Reading: I Cor 15:25-26
Anyone who walks at night needs a light to show the path. The bible is our light. Without it we are like blind men. We stumble in the dark and most of what we know about God is just a guess. But the bible teaches us the truth about God and about us.
But how do we know that someone didn’t just make it all up. Back in 200 AD someone could have easily written it up and filled it with history and other things to make it ring true. That would mean that everything we know about the future, everything we know about the resurrection, everything we know about God that is written in the bible is just made up.
It isn’t that far fetch. Over time we have seen other so called holy books come about. We believe that those books are made up creations of man. But still millions of people hold to those books as God given. Those books are filled with history and other things that make them sound true. If there is a contradiction between the bible and those other books, men will choose the other book over the bible.
This is why; if the bible is to be our light we need to have absolute confidence that it is God given. God did not choose us to blindly trust in everything we hear. God chose us because He knows that we will discern what we hear, and we will prove what we hear. So this morning as we look closer at the two verses we read we will ask ourselves how these verses help prove beyond any doubt that the bible is truly the word of God.
There is something in the two verses we read this morning that separate us from just about every other religion out there. We are different. What is taught is this simple building is not taught in to many other places on this earth. What is taught here is not taught in those other so called books of God. It is a doctrine that runs throughout the pages of the bible. But even many in this world who believe the bible do not know this truth. But for some reason this truth has been shown to us. And we trust it to be true.
We read: The last enemy to be destroyed will be death. There are not too many places you can go where you will hear that death is an enemy. Too often we hear that it is just a continuation of life. When someone dies, we hear the teaching. They are in a better place. They are looking down on us now. They are one of the angels now. They are watching over us. They are in heaven.
Two thirds of the people in this country believe in an afterlife. The majority of people in the world believe that life goes on after we die. But this is not the teaching of the bible and does not agree with what we know first-hand about mortality. In this teaching science and the bible actually agree.
Sure it is a romantic thought to think that when we die we separate from the body and float off somewhere else and this is why it’s just too tempting for those who made up other so called holy books to write that life goes on after death. But we can see evidence all around us that a person ceases to exist when the body dies. Think about it, we know that there are diseases that affect the brain. And those diseases can have a traumatic impact on who a person is. Brain eating amoeba for example, cause so much damage to the brain that it alters a person’s personality. They become a different person. Alzheimer’s can cause us to become confused, forgetful, unable to remember what we did today, unable to recognize common things or even people that we have known for years. It can cause us to become aggressive, agitated, angry, and paranoid.
The life is in the blood and we become a living being when by the spirit of God, the blood from the body feeds the brain and gives us consciousness. Our mind becomes alive and we think and reason. We feel and we become aware of the world around us. Some might call this awareness, our spirit. But as soon as the blood flow stops flowing into the brain, our spirit dies, our mind stops. The bible teaches that at that point in time we don’t know anything. Our love, our hate, our zeal have perished. For dust though art and unto dust though shalt return.
In some cases we have seen how the brain can die, but the body still goes on. The heart keeps pumping, the blood keeps flowing. And even though our body might still be working, because our brain has ceased all functions, we are dead. Doctors call this brain dead. Without the brain, that is without our mind, without our spirit, we cease to be. The only hope we have at that point is resurrection, to have blood flow to the brain again and our mind to become alive.
Sometimes someone will stop breathing and the heart stops beating. At that point they may be considered dead. But doctors have been able to restart the heart and restart the breathing. Some of those who go through this experience think that they have an out of body experience. They may see bright lights, tunnels; they may see themselves floating in the air. Many of these stories may actually be true, because even though the heart stopped, the brain was still active, but beginning to starve. And that can easily lead to delusions and visions. That could also stimulate capacities in our brain that causes some of them to become more aware of their surroundings, and even give them a feeling of floating in the air.
We also know that alcohol, drugs and what we eat can impact on our mind, our spirit. Who we are is very much tied to the physical body we have, and what we eat and drink can stimulate our mind, our spirit or it can destroy it.
All these things that we know by firsthand experience confirm that the teaching of the bible about our mortal nature is true. We can trust it. Therefore death is not something to be welcomed. Death is an enemy.
