Wonderful Promises

God has made some wonderful promises to Israel. He will gather the Jews from all over the world back into the Promised Land (Deut. 30:1-5). They will get all of the Promised Land (Gen. 17:7-8). They will be exalted above all of the nations on earth (Deut. 28:1, 13). Jesus will sit on the throne of David and rule over them (Luke 1:32-33). Jerusalem will become the center of the nations and the Word of God will go forth to all nations from there (Ezek. 5:5; Hos. 4:2).

God said these things will happen and every jot and tittle of them will happen. But let’s be realistic. As things stand today, the Muslims in Gaza, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are not going to freely turn part of their land over to Israel. China, Russia, Iran and the like are not going to voluntarily accept the fact that tiny Israel is more important than they are. The UN, EU, US and others are not going to willingly submit to the rule of Jesus. All of the nations on earth are not going to agree to let the Word of God go unhindered within their borders. So as things stand today, there is not a chance in the world that God’s wonderful promises to Israel are going to be fulfilled.

This brings me to what triggered this article. Someone recently sent me some interesting information that he said comes from the Gemara, one of the two sections of the Jewish Talmud (Mishna and Gemara). The information concerns what the Gemara says about the significance of solar and lunar eclipses (especially eclipses on Feast Days such as the recent Blood Moon on Passover and the upcoming Blood Moon on Tabernacles). It is important to note that Christians don’t consider the Gemara to be Scripture, but it contains the remarks ancient Jewish rabbis that I don’t want to overlook.

The Hebrew children were slaves in Egypt when God sent the Ten Plagues to make Pharaoh let them go. According to the Gemara, if God had not sent the Ten Plagues, Egypt would not have collapsed, Pharaoh would not have released the Hebrews from slavery and the nation of Israel probably would not have come into being. Without the nation of Israel, we might not have had the Scriptures, the Temple, the Messiah, the prophets, the Church, etc. So the Ten Plagues played a crucial part in the return of the Jews and the conduct of God’s plan during Old Testament times. Also, the fall of Egypt on the first Passover celebration can be seen as the beginning of the nation of Israel and many other great blessings. It can be seen for the good things that happened for all people not the bad things that happened to Egypt.

Now, let’s direct our attention to the future. We are living in a period of time that the Bible calls the Times of the Gentiles, but the Times of the Gentiles must come to an end (Luke 21:24). The Gentile nations must be brought down so Israel can rise up and fulfill the role that God said she will fulfill in the future. The Gentile nations must be subdued so Jesus can reign, Israel can be exalted above the nations of the earth, the Word of God can go all over the world, etc. (Psa. 110:5-6; I Cor. 15:24-28).

The Gentile nations are not going to go easy. This is where the Tribulation Period comes in. It will be a time of judgment upon the nations (Zeph. 3:8). The Antichrist will rise to power and go forth conquering and to conquer (Rev. 6:1-2). Peace will be removed from the earth (Rev. 6:3-4). War will prevail and the nations of the earth will be brought low (Rev. 6:8; 8:11; 9:15). This will pave the way for the rise of Israel; the millennial reign of Jesus; peace, justice and righteousness on earth, etc. Christians should focus on the good that is coming to the earth not the bad.

Now, I don’t know much about blood moons. I haven’t totally avoided the subject, but I have said very little about it. I do know several things: One, God put lights in the heavens “for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” (Gen. 1:14); Two, NASA’s SOHO satellite videotaped large dark spots on the sun in 2013; Three, the Hebrew calendar and the Tribulation Period are based on the moon (30 days/month; 7 yrs. X 360 days/yr. = 2520 days); Four, the prophet Joel said, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come” (Joel 2:31); Five, Peter quoted Joel when the Church began by saying, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come” (Acts 2:20); Six, a tetrad of blood moons started on April 15, 2014 and this is before the day of the LORD; Seven, the convergence of signs seem to indicate that like the day of the LORD is getting close; And eight, I am not predicting it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if war broke out in the Middle East in the coming weeks or months.

