February 2013 Yavoh

The month of February 2013 is now upon us. Will the altar be set up and shut down as the prophecy requires to begin the Great Tribulation? Only time will tell, but by the end of this month we will know one way or the other if the Great Tribulation begins this year. If it occurs, we will watch for the other part of the Abomination as the antimessiah comes to power with the false prophet proclaiming him as savior of the world with his image on the temple mount. But if it doesn’t happen, then we will look to a future winter in another year for the fulfillment.

For many years we have watched events and prophetic trends build to this time. We have gleaned from every historical event to see if the signs are appearing or waning. There are numerous prophecies of the events to happen here on earth leading to the Great Tribulation and even more that elaborate on what will happen once the Great Tribulation begins. This has been our focus, and the same can be said of others who are paying close attention to the end of the ages.

With this month upon us, our focus is particularly acute as the Israeli elections unfold, the new initiatives for the peace process coming from Europe, and the troubling signs of division and discord here in America. I am not going to review again the specific prophecy of the Abomination of Desolation cited by Yeshua and given by the prophet Daniel which I discussed in detail in the last issue “The Key to End-Time Prophecy. We are first looking for conflict in the Middle East, the altar to suddenly be built and soon after shut down, and a European leader to arise to prominence who sets up an image on the temple mount. We have spoken of those things many times.

Instead, I want to share with you what is going to happen in heaven before the throne of God if the Great Tribulation occurs this month. That too is given to us in the Scriptures in the book of Revelation, and it is reason why there will be a great struggle for us, different from any in the past, here on the earth. The events in heaven before God’s throne are directly connected to Israel fleeing into the wilderness and the Greater Exodus and to Michael, the archangel, who is the “restrainer” being moved from earth to heaven. One of the heavenly events includes satan being cast from heaven as the accuser of the brethren to the earth knowing he only has the days of the Great Tribulation before judgment sends him to the bottomless pit. But most of all, we realize that the Messiah has been seated beside the Almighty waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool.

(A Psalm of David.) The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” PSA 110:1

Events in heaven reflecting the activity on earth is about the Messiah rising at the right hand and beginning to rule in heaven prior to His triumphant coming to earth. It is about the tribulation saints waiting throughout the Great Tribulation until they see the Messiah return on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. All of this is laid out for us in the twelfth chapter of Revelation.

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. REV 12:1-6

The second dream of Joseph pictured Israel as the sun, moon, and twelve stars, but this description above of being clothed with the sun and moon, with a crown of twelve stars facing off against a dragon, and with a son being born is consistent with an astrological sign of Virgo and Hydra in the southern winter sky. Many Bible teachers find it fascinating that this description lines up not only those previous elements but that it presents the overarching conflict of satan battling the Messiah who came into the world to do the work of redemption. There is no disputing by the believing world that the Messiah was doing battle with satan and that the death of the Messiah sought by satan resulted in Yeshua ascending to the right hand of the throne.

The Scripture tells us that Yeshua did ascend to the Father and that He was instructed to sit at His Father’s right hand until a certain condition had been met. While it is true that Yeshua is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, He has not yet begun to rule. Instead, the Holy Spirit has been given to us to prepare for His eventual return.

The condition that allows Yeshua to rise from His seat and begin to rule deals with satan and his angels being cast out of heaven to the earth prior to their judgment by Him. Thus, He is told to wait until His enemies are made to be His footstool. Did you know that the earth is considered to be the “footstool” of the Lord?

Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.” ISA 66:1a

Many believers have never considered where Yeshua is, or satan for that matter, in the days prior to the Great Tribulation. The Scripture presents both of them in the heavens before the throne with satan accusing the brethren and the Messiah speaking as an advocate for the brethren, but that does not go on for eternity. Instead, a war in heaven is prophesied that displaces satan from heaven to the earth. It is not a war led by the Messiah; instead, it is battle led by Michael, the Prince of Israel, who guards Israel on the earth. However, for Michael to lead such a battle, he must be brought from earth to heaven. In leaving earth, he can no longer restrain evil that comes against Israel. This is why the Great Tribulation will have a measure of success in oppressing the saints. One of God’s defense measures for us is no longer in place. Consider how the book of Revelation describes Michael’s efforts.

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. REV 12:7-9

The Apostle Paul, writing of the start of the Great Tribulation, described this element of the “restrainer” being removed and the saints being subject to the enemy.

