Prophetic Awareness :: By Nathele Graham 

This world can be a scary place to live. The hatred and violence are mind boggling. Most people feel as if we’re heading for something big, but they just don’t know what. Even Christians have that same feeling, but it should be very evident what that “something big” is going to be.

God gave us prophecy. Prophecy is a much-neglected study, and most preachers don’t teach it. There are many reasons for this failure, but none are good reasons.

“And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…” (1 Chronicles 12:32a).

The sons of Issachar paid attention to what was happening and acted accordingly. The kingdom of Israel was changing hands and they understood that Saul was dead and David, God’s anointed, was the rightful king. Today big changes are taking place and, if we understand the times in which we live, we can know what we ought to do.

Because prophecy is a neglected study, people get confused about it. Confusion isn’t of God. From the time of the beginning, He has spoken through prophets, and we are wise to study their words. We humans get in a hurry and wonder why we aren’t seeing prophecy being fulfilled now. If you feel that way, then you’re not paying attention.

It’s easy to look into the past and think that when old prophecies were fulfilled that there was a big hoopla surrounding them, but the truth is that people were just living day by day. Jeremiah had prophesied that Jerusalem would fall to the Babylonians, and it happened. Had people paid attention, they would have been able to understand the times and act accordingly. Daniel was one taken captive, and he had a high respect for prophecy. He read Jeremiah’s prophecy and knew when the captivity would end.

Today we need to study Biblical prophecy to understand our time and act accordingly. The signs of the times all point to prophecy being fulfilled, but most people are unaware. There’s a ho-hum attitude towards prophecy among Christians.

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).

Is that how you feel? If so, then you need to do some studying. First of all, we need to understand that the main focus of prophecy is Israel. The whole world is affected by prophecy, such as wars and rumors of wars, but we need to keep our eyes on Israel.

Many prophecies have been fulfilled since 1948 when Israel was given her rightful place as a nation.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:11-12).

Don’t let anybody tell you that Christians have replaced Israel. We haven’t. When Israel was reestablished as a nation, that lie should have been silenced.

“Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:11).

If you know the history of Israel, you understand that it had split into two kingdoms…Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Hosea said it would be one nation again, and so it is. This was also prophesied by Ezekiel.

“And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all” (Ezekiel 37:22).

People may get tired of waiting for fulfillment of prophecy, but God is never wrong.

One of the spookiest prophecies was one that the Lord showed to Ezekiel about dry bones. Not bones of people who had recently died, but dry ones that had come apart. There were many bones in that valley, and there was no sign of life in them. The Lord told Ezekiel to prophesy upon the bones.

“So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone” (Ezekiel 37:7).

Ezekiel must have thought this strange, but he was obedient to God and saw an amazing sight.

“Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts… [I]shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:11 & 14).

Only willful ignorance will blind you to the fact that the “whole house of Israel” has returned to their own land. The dry bones that were once scattered are coming together, and the Spirit of the Lord is beginning to live in them. Unfortunately, there is much trouble ahead. It’s known by many names, including “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” but one day the nation of Israel will recognize that Jesus Christ is their Messiah and will call upon Him for help.

Those are just a very few of the prophecies that were fulfilled when Israel was reinstated as a nation. The land they were given is very small and only a portion of what the Lord promised to Abraham. There didn’t seem to be anything special about it, but after 1948 evil forces arose. The Muslim world suddenly became obsessed with Jerusalem. They pout and stamp their feet because they want Jerusalem for themselves. Never mind that Jerusalem was given to the Jewish people by God Almighty.

If you don’t understand that the Muslims worship a demon god and not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then you need to study. The hatred of much of the world towards Israel is demonically inspired. This doesn’t surprise God. He gave Zechariah a prophesy regarding this.

“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 I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3).

In spite of the bullies of the world coming against this small nation, they continue to rise above every attack. Most nations oppose Israel, either with rockets and bombs or through agencies such as the United Nations. It’s a futile fight because God won’t allow Israel to be utterly defeated.

Many prophecies are in the process of being fulfilled today. Be aware of what’s happening in Syria. The stage is being set for Isaiah 17 to be fulfilled.

“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid. The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 17:1-3).

Take a look at the nations listed in Ezekiel chapter 38. They are all coming together against Israel. You’ll need to study because Ezekiel uses the names of nations as they were known during his time in history. Prophecy isn’t a dry and boring subject when you can look at news headlines and see that it’s being fulfilled today.

All of history has been leading up to the time in which we live. An important prophecy that will soon be fulfilled is found in the book of Daniel. This is in regards to the appearance of the Anti-Christ.

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for 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).

