Jimmy Carter Redux

Jimmy Carter Redux
Vol: 93 Issue: 30 Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The best way to make friends with the current US administration is to run roughshod over your own population, abandoning any pretense at law and order and threatening either your own population or a neighboring one.

That’s if you want to be friends with the United States.

If you want the US on your back, the best way to accomplish that is by being an open, free Western-style democracy. Let’s look at some of countries where America looks the other way.

Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of international terrorism. It is also within months of having a nuclear weapon. Iran has been in a state of undeclared war against the Western world, and in particular, against the United States, ever since the fall of the Shah and the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Obama had a real chance at undoing one of Jimmy Carter’s greatest foreign policy failures. But he missed it.

During his campaign, Obama pledged to meet with Iran’s dictatorial mullocracy pretty much anywhere, anytime, anyhow. He gave his first one-on-one interview with al-Arabiya.

He rewarded Turkey for knifing the US in the back during the Iraq invasion by making Ankara the venue for his first speech to the Islamic world.

He thanked the Saudis for knifing us in the back at OPEC by bowing long and deep before the King of Mecca.

He allowed Hugo Chavez to use him as a prop for a series of propaganda photos during the Organization of American States meeting last spring.

When the Iranian dictatorship began shooting down its own citizens in the streets, Obama remained silent, saying he didn’t want to give the impression that the US was interfering in Iran’s domestic affairs.

It didn’t matter. Iran accused the US of it anyway.

For two solid weeks, Iranian protestors waited to hear the White House voice support for their movement. It wasn’t until after the protest began to lose steam in the face of a government crackdown that Obama finally spoke.

It was far too little, far too late. The protests, which had a real chance of overthrowing the Iranian mullocracy, are all but over. The Iranian Islamic Republic survived — in no small part, thanks to US inaction.

Ok, so Obama was just being cautious . . . what’s wrong with that?

A couple of says ago, the president of Honduras tried to get around the Honduran Constitutional term limits on his presidency by holding a public referendum in defiance of Congress, emulating his mentor, Hugo Chavez.

President Zelaya defied both the country’s Constitution and its Congress. The Congress followed the Constitutional provisions to legally remove him from office and installed an interim president who promised to hold elections in November as scheduled.

President Zelaya was quietly arrested and deported to Costa Rica. Within hours — and even before coordinating with his own Secretary of State, President Obama was already called Zelaya’s removal an “illegal military coup d’etat.”

Secretary of State Clinton, on the other hand, initially supported the Honduran Congress and their adherence to Honduran law.

Let’s make a quick comparison between US relations with Iran and relations with Honduras. First Iran.

Iranians kicked out the US in 1978 and took its Embassy hostage for 444 days. It is a major supporter of terrorism aimed at the US and has a long and bloody record of war against US targets.

Through its proxies like Hezbollah and the insurgency in Iraq, Iran has killed thousands of Americans in the past thirty years. There is no doubt that Iran would kill thousands more if the opportunity presented itself.

Iran has rejected every effort at detente or normalization of relations by every administration since Jimmy Carter.

Now, our relationship with Honduras:

Successive U.S. administrations have had close political, military and economic ties to Honduras. In the 1980s, Honduran officials aided U.S. efforts against the leftist government of Nicaragua and insurgents in El Salvador.

Remittances from Honduran immigrants to the U.S. account for about one-quarter of the country’s gross domestic product, and 70% of Honduras’ exports go to the U.S.

U.S. officials have strong ties to the political and business elites who have opposed President Zelaya’s conduct, including his push to lift constitutional limits on his presidential term.

And the U.S. military has strong ties to the Honduran military, which sent troops to Iraq in a sign of support for the U.S. effort there.

About 600 U.S. military personnel are stationed at the Soto Cano Air Base, about 60 miles northwest of the capital city, Tegucigalpa.

The Honduran Congress, following the procedural guidelines set for by the Honduran Constitution, removed their president from office to prevent him from setting himself up as a dictator.

And later that same day, Obama issued the following statement: “We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras.”

Assessment:

As much as Obama would like to think of himself as another JFK, the more apt comparison would be to that of Jimmy Carter. Like Jimmy Carter, Obama never met a dictator he didn’t like.

He’s all but offered Ahmadinjad the keys to Washington, his fraudulent re-election and bloody crackdown on student protesters notwithstanding.

Kim Jong il is threatening nuclear war and Obama seems unaware of exactly who Kim Jong il is. If North Korea is anywhere near the top of his priority list, you can’t tell from his public statements of the issue.

Syria’s Bashar al Assad threatened, as recently as last week, to go to war with Israel if Israel didn’t surrender the Golan Heights back to Syrian control. The Golan Heights was used to rain down rockets on northern Israel until captured by Israel during the 1967 Six Days’ War.

Syria continues to aid and support Hezbollah, who rains down rockets on northern Israel from Lebanon at whim. Israel has nothing to gain and everything to lose by giving back the Golan.

Where does America stand? Directly on Israel’s neck. Israel is the only representative democracy in the Middle East. The idea of an Israeli dictatorship is unthinkable because it is impossible. America is more prone to a dictatorial takeover than Israel is.

Obama controls both Houses of Congress. Netanyahu’s fragile coalition could collapse at any moment. America has two ruling political parties. Israel has a dozen. Israeli leaders rule at the pleasure of the public more so than any other country in the world.

No matter what, Obama can count on being president until at least January 20. 2013. Netanyahu could be removed from office by a simple vote of no confidence.

So where does Obama apply the political pressure?

Not to the dictators threatening nuclear war like Amadinejad or Kim or Bashar Assad. Or dictators like Hugo Chavez, ally to all dictators everywhere that oppose the United States. Or to dictators in waiting like President Zelaya of Honduras.

But when it comes to Israel, Obama is all over it. “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements… It is time for these settlements to stop,” he declared in Cairo.

To leave no room for doubt, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized that Obama was referring to ALL settlements, including Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

The international community’s full-court press against settlements, with the Obama administration in the forefront, is wearing the Netanyahu government down. The Palestinians’ position is that if settlements don’t stop, negotiations won’t start.

The Palestinians define “settlements” as the presence of Jewish civilian homes occupied by Jewish families.

THINK about that for more than a second. It isn’t the dictators in Venezuela, Honduras, North Korea, Iran or Syria that are getting strong-armed by Washington. The White House is instead preoccupied with promoting the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank.

There isn’t any other way to describe it — there isn’t any other way to view it. When the Serbs began evicting Muslims from Serbian land because they were Muslims, it was called ‘ethnic cleansing’ and NATO fought a war over it.

Let’s be clear. “Ethnic cleansing” is a euphemism referring to the expulsion or killing of members of an ethnic minority by a local majority to achieve ethnic homogeneity in majority-controlled territory.

