Does the Bible compete with anything for time in your life?

Today’s generation is faced with a problem like no other – an unprecedented proliferation of opportunities to be entertained or indulged; each one playing a part in stifling and smothering the desirability and presence of God’s Word.

For thousands of years, the Word of God has been a captivating safe haven for people who have been confronted by war, disease and persecution. Fast forward to today, and we find ourselves in a societal landscape saturated with mind consuming distractions which range – according to whatever view you adopt – from ‘harmless’ to ‘insidious’. The reality is that however you see it, most ‘harmless’ activities can end up becoming ‘insidious’ by virtue of the amount of time we spend consumed in them.

For many of us, social media has successfully dominated our lives and taken large amounts of time away from our family or time away from Gods Word. For others the problem might be gaming, a hobby, holidays, having a TV in the lounge – you name it. Perhaps the problem exists, but is not yet known to you.

Even if we are convinced that our pursuit, habit or hobby is harmless, Christ’s words to the ecclesia of Laodicea should prompt us to constantly reassess our conviction. When Christ said to the Laodicean’s that he would “spue you out of my mouth”, he didn’t issue this stark warning because Laodicea had become subjected to some dark and insidious form of Baal worship, No! Their problem was not immorality, wrong doctrine, child sacrifice, or some other form of blatantly perverted evil.

The influence that repulsed Christ so much, was materialism; the Laodiceans lived amongst general prosperity and comfort, and they weren’t in any hurry to oppose it. Where the Smyrnan’s were incredibly thankful to have a loaf of bread on the table, the Laodiceans were complaining about the brand of the coffee they were just served. Where the Smyrnans suffered shocking persecution at the hands of the Roman authorities, the Laodiceans used wax to caress their shiny sports edition cars.

Transplant the Laodiceans to our age, and they would’ve had a rort! The deafening roar of the crowd as they cheer on the chariots at the Colosseum would be old-school entertainment when compared to the pounding roar of today’s V8 supercar. Better still, the vision of the elite cars projected onto the living room wall, complete with some ground shaking surround-sound would make for an adrenaline-on-tap experience which would leave the chariots in the dust.

The age in which we live today has had the benefit of thousands of years to master the art of stimulating every sensory, making todays offerings far more sophisticated than the classic Laodicean experience. Today’s selection of indulgence is highly customised to our unique taste, easily justifiable and always ‘in your face’; every minute of the day comes with an incessant and unrelenting invitation to lapse into an indulgent habit – the only remedy being a constant and determined effort, to make righteous decisions.

Sometimes (more than we like to admit?) we give in to mindless habits, and steal and plunder the time that belongs to God – and sometimes, we don’t even realise we are doing it. How do we know when we are plundering time that is due only to God? Perhaps one litmus test is to reflect on our growth in Christ. Paul talks about constantly growing in the word as a lifelong endeavour and you would recall he admonished the Hebrews for not progressing beyond a very basic understanding of scripture. The problem of not progressing beyond the milk of the word is a serious challenge for our ecclesia while faced by the constant allurement of materialism.

It’s a challenge that has seen brethren and sisters who, while hesitant to open their Bible and study the word, are studiously committed to their personal interests – be it sports, politics, gaming, hobbies or entertainment. In those fields of interest, study is not a problem, time is not an issue. For example, it might be a fanatical knowledge of the cricketing world has consumed time over many years, leaving scriptural knowledge to pay the price.

Perhaps Revelation has been consigned to the ‘too hard basket’ and instead we have reclined and enjoyed an entrancing TV series. A decision like this requires self-discipline no doubt, but as a brother recently pointed out, consider the implications of this; that Revelation is the bridegroom’s last impassioned letter to us, his bride – whom he loves. It would be difficult when our bridegroom comes to have to explain to him why we have not read his letter to us – what legitimate excuse could we possibly have? Consider how our Lord would feel if we allow our focus to become consumed on temporary things, while ecclesial resourcefulness is in deficit, with attendance dropping, welfare becoming consigned to the work of a few and gospel proclamation under pressure.