What is the covenant that this man will confirm or strengthen? Could it be the one that Jared Kushner has been working on? That’s only speculation, but is certainly something to watch. Just to be clear, I am not naming Mr. Kushner as the Anti-Christ, just speculating about the “peace” agreement he’s been working so diligently to get accepted.

A seven-year time period is involved; and there’s no doubt that, when the man of sin enforces the covenant, the Jewish Temple must be built. That will enable the priests to reestablish the sacrifices and other religious rituals. After 3 1/2 years the man of sin will stop the sacrifices and the offerings and set up an abomination in the Temple.

A few Jewish Rabbis have recently said the messiah is soon to make his appearance. Sadly, they are not talking about the true Messiah. They will first accept a false messiah who will be the Anti-Christ.

Prophecy is coming to a climax. The wickedness we see everywhere is getting more and more evil. The hearts of men are growing colder and colder. The death penalty for hardened killers is banned while the murder of unborn babies is sanctioned. Evil is seen as good, but good is rejected. Christians are silenced while all manner of perverse sin is protected by law. When will it all end? Soon.

Only Christians have hope—the blessed hope of the appearing of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Christians will see much evil and violence, and the wrath of man may engulf us, but we will not see the wrath of God. We will be “caught up” prior to the final seven-year period of time. It isn’t for Christians to suffer through the final years of history, but it is a time when the Jewish people will ultimately come to know their true Messiah.

“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time; no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:20-21).

A Christian wouldn’t worry about fleeing on the Sabbath, but it would be a problem for Jewish people. Christians won’t see that final time of history.

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).

This is a promise that we need to hold onto and understand.

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

Christians can take great comfort in those words, but they also should challenge us. We all know people who don’t know Jesus. Unsaved friends and loved ones will face God’s wrath as described in Revelation beginning in chapter 6. Like the sons of Issachar in days of old, Christians need to be aware of the times in which we live, and act accordingly.

Pastor JD Farag gives a prophecy update weekly on YouTube, as does Amir Tsarfati of Behold Israel. Both of these ministries will help you be aware of prophecy. Some websites that will help you stay informed are www.raptureready.com, www.prophecyupdate.com, and www.raptureforums.com. There are many others, but these will help.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). 

Today isn’t the time to be oblivious to prophecy. It should be an incentive for us to tell others about salvation that only comes through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Be aware of prophecy and spread the Gospel before it’s too late.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.

Keep Christ First :: By Nathele Graham 

How often do we hear someone say, “I don’t go to church because there are too many hypocrites there?” That statement comes from a misunderstanding of what a Christian is. Simply put, a Christian is a sinner saved by grace. We are people who recognize our sin and are sorry for it, but aren’t yet perfect. We’ve repented and asked Christ to forgive us; and even though we aren’t perfect, we are forgiven.

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 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” (Colossians 2:13-14).

The fact that our past, present, and future sins have been nailed to the cross doesn’t give us a license to continue sinning. A change in your attitude should have happened the moment you realized you needed Christ for salvation and accepted His shed blood as your once-for-all sacrifice to take away your sin. Overcoming the sin in your life will take time to accomplish; and while living this side of Heaven, we will never reach perfection. Only the righteousness of Christ is our way to eternal life. While outsiders may see a congregation of hypocrites, God sees His children learning to obey. If we keep Him first in our thoughts, it will show in our lives.

In order to know how to make Godly choices, we need to study Scripture. Many Christians like to read the Bible through in a year. This isn’t a bad thing, but Bible reading and Bible study are two different things. Reading Scripture is like a race. You rush to get through it as fast as you can. On the other hand, when you take time to study, you’ll learn to know God better and see how to make choices that please Him.

Why was Noah “perfect in his generation” and saved through God’s judgment? King David is known as a man after God’s own heart, but was guilty of adultery and murder. What made him special? There are lessons to be learned from these men’s lives, and you won’t learn if you rush through Scripture. Take time to study, and you’ll learn that Noah’s blood wasn’t tainted by the fallen angels. You will need to look at the original language (Hebrew) to understand, but you will gain a clearer understanding of God.

Noah had kept himself and his family separated from the sin around him and obeyed God, not Satan. We also need to keep ourselves separated from the sin around us. David sinned, but when convicted of that sin, he was heartbroken and truly repentant before the Lord.

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:1-3). 

