And AFTER That, The Judgment

And AFTER That, The Judgment
Vol: 115 Issue: 30 Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last night, on NBC’s Nightly News report of the sheer numbers of tornadoes that have devastated the country over the month of April, anchor Brian Williams suggested to the Weather Channel’s Greg Forbes that maybe it was caused by “something we’ve done?”

“People ask the same question: What’s going on here? Is this something we have done? What has happened to the climate because it seems so much of what we cover is relentless weather-related tragedy?”

The thought struck me that only a few decades ago, network anchors would have been blaming weather-related tragedies on God as “acts of God” instead of the acts of men.  

In 1991 the government of Spain hosted the first of what became a series of international conferences aimed at forcing the start of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians by demanding that Israel trade land for peace.

As early as on May 22, 1989, Secretary of State Baker had told an AIPAC audience, that Israel should abandon its expansionist policies. The comment was intended as a signal that the pro-Israel Reagan years were over.

Flush with victory after the Gulf War, on March 6, 1991, President G. H. W. Bush addressed Congress with his vision of achieving an Arab-Israeli treaty based on the territory-for-peace principle and “the fulfillment of Palestinian rights.”

As a first step President Bush announced his intention to convene the international peace conference in Madrid. During the Madrid meeting, a hurricane — traveling in an unusual northeast-to-southwest direction — destroyed Bush’s home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Dubbed “The Perfect Storm,” it brought waves as high as 100 feet crashing in as it made landfall at Bush’s front door.  Evidently, President Bush didn’t get the message.

The following year, he reconvened the Madrid Peace Conference in Washington DC.  The day the conference opened, Hurricane Andrew slammed into the Florida coast as a Category Five becoming, (at that time) the most expensive natural disaster in US history.

In January, 1994 as President Clinton met with Syrian President Hafez al Assad in Geneva to discuss ways to force Israel to give up the Golan Heights, the Northridge Earthquake hit Los Angeles, earning the title of the second worst natural disaster (after Hurricane Andrew.)

In March 1997 as Yasser Arafat arrived in America as an official White House guest, tornadoes devastated Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee. 

While he was here, the Dakotas suffered what was dubbed (back then) as a “five hundred year flood.”  

The storms didn’t end until after Arafat left the country.

Relations deteriorated between the Clinton administration and Israel’s Netanyahu government after that. 

A January 21, 1998 meeting in Washington went so poorly that Clinton and Secretary of State Madeline Albright refused to have lunch with him.

Later that same day, Matt Drudge broke the Monica Lewinsky Scandal.  

In September, Secretary Albright unveiled the details of an agreement forcing Israel to give up 13 percent of Yesha.  That was the day Hurricane Georges slammed into the Gulf Coast where it stalls after making landfall.

The next day, while Arafat threatened at the United Nations to unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood, Hurricane Georges continued to pound the coast, ultimately causing more than $1 billion in damages.

At the exact time Arafat left the country, Hurricane Georges began to collapse.

In October, Arafat, Clinton and Netanyahu met at the Wye River Plantation in Maryland for five days of talks. The day they arrived in Maryland, it started to rain in Texas.  Five days later, the rains stopped as Arafat headed for home.  

After five days of flooding, Texas suffered more than $1 billion in damage, prompting Clinton to declare it a federal disaster area.

On May 3rd, 1999 as Arafat was scheduled to declare Palestinian statehood, the most powerful tornado system to ever hit the United States (to that time) swept parts of Oklahoma and Kansas with winds of 316 mph.

In August, 2005 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the forced evacuation of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip to satisfy US-backed territorial demands.  One week after the evacuation of Gaza, Hurricane Katrina struck the US Gulf Coast.

In January 2009, American special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell threatened Israel with withdrawal of all US financial aid if Israel didn’t “take steps” to advance the administration’s ‘two-state solution’ policy.

Five hours later, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit Eureka, California.

In June, 2009 only hours after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton battled publicly with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermann in which she called Jewish settlements in Jerusalem “illegal” she showed up at a joint press conference with her arm in a sling.

She suffered a serious fracture to her elbow requiring surgery after an inexplicable fall while on her way to the White House.

On April 3rd the White House tore a strip off Israeli president Shimon Peres during his visit aimed at improving relations between Israel and the Obama administration. 

On April 28, 2008 Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor blamed the Obama administration for the ongoing massacre of civilians rising up against Syria’s Assad regime. 

Speaking on a popular Israel Channel 10 news talk show, Meridor accused Obama of giving Syrian dictator Bashar Assad “carte blanche to slaughter his people.”

Meridor was referring to Obama’s comparatively mild response to the pro-democracy revolution in Syria after he publicly backed the toppling of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak and ordered NATO air strikes against the regime of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

Obama’s failure to demand Assad also step down, and the lack of any substantive response to the Syrian regime’s heavy-handed tactics against the demonstrators has only encouraged Assad to do whatever it takes to remain in power.

A typical April sees a nationwide average of about 100 tornadoes. The most ever recorded for the month of April was 267 in 1974.  As of Friday morning, there have been nine hundred and twenty one.

The worst year for tornadoes ever was 2004 with a total for the entire year of 1,817. 

So far this year there have been 1,113. 

Assessment:

There are a lot of folks that are saying that America is undergoing Divine judgment for its treatment of Israel.   Not exactly.  Judgment is not imposed until after a conviction.  What America is experiencing is correction

This isn’t judgment – it is chastisement.  There is a difference.

