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Hanukkah holds hidden secrets to end-time prophecy

menorah-300x183

Most Christians think of Hanukkah as “that nice little Jewish holiday,” but they miss the deeper meaning, says best-selling author and Messianic Jewish Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. They picture Jewish families spinning dreidels, lighting menorahs and eating fried potato pancakes. But there’s more to this eight-day holiday, which begins at sundown Sunday. “It actually holds a big,… Continue reading

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The Shemitah

At this time there is a lot of discussion going on about “The Shemitah”. So what is it and why should we be interested in it?fact sh

Before I begin to answer these questions, I want to mention that the notes which follow will not attempt to cover this subject in great detail but will try to give a brief outline about it, so that readers will have a better idea of what it is. For anyone wanting to study it in greater depth, I would refer them to the many good publications available giving more detail about the Shemitah.

 

A Day of Rest

Without stating the obvious, everybody knows that the week consists of seven days – from Sunday, the first day of the week, through to Saturday the last day of the week. In the Book of Genesis we read that after six days, when God had finished His creation, He rested on the seventh day, blessed it and made it holy (Genesis chapter 2 verses 1 to 3).

When God rested on the seventh day following His creation, He thereby established the seventh day as a day of rest and holiness. But it was not until the Israelites had left Egypt in the Exodus that we learn where, for the first time, they were commanded to observe the Sabbath. There we read that the Sabbath was to be a day when the Israelites ceased any worldly activities, rested and devoted the day to the Lord; the Lord laying down severe penalties for anyone who did not observe it (Exodus 31:14 – 15).

For Jews, Saturday is the Sabbath, the day of rest, the day set aside to worship God. The word Sabbath is a Hebrew word meaning rest. Christianity has moved away from Saturday worship to Sunday worship. I am not going to go into any discussion here about which day is the right day to worship, especially as I believe that we as Christians should anyway be continually worshiping our God and not reserve that for only one day in the week.

 

A Year of Rest

So while we understand that every seventh day should be regarded as a Sabbath, what is not as well known is that every seventh year is a Sabbath year. (I use the present tense because it is a permanent requirement by the Lord even though it is not properly observed today.) In Leviticus chapter 25:1 – 4, we read where the Lord commanded the children of Israel that, when they came into the land He was to give them, the land itself was to observe a Sabbath to Him. They were to work the land for six years “But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord”.

Not only was the land to lie fallow, but the year was to be kept separate because, unlike any of the previous six years, no work was to be done: no sowing, planting or gathering was to take place. The lands, fields, vineyards and groves were to be left to the poor and anyone could eat from them (Exodus 23:10 – 11). In ancient times this could be easily done, but in this modern world it would be much more difficult to achieve and would be a somewhat radical undertaking. Yet the Lord commanded it and would undoubtedly prosper those who abide by it.

 

The Sabbath Year and Connection to God’s Judgment

In Leviticus chapter 26 the Lord tells the Israelites that He will bless them if they keep His commands: these include references to the land. However, as He did with His commands concerning the keeping of the Sabbath day, He also told them that He would punish them if they disobeyed Him regarding the rest the land was to receive, again laying down punishments they would get in the event of disobedience. In verses 33 to 35 of Leviticus 26, the Lord clearly told them what sort of punishment they could expect if they disobeyed His commands regarding the land. He said: “I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. Then the land will enjoy its Sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths. All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the Sabbaths you lived in it.”

Many years before they were taken into captivity in Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah was given a word from the Lord warning the Israelites that because of their disobedience they would go into captivity in Babylon for seventy years. They were also told that when the seventy years were completed they would return: their punishment would be over because the land would have received the rest it had been denied previously (Jeremiah 25:11 – 12).

It is an interesting historical fact that the Israelites were in the land for 490 years: from the time they occupied the land until they were led away in captivity to Babylon. In that 490 year period there were seventy Sabbaths. We know that the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon for seventy years, as prophesied by Jeremiah in chapter 25:11 – 12, that being their punishment and also the time required for “the land to enjoy its Sabbath years all the time that it lay desolate and they were in the country of their enemies.”

