Apostolic End Time Truths

Monday, December 22, 2008

Will All Children Be Raptured?

Will All Children Be Raptured?Terry James


Most always the confutation over the issue of children and the rapture of the church is wrapped around the scripture: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1 Cor. 7:14).

The Character of God

The very character of God, himself, is at the heart of the issues involved in the question that is raised quite often. “What about children and the rapture? Will they stay on earth, or go to be with Christ?” And, there is nothing of more profound eternal significance than the individual human being’s consideration of God’s character. The all-importance of that consideration is cocooned within the words of Jesus Christ, himself, at the center of whom God’s great character is made manifest for fallen mankind.

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets” (Matt. 16:13-14).

Jesus’ question was straight from the heart of God. Jesus was God come to the earth in the flesh. Therefore, He, of course, knew what the people were saying about Him. He wanted His disciples to consider the question through spiritual eyes and ears, regarding themselves, individually. His follow-up question asked plainly: “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” (Matt. 16:15).

The totality of scripture which went before Jesus asked the question, and all scripture that came after He asked the question, encapsulates –attests to—the holy, loving, merciful character of mankind’s Creator. His question is directed not to corporate mankind, however, but to each and every individual who has lived upon earth since He asked it. How each one of us answers that specific question Jesus asked will determine each and every individual’s position in Jesus Christ. The individual answer you and I and every other person give to that specific question Jesus asked will determine where you, I, or any other individual spends eternity. And, make no mistake, each and every person who has or ever will live –and that means from conception onward—will spend eternity in one of two places: either in hell, or in heaven.

The coming into existence of the creature called man, and the fall from walking perfectly with the Creator is a matter for another study. Suffice it to say that a quick perusal of any newspaper or a quick listen to any news story will attest to man’s fallen state. We human beings do not walk a perfect walk. We sin, and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The fact is that we need redemption –we must have reconciliation with God, our Creator, or we remain lost forever. And, keep in mind, the matter is based not upon a corporate or collective relationship, but upon an individual relationship with God. And, this is where the awesome, loving grace – the very character of the Lord God-- comes into view. God’s Word says,” The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).

We are each fallen. We need God’s grace gift of salvation. It is an individual need. Each of us must come to repentance for the sin into which we were born because of the fall of our father, Adam. God’s holiness requires blood sacrifice for remission of sin (Heb. 9: 22; 10:18). And, this is why God, himself, in the form of His Son Jesus Christ –the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world-- came to die on the cross at Calvary. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).

About each of us –you, me, and every other person—God’s Word says further: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:18). Remember this verse; it is profoundly important to looking at the matter of children and the rapture of the Church.

Belief Essential

Man is born into sin because the first man (Adam) disobeyed or rebelled against his Creator. The human blood line has been, since that time, polluted, contaminated by the horrible thing called sin. Because of Adam’s fall, disease, deterioration, decay, and death entered the world, God’s Word says. God has provided reconciliation with himself for human beings –redemption, through the blood sacrifice of His holy, perfect sacrificial lamb, His Son, Jesus Christ. Now, all can be saved through belief in Jesus as the only way back to God the Creator. Jesus is the way –the only way, truth and life. No one comes to God the Father (the Creator) except through belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, and what He did on the cross at Calvary (read John 14:6). Belief is absolutely essential. This is the sort of faith Jesus spoke to Thomas about, when Thomas doubted that Jesus had resurrected after the crucifixion. When Thomas saw Jesus stand among the disciples, the Lord, having passed through solid matter to be with them, and Jesus bid Thomas to touch His wounds, Thomas believed, and could but mutter, “My Lord, and My God!"

Jesus then said: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (Jn 20:29). Jesus, with that statement, was, I’m convinced, looking not only at the disciples who were in that room, but down through time to all who would believe in His death, burial, and resurrection for salvation.

So, “belief” is absolutely essential--the kind of belief that saves, in order to be “born again” (John 3: 3) into God’s eternal family.

The Apostle Paul gave the precise formula required by God for the salvation of the individual soul: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10).

This is what is required to assure salvation for the individual soul. This places the person in God’s family through Christ Jesus--i.e, when the individual believes in the way Paul, through divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, plainly tells us, that person is saved. That is, God no longer looks at the person as fallen, as rebellious, as a sinner, but now looks at the individual through His Son Jesus. God now sees the “believer” through the prism of the shed blood of His precious Son. About that, God’s Word says: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1).

It is obvious beyond any rationale to the contrary that this sort of belief –belief that brings one into the very family of God for all of eternity-- must be a belief that requires understanding that Jesus is the way –the ONLY way to such a position in God’s family. And, it is clear, according to God’s Word, that that position is gained through belief in Christ, totally, with no other prescription as antidote to the soul-destroying venom called sin. In other words, each individual’s soul owes his place in God’s family for eternity to what Jesus –alone—has done for that individual.

So, it is the person’s position in Christ –through his or her belief—that God looks at in the matter of whether the individual is “saved.” To come to this “salvation” position, the individual must “believe." There must be a cognitive decision to achieve the position in Christ that saves the individual’s soul. Remember the Scripture: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:18).

Position in Jesus Christ

The soul of the individual comes into existence at the moment of conception –the moment the Lord gives that life within the womb. I won’t argue the point. God’s Word says without reservation that life begins at conception. We could go into a study of that truth, but that’s for another time and space. Suffice it to say that God gives the soul at conception, and it becomes more than obvious when studying records of children in the womb. Two examples are Jacob and his twin brother, Esau, struggling within the womb of their mother. Another is the account of John, who would become the baptizer, who recognized the Messiah, Jesus, who was in His mother’s womb when the two women were in the same proximity. Children in the womb are living beings –with God-given souls.

These babies have certain abilities to think, and, in John’s case, certainly, a supernatural understanding about the fact he and his mother were in the presence of God, himself, come to earth in the flesh. However, it is a fact understood by anyone, with any common sense whatever, that a child in the womb, or for the first, formative years of life, are incapable of coming to comprehension of anything like making a decision about where his or her soul will spend eternity. These little ones are sinners every bit as much as any adult human being. The difference is the adult –presuming he or she hasn’t a severe mental incapacitation-- can understand, and make decisions about things like whether to accept Christ for salvation. These are therefore “accountable” for their belief or lack thereof. The child, whose reasoning powers haven’t reached that conceptual level of functioning, are not yet “accountable” for whether they believe to the point of salvation.

