Saturday, May 31, 2014

Feast of the LORD #4 - Pentecost - Counting 50 to the Year of Jubilee - Part 1
The counting of the omer, or the count-up to Pentecost, is not the only thing that is counted in 50s in the Bible. You may have heard of the Year of Jubilee, which was celebrated every 50 years in Israel.

When the Israelites came in to the Promised Land, God told them through Moses that they were to work the ground as farmers and take crops for six years, and the seventh year the land was to observe a Sabbath rest. (See Leviticus 25:1-7.)

Furthermore, the Israelites were then to count off seven Sabbath years, or seven groups of seven years which equals forty-nine years, and the next year, the fiftieth, was proclaimed to be the Year of Jubilee.

What happened in the Year of Jubilee? (Tweet that!) In the instructions God gave through Moses in Leviticus 25:8-55:

  • All property that was bought or sold during the past 49 years returned to the original owner. The price had been set according to how many years before this occurred. 
  • Anyone who had become poor and became a hired worked (not a slave – Israelites could not take Israelites as slaves), was to be released to return home to his own clan in the Year of Jubliee.

Debts were forgiven and slaves were set free in the Year of Jubilee. (Tweet that!

When land was sold, a person had a right to re-purchase or "redeem" that land. If he was too poor to do so, a relative, or "kinsman," of his could buy it for him to keep it in the family. This is where the "right of redemption" (of land) and the idea of the "kinsman redeemer" come from. We see the "kinsman redeemer" displayed in the book of Ruth as Boaz does this for Naomi and her son's widow, Ruth. (Tweet that!

You might wonder why God instructed all of this. It is because the land of Israel belongs to Him and is never to be sold permanently.

The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me (Leviticus 25:23).

Furthermore, the people of Israel were freed from slavery in Egypt and were never to be slaves again. They are free forever.

Why did God give these regulations? So that the Promised Land of Israel would never leave Israeli possession and so the people would be forever free. (Tweet that!

This is a picture of heaven: it is owned by God, it will always be there, and the people who reside in heaven will be free of sin and slavery forever. (Tweet that!)  Isn't that a beautiful picture?

Related Articles:

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Feast of the LORD #4 - Pentecost - Required Attendance
When Moses was given and then passed along the instructions for the seven Feasts of the Lord, the Israelites were told that their men were required to attend three of them. After the Temple was built in King Solomon's day, this meant all the Israelite men were required to travel to Jerusalem to attend these three Feasts of the LORD:
  • the Feast of Unleavened Bread, 
  • the Feast of Weeks (which is Pentecost), 
  • and the Feast of Tabernacles.

Deuteronomy 16:16 (ESV) says this:

"Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed."

Fast-forward to the time of Jesus. He had just been crucified. On the third day after his crucifixion, which was the Feast of Firstfruits, people began to see him. Alive! For the next forty days people talked to him and ate with him. And this was happening with more people than just his eleven remaining disciples. He had been spotted all over the place by more than 500 people! (See 1 Corinthians 15:6.)

Then Luke records this: Acts 1:4-5:

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

We already know, according to Deuteronomy 16:16 above, that the Jewish men were required to be in Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Tweet that!), which began the day after Passover and lasted for seven days. This is why Jerusalem was so crazy-busy, so full of people when Jesus was crucified. (Tweet that!

One week down, six to go.

For many men, especially those who lived a long distance away, it probably didn't make sense for them to go home and then return six weeks later. So a large number of men (and many with their families) stayed.

That means it wouldn't have been that unusual for these eleven disciples to stay in Jerusalem until Pentecost. They probably would have stayed anyway. (Tweet that!

I would like to point out one variation, however. At some point the eleven disciples must have left Jerusalem and gone to Galilee. In Matthew 26:32 and Mark 14:28 Jesus instructed them, "But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." And in Matthew 28:16-20 we are told the eleven disciples did indeed go into Galilee and saw Jesus, alive, and worshiped him. Jesus prophesied before his death that they would meet him in Galilee, and his prophecy was fulfilled after he had risen from the dead. (For more, see chapter 52, "Meet Me in Galilee," in the book Prophecies Fulfilled in the Death & Resurrection of Jesus.)