“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:5-8)

Chastisement indicates the need for corrective action – judgment is what follows when chastisement doesn’t work.

“Turn you at My reproof: behold, I will pour out My spirit unto you, I will make known My words unto you.   Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of My reproof. . . “ (Proverbs 1:23-25)

As I’ve noted, I am a fatalist in that I believe that we are in the last days as prophesied by Scripture and consequently we are travelling down a pre-ordained path to Tribulation.  As such, I am a witness, but not an advocate.

My job is to point out the similarities between current events and Bible prophecy to demonstrate that the time for chastisement is fast approaching its conclusion.   

America is undergoing what I believe is a final period of chastisement – one last opportunity to repent and change her ways — which of course, she won’t. 

But God is just and He will use every possible opportunity, including through chastisement, to bring everyone to repentance that will repent.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

The twenty-first century has so far been one long list of natural disasters and catastrophes unlike anything seen in living memory.  

They began when the effort to divide the land for gain collapsed in 2000 and have accelerated with every concession forced from Israel since.  The Prophet Zechariah warned that all those that burdened themselves with Jerusalem will be cut into pieces.

America is reeling from multiple blows; 9/11 and its aftermath, three wars, economic collapse, looming food and energy shortages, natural disasters on a scale not seen in its history – and all of it directly linked to America’s relationship with Israel.

I believe the chastisement now ongoing is a direct result of the America’s decision to back away from its support of Israeli sovereignty and its effort to take Jerusalem away from the Jews and hand it over to the Arabs.

But be encouraged!  What is ongoing now is merely confirmation that the Lord remains in charge.  As scary as it all seems, He says, “Trust Me.”

Eventually, with the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit and the vessels He indwells, the chastisement will come to an end.  

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

And after that, the judgment.

The (Coming?) Prince

The (Coming?) Prince
Vol: 115 Issue: 29 Friday, April 29, 2011

Understanding Bible prophecy requires one to take into consideration four different states of knowledge.  There are the things we know, the things we think we know, the things we don’t know and the things we can’t know.

For example, we know that the Bible forecasts the rise of antichrist and we know that it takes place during the last days.  We know he will rise from obscurity and that his rise to power will come very suddenly.

We know that his reign of terror lasts only seven years and we know that if it lasted any longer, there would be no survivors.

Then there are the things we think we know.  We think we know that he will establish his headquarters in Rome. 

We think he will be a prince of the revived Roman Empire based on Daniel’s identification of him as the prince of the people that destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70.  Jerusalem was sacked by Titus of Rome on behalf of the Roman Empire. 

And at the same time that Israel was undoing the Roman Diaspora by reestablishing the State of Israel in 1948, the seeds for the restoration of the old Roman Empire were planted — with the signing of the 1948 Benelux Treaty creating the embryonic European Community.  

Based on Daniel 11:37, among the things we think, but don’t know, are his religion; some think he will be a Muslim, some think he will be a Jew, others believe he will be an atheist.  We know only that he will ‘honor’ a ‘god whom his fathers knew not.”

His identification as a possible Muslim is derived from his honor of a “god his fathers knew not” since Mohammed would not introduce Allah to the world for another thousand years.  But we don’t know.

We don’t know how old he will be when he comes to power, but we think he will be around thirty. 

There are only a few things that we definitely don’t know about the coming antichrist. We don’t know his name.  We don’t know what specific nation he will hail from.  We don’t know what he looks like.

And there are a few things we can’t know.  For example, Church-age Christians can’t know who he is or when he will assume his mantle of power.  Before the antichrist makes his official appearance, the Lord will return for His Church at the Rapture.

While there may be many candidates between now and then, the Body of Christ can never know for sure who he will be.   

The Book of the Revelation outlines a series of twenty-one judgments during what Jeremiah called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” also known as the “Seventieth Week of Daniel”.  The Bible outlines two specific reasons for the Tribulation Period.

The first is to judge a Christ-rejecting world.  This is a period of Divine judgment against the earth and its inhabitants for refusing to repent and for rejecting the offer of salvation.

The second is to bring about the national redemption of Israel.  That is why Jeremiah called it the time of Jacob’s Trouble.  That is why Jesus warned the Jews living in Israel at that time to flee to the mountains. 

The focus of the Church Age is REDEMPTION — for the Gentiles.  The Bible calls it the “times of the Gentiles.”  When the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled, the Lord turns His attention back to Israel’s national redemption during Daniel’s Seventieth Week.

The Church is not under judgment.  The Church is under grace.  Grace is withdrawn with the Church – and before the judgments against a Christ-rejecting world begins. 

The Apostle Paul said the first judgment will come as a strong delusion that will affect people who received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.  That disqualifies all saved Christians.

First, the Lord returns for His Church and then is “that Wicked” revealed.  We cannot know when the Lord will return for His Church and so we cannot know – for sure — who the antichrist is.

Revelation 6:2 tells us that the revelation of the antichrist is the first of the twenty-one judgments of the Tribulation.  His revelation cannot come until after the Holy Spirit and the vessels He indwells have been taken out of the way.

On this side of the Tribulation, whoever the antichrist might be is anybody’s guess.  Trying to figure out who the antichrist is from this side of the Tribulation is a fool’s errand. 

But watching for the signs of his coming is not.

Watching for the signs of the antichrist is a bit like a man without a calendar watching for signs of Christmas. You aren’t waiting for winter – you are waiting for Christmas.

The onset of winter is simply a clue that Christmas is just around the corner.

