Does Bible prophecy teach an Islamic Antichrist - Prophecy in the News - Apr 2012


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Does Bible Prophecy actually point to an Islamic Antichrist?
In the last few years, a number of writers have advanced the theory that the Antichrist will come from the ranks of Islam, perhaps as the vaunted Imam Mahdi. What does the Bible say?

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Does Bible prophecy teach an Islamic Antichrist - Prophecy in the News - Apr 2012

  1. 1. Inside This Issue An Islamic Antichrist? ....................... 3 In the last few years, a number ofWliters have advanced the theory that the Antichrist will come from the ranks ofIslam, perhaps as the vaunted ImamMahdi. Whatdoes theBible say? Rapture & Resurrection ................. ...... 8 Humanity is under a death sentence! But our Lord has promised release from humanity's long debt ofsin. Believe in Jesus and you will be resurrected to etemal life. The promised resurrection is also the rapture, the archetypes of which are seen seven times in Scripture! Ask Gary! ................................ 16 Our readers and viewers often send us their Bible questions. As space allows, Gary answers a couple of the most representative ones. Send him your questions! The Greatness of the Rapture .................... 17 Bob Ulrich has one more reason to "keep looking up." Bob's father, AI, went home to be with the Lord on February 26th, 2012, falling just short of his 80th birthday. AI's home-going gave Bob motivation to review a new book from Greek Professor, David Olander, The Greatness ofthe Rapture, a book that uses the original Greek language to clear up all the confusion. The Human Brain: Home ofthe Soul, Part 2 .... .... 34 lR. Church's classic Eschatology 101 study series continues as we bring you his thoughts about the function of the brain, from a biblical perspecti e. In Part 2, he searches ancient Jewish sources to see what they had to say. To say the least, you'll be surprised. 2 Prophecy in the News - April 2012
  2. 2. ----------------------------------- byGaryStearrnan ------------------------------------ Something amazing has happened in the last three decades. The Palestinian cause in the Middle East has widened out into a full- scale Islamic revolution. The rapid expansion of Islamic power has directed new specula- tion about the events that will unfold during the Tribulation. Specifically, many are now suggesting that the Antichrist will arise out of the Islamic world. Persuasive books and other publications are now making the case for this develop- ment. The Islamic Antichrist, by Joel Rich- ardson and God's War on Terror, by the for- mer Muslim Walid Shoebat have both linked Mystery Babylon with latter-day Islam. Cer- tainly, Islam has an "Antichrist Spirit." But can it really be true that the Antichrist will mise from the Islamic cul- ture? Really, the question boils down to this: Will he arise from Islam so- ciety, or as the Bible has been interpreted for centuries, does he come from the West? There are at least two strong arguments in favor of his Western origin. First, the power of Islam is broken in a war at the beginning of the Tribulation. Second, the Bible gives the ge- nealogy of the Antichrist that strongly points to his Graeco-Roman origin. Let's begin by briefly reviewing recent Mideast history, then compare these events with Scripture. After years of ineffectual struggle, the current Arab uprising first gained real mo- mentum in Tunis when, in January, 201I, longtime President Ben Ali was overthrown, leading to new elections for the beleaguered and impoverished people. Their success, followed by the ensuing Libyan revolt, her- alded what the Western press came to call "The Arab Spring." When the radicals saw their propaganda successfully taking hold, they were spurred on to new revolts in Egypt and Syria. Out of these' developments, we witnessed the coalescing ofa new power, as the Islamic Brotherhood declared itself the reigning Arab leadersillp. Libya's MOal11lTIar Khadaf- fi was hunted down and killed. Egypt's three- decade dictator Hosni Mubarak was deposed and put on trial for crimes against the people. Currently, the Brotherhood is exploiting a growing regional volatility of their own making, to create a new international power. Their professed objective is the realization of an obsessive dream - the establishment of a grand international caliphate. The last such centralized Islan1ic rule came to an end with the downfall of the Ottoman Empire around the time of World War One. It was then re- placed by the Republic ofTurkey. Since that time, many Arabs have ex- pressed their dream that a new caliphate would rise, bringing the Mideast to a golden age of strength and wealth. It threatens to expand beyond any national boundary, real- izing the long-held goal ofan Islamic caliph- ate that will cover the region from the British Isles to India's western border and southward into Afiica. Recent History Following the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the Egyptians reluctantly forged a peace treaty with Israel. It came into effect in 1979 and was commonly referred to as the Carter- Sadat Treaty. It demilitarized the Sinai Pen- ninsula and lasted for thirty years, until 20 II , with the end ofthe Mubarak era. From its beginning, this peace treaty was routinely mocked by other Arab states, and particularly by Vasser Arafat, who said it would never last. Arafat founded the Pales- tinian Liberation Organization (PLO) with the idea of undoing everything Israel had done since fornling their nation in 1948. Ironically, the present Arab uprising can be dated back to 1983, when Arafat was forced to move PLO headquarters to Tunisia, following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Before that, he had established AI Fatah, and its military arm, Al Assifa, which grew to become the central authority of the Islamic resistance. By 1988 Arafat, in a major tactical change, had given up his terrorist cause and freely spoke of Israel's right to exist. A 1993 agree- ment with the PLO expressed Israel's legiti- mate presence alongside a self-ruling Pales- tinian Jericho and Gaza Strip. The wily old founder ofAI Fatah was then made president of the Palestinian Authority (PA). In 1995 and 1996, another agreement brought self- rule in all Arab cities on the West Bank ofthe Jordan River. A more-or-Iess lasting peace in the region ensued until September of 2000, when Ara- fat's forces were accused ofattacking Israelis once again. He died in 2004, leaving a PLO divided between Fatah and the Islamic Broth- erhood's Palestinian terrorist arm, Hamas. For the last decade there has been a steadily deteriorating relationship between the PA and Israel. Ironically, when Arafat died, the process of Israel's unilateral disengagement April 2012 - Prophecy in the News 3
  3. 3. from Gaza was begun, to be completed in September, 2005. Always eager for peace, the Israelis had given up Gaza to Hamas as a gesture of good will. But it wasn't long until internecine strife between Hamas and Fatah erupted into street fighti ng. The struggle for the "liberation" ofGaza rages to this day. But Israel's olive branch resulted only in greater hostility. It played right into the hands of Hamas, which has never concealed the fact that it's prime desire is to see Israel an- nihilated. Its continual firing of rockets into Israel provided the background music for the arming of Hezbollah in Lebanon. It fueled the passions of the Iranians, who continually call for the death ofthe "little Satan" (lsrael) and the "great Satan" (the USA). It encouraged the Islamic Brotherhood, spurring them onward toward the great revo- lution that will bring the grand caliphate and their mahdi (messiah figure), who will con- vert the world to Islam. They now believe he is on the verge of appearing, but they dis- agree on how he will take control. Who Will Lead? The two major factions of Islam - Sunnis and Shiites - disagree on how their mahdi will rule. The Sunnis believe tbat the caliph who will someday head their government, should be elected by Islamic governmental representatives. On the other hand, Shiite Muslims be- lieve that the caliph will be chosen by Allah from among the direct offspring ofMoham- med. The most radical Shiites, called the Twelvers, believe that the supernatural be- ing, a messianic figure they call the Imam Mahdi, will personally come to present him- self as leader, arising from a subterranean hiding place, where he has resided for the past few centuries. Muslim leaders are quite vocal about his coming. Their outspoken bravado seems to have persuaded some in the West that his ar- rival will fulfill the biblical qualifications for the Antichrist. Many Christians have begun to say that it is this mysterious figure, regardless of his method ofarrival, who will rise to power, ful- filling the Bible's description ofthe one who comes to deceive the Jews into believing that he is their true Messiah: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come afalling awayfirst, and that man ofsin ·be revealed, the son ofperdition; Who op- poseth and exalteth himselfabove all that is called God, or that is worshipped,' so that he as God sitJeth in the temple ofGod, shewing himselfthat he is God" (II Thess. 2:3,4). The sense that Islam is becoming stronger 4 Prophecy in the News - April 2012 and more unified ... that its vaunted period of rule has arrived, has caused many to assume that they will realize their goal. Certainly, Is- lamic leaders ofthe Middle East believe this. But it also seems that their beliefis beguming to convince Western society ... and even Christians! Islam to be Destroyed And this, in spite of the fact that Bible prophecy specifically calls for an unprece- dented destruction ofIslam in a coming great war. This war will begin in the Mideast and spread to the entire world. In breathtaking fashion, Israel will rise to victory as the war comes to an end. What then? Will the Jews accept an Islamic ruler from among the rag- tag survivors ofthe great war? That would be very doubtful, indeed. Remember, Scripture says that they will accept him as their long- awaited Messiah ... but a Moslem? This thought requires perspective: We must never forget that it is the recent pub- licity about the Twelvers' belief in the com- ing Imam Mahdi that has most likely set in motion the speculation about an Islamic Antichrist. This assumes that Islam will rise to a victo- rious position in the region. From the strictly secular point ofview, there is now the grow- ing impression that the Islamic juggemaut has reached the point of global prominence. It is infiltratin Europe and the Americas. It regularly boasts that it will control the world in a generation. But the Bible says othelwise. The Coming War For example, many have begun to point to Psalm 83 as a prophecy ofIsrael's latter-day enemies. Eleven tribes ofthe Middle East are shown just as we see them today. This col- lection of enemies is a composite of all who have ever opposed Israel: ''They have said, Come, and let us cut them being a nation; that the name ofIsrael may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles ofEdam, and the Ishmael- ites; ofMoab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the chil- dren ofLot. Selah " (Psalm 83:4-8). And what happens to these Islamic off- spring of all evil? They are summarily wiped out: "0 my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. As thefire burneth a wood, andas theflame setteth the mountains on fire; So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with Ihy storm. Fill theirfaces with shame; that [heymayseek thy name, 0 LORD" (psalm 83:13-16). This Psalm constitutes a propbecy, stating botb the goal of Israel's enemies and their final fate. Tbese are the peoples that comprise today's Islamic Brotherbood defeated in the fires ofwar. And where else do we see tbem men- tioned? Tbe propbet Zechariah speaks of the precise situation we find today: "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. And in that day will 1 make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden them- selves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people ofthe earth be gathered together against it. In that day, saith the LORD, 1 will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house ofJudah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors ofJudah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants ofJerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD ofhosts their God. In that day will I make the governors ofJu- dah like an hearth offire among the wood, and like a torch offire in a sheaf and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand andon the left: andJerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem" (Zech. 12:2-6). Gog's Hapless Invasion To make the point once more, we have only to look at Ezekiel 38 and 39, in which an alliance ofRussia, Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Turkey, Eastern Europe and others combine to invade Israel. This is the great northern in- vasion ofGog ofthe land of Magog, dragged into the fray by the very zealots of the Is- lamic Brotherhood who are today crying for Israel's blood."And1will turn thee back, and put hooks into thyjaws, and I will bring thee forth ... .. (Ezekiel 38:4). And what happens to Gog and these mighty warriors? Observe: "And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows tofall out of thy right hand. Thou shalt fall upon the mountains ofIsrael, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: 1 will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts ofthefield to be devoured. Thou shaltfall upon the openfield:for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. And I will send afire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD" (Ezekiel 39:3-6). They are utterly destroyed in a crushing
  4. 4. defeat that dwarfs anything ever seen in past wars. Here, we see that the fires of war blow back on Magog and the "isles" (the conti- nents), showing that though it started in the Mideast it spreads to the entire world. The cleanup from this war stretches over a seven- year period: "Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereofi have spoken. And they that dwell in the cities ofis- rael shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them withfire seven years: So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out oftheforests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbedthem, saith the Lord GOD. Andit shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there ofgraves in israel, the valley ofthepassengers on the east ofthe sea: and it shall stop the noses ofthe passen- gers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley ofHamon-gog" (Ezekiel 39:8-1I). Many writers have already pointed out that Israel will bury the invaders' bodies in the territory ofMoab and Atmllon, east ofthe Dead Sea. It takes them seven years to ac- complish this feat, ruling out the possibility that the war takes place during the Tribula- tion, since Israel will be fleeing for her life during the second halfofthe Tribulation. The initial attack must take place» r ahead ofthe seven-year period. And where is the Imam Mahdi during this legendary rout'? Has he emerged from the Twelvers' subterranean well-shaft? If so, he witnessed only defeat. Is he elected to power by the sheikhs? Ifso, he has no land to rule. Following this amazing victory, Israel will rise to power, led by a savior-figure who falsely claims to be their Messiah. And he will provide proof, standing up in a new temple and declaring himselfto be a god. But certainly, he won't be Islamic. At this time, when the smoke ofbattle still hangs heavy in the air, with millions of Moslems lying dead on the battlefield, would he claim to be the great Mahdi? No, he would certainly claim to be the Jew's Messiah. Furthermore, he con- firms a covenant with Israel's leaders, insur- ing temple sacrifices and offerings, a promise which he soon rescinds: "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself and the people ofthe prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctumy; and the endthereofshall be with af/ood, andunto the end of the war desolations are determined. Andhe shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst ofthe week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, andfor the overspreading ofabomina- tions he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (Daniel 9:26,27). It is the signing of this false covenant that marks the precise beginning of the Tribulation. Furthermore, Daniel gives us Antichrist's genealogy, saying that this "prince" (the An- tichrist) will be descended from the Flavian Dynasty of Vespasian and Titus. They are, after all, as Daniel puts it, "thepeople ... who destroy the city and the sanctumy. " Who were the Flavians? They were the Roman dictators who waged wars against the Jews during the close ofthe first century. Furthennore, they are well known to have in- termarried with members ofthe Herodian dy- nasty. This intertwining began about 36 BC, when Caesar Augustus thrust the Edomite Herod the Great upon the Jews, inSUlting them by giving him the offensive title, "King ofthe Jews." Additionally, the Flavian bloodline in- cluded the Greek Seleucids, descending from Antiochus TV Ephiphanes, himself. In 167 BC, this evil character had captured the Jew- ish temple and placed a statue of himself in the Holy ofHolies, dressed as Zeus. He is the foremost type ofthe Antichrist. These three bloodlines ... Herodian, Se- leucid and Roman ... converge in the Flavian dynasty. In the second century AD and fol- lowing, the descendants of these royals be- came the leaders ofthe Holy Roman Empire. J.R. Church's two books, Guardians ofthe Grail and Bloodline ofthe Antichrist are both dedicated to documenting this clearcut, sin- gular truth. Both ofthese titles by J.R. Church can be ordered on page 24 Indeed, the entire eleventh chapter of Dan- iel is dedicated to tracing the Antichrist's descent from Alexander the Great, through the Greek Seleucids and Antiochus IV Epi- phanes, all the way down to the royal house ofRome and finally, Antichrist himself. This will be the man who will pull the war-tom world together from the ashes ofthe coming Mideast war. Islam will be crushed in that war. But the global financial system will survive. Its merchant bankers, in league with the esoteric gods ofthe marketplace will rule the world. The Jews would never accept an Islamic Mahdi who had allowed the destruction of his own people, then tumed to offer himself as their savior! • ; April 2012 - Prophecy in the News 5
  5. 5. The Sevenfold Biblical Model! A death sentence has overshadowed evelY generation since Adam. Because of his sin, men have been driven by the desire to achieve the eternal life once promised to them, then lost. For six thousand years, each generation has hied to push this bad news into the background, substituting a variety of religious activities to gloss over the depressing truth. But the central message of Scripture is that the eternal life lost in the Garden of Eden can be regained through faith in the finished work ofJesus Christ. Of course, the central feature of Christianity is Christ's personal resurrection - the greatest event in hwnan history - restoring the lost hope of eternal life to all mankind. Those who believe in Him are promised a resurrection similar to His own. In Titus 2: 13, Paul refers to it as the "blessed hope," which is commonly regarded as an expression describing the rapture of the church. In this wonderful event, we will be caught up and taken to heaven before the Earth is judged in the "day of the Lord's wrath " (Zephaniah 1:18). Actually, tins singular moment will be far more than simply meeting the Lord in the air. 8 Prophecy in the News - April 2012 by Gary Stearman - - - - - -- - - - -- - -------=- In point of fact, it is the general resurrection ofthe body ofChrist! Thus, it is important to picture the rapture in the proper way. It is not simply an escape from the rigors of planet Earth. Its purpose is to allow mankind to paliicipate in the long-term plan ofrestoring God's broken creation, long lost to sin. Perhaps surprisingly, the biblical view of the rapture shows that there is nothing at all new or novel about the concept of being caught up to heaven. It has already happened several times, and will happen again. As we shall see, Scripture shows at least seven of these events. As we have often said, when Paul refers to the rapture, he is referring to an all- encompassing paradigm change. The world, which has proceeded for a few thousand years on a relatively even keel, will suddenly be propelled into a rapid succession ofmassive geological, meteorological, political, and spiritual changes, designed to restore the Kingdom to Israel, and environmental purity to planet earth. The fervent belief in environmental stability, often called unifornntarianism, is the religion of our day. It is centered upon the belief that for millions of years, things have slowly progressed along a predictable pathway. It is popularly believed that this condition will prevail, allowing the cosmos to continue its evolution at the same slow rate that it has always exhibited, until hwnanity arrives at perfection. Its single unifYing conviction is that man can progressively improve himself, and establish a utopia. But in one, future, e1ectJifYing moment, this beliefwill be dashed to pieces, as a rapid change of scene sweeps across every inch of land and sea. In the very first instant of this change, we - the body of Cluist - will be taken from this earth, and withthe saintsoftheages,resurrected into glOly to enjoy the Lord's presence and to participate in the massive restoration event that the Bible calls, "The Day ofthe Lord." It will bling not one, but a series of catash"Ophes to mankind and the world. Scripture is emphatic that the entire judgment process will be initiated following the rapture. From this perspective, the process ofcatching-away cannot occur at any time during or after the catastrophes of the Tribulation. In point of fact, it must happen