So the Eleven must have returned to Jerusalem, and then Jesus told them, "Do not leave Jerusalem." Wait here, he said. And so they did.

Jesus ascended on the fortieth day after the Feast of Firstfruits (Acts 1:3). And then the Holy Spirit came upon the followers of Jesus in the Pentecost that is familiar to Christians, in Acts 2.

But they were in Jerusalem in obedience not only to Jesus' instructions, but also in obedience to the Law that required them to attend the Feast of Weeks, which is Pentecost, in Jerusalem. (Tweet that!

Related Articles:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Feast of the Lord #4 – Pentecost Before the book of Acts
When Christians hear the word "Pentecost," what springs to our minds is what is described in the book of Acts 2. After Jesus was crucified and then amazingly resurrected, he spoke to his disciples and told them to stay in Jerusalem until they received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, "Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:4-5, NLT).

But did you know the Jewish people had been keeping the Feast of Pentecost for 1,500 years before this Pentecost in Acts? (Tweet that!

Yes, Pentecost was one of the seven Feasts of the LORD given to Moses. (Tweet that!) We discussed all seven of the Feasts of the LORD in the blog post on April 11, 2014.

According to the teaching of Mark Biltz at El Shaddai Ministries, on Pentecost the Jewish people celebrate the giving of the Torah (the Law) on Mount Sinai. (Tweet that!

This is when God wrote His law in stone on the tablets of the Ten Commandments. And they have observed Pentecost fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits ever since.  (Tweet that!) Christians only came on board with Pentecost after Jesus was resurrected, meaning the story in Acts 2. (Tweet that!

Interestingly, in the Old Testament (after Moses but before Jesus), God said through the prophet Ezekiel:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules (Ezekiel 36:26-27, ESV).
See also Ezekiel 11:19.

On Pentecost, the Jewish people remember, observe, and celebrate the giving of the Law, written on their hearts and in stone on the tablets of the Ten Commandments. (Tweet that!)  Today, Christians remember, observe, and celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit, poured out on followers of Jesus, transforming our hearts of stone to hearts of pliable, teachable flesh. (Tweet that!

On the first Pentecost after Jesus' death and resurrection, God fulfilled His prophecy in Ezekiel 36:26-17 and 11:19. He transformed the Law written on stone in the hearts of His people to new human hearts of flesh led by the Spirit. This is the historical as well as the prophetic meaning of the Feast of Weeks, known as Pentecost. (Tweet that!

Related Article:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Feast of the LORD #4 - Pentecost
If you've been reading this blog from the beginning, you know we started with a 40-day countdown during Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday. Actually, we started the blog with an introduction to the blog on March 2, 2014, and article introducing our countdown to Easter, and then an article on Shrove Tuesday, which precedes Ash Wednesday.

Leading up to Easter, we talked about the prophetic significance of the seven Feasts of the LORD

The first three Feasts are:

You may have forgotten, but we're in another countdown right now to Feast #4, which is Pentecost. (Tweet that!) So in these posts this week and next during these days leading up to its observance on Sunday June 9, we're going to talk about what Pentecost is historically.

Actually it would be more accurate to say we're on a count up, but let's get to that in a moment. First, some background information.

On the Jewish calendar, we are currently "Counting the Omer." The omer is the Hebrew word for "sheaf." (Tweet that!) We're talking about sheaves of grains, of course, but sheaves can also be personified as people.

Back during the three feasts we observed near the Christian celebration of Easter and the Jewish Passover, the third Feast was the Feast of Firstfruits. This celebrated the early harvest, when the barley is harvested. (Tweet that!) We are now counting up to another harvest: the wheat harvest. (Tweet that!)

From the Feast of Firstfruits, God instructed the Jewish people to count seven weeks (of seven days), which is of course 49 days. The following day, which is the 50th, is the Feast of Pentecost.

Of course we know penta means five, as in the Pentagon has five sides and a pentagram is a five-pointed star.

