Signs of the End Times? Israel in the Promised Land

June 24, 2020 by  
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By Dianne E. Butts –

In December, we talked about the prophecies given and then fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. Today, many people are wondering about other prophecies and whether or not we are seeing them fulfilled right before our very eyes today. Could the things we see going on in our world today be fulfillment of “End Times” prophecies? This year, let’s take a look at some of the “end time” or “last days” prophecies given in the Bible and explore how they might be coming true right now.

From my experience, it’s hard to tell which is the majority: those who believe we are living in the last days or those who believe we are not. Often when the topic of end-times prophecy comes up, someone says they believe the Lord is coming back, but it might not be for hundreds or a thousand more years.

I don’t think so. I think it’s going to be soon. Very soon. In fact, I think it’s going to be soon enough that the generation alive right now will see it. Since you’re reading this—that means you!

Why do I believe it will be that soon? Mostly because of one Sign.

Let me ask you—if you had to choose one prophecy you think is the most revealing that we are nearing the End Times, what would it be? Jesus said many things would happen in Matthew 24 and elsewhere. One thing Jesus said was that this world would be worse than ever before: “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21). So are we there yet?

To tell the signs of the times, or where we are on God’s prophetic clock, we need a Sign that is specific.

So my choice for the most revealing Sign is that Israel is back in the Promised Land.

How long has it been since Israel was in the Promised Land and governing itself? This note is in the NIV Study Bible (1984), page 1319 (on the map): “Continued political rivalries in Judea brought the intervention of the Roman general Pompey in 63 B.C. This event signaled the end of Jewish political independence, except for periods of brief autonomy during the ill-fated revolts of the first and second Christian centuries.”

Israel has not been its own nation in the land God gave the Israelites since 63 B.C.! Until—do you know when? The answer has occurred within the lifetimes of many living among us today—the World War II generation.

God showed the prophet Ezekiel the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. God asked the prophet, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

The prophet wisely answered, “O Sovereign, LORD, you alone know” (Ezekiel 37:3). Then God showed the dead bones being put back together and flesh being put back on them and them coming to life once again: “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel’” (Ezekiel 37:10-11).

So again, do you know when Israel once again became a nation? Hint: It was very soon after the end of World War II, after Hitler tried but failed to annihilate God’s chosen people, the Jews.

Israel once again became a nation: May 14, 1948.

Now that’s specific!

This is one Sign that is absolutely unique to our time. No one can argue saying this Sign has not been fulfilled.

What do you think? Are we in, or nearing, the End Times?

Christmas Prophecies

April 21, 2020 by  
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By Dianne E. Butts –

Most people know that the birth of Christ fulfilled many prophecies. But have you read the Christmas story with that in mind? Here’s a look at the story of the birth of Jesus in Matthew and Luke and some of the prophecies that were fulfilled along with their original prophecy that was given. You may be able to find even more.

Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 1:27, 32-33:  According to Isaiah 9:­6-7 and 11:1, the Messiah would be a descendant of King David.  This is why genealogies are so important to the Jews and why there are so many recorded in the Bible; they are tracing the bloodline from Abraham to David to Messiah.  Also Matthew 1:20 calls Joseph the “son of David” showing even Jesus’ adopted (earthly) Dad was of the line of Abraham and David. That’s why Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem: because he was in the bloodline of David so he had to go to the “City of David” to register for the census.

Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38: Speak of the virgin birth, as well as His name would be “God with us” was foretold in Isaiah 7:14.

Matthew 2:1-2a: That God would send a righteous King was foretold in Jeremiah 23:5.

Matthew 2: 2b: The Magi saw the star. The star was foretold in Numbers 24:17. Not only was the star predicted, but Scripture said it would come out of Jacob-Israel, both names are the same man, the grandson of Abraham.

Matthew 2:6 and Luke 2:1-7: The ruler who would be the shepherd of God’s people was to be born in Bethlehem according to Micah 5:2.

Matthew 2:11: The Magi worshipped Him, according to Isaiah 60:3.

Matthew 2: 11: The gifts given to Jesus were prophetic in themselves: gold is a gift fitting for a king, frankincense was used in sacrifices and Jesus came to be our sin sacrifice, and myrrh was used as an embalming agent in burials predicting this babe was born to die. The richness of these extravagant gifts may have financed and supported Jesus and His family while they hid out in Egypt and later traveled to Nazareth.

Matthew 2:13-15: The family fled to Egypt, then God called Him out of Egypt as Hosea 11:1 foretold. (just as the Jewish nation was called out of Egypt as a prophetic forerunner of God’s Messiah).

