Monday, September 28, 2020

The Lord's Return Pt 4 - The Gates of Hell

Regardless of all that’s going on, all the prophecies affirming the Second Coming, there remains an uncertainty of when Jesus will return. Since God gave us nothing concrete so we could place this event on the calendar, man has speculated, calculated and even created a time frame of when this will happen.

I, for one, believe it will be soon. Do I think it is in the very near future? It can be, but much still has to happen before then. Am I concerned about when He comes? Not at all.

Now, the first time Jesus came, even with all the prophecies in place, nobody expected Him to come as He did. Who’d have thought the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would be born to a young couple in a stable with no fanfare or earthly celebration? Surely the Messiah would be presented to the world in greater fashion.

So, what about His second coming? According to Scripture, when He comes again, all mankind will be surprised by His coming. Even those who expect it any day will find themselves shocked by the moment. And though the first time, He came discretely, this time He’ll come with the shout of Heaven and the trumpet of God. The Church will be gathered together with Him and then the vengeance of Heaven will break loose on the earth as God unfolds His judgments. That’s going to be hard to miss. So, what do we do? What can we do? Make sure of our salvation and prepare for the turmoil that will precede His coming. What will be the source of that turmoil?

In Caesarea-Philippi there is a grotto. A grotto is a fancy word for cave. The one in Caesarea-Philippi comes out of a deep, washed-out hole the side of Mt Hermon caused by a waterfall that came out a bit higher up in the mountain and pooled here below. To us it is a mystery of nature how water can cut through rock and create caves. But this grotto holds even greater mysteries.

In earlier OT times, it was a Canaanite sanctuary for the god Baal. The Romans took it over and changed its purpose to honor one of their gods.

All along, Pagans believed it was a source of demonic activity. It was the worship site for Pan, the half-man, half-goat creature often depicted playing the flute. Herod Philip rebuilt it as a Roman Temple in 2 BC and named it Caesarea to honor Caesar. To distinguish it from the other Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast he added his name and made it Caesarea-Philippi. But the Grotto of Pan, was always believed to be the gateway to Hades, or the Gates of Hell.

When Jesus took His disciples there, a very important moment happened as they were standing in front of this cave.

Matt 16:13-18 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hell will not overpower it. 

Now, why would that conversation take place here at the Grotto of Pan, the gates of Hell?

The pagans of Jesus' day commonly believed that their fertility gods lived in the underworld during the winter and returned to earth each spring. They saw caves with water as a symbol of that underworld and thought that their gods traveled to and from that world in the water, through those caves.

To the pagans of Caesarea-Philippi their grotto was one of those gates to the underworld. They believed that this cave was literally an entrance to Hell.

Was Jesus agreeing with common beliefs, or was He using this place as a visual to make a point? Like we’d say in Las Vegas, where sin abounds, grace super abounds?  A slogan that lost out to what happens in Vegas…A contrast of light and darkness. Here was the ultimate contrast.

Or, was what He said directed at Satan and his minions, like standing on their front porch yelling into the house? When we went here a couple of years ago, I felt unusually uncomfortable. Like I did, being around a voodoo priestess and her altar in a cemetery in Haiti. Unholy places are rank with the influence, activity and stench of Satan. But Jesus was not saying this is the passage way to Hell as the Pagans believed. Nor was He yelling down into the cave as though speaking to Satan directly. He was making a crucial point for His people to understand.

First of all, Satan doesn’t operate from Hell. There are occupants there now but Satan hasn’t been sent there yet. That comes in his final judgment. Hell, with regard to Satan, is not the place from which he carries out his work but it represents the realm of his evil, a realm from which comes his evil bent on killing, stealing and destroying. It’s reflects his platform from where he accuses the brethren and tempts Christians to sin and attempts to block the message of salvation to the lost. By his evil, he causes confusion and hatred to rule the hearts of those who do not know the Lord. And then tries to defeat those who do know Him by attacking them physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The statement Jesus was declaring was Who is the ultimate authority. He said the Rock. What was the Rock? The declaration of who He is:  You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. This declaration was to be the foundation in the lives of those who believe in Him and the Church built upon Him. Don’t ever think Jesus was talking about Peter or any man. Jesus is the only One within whom rests all authority and power. But why was it important to say that?

