Israel’s New Best Friend

Israel’s New Best Friend
Vol: 130 Issue: 31 Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On Monday, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta acknowledged the obvious, saying that sanctions have had no effect on the Iranian drive to get nuclear weapons.  That admission puts Panetta out of sync with the administration, which says it believes sanctions are working.

(Of course, this is the same administration that claimed recently that its economic policies were working, too.  And if the policy is to overturn the US economy, then they are — but I digress.)

Since the sanctions already in place haven’t worked, one would assume that the next step short of war would be to ratchet up the pressure even more.  But apparently, not.

The [latest] bill on Iran sanctions to pass both Houses does not contain proposed language offered by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) in the Senate and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Robert Dold (R-FL) in the House that would expand energy-sector sanctions on Iran by declaring the country a “zone of proliferation concern,” thus barring any businesses or service providers from dealing with the Iranian petroleum sector in any way. Instead the bill includes a non-binding “sense of Congress” that Iran is a zone of proliferation concern.”

On Friday, while Mitt Romney was getting ready for his weekend trip to Israel, President Obama released some $70 million in US aid earmarked for Israel, but previously held up by the administration.  The White House swears that the timing of the aid to Romney’s visit was “totally coincidental”.

Obama said the bill underscores the United States’ “unshakable commitment to Israel”.  That was quite an improvement over Wednesday’s refusal by anyone with the administration to acknowledge that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. 

Noted Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post:

“For reasons known only to the Obama crew, it can’t manage to display seriousness about sanctions nor to speak plain truths about the Middle East. No wonder the United States has alienated friends and encouraged foes in the region and become a laughingstock among foreign policy gurus across the ideological spectrum.”

At the same time that the Obama administration was trying to buy the Israeli political goodwill it could not earn by its actions, it was quietly warning the Israelis not to take any actions to stop the transfer of weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon.

Officials acknowledged differences between the Israeli and U.S.  intelligence communities regarding the situation in Syria. They said Jerusalem regarded the Assad regime as losing control over most of the  country, including bases that contain WMD. In contrast, Washington assessed that Assad was maintaining his missile and WMD arsenal.  

“We believe Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile remains under Syrian government control,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said. “Given the escalation of violence in Syria and the regime’s increasing attacks on their people, we remain very concerned about these weapons.”

The statement stands in stark contrast to the administration’s position when it intervened — against Congressional consent — in Libya.  Then, it argued that without foreign interventtion, Ghadaffi’s forces might massacre Libyan rebels by the hundreds.

But when it comes to Syria’s massacre of more than twenty thousand, mostly civilians, the administration prefers to trust that Assad is both in control of his entire WMD arsenal and trust in Assad that he won’t use them himself.

Which raises the question, if Assad has amassed the largest arsenal of WMD in the entire region, what makes the administration so confident that it won’t use them? 

It is worth remembering at this point that the Obama administration is gambling with hundreds of thousands of Israeli lives by demanding that Israel stand down until “something” happens.      

Officials said the administration has warned that Israeli military  intervention in either Lebanon or Syria would play into Assad’s hands. They  said Iran would immediately order a massive counter-attack by its proxy  Hezbollah as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, which could then suspend the Sunni revolt in Syria.

That’s one risk.  The other risk is that the population of Tel Aviv could be wiped out by a single WMD attack before Israel could respond.  And THEN they would STILL have to deal with a massive counter attack by Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. 

Assessment:

An editorial in today’s Jerusalem Post suggests that Israeli Jews are considerably less gullible than their American cousins.

The editorial, under the title “The Opposite of Obama: A Primer For Democrats” took a close look at Obama’s record of support for Israel since taking office less than four years ago.  Which of these, the editorialist asks, would Obama’s defenders consider problematic?

  • Obama’s speech, sandbagging Netanyahu on the eve of his Washington visit, calling on Israel to retreat to the 1949 Armistice line as a starting point for negotiations?
  • Obama tearing up American commitments to Israel to support retention of major settlement blocs in any peace negotiation?
  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates calling Israel “an ungrateful ally”?
  • Shoving PM Netanyahu out the White House back door, without so much as feeding him dinner, issuing a joint statement or allowing a photo-op?
  • Obama, over an open mike, agreeing with French President Sarkozy’s statement that “I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar”, helpfully adding, “You’re fed up, but I have to deal with him every day”?
  • The administration dressing-down Israel in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s publicized 43-minute telephone harangue of PM Netanyahu for announcing construction–specifically exempted from any building freeze–in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem?
  • Senior advisor David Axelrod televised proclamation that President Obama considered housing approvals in Jerusalem “an affront, an insult…and very, very destructive”?
  • Vice President Biden’s castigating Israel for endangering American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by building homes in Jerusalem?
  • New Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s chastising Israel to “get back to the damn [negotiating] table?
  • Obama freezing-out Israel, of all countries, from two high-level American-sponsored counter-terrorism conferences?

The editorialist, an American attorney and political commentator living in Israel, summarized the Obama record thusly:

Obama’s defenders cite intelligence coordination with Israel and the cooperative development of the Iron Dome rocket shield as evidence of Obama’s Israel commitment.  Those, however, were joint US-Israel defense and intelligence projects initiated by the Bush administration, just part of a decades-long bipartisan partnership with Israel.

As the administration obsesses over Jerusalem housing starts scheduled for 2014, the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt and Tunisia, a re-armed Hezbollah runs Lebanon, and we’ve been caught flat-footed by the Syrian massacres, without a clue as to what comes next or who will control the Syrian chemical and biological weapons stockpiles.

