Israel is the key to all end-time prophecy.

Keep your eye on Jerusalem


Jim Fletcher is a writer, researcher, speaker and director of Prophecy Matters (prophecymatters.com). He is also a member of the executive committee of the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel (NCLCI), and author of It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine). He writes online for WorldNetDaily; Beliefnet; American Family Association; the Jerusalem Post; and Rapture Ready. He can be reached at jim@prophecymatters.com

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  • April 27, 2015

    (Be sure and sign up for our new newsletter at www.prophecymatters.com, where you’ll also find unique articles and commentary about Israel.)

    Trip of a Lifetime

    Growing up, I would occasionally hear of a member of our church going to “the Holy Land.” In the wake of the Six Day War, an explosion of tourism boosted Israel’s economy, and what once seemed like an improbably exotic and unattainable vacation became reality.

    Having been seven times myself, I am always anxious to go back to see the land and its people.

    Now, some friends of mine are making arrangements to take pastors to Israel, and I’d like to know how many readers of “Israel Watch” are pastors and would be interested in going.

    The all-expense paid trip will include of course plenty of sightseeing, but also insights into what it’s like for Jews to live among a sea of hostile neighbors.

    (An important aside: I never feel safer than when I’m in Israel. The country’s security apparatus is non-invasive-but-effective, and the Israeli people go about their daily lives and business calm and full of life.)

    When you first see the coastline of Tel Aviv, your heart will pound faster, and upon emerging from Gen Gurion Airport, you’ll find palm trees and balmy temperatures. The drive along Highway 1 will allow you to see both historical sites (for example, the famed Valley of Ayalon), the leftover military vehicles from the War of Independence, which litter the sides of the highway, and you will become aware that you are literally going “up to Jerusalem,” as you leave the coastal plain and ascend to the mountains of Israel, which run north-south through the middle of the country.

    The itinerary of course will be tailored for pastors, so that they can take the experience back home to their people.

    The Garden Tomb, the Temple Mount, the Israel Museum, and Jerusalem’s Old City bazaar are must-sees, of course.

    If you are a pastor interested in such a trip, contact me and I’ll pass you along to the right people.

    We can’t take everyone all at once, of course, but you won’t want to miss this chance for the trip of a lifetime.

     

    jim@prophecymatters.com

    www.prophecymatters.com


    April 20, 2015

    Pentecostals and Prophecy

    As the American church moves further into apostasy, it is fascinating (and dismaying!) to watch attacks on Israel and Bible prophecy teaching coming from within the ranks.

    So to speak.

    As readers of “Israel Watch” well know, we have been documenting for several years now the erosion of support for Israel among celebrity elites within evangelicalism. Pastors, ministry leaders, denominational leaders.

    The rot in the Southern Baptist Convention is well underway, with Rick Warren leading the way. The globalist senior pastor of Saddleback Church is a well-known critic of Bible prophecy teachers. Now, Russell Moore, the head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, also gets his digs in. And Moore is of the opinion that Israel is really the Church. As he wrote in 2009:

    “All Christians everywhere believe in a future for Israel.

    “Where Christians disagree is on is [sic] exactly who Israel is.”

    This Christian is clear on who Israel is. It’s an obvious answer, except to faux intellectuals like Moore, who subscribe to a “big-tent” philosophy within evangelicalism. Evidently, Moore sees another identity for Israel, but he also is anxious to mainstream that thought on a wider scale.

    And that’s a Southern Baptist leader!

    Yet, we are also watching this kind of muddled thinking within Pentecostalism, and in true Twilight Zone fashion, bad teaching is coming from formerly traditionally strong sources.

    Charisma magazine is the flagship periodical of the Charismatic world, founded by Steve Strang in the ‘70s. For the longest, the readership would have understood very well who Israel is, and they were among the strongest supporters of Bible prophecy teaching.

    Think David Allen Lewis and even Derek Prince.

    Strang has also been known far and wide as a supporter of Israel. He is, however, more identified with the Messianic movement and a couple years ago stepped down from the board of Christians United for Israel. This is about the time that bestselling author John Hagee (founder of CUFI) moved away from Strang’s stable of book authors and began publishing with giant New York houses.

    Strang’s son, Cameron, is publisher of Relevant magazine, the flagship periodical for Millennials, and the son is particularly nasty when it comes to Bible prophecy. Relevant routinely skewers prophecy teaching, including Rapture talk.

    Oddly, Charisma has become home to the same kind of dissing.

    Not long ago, I wrote about a piece in Charisma by Margaret Feinberg, who manipulated a question by a young man who was rightly wondering if we are living in the last days. The whole piece was a thinly veiled swipe at prophecy teaching; Feinberg clearly isn’t a fan. The teaching doesn’t fit her progressive views and agendas.

    Now, though, comes yet another swipe, this time from former Charisma editor J. Lee Grady, also known as Lee Grady. Somewhat of an evangelical gadfly, Grady has pontificated from his perch at Charisma for a long time, on a whole range of issues. He is fairly famous for skewering the excesses among Pentecostal charlatans, even while Charisma ran their ads in the same issue!

