By Pastor Hal Mayer
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Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. Thank you for joining me today as we explore the certainties of the word of God. The Bible has become more meaningful than ever as we near the end of time. Whoever says the Bible is irrelevant just doesn’t know how to understand it. We are living in the most biblically relevant time in all of history. The ancients longed to see this day. And it is here. It is upon us and we are really asleep. I feel like I’m asleep, especially when God opens up a new concept to me in His word, I feel like I have been asleep. Why didn’t I ever see that before I ask myself? And I wonder what else I’m missing. Friends, you can only get new insights into God’s word when you are studying it diligently and comparing scripture with scripture.
Before we begin our study today, I want to share with you that our new website is up and running and it is full of prophetic intelligence briefings and prophetic analysis that will help you understand the developments around us. Go to ktfnews.com. There are many things to see there including a page dedicated to our new location for a health retreat near Adelaide, South Australia. I’m very thankful that God is opening the door for lost souls in this important Australian city to find their way to the kingdom of heaven through medical missionary work. Click on the link for Amaroo Water Gardens Health Retreat on our new website and read of God’s providences and see the pictures. It will inspire you.
And thank you for your support so far for Amaroo Water Gardens, our planned health retreat for South Australia. Amaroo means beautiful place in the aboriginal language. Your gifts mean so much to us. Please go to our website and read the story and look at the pictures of Amaroo and see if God impresses you with its potential for ministry in His cause.
Also, be sure you have signed up for our email Keep the Faith Insider. It comes out every month and gives you heartwarming stories of how God has changed lives through the ministry of Keep the Faith, Highwood and soon Amaroo.
As we begin our study today, let us pray. Our Father in heaven, thank you for Your wonderful Holy Spirit who is promised to us when we ask in Your name. We need Your loving Spirit to teach us the things of God. And today we pray that You will open our hearts to receive what You wish to share with us. I pray that Your presence will teach us the things of God. In Jesus precious name, amen.
It wasn’t long ago my friends that we talked about the Islamic State, its brutality and how it is laying the foundation for the unification of church and state at the global level. But as I look at the global landscape, I see more trouble in the Middle East and elsewhere. It is as if the whole region is in turmoil. If something or someone lights a fuse, it could blow. Every day brings more bad news it seems.
I see friends of war everywhere, really. It’s in the news. It’s glorified in Hollywood; it is pushed on young people on the Internet and in gaming, shooting and killing, beatings and violence of all sorts. You can hardly watch the news without being revolted by the miserable way in which human beings treat each other. Bloodthirsty warriors revel in killing. When will it stop? When will it all be over? Friends, I’m convinced that we have a lot more to witness before the end. I believe that it will get so bad that we will only hunger for God and for the peace of Christ.
The enemies of peace are everywhere. They talk about peace, but they really love war. For the elites on the planet, war helps them gain more power and money because they invest in war-making industries. It’s in their interests to foster war. They encourage it because they want to sell more weapons and ammunition, fighter jets, warships and bombs, all of which line their pockets with money and give them more power to manipulate.
Do you think that the beheadings that are on social media are brutal? Of course they are. But listen to what Jesus tells us through the prophet John. It is found in Revelation 20:4.
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
What time is this referring to? This is talking about the millennium. But it is also telling us what these faithful souls did before the close of human probation. It is talking about the last days when the mark of the beast will be enforced. It is talking about those who refused to take the mark of the beast. It is saying that they will be beheaded for the witness of Jesus. In other words, those that refuse to receive the mark of the beast or worship his image will be witnesses for Jesus and they will suffer a brutal punishment for this. But they will be rewarded greatly in heaven. They will reign with Christ and live with him for a millennium. What a wonderful privilege!
How will God’s people be martyred by beheading if the world isn’t first desensitized to it on television, on the Internet or other places? Once they are used to it, they will tolerate it. Then they will eventually approve of it. I don’t know about you, my friends, but I think the beheadings that we hear about on the news are really a warning to God’s people. Jesus wants us to understand what is coming upon us.
After all, John the Baptist, the second Elijah was beheaded. So, why would not Christ’s followers who are the third Elijah in the last days also be beheaded for Christ’s sake.