Let’s look quickly at some of his leading characteristics.  We know that he will be a dynamic deceiver. 

The world will hail him as their savior in a time of great trouble.  He will later be exposed as being hostile to Israel, hostile to all things Christian or Jewish, arrogant, blasphemous, hateful, immoral and idolatrous.

Can you think of a world leader who is a proven liar, hostile to both Christianity and Judaism that fits the mold of an arrogant, hateful, immoral blasphemer?

The Bible describes him as a great materialist, obsessed with power, unconcerned with the law.

The Bible says that he will be diabolically cunning and politically astute. He will recover from a deadly wound to “one of his heads.”  Can you think of a world leader that has been written off for dead, politically?

The Bible says his hatred for all things associated with God, Israel or Christ will characterize both his administration and his personal outlook.  

Finally, the Bible describes him as contemptuous of those that are good, contemptuous of Bible-based religion and as one who honors “the god of forces”.

Can you think of a world leader who acknowledges every religion and religious holiday  – except for one?

Assessment:

One could make a very powerful argument for Barack Hussein Obama as a terrific candidate for the job.

If there is one safe inference to make from the official presidential history, birth certificate notwithstanding, it is that Barack Hussein Obama was likely born out of wedlock.

His father had a wife and family in Kenya at the time of his birth, and his father later took another wife while at Harvard – there is no mention of divorce in any of the official presidential histories.

Obama was raised poor by his grandparents and began his educational career at a California college, probably on a scholarship.  Whatever turned his life around happened around the time he went to Pakistan in 1980.  

Somehow, he went from being a (probably) illegitimate black child raised by poor white grandparents to a California community college to Columbia and Harvard to his meteoric rise to President of the United States.  Nobody can explain how.

  • He will confirm a covenant with the many for one week.  (Daniel 9:27)

One cannot confirm anything until it exists.  The Oslo Agreement was a land for peace deal of seven years duration that collapsed in 2000 over the issue of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.  

Obama has a plan in place to divide the land of Israel, using Oslo as the basic model, by supporting a Palestinian declaration of statehood this September.  The list goes on:

When the time is right for the antichrist to ascend to power, world conditions will be perfect.

  • He will arise amid exponentially increasing disasters; earthquakes, famines, wars and pestilences, false religions and false messiahs. 
  • His powers of deception will be world-wide and will come at a time of military and financial upheaval.
  • He will be worshipped by his followers as a messiah or even as a god.

The Middle East is on the brink of exploding into yet another all-out war of annihilation against Israel. Never has there been a louder cry for peace in the region in the midst of ever-escalating conflict.  The timing is perfect on all counts.

Is Obama the antichrist?  I don’t know.  I suppose that he could be, given the circumstances but somehow, he just seems too. . . I dunno. . . obvious, maybe? 

All that he is and everything that he does seems to point in the same direction that the Bible indicates for the antichrist. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is The Guy.  He could just be a kind of counterfeit John the Baptist – the voice of one preparing the way for the counterfeit Messiah.

I really, really don’t know – and I really, really don’t think he is.  But he certainly could be.  And that is why everything the guy does is so relevant to Bible prophecy.  

It might not be Christmas – just yet.  But it’s starting to snow.

”Donald Trump s A Racist

”Donald Trump s A Racist
Vol: 115 Issue: 28 Thursday, April 28, 2011

Yesterday, after years of stonewalling, President Obama released his long form birth certificate which proved he was born in Hawaii in 1961.  The main reason, most analysts say, that he released the document was because of Donald Trump.

When I was a little kid, my mother used to tell me that vulgar language was evidence of weakness.  Either your argument was weak or you were, because in both cases, you are using vulgarity to misdirect attention.

The “ladies” on ABC’s deplorable “The View” promptly weighed in with their analysis of the situation.  “It’s very racist,” concluded Joy Behar.  Behar objected to Trump’s questioning of Obama’s nativity and how Obama got into Columbia and Harvard.  

“Obama came from humble beginnings,” says Behar. “[Donald] says he can’t believe he got into Harvard …in other words he is saying he didn’t get into Harvard on his own, he didn’t write his own book. Obama came from humble beginnings and wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Au contraire — Donald was! He can’t understand. How come I can’t get into Harvard and this guy can?” Donald “can’t fathom that a black man can be that smart!”

There! You got that? Trump can’t fathom that a black man can be that smart. THAT is the reason for questioning his undocumented background. A black person can’t get a fair shake in America.  

(Even if he’s President of the United States who was elected by a majority white vote?)

Apparently not.  Just ask Whoopi Goldberg. She’s black. If anybody knows how hard it is for a black person to make it in America it might be Whoopi Goldberg. 

”It’s very difficult on a daily basis to see this stuff. Being black, you say ‘Oh, this is racist!’ nine thousand people say, ‘Oh no, you’re playing the race card. Well, I’m playing the d**n card now,” she says.

What a ridiculous statement!  Who else is qualified to lecture America about the disadvantages of being black than a black multimillionaire entertainer?  

It isn’t because she is one of the richest and most recognizable entertainers in the world.  It’s because she understands the disadvantages of being black.  That special status also helps her understand how the minds of the rich, advantaged white men work.

For example, Donald Trump is a racist for questioning Obama but Whoopie’s buddy, Mel Gibson is not. 

“I have had a long friendship with Mel. You can say he’s being a bonehead, but I can’t sit and say that he’s a racist having spent time with him in my house with my kids.”

