Thursday, January 29, 2015

I am so proud of Speaker John Boehner for inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address the Congress--the peoples's house! I believe that this was a very significant and strategic move by the Speaker. First, "those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed." Secondly, God's heart and plan is to save Israel, as it is written, "all Israel will be saved." Third, president Obama's long standing antipathy toward Israel is being brought out into the open where everybody can see it. Fourth, the invisible God is using and will continue to use the visible nation of Israel and the visible city of Jerusalem to reveal the hearts of all people as we approach the end of the age and the culmination of God's eternal plan when He will remove the veil between the spiritual and the natural in the person of His Son, the God-man, Christ Jesus. Dear friends, although these are dangerous times in which we live, they are also the most exciting times to be alive on the earth. And one way that you can express your faith in a tangible, visible way is by calling Speaker Boehner's office and telling him that you support his decision to stand with Israel. And personally thank him for inviting PM Netanyahu to address our Congress and subsequently the American people. Simply call 202-225-6205 and press option one to leave your message for the Speaker. Also, please continue to pray for Speaker Boehner and the new leadership in Congress. In our church, we have been and will continue to ask the Lord to protect these men and women and to give them the wisdom and the courage necessary to do God's will. Also remember this: the safest place you could ever be, even if it is standing in the midst of hell, is in the center of God Almighty's perfect will. Shalom friends!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Jerusalem as an Apocalyptic
Trigger for Radical Islam

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran established in the most dramatic fashion a direct connection between radical Islam’s apocalyptic outlook and the future of Jerusalem. Facing a UN Security Council deadline for answering the demands of the international community that Iran freeze the production of enriched uranium, Ahmadinejad’s government stated that it would give its answer on August 22, 2006. That day corresponded to the twenty seventh of the month of Rajab, according to the Muslim calendar. In Islamic tradition, that was the date when Muhammad flew on a winged horse-like-beast, al-Buraq, from Mecca to Jerusalem and ascended to heaven.

Ahmadinejad has been associated with a radical apocalyptic movement known as Iranian Shiism known as the Hojjatieh Mahdavieh Society. Mainstream Shiites believe in the eventual return of the Twelfth Imam, who is a direct descendant of Muhammad’s son-in-law, Ali, and whose family is viewed by Shiites as the only appropriated successors to Muhammad. The Twelfth Imam went into what the Shiites call the “lesser occulation” in the year 874 by which he became invisible and communicated with the outside world through special agents until 940, when the “greater occulation” began and his communication with his followers ended; the Twelfth Imam is expected to return as the Mahdi (“the rightly guided one”). This event is expected to usher in a new messianic-like era of global order and justice for Shiites in which Islam will be victorious. The Shiite Mahdi is also supposed to “take vengeance on the enemies of God,” although his arrival is an end of time concept for the distant future.[1]

The Hojjatieh, which started out in 1953 as a movement against the Bahai faith, believe that the timing of this historical process is not pre-determined; it can be hastened through apocalyptic chaos and violence. And Ahmadinejad has openly stated, “Our revolution’s main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi.” One Western reporter conveyed that Ahmadinejad may have told his cabinet that the Mahdi will arrive within the next two years. From his statements it is clear that the Iranian president sees that it within man’s power to facilitate this process of the end of days. But how exactly is the Mahdi’s arrival to be accelerated?

For Ahmadinejad, the destruction of Israel is one of the key global developments that will trigger the appearance of the Mahdi. It was on Iran’s annual “Jerusalem Day” on October 26, 2005, that Ahmadinejad made his famous reference to the need to “wipe Israel off the map.” What did not receive the same attention was another part of his speech in which he said, “We are now in the process of an historical war between the World of Arrogance {i.e. the West} and the Islamic world.” He then added that a world without America and Zionism is attainable.” Thus Ahmadinejad was talking about war against the U.S. and its Western allies.
A month earlier, in his first UN General Assembly address, Ahmadinejad closed with a prayer that the Mahdi’s arrival be quickened, “Oh mighty Lord, I pray to you to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the promised one.” He was recorded saying that a member of his delegation noticed that he was surrounded by an aura of light during the twenty seven to twenty eight minutes that he spoke, which he admitted to have felt himself. Ahmadinejad shows all the signs of not only using apocalyptic language, but also believing that he has a personal role in bringing the end times about.

But what was the connection between Jerusalem and Ahmadinejad’s planned final battle? Dr. Bilal Na’im served as an assistant to the head of the Executive Council of Hezbollah, the Iranian-controlled Lebanese Shiite terrorist organization. In an essay discussing the details of how the Mahdi is supposed to appear before the world, according to Shiite doctrine, he states that initially the Mahdi reveals himself in Mecca “and he will lean on the Ka’abah and view the arrival of his supporters from around the world.”