It is interesting to note that in the Counting of the Omer, the Jewish people count up, not down. (Tweet that!)

We usually count down to important events. As children we know it's twenty-four days to Christmas. Or ten days to our birthday. We count down to the event as we did in our 40-day countdown through Lent to Easter in March and April on this blog.

But those who observe the "Counting of the Omer" count up to Pentecost. So we started counting the omer on the Feast of Firstfruits, which this year was Sunday, April 20th. And while you may not have known it, we've been counting up all this time. (Tweet that!) Today is the 35th day of the omer.

On my Jewish calendar. which I got from El Shaddai Ministries, it is noted that today is "35 Omer."

There is a lot more for us to learn about the fourth Feast of the LORD, Pentecost. So through the next two weeks we'll explore the Jewish roots and insights of this Feast. In my next post we'll look at Pentecost before the events of the Pentecost Christians usually think of when the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts 2.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

How to Tell a True Prophet or Prophecy from a False One

As I mentioned in the very first post for this blog on March 2, 2014, I'm a prophecy geek. I've loved prophecy since I first heard of it, or discovered it, or however you say that. I remember when I was a kid, maybe even before I was a teenager, I heard of prophecies in the Bible and they fascinated me. Someone actually said what was going to happen in the future?! And then…did it come true? (Tweet that!)

Of course we have many people through history and even today saying they can predict the future. But the trick is: do they get it right? (Tweet that!

True prophecy comes true. I've learned that true prophecy only comes from God and that any prophecy that comes from the One True God comes true. (Tweet that!)  It has to. God cannot get it wrong. If God gave a prophecy and it did not come true in every detail, that would mean either God cannot see the future or He made a mistake or He lied. God alone can see the future. God cannot make mistakes. And He cannot lie. Prophecies that come from the one true God must come true.

That does not mean all of them have been fulfilled already. Some are in the future and have yet to be fulfilled. But I believe we are very close to seeing them fulfilled. I also believe we are seeing some fulfilled right before our very eyes in these very days. (Tweet that!

Exploring all these things is what this blog is about.

So how do we know whether a person is a true prophet speaking truth from the one and only true God? (Tweet that!Deuteronomy 18:19-22 (New Living Translation) gives us this guidance. This is God speaking through the prophet:

19 "'I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf. 20 But any prophet who falsely claims to speak in my name or who speaks in the name of another god must die.' 
21 "But you may wonder, 'How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?' 22 If the prophet speaks in the Lord's name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.
That's what God says. Now I don't know about you, but I find that a bit tricky because in order to see if the message is from God, we have to wait to see if it happens!

For some prophecies, we have been waiting for thousands of years. So should we keep waiting? Or declare them false?

Even though many prophecies have not yet happened, we can be sure they will come true because of the track record of the prophets in the Bible. Enough prophecies by the same prophets have been fulfilled to assure us they are true prophets. The rest of the prophecies will come true.

Believing this is called "faith." Seeing the prophecies that have already come true and believing the rest will also be fulfilled based on that is called strengthening our faith. (Tweet that!) How strong is your faith?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What is Prophecy? - Two Definitions

Since we are talking about prophecy on this blog, it's only fair to define what prophecy is.

There are at least two definitions of "prophecy" (Tweet that!):
  • To predict the future 
  • To speak forth God's Truth

When I first started studying this subject years ago, I thought prophecy meant foretelling the future, and it does. (Tweet that!) This is what God did through the prophets of old in the Old Testament, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, and Zechariah.

But I have since learned that prophecy also has another meaning, and that is speaking forth God's truth. Whenever a man or woman of God speaks forth the truth of God, this too is prophecy. Are you a prophet in this sense? (Tweet that!

In this blog my aim also two-fold:

My aim is to show you places in God's Word, which is the Bible (Old and New Testaments), where His prophets predicted future events. And then also show where those events were perfectly fulfilled, if they have been fulfilled in the past. (Tweet that!