 

source: idisciple.org

source: idisciple.org

The Lord’s Release – Shemitah

In addition to the requirement to observe Sabbath years, the Israelites were also required to cancel all debts on the last day of each Sabbath year. The Lord commanded that on the last day of the Sabbath year, all debts were to be cancelled. In English this is referred to as “the Lord’s release” (Deut. 15:1 – 2). It is from the Hebrew for “release” that we get the word “Shemitah”. In the Hebrew calendar the last day of a Sabbath year is Elul 29 which, by the Gregorian calendar, falls mainly during the month of September, although on a few occasions it occurs during the first few days of October.

Although the last day of the seventh year was called the Shemitah, in time the whole year was referred to as the Shemitah year. The Shemitah is a reminder that God is the source of all blessings; both spiritual and physical and when God is removed from life then removal of the blessings will also follow.

 

The Shemitah and Israel Now

Now that many Jews are back in most of the land, and are themselves in control of it, do they observe the Lord’s requirements for the Sabbath year and the Shemitah day? The answer is basically no, although there are examples of some who have done so and are known to have prospered from it. However, the majority do not but, with the help of rabbis, many amongst them who are convicted to try to keep the Shemitah year and day, resort to all sorts of manoeuvring to get around the biblical requirements. For instance, some schemes involve “selling” land to foreigners or special courts at the beginning of the Shemitah year, continuing to work the land, and “buying” it back at the end of the year. They have devised similar schemes regarding the release of debts on Elul 29! The idea behind these schemes is that the law applies to Jews and not to foreigners or special courts; the latter being regarded as acceptable because they are not individuals, so are not bound by the Lord’s decrees.

So in a roundabout way many in Israel today are keeping the requirements of the Sabbath year including the release of debts on its last day. However, religious Jews do not accept these practices and one can only wonder what God thinks about all the scheming going on regarding the land and the release of debts on Elul 29. In the example of the exile to Babylon, we have seen that the Israelites were severely judged and punished when they failed to observe Sabbath years.

 

The Shemitah and Other Nations

The big question facing us now is: “Does the Shemitah apply to nations other than Israel”?

I cannot find a direct biblical answer to this question although we do know that God does punish gentiles and nations, including Israel, for disobedience towards Him. However, as Jonathan Cahn suggests in his book The Mystery of The Shemitah, throughout history there have been many recorded events that have occurred at the time of the Shemitah, or shortly afterwards, negatively affecting nations; too many to be written off as mere coincidence. These events have taken the form of economic or other problems or the start of wars. The other question we need to consider is whether the Shemitah applies when the Jews are not back in the land and in control of it as was the case before 1948. Even here the answer appears to be yes, especially when we look at the example of developments against the Jews of Germany in 1938, a Shemitah year.

 

When is the Next Shemitah?

It is important to note at this point, that going back to ancient records, Jewish scholars have been able to accurately identify when the fact sh 2Shemitah years occur. Even as I write now we are coming to the end of the current Shemitah year. It ends on Elul 29th which this year is from sunset on 13th September, 2015, through to sunset on 14th September per the Gregorian calendar; about a month hence.

Before listing some of the “upheavals” that have fallen at the end, or about the end of Shemitah Years, it would be well to consider the timing of the Shemitah years. They begin on Tishri 1, or Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish civil year, and end on Elul 29. It is important to point out here that in the northern hemisphere the Shemitah year begins and ends at the time of the summer harvests. As pointed out earlier this is usually during September.

 

Notable Events Which Occurred At or Near the End of Recent Shemitah Years

1973. The “Yom Kippur War” – October 6th to 25th. Although the war began badly for Israel, it managed to win that war but it took a heavy toll on Israel and Israelis. More importantly, the longer term aftermath of this war resulted in enormously negative consequences for Israel itself and the world at large – the rise of Arab hegemony. I consider its negative after-effects to equal those of WW1 and WWII.

