Posted in daniel, ISIS, jeremiah, middle east, middle east unrest, prophecy

Do the events of today in Iraq have prophetic import? Introduction to ISIS and prophecy

Part 1 here
Part 2 here

The suddenness with which the ISIS coalition has burst into the world stage is certainly startling. The swiftness with which the ISIS organization has made sweeping gains in Iraq is also startling. Any time there is dramatic movement in the Middle East, God’s prophetic lands, it is wise to keep watch and also refer to prophecy.

Here are some resources for you to learn more about ancient Iraq. The resources are biblical and historical. Please stay away from conspiracy theorists and prophecy theorists who incorrectly meld blood moon theories and personal dreams and visions with bible prophecy that they rip from context and incorrectly interpret. It brings disrepute onto prophecy as a study topic to tweet, ‘like,’ blog, video, and otherwise promote such incorrect and unbiblical information.

Please also have a heart for the people there. The refugee situation from Syria is terrible, millions have been displaced. I read today that there are more Syrian children in Lebanon than there are Lebanese children. And more millions are fleeing Iraq- where will they go? Where can they be absorbed? Turkey and Jordan are filled to the brim with Syrians already. Most importantly, remember that these fleeing Iraqis don’t know Jesus.

In 1903 W. Eugene Sallee gave a talk about the importance of missions to the Chinese. He demonstrated the need:

In his hand he held his watch. Looking at it constantly for one minute, and then looking at the audience, he said, “A million a month in China go down to their Christless graves, and every time the minute hand makes its circuit around the face of your watch, one thousand, three hundred and eighty-eight souls in China have gone into Eternity.”

How many Iraqis go to a Christless eternity every minute in the war-torn path of the rabid ISIS soldiers?

Here is a map of the lands in the news today. They are ALL in bible prophecy in the end times.

Babylon was 50 miles south of current day Baghdad, on the map above between and ‘a’ in Baghdad and the ‘a’ in Euphrates, at the bend in the river.

Ancient names for Iraq are Babylon, Shinar, Chaldea, and Mesopotamia. Smith’s bible dictionary entry for Shinar states:

Shinar- (country of two rivers), the ancient name of the great alluvial tract through which the Tigris and Euphrates pass before reaching the sea –the tract known in later times as Chaldaea or Babylonia. It was a plain country, where brick had to be used for stone and slime for mortar. (Genesis 11:3) Among the cities were Babel (Babylon), Erech or Orech (Orchoe), Calneh or Calno (probably Niffer), and Accad, the site of which is unknown. It may be suspected that Shinar was the name by which the Hebrews originally knew the lower Mesopotamian country where they so long dwelt, and which Abraham brought with him from “Ur of the Chaldees.”

Here is a short study of the Biblical History of the Land of Shinar from Keyway Bible Study.

Joel C. Rosenberg is a political Middle East expert AND a bible prophecy expert. He has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books about the various countries in the prophetic lands, which he calls ‘the epicenter’ because “current rumblings in the Middle East will change your future.”

When the Syrian War broke out Rosenberg put together study notes from Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 because he had been asked so many times whether the civil war in and around Damascus was potentially part of prophecy coming to fulfillment. While he cautions that we can’t know for sure when the prophecies in the Old Testament relating to the end of the end times will come to pass, (including Isaiah 17, Isaiah 19, Jeremiah 49, 50, 51, Ezekiel 38-39, Psalm 83, etc) he explains what these prophecies are in an easy-to-read, bullet point set of study notes that he graciously put online. The link below opens in .pdf. It is helpful to read it, very helpful.

Joel C. Rosenberg, updated September 2013

[I]t has been estimated that there are 135 prophecies in this first part of Daniel chapter 11 which have come to pass exactly as Daniel wrote them in history. ~S. Lewis Johnson
Daniel 11 may also be a good chapter to read in light of current geo-shifting events in the Middle East.

Here is a link to an exegesis of Daniel 11:1-45 (which is the whole chapter). At the link there is a transcript and another link to the audio of the sermon. I recommend listening while reading along. The sermon is titled “The Willful King“. It is about the fourth and final world kingdom led by the antichrist. From Babylon, Iraq.

