What does the Bible prophesize about our future? What is God’s plan for us? How are we involved in end time events?
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The title of the sermon is "Where Are We in Bible Prophecy?" and I choose each word of that carefully, as I think we'll see as we go on through it. What does the Bible reveal about the future of our beloved country, the United States of America and our related peoples, the British people and those colonized by the British people?
Now it might seem strange to you that I would even ask such a question because I think you and I both remember (most of us) a time when that particular question, those particular items, were discussed with great clarity and with great fervency and with great regularity in the Church of God. But it is my belief that it would be good, however, to go back, and even if it's review, to review this material because it just seems to me that perhaps we don't talk about it quite as much as we once did.
So, that's what the sermon is going to be about today; listen up, cause we're going to need you to listen fast! Jesus gave the overall outline of prophecy, put in the time of his human existence until his return in glory, the second coming, on two different occasions: One when he was on the earth as a human being, and one after he'd been resurrected.
In the first instance we call it the Olivet prophecy because He was talking to His disciples (there in Matthew 24 it's recorded and in Luke 21 ) on the Mount of Olives; and then after He was resurrected and descended to sit at the right hand of His Father in His glorified state, He, again, revealed through an Angel to the Apostle John things that should come to pass. And so in both instances there is a commonality; there were seven prophetic markers that He laid out that would give an overview of the 2000 years between His human existence and His second return. And in both of those instances, both in the Olivet prophecy, Matthew 24 and other places and in the Book of Revelation, specifically Revelation Chapter 6 , in both of those instances the fifth of those seven prophetic markers had to do with a time of great trouble, great trouble , difficulty, distress and in some cases death and martyrdom for the "Israels" of God.
Now I use the term advisedly "Israels" because there is both a spiritual Israel and a physical Israel. And the fifth seal, or the fifth prophetic way marker, encompasses times of great difficulty on both of the Israels of God. The majority of the sermon is not going to deal with the spiritual Israel of God. I'm just going to spend a very brief time covering that, but then the majority will cover the physical Israel of God.
So, again, the sermon is titled "Where Are We, Now" in Bible prophecy; not "Where are They". We're going to focus on the We, and in most instances the We in Bible terms, the focus of most of the Bible I think is safe to say, is on one or other of the Israels of God. And of course that's not meant to in any way to be anything other than a reflection of the truth of the matter. All people who have ever been born, of whatever national or racial group, will eventually, in God's Plan, have an equal opportunity to be a part of God's family. But the fact remains that the majority of the Bible, the majority of Bible history, frankly the majority of Bible prophecy, deals or is a reflection of God's dealing with the Israels, one or both, of God.
Now let's begin by just looking at a New Testament scripture where this term is used as it relates to the church, the Israel of God, Galatians Chapter 6 . We'll pick it up in verse 14 of Galatians Chapter 6 . This is the Apostle Paul saying "but God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world . For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything ". So in the context of "in Christ" for Christians, those who have been called to be first fruits, nationality, the type of genes , the type of blood in their veins is of no importance whatsoever is the point he's making; Jew, Gentile doesn't make any difference in the spiritual Israel of God, the Church of God, that is unimportant.
Circumcision referring to the Jews who are descendents of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah in that racial line, or uncircumcision, all the rest of mankind, is utterly unimportant to God when it's in the context of being "in Christ" as a Christian, a first fruit, one who has Christ living in them, a converted person; but a new Creation, that's what's important. Now in that context we come to:
Verse: 16: "and as many as walk according to this rule (the parameters he just laid out there), peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God"
Now that " upon the Israel of God " is a clear reference to the Church, the spiritual Israel of God.
As the spiritual Israel of God is affected by the fifth seal, it will involve martyrdom for some and divine protection for others, but a time of great necessary trusting in God to be
able to survive, for all. Let's just notice that very briefly, let's look in Revelation Chapter 6. This is one of those two times I alluded to earlier where Christ laid out the basic markers prophetically for 2000 years, and in Revelation 6 He begins to have these seals of understanding (actually they were seals of lack of understanding), but once the seals are stripped aside, metaphorically, and the words are open to understanding, then understanding comes to God's people, and we see the first through the sixth seals all mentioned in this one chapter and there's a direct connection between these seals and the understanding that we have of them here and what we see in Matthew 24.
But I want to focus on the fifth seal. As I mentioned earlier it's a time of great, great difficulty and trial upon the spiritual Israel of God, upon the Church.:
Revelation 6:9 "When He opened the fifth seal I saw under the altar the souls of those who'd been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held".
Now again, we don't have time to go into the whole doctrine of the mortality of the soul, but suffice it to say here, this is metaphorically speaking, just like Abel's blood was not a separate conscious entity, but it said it cried out for justice. Well, these dead saints, metaphorically, their death is crying out for justice and metaphorically they're crying out "how long before we are avenged , because we died for our testimony for being Christians ".
Verse 10: says "they cried with a loud voice saying, how long, Oh Lord, Holy and True, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth" ?
Much as the blood of Abel cries out it says elsewhere.
Verse 11: " But a white robe was given to each of them and it was said to them that they should rest " (we understand that sleep is a type of death and so they are to be dead and they are not going to be resurrected and they're not going to be given their reward until a little bit longer time, and what is going to happen in that little bit longer time. And it says here) " that they should rest a little while longer until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who should be killed as they were was completed ".