  6. 6. before the Tribulation - perhaps significantly in advance of the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." Since the antichrist rides forth on one of these horses, his identity will not be revealed to the church on Earth. Scripture clearly reveals that the Tribulation is not initiated by the rapture; its beginning is marked at the precise moment jn which "the prince that shall come" (Daniel 9:26) confirms a seven-year treaty with the leaders oflsrael: "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst ofthe week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, andfor the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (Daniel 9:27). As predicted from ages past by the prophets of God, the Tribulation will be an enormous cleansing process, directed by our Lord. Scripture clearly reveals its purposes: First, it will destroy the world system of commerce and idolatry, seen in twofold form in the book of Revelation. As commercial and religious Babylon, it will meet its final end. The Gentile grip on political and financial power will come to an end, as Israel rises to receive the Kingdom ofthe Messiah. Second, Israel will be forced to abandon its ages-long self-lighteousness. Finally, national Israel will be brought to the realization that they have sinned and can be redeemed only through faith in the Lord. The prophet Ezekiel writes of their moment of truth during the Tribulation: "And I will bringyou into the wilderness of thepeople, andthere willIplead withyouface toface. Like as I pleaded with yourfathers in the wilderness ofthe land ofEgypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond ofthe covenant: And I will purge out Fom among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring themforth out ofthe country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land ofIsrael: andye shall know that I am the LORD" (Ezekiel 20:35-38). Third, the 144 thousand Israelites, sealed trom among the twelve tribes, will lead a world-shaking global revival, bringing millions to salvation during the first half of the Tribulation. As far as planet earth and its rule is concemed, Israel is at the center. The body ofChrist will not experience the cataclysms that accompany this period. It is to be spared from judgment. Some find this aspect of grace detestable, characterizing it as an escapist church fleeing the scene to let the rest of the world suffer. But true Christians never wish God's wrath upon the unsaved. They have been taught to love even those that curse them, and to share the Gospel at every opportunity. As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thessalonians 5:9). The Lord's words to the faithful Philadelphian church reinforce this thought: "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee./i-om the hour o!temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to tly them that dwell upon the earth " (Revelation 3: 10). Actually, the rapture is nothing new at all. It has happened before, and its typology is well established in SClipture. Including the rapture that Christians are now expecting, It IS described in Scripture seven times, which is known as the biblical number of completion. First: The Rapture of Enoch At the beginning of the Bible, mankind is created within a perfect environment. What followed, forever cancels the bogus argument that when you place a human in such surroundings, he will respond by growing toward peace and perfection. In the very presence of God, in a perfect climate, and with abundance on every hand, man was unable to resist temptation. The "Old Serpent" tempted the first couple, and they fell. Their son Cain, the firstbom, murdered his brother Abel. April 2012 - Prophecy in the News 9
  7. 7. From that point, Scripture divides mankind into two genetic lineages. Cain became the father of the ungodly. Adam's third son Seth, became a replacement for Abel. So, Seth fathered the Godly: "And Adam knew his wifo again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me anotherseed instead ofAbel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; andhe called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name (J!the LORD" (Genesis 4:25,26). Ancient Jewish commentary has long held that in the days of Enos, idolatry began in earnest. Some Jewish translations reflect this idea. A good example of this is found in the Stone Chumash, where the verse reads "Then to call in the Name of Hashem [the Lord] became profaned." Its editors cOtronent, "The generation of Enosh introduced idolatry, which was to become the blight of humanity for thousands of years. By ascribing God-like qualities to man and lifeless objects, they created the abominable situation in which to call in the ame of Hashem became profaned (Rashi)" (p. 23). They cite the Hebrew language of verse 26, where the preposition may be translated "in," rather than "on" or "upon." In this case, the verse would read, "Men began to call in the name ofthe Lord." "Ramban1 (Hi, Avodas Kochavim I: 1-2) explains how the grievous misconception of idol worship began and developed. Very briefly, he says that it began when people felt that they should honor the heavenly bodies as God's emissaries to the world, just as it is proper to honor the ministers of a ruler. Eventually, this trend spread and became more and more corrupted, until worshipers forgot about God and assumed that all powers were vested in whatever representation they chose to worship" (p. 23). Whatever the case, idolatry began to grow, and was fully developed by the sixth generation after Seth, when Enoch was bom into a world that had adopted various forms of idol worship. If we are to believe ancient reports, the heavenly bodies were only a small part of the false worship that had so quickly been adopted by the antediluvean culture. The Bible described Enoch's birth in the following context: "AndJared lived an hundred ixty and two years, and he begat Enoch: And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days ofJared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died. And Enoch lived sixty andfive years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat 10 Prophecy in the News - April 2012 sons anddaughters: Andall the days ojEnoch were three hundred sixty andfive years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not;for God took him" (Genesis 5: 18-24). Enoch has long been thought ofas perhaps the most Godly man (other than Christ) ever to walk upon the face of the earth. This fact is made most remarkable in the face of his environment. He Iived in a world ofopen sin, among demonic forces. Idolatry begins with a fonnal appeal to false gods. But it quickly rises to the level of welcoming those gods into the culture. Finally, it becomes enslaved to depraved practices, which will placate them. Once the false gods obtain a toehold by pretending to be servants of man, they quickly gain power and become his despotic oppressors. According to various extra-biblical sources, Enoch's world was dominated by fallen angels, who intermarried with human women to produce monstrous offspring. Flavius Josephus attributes the corruption of the early world and the flood ofNoah to their evil activities. The Book ofEnoch gives details about the timing oftheir activities: "And it came to pass when the children of man had multiplied that in those days were bom unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted -after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.' And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them; 'I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.' And they all answered him and said: 'Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.' Then sware they all together and bOlmd themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit ofMount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had swom and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it." (Enoch 6: 1-6). The deliberate sin of these angels was so great, that it imperiled all humanity. Among believers, it is common knowledge that the Lord looked down upon His corrupted creation and decided to destroy it. Only Noah and his family were considered pure enough to bring the Messianic line ofSeth across the flood, to begin anew after the waters receded. Into this tumult, or more importantly, at its very beginning, in the days of his father Jared, Enoch had been bom into a world facing judgment. He thus serves as the perfect type of the righteous man, caught up into heaven before the horrors ofa declining world were fully developed. It was a time of doctrinal corruption, as well as physical insult. It must be remembered that the evil ones taught men things that were held to be forbidden knowledge. Jude, in fact, uses the example ofthe fallen angels to illustrate the evil effect of false teachers: "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6). Peter's second epistle, written a few years earlier, probably provided the basis for Jude's comment: "For ifGod spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains ofdarkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher ofrighteousness, bringing in theflood upon the worldofthe ungodly" (2 Peter 2:4,5). The sin of these heavenly intruders was so great that God placed them into a special place of confinement - as we would say today, solitary confinement with maximum security. It seems that God took Enoch to spare him from the coming judgment. His name, pronounced Chanokh in Hebrew, means "initiated," or "dedicated," the same word root as Chanukkah, the festival ofdedication. Being set apart as an example of a man of great faith - complete dedication - Enoch was a living example ofthe word. A papyrus manuscript of the Book of Enoch, in ancient Greek, which has survived down to our modem day
  8. 8. Jones Dictionary qfOld Testament Names says this about him: "He was so eminent a man of faith that he walked with God, and with his spilitual eye saw eternal realities, God and heaven; and after a sojourn of 365 years in a deceitful and deceiving world, God took him. TIle Jewsconsider hinlas the inventor ofletters, and assert that a book of visions and _prophecies, written by him, was preserved by Noah in the ark. Hence the Arabians call him ... Eldris, i.e. the learned.That he was a prophet is most certain from the book of Jude, and a book [quoted above] has been lately discovered bearing his name" (p. liS). This observation is supported by the simple fact that Jude's epistle quotes the Book of Enoch directly and without embellishment: "And Enoch also, the seventhfrom Adam, prophesied ofthese, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands ofhis saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them ofall their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him " (Jude 14, IS). Writing about 5,300 years ago, Enoch looked toward the day ofthe Lord'sjudgment ... just as do we. Here, Joel quotes his words, envisioning the future arrival of the Messiah as seen in Revelation 19, coming with the armies of heaven ... the Second Coming. God took Enoch to heaven prior to the judgments of his own era, just as we will be taken out before the future judgment mentioned in Enoch's own prophecy. Second: Moses' Rapture Moses, Israel's great prophet and deliverer, presided over the Bible's next great period of sin and idolatry. Tn a surprising way, he is also an example ofrapture. He entered into the Egyptian culture, with its hundreds of gods, goddesses, magic amulets and powerful occult priesthood. By the grace of God, Moses, a Hebrew, became the most gifted member of the house of Pharaoh. He lived to be a hundred and twenty years of age, and his life was divided into thirds, each lasting forty years. First, he was a political and military leader in Egypt. During the next period, he lived in the deserts of Midian, as a shepherd. At the age of eighty, he was sent before Pharaoh to deliver his people. Forty difficult years followed, as he struggled to establish a spiritual Israel. Egypt is a type of the world system, which, because of sin, is rooted in a structure of idolatry. In a way, the world that Moses confronted, closely resembled Enoch's debased society. The Lord positioned both men in the world during critical times in history. And like Enoch, Moses' last days on earth were hjghly unusual. Exodus 34 describes his death, following his blessing ofthe tribes. He ascended Mount ebo, where he viewed the Promised Land: ''And Moses went up .from the plains of Moab unto the mountain qf Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land ofGilead, unto Dan, And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, And the south, and the plain ofthe valley ofJericho, the city qf palm trees, unto 2oQ/: And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: [ have caused thee to see it with thine ryes, but thou shalt not go over thither "(Deuteronomy 34:1-4). "So Moses the servant ofthe LORD died there in the land ofMoab, according to the word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his rye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains ofMoab thirty days: so the days ofweeping and mourningfor Moses were ended " (Deuteronomy 34:5-8). Regarding Moses' death, it must first be observed that he did not die of "old age," or of "natural causes." Apparently, even at the grand old age ofa hundred and twenty years, he was as strong and healthy as a young man. Additionally, Jehovah, the Lord, personally took charge of Moses' burial. The words of Deuteronomy make it abundantly clear that there was no human witness to the event. Looking southwest, from the sum,........"'