    Which is comical, on a certain level.

    Grady might have become bored, however, with his humanitarian efforts in various venues, so now he has written another piece hammering Bible prophecy. In 2009 (one wonders if Grady and Moore met at a Cracker Barrel and vented about Israel and prophecy teachers), he admonished readers for spending too much time thinking about the last days.

    In a piece titled “Don't Get Infected With Last Days Fever,” written in 2009, Grady had clearly had it with the doomsday crowd:

    “Don't let the sensationalism of eschatology distract you from the priority of evangelism.

    “You might remember Edgar Whisenant. He wrote a best-selling book called 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988—and a much less popular sequel, The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989. The second book said Jesus didn't come back in 1988 because the author, who was a former NASA engineer (!), missed his mathematical calculations by a year.”

    Whisenant, of course, is an easy target. As is Harold Camping.

    What you never see, though, are critics like Grady and Feinberg taking on the likes of Tommy Ice, or Randall Price, or Terry James. Or a whole host of other top-notch prophecy teachers.

    The Dominionists and Purpose-Driven crowd don’t like last days talk, because it runs up against their agenda of making the world a better place, so that the triumphant Church can hand the keys to the kingdom to Jesus, whenever He returns. Like in a half-million years.

    The signs of the times annoy them. None more than restored Israel.

    Grady this week did it again, dusting off the 2009 column and only slightly changing things, including the title:

    “Don’t Get Caught Up in Last Days Hysteria”

    Again, Grady launched into a diatribe against eschatology teaching:

    “Everywhere I go today I meet Christians who are wringing their hands and fretting about how dark the world has become. Some are conspiracy theorists who say the world's economy is controlled by dark forces. Others are convinced that recent astronomical phenomena signal the end of the world, and they are stocking their garages with food to prepare for Armageddon. If I suggest that Jesus might want to pour out the Holy Spirit in a fresh way on this generation, some people get angry. They want God to hurry up and judge America!”

    First of all, I’ve never talked to anyone, anywhere, who wanted God to judge America. Do we think He is, or will? Of course, just as He judges all the nations.

    But Strang’s friend Lee Grady didn’t stop there. He listed four reasons not to get caught up in eschatology teaching (he no doubt would argue that he meant don’t get caught up in the faulty teaching, but it’s clear he has a problem with prophecy teaching).

    Point no. 3 is…interesting:

    “It's deceptive. A group known as the Adventists predicted that Jesus would return to earth in 1874. When this didn't happen, the group's leaders covered their error by suggesting that Jesus appeared "invisibly" on that date. A theology developed around these ideas that is still accepted by Seventh-day Adventists. In the 1970s, when Americans were so worried about gas shortages and war in Israel, author Hal Lindsey sold millions of copies of his book The Late, Great Planet Earth—and he predicted the world would end in a few years. Many other Christians have made similar predictions—such as the Y2K scare in 1999 or Harold Camping's infamous warning that the world would end on May 21, 2011.”

    That’s Grady’s evidence that prophecy teaching is “deceptive” (would that he’d put Emergents and other deceivers in his crosshairs, but they’re just too popular, I guess): Adventists in 1874, Hal Lindsey, and…wait for it…Harold Camping.

    I have no problem with Grady lampooning date-setters, but the fact is, there is a strong—very strong—movement across the evangelical spectrum to marginalize Bible prophecy teaching and, with it, the specialness of Israel and the Jewish people.

    Most people I talk to about this can’t wrap their minds around it, yet there it is. Again, the attacks are not coming from Catholics and mainliners. The attacks are originating within the fort, from Southern Baptist and Pentecostal sources.

    Amazing.

    jim@prophecymatters.com

    www.prophecymatters.com


    April 13, 2015

    Israel? Eh, Not So Bad

    Recent polls in Israel indicate that your average Palestinian would much prefer to live in Israel than in a potential Palestinian state.

    For decades, at least since the First Intifada in 1987 (and the rise of Hamas), Palestinians will privately say that living conditions under Israel are far superior to living under Muslim rule. When the Palestinian Authority (really, the old PLO) was installed under the rule of the serial killer, Yasser Arafat, in 1994, the standard of living went south.

    For example, the corrupt PA leadership lives in luxury villas in Gaza and the territories. Do you think Saeb Erekat and his family in Jericho live in anything less than luxury? They steal the international aid intended for the Palestinian people, for infrastructure and food and medicine.

    The dissatisfaction extends into the wider Middle East. When Palestinians pledge support to terror groups, there are often reasons other than ideology that come to the fore. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post:

    “In mid-2012, Hezbollah entered Syria, ostensibly to safeguard a regime that was vital in supporting its operations in the region. Once thought of as the ‘axis of resistance’ against Israel, their intervention, coupled with their ally’s brutal siege on Yarmouk, has damaged the movement’s popularity among Palestinians from Syria.

    “Abu Ameen, a 40-year-old Palestinian who also escaped from Syria in December 2012, says that though he’s openly pledged support to Hezbollah, he’s merely done so to avoid confrontation under their governance.

