April 30, 2012
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CURRENT HEADLINES FROM PROPHECY UPDATE
Israel mustn't forget Iran is committed to its destruction ¯ Con Coughlin ¯ www.telegraph.co.uk
One of the great strengths of the Israeli state, which sets it apart from all its neighbors in the Middle East, is its vibrant democracy, which is far more likely to hold its politicians to account than outside critics who have no idea about the complexities of the country's internal debate.
The recent criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's government by Yuval Diskin, the country's former head of Shin Bet ¯ Israel's equivalent of MI5 ¯ over Iran's nuclear program is a case in point. At a public meeting last week Mr Diskin launched a bitter attack against the competence of Mr Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, his defense minister, claiming that they are "not fit to hold the steering wheel of power" because they are deliberately misleading the Israeli public over the seriousness of the threat Iran poses to national security, and are making their decisions "based on messianic feelings."
Mr Diskin's comments have inevitably been seized upon by Guardinistas such as Mehdi Hassan and other anti-Israeli, left-wing agitators to show that Israel's concerns over Iran's nuclear program are completely unfounded. But in pressing their arguments they are deliberately glossing over important political nuances concerning Israel's internal debate on the issue.
To start with Mr Diskin is a frustrated man because Mr Netanyahu who was displeased with his performance as Shin Bet chief, and declined to give him his wish to become head of Mossad, Israel's overseas intelligence agency.
Secondly, as head of Israel's internal security, Mr Diskin would not have been given access to the latest intelligence on Iran's nuclear plans, which is handled by Mossad, not Shin Bet. And thirdly, and most importantly, its what the Iranians say about their ambitions for Israel, rather than statements made by Israeli politicians, that really counts.
And on that front the Iranian leadership has been clear and consistent since the current regime came to power during the Islamic revolution more than thirty years ago ¯ Iran seeks the complete destruction of the Israeli state- with or without nuclear weapons. If Mr Diskin cannot grasp that modern-day Iran poses an existential threat to the survival of the Jewish state, then it is little wonder that Mr Netanyahu passed on the chance to make him head of the Iran brief.
Netanyahu¯s choices: Strike Iran before or after Israeli elections ¯ www.debka.com
Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak are facing another of the periodic opposition campaigns to unseat them ¯ this time by pressure for an early election a year before its October, 2013 date. New faces have joined the opposition lineup. They are focused on challenging the current government¯s credentials for leading an Israeli attack to preempt a nuclear Iran. These two goals are interchangeable. However, before the campaign peaks, debkafile¯s analysts report it has begun to backfire.
The newcomer to the anti-government ranks is the party registered Sunday, April 29, by ex-broadcaster Yair Lapid as ¯Yesh Atid¯ (There is a Future). His potential partners are former Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former chief of staff Gaby Ashkenazi. They are all casting about for a political base, together or apart, from which to tip over the current government. Incumbent President Shimon Peres cheers them on from the wings.
Diskin¯s assault on Netanyahu and Barak as not to be trusted to lead a war and guided by ¯messianic¯ feelings was launched Friday, April 27, directly after Independence Day celebrations, at the same time as two leading opposition parties, Labor and Kadima, set the stage for an early election to stem the right-of-center government¯s constant gains in opinion polls.
The ex-Shin Bet chief sounded the drum for them all by his assault on Netanyahu¯s competence for leading any wars, least of all, a major conflict against Iran. Captions suddenly blossomed in foreign publications on the lines of ¯Israel¯s Generals in Revolt,¯ implying that Israel¯s security establishment was solidly against an attack on Iran.
This is far from the truth. The vocal opponents are a group of disaffected ex-security officials. There are questions about why they did not resign on the grounds of the views they are now voicing instead of fighting to have their tours of duty extended.
Now they are casting out lines for careers in politics.
Ehud Olmert, one of the Yesh Atid founding fathers and a member of its inner leadership, set the new party¯s security agenda in New York Sunday with this comment: ¯I think that fundamentally, Israelis believe that a nuclear Iran imperils their existence.
That is not in dispute. Nor that we must do everything it takes to defend ourselves against this peril. The question is what should be done, who should do it and when. My answer is this: It is being done and continues to be done by the international community led by the United States.¯
With this agenda, Olmert sought to place the question of an Israeli solo attack on Iran versus reliance on US President Barack Obama front and center of the election campaign to come.