The adult whom the Holy Spirit has called to salvation through Jesus Christ is “accountable” for his or her own soul at the point he or she then accepts or rejects. The child is not called to salvation because he or she hasn’t, at that point in his or her young life, achieved through growth the cognitive ability to make such decisions. These are not “accountable.” The child who hasn’t reached the “age of accountability” has a position in Jesus Christ, the same as the adult who has “believed” unto salvation. If the child were to die before becoming responsible for his or her own decision to accept or reject Christ, that child would go directly into the presence of God, for all eternity.

Remember King David. He put off his robes of mourning for his baby when the son died, because David said that the baby couldn’t come to him, but that he, David, would go to the child. The baby was in heaven with God, for all of eternity, where King David would surely go upon his death. We know this is where David would go, because God called him “a man after my own heart.”

So, the position we, as individuals (not collectively) have in Jesus Christ, is the determining factor –the all-important matter—in considering where you or I –or any person will spend eternity. All children before they reach the age of accountability are positioned securely in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose shed blood is the only remission for the soul-destroying thing called sin.

Rapture a Salvation Issue

The rapture of the Church is a salvation issue. These realities –rapture and salvation--are inexorably linked in God’s great economy. This truth is based upon a vast body of scriptural proof text, but is wrapped up by the Apostle Paul in one particular scripture, I think: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ…”(1 Thes. 5:9).

Paul, again through divine inspiration, had just gone through the facts surrounding the rapture of believers ( the Church). He used the personal pronouns "we," "us," "your," etc., as opposed to "they," "them," etc., to separate believers from unbelievers. Believers (Christians of the Church Age) were not, Paul said, appointed to wrath, because they were children of the day (the light found in Christ). The unbelievers were children of the night –the sin-blackened darkness of the fallen realm. Paul prophesied that the day of the Lord will begin like a thief-in-the-night experience. The children of the night would be taken by surprise, but the children of the day (believers) would escape the coming wrath of God, which the day of the Lord will bring upon a rebellious world of earth-dwellers.

This escape from God’s wrath will come, Paul said, through salvation, which is in Christ Jesus. The individual’s position in Christ will provide the escape. This is the same escape foretold by Jesus –through John—in Revelation 3: 10: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Rev. 3:10).

Children below the age of accountability are individual souls within Christ’s salvation –the salvation that keeps the individual believer out of hell, eternally apart from the Creator –out of the time of God’s wrath, which will come upon the whole world of rebellious earth-dwellers –unbelievers. Again, God does not deal with human beings collectively, or corporately, when it comes to salvation of the soul. He, mercifully, deals with us one on one. Jesus asks each of us: “Who do you say that I am?” Unbelievers are those who, individually, have rejected the Holy Spirit’s call to salvation. Each will be left behind at the time of the rapture. Children, like all of lost mankind, are sinners, but those who haven’t reached the age of being able to understand God’s grace gift are not unbelievers. They are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. They are, individually, in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Lamb’s Book of Life

Let us look for a moment at this all-important volume God calls “The Lamb’s Book of Life.” This book is crucial to your and my souls, and to the soul of each and every individual human being who has ever been born –or who has died in the womb, before having a chance to draw a first breath. Here are two relevant scripture passages on that Book.

“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Rev. 3:5).

“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither [whatsoever] worketh abomination, or [maketh] a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life” (Rev. 21:27).

God’s Word is telling us here that there is a volume in which every human being’s name is written at some point. None whose name isn’t written in this book can enter into God’s holy presence for eternity. The word “Life” in the title of this book is "eternal" life. Every human being who has been conceived in the procreation process has his or her name written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life.”But, there is obviously the chance that one’s name can be blotted out of that book, according to Revelation 3:5. Since it is not possible for one to lose his or her salvation once the person has “believed” in the only begotten Son of God, the term “blot out” in Revelation 3:5 needs to be explained. The meaning becomes clear, when thinking on the fact that each and every individual’s name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The name remains there until the person is shown that he or she is a sinner, and is convicted or called by the Holy Spirit to repent of sin –to “believe” in the Lord Jesus Christ. When the person fully realizes that call, and that Jesus is the ONLY way to reconciliation with God the Father, but refuses or rejects God’s grace gift offer, that name is “blotted out” of the Lamb’s Book of Life. The individual who rejects that grace gift offer of salvation until his or her death will die in sin and spend eternity apart from his or her Creator. That person who has reached the age of accountability for his or her soul will also be left behind, when the Rapture occurs.

The name will be written back in that book when the individual subsequently accepts the Lord Jesus as the Savior of his or her soul. Jesus Christ’s shed blood is the only payment God the Father accepts. But, once a person accepts that free gift from the Lord Jesus, the individual is a member of God’s family –forever.

So, your and my position in Christ is the all-important thing, whether considering going to heaven when we die, or going to heaven at the rapture, when Jesus comes for us to take us to our home, which He, personally, has prepared for each of us, individually. (Read John 14: 1-4.) This is the only collective family gathering that counts in God’s economy, in consideration of the matter of the rapture and Salvation. We will, collectively at the rapture, go home to be in God the Father’s house. Here on earth, our relationship with our earthly parents is tremendously important, of course. But, it is our place in our heavenly family, and in our heavenly home that is absolutely crucial. This is an eternal matter. And, it all relies upon our position in Jesus Christ, not upon our position in our earthly home, or upon the spiritual condition of our parents.

Yes, but what about this?

A number of questions about the rapture and children crop up consistently. I thought it good to look at a couple of them.

Q. Why do you believe children will be taken in the rapture, when God hasn’t intervened for them in wars, and other horrible things that have happened to the children throughout the centuries? Why do you think God will keep them out of the tribulation, when millions have died, and continue to die?

These are two different matters entirely. This question involves physical death versus spiritual death (the second death, as the Scripture puts it.) It is the death of the flesh versus the death of the soul of an individual. Sin brought death to the flesh and to the soul (physical and spiritual death), but Christ brings eternal life. That is what I’ve spent the bulk of the article addressing. Wars and other terrible things on earth indeed take physical life –especially, it seems, the lives of innocent children. Unrepented sin takes the soul in death (eternal separation from the soul-giver –God, the Creator). It is comforting to know –according to God’s Word—that all children who have perished over the millennia have gone directly to be with the Lord. Not one single one of them has died in the eternal sense. Again, these are two separate issues –physical death versus spiritual death. The rapture is in the realm of the spiritual or the eternal sphere.