We are taught about life every time we partake of these emblems. These are two main components that make up life. You can’t have life without the body and you can’t have life without the blood. It is that blood interacting with the body that gives life. When Christ died for us He gave his life; that is He gave his body and his blood.
Some think that death was destroyed at the time of his sacrifice. But keep in mind the context of the verse we read. This isn’t talking about a time that has already past. This is talking about the future. The teaching in these bible verses have not happened yet. The verses are talking about the age to come, the reign of Christ on earth. Death is still around us. Death is still very much an enemy. Death will always be an enemy and that is why the bible teaches that in the end of the thousand year reign of Christ, it will be the last thing destroyed.
We don’t talk too much about this period of time. In our minds when we think of the Kingdom age, we think of the verses where the wolf and lamb will lie together and the lion will eat straw, where they will not hurt and destroy. That is the kingdom that we look forward to. But that is only part of the kingdom. The world that we know today will still turn and while all may be well at that time within the land around Jerusalem, all will not be well elsewhere in the world.
There is so much talk today about Russia and there is much expectation that Russia is the Gog of the bible and is about to come down and invade the land of Israel. It may be true that Russia is Gog, but the prophecy of Gog found in Ezekiel chapter 38 and 39 is a thousand years away from now.
These are 5 reasons why I think this is the case.
1. The timing. The prophecy says it will happen after a long time. In the latter years. This prophecy follows Ezekiel chapter 37 which tells of the tabernacle being there, it tells of Christ being their prince, it tells of the sanctuary being in the midst of the land. It describes the people living in the center of the earth. This all takes place before Gog gathers as a storm. Even the writer of the book of Revelation puts the Gog invasion at the end of the thousand years.
2. The Weapons. Weapons describe in this prophecy are primitive compared to the modern day weapons of war. We read of horses, armor, helmets, and swords. We don’t read of missiles, helicopters, planes, tanks, ships, guns. This is because during the thousand year period of time leading up to this battle, Christ will have ordered all those weapons destroyed.
3. The Battle. It’s a different battle than the one described elsewhere around the return of Christ. Gog is unsuccessful in this battle. The punishment on Gog is also different than the punishment on the nations that gather to against Israel prior to his return. Here they are destroyed quickly with fire and brimstone from God, and the extent of that rebellion is so great it will take months to bury the dead.
4. Israel. The people of Israel in Ezekiel 38 are at rest and dwell in safety, without walls. They are not afraid. This is not the condition of the Israel we see today.
5. The wealth. Also at that time the people of Israel are spoken of having lots of property and goods including silver and gold. Gog comes to take a spoil. Although there is no doubt that Israel has riches today it is not as tempting and does not begin to compare to the riches and wealth that they will gather from the nations of the world at the return of Christ.
There are some things to note. God says of Gog that he is the one of whom he spoke about in past days. This means that there must be another prophecy about this event written in the bible. We actually find that prophecy right under our nose in the book of Psalms chapter 2
“Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
I believe that Psalm chapter 2 is speaking of Gog. Gog is a chief of many nations that set themselves up against the Lord and against his anointed. In order for this Psalm to be accomplished the anointed has to be on earth. This takes place at some point during the reign of the anointed when he rules with a rod of Iron.
This is the kingdom age. Reading into the Psalm, God says to these kings look what I have given to you. I have given you homes and children, I have given you food and jobs, I have given you peace and security, I have given you justice and law, I have given you hope for a future. Therefore kiss the son, lest he be angry with you.
But men just don’t listen. Man is never satisfied regardless of how good he has it. Gog is still intent of being free; they want to live their own life separate from the God who created them. They say: “Let us break the bands and cast away the cords”.
So the son will become angry. The same anger described graphically in Ezekiel 38 and 39 where he says: “I will become very angry, with jealousy and great anger, so angry that the earth will shake, so angry the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the wild animals and everything that crawls will shake.
Think about the world we now know and how much of what we see around us will change. We may feel those changes will be for the better, but others people will not like the changes. How will they feel when they have their guns taken away, how will they feel when they no longer have adult entertainment, how will they feel when much of the entertainment we have now will no longer be, how will they feel when they won’t have drugs to escape with, how will they feel when money has no value? Modern day technologies that men are obsessed with MIGHT NOT have a place in the Kingdom of God. Cell phones, televisions, computers, the internet may all be things of the past.
