As world events reveal the fulfillment of more and more Bible prophecies, why will so many people try to rationalize God's word away?
Lawyers describe a "bright-line rule" as a clear standard, derived from objective facts, that leaves no room for ambiguity or interpretation. Unlike regulations that involve "balancing tests," bright-line law is clear-cut. "Was he over age 21?" "Were her Miranda rights read to her?" The bright line is a clear criterion of demarcation—you are either on one side of the issue or the other.
God, too, often sets out clear lines of demarcation. Whether it is separating wheat from tares, grain from chaff or sheep from goats, God is well able to sort out His people, and indeed the whole universe He has created.
One of the many "bright lines" dividing the way people respond to God is their attitude toward His word—particularly to His revealed prophecies. When people see Bible prophecy being fulfilled, those who do not "retain God in their knowledge" (Romans 1:28) respond very differently than those who allow God's word to inform them about what they are witnessing.
Often, how people think determines what they think. In the years ahead, as more and more Bible prophecies come to pass, we will see great differences in how people think about the events they observe—which will lead to a great difference in what they think and do in response to those events.
Jesus Christ says that the mind informed only by carnal human vision is blind to spiritual things—and that there are some things only God can reveal. God reveals that the world is in darkness, but God's word illuminates it for us—if we are willing to see.
Some people reject what God reveals, and assume that they are informed solely by the world around them. Others, however, are also informed by faith—God's revealed knowledge. Which way you choose will create a bright linethat will divide you from others in your responses to the future events you observe. How will you respond to prophecy being fulfilled?
A time may come—sooner than you think—when you will need to face such a scenario. Imagine what if—just what if—Middle East stability deteriorates even further, until the resulting war and its consequences (curtailed energy supplies, nuclear weapon fears and global economic chaos) cause all the parties involved to accept what would today be dismissed as a "radical" solution. Imagine that, in exchange for territorial concessions and recognition of a Palestinian state, Arab nations recognize Israel's right to exist. Imagine that—in exchange for allowing Arab control of East Jerusalem under the auspices of an international peacekeeping body governed from Europe—Orthodox Jews would be allowed to resume their ancient sacrifices, and perhaps even build a temple.
If you are a long-time reader of Tomorrow's World, you know that the Bible foretells an amazing role for the city of Jerusalem in end-time events. But if you did not know about Bible prophecy, and a time came when someone told you that an Israelite prophet had foretold recent political developments thousands of years ago, what would you say? Would you say, "Well, it's just a coincidence that came about naturally from ongoing world circumstances"? Or would you ask, "What else did God prophesy?"
Modern Israel is the most improbable of nations. Recoiling against the tax burden under King Solomon's son Rehoboam, the northern 10 tribes revolted and formed a separate kingdom under Jeroboam (1 Kings 12). Because of their sins, the northern kingdom, which the Bible calls "the House of Israel," went into captivity under the Assyrians (721bc), leaving the southern kingdom of Judah, consisting of Judah, the small tribe of Benjamin and a portion of the Levites, under the rule of the kings of Judah. Next, the idolatrous kingdom of Judah went into Babylonian captivity (604bc), subsequently repenting and returning to the holy land (after 539bc). This nation was known later as Judea under Roman rule, and after Rome's destruction of the Jewish state in 70ad, the Diaspora of the Jews began, scattering them throughout the known world.
But God had said that the descendants of the ancient kingdom of Judah, whom we know today as the Jews, would return to their land and reestablish their place "in the latter days," the time just before the coming of the Messiah. Notice what God said about this time through the prophet Zechariah, when Judah was in Babylonian captivity: "'Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. In that day,' says the Lord, 'I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, "The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the Lord of hosts, their God." In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place—Jerusalem'" (Zechariah 12:2–6).
This has actually happened in our lifetime! Judah has returned to ancient Judea and retaken Jerusalem, just as prophesied long ago. In a series of wars, Judah has burned the surrounding hostile nations like "a fiery torch in the sheaves," and it is the governors of Judah, not its king, that are doing the torching. The little nation of Israel is accurately described as "a firepan in the woodpile." And Jerusalem is truly "a heavy stone for all peoples" and is becoming more so every year.
But those who do not believe in God's power to foretell the course of history dismiss this all as just a normal progression of events. Firmly educated in the dogma that they can only be informed by the physical world and what they can reason from it, they can rationalize almost anything away. For them, there is no God who can reveal things they cannot otherwise know.
Why Jerusalem? Today it may seem natural that Jerusalem should be such an important place in the world—simply because for the last century it has been prominently in the news. But, why Jerusalem? On reflection, the city seems a very unlikely point of contention. It is not on a major trade route like most great world cities. Its location came about because of the Spring of Gihon in the Kidron Valley, at the base of the old city. Jerusalem possesses no great natural resources, unlike some other Middle East cities such as Abu Dhabi. It has no sea access, unlike London, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Capetown or even Haifa. Jerusalem's geography is unremarkable; it sits on low mountains between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River Valley.