1987. The big “Black Monday” stock market crash on October 19th occurred only four weeks after the end of the Shemitah year on September 23rd. In this instance the fallout from the crash turned out to be surprisingly small although it took two years for global markets to recover.

2001. The stock market plunge on September 17th and the following global economic and political uncertainty was undoubtedly triggered by the Al Qaida attacks in America on 9th September, 2001. The stock market was immediately closed and reopened on September 17th, the last day of the Shemitah.

2008. The infamous GFC – Global Financial Crisis. The stock market crash happened on September 29th 2008 – Elul 29th!

2015. 13 – 14 September ? ? ? September 17th is the final Day for US Congress to vote concerning the “Iranian Deal” – the deal aimed at curbing Iranian nuclear expansion. It is a bad deal for Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, yet is being promoted otherwise by the US Administration and the key nations involved in the deal – the P5+1.

Everyone can hardly fail to realise that the world is in turmoil, economically, militarily, naturally and spiritually and is surely ripe for judgment. The news is full of it; a lot predicting very difficult days ahead.

Thus the final question we need to ask is: “Are we likely to experience any major negative developments in the world this September or within a short time after the end of the Shemitah year and after the day of the Shemitah on 17th September?”

All I can suggest is: “Don’t be surprised if major upheavals occur during the coming months”.

In closing, I would like to remind readers that, as Christians, we need to remember Jesus’ injunction:

“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28)

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 our series “Bible Prophecy”.

 

Related Articles:

Blood Moons 2014/2015: A Wake Up Call

Bible Prophecy: We are close to Christ’s Return

Bible Prophecy: Warning to Nations

 


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Bible Prophecy: Significant and Dangerous Times for Israel

bloodmooninjerusalem

source: pray4zion

Blood Moons, Passover & Nisan

When God prepared to take the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, He decreed that the first Passover would take place on the eve of the 14th day of the first month of the Jewish religious calendar. Subsequently that first month was called Nisan. He further decreed that each year on the eve of 14th Nisan through to the eve of Nisan 15th, Passover would be celebrated as a festival to the Lord. The full story is found in Exodus chapter 12.

This year, 2015, Passover was celebrated beginning on the eve April 3rd through to the eve of April 4th.

We believe it is also important to point out that this year two blood red moons, total lunar eclipses, occur/ed. The first has already occurred on April 4th, Passover, and the other will occur on the 28th September, Feast of Tabernacles.  In Genesis chapter 1 we read that they, the two lights in the sky, serve as lights and also signs, but in Joel chapter 2 we read that the sun will turn dark and the moon to blood before the coming of the Day of the Lord. In Matthew 24 Jesus also refers to the moon failing to give its light at a time when the Son of Man appears again.

While we do not wish to place undue emphasis on the appearance of blood red moons over Israel, we would like to point out that when they have occurred in the past, significant events have occurred which had a great impact on Israel and the Jews.  According to ancient Jewish tradition, a lunar eclipse is a harbinger of bad things for Israel.  If that eclipse is blood red, tradition regards it as a sign that war is coming.  And blood red moons that happen during Biblical festivals seem to be particularly significant.

Another  date  of  significance  occurred  this  year.  That date  being  13th Nisan,  or  in  the Gregorian calendar, April 2nd 2015, the day before the eve of Passover commenced.

Nisan 13th, 474 B.C.

King Xerxes (One night with the King)

King Xerxes (One night with the King)

But first, before we look at the importance of this date as it relates to 2015, let us go back nearly 2500 years to Nisan 13th, 474 B.C. The book of Esther chapter 3 records that on that date King Xerxes of Persia, modern day Iran, issued orders, sealed personally by him, for all the Jews to be killed and annihilated on the 13th day of the last month of the year, called Adar; that was to be eleven months after the signing of the initial decree.