In Jeremiah 50:23 God called Babylon “The hammer of the whole earth …” Yet God is the hammer that will finally bring Babylon down – to judgment. Is the beginning of that prophesied end time judgment happening in Iraq today? Time will tell. Sadly, many there need to repent before it comes. Please pray. Meanwhile I agree with what Joel C. Rosenberg said of prophecy:

That said, my goal is to help make people aware of what the Bible says about the future of various countries and cities, help them understand Bible prophecy, answer their questions, and encourage them to seriously consider whether they want to follow Christ or not. And for Christians, I want to encourage them to know the power of God’s Word, and encourage them to obey Jesus when He commanded us to love our neighbors and love our enemiessaid Joel C. Rosenberg

S. Lewis Johnson ended his exposition of Daniel 11 this way:

The prophecy ends on the note of the sovereignty of God and the sovereign victory of God through the second coming of the Messiah who will establishes kingdom at that time. Let me close with a word of prayer.

[Prayer] Father, we are grateful to Thee for these unfoldings of the prophetic word and we pray that Thou will give us enlightenment, enable us Lord also to recognize the trends and signs of the things that are happening in our society today, and Lord we pray that in our own personal life, we may be driven to a closer and deeper walk with Thee and worship of our Lord Jesus Christ whom to know is life eternal.”

Posted in Aaron, almond tree, bible, jeremiah, resurrection, symbol

The Almond Tree: the promise and the beauty, a symbol of resurrection

Most of us aren’t farmers. Many of us don’t garden. Having lost our connection to the land, sometimes the biblical symbolism of certain agricultural meanings are lost to us. Let’s look at the almond tree.

Flowering almond trees, Wiki CC, by Daniel Sancho

The almond tree is mentioned in scripture several times and always in interesting contexts. Almond tree twigs are mentioned as early as Genesis 30:37 and Genesis 43:11. In Exodus 25:33, God is describing how the Golden Lampstand in the Tabernacle should look.


Sweet almond tree branch with blossoms. Wiki CC

three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand.

Calyx is the collective name for sepals of a flower. Easton’s Bible Dictionary explains,

A native of Syria and Palestine. In form, blossoms, and fruit it resembles the peach tree. Its blossoms are of a very pale pink colour, and appear before its leaves. Its Hebrew name, shaked, signifying “wakeful, hastening,” is given to it on account of its putting forth its blossoms so early, generally in February, and sometimes even in January

The International Standard Bible encyclopedia says,

The masses of almond trees in full bloom in some parts of Palestine make a very beautiful and striking sight. The bloom of some varieties is almost pure white, from a little distance, in other parts the delicate pink, always present at the inner part of the petals, is diffused enough to give a pink blush to the whole blossom.”

Did you know that there are sweet almonds and bitter almonds. Bitter almonds are toxic. It becomes cyanide when crushed and mixed with other enzymes inside the almond.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez once wrote poetically about the scent of bitter almonds and the fate of unrequited love as a lead-in to murder by cyanide poisoning. And in bitter almond oil as in a tragic romance, the sweet and the toxic are inextricably entangled.

Benzaldehyde is made by the decomposition of amygdalin (named for Prunus amygdalus, and in turn responsible for the bitterness that gives bitter almonds their common name). The other decomposition products are glucose (sweet) and hydrogen cyanide (toxic). … The utility of amygdalin to the plant is for defense, specifically as a deterrent to grazers from eating the valuable seed as well as the dispensable fruit. Inside the cells of the almond kernel, amygdalin is sequestered from the enzyme that breaks it down: amygdalin hydrolase. Crushing, as happens when the plant is grazed upon, brings the enzyme and amygdalin together, and cyanide is produced as a result–as much as 4-9mg per almond.”

Aaron’s rod famously budded almond leaves, blossoms, and fully ripe fruit. The LORD did this to prove that Aaron was His designated spokesman, with Moses.

On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds. (Numbers 17:8)

As with Aaron’s rod, Jeremiah 1:11 use of the almond as a symbol. Jeremiah 1:11-12:

And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.

Pulpit Commentary says of Verse 12. – I will hasten my word; literally, I am wakeful over my word; alluding to the meaning of the Hebrew word for almond. The LORD will hasten to perform His judgments of Jerusalem which He proclaimed in His word to Jeremiah.

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, ‘Love in the Time of Cholera”.

In Genesis 43:11 one of the ‘best gifts’ of the land that Joseph’s father Jacob urged his sons to bring to Egypt (unknowingly, to Joseph) were almonds.

In Plants of the Bible, it says, “The almond, Amygdalus communis, is a medium sized tree with narrow, light green leaves. Unlike the fig and olive, the almond does not live to a great age. The almond is a well-known symbol of resurrection because it is the first tree to flower. The white, five-parted flowers are up to two inches across and come in the late winter before the leaves of the tree develop. Because they may flower as early as late January or early February, it is sometimes possible to find almond flowers with snow.

