July 16

Ezekiel 37-39, Psalm 42

We all have to ask ourselves the question, "Do we really trust God and believe that he can do anything?" This also relates to the issue of seemingly impossible prophecy. With over 25% of Scripture being prophetical in nature and over 50% already fulfilled with absolutely perfect precision, many still feel like they have to help God out with the prophecies yet to be fulfilled. If God's prophecies made sense then they wouldn't necessarily need God's sovereign help. Over and over again God says through his prophets after declaring a future prophecy that will be fulfilled, "then they shall know that I am the Lord their God." As years go by and prophecies have seemed unlikely commentators tend to allegorize portions of Scripture that seem improbable and in so doing would have to take an eraser to large portions of Scripture to accomplish their views.

Replacement theology where Israel is completely disregarded in end time prophecy is one of these areas. From a human standpoint it made sense why they would try to replace Israel with the church, because it made sense. Mark Twain visited the area of Israel in 1867 and described it as desolate, given over to weeds, having worthless soil. So many portions of Scripture speak of the Jewish people returning to their homeland but the likelihood of it seemed impossible since the destruction of their Temple in 70 AD and being cast out after the second Jewish revolt against the Romans in 135 AD. For over 1800 years Israel was not the Jewish nation, and when it seemed like they would even be wiped out as a people after the Holocaust, the miraculous occurs. On May 14, 1948 the Jewish nation of Israel is established. In Ezekiel 37 this is foretold along with many other areas of Scripture. If you ever see pictures of the holocaust victims they truly were left with nothing but skin and bones like the valley of dry bones mentioned in Ezekiel 37:2-3, where we read in verse 3, "And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" We see prophecy move forward with these bones becoming a nation as it has in 1948. Israel is the only nation to have ceased to be a nation for over 1800 years to come back to their original land maintaining their national identity, their religion, and their language. Even a child in Israel can read documents written 2000 years ago in their original writing. God promised in Ezekiel 37:21-22, "...Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all;...". Though Israel is a nation, as a whole they have not yet returned to God, many in their nation claiming to be agnostic or atheistic, and certainly for the most part rejecting Jesus as their Messiah. But we see in Ez 37:14 that this prophecy concerning Israel is not yet finished, as we read, "I will put my Spirit in you,.." We read in Ez 36:26-27, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you...". The nation and the Jewish people will one day come to know Jesus as their Messiah, mostly during the Tribulation. We read in Zechariah 12:10 of this realization, "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn."

Chapter 38-39 of Ezekiel contains the future prophecies concerning Gog and Magog. These nations may sound unfamiliar but were originally named in Genesis 10:2. Their identities have changed through the centuries. Magog who eventually became a group of people known as the Scythians now comprise the area of Russia and Ukraine. For years, even recently after the cold war seemingly ended with the USSR becomingly irrelevant made commentators question how this portion could come true. But here we are at present with a very powerful and influential Russia with a leader in Putin with no evidence of ever backing down. As an aside, Russia is the major exporter of natural gas in the world. Israel has recently uncovered tremendous natural gas reserves off it's coast which could destabilize Russia's economy. This could be the hook in the jaw mentioned in Ez 38:4 which will prompt Russia to come against Israel. Since Iraq, with Suddam Hussain it's former leader. was defeated and was no longer the powerful Middle Eastern ally of Russia that they desired, as depicted in this prophecy, Russia has become powerful allies with Iran (Persia). The other Muslim nations mentioned in this prophecy include those of Northern Africa including Libya and Ethiopia (Cush and Put). What was difficult to envision was how Togarmah or Turkey fit in. For years wanting to become part of the EU, it seemed that this nation with over 90% Muslim was trying to westernize. All of that changed with their new leader who is moving their nation back to a more radicalized position. With the destruction of Damascus (the longest inhabited city) on the brink (prophesied in Isaiah 17) and with many of the above nations in Syria at the present time, this coming prediction seems on the verge of being fulfilled.

Some of the conclusions and hypotheses by commentators of future Biblical events may prove wrong, but God's Word will never be wrong. We can be confident that this Bible which is always correct will continue to accurately predict future events. Our role as Christians is not to guess, and certainly not fear, but to be confident and committed and warn those in our own sphere of influence before the Rapture and the Tribulation, before it may be too late for many of our friends, family and acquaintances.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster