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The love of many…

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Of all of the different things that Jesus taught his followers while he was here on earth, one that holds significant interest to most Christians today is his teachings on what we now call the “End Times”.

Literally thousands of books have been written by men and women who claim to have unique insight into these teachings, and little wonder because it seems there is an insatiable appetite for all things related to the ‘end of day’s as we know them. Major Christian publishing companies consider these books to be “cash cows” because they sell so well, hence the market saturation of these books.

There are so many books written that they have to be categorized into sub sections such as:

Prophecy

Armageddon

Revelation                       

Coming of the Lord

Tribulation, and many more.

I must admit that while I have read a few of them, I am not a fan of these books for the simple fact that all of them are largely nothing more than the authors own private interpretation of The BOOK. Far too many of them propose theories and ideas that are completely contrary to what the Bible says, and while I enjoy the learning process I cannot go along with teachings that ultimately place less emphasis on God’s word than the author’s opinions.

With that said, I draw your attention to the book of Matthew, chapter 24. This particular chapter is one that most students of prophecy and all things “End Times” recognize as one of the most important of all.

The first seven verses of this chapter find Jesus revealing several things that will be taking place upon the earth prior to his return. He actually refers to these things as “the beginning of sorrows”. It is what Jesus says next that causes people so much anxiety and fear because this is where it gets personal. Read along with me from Matthew 24: 9-13.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

We must ask ourselves who is this “you” that Jesus said will be delivered up to tribulation and killed? We know that Jesus was speaking specifically to his disciples about these matters, so we can easily make the case that it was the disciples who were to be delivered up and killed. History in fact reveals that all of the disciples except John died a martyrs death, thus fulfilling the words of Jesus.

Yet we must also realize that God’s word is eternal, making it applicable for every generation and period of history. Indeed, history shows us that there have been many attempts to purge the world of Christianity. Wars, Inquisitions, laws, etc have all been used over the past two thousand years to try and eliminate Christianity from the earth.

Today, this trend continues at an alarming rate. According to Open Doors USA ,in just the last year* there have been:

  • Over 245 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution
  • 4,305 Christians killed for their faith
  • 1,847 churches and other Christian buildings attacked.
  • 3,150 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned

So we see that when Jesus said “they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you“,his words are just as applicable today as they were that day when He spoke them to his disciples. What is so problematic about this persecution of the church is that in America we have so far managed to escape the wrath that is being felt by our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, and this has left us disinterested at best.

This, however, is about to change. While it is true that we are not facing the prospect of being beheaded or our churches burned to the ground(YET), persecution of Christians in America is alive and well. For those who believe that persecution will never happen here, or that it is some far off generation that will have to deal with it, consider the following:

There is increasing intolerance of traditional Christian values in this country. Those that hold to traditional Biblical values are now seen as bigots, racists, and close-minded.

Let a conservative Christian politician be nominated for a Federal Court position and watch how the nominee’s Christian values are called into question, as if his or hers values would somehow prevent them from rendering a proper verdict.

If you dare to refuse to bake a cake or issue a marriage license for same-sex marriages, you better be prepared to spend your life’s savings on attorney fees.

In addition to the ridicule and hatred that Christian college students face on campus today, a move is underway to remove a college’s accreditation unless they conform to a more secularist ideology. And let us not forget the schools that have banned the pre-game prayer before a Friday night football game.

Aside from the obvious ‘because Jesus said it would’, why are we as a nation headed in this downward trend?

The answer is found in the text from Matthew 24 that I included above.

“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold”.

The love of many is growing cold. What happens when love grows cold? We see the answer on the news every night. Another mass shooting. An increase in the suicide rate. The rise of injustice. An ever increasing number of innocent children gunned down. Perversion and child pornography at an all time high.

All of these and so many more are a direct result of hearts grown cold. No feeling for their fellow man. Total indifference to the plight of the unfortunate. Hearts so cold that walking past the homeless draws not an ounce of compassion. No concern for the millions who do not have enough to eat.

This is love grown cold.

Ice cold.

And it’s only going to get worse.

Much, much worse.

Jesus said that ‘he that endured to the end would be saved‘. We must be doing what we can to present Jesus to a cold and indifferent world because He is their only hope.

My prayer is that every Christian takes this seriously and act upon it.

Ron

 

 

 

* 2019 World Watch List reporting period, November 1, 2017-October 31, 2018

 

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Jerusalem, capital of Israel?

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As nearly everyone is aware by now, yesterday president Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This move sparked an immediate backlash of negativity from much of the national and international community, with promises of impending major unrest by the Palestinians.