The Prophet Zephaniah seems to suggest that is how it will turn out, regardless of the intention of the EU or the Obama administration.  They’ll fight it out.  And the squabbling over Jerusalem will end.

Zephaniah 2:1 begins with a warning to Israel;

 “Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired.”

There is no nation on the earth today that is a better fit for Israel than, ‘O nation not desired.’  Zephaniah  warns the nations of the earth to seek forgiveness for their harsh judgment of Israel.

“Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’s anger.”  (Zephaniah 2:3)

Zephaniah then turns his attention to Israel’s tormentors:

“For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up.

Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.

And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks.

And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity.

I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border.

Therefore as I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them.

This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts. . . .And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness.” (Zephaniah 2:4-9,13)

Zephaniah’s prophecy includes Gaza, the Phillistine coastal cities north of Gaza, Moab and Ammon (Jordan) and Assyria, which includes Syria and parts of Turkey, Iraq and Iran. 

Coupled with Isaiah’s ‘Burden of Damascus” prophecy, the picture that emerges suggests that if it comes to war, Israel won’t wait to see how accurate Syria’s Scuds are or how far Hezbollah’s missiles can travel or how many rockets will roar out of Gaza.

The exact chronology is not clear, but all the players are in place and waiting, precisely as foretold.  We don’t know when it starts, but Isaiah is crystal clear about when and how it ends.

“And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not.”  (Isaiah 17:14)

The Politics of Religion

The Politics of Religion
Vol: 130 Issue: 30 Monday, July 30, 2012

There is an old saying to the effect that the two things a person should never do in polite company is start a discussion about religion or politics.  We have discussed old sayings in the past.  The reason they become old sayings is because they are so indisputably true.

The reason that it is true is because religious and political views are widely varied but tightly held.  Disagreements are easily construed as attacks, and an attack your most deeply held convictions is an attack upon that which makes you ‘you’.

There is no place on earth where the truth of that adage is more clearly demonstrated than the holy city of Jerusalem, where religion and politics are inseparable.  It is because of that intersection of religion and politics that Jerusalem is the most important city in the world.

It is the most important city in the world because the religions competing for political domination over the city are dependent upon possession of the city as part of their doctrine. 

Judaism claims the site of the Temple Mount as the birthplace of their faith.  The Temple Mount is upon Mount Moriah, the place where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God.  It is the site of the threshing-floor purchased by King David from Ornan.

Ornan offered to give the property to King David as an offer of tribute, but David, inspired by God, refused to accept it as a gift and insisted on paying for it, to establish clear title to the property. 

Thus, the validity of Israelite claim to the Temple Mount is verified by a three-thousand year old bill of sale.

“Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. . . And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all. And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.” (1 Chronicles 21:18,23-24)

The Bible promises that God will restore the Jews to the Temple Mount and that He will restore the Temple to the Jews. Ezekiel Chapters 40-48 contain detailed instructions about the Third Temple, its dimensions, location, etc. 

The city of Jerusalem is at the heart of the Jewish faith because the Temple Mount is in the heart of Jerusalem.  The promise of a restored Third Temple is central to Jewish faith.  It is through the Eastern Gate of the City at the entrance to the Temple Mount that the Jewish Messiah is expected to enter.

To surrender the Temple Mount is to deny the most basic tenets of Jewish faith and to deny the supremacy of their God. 

On the other hand, the average Muslim believes that Jerusalem is the third-holiest site in Islam, after the mosques at Mecca and Medina.  This status is a relatively recent one — in four centuries of Ottoman Muslim rule, Jerusalem was never elevated to even the status of a regional capital.  

While the Bible mentions Jerusalem more than seven hundred times, the Koran doesn’t mention it even once.  BUT — Jerusalem was once part of Dar al Islam, or the Zone of Islam.  Because it was once under Muslim rule, Islam considers any change of ownership temporary. 

It is the duty of every member of the world-wide Islamic umma or community, to recover lost “Islamic property” — the most important of which, for symbolic reasons, is Jerusalem.  Every day that Jerusalem is in infidel hands is an insult to Allah.

In the Holy Land, religion dictates politics. 

Assessment:

We discussed the Jerusalem Act in a recent OL brief wherein the Israeli Attorney General issued an AG opinion that the Temple Mount is Israeli territory, so I won’t go into great detail here again on it.

But for clarity’s sake, the Jerusalem Act, passed by an unanimous Senate vote, instructed the State Department to move the US Embassay from Embassy Row in Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital at Jerusalem. 

The Act was passed in 1995 and gives the president the authority to request a six month waiver.  So every six months for the past three administrations, a White House designate makes the waiver request in the “interests of national security.”

Yesterday, in Jerusalem presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a campaign promise NOT to request a waiver, saying that his administration will actively work to implement the Jerusalem Act.

Romney emphatically endorsed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a commitment no candidate for president has ever made to the Jewish state — and Romney made it from within the Jewish State.

At the same time that Romney was endorsing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the White House danced all around the question, “What is the capital of Israel?”  

The administration tried to buy the Jewish vote by releasing a $70 million aid package he had previously held up, which angered the Arab world almost as much as Romney’s pledge to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

And so, once again, the eyes of the world are on Jerusalem and its status as Israel’s capital.  This dusty little city of less than a million people, suddenly thrust back upon the world stage, exactly as the Bible predicted, at precisely the period in history that the Bible predicted.

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. 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 12:2-3)

What an amazing statement, given as it was from the perspective of a Babylonian captive some 520 years before Christ.

In Zechariah’s world, Jerusalem was a destroyed city, formerly under Babylonian occupation and now under occupation by the Persians in the second year of Darius.

