Monday, February 22, 2016

Conquering King Jesus

Conquering King Jesus

Prophecy can be a difficult thing for people to understand.  Many people see prophecy as God’s infallible predictions.  The word prediction always seems to carry with it the mental image of some guy in a turban looking into a crystal ball.  Prophecy is available because God knows the future in the minutest detail.  The hundreds of prophecies in the Bible that were fulfilled in detail reveal a surety that these prophecies come from outside the realm of Earth and outside of the scope of human knowledge.  In other words, a prophecy is God revealing future events to humanity through a human agent called a prophet.  The prophet is merely God’s vehicle of communication to record the coming future events that God has revealed.

There is a lot of errant teaching regarding God’s foreknowledge permeating professing Christianity.  There are three basic positions on the foreknowledge of God.  Two are rational suppositions and one is Scriptural.  Rational suppositions are simply logical guesses based upon interpretations of certain Bible texts.  Usually, the supposition drives the interpretation (Eisegesis - into the text) rather than vice-versus (Exegesis - out from the text).

1. The Reformed Calvinist position is that God foreknows because he causes the events of history to occur.  This is also known as predestination.  It is also known as Fatalism.  This is actually Closed Theism. 
2. The Reformed Armenian position (based upon a different rational, but equally errant) is that God foreknows because He sees the future and learns by looking at the future from eternity.  Any degree of this position is to that degree Open Theism. 
3. The biblical position is that God simply knows all things past, present, and future.  This position is known as Omniscience – God is all-knowing.  God intervenes in history as He sees fit and according to the decrees of His will.  There are certainly many times where God has intervened in human events and changed the outcome of that event according to His will.  However, to say that God is the cause of everything makes God into a monster.  To say that God is the cause of everything makes the idea of human free will a ridiculous premise.

There is also the Liberal/Rational/Natural position on prophecy, which simply rejects the idea of supernatural foreknowledge.  This is why Liberals believe that most prophecies were not written beforehand, but after the events happened.  This is why they demand that prophecies recorded in Isaiah require another author living after the death of Isaiah.  All miracles of the Bible must be explained through natural means.  For instance, the crossing of the Red Sea was said to be merely in the shallows during the dry season rather than through the depths as most believe.

The Jews had numerous prophecies that gave them minutia of detail regarding the coming of their eternal Messiah/King.  They certainly should have known that their coming Messiah/King was going to be God incarnate in human flesh from Micah 5:2.  Micah chapter five is a text that gives much detail regarding the two advents of the promised Messiah/King Jesus.  The text is clearly Messianic and clearly pertinent to Zion and the judgment of the nations. Zion is the one-world Jewish empire ruled from Jerusalem by King Jesus and glorified Church Age believers.

“1 Now gather thyself {Jerusalem or Zion; Micah 4:9-11} in troops {crowds; most probably refers to the fact Israel will be pressed together in siege from all the surrounding Muslim nations of the end-times}, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge {the rejection of Messiah/King at His first Advent; John 1:11-12 and Matthew 27:30} of Israel with a rod upon the cheek. 2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler {to reign in dominion} in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting {the incarnate Jehovah/LORD}. 3 Therefore will he give them up {national Israel}, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth {the second coming of King Jesus in ‘power and glory’}: then the remnant {the faith-seed} of his {the Seed’s} brethren {the ‘saints’ or redeemed coming with King Jesus in glorified bodies} shall return unto the children of Israel {the saved Jews out of the Tribulation period}. 4 And he {the reigning King Jesus} shall stand and feed {His ‘sheep’} in the strength {majestic power} of the LORD {Jehovah}, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they {the restored remnant of ‘born again’ Jews from the Tribulation} shall abide {due to the security provided by their residing King Jesus}: for now {when the prophecy is fulfilled at the second coming of King Jesus} shall he be great unto the ends of the earth {rule over the entire Earth as the one-world empire of Zion}. 5 And this man shall be the peace {King Jesus, Who is ‘Prince of peace’ - Isaiah 9:6, will be He Who ‘is our peace’ - Eph. 2:14}, when the Assyrian {representing all of Israel’s wicked oppressors} shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against {alongside} him seven {representing perfection} shepherds, and eight {representing sufficiency in numbers; implies a great number} principal {anointed} men. 6 And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us {the ‘born again’ remnant of Israel and all redeemed of the Tribulation} from the Assyrian {the armies of the Antichrist}, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders” (Micah 5:1-6).