The Bible predicts that in the last days there will be much killing and bloodshed. There will be much war and trouble of all kinds. So, to begin, let us read from the book of Luke 21:25 “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring…”
If ever there was perplexity, if ever the sea and the waves are roaring, and the nations are stirred with the spirit of war, it is now. Men love war, they are enemies of peace.
Listen to this statement from God’s messenger. It is from Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, and page 11. Listen carefully. “The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude. The agencies of evil are combining their forces, and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.”
Did you hear that about the “Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth?” That’s the key. Why is there so much of an unsettled state in society? Why are there so many alarms of war? It is because the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the earth. And Satan uses the world-loving presidents, prime ministers, kings, bankers especially, and other rulers and leaders to bring chaos and war. They are stirring the pot of war. And they play on the emotions of their people to get them to support war. They are mixing a brew that is one day going to explode into world war, perhaps the most devastating of all world wars. And many of these leaders have no conscience. They have no regard for life. They have no interest in making peace. They just want war. And it isn’t going to get better. It is going to get worse. They are not friends of peace.
Also, perhaps you noticed that the statement I just read said that the “final movements will be rapid ones.” I think that is important too. It seems to me that the pace of things has gotten faster and faster.
I would like to point out something, my friends. As God is removing His Spirit from the people of this world, He is also increasing the power of His Spirit on His people. And the contrast is going to be more and more stark every day until they are at opposite extremes. Then the final movements will descend on the plant with a speed that will be shocking, a speed that will be overwhelming. It will be a huge surprise.
And friends, He puts His Spirit on those that live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. You cannot have His spirit unless you have given your whole heart over to God.
And listen to what happens when the Spirit of God is poured out on His people. This is from the book Great Controversy. “Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. Satan also works, with lying wonders, even bringing down fire from heaven in the sight of men. Revelation 13:13. Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand.”
The coming period of time is going to be incredible! Notice that both the servants of God will perform miracles. Even Satan himself will work lying wonders. Satan and his agents will try to deceive in the most powerful way, through supernatural displays. At the same time, God’s people will also do wonders, but they will be of a different kind. They will be attended by the Spirit of God and with the power of truth. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers.
Imagine how confusing this time is going to be for those who do not know the voice of God. I dare say that many of God’s people that attend church every week will also be confused. They will not be able to discern the things of God from the things of Satan. They will end up on the wrong side. Families will split over it. Friends will split over it. Churches will split over it. What a difficult time it will be!
Friends, you cannot afford to be undiscerning at that time. You cannot afford to be blind to the spirit of God. If you are, then you will be deceived by Satan, because his miracles will be pretty fantastic. And the prevailing opinion will be that they are of God. But in reality they are from the god of this world. So, it is important that you start learning how to know God’s voice and discern His ways now. And be willing to follow His counsel starting now.
Satan will bring fire down from heaven in order to impress men that he is Christ or that his agents should be respected as the true spiritual leaders. But it is deception and lying. The Bible calls them lying wonders.
My attention has been drawn to the wars and preparations for war that are under way right now. The leaders of this world love war and they are enemies of peace.
For instance, President Obama has authorized more troops in Iraq to fight the Islamic State. In spite of all the declarations of “no boots on the ground,” the United States is gradually being drawn more and more back into a war in Iraq. As I prepared this sermon, President Obama has ordered 1500 more troops to go to Iraq. He also asked congress for $5.6 billion to fight the Islamic State. By the time you hear this sermon, perhaps there will be more of them and perhaps they will be actually fighting the Islamic State, something that the president has insisted he will not let happen. However, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that they are preparing for action. It is just that most people are blind. They are willing to take what their political leaders tell them as if it is the truth, when in fact, it is not.
Even as President Obama says there will be no fighting “boots on the ground,” there is talk within the circles of power, among the elites and also in the Pentagon itself about using U.S. soldiers to fight alongside Iraqis. General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the White House told the House Armed Services Committee on November 13 that the Pentagon is, in fact, considering sending troops to accompany the Iraqis.
“I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces, but we’re certainly considering it,” General Dempsey said.
And two days later, Chuck Hagel, U.S. Secretary of Defense, told CNN in an interview that he would consider recommendations from General Dempsey to send ground troops to Iraq.