· ....- Jordan; site ofan ancient monastery and chun:h. Dead Sea is visible below, with the land ofca_ fInII) Here, we are given not only the place from which Moses depmted the Earth, but also, a restatement of the Abrahamic covenant. From the description in these verses, it seems obvious that Moses was blessed with a divine vision ofthe covenant Land. From the top of Mt. Nebo, the Lord showed him the territory promised to Abraham and the twelve tribes ofIsrael. There can be no mjstake about the extent ofthe Lord's promise. Having witnessed the Land with his own eyes, Moses died. However, the nature ofhis death is quite amazing: The place of his burial was never known. But how did Moses actually die? When an ordinary person dies, his body qujckly dissolves into water (which evaporates) and a variety of mineral components. Given time, these disperse into dust, the stuff from which Adam was made in the first place. The average body is quite worthless; mining its material wealth would produce only a few pennies' worth ofusable chemicals. Only the soul and spirit are ofworth; they live on to be judged by the Lord. This was not the case with Moses. His April 2012 - Prophecy in Ihe News 11
  9. 9. body was considered to be extremely valuable. Perhaps its value was far greater than anything we on Earth can possibly imagine. ScriptW'e goes out of its way to make sW'e that we know this. An incident recorded in the epistle of Jude gives us certainty about it. As he writes, detailing the natW'e of false teachers, he notes their tendency to disrespect spilitual authority. To illustrate this point, Jude recalls an occurrence that accompanied Moses' burial. Jude brings forward the historical point that the devil had, at one point, attempted to make the case that Moses' body belonged to him. An argmnent ensued, with the archangel Michael making an appeal to the Lord, rather than directly criticizing the person ofthe devil: "Likewise also thesefilthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil ofdignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body ofMoses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves " (Jude 8-10). The truth of the matter is plain: The protocols of heaven command a degree of respect, even for the fallen Satan! Until the final judgment, the Old Serpent has retained some sort of sovereignty over this planet. The fact that he desired the body of Moses makes it clear that he believed he had a legal claim. There are many lessons taught by this encounter. But for our current study, the main thing to observe is that Satan considered the body ofMoses to be quite valuable! As already stated, an ordinary dead body is worthless. But Moses' body had great worth; he was not "dead" in the usual sense of the word. Was he in some form of su pended animation, pending his latter- day reappearance? A brief passage from the history of Flavius Josephus reveals what the Jews actually thought about Moses' "death:" •. ow as soon as they were come to the mountain called Abarim [Nebo], (which is a very high mountain, situate over against Jericho, and one that affords, to such as are . upon it, a prospect of the greatest part of the excellent land of Canaan,) he dismissed the senate; and as he was going to embrace Eleazar and Joshua, and was still discoursing with them, a cloud stood over him on the udden, and he disappeared in a certain valley, although he wrote in the holy books that he died, which was done out offear, lest they should ventW'e to say that, because of his extraordinary virtue, he went to God" (Antiquities, IV viii. 48). Here, we have an apparent eyewitness '2 Prophecy in the News - April 2012 account that shows Moses being lifted up into a cloud, the very same idea expressed by Paul in the New Testament, as he describes the rapture of the church! Did he leave his body behind, to be interred by the Lord in a place which no man knew? Or did his body rise to heaven, where it lay in a place designated by the Lord? Was it in that place that Satan attempted to take it? This side of eternity, we can never know the answers to these questions. But we can say with certainty that Moses' death was out of the ordinary. Perhaps he was taken alive to heaven ... or maybe he was in a state of suspended animation. To add to this thought, Moses later appeared to Jesus, Peter, James and John on the Mount ofthe Transfiguration: "And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses andElias talking with him" (Matthew 17: 1-3). In this divine moment, Moses appeared with Elijab who, as we shall see, had certainly been taken to heaven alive. The strong suggestion is that somehow, Moses transcended the ordinary concept of death. Whether or not it is true that he was taken in a cloud, as mentioned by Josephus, is irrelevant. He didn't die in the ordinary sense. He was caught up, taken by the Lord, Himself, for a special purpose. Third:Elijah's Rapture This brings us to the third, and quite clear, historical raptW'e of an important biblical personality. In a way similar to the lives of Enoch and Moses, the Lord brought Elijah into the center of a vortex of moral and spiritual depravity. In the ninth centW'y, B.C., he arrived on the scene without notice; suddenly he was there, in the presence of Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel, priestess of Baal. Israel had fallen into utter idolatry. ow, Elijah the prophet had come to declare judgment: "And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God ofIsrael liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word" (1 Kings 17:1). Having pronounced what tW'ned out to be a three-and-a-half year drought, Elijah followed the Lord's instructions and fled for his life. Later, toward the end ofthe drought, he returned to challenge the prophets of Baal. In the well-known story, he.arranged a public demonstraton, laying out a sacrifice to the Lord, who found it acceptable. The prophets ofBaal, whose god remained silent, were slain. Again, Elijah fled for his life. Upon his return, he found Elisha. Soon after that, he prophesied that both Ahab and Jezebel would die in disgrace, which, of coW'se, happened. Sadly, Ahab's son, Ahaziah came to power with the same leanings as his father. He served Baal until he, too died, as prophesied by Elijah. Shortly thereafter, the Lord decided that it was time for Elijah to be called home. But his work was to be carried on by Elisha. One day, the two ofthem were walking by the Jordan River, near Jericho: "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot offire, and horses offire, andparted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father; my father, the chariot ofIsrael, and the horsemen thereof And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that foll ji'om him, and went back, and stood by the bank ofJordan; And he took the mantle ofElijah that foil ji'om him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God ofElijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over " (2 Kings 2: 11-14). In one dramatic moment, Elijah was gone, taken by a whirlwind that had the appearance ofhorses and a chariot. He had been raptured; if you will, taken in a cloudlike vehicle to heaven. We are reminded of Paul's words, as
  10. 10. he describes certain "clouds" that will take the raptured ones to heaven: "For the Lord himselfshaLl descendfrom heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump ofGod: and the dead in Christ shall rise.first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4: 16,17). Certainly, these are no ordinary fluffy cumulus clouds; they are almost certainly vehicles of some sort. Fourth:Jesus' Resurrection and Rapture The high point ofhistory is the resurrection ofJesus Christ. In the pelfect fulfillment ofa pattern which we have observed in the lives ofEnoch, Moses and Elijah, Jesus came to a debased world that was dedicated to idolatry. The Graeco-Roman system of worship was nothing more than an adaptation ofthe same ancient Babylonian system that lifted up Baal and Ishtar. In the culture of the first century, the Babylonian Mystery religion and the cult ofthe Caesars thrived. Corruption characterized Israel, too. The Idurnean (Edornite) dynasty of pretenders to Israel's throne were close conspirators with their Roman overlords. The pliests and scribes of the Temple had developed a debased system of legalities based on Jewish Law. Under their tyrannical rule, ordinary Israelites were subjected to a soul-withering despotism. Jesus came upon this scene, precisely as prophesied by Daniel and other Old Testament propbets. He offered Himselfas the legitinlate King of Israel and was rejected. He turned away from their false worship and began to teach about a new way ofredemption, offering the Word, Bread, Water and vital, sinless Blood ofthe new birth. Then he arose, in what might be called the grandest rapture of all time. We do not usually think of it as such, but really it is. As Paul said: "But now is Christ risen ji'Om the dead, and become thejirstfruits ofthem that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection ofthe dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But eve,y man in his own Older: Christ thejirsifruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all ntle and all authority and power" (l Corinthians 15:20-24). Those who are Christ's at His coming are his members - the body of Christ - the church. Paul presents Jesus as the first of a type. He is the model of that which will happen to all who believe in Him, at the rapture. Enoch, Moses and Elijah, as great as they were, only foreshadowed the ultimate work ofChlist. When He comes for the church, we shall be caught up in a resurrection that will closely resemble His own. As the Apostle John put it so elegantly, "Beloved, now are we the sons ofGod, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appew; we shall be like him; for we shaLl see him as he is " (l Jolm 3:2). As the fourth of seven raptures, Jesus fulfilled another type: He is the middle, or elevated Servant Lamp of the Temple Menorah's seven lights! Across the span of redemptive history, He stands above, a ministering Spirit to a lost world. This is exactly the way he is pictured by John in the book of Revelation: "And in the midst ofthe seven candlesticks one like unto the Son ofman, clothed with a garment down to the joot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle." (Revelation 1:13). Fifth: Rapture of the Old Testament Saints The righteous of the Old Testament era had patiently awaited the coming of their King. Now, He had come and He had risen. Afier His resurrection, a miraculous sign appeared, a foreshadowing of things to come: "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twainji-om the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out ofthe graves afier his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many "(Matthew 27:51-53). This brief mention of the Old Testament saints calls to mind the Jewish concept of Abraham's bosom, that place in sheol where the righteous awaited the arrival and finished work of the Messiah. Though there is much mystery about the precise disposition of this place, an account given by Jesus, shows the reality of the undelworld, (O.T. sheol) and the place where Abraham waited. A righteous beggar and an unrighteous rich man died. Both went to a place ofwaiting: "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham a[ar off, and Lazarus in his bosom " (Luke 16:22-23). Here, "hell" is the New Testament way of April 20J2 - Prophecy in the News 13