From Mecca the Mahdi next moves to Karbala in Iraq. But his most important destination, in Na’im’s description, is clearly Jerusalem. It is in Jerusalem from where the launching of the Mahdi’s world conquest is declared. He explains, “The liberation of Jerusalem is the preface for liberating the world and establishing the state of justice and values on earth.”[2] In short, Jerusalem serves as the launching pad for the Mahdi’s global jihad at the end of days.

The above article is taken from Dore Gold’s book, “The Fight for Jerusalem,” cp. 8, pp. 231-233.

The Twelfth Imam or Mahdi will be the Antichrist, and the “Jesus” of Islam (not of the Bible) will be the false prophet as revealed in the Book of the Revelation (Revelation 13). The devil has done a good job of deception by raising up radical Islam to try and keep Jesus Christ from returning to Jerusalem, “the city of the great King,” (Matthew 5:35), and so fulfilling Matthew 23:39 “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you (Jewish leadership) say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Why does Satan not want Jesus to be welcomed back to Jerusalem by the Jewish leadership? Because when Jesus returns victoriously to Jerusalem at the end of the age, the devil will be bound for one thousand years (Revelation 20), and he doesn’t want to be bound! In short, Islam’s desire for Jerusalem is none other than the devil’s attempt to try and not be bound. But He will be bound nonetheless when Jesus destroys his army and then casts the Antichrist and false prophet into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:11-21).

In the coming weeks at Warrior Assembly of God, I will be preaching and teaching on God’s heart and plan for Jerusalem. Also, I will be posting some of these messages on my blog: warriorprophet.blogspot.com. My desire is to help as many people as possible to understand the end times and the importance of Jerusalem to those plans. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may those who love you be secure” (Psalm 122:6). Shalom






[1] “Hidden Imam” in Cyril Glasse, The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam (London: Stacey International, 1991), 155
[2] http://albehari.tripod.com/quds4.htm (simply translate into English or other languages from your computer)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Following is part two of the message, "The Humility of Christmas." I sincerely pray that it will be a blessing to those who read it. Merry Christmas