So there is coming a time when some of the first fruits, some of the spiritual Israel of God are going to be killed because of their faithfulness to God and because their enemies are given permission to slaughter them. That's still ahead of us, as unsettling as it is to think about that very much. Then we go over to Chapter 12 and we see some of the specifics:
Chapter 12:1: " Now a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun and with the moon under her feet and on her head a garland of twelve stars.
Verse 2: Then being with child she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth ."
Now very quickly we're able to see that this is a description of the coming to earth of the birth of the Son of man, Jesus Christ and in that sense the church gave birth to Christ.
Verse 3: " And another sign appeared in heaven: Behold a great fiery red dragon"
(and we of course know that that's Satan, the enemy of God, the enemy of man and the one who tries to always disrupt the plan of God). And what better coup, what better attempt to thwart God if he was able to do it would there have been for Satan than to kill Christ when He was an infant. And we know he tried and we know he stirred up Herod and we know that whole event. And as it says in:
Verse 4 " his tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth " ( and so Satan has many helpers, millions of helpers in trying to thwart God's plan and undo the people of God). " And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth to devour her child as soon as it was born".
And there was an attempt made on all those two years and under who were born in the city of Bethlehem and we know that story. But she bore a male child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron, clearly a reference to Christ, and her child was caught up to God and His throne. So there in Verse 5 you have the birth, the life, the death and the resurrection of Christ, all in one verse.
Verse 6 "then the woman" (now who did Christ leave behind, who were His followers? the woman, the church). This is the spiritual Israel of God.
And what has the majority of the history of the spiritual Israel of God been for 2,000 years? Running for their lives is the answer. You and I live now in this place in an anomaly historically, as we have freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of worship; it hasn't much of the time, most of the time, been like this for God's people for the last 2,000 years, where they felt a pretty good sense of freedom that there won't be authorities knocking on the back door coming in dispersing or arresting Christians. Much of the Christian church has been a history of true Christians being on the run for their lives.
And there you have it, the woman fled, she fled into a wilderness. So much of the last 2,000 years the small flock has been in "out of the way" places, in the mountain areas, away from where the populations centers were and away from where the authorities were. Much of church history is that, where she has a place prepared by god that they should feed her a 1,260 days.
Now we come down to:
Verse 13 ( and He really focuses in on the end time, the end time fulfillment of this fifth seal). " When the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child, but the woman was given the wings of a great eagle that she might fly into the wilderness to her place"
Sometimes we hear the question, "Does the church still believe in a place of safety?" I will put it this way, I still believe in Revelation 12 and Verse 14 . Nobody has removed that from the Bible. It still says the church will be taken to her place and will be protected there, " that she might fly into the wilderness to her place where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time ", probably indicative of a period of three and one—half years at the very end where there will be a place of protection, or a situation of protection for this part of the woman, for this part of the spiritual Israel of God.
Well this enrages the serpent because he's frustrated, he wants to kill them all, so the serpent spewed water out of his mouth. Sometimes Satan is given authority over even the forces of nature. We see that in the Book of Job as he afflicted Job and he does as much as God gives him permission in circumstances to do. So just like the forces of nature, water, he spews them at the woman, spits them at the woman to try to destroy her; a flood after the woman that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.
But God is the Creator, He's in ultimate charge and He can counter any miracle or any attempt to destroy the people of God that Satan can throw at Him. So in Verse 16 the earth helps the woman, miraculous intervention, perhaps in many ways.
Verse 16 " And the earth opened it's mouth and swallow ed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of its mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring " (Some will not have this protection. Some, it will be their lot to give their lives) "who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ ". And some will, as it says back here in Chapter 6, be martyred. So the fifth seal is a time of martyrdom of great trial, of a need to be miraculously protected from the forces of Satan that are unleashed in this world with that Israel of God.
Now that's going to be all we say about that. I want to spend the rest of our time talking about the physical Israel of God. The identity of the physical Israel of God in the latter days, and I certainly believe we are in the latter days, the identity of the physical Israel of God is the truth that has been revealed to, and even more so believed by, only a very few people in this world. In large measure, the modern day descendants of the Patriarch Jacob, who's name was changed to Israel, in large measure (exceptions don't disprove this statement) but in large measure the descendants of the Patriarch Israel are to be found in the United States of America and in the British Isles and also in Canada and in New Zealand and Australia and other places that were colonized by the British people.
Unknown in large part, even to these people, they are the modern day physical Israel of God, the descendants of the Patriarch Israel, and specifically of one of the twelve sons of Israel, specifically the sons of Joseph. These people who were given the greatest material blessings of people who's ever received from God in the last 6,000 years are largely ignorant of who they are. And we're going to be talking today about a time that's going to come on physical Israel and it will not happen without them having been warned by somebody as to who they are and why this period of time is coming.
Now I want to go back and review some of this that should be familiar to us, but it's been awhile; perhaps review would be healthy of how we arrive at that conclusion that I just gave you. Let's go back to Genesis 49 . This is the story of the end, near the end, of Jacob's life. Remember Abraham, God began to work through a man named Abraham. Before then He just worked with individuals but now He proceeds to begin a process of working through groups of people, specifically the members of this family that would come from this man Abraham. And Abraham had a son Isaac and Isaac had a son Jacob, so Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. And Jacob had a large family, twelve sons, and one of those sons was Joseph. He was his favorite son. That is not an endorsement of having a favorite child but the simple fact of the matter he was Jacob's favorite son, and that caused a lot of trouble in that family, a lot of jealously as we would not be surprised to see among the other eleven boys in that family. So all of them were older than Jacob, or nearly all.