Jesus needed His followers and even to Satan and his minions to know He controls the playing field. Saying to everyone, that though Satan has held the world in his grip and does to this day, Jesus is the one who holds the future in His hands. He is establishing the ultimate dominion that will rule to the end. And in this moment, the dominion of darkness is being exposed to the Light.

Act 26:18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.' 

Paul understood that dominion. He fought against it every day.

Eph 2:1-2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 

Our lives, our church, is built on the Rock of who Jesus is. Because of that, even if and when Matt 7:25 the rains fall, and the floods come, and the winds blow and slam against that house [your life, this church]; it will not fall, for it is founded on the rock. 

Importance? When things get shaken, which they are going to be, we stand upon the rock that will not be moved.

What is built on the Rock can withstand whatever Satan throws at it. But more so, Satan cannot withstand what those standing on the Rock represents to Him – His defeat. The gates of Hell cannot hold back or keep out the plan and purposes of God.

Why do we put up fences? To keep things out or keep things in?

On August 13, 1961, the Communist government of the East Germany began building a barbed wire and concrete “Antifascist bulwark,” between East and West Berlin. The wall was said to keep the Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state. (From antifascists we get the current word Antifa. Interesting, huh?) But because of the violence used to stop people from the East defecting to the West, it was clear, the wall was there to keep the people in not out.

What about Satan’s walls? Are the Gates of Hell to keep things out or keep things in? If you hear what Jesus said, these gates cannot withstand the assault coming from the church. That would mean these gates will be attacked. Satan’s walls cannot keep the church out of his business.

I’m sure Satan thought he had secured the death of Peter within the locked walls of a jail awaiting execution. And then suddenly, Peters chains fell off his arms and legs, the gates opened by themselves and he came out delivered.

I’m sure Satan thought he had secured the death of Jesus and ruined God’s plans with Him locked in a tomb. But then the stone rolled away, the grave gave up the body and He came out alive.

To Jesus, Satan’s defenses have no strength to withstand His power. But we’re in a moment in front of a grotto. Who was Jesus wanting to hear this? Satan, of course, but more specifically His disciples who He would be using to help build the Church. He wanted that Church to know Satan isn’t all powerful.

His church would be built within the territory Satan claimed, where ungodly values ruled lives and dominated the activities within the world. Where Satan would daily kill, steal and destroy. Where is that? Everywhere. Jesus was going to place His Church all over the world, right in the middle of Satan’s domain. So, what else can Satan do but throw up gates to counter-attack the church? What is the name of his gate? Fear.

Let’s go back to the Grotto for a minute. Interesting that Pan was also known as the god of fear. We get the word panic from his name.

Satan’s greatest weapon is fear. Fear causes us to doubt and robs us of faith. Whenever Satan generates fear, even Christians tremble. It is almost always the first reaction to bad news. It’s the motive behind worry. It is the tool of the terrorist.

We’re fully aware of what terrorism is. Terrorism is simply the act of creating fear. Typically, it is fear of physical pain and suffering, or even death. It’s the calling card of ISIS, the Taliban, Covid and now, Antifa. “This can hurt you!” is the message of every newscast telling us what’s going on around the world.

It’s used by the LGBTQ radicals. Either accept our practices and comply with our desires or we’ll hurt you. It rings out from the liberal forces trying to dismantle our government and disrupt the Constitutional duties of our elected officials. Do what we want or we’ll hurt you. It comes from proponents of change. Either erase the history of our nation or we’ll hurt you. You’ve already heard it in regard to the coming hearings for the next Supreme Court Justice. Either reject who we don’t want or we’ll hurt you. It’s the mantra behind Antifa. We don’t care what you believe, we’re coming and we’ll hurt you. Do you feel the fear?

How much fear has Covid generated? When it first started, we thought we’d all die. Most still believe that. And many have died, but the statistics show a vastly different story. Recently the survival rates for Covid-19 had been updated to 99% of people who get the virus will survive.

But fear of dying from Covid has gripped our country, shutting down the economies of many states, and generated untold damage on the education and well-being of our kids nationwide.  

Covid is real, but the fear is generated by Satan. Look what that fear is doing to churches across America! Satan has never been more successful in restricting the church as he has during this time.

So, Jesus is saying, “Satan, your time is up! My Church will overpower your gates.” They are not impenetrable. They are but an illusion based on fear.

I always thought that should have been the other way around. “Satan, you will never overpower the gates of My church.” But we don’t have gates. We can’t keep Him out. His influence reaches inside the hearts and minds of people sitting in the pews every week. Pastors can preach on Sunday and fall on Monday. People can sing in worship and sin before they get out of the parking lot. We can be misled by false teaching.