There was little reason for Zechariah to be particularly optimistic for Jerusalem’s future as the most important city in the world.  But he confidently predicted the effect it would have on every nation that attempted to take on the burden of its rule.

“. . . all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”

In 1917 when the British government issued its Balfour Declaration designating Palestine as a “Jewish Homeland” Britain was the reigning world superpower of almost three hundred years’ duration.

In 1923, the British took back most of what was granted under the Balfour Declaration, including Jerusalem in favor of taking on the burden of administering the city directly under what was called the “British Mandate.”

By the time the British Mandate finally expired in 1948, Britain was in shambles, its economy destroyed and its global empire ‘cut in pieces’.

As we approach the 2012 election, America has never been in greater peril, besieged by enemies from within and without.  The flashpoint is Jerusalem. 

Not exactly the wisest place to start a new fight over religion and politics.  

“So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. (Luke 21:31-32)

Here Comes The Bear Again

Here Comes The Bear Again
Vol: 130 Issue: 28 Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ever since the reign of Peter the Great, it has been an objective of Russian foreign policy to find a way to overcome that nation’s most difficult geographic challenge.  For all her size and power and influence, the Russians are hamstrung in the projection of that power and influence by virtue of their geography.

Consider the great powers of history and their relationship to the sea.  Spain was perfectly positioned for the projection of sea-power.  The British Empire had free access to all the oceans and seas of the world.

France faced the Atlantic and held fourteen hundred miles of the shores of the Mediterranean.  Germany had the North Sea Canal.

Japan was almost as favorably situated as the United Kingdom.  The United States has free access to two oceans and the Gulf of Mexico.

Russia is landlocked from the West and ice-locked everywhere else for most of the year.  To the west is Europe.  In the South, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan block Russia’s access to the Arabian Sea.  China and Korea stand between Russia and the South China Sea. 

Vladivostock, which became a Russian port in 1860, is ice-locked for about four months.  The rest of the time, its effectiveness as a warm water port is neutralized by South Korean and Japanese domination of the Strait of Tshushima.

Russia is not completely land-locked today — it has warm water ports in Murmansk and Novorossiysk, but Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is constrained by the Dardenelles and Russia’s strained relations with the Ukraine.

I say all that because I want to convey just how important maintaining the security of its warm-water port is to Russian national security.  The Ukraine, for example, would not dare to close off Russian access to the Black Sea.

Not even after an investigation into the poisoning of Ukrainian president Viktor Lukashenko led straight to the doors of the Kremlin.

The Ukrainians know that if they were to try to cut off Moscow’s access to the Black Sea, the Russians would simply invade and take it, as they did when they invaded Afghanistan in 1980.

Russia has two other warm water ports that are of almost equal value to those on the Black Sea. 

For the past four years, Russian engineers have been expanding the facilities there, which now include a ship repair basin, a trio of floating docks, supply dumps and barracks, all of which could replenish, re-arm and repair up to a dozen warships.

Dredging will provide a base for Russia’s Kirov-class guided missile cruisers designed to destroy US carrier battle groups.  Since 2009 Russian workers have been constructing a dock capable of handling heavy surface units and could presumably service submarines.

Those Russian ports, with all their recent improvements, are located in Tartus and Latkia, on the coast of Syria.

Assessment:

The Russians recognize that their Syrian port facilities are in jeopardy, which is why a squadron of Russian navy ships, including several assault ships carrying marines, is heading to Tartus in a show of support for the Assad government.

It is also a principle reason why the Obama administration has turned a blind eye to the government massacres of whole civilian towns in an effort to restore order. 

Should Assad’s government fall, it is probable that the government that replaces it will take a dim view of Moscow’s support for Assad and give Moscow the boot.   Which explains why the Russians have continued to supply Assad with weapons and protection from the UN Security Council.

But it is looking increasingly as if Assad’s government will collapse despite Russian efforts to maintain it, and while Moscow intends to hang on in Syria for as long as possible, it is looking at other options.

This week, Moscow announced it was in talks with three other countries about setting up naval supply and port facilities for the Russian Navy in the event that Assad’s government falls.  The Seychelles, Vietnam and Cuba.

“Chirkov’s statement marked a sharp about-face for Russia, which closed a Soviet-era naval base at Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay and a spy base in Lourdes in Cuba in the early 2000s during President Vladimir Putin’s first term.

Along with financial reasons, that move was part of Putin’s bid to improve ties with the US. But relations with Washington deteriorated and Putin, who was re-elected to a third term in March, has grown increasingly eager to challenge Washington. During his election campaign, he accused the US of encouraging protest against his 12-year rule in order to weaken Russia and pledged to strengthen the nation’s military might.”

Russia continues to be the patron saint of the Islamic republic of Iran.  It is heavily involved with the Islamic government in Sudan.  The entire Arab Middle East is armed with Russian weapons, populated by Russian support technicians, and advised by Russian advisors.

What I want to underscore in today’s brief isn’t so much about where we are now as it is where we are trending.

The idea of a ‘new Russia’ was popular in the 1990’s.  There were visions of a ‘new, vibrant Russian partner’ — including President Bush’s famously naive declaration after their first meeting that he could ‘see into the soul’ of ex KGB colonel Vladmir Putin.

That was then.  And it demonstrates the danger in interpreting prophecy according to current events, rather than the other way around.

The Bible envisions no such peaceful East-West partnership.  The Russian bear hasn’t changed, it was only hibernating.

Russia’s role in the last days is that of a hostile invader who ultimately marches at the head of a Persian-Islamist alliance against Israel, then a ‘land of unwalled villages’ living under the protection of a covenant guaranteed by the leader of a revived Roman Empire.

That’s what the Bible predicts.  That’s the direction events are trending. 

