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August 2015 Prophetic Observer

For a printable version, click here.


Beware the Ides of September

by Bob Glaze

 The warning given to Julius Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March” was simply a way of saying “Beware of March 15.” It had no real message except to those associated with that date, but has come to be understood as a sense of foreboding. The “Ides of September” falls on September 13, which is the day that a number of events begin to happen. All of these are associated with end-time events that are scoffed at but should be taken as a sense of foreboding 

The fact that we would have scoffers in these the last days would not be news to Peter, as he wrote in 2 Peter 3:3–4, “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.” The entire population of the earth were scoffers before the Flood in Genesis 6, except for Noah and his family. Today scoffers are often found in churches where the pastor is either a hireling or an entertainer feathering his own nest. These surely have motives that have nothing to do with preaching the gospel of Christ, but rather a social gospel that neither warns of Hell or the way to escape it. These could be considered scoffers because they don’t take Scripture seriously. 

However, there are those that base their findings on Scripture and try to warn the Christian and non-Christian alike of the dangers in store. These are not prophets, but rather those that have taken time to study the Word and interpret the message so as to warn others of what is to come, realizing what they say is not considered prophecy but rather their interpretation of what the Scripture says. It is a terrible thing to take upon one’s self any prophecy that does come from Scripture. 

The ‘litmus test’ of any self-proclaimed prophet is whether his prophecies are accurate. If not, according to the Old Testament Law they were to be stoned. That would certainly put a damper on his or her proclamations. The interpretation of biblical prophecies is not prophesying, and no person can predict accurately unless he or she is in control of the future event. Scoffers and those that believe everything and everyone is involved in a conspiracy are dangerous. We know that there are conspiracies, but we cannot allow these to dominate or consume our energy and forget what our goals really should be—winning souls and enabling the saints through the study of the Word. Just because the “gloom-and-doom” prophets focus on future events that draw attention to themselves doesn’t mean that we must fear the future. Our future is secure in the Lord, and that should be our message to a lost and dying world. 

However, there are many events predicted to take place this fall, some biblically based and others made possible because of either man’s involvement or natural circumstances. In any event, these should be a platform that we as Christians should use to witness to unbelievers and edify believers, for instance: 

On Sunday evening of September 13, the Shemitah, or sabbatical year on the Jewish calendar ends. This marks the beginning of “Rosh HaShana,” the “Feast of Trumpets” (Lev. 23:23–25, Num. 29:1–6) which celebrates the beginning of the Jewish New Year. Many dispensationalists believes that the Rapture will occur on this feast day at some date in the future. The Rapture will most certainly cause chaos in all phases of life as we know it on this planet. One author, Jonathan Cahn, has written a book on the subject entitled The Mystery of the Shemitah that gives examples of what has happened on previous Shemitahs that have ended in financial catastrophes. 

Cahn has also written a bestseller entitled The Harbinger that states “America’s two greatest financial shakings occurred on successive Hebrew Shemitah years following the 9/11 Islamist terror attacks on the U.S., the key to the series of limited judgments the author sees as a result of America’s turning away from God just as ancient Israel did before the dispersion. … But Cahn is careful not to predict what will happen in the coming Shemitah year. The phenomenon may manifest in one cycle and not in another and then again in the next,” he writes. “And the focus of the message is not date-setting but the call of God to repentance and return. At the same time, something of significance could take place, and it is wise to note the times” (www.wnd.com). 

On September 15, 2015, France is expected to bring to a vote to establish the two-state solution by recognizing a Palestinian State along-side of Israel. “In September of this year, the UN Security Council is expected to vote on a UN resolution to establish the Palestinian State. This resolution would declare that a divided Jerusalem is the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian State and was promptly condemned by Israel. In addition, the new document would set the 1967 borders as the baseline for future negotiations to establish the final borders between the two nations” (www.Pravda.Ru). 

This planned resolution was announced months ago by the Wall Street Journal, Times of Israel, France, World Net Daily, Ha’aretz, Debka, and others. This is perhaps the most significant announcement of all because it violates the Abrahamic Covenant concerning boundaries of the land of Israel as stated in Genesis 15:18: “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” This is not man’s assessment, it is God’s, and you don’t give His land away—not even the Jews; it belongs to the Lord. Israel is called the “Holy Land,” not the “Holy People.” 

On Tuesday evening of September 22, 2015, the sixth feast, the Feast of Atonement, begins and continues to the next evening. The high priest states that one man must die for the people (John 11:49–52; Heb. 13:10–14), and He must die outside the camp. This is seven days or years after the Feast of Trumpets and may represent the end of the seven-year Tribulation period. The seven feast days of Leviticus 23 represent events in the ministry of Christ. The Feast of Tabernacles begins on the evening of Sunday, September 27, 2015. If the Rapture occurs on the Feast of Trumpets in 2015, the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles could be no closer than seven years from now in 2022. 

