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Keyboard and Mouse



Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!

As we wrap up our journey through the Old Testament Prophets, I want us to reflect on this highly misunderstood and misused gift - especially in this day and age of lies and deception - the gift of prophecy.

Paul tells us that prophecy is a spiritual gift that we should especially “eagerly desire.” The Greek word for prophecy (Propheteuo) used here more accurately means to “speak forth by divine inspiration” - in other words, to proclaim God’s Rhema in His Kairos. Many think prophecy is about predicting the future. While the word can carry this meaning and some prophecies do contain a predictive element, the spiritual gift of prophecy is mainly a gift of proclamation (“forth-telling”), not prediction (“fore-telling”).

Earlier, we learnt that the purpose of the Issachar B7D Fellowship was to repair, rebuild and rescue.

Here, we are further called to release God’s Word to His people - to prophesy to those whom the Lord calls by proclaiming His Rhema in His Kairos, which is NOW. It is not about predicting the future - when Christ will return - but speaking forth about the present - understanding the signs of the times and in so doing knowing what God wants us to do. As Paul put it here, the purpose of prophecy is to “strengthen” (our resolve to act), “encourage” (us to keep going when we face obstacles and trials), and “comfort” (us when we suffer because of our obedience to Jesus). It is to “edify the church.” God’s Rhema is meant to stir us into action as one Body of Christ, to preserve the faith of our brothers and sisters until Jesus returns.

We can expect ridicule and persecution - even from within the Church. Jesus said, “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also … “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn 15:20, 16:33). We have already been warned. May God give us the conviction, the character, and the courage to take up the Cross of Christ and follow Him.

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Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!

Previously, we saw how the Old Testament Prophets warned Israel that God would soon discipline and exile His people. Not only that, God would use the very enemies of Israel as His instruments of discipline before these pagan nations were in turn judged by Him for their wickedness and cruelty. All these took place according to God’s word during the Assyrian, Babylonian and Roman exiles. But that was not the end. The time is almost upon us now when Israel and the Church - the Commonwealth of Israel - will again be severely tested and disciplined by God for their unfaithfulness. God will allow a satanic kingdom to rise up in these end times to threaten Israel even as more and more believers worldwide suffer at the hands of an increasingly Apostate Church that has fallen away from God. All these events will culminate in a final showdown between this evil kingdom of man and God’s kingdom on earth just outside the gates of the Holy City, Jerusalem, when Jesus will appear in the sky and return to save His people on this appointed day -

The Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is something mentioned by many of the Old Testament Prophets. It refers to the end of the world as we know it. To the Jews, it is that great day when the Messiah would come to deliver Israel from its enemies and usher in His eternal rule. To Christians, it is the glorious Second Coming of Jesus. Yet the Prophets had described it as a dreadful day, because it was the day when God’s discipline of His wayward people and judgment of His wicked enemies would reach its climax. It is the day when Jesus will return to put an end to the Antichrist’s last-ditch attempt to destroy Israel in the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem, which is also known as the Valley of Decision. On that day, God will decide who are truly His - disciplined yet loved by Him and therefore awaiting deliverance - and who are reserved for judgment, condemnation and destruction. Like the Jewish day that begins at sunset, it will be a day that starts in darkness and night first before giving way to the glorious dawn of Jesus’ Millennial rule. Jesus Himself told us that He would return like a “thief in the night.” Be careful what we wish for because we may not be ready for it!

But take heart! Even as God’s judgment unfolded for His enemies, the Prophets reassured Israel that there was ultimately comfort, hope and restoration for God’s people following His discipline. We saw this in the past, and will see it again in the future.

In God’s Kairos, a faithful remnant of Jews returned from exile to rebuild the nation and the Temple, preparing the ground for Jesus’ first coming 2,000 years ago. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the way of salvation and restoration was open to all mankind. Now in these last of last days, God once again brought about the return and regathering of the Jews in 1948. After a period of discipline during the Tribulation, Israel will acknowledge its Messiah at Jesus’ appearance and be fully restored as His Kingdom on earth during the Millennium and into eternity. The Church, which experienced a similar restoration during the Reformation, will also be comforted with this hope of final and eternal restoration as the Bride of Christ in the New Heaven, Earth and Jerusalem.

Now, central to the entire narrative of the Old Testament Prophets was their prophecy of the Messiah as the Suffering Servant and Redeemer at His First Coming, before He returns on the Day of the Lord as the future King of Kings - Jesus Christ.

There are at least 353 Old Testament prophecies that have already been fulfilled by Jesus at His first coming. We can be sure that He will fulfill the rest when He returns. In fact, all of creation and history, and God’s plan and purposes as revealed in the Bible, are about Jesus. May the same be said of our lives - how we think and live, our perspectives and priorities, each day. May Jesus not only be our Saviour and Redeemer but also our Lord and King, reigning on the throne of our hearts, the only one whom we love with all our heart, soul and mind. Jesus is not only our Ark who rescues us from eternal judgment, but also our Temple (Jn 2:18-21) that commands our wholehearted devotion.

The last few prophets of the Old Testament - Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi - urged the exiles to finish rebuilding the Temple because - as the verse above tells us - the Messiah’s coming would very much be linked to the Temple’s existence. God would also send a messenger to prepare the way before Him, and yet we are told that His coming would be sudden/unexpected. This was what exactly happened when Jesus first came. Although announced by John the Baptist and accompanied by various signs and wonders, the people still rejected and crucified Jesus. The Temple in Jesus’ time was the most magnificent as it had ever been, but tragically the people totally missed recognising their God, their True Temple. As in the past, God will again send another messenger - in fact, He would send two of them (I’ll talk about this next time) - to announce Jesus’ return. But let us not wait until then to believe that Jesus is indeed coming soon, for the message is already being announced to us now. May we rebuild our spiritual temple and community in such a way that we will be ready to recognise and receive our King and not be caught asleep by His sudden return.