Just think of it!  All these prophecies, by all these different prophets, across all these centuries, coming together and coalescing into a single narrative describing the events of a single generation, somewhere in time.  What’s next?

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither. . . .” (Revelation 4:1)

Anatomy of a Rumor

Anatomy of a Rumor
Vol: 130 Issue: 27 Friday, July 27, 2012

The first time that I heard it, I immediately dismissed it as one of those internet rumors that spread so quickly that there is no way to confirm it.  In any case, it sounded so far out there that I didn’t even try.

We get emails like this all the time — most of them are exactly that — well-meaning, but sensationalist rumors. 

This new law requires an RFID chip implanted in all of us. This chip will not only contain your personal information with tracking capability but it will also be linked to your bank account. And get this, Page 1004 of the new law (dictating the timing of this chip), reads, and I quote: “Not later than 36 months after the date of the enactment”. It is now the law of the land that by March 23rd 2013 we will all be required to have an RFID chip underneath our skin and this chip will be link to our bank accounts as well as have our personal records and tracking capability built into it.

A class II implantable device is an “implantable radio frequency transponder system for patient identification and health information.” The purpose of a class II device is to collect data in medical patients such as “claims data, patient survey data, standardized analytic files that allow for the pooling and analysis of data from disparate data environments, electronic health records, and any other data deemed appropriate by the Secretary.”

When I went to check it out, I found all the usual sources; page after page of blogs and conspiracist sites, but not one single mainstream news story that confirmed the rumors. 

Despite their protests of neutrality, I find pretty much all the so-called ‘debunking’ sites like FactCheck.org or Snopes.com tend to debunk rumors that favor conservatives with considerably more gusto than they do those that favor liberals and liberal causes.  

Which is more or less what I found when I finally did check it out at Snopes.com.  Although the site labeled the rumor “false” in its explanation of why it was false, Snopes essentially confirmed all the details.

Snopes mocked the rumors origin as being rooted in “mark of the beast” scenarios, even using a little wordplay from Ecclesiastes in saying such rumors are “nothing new under the sun” and that it is “just as false as all such previous rumors.”  

Ok.  Good.  So it has no resemblance to reality.  Whew!  Well . . . not so fast. 

The page numbers and language of the law as referenced in the emails are NOT part of the final Obamacare bill, but they were in the early versions!  

The mere fact that there was an effort to mandate implantable RFID chips into human beings as a health care measure is astonishing.  The fact that it didn’t make it this time simply means that it didn’t make it this time.  I suppose one might argue that it will never come up again, but such an argument flies in the face of history. 

In the end, according to the Snopes entry, one finds that the rest of the rumor is also true in most details except that at the moment, it has not yet been mandatory.

In other words, Obamacare only invites you, rather than forcing you to.  You don’t have to get “chipped” if you don’t want to. 

On that basis, Snopes pronounces the rumor “False.”

Assessment:

Lessee . . . there was a time when the government only invited you to get a Social Security number, too.  It also used to clearly say on the face of the card, “Not for Use For Identification Purposes”.

The reason was because of public resistance to the idea of being assigned a government number.  The Social Security Act, or Public Law 74-271 made no mention of a numbering system.  

Once the Act was passed by Congress and signed into law, the Treasury Department simply issued a directive ordering the creation of a Social Security “account”, like in a bank, and mandated the issuance of an “account number” to take some of the sting out of being assigned a number.

It wasn’t until 1943 that FDR issued an Executive Order linking the Social Security number to all other Federal agencies.  Still, resistance was high and lots of folks refused to enroll.

They had just watched the transformation of Europe as too much power became concentrated in the hands of too few bureaucrats.  They witnessed centralized government transform Europe into totalitarianism, war and ruin.  

The persecution of European Jewry awakened America’s Christian population as they began to see events developing in line with the Bible’s warnings and signs signifying the onset of  what Scripture calls the last days. 

For Americn Christians in the 1940’s being forced to take part in an economic numbering system sounded too much like the Mark of the Beast.

In 1949, George Orwell’s anti-socialist novel, “1984″ furnished the name to the faceless discomfort Americans felt at being numbered like cattle and the fear of how it might be used by some future “Big Brother.”

It wasn’t until 1961 that the IRS made it mandatory that one have a Social Security number in order to pay one’s taxes.  In 1965, the passage of Medicare captured everybody over 65, linking Medicare coverage to one’s Social Security number. 

Your Social Security card still said, “Not to be used for identification purposes” right on the face of it, but that came to mean, “Not to be used for identification purposes, except by the government.” 

By 1966, the VA started using SSNs to identify patients.  By 1969, the DoD began phasing out service numbers and replacing them with SSN’s.  

Then, in 1970, Congress passed the Bank Records and Foreign Transactions Act, also known as Public Law 91-508.  The Act required all banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions and brokers/dealers in securities to obtain the SSNs of all of their customers.

Also, financial institutions were required to file a report with the IRS, including the SSN of the customer, for any transaction involving more than $10,000.

Ooops.  The card still said “not to be used for identification purposes.”

People started to get nervous and so the SSA commissioned a task force to reassure the public that it wouldn’t break its promise not to make an SSN a cradle-to-grave government number that would ever result in a citizen having to produce “his papers.” 

I’m not speaking of ancient history (well, at least not to some of you) — I remember the debate.  The SSA issued recommendation aimed at calming public fears, proposing the SSA take a “cautious and conservative” position toward SSN use and do nothing to promote the use of the SSN as an identifier.

That was the public recommendation that got all the headlines.  They also recommended “mass SNN enumeration” by requiring every student to get a Social Security number in order to register in school.