So we come to the time of Jacob or Israel dying and we see in:
Genesis 49:1 "Jacob called his sons and said gather together that I may tell you what shall befall you in" the next one hundred years . (Now I misread it on purpose. Sometimes we read right over this, but this is a very significant thing that it says). "I want to show you what will befall you in the last days ",
The last days before the 6,000 year plan of God, before the return of Christ happens. This is a prophecy ultimately, not just an intermediate or the near term future, of these boys and then their families as they began to grow into tribes and later nations. But specifically an identifying sign or two for each of them for the last days in the final years of this age of man. And it does not start with Joseph, because Joseph was not the first born.
I want to skip over to where we start with Joseph in Verse 22. Who would possibly fulfill this description in the last days?
Verse 22 says "Joseph is a fruitful bough". Well immediately there is language that is indicative of prosperity, of abundance, of great wealth, of great productivity, " a fruitful bough; a fruitful bough by a well whose branches run over the wall". Again, language talking about a people who are so blessed by God it just seems like they have a surplus and they are able to share with others.
When you have a Tsunami in the Pacific Ocean, who of all the nations on the earth shows up with aircraft carriers full of helpers and of wealth and of equipment to help dig those people out and with food and water. Who always shows up in our lifetime, wherever it is in the world, with some of their abundance to be able to help people. I think you know who that is. Now it says this Joseph, especially in the end time, is going to have his enemies, just like in his physical lifetime, the literal Joseph. He had enemies in his own family, because he wasn't a very humble young person. He knew he was Dad's favorite and he wore it on his shoulder and he bragged about it, and he had dreams, and the way he told it just drove his brothers nuts. And finally, when they had their chance they got rid of him, you know that story. But he had a lot of enemies. I think primarily the reason Joseph had enemies is one word, it's a part of human nature, jealousy. The one who's most blessed is usually the object of jealousy of everybody else. So as it was true in his family, it's true in the world at large. There are many enemies of this Joseph. It says "archers have bitterly grieved him ". There are those trying to take him down, shot at him and hated him.
All over the world you'll see another phenomenon. The same nation that shows up with relief when there's a disaster is also the nation whose flag is burned more than any other country's flag and who has more enemies and there's more discussion of how much they hate this great Satan nation. Why is that ? It's just a strange thing unless you understand the Bible (shot at him and hated him). But for the most part, what does God's reaction or what is God's doing, which for the most part God protects Joseph. For the most part God's hands are right over Joseph to intercept all of these arrows and intended damages on Joseph. It says:
Verse 24 "his bow remains in strength, but the arms of his hands were made strong" .
Who far and away in our time has the greatest military might of any nation? I mean, you could take whoever "who's in second, third, fourth and fifth place" and add them all together and they could not in a fair fight beat Joseph, who has by far and away, whose expenditure on it's own military is greater than the whole gross national product of almost any other nation on the earth, probably of any other nation on the earth. Well, I think you know, the United States. And who is the only real friend of the United States when it comes to it? Well, the British and more recently, the Australian people.
But for the most part, God not only strengthens Joseph and gives him strength in his right arm but He protects him. It says "the arms of his hands were made strong, by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd , the Stone of Israel)
Verse 25 " By the God of your father who will help you, And by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath". So just all the physical material abundance that you can imagine, who has the a disproportionate share? Well, modern day Joseph.
Verse 26 ( is the one I wanted to end with): "The blessings of your father have excelled the blessings of my ancestors, up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills ."
"They shall be on the head of "Reuben, of Zebulun, of Issachar"? — no, no, of Joseph, the primary beneficiary of all this birthright wealth and blessings material, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.
Well, this was said in the presence of all of these boys, but there was some specifics that Jacob didn't even want to say in the presence of the other boys, so if you turn back a chapter to Chapter 48 we see a little bit of an earlier meeting, but the tone of this earlier meeting is very similar. This is aged/dying Israel wanting to pass on a blessing, but specifically on Joseph. So we pick it up in:
Verse 8, Chapter 48. "Then Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said, "Who are these?" Jacob with poor eyesight, Joseph come here, "yes father", bring your two boys, Ephraim and Manasseh. I want to bless you by blessing them, by blessing your two sons. So first he wanted to identify that in fact it was Ephraim and Manasseh, (he was almost blind) . "who are these boys?"
Verse 9 " These are my sons, whom God has given me in this place". "Bring them to me and I will bless them", he says. Verse 10 explains that's " because his eyes were dim for age" Verse 13 " And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near him". Because Joseph thought he had it all figured out (be careful when you think you have things all figured out), especially if it deals with what God's doing.
Who's the oldest of these two boys? Manasseh! Who gets the biggest blessing? The first born, so he puts Manasseh over here (if I'm Jacob) on his right hand and he puts the younger boy, Ephraim, over here on the left hand, because obviously, isn't that the way it always works? Well, obviously, that's the way it usually works, but when God is doing things it doesn't always go the way it seems like it will. And so we see the process of Jacob switching his hands because God was involved in this and He was telling him what to do.
Verse 14 "Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim's head, who was the younger , (what's that all about) and his left hand on Manasseh's head, guiding his hands unknowingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn ". And he begins to bless them, and:
Verse 16 is one of the really crucial verses of all of this. " The angel who has redeemed me from all evil , bless the lads and let ( who's name ) my name (who's talking? Israel, Jacob). So you're going to find in the end time, in the last days, Israel is primarily represented, physical Israel is primarily represented, by whom? By Joseph, by Ephraim and Manasseh. It says "Let my name be named on them and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow ( like the fishes ) into a multitude in the midst of the earth". Of course Joseph tried to get it switched back, he thought this was the wrong order. But:
Verse 19 Jacob said, look, " I know my son know, I know ". I know what you're thinking, but I also know God's telling me to do it this way. This is not just a human enterprise that we're involved with here. He, that is Manasseh, the first born, he says, "he shall become a people, and he shall be great, ( a great single people ), but his younger brother shall be even greater than he is, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations." ( A nation and a multitude of nations is the prophecy that we see here). And:
Verse 20 : " So he blessed them that day, saying, "in you shall Israel bless, saying God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh ".
That's the primary beneficiaries in the end time of the physical blessings. Now let's go back and do just a brief summary of how we even got to this point, how we got to Chapter 49 and 48. Chapter 17 , (this will be a whirlwind), but I thought some of you might want to just cross reference this, and by the way, if it's been a while since you've read our booklet, "The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy", I would strongly urge you to go back and rehearse that at some point, or if you've never read it, certainly to go back and read it.
But Chapter 17 is kind of the start of this story:
Verse 1: "Abraham was ninety—nine years old, and the Lord appeared to Abram and said "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless, and I'll make my covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly ". (So he's going to have many, many descendants)
Verse 3: "And Abram fell on his face, and God talked to him, saying: "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations". "No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name will be Abraham; for I've made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful".
Well that's the earliest indication of this language that we see over in 49 as it relates to Joseph. Exceedingly, abundantly prosperous, strong, productive and so rich that you can help all these other people. "I'll make you exceedingly fruitful and I'll make nations of you and kings shall come of you ". And then:
Verse 16: ( talking of Abraham's wife, Sarah) " and I will bless her and give you a son by her (the son of promise, Isaac) and I will bless her and she shall be a mother of nations and kings of peoples shall be from her".
Well, we go over to Chapter 22 , as the story moves on and these promises are repeated:
Chapter 22:15: " The angel of the Lord appeared to Abraham a second time out of heaven and said , "By myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son " (once he's passed the test of obedience and he proved to God that what God says would be what he did) "in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven (millions and millions of descendants) and as the sand which is on the seashore ; (you can't even count them there's so many) and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies ".
Verse 18 : " In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice".
Then we go on to Chapter 26 and we see that these same promises that were given to Abraham were now given and passed on specifically to the son, Isaac, the son of promise.
Chapter 26:3: " Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your f ather ". (The same oath we just read) " And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all of these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. ( Same promises ending up with Joseph ).
Well, we go to Chapter 28 and now they're passed on to Isaac's son, Jacob, and that's how it came to pass that he had them to pass on to Joseph.
Chapter 28:13: (of Genesis ) " Behold the Lord stood above it and said: " I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. And your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth (again an expression of so many you can't even count them, millions) you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south". ( And when were these promises ultimately to be in their final state? In the latter days, you see, in our day and age).
And then again in Chapter 35, we come full circle at this point. We come to:
Chapter 35:10 : "And God said to him, "I am God Almighty " (this is to Jacob, the son of Isaac) " be fruitful" (these promises were not given to Esau; he was also the first born.) Again, God does it His way, usually a way different than human logic would have us look for. " Your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name ". Now this is when He changed his name from Jacob to Israel. In:
Verse 11 God says to him, "I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply ; a nation (Manasseh) and a company of nations (Ephraim) shall proceed from you and kings shall come from your body".
So, we come back to these physical promises and the latter day beneficiaries of these promises, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim, Manasseh, America, Britain and people colonized by those peoples, and we have that today. Now, the title of the sermon is "Where Are We in Bible Prophecy?" Well, we've said, fifth seal, time of great difficulty that's just beginning now for Joseph. It hasn't hit in any kind of finality yet, but it is coming.
There are three times in the Bible where a uniquely "difficult time in all world history" is described. Well, how many "worst evers" can there be? There can only be one "worst ever". So we see three different places where the worst ever time is described. What do you conclude about all three of those descriptions? They must be talking about the same time. And lets see how that ties in with our subject matter today. The first "worst ever" time is described in the chapter that I alluded to earlier on, Matthew 24, the Olivet prophecy, specifically as Jesus was talking about the fifth prophetic way—marker. And you come to Matthew 24 and we pick it up in:
Verse 21 And look at this language, "For then there will be great tribulation (well, there's always been tribulation; there's always been difficulty on the people of God, physically and spiritually). But now it's focusing on a period of worst ever tribulation, "such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time nor ever shall be".
Now when is this? This is the end time. Earlier on up in Verse 15,16,17 he's talking about an end time sign that has never happened in history yet. So, in the end there will be the worst time ever, a period of great tribulation, and it says, "unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved, but for the elects sake those days would be shortened".
Lets go now to Daniel, Chapter 12 . We see very similar language and it's talking about the same general event. In:
Daniel, Chapter 12 it says: " At that time Michael shall stand up". Who is Michael? Michael is a great angelic being. There's some evidence that he is one of three archangels, highest ranking angels of all, and it looks from the brief evidence that we have in the Bible that Michael's primary job is to look over and be God's instrument in protecting Israel. He has a protective function, but that is going to be interrupted. " At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people ". He's a protecting archangel over Israel and he's probably the main reason why Joseph is strong in his right arm and generally protected from the arrows of the enemies of Joseph. But it says "there shall be a time of trouble " (similar language) such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered". Well, after they've gone through horrible trouble there will be deliverance. That's the good news.