Please click here for those who want to study the Prophets in detail.

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Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!

In this and the next podcast, we will outline the common prophetic narrative running through the messages of the Old Testament Prophets:

First, the Prophets warned Israel that God would soon discipline and exile His people - by Israel, I am referring collectively to both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judah existing then. Instead of worshipping and trusting in God alone to protect the nation, Israel chased after the idols of its neighbours and relied on external political alliances for its survival. There was division and infighting within and between the two divided kingdoms, as well as widespread corruption and social injustice. Most of all, Israel had forsaken its mission as God’s lesser light to the world. As the end approached for these two kingdoms, there was widespread deception and many false prophets emerged who misled the people by promising peace or at most a short exile, instead of repenting of their sins and turning back to God.

All that the Prophets foretold eventually came to pass during the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles. This pattern of discipline and exile would take place again to Israel under the Romans in Jesus’ time after they rejected Him, an exile that would last almost 2,000 years. Although Israel has been reborn since 1948 in fulfilment of prophecy, it is currently a secular nation and will once again come under God’s discipline during the Tribulation (“time of Jacob’s trouble”) before it finally acknowledges Jesus as its Messiah.

As mentioned before, the warnings of the Prophets also apply to the Church. We saw earlier how Christians were - and continue to be - taken into spiritual exile and slavery as it were by apostasy and corruption within the Church. The condition of the Church will only grow worse as we near the end. Like Israel, the Church is equally guilty of breaking the commandments to love God and man. There is widespread idolatry, division, infighting and injustice. Even today, many Christians are held captive by oppressive human doctrines and superstitions, while others suffer real persecution. Yet those who are spared for now, like their Jewish brothers in the past, remained caught up with materialistic pursuits during this brief period of peace and prosperity and forgot their core mission to be God’s light to the world. Instead of heeding God’s Rhema which is being proclaimed even now and repenting, their ears itch for the lies of false teachers promising endless “blessings” of health, wealth and happiness. They ignore warnings of the coming persecution and exile that will be God’s means to discipline and refine His people until it is too late.

That the prophets should first reprimand their own countrymen is not surprising. In 1 Peter 4:17, Peter spoke of how God’s judgment would begin with his own household. But the Prophets also recognised and declared God’s sovereignty over and ultimate judgment of His enemies. It was God who stirred up the ancient empires - from Egypt, Assyria and Babylon to Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome - as well as Israel’s pagan neighbours to act as His instruments to test and discipline His people. However, when their time was up, God would in turn bring about their eventual judgment for their wickedness and cruelty. The words of the Prophets were all fulfilled with the judgment and fall of every single one of these empires, the last being the Roman Empire in 476 AD.

Now, there are many passages in the Old Testament concerning Israel and its enemies that have yet to be fulfilled. As we near the end of the Sixth Day of Creation and Jesus’ soon return, we can expect all these remaining prophecies to come to pass. We are told, especially by the Prophet Daniel, that a demonic kingdom of man will emerge to try to destroy and replace God’s Kingdom on earth. Like its predecessors, this revived Roman-Babylonian Empire will come against Israel as it rallies many nations behind it in an attempt to rule the world. We already see the beginnings of this happening on the global stage. Its ultimate goal is to lead a worldwide rebellion against Christ Himself.

And just like how the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel tried to strike deals and compromises with their neighbours and enemies alike instead of running to God, modern-day Israel and the increasingly Apostate Church will do likewise with the nations of this world and ultimately with this evil empire itself. As with these two kingdoms, there will be a brief period of false peace, a lull before the storm. I draw this connection between the past and future because these two kingdoms are prophetic of modern-day Israel and the Church. Let me explain. The nation of Israel has usually been associated with Judah alone, because it was the exiles from Judah that returned from Babylon to resettle the Promised Land. Judah can also be said to be the legitimate kingdom, the true Israel of God, because it is home to Jerusalem and the royal line of King David and Jesus. The Church meanwhile is an ingrafted kingdom like the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Just as God tore away the ten tribes of Israel from Solomon’s son and gave it to Jeroboam, God tore away the kingdom from the Jews and gave it to the Gentile nations for a season. As we saw much earlier, this “mystery” of the Church was prophesied long ago by Jacob and will remain in effect until the “fullness of the Gentiles” have come in.

Now, for many of us, especially among the Protestant Churches, the idea that the Church will turn apostate and depart from God, like the idolatrous Northern Kingdom of Israel, is very hard to accept. Isn’t the Church the eternal Bride of Christ? At most, we believe that it must refer to some other “Church” and not our own - in fact, we won’t even label them as true churches at all. But that is precisely it. These institutional branches of the Church - the same earthly universal Church that we are all a part of - have become deformed to the point that we don’t even recognise them as belonging to the Body of Christ. But as the end draws nearer and darkness grows, so will the remaining branches of the Church suffer the same fate as the disease and rot of apostasy set in. It is only the true believers and children of God regardless of which church they come from, who will be made ready - often through the fires of apostasy and persecution - for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. This is the mystery of the end-time Church - Mystery Babylon as described by John in the book of Revelations.

As we end this section, in God’s Kairos, this satanic kingdom will eventually betray its true colours. The false promise of world unity and peace will turn out to be a lie as division and war looms. This evil empire will turn against Israel and the Apostate Church and war against rival nations, as it strives to put its mark and authority on all mankind. As it crumbles and falls in its own wickedness, it will make a last ditch attempt to invade and destroy Israel, setting the stage for the next pivotal scene - to be continued in our next podcast.

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