These orders had been engineered by Haman, one of the king’s nobles, who held a grudge against the Jew Mordecai  and his people.  Later we read that  through the intervention of Queen Esther, the

Haman (One Night with the King

Haman (One Night with the King

tables were turned on Haman and all those who planned to kill the Jews.  Not only was Haman hanged but the king issued a decree enabling the Jews to arm and defend themselves on the very day that the Jews were themselves to have been annihilated on Adar 13.

Nisan 13th, 2015 (2nd April, 2015)

Fast forward now from 13th Nisan 474 B.C. to the 13th Nisan, 2015 – or 2nd April, 2015, the day before Passover Eve.

What happened of significance on this day this year that is of concern for Israel?

source: news.com.au

source: news.com.au

On that day the P5+1, US, UK Russia, France China plus Germany, announced that a framework deal had been agreed upon between themselves and Iran (Persia) to enable Iran to continue with elements of its nuclear programme. Once the final agreement is signed, set for a future date, sanctions will be lifted. Of course Iranians were Jubilant, but many called for the destruction of Israel and Jews.

We know full well that Israeli leaders are very concerned about the negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran and that the agreement so far does not appear to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons in the near future; something being played down, especially by president Obama. Furthermore president Obama has also played down the need for the agreement torouhani include a clause recognising Israel, as he seemed concerned that it would jeopardise any agreement. Surely that alone speaks volumes about Iran’s trustworthiness!

So in modern times, as in the times of Esther, there are those who are actively seeking to wipe Israel off the map even to the timing of such events lining up with the biblical past; Iran being in the forefront of that movement.

Conclusion

Can we draw any conclusion from these events?  Yes we believe we can.

Within the next few months Israel can expect to have to face some very difficult times, even a threat to her very

source: thomfiles.wordpress.com

source: thomfiles.wordpress.com

existence but in the near future can also expect an “Esther” to arise and turn the tables on those plotting to destroy her, even to retribution against them – the end date, as it was in 474/5 B.C. was 13 Adar, sometime in March 2016.

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 our series “Bible Prophecy”.


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Bible Prophecy: In the News?

As we sit in front of our televisions and observe the present conflict going on between Israel and

Source:wikipedia

Source:wikipedia

Hamas in Gaza, one cannot help but recall that Gaza is sometimes mentioned in God’s Word, the Holy Bible. Following are a few important scriptures concerning Gaza and we cautiously ask whether any of these scriptures have any relevance to this present conflict?

Firstly, we wish to point out that some of these scriptures prophesied events that were to take place shortly after those prophecies were given; when God was angry at the way the Philistines had treated His Covenant People. However, it is also worth pointing out that the Bible is often written with “multiple fulfillment” in mind; that is there may be numerous fulfillments of a particular prophecy until the final prophetic fulfillment occurs. The classic example is the appearance of the antichrist. A number of antichrists have already appeared, such as Antiochus Epiphanes, until the “final” antichrist appears. This is confirmed in 1 John 2:18 where we are told that many antichrists have already come. So is it possible that those prophecies of old have any relevance to the situation in Gaza today?

Whether they point to the present conflict or not, they are nevertheless important to consider in the light of this present conflict.

Jeremiah 47:5

Verse 1 of chapter 47 of Jeremiah tells us that the prophecy was written before Pharaoh attacked Gaza and in verse 5 it was fulfilled when Pharaoh attacked. Yet we have to ask the question whether it is not being fulfilled yet again at this point in time? It reads:

“ Gaza will shave her head in mourning; . . . “

Gaza is presently in a terrible state; much of it because its own foolish behaviour towards Israel.

Amos 1:6-7

6 This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Gaza, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because she took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom, 7I will send fire upon the walls of Gaza that will consume her fortresses. . . . . “”

It is thought that the “whole communities” referred to in that scripture were in south Judah. Yet, in many ways does this not describe what has been going on there now? Certainly through use of their tunnels, Hamas operatives planned to abduct Israelis and take them back to Gaza where they were to be held hostage and possibly even killed. Certainly Gaza has had reprisal heaped upon her.