As we go through these three descriptions of the "worst ever" therefore, all three talking about the same event, I want you to notice several things in common that we can understand about this time of terrible trouble on Israel. One is, that it's a unique time; that's what I've been stressing up until now. It's a uniquely horrible time. Now, all you have to do is read history and it will make your blood run cold. If it's going to be worse than anything that's ever happened in history; you know it's not pleasant to talk about that or think about it, but it is in God's word. But, read about the Holocaust the Jews went through in Europe in the 1930's and '40's and say, "it's going to be worse than that"? Well, if the Bible is true, it's going to be even worse than that.
But that's one kind of identifying sign on this time of trouble. It's unique, it's also in the end time. It's clearly at the time of the end. It's never happened in history what is being described here. The third thing is it's a time of general resurrections. It's a time very closely associated with resurrections. Well of all people, we should know when there will be resurrections. The first resurrection at the time of the coming of Christ, the time of the seventh trump. We know that that is right at the time of the very end when Christ returns, and as we go through some of these scriptures we're going to look at now, you'll see that this uniquely horrible time is associated with a time of resurrections, and fourth, it is a time, and this is the good news, of deliverance.
This is not an end in itself, it's not God throwing a temper tantrum, it's not for no purpose; there is a purpose. God always has a purpose in what he does and it doesn't last a long time. It's a relatively short period of time. It serves its purpose and then there's a time of great deliverance and great time of ushering in of a wonderful world. In that regard, before I go to that third place where this is described, I want you to just keep in mind, (I'll read this to you, but you might make a note of Isaiah 54:7 and 8) . Just let me read it to you briefly:
Isaiah 54:7 : (This is how God views this. It's probably admittedly not how humans, especially those going through it would view it, but how God views it.) He say "For a mere moment (a brief moment) I have forsaken you" ( the protection is taken away and all these arrows are allowed to find their targets). "For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you". There is a time of gathering, of healing, of restoration, of deliverance at the end of this episode.
Verse 8 "With a little wrath" ( oh boy, if this is a little wrath aren't we glad we never see the full extent of God's wrath). " With a little wrath I hid My face from you ". One way for God to chastise His people is just to take away His protection from them, because there's plenty of willing servants to say "I'll punish your people, God, let me at them". I mean that's kind of been Joseph's story. " With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment , but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you".
So this time of Jacob's trouble is unique, it's in the end time, it's associated with a time of resurrection but also leads to a time of deliverance. Where is the third of these three times? Well, it's in Jeremiah Chapter 30 . Everything in the sermon up until now has really been for the purpose for laying the ground work for this. I told you the sermon's title was "Where Are We in Bible Prophecy"? If you wanted an alternate sermon you could say "The Time of Jacob's Trouble" which is the time of Joseph's trouble primarily and as we've seen and as described in those terms right here is Jeremiah Chapter 30 .
Now, before I start reading that, I've got to pass along what we have been taught, and again, this is review, I know, but the Bible is in fact a coded book. This is a public book, everybody can read this book. It's the most published book in all of history. Why do so few come to the understanding that we're reviewing today? Because it's a coded book and it's written in such a way that it's easy to either misunderstand or just fail to understand some of the trues that are in it. And we could spend a whole sermon (we don't have time for that) on what are some of those keys. But I say certainly one of them is keeping the Holy Days and the Plan of God that is laid out in the Holy Days that the Church of God has, helps to kind of funnel us to this understanding. But this understanding is itself one of the keys that allows us to understand the Bible, and that is the identity of end time Israel or Joseph.
But the Bible is written in such a way that you can read right past the ultimate thing that's being described, and to be honest, we must admit that some of these things in Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and maybe even in Daniel did have a former fulfillment. They're talking about a time of difficulty on Israel and it would be dishonest to say "well, none of that applies to what happened in the sixth and seventh centuries B.C." Much of it did happen to apply to what happened in the sixth and seventh centuries B.C. in a forerunner type. Israel, the Northern House of Israel did go into captivity. That was a forerunner of the end time Jacob's trouble in 721 to 718 B.C., the eighth century B.C. That did happen and some of what we read in what we call the Major Prophets in type was fulfilled then. And the Southern House of Judah did go into captivity 604 to 586 B.C. and much of what we read hear does have an earlier fulfillment there. But the key is, if you've got these other decoders, other understandings from God's word, you can see that there is also an end time fulfillment. The final fulfillment of some of these things has not happened yet and that's what leads us to the conclusions that we're looking at in this sermon.
Now you'll see exactly what I mean here in just a few verses:
Verse 1 of Chapter 30 : The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying "Thus speaks the Lord God of Israel, write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you " (to Jeremiah, you see) for behold, the days are coming says the Lord , that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah ".
Now first I want to say, when historically did that ever take place? When did God gather back the Northern tribes of Israel, the House of Samaria and the Southern tribe of Judah in one re—gathering? The answer is, it never happened. That right there should tell us that this has an end time application. Some of what follows has a fifth century, sixth century B.C. application, but there's these little markers along the way that cause us to open our eyes, have our antenna say "there's going to be a final fulfillment". Never in history did both houses come back in a common re—gathering:
Verse 3: "that I will bring back the House of Israel and Judah, says the Lord . And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it ."
Verse 4: Now these are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah.
Verse 5 : "For thus says the Lord, we have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.
Verse 6: "Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins (what could be so horrifying that would cause grown, strong men to double over and grab their gut just in horror. Well, the time of Jacob's trouble is going to be that awful, that's what could cause this) like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale?"