He appeared to be drawing on Diskin¯s words, that the Israeli public is ¯stupid¯ or ¯ignorant,¯ leading to his belief that the Israeli voter would swallow a straight black-and-white choice between the ¯good guys¯ and the ¯bad guys.¯
The good guys would be Barak Obama and his advisers, who have worked so hard to hold Israel back from a military offensive against Iran, and the baddies are Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak who are making trouble for the US president.
On April 26, Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz tried to fracture this distorted picture: He reported that other armies stand alongside Israel ready to attack Iran and prevent its acquisition of a nuclear weapon.
He did not name those armies, but debkafile¯s military sources disclosed he was referring to the United States.
In their drive to discredit Netanyahu and Barak, President Peres, Olmert, Dagan, Diskin and Ashkenazi failed to take note of Gen. Gantz¯s words or what they portended ¯ namely: In the past week, the United States has brought forward its operational preparations for an attack on Iran.
Instead, in Jerusalem, Israel¯s opposition parties gathered for the push to corner Netanyahu into announcing an early election.
They got their wish sooner than they expected.
The prime minister, after turning the situation over for 48 hours, assented. He figured that the key weapon adopted by his rivals to knock him over was not in fact in their hands but in his: It is up to him and him alone to decide whether to attack Iran. In fact, if an election was forced on his government, he could defeat their scheme by bringing the attack forward.
So the impression of Netanyahu and Barak fighting with their backs to the wall against a body of generals is totally misleading.
Their opponents are beginning to realize that their anti-government offensive has missed its mark and may well blow up in their faces. The pressure for an election may therefore dissipate in the coming days - or not. That too is up to Netanyahu. He may decide that a successful operation against Iran would assure him of an election victory and wipe out his rivals. For now, he's got his foes guessing.
President Obama was far from happy with the exes¯ anti-government maneuvers because he realized that they offered Prime Minister Netanyahu his strongest incentive yet for bringing forward an attack on Iran, an eventuality which the US president had made every effort to prevent before he himself faces the American voter in November.
Iran creates competitor to Russian missile ¯ Joseph Farah ¯ www.wnd.com
'Belief 373' cited as just as effective as original
WASHINGTON ¯ Iran reports that it has developed a version of the much-vaunted Russian S-300 air defense missile which Moscow last year refused to export to the Islamic republic. The concern at that point was that the export could have been a violation of one of the few United Nations sanctions Russia agreed to because of Iran¯s nuclear program, according to a report in Joseph Farah¯s G2 Bulletin.
Sources say that the Iranian version of the S-300, dubbed the Bavar (Belief) 373, is just as effective as the Russian version, suggesting possible collusion between the two countries in its development. One Iranian source said that technology from China also is incorporated in the indigenously built Iranian air defense missile.
The Bavar 373 is set to be delivered soon to the country¯s integrated air defense network. Commander of Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmayeeli said that the system is even more powerful and more advanced than the Russian S-300, claiming that it even could become a rival to the Russian version when it comes to exports.
Iranian sources suggest that the Bavar 373 will be mobile, with four loaded on each mobile truck launcher. It also will be able to undertake a cold launch from systems similar to existing missiles, such as the Tor-M1. These sources also indicate that the Iranians may even develop a shorter range missile that would be used to protect the Bavar 373 launch sites.
Since the Bavar will be operational shortly, mobile batteries undoubtedly will be positioned near Iran¯s nuclear facilities sprinkled throughout the country for security purposes. Once the Bavar missile batteries are on location, there is every expectation that the air defense missile system will be formidable should either Israel or the United States, or both, decide to launch an attack on those nuclear facilities.
Netanyahu's decision will have significant repercussions
EL AVIV ¯ (TCSM) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled on Sunday for the first time that he is liable to move up Israel's elections from next year to this year to take advantage of his lead in opinion polls over the country's fractured opposition.
Though Mr. Netanyahu's record of sounding the alarm about a nuclear Iran is likely to figure prominently in his campaign because it plays to his strength as a security hawk, early elections would make it less likely that the prime minister would order a preemptive attack on Iran because it risks igniting regional war that could endanger his popularity, analysts said.
"Netanyahu knows that he enjoys a relatively high and stable popularity, and it's a good time to [hold elections] when his rivals are seen as unprepared," says Aviv Bushinsky, a former advisor to Netanyahu who believes early elections will happen. "So why should he risk it by attacking, what if it fails? He doesn't need to do something extreme to win the elections."