Satan is the master manipulator. We don’t have gates to keep him out. What do we have? Something more powerful than his gates? Promises.

1Co 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 

James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 

What does withstanding require? The can do is already provided. We supply the: want to, the willing to and the doing.

What stops us? Fear. Fear that we are powerless to defeat Satan and that he can overpower us or the Church any time he chooses. He can’t…unless we let him. Only when we give in is our ability to withstand compromised. Only when the Church gives in is its influence in the world diminished. Only when we’re more afraid of Satan than confident in the Lord, will we doubt the authority Jesus gave to break those walls down.

What do some of those walls look like?

Attorney General Barr said at a Prayer Breakfast this past week. “Militant secularists have long seized on [the “separation of church and state”] slogan as justification for attempting to drive religion from the public square and to exclude religious people from bringing a religious perspective to bear on conversations about the common good.”

In the hearing that placed Judge Barrett on the 7th Court of Appeals, Senator Feinstein said, “when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.” So, from Feinstein’s San Francisco liberal viewpoint, someone who actually lives her religion is worrisome.

I have a niece who is an administrator in an area School District. Last week, one of her teachers told her that at her husband’s work, his boss told all employees if they attend church, they must quarantine for two weeks before they can come back to work. He happens to be a Muslim but I’m not sure if that factors in. Why just church? Why not Walmart? Or Kracker Barrel?

In Washington DC, a lawsuit by one church against the Mayor says: “The Mayor’s orders prohibit gatherings of over 100 people for purposes of worship, even if held outdoors and even if worshippers wear masks and practice appropriate social distancing. Under the District’s four-stage plan, the church’s in-person worship gatherings will be prohibited until scientists develop either a widely-available vaccine or an effective therapy for COVID-19.”

If you have to get a vaccine in order to go to church, we have a bigger problem on our hands than spreading a virus. But I’m not sure we can fight this in the courts. Today many courts seem to be part of the problem rather than the solution. We can only fight this in the spiritual realm through prayer and a willingness to take on the consequences of our actions if we rebel. So, what does God promise?

Isa 54:16-17 Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and brings out a weapon for its work; and I have created the destroyer to ruin. No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me," declares the LORD. 

Why? Because Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. And: Matt 16:18 upon this rock [this foundation] I will build My church; and the gates of Hell will not overpower it. 


  1. Fear is the most powerful weapon in Satan’s arsenal.
  2. By defeating fear, we defeat him.
  3. We defeat fear by trusting in the Lord and refusing his temptation to doubt.
  4. Our trust in the Lord is a stronger force against Satan than his fear is against us. 
  5. Trust God, resist Satan and stand on the rock of Who our Lord really is.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Lord's Return Pt 3 - Abraham Accord

Trusting God requires us not placing limits on what that trust covers. We are not allowed to decide what God can do or will do, how He will do it or when. We can’t restrict Him only to involvement in certain aspects of our lives and not others. He is Lord over all, without hindrance.

Isa 46:9-11 Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure' Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it. 

That being the case, whatever happens between now and Jesus’ return is covered under things for which God has planned and we must trust Him. Nothing is going to happen that surprises Him or catches Him unprepared.

So, we can say along with David: Ps 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

The upheaval associated with the End Times is completely within the scope of God being God and Him working out the plans He has for us. We don’t need to be afraid. He has ultimate control. What we need to do is learn now to trust Him in small details so we will be more comfortable trusting Him with things much greater as He closes out this present age.

Last week we discovered the Jewish expression Olam Hazeh – the present age. It’s the time frame from when Adam was created until the Messiah comes and brings in the final judgment. They calculate it using the six days of creation from Genesis 1, each day representing a thousand years. And by their calendar this is the year 5781.

We did the math. From Adam to Noah was 1656 years and from Noah to Abraham was 390 which is 2046 years. From Abraham to David is approximately 1000 years, David to Jesus another 1000 years. Then, from Jesus to now is around 2000 years. The total being almost 6000 years.

Is that important? Perhaps. It brings the Jewish understanding of God’s intentions in line with what many Christians believe today. That Jesus or to the Jewish mind, the Messiah, is coming soon. For us it is the Second Coming. For religious Jews it’s the First. Both believing that coming will be followed by a thousand years of peace.