Verse 7: Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; ( Familiar? Greatest time of tribulation that's ever been for the time there was a nation until then; never has been a time like that. Well, this is a time that is so great that none is like it. He must be talking about the same, end time, fifth seal as it applies to physical Israel ). "And it is the time of Jacob's trouble", ( translate, Joseph's trouble, translate America, Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand's trouble, sad to say , but it is true "but ( as we saw in Genesis 49 , ultimately ) " he shall be saved out of it" . It will have a happy ending .
Verse 8 " For it shall come to pass in that day" says the Lord of Hosts , " that I will break his yoke from your neck" ( So the Joseph of this prophecy is enslaved and has to have the yoke of slavery taken off his neck) " and will burst your bonds; and foreigners shall no more enslave them ".
Now to you and I, (forget the Bible for a minute), you and I looking at today's headlines, today's geopolitical realities, today's economies of the world, you and I without the understanding we have of God's word would find it ludicrous (most of the world finds it ludicrous) to even state as a proposition that America and Britain could go down and be enslaved. We're too strong, we're too prosperous. Is anything too hard for God, once He decides to do it? When He takes His hands away and no longer protects, you don't think there's plenty of people that will line up and elbow their way to the front of the line to take down Joseph?
You know you read various things, what is it, forty? I don't know if it's forty, thirty, is it twenty? How many "suitcase nukes" are in this country in Al—Qaeda cells right now ready to be exploded; I don't know, how many would it take? How vulnerable is our country? You know the first thing I thought of when I saw the extent of Katrina's damage? I said, "that just saved Al—Qaeda one of those if they were going to target New Orleans". Nature pretty much wiped out a whole major city and within a few hours you have the "law of the jungle"; you've got a break—down of law and order of horrible things. America? Yes, America.
We are so much more vulnerable than we think we are. We think of this great super power, but we could be brought down very, very easily in a multitude of ways. But that's what it says. Look at verse 9 though, a time marker:
Verse 9 " But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their King, whom I will raise up for them".
Well, this is clearly a time when King David who was dead and buried (even in the Apostles day it says " his sepulcher remains with us until this day ") is going to be resurrected. That's the timing of this "worse ever" time of Jacob's trouble, which even associates itself with enslavement. That's the time that's being discussed. Let's skip down to:
Verse 24 " The fierce anger of the Lord will not return until He has done it". Who is behind the time of Jacob's trouble? Who is behind this time of chastening on a National level? Well, God is, ultimately. "And until He has performed the intents of His heart, in the latter days you will consider it".
Go to Chapter 32 and Verse 36 " Now therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ( this is 32:36 of Jeremiah ) concerning this city of which you say, 'It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence'
Verse 37 " Behold, I will gather them out of all the countries where I have driven them in my anger".
Now let me again stop and say, if we're going to be honest we have to admit that that did have an earlier fulfillment, I mean it marks it, it's Babylon in the time of Nebuchadnezzar. But is there not a later fulfillment even to this passage? I say there is, and not because I say it, because I think we'll see the evidence of it if we keep reading. A former fulfillment; an end time fulfillment. Keep reading with me.
Verse 37 "I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, in My great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely".
Verse 38 " They shall be My people, and I will be their God". Oh that happened in 515 B.C. when Jeshua and Zerubbabel took a few Jews back out of Persia to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. Didn't it? No, it didn't. It didn't in it's final sense, because look at:
Verse 39 " I'll give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever",
And what happened when Jeshua and Zerubbabel and later Ezra and Nehemiah worked with those returning Jews? Did that enter in the New Covenant? Conversion on a mass scale, a "once and for all" turning to God, an everlasting covenant? Why no. No that didn't lead to that, but in the end it will:
Verse 40 " And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good"; has God never turned away from doing good and protecting the descendants of Jacob from 515 until now? Try to convince a Jew in Warsaw in 1939 that good was being done to him and God was protecting; no, there's been many other afflictions on the descendants of Jacob. But this says, this is a "once and for all" restoring and a "once and for all" turning to God, mass conversion, a pouring out of God's spirit, New Covenant, and that they would " never depart from me again" it says in the end of verse 40. That has not been fulfilled in its final sense.
Isaiah 27 Where are we in Bible prophecy? We're right on the front—end of this. How far before it hits us with full might? Nobody knows. We maybe used to think we knew, but Jesus did say "watch the times and the seasons"; you ought to be able to read the basic season in which you live. Look at:
Isaiah 27: 12 "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord will thresh, from the channel of the River to the Brook of Egypt; and you will be gathered one by one, O you children of Israel". " So it shall be in that day"; well that must be 515 B.C., is that the day being described? No, it's not. Look at the very next verse:
Verse 13 "That the great trumpet will be blown"; that didn't happen then, the seventh trumpet, the great trumpet, the time heralding Christ's return and the resurrection of the saints; "a great trumpet will be blown; and they will come who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, and they who were outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.
That's an end—time marker that identifies when that "re—gathering out of being scattered in captivity" will take place. What causes all this? Is this a "causeless" curse? God throwing a temper tantrum on the good old U.S.A.? Well, go back to:
Verse 9 "Therefore by this ( this time of Jacob's trouble) the iniquity of Jacob will be covered";
God's going to put up with what's going on in our culture and in our society only so long and then He's going to say "that's enough". Even though they're not converted in the sense that the church is, the spiritual Israel of God is, there are certain expectations God has of our nation, of our culture, and when you see where we are today, compared to where we were even thirty, forty, fifty years ago, it's a straight down—hill, well lubricated slide right into the cesspool. God's only going to put up with it so long.