So by the time Gog rises up the world has been through some significant changes from the world we see today. They will hear about the old days, some will long for those days in the same way some in Israel longed to go back to Egypt. But the chief prince, the head of these nations will arise from the North. These are men that haven’t been born yet. These are men that didn’t live through the horrible battles that were fought at the time of the second coming of Christ. They have no idea of the power they are dealing with.
So the temptation is there. They have been to Jerusalem. They have seen the wealth that is in the city. They have seen the silver and the gold. They have seen that there are no walls, there are no guards, and there is nothing to stand in their way of taking it all for themselves. It is far too tempting for them. So they imagine a vain thing.
Prepare for war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Assemble yourselves all ye heathen and gather yourselves round about. Multitudes! Multitudes.
Another thing to note is that the prophecy in Ezekiel 38 tells us that God will turn Gog around. Gog will be turned back towards the land. What does that actually mean? One interpretation is that they had already gathered at one time against the land of Israel, and now God is turning them back.
I think this is significant and could also be proof that Ezekiel 38 takes place near the end of the thousand year reign of Christ. It is also interesting to speculate about this because many nations will be gathered against Israel at the time of the return of Christ, but after those days only Gog will remain as a major influence of the nations.
Regardless, it is clear that Zechariah 14 is a prophecy about the return of Christ leading to the time when the Lord will be king over the whole world and it talks about the Lord my God shall come and all the saints with thee. So the language of this prophecy is of particular important. Remember that these words were written over 2500 years ago and they describe an event that we think will happen very shortly. The words in this prophecy actually provide details to how this will happen.
First clue: All nations would be brought together against Jerusalem.
Second clue: The wealth of Jerusalem would be divided. More significantly, half would be captured and half would remain. What does that mean? Half of city captured and half of city remains.
With what we now know about what is happening in the world, it looks like the fulfillment of this prophecy will happen by action of the United Nations. The current President of the United States has expressed interest in establishing a Palestine State in order to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine. We don’t know who the next President will be. But we do know that one of the candidates holds to the same views as the current president and feels that Israel is an occupying force and that candidate leads in most polls.
All it takes to implement a Palestine state is a resolution from the Security Council of the United Nations. A draft already developed of that resolution divides Jerusalem in two with the east part of the city becoming the capital of Palestine. The conflict in Israel has been so long on the earth that I believe when this resolution is passed; the majority of people in the country we live will also support it as the right thing to do. Obviously the President who actually votes for it may want to go down in the history books as the one who resolved the long standing conflict.
It is too tempting, and it will happen if we interpret Zechariah 14 correctly. With strong military and political force they will make Israel accept it. As a result half the city of Jerusalem will be captured, the women will be forcefully removed from their homes; the houses on that side of the city will be plundered, the wealth of Israel will be divided.
That is the first part of the prophecy. What is not known is how long this state of Palestine will exist before the next part of the prophecy happens. At some point between the capturing of east Jerusalem and the coming of the Lord there will be a plague on those who have divided Jerusalem. The language of the prophecy is very specific that this would follow a period when the people of the earth will be in great panic. They will seize each other, they will attack each other, and even Judah will be fighting to defend Jerusalem. The language is talking about a worldwide war. A third world war that is much more devastating than any war we have ever seen on the face of the earth. This war will be so devastating that if you live through it, regardless of what part of the planet you live, you will be known as a survivor.
And it is Christ and the saints who bring an end to this horrible war. The people of Israel will escape through the dividing of the mountain in the same way that they escape through the sea. The land of Israel will be changed and cleansed. The Delusion that is in the world will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming. And then the people and the saints of the Most High will establish the Kingdom of God in the center of the world.
This is some of what we might see behind two verses found in the book of Corinthians. There is no other book like the bible. It is the most valuable thing we have. It speaks truth.
So as our days pass by and when are hearts become sad by things that have come to pass and by the things that will come, and when we feel ourselves slipping into darkness, let us remember that I have seen, that you have seen, that we have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!
We see him as the great trumpet is sounded. We see him as he tramples the wicked under his feet. We see him strike down the enemy with his mighty sword. We see him crush the head of the serpent. We see him judging the hearts of men. Because we have this bible, our eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. Glory, glory, hallelujah!