 

Zephaniah 1:14 reads:

“The great day of the Lord is near- near and coming quickly.”

Verses 4 to 7 of chapter 2 are about judgment on Philistia, of which Gaza was a part. Here we specifically look at verse 4 of chapter 2 which reads:

Gaza will be abandoned . . . “

In these passages Zephaniah is exhorting all to repent, not only Gaza, before the destruction comes that will sweep over the earth in the day of God’s wrath.

Zechariah 9:5

Zechariah chapter 9 is a Judgment on Israel’s enemies. In verse 9 we read:

“. . . . ; Gaza will writhe in agony, . . . “

Surely we can say that at this time Gaza is in agony; presently as the Israelis try to destroy the bases from which rockets and other acts of war have been aimed at her. But there will come a time when God Himself does it – for His own name’s sake.

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: Brother Against Brother

When we look at what has been going on in Syria since the beginning

Image courtesy of transconflict.com

Image courtesy of transconflict.com

of 2011 and when we look at what is going on in Iraq at present, we surely cannot help but be horrified by all the seemingly senseless killing going on: faction against faction, each wanting to be in absolute control. We know that religiously all the combatants essentially follow the same faith, although we know they have split into two main groups, Sunni and Shia, and mostly they also have the same ethnic heritage; the majority of Syrians referring to themselves as Arabs while Iraq’s dominant ethnic group are regarded as the Iraqi Arabs.

This is not about who is right or who is wrong in the conflicts taking place there at present, nor is it about the involvement of the US, Russia, Britain or Europe, whether directly or from behind the scenes, but it is an attempt to try to get some understanding of the root causes of the whole situation there.

As Christians we cannot help but be reminded of Ishmael and Esau from whom the Arabs are descended. At this point it will be meaningful to look at a few scriptures regarding these two “patriarch’s” of the Arab people.

Firstly, and importantly, we learn that through “the angel of the Lord” God granted a special blessing to Ishmael. Speaking to Hagar, who was then pregnant with Ishmael, “the angel of the Lord” said:

“I will so increase your descendents that they will be too numerous to count”. (Gen. 16:10.)

Later in Genesis 17:20, God reaffirms this promise to Ishmael.

hagar

However, in Genesis 16:12 the angel of the Lord also announced to Hagar that her son, Ishmael,

“will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers. (Gen 16:12.)

As for Esau, we learn that included in Isaac’s blessing to him, were the words that he was destined to “live by the sword”. (Gen 27:40.)

In both these scriptures, without being too simplistic, we seem to find a fitting and vivid description of the incessant feuding that goes on between the Arabs themselves, their neighbours and others: a situation that has been going on since those words were spoken by God and by Isaac and one which we surely are witnessing going on now in Syria and Iraq?

In time to come we will see this happen again; but on this occasion it will be a much larger conflict than any the world has witnessed to date. It will also be a conflict in which God Himself gets directly involved on Israel’s behalf. At that time God will intervene and through His intervention he will magnify His Name. As a result both Israel and the nations will know that He is the Lord; that it was He who defeated Israel’s enemies.

Here we refer to the war described by Ezekiel in chapters 38 and 39 of his book, when he tells of a vast army led by Gog of Magog which comes against Israel: most commentators interpret this army as being a coalition of Arabic nations led by Russia.

God uses a number of supernatural events to all but wipe out this vast army. However, one interesting method God uses is found in Ezekiel 38:21 where He says: “I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother.” Not only will God use a number of supernatural means to defeat the coalition led by Gog, but the coalition of Israel’s enemies will turn on itself!

It will surely be a repeat of what we are witnessing now and what has been foretold in God’s Word and, in view of what we see going on at present as well as noting who the parties are that are now involved, dare we ask whether we are even now seeing the build up to this terrible war?

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”.

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


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Bible Prophecy: When Rivers Dry Up

euphratesThe Bible tells us that the Euphrates and the Nile will one day dry up. When that happens, great hardship and suffering will be experienced by those relying on the waters of these rivers.