TEXT: Philippians 2:5-11
SUBJECT: The Humility of Christmas, Part II
INTRODUCTION:
Last Sunday we preached a message from verses 5-8 of our text. In those verses we saw the amazing truth of the humility of God in Christ Jesus. That humility was beautifully revealed in the way in which the Son of God emptied Himself of the glory that was His from all eternity.
First, the Lord humbled Himself by becoming incarnate in human flesh. The eternal joined Himself to the temporal! That of itself is staggering. The Almighty God humbled Himself by becoming a human being, forever, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus will always have a human body—for all eternity. As I said in the last message, the incarnation would be like putting the sun inside a rain drop!
God becoming a man is the greatest act of humility that there will ever be.
But the humility of God didn’t cease with the incarnation. The Scripture says that He also took on the form of a servant. Although He could have come as an Emperor or as a man of great wealth and riches living in palaces, He instead came as a humble carpenter, born in the small town of Nazareth to two peasants, Joseph and Mary. He CHOSE to be a SERVANT and to serve others rather than to be served.
However, the ultimate act of the humble God came when He became obedient to death—even death on a cross. Beloved, there is no greater act or demonstration of humility than when someone LAYS DOWN their life for others. That is the ultimate sacrifice! And our GOD, our CREATOR and REDEEMER did that for us. As the old hymn says:
Amazing love, how can it be, but that thou my God shouldst die for me.
The mystery all: the immortal dies; who can explore His strange design?
He left His Father’s throne above so free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race;
Tis mercy all, immense and free, for O my God, it found out me!
Tis mercy all, immense and free
For O my God, it found out me!
The Almighty God humbled Himself by becoming a man; by becoming a servant to men; and by ultimately dying on a cross to save men. Again, as I said last week, does this not stir something in the deepest part of your soul to be a follower of this amazing, humble God?
Beloved, this is Christmas. It is the humility of God in Christ Jesus. And it is this humility that we are called upon to follow after: “Let this attitude which was in Christ Jesus be also in you.”
This is part one of our message, “The Humility of Christ.” Today I will bring you part two of that message from verses 9-11.
The Humility of Christ, Part II, begins with the word “Therefore.” I have told you many times that whenever you see the word “therefore” in the scriptures, you should also see a finger pointing back to what has preceded it. The word “therefore,” means “for this reason.” Simply said, whatever follows “therefore,” is because of what has come before it. Because Christ humbled Himself and became a man; and because He also became a servant of men; and because He ultimately died on a cross to save man, “Therefore,” or “for this reason, God highly exalted Him to the highest place; and gave Him a name above every name—that at the Name of Jesus, every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
I will present to you three truths in this amazing revelation of the humility of God in Christ Jesus that I believe will help you to enter more fully into the reality of Christmas. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us receive the revelation of God’s Word to us today.
I. First of all, what is true humility? True humility is WHO God is and not just what He has done or will do. He is the humble God, forever.
A.) Doing acts of humility is not what makes God humble. Rather, the humble acts of God in Christ Jesus are a revelation of who God really is. Humility is part of His Divine nature.
As previously stated, that is why it is so easy to fall in love with God, and the more we know and love the humble God by revelation, the more like Him we progressively become. One of the great mysteries and beauties of Christianity is that the true followers of Christ Jesus become one with Him as they are transformed into His image. Beloved, this is a very powerful truth where more revelation is needed.
B.) There are some who would contend that God cannot be humble and Almighty at the same time. The question is this: how do you reconcile the baby in the manger and the humble servant who died on the cross with the conquering King of Revelation 19:11-16 whose eyes are like a blazing fire and from whose mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike the nations?
1.) As has been said, there is no greater illustration of what true humility is than when God became a man and voluntarily died on a cross to save men. The incarnation and crucifixion is the quintessential example of power under control. And that is humility! Beloved, humility is not weakness. Rather, humility is steel wrapped in velvet. Jesus said that He could have called twelve legions of angels to rescue Him from those who crucified Him. But instead He humbled Himself and restrained His power so that He could save those who would be saved.
2. Secondly, humility does not mean that God will not judge evil. On the contrary, true humility demands that evil be judged! True humility cannot rest until the perfect will of God has conquered all that is standing in the way of His perfect love. The God of perfect power and perfect humility will not rest until His perfect love conquers all.
So then, there is absolutely no contradiction between the babe in the manger and the humble servant who died on the cross with the conquering King of Revelation 19. Both are the perfect revelation of the humility of God in Christ Jesus.
Beloved, humility is power under control to always do the right thing—the Biblical thing.
II. The second truth about the humility of God in Christ Jesus is related to the above, and it is truly important. Humility is what we are becoming and not just what we do.
God is certainly interested in what we do, but I believe that He is much more interested in who we are becoming. Why? Because if who we are becoming is right, then what we do will be right.
There are people who “act” humble, but they are not really humble. Perhaps they act humble to impress others or because they are trying to manipulate others to get what they want. But this is obviously not true humility.
I’m not saying that true humility is easy, because it’s not. It doesn’t feel good to the flesh. However, when we act in true humility by obeying the Holy Spirit and denying the sinful flesh—our motives being pure—then we are following after the genuine humility of God in Christ Jesus. We are following after the humble God; we are becoming more and more like Him! As this happens, then humility will be more of who we are and not just what we do. Beloved, I believe this is where the abundant life is found. This is the power and glory of Christianity. This is the true Spirit of Christmas.
III. My final point in this message is that the true humility of God in Christ will always be rewarded by God.
This is what the Holy Spirit revealed to us in verses 9-11 in our text. “Therefore,” (because Christ Jesus humbled Himself by becoming a man and by becoming the servant of men, and then ultimately dying on a cross to save man), “God highly exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him a name above every name—that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
Beloved do you see it? The Son of God humbled Himself by laying aside His Divine glory to be incarnate in human flesh. He then made Himself to be a servant—a humble carpenter that chose twelve very ordinary men to be His disciples. At last, he completely emptied Himself by voluntarily laying down His life on a cross. This was Almighty power under perfect control to accomplish the will and plan of God—namely the salvation of the Church.
And because of the humility of Christ Jesus, we see the inevitable reward of God:
(1). He raised the Lord Jesus from the dead. That’s power friends!
(2). He then seated Him at His right hand—the highest place!
(3). And He gave Him the Name ABOVE all names!
What an amazing God we serve! At the first coming of Christ Jesus, God stunned the world with the greatest revelation that the world has ever seen. In the incarnation, in His becoming a servant and in His death on the cross, we saw the heart of the humble God revealed. We were allowed to see Who God really is!
Then at the resurrection, ascension, and Second Coming of Christ Jesus we have seen and will see the humility of God as He conquers all evil that is standing in the way of His perfect love.
Beloved, the greatest purpose and privilege in this life is to know and fall in love with the humble God who revealed Himself in the humility of Christ Jesus.
As we do this one thing, we are opening our hearts to be transformed more and more into His likeness. As that happens, we are becoming more like the Lord—allowing the attitude that was in Christ Jesus to be in us.
As we receive the humility of Christmas, God Himself will lift us up and bestow the reward of His favor upon us. He will trust us with more of His power to do His will.
Dear Church, the humility of Christmas is so much more than we know! And yet that is God’s open invitation to each of us this Christmas season. Those who seek Him, as did the wise men so long ago, they will find Him!
Let’s pray.

Monday, December 8, 2014


TEXT: Philippians 2:5-8

SUBJECT: The Humility of Christmas

INTRO:

 

Last Sunday morning my spirit was captured by the humility of God. As I was reflecting on the manger scenes that we have displayed in the Church, I couldn’t help but think about what it really means: the Almighty God who spoke the universe into a tangible existence became a man. The eternal God joined himself to temporal flesh in the miracle of the incarnation. As I once heard it so aptly illustrated, the incarnation was like putting the sun into a rain drop!

