Is it the End of the World?

With news that the Palestinians might appeal to the United Nations this fall for an upgrade to full member status, we can see a Bible prophecy theme emerging.

For many years, Bible prophecy teachers and students did not see the possibility that a Palestinian state could be established. Why? Because of the prophetic passages that promised the Jews that they will “not be uprooted again” (Amos 9:15), in a last-days context.

Now that we find ourselves at the brink in the Arab-Israeli conflict, one wonders: what WOULD the establishment of the state of Palestine do to prophecy teaching?

Affirm it, I say. As usual, humans worry entirely too much about whether the claims made in the Bible—those marvelous prophecies/promises—will actually come to pass. This is a bit like the Israelites trying God’s patience after the Exodus. They had seen a thoroughly astonishing miracle at the sea, yet seemed to forget the power and majesty of God in the wilderness.

The reason my belief in Bible prophecy wouldn’t collapse if Palestine becomes a reality is really two-fold:

•God has promised that the Jews will not be uprooted from their ancestral home, after returning from final exile in the last days. A Palestinian state would not remove the Jewish population from the Holy Land.

•Ezekiel 36 seems to allude to conditions in which Israel’s enemies (the surrounding Arab nations have been in a perpetual state of war with the Jewish state for seven decades, agreements with Egypt and Jordan notwithstanding) might gain a territorial foothold. This “could be” a Palestinian state.

The main point in all this is that we shouldn’t be too dogmatic about scenarios we cannot yet know. The Lord will keep His word.

It’s His game to finish.

(The following post came from a conversation with my wife, Dianna—she reluctantly agreed to pen some thoughts because I don’t believe in plagiarism! She understands people and their afflictions. I thought her observations blend well with the theme of this blog. After all, Bible prophecy is really about promises from God. Jesus Christ, who claims to be God, offers rest for our weary souls (Matthew 11:28). Thanks, Dianna, for this contribution!)

Anxiety. The name for the stalking, relentless wolf that eats away at your soul during waking hours, and sniffs the ground to find the path right into your dreams. Of all the negative emotions one can experience during this brief journey called life on Earth, anxiety is probably the toughest. Surely he wins “Employee of the Year” from Satan.

Oh yeah, he gets the special reserved parking place, a cruise and his picture on the company website. Part of his huge success is attributed to the great support staff he has available—Tremendous Worry, Fretting, Fear, Uncertainty, Insecurity. They pitch-in to give Anxiety their all. Excellent teamwork! You have to give them credit, because this Wolf never sleeps, doesn’t spend time on Facebook, never loses his focus, and never gives up!

Like a sniper, he crouches and waits until he has you in the cross-hairs. Then he goes in for the attack. Always looking for a soft spot to grab a bite from, and he knows exactly where that spot is. It can be in a different area of our lives for each of us. Some of us carry Anxiety’s teethmarks related to our family, or financial worries, emotional problems, health issues. The list goes on.

It seems no matter how many times we try to beat Anxiey back, he never goes very far. Very patient dude. We use a lot of weapons from the arsenal society makes available, and they come in many forms: pills, therapy, hypnosis, meditation, denial, etc. I like to think of them as the “Big Sticks.” Some help, some don’t. Some make the problem worse.

So what’s the answer? I don’t have it personally but I do know Someone that does. He also never sleeps, never gives up, never gets tired of reaching out to us. However, the huge difference is that instead of trying to devour our peace, He is offering peace. His name is Jesus. In the Bible (1 Peter 5:7 ) He tells us, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Notice the word “all.” Not just the huge things, but those little nagging worries also. So wad all those negative thoughts and fears into a ball and pass it over to Him. He’s got your back, and his arms are open because He cares.

When this planet is gone, and life as we know it no longer exists, there will only be peace and joy! Until then, keep fighting the good fight.

I am speaking at the Future Congress conference in Branson, Missouri next weekend, and one of my topics is “Did Zechariah Predict Nuclear War?”

Now, you’ll either have to attend or get the obligatory dvd to fully understand my answer to this question, but for now, I have an assignment for you: read the 14th and final chapter of Zechariah, the sixth-century B.C. Hebrew prophet.

Notice the descriptive language he uses; think about it. It is some of the strangest language used in the Bible, is mysterious, and has been debated for almost countless generations.

Mull that over. I’ll get back to you.

I had a glorious weekend speaking at a church in the upper Midwest. The historic church where I spoke has a history steeped-in the Abolitionists and folks who escaped Europe, looking for religious freedom. They were pious and tough.

I was also blessed by a member of the congregation with the gift of the church’s written history. Veterans of the Revolution rest in the church yard, and the restored facility itself hearkens back to a long-ago day.

As with other places I travel to for speaking (let me know if you are interested in hosting a Bible prophecy seminar—I promise not to be a wild-eyed fanatic. In fact, my dream is to speak to Unitarians or Catholic audiences—not my traditional venues!), I saw opportunities to speak about predictive prophecy in the Bible.

In reading the history of this particular charming church, I read an account of the first pastor riding through the countryside, visiting potential attendees. One woman, standing in her yard, was met by the pastor, an imposing figure on his horse. He asked her if she knew where “the New Jerusalem” is. This mysterious place, of course, is mentioned in Scripture.

She replied that she did not and he announced to her that she could find it “up yonder,” pointing in the direction of…his church!

This is a lesson in early American history, and how the prophetic passages of the Bible have been interpreted through the years.

The New Jerusalem is mentioned in the book of Revelation, and it appears to be a future, literal city descending from the sky, from “heaven.” That is the so-called literal reading. Many others, of course, interpret it as a metaphor, or symbolically. The pastor, for example.

For him, references to the Jews and prophecy and promises in the Bible were somehow meant to mean the future Church. It is also an explanation for the thoroughly American view of Manifest Destiny. Even Ronald Reagan added to his historical shine by referring to America as “that city on a hill,” again, a strong biblical symbol. The pastor, too, believed that the biblical reference to this majestic, celestial city was really meant as a nod to a future, glorious church.

Appropriating references meant for another people is common in the Church. All religions have a certain narcissistic quality, even those who lean heavily on piety and apparent lack of…ego!

It is my contention that the pastor was wrong. The New Jerusalem, read in context in Scripture, refers to a future, literal city produced by God’s creative act alone.

A friend and mentor, the late Dr. Henry Morris, once made a great observation about the book of Revelation (and, by extension, the rest of the Bible) when he said, “It isn’t that Revelation is hard to understand. It’s hard to believe.”

Wow, what a dead-on observation. That’s it.

We have difficulty believing that a golden city from heaven could emerge from the sky one day—although we can wholly believe in UFOs and Bigfoot.

I look forward to seeing the New Jerusalem one day. Having lived in this wonderful country for many years, and visiting a marvelous, historical church last weekend…I know that I haven’t seen it yet.