In 1933, Social Security was sold as a public pension plan to provide a social safety net for the elderly.  Less than forty years after pledging NEVER to force anyone into the system, the system was forcing five-year olds to sign up as a condition of going to school!

The Privacy Act of 1975 was a Congressional effort to turn a pickle back into a cucumber.  Alarmed at how the SSN was being transformed into a secret password to unlock a person’s life, it passed Public Law 93-579 to try and undo the damage.

It forbade the government from withholding a benefit simply because that person refused to disclose his SSN. 

The same year, it passed Public Law 93-647 making disclosure of one’s SSN a condition of eligibility for AFDC benefits and gave access to SSN information to the Office of Child Support enforcement Parent Locator Service.

The Tax Reform Act of 1976 (Public Law 94-455) formally dropped any pretense and officially declared your SSN is your cradle-to-grave identification number and the fact that it also serves as a password into your entire life story is just too darned bad.

It made the following amendments to the Social Security Act:

  • To allow use by the States of the SSN in the administration of any tax, general public assistance, driver’s license or motor vehicle registration law within their jurisdiction and to authorize the States to require individuals affected by such laws to furnish their SSNs to the States;
  • To make misuse of the SSN for any purpose a violation of the Social Security Act;
  • To make, under federal law, unlawful disclosure or compelling disclosure of the SSN of any person a felony, punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.
  • To amend section 6109 of the Internal Revenue Code to provide that the SSN be used as the tax identification number (TIN) for all tax purposes. While the Treasury Department had been using the SSN as the TIN by regulation since 1962, this law codified that requirement.
  • The Federal Advisory Committee on False Identification recommended that penalties for misuse should be increased and evidence requirements tightened; rejected the idea of national identifier and did not even consider the SSN for such a purpose.

If you followed the link I provided at the beginning of our little history lesson on the evolution of your Social Security number, you probably noticed that every single fact cited above was sourced from an official Social Security website owned by the US government.

Now, let’s take a fresh look at the relevant Scripture, just to keep everything together in the same place.

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:16-17)

And so now, we return to the rumor that says:

“It is now the law of the land that by March 23rd 2013 we will all be required to have an RFID chip underneath our skin and this chip will be linked to our bank accounts as well as have our personal records and tracking capability built into it.”  

As Snopes points out, the rumor is false.  They wanted to put that RFID provision in, but realized they didn’t have the votes.  So, while it was included in the early drafts, that provision was dropped.  For now.

So, its false.  For now.

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

Member’s note:  We’ve spent the past week getting everything together for our launch of Omega Letter Radio.  Like everything else, it will be a work in progress — it will get better as we learn more and as we get better. 

One of the co-hosts of the new program, “Big Phrank From Chicago” spent the past ten days here with us, most of which time we spent laughing at what amateurs we are.  But we’ve figured out the basics and you’ll be hearing from us soon.

Maranatha!

Where the Evidence Leads. . .

Where the Evidence Leads. . .
Vol: 130 Issue: 26 Thursday, July 26, 2012

From time to time, it is a good idea to take a step back, draw a couple of deep breaths, and re-examine the evidence suggesting that this generation is the one that will see the fulfillment of all prophecy and the literal return of Christ.

In this generation, man has unlocked the secret of the genome, can ‘create’ life in a test tube, can duplicate that which is already created [cloning], develop medicines and compounds that can prolong life . . . .  it seems as if there is nothing that we cannot do.

Science expects to one day be able to control the elements, bring rain where drought is, anticipate natural disasters like earthquakes and perhaps, even prevent them.

We can travel outside our atmosphere, and we one day expect to reach distant stars.  Science has pretty much been able to naturalize, internalize and explain away what we used to believe were miracles, reducing them to probabilities, equations, charts and graphs.

But science has its limits.  We cannot escape the confines of time.  We can examine the past, but we can only guess what the future may hold.  The future contains too many variables to accurately predict.

Take the restoration of Israel, for example.  Israel was destroyed in 702 BC by the Assyrian king, Sargon II, who conquered the kingdom of Israel.  It was common practice for a conqueror to uproot and displace the conquered people to another part of the empire, repopulating that place with a conquered people from somewhere else.

Separating the people from their ancestral homelands was a tried and true method of preventing popular uprisings.  And so the northern Kingdom of Israel was scattered throughout the Assyrian Empire, where it was lost to history.  Only the tiny southern kingdom of Judah remained, only to be conquered by the Kingdom of Babylon.  

The Jews of Judah, like their Israelite brothers, were removed from their own land and relocated to Babylon.  To a Jew living in Babylon during the Captivity, it seemed certain that Judah would go the way of Israel and would similarly be lost to history.

Still, the prophets of the Captivity, like Daniel and Ezekiel, wrote confidently that, in the last days, there would again be a nation called ‘Israel’ and that its citizens would once again inhabit the same piece of real estate from which they had been displaced, seemingly forever.

“And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.” (Ezekiel 34:13)

The Jews would be gathered from the countries, and brought into THEIR OWN LAND, upon the mountains of ISRAEL, and not some other place.  Writing of the Gog Magog invasion, God inspired Ezekiel to prophesy;

“After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.” (Ezekiel 38:8)

In this passage, we find the time frame in which Ezekiel’s prophecy would come to pass — ‘after many days, in the latter years’.  And again, we find that it is not Judah, but ISRAEL, of whom the prophet prophesied. That they would be ‘brought forth from the nations’ to a land that had ‘always been waste’ — until they returned.

For more than 2,500 years, this prophecy remained dormant. Israel was destroyed by Sargon and never again existed as an independent nation.  Until, on May 14, 1948, when the survivors of the Holocaust were ‘brought forth’ under the banner of ‘never again’ to the ‘mountains of Israel’ — which ‘had always been waste’ as the nation of ‘Israel’.