Charles Spurgeon preached on the lessons of the Almond Tree. He says here,

“While I have felt compelled to speak of these solemn Truths, I am glad to turn to the other part of the subject which is this—that God is quick in performing His promises. They are like the almond tree—they blossom and bear fruit very quickly. “What sort of promises,” you ask, “are thus speedily fulfilled?” Well, first, the promise to give salvation to all these who believe in the Lo rd Jesus Christ. Listen— “The moment a sinner believes, And trusts in his crucified God, His pardon at once he receives, Redemption in full thro’ His blood.” I see “a branch of an almond tree” here. The Psalmist says, “His word runs very swiftly,” and I am a witness that it does. Many years ago, I, a poor sinner, went into a place of worship to hear the Gospel preached. The preacher repeated the Lord’s command, “Look unto Me, and be you saved.” I looked to Christ and I was saved that very instant. It takes no longer to tell the story than it did to work the miracle of mercy. Swift as a lightning flash I looked to Christ, and the great deed was done! I was a pardoned and justified soul—in a word, I was saved! Why should not the same thing happen to you who are here? It will happen to everyone who shall now be led to believe in Jesus Christ.”

On this most joyous of days, you who wonder at our joy, it is because we looked to Christ as our all in all, forgiver of sins, Lamb of God. You, also, look to Christ – and be saved. The almond tree blooms, quick with promises. The most wondrous promise of all is the resurrection of the Son of God.

Aaron’s rod budded, sprouted, and offered fully formed fruit, all at the same time. “According to the law of nature, all living things have a beginning and an end. However, this was not the case with Aaron’s rod, for God gave it a new lease of life. This miracle hinted at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even though death came to the world because of the actions of the first man, Adam, resurrection would come about on account of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:17–22). Hence, when Jesus was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (Jn 11:25). … the flowering rod served to quell Korah’s rebellion and re-affirmed Aaron’s position as high priest. Furthermore, this wondrous sign hinted at the future Messiah and His status as the firstfruits of resurrection (1 Cor 15:20).” (source)

He is risen!

Further Reading

The Sign of the Almond Tree

The Lesson of the Almond Tree

Daily Bible Study: Almonds

Posted in attributes, God, jeremiah, lamentations

One hundred percent guarantee for how to get out of the doldrums

Tears! Grief! Woe! Famine! Death! Pain! Jeremiah!

The book of Jeremiah “recounts more of his own life than any other prophet, telling of his ministry, the reactions of his audiences, testings, and his personal feelings. … The main theme of Jeremiah is judgment upon Judah (chaps. 1–29) with restoration in the future messianic kingdom (23:3–8; 30–33).” (source)

“Jeremiah Lamenting the
Destruction of Jerusalem” (Rembrandt)

Jeremiah also wrote the book of Lamentations, “No other entire OT book contains only laments, as does this distressful dirge, marking the funeral of the once beautiful city of Jerusalem. This book keeps alive the memory of that fall and teaches all believers how to deal with suffering.” (source)

In the first two and a half chapters of Lamentations, a word that means lament, loud cries, Jeremiah records woe and distress unparalleled in all the bible. “Jeremiah wrote Lamentations as an eyewitness (cf. 1:13–15; 2:6,9; 4:1–12), possibly with Baruch’s secretarial help (cf. Jer. 36:4; 45:1), during or soon after Jerusalem’s fall in 586 B.C. It was mid-July when the city fell and mid-August when the temple was burned. Likely, Jeremiah saw the destruction of walls, towers, homes, palace, and temple; he wrote while the event remained painfully fresh in his memory, but before his forced departure to Egypt.” (source)

Jeremiah opens Lamentations chapter 3 this way:

“I am the man who has seen affliction
under the rod of his wrath;
2 he has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light;
3 surely against me he turns his hand
again and again the whole day long.
4 He has made my flesh and my skin waste away;
he has broken my bones;
5 he has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation;
6 he has made me dwell in darkness
like the dead of long ago.”

Not that Jeremiah personally was being punished for his sins, but that Jeremiah was eyewitness to the wrath that had come upon the Jewish people, who had refused to repent. Jerusalem was a smoking cinder and the people were carried away.

Jeremiah goes on for many more verses about his afflictions and woes. I can’t even conceive of his hardships. When the siege of Jerusalem occurred, the people were starved to death, literally. Women killed and ate each other, even their babies. (Jeremiah 19:9; Lamentations 2:20;). It was tough and Jeremiah, sensitive to God and to his fellow people, was part of it all.