Remember that the majority of Israel is secular and has no understanding or anticipation of the coming of a Messiah. Their concept of peace is only what can be created in agreements with other nations. But Scripture says any peace they work out will be short-lived. Ultimate peace will only come after Jesus returns.

It is ironic, however, that with the upheaval predicted in Scripture, the desire for Peace would still play a vital role in the End Times.

In a messianic section of Isaiah, Isaiah wrote: Isa 55:11-3 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, and instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, and it will be a memorial to the LORD, for an everlasting sign which will not be cut off." 

It is a promise of peace to come, but in what realm? The current earthly realm when Isaiah wrote was in turmoil. The Assyrians were coming to take Israel captive. And since then, lasting peace has yet to come, so it must be after the earthly realm is over.

Peace has always been a fragile hope for the Jews because it’s been based on the temporary absence of conflict. Historically, peace came after the resolution of war. Yet, within that fragile hope rests the expectation of a day when their Messiah will remove all their enemies and give them lasting peace.

And yet, peace agreements are still sought with the very peoples who are bent on destroying Israel. It’s the old saying: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Until this week, Israel had had agreements for diplomatic relations with only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, neither of which lasted. On Tuesday a strategic agreement was signed with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, two Arab countries on the outer edge of the Saudi Peninsula. Since the previous agreements have been violated and discarded, why is this one different?

It’s called the Abraham Accord Peace Agreement. “It is designed to enhance the cause of peace, stability and prosperity in relationship between Israel and eventually the Middle East as a whole. The parties undertake to foster mutual understanding, respect, co-existence and a culture of peace between their societies in the spirit of their common ancestor, Abraham, and the new era of peace and friendly relations ushered in by this treaty.”

By choosing the name Abraham, the agreement acknowledges that the real problem in the Middle East is a Biblical one. There has always been and always will be discord between Israel and the Arab world. Lasting peace is impossible because discord is a family tradition based on the problem between two brothers. I doubt the Arabs and Jews know this today, much like the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s fighting for years with most of them not knowing why.

Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out how these historic accords will bless the Middle East. “Because this peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states, and ultimately it can end the Arab–Israeli conflict once and for all.” What is the Arab-Israeli conflict?

Gen 16:1-5 Now Sarai, Abram's wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, "Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram's wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight. And Sarai said to Abram, "May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the LORD judge between you and me." 

Gen 21:8-13 The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. Therefore she said to Abraham, "Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac." The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son. But God said to Abraham, "Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named. And of the son of the maid I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant." 

Gen 25:16-18 These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages, and by their camps; twelve princes according to their tribes. These are the years of the life of Ishmael, one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. They settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria; he settled in defiance of all his relatives. 

From there two sons take two different roads away from their common ancestry to Abraham. One following a path of divine purpose, the other wandering down the path of rejection.

Gen 21:9-11 Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. Therefore she said to Abraham, "Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac." The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son. 

The bitterness of rejection and the stigma associated with being driven away from his father and their home created animosity that has festered ever since. Though the original reason no longer matters, the sentiment of hatred against the other son of Abraham continues by the descendants of Ishmael. Watching the other son prosper has created bitter jealousy in the Arabs.

Now, the ultimate question is, should Israel expect lasting peace with the Arabs within this present world? The prophecies say no (short term maybe but not lasting peace) and they reaffirm that genuine peace will only come after Jesus returns.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict begins with the outer conflict, maintained by mob hysteria aimed at a common enemy, from nations raised to hate Israel. And then there is inner conflict – conflict of being torn between staying with the traditional hatred or doing what’s best for the nation.

Treaties may lessen and even stop outer conflict but unless the inner conflict comes into play, something will knock the lid off of that agreement and turmoil will return.

When we were in Israel a couple of years ago, our Israeli guide pointed to signs on a fence. He said in Hebrew it says mine field, caution, no admittance, keep out. In Arabic it said, Picnic area. The Jews have hated the Arabs as much as the Arabs have hated the Jews. Agreements don’t stop hatred, only hold it in check.

Making an agreement is the only hope for even temporary peace though neither side wants to make any concessions. What’s unique in this agreement, there are no concessions on the table, only cooperation. That cooperation will hold, until one side fails to comply with the words of the agreement.

Ps 12:2 They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak. 

It’s like we did as kids, make a promise with our fingers crossed behind our back.

Alliances shift the balance of power. And places peace on a thin wire of cooperation.