The Generals and advisors to President Obama have been working through potential scenarios for weeks that describe the conditions and the circumstances that would require ground troops. One such scenario that would trigger ground troops was if the Islamic State managed to get its hands on nuclear weapons. Well, I don’t suppose it is likely that they will ever be able to do that. I suppose anything is possible. But what this tells me is that they are testing the public reaction. And they put the threshold way down the line in the extreme case scenario. But you can be sure that they will move that line closer to the real situation, and then closer again to the real situation, until they have the American people ready for another war. At least they will try.
Another statement made by General Dempsey spoke in terms of ground troops in a limited way. “I just don’t foresee a circumstance when it would be in our interest to take this fight on ourselves with a large military contingent,” he said.
Perhaps that is true, but it is also saying in a backhanded way, that there would be a smaller contingent of troops on the ground to fight. It will be a limited scale. In other words, what General Dempsey didn’t say is actually more important than what he did say. He is preparing the American people for at least a limited war in Iraq again.
These are statements that test and develop the appetite of the American people for war and also prepare them to accept at least a limited war in Iraq. And if there is no strong reaction, they will know that they can move ahead without creating too much opposition. Of course the true nature of the problem is always downplayed, but the fact is, the U.S. government is planning a war against the Islamic State with ground troops. They have been gradually preparing the American people for it a little at a time. And a new video of another beheading now and then only tends to increase Westerners disgust with the Islamic State. This also helps them prepare for war.
And as the generals are modulating their language to let the people know that the United States will eventually get into a war with the Islamic State, President Obama was telling the American people rather emphatically in some cases, that he would not send ground troops to fight against the IS in Iraq and Syria. But if you listen to his words over time, you can see them softening. The conflicting comments leave people confused and uncertain. And the President even cleverly said that he would not rule out sending ground troops even though he vowed he would not send them. Very quickly, he began to back down.
CNN wrote: “Barack Obama said that despite his earlier vow not to commit U.S. combat forces [in Iraq], he wasn’t ruling out the possibility if confronted with the worst-possible situation. There are always circumstances in which the United States might need to deploy ground troops,” Obama said at the G20 Summit in Australia.
That is presidential double speak. This is how politicians work. It is classic. On one hand you vow that you will not do something, and then on the other you say that there might be circumstances that would require that you do the very thing you said you would not do.
Notice that he said that “there were always circumstances…” that make it possible that he can do what he wants, even though he said he wouldn’t do it. Isn’t that interesting? Now you are learning a little about how politics works. You say what you won’t do and then you start giving reasons why you would.
The president’s language has the effect of calming national fears of a new war, while Pentagon officials work out how to get a ground war organized. In other words, the president provides political cover while the military gets into position. Once they are in position, and everything is ready, you will likely see U.S. ground troops fighting in Iraq, the very thing the president has been saying they will not do.
How do you know which voice to believe; the voice that says there is going to be no ground troops, or the voice that says there might be a limited engagement? Here is how my friends. It is through prophecy that we know the trajectory of future history. That’s what we might call future thinking. That’s when you can see ahead through the eyes of God in Bible prophecy and get a very good idea of what is coming. That’s the beauty of the Bible, my friends. You don’t have to be in doubt at all. Let the people of this world be confused, but you will have the truth by your side.
Jesus Himself said that there would be “wars and rumors of wars” just before He comes. Matthew 24:6. He also said there would be “distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” with “men’s hearts failing them for fear.” Luke 21:25, 26.
Why did Jesus say these things? It is because they are true. You cannot expect peace in this world. There will be increasing conflict and clash of arms.
The words of Jesus in Luke about the signs of the times in the last days are in the context of the destruction of Jerusalem. It was the same in Matthew 24. When the disciples asked Jesus about the destruction of Jerusalem and also the last days, they thought the two were to be at the same time. Jesus also answered them to address both time periods even though they were far apart. But the answer applies to both.
So, we can know then, that what applied to the destruction of Jerusalem also applies to the end of time, both in a spiritual and a literal way.
Listen to what Luke reported to us about what Jesus said. It is from chapter 21:20 to 28. “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”
Now, let us analyze this for a moment. “These are the days of vengeance,” He said. What is vengeance? That’s punishment, or retribution. The “days of vengeance,” then, refers to the time when there will be punishment and retribution. Jesus is telling us that the time of trouble is going to be deadly. Nations will take vengeance on each other.