Many commentators try to make this prophecy given to Micah and recorded in Micah chapter five to fit the very near future captivity of Israel by Nebuchadnezzar.  It is fairly clear that the text looks into the distant future to the very end of the Church Age.  There is also a blending/merging of the historical events of the birth and crucifixion of King Jesus within the text.  The “Assyrian” in verse five and six refers to the new “Babylon” of the book of Revelation, not the old Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar.

Hosea is the prophet of God that speaks to the apostasy of the ten northern tribes known as Israel.  Because of their spiritual adultery, they led the combined southern two tribes of Judah and Benjamin (usually just called Judah in the Bible) into apostasy.  In Hosea 8:1, the prophecy from Hosea’s mouth would be the “trumpet” warning Israel that they had broken God’s covenant in numerous ways and were about to receive extreme judgment at His Hands.  Although the immediate threat to Israel in the text is king Shalmanezer of Assyria,

“1 Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come {Shalmanezer typical of the Antichrist and the ‘time of the Gentiles’ as spoken of in Luke 21:20-28} as an eagle against the house of the LORD {here the ‘house of the LORD’ is the nation of Israel, not the Temple}, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law. 2 Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. 3 Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: {therefore} the enemy shall pursue him. 4 They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. 5 Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency? 6 For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. 7 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up” (Hosea 8:1-7).

The “whirlwind” of Hosea 8:7 is the “times of the Gentiles,” which is the captivity of Israel and her dispersal into all nations until the second coming of King Jesus.  The “times of the Gentiles” began at the earliest in 605 B.C. with Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Judah and the first wave of Jewish captives taken to Babylon, Daniel being one of these.  There are some who date the “times of the Gentiles” from 597 B.C. when King Jehoiachin was carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar and the second wave of Jews is taken into Babylon, Ezekiel among them.  For all of the “times of the Gentiles,” God has allowed the horrible persecution of the Jews without much mercy while maintaining them as a unified people.  Perhaps nowhere else in the Bible does God exemplify His disgust and hatred of apostasy and willful corruption and disobedience to His Word than in the “times of the Gentiles.”  History has recorded the horror the Jews have experienced as God withdrew His hand of protection from upon them.

“20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. 25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your {the saved of the nation of Israel} redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:20-28).

The details given us by God through Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel chapter seven are quite overwhelming in their scope of history.  In this one text, we find the summary of history of all the world empires from the Assyrian-Babylonian Empire that conquered, captured, and persecuted the Jews up to the Roman Empire.  The prophecy of Daniel chapter seven extends into our present day in the one-world government of the revived Roman Empire of the last days recorded in the book of Revelation.  The point of looking at Daniel chapter seven is to show that King Jesus has ALWAYS held sovereignty over the various empires of the world.  Regardless of how out-of-control world events appear to us, they are not a surprise to God.  He is in control.  Every single aspect of this prophecy has been fulfilled exactly as foretold in Daniel chapter seven,

If we look at a map of the ancient Roman Empire and compare that map to the rise of the nation of Islam (Muslim nations), we will very quickly see that the real estate controlled by the Roman Empire is very rapidly approaching the real estate controlled by the nation of Islam.  In other words, we may nearly be there as Europe is rapidly being dominated by Muslim extremists demanding Sharia Law. 

“1 In the first year {553 B.C.?} of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. 2 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it” (Daniel 7:1-4).

 These first few verses of Daniel chapter seven reveal four successive tyrannical despots intent upon dominating the world and controlling the populace of their empires through extreme forms of horrific acts of terrorism.  These great tyrants saw themselves as the representatives of their idol gods ruling in majestic power.  Daniel describes them from God’s point of view as destructive “beasts” with voracious appetites for the lives of men. 
The “lion” that “has eagle’s wings” and stood “upon feet as a man” represents the Assyrian-Babylonian Empire.  This actual symbol of the Assyrian-Babylonian Empire was later taken out of the ruins of a palace in Nineveh.  The sculpture of this symbol can still be seen today in the British Museum exactly as described by Daniel. 