To better understand this event, especially when viewed in the light of Scripture, we need to first understand how things got to this point. With that in mind, a little history lesson if you please.

In 1947 Israel became a state, thus fulfilling several Old Testament prophecies concerning the return of the Jews to their homeland. Amos 9:14, Ezekiel 37: 10-14, and perhaps the best known prophecy of Isaiah  66: 7-8 which foretold the birth of Israel in one day, all give clear indication that God’s chosen people Israel would one day return to their ancestral  homeland.

It was thought at that time that Jerusalem would become a city shared by multiple cultures. Remember, this was a different time in history, and optimism ran high that everyone would “play nice”.

All of that changed just one year later however when Israel was attacked by her Arab neighbors. This left Jerusalem divided, with the western part of the city controlled by Israel, and the eastern part controlled by Jordan.

All of this changed in 1967 when Israel was again attacked by her neighbors, in what became known as the “six day war”. After the dust had settled, Israel had gained control of the entire city of Jerusalem, a fact that has been a major point of contention ever since.

So here’s where this really gets interesting. The U.S. embassy has always been in Tel Aviv, it has never been in Jerusalem. But did you know that a plan has been in place to move our embassy since 1989? It’s true: in 1989 Israel and America agreed to a 99 year property lease for a new embassy to be constructed in Jerusalem.

Oddly enough, since the inception of this lease, this property remains untouched to this day. Hmmmm….

You might be thinking by now who cares! What does any of this have to do with anything I care about? Well, as I said, here’s where this gets real interesting.

You see, six years later in 1995, our Congress passed a law REQUIRING America to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem! Did you know that? It seems the supporters of the law felt at that time that the U.S. should respect Israel’s choice of Jerusalem as its capital.

I won’t even go there!

So the million dollar question then is this: why hasn’t America moved its embassy to Jerusalem before now? Several previous presidents including Clinton, Bush, and Obama have all said “no” to the moving of the embassy. Their fear has been that such a move would lead to further unrest in the region and negate any peace efforts already underway.

How do they get away with not complying with this law you ask? They simply sign a waiver every six months to “delay” the move. Sort of like what we’ve come to know as an Executive Order. Apparently it’s true, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword!

So why now, why this president, why move the embassy now after all of this time? I believe the reason is because the time is finally right to insert this particular piece of the end time’s puzzle into its proper place.

Every Christian should be aware of Jerusalem’s importance in end time events. We may not completely understand all things, and we likely do not all agree on every point. What is non-negotiable however is that the events leading up to Christ’s return center around Jerusalem.

At some point in the future, Israel is going to build a third Temple on what is called the Temple Mount. One of the purposes of this new Temple will be so that daily animal sacrifices can be re-instituted. The Antichrist will ultimately defile this place as well.

As it stands currently, this cannot happen because the Temple Mount compound is not under Jewish control. Israel controls all access to the TM through eleven gates, but the compound itself is under Islamic control. Obviously, something has to give here.

For those unaware, the Temple Mount is believed by Jewish scholars to be the center of the Temple Holy of Holies, the site where Solomon built the first Temple, where the second Temple referred to by Jesus was destroyed in 70 AD, and where the Third and final temple is to be built.

The importance of this site cannot be overestimated from a purely Biblical and prophetic point of view. From Wikipedia

“The Temple Mount,“Mount of the House of God, known to Muslims as the Haram esh-Sharif “the Noble Sanctuary”, is one of the most important religious sites in the world. It has been venerated as a holy site for thousands of years by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Herodian walls and gates with additions dating back to the late Byzantine and early Islamic periods cut through the flanks of the Mount. Currently it can be reached through eleven gates, ten reserved for Muslims and one for non-Muslims, with guard posts of Israeli police in the vicinity of each.”

I have no doubt that if America does actually move its embassy to Jerusalem, it will create a firestorm heard all around the world. Every one of its Arab neighbors will rattle their sabers, with Iran and possibly the Soviet Union threatening all out nuclear war.

In fact, I believe there will be nuclear war in the Middle East, as Damascus is turned into a “heap of ruins” (Isaiah 17:1). Rather than be overran and defeated by all of it’s enemies, Israel will deploy it’s “Samson Option” of expending its nuclear warheads, thus causing Damascus to cease from being a city.

Of course, all of this is yet to come. No one knows the precise calendar of God, as we are given bits and pieces of coming events without specific dates and times. It is exciting however to be alive and witnessing these end time events!

We are told to watch and pray. We are also instructed to be wise and redeem the time. My prayer is that Christians will focus not on the politics of a Jerusalem capital, but on the spiritual implications instead.

As for today, I’m just glad to know who Jesus is!

Ron