Isn’t that what happened in Jerusalem. During the siege of Jerusalem, the Jews had actually sallied forth from the city and had inflicted a lot of damage on the Roman army. The Romans were so disgusted by the Jewish arrogance and obstinacy that they took vengeance on them. They crucified anyone they caught outside the city of Jerusalem during the siege. They had so many crucifixions that there was hardly room to walk between the crosses. And when they came into the city, they slew anyone and everyone, men, women and children.
Do you not think that this will happen in the last days? Nation will be angry against nation. One will take vengeance on another. And isn’t this the way it is in the Middle East. One provocative action, leads to retaliation, which leads to another provocative action, until both sides hate each other so much that a war erupts and thousands of lives are lost. That is the way this world is, my friends.
Jesus also gave warnings. “Woe to them that are with child,” he said. When vengeance is meted out, it doesn’t matter if a woman is pregnant or has a small child. They will kill her and the child. Jesus said “for there shall be GREAT distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations…” Friends, don’t you think much of this could happen at the end of time just like it did in Jerusalem? I do.
The next verse, verse 25, says that there will be “distress of nations, with perplexity.”
I’m shocked as I read the words of Jesus about our times. They seem almost unbelievable until you watch the actions of the brutal Islamic State, or the cruel Syrians on both sides of the conflict. If men’s hearts are going to fail them for fear, my friends, what kind of things will they see? What kind of atrocities will they witness?
I love what Jesus said in verse 19 of Luke 21. Listen carefully, “In your patience, possess ye your souls.” Oooh, what does that mean? That seems to me to be a very important concept. “Possess ye your souls.”
Just think about this for a few minutes. Jesus is saying that no matter what happens in your life or in the nation; no matter what happens to you regarding your faith, you are to maintain a holy serenity of mind and sincerity of heart. Get and maintain self-possession. In other words, Jesus is telling us that it is our duty, and in our best interests at all times, especially in dark, perilous and trying times to secure calm assurance and security in the knowledge that you are living in harmony with heaven. We are not to let our peace be destroyed by our circumstances or the chaos around us. We are not to become upset or distempered by them. We are not to let them disturb or interrupt the possession of our own souls. We are to maintain the authority and dominion of reason and keep our passions under the control of Christ.
In times of trouble, God is preparing us for the grand and awful time of trouble such as never was just before the coming of Christ. In times of trouble, we are learning how to keep possession of our souls; we are to learn how to not let grief or fear tyrannize us. When we can keep possession of nothing else, let us keep possession of our character and Christian dignity. Stay composed. Don’t get ruffled and upset. We are to trust in Him, not become fearful, not to become cowardly, and not to become irrational. But in patience, maintain self-control at all times. Possess yourself, my friends; possess your mind and your heart. Stay in self-control.
Listen to this counsel from the messenger of the Lord. This is from the General Conference Bulletin, April 4, 1901. “Were not a great many untrue things spoken concerning the Saviour, and did He retaliate? God wants us to stand in moral dignity, recommending the divine power that enables us to possess our souls in patience.”
So, when we are abused and misrepresented or our reputation is assassinated, we are not to get angry and retaliate, or seek vengeance, we are to maintain our moral dignity. “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.” Romans 12:19. Leave it all to God. Let God sort out your problems.
Now, notice Luke 21:17 & 18. These words of Jesus are perplexing and intriguing. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But there shall not be an hair of your head perish.”
That almost sounds contradictory. How can everyone hate you and be trying to kill you as Jesus said in Matthew 24:9 and not one hair of your head perish. Is that saying that you will not die at the hands of God’s enemies? Is that saying that there will be no martyrs? Of course not. History is replete with examples of faithful souls who lost their lives for Christ’s sake and are waiting the resurrection of the just.
Here is the answer to this dilemma. It is found in the Review and Herald, December 7, 1897. “Christ shows that without the controlling power of the Spirit of God, humanity is a terrible power for evil, to hurt and destroy humanity. When men banish this Spirit, unbelief and hatred of reproof stir up satanic influence. Principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places, will unite in a desperate companionship. They will be leagued against God in the person of his saints. By misrepresentation and falsehood, they will demoralize both men and women who, to all appearances, believe the truth. False witnesses will not be wanting in this terrible work. But Christ gives the assurance: ‘There shall not a hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.’”