A March poll in the liberal Haaretz newspaper showed Netanyahu's Likud Party with 35 to 37 seats, with rival parties winning less than half of that.
Beyond the public approval rating, a mixture of domestic and foreign motives is behind the prime minister's potential gamble on early elections, say analysts.
Netanyahu is thought to be concerned that holding elections on their originally scheduled date of November 2013 will leave him vulnerable to pressure from the US on concessions to the Palestinians if President Barack Obama wins a second term in November.
Netanyahu will be largely impervious to that pressure if Israel's election campaign is held simultaneously as Mr. Obama fights for reelection at home. An Israeli campaign would also diminish the prospects for any new gestures to renewing talks with the Palestinians because it would hurt Netanyahu's support among Jewish settlers and hardline allies in the parliament.
Speculation of new elections emerged on Sunday just two days after Netanyahu came under an usually blunt attack from a former security chief over his handling of Iran. Yuval Diskin, a former head of the Shin Bet domestic security service, said he had no confidence in Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, charging that their policy is motivated by "messianism."
Attacking Netanyahu's assertion of Israel's right to strike Iran's nuclear program, Mr. Diskin said such a move would only accelerate Iran's drive to be a nuclear power.
"Netanyahu will try to make the elections about security and about Iran," says Dahlia Scheindlin, a Tel Aviv public opinion expert and blogger at the left wing blog +972. Ms. Scheindlin said only a critique of Netanyahu's policy on Iran could crack his public image, "and the only people that can credibly do it are security officials."
Speculation has been rising in recent months about early elections, though Netanyahu has tried to douse speculation ¯ until today. Danny Danon, a Likud parliament member says Netanyahu told colleagues that he would confer with coalition partners this week about possible dates. Israeli elections could be held as early as August, minimizing the time for Likud's rivals to get organized, he says.
Netanyahu's coalition has been relatively stable since he took office early in 2009, but threats to bring down the government from coalition allies are likely to grow as the original date draws near because there is less to lose.
To garner support on domestic policy, Netanyahu hopes to appeal to centrist Israelis by proposing a reform to reduce military draft exemptions for divinity students.
"There's been a dynamic that is hard to get out of that is leading to elections," says Mr. Danon. "The polls we've seen in the last weekend were good for the Likud."
Leading candidate in Egypt presidential race calls Israel peace accord 'dead and buried' - By Zvi Bar'el ¯ www.haaretz.com
Amr Moussa tells a mass rally in south Egypt that the Camp David Accords with Israel should be 'consigned to the shelves of history.'
The leading candidate in Egypt's presidential race said on Sunday that the Camp David Accords should be consigned to the shelves of history, describing the agreement as "dead and buried."
At a mass rally in southern Egypt, Amr Moussa, who is currently ahead in Egypt's race for president, spoke of the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, saying that "the Camp David Accords are a historical document whose place is on the shelves of history, as its articles talk about the fact that the aim of the agreement is to establish an independent Palestinian state."
Moussa went on to say that there is "no such thing" as the Camp David agreement.
"This agreement is dead and buried. There is an agreement between Israel and Egypt that we will honor as long as Israel honors it. The Jewish document that defines relations between Israel and the Arabs is an Arab initiative from 2002 whose advancement should be bilateral: step for step, progress for progress."
Moussa, who served for ten years as foreign minister under former president Hosni Mubarak (and left his post over disagreements with the former leader), differentitaties between the Camp David Accords, which include the Palestinian articles, and the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. The Egyptian public does not necessarily make the same differentiation, however. The Camp David Accords are seen as one whole, and all public discussions of them are seen as a test of the foreign policy that is expected of Egypt's presidential candidates, and mainly code according to which U.S. policy towards each one of the candidates will be decided.
In a visit to the west of Egypt two weeks ago, Moussa described the agreement as "ink on paper whose period of authority is over," without differentiating between the articles that deal with the Palestinians, and those that deal with peace with Israel. Although Moussa is leaning on the support of some of the secular parties and activist groups that were the backbone of the January revolution, it is actually Islamist leaders that are talking about their commitment to the Camp David Accords.
The head of Salafi Al-Nour party, for example, said in December last year that his movement is not opposed to the Camp David Accords, and that it is ready to negotiate with Israel. Representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, including Khairat Al-Shater, who until recently was their candidate for president, also emphasized their commitment to the Camp David Accords, and have passed on this sentiment to the U.S. administration.
