Morning Bible Study
Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel
preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk
– Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular: 2900 words
Communion: 2500 words
Back in the late seventies, Deb and I used to go down to Calvary Chapel
Costa Mesa and hear Pastor Chuck give these amazing Bible studies on New Year’s
Eve. These studies were all about how
the current events happening around us fit the pictures the Scriptures painted
of the end times.
Ever since the beginning of our church, we’ve followed the same practice. We’ll
One of the bigger tragedies playing out on the world stage is the civil war
going on in Syria. To date:
More than 130,000 Syrians
We have verified that President Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons
against his own people.
The U.S., France, and Great Britain were close to stepping in with military
action when Russia stepped in and brokered a plan to have Syria give up its
chemical weapons, but still allow Assad to stay in power.
The Russians back Assad. The U.S.
and its allies back the rebels.
In reality, both sides seem to be equally bad.
The main prophecy mentioned was:
(Is 17:1 NKJV) The burden against Damascus. “Behold, Damascus will cease from being
a city, And it will be a ruinous heap.
Some scholars believe Isaiah was speaking about the Assyrian invasion of
732 BC, but in reality, Damascus was conquered, but not wiped out.
The rest of the passage also goes on to talk about a great time of
difficulty for Israel as well, perhaps speaking of the end times.
Could we be on the threshold of Isaiah 17 being fulfilled? If Damascus is obliterated, things will get
As we’ve talked about over the last few years, Ezekiel 38-39 predicts a
terrible war one day between Israel and a coalition of nations. One of the prominent nations in the coalition
will be Iran. We call this the “Gog/Magog” war.
God says He will cause a leader named “Gog” from the land of “Magog” to invade Israel:
(Eze 38:4–5 NKJV) —4 I will
turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your
army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with
bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. 5 Persia,
Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet;
“Persia” is known today as the nation of Iran.
Over the last decade, the leaders of Iran have made no secret of the fact that
they hope to one day destroy the nation of Israel.
Their latest efforts have been to produce a nuclear weapon, for the sole
purpose of wiping out Israel.
The world’s biggest concern seems to be that Israel would launch a
preemptive attack on Iran, and bring the entire world into a state of war.
This November, Secretary of State John Kerry announced an agreement between
Iran and a group of world powers to halt their production of nuclear weapons.
The world seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief at the
It turns out there isn’t an actual agreement yet. Supposedly the specifics of the agreement
won’t be decided until early 2014. Iran
has already come out in the press disputing what the proposal is all about.
I would say that we have a responsibility to be praying for our president
and Secretary Kerry for wisdom as they work on this. I believe their intentions are good, but I’m
not convinced they’re going down a good path.
It reminds me too much of Neville Chamberlain making deals with Adolph
Hitler prior to World War II, deals that only strengthened Hitler so he could eventually
launch a world war.
In December, just a week after the proposal, an
Israeli ex-intelligence official came forward to say that Iran is now a
“nuclear threshold state”.
The Iranian nuclear deal only
halted their development which was just about to produce nuclear weapons.
Some have suggested that if Iran restarts their nuclear enrichment program,
they would only be about two weeks away from producing a bomb.
sources have indicated that when this “framework” for an Iran nuclear deal
is in place, that Israel is actually more likely to attack instead of less
likely. They are concerned that the world believes the Iranians and
aren’t facing the fact that Iran could only be weeks away from nuclear
bombs. If Iran restarts their
nuclear program, Israel is faced with annihilation if they don’t do something.
If Israel launches a preemptive attack on Iran, we may see Ezekiel 38-39
playing out before our eyes.
Exciting times are ahead.
This is something that an individual known as the “false prophet” will
bring into the world.
NKJV) 16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave,
to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that
no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or
the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number
of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.
mark – charagma – a stamp, an imprinted mark, like the mark branded on an animal.
An interesting development came along this year about something that could
be considered a “mark”.
Electronic tattoos – could be used for “authentication”, like having your
password tattooed onto your skin, you never have to remember another password.
Meet Regina Dugan, a brilliant gal who was the first female director of
DARPA, and is now an executive at Google:
Play Regina Dugan
clip (From the Wall Street Journal “All Things Digital” conference)
“Authentication” sounds an awful lot like what would be needed to give you
permission to buy or sell something…
Taking the “mark” has eternal implications.
(Re 14:11 NKJV) And the
smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or
night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of
Keep in mind, there have been tons of theories over the years about the
I remember Pastor Chuck talking forty years ago about “Electronic Funds
Transfer”, and for a while some of us were afraid of getting ATM cards
perchance we might be accidentally taking the “mark of the beast”.
The “Mark” might be something like
an electronic tattoo, an RFID implant, or it might even be your smart phone – I
can pay for my Starbucks purchase using their scanner with my smart phone
(maybe the “number” of the beast is his phone number???)
But it’s not going to be something that you’ve done accidentally. It is a conscious choice to worship the
antichrist that is attached to the “mark”.
The real thing you ought to be afraid of concerning the mark is not the
technology, it’s the antichrist. I don’t
suspect we will be around for this “mark”, I suspect we’ll be in heaven due to
the Rapture. But the best thing you and
I can do to insure ourselves against some “mark” is to worship Jesus Christ,
not the “antichrist”.
But there is plenty of technology in place now for it to happen.
One of the things we might overlook when looking for prophecies that point
to us being in the end times is the greatest one of them all. The existence of Israel as a nation.
We accept the existence of Israel as a nation because it has been a nation
for longer than most of us have been alive.
But prior to 1948, the nation of Israel had not existed for almost 2,000
Ezekiel pointed to the rebirth of the nation:
(Eze 37:12 NKJV) Therefore
prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God:
“Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from
your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
Israel’s very existence tells us we are in the last days.