Isn’t that interesting? There will be those who will collapse in one big heap when they have to bear false accusation. If you do not possess your soul in patience, you will be demoralized. If you don’t have complete and full confidence in Christ, you will be overwhelmed by the false witnesses against you.
But listen to what happens to those who do maintain the possession of their souls in patience, “Christ will restore the life taken; for he is the Life-giver: he will beautify the righteous with immortal life.” That’s the rest of the statement. Isn’t that fantastic?
So, when Jesus said that not an hair of your head will perish, he was not referring to the first death. He was not necessarily referring to this life, but rather to eternal life. Christ knows how to restore the life taken by His enemies. When God resurrects his martyrs, He will give them back every hair of their heads, and a crown of life to go with them.
Let us look at a few nations in perplexity for a few minutes. Jerusalem has had waves of violence in recent times because of the tension over the Temple Mount. Israeli police apparently entered the al-Aqsa mosque to quell a Palestinian protest. They went deep into the mosque, nearly to the preacher’s pulpit. This is the farthest into the mosque that Jews had come since the 6-day war in 1967.
In response, Jordan, which is the custodian of the mosque since the 1994 peace agreement, withdrew its ambassador from Israel and warned that it would review its diplomatic ties with Israel, including the 20-year-old peace accord. It also filed a complaint with the United Nations that condemned the actions of the Israeli police. “Israel has gone ‘way beyond the limits,’ said Nasser Judeh, Jordan’s Foreign Minister. ‘These violations are infuriating the emotions and the sensitivity of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world,’ he said. ‘Calm has to be restored. Israel has to respect the sanctity of the holy sites.’”
And Jordan’s Minister of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs Hayil Abdelhafeez Dawoud said that the diplomatic relationship between Amman and Jerusalem “will suffer as a result that [Israel] does not respect the agreement between the states which includes clauses on Jordan’s custody over the holy sites in Jerusalem.”
Violence erupted in Jerusalem and roiled it for weeks. Thousands of Muslims from East Jerusalem took part in a funeral to commemorate the death of a militant who attacked a group of Jews by ramming them with his van while they were standing at a light rail station killing two and wounding others. The driver was killed by police. Seething rioters also threw rocks and Molotov cocktails, or fire bombs, at security forces. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered officials to destroy the homes of the militants who had attacked Jewish citizens.
Jordon’s King Abdullah II cancelled his country’s participation in ceremonies commemorating the 20-year anniversary of the peace agreement. And the head of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood demanded that the peace treaty be scrapped. He said that recalling the Jordanian ambassador to Tel Aviv was not enough.
The situation had deteriorated so badly that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry interrupted his schedule in early November to fly to the region to try to help the two sides negotiate and calm things down.
Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And the Temple Mount compound is especially volatile because it is one of the holiest sites to both Muslims and Jews. On it sits the al-Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest mosques to Muslims. Jews see the mosque on the Temple Mount as a symbol of the loss of their spiritual heritage. Especially sensitive to Muslims is any violation of its sanctity, especially by Jews.
Consequently, the al-Aqsa mosque is the place of frequent confrontations between police and demonstrators. And when Israeli police entered the mosque in October in search of extremists, tensions soared to new levels. Muslims reacted with violence.
The violations of the al-Aqsa mosque undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the Jordanian leadership because Jordan is the custodian of the compound. If Jordan cannot guarantee its security and access for Muslims, Jordan will lose its ability to continue being the custodian. It will also lose the confidence of its own people and at some point would not be able to govern them. That would have serious consequences. It would threaten Jordan’s stability and security because the people would view weakness as embarrassing.
The tensions between Muslims and Jews is unsolvable, really. The current conflict stems all the way back to the 1967 Six-Day War when Israel captured Jerusalem’s mostly Arab eastern section from Jordan and annexed it in a move that has never been recognized internationally.
More recently, in March of 2013, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority President, signed a deal with King Abdullah, entrusting Jordan with the defense of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. The holy sites are the flash points in the conflict between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians. The trouble is these mortal enemies are both from the same area and some of the holy sites are the same.
Palestinians, who make up approximately half of Jordan’s population of seven million, want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. All this makes Jordan a key player in the peace talks. But the conflicting objectives are so severe that peaceful solutions are impossible.
Meanwhile, the violence continues. In mid-November, two Palestinians with machine guns entered a synagogue and opened fire killing four Israeli worshippers and wounding others.