So how does the coming of Jesus factor in with this or any agreement Israel makes with other nations?

Paul said: 1Thess 5:2-3 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 

Any time a peace treaty is established with Israel it should raise our antennae.

Matt 24:6-11 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 

When Jesus spoke these words, they were still under the Old Covenant. The New doesn’t begin until His death. He’s talking about the Jews, telling them of the turmoil to come and warning them about false prophets.

Jeremiah spoke of false prophets predicting a false outcome. Jer 8:11 They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace. 

The scope of this peace for the Middle East is very limited. Only three nations signed the accord so far. Trump is currently seeking to align other Arab nations also to sign. But now only Israel, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have agreed to normalize relations, lift travel restrictions, and do business together. However, on the same day the peace deal was signed, rockets were fired on Israel. Palestinian leaders called the agreements a “stab in the back.” Hamas condemned the accords as “not worth the paper they were written on.” The president of the Palestinian Authority has threatened that “millions of fighters” would attack Jerusalem and Israeli settlements “shall all be destroyed.”

Why can’t Israel just be left alone and everyone else just tend to their own business?  It’s not in their DNA to do so.

The scorpion and the frog – it’s just my nature.

Not only is conflict in the nature of both the Arabs and the Israelis, lasting peace is not in God’s plan for how He will bring about the end. That will require wrath being poured out, a final battle, the earth and heavens destroyed and a new earth and new heavens created. But none of that will happen until after Jesus returns.

How should all of this affect us?

Luke 21:25-28 There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 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. Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." 

All we see should raise our eyes to Heaven. In fact, any alliance or any rise in conflict in the Middle East should raise our eyes to Heaven. Though conflict discourages us and makes us look at the problems, God’ says, let what you see cause you to look up instead.

God’s will use this:

  • To get our attention
  • To make us seek Him.
  • To remove things that distract us.
  • To sharpen our focus
  • To enlarge our faith to trust Him.

Crisis typically turns our attention to God.

Typically, we read it as: Jer 29:11 For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 

From a literal translation it reads: I know what I weave together, to give you an expected end, after I have tied all the loose strands together.

Tapestry – chaos on one side. Beauty and purpose on the other that won’t make sense until after it’s done.


  1. Be glad for Israel anytime they negotiate peace with an Arab country.
  2. Any peace is better than ongoing hostility.
  3. But realize whatever peace is achieved is temporary and takes us one step closer to the End.
  4. So, look up. The Climax of our redemption is coming soon.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Lord's Return Pt 2 - Olah Hazeh

 When I grew up the focus on End Times was about the wrath of God. How God would judge the earth, separate the saved from the lost into Heaven and Hell, burn up the earth and start all over with a new heaven and new earth. We’d study the seals to be opened, the bowls of wrath to be poured out and the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

We even sang an old gospel song: Jesus is coming soon morning or night or noon. Many will meet their doom. Trumpets will sound. Such a happy little song…

But the thought of many meeting their doom didn’t set well with me. I know that’s what will happen, but the reality of God’s wrath isn’t something I could get excited about. I always look to Jer 29:11 I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.

Our hope for the future isn’t built on God’s wrath but His goodness. But what if God’s goodness comes wrapped up in something bad? What happens to our hope then?

There’s a common proverb when a hurricane is coming: hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

·       To have hope for a good result, while simultaneously getting ready for a negative outcome.

·       Having a positive attitude, but making sure you are ready for disaster.

My dad tried to use that on me when I went to college. My calling was to preach and I wanted to prepare, so I got my B.A. in Bible. But he wanted me to get a “secular” degree instead, to have something to fall back on if preaching didn’t work out. His was a plan that placed confidence in something I could do if God didn’t come through for me. It anticipated failure rather than success.

What may work in a strategic plan for hurricanes creates a pessimistic outlook for life. At some point we just need to burn the ships and march forward. In 1519, Cortes led an expedition of 600 Spanish soldiers into Mexico. To make sure their focus was on the road ahead and not some escape plan in case things went wrong, he had the men gather on the shore and watch the ships destroyed. It was all in, no matter what.

When it comes to trusting God for the future, regardless of what that future holds, we must be all in, no matter what. Illness can’t override that trust. Accidents can’t override that trust. Death cannot override that trust. Whatever happens between now and Jesus coming can’t override that trust.

But Hope for the best and prepare for the worst is to spend our time preparing for failure rather than success.