    “’We are afraid to talk about them here,’ whispered Abu Ameen, while cleaning his eye glasses in a small bedroom in Shatila. ‘Many of us don’t trust Hezbollah anymore.’”

    I’ve had many conversations with Palestinians who will tell you the real story, far away from the CNN cameras. That’s another reason that we as Christians who support Israel, should not demonize the Palestinian people. Sure, there are polls that show the majority support terror groups or homicide bombings, or the elimination of Israel.

    Yet we should remember that people who live under totalitarian regimes are virtually powerless to stand up to the regime. It’s easy for me to say, from 8,000 miles away, that I’d stand up to Hamas. Those terror groups literally have guns to the heads of family members of Palestinians who then go on TV to denounce Israel and the West.

    That isn’t to say there aren’t real problems with Palestinian society. Just that we should give some slack to people who are living under the boot of maniacs.

    Life in Israel, however, is an oasis in the Middle East. Healthcare, jobs, etc.

    This has been the “hope” of Israeli leaders for decades: perhaps in 100 years, the Palestinian people will move past their hatred of Israel to embrace a better life. Certainly, we can all hope that evil leaders like Mahmoud Abbas will pass from the scene quickly.

    jim@prophecymatters.com

    www.prophecymatters.com


    April 6, 2015

    Resurrection

    One of the terrific attributes of Bible prophecy is that it reveals to us the power and majesty of the Living God.

    There are more than 100 unique prophecies in the Old Testament that predict the coming of the Messiah. Some are repeated, giving us a total of over 300 Messianic prophecies in Scripture.

    We know now, of course, especially with the benefit of hindsight, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. We think of Him especially this week, as we look toward Resurrection Sunday.

    (I know there is controversy over the label some give to this blessed Sunday. Some call it Easter, some call it Resurrection Sunday. For now, let’s just celebrate it.)

    I am thinking of Him this day, Good Friday. I think of Jesus the Christ especially now, given the utter chaos in the world. My good friend, Terry James, is particularly good at describing reality, the world in which we live, and many of his descriptive terms for our present world are coming to mind.

    But I am also thinking of Terry today (we spoke earlier in the week), because of his near-death heart attack a few years ago.

    The whole story calls to mind the power that our Lord has over death. One is also reminded of Psalm 22:

    Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
    Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
    I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
    My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.

    My mouth[d] is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

    Written 1,000 years before the death of Jesus on the cross, this passage is a ghastly description of his ghastly agony. Notice that the Psalmist references the “bulls” that surround the suffering Messiah. All these demons of hell thought they had won. Their master thought he had won.

    How wrong they were.

    I have been to “Gordon’s Calvary” many times in east Jerusalem. The sublime, park-like setting is surrounded by a wall, separating it from the ugliness of the surrounding environs, including strongholds for Hamas and the PLO.

    The empty tomb there is a stark reminder that the Creator IS love. He cares about each creature, each human being. Me, you, Terry, the Palestinians who sell bread and souvenirs on the nearby streets.

    I am happy that I can still visit with Terry in the here-and-now, that he is still engaged in the proclamation of the Gospel to a hurting world.

    Most of all I am happy that the Creator/Messiah showed me mercy, to die for me.

    On this Day of Days, let me ask you for something: lay aside the troubles of this world as He laid aside the grave clothes on Resurrection Morning.

    This deadly world is soon to pass away.

    Resurrection is coming.

    jim@prophecymatters.com

    www.prophecymatters.com


    Mar 30, 2015

    Heading East on the West Bank

    Charles Krauthammer is not, so far as we know, a believer, as Christian readers of “Israel Watch” would understand. He is Jewish, and one of the best political commentators around.

    In a recent piece in the Washington Post, Krauthammer got downright biblical, though, in his language:

    “The fundamental reality remains: This generation of Palestinian leadership — from Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas — has never and will never sign its name to a final peace settlement dividing the land with a Jewish state. And without that, no Israeli government of any kind will agree to a Palestinian state.”

    This calls to mind again (and please, do not misunderstand: I do not mean that Krauthammer or any other political commentator would agree with me on this point) the ancient prophecies concerning the Land of Israel and the last days.

    I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.[a] There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. (Joel 3:2)

    The division of the land, promised to the Jews, is something that in particular provokes God to wrath. We see this as well in Zechariah, and in Amos 9:15, the Lord promises that no one will uproot Jews from the land once He has placed them there a final time, in the last days:

    I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted rom the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God.

    Interestingly, more than a dozen years ago, Ariel Sharon quoted this verse almost verbatim (although, like Krauthammer, he didn’t necessarily mean that he was being biblical about it).

    On the minds of prophecy students now, at a fever pitch, is the question of the famed “Gog-Magog War” mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39, and also related is the question of whether Scripture mitigates against a Palestinian state. I read recently an email exchange on this between prophecy students/teachers, and at least one dogmatically claimed that a Palestinian state could never be established, according to the Bible.