Then secondly I want to show places in God's Word, the Bible, where His prophets predicted events that are future to us, prophecies that have not yet come to pass. (Tweet that!) With these we are looking at what is happening in the world today that could be a fulfillment of that prophecy or could be leading up to or setting things up for its fulfillment. (Tweet that!

Sometimes when we talk about prophecy on the internet or elsewhere, we can sound, ranting about things like "the mark of the beast" and other important topics. But what's neglected is what comes before that, questions like "what is the mark of the beast?" and "where do they get that?" I can almost hear many people asking where does come from? If it's in the Bible, where does it say that? And just what does the Bible say about that?

In this blog it's my aim to answer these questions as best as I can, especially "Where do they get that?" (Tweet that!)

Prophecies Fulfilled in the Life of Jesus
by Dianne E.  Butts
There can be other meanings of prophecy also, including the "prophetic pictures" God painted in the Bible of His kingdom or His Messiah, including the prophetic pictures painted in the Tabernacle/Temple and the seven Feasts of the LORD, which we will look at occasionally here, including next week. I discussed these very topics in my newest book, Prophecies Fulfilled in the Life of Jesus, so you if you'd like to learn more about these you may like to get that book. (Tweet that!)

Prophecy can also mean interpretation, such as when Daniel was called in to interpret the dreams of King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2) and interpret the handwriting on the wall for King Belshazzar (Daniel 5). When Daniel interpreted these signs from God, Daniel was also speaking prophecy or prophesying. 

Another vitally important issue is, how can we tell a true prophet from a false one? And how can we determine which prophecies are truly from God and which are not? In the next post we'll look at how to tell a true prophet and true prophecies from false ones.

Meanwhile, I hope you've found this discussion of "What is prophecy?" and these definitions helpful.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Unique Glimpse: Tunnels Under the Temple Mount

Underground market in Jerusalem 
This week we've been talking about the nation of Israel in honor of her birthday on May 14.  In the May 13th post we remembered the rebirth of Israel on May 14, 1948, a miraculous, prophetic sign that is unique to this generation. (Tweet that!)

In my previous post we learned how to view the Western Wall of the Temple Mount live any time we want to tune in. (Tweet that!

It is incredible that today, through computers, laptops, tablets, and even smart phones, we can watch live in real time what is happening at the foot of the mount of the very Temple in Jerusalem we've read about in our Bibles!

Did you know there are tunnels beneath the Temple Mount? Through centuries levels of the city have been built upon each other, leaving tunnels underneath what we currently see above ground. 

Please note the photo with today's post is not necessary a tunnel beneath the Temple Mount, but it was the closest photo I could find to use. The photographer noted this is an underground market in Jerusalem.

Would you like to take a tour of some of the tunnels that run beneath the Temple Mount? (Tweet that!) Let's do that today. This video runs less than five minutes. It is a fascinating journey and glimpse of what Herod the Great built. (Tweet that!) In it we get to glimpse what is on the other side of the Western Wall we saw in the previous post. (Tweet that!)

Enjoy the tour. And would you please share this with a friend? There are share buttons you can use below to Tweet and post on Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. You can also click the Tweet that!'s within each post. Or invite your friends to receive this blog via e-mail. Sign up for the e-mail list using the box in the upper right. Thank you.

A tour inside the Western Wall tunnels.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Keeping an Eye on Israel: Look into the Temple Mount Cam

The Western Wailing Wall in Jerusalem
For Christians and for Bible prophecy geeks, keeping an eye on what is happening in and to Israel is important. And the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is of special importance. But today's post takes keeping an eye on Israel to a whole new level. (Tweet that!) Did you know you can watch what is happening near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem live, any time you want to? (Tweet that!)

There is a live camera that overlooks the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. It is called the "Kotel Cam." (Tweet that!)  Kotel is the Hebrew word for the "Wailing" or "Western Wall" in Jerusalem, which is a part or all of the western wall of the ancient Jewish temple that was destroyed by the Roman, Titus, in 70 AD. (Tweet that!)