In his book, ‘Personal Witness‘ Abba Eban, one of the founders of Israel, noted that when David Ben-Gurion cabled President Truman to ask the United States to recognize the Jewish state, the Jews still hadn’t decided what to call it.

Eban wrote: “Some wanted to call it Zion, others Judah . . .what about ‘Israel’?”  The name was chosen only hours before the state came into existence.

In 1897, the 1st Zionist Congress petitioned the government of Great Britain for a Jewish state in what is today the African country of Uganda.  The British told the Jews to petition the Ottoman Empire, who at that time controlled Palestine.

The Jews would have settled for Uganda as a Jewish homeland, but the prophets said that the Jewish homeland of the last days would be ‘on the mountains of Israel’.  And that is exactly what happened.

The prophet Daniel, also writing from captivity in Babylon, penned the future history of Israel, (a nation that had not existed for a century) dividing its future into 70 weeks of years. During the 70th and final week, Daniel prophesied the revival of an empire (Rome) that, in Daniel’s day, would not see its FIRST incarnation for another 500 years.

Today, the nation of Israel exists, composed of a people ‘brought forth from the nations’ while, for the first time in 2000 years, a European superstate made up of what had once been the territory of the Roman Empire, seeks involvement in a peace process that Daniel said would be confirmed by a leader of a revived Rome.

Israel was reborn in 1948, as the embryonic European Community of nations was being born out of the 1948 Benelux Treaty.

Jesus offered a description of the world as it would be in the last days.  It is a letter-perfect fit to the world as it is today.

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21:24-25)

It would be a period of ‘wars and rumors of wars,’ when, “nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” (Matthew 24:6-7)

Jesus noted that; “All these are the beginning of sorrows” (v.8).

Bible prophecy was given the Church so that, “ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it [His return] is nigh, even at the doors.” (Mark 13:29)

We are indeed living in the ‘age of miracles’ but they are miracles of God, against which the miracles of science cannot possibly compete.

We are blessed with the unique gift of certainty that the Lord is about to return.  We have heard the warning that time is running out.  It is a renewed commission to go out into all the earth and make disciples of all nations while there is still time.

No man can know the future, but the God of Creation foretold it –in detail — so that there could be no misunderstanding. The next event on God’s prophetic calendar is the Rapture of the Church.

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1st Corinthians 15:51-52)

“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.”

“Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-18)

Israeli AG: ‘Temple Mount is Israeli Territory’

Israeli AG: ‘Temple Mount is Israeli Territory’
Vol: 130 Issue: 25 Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Palestinian officials are furious with an Israeli Attorney General opinion regarding ownership of the Temple Mount.  Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein says that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is part of Israeli territory so Israeli law applies there, including antiquities law and law regarding building and planning.

The AG opinion was issued ahead of a lawsuit filed in the Israeli High Court of Justice that claims that infrastructure work carried out to strengthen the Dome of the Rock is harming the Foundation Stone, the large stone on which the Ark of the Covenant is believed to have rested.

Temple Mount Faithful director Gershon Salomon accused Weinstein of “fleeing from the issue” and stressed that even if there is no physical damage the construction is still “desecrating it in the most grotesque way imaginable.”

To underscore Salomon’s point, Abdul Rahman Abbad, the head of the Muslims’ scholars council in Jerusalem, told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an newspaper;

“Muslims are the only ones who own this mosque.”

He insisted that religious authorities are not bound by Israeli decisions, and warned of Israel’s intentions in issuing such a statement ahead of the holy month of Ramadam, when Muslims flock to the compound.

The Temple Mount was left in the hands of the Waqf following Jerusalem’s reunification in 1967, a decision of then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. The Waqf has taken advantage of this and removed every sign of ancient Jewish presence at the most Jewish holy site. At the entrance, a Waqf sign says, “The Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard and everything in it is Islamic property”.

Police, in an attempt to appease the Waqf, discriminate against Jews. They limit the number of Jewish worshippers allowed on the Temple Mount at one time in order to prevent conflict with Muslim worshippers. They often close the Mount to Jews in response to Muslim riots – despite evidence that Muslim riots have been planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out.

The Arab propagandists spin their web of lies within the shadow of the ‘Wailing Wall’ — a three thousand year old section of the retaining wall built around the Temple by David’s son, Solomon.

They just pretend it isn’t there, and the world pretends with them.

Israel was reborn the year the United Nations issued its Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Since that time, more than 400 UN Resolutions have been passed by the UN General Assembly condemning Israel over its claim to either Jerusalem or portions of the Holy Land.

During all that time, the UN has yet to pass a single resolution condemning Islamic terrorism, while Israel is a permanent part of the UN’s Human Rights council’s agenda.

There is no way to apply logic or conventional wisdom in such a way as to make any of it fit — yet that is Israel’s situation report as it approaches its sixty-fifth birthday.  Israel is a tiny democratic country surrounded by a sea of repressive Arab dictatorships.

Yet to the democratic West — together with the allegedly democratic United Nations — it is Israel that is the problem.

The Arab claim to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount is arguably the greatest — and most easily proved — fraud in history.  The Koran, not compiled until almost six hundred years after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, does not make a single reference to Jerusalem throughout its entire text!

Twelve hundred years before Mohammed dictated the first words of the Koran, the Psalmist, under the inspiration of God, wrote from captivity in Babylon;

“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning! If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. If I perfer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” (Psalms 137:5-6)

Assessment:

Since Israel recaptured the Temple Mount from Jordan in the 1967 War, religious Jews have dreamed of rebuilding the Third Temple on the spot now occupied by the al-Aqsa Mosque.  On June 7, 1967, Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren declared,

“We have taken the city of God. We are entering the Messianic era for the Jewish people, and I promise to the Christian world that what we are responsible for we will take care of.”