So Mel Gibson isn’t a racist — but Donald Trump (and you) are. And it is your fault people don’t respect America.

“You know how Donald is always saying they are laughing at us? Here’s one of the reasons people are laughing at us — well, when you show such insane disrespect to the president of our country, people in others countries think we are idiots. You’re helping to perpetuate the idea that this country is a little idiotic.”

The only time insanely disrespecting the president isn’t idiotic or racist is evidently when he is white and looks like George Bush. Nobody called Goldberg a ‘racist’ when she compared Bush to Hitler. 

In America, racism is only bad if the one spouting racist rhetoric is white.  Blacks hating whites isn’t racism — whites deserve it.

The hypocrisy of being lectured by “The View” on the idiocy of disrespecting the president is breathtaking.  But not as breathtaking as the idiocy of the argument that the President of the United States can’t get a break because he is black. 

Or that multimillionaires can claim race-based disadvantage with a straight face without anybody pointing out the obvious.

The questions concerning Obama’s birth certificate were no more about race than were the questions being asked of John McCain about his birth. The differences weren’t in the questions. They were in the answers.

John McCain answered every question asked of him without reservation. McCain disclosed the circumstances of his birth, his personal history, his education, service and qualifications for the job.

Obama disclosed nothing

Assessment:

Obama gave a press conference about his birth certificate yesterday. A press conference!  Don’t lose sight of the irony. 

We are nearly three years into the Obama presidency and he gave a press conference to chide the press because he refused to release his birth certificate!  But to Obama, the crime was in asking for it.

“Now, this issue has been going on for two, two and a half years now. I think it started during the campaign. And I have to say that over the last two and a half years I have watched with bemusement, I’ve been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going.”

I think that was the most stunning statement on this issue so far – and this is an issue that has garnered some pretty stunning statements.  

But none as stunning as Obama’s open admission that he “watched with bemusement” while his countrymen tore at each other over an issue he could have settled as easily in 2008 as he did in 2011. 

Millions of dollars, hours of valuable court time, not to mention all the lives and careers ruined, (like Lt. Col. Lakin’s) the animosity it engendered (including these spurious cries of racism) – which of these do you think was a good and healthy thing for America?

Obama could have prevented it all.  But he didn’t.  Now he releases his birth certificate and uses the occasion to chide the media

The birth certificate contains absolutely no information that could possibly harm Obama. None. And THAT somehow makes it all even worse. 

If there were something odd, even if it were something petty like revealing Obama’s parents weren’t legally married, there would at least be a reason for putting the nation through the trauma.

But there is no discernible reason — apart from bemusing Obama.  After two and one-half years of stonewalling on the issue, Obama called the issue that he created  a ‘sideshow’ and referred to those asking the questions as “carnival barkers.”

“We do not have time for this kind of silliness,” he told reporters. “We’ve got better stuff to do.  I’ve got better stuff to do.”

And to prove it, he left the press conference podium and jetted off to Chicago to appear on Oprah Winfrey’s final broadcast to discuss — and make silly jokes about —  his birth certificate.

First he played the public for a fool and then he mocked them for falling for a trap he apparently laid for them deliberately. 

For most Americans, the point was never really “was Obama born in Kenya?”  The point was always, “why is he hiding ordinary records the rest of us must provide?” 

The best answer Obama has provided so far is that he personally found it entertaining.  But that hardly puts the issue to rest. 

What kind of guy thinks that dividing the country the way the birth certificate issue did is responsible, let alone presidential?  What kind of mindset does it take to lead the country to the brink of civil war for one’s own amusement?

A lot more was confirmed about Obama yesterday than just where he was born.  

None of it good.

America’s Relevance To Bible Prophecy

America’s Relevance To Bible Prophecy
Vol: 115 Issue: 27 Wednesday, April 27, 2011

King Nebuchadnezzar lived and reigned over Babylon when the city was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was Nebuchadnezzar that constructed the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar was a real guy who really lived. In 597 BC he captured Jerusalem and deposed King Jehoiakim. The Jews rebelled and in 587 Nebuchadnezzar destroyed both the city and the Temple and deported Judah’s most prominent citizens to Babylon.

Uncounted thousands of Jews died in the siege, with the defenders eventually even resorting to cannibalism in their efforts to survive. The Temple of God was defiled. The Holy of Holies was desecrated and the Temple treasures looted.

Where was God when all this was happening? The Jews were His Chosen People; the Temple was His place on the Earth. Why didn’t He interfere?

When the Ark was being transported aboard an oxcart, one of the oxen stumbled and an Israelite named Uzzah put out his hand to steady it.  According to 2 Samuel 6:7, the moment Uzzah’s hand touched the Ark he fell over dead.  

So how could a Gentile king and his hordes manage to sack the Temple without having to worry about Divine retribution?

“Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His: And He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings: He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:” (Daniel 2:20-21)

“Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.”(Daniel 2:37-38)

Do you see it? Nebuchadnezzar was able to sack the Temple, touch the Temple treasures, defile the Holy of Holies and even steal from God, so to speak, because God appointed him

God sets up kings. God removes kings. God made Nebuchadnezzar ruler over them, according to His purpose.  The Prophet Daniel, a victim of Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest, understood this principle well.  

Nebuchadnezzar was king because God wanted him to be king and he would only stay king as long as God wanted him to.

God also appointed Cyrus the Persian, Alexander the Great, Caligula, Pilate, Kaiser Wilhelm, King Leopold II, Czar Nicholas, Emperor Hirohito, Kim il Sung, Mao Tze Tung, Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot and every other murderous dictator in history.