Jeremiah’s frequent references to darkness is heartbreaking. Things are dark! Then in Lamentations 3:21 it all changes. Jeremiah turns a corner. How? Why? What can possibly get him out of his depression and distress? What can he possibly do or say or think that would lift him from the bible’s nearly deepest recorded personal woe? He makes this statement in Lamentations 3:21,

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:”

What is Jeremiah calling to mind?

The attributes of God.

He recites the truth of the steadfast love of the LORD, His mercies, His goodness to those who wait on Him, and His salvation.

I can guarantee the following statement 100%: If you are in distress, and you choose to ‘call to mind’ our precious Jesus and His attributes, nature, and character, you WILL feel better.

How can I guarantee this? Because if you fix your thoughts on those things, ‘call them to mind’ as Jeremiah says, you are thinking the best thoughts you can possibly think. There is no thought that is better. No thought that is higher. No action that is more pure.

Jesus is the universe’s greatest treasure. He is the unique individual of all the ages past, present and future. He is the purest, best, most majestic and wonderful Person of all, and all His attributes that come from Him are THE highest.

If you are afflicted with sorrow or trials, no matter what they are, do what Jeremiah did. Call those things to mind. Even better, preach them back to the LORD. Extol His virtues to Him and praise Him for those virtues.

You might try to lift yourself from a depressing time by thinking of your wedding day. Or your honeymoon. Or your last birthday party, or the most relaxing vacation you ever took. Or the accolade you just won at work. NONE of those happy things will ever come close to lifting you like it will if you ponder Jesus and His nature and attributes.

Because as I said, those thoughts are the top, best thoughts you can have. Nothing else compares.

Times are rough for many people now. I think of the Syrian Christians caught in the crossfire of the two-year civil war. Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad has a point when he says “we are fighting rebels who eat their enemies’ hearts.” The situation must be very similar to the destruction of Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s time. Pray for the Christians there to ponder Jesus all the more.

Even here in America, people are not adjusting well to their new economic circumstances and worried about their future. Many have received a report of cancer in their child or their parent. Many other events and circumstances worry us. However, lift your eyes to Jesus and deliberately call to mind his love, faithfulness, mercies, salvation and all the other wonderful attributes he possesses. If Jeremiah can do it, so can we. His book and the book of Lamentations is, in my opinion, in the bible to show us that no matter the suffering, He is so high and lifted up that when we fix our hearts and thoughts on Him, we will be high and lifted up too.


Further reading

What are the Attributes of God?

Divine Attributes of God, Spurgeon Archive

God: His Character and Attributes

Posted in hope, jeremiah, weeping prophet

Read Jeremiah for a good dose of reality, and then rejoice!

I’m reading Jeremiah 4 and 5 now. The verses in those chapters were spoken by God to Jeremiah to preach to the people of Israel. It was an actual prophesying and an actual call to repentance and the things predicted actually happened. So it is not good to allegorize them nor to spiritualize them. At the same time, there are lessons in the book to take away because human nature doesn’t change, not unless they have the Spirit to transform them. Like this:

“They have spoken falsely of the LORD and have said, ‘He will do nothing; no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. The prophets will become wind; the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them!” (Jeremiah 5:12-13)

Matthew Henry’s Commentary says of the verses from 10-18, including the ones I excerpted above:

Multitudes are ruined by believing that God will not be so strict as his word says he will; by this artifice Satan undid mankind. Sinners are not willing to own any thing to be God’s word, that tends to part them from, or to disquiet them in, their sins. Mocking and misusing the Lord’s messengers, filled the measure of their iniquity. God can bring trouble upon us from places and causes very remote. He has mercy in store for his people, therefore will set bounds to this desolating judgment. Let us not overlook the nevertheless, ver. 18. This is the Lord’s covenant with Israel. He thereby proclaims his holiness, and his utter displeasure against sin while sparing the sinner, Ps 89:30-35.

Don’t we hear that same sentiment today that the Lord will do nothing. “God is love. He would never send anyone to hell!” Our preachers have become wind, the word is not in them. Think of the prediction of Peter. Peter warned us and told us to remember the prophets of old and to heed the warnings of the apostles:

“that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:2-4)

Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 4:18,

“Your ways and your deeds have brought this upon you. This is your doom, and it is bitter; it has reached your very heart.”