  11. 11. describing "sheo!." The question arises: What happened to those who waited in Abraham's bosom at the resurrection ofChrist? The Scriptmal answer is that they went with Christ to heaven. Many have commented upon this fact. Beginning with Paul's account in Ephesians, they have concluded that Abraham and the righteous became a literal demonstration and exhibit to the citizens of heaven: "But unto every one ofus is given grace according to the measure ofthegift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descendedfirst into the lower parts ofthe earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up jar above all heavens, that he might fill all things." (Ephesians 4:7-10). Paul quotes a psalm of David, which prophesied that the Messiah would ascend to heaven with those faithful who, along with Abraham, had awaited His coming. From the cross, Jesus arose through the visible heavens, arriving at Heaven, itself, where He presented Himself as High Priest. He ascended through the territory of Satan, to God's throne, where He presented the faithful before God. This observation is affirmed in Colossians, where Paul, using slightly different language, tells us that Jesus led these faithful to heaven in a triumphal parade: "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew ofthem openly, triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2: 14,15). Can the ascent ofthe Old Testament sai11ts rightfully be called a rapture? Certainly, yes, since they were led in a triumphal parade to heaven. Their experience was the very essence of being "caught up," in the same way that the dead in Christ shall one day rise, "... in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" ( Corinthians 15:52). Sixth: Rapture of the Church With the five preceding examples to draw upon, the chmch awaits its own rapture. Each ofthese events lends its own depth and dimension to the most grand and complete event of its type in the history of the world, when the chmch is caught up. With history as om witness, it is easy to believe that the prorni e ofthe rapture is perfectly within the realm of possibility. Once we know where to look, the phenomenon is repeated In Scripture over and over again. 14 Prophecy in Ihe News - April 2012 Taking them as a composite picture, we recall that each of the preceding rapture experiences took place dming a crucialperiod ofsin and idolatry. Without going into detaiJ, most agree that we are living through another such era at the present time. Just as in the days of Enoch, Moses, Elijah, Jesus and the Old Testament saints,judgment is coming: "Foryourselves knowpeifixtly that the day ofthe Lord so cometh as a thiefin the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safoty; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day shouldovertakeyou as a thief" (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4). The antediluvean world, Egypt, Israel and Judah, all suffered judgment. After the next rapture - that of the chmch - the whole world will be judged. Entire books are devoted to this idea, so we need not go into further detail. But there is one more stop on our biblical tom. Seventh: Rapture of the Two Witnesses During the Tribulation, the two witnesses rise to world prominence. We believe them to be two men who had previously experienced raptme. That is, God personally took them both to heaven. power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days oftheir prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will" (Revelation 11 :4-6). Moses turned the waters of Egypt to blood and Elijah withheld the rain from Israel for three and a halfyears .. . which just happens to be the length of the first half of the Tribulation. Each of them stands up to proclaim the Lord under horrible conditions of idolatry and depravity. They reprise the roles that they played earlier, this time in a larger and more dramatic way: "And after three days and an half the Spirit oflifefrom God entered into them, and they stood upon theirfeet; and greatfearfoil upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voicejium heaven saying unto them, Come up hithel~ And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them " (Revelation 11:11, 12). What a rapture! And notice once again, that it is accompanied by a "cloud." As we have said before, this is no ordinary cloud. One day, we'll see such clouds with om own eyes. In fact, Jesus told the high priest about them during His trial: "But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, J adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us .---------~-,~~~--~ In their intertwined lives, we have seen prototypes of the great raptme and resurrection of the church. Though there is much discussion concerning their identities, we believe them to be Moses and Elijah. We come to this conclusion simply because they are both shown doing exactly what they did dming their Old Testament rninistries: 'These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And ifany man will hurt them,fire proceedeth out oftheir mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and ifany man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless [ say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand ofpower, and coming in the clouds of heaven " (Matthew 26:63,64). And there we have it, seven key events, past and future. The rapture outlines history. Seven times, like the spiritual branches ofthe Menorah, it brings light to the dark world. Its center light, rising like a beacon, is Christ. Seven times, the Bible describes the experience of resmrection ... of raptlU"e. Soon, those clouds will come again, this time for us! •
  12. 12.
  13. 13. Scott J. writes ... "Gary ... Can you explain 2nd Thes- salonians 2 for me? If the Holy Spirit is the restrainer, then the Bible would be contradicting itself, and that is not possible. This passage also sounds like the Second Coming, but it's too far into the Tribulation for us to still be here if [we're] Pretribulation believ- ers. I am confused as to the gathering of us to be with Christ, and the Day of the Lord being in the same Scrip- ture, so close together. - Scott J." Dear Scott, You are one of several people who have lately asked this question, which revolves around the function of the Holy Spirit during the Church Age. The Spirit of the Lord was given to the church at Pentecost, as told in Acts chapter 2. This represents a finite point in human history - the beginning ofthe Church Age. Another finite point lies ahead of us - the end of the Church Age at the moment of the general res- urrection of the church at the rapture. Everyone genuinely saved by faith in the redeeming grace and shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ will take part in this event. It is generally agreed that the Holy Spirit is acting to restrain the ad- vancement of the Antichrist's govern- ment during this finite period of time, and you seem to agree with this idea. But in your assessment, you forget that there is a time gap of several years between the removal of the church at the rapture and the Antichrist's final rise to power. Your question then as- 16 Prophecy in the News - April 2012 Ask Gary! ~~~ in the Kews Okla.':toma City, OK 73153 ~ Answers from Gary Stearman sumes that the Holy Spirit's restraint of the Antichrist will extend all the way into the middle ofthe Tribulation, when he stands up to declare himselfa god: "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as Godsitteth in the temple o/God, shewing himselfthat he is God" (II Thessalonians 2:4). This event, which Jesus called, "the abomination ofdesolation," takes place at the midpoint of the Tribulation. The restraining force of the church is lifted before the Tribulation, then several years later, the Antichrist rises to his full power. • Chad L. writes ... Dear Gary, I am finding that the in- forn1ation you talk about is quite unlike anything I have ever heard. But there also seems to be a theme. No one ever gets to hear this sort of stuff in church, and I feel that is why I quit going to mine. This information needs to be talked about by all Christians whether they are scared or not. The end is com- ing and hardly anyone will be prepared. I feel blessed to have come across your ministry in ways 1couldn't imagine last year. Anyway, my question is, what ... would you classify your ministry? Is there a word or separate classifica- tion for it? It's definitely not "normal." Dear Chad, It is perhaps the saddest commentary on our times that the teaching of Bible prophecy is not "normal." Actually, such teaching has largely been aban- doned, because in most circles, it is considered too controversial. But from the beginning of the Bible to its end, one finds a marvelous prophetic layout, giving mankind free and open access to God's plan. It views the future as al- ready developed in the mind of God. Our ministry is based upon the Bible as the full and complete expression of God's will and purpose, completely re- liable in its every thought and word. We believe that it lays out history - past, present and future - as a series of dis- pensations, each of which is a progres- sive step in God's long-term plan for man. The present dispensation is the Church Age, or Age of Grace, which will end in the rapture and resurrec- tion of the saints. A few years after our d.eparture, God will judge the world in a seven-year period called the Tribula- tion, which will culminate in Christ's Second Coming with His saints, to set' up and administer a thousand-year dis- pensation called the Kingdom Age. This Millennial Kingdom will, itself, end in a conflict which will be resolved, then a New Heavens and a New Earth will be created, in absolute perfection. Because we believe in the Dis- pensational layout of history, we are called "Dispensationalists." Because we believe in a coming Tribulation preceded by the rapture ofthe Church, we are also called "Pretribulational." And, because we also believe that the thousand-year Kingdom Age lies ahead, we are called "Premillennial." Actually, we're simply believers in and teachers of God's propheti.c Word, the Bible, unaffiliated with any specific church or denomination. All of our financing comes from individ- ual donations and book sales. Led by the Spirit ofthe Lord, we try to under- stand it in a forthright and systematic manner. And we think we're pretty normal. •
