For the past few days, I've been on an exciting and fascinating journey of discovery as the Holy Spirit opens new vistas. In this blog, I invite you to join me on this adventure, and I pray you are as excited and blessed by this information as I've been. All praise and glory to His holy name! What a wondrous God we serve!
Over a year ago, I read an article written by Gary Stearmen, who I briefly mentioned in the last blog. His deep and thought-provoking teaching produced a strong response in me--which I'd describe as "the Spirit leaped inside me." I experienced a flood of inspiration and emotions which I'm still in the process of considering. Wanting to be LIKE the Bereans, who searched the scriptures daily, to SEE "if these things were really true" (Acts 17:11), I've taken my time with this particular viewpoint.
To make my testimony brief: I gained a broader understanding of several very familiar scriptures.
I KNOW these scriptures. I've studied them for decades. And now the Holy Spirit has shed a "new light" of revelation upon them. (I'll ADD this--the Bill Salus book, "Isralestine" BEGAN my process of fresh understanding. The Gary Stearman article expanded it.)
I've been reviewing all these scriptures, and NOW I'm ready to put them into FOCUS. Below, I give you a list of five:
1. BEFORE the great and notable day of the Lord come. Acts 2:20.
2. BEFORE the great and terrible day of the Lord come. Joel 2:31.
3. For the day of the Lord IS NEAR upon all the heathen. Obadiah verse 15.
4. BEFORE the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Malachi 4:5.
5. BEFORE the day of the Lord's anger. Zephaniah 2:2.
According to these scriptures, events are scheduled by God to fall upon the earth (and upon Israel) BEFORE the seven-year time of trouble and judgment known as "the Tribulation." (Please remember that in scripture the phrase "the day of the Lord" is used REPEATEDLY. It DEFINES the terrible "Tribulation hour"--the WHOLE SEVEN YEAR SPAN of God's FINAL JUDGMENT in the END TIMES. "The day of the Lord" is divided into TWO three and a half year segments--"the Beginning of Sorrows" and "the Great Tribulation").
What are the SPECIFIC things PROPHESIED to occur BEFORE "the Tribulation" actually gets started? Let me run through the listing again (in the same order as the list above).
1. Most interesting of all, a prophecy is QUOTED to the CHURCH at the TIME of its birth. This prophecy contains a phrase which FOCUSES upon the time BEFORE "the day of the Lord comes." Why was there a "BEFORE the day of the Lord" phrase given to the Church at the moment of its BIRTH? Acts 2:20.
2. A terrible time of upheaval is described--blood, fire, pillars of smoke, a darkened sun and a blood red moon. An obvious SIGN is to occur "BEFORE the day of the Lord." It gives the world a FINAL WARNING that the Tribulation is set to arrive--and very shortly. Joel 2:31.
3. A war in the Middle East must happen BEFORE the Tribulation. Bill Salus' book Isralestine teaches about that prophesied war, also known as the Psalm 83 War! Obadiah verse 15.
4. The arrival of the prophet Elijah, who is to perform his ministry in Israel, is BEFORE the Tribulation. When will Elijah appear to Israel? Remember, he's one of the TWO WITNESSES who are to prophecy to that nation. Could he arrive in the midst of a prophesied war and begin turning the hearts of Israel toward God? Malachi 4:5.
5. There's a call given for people to seek the face of the Lord BEFORE the Tribulation. That call can apply to BOTH the Church and to Israel--as the Tribulation approaches. For the Church, it's ANOTHER powerful picture of the Pre-Trib Rapture! Zephaniah 2:2.
As you can see, there are FIVE things which MUST transpire BEFORE the Antichrist signs a seven-year peace agreement with Israel (and STARTS the Tribulation.)
In this INSTALLMENT, I'll focus upon the PRE-TRIBULATION element included in the QUOTE that Peter gave in at the BIRTH OF THE CHURCH.
Am I serious? A PRE-TRIBULATION element GIVEN to the CHURCH at its BIRTH? Why?
If you're sensitive to the Spirit, something should be "quickening" within you right about now. Something PRE-TRIBULATION for the CHURCH? What could this possibly REFER TO? Do you wish to venture a guess?
Allow me to set up the scene which LEADS UP to the QUOTE that Peter gave to the NEWLY BIRTHED CHURCH in Acts 2.
The disciples of Jesus (about 120) waited for the PROMISE of the Holy Spirit (as previously revealed to them by Jesus--see John 14:16-18).