Bible prophecy is the telling – in advance – of how these tyrants who had absolute power on earth, were mere pawns in the overall Big Picture of history. 

God sets up kings and He brings down kings according to His will.

No tyrant, no matter how terrible, achieved his rank through his own effort.   And while Satan is certainly capable of corrupting them, he is powerless to appoint them.

This is one of the harder sayings of Scripture, but it is nonetheless true.  Every tyrant in history was either appointed by God or the Bible is not true.

When the Apostle Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, Nero was emperor of Rome.  Ultimately, Paul was beheaded on Nero’s orders.   It is especially important to keep Nero in mind when reading Paul’s admonition to the Romans as recorded in Romans 13:1-6.

Note the parts I’ve set off italics for emphasis:

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

Let me repeat myself here: when Paul was speaking of the higher powers being ordained by God according to His purposes, Paul was speaking of Emperor Nero!

Assessment:

Nebuchadnezzar could lay siege to Jerusalem because God permitted it.  Indeed, the Siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar was part of the overall plan of God for the ages. 

It was from Babylon that Daniel was given the outline of future history from the order to rebuild the Temple to the reign of the antichrist in the last days. 

No detail was left to chance – if we learn anything from Bible prophecy, we learn that every event is interconnected with the events that came before and those to come afterwards. Remove some of it and all of it collapses.

Now we come to the point of today’s briefing.  What does Barack Obama, Donald Trump, American politics and the Election of 2012 have to do with Bible prophecy? 

Let’s look first at what we know as opposed to what we think. Barack Obama would not be president of the United States if God didn’t want him there.  We know that as a certainty. 

So by observing Obama’s agenda, if we are as far along the timeline as I believe we are, Obama’s agenda should provide insights into God’s agenda for the last days as articulated by Scripture.

As we’ve discussed previously, right or wrong, America is perceived by the world as the world’s most Christian nation.  It is that perception that is relevant. 

If I wanted to convey a message, I would use symbols that would make sense to those I was trying to reach.  So if I wanted to convey a message to the Church about the collapse of Biblical Christianity at about the same time as the end of the Church Age, I would probably start this way:

“This know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come” – and then I would describe the prevailing moral state of the world’s most Christian nation.

I wouldn’t describe the moral state of the whole world, since the moral state of the whole world, apart from Christ, has remained unchanged since Adam.

I’d describe a primarily Christian people in what is recognized as a primarily Christian nation — one whose moral state was in obvious and discernible deterioration from a less immoral state.

The president sets the moral agenda for the nation – that’s just the way it is.  America under Reagan was more moral than under Clinton.  It was more moral under Bush than under Obama. 

That isn’t to say the presidents were, but rather their agendas – since their agenda reflects that of the people that elected them.

America elected Barack Obama in 2008.  The moral agenda of the nation has since reflected Obama’s morals.  What are they? 

Obama marks every Muslim holiday with a speech. When Obama mentioned Passover, he likened it to the uprisings in the Arab world. 

It is hard to imagine showing more disrespect for Judaism than to link the Passover celebration with the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

And Obama remained absolutely silent during the most solemn feast day on the Christian calendar, (apart from hosting an Easter Egg hunt).

Obama’s agenda has accelerated America’s decline exponentially.  When Obama took office, the IMF was warning that if America didn’t get its financial house in order, it would lose its status as the world’s most powerful economy by 2030. 

Monday, the IMF issued a revised forecast saying that at the present rate, the Age of America will come to an end in 2016 – the final year of an Obama second term.

Obama is president because God wanted Obama in the Oval Office at this exact moment in history.

Comparing Obama’s agenda with the agenda of the antichrist –a global government, centralized global economy and a global religious system and a global religious system hostile to Christians and Jews – American presidential politics takes on extreme relevance to Bible prophecy.

The antichrist is a politician who presides over a political system that has a form of godliness but denies the power thereof; gives lip service to the god of forces but who ultimately views himself as being above any god.  

America is the country the rest of the world looks at as the world’s most Christian country.  So when the world’s most Christian country elects a guy who claims to be Christian, gives lip service to Islam, despises the Jews and whose agenda guarantees America’s fall within two terms, whether or not he gets a second term is useful to the interpretation of unfolding Bible prophecy.

Obama is the president of the United States right now because God put him there.  If he gets a second term, is that relevant to Bible prophecy? 

When it comes to interpreting unfolding Bible prophecy, it will even be relevant if he doesn’t.

The Glenn Beck Syndrome: Obama s Trump Card

The Glenn Beck Syndrome: Obama s Trump Card
Vol: 115 Issue: 26 Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In 1908 President Teddy Roosevelt declined to run for a third term and supported the candidacy of William Howard Taft, who had served as Roosevelt’s Secretary of War. Taft won an easy victory and enjoyed an accomplished first term.

Taft was a staunch conservative; Roosevelt was a progressive Republican.  During Taft’s term the GOP split along ideological lines.  Roosevelt’s Progressive Republicans favored conservationism, labor unions, globalism and popular election of federal judges.

By 1910 the ideological split was so deep that the former friends became bitter enemies.  When Roosevelt failed to defeat Taft for the 1912 GOP nomination, he quit the Republican Party and started the Bull Moose Party.

Roosevelt ran as a third-party candidate against Taft and life-long Progressive leader Woodrow Wilson. Many of Wilson’s policies mirrored those of Roosevelt’s Progressives; Roosevelt didn’t need to run to see them enacted. 