    I’m not so sure. You see, we all draw conclusions. I would say that given the current climate, politically speaking, a Palestinian state is not in the offing. However, notice:

    “Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, ‘Mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: The enemy said of you, “Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession.”’ Therefore prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because they ravaged and crushed you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people’s malicious talk and slander, therefore, mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign Lord: This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, to the desolate ruins and the deserted towns that have been plundered and ridiculed by the rest of the nations around you— this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my burning zeal I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, for with glee and with malice in their hearts they made my land their own possession so that they might plunder its pastureland.’ Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I speak in my jealous wrath because you have suffered the scorn of the nations. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I swear with uplifted hand that the nations around you will also suffer scorn. (Ezekiel 36:1-7)

    “Aha, the ancient heights have become our possession.”

    Now, we can’t be too dogmatic, either, but let’s think about this.

    The above scenario fits the Kingdom of Jordan nicely. Coming from the east, the Jordanians at one time controlled the “West Bank” (a term so coined by Jordan’s King Hussein for political purposes). The Ezekiel verses could refer to that (although Jordan did not develop the land, but left it waste), or to a future sovereign control. After all, much of the Jordanian population is Palestinian.

    When the Israelis won the territory in their lightning victory in 1967, Christians rejoiced because the ancestral land was now under Jewish control.

    As always, we must be cautious in being dogmatic about certain future scenarios. Are conditions ripe for an acceleration of prophetic events? Certainly.

    Slowly but surely, the nations are forming a confederacy against the Jewish state, led by the gang in the White House.

    Yet, Canada and Australia are strengthening their ties with the Jewish state, proving beyond doubt that Israel is not currently friendless. Close, but not yet.

    Another important point to remember when we are lured into thinking dogmatically is that geopolitics change with the wind. Consider that a few months ago, Egypt was a mortal enemy of Israel. Today, the military government is cooperating with Israel in unprecedented ways.

    In another year, those Canadian and Australian governments, too, could elect anti-Israel leaders.

    We can’t bet the farm on short-term political realities in our world. Hear Krauthammer again:

    “In the last four years, Egypt has had two revolutions and three radically different regimes. Yemen went from pro-American to Iranian client so quickly the United States had to evacuate its embassy in a panic. Libya has gone from Moammar Gaddafi’s crazy authoritarianism to jihadi-dominated civil war. On Wednesday, Tunisia, the one relative success of the Arab Spring, suffered a major terror attack that the prime minister said ‘targets the stability of the country.’

    “What we can know for sure is that God’s promises are sure and true and will be fulfilled in exact detail.”

    Many of us long for the Lord’s return. He is coming, that is for sure.

    In the meantime, let us not be overly sure of all the details. Frankly, it’s fun in a way to watch all this unfold. And we are surely getting closer.

    What we do know is that the Land of Israel is the trigger for it all. So we watch.

    And wait.

    jim@prophecymatters.com

    www.prophecymatters.com


    Mar 23, 2015

    Will America Abandon Israel?

    “U.S. Threatens Sanctions Against Israel, Makes Excuses for Iran” —The Weekly Standard, 3/19/2015

    Did you ever in your life think you’d live to see the above headline? For Christian supporters of Israel, we have entered Unthinkable Land.

    The tone and tenor from the White House regarding Israel has become so menacing, one can believe the American president is capable of anything malicious.

    The answer to the title of this week’s “Israel Watch” is in two parts. A) At official levels, particularly the political echelon, the nation is very close to cutting loose our most important ally. Barack Obama is simply following his ideology, shaped for decades among leftist elites and Communists. He has long been friendly to the Palestinian cause.

    B) The current older generations of Americans are solidly with the Jewish state. Whether it be for religious reasons, or for geopolitical and military alliances, a vast number of Americans feel some affinity with the Jewish state.

    Benjamin Netanyahu’s stronger-than-expected election win last week apparently so enraged Obama that he directed his team to float trial balloons to signal his intent in dealing with Netanyahu over the next 22 months.

    But in the tale of the Israeli elections, we have lessons to learn, as believers.

    For one thing, for all the hand wringing by pro Israel folks in the lead-up to the election, it turned out again to be much ado about nothing. We read in our Bibles that the Lord sets up kings and puts them down, and so it was always all in His hands.

    We make too much of Obama’s abilities to make mischief. We think too much about all the scary scenarios that can unfold for Israel.

    In the Weekly Standard piece by Daniel Halper, we read:

    “The U.S. government might impose sanctions on Israel or allow its greatest ally in the Middle East to be tried in the International Criminal Court, according to Politico. Michael Crowley reports:

        “Obama officials must now decide whether more international pressure on Israel can help bring a conservative Netanyahu-led government back to the negotiating table with the Palestinians — or whether such pressure would simply provoke a defiant reaction, as some fear.

        “Obama has other diplomatic options. He could expend less political capital to oppose growing momentum within the European Union to impose sanctions on Israel for its settlement activity.

        “More provocative to Israel would be any softening of Obama’s opposition to Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court, which the Palestinian Authority will formally join on April 1. Under a law passed by Congress, any Palestinian bid to bring war crimes charges against Israel at the court will automatically sever America’s $400 million in annual aid to the Palestinian Authority, although some experts suggested Obama could find indirect ways to continue some funding — even if only to prevent a dangerous collapse of the Palestinian governing body.”