God is love, but He is holy. Evil is not HIS way. It is our way and our deed that have brought this upon ourselves. It is bitter and it is hard. Still, the LORD reaches out to His people.

“I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’” (Jeremiah 6:17)

And like Jeremiah, we see all that is done under the sun in the name of the Lord, and we ask,

“Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit; you are near in their mouth and far from their heart.” (Jeremiah 12:1-2).

Isn’t that the way today? I know many of you grieve because of the falsity you see and have to endure near and far. You see as well as I do so many Christians today who are near to Jesus with their mouth but are far from Him in their heart. It grieves us all, though I dare to say no one more than Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. But his tears are our tears, too. We love the Lord and long for the day when holy righteousness is on the land for His sake. When His name will not longer be besmirched by them or by us!

The LORD longs for that day too. And He rejoices.

Even during His incarnation when Jesus endured agonies of sin and saw so many sheep lost on the hill, bleating for a Shepherd (Matthew 9:36), even as he approached the most painful, difficult moment the universe had ever seen or will ever see, Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit for the Father’s plan!

Jesus sent out the 72 and when the 72 came back,

“In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” (Luke 10:21)

If Jesus rejoiced in the Father’s plan, even though the time was dark and sin abounded, so shall we! What is there to rejoice about, you ask? As they rejoice in heaven over one sinner who repents, so shall we!

“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)

We rejoice in His creation, in His city, and in His people!

“But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.” (Isaiah 65:18)

And as Jesus told the 72 who returned from their tasks amazed at the power of the name of the Lord, Jesus said, do not marvel that the demons were subject to them, but

“but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).

There is much to rejoice about, even as we weep.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

As Matthew Henry says of the Romans verse, “He is honoured by our hope and trust in him, especially when we rejoice in that hope.”

Hope and trust in Him, even as the world is ripening for judgment. Rejoice that this is His plan, His way, and His will. As for our weeping prophet, Jeremiah’s tears have been wiped away by the God whom he served, (Revelation 21:4) and yours will too some day! Jeremiah is now forever rejoicing in heaven. We will meet him at the gathering of the saints. Until then, let us heed the legacy he left behind; Godly tears, seeking the holy I AM, and clinging to the hope Messiah has delivered.

Posted in God, hosea, jeremiah, love

The everlasting love of God

Jeremiah 31:3-

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”

Now keeping in mind His unfailing and everlasting love, compare the Jeremiah verse to this video which depicts the prostitute going away from her loving husband and the husband lovingly pursuing her, Part 3 of The Hosea Love Story

And that should remind us all of His perfect and everlasting love to men. I hope this brightened your day!

[TY to EBenz for helping me re-find the Hosea clip]

Posted in jeremiah, judgment, sermons

A great sermon

I listen to several preachers but most often I listen to John MacArthur. I quote him a lot, as you know if you are a regular reader of this blog. MacArthur is one of only a handful of preachers, if that many, who preach through the bible verse by verse. He doesn’t speak topically and apply or overlay a few verses to make a point. He takes a verse or two or maybe three, and he spends 50 minutes teaching it.

He is the only preacher in the world now, I believe, who has preached through the entire New Testament, verse by verse. He started 43 years ago, and he finished in June. It was a poignant moment and I watched and celebrated with him and with his congregation via internet.

He isn’t going to go verse by verse through the Old Testament, he said. But he did do a wonderful series on the 7 days of Creation, here. You can listen or read the sermon. It is a fantastic and very uplifting series. He is now beginning some Old Testament sermons by using the verse from Luke 24:27, “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” This means that in all the books from Moses and all the books where the Prophets spoke, Jesus is present. He is in the Old Testament, everywhere from beginning to end, in actuality. Jesus is in Genesis 1:1 and He is in the last book of the OT, Malachi. But MacArthur is beginning his series limited to Jesus through the Old Testament akin to the Road To Emmaus, the place where He said he “expounded on these [Old Testament] things concerning Himself.” MacArthur’s begins with Jeremiah, here.

His aim is to show the parallels of Jeremiah the man and Prophet in his time amid an ungodly nation to our time here in this ungodly nation. Judgment came in Jeremiah’s life, and we who are burdened with the spiritual pregnancy of imminent labor feel judgment will come in ours too. Knowing that and listening to MacArthur’s preaching that won’t mean it’ll be a feel-good moment but it does give context and meaning to why and how God worked through this very human man, so sorrowful, and the doomed nation, but preserved in a remnant! Just as it is today.

I recommend the series to one and all.