Moussa, despite this, has followed a tough line on Israel for years. He designed Egypt's foreign policy regarding Israel's nuclear capabilities, a policy that calls for nuclear disarmament in the region, and he is particularly proud of his part in putting the Palestinian problem on the international list of priorities during his time as foreign minister.
Despite these views, 76-year-old Moussa says that ¯ if elected ¯ he will only serve one term as Egyptian president, a criticism that has come from those who are meant to be his supporters. One member of the Al Wafd party, for example, said that Moussa is the number one choice of the U.S., and that "even Israel does not express its worry that over his election. He announced his intention to stand for election as Egypt's president from the house of the Saudi ambassador in Egypt, and no one knows are his sources of funding."
Jalal Amin, Professor of Economics at the American University in Cairo and a prominent leftist thinker, said that "Moussa is a remnant of Mubarak's regime... How else can a man who served for ten years as foreign minister ¯ a third of which was under Mubarak ¯ be silent about what is happening in the country? What can of person is this?"
Is seems that in light of such criticism ¯ and in an attempt to distance himself from the policies of the previous regime ¯ Moussa is now embracing a critical stance toward the peace accords with Israel.
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"There will be Tribulation" This DVD covers the Tribulation from start to finish and include the following topics: the concept, the scope, the length, the starting point, common misconceptions, the Antichrist and the world's acceptance of the Antichrist, the events of the Tribulation and the chronology and God's purpose for the Tribulation.
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The global debt crisis is back in the headlines. Right now, red flags are popping up all over Europe, with Spain being the most-watched nation. Last Thursday, Standard & Poor's cut its credit rating on Spain by two notches, citing the government¯s growing budget deficit as a result of economic contraction. A day later, the Spanish government released data showing a record 5,639,500 people are unemployed in that nation, with the unemployment rate hitting 24.4 percent.
Spain may need to pump around $200 billion into its ailing banks. Amazingly, bad loans now make up 8.15 percent of all loans on the books of Spanish banks. That is the highest level in eighteen years. The official debt-to-GDP ratio for Spain is 79 percent, but the actual total is around 130 percent.
Italy is not far behind Spain. Its massive $2.5 trillion outstanding public debt has become a daunting risk for Italian banks. While banks are not obliged to purchase domestic government bonds, they are doingso for a very clear reason. They have purchased so many already that if they don't buy more, a collapse in the bond market would wipe them out.
The banking system in Europe is so critical, the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund have stepped forward with bailouts totaling $7 trillion.
Egon von Greyerz, a partner at Matterhorn Asset Management out of Switzerland, recently noted how desperate efforts to sustain the current global financial system have become, ¯So they (the IMF) raised 400 billion from various nations, but where is the money coming from? The majority is coming from Europe and the EU. (They are) all bankrupt. They have no funds. They have to print money. Japan, which has the biggest debt to GDP ratio of most industrialized nations, they are a major contributor of about 60 billion. So it¯s ridiculous. Here is the bankrupt helping the bankrupt."
The task of controlling the banking crisis is like someone trying to stop a large vat of liquid from boiling over. Each time the vat begins to bubble, governments have poured cold water into the mix to lower the temperature. As they pour more water into the vat, the water level rises closer to the top, and the increased volume makes it harder to manage the brew.
One only needs to look at the results of the recent Long Term Refinancing Operations to see how quickly the debt crisis has returned to the boiling point. In December, the ECB made $1.3 trillion in three-year loans to several European banks to lower the bond rate that had reached unsustainable levels. Once the money became available, the rates on bonds dropped by several basis points. Now that the last portion of the money has been handed out, interest rates have quickly risen back up to dangerous levels.
Several nations have tried to bring their budgets under control by implementing austerity measures. Politicians in France, Italy, Spain, the UK, and Greece have approved spending cuts totaling over $600 billion. European leaders are starting to find that austerity has its own dire economic consequences. When you reduce government spending, the economy will naturally contract.
Austerity may already be doomed at the ballot box. This coming Sunday, France and Greece will hold elections, and the anti-austerity parties have the upper hand. French President Nicolas Sarkozy will likely lose to socialist Francois Hollande, who has attacked government cutbacks. Greece's socialist party leader Evangelos Venizelos has promised no new taxes, or across-the-board wage and pension cuts, if his party participates in a coalition government.
Every time a major central bank like the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank gets together for a meeting, the financial press is always speculating about whether there is going to be more money printing. With Western governments running annual shortfalls of nearly $4 trillion, of course, there will be more printing of currency. It's the only way to maintain what has become history's greatest Ponzi scheme.