Matthew 2:16-18: The murder of these children was foretold in Jeremiah 31:15.

About four hundred years elapsed between the Old Testament and the New, so all of these prophecies were given at least that long before they were fulfilled in the birth of Jesus the Christ.

But not all the prophecies had centuries between the prediction and the fulfillment.

Luke 2:8-14: Angels came to the shepherds and announced the birth of “Christ the Lord” and told them a sign to them would be that the baby would be wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger (v. 12).  But the shepherds had to go that night to see if it was true! And they did. According to verses 18-20 they went, and they found everything was “just as they had been told” (v. 20).

What other prophecies can you find fulfilled in the birth of Christ?

 

A Feast to Remember

March 10, 2020 by  
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By Dianne E. Butts –

Thanksgiving is perhaps the most famous feast in America. As we prepare to celebrate our American feast, you might be interested in a little history and information on the Jewish Feasts. God gave the Jews seven feasts to observe. These feasts are both historical and prophetic, meaning they both remind the Jews of their history with God and point to future events prophetically.

Now, I have called them the Jewish feasts because God gave them to the Jewish people in the Old Testament, however they are actually meant for all people, which is why they are really called the Feasts of the LORD.

Speaking prophetically, the first four Feasts have occurred. Three occurred very close together, then a gap of time before the fourth. Then a larger gap of time passes to the (yet-unfulfilled) remaining and final three in our future. Here are the Feasts of the LORD:

1. Passover occurs in the spring of the year and lasts one day. On the Jewish calendar it is the 14th of Nisan. It corresponds to the Christian Easter, except that Easter is always on Sunday which is why it seems to move around our calendar. Historically, for 1,500 years, from the time of the first Passover in Moses’ day, the Jews killed the Passover lamb on Nisan 14. Prophetically: Jesus, the ultimate Passover Lamb, was crucified on Passover.

2. Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on Nisan 15 and is seven days long. At the first Passover, God instructed the Jews to make bread without leaven. Historically, in the Bible leaven almost always represents sin and Jews spend time in the spring cleaning the leaven (sin) out of their lives and homes. Prophetically: Jesus was the bread that feeds the world without leaven (sin).

3. Feast of First Fruits: begins on Nisan 18, literally within the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Historically it celebrates the first harvest of barley after God brought His people into the Promised Land. Prophetically: Jesus was raised on the third day, the first fruits of the harvest.

4. Feast of Pentecost is the Feast of Weeks, seven weeks of seven days after Passover. Pentecost is on the 50th day. Historically it remembers the Law coming down from God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Prophetically: Jesus, who paid the death-penalty for the breaking of God’s Law, ascended to heaven on the fortieth day after His resurrection. The Holy Spirit descended upon the church on Pentecost.

5. Feast of Yom Teruah, also known as Rosh Hashanah, is the Feast of Trumpets. This is the first of the three feasts in the fall of the year. Historically, this day is known as “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble,” “The Day of the Awakening [Trumpet] Blast,” “Yom HaDin” (The Opening of the Books”), and “Yom HaKeseh” (The Hidden Day). Prophetically: This is the next feast to be fulfilled on God’s prophetic calendar, and many believe the Tribulation will begin on this day in some coming year.

6. Feast of Yom Kippur.  Historically celebrates The Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for those people who believe in, trust in, and love God. Prophetically: Israel calls upon Messiah.

7. Feast of Tabernacles is also known as the Feast of Succoth or Booths. Historically the Jews built booths of sticks to “tabernacle” or live with God. Prophetically: When God/Messiah will come to “tabernacle” or live among us.

The Jewish holidays Purim and Hanukkah also appear on the calendar, but these are not original, prophetic Feasts of the Lord. Purim remembers the near slaughter of the Jews in the book of Esther. Hanukkah remembers the re-taking and purification of the Temple by Judas Maccabaeus in about 164 BC.

This article has been re-posted with a correction: Jesus did not ascend to heaven on Pentecost as the article stated, but 40 days after His resurrection.

Here Comes Harold Camping’s October 21, 2011!

February 3, 2020 by  
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By Dianne E. Butts –

Last spring, Harold Camping made national news when he predicted the Rapture would occur May 21, 2011. What’s the Rapture? It is an event that many Christians believe will occur during the “End Times,” which we talked about a little in my column last month.