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Yeshua HaMeshiach and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 2THES 2:1-2

Paul writes specifically of the return of the Messiah and the saints participating in the Greater Exodus. He urges believers to focus on the specific signs of the start of the Great Tribulation, not to be overwhelmed by preliminary signs such as the beginnings of sorrows. Wars and rumors of wars are part of the Great Tribulation, but they have also been a part of past troubles for the world. Wars and rumors of wars are not the sign of the end. The prophecy of the Abomination of Desolation is the specific sign of the end that involves the altar, the temple mount, the rise of the antimessiah, and an image of him being set up on the temple mount. Paul reviews the prophetic sign (he assumes they know it) and he tells them to dismiss any call for the beginning of the Great Tribulation without specific events. He then speaks to those specifics.

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 2THES 2:3-5

The apostasy (believers falling away from faith) is directly connected to the establishment of the altar and it being shut down. God uses the altar to measure His people. I fear that many believers in name only will suddenly blaspheme God and His altar when it erected. Even more so, I fear many believers will not hold to the words of Daniel and Yeshua when they speak of the altar shutdown as the beginning sign of the Great Tribulation. Many believers are looking for the rapture of the church at the beginning of a seven year tribulation for Israel. I have heard many of them say that they will no longer believe in the God of the Bible if they must go through the tribulation with their families. You can be assured that an apostasy will happen concurrent with the altar.

Paul also writes of the rise of the antimessiah and this second element of the Abomination: the setting up of his image and the declaration to the world that the antimessiah is the savior.

Paul reminds the audience that he has taught the prophecies of Daniel and Yeshua before, calling them to well-established understandings. He clearly is not giving a new prophecy of the end. It is with this reminder that he refers to something else they already know.

And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,… 2THES 2:6-9

Paul writes to his audience believing that they already know who the restrainer is. It is ironic because most Christians don’t know this. I have heard other Christian teachers say that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit and this is some kind of reference to the rapture of the believers (when the Holy Spirit goes with them and leaves the earth). The problems with this thinking are numerous. First, the Holy Spirit is never referred to as a restrainer of evil anywhere else in Scripture. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, leads us to the truth, and is the Helper and Comforter. Nowhere does He do battle with evil or hold evil back. Secondly, it is clear that there are going to be people who call upon the name of the Lord and be saved. How can they be saved without the regeneration of the Holy Spirit or the circumcision of no hands that is part and parcel of salvation by the Messiah? Clearly, the Holy Spirit is present with the saints during the Great Tribulation.

The restrainer must be someone well known to the first century believers, someone who has been in that role for some time prior to the coming of the Messiah. The archangel Michael fills this bill. He is known for standing guard against evil that would come against Israel. The prophet Daniel clearly and succinctly writes of a future time at the Great Tribulation when Michael will play a key role in the conflict.

Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. DAN 12:1

Daniel’s reference to a “time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time” is consistent with his description of a “time, times, and half a time.” He is speaking of the same subject.

Let’s go into this for a moment. The Messiah has succeeded in providing for our redemption. He has ascended to the right hand of the Father. We have the Holy Spirit to lead us and Michael has been restraining satan from doing more damage to Israel. For nearly two thousand years, the Gospel has been spread throughout the world while Israel was scattered. Now, the end of the ages arrives with God preparing to judge His enemies. Michael is raised up from the earth to battle satan and cast him and his evil angels out of heaven. Satan falls to the earth and realizes that his days are numbered. According to the prophecy, in three and a half years the Messiah will return and completely defeat him here on earth. So satan turns against the saints here on the earth for that same period of time. And here is the other thing that happens. The Messiah rises from His throne in heaven and begins His Messianic rule from heaven over all of His enemies.

In a synagogue Torah service, there is a specific cantation that is given when the Ark is opened and the Torah first comes out from the Ark. It originates from Numbers 10:35. It is these words, “Rise up, O Lord! And let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You.” These are the words we say here on the earth when the Messiah, the Living Word of God, arises from His resting place, and these are the words that are said in heaven for the same event.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” REV 12:10-12

I believe that most tribulation saints will feel overwhelmed as the events of the Great Tribulation unfold. I can easily imagine being filled with apprehension and fear wondering if God really will save and deliver them. I am sure that most of them will prefer that none of this would happen and many of them will seek a way to literally hide from it all, but the truth of the situation will be compelling and multiple signs and prophecies will confirm that we are in the days spoken of by the prophets. Rather than struggling to grasp the reality, I believe we should turn our attention toward heaven and seek to understand where our Messiah is and what He is doing.

By focusing on the Messiah in heaven, seeing Him as He begins to rule in heaven, great encouragement and boldness will flood the hearts of His people.  It is only a matter of time before He returns with the same authority. We have all learned that in difficult times the only answer to extreme difficulties is to trust the Lord. When we look only to the Lord, our trust and faith in Him also increases. Many times, I believe God permits us to endure difficulties just to achieve that kind of focus on Him. I believe that this is the only way believers will make it through the Great Tribulation, by affixing their hope only on Him. This also causes us to renew our obedience to Him and this obedience is essential to receiving His deliverance. Moses speaks of our exodus and deliverance from the nations at the end of the ages. He specifically cites the greatest commandment as being part of the deliverance process.

Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live.  DEU 30:6

Seeing the Messiah rising in power and our testimony of obedience to Him is the concluding phrase of Revelation 12:  who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Yeshua.

At the beginning of the Great Tribulation, our Messiah is now standing, no longer seated. He will no longer be the Lamb that was slain, humble and silent. Instead, our Messiah will be seen for the first time as the Lion of Judah, the King of Israel, and the Master of the Universe. Satan and every enemy against God will be struck with fear, for they know that He will prevail over them all and none will escape. The twelfth chapter of Revelation goes on to explain how satan will make his last attempts to harm the saints first in Judea, then elsewhere in the world. Consider these words and what satan tries to do to the believer, first in Judea and elsewhere in the world.

And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Yeshua. REV 12:13-17

Yeshua spoke of an escape by those in Judea, and the Jerusalem area in particular, right as the image is set up (the second part of the Abomination). The escape is dramatic. Yeshua warned them not to delay for any reason in running for the wilderness. I believe He was referring to the Judean wilderness directly east of Jerusalem. They are told that winter weather will be a part of the escape and that Sabbath will be approaching. But most dramatically, He warns against taking any additional time to get a coat or gather anything from their houses. They simply don’t have time.

The wilderness east of Jerusalem in the winter/spring time is particularly dangerous. The rains at that time cause flash flooding. The waters are treacherous and have caused the death of many before in that region. The prophecy speaks of satan causing a flood to come after them in the wilderness, but then God will perform a miracle similar to the crossing of the Red Sea in the Egyptian exodus. Only this time He opens the earth to swallow a flood that is threatening them. I call it the Miracle of the Rea Sea in reverse. When satan is unsuccessful against those fleeing Judea, he turns against the other tribulation saints scattered throughout the nations.

This is clearly the first evidence of God’s deliverance in the Greater Exodus and we are definitely speaking of the Greater Exodus.

Jeremiah has prophesied twice that the day would come when we would refer to an exodus we would not be referring to ancient Egypt. Here is his word on that end-time event.

“Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.” JER 16:14-15

Again, Jeremiah writes the same, giving attribution to the Messiah in leading the exodus.

“Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord. “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’ Therefore behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when they will no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will live on their own soil.”  JER 23:3-8

Moses also wrote of this exodus when the final generation would be brought back to the land of Israel from all of the remote parts of the earth.

...then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. DEU 30:3-5

Paul wrote of the same event in his letter to the Romans.

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” ROM 11:25-26

Ezekiel writes of the Greater Exodus by referring to the elements of the ancient exodus.

“As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you,” declares the Lord God. “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the Lord.” EZE 20:33-38

Maybe you are still not convinced that Revelation 12 is referring to the Greater Exodus. Let me remind you of one of the most powerful expressions of the exodus, And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman.

The reference of the two wings of the great eagle is directly tied to the ancient exodus from Egypt. When Moses writes his second song he recounts how God cared for Israel in Egypt and continued to care for Israel in the wilderness bringing them to the promised land.

He found him [Jacob]  in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them [the journey through the wilderness] on His pinions. The Lord alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him. He made him ride on the high places of the earth [the promised land], and he ate the produce of the field; and He made him suck honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rock, curds of cows, and milk of the flock, with fat of lambs, and rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the finest of the wheat—and of the blood of grapes you drank wine. DEU 32:10-14

Yet maybe the most direct reference is from God Himself connecting Revelation 12 to the exodus out of Egypt when they arrived at Mount Sinai.

Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.’” EXO 19:3-4

Revelation 12 is referring to the events that occur with the start of the Great Tribulation. They include things here on earth and things in heaven. As we anticipate the beginning of the Great Tribulation, whether it be this year or another, let us be reminded that God has a great plan for the end of the ages. That plan includes our deliverance and judgment of God’s enemies. Those are great things, but the greatest of those things for me is when my Messiah, who sits at the right hand of the Almighty, rises to His feet and all of heaven begins to see His Power!

Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy. EXO 15:6

Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. PSA 21:8

The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. PSA 110:5

The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly. PSA 118:15-16

I know that the Great Tribulation will command our attention with the most negative things we have ever experienced; it will be difficult. But I am praying now before those days that I will be able to see the things happening in heaven at the same time and remember these words:

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. PSA 138:7

Wherever you may be at the start of the Great Tribulation, whenever that is, don’t mumble to yourself “Oh my God...” Instead, let us join together and say, “Arise O’ Lord and let Your enemies be scattered!”