Meanwhile, the European Union wants to get into the peace process. Some of the European nations, like Sweden, Poland and Hungary have already recognized the “Palestine state.” The United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, France and Denmark all held non-binding votes to recognize the Palestinian State.
Even the Vatican supports the recognition of a two-state solution. Pope Benedict, when visiting Palestine in 2012 told the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas that the Vatican hopes that recent defacto recognition of Palestinian Statehood by the United Nations would spur the international community of nations to get involved in the peace process to find a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
But a two-state solution would not solve the problem. The seething undercurrent between the two peoples is not going to be resolved by recognizing the Palestinian state. That will only embolden the Palestinians. Israel views the two-state solution as impossible. Israel knows that the conflict could even escalate should the international community legitimize the Palestinians through statehood recognition.
Achieving peace means two different things to these two religions. Muslims are always at war with each other and with non-Muslims. You may remember the prophecy from Genesis 16:12 which says that Ishmael and his descendents will “be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him: and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” There is no hope of peace between Muslims and Israelis. And there will always be extremists that want to draw states that support Israel into the conflict.
Inserting the European Union in the peace process isn’t likely to increase the peace, but rather increase the conflict. Remember, the Papacy is in the background. The Vatican supports the statehood of Palestine, and in the name of peace encourages this. But everyone familiar with the issues knows that this is impossible.
Think about the situation for a minute. Is it possible that the Vatican is working on a so-called two-state solution, knowing that because of the Temple Mount conflict, which will continue and increase, the Vatican can use both sides to increase its power in the name of peace. You see, when the angels of God finally let go of the winds of strife, and a world war erupts, perhaps in relation to events on the Temple Mount, the nations of the world will look to the Vatican to be the peacemaker. After all, it is a religious conflict, not a political one.
Up until now, the Vatican has sent popes to visit the holy places in Jerusalem and talk about peace continually. Rome has carved out her niche, so to speak, in the peace trade. So, when the time finally comes, everyone will look to the pope to provide the framework for peace. Perhaps the pope even wants to have the Catholic Church control the Temple Mount. After all, a third party that is neither Jew nor Muslim could be a neutral force in bringing peace and controlling the territory. At least that would be the way the theory would run.
Pope John Paul supported the Palestinians when he visited the Holy Land. He was not welcomed at the Temple Mount by any Israeli leaders. Only Muslim leaders of the Palestinian authority welcomed him. And the Temple Mount was bedecked with Muslim flags.
Pope Benedict VI supported the Palestinians too, and now Pope Francis also spent most of his time with the Palestinians while he visited the Middle East in May of 2014. Of course, there were a few meetings and events that focused on Israel, such as Francis prayer at the Wailing Wall, and his prayer meeting with Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, but the bulk of his time was spent with the Palestinian Muslims.
But the Papacy plays both sides. And they gain by doing so. Pope Francis granted the recently retired 91-year-old Israeli President, Shimon Peres 45 minutes in September of 2014 to listen to a proposal from the aged leader. Peres even suggested that the pope should be the head of a new and parallel organization to the United Nations, a “United Religions organization,” or a kind of United Nations of Religions.
In an interview with the Catholic periodical, Famiglia Cristiana, Peres revealed his plans. “Perhaps for the first time in history, the Holy Father is a leader not only respected by many people, but also by different religions and their leaders,” said Peres. “In fact, he is perhaps the only truly respected leader in the world today.”
“While Francis has refrained from commenting on Peres’s assessment, that same silence permits it. It also permits the framework of Peres’ idea to be tested in the crucible of world opinion.”
“The United Nations has had its day,” Peres said. “What we need is an organization of United Religions, a United Nations of religions…”
“So given that the United Nations has run its course, what we need is an organization of United Religions, this will be the best way,” he continued, “to fight terrorists who kill in the name of faith.” Accordingly, “there should be a Charter of United Religions, just as there is a UN Charter. This is what I have proposed to the pope.”
When asked, “Would you see the pope as the leader of United Religions?” “Yes,” Peres replied. And not only because Francis is a globally respected leader, he is also the best choice because the world needs “an indisputable moral authority that says out loud, “No, God does not want this and will not allow it. We must fight against exploitation in the name of God.’”