The "Live Kotel Cam" broadcasts 24/7/365 what is happening at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. You can also view other areas around the Temple Mount, such as Wilson's Arch, live.

You can tune in anytime and watch what is happening through the Kotel Cam here: 

It is especially interesting to tune in on and around Jewish holidays. For example, last year I enjoyed seeing the giant Menorah during Hanukkah.

In the previous post, The Biggest Prophetic Sign Ever: Israel is Back in the Land, we talked about how Israel becoming a nation was a huge prophetic sign unique to our generation.  Another unique aspect of our generation is technology. (Tweet that!)

There are prophecies in the Bible that speak of all the world seeing certain things happen.  Current technology could make "all the world" seeing these things possible, unlike any previous generation. (Tweet that!)

Here are two examples of prophecies that might show world-wide visual communications are needed for End Times prophecy to be fulfilled. Both are found in Revelation.

"And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth... 
"Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth." 

"The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come."

These events might be shown on the evening news or carried as "live" breaking news. Or we might be able to watch them live through streaming on the internet like the Kotel Cam at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. If this is indeed how "the world" sees these events, then the technology that has only come about in our generation that helps us keep an eye on Israel could play a part in fulfilling Bible prophecy.

Related Articles:

Here are two articles I wrote on similar topics for other sites:
"Signs of the End Times? Mass and Vast Communications" by Dianne E. Butts on The Christian Pulse 
"Finding God in Prophecy about Israel" by Dianne E. Butts on Finding God

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Biggest Prophetic Sign Ever! Israel is Back in the Land

Front Page of The Jerusalem Post May 16, 1948
Wikimedia Foundation. Fair use.
I often say if we're not in the End Times, you can see them from here.

I often get responses from people, including from pastors, that show their skepticism. They respond with comments like, "We can't know that." One told me, "We have at least another 30 years." Another said, "We have at least another 100 years."

I wish I would have been quick-thinking enough to ask them, "Based on what?"

God gave us information about the End Times for a reason: so we would know. (Tweet that!) (For more on why God gave us prophecies, see Related Articles below.)

Jesus talked about the signs of the end and the signs of his coming in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. He told us what would be happening in our world so we would watch for the signs, understand what was happening, and know it was near. (Tweet that!)

So for all the skeptics out there, in recent history we have witnessed one prophetic sign that has never occurred before in human history. (Tweet that!) One sign that is unique to our generation. One sign that changes everything. It is the biggest sign ever. Like a flashing neon billboard. (Tweet that!)

What is it? Israel is once again a nation.

In Jesus' time, Israel was an occupied country, occupied by the Romans. Israel had not been a free nation since long before the birth of Jesus.

God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel about "The Valley of Dry Bones" in Ezekiel 37. God showed Ezekiel a vision of a vast valley of dry bones. Then God asked Ezekiel in 37:3:

"Son of man, can these bones live?"

I love Ezekiel's response because he spoke with wisdom I never would have thought of:

"O Sovereign LORD, you alone know."

God then put flesh on the bones and they became alive. And God explained to Ezekiel that this was the rebirth of Israel in her own land once again:

11 Then he said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.' 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord." (Ezekiel 37:11-14).

The Jewish people waited a very long time for this prophecy to be fulfilled, but it has happened. In our generation. Israel became a nation again on May 14, 1948. So tomorrow, Israel turns 66 years old – that is the "new," re-established nation of Israel and the prophetic re-birth of the nation. This week we will honor Israel by learning more about this nation and how we can stay in touch with what's happening there. (Tweet that!)

For today, let's remember that it was after Adolf Hitler and his Nazis tried to annihilate the Jews that the result was Israel emerged as a nation once again after 2,000 years. That is an amazing turnaround, a miracle—something only God could do. (Tweet that!)

And that is a miraculous sign that is unique to our generation.

Many of the other prophecies of the End Times refer to the nation of Israel. Therefore, they cannot come to pass unless Israel is a nation. Now, as of 1948, Israel is once again a nation. (Tweet that!)

According to Psalm 90:10 in the Bible, a "generation" is about 70 years: 

The years of our life are seventy,
    or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.