Ethnic cleansing is defined as a crime against humanity under international law.

The UN Commission of Experts (established pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780) held that the practices associated with ethnic cleansing “constitute crimes against humanity and can be assimilated to specific war crimes. Furthermore … such acts could also fall within the meaning of the Genocide Convention.”

The UN General Assembly condemned “ethnic cleansing” and racial hatred in a 1992 resolution.

In the period between Israel’s rebirth and the Six Days War, the Arab countries of North Africa and the Mediterranean expelled 99% of Sephardic Jews. The Jewish populations of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco no longer exist.

In practice, ethnic cleansing is a crime under international law — unless the ethnicity being cleansed is Jewish.

Then it’s social justice. And America supports it.

Things are getting pretty hairy for the United States. The dollar is in free-fall. America’s standing among the nations has never been lower. The US image has gone from that of international bully to international laughing-stock.

Most of the world sees America in much the same way that they viewed the Russians during the Soviet era. Even Americans find themselves astonished at how quickly America has fallen, and how far.

“When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of his glory: And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth His sheep from the goats: And He shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:31-34)

Jesus is not referring to the Church in this passage, but to the literal nations of the earth. The kingdom prepared for the sheep nations is the Millennial Kingdom. The Millennial Kingdom is a restoration of the earth to its Edenic state, literally prepared from the foundation of the world.

Jesus goes on to list the qualifications that will determine which are sheep and which are goat nations.

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: Naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me. “

“Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred, and fed Thee? or thirsty, and gave Thee drink? When saw we Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? or naked, and clothed Thee? Or when saw we Thee sick, or in prison, and came unto Thee?”

Now, watch His reply and consider it carefully. “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)

Again, Jesus is NOT talking about the Church. For the most part, the sheep nations will include nations with strong Christian roots, but not all nations with strong Christian roots will necessarily be sheep nations.

Christian nations are numbered among the wealthiest on the planet, not among the poorest, and are hardly miserable and imprisoned and naked and sick.

Jesus is referring to the Jews, His literal brethren, who suffered persecution, deportation, pogroms and extermination at the hands of ‘Christian’ nations throughout Europe throughout the Dark Ages and right into the 20th century.

“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)

America was the first nation to ever extend the full sovereign franchise to Jews without hyphenation.

Jews in America aren’t treated differently as “Jewish-Americans”. Instead, they are Americans who also happen to be Jews. And for 172 years, Jews in America prospered as Americans and America was blessed by God above all nations.

When Israel was restored in 1948, America’s fortunes — which seemingly couldn’t get any better — did. America backed Israel and America prospered.

“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” (Zechariah 12:3)

Then along came Jimmy Carter, who pressured Israel into surrendering some of the Promised Land in exchange for peace with Egypt. The economy tanked. Within a year, we were embroiled in the Iranian Hostage Crisis.

During the 1980’s America supported Israel and America’s economy recovered. Then Bill Clinton involved the US in the Oslo Accords. America’s downhill spiral since then can literally be charted.

There is little doubt that America will be numbered among the sheep nations on that day — thanks to the generations of Americans that came before this one.

But since Oslo, things have gotten progressively bumpy. It is no coincidence. God’s Word is true. And so are His promises.

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. . . Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till ALL be fulfilled. ” (Luke 21:28,32)

Marantha!

The Turkish Factor

The Turkish Factor
Vol: 93 Issue: 29 Monday, June 29, 2009

“We consider the Muslims in Turkey our brothers,” said Mustafa Abu Yazid, the network’s operations chief. Lauding Turkish suicide bombers killed in recent attacks near the Afghan-Pakistani border, he declared, “This is a pride and honor to the nation of Islam in Turkey, and we ask Allah to accept them amongst the martyrs.”

The message is the latest sign of the changing composition of Islamic extremism, anti-terrorism officials and experts say. The number of Turks in Al Qaeda, long dominated by Arabs, has increased notably, officials say.

And militant groups dominated by Turks and Central Asians, many of whom share Turkic culture and speak a Turkic language, have emerged as allies of and alternatives to Al Qaeda in northwestern Pakistan.

“We are aware of an increasing number of Turks going to train in Pakistan,” said a senior European anti-terrorism official whom the LA Times said had asked to remain anonymous because the subject is sensitive. “This increase has taken place in the past couple of years.”

Turkey’s secular tradition and official monitoring of religious practice for years helped restrain extremism at home and in the diaspora. But the newer movements churn out Internet propaganda in Turkish as well as German, an effort to recruit among a Turkish immigrant population in Germany that numbers close to 3 million.

“We are seeing almost as much propaganda material from these Turkic groups as we are from Al Qaeda,” said Evan Kohlmann, a U.S. private consultant who works with anti-terrorism agencies around the world.

“Turks were perceived as moderate with few connections to Al Qaeda central. Now Germany is dealing with this threat in a community that could be a sleeping giant.”

Germany is especially vulnerable because it has troops in Afghanistan. The threat could also intensify in other countries with Turkish populations, such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands, whose anti-terrorism agencies focus on entrenched extremism in large North African communities.

Turkey is a Muslim ally of the West and a longtime gateway to battlegrounds in the Middle East and Asia. But in the 90’s Turks trained in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda and fought in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Russian republic of Chechnya.

In 2003, Turkish al Qaeda suicide bombers killed 70 people in attacks on synagogues and British targets in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city. The Islamic Jihad Union, an Uzbek-led group, has alternately competed and worked with Al Qaeda.

The organization trained and directed two Turks and two German converts who have agreed to plead guilty in a 2007 bomb plot against U.S. targets in Germany.

Last year, the group announced that another recruit, a 28-year-old Turk born in Bavaria, killed two U.S. soldiers in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

Assessment:

Until defeated by the Allies in 1917, the Turkish Ottoman Empire was a vast Islamic caliphate that had controlled the entire Middle East since the 14th century.

At the height of its power, the Ottoman Empire spanned three continents, controlling much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. Modern Turkey was established as a distinctly secular and Western-leaning state in 1923 under Mustafa Ataturk.

Modern Turkey is the only majority-Muslim member of NATO and is an applicant to join the European Union. But the Bible says that Turkey’s future points, not to the West, but to the East.

According to the Prophet Ezekiel, Turkey is a major player in the Gog-Magog invasion. Interestingly, Ezekiel slices the Turkey before serving it up in his identification of the alliance members.

“Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal . . . Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them . . . Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.” (Ezekiel 38:3-6)

There are four distinct theories concerning the identity of the nations listed by Ezekiel.