At some point, the law of mathematics will kick in, and we will reach a flashpoint where the financial rupture will be so quick and overwhelming in scale that the central banks will be powerless to stop the meltdown. With such a huge percentage of the population dependent on the government, the failure of the system will create massive social unrest.
The rise of the Antichrist could dovetail perfectly with this crisis. The Beast is predicted to gain total control over the global banking system. Some type of crisis would be very helpful in setting the stage for such a vast shift in economic power.
"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name¯ (Revelation13:16-17).
Isn¯t it tragic that many of our brothers and sisters in Christ speak negatively about prophecy? Those who spend much time in the study of prophecy are often ridiculed for doing so. It is said that this time could be better spent witnessing to the lost. However, the wonder of studying prophecy is that it instills an even greater desire to witness to those who do not know Jesus as their Savior. Actually, the more one studies prophecy, the greater the urgency to tell the Good News of salvation in Christ.
Should a Christian have no interest in studying prophecy when it comprises roughly one third of God¯s Word, the Bible? I¯m sure they are influenced by those who have given prophecy a ¯bad name¯ in attempting to set dates for Christ¯s return, and making predictions that ¯so-and-so¯ is the Antichrist. These people are false prophets and should never be given an audience, but society loves sensationalism. Society also loves to see those who claim to be speaking on behalf of God fall flat on their face.
If you are a Christian, you really need to be studying prophecy, if not for one reason. God expects you to. He didn¯t place this much information about prophecy in the Bible for it to be ignored. Pastors especially, should be strong students of prophecy, and should be teaching it on a regular basis, not at the expense of everything else in God¯s Word of course, but it needs to be taught. Sadly, very few pastors know enough about prophecy to teach it to their congregations in the first place.
We are in the last days of the Church age. The Church age is winding down and the signs are all around us. Daniel¯s seventieth week, or the Tribulation period as it is commonly known, is just around the corner. Far, far too many Christians are going to be caught off guard when Jesus returns for His Church just prior to the Tribulation. Does that mean they won¯t be included in the Rapture? Of course not, but think of the lost people they have failed to tell about Christ¯s offer of salvation and His soon coming. How many of those will remain in their sin because they did not hear?
For those who say, ¯we need to be witnessing, and let prophecy take care of itself,¯ are you witnessing? I realize that Christians, who know nothing about prophecy, do witness. Unfortunately, there are many, many more who know nothing about prophecy, and still don¯t witness. The whole point of this article is to emphasize that prophecy, especially today, brings out an urgency in the prophecy student to witness. If you are a legitimate student of prophecy, I simply do not see how you would have no interest in witnessing to the lost. To the contrary, your desire to witness would increase, simply because you know the time is short.
Something else to consider are those who study prophecy, but do not witness for Christ. Notice that I mentioned in the last paragraph the ¯legitimate¯ student of prophecy. Yes, there are those who want to study the fine points of prophecy, but aren¯t interested in the message. Christ¯s message has always been,
¯Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.¯ (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV)
All too often these folks just want to argue about what they think they know. That is not the right attitude to study prophecy, or anything else in God¯s Word, for that matter.
Jesus Christ has made His message of salvation very clear. Even though this topic too has been tainted by false teachers, the Bible is clear on our need to be ¯born again¯ and how to be ¯born again.¯ One example, among many, would be,
¯For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.¯ (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Therefore, when the legitimate student of prophecy becomes alarmed for the need of people to be saved, and they will become alarmed, they must be clear on the doctrine of salvation as well.
When studying prophecy, perhaps the first thing that comes to mind would be the spiritual welfare of our family members. Then we start thinking about our neighbors and co-workers and others we know. I know I sound like a broken record, but the natural result of studying prophecy is growing in one¯s desire to witness. It just happens that way. To study prophecy and not grow with a strong desire to witness is unnatural. It would almost be like seeing a tornado coming, but having no desire to warn others. The natural process wants to warn others of the approaching danger.
So for those of you who just want to argue over the fine points of prophecy, you need to get a life. Your heart isn¯t right before God, and you need to get that settled first of all.
For those of you who want to ridicule legitimate prophecy students, you need to start studying the one third portion of God¯s Word you have cut out and listen to what God has to say to you.