Q. But, won't there be children in the tribulation? Jesus says so in His Olivet Discourse.

A. Yes, the Lord does prophesy there will be children during the time of tribulation. He foretells the following: “And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!” (Matt. 24:19). Notice carefully. Jesus issues a special “woe” for the parents of children in the time of tribulation. But, the Lord specifically gives two ages of children, here: 1) children who are nursing, and 2) children still in the womb. There is absolutely no mention of older children. These children will be those born AFTER the Rapture. And, there will doubtless be millions upon millions born. Sexual debauchery will explode, as the Holy Spirit withdraws from governing the consciences of men and women (read 2 Thess. 2). No doubt, most of these little ones will perish in the horrors of that time. As many as two-thirds of all mankind will die during that period.

Not fair of God, you say? Consider this: Every single child who is born after the rapture will spend eternity with God the Father. None will have reached the age of accountability by the time Jesus Christ brings this decaying, dying world to an end as recorded in Revelation 19:11. For those who are thinking ahead of me, I realize that children who go into the millennium under the age of accountability will have to make the decision to accept Christ for salvation at some point.

As stated in the beginning of the article, God’s very character is at stake in the matter of whether ALL children (below the age of accountability) will go to be with Jesus at the electrifying moment of rapture. What, exactly, is wrapped up in 1 Corinthians 7:14 is a matter for another study. But, this much the overall context of God’s Word, when speaking to salvation matters—plainly, and loudly proclaims. The Bible teaches that the individual’s position in Christ, not his or her position in the physical family here on earth, determines the final disposition of the eternal soul. The rapture is an eternal matter, wrapped up in God’s salvation guarantee. And, it is a guarantee to the individual, not to the corporate –even though the collective will go as the Bride of Christ, the Church.

Every child below the age of accountability –including those in the womb—will go to be with Jesus when He steps out on the clouds of glory and shouts: “Come up here!”

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Greater Israel

Get ready for a 'Greater Israel' dominating Mideast

By Bill Salus

On Sept. 14, 2008, Ehud Olmert, in an attempt to utter a few last words before the Israeli prime ministerial door slam shut behind him, suggested that the notion of a Greater Israel no longer exists. In a display of one-upsmanship, four days later, the apocalyptic-minded President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran declared the idea of "lesser Israel has expired too."

What do they mean by Greater or lesser Israel?

To put this all in perspective, Israel today sits on approximately 8,000 to 9,000 square Middle East miles. This makes the modern-day Jewish state comparative in size to New Jersey, which is settled on a mere 7,417 square miles of American soil.

Contrast this to almost a century ago after World War I, in 1917, when the international community had a plan called the Balfour Declaration on the negotiating table, which presented the Jewish people, who had been without a motherland for about 1,847 years, an enormous real estate proposal. This offer dedicated approximately 46,000 square miles stretching from the Mediterranean Sea eastward to the Euphrates River, which courses through modern-day Iraq and Syria.

History tells us that Lord Balfour's proposal met with staunch opposition, as the Arab leaders in the would-be affected region promptly reminded the British and French of their indebtedness to them for assisting in the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled the Mideast roost between 1517 and 1917.

Hence in 1947, after Hitler had almost successfully nullified the need for any further Jewish state proposals, the United Nations passed resolution 181, the "Partition Plan," which downsized the scope of the Jewish state to its comparable size today. To Israeli chagrin, and nobody's surprise, this international attempt to bolster a Jewish homeland in the infamous Holy Land has met with continued Arab rejection since its inception.

No matter how lesser or greater you size Israel up, according to Bible prophecy, the Israel of today is but a mere fragment of the Jewish state of tomorrow. Genesis 15:18 informs us that 4,000 years ago the title deed to all the landmass existing between the Nile River of Egypt and the Euphrates River was bequeathed to the Hebrew patriarch Abraham. According to numerous subsequent Genesis passages, this Promised Land was later transferred through to his son, Isaac, to his grandson Jacob, and on into the hands of all their descendants, who are the Jewish people of today.

At no time in Hebrew history, did the Jewish people ever occupy the entirety of this land, causing many Bible scholars today to teach that a future time must be on the horizon whereby Abraham's descendants will stake their final claim to all of this Promised Land. Since the Arab states of Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon presently possess most of this land, it would appear as though some major geopolitical event(s) would need to occur in the Middle East that would serve to surrender this Arab soil into Jewish sovereignty.

Complicating the end times eschatology equation further, Psalm 83 tells us that Israel is about to be involuntarily thrust into a severe regional war with these bordering Arab populations. Connecting Scriptures suggest that Israel will be victorious, exploit the spoils of war, confiscate sizeable portions of Arab territory and become one of the wealthiest nations of the world.

In my recently released book, "Isralestine, The Ancient Blueprints of the Future Middle East," I detail this coming world-changing Psalm 83 event. However, the last days' story grows further from there, and so apparently does the nation Israel along with it.

In the aftermath of the Psalm 83 Arab-Israeli war, Russia is foretold to form an alliance with a nuclear-equipped Iran and seven other sizeable world populations, and invade Israel in this forthcoming Greater condition. Due to the unprecedented powerful national relations existing between Russia and Iran today, Bible prophecy scholars like Joel Rosenberg, a best-selling Christian author, and many others are encouraging their audiences to keep their Bibles opened to Ezekiel 38 and 39, and their eyes focused on CNN and/or WorldNetDaily 24/7, as this prophetic event also appears readied to happen.

Marching beyond all of the above, the final matter presiding on the end times calendar is the so called seven-year false covenant established between Israel and the Antichrist described in Daniel 9:27 and Isaiah 28:15,18. For 60 years, since the inception of the Jewish State in 1948, most Christian scholars have taught that this instrument becomes the political pact that finally brings peace in the Middle East between the Palestinians and the Jews. The theme of this teaching has been that Israel will need protection from the Arabs specifically and worldwide anti-Semitism generally. In light of the events described above, it appears as though this theory needs to be re-evaluated.

Israel is destined for greatness and will supposedly accomplish peace militarily rather than politically. The shortsightedness of many world and church leaders today who continue to look at Israel through the limited lens of the modern-day Jewish state have drawn extremely questionable and potentially harmful conclusions. Should the above prophetic events occur as sequenced above, by the time the Beastly Antichrist of Revelation 13 arrives on the world scene, Israel will not necessarily need protection from the world; rather, the world will likely possess a genuine godly fear of a Greater Israel.