David wrote Psalm 51 when seeking God’s forgiveness. Many people today, including political leaders, see themselves as above the law. King David’s desire was to please God; and when he failed, he sought forgiveness. That’s an example of how we should feel when we see we have fallen into sin. As you study Scripture you’ll learn to see things from God’s point of view and apply it to your life.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

When Paul wrote those words, there was only Old Testament Scripture. If you zip through the Bible in a year, you’ll probably rush through Leviticus. Christians aren’t under the Law; but by studying it, you’ll come to understand more about how God views sin and what Jesus accomplished for you on the cross. There is no longer a need for sacrificing animals to cover sin because Jesus is the once-for-all sacrifice that takes sin away. Because of His perfect love, your sins are forgiven. Turn from the sin in your life and begin walking in the way of Christ. Old friends may call you a “goody two shoes,” but when you confess Christ with your lips and you live to please Him, you won’t be called a hypocrite.

Rites and rituals won’t bring salvation and are quite often done to make a show of holiness to other people. You’re only fooling yourself if you jump through religious hoops but don’t live to please God.

“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26).

We all come to Christ with an insurmountable pile of sins. Those sins are forgiven at the moment you first truly accept Christ’s sacrifice for salvation. You confess that you’re a sinner and know that you cannot save yourself…only His blood takes sin away. You repented. That means you changed your mind and you know that sin has separated you from God.

You are a new creation in Christ, and it’s time to start over. The sins you once thought you enjoyed have no place in your life and should become repugnant to you. You’ve been justified by the Blood of the Lamb, and it’s time to begin the sanctification process. You recognize the sin in your life and pray for strength to turn from it. It could be something as common as gossiping or using foul language. Our lips should praise our Lord, not use His name as a curse.

My husband had quite a vocabulary of “four letter words,” but the day he gave his life to Christ those words were gone. I was amazed and very thankful. Other things took a little longer, but he studied Scripture and prayed about his sin. He knew he couldn’t hold onto things like anger and serve Christ perfectly. His life was a testimony, and I take great comfort knowing that the day he died he was welcomed Home by Jesus. Not because Ron was perfect, but because Jesus is perfect.

Scripture lists many sins that shouldn’t be in a Christian’s life, but it also lists positive things that should be reflected in our life.

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

It’s easy to mouth words and put on a show of being religious. That’s what causes people to call Christians “hypocrites.” You may be the first one to arrive on Sunday morning and sit in your special pew; but if that’s where you leave your “religion,” then you aren’t living your faith. We need to understand the difference.

James gives the example of caring for widows and orphans. Believe me; I know the problems faced by widowhood. There are many things my husband just did because he knew how. I’m neither physically nor financially able to make repairs to my home, but God always provides. Because I study Scripture, I know that I can trust Him in all things. If there’s a widow in your congregation, you might start living your faith by asking her if she needs help. Is there a young child whose father has died? He needs the example of Godly men to teach him and mentor him. We know that it’s by the grace of God that we are saved, and works don’t bring salvation, but our faith should motivate us to do good works.

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20). Good works done in the name of Jesus should be a natural result of living a Christian life.

Many Christians have a heart to serve God, and this shows in doing acts of kindness. Many of the kind acts are done for unsaved people. This is a good thing. It shows that Christians care enough to help the needy, and those acts of kindness may bring someone to salvation.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10). 

Study that verse. Notice that Paul says to help everyone but qualifies his words to add “especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” In doing good works, don’t forget the struggles that fellow Christians face. Elderly people may need a ride to a doctor’s appointment, or a widower may enjoy being invited to your home for dinner.

In the congregation I attend, there’s a man who had some severe health issues. This winter was very cold, and he needed wood to heat his home. Some members of the congregation made sure he had enough wood for the winter. What a blessing that was for the brother in need. There are probably many people in your own congregation who could use a helping hand. You’ll find that true pleasure comes from letting the love of Jesus flow through you to help others.

Jesus urged His followers to abide in Him. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Christians need to strive to live the way Christ showed us. The more we “practice what we preach,” the more joy will fill our lives. Instead of looking to the ways of the world to make us happy, try serving the Lord to find true contentment. When we live out our faith, our lives will bear fruit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law… If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23 & 25).

The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, but He is also our Guide. He will teach us to walk in the ways of our Lord. It isn’t always easy because we still have the fight between our sin nature and the ways of the Lord. We have to make choices. Don’t put yourself in the way of temptation; but when temptation does come along, pray.

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24).

Christ took your sins to the cross; now you need to crucify carnal lusts. That’s how the fruit of the Spirit will grow and flourish in your life.

We live in troubled times. As the end of time approaches, wickedness increases. We are constantly bombarded with people telling us that sin is acceptable; but with Scripture to guide us, we know God’s truth. His truth never changes. As you live each day, be sure you keep Christ first in your thoughts. Let His ways be your ways.

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.