“5 And behold another beast {14 years after Belshazzar in 539 B.C. Medio-Persia}, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh” (Daniel 7:5).

The second beast is the symbol of the Medo-Persian Empire that came to power in 539 B.C.  The “three ribs” in its mouth represent the three other empires conquered by them.  These “three ribs” were Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt.  These were very hostile and aggressive wars against these three great nations. 

“6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it” (Daniel 7:6).

The third “beast” is the symbol of “leopard” with its spots representing the numerous nations conquered by Alexander the Great forming the Greek Empire.  This empire came into existence when Alexander’s huge armies conquered the Medo-Persian Empire in 331 B.C.  The Greek Empire would continue until 168 B.C.  The “four heads” of the “leopard” represent the four divisions of the Greek Empire later ruled by the descendants of Alexander’s four generals: Cassander, Ptolemy, Lysimachus, and Seleucus.

“7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. 8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things” (Daniel 7:7-8).

The fourth “beast” is the Roman Empire, which, in the totality of its historical context, extends for thousands of years to the end of the seven-year Tribulation.  The Roman Empire is the most complex and complicated of the four beasts.  Although the Roman Republic traditionally is believed to have begun in 509 B.C., the Roman Empire began in 27 B.C. with the assassination of Julius Caesar and the final defeat of the Greek Empire through the defeat of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium in 31 B.C.

These four world empires define and describe what Jesus refers to as “the times of the Gentiles” in Luke 21:24 where Jerusalem will be under Gentile governance.  Even today, the ultimate say in what happens in Jerusalem is the United Nations.  The nation of Israel is in most part a puppet government deriving its power and right to exist from the United Nations defended by the United States of America and Great Briton.

 Other details of the “times of the Gentiles” are given us in Daniel 9:23-27.  The seventy weeks (week of years is a heptad = 7 years) is 490 years.  The last “week” will be the seven years of Tribulation in the judgment of the nations.  This prophecy was fulfilled to the exact day, four-hundred and eighty-three years to the cutting off of the Messiah.  This calculation is from the beginning of the “times of the Gentiles.”

The vision of Daniel 2:31-45 is the overview prophecy of the whole period of history known as the “times of the Gentiles” culminating with the second Advent of Christ.  This second coming is “the stone that smote the image” and “became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” in Daniel 2:35. 

Daniel 9:23-27 gives us the exact timing to the cutting off of Messiah in His first advent.  From 445 B.C. to the end of the 173,880 days the city of Jerusalem would be rebuilt and this time would thus lead to cutting off of Messiah the Prince.  This took place on April 6th, A.D. 32 or the tenth of Nisan in A.D. 32.  This was the last week of our Lord’s life before His crucifixion.  This fulfillment is what we know today as Palm Sunday.  God had in mind the presentation of Messiah officially to the Jewish people on that day of the Passion Week.  After that, Messiah was to be cut off, or put to death, and this by crucifixion.  What a tremendous word of prophecy.  The point is that Israel should have known this truth.  Because the children of Israel were ignorant of prophecy, they became partners with evil to murder the incarnate Messiah and refuse Him dominion over their nation to take the promised throne of king David.  God foreknew that the Davidic Covenant would not be fulfilled at the first Advent of Christ.  The Jews should have known what God had foretold. 

“23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. 24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:23-27).

The Church Age is a mysterious open period of time, which length is unknown to anyone but God the Father, taking place between the sixty-nine weeks (483 years) and the seven years of the Tribulation.  The Tribulation will take place in the seven years just before the second coming of Christ to claim the promised throne of David.  At the second Advent, Jesus will establish the last and final world kingdom during His one-thousand-year reign on earth just before this world will be destroyed by fire.  During the Church Age, Christ as the High Priest of a new Melchizedecan priesthood, is calling/electing all believers of the Church Age to rule with Him during His one-thousand-year reign on Earth.

“9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. 11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. 12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. 13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:9-14).