The tetrad that started in 1949 followed the establishment of Israel. The tetrad that started in 1967 preceded Israel’s capture of the Temple Mount. And the Tribulation Period is the seventieth week of Israel’s punishment (Dan. 9:24-27). Each person needs to make up their own mind, but God is in control and His wonderful promises to Israel will come to pass.

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck
daymondduck@bellsouth.net

 

Editor’s Note:

When the subject of the Blood Moon Tetrads began to be discussed by various teachers in the area of Biblical Prophecy, I decided to undertake a study of them and their possible significance. Utilizing the same NASA website as Mark Biltz, John Hagee, Perry Stone and others; I researched the occurrence of the Tetrads which aligned with the Lord’s “Feast Days.”

The hypothesis of these teachers is that the Tetrads have a significance which affects the nation of Israel, or the Jewish people. However, I must call into question their conclusions. Of the seven Tetrads since the birth of Christ, only three are said to have shown relevance to the Jewish people.

    • In 1492 the Jews were given the order of Expulsion from Spain. The Tetrad happened in 1493 & 1494. Pastor Hagee associates this Tetrad with the discovery of America as a “safe haven” for the Jewish people, though most fled into eastern Europe or back to Palestine (only three are known to have reached the “new world” at this time, and only one of these stayed).  I find this assertion of relevance disingenuous and sensational. If the voyage of Columbus had anything to do with the Jewish people, it was to discover wealth to finance further crusades to Jerusalem.
    • The Tetrad of 1949 – 1950 is said to coincide with the Founding of the modern Nation State of Israel which took place on May 14, 1948. The Israeli “War of Independence” was fought in 1948-1949. A lunar eclipse did not take place on the day of declaration or on any day of significance during the war.
    • The Tetrad of 1967 -1968 is said to be associated with the “Six Day War” during which Israel regained control of all of Jerusalem. Again, a lunar eclipse did not occur on any day during that “War.”

If the Tetrads which occur on Feast Days are considered so important to the Jewish people, why were there no Tetrads associated with these important events?:

    • 70 AD The destruction of the Temple and expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem.
    • 132-135 AD The expulsion of the Jews from Israel after the Bar Kokhba revolt, after which Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed Israel “Palestine.”
    • 1181 AD French King Philip banished the Jews from France.
    • 1298 AD Persecution of the Jews in Franconia, Bavaria, and Austria when more than 100,000 Jewish people were killed during a six month period.
    • 1903-1906 AD Frequent pogroms (massacres) in Russia and Ukraine were carried out against Jewish shtetls (small villages) during which thousands were slaughtered.
    • 1939-1945 AD The Holocaust during WW2.
    • 1956 AD The “Suez War.”
    • 1973 AD  The Yom Kippur War.
    • Additionally, there is no evidence of a Tetrad having any significance to Israel prior to the birth of Christ.

I would also like to point out that while I agree that Joel 2:31 and Acts 2:20 are referring to a time “before the great and the terrible day of the LORD”; this takes place during the Tribulation just prior to Christ’s Second Coming, and the written word suggests the sun darkening and moon turning to blood happen at the same time. This is NOT a typical astrological event. Remember, the return of Jesus for His Church (the “Rapture”) is imminent, requiring no signs before it occurs. To infer that anything like this might need to happen before the Church is “taken away” is just not biblical.

In conclusion, while I agree with Daymond that each person must decide for themselves if there is any prophetic significance to the “Blood Moon” Tetrads, I simply cannot ascribe any real significance to them. I do however see a convergence of real “Signs of the Times” which make me believe that war will break out in the Middle East in the near future. We will comment on these Prophecies in more detail in the coming weeks.

Respectfully, KD Tucker Whitaker DD, PhD

Service and Sacrifice… The Standard has been set!

