The Preacher Says....  
  Power of the Puzzle  
  Isaiah 62

This may be an oversimplification, but it is essentially true that much of what constitutes what we call Christianity has been ‘made up’, or invented by the Christian to suit himself, rendering the Protestant belief weak as water by perpetuating traditions of men and denying the power of God. Why is this so? Their religion has lost the power of the puzzle. They don’t believe the future can be discerned from poring over ancient and mystical writings. There is an unwillingness to believe that the future can be discovered in ancient legends. Also present is a tendency among Christians to spiritualize prophetic pronouncements and to move them so far into the future as to be meaningless in the affairs of men. But if you read what Christ said in Matthew 25. 31 - 34), speaking of himself coming to sit on the throne of his glory, judging all nations, ‘Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ – when you read these things, you would be hard put to deny Christ isn’t speaking of a real, actual future day. To not spend time musing about these things, and studying what they mean, is to ignore a substantial portion of scripture.

Faithful adherents of God’s truth have always felt the power of the puzzle. Their faith is sustained in their discernment ot the connections of events in history and the position they hold or will hold in the grand consummation of things. Let’s take heart and reconsider God’s plan. Think of prophecy comprising three main categories:

(1) the fate of the kingdoms of men - Many expressed in symbols, but in Dan 2. 44 , the prophecy is explicit. In the days of these kings (kingdoms partly strong and partly broken, existing in the last days) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. . . and it shall stand forever.

(2) the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the land of Israel - This is literal, with Jerusalem the capitol.

(3) The calling out of a people for His name.

These three categories of biblical prophecy support the following seven pieces of the puzzle (as befits Bible prophecy) as we attempt to put them together , always proving as best we can by comparing scripture with scripture. Or, if you prefer, view the puzzle as a mystery , dramatis personae hidden.

The FIRST PIECE - The State of Israel. What is the shape? Or shapes? A beleaguered nation and a stumbling stone in the middle of a great tribulation (Zech 12), or a nation grown fat and safe and at rest, or both?

The SECOND PIECE - Edom. The generic name for Esau (literally, South Jordan), Arabs and other Semites. Question. Does Edom include all the proximate Semitic neighbors: Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestinians, perhaps Egypt?

The THIRD PIECE - The Northern Army, Joel’s name for Gog and his forces. Called a ‘great horde’–Rosh, Meshech, Tubal, along with Persia, Ethiopia (Cush), Libya(Phut), Gomer and all his bands,the House of Togarmah (Turkey), Russia ( former Soviet Republic), Persia. No descendants of Esau here.(Gen 10) .. The FOURTH PIECE - A blasphemous religious power–a harlot who sits on a beast, who also sits on seven hills and on many waters identified as peoples and multitudes, nations and tongues.

The FIFTH PIECE - A beast having seven heads and ten horns, upon which the harlot sits. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he comes he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goes into perdition. (Rev 17. 10, 11).

The SIXTH PIECE - Ten nations in confederation with the beast. And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. (Rev 17. 12) They make war with the lamb and the lamb overcomes them.

The SEVENTH PIECE - An ally of Israel? The merchants of Tarshish and young lions with Sheba and Dedan (Saudi Arabia). A convincing case can be made for Tarshish being Great Britain and the Commonwealth nations.

But there is yet another piece to this puzzle–the eighth piece not heretofore mentioned in the Bible in a clear cut fashion, and that is Islam. The Muslims appeared early in world history as the Saracens in the 6th century (Rev. 9), and again in the Ottoman Empire in AD 1453 when the Eastern European Empire, (having split from Rome with its capitol in Constantinople) controlled most of southeastern Europe until the 19th century. Today their numbers exceed 3.1 Billion, and we are witnesses to the Islamization of Europe.

Now to do the work required of us, to the end we can connect these pieces and complete the picture of God’s purpose with the earth. We have to watch and patiently wait, be alert to the signs of the times, recognizing that we are the people of this puzzle; we have our part to play. As disciples of Christ we are asked to ‘Labor On’ in a world where we can help and be helped.

Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the world, say ye to the daughters of Zion,
Behold thy salvation cometh;
Behold his reward is with him, and his work before him.
And they shall call them the holy people,
the redeemed of the Lord;
And you shall be called sought out,
a city not forsaken.
(Is 62. 11, 12)