There is a lot of end times themes working into the readings lately, but we certainly don't want to get distracted from our studies by speculating about unknown future events. We have plenty of other things to study for now. And it is not my intent to put fear into anyone's heart about the future. However, I would like you to take to heart my belief that we must be getting close to the end of this age, and it is something we believers need to be aware of, and watching events for. We can't afford to stick our heads in the sand. On what do I base my suspicions? Jesus said, as a woman in labor, or the night skies tell of the next day's weather, you will know by the signs of the times. Let's take one last look at a few important considerations and signs of our times, and then we will put end times to bed for now:
Islam is the largest and fasting growing religion in the world right now (20%) and is believed to be at least a part of the religious system of the anti-Christ (there is another one but I won't go into that now). Why Islam? It goes all the way back to two sets of rival brothers. Isaac & Ishmael, and Jacob & Esau. According to many teachers, "Islam was birthed in the pagan Arabian desert among the descendants of Esau and Ishmael from the cult of the moon-god of war ("Al-llah") in the 3-4th century." Islam, therefore, is Ishmael's offspring coming against Isaac's offspring for a final showdown.
Israel became a nation in 1948, which was a significant event, historically speaking. Based on prophecy, many theologians and Messianic Jews alike believe that Christ will make His 2nd return to earth to reign for a 1,000 period and that this event will happen within a generation of 1948 (70 years typically).
With our modern technology, it is entirely possible for the Gospel to reach the world, part of the prophecy to be fulfilled before the end.
Currently, 7,000 Christian churches close their doors in America every year for good.
Currently, 75% of children raised in Christian homes are leaving their faith by their 2nd year of college (for good as far as anybody can tell).
There is recent talk at a global summit of starting a global TV channel, world tax, and new world order for a global leader:
You get the picture. Christian influence is going
downhill fast, especially with our new leadership. I see the signs, and
I don't want to be taken by surprise. We must be ready for anything. I
am not trying to use sensationalism or get anyone hyped up over
speculation. I am only using my good sense to see that things are
changing, rather quickly. And I believe it is Biblical to expect trials
and tribulations of all kinds. The fact that our country has gotten by
without any for so long has only been false security. If anything, the
modern American Church has been lulled to sleep by lack of pressure. Now, onto the lesson.
23:17 At these three times each year, every man in Israel must appear before the Sovereign, the Lord. There were three annual Festivals made up of 7 total feasts. The Hebrew word for "feast" is literally, "appointed time," or "season," as we talked about before. For each of these three Festivals, the Israelites were required to go to the Temple to bring their sacrifices to God.
Festival 1 (vs. 15) Unleavened Bread, consisted of Passover & Unleavened Bread
Meaning: celebrating the Exodus from Egypt and getting rid of sin
Season celebrated: Springtime
Fulfilled? Yes. Fulfilled by Christ as the sinless Passover Lamb
Festival 2 (vs. 16) Harvest, consisted of Feast of First Fruits & Pentecost
Meaning: Bring God your "first fruits" of harvest
Fulfilled? Yes. Fulfilled by Christ who was the first-born Son and firstfruit offering to God
All together, these four Feasts took place in about the span of a couple months each spring, even when Christ fulfilled them.
Festival 3 (vs. 16) Final Harvest, consisted of 3 Feasts, Day of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, & Feast of Tabernacles
Rapture of the Church (last trumpet), followed by the day when Israel's
sins are atoned for, and followed by Jesus coming to "tabernacle" or
dwell with His people. Many Jewish scholars believe that Jesus was born on the Feast of Tabernacles when He came to dwell with men the first time. This is all calculated by clues provided in the Bible. In the fall, these feasts took place in the span
of three weeks.
Season: Fall (September/October)
It is important to note that in the Millennial Reign of Christ on the earth that all of the Festivals will be in full force once more because there will be a Temple in Jerusalem, and every nation will be expected to go to Jerusalem to celebrate (see Zechariah 14:16-21). Here is a great website to help you understand the festivals better:
23:20-21 "See, I am sending my angel before you...Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him." If you are using the 2nd Edition OYB, the last part of this verse (the most important part) is left out! Any guesses who this is talking about?
23:32-33 "Make no treaties with them or their gods. They must not live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry." Here is one way Israel has deliberately disobeyed God many times, making treaties with the nations around them. Also, God gave them the land, and they were not to give it away, but they did time and again. Someday, it is thought that they are supposed to make a 7-year treaty with the anti-Christ in the early part of the Tribulation. Oops, I guess it's hard not to talk future!
Question for reflection:
you ever found yourself "making treaties" with ungodly influences?
There is a difference between befriending for the sake of evangelizing
a lost person, or fraternizing and making peace with sin. Jesus said He
came to bring a sword to divide relationships. Our love for and
devotion to God should be so apparent, that stubborn, rebellious people
are put off by it. Not that we are prideful or abrasive, but our quiet
love for God should convict rebellious people of their sin.