It’s not hard to flick on the TV, sit back and revel in the drama of sport. It’s not hard to become experts in retail products that we covet. It’s not hard to follow a TV season, or spend each evening flicking through social media. It takes effort and time to open to the word of God and develop a deep personal conviction of God, his expectations and his love. But despite the effort, this should be our ultimate aspiration in life, beyond anything else!

Christ has called followers who are prepared to dedicate themselves to him in every way possible and therefore reassessing how we spend our time in this age, needs to be a conscious, repeated effort. If a habit or hobby has consistently taken our interest, or time, or enthusiasm away from God’s word or ecclesia, than we must remove the roadblock and clear the way for time in service to God.

If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Mat 5:30

The most important commandment in the Bible calls for dedication from every fibre of our being – not just our spare time.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Duet 6:5-9

Let’s take every opportunity we can to indulge Gods Word – to meditate upon it day and night, encourage others to talk about it at the meeting, consider its principles together with our closest friends and family, and expound them to those who are yet to learn the truth.

Our sacrifice is not one made on the cross, the stake, or in persecution; the challenge which materialism presents to faith today is far more alluring than times past, but no less fateful as our Lord has made abundantly clear.

As each day brings us closer to his return, let’s determine to give Gods Word the premium time in our daily schedule that it deserves, for truly there is little in this life that should compete for time with the Word of God.

Russia is building a new military base – right near Israels border

This article has been published by Debka here.

The Russian engineering corps has started building a new base in southeastern Syria at a small village called Khirbet Ras Al-Wa’r in the Bir al-Qasab district. Until now, Moscow adhered to a policy of restricting its military presence to the western part of the country along the Mediterranean coast; no Russian troops were based further east than Palmyra.

The new facility is the first to be established since Moscow’s initial military intervention in the Syrian war in September, 2015. DEBKAfile’s military sources say it will provide Russia with a lever of control over the volatile Syrian southeast and its borders, where US-backed and Iranian-backed forces are fighting for dominance.

Russian forces will also stand closer than ever before to the Israeli border

Russian forces will also stand closer than ever before to the Israeli border – 85 kilometers from central Golan and 110 kilometers from southern Golan, not far from IDF military positions.

The new Russian foothold will be located strategically 96 kilometers from northern Jordan and 185 kilometers from the American and Jordanian special forces garrison at the al-Tanf crossing inside the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi border triangle.

Placing the new base just 50 kilometers from Damascus serves another primary function, that of securing  the strategic crossroads leading from eastern and southern Syria to the capital – in other words, propping up the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Our intelligence sources note that construction on the new Russian base began concurrently with the resumption his week of secret US-Russian talks in the Jordanian capital, Amman. They are led by Michael Ratney, the special US envoy for Syrian affairs and Aleksandr Lavrentiev, for Moscow.

There were reports on Thursday, June 22 of a trilateral accord reached between the US, Russia and Jordan for creating a demilitarized zone in southern Syria, that would also cover the Israeli and Jordanian borders. DEBKAfile sources assert that no such accord has been reached. According to our information, the Russians put on the table a three-part plan for de-conflicting the incendiary situation in southeast Syria.  We can reveal its main points:

  1. American forces will continue to hold the al-Tanf crossing. In return, they will agree to Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah forces capturing from ISIS – and holding – the border town of Abu Kamal, further to the north.
  2. Moscow will guarantee the withdrawal of Iranian troops, pro-Iranian militias and Hizballah forces from southeastern Syria region at some point in the process.
  3. A joint US-Russian administration will be established to conduct the day-to-day affairs of southeastern Syria, including the areas along the Israeli and Jordanian borders.

Washington has so far turned Moscow down on this plan for two reasons: First, the Syrian army’s conquest of Abu Kamal would strengthen Iran’s grip on the Syria-Iraq border area, the prevention of which is a primary US objective. And second, the Americans want Iranian and Hizballah forces out of the region before any other steps are taken – instead of later, as per the Russian guarantee. This, the Russian negotiators were not prepared to concede.