In Egypt, nearly eighty percent of the population is to be found living within a short distance of the banks of the Nile, relying on its water for commerce and sustenance. While not as devastating, many people in Syria and Iraq would also face extreme hardship should the Euphrates dry up.

In Revelation 16:12 we read:

12The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its waters were dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. (NIV)

In Isaiah we read:

19: 5 -6 5The waters of the river will dry up, and the riverbed will be parched and dry. 6The canals will stink; the streams of Egypt will dwindle and dry up. The reeds and rushes will wither, (NIV)

The following few verses from Isaiah 19 have been added to show the utter devastation that will occur when the Nile dries up.

nile7also the plants along the Nile, at the mouth of the river. Every sown field  along the Nile will become parched, will blow away and be no more, 8The fishermen will groan and lament, all who cast hooks into the Nile; those who throw nets on the water will pine away. (NIV)

11 :15 The Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt; With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River, And strike it in the seven streams, And make men cross over dry-shod. (NKJV)

Interestingly, the NIV names the river as the Euphrates. Thus in the NIV it seems that both the “gulf of the Egyptian Sea” and the Euphrates are dealt with simultaneously, while in the NKJV it appears to refer only to the Nile. There seems to be some uncertainty as to what is meant by the “tongue of the sea of Egypt” (NKJV) and the “gulf of the Egyptian Sea” (NIV). We ask: “Is it perhaps the Nile Delta with all its canals”?

Nearly ninety percent of the Euphrates’ water has its source in mountains in Turkey. As far back as the 1930’s Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, came up with the idea of utilizing the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris, the latter also having most of its source there, for irrigation and hydroelectric purposes. After a number of delays, the project to dam up the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris began in the 1980’s. The project involved the building of over twenty dams, the largest being the Ataturk dam. Once completed the project was capable of doubling Turkey’s irrigable farmlands. In the late 1980’s when the Ataturk dam was being filled, Turkey stopped the flow of water into the Euphrates for four days, showing how easily they could stop it flowing completely. Syria and Iraq have already raised concerns about the effects of the reduced flows; soil erosion and increased salinity in irrigated areas amongst other problems. Clearly in times of great national need, it would seem that Turkey would not hesitate in diverting all the water towards its own needs.

Egypt faces a similar situation because Ethiopia is currently building a massive dam on the Blue Nile, which accounts for eighty percent of the water flowing into the Nile downstream. The massive Aswan dam is not in contention here, as mapit is fully under Egyptian control, although about 10% to 12% of the annual flow of the Nile is lost to evaporation because of the vast surface area of the dam. The waters of the dam in Ethiopia will be used primarily for electricity generating purposes, although there is talk of making Ethiopia more “water resilient” by using the dam for storage purposes and irrigation schemes. Through this dam, which is due for completion in 2017, Ethiopia will be able to limit the flow of water into the Nile and, as could happen in Turkey, may well completely stop the flow of water from the dam in times of great national need.

As of now, these rivers have never dried up, so these scriptures clearly refer to a future time when, for His purposes, God will cause them to cease flowing. God’s main purpose at that time will be His judgment on mankind, especially upon those who refuse to recognize and worship Him.

It is worth mentioning here that God used Darius to defeat Belshazzar and take Babylon by diverting the flow of the Euphrates, but that was a temporary strategy and the river did not dry up completely. (Daniel 5:30, Isaiah 44:28 – 45:1-4.)

How God will dry up the rivers we do not know, but is it perhaps possible that He will also use man and man-made structures to achieve His purposes? We are told that “With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River” and wonder whether that is a reference to a coming drought which will cause not only a reduction in the water flow, if not a complete drying up of those rivers, but will at the same time entice the countries controlling those dams to look after their own interests by completely stopping water from being released out of them.

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: Damascus and Hamath

City of Damascus

In view of current events in Syria, two prophecies are worth considering. (There are other scriptures of interest concerning these cities, but will not be referred to in this short post.)