1. Hashemite Kingdom Theory: The Islamic Nations will come against Israel either by an Iraqi-led, Jordanian led, or Turkish led coalition. The enemy from the north refers to the areas of Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. These Islamic nations make up the lands occupied by Magog, Gomer, Togarmah, Meshech and Tubal.

2. Caucus Theory: Gog and Magog are the Arab nations in an alliance with the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union. This theory leaves out most of Russia, and includes only the southern part.

3. Russian Theory: The Hebrew word ‘rosh’ in verse 3 is identified with Russia, ‘Tubal’ with Tiblisi or Tobolsk and ‘Meshech’ with Moscow, therefore Gog and Magog refers to Russia.

This is one of the most commonly held views and is based on a different interpretation of the Hebrew word Rosh (used as a noun rather than adjective), similarities in the pronunciation of words, and the Greek translation of Rosh referring to a tribe of people found in what is now Russia.

5. Indo-European Theory: Gog and Magog include the nations descending from Japheth: Russia, the Caucasus (Turkey), Iraq, and the Islamic republics of Central Asia. The coalition is an alliance of Arab nations, Muslim republics, Georgia, southern Russia and the Black sea area.

I tend to favor the Indo-European Theory. Gog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer and Magog were the sons and grandsons of Noah who settled the areas from Turkey to the Caucasus Mountains and into the steppes of Russia.

Dr. Edwin Yamauchi identifies Meshech and Tubal as Mushku and Tabal in central and eastern Turkey.

Traditional scholarship has always linked Gomer to either eastern Europe or Turkey. Togarmah is linked to either southeastern Europe or Turkey.

The Gog-Magog Alliance as identified in Ezekiel therefore includes all or part of the following countries: Russia, Ethiopia, Libya, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Georgia Uzebekistan and in particular, Turkey.

Note that Gog (Russia) is drawn into the conflict by its alliances, rather than being the main instigator. “And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth. . .” (Ezekiel 38:4)

Think about this. Only forty years ago, Ezekiel’s prophecy read precisely the same way. Except that Russia was the Soviet Union and one of two undisputed superpowers.

The terms of the Cold War would have prevented Russia and other Soviet bloc countries from conducting any kind of invasion of Israel without either making a deal with Richard Nixon or risking certain nuclear war.

The revived Roman Empire did not exist, except in the minds of its planners. Our closest ally in the Middle East (after Israel) was Iran, followed closely by Turkey.

In January, 1969, LBJ was still president. The Vietnam War was still white-hot. Our only worries were the Soviets and Castro. How could anyone have foreseen the fall of the Shah, the rise of radical Islam, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Europe in 1969?

Just forty years ago, Ezekiel’s prophecy — penned two thousand, five hundred years before — was impossible, as it had been for most of the past twenty-six centuries, for one reason or another. Today — right now — absolutely every element is either in place or rapidly moving into place.

Therefore, Turkey’s shift from West to East is right on schedule.

“Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 38:23)

Grace

Grace
Vol: 93 Issue: 27 Saturday, June 27, 2009

“For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

There is a lot a information packed into this single verse. To begin with, it says for by grace you are saved THROUGH FAITH let s stop there for a second.

Grace (Gk charis) means benefit, favor or gift. It is from the word grace that we get the word gratitude or the sense of being grateful.

Note that grace alone does NOT save. Grace is both the extension of the gift and the gratitude of its recipient. To be grateful, one must first receive. While grace is extended to all mankind, not all mankind accepts it.

Not all mankind is grateful. Grace is extended to all, but salvation comes by faith. A simple concept, but many miss the big picture.

Let s look at the next section of the verse, And that not of yourselves . What is not of ourselves? Grace? If it refers to grace, then the Lord has wasted words unnecessarily. Of course we can t extend grace to ourselves! It is not only impossible, such an extension of grace would be meaningless. We haven t the authority to save ourselves.

Read the verse again. For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Since we already KNOW that grace is not of ourselves that only leaves one other element that can be the gift of God and that is saving faith.

So the Scriptures say that even the faith that saves us is a gift from God, and not something we conjure up as a result of our own works, lest anyone should boast. This verse is the great equalizer of Christians.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)

We all come to the Cross the same way; recipients of God s extension of grace, which we receive by a faith which is God-given. None of us has any reason to feel superior. If we are saved, it is because we were drawn of the Father to the Son.

It is written in the Prophets, “And they shall all be taught of God.” Therefore everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to Me. (John 6:45)

Allow that to sink in. So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Matthew 20:16)

And again; For many are called, but few chosen. (Matthew 22:14)

And again; Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16)

Among whom are ye also the CALLED of Jesus Christ: (Romans 1:6)

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the CALLED according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

The goodness of God in converting and saving sinners encourages others to hope in His grace and mercy. Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast. These things are not brought to pass by any thing done by us, therefore all boasting is shut out.

It is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by His power. It was His purpose, to which he prepared us, by blessing us with the knowledge of His will, and His Holy Spirit producing such a change in us, that we should glorify God by our perseverance to holiness.

Holiness (Gk hagiasmos) means purification which is a PROCESS, also accomplished by God through Jesus.

Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath BEGUN a good work in you will PERFORM it UNTIL the day of Jesus Christ: (Phillipians 1:6)

There are no Christians more deserving than others. Because you have not yet achieved the state of holiness others have does not mean you are less favored. We all come to the Cross equally lost, and we all came away equally saved.

Salvation is an eternal state for which each of us were chosen before the world began.

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, Paul writes to Timothy, (2 Timothy 1:9)

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that CANNOT LIE, PROMISED before the world began. . .” (Titus 1:2)

We are eternally secure, because we are eternally saved, which was accomplished in the Mind of God when each of us was called — BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN!

Let’s bring it together. Nobody can come to Christ unless they are drawn by the Father, who provides us with both the extension of the offer of salvation and the faith necessary to receive it, a calling that was sealed in heaven before the world began, according to His purpose and grace.

Our salvation is immediate and eternal, but our purification is a process, which, having been begun in us at the moment of salvation, will be perform in us BY CHRIST until the day we stand before Him. Lest anyone should boast.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:23-24)

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21)

Legalism runs counter to the clear teaching of Scripture. This is a very difficult doctrine to both teach and understand. It sounds like a license to sin. It is not.

It is an understanding that our relationship to Christ is unique — that God knows our hearts, and has already judged us accordingly. So that sin cannot reign supreme in our mortal body and thereby render us useless to our calling.

The most effective weapon we have in our war with the enemy is the knowledge that he cannot take away our salvation. There is never a time when we are unworthy to tell others of Jesus Christ.