Beginning Friday, September 25, through Sunday, September 27, 2015, the United Nations will launch another new sustainable agenda for the entire earth. The heads of states of 193 member states will begin to hammer out another unattainable sustainable program with which it wishes to oblige and control every person on earth. “This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity that also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. All countries acting in collaborative partnership will implement the Agenda. We are resolved to free the human race from tyranny of poverty and want to heal and secure our planet for recent and future generations. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps needed to shift the world on to a sustainable path” (www.un.org). 

This sustainable agenda is written by people who must either have an inferior complex with delusions of a peace in line with contestants of the Miss America Pageant or are just deluded with misplaced goodwill. No man-controlled organization will ever be able to succeed with such an ambitious program. There is only One—the Lord Jesus Christ during His Millennial reign. 

Getting past September 2015 will be difficult enough, but we’re not through yet. One internet site announces “An Asteroid Will Hit The Earth On September 24, 2015???” leaving a lot of space for an out. When NASA was confronted with this dilemma it stated, “NASA knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, so the probability of a major collision is quite small. In fact, as best as we can tell, no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years” (www.dailymail.co.uk). 

Another prediction concerns the collapse of the dollar: “Many economists, investors and media figures run around like Chicken Little. But instead of screaming that the sky is falling, they shout that the dollar is collapsing soon to be replaced by the yuan or the euro as the world’s predominant currency. Although the yuan and euro have been strengthening for years, the dollar remains party to more than 80% of international trade finance transactions. That’s four out of every five.” (www.research.economyandmarkets.com). 

Other news is very worrisome and does demand attention. For instance, the Cheyenne Mountain complex is being refurbished by the Pentagon after being decommissioned ten years ago because the Russians were no longer a threat. High-tech communications are being installed that are impervious to EMPs. The bunker is 2,000 feet underground and is able to withstand a hit by a 30 megaton nuclear blast (www.dailymail.co.uk). This begs the question, “Are we about to come under attack by Russia or some other entity such as aliens from outer space?” 

Another scenario depicts the United States deploying missiles in Europe to counter Russia (www.foxnews.com). Another is depicted as, “ISIS ‘Declares War on Christians’” (www. israel:nationalnews.com). Another headline reads, “US-China war ‘inevitable’ unless Washington drops demands over South China Sea.” This is the disputed area where China is building islands suitable to use as air bases (www.telegraph.co.uk). 

The “Ides of September” may or may not be a sign of His soon coming, but “when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

 


 Who's Right?

by Larry Spargimino

The recent Supreme Court decision making same-sex “marriage” a constitutional right is just one of the many rapid, far-reaching changes taking place in the value system of our country. Evidently, we have come to that point in human history where man feels he needs neither God’s standards, nor the instructions of history. Do those who approve of the majority decision realize where this is heading? Obviously, just about anywhere, and anything the human heart wishes to normalize! In his dissenting opinion, Justice John Roberts wrote: 

“Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective ‘two’ in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions” (cbsnews. com/news/ dissenting-opinions). 

What does all of this mean? Simply this: If the court has no authority to legislate what gender you can marry, it has no right to regulate what number of partners you can marry. In fact, it has no right to legislate that you have to marry a human. 

Of course, this is a harbinger of hard times to come for those who are bucking the tide of worldliness and moral confusion. Politically incorrect churches, ministries, and individuals will soon become “public enemy number one.” If developments over the last few years in Europe and America are any indicator of what will come about, those who do not wholeheartedly embrace same-sex “marriage” will be: sued, fired, threatened with physical harm, their business boycotted, called names, driven out of the military, considered mean and hateful, singled out for auditing by the IRS and, if they pastor a local church, have their sermons censored. Aaron and Melissa Klein, Oregon bakers who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex “wedding” have been fined $135,000 for their sincerely held views. Who’s next in this unconscionable onslaught? 

A survey of church history over the last two millennia will quickly reveal that Christians have been embroiled in a number of controversies. Some of the issues are major, and critical. Others, however, are not. Christians have even ruled that other Christians need to be exterminated. The Magisterial Reformers were notorious in their vicious attacks on the Anabaptists. Burning at the stake, impalements, whippings, and beating were all done to “protect the honor of God and the integrity of His truth—and all for their own good!” An important question is this: With all the opposition to the Gospel in the world, do Christians need to spend so much time attacking one another?” 

Many years ago, this author taught at a non-denominational Bible college. Teaching courses like religious education, homiletics, Greek, and Hebrew did not pose much of a challenge because such courses do not require much doctrinal alignment, but how about teaching a two-year course in systematic theology to mixed classes of Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Methodists, Independent Baptists, Free Will Baptists and a couple of Seventh-Day Baptists? Can you imagine teaching the doctrine of the Holy Spirit to a mixed class of individuals, some of whom are cessationists and believe that some of the gifts have ceased, and some of whom believe that all the gifts are still in operation? And they all claim to be right because they all claim to be interpreting the bible correctly and all claim to be led by the Holy Spirit! 