Israel is about to conquer its blood-vowed Arab enemies and in the process continue not only to possess their own advanced military weaponry, but also in addition acquire stockpiles of weapons from the defeated Arab arsenals. Then, following on the heals of the Arab-Israeli war, the Russian-Iranian consortia is supposedly going down in bitter defeat via the divine hand of the Jewish Jehovah, according to Ezekiel 39:1-6. Unless all of these above powerful prophetic claims turn out to be a figment of a fairy tale imagination, the Israel Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke about in September will by no means remain in such a lesser condition.

Considering the facts that the Arab populations of Psalm 83, inclusive of their terrorist bedfellows, Hezbollah, Hamas and al-Qaida, are all presently armed and dangerous, coupled with the understanding that most of these peoples still don't even recognize Israel's right to exist, perhaps it would be wise for humanity to stop gazing through the limited lens of lesser Israel.

Failed international political attempts to accomplish a lasting Middle East peace have amounted to nothing more than grandiose hopes at brokering a non-biblically endorsed real estate deal in the Promised Land. The harder the world tries to force the Jewish state to negotiate with their ancient Arab enemies, the faster and further it finds itself in financial foreclosure.

On the nearby horizon appears to be the emergence of a GREATER Israel, and as such it could be time to substitute the microscopic view of Israel with the more expansive telescopic perspective. For all intents and purposes, the Bible predicts that Israel will possess the Promised Land, and someday soon rule the Middle East roost.

Author's Website: www.isralestine.org

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Great Prostitute

The Great Prostitute of Revelation 17 - By Nathan Jones - www.lamblion.com

Revelation 17 lays out a wildly disturbing scene. A Bowl Judgment angel approaches the Apostle John and says, "Come, I will show you... the Great Prostitute."

For her physical appearance, the Great Prostitute is described as having tattooed emblazoned across her forehead the title by which she goes by: "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth." The woman is dressed in purple and scarlet, and glitters with gold, precious stones and pearls. She holds a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.

As for her actions, she commits adultery with the kings of the earth. She intoxicates the inhabitants of the earth with the wine of her adulteries. She rides upon a seven-headed, ten-horned, scarlet beast which is covered with blasphemous names and sits on many waters. She is found drunk on the blood of the saints who proclaim Jesus Christ.

Fortunately for the reader of Revelation, the Bowl Angel goes on to explain to John what he is seeing. Unfortunately, though, the angel's description of the Prostitute is almost as mysterious as the scene itself, giving credence to her name "Mystery." And yet, the reader can look upon the larger structure of Bible prophecy within the Scriptures to discern who or what she is and is not.

Who She Is Not

The Great Prostitute is not a yet unrevealed woman. For one, no individual can sit upon many waters (verse 1). Secondly, she is called a "great city that rules over the kings of the earth." Cities in the Bible are often used to represent people groups, empires, or systems. As much as some would like to point to the pop singer Madonna or a particular female politician, neither they nor any other single woman fits the bill.

She is not the United Nations or European Union. The Beast we are told is the future one-world leader who is handed over power to rule what ten future leaders of the earth will hold (verses 12-13). While the Antichrist and ten kings will make war against Jesus and certainly kill many of Jesus' followers (verse 14), they hate the Great Prostitute and by God's prompting participate in her destruction (verse 16-17). Since these political systems will give rise to the ten kings, neither can be the Great Prostitute because they hate and kill her.

She is not Hollywood. While Hollywood certainly spews its licentious garbage upon mankind who thirstily drink it in, it cannot be accused of the mass murder of believers in Christ (well, at least physically).

She will not be a newly constructed city called Babylon. Babylon was certainly a great city like verse 18 states. But, it is a city cursed never to be rebuilt. Isaiah 13:20 makes it very clear that Babylon would cease to be inhabited forever. In accordance with this prophecy, Babylon was conquered by the Medes, and it began a long decline that ultimately resulted in its abandonment to the forces of nature. By the time of Christ, one eyewitness reported that the city was nothing but "mounds and stones and ruins." Even Saddam Hussein was not able to rebuild it into more than a paltry tourist spot. Then why is she also called "Babylon the Great?" Because Babylon has always been credited as the source of world cultic spiritual evil, which will hold a dominant presence during the Tribulation.

She is not Islam. Women are often used in the Scriptures to symbolize religious systems, and Islam is certainly a religious system. It has caused the bloody martyrdom of countless Christians in its 1,400 years. But, by the time of the Tribulation, Islam will be just another false religious system that will be wiped out. Their battles against Israel in Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39 will bring about the demise of Islamic power.

What She Could Be

Because women are used in the Scriptures to symbolize religious systems, the Great Prostitute is indeed a religious system. The three remaining religious systems on the survey are the apostate Church, a one-world religion, and secular humanism (which at its core is the worship of self).

Which religious system the Great prostitute is can be interpreted by where she sits. The text says she sits in four places — on the beast (Antichrist), on seven hills, on seven kings, and across the nations and peoples of the world.

The majority of voters (47%) voted for the apostate Church. These voters could be correct based on the sitting reference in verse 9 to seven hills. Two major cities that rest upon seven hills are Rome and Istanbul (formerly Constantinople named after the Roman Emperor Constantine), and both were centers of government in the Roman Empire at different points in time. Istanbul can be discounted, though, for at the time of John's writing Rome was the commanding city of the known world, and John would have recognized it as such. Also, Istanbul loses any future prominence due to the elimination of Islam as a world religious system, as mentioned earlier. John was clearly looking towards Rome as the city on seven hills. Rome is the heart of the revived Roman Empire, which the world today is seeing grow out of the European Union.

Rome also houses the Vatican, which is the seat of Roman Catholic papal authority. This authority reaches across the "peoples, multitudes, nations and languages" of the world as verse 15 states. In its history, the Roman Catholic Church has the blood of countless Protestant believers and the victims of crusaders and inquisitors on its hands.

Also, after the Rapture, the only "Church" left will be the apostate followers of Christ who, as 2 Timothy 3:5 states, "have a form of godliness but denying its power." While many true believers will come out of the Catholic Church and be raptured as part of the Bride of Christ, the overall heretical structure will continue to exist during the first half of the Tribulation to give credence and support to the other apostate Christian denominations left in the world. The Vatican after the Rapture will be the universalistic banner to which all the Christians in name only will rally to.

The second largest voting bloc in the poll (28%) believe the Great Prostitute will be a one-world religion. These voters could be correct based on her sitting on the seven kings of verse 10. Five of the kings fell before John's time, so they must have been pivotal to world rulership in relation to Israel. The sixth "one is" to John would have been Caesar. The seventh king who "has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while" is the Antichrist, called so in 1 John 2:18. "The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king" and "belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction" could only be Satan himself ruling through these seven human rulers throughout history, as there are no other kings after Jesus Christ once Jesus sets up His Millennial Kingdom. These kings extend over a time period much longer than the 2,000 years the Church has been around, and cover all the world's peoples.