While the people prayed and tarried, the day of Pentecost fully came. They heard a sound from heaven, like a mighty rushing wind which filled the house. Cloven tongues of fire sat on each of them, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (languages they had never learned) as the Holy Spirit gave them the words.
Multitudes of other people witnessed what happened to the 120 disciples of Jesus. They asked, "What does this mean? Are these people (the 120) drunk, even at nine o'clock in the morning?"
(There is INDEED a Holy Spirit "high" that's MORE POTENT than imbibing alcohol--and much better for you, too!)
The pouring out of the Holy Spirit is easy to understand in this passage. We see its explanation in the FIRST PART of the QUOTE that Peter offers. Let's look at Acts 2:16-21.
"But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel:
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit: and they shall prophesy.
"And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood and fire and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood BEFORE the great and notable DAY OF THE LORD COME.
"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
We see several CHURCH truths in this passage:
1. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord during the CHURCH AGE of grace shall be saved. (Remember the focus of this QUOTE is to the NEWLY BIRTHED CHURCH!)
2. The CHURCH is to be INDWELLED by the Holy Spirit. He fell upon them like cloven tongues of fire!
3. The CHURCH will prophesy (and preach)--proclaiming the VERY WORDS that God gives them. They will be led by the Holy Spirit--even having visions and dreams from God.
4. And this TRUTH is hard to explain--the CHURCH will arrive at a TIME when God will SHOW SIGNS in the heaven and upon the earth. (END TIME SIGNS? Of course--that's WHAT this MUST mean!) There will be blood, fire, vapor of smoke, a darkened sun and a blood red moon BEFORE the great and notable DAY OF THE LORD COME. And the Church will SEE and KNOW of these things--whether by ACTUAL EXPERIENCE, or whether BY READING the scripture and KNOWING that these things WILL INDEED COME, according to the warning SIGNS that we see all around us.
Why would a PRE-TRIBULATION passage of AWESOME UPHEAVAL be given to the NEWLY BIRTHED CHURCH? (Keep in mind that these AWESOME EVENTS happen BEFORE the seven-year Tribulation--BEFORE the DAY OF THE LORD COMES.)
In my last blog, I showed how the EARLY CHURCH existed at a time when Israel STILL REMAINED in their land. (Israel shortly thereafter were DISPERSED throughout the world.) Now, at THE END of the CHURCH AGE, the CHURCH again EXISTS at a TIME when Israel is back IN THEIR LAND.
The prophecy which Peter QUOTED shows THE BEGINNING of the CHURCH AGE, and the POURING OUT of the Holy Spirit which indeed occurred--speaking in tongues, being able to prophesy, to have dreams and visions. These things STARTED the Church upon its course in ministry--and in being A LIGHT of Jesus to a darkened world.
But that's NOT all--Peter's quote JUMPS to THE END of the CHURCH AGE and to a PRE-TRIBULATION TIME when God will be showing all manner of PRE-TRIBULATION SIGNS--signs in THE HEAVEN (Space shuttles. Hubble telescope. Deceptions of UFOs. Solar flares. Asteroids flying dangerously close to the earth's orbit.). Signs on THE EARTH--(Nations in confusion and perplexity--with turbulence, violence and unrest. Bad weather patterns. Increasing and more powerful earthquakes. Volcanoes. The BEGINNING STAGES of prophecies which WILL LATER be fulfilled IN WHOLE.) And these things, too--blood, fire, vapor of smoke, a darkened sun and a blood red moon!!! All of these things BEFORE the time of THE TRIBULATION--which is THAT GREAT AND TERRIBLE DAY OF THE LORD!
So WHAT will the CHURCH potentially SEE in these END TIMES? Will we WITNESS some TERRIFYING things BEFORE we're RAPTURED out of here? Or will we be RAPTURED (Pre-Tribulation, in this CONTEXT), and THEN the TERRIFIC sights and signs of blood, fire, vapor of smoke, a darkened sun and blood red moon occur?
I don't KNOW the TRUE answer to this one. It COULD occur either way. We could SEE ONE or TWO of the END TIME (Pre-Tribulation) WARS involving Israel. Or we could be Raptured BEFORE those wars erupt--and we will KNOW the wars are soon to arrive BECAUSE we SEE the prophesied nations ALIGN themselves against Israel. A THIRD possibility is THIS--we could be Raptured SIMULTANEOUS TO when those wars EXPLODE into existence.
