For the first time today I conversed via email with Don Gleason. Don was one of the first people aside from my collaborator, Doug Anderson, to read the book I finished a few weeks ago entitled Betting on Jesus. At the moment there are just the 3 of us working to promote the book, and as is often the case, that sort of thing takes some time. I know we’ve sold a quite a few books, and given away several more, and for the most part to people we know, so it seems reasonable that some feedback would be forthcoming.
My guess is that most of the people we know assume Betting on Jesus is just another religious book out of the hundreds of religious books on the market. It seems everyone is writing books these days, in particular the televangelists that are able to capitalize on their large following. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that many would see this book in that same category. Well, I assure you Betting on Jesus is not like any book I’ve ever read on the subject, and I’ve read a lot of them over the years.
The difference between Betting on Jesus and Joel Osteen or Rob Bells most recent book is that Betting on Jesus isn’t the religious equivalent of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, and it isn’t another Power of Positive Thinking, the book that made Dr. Norman Vincent Peale famous.
The sad truth is that much of the religious writing being done today is more akin to Tony Robbins and his self-help books, or Deepak Chopra and his New Age message than anything even remotely resembling scripturally sound words written for the purpose of saving souls. Quite honestly, it is a sad testament to the times we live in when the most popular evangelists of our day own their own private jets and live in multi-million dollar mansions.
As Jesus often said, we can’t serve God and money. We will love the one and hate the other are pretty close to the words He used. And, He also pointed out that we are to beware of false teachers. For me it is easy enough to gauge whether or not one puts God above the things of this world. One merely has to think about how he uses his mind – that is, what are the things that occupy his thoughts as he goes through his day to day activities. My guess is there are a lot of you reading these words that never give a single thought to God and His Word through the course of an average day. That puts you at high risk of not making it through what Jesus called the “narrow gate” – Jesus’s own choice of words when explaining who will be saved from an eternity in hell.
I offer those comments for a reason – the reason is to convince those of “lukewarm faith” that they may very well be falling short of what the Bible requires of them in order to achieve eternal salvation. That is the point Don was making, and a point I totally agree with. I lay no claim to divine inspiration in terms of what God requires, however, I am positive that I spend more time doing research on things that matter to me than 95% of the people I know, so maybe we can do as Don suggests – that is, present the kind of information that does indeed move people toward a stronger commitment to live according to God’s will. I am committed to the effort anyway. For instance, it is now 2:46 AM on Saturday morning. I started working on this essay at 7:30 PM yesterday morning. That’s 19 straight hours, and I’m not done yet.
And, what seems to matter to me of late is what happens to me when I die. As Doug said today, one does tend to think more about that sort of thing as they get older. I know Doug has lost a sister and a close friend in the last couple weeks, and it is an inescapable truth that as we get closer and closer to that inevitable day we turn our thoughts away from the things of this world, and ponder the matter of our eternal destiny.
These days I want to be prepared for what is to come. My mind is full of questions. Do I just die and that is it? Will my spirit be transported immediately into the ether of heaven where I will see the glory of God and Jesus and experience that unimaginable peace and bliss that some who have had near death experiences claim happens? Will, I have a body? Will it be as old as the one I have now? Will I recognize people I’ve known? Will I be able to talk to them? If so, what will we talk about? Will I have to work? If not, what will I do with my time? Will there be little kids there, or will most of those who died continue to grow and mature in heaven? Will there be dogs and cats – or horses maybe? Am I going to be bored? That last one kind of bothers me a little by the way?
Well, I don’t have all the answers. And, considering the amount of time I have spent studying the Bible over the years, and in particular in the last several months, one thing I am certain of is that the words of the Bible weren’t written in a way that gives us certain answers. The more I study the Bible, the more it seems as if it was written as kind of a riddle. Jesus even said as much when he was explaining why he spoke in parables. It seems the Word of God was meant to be a mystery until the End of the Age. That is what we learn from Daniel in these words:
At that time, Michael the great leader who guards your people will take his stand. It will be a difficult time—nothing like it has ever happened since nations first appeared. But at that time every one of your people who is found written in the scroll will be rescued. 2 Many of those who sleep in the dusty land will wake up—some to eternal life, others to shame and eternal disgrace. 3 Those skilled in wisdom will shine like the sky. Those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and always. 4 But you, Daniel, must keep these words secret! Seal the scroll until the end time! Many will stray far, but knowledge will increase.