Despite the claims and counter-claims — and in the face of global opposition — Israel is already preparing for the day that the Temple will be rebuilt and Temple worship restored.

A rabbinical school (or yeshiva) for the training of the priests for this temple is presently in existence in the Old City.  Sacred vessels and priestly garments have been prepared.  Cedar from Lebanon captured in the north during the war there in 1982 has been placed in storage for the next temple, and so on.

Thus, there has been considerable preparation for the Third Temple by the religious Jews of modern Jerusalem.  Both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic Chief Rabbis of Jerusalem have agreed that such a temple will be built as soon as circumstances permit.

The Prophet Daniel prophesied that halfway through the seven year Tribulation, the antichrist will break his covenant with Israel and will ’cause the sacrifice and oblation’ to cease.  This can only be possible after a restoration of Temple worship, including ritual animal sacrifice.

In his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul linked the existence of a restored Temple and the recovery of the Ark of the Covenant to the antichrist and the Tribulation. Paul gives the Third Temple the seal of authenticity.

“Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:4)

Note that Paul doesn’t call it the ‘Temple of Antichrist’ — Paul says it is the temple “of God”.  This is further proof that the Church Age has concluded and that God’s attention is refocused on His covenant promise of the national redemption of Israel.

The Temple curtain separated the people from the Holy of Holies. With the rending of the veil, the barrier of the Law, which stood between man and God, was removed.

“Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.” (Matthew 27:51-52)

Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day in all of Judaism, and was central to the kapparah (covering) of the sins of Israel.  The high priest would place a scarlet thread on the door of the Temple.  If the Lord accepted the Temple sacrifice, the thread would turn white.  If the thread did not turn white, the sacrifice was not acceptable. 

According to the Talmud, for the forty years preceding the Destruction of the Temple in AD 70, the scarlet thread remained scarlet. 

“R. Johanan b. Zaccai lived altogether a hundred and twenty years. For forty years he was in business, forty years he studied, and forty years he taught’, and it has further been taught: ‘For forty years before the destruction of the Temple the thread of scarlet never turned white but it remained red’.”

The reason is recorded in the Book of Hebrews:

“And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:11-14).

I say all that to make this point.  For the Apostle Paul to refer to the Temple as the “Temple of God” means that the Age of Grace is no longer operational.  Daniel’s 70th Week is the final week of the Dispensation of the Law — the Age of Grace is over and the Church is no longer present on the earth.

Today the fragile peace that prevails on the Temple Mount grows more and more tenuous.  Certain groups are clearly preparing to build a Third Temple. The secular world, frightened at the prospect of further inflaming delicate Islamic sensibilities, stands completely opposed.

The prophet Zechariah wrote that in the last days, God will “make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.”

“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 12:2-3)

The eyes of the world are upon Jerusalem, City of Peace, today as never before. This is a city that has been besieged about forty different times and destroyed (at least partially) on thirty-two different occasions.

The rulership of Jerusalem has changed hands some twenty-six times. Since 1948 Jerusalem has experienced four wars.  By all historical standards, the city of Jerusalem should have ceased to exist centuries ago.

It has no natural wealth, no oil reserves and no particular strategic military value.  The ancient trade route known as the ‘Kings Highway’ ran north and south along the plateau of Jordan — bypassing Jerusalem.

During its centuries of Muslim rule, Jerusalem was a dusty backwater so unimportant that it never even achieved the status of a regional or provincial capital, let alone being the capital city of a mythical ‘Palestinian’ people.

Despite 2000 years of mediocrity, Jerusalem is again the most contended-for city on the face of the earth.  In this generation, for the first time in two thousand years, the implements of Temple worship have been reconstructed.

Israel’s greatest rabbinical sages are convinced that the Jewish messiah will make his appearance in this generation. The stage is set for the appearance of the counterfeit Messiah of whom Jesus spoke when He said,

“I am come in My Father’s Name and ye receive me not. if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” (John 5:43)

Second Thessalonians 2:1-12 outlines the rise of the counterfeit messiah, who is exposed as a fraud at the mid-point of the Tribulation when he seats himself in the Temple Mercy Seat and declares himself to be God. 

But before THAT event takes place, the Apostle Paul teaches that Church Age believers, first the dead and then the living, will have been resurrected and transformed to meet the Lord in the air at the Rapture:

“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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.”

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

Who The Heck Was Margaret MacDonald?

Who The Heck Was Margaret MacDonald?
Vol: 130 Issue: 24 Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I regularly am asked if it could be possible that we have already crossed over into the Tribulation Period.  The Tribulation is divided into two periods of three and a half years each, with the second half being known as the “Great” Tribulation, so maybe we’re in the first half now?  After all, things are pretty awful out there.

I was asked that question again last week, and I gave my usual reply (“Not yet”) together with the explanation that the Tribulation does not begin until sometime AFTER the Rapture of the Church. 

The Church plays no role in the Tribulation, I explained, which is set aside to judge a Christ-rejecting world and to effect the national redemption of Israel.  Since the Church neither rejected Christ nor is in need of further redemption, its presence in the Tribulation makes no sense.

Evidently, this was precisely what my interlocutor was hoping I would say, as my reply was immediately followed by a long, prepared explanation about Dispensationalism as a recently-invented doctrine.  Here is how that story goes:

In 1830, a Scottish girl named Margaret MacDonald had a vision about the end of the world and when she came out from under her trance, she wrote it down. This account attracted the attention of Edward Irving and his church later claimed Margaret as one of their own prophetesses.

