The Preacher Says....  
  Setting the Stage  
  Setting the Stage

"A day of judgment is coming", said Paul to the Athenians on Mars Hill.

"God hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained, concerning which He has given assurance unto all men in that He hath raised him from the dead."

How’s it gonna happen, how is that judgment day gonna come to pass? How is his coming going to be heralded? " The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first". This day ‘ day of the Lord’ occurs 20 times in the Old Testament and 4 times in the New. And in the Old Testament the Hebrew phrase translated ‘day of the lord’ is "yom Yahweh". Not "yom El" or "yom El Shaddai" or "yom Adonai", but "yom Yahweh" – Yahweh being the covenant name that was revealed only to Israel to signify his special relationship with that nation.

How does much of the world view what I just said? Third chapter of 2nd Peter, "There shall come in the last days scoffers walking after their own lusts and saying ‘where is the promise of his coming for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." In many quarters of Christendom – even worse than that, because following the example of the early apostate church many of the traditional religions have spiritualized the Old Testament prophets relating to the hard times that have fallen upon Israel, their degradation, their struggles, and their ultimate triumph. They’ve spiritualized all that and say that those descriptions in the Old Testament prophets and in the New as well are a metaphor for the struggles of the church in the world. And the church ultimately will be triumphant and will be a fitting bride for Christ, so to speak; if and when Christ comes back its almost an anticlimax, because the world will have perfected itself. I say as a fact, and not immodestly, that we know different. And how are we supposed to behave knowing differently, knowing this to be a literal day. In the 24th chapter of Matthew Jesus says again, "Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the household had known when the thief would come he would have watched. He would not have allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, be ye also ready for in such an hour as you think not, the son of man cometh." So, we’re told to watch, but we’re also told that he’s gonna come at such hour as we think not. But can we be generally aware? We believe we can. In the famous statement in the 21st chapter of Luke Jesus spoke a parable to his audience and says, "Behold the fig tree and all the trees. When they now shoot forth ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. Well, what is the blossoming of the fig tree that we have seen? In that same chapter in the 24th verse we read, "that the Jews shall fall by the edge of the sword and shall be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Well, there are Jews back in Palestine and there are Jews back in Jerusalem. And Jerusalem is no longer trodden down by the Gentiles and hasn’t been since 1967. The first time that the Jews have lived there without domination in 2500 years and brings us to the title of this talk. How must the stage be set in order for the drama to unfold? Perhaps the best chapter to use to help us set this stage is the 38th chapter of Ezekiel. While the phrase "Day of the Lord – Yom Yahweh" is not used the 38th chapter of Ezekiel, the day is described there: "This is the day of which I have spoken." So what other day could that be except this? So I think it’s clear that the 38th and 39th chapters of Ezekiel, taken all as one text and not separate chapters, are talking about the Day of the Lord – Yom Yahweh. Well, what does that chapter describe as the scene just before the Day of the Lord? Well, first of all Israel will be a wealthy land inhabited by people at rest who dwell safely without bars and gates. Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meschech and Tubal is the great northern power described here, in league with countries named Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya. This great power comes against an unsuspecting and unprepared nation. Israel. Not the circumstance that exists currently. Moreover, this great northern power is confronted by persons or powers apparently on the side of Israel because they defy the northern power by saying to it, "are you come here to take a spoil?" Those nations are described as the merchants of Tarshish and Sheba and Dedan with all the young lions. Later translations don’t call the companions of these merchants of Tarshish young lions, they call them the ‘ leading merchants’. So it is Tarshish and its leading merchants. Well, I think it’s significant that if we’re in the time of the end now or close to it within the next 100 years that the United States of America – the greatest power the world has ever seen in terms of military might and the greatest economic power still in the world – is not identified anywhere to date as being described in Bible prophecy. It strikes me then that before Christ comes back America is gonna have to wane and disappear and almost dwindle as a power, or it is the merchants of Tarshish. Interestingly enough, people have written articles – most of the named places in the Bible can be identified: Esau, Edom, Idumea, Ammonites, Moab – all those places can be located on maps. The Merchants of Tarshish have never been located anywhere by Biblical historians. I propose the thesis that the reason that it was never located on a map or could never be located is because at the time the Bible was written the new world didn’t exist. Anyhow, I’m not putting this out as gospel you understand. It strikes me that the United States and its oil merchants have more at stake in the Middle East than any other country in the world. 50% of our oil comes from the Middle East.