When the Lord is working out His plans there is no failure to prepare for. His ways are always best. We may go through bad to get to that best, but we never count on the bad as the final outcome. We count on the good God has planned even up until the end. That’s our hope.

Preparing for the worst is an easy trap to fall into when we hear of wars and rumors of wars or in our case: riots, disease and a fearful November.

Whether these things lead us to the return of the Lord or merely move us closer to it, the Return of Jesus is a good thing. It’s not bad or scary unless you are among those left behind. The end of the world is going to be rough but we’ll be gone before the wrath of God is poured out through the final judgments.

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 

Rom 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 

Col 3:6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 

Eph 2:3-6 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 

Rom 5:9-10 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 

When the Lord returns and gathers up those who belong to Him – what we call the rapture – this separation of lost from saved, know that that distinction has already been made in Heaven. It will happen in an instant because the Lord knows who are His.

Jesus said: Matt 24:27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 

The suddenness of His coming will capture us away before we can prepare ourselves.  In fact, the Rapture isn’t something you can prepare for, except to be certain of your salvation before it happens. When the Trumpet sounds, you won’t be saying on the way up, “Wait, wait I forgot my phone.”

Jesus’ return was a compelling desire of First Century Christians. Their cry was, “Maranantha!” Come, Lord Jesus. Though some wanted to shut down their lives and just sit and wait, Paul stressed that they keep alert, ready at any moment while they lived each moment to the glory of God. That’s what we do. It’s out there, it’s coming, but that’s not my concern. My concern is living today to honor God. How?

Not fearing, though things get fearful. Not worrying, though I have no solutions. Not panicking, though every fiber in me wants to run away. Living to honor God. We don’t wait until we hear the trumpet to try and adjust our lives to honoring Him.

Jesus said: Acts 1:7 It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; He also said Matt 24:36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 

Paul added to that: 1Thess 5:1-6 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, "Peace [from riots] and safety [from covid]!" [or peace and safety from the promises of a peace treaty as Daniel prophesied] then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. 

It will come upon us suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child. Interesting reference Paul makes.

Unless a baby is delivered by Cesarian Section, nobody knows the exact moment the baby will be born. You know it’s coming. The signs are all there. The birth pangs have begun. But you can’t point to the specific instant it will happen. In the same way, God has kept us from knowing when Jesus will return. And because we feel the pangs and see what’s going on every day, we know it will be soon, yet we still don’t know when.

Mark 13:7-8 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. 

The Jewish Talmud says there are Ten Birth Pangs to the Messiah’s coming.

1.      Jews must return to Israel and the desert will blossom. That has been going on since 1948.

2.     World will be in a state of complete segregation and degradation.

3.     Without moral values.

a.     When wealth is taken away – none suffer

b.     When health is taken away – some suffer

c.     When character is taken away – all suffer

4.     Truth will decrease and lies will prevail.

5.     Fewer wise righteous persons.

6.     Many Jews will give up hope of redemption, which means they no longer anticipate the Messiah to come.

7.     Young will treat Old with disrespect.

8.     Learning will be rejected because people will desire a life of ease. Bible will become an unknown book.

9.     Whole world will turn against Israel. The recent agreements with Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Serbia, Kosovo and now Bahrain have caused great stirring among Russian and the Muslim communities but much delight in Israel and the US.

10.  Jews will fight each other. Religious vs secular

I found myself naïve when I discovered most Jews were not religious.

Only 38 percent of the world-wide Jewish population considers itself religious, while 54% sees itself as non-religious or secular and 2% categorizes itself as atheist. Which means 56% define themselves as secular Jews, with a commitment to the value of being a Jew but not having the commitment to Jewish values according to Jewish religious traditions. Yet, God has plans for Israel that will come into play after the church is removed. (More on that next week.)

But religious Jews have an expectation the Messiah is yet to come. I looked into this and found there is a Jewish timeline they are following. Let’s explore that by going back to the beginning:

Gen 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said let there be…and Creation began.

It’s at that point opinions vary in describing what happened next and how long it took for it to happen.

There are some who believe God created all that exists in six 24-hour days. It’s called the Young Earth Theory. That the earth is only 6000 years old. Then there are Old Earth proponents who say those days were time frames with a much longer distance between events. Who’s right?