  14. 14. "The days ofour years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason ofstrength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and wefly away." - Psalm 90:10 THE GREATNESSRiERAPTURE- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Testimony and book review by Bob Ulrich - - - - - - - - - - - - - On Sunday evening, February 26' 2012 my life changed forever. As r sat in my recliner working on my comput- er, [ got the phone call that every son or daughter dr.eads. T knew instantly it was my mom- her ring tone is a loud, emer- gency warning sound that always startles me to attention ! Normally she's just call- ing to say hello or check on the grandkids, but tonight was different. She was calling to tell me that my dad had just had a heart attack and was being rushed to the hospi- tal, unconscious, in an ambulance. As my heart sank to the floor and that helpless feeling set in from 1,400 miles away, [ re- treated to the bedroom to call some close friends, asking them to pray. When your dad approaches 80 and has already had one quadruple bypass, you know he's living on bor- rowed time. The words of Moses in the beauti- fully crafted and com- plex Psalm 90 ring in my ears, "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and wefly away. " Less than an hour later I got the news that my father had flown into the arms of Jesus. I suspect that dad left this world in less than 5 minutes and I have no doubt he opened his eyes in paradise. No one was better prepared to meet the Savior. The last few days of his life were spent "abounding in the work ofthe Lord." He had just finished leading the men's prayer breakfast he loved so much-one of the highlights of his life was equipping men for the Lord's service. Then it was off to the "discipleship" program he'd orga- nized in his local church, another burden he had--equipping the saints. Eleven men came out for the first session and he was like a new father, beaming at the initial turnout. What a great encourager! Dad didn't waste time sitting around. He hit the ground running almost 80 years ago and never stopped moving. The prod- uct of a broken home and an alcoholic father, he accepted Jesus at the mission in Brooklyn, Y where he met my mom. They were happily married for over 60 years and enjoyed a wonderful life togeth- er. Please remember my mom Dorothy in your prayers. Losing a spouse is such a hollow feeling-especially for faithful Christians, longing to go together in the rapture. My wife and rwere so happy we made a surprise visit back to J last De- cember to wish them a Happy Anniversa- ry. That was the last time I would see my dad on this Earth and the last time I would feel his massive arms encircle me in a bear hug words can't describe. Dad was my best friend and I'm going to miss him. BUT ... r can hear the words of King David, speaking about his late son; "1 shall go to him but he shall not return to me." Dad and I will meet again. Very soon! I can truly say that after 55 years, I now fully un- derstand Paul's words in Phillipians, "the peace that passeth all understanding." The Pre-Day of rhe Lord Rapture David Olander As I prepared to leave for the 27-hour, cross-country journey, we stopped at Prophecy in the News. As I walked into my office, there was a new book sitting on my desk and it caught my attention. The Greatness of the Rapture appeared out of nowhere and became my traveling companion for the long trip. David Olan- der, Professor of Biblical Languages at Tyndale Theological Seminary, has writ- ten what rcan only describe as a "beauti- ful book." I am convinced that the Lord Himself sent it to me! By the time I got to New Jersey I couldn't think of anything else other than the fact that my dad was with Jesus and that r would soon be join- ing him! The bear hug will live to see an- other day! Never before have I read a book on the Lord's return that explained things so decisively. The author's knowledge of Greek added so much to my understand- ing of this great day-the first day in his- tory when the bride of Christ is gathered together-from Pentecost to the rapture. In my mind r know how much I miss my earthly father-just imagine how much our Heavenly Father misses us? Olander's treatment of 1 and 2 Thessa- lonians makes this book special. So many people want to twist Paul 's words to paint a portrait of the church meeting the Anti- christ and enduring the wrath of God. But this author is having none of it. His treat- ment of the Day of the Lord is clear and concise and written in a way that makes you realize that God's plan for the church and the nation ofIsrael are clearly distinct and different. The Day ofthe Lord-when God pours out his wrath on an unbeliev- ing world cannot happen until the bride of Christ-the church-is safely tucked away. Then and only then does God deal with His Jewish brethren. Don't let the naysayers discourage you with their seeds of doubt. Remember, we're not appointed unto wrath and this book proves it! The knowledge lies in the Greek language! Dad was a great example of our Hea,v- enly Father. Loving, kind, patient, strong, faithful, diligent, joyful, encouraging, dedicated, and committed to his kids, my mom and above all-the Lord. He left be- hind a legacy that will last for eternity- he touched the lives of so many people. He understood what was really important. He rarely ended a conversation without using the words, "Lord willing." He knew of the great uncertainty of life on Earth- but he also understood the crystal-clear certainty of eternal life through Jesus Christ. I know where dad is and I know WHO he's with- just one more reason to keep looking up! • Apri/20/2 - Prophecy in the News 17
  15. 15. While writing this series, I came across a 1995 TIME magazine yearbook offering an article entitled, "Glimpses afthe Mind." Their editorial staff asked a series of questions: "The mystery is deep, a set of interrelated conundrums perhaps as old as humanity: What, precisely, is the mind, the elusive entity where intelligence, decision making, perception, awareness and a sense of self reside? Where is it located? How does it work? Does it arise from purely physical processes - pulses of electricity zapping from brain cell to brain cell, helped along their way by myriad complex chemicals? Or is it something beyond the merely physical - something ethereal that might be close to the spiritual concept of the soul?" Those questions were similar to my own - questions that led me into this study on the human brain in the first place. That same day, I received Chuck Missler's February 1999 newsletter that included a similar article on the brain. His research compares remarkably with what we have learned during this study. He wrote that the brain has been estimated to be " ... composed of 1010 nerve cells, each with 104 - 105 connecting fibers, thus approaching 1015 separate connections." To help us comprehend these astronomical numbers, he said, "Try to imagine a 1015 34 Prophecy in the News - April 2012 by J. R. Church - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - equivalent: imagine a forest half the size of the Unjted States - about I million square miles. Assume there were 10,000 trees per square mile, each with 100,000 leaves on each tree. That's a bunch." His premise is that the brain is a ". .. highly organized network of uniquely adaptive communication channels. Ifonly 1% ofthe connections were specifically organized pathways, it would still represent a greater number of connections than the entire communications network on the Planet Earth." Missler mentioned Wilder Penfield, a Canadian neurosurgeon, who published The Mystery af the Mind (I 920s), in which he speculated that all memory is recorded in the brain and stored in specific locations. On the other hand, Karl Pribram, a neurophysiologist at Stanford University, in his book, Languages af the Brain, found that removing parts of the brain did not eradicate memories. He set forth the theory that memories were not localized at specific brain sites, but were somehow distributed throughout the brain as a whole. Missler writes, "When Pribram discovered holography, he was ecstatic. If it was possible for every portion of a piece of holographic film to contain all the information necessary to create a whole image, then it seemed equally possible for every part of the brain to contain all of the information necessary to recall a whole . memory." He continues, "The holograpruc paradigm also explains how the brain can store so many memories in so little space. The physicist, John von Neumann, once calculated that over the course of the average lifetime, the brain stores something on the order of 2.8 x 1020 bits of information ... that's J,000 bits for every second in the entire history of the universe!" It is said that if a hologram were cut into a thousand pieces, each piece would contain a complete picture. This accounts for the theory expressed above that the brain stores every memory in a holographic process. Pretty impressive possibilities! Missler concludes, "the notion of the mind is broader than simply the organ we call the brain. There are aspects to imagination, inspiration and creativity that go far beyond the mechanisms for storage, recall, and processing. Is there a 'holy of holies' in our own being that doesn't lend itself to x-rays, ultrasound or electron microscopes? Is there a hyper-dimensional transformer or transfer function that connects us to another dimension beyond
  16. 16. those of our consciousness?" This is precisely the theory we have thus far explored. It appears that the brain may be connected to a mysterious source beyond this dimension. It may be that memory is stored in that other world, and that the brain processes, transfers and retrieves that memory continually. For lack of a better example, we have compared the brain to a sophisticated computer, endowed with a certain amount of random access memory (RAM), but that memory may also be stored in an off-premise storage unit (in heaven) - similar to a main-frame computer accessed by a modem hooked up through a telephone line. r envision such a process in which, when we confess our sins, God erases the stored memory of the event in question. We are told that God will blot out our transgressions: "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins" (Isaiah 43:25). However we cannot seem to forget our sin that easily. Evil eems to affect the brain in a far more permanent way than pleasant memories. The TIME article states: "Physical trauma can distort memory, presumably by destroying all or part ofone of the memory-processing structures. But other sorts of shock - strong emotion, for example - can do the same. Post- traumatic stress disorder is a good example of the brain reacting to shock. 'It's been an eye opener to me that individuals we study who were traumatized 25 years ago still show abnormal brain function,' says Dennis Charney, head of psychiatry at a VA hospital in Connecticut. 'Severe stress can change the way your brain functions biologically.,,, The brain can actually be permanently damaged by the evils in which men engage. Perhaps that is why the forbidden fruit was referred to as the tree ofthe "knowledge of good and evil." The very knowledge ofevil can have a potentially deadly effect on the processes used to assimilate knowledge in the brain. TIME continues: "Until a few years ago, unraveling the relationship of mind and brain was beyond the realm of observation and experimentation. But science has finally begun to catch up with philosophy. Using sensitive electrodes inserted deep into the gray matter of test animals, researchers have watched vision as it percolates inward from the eye's retina to the inner brain. Powerful technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRT) and Positron-Emission Tomography (PET) have also provided a window on the human brain, enabling scientists to watch a thought taking place, see the red glow of fear erupting from the structure known as the amygdala, or note the telltale firing of neurons as a long-buried memory is reconstructed. 