Israel was born again on May 14, 1948. That means Israel will turn 70 years old in 2018. (Tweet that!)

The re-birth of Israel is the biggest prophetic sign ever. This sign is unique to the times we are living in right now. (Tweet that!)  It is a unique, one-of-a-kind sign that tells us if we're not in the End Times, we can see them from here.

Related Articles: 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Does what's going on with Russia and Ukraine have anything to do with Bible prophecy? - Part 3

 Brown: Russia. Green: Ukraine. Black: Crimean Peninsula
ImageUploader12345 Creative Commons
Found on Wikipedia
In the previous two posts we looked in depth into what is happening in Russia and Ukraine and how it might relate to Bible prophecy. In Part 2, the previous post, I promised to give information on other names listed in Ezekiel 38:1-9, specifically verses 5-6 and what those countries are called today. (Tweet that!)

This is what Ezekiel 38:5-6 says: 

Persia, Cush, and Put are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all his hordes; Beth-togarmah from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes—many peoples are with you.

At this point in my study, this is my understanding of who these nations are today. (Tweet that!) I also understand, however, that not everyone may agree.

  • Perisa - Iran
  • Cush - Ethiopia
  • Put - Libya
  • Gomer - Ukraine
  • Beth Togarmah – eastern Turkey

Also in Parts 1 and 2 earlier this week, we saw video interviews about what is happening in Ukraine from a Biblical perspective. I hope you have enjoyed these. Here is one more, Part 3 of the interview of Avi Lipkin by Gary Stearman of Prophecy in the News, which aired March 6, 2014. This one runs about 13 minutes.

Gary Stearman of Prophecy in the News interviews Avi Lipkin about Russia and Ukraine. 
Part 3 aired March 6, 2014.

Related articles:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Does what's going on with Russia and Ukraine have anything to do with Bible prophecy? - Part 2

Brown: Russia. Green: Ukraine. Black: Crimean Peninsula
ImageUploader12345 Creative Commons
Found on Wikipedia
On Tuesday, in Part 1, we briefly reviewed the beginnings of this conflict occurring with Russia in Ukraine.

You might remember on April 17, 2014, news reached the US of a leaflet handed to Jews leaving their synagogue in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk telling them they had to register with the government and list their property. An eerie echo of Nazi regimes from the past, the leaflet was immediately condemned by national leaders. While the leaflet claimed a connection to Denis Pushilin, a man who was identified as the chairman of "Donetsk's temporary government," he claimed he had nothing to do with it.

You can find more information in this article on USA Today: "Leaflet tells Jews to register in East Ukraine." 

While we watch what is going on in Ukraine, many Bible prophecy geeks think of the prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled which tells us Israel will be attacked by nations to her north. Bible prophecy geeks like me also believe this prophecy will be fulfilled as part of the "End Times," or the times leading up to the last seven years of the Tribulation.

This prophecy is found in Ezekiel 38. (Tweet that!) Here is part of that prophecy. God is speaking (through His prophet Ezekiel):
The word of the Lord came to me: 2 "Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshek and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshek and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you. 
7 "'Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety. You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.'"  (Ezekiel 38:1-9)

My favorite Bible that I own is The NIV Study Bible from 1985. The notes in this Bible have taught me so much, I just love them. So I often share what I learn from them.

I found helpful information in the notes section of The NIV Study Bible, which says,
"Gog" is "apparently a leader or king whose name appears only here and in Rev. 20:8… Possibly the name is purposely vague, standing for a mysterious, as yet undisclosed, enemy of God's people."*

The phrase "of the land of Magog" takes us back to the times of Noah. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Before the great flood that covered the earth, eight people entered the ark: Noah and his wife, and their three sons and their wives (Genesis 7:13). (By the way, this was depicted much differently in the recent movie Noah, so don't be confused by that. In the true story, each of Noah's three sons had wives and they all entered the ark.) (Tweet that!)

Because everyone else in the world died in the flood, all the nations of today's world descended from these three sons of Noah (Genesis 9:18-19).