Paul tells us, “Finally, my brethren, be strong IN THE LORD, and in the power of HIS might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11-12)

Paul says we put on the ‘armor of God’ in a specific order. The certainty of the truth of Scripture, the breastplace of righteousness (imputed by Christ) the knowledge of the Gospel and the shield of faith. Our heads are protected by the ‘helmet of salvation’ – the certainty of our eternal salvation. These are all DEFENSIVE weapons.

Having secured our defense, we then take up our only offensive weapon, the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

If the enemy can convince us of our own personal unrighteousness (of which each of us is acutely aware) or cause us to doubt the truth of Scripture or of our faith (which is a gift from God, lest anyone should boast) or cause us to doubt our own salvation, then we will not be able to effectively wield the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

God chose each of us, and His plan is to use us to seek out those similarly chosen and introduce them to their Savior. That is our assignment on this earth. THAT is our ‘calling.’ To spread the Gospel.

That isn’t Calvinism — Calvinism teaches that because the Church was predestinated, we are under no obligation to lead people to Christ — God has already chosen them so He’ll sort it out.

There is a joke about the Calvinist who fell down the stairs, and remarked, “Thank God that’s over.”

Instead, the Scriptures teach that God foreknew who would be saved, therefore it is predestined. But God also knew who He selected to carry the Word to that person. And the enemy will work overtime to thwart God’s will by convincing us we are not worthy to carry it.

As Christians, we have an awesome responsibility before God. We have been assigned to seek out the lost and offer them the Gospel. To accomplish our mission, we need to be fully equipped for the task.

That is what eternal security is all about. Not a license to sin, but rather a certain knowledge that our sin is forgiven.

Jesus said of His sheep (the Church) “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

“Give” (Gk didōmi) means ‘to bestow’. It is a present-tense verb. The Scripture does NOT say, “I WILL give them eternal life,” it says it has already been bestowed upon us.

Jesus said that no man can pluck His sheep from His Hand. I am a man. If I can sin my way out of His gift of eternal life, it is neither eternal, nor is it a gift. It is earned wages, dependent upon my works.

But the Scriptures say; “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

And since I, a man, can, by my works, undo His Word, it means His Word is not true.

Our works are the ‘fruits’ of our labor for Christ. Our labor is to lead others to Christ.

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” (1 Corinthians 3:10)

Our foundation is our salvation, but our obligation is to build upon that foundation by leading others to the Cornerstone of Life. But our individual salvation is already an accomplished fact.

When we stand before the Bema Seat of Christ, “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)

Don’t let the enemy render you powerless. You ARE worthy, not because you are you, but because of Him Who made you worthy according to His will and by His own Hand.

Or Christ is dead in vain.

Farrah, Michael and Ed

Farrah, Michael and Ed
Vol: 93 Issue: 26 Friday, June 26, 2009

I was saddened to hear of the death of Ed McMahon at age 86. Eighty-six years is a long time to occupy this earth, so my sorrow wasn’t so much for Ed as it was for myself.

I met Ed McMahon once. It wasn’t a pleasant meeting. In addition to being Johnny’s sidekick, Ed McMahon retired a bird Colonel in the US Marine Corps Reserve and was commissioned a Brigadier General in the California Air National Guard.

In 1970 when I was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC, Ed McMahon was briefly my commanding officer. MCAS Cherry Point was ordinarily commanded by a two-star general.

When the CG (Commanding General) goes on leave, a general officer is called up from the Marine Corps Reserve to keep his chair warm while he is away. In 1970, the reserve CG was General Ed McMahon.

I was walking up the steps to the PX when I saw Ed McMahon walking down the steps toward me. I sort of noticed he was in a Marine uniform and I sort of saw the star on his collar, but mostly I noticed it was Ed McMahon! I was so star-struck I stopped and just stood there.

General McMahon saw me and walked right toward me. He opened his mouth to speak, but I didn’t hear Johnny Carson’s sidekick. I heard a real honest-to-goodness Marine general officer chewing my butt for failing to render a proper hand salute.

He sounded every bit the decorated career Marine officer that he was. I suspect he felt he needed a bit of practice. and the eighteen year old private first class quaking in fear before him was just what the doctor ordered.

“Don’t you know enough to salute a general officer? How long have you been a Marine? How would you like to spend the next six weeks picking up cigarette butts?”

I bet he chewed on me for a full minute — it seemed much longer. And when he was done chewing on it, I rendered him a snappy hand salute and he went on his way.

For the rest of my life, every time I saw Ed on TV, I made sure to render him a mental hand salute. Sometimes when nobody else was looking, I gave him a real one.

I didn’t really know him, but I felt like I did. We were comrades in arms.

Before I even got used to the death of the general came the news of the death of another icon of my youth, Farrah Fawcett.

I wasn’t really a fan. I saw “Charlie’s Angels” a few times but even with Farrah Fawcett decorating the set, it was still too stupid a program to sit all the way through. She wasn’t on there all that long, either, and I don’t remember any of her movies.

But for some reason I remained interested in her goings-on over the years. Maybe it was because she was so close to my own age. I thought of her in the same way as I thought of some of my older sister’s friends when I was growing up.

I didn’t watch her bizarre death documentary, but I knew she was losing her battle with cancer. So I wasn’t surprised to hear of her death. But I was surprisingly saddened by it.

And of course you can’t turn to any media outlet without being bombarded by images of Michael Jackson, who died yesterday of what his press releases are calling “heart failure” at the tender age of fifty.

I didn’t like Michael Jackson. I never thought of him as “the King” of anything. He was a weirdo and a pedophile.

Oddly, I felt sorriest for him of all.

Assessment:

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: ” (Hebrews 9:27) I hate death. It is the ultimate thief.

I made my acquaintance with Death at aged ten when it claimed my mother. Death came for my father only a dozen years later. At age 56, I’ve already outlived them both by a significant margin.

Paradoxically, since becoming a Christian, I’ve come to hate death even more now than I did when I believed it was the end. I say ‘paradoxically’ because death is allegedly the friend to a Christian. Excepting in the case of Rapture, you can’t get to Heaven without passing through Death’s door. Death is the ultimate paradox, since everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.

Christians know that Death is not the end, but the beginning. I think that is why I hate Death more today than I did before I knew the Lord.

Ed McMahon was a good Marine and a good American. He lived a long and prosperous life. He died an avowed atheist.

Farrah Fawcett had it all; beauty, fame, fortune — and tragedy. Lots of tragedy. At only sixty-two (which is a lot younger than I used to think it was), Death didn’t sneak up on her, she saw it coming afar off. Fawcett’s official religion was Roman Catholic.

If she came to Christ before she left this life, it is a closely guarded secret.

Michael Jackson was a walking tragedy. If he ever had a moment of genuine happiness, I would be surprised. He lived a pampered, but sad and pathetic life. In 2007, fleeing his notoriety back home, Jackson moved to Bahrain and announced he had converted to Islam.