The question is: Was the introduction in Genesis a historical account or a summary that placed creation completely into God’s hands? Peter did say: 2Pet 3:8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. Of course, his context is the return of the Lord, but would that not apply in all of God’s doings? Even in prophetic language a day represents a year.

Neither position honors God more nor does either one dishonor Him. They both begin with the same statement: In the beginning God created. Just don’t fall into the heresy of Evolution, by saying God started it and then let evolution take it from there. That’s Deism, that God set everything in motion and now just sits back and watches it run. No, He created with purpose and design. If there is any change or adaptation of any creature, God pre-programed that into their DNA at the beginning.

But since we’re using the creation as a connection with Jewish understandings of the Messiah coming, how does the time frame factor in?

It’s true the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah. So, to them, He is still yet to come. It is interesting, however, that there is growing anticipation with many in the Jewish community that the Messiah may be coming soon. For the past several years they have reassembled the priestly order and Levites to learn the practices of sacrifice. But one vital ingredient essential to cleansing the priests to be able to perform the sacrifice as well as cleanse the implements needed for those sacrifices hasn’t been available – the ashes of a red heifer.

Several heifers have been born in Israel this century, but none has met all the requirements mentioned in the Bible, until August 2018. A calf that was born then fits the criteria. She is a red heifer and is now two years of age with no more than two black hairs on her entire body and without any blemish. Because she meets the qualifications, many faithful Jews believe this calf moves them closer to rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, reinstalling the sacrificial system, ushering in the coming of the Messiah and then bringing about the final judgment.

What’s also interesting is how the creation of Adam plays a part in this timeline.

In the Talmud there is: Olam Hazeh – which means this present world. We might use the word extant or in the existence of, like when you look on a gravestone and see the beginning date but not ending date. That person is still extant, still in existence. Olam Hazeh is the current existence of the world.

To the Jews, this present world is scheduled to endure for 6000 years. Its time began the moment Adam became a living soul and extends to the coming of the Messiah.

The Jewish calendar says this is the year 5780. This Friday, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, it will be 5781. That number is counted from the creation of Adam and Eve. How do they come up with that?

Gen 5:4-12 Then the days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died. Seth lived one hundred and five years, and became the father of Enosh. Then Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after he became the father of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died. Enosh lived ninety years, and became the father of Kenan. Then Enosh lived eight hundred and fifteen years after he became the father of Kenan, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years, and he died. Kenan lived seventy years, and became the father of Mahalalel. 

Keep following that genealogy and then add up all the numbers for how old the dad was when he had the son and how old that son was that had his son, you come up with 1656 years from Adam to Noah. Those who want Adam to have been created much further back in time say Moses skipped generations, that these are just the more important ones mentioned. However, reading the text literally leaves no room for that. So, Adam to Noah 1656 years.

Gen 5:32 Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 

Gen 11:10-16 These are the records of the generations of Shem. Shem was one hundred years old, and became the father of Arpachshad two years after the flood; and Shem lived five hundred years after he became the father of Arpachshad, and he had other sons and daughters. Arpachshad lived thirty-five years, and became the father of Shelah; and Arpachshad lived four hundred and three years after he became the father of Shelah, and he had other sons and daughters. Shelah lived thirty years, and became the father of Eber; and Shelah lived four hundred and three years after he became the father of Eber, and he had other sons and daughters. Eber lived thirty-four years, and became the father of Peleg; 

Keep going and soon you come to: Gen 11:24-26 Nahor lived twenty-nine years, and became the father of Terah; and Nahor lived one hundred and nineteen years after he became the father of Terah, and he had other sons and daughters. Terah lived seventy years, and became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. 

From Adam to Noah is 1656 years. Then from Noah to Abraham is 390 years, which altogether is 2046.

Abraham to David is around 1000. David to Jesus is another 1000, which averages out to be right at 4000 years from Adam to Jesus. Since Jesus, add another 2000 years and you’re at 6000.

So, why all of this? The Jews have Adam being created 5780 years ago. Their Olam Hazeh – this present age – is scheduled to last only 6000 years. Because none of the dates are specific enough to accurately say this is the year 5780, we are in the range of their final days as well. Next week we’ll take this a step further.


1.      We will never know the day the Lord will return.

2.     Because of that, we must first make sure of our salvation, then live each day to the glory of God.

3.     More is happening now that at any time in history to say Jesus will return soon.

4.     So, we say: “Maranantha! Come, Lord Jesus!”


Our hope isn’t in the future. Our hope is in the One who has planned out the future.