Irving also had an interest in prophecy and held prophetic conferences. The historian of Irving’s church claimed that Margaret was the first person to teach a two stage second coming of Christ.

John Darby traveled to Scotland to visit the MacDonald home. Darby was a lawyer until a year after his conversion when he was ordained a deacon in the Church of England. Soon after entering the ministry he became disillusioned with the institutional church and started the Brethren movement in Plymouth, England.

Darby became known as the ‘father’ of Dispensationalism, the first eschatology to incorporate the ‘prophecy’ of Margaret MacDonald. Darby continued to develop this new view by becoming the first to make a radical distinction between Israel and the Church.

Darby taught that God has two special groups of people (or two Brides) and a separate plan for each of them. This meant Christ would have to return twice. 

The fact that this doctrine wasn’t taught after about 400 AD until the early 1800’s didn’t make it a new doctrine.  Instead, it was the rediscovery of a lost doctrine.  

At this point, my correspondent asked me mockingly to show him anywhere in the Bible where it specifically says the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation.  I say mockingly, because it is a ridiculous challenge.

If that were possible, then there would only be one view of the Rapture, instead of five; pre-tribulational, mid-tribulational, pre-wrath, post-tribulational and no Rapture at all. 

The pre-tribulational, or Dispensationalist view, is the one that had my correspondent tied up in knots.  Dispensationalism takes the position that the Bible teaches progressive revelation; meaning that God dealt with people in different times in different ways.

Adam walked with God in the cool of the evening.  God spoke with Noah directly.  God dealt with the Israelites through the Judges, giving Moses the Ten Commandments which began the Dispensation of the Law.

The Dispensation that followed the Law was the Dispensation of Grace.  But the Prophet Daniel prophesied that the Dispensation of Grace would be a parenthetical period WITHIN the Dispensation of the Law. 

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”

Note first that the prophecy is about Daniel’s people and Daniel’s city, so this is the future history of Israel and Jerusalem.

“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” (Daniel 9:24-25)

Daniel lists six things to be accomplished within the seventy weeks, or 490 years. 

  1. To finish the transgression.
  2. To make an end of sins.
  3. To make reconciliation for iniquity.
  4. To bring in everlasting righteousness.
  5. To seal up the vision and the prophecy.
  6. To anoint the Most Holy.

For the Church, points one through three were accomplished at the Cross.  The Church needs no further redemption.  Points four through six are accomplished at the Second Coming and the Millennial Kingdom that follows.

The interval between point three and point four started at Pentecost and continues to this day.  This is the Dispensation of Grace, or the Church Age.

The Dispensation of the Law was to be interrupted for an indeterminate period by the Dispensation of Grace, after which the Dispensation of the Law has one more week to run.

“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:26)

The Messiah was “cut off” from the land of the living exactly 483 lunar years after King Ahasuerus issued the decree to restore the city and sanctuary in March, 445 BC.  That stopped the clock on the Dispensation of the Law and began the Dispensation of Grace.

The “people of the prince that shall come” destroyed the rebuilt city and sanctuary in AD 70.  The prince that shall come is the antichrist, whose appearance on the scene represents a resumption of the Dispensation of the Law.

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:27)

The last “week” is the Tribulation Period, during which time, Temple worship and sacrifices for sin will be resumed, and at the mid-point, abolished.

Assessment:

Instead of building the argument based on what the Bible doesn’t say about the Rapture, it is helpful to take a good close look at what it DOES tell us about the Rapture.

First, notice that the Rapture involves the movement of believers from the earth to Heaven:

“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)

The ‘dead in Christ’ rise first, those believers who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds.  The operative phrase here is “rise to meet the Lord in the air”.

On the other hand, at the Second Coming, the movement is in the opposite direction — the Lord returns WITH His saints;

“To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” (1st Thessalonians 3:13)

So the Rapture cannot be the same event as the Second Coming.  And things that are different are NOT the same. 

The Church was absent for the first sixty-nine weeks of Daniel — the countdown to the seventieth week was suspended at the Cross so the Church could be born.

Daniel makes it clear that all 70 weeks are determined upon Israel.

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Revelation 19:7-8)

Here is another problem: the Bride is made ready to accompany Christ to the earth at the Second Coming, (while part of the bride is still on earth during the Tribulation) then how does the Bride (the Church) also come with Christ at His Return?

There is the example of Enoch: 

“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)

Not only does Enoch prefigure the Rapture, note that Enoch’s Rapture was pre-Flood, and not mid-Flood or post-Flood.

The Scriptures are plain, clear and concise on the topic of a pre-Tribulation Rapture — provided one interprets the Bible literally, instead of figuratively or symbolically.

While no man knows the day or the hour of the Rapture, the Second Coming can be accurately predicted, since Daniel tells us He returns exactly 1,290 days after the antichrist enters the Temple (which Paul calls the Temple of God giving it a spiritual legitimacy it could not have if the Church remained on the earth).  (2 Thessalonians 2:4)

“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)

The pre-Tribulation Rapture is often called the “Blessed Hope” by those who look for His return before the Tribulation begins. Those who believe the Church will go through the Tribulation sneeringly call it the ‘Great Escape’.  The Bible says differently.

“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1st Corinthians 15:16-19)

The Rapture happens before the Tribulation, which means that He is coming for us soon!  Call it the Blessed Hope or the Great Escape, He IS coming.

Don’t let anybody steal away your Blessed Hope, only to replace it with sudden fear.

“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” (Proverbs 3:25-26)

Maranatha!