 

In the last six messages that I preached on the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus, I emphasized that there will not have been anything like this since God created the heavens and the earth. This is certainly true because it will mean that God will have brought forth His New Creation, the Church, in all of its eternal glory. The glory of the later house (the New Creation in Christ Jesus) will greatly exceed the former glory of the first creation of Adam. This amazing revelation will come forth with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. The Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus will be nothing short of spectacular. We are most assuredly looking forward to “that day” with joyful anticipation!

 

Beloved, it is good to look forward to the “blessed hope” which is ours in Jesus and which God has eternally planned for His people at the end of the age. Truly, the very best is yet to come for those who are in Christ Jesus. But with that said, it is also good and right to look back at how all of this was made possible with the first coming of Jesus. Although not as outwardly spectacular as will be His second coming, it is still nonetheless stunning!

 

What I personally find to be so incredible about His first coming is the humility in which He came. In verse 5, the Apostle Paul says this, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” That is very important because the attitude of Christ Jesus is why we have Christmas! And if we can understand what this attitude is, then we will be able to more fully celebrate and enter into the beauty of Christmas.

 

 “The Humility of Christmas,” or also said, “The Humility of Christ.”  (Let’s pray)

 

1. The attitude of Christ Jesus is first of all seen in verse 6. “Who being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.”

Although the Son of God possessed the same eternal glory as the Father, He veiled that glory and did not appear with that glory when He became a man in the person of Christ Jesus.

Simply said, when God became a man in Christ Jesus, although remaining fully God, He laid His glory aside—the glory He had with the Father before the world began.[1]

As I said in my introduction, when God became a man the eternal joined Himself to the temporal. But in order for Him to do that He had to lay aside His glory that was His and which He had possessed from all eternity.

Beloved, it was an extreme act of humility for God to lay aside His glory to become a human being. But that is exactly what He did: “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” (or held onto)

Is it not stunning that the eternal God willfully and sacrificially became a baby, born in a manger to two peasants named Mary and Joseph? As the song says,

“Mary did you know that your baby boy was God of all creation?”

Okay pastor, but how can I possibly have the same attitude that God had when He became a man? Be willing to lay aside what is yours so that you can give to others. Humility is when we sacrifice what is ours so that others can be blessed. That is how God humbled Himself. That is having the attitude of Christ Jesus, and that is what the true spirit of Christmas really is. Beloved I want to follow the humble God. I want the kind of Spirit that He has. That is where blessing, peace and completeness can be found. It is the magic of Christmas!

2. Secondly, the attitude of Christ Jesus is also found in verse 7, “but made Himself nothing, taking the nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Beloved, when God became a man He emptied Himself. That is the sense of this verse. Not only did He empty Himself of His glory when He became a man, He further emptied Himself when He took on the form of a servant! He didn’t come as a great and powerful man of the world, although He could have; He didn’t come as an emperor or a worldly man of wealth and riches even though everything belongs to Him; and He didn’t come to be served by others even though He was and is God. Rather He came as a servant to others. As Jesus Himself said in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

The point is this: Christmas is the revelation of the humility of God. It’s about what God was willing to give up for others—for you and me. This is the true spirit of Christmas.

So the question is this: are we willing follow the humble God? Are we willing to emulate His life? Are we willing to take the low position of the servant to serve and bless others?

Christmas is who God is and what He did in Christ Jesus for others. Beloved, God is a giver and in order to be a giver requires humility—not “grasping” or holding on to what we have so that others can be lifted higher. This is the attitude of Christ Jesus and should be our attitude also.

3. The third and final attitude of Christ Jesus revealed in this text is found in verse 8, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.”

Not only did God humble Himself when He laid aside His glory and became a man, and not only did He further empty or humble Himself when He took the lowest place and position as a servant, the scripture says that He also humbled Himself when He became obedient to death.

Nowhere is this humility of Jesus better found than when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His death. It was here at the Mount of Olives that Jesus prayed this amazing prayer: “Not my will, but Your will be done.” This was a prayer of total surrender to the Father’s will. It was the ultimate act of sacrifice that others might be saved.

There is no greater act of humility than when someone is willing to give up their life for the benefit and blessing of others. And that is what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Paul completes this stunning revelation of God’s humility when He adds, “even death on a cross.” Not only did the Son of God become obedient to death, but He also became obedient to death on a cross!

Being willing to die for others is in and of itself an amazing act of humility. But being willing to die on a cruel cross is beyond amazing! But that is exactly what Jesus did. And He did it so that you and I might have the gift and hope of eternal life.

Beloved, this is the true spirit of Christmas. It is the spirit that we are to pursue as we learn to die to ourselves so that others can be blessed.

CONCLUSION

Church, I sincerely hope that you have been able to receive at least a small taste of the humility of God revealed in this message—the humility that was manifested in the attitude of our beautiful God and Savior Christ Jesus.

Although He was in very nature God, He set aside the glory that was His from all eternity to become a man. This is truly a stunning revelation of the humility of God.

But that humility went even deeper when He took the nature of a servant. He served others instead of being served which is also a stunning.