I know for a fact that many have strayed far, and I am quite sure what that means is far away from the will of God. And, there can be no question that knowledge has increased. Are we now in those times – the end times we read about in Daniel? The answer is an unequivocal yes!
So, can we know how much time is left? I think we can – at least in a general sense. In the Book of Daniel we read that Daniel is to “seal the scroll until the end time.” Well, one of the conditions that must exist at the time of the end that Daniel speaks of is that the Nation of Israel must be in place as a nation, and that is a relatively recent occurrence. Israel is where the Battle of Armageddon takes place.
It is only as a result of the Second Coming of Jesus that the period of tribulation is finally ended and planet earth saved from total destruction. The last half of the 7 year period of tribulation is a time of war unlike any war the world has ever seen, resulting in the deaths of 1/4th of the people, and following that, by another 1/3rd who will be killed – half of the people on earth in total.
Israel as a nation was destroyed around 720 BC. It reemerged as a nation in 1948 at the end of World War II. So we know that the Second Coming of Christ – if we use the Bible as our guide – couldn’t have occurred until the rebirth of Israel.
Another thing that must occur before Christ’s Second Coming is the rebuilding of God’s Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It is there that the “abomination of desolation” takes place, Satan’s final affront to God that precedes the Second Coming of Jesus, and for the purpose of defeating Satan and his followers. We read of this time in Matthew:
15 When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him that read understand), 16 then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains: 17 let him that is on the housetop not go down to take out the things that are in his house: 18 and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloak. 19 But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! 20 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on a Sabbath: 21 for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
In 1 Thessalonians we read about the rapture of God’s elect:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. 16 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; 17 then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
In Revelation 19 we see Jesus return to defeat Satan and his armies:
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and there before me was a white horse. The rider on the horse is called Faithful and True, and he is right when he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like burning fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him, which no one but himself knows. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in fine linen, white and clean, were following him on white horses. 15 Out of the rider’s mouth comes a sharp sword that he will use to defeat the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will crush out the wine in the winepress of the terrible anger of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his upper leg was written this name: king of kings and lord of lords.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he called with a loud voice to all the birds flying in the sky: “Come and gather together for the great feast of God 18 so that you can eat the bodies of kings, generals, mighty people, horses and their riders, and the bodies of all people—free, slave, small, and great.”
19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth. Their armies were gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured and with him the false prophet who did the miracles for the beast. The false prophet had used these miracles to trick those who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his idol. The false prophet and the beast were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And their armies were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds ate the bodies until they were full.
Some suggest the time of the rapture is pre-tribulation – that is, those who are saved by faith in Jesus avoid the tribulation. I tend to think the two events are concurrent, that is, Jesus raptures believers at the same time He descends from the heavens at the time of His Second Coming. We are told in 1 Thessalonians that the “Lord himself shall descend from heaven”, and in the same verse we read that the “dead in Christ shall rise first, then we that are alive” shall be “caught up”.
In 1 Corinthians we see that the rapture occurs at the sound of the “last trump” setting the stage for Jesus to return to defeat Satan:
1 Corinthians 15:51-52
Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. .
Matthew 24 also tells of a post-tribulation rapture:
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.
So, we have the period of tribulation that lasts for 7 years. And, it begins with a covenant or agreement. That agreement is important in terms of fully discerning the timing of the tribulation, the rapture, and the Second Coming. Here we see that prophecy set forth in Daniel:
He will make a firm covenant with many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering. And the abomination of desolation will be on a wing of the temple until the decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator.
In Daniel 9:27 the 7 year tribulation period is referred to as one week, with each day representing a year. I admit that interpretation tends to stretch objectivity a bit, but it becomes clearer when fully explained. Here is how the website gotquestions.org explains the math:
An understanding of Daniel 9:24-27 is necessary in order to understand the purpose and time of the tribulation. This passage speaks of 70 weeks that have been declared against “your people.” Daniel’s people are the Jews, the nation of Israel, and Daniel 9:24 speaks of a period of time that God has given “to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.” God declares that “seventy sevens” will fulfill all these things. This is 70 sevens of years, or 490 years. (Some translations refer to 70 weeks of years.) This is confirmed by another part of this passage in Daniel. In verses 25 and 26, Daniel is told that the Messiah will be cut off after “seven sevens and sixty-two sevens” (69 total), beginning with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. In other words, 69 sevens of years (483 years) after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, the Messiah will be cut off. Biblical historians confirm that 483 years passed from the time of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the time when Jesus was crucified. Most Christian scholars, regardless of their view of eschatology (future things/events), have the above understanding of Daniel’s 70 sevens.