The two scriptures are:

Jeremiah 49: 23-27 (NIV)

23Concerning Damascus:

“Hamath and Arpad’ are dismayed, for they have heard bad news. They are disheartened, troubled like the restless sea.  Damascus has become feeble, she has turned to flee and panic has gripped her; anguish and pain have seized her, pain like that of a woman in labor.  25Why has the city of renown not been abandoned, the town in which I delight?  26Surely, her young men ° will fall in the streets; all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,” declares the lord Almighty

27“I will set fire to the walls of Damascus; it will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad”

Isaiah 17:1 (NIV)

1 An oracle concerning Damascus:

“See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. . . “

Jeremiah’s prophecy is found in an end section of his book where God tells him of the judgments to come against the Nations, as well as some cities specifically mentioned. Right now Hamath and Damascus are the focus of our interest.

Isaiah’s prophecy is found early on in the book. It too occurs in the section dealing with judgment against the Nations and, in this case, where Damascus is specifically mentioned.

It is not our intention here to go into God’s reasons for His judgment against the Nations or cities, but to consider these scriptures in the light of current events. We certainly do not want to make light of these judgments or to “look forward” to their fulfilment. They are severe and final when they take place but, for us, they are important points on the prophetic path God’s has laid out.

(As a word of caution, when considering God reasons for judgment, be careful not to take a current world view which is that if these Nations, or cities, simply followed a democratic process all would be in order. God does not look at democracy. He looks at the actions of mankind in relation to His commandments. Keep in mind that democracy is a flawed man-made system. It has been said, by Churchill amongst others, that democracy is a bad system but it is the best we have.)

Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world and, unlike other cities in the region, including even Jerusalem, it has never been destroyed. In other words, the prophecy in Isaiah has never been fulfilled. Damascus is only a short distance to the north of Israel and is the capital of present-day Syria.

Damascus was part of David’s and Solomon’s kingdom. It was also the city where Paul was headed specifically to persecute Christians. On his way there he was confronted by Jesus and lost his sight. It was in Damascus that Jesus told Ananias to go and lay hands on Paul because Paul was His “chosen instrument” to take the Word to the Gentiles, their kings and the people of Israel. In the house in Straight Street, where Paul was staying, Ananias laid hands on him whereupon his sight was restored and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9: 1-19) NIV.damascus-pigeons

Straight Street is still there to this day!

So clearly Damascus is a city with an important past, yet God says He will destroy it and it will become “a heap of ruins”.

Hama, which lies some 50 kilometres directly north of Homs, is almost certainly the Biblical city of Hamath, within provincial Hamath. Homs is about 150 kilometres north of Damascus. While Damascus came under David’s and Solomon’s kingdoms, these other two cities did not, although they were both under Solomon’s control. Since at least 1925 Hama has been the source of a number of uprisings, mainly from Islamic fundamentalists.

Currently Syria is in the throes of a violent civil war; the roots of which run deep and which are extremely complicated. We have seen images of the devastation taking place within the country, especially in Homs, Hama and to some extent in Damascus itself. We have heard about the huge numbers killed, well over a hundred thousand now, the two million or more who have fled the country and are living in tents in the desert, often without enough food and other problems. It is a situation so bad that the average person not directly involved is unable to fully comprehend it.

We know that both the Syrian and opposition forces are well armed and have the means to turn Damascus into a “heap of ruins”. Could one or other of these adversaries in a final act of desperation resort to such tactics? And what if Israel is brought into the conflict and needs to defend itself? These are merely possibilities leading to the destruction of Damascus. Certainly there is a lot of pain and suffering going on right now throughout Syria as well as in Damascus, Homs and Hama.

damascusThe question we pose is this: “Is it possible that we are witnessing an aspect of God’s prophetic Word about to be fulfilled”?

A sobering question!

We do not say it is – although we do urge readers to be aware of Bible prophecy and current events in the Middle East and, above all, to keep their focus on Jesus.

 

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”.