Yet the ultimate act of God’s humility was when the Son of God became obedient to death—even death on a cross. He died that we might live.

This is the humility of Christmas, and it is truly the way of blessing and fullness of life.

 

Last Sunday as God was speaking this simple word to me, I was filled with such an amazing peace. I felt and feel so blessed to be saved and to have the opportunity of following the God who became a man through the incarnation—the humble carpenter who laid down His life on a cross that I might have the gift of eternal life. And I make no apologies for being one of His followers. I have nothing to prove to anyone. His very nature draws me to Him. He is the humble God.

This Beloved is the meaning of Christmas. It is the revelation of God manifested in the humility of Christ Jesus.

And the invitation of Christmas is for us to follow Him in humility so that those in our circle of love and influence may be blessed.

Let’s pray.




[1] John 17:5

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Text: Revelation 20:1-6
Subject: “Joyful Anticipation of the End Times,” Part VI
Introduction:

This is the sixth and final message in our series, “Joyful Anticipation of the End Times,” with the main focus being on the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus. We have tried to communicate just how significant and stunning this event will be on a world wide scale. Not since the Mighty God spoke the time and space universe into existence has anything like this taken place. The first coming of Jesus began quietly as a baby in a manger and as a humble carpenter with twelve disciples. However, the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus will come with “a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God![1] There will be nothing quiet or hidden when the Lord comes the second time.

At this amazing revelation of the Creator-God, the New Creation of God in Christ Jesus will come forth in power and glory, and if you are a born again believer in Jesus, you will be there to experience this event! The point is this: we were not there at the first creation of God when the angels sang for joy,[2] but we will be there when the New Creation comes forth at God’s command. And I believe, at that moment, we will out sing the angels!

Beloved, having joyful anticipation in the last days is being able to receive the revelation of the magnitude and wonder of the unveiling of the New Creation of God at the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus. As I have said many times—on purpose—it will be the most stunning event that the world has ever witnessed!

Prayer: Let it be our continual prayer that we will grow in our understanding and insight of this incredible Biblical revelation that will really happen in real time.

A. Learning to think with an eternal mind-set.

Over the past few days God has been speaking to me about learning how to think more like He thinks. My thinking is mostly temporal whereas God’s thinking is eternal. Learning to think with an eternal mind-set is important because it will help us in better understanding the amazing truth of what God has planned for His people at the end of this age.[3]


The best way that I can illustrate this truth is with the death of Jesus. Hebrews 9:12 says, “He (Jesus) did not enter by means of the blood of bulls and calves; but He entered the most Holy Place once and for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” Jesus, the one and only begotten Son of God, did not shed His blood to save us for a day, a week, a month, a year, or even a lifetime. Rather, He shed His blood to save us for all eternity!
Beloved, the point is this: God is eternal, and His plan for us—you and I—is eternal. When you were saved, you were saved for eternity. What began when you were saved or born again is never to end!
Two weeks ago on Monday, November 10, 2014, I preached Willie Mae Garrett’s funeral. She took her last breath on Friday, November 7, 2014, at the age of 96 years old. However, what ended for her here on terra firma was not the end for Sister Willie Mae! You see, Willie Mae was born again through faith in Jesus Christ and by the power of the eternal Spirit of God. So for her, and for all of those who have “fallen asleep” in Jesus, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”[4] On November 7, 2014, Willie Mae simply changed her residence from earth to glory!
Jesus shed His blood on the cross to save FOREVER all those who come to Him and put their faith in Him as Savior and Lord. And the point is that we need to stop thinking temporally about life and begin thinking eternally—like God thinks.
I fully believe that this is why the Apostle Paul, at the end of his life, could say these words to the young preacher Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who have longed for His appearing.”
As you have heard me say on more than once occasion, the Greek word for “departure,” is a maritime term, a shipping term. The Greek word picture for this word is a ship that has been loaded down with heavy cargo and has just been cut loose from the dock to make its voyage and deliver its cargo. And what Paul, a man who had been taken to the unique dimension called “the third heaven,”[5] is telling us is this: when we die, our journey doesn’t end. Rather, we simply go to the next level of eternal life in God! You see friends, Paul had an eternal mind-set. He was thinking more and more like the eternal God. And I believe that this is the call of the Spirit to the Church—begin thinking more with an eternal mind-set. With this understanding then, let’s now take a look at our text in Revelation 20:1-6.