    True, if Obama can try to force the creation of a Palestinian state, and if he can (perhaps even more ominously) allow Israel to be tried in the Hague, then yes, that is cause for concern in that none of us want to see such an isolated Israel.

    However, let me offer a contrary view, as set against the current Christian Zionist climate, which is to some degree based on fear:

    •For His own reasons, the Lord allows you to live in the time when the greatest last days’ prophecies are coming to pass. In order for the “Zechariah scenarios” to be fulfilled, Israel must become isolated internationally. Truly, we are seeing that come to pass on a grand scale. In other words, It is happening exactly as He said it would.

    You should actually rejoice at what we are seeing unfold!

    •For all his blustering and for all the evil he has brought to America, Barack Obama is a human being. I do not wish him ill, or hope that his circle of advisors has dreadful things befall them (unlike some Christians who post on social media).

    I hope that they are granted mercy by the Lord, so that they can see reality for what it is.

    Who is Valerie Jarrett? The advisor to Obama is just that: a temporary, powerful political operative who is also a human being. Pray that she and her team understand unfolding history before it’s too late.

    Look, we who read and believe the Bible and who love the Jewish people understand that they are eternal. I used to “worry” about them. Worry about forces arrayed against them. Worry about the possibility that the United States would one day turn against Israel.

    Of course America will abandon Israel. Why do I believe this? Only for one reason: Scripture tells us this is so.

    I often think of the scene in the Mel Gibson film, “The Patriot.” Early on, he and his young sons have ambushed the British patrol that murdered one of the family’s sons. Gibson’s character puts his hands on his young son’s shoulders; the boy is flustered and emotionally drained from the ambush. His father calms him, talks to him, and finally says, “Steady.”

    That is what our Father is doing for us in these seemingly dark days. I have staked my life on the fact that the Bible is true. Israel will not disappear, and though it makes us sad, the reality is that the entire international community will one day soon stand against Israel and come against Jerusalem.

    But…look: we have been given the privilege of a front-row seat. I also had the privilege of seeing America in her heyday. Today, my heart is only grateful. For I am not looking to the past, for something that was lost. I am looking to the future, to the restored creation, and to the just nature of our Father in heaven, who loves us and all people. He wants the best for us.

    Israel hasn’t seen the last of her isolation. She has challenges ahead. But in the most real sense, she is fine and safe.

    For those of us who love her, these things must be. Our task is to support her as we can, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and to look forward to that eternal, shining city on a hill.

    Steady.

    jim@prophecymatters.com

    www.prophecymatters.com

    Mar 16, 2015

    (The response to our new newsletter has been fantastic and we thank all of you for signing up, and for those of you who will join us! —Jim)

    Election Watch

    I’ve told this story before, but when Ehud Barak was challenging Benjamin Netanyahu in 1999 — three years into Bibi’s first go as prime minister — I was….really worried.

    I was discussing this fear with a friend who had served as chief of staff for several Israeli prime ministers. We were at lunch in Washington.

    “Jim,” Eli began, “the issue is not who will be prime minister, but the issue is…the Messiah is coming.”

    In that moment, I learned something profound.

    As humans, we put too much emphasis on human problems, and circumstances that are beyond our control. We worry. A lot.

    However, an increasing theme for me is that we should focus solely on the provision of God, for in that we see a glimpse of the power and majesty of the living God.

    Israel is in the midst of a high-stakes election campaign, and voters this week will decide which party will lead the nation during a very dark time. First and foremost of course is the security situation regarding Iran. Depending on your worldview — whether you think your enemies can be reasoned with, or whether you think they must be defeated — you will vote either for a Livni-Herzog government, or a Netanyahu-led Likud government.

    Don’t misunderstand me. From a human standpoint, Israel is besieged and in peril. Bizarrely, the existential threat from Iran is just one of many serious issues facing the Jewish state, not the least of which is (from my perspective, this is more fascinating) a growing pressure from the international community.

    Lots and lots of my pro Israel friends are wringing their hands, worrying about the unthinkable, the prospect that Netanyahu will be replaced by a left-leaning appeasement artist.

    That might happen, because the truth is, we just don’t know how the election will go. I read this week a thoroughly confident assessment by a writer in Ha’aretz that it’s ludicrous to think Netanyahu will lose. He made a compelling case that the prime minister will be re-elected.

    Then we have reports out of the (conservative-friendly?) Jerusalem Post that Netanyahu is in real danger of losing.

    We just don’t know what’s going to happen. At first glance, Israelis on both the right and the left unify over one thing: preservation. Security is paramount, and why wouldn’t it be? Israel is unique in the world as a small nation surrounded by hostile countries; added to this the alarming uptick in anti-Semitism around the world, and you have a recipe for Something Wicked This Way Comes.

    However, and here I am really only addressing “Israel Watch” readers who are believers, if we are people Of the Book, then we must not worry.

    What do our scriptures tell us?

    Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1)

    He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. (Daniel 2:21)

    “God is in control” is not a greeting card sentiment, or a single page in a Max Lucado devotional.

    It is reality.