A small minority, only 2%, voted that secular humanism was the religion of the first half of the Tribulation. I myself voted in this group for this reason — all false religion stems from man's belief in Satan's lie from the Garden of Eden, when Satan said "you will be like God" (Gen. 3:5). All expressions of worship not towards God are flat out rebellion against the Creator. Even if we personally are not the object of our worship, by setting ourselves up in our own religion, we are worshipping self and therefore humanism.

The Old Testament is overwhelmingly filled with God's stated hatred of spiritual harlotry. He chastises Israel again and again for running after foreign gods in rebellion. Be it an apostate form of what God truly wants, or a deviation from all norms that God has established for worship — man's rebellion is about the worship of self.

By the midpoint of the Tribulation when Satan indwells the Antichrist, whatever flavor of humanistic self-worship the people adhere to, all will be made to cease to exist. The Antichrist, False Prophet, and ten rulers will be sure to take the Great Prostitute of human-willed spiritual harlotry and the institution in which she is enshrouded and "bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire" (verse 16). Only one religion will be allowed to exist 3 1/2 years into the Tribulation by the Antichrist's demonic master, and that will be the worship of Satan through his Antichrist "messiah."

Praise be to Jesus Christ who returns 3 1/2 years later to doom that "beast" to eternal destruction and set up His kingdom of peace and righteousness!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Modern Day Signs

Modern Day Signs of the Times

by Dr. David R. Reagan

A survey of signs pointing to the soon return of Jesus that are unique to our day and age.

Whenever I present an overview of the signs of the times that point to the soon return of Jesus, I am often confronted by someone often a professing Christian — who will say, "Come on David, these signs you are talking about have always existed in one degree or another, so what else is new?" They will then proceed to point out that there have always been wars and rumors of war, there have always been natural calamities, and throughout history Christians have always been persecuted. Then comes the inevitable challenge: "Show me something really new and unique that clearly points to our day and time as the season of the Lord's return."

The challenge is understandable, but it is not entirely legitimate. That's because Jesus said the end time signs would be like "birth pangs" (Matthew 24:8). In other words, the signs would increase in frequency and intensity as the time draws near for Jesus to return. There would be more earthquakes, and more intense ones. Wars would be more frequent and more horrible in their degree of devastation. And that, of course, is exactly what has happened in this century. All the signs have been increasing exponentially in both frequency and intensity.

But still, it is legitimate to ask if there are any signs that are truly unique to our day and time — signs that have never existed before. Are there new signs that clearly point to this period of history as the time of the Lord's return? The answer is yes.

A Key Prophecy

A verse that immediately comes to mind in this regard is found in Daniel 12. Daniel was given many prophecies by the Lord. Those relating to his day and time he clearly understood. He even seemed to understand prophecies that the Lord gave him relating to distant times, such as the succession of Gentile empires that would ultimately lead to the establishment of the Roman Empire. But when it came to prophecies about the end times — the period leading up to the Lord's return as King of kings and Lord of lords — Daniel did not understand what was revealed to him.

He wrestled mightily with the prophecies and finally cried out to the Lord in despair. "I have heard," he said, "but I do not understand! What do these events mean?" (Daniel 12:8). The Lord, in effect, responded by saying, "Cool it, Daniel, because it is not for you to understand!" The Lord's actual words were: "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time" (Daniel 12:9). It was Daniel's responsibility to deliver the prophecies, not understand them.

Note that Daniel was told the prophecies would not be understood "until the end time." In fact, in the very next verse the Lord told Daniel that at the proper time "those who have insight will understand" (Daniel 12:10).

Accordingly, there are many end time prophecies that have never been understood until now, either because their understanding depended on historical events or because they were dependent upon technological developments. The fact that these prophecies have become understandable in recent years for the first time ever is proof positive that we are living in the end times. Let's look at some examples from the book of Revelation.

Revelation Examples

1) The Tribulation Slaughter — Revelation 6 says that the Tribulation will begin with a series of judgments that will result in the death of one-fourth of Mankind. The world's population is approaching six billion. That means one and a half billion people will die in the initial judgments, reducing the world's population to 4.5 billion. The next series of judgments, recorded in Revelation 8 and 9 will kill another third of Mankind. One-third of 4.5 billion is another one and a half billion. Thus, in the first 3 years of the Tribulation, a total of 3.5 billion people will die. That's half the population of the world!

Is this possible apart from the use of nuclear weapons? Only if it is a supernatural intervention of God. But God normally works through natural processes.

The unparalleled carnage of the Tribulation seems to me to point to nuclear weapons. Revelation 8 speaks of one-third of the earth being burned and one-third of the seas being polluted (Revelation 8:7-8). Later in the Tribulation, near the end, we are told that people will suffer from "loathsome and malignant sores" (Revelation 16:2). That sounds like one of the effects of radiation poisoning.

The advent of nuclear weapons makes possible for the first time the overwhelming Tribulation carnage portrayed in Revelation. I think nuclear power was what Jesus referred to in His Olivet discourse when He said that the end times will be characterized by "men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (Luke 21:26, emphasis added).

The prophecies concerning the Tribulation carnage have clearly depended upon a major technological breakthrough for their understanding. We are living in the time of that breakthrough.

2) The Army of 200 Million — Chapters 9 and 16 of Revelation state that an army of 200 million soldiers will march "from the east" toward Israel. Daniel 9 indicates that this will be an army representing nations in revolt against the Antichrist.

Demographers estimate that the total population of the world at the time the Apostle John wrote Revelation (95 A.D.) was only 200 million. How could an army that size march out of the east? It made no sense. In fact, it took 1,650 years for the world's population to double to 400 million! At the beginning of this century the total world population was only 1.6 billion, still too small for an army of 200 million to march from the east.

But this century has witnessed an exponential increase in population. The population count is now at 5.8 billion, and just one country to the east of Israel — namely, China — could field an army of 200 million.

Here we have a clear example of a prophecy about the end times that could never be understood apart from historical developments.

3) The Two Witnesses — Revelation 11 reveals that two great witnesses of God will preach in the city of Jerusalem during the first 3.5 years of the Tribulation. Then, in the middle of that terrible period, the Antichrist will kill them.

We are further told that their dead bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for 3.5 days and that all the people of the world will look upon them. How could that be? Prior to 1957 that prophecy was not understandable in natural terms. There was just no way that all the people of the world could look upon two dead bodies in the streets of Jerusalem.