And Roosevelt didn’t really think he could defeat either Taft or Wilson; his base was divided between conservative Taft and progressive Democrat Wilson.  

But as a former Republican President, Roosevelt knew he would draw more votes away from Taft than he would from Wilson. So his progressive policies would win even if he didn’t.

On the other hand, Taft would have defeated Wilson handily, had Roosevelt not split the vote.  In the end, Wilson won by a plurality vote of 42%.

Wilson won with fewer overall votes and a lower percentage of votes than William Jennings Bryan had lost to Taft by four years earlier.

Without Roosevelt, Taft would have won a landslide victory.  With Roosevelt in the race, Taft came in third, making his the worst defeat of an incumbent president in American history.

Woodrow Wilson’s victory resulted in the creation of the Federal Reserve, Internal Revenue Service, personal income taxes, the first Western propaganda office (the Creel Commission), official segregationism and the League of Nations.

In 1924, the Republican Party was still split along progressive/conservative lines with former Republican Robert Follette running as a Progressive.  Follette hoped to pull enough votes from conservative incumbent Calvin Coolidge to repeat the successes of 1912.

Unexpectedly, Follette pulled more votes away from Democrat John Davis than he did from “Silent Cal” Coolidge, giving Coolidge another term and stopping the progressive advance.  

In 1992, Republican progressive Ross Perot ran as an Independent, splitting the vote with Republican George H. W. Bush, handing Bill Clinton a 42% plurality and the White House.  Perot took 19% of the popular vote, primarily from Bush. 

Had Perot not run, Clinton would have been defeated by at least 14 points.  In 1996, Perot’s Reform Party took 8.4% of the vote.  Clinton won by a plurality – 49.2%.  Republican Bob Dole lost by precisely 8%.

There is no way that Democrat Woodrow Wilson could have defeated William Howard Taft without a third-party candidate. Progressive Republican Roosevelt knew that – and he ran anyway. 

Progressive Democrat Clinton could not have defeated George Bush in 1992 without Ross Perot.  He could not have won re-election in 1996 without Ross Perot.  

In 1996, Perot was out-polling even Bill Clinton when he suddenly quit the campaign. Later, he re-started it – far too late to help his candidacy but in time to sink Bob Dole’s.

And to hand Bill Clinton four more years.

Assessment:

At the moment, Barack Obama’s presidency is all but guaranteed to end on January 20, 2013. His approval numbers are beyond dismal.  Seventy percent of those polled say that Obama is taking the country in the wrong direction.

(I’m wondering what is wrong with the other thirty percent that say he isn’t or they aren’t sure.)

Then out of the blue, like Teddy Roosevelt or Ross Perot, here comes Donald Trump. Let me say that I kinda like Donald Trump for the White House, given what I know of him, but, given what I know of him, he doesn’t have a chance of winning.

But he is riding high in the polls, primarily because of his very public attacks on Barack Obama.  While the attacks are primarily true, they are so ‘over the top’ that Trump’s candidacy is already fatally infected by the Glenn Beck Syndrome. 

The Glenn Beck Syndrome is when people absolutely refuse to believe the truth, even when it is documented and verified, because they prefer the lie. 

Trump’s popularity started to skyrocket when he raised the birth certificate issue. That automatically earned him the admiration of about one-third of American voters.

It just as automatically marginalized him as a kook to the other two-thirds. You can’t win an election with a third of the vote, but you can sure pull a lot of votes away from somebody who otherwise can.

Obama is counting on Donald Trump pulling all of those votes away from the Republican candidate, since he is certain that anybody that would vote for Trump would otherwise be voting for his opponent. 

Is Trump secretly coordinating with Obama in an effort to ‘fix’ the 2012 election?  I don’t think so.  I don’t think that he has to. (But it is worth recalling that Trump was for Obama before he was against him.)

Like Ross Perot, Donald Trump is a brilliant businessman with an ego as big as his bank balance. But he has the political skills of a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant. 

Trump’s message is that “Obama is a jerk and I can do better” but his poll numbers are largely reflective of the first half of his message.

The birth certificate issue is the perfect red herring. (Even Glenn Beck, recognizing the power of the Glenn Beck Syndrome, ran from it like it was kryptonite.)

All this works perfectly toward Obama’s advantage.  Trump is the perfect third party candidate, from Obama’s perspective. Splitting the vote worked for Woodrow Wilson in 1912.  It worked (twice) for Bill Clinton.  Obama is counting on it working for him in 2012.

If we are still here in 2012. 

The Bleach in the Aquarium

The Bleach in the Aquarium
Vol: 115 Issue: 25 Monday, April 25, 2011

The first sin was Lucifer’s – one could infer from Scripture that the earth itself was created in response to that sin. Our planet is the only one enclosed with an atmosphere that keeps everything tightly locked inside. 

Theologians call it the cosmos diabolicus — the ‘devil’s heaven’ — because Satan and his minions were cast out of heaven and into it after the Rebellion.

Genesis 2:8 says the Garden was planted east of Eden, on the banks of a river which then branched out into four riverheads, one of which is the Euphrates. When Adam sinned in open defiance of God, he was put out of the Garden.

If there is one reason that surpasses all others in the pantheon of reasons why Christianity must be true, it is found in the answer to the question, “why is there suffering and death?”

The simplest answer consists of just three words; “Adam and Eve.”   