    Look, I’m a big Netanyahu fan. Likewise, I view Tzipi Livni as a dangerous pacifist who would cave-in to Iran, etc. Much like the current American president.

    Yet, if the Bible is true, we have nothing to fear. Nothing to worry about. God has promised to preserve Israel.

    Do you know what troubles me? Not that Iran threatens Israel. What troubles me is that too many in our faith community do not really believe God. An honest reading of Scripture alerts us to the fact that Israel and the Jewish people are the linchpin of God’s ending of human history. Further, He not only promises to preserve them (ex: Amos 9:15), but He promises to fight for them (Zechariah 14:3).

    Does the Almighty really need our help, with our worry, analysis, and doomsday predictions?

    Remember, too, recent history. In 1967, Israel was led by a man who didn’t inspire much confidence: Levi Eshkol. Yet the Israelis achieved an astonishing, epic victory in less than a week, paving the way for the fulfillment of prophecy, as the Jews settled the biblical heartland.

    In 1973, facing an apocalyptic defeat at the hands of Egypt and the Syrians, and led by a prime minister (Golda Meir) who would be turned out of office for her tepid handling of the lead-up to war, Israel pulled victory from the gaping jaws of defeat…and lived.

    The 1948 War of Independence is like something out of a Hollywood movie: rag-tag, fledgling army, made up of many Holocaust survivors, holds off five invading Arab armies. And uses a handful of tanks and planes to do it.

    I could go on.

    I certainly hope Benjamin Netanyahu wins this week. I really do. He is the best man to lead Israel. But he is only a man and his nation’s future does not rest on his shoulders.

    The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has them. He has this. And, as I love to say, by extension we can see through His loving preservation of the Jewish people that He also holds us close, the branches grafted-in.

    Whether it be circumstances on a grand stage, or whether it be a problem in your life…the God of the Bible, the Creator of the universe, is in total control.

    Take the time this week to thank Him for that.

    jim@prophecymatters.com

    www.prophecymatters.com


    Mar 9, 2015

    The Speech

    This was an interesting week. The speech before Congress, by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was electric. Many of us haven’t seen anything like it since Reagan’s State of the Union addresses a generation ago.

    Netanyahu walked deliberately into the Chamber, and was greeted enthusiastically by both senators and congressmen. It was obvious that support for Israel is still strong.

    Two things stood out to me about this momentous event:

    •Obama, in his petty response to Netanyahu’s bravo performance, looked small. He really did. He whined that Netanyahu didn’t offer anything new. But he knew Netanyahu wouldn’t, and so that wasn’t the point. He simply hoped to take some attention off Netanyahu’s tour de force by meekly changing the subject. How tiny and vulnerable he looked in Netanyahu’s shadow.

    •Netanyahu, about two-thirds of the way through the speech, brought up what I think is the key point. He said that it doesn’t matter if a country has nuclear knowledge…if it doesn’t have nuclear infrastructure. This is key because, in effect he was saying that Iran will pose no threat to Israel, or anyone else, if the Islamic Republic doesn’t have the means to produce bombs. I took this to be a veiled threat to the mullahs, and in fact, Netanyahu also said that if necessary, Israel will go it alone.

    Another thing emerged from the speech, and that is not directly related to Israel’s position. Anyone who watched the speech could see that the American public is starved for real leadership, and they responded to Netanyahu in a huge way. It shows that there are still millions of Americans who are, well, Americans. Further, thought our country’s political echelon is hostile to Israel, the country’s citizens are not.

    I spoke this week at the Prophecy in the News conference in Orlando, and there was much discussion over whether or when America will abandon Israel.

    To this I say: we cannot effect change in our government. I believe the country is too far gone for that. We cannot accurately predict the near future regarding America’s support for the Jewish state.

    However, I fervently believe that the Lord of History is marking the response of every individual. I cannot be responsible for the government, or for Obama’s totalitarian bent. I can however be responsible for my own heart and how I personally treat Israel.

    So long as I maintain my focus, and love the Jewish people and Israel with all my heart, I will rest knowing I did all I could do.

    This was the essence of Netanyahu’s speech. We are facing perilous times, the prime minister said. Yet in the end, our duty is to stand and let the chips fall where they may.

    Let us purpose in our hearts to stand with Israel forever.

    In that way, we support the prime minister and his people.

    And that’s no small thing.

    jim@prophecymatters.com

    www.prophecymatters.com


    Mar 2, 2015

    Prophecy Matters

    I routinely have conversations with friends of mine in the Bible prophecy community, and many of us are virtually shocked at the speed with which prophecies are being fulfilled. You know that too, as well as we do. The feedback I get each week from readers shows that they are savvy, engaged, and well aware of where we are on God’s timeline.

    The sheer scope of issues is dizzying: of course, Israel is no. 1, by a long shot. Then you have the absolutely astonishing apostasy that is casting a dark shadow over the American church. Behind that we have wars and rumors of wars, plagues, natural disasters, geopolitical disasters, and economic woes. Most of these problems are man’s self-inflicted idiocy.

    Through it all, though, we have the Blessed Hope. We are a people not without hope. That is our great opportunity for evangelism, for sharing the Gospel one-by-one. I’d like to share from my heart.