Michael Jackson’s death coincidentally takes me back to the year I met Ed McMahon. That was the year I bought my first eight-track tape player.

Eight track tapes were enormously expensive to a Marine PFC making less than $150/month. I only had two. One was “White Room” by Cream. The other was a Jackson Five album. I knew the words to every song.

Ed McMahon was a man in his thirties when I was born. Farrah Fawcett was in primary school. Michael Jackson had not yet arrived. They lived their lives, became wealthy and famous and enjoyed all the good things this world has to offer. They started at different points, traveled different roads to get there and arrived at different times.

“And He spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.”

“And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”

“But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:16-20)

The deaths of these three rich and famous entertainers during the same week drives home to me once again just how fleeting this physical life is — and how delicate. When Death comes for you, it is no respecter of persons. The rich die like the poor. They are here and then they are not.

And He said unto His disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.” (Luke 12:22-23)

We all know people for whom life is just that — a material existence with no eternal accountability. They don’t realize what they are risking, or how close they are to passing the point of no return.

For Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, this week doesn’t mark the end. For them, it is just beginning. Given what is known about their individual spiritual conditions, that is a sobering thought.

I have some people I need to go talk to. I’ll bet that you do, too.

One Thing That It Isn’t Is ‘Painless’

One Thing That It Isn’t Is ‘Painless’
Vol: 93 Issue: 25 Thursday, June 25, 2009

Of all the doctrinal issues and questions out there, the most difficult question for me personally revolves around the issue of suicide and whether or not God can forgive a sin for which it is not possible to ask forgiveness.

There are many good and logical arguments for both positions. The Bible says “Thou shalt not kill” and suicide is the act of killing oneself. But that is an oversimplification of both the Scripture and the act itself.

The Scripture actually says “Thou shalt do no murder” — and clearly there are times when God condones killing. In terms of blood and death, few books can equal the carnage described by the Old Testament. Including many suicides.

King Abimelech was attacking a tower in Thebez when a woman dropped a piece of a millstone on his head. Believing himself mortally wounded, he ordered his armor-bearer to run him through lest it be said he was killed by a woman. (Judges 9:52-54)

Samson violated his oath to God as a Nazarene and as a result, he was captured and blinded by the Philistines, who then chained him between two pillars of their temple. Humiliated and wanting revenge, he pulled them down, bringing down the house on himself and his captors.

King Saul, having lost his three sons in battle, asked his armor bearer to kill him. 1st Samuel 31:4-6 says that when the armor bearer refused, Saul fell on his sword, killing himself. Afterwards, the armor-bearer also killed himself by falling on his sword.

In 2nd Samuel 17:1-29 Ahithophel hanged himself when his offer to take 12,000 men in pursuit of King David was refused.

1st Kings 16:15-20 tells the story of Zimri, King of Tirzah, who was so overcome with guilt for his sins that resulted in his city being taken that he committed suicide by burning down his palace around himself.

Then, there is Judas Iscariot, who hanged himself in despair after betraying the Lord.

Altogether, of the seven people that committed suicide in the Bible; five of them were wicked men — and one, (Samson) was stupid. (We don’t know enough about the armor-bearer to form an opinion.)

Suicide is almost never morally justifiable. For the most part, excepting situations involving terminal disease, suicide is a permanent ‘solution’ to a temporary problem. It is the ultimate expression of selfishness. It expresses a total lack of trust in God or His promises and a transfer of faith away from God.

The Scriptures say “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) For the Christian, committing suicide is not giving up on yourself. It is giving up on God.

I’ve lost a number of friends to suicide. A guy I knew committed suicide last week. He was the second member of that family to die by his own hand — his brother committed suicide ten years ago.

Whether one is a believer or an unbeliever, suicide is the ultimate act of cowardice. It is running away in the face of the enemy. Granted, despair, depression, pain, loneliness, disappointment, uncertainty, loss and misery are powerful motivators and this life is anything but easy.

And as Christians, we know that to die is gain.

Philippians 1:20-26 has Paul contemplating life and death. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” Paul writes. “But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.”

Paul seems unsure if he prefers life with labor or death with gain. He chooses life; “Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you,” not because it is his preference, but because it is his duty.

For a Christian to take himself out of the battle permanently by suicide is to shirk that Christian duty. Suicide is unique in that it is the only sin for which we can’t go back and beg forgiveness after the fact.

1st John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

That little word “if” seems to make this a conditional promise; IF we confess our sins, THEN He will forgive them.

It would seem to logically follow that IF we don’t, then neither will He. By definition, the very last act committed on this earth by a suicide is a deadly sin.

Does that also mean that it is an unforgivable sin?

Assessment:

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” (Matthew 12:31)

I’ve heard it argued that the unforgivable sin is suicide. That suicide, (the act of taking an authority over your life that rightly belongs to God) IS the ultimate blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It is the sin for which you cannot be forgiven, because by definition, you can’t be sorry for it after the fact.

Or so the argument goes.

That argument sounds logical, but it has all the theological depth of a puddle in a parking lot. One isn’t saved or condemned based on the last act one commits in one’s own life.

One is saved by the last act committed in the earthly life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. (Or rather, by one’s faith in that act and that God accepts it as sufficient payment for sin.)

How one ends one’s life is not the determining factor in where one spends eternity.

Here is one of the more interesting paradoxes of Christianity. One doesn’t enter into eternity until one dies. Eternity exists outside of time and space whereas we exist inside of time and space.

I am not in eternity now, since all the clocks are working. However, I already have eternal life. There is a distinction — and in this context, it makes a difference.

The Scriptures make it clear that, in the final analysis, the determining factor on whether we stand before the Bema Seat after the Rapture or before the Great White Throne at the end of the Millennium is not how or when we died. Where we spend eternity depends on whether we trusted in Christ or in our own works for our salvation.

The problem with believing in ‘faith plus works’ is that works cuts two ways. If good works can save you, then bad works can condemn you. Whether or not you go to heaven is therefore conditional, not on your life, but the last thing you did before you left it.

There is also the logic problem to deal with. When a person ‘gets saved’, what are they ‘saved’ from? They are saved from a Christless eternity in hell. But they get saved here on earth. Suppose a person gets saved and goes on to live an exemplary Christian life but sins just before he dies by committing suicide? Is he still saved?

Back when he was saved, before his suicide, was he saved by his exemplary Christian life? Or was he saved by faith in Christ? When is a person actually saved? When he first trusts Christ? Or when he dies?

If one suffers a temporary loss of faith, does that mean that person is lost again? Can he be saved again? Actually, if one is saved and then loses one’s salvation by his own sin, the Bible says it is impossible for such a one to come back to the Lord and ask for salvation a second time.