1. First of all in verses 1-3, the Word of God makes it clear that we are talking about the time after the Great Tribulation period that has ended with the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus.[6] The Devil, Satan, the Red Dragon, the Ancient Serpent, has been bound for one thousand (1000) years.
2. In verse 4, we see another amazing revelation of what happens when the Lord returns to the earth. John draws, I believe, special attention to those who were martyred for their faith in Jesus during the tribulation period: “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the Word of God. They had not worshipped the Beast (Antichrist) or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand (1000) years.”
Again, I believe that the martyrs are being singled out here so as to give them special honor and to declare that they have been avenged by God for their sacrifice and suffering; for remaining true to the Lord even in death! And what looked like a total defeat when they were martyred was completely turned around when they were resurrected from the dead!
Just like their Savior before them: His death on the cross looked like a win for the Devil right up until Sunday morning when Jesus arose victoriously from the dead—conquering death, hell and the grave! You see Church, martyrdom may look like a believer’s life has ended, but that is most assuredly not the case! Why? Because true believers in Jesus are eternal, and they will be resurrected when the Lord returns and raptures them from the grave. And at that time, they will reign with Christ for a thousand (1000) years!
3. In verse 5 we read, “This is the FIRST resurrection.” Then we read that the rest of the dead (those not saved) will not come to life (and be judged) until the thousand (1000) years are ended.
Beloved, this scripture makes it clear that “the first resurrection” happens at the end of the tribulation period and at the beginning of the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. There is no mention here of a “pre-tribulation” resurrection. This is not the “second resurrection” with another resurrection having occurred seven years earlier before the tribulation period. Rather, the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus is the “FIRST RESURRECTION,” and according to this text, along with Matthew 24:29-31 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, it comes at the end of the tribulation period.
And I will tell you, it is important for you and those in your circle of love to know that the timing of the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus is in harmony with “the first resurrection” spoken of in this text which occurs at the end of the tribulation period and at the beginning of the Millennial Reign.
With that hopefully understood, we must not dare miss the beauty and wonder of this spectacular and stunning event at the end of the age for what it truly is!
Remember now, we are thinking eternally, although at present we are in these temporal bodies.
4. In verse 6, the Apostle John says, “Blessed and holy (set apart) are those who have part in the first resurrection.” Why are they blessed and set apart from others? Besides the many reasons that we have shown you from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:50-58, John continues by saying, “The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and Christ (Messiah) and will reign with Him for a thousand (1000) years.”
Revelation 20:14 tells us that the “second death” is the lake of fire. It is eternal separation from God. Those who are raptured and resurrected at the Second Coming of Jesus will never, ever, be subject to death again—forever! They will not be subject to death as we know it now nor will they be subject to the second death, which is the lake of fire.
Yes Beloved, Blessed and holy (eternally set apart for God and with God) are those who experience and are a part of “the first resurrection” which happens at the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the tribulation period.
Someone may say, what will happen to believers after the thousand (1000) years are ended? We will enter even into another spectacular dimension of the eternal life that is ours in and because of Jesus. Beloved, our salvation in Jesus is eternal. It has no end!
CONCLUSION
Can we truly have a Joyful anticipation of the end times? A million times YES!
Yes, because we will be eternally reconciled with loved ones who Jesus will bring with Him when He comes!
Yes, because we will receive our New Creation bodies that will be eternal.
Yes, because we will literally see Jesus and be with Him eternally.
Yes, because death, including the second death, will never ever have any power over us again, forever. Our destiny is eternal life with God, and all that that will eternally mean!



[1] I Thessalonians 4:16-17
[2] Job 38:4-7
[3] This age will end with the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus. The next age will be the Millennial reign of Jesus.
[4] 2 Corinthians 5:8
[5] 2 Corinthians 12:2

[6] See I Thessalonians 4:13-18; I Corinthians 15:50-58; Matthew 24:15,29-31; Revelation 19:11-21

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Text:  Matthew 24:29-31
Subject: “Joyful Anticipation of the End Times,” Part V
Introduction:
 
In our last message, we defined “the abomination that causes desolation” by answering four important questions.
1. Where is this important event first revealed in scripture? Daniel 9:24-27. From this text we see that “the abomination that causes desolation” occurs in the final seven (7) years of the four hundred and ninety (490) years that God decreed for the Jewish nation and the city of Jerusalem.  Four hundred and eighty three (483) of those years were fulfilled with the first coming of Jesus the Messiah. But the last seven (7) years will be completed with the second coming of Jesus. The last seven (7) years COULD NOT be fulfilled until Israel supernaturally became a nation again in 1948, after almost two thousand (2000) years of not being a nation,  and until the Jews miraculously retook control of Jerusalem again in 1967 for the first time since 70AD![1]
 
2. What is “the abomination that causes desolation?” II Thessalonians 2:1-4. Simply said, it will occur when the Antichrist (he will not be known as that by the world) breaks his seven year covenant (likely a seven year peace treaty that offers Israel security with her hostile Muslim neighbors) by going into the rebuilt Jewish Temple and proclaiming himself to be “God.” This will be an “abomination” to God when this takes place, and it will set in motion the most intense “desolation” that the earth has ever known! The Antichrist will make war on all who refuse to worship him as “God,” and God will release His judgments on all who do! This will be the Great Tribulation period.
 
3. When will “the abomination that causes desolation” take place? Daniel 9:27; Revelation 13:5. According to Daniel 9:27, it will take place at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week or in the middle of the last seven (7) years of the four hundred and ninety (490) years decreed for the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem. And Revelation 13:5 tells us that “the abomination that causes desolation” will last for forty two (42) months or three and one half  (3 ½) years.
 