The defenders of Israel

Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil?” Ezek 38:13

Over the course of the last two years, many events have happened which signal that we are living in the last days. We are witnessing an emergence of a strong alliance between Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Britain, as well as a resurrection of her Commonwealth – who  under Britain will become more closely aligned and ultimately opposed to Europe and the Russian confederacy.

Ever since the recent elections in the UK and USA, Theresa May and Donald Trump have been very active rebuilding alliances described in Ezekiel’s Image result for saudi arabia gulf states mapchapter.

We know from Ezekiel 38, that Sheba and Dedan speak out with Tarshish and her allies, against the Gogian invasion. Dedan refers to the territory of Saudi Arabia, while Sheba refers to the Gulf States (Yemen, Oman, UAE, Qatar etc.)

US-Saudi Relationship

Previously under the Obama Administration, the US sought to kindle a friendship with their enemy Iran, to the detriment of their allies – Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. This was seen through the Iran nuclear deal which Saudi Arabia and Israel saw as a security threat. This deal dramatically damaged the US-Saudi relationship, as Saudi Arabia and Iran are rival powers (because they are opposing Muslim factions – Saudi Arabia is Sunni, and Iran Shiite). The US appears to part of the ‘young lions’ due to their long relationship with Britain. Although they are not part of the Commonwealth, they are a daughter of Britain, and have consistently been an ally of Britain. Consequently as a young lion, the US’ growing friendship with Saudi Arabia, is scripturally significant.

President Trump has said he will reverse many of Obama’s policies, and this has become particularly obvious in his effort to strengthen alliances with Israel, Britain (rather than Europe), the Commonwealth nations and the Gulf States.

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Rex Tillerson at the US-Saudi Arabia CEO Summit

This change in American foreign policy has also been demonstrated by US Secretary of Defence James Mattis’ recent visit to Saudi Arabia to discuss counter-terrorism (the Yemen Civil War),  and increasing military and economic ties. Also Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke at a recent US-Saudi business summit, which encouraged increased business ties between the two nations.

Yemen Civil War

Despite not gaining much media attention, the Yemen civil war has dramatically impacted the Middle East – creating 2.5 million internally displaced people, hundreds of thousands of refugees and has triggered increased Western involvement in the region.

The Yemen civil war is a key part of the recent resurgence of a stronger Sheba (Gulf States) and Dedan (Saudi Arabia) alliance, which has also served to strengthen British and Americans support of the Gulf States.

The civil war began in 2015. The war is a dispute between the internationally recognised Sunni government led by President Hadi and the Shia rebel group, Houthi. The Sunni government are backed by Saudi Arabia, and the Shia rebels, Iran. Hence the Yemen civil war is a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Like Syria, there are several faction groups fighting (Hadi government, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Houthis), but in its simplest form the Yemeni civil war is a war of religion. Yemen is 56% Sunni, and 44% Shia. Saudi Arabia (Sunni) is fighting in Yemen, to keep Iran (Shia) out of Yemen, to avoid having them as a threatening neighbour. Previously as Obama wanted to side with Iran, the US had condemned Saudi Arabia’s participation in the war. However now with a change in administration and foreign policy, President Trump has authorised increased airstrikes in Yemen to support the Saudis and has recently even offered to give Saudi Arabia military and intelligence support.

As Yemen is part of the Biblical territory of Sheba, Trump’s recent involvement in Yemen and support of Saudi Arabia, is bringing together the alliance of Ezekiel 38 that we expect.

India

India is part of the British Commonwealth, and has recently developed closer ties with Britain and Israel.

In 1947, India gained independence from the British. However due to the internal conflict between the Hindu and Muslim population, the nation soon split into India and Pakistan. These two nations have continued to have a contentious relationship. As Pakistan has become increasing isolated (and wanting to push away from Western influence), they have turned to Russia for military and security support. Likewise, India has begun developing a closer alliance with Israel and now post Brexit, with Britain. The religious divide between these nations, has forced them both to develop alliances in accord with Bible prophecy (Pakistan being an extension of the King of the North territory (Daniel 11), and India a young lion, therefore a supporter of Israel).