In Jesus’ last week, He had a “run
in” with a fig tree that didn’t have any fruit (Mat. 21:19). Later He spoke of
how the nation of Israel was not bearing fruit. The fig tree is one of the many
pictures of the nation of Israel. In speaking about the last days, Jesus said,
(Mt 24:32–33 NKJV) —32 “Now
learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender
and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33
So you also, when you see all these
things, know that it is near—at the doors!
It’s the rebirth of the nation of
Israel, the appearance of the “leaves” that shows us most of all that we are in
the last days.
Israelis have a term that refers to the return of Jews from around the
world to the land of Israel. The term is
“Aliya”. The Bible says it would happen in the end times:
(Zec 10:8–9 NKJV) —8 I will
whistle for them and gather them, For I will redeem them; And they
shall increase as they once increased. 9 “I will sow
them among the peoples, And they shall remember Me in far countries; They shall
live, together with their children, And they shall return.
This has been happening since the early 20th century. After Israel was born in 1948, it exploded.
Agency reports that Aliyah (immigration to Israel) is on the rise, the
Jewish Agency revealed Sunday - by as much as 7% worldwide. 19,200 people
arrived in Israel to become citizens in 2013, a 7% increase since 2012.
Jews immigrated from all over the world, including the nations of France,
Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, Russia, and Ethiopia.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have resumed as of last
this week, Secretary Kerry arrived on Thursday back in Israel to continue
the talks. Their hope is to first try
and produce a broad framework for the peace talks, and then proceed to fill in
It is possible that if an actual peace agreement is made, it could be the “covenant”
that marks the beginning of the Tribulation period, known as Daniel’s “70th
(Da 9:27 NKJV) Then he
shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the
middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the
wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the
consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”
I found a strange video of an Egyptian Astrologer talking about his
warnings that the stars predict that the Jews will be stronger in 2014…
He goes on to document strange astrology stuff and how the Jews had all
sorts of victories over the last century when certain stars lined up.
In the end, he recommends that the Palestinian Authority hurry up and make
peace with Israel before they get into worse trouble.
I do not believe in astrology. The
Bible forbids us dabbling in astrology.
But I find it interesting that something like this might actually be
used to nudge the Palestinians toward peace.
It reminds me of Gideon before his
great battle. He and his sidekick snuck
into the camp of the Midianites and overheard them
talking about dreams, dreams that meant that Gideon was going to wipe them
out. And hearing this gave Gideon great
Watch the peace talks. It would be
very doubtful that an agreement is reached, but if one is … things could get
For some of us, it can get a little “old” hearing the same thing over and
over again: “Jesus is coming back soon”.
Remember Hosea. We saw that Hosea’s
ministry started in the last year of Jeroboam II’s reign (753 BC). He warned the people over and over again that
the nation was going to be judged.
Judgment came in 722 BC, 31 years later.
Jeremiah’s ministry started 41years (627 BC) before the fall of the nation
of Judah (586 BC).
Noah preached for 120 years before the flood that destroyed the whole
My point? God
is giving the world lots of time to wake up and turn around. It seems to me
that the bigger the judgment, the longer the warning. We are already 65 years after the birth of
Israel. Any day now. Just be patient.
Jesus talked about His second coming to His disciples on His last night
before dying on the cross.
He told them:
NKJV) —36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of
heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the
Son of Man be. 38
For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did
not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming
of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the
other left. 41
Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken
and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour
the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be
broken into. 44
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an
hour you do not expect.
You never know when a thief will strike. You better be prepared…
We do not know when the Lord will return.
I will not be foolish and try to tell you when He is returning because
The Bible DOES tell you that you ought to be ready and
live as if He is coming at any moment.
For some of us, His coming might be with our death.
There are some people in our church who are no longer with
us this year because they have gone home to be with the Lord.
I don’t want to scare you, but the very real truth is that
unless the Lord comes back soon, we will all one day die. We ought to be prepared.
It’s possible that some of us might be around when the
We believe that the Rapture will occur BEFORE the Second
coming. As much as the events in this
world are pointing to the second coming, the Rapture is coming even sooner.
Are you ready?
Obey for the joy
Don’t obey out of fear
Jesus told a parable to give us an idea of how we are to live our lives
while we wait for His return. He talked
about a wealthy man who went away on a journey.
Before he left, he divided his wealth among three of his servants and
asked them to take care of his wealth.
Wealth in those days was measured by weight, called “talents”, each
“talent” being equal to about 75 pounds of gold. He gave one servant five talents, one servant
two talents, and one servant got one talent.
NKJV) —19 After a long time the lord of
those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 “So he who
had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord,
you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides
them.’ 21 His lord
said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful
over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy
of your lord.’ 22
He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you
delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides
them.’ 23 His lord
said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been
faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into
the joy of your lord.’ 24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I
knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where
you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look,
there you have what is yours.’ 26 “But his lord answered and said to
him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown,
and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my
money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with
interest. 28 So take
the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 ‘For to
everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him
who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast
the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and
gnashing of teeth.’
My concern is that for some of you, you will come away from today being “afraid”
of what’s around the corner.
Think about what’s really around the corner.
God is around the corner, and one day you will meet Him
face to face.
Are you looking forward to that day?
25:9 NKJV) And it will be said in that day: “Behold,
this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is
the Lord; We have
waited for Him;
We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”
Listen to me – God prefers you serve Him for the joy, not from fear.
What you do for the Lord takes on a whole different flavor if you are
serving Him out of joy.
He is the One who love you so much that He gave His only begotten Son to
die on a cross for you.
Jesus paid a price He didn’t owe because I owed a price I
How could I not love Him in return?