28

The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple.

For further study - Jeremiah 50:28-40

The passage of prophecy selected for today's devotional and extended reading is from the whole of Jeremiah 50. Though I have only given you thirteen verses to read, verses 28-40, I suggest that you also include the entire 50th chapter of Jeremiah for your reading today.

In fact, Jeremiah 50 and 51 go together as one prophecy; however, we'll take a look at Jeremiah 51 for another devotional reading. These two chapters are part of the prophetic ministry of the priest-prophet Jeremiah that God had selected, sanctified and ordained even before his conception or birth.

Jeremiah was selected as a Prophet to the nations in eternity past, Jeremiah 1:5. There are other nations that Jeremiah wrote about prophetically in this book that must be understood as they relate to the end times as well.

As we come to Jeremiah 50 we see that this unique Prophet, 2,500 years ago, was actually pre-writing history for our day. Reading through Jeremiah is like reading from the front page of any major newspaper.

Jeremiah introduces this entire chapter, verse 1, as the prophecy from the Lord, given to Jeremiah and focused on Babylon. Remember, when Jeremiah wrote this chapter of prophecy, Daniel and his three Hebrew friends had just been taken into the Babylonian Captivity.

The Jews were facing the threat from Nebuchadnezzar and the mighty Babylonian Army, by which all Jews would be eventually taken into captivity. Jeremiah, before the fact, would tell the people how long they would be in this captivity, and out of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 25:11 and 29:10.

In this passage, this Jewish Prophet was revealing the eternal destiny of the Babylonians. Three times in Jeremiah 50 the Lord tells the prophet that Babylon, the literal city of Babylon, will be destroyed, forever.

In fact, when you include Jeremiah 51 in this prophecy it is seven times totally, that Jeremiah speaks of total destruction of Babylon, Jeremiah 50:13,39-40 and Jeremiah 51:29, 37, 43 and 62.

Biblical Babylon is today modern Iraq. These passages of prophecy pertaining to the total destruction of Babylon have not been fulfilled. In Daniel 5 we see the record of the fall of the Babylonian Empire; however, the city of Babylon was not then destroyed and has not been destroyed yet.

This total destruction of the literal city of Babylon takes place at the end of the seven year Tribulation Period, Revelation 16:17-21, and it is done in one hour, Revelation 18:10, 17 and 19. (See my audio series, "The Babylon Factor".)

Before we leave Jeremiah 50 please look at verse 29. The reason that the Lord totally destroys the city of Babylon and all the Babylonians, the modern-day Iraqi's, is that King Nebuchadnezzar took the implements out of the Temple in Jerusalem and placed them in his idolatrous temple in Babylon, II Chronicles 36: 18-21.

I mentioned that modern-day Iraq is Biblical Babylon thus all that we see happening today in that part of the world is setting the stage for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled, possibly in the near future.

Prophecy becomes very practical as we determine where we are on God's prophetic clock, by studying His prophetic plan, found in His prophetic Word.

PRAYER THOT: As I come to an understanding of the times by studying Your Word, dear Lord, help me to get my heart right and please use me to warn others of the times in which we are living.