But while the simplest answer might be accurate, it doesn’t satisfy.  Ok, Eve was deceived and Adam chose his wife over obedience to God. 

The Bible doesn’t say anywhere that Adam was deceived.  The serpent deceived Eve. Adam sinned with his eyes wide open.  Then when he was caught, he blamed God for giving him the woman in the first place.

“And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” (Genesis 3:12)

Eve was deceived – not much of an excuse.  (But it was better than Adam’s.) 

It was a tough call on God’s part.  He set the bar for disobedience rather high:

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)

Despite eating from the tree, Adam and Eve didn’t suddenly drop over dead.  Genesis 2:17 in the original language reads, “dying thou shalt surely die.”

The penalty was not instant death, it was the imposition of death.  Until the Fall, death had not entered into the world.  The Bible does not say how long Adam and Eve lived in the Garden after Creation. 

It says only that the Fall took place at some time after the Seventh Day.  It could have been the Eighth Day, or it could have been years, decades, centuries or millennia. 

Until the Fall, the law of entropy was suspended as far as Adam was concerned.  It is the law of entropy that says that with the passage of time, all things age, decay, collapse and die.

That is what the entry of sin into the world signifies.  The imposition of natural law — like the one that says for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction.

In our universe, life cannot exist apart from death – a plant is alive; a rock is not.  The definition of life is “that which can die.”  

That is how the universe – and everything in it — is constructed.  A battery has two poles – one positive and one negative.  Both are necessary for there to be power. 

Whether or not that power is positive or negative depends on the perspective of those affected by that power. Apart from the perspective of human beings, any action or reaction is neutral. 

If the earth were to suddenly break free from its orbit and crash into the sun, would that be a good thing or a bad thing?  

Wouldn’t that call depend on the existence of people? If there were no people to either be affected or serve as eyewitnesses, what difference could it make?   

Imagine an empty aquarium.  It is filled with crystal clear water at precisely the right temperature.  The pump is turned on, the aquarium decorated with festive colored rocks, fake sea plants, etc. 

(It’s your imaginary aquarium, make it as nice as you want – but empty.)

Since it is empty, would it matter in any discernible way if somebody added a cup of bleach?  The aquarium would be clean and sterile – a good thing – if you were going to drink it.  

But from the perspective of a fish about to be dropped into it, not so good, since the second it hits the water, “dying, it shalt surely die.”

Sin is the cup of bleach in the aquarium. 

Assessment:

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

In commemoration of Easter, Pope Benedict broke with tradition and took selected questions from the public, one of which cited the destruction of Japan and asking why God allows such suffering? 

The Pope’s answer was accurate as far as it went:  

“. . . he too wondered why so many innocent people suffer, but that she should take heart in knowing that Jesus had suffered too.”

The answer seemed so clichéd and unsatisfactory that it kept rattling around in my head all through Easter weekend.  It being Easter weekend, the Passion and the Cross was heavy on my mind, but like most Christians, my focus was on the Resurrection and all that it means.

But I thought about those people in Japan who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and the horror of the last minutes of their lives as they were swept out to sea and the terror with which their lives came to an end.

And of the suffering of those that survived the tsunami only to suffer the incredible cold, deprivation and hardship that followed.  The thought triggered more meditation on suffering and death and the wages of sin. 

Somehow, all this random meditation came together and hit me between the eyes with a profound thump. 

The wages of sin is death.  That seems simple enough.  Our personal sin earns eternal death in the form of separation from God for eternity in the place prepared for Satan and his angels.  

But death in general is the wages earned by sin in general.  Not necessarily yours or mine, but corporately.  

Yours,  mine, the oil companies’, Obama’s, the owner of your local landfill, the mailman’s, Moammar Ghadaffi’s, and everybody else’s — all because of the bleach in the aquarium.

If the wages of sin is death, then Jesus could have paid the penalty due for the sins of mankind without the beatings, the Crown of Thorns, the scourging, the bearing of the Cross, His Crucifixion and His six hours of final agony impaled by the nails.  

A life of perfect obedience to God that ended with His unjust conviction and a quick and simple execution would have seemingly satisfied the demands of justice.  Why did He have to suffer so much?

Because of the wages of sin.  The wages of sin demand that we all die.  That seems fair.

But some sinners die peacefully in their sleep – others in terror; swept out to sea, crushed under a building, buried in a mine – the tsunami swept away the righteous and unrighteous alike.

Jesus satisfied the wages of sin with His death – and with the manner of His death. So that nobody could logically argue, “Why me, Lord?” to the One standing there with the nail prints in His Hands.

What an awesome Savior! How could it not be true?

Weekend in Hell

Weekend in Hell
Vol: 115 Issue: 23 Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Nicene Creed was adopted by the first ecumenical council, convened in Nicea under the Emperor Constantine.  It is also called the Apostle’s Creed by the Vatican, and is the basic statement of faith of the Roman Catholic Church.

According to the Apostles’ Creed, (the way I learned it fifty years ago), Jesus spent Easter Saturday in hell.

“And He descended into hell, and rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures.”

Did He really?  Or is that just Catholic tradition? More recent revisions of the Apostles’ Creed simply say He “descended to the dead.”

True enough, but that doesn’t mean much.  He was dead for three days.  He was buried. He “descended to the dead” could be said of every person who ever died, (including my late Uncle Eddie).   

Did He descend to “the dead” or did He spend the weekend in hell?  Yesterday we discussed the Wednesday vs. Friday interpretation of the day of Crucifixion.  