To say the least, it was a very interesting experience. We had some great classes! I did have to remind the students, however, that while the Bible is authoritative and infallible, interpreters are not. The best of men are but men at best. And that goes for the ladies as well. All who come to the Bible have biases, prejudices, blind spots, and baggage that we bring to Scripture. Who, me? Yes, YOU! But here’s what was absolutely amazing. I was amazed at how much Bible-believing Christians are in agreement with one another even though they carry different denominational stripes! 

The Issues That Divide Us 

Some Aspects of Eschatology. All Christians believe that Jesus is coming back. If you believe the Bible, you will believe that. All Christians believe in the Rapture, “the great snatch,” the catching away of the saints. What they don’t agree on, among other things, has to do with scheduling. When does the Rapture occur—before the Tribulation, sometime during the Tribulation, at the end of the Tribulation? 

A hot item of discussion—yea, debate—has to do with the identity of the Antichrist. Is he from the Revived Roman Empire (the standard view), or is he from the Muslim world (Richardson, Shoebat, and a growing number of others). 

Musical Instruments and Styles of Worship. Some groups forbid musical instruments in the public worship of God—not even a piano or an organ. Others say pianos and organs are fine, but strictly oppose drums, guitars, saxophones, and other instruments associated with contemporary worship.

Hymn Texts. Some Christians are quite certain that only Psalm texts and other portions of Scripture are honoring to God in public worship, because they come from the Bible and are inspired by God. Those who hold this position are quite certain that “Amazing Grace,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” and “Power In the Blood” are not suitable because the texts are written by men. 

Foot Washing. Some Christians believe it is a perpetual observance. Jesus gave us an example (John 13:15). Other Christians believe it’s a mark of hospitality. If someone drives a great distance, you don’t wash their feet; you fill up their gas tank and get the splattered bugs off their windshield. 

The Frequency of Observing the Lord’s Supper. Some Christians appeal to Acts 20:7 to show that the Lord’s Supper should be observed every Sunday. Others believe that to do so makes it perfunctory and meaningless. 

Monergism v Synergism. These two words are theological opposites. The former means that God does everything in salvation, from predestinating some individuals before time. For them, regeneration precedes the new birth. Synergism, on the other hand, means that man cooperates with God. God is waiting for man’s cooperation in terms of faith and repentance. Calvinists would consider themselves monergists and Arminians would consider themselves synergists. What is important to remember is that Calvinists do believe that man is responsible and Arminians do believe that God is sovereign—though their definitions of human responsibility and Divine sovereignty are different. 

Roman Catholics, Copts, Orthodox and Evangelicals. There are many doctrinal differences between evangelicals and the first three in this list. Some evangelicals—especially those of the fundamental variety—are pretty sure that Coptic Christians are, well, kind of wrapped up in a lot of non-biblical extras—candles, robes, rituals, and a pope. Yet, to see the 21 Coptic Christians standing firm that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Saviour and making that confession while Islamic State executioners are holding a sharp knives on their necks, ready to start cutting at their rejection of Islam, must surely lead us to ask ourselves: “Would I have their courage?” 

Some Christians are upset by all of these differences. They believe that all Christians should believe exactly alike in all things. There are two things to remember, however. First, every system of thought, political persuasion, and scientific school has individuals who hold some different views. There are those who believe in chiropractors and those who don’t. There are those who believe in global warming and those who don’t. Both sides will make an appeal to “the assured results of science.” 

Secondly, a high degree of doctrinal uniformity is important in certain situations. A pulpit committee for a Baptist church or a Pentecostal church has every right to expect prospective pastors to hold to certain distinctives that are unique with that denomination. On the other hand, if you are in a country that is hostile to Christianity and you meet some Christians, you don’t ask them what they believe about the extent of the atonement (universal or particular) to see if you can fellowship with them. 

While we are certainly told to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), that faith has a Lord and King who prayed, just before His death on the cross, “That they all may be one that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:21–22). 

It is with sadness that I watch some of the brethren fire away at each other. While Pastor John MacArthur’s ministry has been a blessing to many others—and me—his book Strange Fire (Nelson, 2013) uses a shotgun approach against the charismatic movement. He writes “the modern Charismatic movement offers strange fire that has done incalculable harm to the body of Christ. Claiming to focus on the third member of the Trinity, it has in fact profaned his name and denigrated His true work. Satan’s army of false teachers, marching to the beat of their own illicit desires, gladly propagates his errors. They are spiritual swindlers, con men, crooks, and charlatans. ” On the Grace To You website we find Pastor MacArthur’s call for a “collective war” against charismatic abuses (www.gty.org/resources/sermons). For those who would like to read a well-reasoned, carefully written response by a Bible scholar of the first order, I would recommend Authentic Fire (Creation House, 2015) by Michael L. Brown. 

As Christians brace for a new round of ridicule and persecution, it is time for us to come before the Lord in prayer, asking Him for a humble spirit and for the ability to do what the Apostle Paul commands: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3).