    I am 52, born and raised in evangelicalism. In my Southern Baptist upbringing, there was a heightened sense of anticipation about the fulfillment of prophecy. In many ways it was an idyllic upbringing, sort of like Opie Taylor. In those days (really, I think, until about the year 2000), prophecy conferences were all the rage; the topic was taught from the pulpits, and the folks in the pews were engaged.

    All that has changed. I want to be clear that I am speaking generally, and at the national leadership level. There are still many tens of thousands of wonderful churches and pastors who contend earnestly for the faith. There are still many thousands of believers who look for our Blessed Hope, the return of the Lord. There are still ministries dedicated to teaching these things, and still some well-known leaders who are prophecy proponents.

    Yet the national scene has given rise to the likes of Rick Warren, who can stand before the Southern Baptist Convention and encourage pastors to downplay prophecy teaching. Failed and disgraced leaders like Mark Driscoll (who, incredibly, was reinventing himself even before the ink was dry on his resignation from Mars Hill) can mock prophecy teachers and students, calling us wingnuts. Even — and this is perhaps the most difficult to understand — heretofore friendly sources can twist and spin their own biases against prophecy teaching (http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/1980-what-if-jesus-doesnt-come-back-this-year).

    Today, the landscape has changed. As I prepare to go speak at the Prophecy in the News conference in Orlando, I am buoyed by the fact that I’ll see dear friends like Don Perkins, Gary Frazier, Terry James, and Tommy Ice, to name a few. Another friend, Kevin Clarkson, has become the face of PITN, and that is frankly thrilling. These men are champions of sharing the Gospel, through the teaching of Bible prophecy.

    And that’s the point of it, that’s why “prophecy matters.” It isn’t so we can name the antichrist, or predict the date of the Rapture. It’s to show people clearly, through the divine revelation of Scripture, that God is alive, well, and acting in the world today. That is Good News for every man, woman, and child, literally. No matter their backgrounds or worldviews, the message of predictive prophecy is thrilling, and highly relevant.

    It is profoundly sad, to me, that there are forces within the American church dedicated to extinguishing that message. Oh, they don’t say it in so many words, but their actions speak very loudly. In fact, speaking of relevant, the magazine of the same name, published by Millennial influencer Cameron Strang, is another that likes to mock prophecy. Just check out the magazine.

    Allow me to digress for a minute, and show you in a tangible way how sources like Relevant are changing American culture (part of the fallout of their center-left approach is the marginalizing of Bible prophecy teaching). A tweet from February 25 reads thusly:

    Everyone says they want diversity, but what many really want is for minorities to assimilate to the dominant culture.”

    Now, do you see what the magazine’s editors are doing here? The tweet then has a link to the article, which invokes such leftist language as “collective guilt” and favorably quotes leftists like Desmond Tutu (who is anti-Israel, by the way).

    I use that example — many others pop up daily — to show how this liberal/leftist mindset is changing the American church. Again, it shouldn’t surprise that a magazine like Relevant also never misses an opportunity to mock Bible prophecy teachers; they devoted precious space to gleefully poke fun at the new “Left Behind” film, starring Nicholas Cage. Relevant’s editors want readers to jettison old traditions and traditional teachings, including Bible prophecy. Why? Because they believe this old school approach is harming our capacity to see our own brilliance in “changing the world.”

    There is no room in this worldview for a genuine hope in, even a dependency, on the soon return of Christ.

    That’s one reason it’s critical that we redouble our efforts to promote and teach Bible prophecy. It’s why I’ve made a commitment this year to advance Prophecy Matters as never before.

    You can help by subscribing to our newsletter, at $5 per month. You can also contact us about hosting a Prophecy Matters seminar in your church or community center, or living room if you so choose. We’ll go anywhere, anytime.

    One of my topics at the PITN conference will be “The War on Bible Prophecy,” and I want to make people aware of those who would try to extinguish what some of us fervently pray for, as Tommy Ice would say, Maranatha!

    The examples I’ve cited of our ideological opponents within the evangelical community are truly the tip of an enormous iceberg. Almost all national leaders and celebrity pastors are so deep into the poison model of the “Church Growth” movement that they are militant against the teaching of prophecy. It doesn’t fit the Kingdom Now perspective. Many, like Warren, believe our job is to “change the world” and create a church so powerful that we can then triumphantly hand it off to Jesus.

    That worldview doesn’t square with Scripture, particularly the New Testament, where we see upon Christ’s return that “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

    But the highest-profile national evangelical leaders are embarrassed by, and dislike prophecy teaching. It isn’t difficult at all to see that Warren, Andy Stanley, and Bill Hybels are leading the charge to fundamentally remake the American Church. In my view, they have done it by stealth, and I want to be clear about that. The move to the left on social issues is part of the Great Apostasy foretold by Jesus and the apostles.

    I recently asked Dave Reagan for some examples of Christian leaders who actively work against the teaching of Bible prophecy; my entire article on this subject will be posted soon at Prophecy Matters, but here are two:

    •“Tony Compolo: In his book, Speaking My Mind, he attacks believers in Bible prophecy with these words:

    ‘Rigid Christians who believe in the possibility of Jesus’ soon return are a real problem for the whole world.’