I mean, God's been kicked out of the public arena basically in this country; out of the schools, and I mean, even these hearings we're seeing now for another Justice for the Supreme Court, the issues that are being debated, it's just nonsense. It's unbelievable to those of us who remember maybe a little bit simpler time, and you know we don't want to go back to the "good old days"( I realize it was never perfect), but you'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind and insensitive to what's going on not to realize the "see change" in our public culture and public morality in this country, even though we do a lot of good. Yes, it is the United States that shows up when there is a Tsunami, but we also show up and export all kinds of hideous things in the popular culture all over the world. And so God says " by this, the iniquity of Jacob will be covered " and this is all the fruit of taking away his sin. This is all a part of chastening Israel so that their sins will be dealt with.
Ezekiel 39:21 "I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have done, and My hand which I have laid on them " .
Verse 22 " So the house of Israel shall know that I am "Yahweh", Jehovah their God from that day forward". And the nations shall know that the house of Israel was exiled for what? Just so God could fulfill a prophecy? Well, what's the purpose of the prophecy? What's the purpose of Jacob's trouble?
Verse 23 " for their iniquity", it says " because they sinned against Me, therefore I hid My face from them and gave them into the hand of their enemies, so they all fell by the sword"
Verse 24 "According to their uncleanness, according to their sins I have done to them and have hidden My face from them".
Now as we begin to wrap this up, I want to tell you why I'm giving you this sermon, not only for review, but there are other voices out there now, at the edges of the church of God that would say everything that we've looked at today is wrong. And they're publishing and they're talking, and I think it's time that from time to time we need to review what it is that we do understand and show the error of some of these false teachings.
You know, it says there will come a time when people will have itching ears, saying, "don't tell us the truth, tell us smooth things". Is it smooth to talk about our beloved country going into slavery and being destroyed in the worst time of National catastrophy that anybody has ever (you know, that's pretty rough; that's not smooth). What would be smooth? What would be smooth and say, "well you know, you've got the identity right, you've got Joseph "pegged", that's Ephraim and Manasseh. But things are going to happen very different. God is going to (didn't it say in Genesis 49, He protects you from the arrows?) The end—time America and Britain is going to be protected from its enemies; there isn't going to be a captivity, there isn't going to be destruction, but Israel is going to team up with other nations that are going to destroy the real bad guys. And the church of God doesn't understand who the bad guys are". And that's a lot smoother, isn't it?
One way that that smooth teaching comes forth is by looking at Micah 5, and I want to briefly go through that with you so that you will be able to understand this. Let's read:
Micah 5:7 "The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst ( remnant, now what's the remnant? That's the end time, the remnant of anything is what's left at the very end. This is an end time prophecy). It says: "The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples" ( like what, like slaves? That's what Kirkpatrick's been saying); well, no, it says " the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people, like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, that tarry for no man nor wait for the sons of men."
Verse 8 " And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, in the midst of many peoples ( like what, like an enslaved, beaten people?) Why no, read it:
"Like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, who, if he passes through, both treads down and tears in pieces, and none can deliver.
" See, the Church of God's had it all wrong. End time Israel is going to be victorious; in the end time there's not going to be any defeat, there's only going to be great victory". There it has it:
Verse 9 " and your hand shall be lifted up against your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off".
Well, if it stopped right there, even though we'd have a hard time seeing how that could contradict everything else we've seen, that might allow us to misunderstand that. But you quit reading too soon if you quit at verse 9. Let's keep reading:
Verse 10 "And it shall be in that day" (in that same day, what's going to happen right on the heels with this great military dominance, where nobody messes with Joseph? What's going to be right on the heels of that, the very next moment almost?) Well then:
"I will cut off your horses from your midst" ( and some of your strength begins to be taken away) " I'll destroy your chariots,
Verse 11 "I'll cut off the cities of your land, I'll throw down your strongholds"
Verse 12 " I'll cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no soothsayers " .
Verse 13 "Your carved images I will also cut off, and your sacred pillars from your midst; and you shall no more worship the work of your hands;
Verse 14 "I will pluck your wooden images from your midst; thus I will destroy your cities"
Look, this is all you need to do to be able to put all this together: latter days, remnant, end time, these are all similar terms. Imagine a period of time that starts here and ends here. It's the end time, it's the remnant of Jacob, it's the latter days; beginning, end. Can we not envision that this period of time could be subdivided into perhaps thirds? The first third of this end time, you have a dominant Joseph, still with the protection of God, still with the right arm of strength, militarily. And that's the first third. It's still the end time, the first part of the end time.
Then you've got a middle time where these blessings of protection begin to be taken away. And then you have captivity and enslavement. It's all in the end time. So what was said to Joseph, what Micah says here, there's going to be both, dominant like we still have, it's going to be taken away, and then there's going to be a time of horrible trouble.
That's all you need to do to be able to counter this notion that Micah 5:7 through 9 knocks into a cockpit everything else the Bible says that we've come to understand. Well, it doesn't. Everything I've said up until now is basically review. I want to end with one maybe tiny little bit of new understanding that we've had.
This I'm going to properly label what it is, it's speculation, but I think it's based on what we see in the Bible. Who have we always understood would be the agent, the rod of God's hand to administer discipline to Israel? Well, Isaiah Chapter 10 , I think you veterans know, we've always understood that there would be this great power, that more than once in history has been God's instrument that He uses to administer discipline to physical Israel:
Isaiah 10:5 "Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hand is My indignation"
Verse 6 " I will send him against an ungodly nation". We have understood that, by and large, Assyria, the ancient Assyrians, are to be found in the Germanic areas of Central Europe. And then we go over here to Revelation and we read about a great European power, Revelation 13 , a great European power, the modern day resurrection of the Roman Empire that will come together and it will be dominant in a way that I think it's enlightening for us to look at.
Revelation 13:1 "I stood on the sand of the sea and I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name".
Verse 2 "Now the Beast which I saw was like a leopard" and so on. This is an end time resurrection of a beast of a military power, a civil power that has the strengths of all these ancient Gentile kingdoms that were also the beast, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome; and that there will be worship:
Verse 4 "They worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
Here is a power, a modern day resurrection of the Roman Empire, that is dominant in all the world militarily. Is that the case in 2005? No. Can God change that? Can God bring that to pass? Well, of course. And then look at what is said:
Verse 7 "And it was granted to him ( to this beast ) to make war with the saints ( with the spiritual Israel of God) and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue and nation".
Well, what happened to Joseph and his dominance? This power has come along and is now greater and supercedes Joseph. But that's been our traditional understanding and I believe it's still, by and large, to be the case of who will be the agent of bringing Joseph down in this time of Jacob's trouble when God takes away His protection. But who up until now have I not mentioned at all, and who is now, if we read the headlines of today's news and for the last four years, who does openly proclaim that they want to bring down America and Britain? Well, obviously, Al—Qaeda.
There's been a chapter that's been in the Bible all these years, and maybe we haven't focused on it quite as much as we ought to now. Let's go over to Psalm 83. This has always been there, but maybe we can understand it in a way now that we haven't before. This is:
Psalm 83:1 "Do not keep silent, O God!" I mean, how can the Beast, how can the European beast which is dominated by a religion that, believe me, is not Islam, if you know what I mean, how is that consistent with Al—Qaeda and it's hatred for the great Satan and its 911 attack and its desire to bring suitcase nukes into this country to blow up our cities and all that? Well, maybe it's not either/or, maybe there's an "and" that's been here all along.
Verse 2 " For behold, your enemies ( God's enemies, Israel's enemies ) make tumult; and those who hate you have lifted up their head.
Verse 3 They have taken crafty counsel against your people, ( well, who does that really describe, openly, they don't even try to hide it) and consulted together against your sheltered ones.
Verse 4 They have said, "Come and let us cut them off from being a nation ( who is saying that in the world today?) that the name of Israel may be remembered no more."
Verse 5 " For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy"
(now look at who is being described here):
Verse 6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; ( the Arab people primarily worshipping the God of Islam, Allah) Moab and the Hagarites, Gebal, Ammon and Amalek;
This is not talking about a European confederation, but a primarily Ishmaelite or Arab confederation. Do you know where the 911 plot was hatched? Do you know where that cell that drove those planes into the Twin Towers did their planning? Oh, let's also read who's with them:
Verse 8 Assyria also has joined with them; ( Some kind of an amalgamation or coming together because of a common enemy, a common hatred). Do you know where Atta and the others that flew those planes on 911 into our buildings hatched their plot? In Germany. Do you know that there is an active Al—Qaeda recruiting force in Germany? Let me read just a sample, just a few sentences of several news releases recently. If you go to Google, go to a word search on Al—Qaeda in Europe or Al—Qaeda in Germany you will get dozens of thousands of hits:
"Warnings of Al—Qaeda's continuing threat came recently from Washington and from London as well as one of its top leaders. Addressing the Central Intelligence Committee the CIA Director spoke of the spread of Al—Qaeda's radical agenda to local groups which now threaten the United States and are capable of 911 scale attacks. Very disquieting, Al—Qaeda is discovered to be recruiting manpower in Europe at a brisk pace in a push into the Continent personally advocated by Osama Bin Laden".
It says here, "In Germany Al—Qaeda has recruited 30,000 men. The British Domestic Intelligence Agency, MI5, estimates 10,000 faithful that have joined up in Britain and another 20,000 in France. Recruitment across Europe continues a pace and in greater secrecy than ever before as result of a switch to a new recruiting technique and an appeal to fresh target populations for building an Al—Qaeda, European Army.
Another news release, "Al—Qaeda is known to have a strong network of supporters in Europe. The 911 attacks in fact were large part carried out by an Al—Qaeda cell based in Hamburg, Germany, with the planning money and logistical support of college Sheik Mohammad", part of Osama Bin Laden's inner circle. And as I say, you could go to many, many stories; a suspected Al—Qaeda financier was freed from jail in Germany on Monday, because they have no political will to keep him in jail. And on and on it goes.
Al—Qaeda's new publication, "The Jews are Unworthy of the Promised Land" and also it talks in there about their hatred for America. Perhaps Assyria is with them, and America, end time Joseph, will at least be softened up initially by some of these tribal confederates who hate the name Israel and we now know on whose people the name Israel and the end time is.
To conclude, though we do not know the details and though we do not know the exact timing, we do not know those things; we do know this, that God will bring His word to pass, what it says in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah, Genesis, all of these prophecies that we have read. Events are progressing toward this end. America and Britain are increasingly hated and opposed by other nations, and the fault line between us and the European nations is deeper than most people realize.
Part of the work of this church is to witness to these Israelite nations of what is coming and to include in that witness a message of hope, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, concerning what lies on the other side of the time of Jacob's trouble. On the other side of God's chastening Jacob, which will be severe, but brief, leading to a repentant and humbled remnant that will live on to see the goodness and the glory of the rule of Christ and the resurrected immortal saints on the earth.