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)

Does the Scripture really mean “will be saved” rather than saved now? If so, then a Christian who later commits suicide has no hope of heaven. And neither does any Christian who has ever fallen away after having been saved, for any reason.

On the other hand, if one is saved now, rather than being saved later when we die, and since it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance, it follows that once saved, one cannot undo it.

Hebrews says that a person can only be saved ONCE because the Son of God can only be crucified for sin ONCE. Or every one of us would have undone it already and Heaven would be as empty as a Baptist church on Wednesday night.

Suicide does not disqualify one from entrance to heaven. God does not have a sliding scale for severity of sin anymore than He has a sliding scale of forgiveness. Sin is sin. Forgiveness is forgiveness.

Does that mean that, as the MASH theme song implies, that suicide is painless? I hardly think so. Suicide is the ultimate in spiritual cowardice. One can forgive a coward, but that doesn’t make him a hero. He’s still a coward who ran away in the face of the enemy. Only in the case of suicide, one is a coward for eternity.

Suicide isn’t the soul-killer some believe it is. But it is anything but painless.

The ‘Hidden’ Bible

The ‘Hidden’ Bible
Vol: 93 Issue: 24 Wednesday, June 24, 2009

From time to time, somebody will email me with a question about the Apocrypha, or the ‘extra’ books found in certain versions of the Bible. The Douay version (approved by the Vatican) includes the Apocrypha.

So do some King James Versions, although the Apocryphal books are set apart.

First, what is the ‘Apocrypha’? The word itself is derived from ecclesiastical Latin apocrypha scripta meaning ‘hidden writings’ which was itself derived from the Greek apokruphos meaning ‘to hide away’.

The Apocryphical books of the Bible fall into two categories: texts which were included in some canonical version of the Bible at some point, like Tobit or Baruch, and other texts of a Biblical nature which have never been canonical, like the Gospel of Thomas or the Book of Enoch.

The thirteen books that are included in the Douay Version and are recognized by the Vatican are called Deuterocanonical, which literally means ‘secondary canon’.

The term was coined by the fifth-century biblical scholar St. Jerome and refers to the biblical books included as part of the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament), but not included in the Hebrew Bible.

Several works ranging from the fourth century B.C.E. to New Testament times are considered apocryphal–including Judith, the Wisdom of Solomon, Tobit, Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, First and Second Maccabees, the two Books of Esdras, various additions to the Book of Esther (10:4-10), the Book of Daniel (3:24-90;13;14), and the Prayer of Manasseh.

The apocrypha have been variously included and omitted from bibles over the course of the centuries. The original King James 1611 Version of the Bible included them, although collecting them together as the ‘Books of the Apocrypha’ and placing them in an appendix.

The Apocrypha consists of 15 books of Jewish literature written during the intertestamental period. The Rheims-Douay Version (1582 A.D.) lists 7 additional books, adds to Esther and Daniel, and combines the “Letter of Jeremiah” with “Baruch” — thus including 12 of the 15 apocryphal books to the Old Testament.

These same books are referred to by Protestants as the “pseudoepigrapha.”

In other words, it is not the Inspired Word of God, and as such, not part of the collection of works that Timothy says is “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2nd Timothy 3:16)

The question that most often results from saying the Apocryphal Books are NOT Divinely inspired is, “Oh, yeah? How do you know?”

The best most Christians can do in reply is something like, “Well, they aren’t in MY Bible,” or try and explain that the early Church Fathers rejected them, without really being able to explain why.

Which then has you explaining why you trust the early Church Fathers so much, etc., etc. That argument usually collapses when somebody points out that there WERE early Church Fathers who cited them in their writings and listed them as Canonical.

It can be frustrating, since you don’t REALLY know.

But the most compelling reason why the Books of the Apocrypha were excluded is also the most obvious. God’s Word does not contradict itself elsewhere.

Let’s take a look at some of the legitimate reasons for rejecting the Books of the Apocrypha and see if they hold water on their own merits.

First off, (and I think this is compelling) although Jesus and the Apostles quoted extensively from Old Testament Scripture, not once did they quote from the Apocryphal books.

Ok, maybe that isn’t compelling enough for you. Try this. Reading through them, they lack both the power and the majesty of God’s Word. To one who has bathed his spirit in God’s Word, the Apocrypha just doesn’t FEEL right.

We’ve discussed many times what effect it would have on Judeo-Christianity if somebody conclusively proved that something in the Bible was wrong, historically, scientifically, medically, etc., since the Bible claims its authorship is of God and therefore without error.

If such a claim of fraud could be proved, then the Scripture would lose its authority and would join the ranks of the Book of Mormon, the Koran, the writings of Buddha or Zoroaster and become just another ‘holy book’.

It then follows that if the Apocryphal Books are Divinely inspired, they should pass the same test of inerrancy and harmonize with the rest of the Revealed Word.

But the Apocrypha contains chronological errors and statements not just contrary to established doctrine, it contains errors contrary to history.

God doesn’t make mistakes. But the Apocrypha does.

Baruch 1:2 (compared to Jeremiah 43:6-7)

Bel and the Dragon 22 (Xerxes did it); Bel and the Dragon 33

Tobit 1:4 (He could not have been “still a young man,” or even born yet. *The rebellion of the northern tribe against Jerusalem in 1 Kings 12:19-20 took place around 922 B.C.)

2 Maccabees 12:44, 45 condones prayers for the dead.

Sirach 3:34, 14, 30; 30:11-12 2; Esdras 7:7; 8:33, 36; Tobit 12:9, 8a; 14:11 all teach salvation by good works.

Tobit 6-8 teaches the use of magic in demon exorcism.

Tobit 11 teaches the use of magic in healing.

Sirach 8:19 teaches the use of magic to obtain good fortune.

Tobit 12:15 teaches of the intercession of angels (Rafael)

2 Maccabees 14:41-46 contradicts Scripture regarding suicide.

Sirach 38:16-23 (especially verses 20-21) teach mourning for the dead, also in contraction of the Canon of Scripture.

In the Prayer of Manasseh 8, it teaches of the ‘sinless’ lives of OT personalities.

Tobit 6:2-7, 16-17 describes ‘miracles’ that can best be described as just plain silly. Unless one believes that placing incense smoke on the organs of a man eating fish can ward off evil spirits. Or that a demon who fell in love with a woman killed off her last seven husbands on their wedding night.

Either the Bible is true, or it is not.

Assessment:

If one were to include the Books of the Apocrypha, then one could easily prove the Bible was no different than any other holy book, containing great wisdom, but also containing some ‘inconsequential’ errors.