In November 2016, Theresa May visited India to discuss a potential trade deal, as the triggering of Article 50 loomed. Previously under the EU, Britain was not allowed to create a free trade agreement with India. Brexit has not only facilitated Britain to leave Catholic Europe, but also pushed them to strengthen their relationship with their “young lions” (the Commonwealth). Although a free trade agreement with India has not yet been constructed, it appears to be only a matter of time. Similarly India has also begun to develop business ties with the other allies of Israel – Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

Over the past few years India and Israel have also been developing a closer relationship. India has abstained from voting against Israel in several UN resolutions. In 2015 India and Israel negotiated several extensive trade deals. In November 2016 the Israeli President visited India. In July this year, Prime Minister Modi will visit Israel (the first Indian PM to visit Israel). Previously Indian Ministers have visited both Israel and Palestine to indicate their neutrality. However this time, Modi is only visiting Israel – showing their clear support of Israel.

Britain

As the Brexit process has officially begun, Theresa May is seeking to develop trade deals with non-EU nations (as seen by recent discussion about potential trade deals with Australia, US, New Zealand, Canada and India). Consequently she has turned to her Commonwealth and the Sunni Arab nations to create trade deals, to prepare Britain’s economy for life post-Brexit.

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Theresa May at the GCC Summit

In December, Theresa May flew to Bahrain to meet with the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council: which includes Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait) to develop trade agreements. This month, May has also flown to Saudi Arabia, and met with King Salman, the Crown Prince and other Saudi officials to discuss trade and investments.

Also this month, the Qatar PM flew to meet with Theresa May in London to create a post-Brexit trade deal. Likewise also the UK Secretary of State for International Trade has recently said the UK wants to increase trade with Oman by a billion pounds.

Brexit has not only pushed the UK out of Catholic Europe, but also has forced it to create alliances and trade deals with Sheba and Dedan – preparing the alliances for Armageddon.

Conclusion

While many prophetic events have been occurring in Russia, Syria and Europe, the defenders of Israel have begun to emerge. Tarshish, Sheba, Dedan and the ‘young lions’ have begun to form not only by the creation of alliances with each other, but also their increasing isolation that has driven them to befriend and support Israel. Their unification could drive a wedge between them and the European-Russian confederacy – as Ezekiel 38 foretells.

Judging the nations which have divided God’s land

I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land. (Joel 3:2 ESV)

Joel 3 is a prophecy of the conflict that engulfs Israel at the time of the end when Gog and his allies invade and overpower the Jewish state, only to find themselves overthrown in turn by divine intervention. The prophecy says that “all the nations” will be involved in this judgement.

Zechariah also speaks of how “all nations” will be gathered to Israel for this judgement, and draws attention to the fact that Jerusalem will be central to this conflict: “On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it” (12:3).

Joel 3:2 speaks of “all the nations” incurring the wrath of God for two reasons:

  1. They scattered the Jews among the nations. This has been fulfilled in the nearly 2,000 years that have passed since the Romans destroyed the Jewish state of Judea in AD 70.
  1. They have divided up my land. This is a more modern phenomenon, and may be regarded as having commenced in 1947 when the United Nations voted for the partition of Palestine into two states, one for the Jews and one for the Arabs.

In 1947 the Jews accepted the partition plan for Palestine and went on to establish the independent state of Israel in 1948. The Arabs did not support the partition plan and launched a bitter war hoping to destroy the Jewish state at its birth. They failed in that War of Independence in 1948 and 1949 and in several wars since.

69 years later, the nations of the world in general continue to support the partition of the Holy Land into separate states for Jews and Arabs. Even the Israeli government officially endorses this view.

On 15 January 2017, the French government convened a conference in Paris to discuss the Middle East peace process. Attended by representatives of 70 nations (a significant number in the light of the seventy nations listed in Genesis 10, the number of Israelites in Genesis 46:25 and Exodus 1:5, and the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:8), the conference reiterated support for the so-called “two state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The United States was represented by outgoing Secretary of State, John Kerry, known for his animosity towards the Israeli government, but not by anyone associated with the administration of incoming President Trump. The United Kingdom attended as an observer only rather than as a participant. There were no representatives at the conference of either the Israeli government or the Palestinian administration.