All that changed on October 4, 1957 when the Russians sent up the first Sputnik satellite. Today, 30 years later, our planet has many man-made satellites circling it, making possible all sorts of instantaneous communication. When those two prophets lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem, all someone will have to do is point a TV camera at them, send the signal up to a satellite, and all the world will be able to look upon them. Once again, modern technology has made an ancient prophecy understandable for the first time.

4) The Nation of Israel — Revelation 12 focuses on the nation of Israel. It makes clear that in the middle of the Tribulation Satan will motivate and empower the Antichrist to annihilate the Jewish state and its people. A remnant of the Jews will flee into the "wilderness" where they will be supernaturally protected by the Lord (Revelation 12:14).

At the time the book of Revelation was written, Jerusalem had already been destroyed by the Romans and the worldwide distribution of the Jews had begun. Until this century, there was never any prospect that the nation of Israel would ever exist again. There were, of course, prophetic scholars who pointed to the many promises in Scripture that say the Jews will be regathered in the end times and the nation of Israel will be reestablished once more. But people laughed at these scholars and wrote them off as "dreamers" who were out of touch with reality.

Then, on May 14, 1948 the "dream" came true. The independence of the nation of Israel was proclaimed, and the Jewish state came back into existence for the first time in almost 2,000 years.

All the end time prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures make it clear that the Lord will return when the Jews are back in the land (Ezekiel 37) and back in their capital city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12). Jesus emphasized these two events in His teaching. He pointed to the reestablishment of the state in his fig tree parable (Matthew 24:32-35), and He stressed the importance of the reoccupation of Jerusalem in His Olivet discourse (Luke 21:24). He stated point blank that when Jerusalem is no longer under Gentile control, all the end time events would take place. Jerusalem ceased to be under Gentile control on June 7, 1967.

The central piece of the end time world political puzzle is now in place for the first time.

5) The Image of the Beast — Revelation 13 says that the Antichrist's religious leader, the False Prophet, will make an image of the Antichrist that will appear to come alive and speak. This trickery will amaze most of the world's population and will cause many of them to give their allegiance to the Antichrist.

What is the explanation of this event? Many have concluded that Satan will empower the False Prophet to give the image life. But Satan does not have the power to create life. Satan is a liar and a deceiver.

So, again, how can the False Prophet give an image life? I don't see any way for him to do it apart from modern technology. The illusion can be created through the use of modern robotics.

Thirty years ago in 1967 I took my family to Disneyland. We went into a theatre where we saw a man who looked exactly like Abraham Lincoln get up out of his chair in stage center, walk to the edge of the stage, grab the lapels of his jacket, and proceed to quote the Gettysburg Address. When he finished, a lady behind me exclaimed, "Wasn't he a good actor!" He was not an actor. The "actor" was a robot. That was thirty years ago. Think what could be done today with the advances in computer technology.

6) The Mark of the Beast — Another prophecy in Revelation 13 that is dependent on modern technology is the famous one that states the Antichrist will control the world's economy by requiring people to bear his mark or name on their hand or forehead in order to buy or sell anything.

Again, how could this be possible before the invention of laser and computer technology?

The Uniqueness of our Age

After reviewing the prophecies listed above, I don't think we need any handwriting on the wall to indicate to us that we are living in a unique age. Historical developments and technological inventions are making it possible for us to understand many end time prophecies for the first time.

Nor is the list above an exhaustive one. I could name many other signs unique to our day and time — such as the reunification of Europe, the exponential increase in travel and knowledge, and the preaching of the Gospel to the whole world.

Even the phenomenal success of Hal Lindsay's book, The Late Great Planet Earth, is a unique sign of the times. Keep in mind that this book was the number one best seller in the world, with the sole exception of the Bible, for ten consecutive years, from 1970 to 1980 (as authenticated by Time Magazine). What was it that the Lord told Daniel? — "Seal it up to the end of time when those who have insight will understand."

The bottom line, my friends, is that we are living on borrowed time, because Jesus is coming soon!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2009: What Can the Righteous Do?

2009: What Can the Righteous Do?
By Jan Markell

Another year is ending. How is this possible? This message is both an e-alert and also a sincere thank you for those of you who have supported Olive Tree Ministries both prayerfully and financially in 2008. I hope we have helped you understand the times, contend for the faith, and become better watchmen on the wall. I realize that contending is costly. Those of you who have stood for truth and been shot down like we have know that this is hurtful rejection. But the Bible is big on contending for the faith so keep doing it! God will reward you in His own way.

Thank you for your supportive e-mails, notes, calls, and gifts. Our job is overwhelming as we are likely in the days of Noah. Back then the people said, "Noah, your boat is rocking our boat. We want to have fun and entertainment." So it is today as well. There was little love of the truth. But if anything good is coming out of the 2008 financial tsunami, it is that some people are now at least listening to what you have to say. Since the Ark door may shut again soon, continue to be about the Father's business and sharing your faith.

What could lie ahead for us in 2009? We can get a glimpse but we cannot see the whole picture. Here are some points to ponder.

1) The "Fairness Doctrine" could knock much of conservative and Christian talk radio off the air. Learn the details here where Craig Parshall, Chief Counsel for the National Religious Broadcasters, and I discuss this. Our radio program, "Understanding the Times," could take a hit.

2) Capitalism seems to be gasping for life, being replaced by Socialism in America. Who could have predicted that for America 50 years ago? Because of "bailout fever," this will intensify in the coming months.

3) Keep your eyes on the "epicenter," the Middle East! Particularly watch events unfold in Israel, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Hamastan (Gaza), and further efforts to divide God's land with a Palestinian state. The latter will get more intense in that Barack Obama's Middle East advisors are not friends of Israel. And Israel has an election in February that could change everything.

4) The current financial instability worldwide is setting the stage for the coming one-world system and even the cashless society. You can read more about this here. Ecumenism is on steroids with various religions having group hugs. Even apostate movements and leaders continue to be called "evangelicals" when they are not. Yet some of the worst of these are heralded in many church pulpits, including in evangelical churches.

5) Islam will continue to make inroads into America -- in high places. Learn of some of their efforts on my radio program December 13, 2008, hour two here. There will be the continuing appeasement of Islam, likely starting with Barack Obama's speech to the Islamic world in his first 100 days in office. That is also addressed at the radio link above. He believes the right words will stop the jihad although this is delusional. Islam has some end-time role that it would appear is significant. This is yet a mystery. Yes, the world would be a better place if Jew, Christian and Muslim could all just get along. But judging from history, that is not going to happen.