While the other great religions of the world have sacred books, not even Muslim scholars will go so far as to say the Koran is without error and unchanged down through the centuries.

The same can be said of Buddhists, Mormons, JW’s Muslims, etc., etc. (One of Islam’s major arguments is that the Jews changed the Old Testament) Other religions also have other authorities of equal weight to their sacred writings.

Islam has imams and fatwas that are equal in authority to the Koran and its traditions and interpretations.

Buddhism has the Dalai Lama and Buddhist tradition. Mormons have revised the Book of Mormon dozens of times. The JW’s declared the world ended in 1914 and that Jesus is not God — and they have revised Scriptures to ‘prove’ it.

The Bible is unique. It remains unchanged, its claim of infallibility unchallenged, and its authority unmatched by any other religious sacred book — unless one includes the Apocrypha.

The easily-proved contradictions and historical errors contained in the Apocrypha are part of the reason that, over the years, the Catholic Church has developed its theological view that Vatican teaching and tradition are of equal weight and authority with the Bible.

It is an undeniable fact that those who trust the accepted Canon of Scripture cannot assign it equal authority to the pronouncements of men.

To argue otherwise is to deny all accepted Scripture as false, while defending the historically inaccurate and doctrinally contradictory Apocryphal books as true, since things that are different can never be the same, no matter how convincingly one tries to argue otherwise.

Why exclude the Books of the Apocrypha? One might as well ask, why not include the Koran and the Book of Mormon? Either the Bible is Divinely inspired and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, and for instruction in righteousness, or it is not.

There is no middle position.

The Abomination of Desolation

The Abomination of Desolation
Vol: 93 Issue: 23 Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I received two different emails on the same topic yesterday, each from a different correspondent citing different sources.

What made it noteworthy in my mind was that the topic was a building that was destroyed 1,939 years ago.

The first was from Carla, who wanted me to comment on a theory advanced by Bible prophecy teacher Jack Kelley concerning the eventual location of the Third Temple.

Here is how Jack explains it from his website :

Following Israel s return to God after the battle of Ezekiel 38-39, the Jewish people will re-establish their covenant (old not new) with Him. This will require a return to Levitical practices and so a Temple will be built. This is the Temple spoken of by Daniel and Revelation.

Following instructions given by Ezekiel and needing to avoid the enormous problems a Jerusalem Temple would create in the Moslem world, this Temple will be located north of Jerusalem in Shiloh. It will be defiled in the middle of the last 7 years as outlined in Daniel 9:24-27, Ezekiel 44:6-9, Matt 24:15 and 2 Thes 2:4 kicking off the Great Tribulation.

Jack’s conclusion that the Third Temple will be located in Shiloh is rooted in his interpretation of Scriptures concerning the Two Witnesses, the identification of the Holy City as Shiloh rather than Jerusalem, and finally, that the earthquake that splits the Mount of Olives at the Second Coming will also destroy the current Temple Mount.

The second email was from my friend Heidi Swander who forwarded an article bearing the headline: “Can The Third Temple Be Built Without Destroying the Dome of the Rock?”

But this article wasn’t published on a prophecy website by a prophecy teacher. Heidi’s article was published in the Jerusalem Post.

“A new Jewish interfaith initiative launched last week argues building the Third Jewish Temple in Jerusalem would not necessitate the destruction of the Dome of the Rock.

“God’s Holy Mountain Vision” Project hopes to defuse religious strife by showing that Jews’ end-of-days vision could harmoniously accommodate Islam’s present architectural hegemony on the Temple Mount.

This vision of religious shrines in peaceful proximity can transform the Temple Mount from a place of contention to its original sacred role as a place of worship shared by Jews, Muslims and Christians,” said Yoav Frankel, director of the initiative.

The Interfaith Encounter Association at the Mishkenot Sha’ananim’s Konrad Adenauer Conference Center in Jerusalem is sponsoring the program, which includes interfaith study and other educational projects.

According to Islamic tradition, the Dome of the Rock, built in 691, marks the spot where Muhammed ascended to Heaven. But according to Jewish tradition, Mount Moriah, now under the Dome of the Rock, is where the Temple’s Holy of Holies was situated.

The JPost article goes on to say that the traditional expectation for the Third Temple was that the destruction of the Dome of the Rock was a precondition to rebuilding on the site.

But it cites a Jewish scholar who says an authentic prophet could appear on the scene, who would then have the authority to specify the Temple’s precise location irrespective of Jewish tradition.

The JPost then quotes Sheikh Abdulla Nimar Darwish, founder of the Islamic Movement in Israel, who ALMOST agrees with Frankel. Almost.

Except for one little detail.

Why are we taking upon ourselves the responsibility to decide such things?” Darwish said in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post. “Even Jews believe that it is prohibited to rebuild the Temple until the Messiah comes. So what is there to talk about?”

“The Mahdi will decide whether or not to rebuild the Temple. If he decides that it should be rebuilt, I will go out to the Temple Mount and help carry the rocks.”

But, Darwish told the JPost, “As long as there is a Muslim alive, no Jewish Temple will be built on Al-Haram Al-Sharif [the Temple Mount]. The status quo must be maintained, otherwise there will be bloodshed.”

So we have a Christian Bible teacher arguing that the Third Temple will not be located on Temple Mount.

We have a Jewish scholar arguing in favor of the appearance of an inspired Prophet who will have the authority to relocate the Temple to accommodate political considerations. And a Muslim who thinks the inspired Prophet that will order the Jewish Temple rebuilt will be the Mahdi.

And, before we go any further, there’s something else I want you to take note of. There hasn’t been a Jewish Temple since AD 70. There hasn’t been a serious discussion about rebuilding the Temple since the 6th century AD. The Bible says that in the last days, the Temple will be rebuilt and Temple worship will be restored.

So, 1,939 years after the Temple’s destruction and almost 1,300 years since it was replaced by the al-Aqsa Mosque, what are we talking about?

An article in a secular newspaper about the coming of the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Temple, the Islamic Mahdi and perilous times to come.

Assessment:

While I respect Jack Kelley’s scholarship, I don’t believe that a Temple built anywhere except on Temple Mount can be legitimate. Kelley’s argument is persuasive and he cites a number of Scriptures that would tend to support his theory.

“But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months,” says Revelation 11:2.

Jack writes: “According to Prophecies in Daniel 9:27, Matt 24:15 and 2 Thes 2:4, a Temple will exist in Israel at the beginning of the Great Tribulation. This is confirmed by Revelation 11:1 which describes John measuring a Temple during the Tribulation. Its location is the Holy City. Chapter 11 also introduces the 2 witnesses who preach in the Great City and are ultimately killed there, their bodies left lying in the street. The Great City is identified as the place where the Lord was crucified: Jerusalem. But is Jerusalem also the Holy City?”