Continuing our study of the Church built by Jesus Christ, I would like to reflect just a bit on service and sacrifice. Throughout the New Testament we find examples of service and sacrifice in the name of Jesus for the Church. Historically we know that all of the Apostles, except John, were martyred for the cause of Christ, but it was Steven who set the standard for all followers of Christ. Today I believe the True Church is approaching an unprecedented time of persecution, and I believe much of that persecution will come from within the “church” (Institutional, Denominational, Emergent, etc…) which is apostate. Knowing this persecution is to come, we must continue to serve and be prepared to sacrifice just as True Christians have since the beginning of the church age.

After Pentecost, the Church experienced tremendous growth in Jerusalem. Thousands of new converts were added to the Apostles and disciples who were followers of Christ before and after the crucifixion.  To the Jewish leaders, it seemed that this group known to be followers of “The Way,” was becoming a threat to Judaism, and the control it had over the nation of Israel. The Sanhedrin had made threats against the Apostles, but their commands were not heeded. As we look at Acts chapters 6 & 7 , we find this situation exploding as a result of the Apostles’ solution to a growing concern within the young Church.

By Acts 6 the Church had grown to between 25,000 and 30,000 believers, and as a result of this rapid growth and development there arose some internal strife and discord that had the potential to hinder or arrest the growth of the Church. It seemed to some that there was an inequity in the daily distribution to those needy saints within the church. The Hebrew widows were having their needs met, while the Hellenistic widows were being overlooked (Acts 6:1). Because rumblings were beginning to be heard within the body of believers, immediate attention was required to keep the young Church on track and focused on its mission.

The solution of the Apostles was for the congregation to select from among themselves “seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom,” who would be commissioned to oversee the daily ministry to the needy saints. Through the administration of these men, the benevolent work of the church would proceed with fairness and equity, all those in need would receive assistance. It was a good plan. It would allow the apostles to continue devoting themselves to “the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). After all, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the Word of God in order to serve tables” (Acts 6:2). The people “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42), and that vital ministry of the Word could not suffer neglect due to distractions over more material concerns. The seven men would be assigned responsibility for these tasks associated with daily ministry so that the Apostles could remain focused on the Word.

This plan “found approval with the whole congregation” (Acts 6:5), and they chose seven leaders for this ministry. The first name listed in the biblical record was Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). This probably was significant; noting that he was first choice, for Stephen was a remarkable man. It is readily apparent why his fellow disciples chose him. He was vocal, willing to share the good news of God’s grace with those about him. He was also “full of grace and power, performing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8).

Stephen was a “Hellenist”(a Greek speaking Jew from outside of Israel) from Cilicia in Asia… modern day Turkey… as was Saul of Tarsus… his understanding and command of the Law suggests (as early Church history holds) that like Saul he was a student of Gamaliel… the foremost Jewish scholar of the Law and a member of the Sanhedrin. Tradition, and evidence of the age of Philip and the other five also suggest that Stephen was younger than Saul by as many as 10 years… and Saul was about 30 at this time… Stephen had a servant’s heart and a desire to share the Gospel.

Yet, by the end of Acts 7 Stephen is being stoned to death. Why?! Considering the scriptural record of his character, why was he murdered by a mob?

The first reason that led to Stephen’s death was that he spoke in the Synagogues and taught about the prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus. He became well-known as a follower of “The Way” by the people of Jerusalem. Had he chosen to do as most believers do today, go to church but not get involved, he probably would not have drawn so much attention to himself. Stephen however saw his service to God in a much more serious light. He realized there were people all around him who were lost. They had no relationship with Jesus Christ. They needed to hear the gospel, the message of God’s saving grace. As a student of the Law, he knew there were those who had been a part of, or at least were aware of, the events leading to the crucifixion of God’s Son, who needed to hear that it was the Christ that they had hung on a cross. They had murdered their Messiah. So, Stephen decided to speak Truth. He went to the Temple and into the streets and proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Stephen could not be like most believers are today, and sit comfortably in church uninvolved. He was sold out for Christ, committed to the cause, and willing to stand before the world in defense of the Gospel.