6) While church apostasy is at an all-time high and calls to this office asking about finding a church have reached a new record, we should focus on the more positive aspects of the church today. The Bible still has all the answers, the Holy Spirit is still active, God will still inhabit the praises of His people, there will still be room at the cross, and Jesus will still return sooner rather than later to the holy city of Jerusalem. There is coming a perfect government -- a Theocracy, under the headship of the King of kings.

7) So even though the world and church may be acting as if up is down, down is up, right is wrong, wrong is right, and everyone is drowning in political correctness, expect God to do good things in the new year. Remember the words of Psalm 11:3, "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" The answer is in Micah 7:7, "But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord."

8) The world is hurting today. The book of Hebrews tells us to encourage one another. Try and do that even yet today! It will be a spiritual balm for you and the one you encourage! As we near the Lord's return, birthpangs will intensify and they can literally be earth-shaking. 2008 was one of the worst years for natural disasters. They could be worse in 2009.

To those of you who are new to our e-alerts, they are not used for direct fundraising. I will say, however, that both ministries and churches are hurting right now due to the economy. Vital ministries are dropping off radio or cutting back. We have had a weak year-end financial response but wish you would first focus on your church, then on para-church ministries like ours. All year-end gifts to Olive Tree Ministries are tax-deductible

My prayer for you is that "the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7). We don't know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.

Website : www.olivetreeviews.org

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Arab Covenant

By Dr. David R. Reagan

Did God give the Arabs a covenant?

As descendants of Abraham's son, Ishmael, they too have a promise, but it is not a promise of land like God gave to Abraham (Genesis 17:8) and to his descendants through Isaac (Genesis 26:2-5) and Jacob (Genesis 28:1-4,13-14). The covenant God made with Ishmael had to do with the number of his descendants. Ishmael was promised that his descendants would be "multiplied exceedingly" (Genesis 17:20).

God has faithfully kept His promise to the descendants of Ishmael. Today there are 21 Arab states with a combined population of 175 million Arabs. There is only one Jewish state with a population of 5 million. The Arab states contain 5.3 million square miles of oil rich land. Israel has only 8 thousand square miles of land with no major oil reserves that have been discovered. That's a population ratio of 43 to 1 and a land ratio of 662 to 1!

Not All Muslims Are Arabs

A popular misconception is that Arab identity is determined by religion — that if you are a Muslim, then you are an Arab. That is not true.

One of the most populous Muslim nations in the world is Indonesia, an island nation in Southeast Asia. Indonesians are not Arabs. They are Malays. Likewise, the nation of Iran is composed of Muslims, but they are not Arabs. They are Persians.

Arab identity is not determined by religion. Most Arabs are Muslims, but not all; and all Muslims are certainly not Arabs.

Arab identity is determined by ethnic heritage. And the amazing thing is that all Arabs — like all Jews — are descended from the family of Abraham! That means the Arab-Israeli conflict is a family dispute — the longest running and most intense family squabble in history.

Arab Prophecies

The Bible has made a number of prophesies for the Arab peoples. First, it says they will claim the land of Israel which God gave to their brothers, the Jews. The prophet Ezekiel says this claim will be made in the end times (Ezekiel 35:5,10; 36:2,5).

This prophecy has been fulfilled in our time! For 2,000 years the Jews were dispersed from the land which God gave them, and during that long period of time there was never an Arab state in the area that the world called Palestine. The Arabs who lived in the land considered themselves Syrians. They had no consciousness as Palestinians, and no effort was ever made to create a Palestinian state.

When the Jews began returning in this century, the Arabs gleefully sold them the land at inflated prices because it was considered worthless. It was World War I that changed the Arab viewpoint. The war resulted in the land of Palestine being transferred from the Turks to the British, and the British immediately proclaimed it to be a homeland for the Jews. Suddenly, the Arabs were confronted with the prospect of a Jewish state, and they began to dig in their heels, claiming the land as their own.

The British gave in to Arab pressure, and in 1922 they gave two-thirds of Palestine to the Arabs, creating the state of Jordan. This was land that they had promised to the Jews. But this action did not satisfy the Arab appetite. They wanted all the land God had given to the Jews, and they still covet it to this day, just as prophesied.

Arab Judgments

The Bible further prophesies that God will pour out judgment upon the Arab nations in the end times for their hostility toward the Jews and their attempt to claim the Jewish homeland as their own.

Consider Joel 3:19, for example. This passage has a clear end time context, and in that context it says, "Egypt will become a waste, and Edom will become a desolate wilderness, because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, in whose land they have shed innocent blood."

Keep in mind that Edom is often used as a symbolic term for all the Arab peoples, just as Israel is used as a term for all the Jewish tribes. Ezekiel says that "all Edom" will be dealt with in the end times because of its hatred against the Jews, and the result will be desolation (Ezekiel 35:10-11,15). The book of Obadiah prophesies a similar fate for Edom in "the day of the Lord" (Obadiah 15-18).

Arab Promises

But the future for the Arabs is not all bleak. They must suffer for their sins just as the Jewish people will suffer during the Tribulation. And, like the Jews, a remnant of the Arabs will emerge from their suffering with their hearts turned to the one and only true God (Jeremiah 12:14-17).

The most remarkable prophecy concerning the future salvation of an Arab remnant is contained in Isaiah 19:16-25. Isaiah says that when the Lord strikes Egypt and Assyria, they will turn to Him and He will have compassion on them and "heal them." Isaiah then presents an incredible picture of Egypt, Assyria and Israel living together in peace, worshiping the same God!

Another remarkable prophecy concerns the Arabs who will be living in the land of Israel after the Lord returns. This prophecy relates to the fact that the territory of Israel will be greatly expanded when Jesus returns, incorporating many of the Arab nations that exist today. (The considerably expanded borders of Israel during the Millennium are detailed in Ezekiel 47:15-20.) Amazingly, Ezekiel says that the Arabs living in Israel at that time will be "allotted an inheritance" of the land together with the tribes of Israel! (See Ezekiel 47:21-23 and Isaiah 14:1-2.)

An Impartial God

There is no partiality with God (Romans 2:11). He chose the Jews, not to be a repository of His blessings, but to be a vehicle through whom He would bless all the nations of the world, including the Arabs. But the fundamental requirement to receive God's blessings — for both Jew and Arab, as well as all people — is to accept God's gift of love in Jesus by receiving Him as Messiah.