Noah's son Japheth had seven sons. They are listed in Genesis 10:2. Compare these names to the names in the Ezekiel 38 passage above:
The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. (Genesis 10:2)

Here is more information on "Gog" and "Magog" from the The NIV Study Bible. (Tweet that!) Please note the reference to the "future coalition" which means the prophecy of what is to happen in our future:

 …since the Hebrew prefix ma- can mean "place of," Magog may here simply mean "land of Gog." Israel had long experienced the hostility of the Hamites and other Semitic peoples; the future coalition here envisioned will include—and in fact be led by—peoples descended from Japheth.*

Regarding "chief prince," the The NIV Study Bible note gives this information:

Military commander-in-chief. The NIV text note gives the possible translation "prince of Rosh," and if it is correct, Rosh is probably the name of an unknown people or place. Identification with Russia is unlikely, and in any case cannot be proven.*

I've heard many times that "Rosh" may indeed be Russia. The previous note says that is "unlikely," but gives no reason for that statement.

Regarding "Meshech and Tubal," the The NIV Study Bible note says this:

These sons of Japheth…are probably located in eastern Asia Minor… They are peoples and territories to the north of Israel… As in the days of the Assyrians and Babylonians, the major attack will come from the north.*

So if you have ever heard that Bible prophecy predicts Israel will be attacked from the north in the End Times, this is where that prophecy comes from. (Tweet that!)

For my next post I'm preparing information about the other names listed in Ezekiel 38:5-6 shown above and what those nations are called today.

In the last post we watched an interview of Avi Lipkin by Gary Stearman. There is much more to that interview. Here is part 2, which aired March 5, 2014. It runs about 13 minutes.

Gary Stearman of Prophecy in the News interviews Avi Lipkin about Russia and Ukraine. 
Part 2 aired March 5, 2014.

Related article: 

*NIV Study Bible (Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI, 1985), 1280. Notes on Ezekiel 38:2.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Does what's going on with Russia and Ukraine have anything to do with Bible prophecy? - Part 1

Brown: Russia. Green: Ukraine. Black: Crimean Peninsula
ImageUploader12345 Creative Commons
Found on Wikipedia
I'm sure you, like me, are watching the situation involving Russia and Ukraine and you're wondering what really is going on and if it has something to do with Bible prophecy. (Tweet that!)

Many of us see the conflict, but don't have any background information or understanding to know what it all means. I can't say I have any more understanding than the average American or Christians elsewhere. But I have tried to find information that might give us insight into what's happening in light of Bible prophecy. This week I'll share what I've found. I hope you'll find it as interesting and helpful as I have.

Briefly remembering what has happened, the conflict started in late February just after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

According to the Wikipedia article, "2014 Crimean crisis," the conflict started "in the aftermath of the Ukrainian Revolution, which resulted in President Viktor Yanukovych's deposition by the Ukrainian parliament after his flight from the capital....

"Beginning on February 26, pro-Russian forces began to gradually take control of the Crimean peninsula. Many of them were widely believed to be Russian military personnel without insignia..."

I found the following video interview very interesting and insightful. Here, Gary Stearman, of Prophecy in the News, talks with Avi Lipkin, who has studied this area of the world most his life and shares wonderful information to teach us. This Part 1 video runs under 12 minutes. (Tweet that!)

In the next post, I'm preparing information about a prophecy in the Bible that has yet to be fulfilled which says Israel will be attacked by nations to its north. So please stop back by on Thursday.

Gary Stearman of Prophecy in the News interviews Avi Lipkin about Russia and Ukraine. 
Part 1 aired March 4, 2014.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Why Should We Study Prophecy? – Part 2
In Thursday's post, "Why Should We Study Prophecy? - Part 1, we looked at two reasons why we should study prophecies in the Bible:
  • To strengthen our faith for today.
  • To strengthen our faith for the future.

Both of these reasons to study prophecy are for those who already believe in the One True God and the Bible as His only true Word to us.But there are also reasons to study prophecy for the sake of non-believers. Or as I like to call them, "not-yet believers." That is because the study of prophecies in the Bible – looking at both what was prophesied and then what actually came to pass – can be quite convincing for the not-yet believer. (Tweet that!)