Peres said the United Nations and its peacekeepers “do not have the force or the effectiveness of any one of the pope’s homilies, which can draw half a million people just in St. Peter’s Square alone.
So, both the Palestinians and the Israelis look to the pope as the peace broker. But the Papacy holds back. The pope didn’t make any personal comments to Peres about his proposal. He was careful to not commit himself or the Vatican. Remember, he has to think about what the other sides of this issue will perceive. The Papacy holds back until a more opportune time. She considers everything and looks to see how best to accomplish her own purposes.
While Israel hopes for papal support, and while the Palestinians hope for papal support, Rome is nice to both sides, and encourages them to work toward peace, all the while knowing that this is impossible, and all the while knowing that the conflict will strengthen Rome’s hand over time.
We are nearing the time of trouble my friends and it is important that we understand what this means. The time of trouble will mature and finalize the two sides in the conflict between good and evil.
Listen to this from the book Maranatha, page 170. “The commencement of that time of trouble, here mentioned, does not refer to the time when the plagues shall begin to be poured out, but to a short period just before they are poured out, while Christ is in the sanctuary. At that time, while the work of salvation is closing, trouble will be coming on the earth, and the nations will be angry, yet held in check so as not to prevent the work of the third angel. At that time the ‘latter rain,’ or refreshing from the presence of the Lord, will come, to give power to the loud voice of the third angel, and prepare the saints to stand in the period when the seven last plagues shall be poured out.”
Oh friends, I want to be a partaker of the latter rain, don’t you? I want my life to reflect the Lord Jesus so that He can finish His work in the Most Holy Place and close earth’s history and return and bring us home. But friends, as the nations get more and more perplexed and more and more in conflict, God’s Spirit is waiting to be poured out on His people in a most powerful way.
The tragedy is that most Christians are not getting ready at all. Most of them don’t have a walk with Christ. Nor do they study their Bibles and surrender their lives to Jesus. Most of them have no idea that the close of probation is stealing upon them. Instead of drawing closer to Christ, they are moving farther from Him. They are embroiled in many matters of little significance spiritually. Some of them are involved in pressing for church policies that are clearly out of step with God’s revealed will. Many are pushing to modernize the church in line with the feminist movement or even in line with the homosexual agenda. All of these things are permitting Satan to work in their lives, even though they are in church every week.
Listen to this familiar statement from Early Writings, page 71.
“I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of “refreshing” and the “latter rain” to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God.”
Did you here that terrible report? Many will come up to the time of great trouble, when the world is in war and turmoil and they will not have the protection of God. Oh friends, we need the protection of God, don’t we? I don’t want to come up to that time unprepared.
Let me read on from this statement. “Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father. Before this time the awfully solemn declaration has gone forth, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” I saw that none could share the “refreshing” unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence.”
Friends, what a contrast. The world is getting more wicked. And Christ is purifying the righteous. But this purification is what I need, don’t you? I need His presence. It is His presence that will help me to hate sin so much that I will be repulsed by every temptation to do wrong. Now is the time, my friends, before the chaos, to get our characters ready for the coming of the Lord. We want to honor Him in all things. We want to shape our characters after His ways.
How can we do this? Go back and listen to the message from last month about the secret place of the Most High. Let Christ have full control of your life and He will mature you to meet the final test.
Here is one final statement from the Review and Herald, May 27, 1862. “As the members of the body of Christ approach the period of their last conflict, “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” they will grow up into Christ, and will partake largely of His Spirit. As the third message swells to a loud cry, and as great power and glory attend the closing work, the faithful people of God will partake of that glory. It is the latter rain which revives and strengthens them to pass through the time of trouble. Their faces will shine with the glory of that light which attends the third angel.”
What an amazing experience that will be. Do you think we are nearing the time of trouble? Do you think this is the time to grow up into Christ? Do you think this is the time to take largely of His Spirit? I do. And I hope you do too.
God bless you and keep you. Let us pray.
Our Father in heaven, thank you for offering to send us Your Spirit so that we can take largely of His presence in our lives. We want His thinking. We want His love and we want His presence. We long to be like Jesus and we long to have His lovely character. We don’t want to be a friend of war. We want to be a friend of peace. Please Father, let Jesus mold and shape our lives. Get us ready for the latter rain and the final test. In Jesus’ name, amen.