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Bible Prophecy: Do Not Be Deceived

deceptionIn Matthew 24:3, when four of Jesus’ disciples asked Him “ . . . what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age”, before listing the events that would occur prior to the end of the age, Jesus warned them in Matthew 24:4 “ . . . Watch out that no one deceives you. . . . ” In Mark 13:3–5 and Luke 21:7-8 we also read about this interaction between Jesus and those disciples.

The first thing to note in the disciples’ question is that they linked Jesus’ coming again and the end of the age together. Jesus, in His answer, did not refute this so we can know that His coming and the end of the age will happen simultaneously. It may seem obvious but is, nevertheless, worth highlighting.

Following up on His warning to those disciples not to be deceived, He immediately warns them to be on the lookout for the appearance of false Christs’ and not to go running after them. Most Christians would automatically assume that, since they are followers of Jesus, know and regularly study God’s Word and regularly fellowship with other believers, such a thing could not happen to them. Clearly, in the way Jesus warned His disciples and ultimately us, that will not necessarily be the case and should be a sobering reminder to us that it is possible to be deceived. However, we surely can also take some comfort from Jesus’ answer when He tells us to “Watch Out”, meaning that if we are alert we can avoid being deceived.

Many Christians believe that we are nearing the end of the age and that many of the signs Jesus and other prophets spoke about are beginning to manifest themselves. That being the case, we are surely nearing the time when Christians could face being deceived. So what are we to do and to watch out for?

If we stop to think about what we are to watch out for, surely some answers are already staring us in the face? The main one, we would suggest, is the falling away from the faith, or apostasy, that is continually taking place today and the deception that goes with it; a situation ripe for false Christs to appear and be followed. In Matthew 24:10 Jesus said it would happen. These are His Words: “At that time many will turn away from the faith . . . . .” In many Christian denominations we constantly see God’s Word being changed and watered down by their leaders and accepted by many in their congregations. In doing so these leaders and congregations have not only moved away from God’s Word but are also setting themselves up to be deceived by false Christs. It seems easier for them to fall into line with secular standards than keeping to God’s standards.

The uncomfortable reality is that you will know you are on the right track not to be deceived when you start beingtruth ies persecuted! In Matthew 24:9 Jesus said: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” Some Christians around the world are already facing such persecution.

We believe we need not only “Watch Out” but need to warn other Christians not to become complacent or compromise God’s Word, in addition continually asking God to help us keep to His path. Of course, we also need to carry on with our efforts to bring the Gospel to the notice of others who do not yet know or have a relationship with Jesus.

(Note: All quotes are from the NIV Bible.)

Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in this new series “Bible Prophecy”.

 

 


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Bible Prophecy – Warning to Nations

Beginning last year we have seen enormous efforts being made by a number of players to get Israel and the israelPalestinians to come up with a solution to their differences in order to stop the ongoing violence. The United States of America, assisted by Great Britain and the European Union, has been in the forefront of that drive. Simplistically put, their solution is for a Palestinian state to be created alongside the state of Israel, with Jerusalem designated an “international city”.

Over the years the Palestinians have made it clear that they do not and will not recognize the state of Israel. Furthermore, they have made it clear that, amongst their many demands, they want the “Old City” and East Jerusalem as their capital and want the Israeli settlements in the so called West Bank to be vacated by Israelis living there and handed over to them.

For their part the Israelis consider an undivided Jerusalem to be their eternal capital. They also consider that they have a right to keep their settlements in the West Bank; the biblical area of Judea and Samaria.

As a result of these differences (not all of them) the international community has been putting enormous pressure on both sides to reach an agreement to settle those differences. However, the pressure appears to be rather one-sided, in effect requiring the Israelis to submit to Palestinian demands. We constantly hear of Israel being berated for building new homes in the West Bank, that it will not give up any land nor go back to pre-1967 borders and that it is being intransigent over Jerusalem. Even as we write, British PM Cameron is in Israel putting pressure upon Israel to agree to the proposals by the International community; not to forget that the US, led by Secretary of State, Kerry, is constantly putting similar pressure on Israel, often using veiled threats to try to get them to comply.