Yesterday after our Bible study, we got into a discussion about travel. One of our friends says he refuses to fly because the White House has made it such an indignant process. He made the point that we tell our kids all the time to not talk to strangers, yet the one exception is the TSA agent who is allowed to not only ask your child questions, expecting answers, but also allowed to grope your child ostensibly for weapons or weapon components. Another recently relayed the story when she last visited her grandchildren. After going through the xray machine, a male TSA agent smiled at her and said, "You just made my day." All this because of Islamic terrorists. But is it necessary? Is it judgment?
There must be a better way. Israel, for example, has a great system. The last time I was there, it was not invasive. It was matter of fact. It was professional. It was serious. It was also very efficient. The problem here is that there is one somewhat small group of people who are making it difficult on a large group of people. If there were no Islamic terrorists, the security at airports could be minimized and millions, if not billions, of dollars could be saved. But Islam's true meaning is submission to allah--their cultic god that they have convinced even the elect is the same as YHVH. In a sense, Islam has brought the world into submission--at least at airports.
It would seem that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is also under submission to Islam. The New York Times Sunday Review wrote about terrorist plots "hatched" by the FBI. The story relates how the FBI says it is regularly saving Americans from "lethal terrorist plots." In reality, the Times concludes, the FBI is facilitating terrorist dramas through undercover agents posing as terrorists to entrap other terrorists. The Times questions, "This is legal, but is it legitimate? Without the FBI, would the culprits commit violence on their own?" Of course, the Times is likely taking the side of poor Muslims who are enticed into being home-grown terrorists. They really don't want to hurt anybody, the Times submits.
Perhaps most Americans believe the world views their nation as one who follows the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12, "Everything whatsoever you desire that people should do for you, do likewise for them." In reality, the world views America much differently because of US government actions. My friends in Ghana, for example, are well reminded of CIA initiated coups. Though they like Americans, many are suspicious of America. Isaiah 29:15 says, "Woe to those who burrow down deep to hide their plans from YHVH. They work in the dark and say to themselves 'Nobody sees us, nobody knows us.'" What our government has done in darkness has helped bring judgment to light. But who is the government, but We the People? Do the righteous cry out: "Time to repent. Time to act"?
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.¯ Acts 2:42
Luke could have brought a lot of things to our attention about the early church as he recorded its history in the book of Acts. After all, the early church was vibrant, joyful, and rapidly expanding. But Luke made a point of reminding us that the first-century Christians studied the Scriptures together.
It could have been a temptation for these believers to look back with great fondness on Pentecost and say, "Why can't every service be like Pentecost? Remember the Holy Spirit coming upon us and the divided flames of fire? Remember all of the languages we spoke?" But Pentecost was like the explosion that started the engine. And instead of reminiscing, the church was reveling in the Word of God.
A trend in the church today, however, is to disregard the study of Scripture. Some pastors will say things like, "Questions are the new answers. Let's not have a sermon. Let's have a discussion. Let's talk about the latest film or share our doubts and struggles. Besides, it is arrogant for us to say we know what the Bible teaches, because God is too big for us to understand, and His truth is too mysterious for us to know with certainty."
Another trend is to marginalize the Word of God. A church may have their videos, their drama, their film clips, their testimonies, and even their dance sometimes. Then, at the end, they might have a little sermonette, a short talk by the pastor. The problem with this is that sermonettes produce Christianettes.
The Bible is alive and powerful. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. . . ."
The early church loved, reveled in, and studied the Word of God. And so should we.
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¯Folks, it's all beginning to unravel. America is in more danger of falling than at any time in its history. But I believe Bible prophecy predicts this very decline. From this point on, we believers have to get serious. We are going to face discouragement, disillusionment and, most certainly, persecution in the time between now and the Rapture. But don't be discouraged or disillusioned. The coming turmoil will provide us unrivaled opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel. So be ready to share your faith and your hope with those who need Christ. We still have time to reap a great harvest of souls for God's kingdom!¯ ¯ Hal Lindsey
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Today¯s Featured Article
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. (2nd Peter 3:3-4)
For most of the past two thousand years, the scoffers had a point. In terms of Bible prophecy and the return of Christ, things remained pretty much the same from the close of the Apostolic Era until roughly the beginning of the 20th century.
When Jesus was asked by His disciples, ¯What shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world?¯ He began with a warning against deception:
¯Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My Name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many.¯ (Matthew 24:4-5)
That was the first sign and for sixteen hundred years, that was the only sign prophecy-watchers had to work with ¯ a succession of popes claiming to be the physical representatives of Christ on earth.