Just before the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation on Earth, the last seven years of the “times of the Gentiles,” every “born again” Christian, dead and living, will be caught up to “meet the Lord in the air” (I Thessalonians 4:17).  God will judge all the nations of the Earth, that persecuted the Jews (Matthew 25:31-46).  Jesus refers to these seven years as the “judgment of the nations.”  This judgment will be the opening of the seven Seals. 

The raptured Church Age believers will be immediately transfigured and glorified to be like their glorified King Jesus (I John 3:2).  Therefore, at the beginning of the Tribulation every soul left behind on planet earth will be lost and dead in trespasses and sin.  Yet, during the Tribulation, we are told that “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (Revelation 7:9) will be saved during these seven years (Revelation 7:14).  At the beginning of the Kingdom Age, the earth will be populated only with those that are saved during the Tribulation and who survive the cataclysmic judgments of God poured out upon planet Earth.  When Christ returns, He will return with the “born again” glorified saints from all dispensations to rule the Kingdom with a “rod of iron.”

Zechariah 12:1-4 gives us a general overview of what the whole seven-year Tribulation period is about.  The Church, the “bride of Christ,” is not mentioned because the Church has already been caught away to Heaven to be with the Lord Jesus during this time.  This short portion of Scripture gives great insight for a biblical world view of the years just prior to the second coming of Jesus.  The whole period from the time of the rapture of the Church through the Kingdom Age is known in the Bible as “the day of the Lord.”  This phrase “the day of the Lord” is used thirty-one times in twenty-nine different verses with only five of those uses occurring in the New Testament.

“1 The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him. 2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. 3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. 4 In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness” (Zechariah 12:1-4).

The purpose of God in the seven-year Tribulation is twofold.  His first purpose is the restoration and regathering of the Jews to Israel to prepare their hearts to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to be “born again” and enter into the Kingdom Age as the “seed” families to true, spiritual Israel.  Jesus will reign over them as their King during the Kingdom Age and the world will become the Empire of Israel.  This must happen if God is going to fulfill His promises to Abraham regarding the occupation of the land of Israel (the Palestinian Covenant) and His promise to king David that his descendent would have an eternal Kingship (the Davidic Covenant).

The second purpose for the seven-year Tribulation is for the judgment of the nations that have persecuted the children of Israel.  Understanding that the seven-year Tribulation is about the nation of Israel, helps us understand why it is critical to understand the catching away (rapture) of Church Age believers before these seven years.  These seven-years are known as the time of God’s wrath.  God has promised Church Age believers that they will be preserved from this time of wrath (I Thessalonians 1:10 and 5:9)

Zechariah 14:1-9 gives specific details about the second coming of Jesus as He fulfills both the Davidic and Palestinian Covenants.  As we read the text, take careful note that this is Armageddon in the valley of Megiddo within the valley of Jezreel in Israel.  Jezreel was also known as the valley of slaughter.

“1 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. 5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. 6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: 7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. 8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. 9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:1-9).

The conclusion of the seven-year Tribulation, will bring the horrors of the seven-year Tribulation on Earth to a close.  However, it is naive to think that the physical horrors of the Tribulation will compare to the eternal horrors of the torments of Hell for those who have rejected God’s gift of salvation offered “by grace” and received “through faith.”

Satan will be bound in Hell throughout the Kingdom Age.  The Antichrist (“beast”) and his false prophet (Revelation 19:20 & 20:10) will be cast into the “lake of fire” and will remain in that place until the Great White Throne judgment.  The lost that die during the Tribulation judgments will immediately enter into the bondage of eternal damnation to later stand before God at the final judgment to be cast into the “lake of fire,” which is the “second death.”

“1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead {the lost awaiting the Great White Throne Judgment and the Second Death} lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power {exousia – authority or jurisdiction} but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:1-6).

Can we honestly believe all of this and not be moved to evangelize and make disciples?  Can we really believe these truths saying we love while being silent about the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  There is a real purpose in the details of the doctrine of condemnation in Romans 1:16-3:23. People cannot, and will not, understand the grace of salvation until they understand the horrors of their own condemnation.

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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