'What's so exciting,' says Patricia Churchland, a professor at the University of California at San Diego, 'is that the philosophical questions raised by the Greeks are coming within the province of science.' "In response to this enormous opportunity - not just to clarify the mysteries of consciousness but also to understand and treat such devastating mind malfunctions as Alzheimer's disease, depression, drug addiction, schizophrenia and traumatic brain damage - research projects have multiplied dramatically." Consulting the Rabbis Scientific studies are trying to determine whether we are purely a chemical entity or if some ethereal spirit dwells within the brain. And that brings me to a third resource - the Zohar, an ancient Jewish commentary. One of our readers had called with a question about a quott: I had referred to on our television program, so I picked up one of the volumes of the Zohar, a Jewish commentary on the Torah in order to look for my resource. As I leafed through the pages, my eyes fell upon the word nephesh. Knowing that nephesh was the Hebrew word for "soul," my interest was stirred. • Jewish mystical Tree of Life chart from the Zohar. Think of it. Within a month, I had "accidentally" come across more resource material on the human brain - home of the soul! Was all ofthis mere coincidence? Or was someone communicating with me from beyond this dimension - the very premise I had entertained in my previous articles on this subject? In this ancient writing, Jewish scholars claimed that the soul contains a trinity of entities that form a unity: "Three names has the soul of man: nephesh, ruah and neshamah. They are all comprised one within the other, yet upon death they have three distinct abodes: "Nephesh (translated 'soul' in the KJV) remains in the grave until the body is decomposed and turned into dust, during which time it flits about in this world, seeking to mingle with the living and to learn of their troubles; and in the hour of need it intercedes for them. "Ruah (translated 'spirit' in the KJV) enters paradise and there dons a likeness which is in the semblance ofthe body: that likeness being, as it were, a garment with which the spirit robes itself, so that it may enjoy the delights of paradise. "Neshamah (translated 'breath ' in the KN) ascends at once to her place, the region from whence she (note the feminine nature ofthis entity) emanated, and for her sake the light is kindled to shine above. She never again descends to Earth. In her is consummated the One Who combines all sides, the upper and the lower. And as long as she has not ascended to be united with the Throne, the ruah (spirit) cannot crown itself in paradise, nor can the nephesh (soul) be at ease in its place; but when she ascends all the others find rest." I was aware of what the Bible teaches about the soul and spirit, as taught through the Hebrew terms nephesh (soul) and ruah (spirit), but I was not familiar with the term neshamah. However, upon further research, I learned that it is the Hebrew term used in the scripture where God breathed into Adam's nostrils the "breath of life." Neshamah is the term translated "breath " in Genesis 2:7: "And the LORD Godformed man ofthe dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath oflife; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7). The Hebrew for "breath of life" is neshamah (breath) and chai (life). Now let's see if we can get this straight. According to early Jewish scholars, what we call the soul is actually made up of three entities. The nephesh appears to be our human life-consciousness - similar to the life-consciousness of an animal. April 20J2 - Prophecy in Ihe News 35
  17. 17. According to the Bible, animals also have a nephesh. But, as far as we can determine, an animal does not have a God-consciousness. That is where the neshamah comes in. That is the part that was breathed into us by God, Himself. The ruah (pronounced ruach) is the spirit that connects our neshamah to our nephesh. At least that is the theory espoused by the rabbis. They put it this way: "The nephesh possesses in itself no light and cannot out of its own being engender it, and for this reason it is in close connection and deeply eru11eshed with its body. The ruah rides upon the nephesh, dominates it, and enlightens it with supernal glory, as much as it can bear; this nephesh is the throne of its ruah. The neshamah produces the ruah, rules over it, and sheds upon it the light of life. The ruah depends entirely upon the neshamah and is lit up by its light and nourished by its celestial food, while the nephesh is similarly dependent on the ruah." Note the use of the term "light of life" possessed by the neshamah. It is the same terminology used of our Savior in the opening chapter of John's Gospel: "Tn him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same camefor a witness, to bear witness ofthe Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:4-9). Jesus possessed the light of the neshamah. How curious! Using this analogy, let us see if.we can figure out just what happened to Adam when he sinned. God had told him that if he sinned, he would die. But we know that Adam did not die physically on the day he partook of the forbidden fruit. Christian theologians have long believed that it was the spirit of Adam that lost its fellowship with God and needed to be regenerated. That makes sense. It seems that the ruah was somehow impaired, severing the connection between the nephesh and the neshamah - between Adam's life-consciousness and his God- consciousness. Thus, the fellowship was broken. God would no longer come down to walk in the Garden and visit with Adam in the cool of the day. Adam was driven from the Garden. Paradise was lost. We have only to observe a natural lmsaved man to understand this concept. The unsaved man has no comprehension of God's marvelous work on his behalf. As far as most men are concerned, there 36 Prophecy in (he News - April 2012 is no God. Oh, he may give an intellectual explanation for the existence of some "man upstairs," but he has no experience to back up his statement. A man must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit in order to absolutely know in his soul that there is a God caring for and watching over him. This could be what the Bible calls being "born again." Something has to be "reborn" inside of us. That entity "reborn" is what the rabbis call the ruah. A side note: the rabbis - those who do not believe in the triune Godhead (trinity) - do believe in the trinity of the human soul as three in one! This ancient commentary does not take into account the fact that Christ died and rose again. Their belief concerning the soul is stuck back in the days of the Old Testament, before salvation became available. In describing the nephesh (soul) of the dead, the rabbis said that it stayed with the body until it had decayed and the bones were parted. This may be the reason why Jews, in Bible days, buried their dead in caves rather than underground. Recent excavations of tombs in Jerusalem found that the bones of the departed were separated and stored in small coffins. Perhaps these bones were removed from the funerary slab and separated in an effort to free the soul for its journey to reunite with its ruah and neshamah. According to the rabbis, the soul of the dead can be contacted: "Now when the children of men are in sorrow or trouble, and repair to the graves of the departed, then the nephesh is awakened and it wanders forth and rouses the ruah, which in turn rouses the Patriarchs, and then the neshamah. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, takes pity on the world. This matter has already been explained, although the doctrine of the neshamah has been put in a somewhat different form; but it all amounts to the same, and what we have said is entirely correct." Perhaps this is why Jews congregate at the tomb of Abraham to pray. Somehow, they think Abraham might intercede. The following commentary may explain why various ancient cultures believed in ghosts - departed spirits that appear to be locked into this plane of existence: ''Now if the neshamah is hindered from ascending to her rightful place, then the ruah, when it reaches the door of paradise, finds it barred, and it cannot enter and so roams about urmoticed and forlorn; and as for the nephesh, it wanders about the world and beholds the body which was once its home devoured by worms and suffering the judgment of the grave, and it mourns. Thus all suffer punishment, and so they remain until the neshamah is able to attain to her rightful sphere; for all three are one, forming one whole, united in a mystical bond, according to the prototype above, in which nephesh, ruah and neshamah constitute together one totality." It is obvious from this ancient Jewish teaching, that Judaism does not accept the fact that Adam sinned and caused the fall of the human race. They do not believe that men are born with fallen natures. Jews teach that every man is born with a clean slate. Since man is not a sinner, he does not need to be saved. In this theory, Jews leave no 1'00111 for regeneration. They fail to understand that God told Adam, "But of the tree ofthe knowledge ofgood and evil, thou shalt not eat ofit: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2: 17). It is our conviction that the spirit ofAdam could only be regenerated by the Holy Spirit after the death and resurrection of Christ. This revival or regeneration occurs at the moment of conversion. This is why we are encouraged to become soul winners. This is why we are commanded to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. We believe that at the moment the sinner repents of sin, prays for forgiveness a'nd trusts in Jesus Christ, his spirit is regenerated. The Holy Spirit endows that human spirit with eternal life. Christianity believes that man is a trinity consisting of body, soul and spirit. The rabbis, on the other hand, do not take into account the body. They see a trinity in the soul alone - consisting of soul, spirit and the neshamah: Similarly in man below, the three are one - yet separate. The neshamah ascends aloft to the fountain-head; the ruah enters paradise: and the nephesh finds rest in the grave. Thus there are three grades of the soul distinct one from another, although they form one bond and one mystery. I am bothered by their assertion that the soul stays with the body in the grave until the flesh has turned to dust and the bones are separated. Most conservative Christian theologians teach that the soul of the saint ascends into heaven and that the soul of the sinner descends into hell. In the final analysis, the rabbis believe the three entities of the soul finally get back together: "When that ruah ascends to be crowned within its neshamah which is above, the nephesh joins the ruah and receives illumination from it, which causes itself to shine, even as the moon borrows light from the sun. And that ruah