If the Crucifixion was on Friday and the Resurrection took place on Sunday, then Jesus rose on the third day.  

If the Crucifixion occurred on Wednesday, then even allowing for the most liberal stretching of the fabric of time, if the Resurrection was on Sunday, Jesus rose very late on the fourth day or very early into the fifth day. 

The interpretation that requires the fewest textual gymnastics to fit the time frame is that of reckoning Friday, Saturday and Sunday with Sunday being the third day.  

I can’t fit Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday into three days unless I don’t count Wednesday and Sunday and even then, the Resurrection would have to fall on the Sabbath. Otherwise, Sunday would count – as the fourth day.

I submit that Friday to Sunday makes Sunday the third day.  Did He then descend into hell on Friday afternoon and stay there until Sunday morning?    

First off, why is that important?  

Every year at Easter, Jon Meacham (formerly of Newsweek, now with TIME) takes his best shot at Christianity.

This year, Meacham wrote TIME’s cover story about Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins under the headline, “Pastor Rob Bell: What if Hell Doesn’t Exist?”

For starters, if hell doesn’t exist, where did Jesus spend Easter weekend?  He couldn’t have been in Heaven. 

On Resurrection Sunday, Mary Magdalene was weeping at the Lord’s grave when He called her name.  She would have rushed to embrace Him, but He stopped her, saying:

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.” (John 20:17)

If He had not yet ascended to the Father – and had to do so before He could meet with His brethren, and there is no hell, then where was He?  Like I said, it is an important question.

Even Jon Meacham understands the importance of the question to basic Christianity.  He notes in this year’s Easter hit piece:

“The traditionalist reaction is understandable, for Bell’s arguments about heaven and hell raise doubts about the core of the Evangelical worldview, changing the common understanding of salvation so much that Christianity becomes more of an ethical habit of mind than a faith based on divine revelation.”

Of course. Salvation is an ethical habit of mind! Not a faith based on Divine revelation.

“I have long wondered if there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian,” Bell says. “Something new is in the air.”

Actually, it isn’t new.  Jesus outlined Bell’s new Christianity in Revelation 3:14-18.  Solomon outlined the root principle that attracted Jon Meacham to Bell’s book (and why he chose to highlight it at Easter) in Psalms 14:1 and 53:1.

If hell isn’t real, then the Easter story can’t be. Can it?

Assessment:

“And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)

Where is ‘paradise’?  It isn’t Heaven – Heaven is the place of God’s abode and Jesus had not yet ascended to the Father by early Resurrection morning.

Did He go to the place of the dead? Of course. The place of the dead was hell. That’s where Paradise was.  Jesus had spoken of it previously when He told the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-30).

It wasn’t a parable or He would have said as much in His preface. Instead, He spoke in very definite terms, “there was certain rich man”.

Jesus said there was also a righteous beggar named Lazarus.  Then the Lord provides us with a word picture description of what happens when we die.

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried.”

The Lord of glory confirms by this story, an important, eternal truth. When we die, our consciousness continues into either heaven or hell.  Hell is depicted as being buried alive in hot coals.

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”

What follows is a picture of hell as it was when Jesus spent Easter weekend there.

“And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”

Jesus descended into hell, the place of the dead,  which was divided according to ultimate destination. 

Abraham’s Bosom, or Paradise, was the abode of the righteous dead, like Abraham. The blood of bulls and rams was not enough to wash away the sins of the righteous, but it was enough to cover their sins until death and hell were conquered at the Cross.

Until then, those that believed God were imputed righteous, and awaited their redemption.

When Jesus descended into hell, He went to paradise where the Good Thief was.  And Abraham. And Lazarus.  And everybody else who trusted in the Lord for their eternal salvation until then.

“Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)” (Ephesians 4:8-10)

He “led captivity captive”.  Jesus descended into hell where He gathered the righteous dead from their captivity and then ascended unto His Father with His prize on Resurrection Sunday.  

Hell was then given over to the rich man and the rest of the lost in the abode of the dead.

How important is this? It answers the question, “What happens when we die?” and it answers it from the perspective of the One Who knows best.

If the Bible is true and Jesus can be believed, then when a saved person closes his eyes in this life, he awakes fully conscious in the next – where he is whisked by the angels into heaven, since Paradise is now closed.  

When a lost person dies, he awakes full conscious in hell, alone, nameless, and buried in hot coals where he awaits judgment at the Great White Throne and then eternity in the Lake of Fire, since hell itself is closed.

TIME’s Jon Meacham and guys like Rob Bell would like for there to be no hell for two reasons that are more-or-less universal.  The first is because they fear that’s where they are headed.  And the second is that they can’t believe a loving God would send them there.

My guess is that they are right on both counts.  And God isn’t the one that sends people to hell.  Jesus literally went to hell and back to procure for us a choice.  The offer of pardon is extended to “whosoever will”.   

Hell is not dead.  It is very much in operation and growing larger by the day.  But God doesn’t send people to hell – they choose that for themselves.  

It isn’t complicated. 

“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Ezekiel 18:32)

There is a choice. But it is admittedly limited.  One can repent and trust Jesus or one can face God clothed in one’s own righteousness and see how things work out.

The choice, “hell does not exist” is not on the menu.  

Note:  We pray that you have a glorious, meaningful and peaceful Resurrection Sunday.  Please pray for our brothers and sisters under persecution for their faith around the world.   

He is Risen!  And with His stripes we are healed.  

Glory to God! Maranatha!