It would appear that the validity of the entire scenario rests on the answer to that question — Is Jerusalem “the Great City” of Revelation 11:8 also the Holy City of Revelation 11:2?

Nehemiah 11:1, Isaiah 52:1, Matthew 4:5 and Matthew 27:33 all identify Jerusalem by name as “the holy city.” Nehemiah 11:18, Isaiah 48:2, Daniel 9:24, Revelation 11:2 and Revelation 22:19 all identify Jerusalem in context as “the holy city.”

On the other hand, the phrase, “great city” is used by the Old Testament once in Genesis, once in Joshua, once in Jeremiah, and four times in Jonah. It’s used in the New Testament ten times — all in the Book of the Revelation.

Jonah and Joshua both refer to Nineveh as “the great city”, whereas Jeremiah is talking about Jerusalem. It refers to Jerusalem twice; Revelation 11:8 and Revelation 21:10 as the “great city”. The other eight times that the phrase “great city” appears in Revelation, it is in reference to Babylon.

In short, there is no relevant Scripture specific enough to justify concluding that the Third Temple will be located somewhere other than the location of the First and Second Temples.

Kelley gets it right when he concludes that the Old Covenant with the Jews will be in effect during the Tribulation. The Prophet Daniel says that Temple sacrifices and oblations are interrupted by the antichrist after 3 1/2 years.

“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” (Daniel 12:11)

In 168 BC, the Seclucid King Antiochus Epiphanes set out to Hellenize the Jews of Judea. To do so, Antiochus set about destroying the Jewish religious community, sparking the Macaabean Wars.

He occupied Jerusalem, and entered into the Holy of Holies where he sacrificed a pig on the altar. He then sprinkled the area with water in which swine flesh had been boiled, dedicated the Temple to Jupiter, erected a statue to Jupiter and plundered the Temple treasures.

The Apostle Paul says of the antichrist that he “sitteth in the Temple of God” — 2nd Thessalonians 2:4. Note that Paul does not call it “the Temple of antichrist” or the “Temple of the Jews” — he calls it the “Temple of God.”

If we are to believe that the Scriptures are Divinely inspired and therefore without error in matters of doctrine and reproof, then we have to believe that Paul referred to it as the “Temple of God” because God views it as legitimate.

Further, Jesus warned the Jews living in Israel at that future time, “But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains.” (Mark 13:14)

Jesus wasn’t speaking of Antiochus Epiphanes’ sacrilege which had occurred 130 years before. In context, Jesus was referring to the Tribulation Period, which is why He said, “let him that readeth understand.”

Here’s where all the dots come together. At the time Jesus spoke, the Temple stood on Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Jesus said that when the abomination takes place, “let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains.

Shiloh isn’t in Biblical Judea. It is in Biblical Samaria. The reference to the abomination of desolation cannot be valid if it refers to a new Temple located in Samaria.

Antiochus committed his abomination on Temple Mount in Jerusalem. (Let him that readeth understand.) The Apostle Paul says that he sits down in the Temple of God. Paul is writing to the Church at Thessolonika in AD 60. In AD 60, the Temple of God was located on Temple Mount.

Jesus refers to it as being desecrated, which implies that prior to that, it was consecrated as the Temple of God. The only consecrated Temple of God was on Temple Mount.

Jesus is God come in the flesh, with perfect foreknowledge of what is to come. If the Temple were to be located in Samaria instead of Judea, His warning would have been addressed to ‘him that be in Samaria’ to ‘flee into the mountains.’

I don’t wish to enter into a doctrinal dispute with Jack Kelley — I am only addressing the issue because I was asked a direct question about the validity of the theory, as I understand it.

I have nothing but respect for Jack Kelley. But it is perfectly fine for two Bible teachers to understand the same passages differently.

That is the way God set things up.

If there were no minor doctrinal differences, we would all believe exactly the same thing. The way it works now, like-minded believers get together to form individual churches that focus on the doctrines they agree are the most important. Some join established mainstream denominations. Others join individual Bible churches.

That is the reason that when you get ten Christians discussing a particular point of doctrine, you often get eleven opinions about how to interpret it.

Believe it or not, that is by Divine Design. God doesn’t want everybody to believe exactly the same thing.

In the story of the Tower of Babel, all the people were unified under a single leader, Nimrod, who decided that he would try to circumvent judgment from God by building a high tower.

This took place only a few generations after the Flood — the story was still fresh in everyone’s minds. By building a tower where they could take refuge, Nimrod hoped to attain a measure of independence from God. The tower was designed to insulate them from His judgment.

It was a stupid idea, but Nimrod was the king, so they united themselves with Nimrod and against God. Consequently, God confused their races and languages to keep them apart, preventing any one man from uniting all men against God. During the Church Age, no one man has ever been able to unite everyone under a single banner.

The Vatican almost managed it during the Dark Ages. Under that unified banner, individual conscience was dictated by the Vatican, not God. The result was the death of millions of Christians at the stake during the Inquisition that ultimately led to the Reformation, undoing the ‘Babel Effect’ imposed by the Vatican for almost a thousand years.

God intends for good, sincere Christians to disagree on minor points of doctrine. It keeps us from being gathered together like sheep. It is only after the Church is removed at the Rapture does the Bible introduce the concept of a one-world, unified religion under antichrist.

I may disagree with Jack Kelley on this minor point of doctrine, but that doesn’t mean that I think Jack Kelley is a false teacher spreading a false doctrine. The Bible encourages good men to disagree agreeably — the Apostle Paul spread the Gospel through both preaching AND debate.

The Lord gives His Servants the insights necessary to get the job done, even though we may not know exactly what that particular job might be. I know that my brother Jack Kelley and I agree on the essential doctrine of salvation by grace through faith.

“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. . . For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1st Corinthians 13:9,12)

Member’s Note: The Niagara Gathering

We’ve started working out some of the specific details for our Omega Letter Niagara International Fellowship Gathering scheduled for Saturday-Monday August 8-10. I’ve posted them in the Niagara Gathering Forum.

The Gathering Forum is accessible to logged-in OL members only — the general public doesn’t need to know the rest of the details.

But YOU do, because I want as many of you to make it as is humanly possible. Who knows if this is the last one before the Rapture? Or if a coming government crackdown will someday force our fellowship underground? I want to know as many of you in person as possible — we may one day need each other.

But apart from the practical considerations, I want to know you in person because I already love you like family. I write you a love letter every morning, and I eagerly read your forum comments for the kind of nurturing and encouragement one only gets from family in return. So if you can, PLEASE come and visit with the rest of the OL family.

I’m looking forward to burning a hot dog for you.