When I consider God's grace toward the Arab peoples, I am reminded of what Paul wrote when he considered God's grace toward his Jewish brethren: "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" (Romans 11:33).

Keep in mind that the amazing grace which God is displaying toward the Arabs and the Jews is available to you. The message of God's dealings with the physical descendants of Abraham is that there is no sin so great and dark that it can separate you from the love of God which He has expressed in Jesus.

The key to experiencing that grace is repentance. As Paul put it in his sermon in Athens: "God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent" (Acts 17:30).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Forecasting 'A Transformed World'

Forecasting 'A Transformed World' - US To Decline; Islamofascism Here to Stay - Israel - Middle East - Jack Kinsella - Omega Letter Editor – www.omegaletter.com

A report featuring the compiled analyses of US intelligence agencies and issued under the title, "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World" offers a mixed forecast for the near future.

The previous report in the Global Trends series, which was completed in 2004 and projected developments through 2020, anticipated continued U.S. dominance through that year, though it recognized that the emergence of China and India as new powers would transform the geopolitical landscape.

The new report predicts, "the U.S. will find itself as one of a number of important actors on the world stage," playing "a prominent role in global events" but not necessarily the prominent role.

The new report describes a world torn by increased conflict over scarce food and water supplies, rogue states, terrorists and (of course) global warming.

(Global warming. Sigh. As I type, half the country is in a mid-winter deep freeze. Winter storm warnings dot the weather map. Winter is still a month away. There's that clang psychologists call 'cognitive dissonance' again. (But I digress)

The Global Trends reports are produced every five years by the National Intelligence Council, which represents all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. The Global Trends reports identify and analyze by region, dividing the world into four spheres of world power.

They break down as follows: Russia to the north, Western Europe and the Americas to the West, Asia in the East and Africa and the Non-Aligned Nations (NAM) to the South.

Eastern Europe is lumped in with Russia; Israel with the West, the Arab world with the NAM and Australia and Japan straddle the line West to East.

The forecast says Russia's emergence as a world power is "clouded" by persistent corruption and lagging investment in its critical energy industry.

It also raises the possibility that a government in Eastern Europe "could be effectively taken over and run by organized crime."

The report says that global Islamic terrorist movement is likely to outlast al Qaeda itself, with other groups likely to emerge and supplant it.

So al-Qaeda is doomed but Islamofacism is here to stay. Great.

It also says the global shift from West to East in wealth and economic power "is without precedent in modern history." ("East" generally refers to India, China and the seven 'Little Dragon' nations of Indo-China; Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, etc.)

It's a pretty dismal forecast; no wonder everybody seems so stressed. I've read more than one commentary that complained that John McCain practically campaigned for Barack Obama. Given the forecast offered by this report, if he did, I could understand why.

John McCain may be a lot of things, but he's no dummy. It's one thing to seek the job as the 44th President of the United States.

It's another thing altogether to risk going down in history as the last one.

"And when these things BEGIN to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. " (Luke 21:28)

I want you to keep at the forefront of your mind the fact that this is NOT a report issued by a Bible-believing ministry or an analysis of the conclusions reached by Hal Lindsey in 1969's Late, Great Planet Earth.

This is the consensus opinion of America's 16 intelligence agencies.

It is a fairly safe bet than none of these intelligence agencies is basing its forecasts on Hal's weekly TV program, Chuck Missler's website or Grant Jeffrey's book "The Next World War".

But there's not a dime's worth of difference between the general trends forecast by these 16 intelligence agencies for the next fifteen years and the general trends forecast by the Bible for the last days.

The only place where they differ significantly is in the outcomes. Bible prophecy starts with the outcome and then forecasts how it comes together. God tells the end from the beginning. Created beings are limited to seeing time in only one direction.

Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Bible forecast the world would divide itself into four spheres of regional power: the revived Roman Empire in the West; Gog-Magog to the North; the Kings of the East; and the Kings of the South. The Bible oriented each of these from the perspective of Jerusalem.

The Global Trends report identifies the same regional power blocs. A skeptic might argue the division simply follows the four points on the compass. Maybe. But it is a US report. Still, it orients the compass from the perspective of Jerusalem, not Washington.

Why is that significant? Because it is the most strategic place on earth -- exactly as the Bible predicted it would be -- for ONE generation, somewhere in time.

According to Bible prophecy, the pre-eminent world power will NOT be the United States. The ten toes of Daniel's vision emerge from the two legs of iron that symbolized the Roman Empire. Bible prophecy says Europe must increase, and therefore, America must decrease.

The Global Trends report makes pretty much the same forecast. It is highly unlikely that the sixteen intelligence agencies of America consulted with the Books of Daniel or Zechariah.

The Prophet Ezekiel forecast the development of a vast northern alliance headed by Russia and Iran and including significant parts of Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Balkans. It is supremely unlikely that the sixteen intelligence agencies consulted the Book of Ezekiel.

Islamic eschatology predicts the rise of an Islamic leader, the Mahdi, who will lead the Islamic world in a victorious conquest of the dar al Harb (Zone of War) that will usher in a period of Islamic peace and harmony. According to Islamic scholars, the rider on the white horse in the Book of the Revelation is the Islamic Mahdi.

According to the consensus opinion of America's sixteen intelligence agencies, the Islamic terrorist movement, which seeks to conquer the Dar al Harb and impose a period of Islamic peace and harmony will outlast Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

(Interestingly, while I doubt that Daniel, Ezekiel or Zechariah played much of a role in the Global Trends report, I'll bet the farm that US intelligence has an entire division dedicated to studying the Koran.)

So, what can we glean from all of this that is of use to us in the Battle of the Last Days?

Just this. The Bible is true. And we can prove it.

Bible prophecy concurs with the latest US intelligence forecasts -- but the Bible's forecast came first by some twenty centuries. The Bible's forecast hasn't needed revising in all those centuries -- the Global Trends Report gets revised every four years.

Each successive report trends closer to the Bible's forecast scenario, rather than away.

To a lost and dying world, this is a terrifying report. They don't know what to make of things. They don't have any answer to the question, "What is this world coming to?"

"But ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep, as I said unto you." (John 10:26)

What is chaos and terror and confusion to the world is our evidence that all is well, that God remains on the Throne, and that everything is under His control. We can trust Him.

No matter how scary and bad and dangerous things get, we have the rest of Jesus' promise to cling to -- and the authority to share it with the lost and frightened:

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand." (John 27-29)

If the rest of the Bible is true, then so is the part about eternal life. Maranatha!