And all things 'continued as they were' down through the centuries. Until we got to the 20th.
¯And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.¯ (24:6)
Until eclipsed by its successor, the Great War (1914-1918) was called ¯The War to End All Wars¯. It was the first world war pitting the Western Allies against the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires.
Jesus noted that ¯all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.¯ What does that mean?
In 1917 the British government approved the Balfour Declaration which said in part;
¯His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.¯
A month later, Lord Allenby captured the city from the defending Turks following an intense battle in which Allenby¯s forces incurred 18,000 casualties while the Turks lost more than 25,000.
But it took the events of another world war and its aftermath before the prophesied restoration of Israel as a Jewish homeland was realized in May, 1948.
¯But the end is not yet.¯
¯For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.¯ (24:7-8)
A month after Israel's declaration of statehood, the Soviet Union imposed a blockade on West Berlin. The Western Allies responded to the blockade with the Berlin Airlift to carry supplies over the blockade directly into West Berlin.
The first overflight took place on June 24, 1948, an events historians credit as marking the start of the Cold War. That conflict lasted for a half century without either side ever directly firing a shot at the other ¯ the ultimate rumor of war.
The Cold War was fought around the world in smalle ethnic internal conflicts like those in Africa the two Koreas and the (formerly) two Vietnams. (¯nation against nation¯ = ethnos against ethnos). The Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union following the First Gulf War.
The First Gulf War was a coalition of kingdoms that ultimately blossomed into what has become, from the perspective of al-Qaeda, a war between civilizations.
¯Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My Name's sake.¯ (24:9)
The 21st century has so far witnessed an unprecedented assault on all things Christian or Jew ¯ the Christian for following Christ and the Jew for rejecting Him. At the same time, nobody dares to offer offense to Islam.
¯And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.¯ (24:10)
Recall Comedy Central¯s predicament of a few months back. There was a huge protest by both the Christian and Jewish communities over their proposed cartoon series ¯JC¯ that mocked both God and Jesus. The louder the protests, the better Comedy Central liked it.
At almost the very same time, Comedy Central¯s ¯South Park¯ ran a cartoon featuring Mohammed. The network heavily censored it and even vacated their offices in response to death threats.
¯And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.¯ (24:11-13)
The assault on the Gospel needs no comment. It is worth mentioning that the most lucrative business model on the internet is the porn business. Every other day it seems, there is a new report of a family murder-suicide.
¯Enduring to the end¯ -- in context -- is a reference to staying true to the Gospel ¯ an increasingly difficult proposition in the brave new 21st century.
¯And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.¯ (24:14)
Do you see the progression? It is an outline of history that begins with the Balfour Declaration and ends with the Gospel of the Kingdom being preached into all the world for a witness unto all nations ¯ an impossibility before the Internet Age and virtually unavoidable since.
Anywhere that the internet is, the Gospel is there. And there are few places left on earth not wired to the world-wide web. But when the Gospel has been preached worldwide to all the nations, then comes ¯the end.¯
But according to the Lord, ¯the end¯ isn¯t the same event as His Second Coming.
Notice what happens after what the Lord describes as ¯the end.¯ His attention shifts to the abomination of desolation that occurs during the Tribulation and His focus narrows to those living in the region of Jerusalem whom He warns to flee.
Note the chronology carefully. First comes ¯the end.¯ After ¯the end¯ comes the abomination of desolation by the antichrist and after that, the Jews are told to flee from Jerusalem.
¯Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.¯
This 'gathering' is NOT the Rapture. This event takes place after the Tribulation. It is neither secret nor signless ¯ all the tribes of the earth will mourn when they see Him coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
This cannot be the same event described by Paul in 2nd Thessalonians 4:16-18.
¯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.¯
At the Rapture, Jesus doesn¯t send His angels to gather the Church, He comes for them Personally. The Church isn¯t gathered from the four winds or from one end of heaven to the other.
It is caught up, first from the grave, and then from the surface of the earth and into the air. In the Matthew 24:31 event, His elect are gathered from heaven, where they already are.
¯And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints . . .¯(Jude 14)
So where are we now? We¯re somewhere between the Gospel of the Kingdom being preached into all the nations and the Rapture of the Church. That¯s a very narrow corridor. The Lord is coming.
¯Wherefore comfort one another with these words.¯ (1st Thessalonians 4:18)
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