    “He then proceeds to blame them (us!) For wars and a host of other evils.”

    •”Bill Moyers: The PBS journalist, who is a Baptist seminary graduate, gave a speech in 2004 in which he denounced Tim LaHaye as a ‘religious warrior who subscribes to a fantastical theology.’

    “He added that those who agree with Tim LaHaye’s viewpoint desire environmental disaster ‘as a sign of the coming apocalypse.’”

    These men are bearing false witness against us, and deceiving millions with their messages. The larger problem is, their views are no longer confined to mainline churches and dusty seminaries. Their anti-Bible prophecy messages are becoming mainstream within evangelicalism.

    This is tragic.

    Recently, I spoke in a church, and the theme was the miraculous modern state of Israel. I pointed out that God’s provision for the Jewish people is perhaps the greatest sign to us today that He is fully engaged with bringing His divine plan to fulfillment.

    After the service, a 30-ish father, holding his little girl, approached me and said that he had been running from God for 10 years, but now he understood. He was turning back to his faith.

    This, you see, is the great message of Bible prophecy, and it has been my privilege to see great men of God like Don Perkins articulate this to many.

    It’s why I want to step-up my own efforts to do so, for the time is truly short. There’s no datesetting in that statement, either, for we have only to look at Israel’s current situation, and the growing departure from the faith by American church leaders, to grasp the truth of it.

    My own particular brand of prophecy teaching relies very heavily on pointing out the divine nature of Israel’s past, present, and future. I use scores of examples to show that the Bible is wholly true, and that God cares for each individual. If He can bring back a people from 2,000 years of exile, in such dramatic and public fashion, don’t you think he can solve your problems?

    He can and He will. We must trust Him. We must acknowledge Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

    This is the profound message that the prophecy haters cannot begin to pass on to their followers, for the simple reason that they relegate so much of Scripture to myth.

    We don’t do that. We teach the opposite.

    If you feel lead, consider partnering with us at Prophecy Matters, in the ways I’ve listed above. For all the darkness in this tired old world, we have the ultimate hope. As Charles Spurgeon said:

    “Little children, whatever you have not got, you have a God in whom you may greatly glory. Let the times roll on; they cannot affect our God.”

    jim@prophecymatters.com

    www.prophecymatters.com


    Feb 23, 2015

    Election Watch

    If we know anything about Israeli politics, it’s as predictable as the weather in Wichita.

    It isn’t predictable at all.

    Benjamin Netanyahu is still the front-runner, as the incumbent. At least this morning. That might change by afternoon.

    Not surprisingly, Netanyahu has recently come under attack for alleged spending improprieties, something that has dogged him in the past. Who can forget the important story from years ago when it was revealed how many cigars the premier smoked in one year in office.

    It’s a personal opinion, but when we see poll results that bend with every allegation made against a candidate, such results indicate the relatively shallow knowledge of the average voter. For example, if Netanyahu spent too lavishly in the last year in office, does that really matter, or impinge on his ability to deal with Iran?

    Because that’s all that matters, baby.

    Netanyahu’s Likud Party has been swapping places with his rivals’ party, Zionist Union. Two weeks ago, Likud had a four-seat lead, last week one, and now the Likud rival has a two-seat lead in the race.

    Through it all, most pundits figure Netanyahu will still emerge as the Israeli leader again, over political foes Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.

    When it comes down to it, Israelis are far more concerned about security than any other issue, including how much money Netanyahu’s wife spends. At the end of the day, I believe they will vote for him again, since the crisis with Iran looms large. Remember, Israel is under an existential threat, a far different reality than any other country on Earth.

    With Israeli elections set for March, just after Netanyahu’s speech before Congress (look for a boost in his poll numbers after the speech, since of course most of Israel will also watch), the soggy negotiations conducted by the Americans with Iran are a sight to behold. Obama is conceding to every single (major) Iranian demand, at the same time he makes weekly, almost daily bizarre statements in support of Islam.

    Obama’s strange behavior is all the more ominous, since he is also going out of his way to abuse our great ally, Israel. Assuming Obama leaves office in two years, it is perhaps more important to look slightly ahead at the post-Netanyahu/post-Livni/post-Herzog political landscape, for such a landscape has interesting biblical angles.

    International pressure on Israel is tightening, dangerously. Yet it is not at the level “necessary” for, say, Zechariah’s prophecies to be fulfilled. Indeed, quite ironically, Jordan and even Egypt are cooperating with Israel mightily in the vicious fight against ISIS.

    But looking at the next several years, when right-wing Israeli leaders like former Netanyahu aid Naftali Bennett. The leader of the Bayit Yehudi party sounds like a biblical leader, vowing not to cede any more territory, and make Zionism a strength of the country again.

    One can never know what will happen in the future, of course, but it might just be a Bennett, and not a Netanyahu, who delivers the Jewish people again from the Persian menace.

    jim@prophecymatters.com

    www.prophecymatters.com