This pressure is likely to intensify over the next month, especially as Kerry has declared that he wants a final agreement by 15th April.

We believe that those involved in trying to force Israel to give up land and to give up control over Jerusalem are playing a very dangerous game! We are therefore led to ask: “What does God’s Word have to say about the land of Israel and Jerusalem? Who owns the land of Israel?  And, who has the “right” to look after the city of Jerusalem?”

There are many scriptures concerning these questions which, unsurprisingly, all point to the same answer but, here in our short article, we will only briefly consider a few of them.

Let us begin with the land. In Chapters 13, 26 and 35 of Genesis we learn that God first gives the land to Abram, later to be renamed Abraham, then reconfirms his oath with Isaac and finally with Jacob who, at that time, is also renamed Israel by God. In each case the land is given to them and their descendants:-

– To Abram in 12:15: “All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.”

– To Isaac in 26:3: “. . . . for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.  . . . “

– To Jacob in 35:12: “The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”

(All above are extracts from the NIV.)

Surely there can be no doubt as to the identity of the rightful custodians of the land? And yet the international community refuses to acknowledge it.

What about Jerusalem? In 1 Kings Chapter 14 God’s word tells us that He Himself chose Jerusalem as the city in which to put His Holy Name. In Matthew Chapters 4 and 27 there are references to the “holy city”. Jerusalem is also frequently referred to in the Bible as “the city of God”. The Lord refers to it as “My city” – Isaiah 45. More often He speaks about it as “My holy mountain”. And because the very name of the city means Peace, we know that in this place God Himself will give peace – Haggai 2.  Psalm 76 informs us that God’s tent is in Salem and his dwelling place in Zion; references to Jerusalem. And finally one day it will become the city of righteousness – Isaiah 1. Jesus Himself will one day rule from Jerusalem in righteousness.

israel 2Presently the Dome of the Rock of Islam, controlled by the Jordanians, stands on this site which is so holy to God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To Islam this site is much less important than the Ka,aba in Mecca, but Islam will fiercely resist any attempts by the Jews to reclaim it for God. God has already rebuked Satan about it and in Zechariah Chapter 3 He makes it quite clear that He, the Lord, chose Jerusalem. Satan will not prevail there forever!

There can be no doubt that Jerusalem belongs to God.

Finally we need to be reminded that Jerusalem was bought by King David over 3.000 years ago. It has never been legally sold so logically it still belongs to the House of David. God will reclaim it for His purposes at the time of His choosing.

What Warnings does the Lord give to nations and individuals? Again there are many warnings in scripture and here we will consider only a few of them. In Genesis 12:3 God said to Abram 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” NIV. Here God makes it clear that those who do not treat Abram and his descendants properly will in turn be severely dealt with by Him.

About Jerusalem the Lord says in Zechariah 12:3: 3On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. (NIV) God is simply telling the nations not to tamper with His holy city. “All the nations” surely refers to the United Nations, a world body which is essentially anti-Israel and ready to approve a settlement along the lines noted above.

And the last scripture we will consider here surely concerns what is presently being proposed by the US, Britain and the EU. It is found in Joel 3:2. “I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” (NIV)

Are we about to see God’s land divided? If so there will be consequences for those dividing it.

The final arrogance to consider is the date which has been set by which the peace talks are to be wrapped up; that date being 15 April, 2014. For the Jews it is a very important day, having been declared an “appointed time” by the Lord.

Firstly it is the first day of the Jewish religious New Year and, secondly, it is the first day of the Passover celebrations. Passover is a day specifically set aside by the Lord. This is what the Lord says about it in Leviticus 23:4-5.  4 “These are the Lord’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5 The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. (NIV) (Remember the Jewish day begins at sunset, here the 14th, and goes through to sunset the next day, here the 15th.)

We do not know how God will react to the deliberations going on at present but, we can be sure that in his own way and own time, He will deal with those who so blatantly disregard His warnings.

It would be wise for all involved in these negotiations to heed Gods Word.

Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in this new series “Bible Prophecy”.