And that brings us to another two reasons to study Bible prophecy:
  • To show and convince others. 
  • To warn them.

Even when we show others prophecies given and fulfilled, they might not believe Jesus is God. (Tweet that!)

Even when we show them convincing arguments based on prophecies that have come true, not everyone will believe. (Tweet that!)

That is heartbreaking for the Christian believer, but it must not stop us from continuing to try. Remember that many people heard Jesus himself talk and they did not believe. (Tweet that!) Even Jesus couldn't convince them!

Jesus said:
"But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day" John 6:36-40.

Many people heard him predict what would happen and they did not believe it. Then many of those same people watched it happen right before their very eyes and never put two and two together to make four. If Jesus couldn't convince everyone, certainly we can't. But it is the Christian's duty to continue to share convincing truths from the Bible.

Why? Because some will believe. And that is why, as Christians, we share our faith. We do it for the ones who will believe. (Tweet that!)

We should also study prophecy and share it for those who will not believe. So they will receive due warning. (Tweet that!)
"For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life" 2 Corinthians 2:15-16.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why Should We Study Prophecy? – Part 1 
I'm constantly amazed by how many people, especially among Christians, don't see any importance in studying Bible prophecy. (Tweet that!)

I'm especially perplexed by the Christian churches. In my little corner of the world, I don't see many churches even talking about prophecy let alone looking at prophecy and comparing it to what's going on in the world today. (Tweet that!)

I do know there are churches out there that are doing just that. I have people write me and tell me their church and/or pastor is talking about prophecy. That is awesome! I also see some churches that are televised talking about prophecy. I just wish more churches would.

I think it might be denominational – at least partly. Some Christian church denominations are more focused on prophecy while others are not.

In the churches that are not already willing to talk about prophecy, it feels like the topic is taboo. We can't even talk about it. Bring it up and you hear people gasp. (Tweet that!)

It's as if they think if we all ignore it, it will go away.

If we all just cooperate in believing nothing is happening, nothing is going on, then nothing bad will happen. Right?

My fear is that these church-goers are oblivious to what's going on in the world and how it links into the prophecies written in the Bible hundreds or thousands of years ago. I also fear the pastors and/or leadership of these churches are neglecting a major duty they have been entrusted with: preparing their congregations for what is to come.

Things are happening in our world, things that are different than before. Many people see it. Many people feel it. Though some don't understand what they are seeing or feeling. But I assure you, anyone who wants to know what's going on can know. (Tweet that!) God promises that anyone who asks will be given answers. He promises that all who seek, find. And for all who knock, it will be opened for them.

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened" (Luke 11:9-10).

I'm frustrated by the lack of conversation about prophecy, including—or perhaps especially—in the church. (Tweet that!)

I started this blog for that very reason: Because I believe many people are seeing and feeling that something big, something important, is happening but they are not getting the information or they don't know where to look.

Which brings us back to the question of the day: Why should we study prophecy?

I can think of at least four reasons. Here are two. (Tweet that!) We'll look at two more reasons in Saturday's post:

  • To strengthen our faith for today.
  • To strengthen our faith for the future.

What is prophecy? We'll look at answers to that more completely at another time, but for this discussion:

Prophecy is God telling us what He is going to do before He does it.

So when we look in the Bible at the prophecies God has given, and then we look further and see where those very prophecies have come true in every detail, that strengthens our faith.

It strengthens our faith because we begin to see God's personality:

  • that He is absolutely trustworthy. 
  • that He is powerful enough to have everything under control. 
  • that He knows the end from the beginning. 
  • that He is merciful to warn us about what will happen before it does.

All of this strengthens our faith in Him. Strengthened faith means that we have power because we have confidence in God and so we can step out in faith and live boldly and confidently no matter what we face. And no matter what comes.

That is how studying prophecy strengthens our faith for today…and for the future. (Tweet that!)