So, why we needed to go through all that can only be explained in the sense that Daniel was given a prophetic message, but he was also told to “seal” the message until the time of the end. Those who claim the Bible was written for man to understand are simply in error. The Bible is the most esoteric book ever written in my opinion. Still, there is a consensus of opinion by Bible scholars on the meaning of Daniel 9, and it is no small feat that the time of Jesus’s crucifixion was foretold with perfect precision in these verses from Daniel.
So, we’ve now gotten to the point where we do indeed have a way of identifying with some reasonable degree of probability when the end of time referred to in Daniel occurs. What will trigger the time clock for the count down to the end is a peace agreement, an agreement that allows Israel to erect the Holy Temple. Are we close to achieving that agreement? Maybe so – let’s take a look at what is going on today from a geo-political perspective to see what we can learn.
In a May 3 Washington Post article – Trump expresses confidence in chances of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal but says U.S. can’t force it – we can see that the matter is of high priority to the President:
President Trump on Wednesday expressed confidence that he can help the Israelis and the Palestinians negotiate a peace agreement, declaring as he stood next to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House that “we will get this done.”
In this article – Israel dismisses US concern over Jerusalem embassy move – we learn of Trump’s desire to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:
“The transfer of the American Embassy to Jerusalem not only will not harm the peace process, but the opposite,” Netanyahu said in the statement on Sunday.
“It will advance it by correcting a historic injustice and by smashing the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”
We can see that the stage is set for a possible agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and Donald Trump indeed plays a role in the process. If this agreement is reached, and if a part of that agreement deals with the Israeli’s access to the historic piece of land that was the site of Solomon’s Temple, we will most certainly see the rapid construction of this new temple – the 3rd Holy Temple – that is a necessary piece of the puzzle that will help us in knowing the time is near – and in fact, that the 7 year tribulation period has begun.
So, how about the temple – do the Israeli’s have intentions of moving forward with the construction of the temple. The answer to that question goes well beyond intentions – they have made giant strides in that direction, and if a peace accord is reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis it is certain the temple construction will begin promptly after the signing of the accord. Here is a short video that informs us on just how ready they really are:
There is more to say on this matter, and we will definitely be doing so as geopolitical events unravel. We also need to delve deeper into the “what happens” after Jesus defeats Satan part – what is in store for those of us who are saved, and for those of us who don’t make the cut? The answer – at least a good part of the answer – is found in the Bible.
Things will be a little different for us at that time, but we will still have our physical bodies, and we will still reside on earth – but the earth we’ve always known will fade away, and that earth God envisioned when He created Adam and Eve will become a reality. It is truly a time we should be looking forward to, so even though we may go through a brief few years of tribulation, it is a mere pittance compared to what is to follow for those who do what is required to achieve their salvation.
For those I spoke of in the first part of this essay – those of lukewarm faith, or no faith – if these words, this video, and the geopolitical landscape that exists today doesn’t convince you that the Bible is God’s inerrant Word, I can’t imagine what will convince you. I have been following geopolitical events for over 40 years, and always within the context of biblical prophecy. Perhaps prophecy, more than any other factor, has caused me to become so fascinated in scriptures, and so convinced that the secrets to our future existence lie in the words of the Bible.
I am an analyst, and I have a very skeptical mind. I am not easily swayed by the opinion of others – I want empirical proof of a matter to accept it as true. One must have a passion for this sort of thing to be willing to devote his time to accumulating the necessary knowledge required to discern truth, and the reality is that most of us don’t have that passion. I do have that passion. And, most important, I want to share my research with others.
I am committed to developing a follower base, and will do all I can to keep followers abreast of the changing times, and to write content that speaks to those who want to reinforce their faith through proof. That is my commitment to those who choose to join me in this endeavor. Directly to the right of this essay is a follower button. I encourage you to click on it, and also to engage with me in the comments section of my posts. I will do my best to respond to all comments and questions.