  18. 18. then joins itself to the neshamah, and the neshamah unites herself with the Infinite. "Thus is achieved harmony, peace and union. This constitutes the attainment of the rest and quietude of the nephesh, concerning which it is written: 'But the soul (nephesh) ofmy lord shall be bound in the bundle oflife with (aleph-tahv) the Lord thy God' (I Samuel 25:29); that is to say, in the union symbolized by the aleph-tahv (signifying the union of all things). Blessed are the righteous who fear their Lord in this world, for they merit the threefold rest of saints in the world to come." Here is an interesting statement - the rabbis believe the reunited soul is "bound in the bundle of life with the aleph-tahv." Though they do not recognize Jesus Christ as Messiah, Jesus, Himself, claimed to be the Aleph-Tahv, the Hebrew equivalent of the Alpha and Omega. They are actually saying that the soul that makes it to heaven enjoys fellowship with the Messiah. This excursion into the realm of Jewish thinking about the soul still leave u with the mystery of the human brain and its connection with con ciou ne - the sense of being in the here and now. The TIME article drew this conclusion: "Does this mean that science is on the verge ofunderstanding consciousness? Not necessarily. The notion that the human mind can ever fully comprehend the human mind could well be folly. It may be that scientists will eventually have to acknowledge the existence of something beyond their ken - something that might be described as the sou!." Ghosts and Spirits Reports abound throughout the centuries about people seeing strange, dimly-lit wisps of vapor-like images of people who have died. Are these "ghosts" merely figments of imagination? Or are they actually glimpses across the dimensional plane where the spirits ofthose people continue their existence? The Bible tells us about Jesus casting demons out of people. Is it possible that other intelligent entities can actually enter into a person and cause them mental or emotional problems? If so, and I have no doubt as to its reality, then those demonic spirits must exist in another dimension rather than coming from another galaxy or distant star system. Out ofthe Body Experiences Nature magazine, September 19, 2002, reported that neuroscientist Olaf Blanke, at the Geneva University Hospital, in Switzerland, was able to bring about an out-of-body experience through electrical stimulation of the light angular gyrus in the temporal lobe of a 43 year-old woman suffering from severe epileptic seizures. With the first mild stimulation, she felt she was "sinking into the bed" or "faJling from a height." With more intense stimulation, she said she could "see myselflying ill bed, from above, butI only see my legs and lowertrunk." Another trial induced "an instantaneous feeling oflightness and floating about six feet above the bed, close to the ceiling." For centuries, man's mysterious brain has been capable of encountering other worldly expeliences through prayer, meditation, or the influence of drugs. Mystics have told of having a "third eye" capable of clairvoyant perception, seeing ghosts and reading minds. But now, science has discovered a breakthrough in the production of such experiences. According to the first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, this forbidden territory awaits the death of every person. The righteous travel through a tunnel of light to the gate ofthe nether world, where angels escort them to Paradise. But the wicked arrive at the gate, only to be dragged away by demons into torment. There are many stOlies about people who have dropped into a dream-state, left their bodies and traveled to other places. Do you believe this is possible? If you deny its possibility, then I would like for you to consider a man named Paul, who tells ofsuch an experience as he lay dying outside the city walls ofLystra: "It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 1 knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth,) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And 1 knew such a man, (whether in the body, orout ofthe body, I cannot tell: God knoweth,) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawfitlfor a man to utter" (II Corinthians 12:1-4). After being stoned and taken up for dead, he revived and lived to tell about this incredible adventure. Yes, there is another world nearby, into which we can step when our physical brains begin to shut down and our bodies begin to die. Near Death Experiences There are hundreds of recorded testimonies from people who have died, and later been resuscitated. Many tell of leaving their bodies, seeing the team of doctors and nurses working over them, traveling through a tunnel, and seeing a blight light at the other end of it. There are too many independent accounts of the same tunnel and same light for it to be a mere figment of the imagination. Nor could it simply be a chemical reaction in the brain. Those who have been there clain1 to have seen and taJked with others who are there - Jesus, their relatives, etc. Their conversations are too similar, too dynamic, and too knowledgeable to be the result of simple chemical changes in the physical conditions of their brains. Josephus'Description of Death and After Perhaps the best extra-biblical account of the other world that exists just beyond our mental comprehension was given by the first- century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus. It is quite similar to the descriptions of the tunnel or heavenly hallway awaiting our souls: "There is one descent into this region, at whose gate we believe there stands an archangel with an host; which gate when those pass through that are conducted down by the angels appointed over souls; they do not go the sanle way; but the just are guided to the light hand, and are led with hymns, sung by the angels appointed over that place unto a region of light, in which the just have dwelt from the beginning of the world; not constrained by necessity, but ever enjoying the prospect of the good things they see, and rejoice in the expectation of those new enjoyments, which will be peculiar to every one of them, and esteeming those things beyond what we have here; with whom there is no place of toil, no burning heat, no piercing cold, nor are any briers there; but the countenance of the fathers and of the just, which they see always smiles upon them, while they wait for that rest and eternal new life in heaven, which is to succeed this region. This place we caJI the Bosom ofAbraham. "But as to the unjust, they are dragged by force to the left hand by the angels allotted for punishment, no longer going with a good- will, but as prisoners driven by violence; to whom are sent the angels appointed over them to reproach them and threaten them with their tenible looks, and to thrust them still downwards. Now those angels that are set over these souls, drag them into the neighborhood of hell itself; who, when they are hard by it, continually hear the noise of it, and do not stand clear ofthe hot vapor itself; but when they have a nearer view of this spectacle, as ofa tenible and exceeding great prospect offire, they are struck with a fearful expectation of a future judgment, and in effect punished thereby; and not only so, but where they see the place of the fathers and April 20J2 - Prophecy in the News 37
  19. 19. of the just, ,even hereby are they punished; for a chaos deep and large is fixed between them; insomuch that a just man that hath compassion upon them cannot be admitted, nor can one that is unjust, if he were bold enough to attempt it, pass over it. "This is the discourse concerning Hades, wherein the souls ofall men are confined Lmtil a proper season, which God hath determined, when he will make a resurrection of all men from the dead, not procuring a transmigration ofsouls from one body to another, but raising again those very bodies, which you Greeks, seeing to be dissolved, do not believe; but learn not to disbelieve it; for while you believe that the soul is created, and yet is made immortal by God, according to the doctrine ofPlato, and this in time, be not incredulous; but believe that God is able, when he hath raised to life that body which was made as a compound of the same elements, to make it immortal; for it must never be said of God, that he is able to do some things, and tillable to do others. We have therefore believed that the body wilJ be raised again; for although it be dissolved, it is not perished; for the Earth receives its remains, and preserves them; and while they are like seed and are mixed among the more fruitful soil, they flourish and what is sown is indeed sown bare grain; but at the mighty sound of God the Creator, it wilJ sprout up, and be raised in a clothed and glorious condition, though not before it has been dissolved, and mixed with the Earth, So that we have not rashly believed the resurrection of the body; for although it be dissolved for a time on account of the original transgression, it exists still, and is cast into the Earth as into a potters furnace, in order to be formed again, not in order to rise again such as it was before, but in a state of purity, and so as never to be destroyed any more; and to everybody shall its own soul be restored; and when it hath clothed itself with that body, it will not be subject to misery, but being itself pure, it will continue with its pure body, and rejoice with it, with which it having walked righteously now in this world, and never having had it as a snare, it will receive it again with great gladness; but as for the unjust, they will receive their bodies not changed, but with the same diseases wherein they died, and such as they were in their unbelief, the same shall they be when they hall be faithfuIJy judged. "For all men, the just as well as the unjust, shall be brought before God the Word; for to him hath the Father committed all judgment; and he in order to fulfill the will of his Father shall come asjudge, whom we call Christ. ... " ... the just shall remember only their righteous actions whereby they have attained the heavenly kingdom, in which there is no 38 Prophecy in the News - April 2012 Flavius Josephus was aRoman historian ofJewish ancestry who wrote extensively on awide array oftopics. He lived from the year 37 to around 100AD. sleep, no sorrow, no corruption, no care, no night, no day measured by time, no sun chiven in his course along the circle of heaven by necessity; and measuring out the hounds and conversions of the seasons, for the better illumination of the life of men; no moon decreasing and increasing, or introducing a variety of seasons, nor will she then moisten the Earth; no burning sun, no Bear turning round (the pole), no Orion to rise, no wandering of innumerable stars. The Earth will not then be difficult to be passed over, nor will it be hard to find out the court of Paradise, nor will there be any fearful roaring of the sea, forbidding the passengers to walk on it; even that will be made easily passable to the just, though it will not be void of moisture. Heaven will not then be uninhabitable by men; and it will not be impossible to discover the way of ascending thither. The Earth wilJ not be uncultivated, nor require too much labor of men, but will bring forth its fruits of its own accord, and will be well adorned with them." There are two things of particular interest predicted by Josephus. First, he said, "nor will it be hard to find out the court ofParadise...." In other words, we shall someday possess the technology of trans-dimensional travel. We will be able to slide to and from this plane of existence into paradise, the dimension in which angelic creatures live, and return. Secondly, Josephus said, "Heaven will not then be uninhabitable by men; and it will not be impossible to discover the way of ascending thither." We have already begun to see man's first attempts beyond the gravitational pull of planet Earth. We have sent men to the moon and robots to Mars. We are presently exploring the planets. But, when the souls who have died, have been resurrected with immortal bodies, and the church has been translated, we wilJ all return with Christ possessing the knowledge and technology to travel across the universe! In our modem age, with new discoveries being made almost every day, perhaps it's time we attempted to understand the concepts of those ancient mysteries, which lie just beyond our present comprehension.•
  20. 20. RETURN TO MECCA ~