However, the principal point I want to make this morning is that the land of the Philistines must be occupied by the Arabs and occupied there as a nation and it’s only then that they’ll be peace and safety with Israel. You know in the 38th chapter of Ezekiel, the powers that come down against Jerusalem are described as Persia, Ethiopia and Libya. Gomer and Torgarma and Meschech, Tubal, Rosh – all those powers identified by historians as being clearly north of Israel and not connected. The chapter doesn’t mention Syria, Jordan, Lebanon. So somehow there must be peace with respect to those powers. Palestine we think of now as the whole country, but Palestine in terms of Biblical history – the word is taken from Philistia – the land of the Philistines. The land of the Philistines is the coast land greater than but encompassing the Gaza strip, separated from the rest of Israel by the lowlands of the Shephelah. That’s the home – if you look in the back of your Bible and look at maps you’ll see that part of Israel is described as Philistia or by ancient Bible historians as Palestina. American Christian Zionists have been supportive of Israel and its attempt to have a homeland in Israel because they never had a homeland. But Israel, in its current state of unbelief, is not entitled to all of Israel in my opinion. And as I’ve discovered, Israel never held even during its heyday the land of Philistia. It was always separate, never conquered permanently by Israel. And as long as Israel is an atheistic nation in many ways it doesn’t deserve our support. And as we read in the 11th chapter of Isaiah, the 14th verse, on that last day, the Day of the Lord, the Israelites fly against Philistia and destroy it. Well, in order for Philistia to be destroyed its gotta exist. So it strikes me that this is another evidence that the fig tree is blossoming and that peace will somehow – now seemingly impossible to come about – reign in the Middle East. The agreement in the recent past gives the Palestinians Gaza and Gaza is Philistia; now the scene is set for Israel’s fire and flame and kindling, which is how Obadiah describes the destruction of Palestine. There are Arab powers within present day Palestine or Israel that will have a homeland there and will ultimately be destroyed when Christ comes back and gives Israel the whole land which they’ll then be entitled to because they’ll no longer be inhabiting it in a state of unbelief.*

Well, what about the northern power? – the northern power that I started to tell you about. The modern geographical equivalent of Persia, Ethiopia and Libya are Iran, Sudan and Libya all radical Muslim places. Gomer and Torgama were areas now around the borders of north Turkey, again Muslim places. It is easily conceived that the modern equivalents of Meshech and Tubal will fall under Muslim influence and join an Islamic invading force. This area bears close watching because radical Arabs and the wider extremist Islamic activists are factors we now have to consider much more closely in the context of Bible prophecy. So, Iran obviously is the place with the most fanatical Muslims. They’re described as being part of this confederacy that comes down against Israel. Ok, so, hypothetical setting of the stage, is the confederation of northern powers. And you recall that many of the Russians – you know Russia is now divided into 15 or 16 countries, those countries down in the south and west are Muslim. That’s what a lot of that fighting is going on about. So to set the stage, we’ve got peace in the Middle East by giving up land for peace. We’ve got the formation of this Muslim power being the power coming down from the north. How does all of that tie in with the beast in the 17th and 18th chapters of Revelation and in the reconstituted image in Daniel 2? Is there any connection? Are they 2 different things or are they the same thing? One theory I’ve heard about is that Russia will invade Western Europe and bring about the fall of Babylon the Great thereby fulfilling the words of Daniel 11. 40-45. This involves a westward thrust engulfing Catholic Europe followed by an attack on the Middle East afterwards. So that’s pretty far-fetched, but this theorist sees the possibility that this radical Muslim confederation out of Russia strikes against Babylon the Great and then from there enters into conflict with the lamb on the Day of the Lord.

Well, its all very interesting. If any of this is true it’s not gonna happen overnight. On the other hand, maybe it will happen overnight. Well now, how are we supposed to behave? You know in the 13th chapter of Romans, Paul says that we’re now nearer to the second coming than when first we believed. Well, that was true in his day but not much nearer. They were still almost 2000 years away and so it strikes me that in some ways Christ almost can’t come back right now because while traditional Christian religions have spiritualized the second coming as I’ve indicated earlier, there are many rabid Zionist Christians who are looking for the second coming of Christ at any moment, and they may be wrong. We must not be caught up in charismatic Zionism. Remember, God is not ‘working’ to save man from God. He will send Christ to save man from himself in his own good time.. We don’t know exactly when the drama will play out; we only know that the time is nearer.

One thing we have to remember is this. We’re truth seekers. Before we’re anything, we’re truth seekers and we need to be sober in this period of a sort of holy roller frenzy attached to the possibility of the second coming. Because to some extent the world is turned off – we can’t worry about the world, the world’s gonna be turned off anyhow – but if you’re gonna have the hope of being able to give a reason to people of the things you believe than it has to be well reasoned and thought out. People react in different ways to the truth. Well you know, some see more clearly than others because of a deep and abiding interest in Bible truths and often we act in dissimilar ways to the truth because we have an imperfect understanding of it. Therefore, we need to continue to be truth seekers. Only when we seek the truth are we ultimately free. Jesus said,

"If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8. 31, 32)

* Zarley, Kermit. Palestine is coming, (Hannibal, MO, Hannibal Books, 1990