4. What is the relevance of “the abomination that causes desolation” to the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus?
 
The short answer to that question is this: according to II Thessalonians 2:1-4 and Matthew 24:15, 29-31, the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus CANNOT take place UNTIL “the abomination of desolation” has occurred. That means that the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus will take place at THE END of the Tribulation Period and NOT BEFORE.
 
And as we said in our last message, how exciting and encouraging it will be to the Church when we see on the news “the abomination that causes desolation.” When the Antichrist walks into the rebuilt Jewish Temple and proclaims himself to be “God,” then we will KNOW that we are only three and one half years (3 ½), forty two months (42), and one thousand two hundred and sixty days (1260) away from being reconciled with loved ones who are already with the Lord; from receiving our new and eternal bodies and from seeing the Lord Jesus Himself!
 
“The abomination that causes desolation,” although the beginning of the most intense and difficult time the earth has ever known, will be an amazing sign that will actually give strength and hope to all of those who are looking for the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus!
 
As I have said in previous messages, the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus will be the most outwardly significant event that has happened since God spoke the time and space universe into existence. It will be, to say the very least, the most stunning revelation of the glory and power of God that the world has ever seen!
 
Let’s pray that God will now give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation to further see what He has planned for the end of the age.
 
I want to begin by trying to gain some sense of where the world will be when the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus takes place. What will the world look like when the Lord returns to the earth?
 
According to verse 29 of Matthew 24, it will be a time of “distress” on the earth. “Immediately AFTER the distress of those days . . .” the days that began with “the abomination that causes desolation”—when the Antichrist proclaims himself to be “God” in the rebuilt Jewish Temple. The actual Greek word for “distress,” is “thlipsis.” It is translated “tribulation” in the KJV. It means pressure, anguish, persecution and trouble. Again, this will be the last three and one half years (3 ½) of the final seven years prophesied in Daniel 9:27.
And as we saw in Revelation 13:5-8, “The Beast (Antichrist) was given a mouth to utter proud words and exercise his authority for forty two (42) months.  He opened his mouth to blaspheme God and to slander His Name and His dwelling place and those who live in Heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And He was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All the inhabitants of the earth will worship the Beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb slain from the creation of the world.”
 
The last world empire—the Beast kingdom led by the Beast or Antichrist—will negatively affect the whole world either directly or indirectly. Imagine ISIS or ISIL as a world empire and you will have a glimpse of the Antichrist kingdom that will be in power the last forty two (42) months of this age. It will be a time of “distress” in the world but especially in the Middle East. According to Revelation 12, Israel and the Church will be the two people-groups that will be the primary targets of the Antichrist. Even now, you can see the antichrist spirit at work in anti-Semitism and anti-Christian bias and persecution.
 
Now at the same time that the Beast or the Antichrist, who is claiming to be “God,” is causing such chaos and distress among the nations by trying to force the world to worship him, God is also sovereignly at work. How so? The book of the Revelation tells us that God is causing desolation for an unbelieving world by releasing divine judgment through seven (7) seals and seven (7) trumpets. (This is setting things up for the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus)
 
I’m going to very simply list them for you with only a brief explanation of what they are. It is not my intent here to go into a deep theological, exegetical explanation.
 
Revelation chapter six (6).   (The Lamb (Jesus) sovereignly breaks the seals!)
1. First Seal—the rider on the white horse, the Antichrist, is released to begin his mass deception of the world. His speech will be smooth, like Hitler, but war will be in his heart!
2. Second Seal—the red horse in which the rider takes peace away from the earth (war).
3. Third Seal—the black horse, famine.
4. Fourth Seal—the pale horse, death and hades where ¼ of the earth’s population is killed by war, famine, disease, and by the wild beasts of the earth.[2]
5. Fifth Seal—martyrdom, those who will be killed because of the Word of God and the testimony that they maintained.
6. Sixth Seal—an earthquake; the sun turning black and the moon blood red; the stars—could be comets and meteorites—falling from the sky; the sky itself being ripped open.
Many Bible commentators see these seals and their effects associated with nuclear war. However they may come and whatever they are, we know that one reason for them is the Antichrist claiming to be “God” and trying to force the world to worship him as such. However, we also know that these seals are the sovereign and divine judgments of God on an unbelieving and rebellious world. And as we will soon see, they are setting the stage for the stunning return of God’s Son and the Rapture of His Church at the end of the age.
 
After the release of the six seals, in Revelation seven (7), God sends His angels to seal the remnant of Israel who will be saved—thus fulfilling His promise that there will always be an Israel.[3] Beloved, “the abomination that causes desolation” will begin a very difficult time for the Jewish people. The Antichrist will do all that he can to wipe them off of the face of the earth! You can actually hear this satanic hatred daily in the news in the vitriolic speech of Islamic extremists. But the devil’s plan will not succeed![4]
 
7. Seventh Seal—this is the half hour of silence in Heaven. Many commentators believe that this is the “deep breath” before the intensity on earth goes to another level in the seven (7) trumpet judgments.
(The seventh seal and the seven (7) trumpet judgments begin in Revelation chapter 8. You have the seventh seal followed by a description of the church interceding before the seven (7) trumpets are sounded).
 