Not surprisingly, the Palestinians supported the final communique of the conference and reiterated their view that Israel is the only impediment to a “two state solution”. It is also unsurprising that Israel expressed scepticism about the conference outcome. In remarks to his Cabinet after the conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

“This conference is among the last twitches of yesterday’s world. Tomorrow’s world will be different — and it is very near.”

No doubt Mr Netanyahu was referring to the fact that in just a few days the new Trump administration will assume office in the United States. But like the words of Caiaphas in John 11:49-52, his comments could also be read as an unintended “prophecy” of the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is interesting that, while supporting a “two state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the United Kingdom was critical of the conference in an official statement issued by the Foreign Office:

“We have particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them – indeed which is taking place against the wishes of the Israelis – and which is taking place just days before the transition to a new American President when the US will be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement. There are risks therefore that this conference hardens positions at a time when we need to be encouraging the conditions for peace.”

This conference in Paris is just the latest in a long list of ineffective initiatives to promote peace in the Middle East. More importantly, however, it is further confirmation of the truth of the words of Joel about all the nations being judged by God because of their determination to divide God’s land.

2017 – A Significant Year for Bible Prophecy

As we farewell what has been truly eventful year, I cannot but think that this year was just a precursor to even greater things next year.

For those who know and love the word of prophecy, 2016 was truly annus mirabilis. Having grown up in these amazing times it gives me great encouragement to hear brethren and sisters who have lived many years longer  and have greater hindsight, who are no less awed by the extraordinary nature of current events in the last few years.

However unprecedented these events have been, next year is already looking to be very significant on a number of accounts:

2017 –  a Year of Milestones in Israel

2017 will see three exciting anniversaries that all relate to Israels revival;

  • 50 years since Israel captured Jerusalem (and a Biblical jubilee)
  • 70 years since the UN resolution on the adoption of an independent Jewish state.
  • 100 years since the Arthur Balfour declaration in favour of an independent Jewish state.

God often worked with Israel in Jubilee periods. What will next years Jubilee bring for Israel?

Will Israel Annex the West Bank in 2017?

The annexation of the West Bank has been thrown into the limelight for the very reason that it recently became a real possibility.

The prophets talk extensively about Israel inhabiting the West Bank (“The mountains of Israel”) around the time of the second advent. Ezekiel 38 gives us an indication that Israel will be inhabiting this region at the time when Russia invades.

2017 will be the first year to see both unprecedented momentum within the Israeli government to annex the West Bank and significantly less international power constraining Israel from doing so.

Today, Israel’s government is more supportive of West Bank annexation than what any Israeli government has been in the past, and while every previous US administration have done their level best to stop Israel building settlements and claiming sovereignty over the West Bank, President elect Trump and his Israeli ambassador are about to free the shackles constraining Israel from doing so.

A guest author recently wrote an article on this blog entitled; “Will Israel Annex the West Bank“? Its worth reading in light of recent news.

Yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry held a press conference where he made his frustrations clear and for the first time, suggested that Israel is close to annexation.

If it happened in 2017 it would certainly be another incredible milestone and a witness to the fact that the Messiah’s return is very close.

Will 2017 bring Transformation in Europe?

An era of global stability is coming to an end; anti-establishment nationalism is fermenting in most countries, and thrusting this unwitting world into uncharted and volatile waters. Don’t let this be a distraction; beneath the bubbling surface is a number of key projects that the Angels are working on in preparation for the return of Christ.

One of these changes which is yet to take place is the transformation of Europe into the ten nations and leaders (Daniel 2, Revelation 17) who complete Nebuchadnezzar’s image.

Next year will see substantial change in the geopolitical sphere with elections due in many countries, and with that, many new political parties, party policies and foreign policies will be up for grabs. Nowhere will a transformation be more likely, and more pronounced than in Europe, which is facing a tidal wave of far right, pro-Russian, anti-EU elections. Such change in Europe would be more profound than the Brexit and is likely bring about the circumstances for the image of Daniel 2, where the image stand’s in preparation to oppose Christ.

Further Reading