I do KNOW this: keeping with the FACT of the IMMINENT return of Jesus to catch up His CHURCH, it's NOT a REQUIREMENT that we see ANY of the prophesied events! We're told to BE READY and to BE WATCHING for the APPEARING of Jesus in the clouds. AT ANY INSTANT!
Personally, I do NOT envision a FULFILLED PROPHECY being the FINAL FACTOR in the Lord's coming to get His CHURCH. Instead, I look at Romans 11:25 which says THE FULLNESS OF THE GENTILES will be added to the CHURCH, and then THE END of the CHURCH AGE will happen. God KNOWS the FULL NUMBER of those who are DESTINED to become A PART of THE CHURCH. Once that NUMBER is reached, God will tell Jesus--"Go get them, Son."
We've no idea when that NUMBER will be REACHED. Who KNOWS? Maybe the NEXT person to whom you WITNESS will FILL that NUMBER???
Because of the EMPHASIS upon reaching the LOST and bringing them to Jesus, I see Romans 11:25 as more POTENT than any other potentially FULFILLED prophecy. The FULL NUMBER of the GENTILES coming in SPARKS the return of our Lord! I needed to INSERT this POSSIBILITY for your consideration.
I REFOCUS for a moment upon the DESCRIPTIONS given in the QUOTE by Peter to the NEWLY BIRTHED Church. What COULD CAUSE blood, fire, vapor of smoke, a darkened sun and a blood red moon?
While a massive VOLCANO can spew clouds of ash and fire to create a darkened atmosphere in which the sun grows dark and the moon looks red, the more BIBLICAL explanation are THE END TIME WARS that I mentioned. A VOLCANO does NOT carry with it the idea of BLOODSHED. Wars do! (Remember the phrase is BLOOD, fire, vapor of smoke, a darkened sun and a blood red moon.)
It could be a HORRIFIC WAR, with NUCLEAR weapons. A huge nuclear explosion will cause the very same descriptions. Dust particles are cast into the air with EXACTLY the same results as those of a mighty volcano.
In future blogs, I'll write about THE WARS, those that are prophesied to happen BEFORE the great and terrible DAY OF THE LORD COME. These wars are NOT Armageddon--or even battles which will happen within the Tribulation's seven years.
These are PRE-TRIBULATION wars which will cause the people on the earth to scream and beg for "peace and safety." And a MAN will ARISE to satisfy the cries of the people. We know him as "the Antichrist." He will be someone who will be greatly ADMIRED, and EVEN WORSHIPED, as he CONFIRMS a "peace treaty" with Israel for seven years and STARTS the ACTUAL "great and terrible DAY OF THE LORD."
We're so close to this happening now--the Pre-Tribulation end time wars can EXPLODE anytime. TENSIONS are GREAT, especially among Middle Eastern nations. We sit on tenterhooks and watch CRISIS after CRISIS--the ouster of Mubarak in Egypt, riots and demonstrations in Iran, Jordan, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, Algeria and Yemen. I look at these VOLATILE events and am AMAZED the prophesied wars have NOT yet occurred!
(Perhaps, there's a RESTRAINER preventing the FULL UNFOLDING of the prophecies! We KNOW "Who" the RESTRAINER is! Maybe, indeed, the true Church will be Raptured--and then the EXPLOSION will come in the Middle East. But since we DON'T KNOW--we MUST keep watching and sounding the warnings. We must keep praying and hoping that people will turn to Jesus BEFORE they find themselves caught in THE SUDDEN DESTRUCTION!)
We're so close! A hair-trigger away!
Events are TRANSPIRING at a BREAKNECK SPEED. Each day I check the news on the computer with a strong sense of "needing to know." And each day, I'm surprised that the situation remains drawn-tight, just like a rubber band stretched to its limit and about ready to snap. So MANY events and SIGNS occur on a daily basis that I find myself barely able to keep abreast of these things. In this TIME of THE END, there's NOT a shortage of material to cover!
In the next installment, I plan to take you with me on a trip through some blood, fire, vapors of smoke, a darkened sun and a blood red moon. The next section will LEAD UP TO teachings on TWO prophesied END TIME WARS.
I pray that you are abundantly blessed. Especially in this hour, when the time is so short. WITH JESUS, we have NOTHING to fear. And keep LOOKING UP. Our REDEMPTION is very near. Maybe Jesus is at the door right now. The next sound we hear MAY INDEED be His voice!
EVEN SO, COME QUICKLY, LORD JESUS. We LONG to see Your glorious face!