One of the foundational beliefs of Christianity is that Jesus will return to earth—as an adult, just like when He died, alive and powerful. We believe this because Scripture tells us so in many places. Here are just couple:

  • Jesus Himself talked about His coming. Three of the four gospel writers recorded this conversation: Matthew in his book’s chapter 24, Mark in chapter 13, and Luke in 21. Jesus talked about many things that would happen just before He comes, including wars, earthquakes, and natural disasters that would increase in intensity and frequency like a woman’s birth pangs.
  • Also, as the resurrected Jesus was ascending into heaven, two angels appeared suddenly and said, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

Some Christians believe that just before His second coming, the Rapture will take place. The Rapture is when all true Christians are suddenly whisked away, taken out of the world to meet the Lord. This belief is based on Bible verses like 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, which says in part, “…we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

The Bible describes the “End Times” as the last seven years of human history as we know it, known as the great “Tribulation.” This seven year period is divided into two halves of three and a half years each. Some Christians believe the Rapture will occur at the beginning of the seven years, as sort of a kick-off event. Others believe it will take place at the halfway point.

Harold Camping said he’d done some calculations (I don’t know what) and that the Rapture would occur on May 21, 2011. But on May 22 we were still here. Quickly afterwards media reported he said he had miscalculated or that God was giving us another five months—until  October 21, 2011.

Since May, I’ve heard Harold Camping called a false prophet. And that is true, because a true prophet of God can’t be wrong. If a “prophet’s” prediction does not come true, it was not from God and so he or she is a false prophet.

However Mr. Camping sure had people talking. And I think that’s a good thing. I heard one radio talk show on a mainstream (meaning not “Christian”) radio station with a host that was Jewish. He was asking questions about the “Rapture” and Christians were calling in explaining what that meant. The host just kept saying he was blown away by how well-informed the Christians were!

Only nineteen days after Mr. Camping’s failed prediction, on June 9th, he suffered a stroke from which he is still recovering. I found myself wondering if Harold Camping would live to see October 21, 2011, or if his own personal “rapture” would occur by then. Whether his stroke was a judgment from God or not I’ll let you decide.

But I believe God can use even false prophets for His glory and I hope even more people are talking and thinking about God this October. And I hope Christians will continue to talk about what they know, because there are people out there who are curious, are listening, and are taking note.

Remember September 11th – About the Muslims – Part 2

December 13, 2019 by  
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By Dianne E. Butts –

Continuing from last month, as we mark the tenth anniversary of the attack on America on September 11, 2001, here are two more Questions and Answers excerpted from Dear America: A Letter of Comfort and Hope to a Grieving Nation (still available on Amazon.com):

Q: Muslims say they worship the same God as Christians and Jews. Does the Allah of Islam differ from the God of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible? 

A: Yes. Here are three big differences:

1. Muslims believe Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus were prophets, but Mohammed was the final and greatest prophet. Islam lowers Jesus to just another prophet and just another man equal with Abraham, Moses, and the others. But Jesus was not just a prophet—Jesus was and is the Son of God!

2. Muslims believe each person is attended by two angels, one to record their sins and one to record their good deeds. The good deeds are weighed against the bad to determine a person’s eternity. But the Bible clearly teaches that even one sin brings about the consequence of death. No amount of good deeds can “undo” our sin. The only way to eternal life after sin is to accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

3. In the days following the Attack on America, I heard a Muslim gentleman call in to a radio talk show and explain that his religion is “The Third Great Religion.” He said the Jewish faith was the first great religion, Christianity was the second, and Islam is the third, implying that religion “evolves” and older religions become outdated and are replaced. Muslims believe their Koran is the holiest book and supersedes all previous revelations of God (meaning the Koran supersedes the Bible).

However, when Jesus hung dying on the cross…, his final words were “It is finished” (John 19:30). There is nothing left to be done or said or written.

Judaism sets the stage for Christianity. Christianity fulfills Judaism. There is no “Third Great Religion.” There isn’t even a “Second Great Religions.” There is only one true religion, and that is Judaism fulfilled in Christianity.

End of story. It is finished.

Q: Was the Attack on America part of the “End Times” Christians talk about? And why do Christians get so excited about those dreaded “End Times”? 

A: I don’t know if September 11 was specifically a part of the “End Times.” But in a sense, everything that occurs is leading us to and moving us toward that time.

The “End Times” refer to the final seven years of human history described in the Bible in books such as Daniel and Revelation. This will be the most dreadful time, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled form the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21). But Christians, as crazy as it sounds, get excited about the End Times for several reasons:

–  The End Times culminate with the return of Jesus Christ.

–  The End Times is the final battle between God and evil, and God wins!

–  Following the End Times, God “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). That’s a lot to look forward to! But the only people who will enjoy this eternal peace in heaven with God are those who choose to trust him, love him, and follow him here in this life. Are you among us?

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