1. First Trumpet—in this judgment, one third (1/3) of the earth is burned with fire. Again, this could be nuclear war.
2. Second Trumpet—this is the judgment on the oceans and the sea life.
3. Third Trumpet—this is judgment on one third (1/3) of the fresh water supply.
4. Fourth Trumpet—judgment on the sun, moon, and stars and how that this judgment affects the people living on the earth.
5. Fifth Trumpet—judgment on all those who do not belong to God, possibly through some kind of modern warfare—perhaps through chemical weapons.
6. Sixth Trumpet—the release of a two hundred million (200,000,000) man army—possibly from China and Asia, with the result of one third (1/3) of mankind being killed.
 
It is in this context (“distress” and “desolation” in the world like never before) that will set the stage for the seventh (7) and final trumpet being sounded!
 
 
Revelation 10:5-7 “Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, ‘there will be no more delay. But in the days that the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery (what has not yet been known) will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.’”
 
Revelation 11:15,18 “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet,[5] and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever. . . v.18 The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your Name, both small and great—and for destroying those who destroy the earth.’”
 
Now let’s go to our text in Matthew 24:29-31. With the earth reeling from the Seal and Trumpet judgments—the atmosphere, land, water, and of course mankind profoundly impacted—possibly from nuclear exchange among the nations; with the Antichrist still trying to wipe out the Jewish remnant; and with a church that has been attacked relentlessly and ruthlessly by the Beast, it happens. The Seventh Trumpet sounds!
 
Matthew 24:30 “At that time. . . ” What time? (The time we have been describing in this message) “. . . The sign of the Son of Man (Jesus, the Messiah and Son of God) will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They WILL SEE the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a LOUD TRUMPET CALL[6] and they will gather His elect[7] from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” Try and imagine this climactic, stunning and world changing event if you possibly can?
 
Beloved, this is the Feast of Trumpets, the next feast to be fulfilled on God’s prophetic calendar.[8] And as we have said in a previous message, it will be judgment for the world but blessing and reward for the people of God—for both those who have fallen asleep as well as for those who are still alive on the earth when He comes.
 
 
 
Following the Feast of Trumpets, ten (10) days later, Jesus will save the remnant of Israel from the Antichrist, thus fulfilling the Day of Atonement! It is my belief that the Lord will begin in modern day Jordan (ancient Bozrah)[9] and move forward to Jerusalem,one hundred and twenty miles (120), pouring out the seven (7) bowls of wrath—the final seven (7) judgments of God—killing the armies of the Antichrist as He goes. He will then kill the Antichrist himself! Five days later, He will begin the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles and the beginning of the thousand (1,000) golden years of the earth being under the leadership of the Greater Solomon—Jesus Christ the Jewish Messiah!
 
I will conclude this message by telling you how that you can have joyful anticipation in the last of the last days (3 ½ years, 42 months, and 1260 days from the time of “the abomination that causes desolation”) in spite of the fact that this will be a time of “distress.”
 
1. First, as we have seen previously, the last days will end with the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus to save Israel and the Church.
2. Secondly, as we see the numbered judgments of the Seals and Trumpets being fulfilled before our very eyes we will know that the Feast of Trumpets will soon become a reality. Can you imagine the pure excitement and anticipation as we realize that the eternal plan of God is at the door! The Church will be a place of genuine purity and power in those climactic days! I don’t think holiness will be a problem!
3. Third, just to think that YOU will literally witness and EXPERIENCE the Rapture and Second Coming –whether from Heaven or on the earth—can and should fill you with joy unspeakable and full of glory!
 
Beloved, when Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation Period and appears in the sky with great power and glory, and shouts or commands His New Creation to come forth, it will be the greatest event that the world has ever witnessed. And you and I will literally be part of it!
 
So yes, a thousand (1,000) times yes: we will have joyful anticipation in the end times! For the best, the very best is yet to come!
              




[1] Mark Twain once said, “If you want proof of God, look no further than the Jews.”

 

 


[2] With the current population of just over seven (7) billion people, that would mean that about 1.8 billion people would be killed.


[3] Genesis 17:7-8


[4] Romans 11:25-27


[5] Keep in mind that the number seven (7) in the Bible is the number of completeness.


[6] See further I Thessalonians 4:16; I Corinthians 15:52; Revelation 11:15.


[7] Of the twenty two (22) times this word is used in the NT, it is clear that it is referring to believers and not Israel.


[8] Jesus fulfilled, 1.Passover, 2.Unleavened Bread, 3. First Fruits, and 4. Pentecost, with His first coming.   


[9] Isaiah 63:1-6