Jerusalem sits astride the primary north-south invasion route of the Middle East. If you want a peaceful place, Jerusalem is not for you! It has a violent history, beginning as an old Jebusite village that King David took in a military raid. The king bought a nearby threshing floor, and his son—King Solomon—built an extraordinary temple there. And nothing has been the same since. For centuries since the first Muslim conquest, that one small patch of rock in Mount Moriah has been guarded by the Dome of the Rock mosque. In our day, Jews, Christians and Muslims all look to the city as among their holiest sites.
Why Jerusalem? Is there something going on that the world cannot see? Logically, it should not be that important, but the Bible explains why modern political events involving Jerusalem are consistent with prophecies dated millennia ago: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has an ancient claim on the city. Through the prophet Zechariah, God revealed, "Again the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts: "I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; with great fervor I am zealous for her." Thus says the Lord: "I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the Lord of hosts, The Holy Mountain"'"(Zechariah 8:1–3).
Jerusalem, site of Solomon's Temple and the prophesied headquarters of God's future Kingdom on this earth, is coveted even by those who oppose God. Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote: "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?" (2 Thessalonians 2:3–5).
This ancient place belongs to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—yet someone else covets it. Is it possible that world events are slowly becoming focused on one small area of rock on a low mountain called Moriah—or Zion—in the Middle East? The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is prophesied to be the eye of the storm in future world events. Few in this world can yet see it, but can we see it? How will we react to the occurrence of the actual events that God foretold? Are we informed by faith?
The prophet Daniel revealed that in the days leading up to the end of this age, a great leader will arise and invade Jerusalem. "And the people of the prince who is to come [a worldly ruler] shall destroy the city and the sanctuary…. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; [7 years] but in the middle of the week [3½ years] he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate…" (Daniel 9:26–27).
This ruler will take away the reinstituted daily sacrifices from the holy place. "And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation" (Daniel 11:31).
This is when the Great Tribulation begins—when the sacrifices are taken away. But in order for the sacrifices to be taken away, they must first begin, whether in a rebuilt Temple or on an altar at the holy place! Are you aware that, for the first time in nearly two millennia, groups of Jews are preparing to resume the ancient sacrifices? Implements are being prepared, vestments are being made, priests are being identified and an attempt is even being made to reinstitute the Sanhedrin. And could it be that the Temple already exists—only in pieces—ready to be assembled on the site as it was in Solomon's day (1 Kings 6:7)?
Farmers are even raising cattle in the hope of providing the "red heifer" needed for the re-sanctification of the priesthood (Numbers 19:1–10). Without that sanctification, the sacrifices cannot be made—so those who are watching end-time prophetic events know that the slaughter of the red heifer is one of the first major milestones in this final sequence of end-time events.
Your response will depend on how you are informed—do you have God in your knowledge or not? This makes a big difference in what you are able to see. God says that the prophets are our eyes. "For the Lord has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets.… The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed.… Therefore the Lord said: 'Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men…'" (Isaiah 29:10–13).
The Apostle Paul explained it further. "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting" (Romans 1:28).
Some say, "I'll wait until I see all these things happening, and then I'll start obeying God."
According to God's word, those with this attitude may be deceiving themselves. "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12).
At that time, the true Church of God will undergo severe persecution. "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" (Matthew 24:9–13).
Keeping God's law and believing God's word will give a good understanding to those who retain God in their knowledge (Psalm 111:10). But those who do not retain God in their knowledge—who reject His revealed knowledge—will react differently from those who accept it, and will be on the other side of a bright line. They will be vulnerable to deception.
The Bible tells us that the world will go forth and fight against the hope of mankind—the true Messiah, Jesus Christ. And, to them, it will seem like a reasonable thing to do. "Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity [a divided Jerusalem is prophesied], but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle" (Zechariah 14:1–3).
If you are a long-time reader of Tomorrow's World, you know that we have long preached the biblical warning that as the end of this age approaches, there will first be a financial and military collapse of the United States and Great Britain. A great religious and political power will rise in Europe—a revival of the Holy Roman Empire—and will perform wonderful signs and speak great things. With the blessing of this power, some kind of agreement will be made that allows the resumption of the ancient Temple sacrifices (with or without a full new Temple building). When those sacrifices are stopped, this will mark the beginning of a 3½-year period of great tribulation over the whole world that culminates in the return of Jesus Christ.
Most of the world will brush off these developments as the natural workings of ordinary human political and military effort. They will deny God's hand in what occurs, and will even fight against Him at the very end of this age. But those who are informed by God's word will be different.
How are you informed? Do you assume that you can only trust the physical world around you—or do you accept the fact that you can also be informed by faith—God-revealed knowledge. But once we are informed by faith, we must act on it. Christ will separate the sheep from the goats—the wheat from the chaff—His holy ones from those of the world. Which you are depends in no small part on whether you are willing to believe what God says and act on it while you can.
Jesus advised us: "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36). Will you?