What a tremendous example, we need to be like Stephen and speak Truth! In these “Last Days” it is important for us to realize that because Jesus is soon to return for His Bride, we must stand up before a lost and dying world and proclaim the Gospel. And, we must be willing to defend the gospel against those who would pervert or alter it for their own gain. When confronted by Truth, false prophets will lash out in hostility against the True Church and True Christians, and we must be grounded well enough in the Word to Stand against their attacks.

The second reason that led to Stephen’s death was that he spoke with such knowledge, conviction, reasoning and passion; that those who opposed him were completely incapable of refuting his words. He was using the Old Testament writings to teach Truth by the power of the Holy Spirit in his life. Those who taught Jewish Law and those of the Sanhedrin Council (including Saul) could not withstand the Truth which he spoke, and so had to resort to lies and deceit to oppose him. One of the reasons for which the number of disciples was “increasing greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7) was the passionate evangelism of Stephen.

The record in Acts tells us that some of the Jews “rose up and argued with Stephen” (Acts 6:9). And, when they decided to confront him in public believing they could discredit him and turn the people back to their own doctrines and practices, they failed miserably. Acts tells us “they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the spirit with which he was speaking” (Acts 6:10). Stephen was preaching God’s Truth and they were powerless to contradict his teaching. They tried to disgrace Stephen, and only succeeded in degrading themselves. In speaking Truth, Stephen was gaining converts. This was more than the Jewish leaders could stand.

Truth can never be overcome by anything or anyone who stands against it. Truth is always Truth and cannot fail. So the Jews attacked Stephen with lies. “Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, ‘We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God'” (Acts 6:11). And  “they produced false witnesses” who told more lies, probably before the Sanhedrin (Acts 6:13).

Do you recognize this strategy? They are repeating the same tactic they used against Jesus. If you can’t defeat Truth, attack the one who brings the message of Truth. Since they couldn’t counter Truth, they attacked Stephen bodily. The only thing they were interested in was shutting Stephen up. But, after the false charges had been made against him, Stephen was allowed to present his defense before the Sanhedrin.

However, Stephen went on the offensive. He gave them a history lesson out of their own scriptures; he presented them again with Truth. Stephen spoke again with conviction and without fear, he didn’t care about the consequences, he just preached Truth. Steven said they were stiff-necked, uncircumcised in heart and ears, and as always resisting the Holy Spirit, again, no fear. He called them murderers and betrayers of the righteous, just like their fathers were! This eventually led to Stephens stoning. “And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and dragged him away” (Acts 6:12).

Stephen’s boldness before the Sanhedrin did not go over so well with the Jewish leaders, his accusers, and the people who had already been stirred up into a frenzy against him. “Now when they heard this they were cut to the quick, and they gnashed their teeth at him” (Acts 7:54). They were mad that he dared to speak against them and they began grinding their teeth in rage, because he had spoken Truth. “They cried out with a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him with one impulse” (Acts 7:57). They rushed upon Stephen, drove him outside the city gates, picked up the closest large rocks they could throw, and murdered this young disciple of Jesus.

Interestingly, Steven saw “the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). At Christ’s ascension, it is said He sits at the right hand of the Father, yet Stephen sees Him Standing! Is it recognition, reception, or respect? Perhaps all three… “well done thou good and faithful servant”. As Stephen was stoned, he called “Lord Jesus receive my spirit” and he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin” (Acts 7:59&60). Stephen’s trial, and actions at his death mirrored those of his Savior. A just man faced an unjust death. And, what about Saul? What did Steven’s death mean in the life of this young Rabbi? I believe Steven’s Life and Death would become the example of Service to the man who would become Paul. I believe it should be an example to us all. Oh that Jesus would be standing to welcome me home to Glory… will He Stand to greet you?

We are all called to be servants… We are all called to speak the truth… We all may be required to sacrifice something for the cause of Christ… don’t be content to sit on the sidelines… live large… get involved in the battle… “for great is your reward in heaven”(Luke 6:23)… serve Jesus and you will hear Him say; “well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). Because we are living in the Last Days and; Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome