Month: May 2017

A Short Summary of God’s Working With the Jews

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #19 ~

When we talk about end times prophecy, we can’t just focus on the church. We have to understand the past history of the Jews to understand God’s present working with the Jews, and that His present work with them in these end times is in conjunction with His work with the church. Here is a summary of God’s past working with the Jews.

It was about 2050 BC that God began to carry out His plans for the Jews. He promised Abraham that he would inherit a large area of land, and be given a great number of descendants (Genesis 12:1-3, 13:14-16). Then came Abraham’s son Isaac, and then his grandson Jacob, and then his great grandson Joseph. It was Joseph who was providentially taken to Egypt, and years later was joined by his 11 brothers. From the 12 sons of Jacob came the 12 tribes of Israel, and the birth of the nation of Israel in the nation of Egypt.

It was in 1445 BC that God chose Moses to miraculously help the Jews escape out of Egypt and into the desert. There God gave them the Law, and the means by which they were to worship Him. Moses humbly led the Jews in the desert for 40 long years, but it was Joshua who led them into Canaan where they soundly defeated God’s enemies, finally taking possession of the promised land. But it wasn’t long before the Jews were disobeying the laws God had given them, and were doing what was right in their own eyes. Therefore, God began appointing judges who led Israel for the next 325 years.

In 1110 BC God first revealed Himself to Samuel, and He raised him up to be a prophet and a priest. Now the Jews desired a king, and so Samuel anointed Saul, but he was not a very good king. Then there was David, a man after God’s heart, and he was the best of the earthly kings. God then made an amazing promise to David, that one of His descendants would be the Messiah, the future King of the entire world (2 Samuel 7:12-16).

Then came Solomon (970 BC), a world famous king, and he was responsible for building a temple for the Jews. After him came many more kings, some good and some bad. And sadly, instead of worshiping God, many of the Jews started worshiping idols. This terrible and grievous sin went on for over 350 years, stirring up God’s righteous anger, resulting in His wrath often being poured out upon His people. He also sent them prophets, like Isaiah, Joel and Jeremiah, to proclaim God’s truth, and help them see their need to repent of their sins. In all this God was very patient and very forgiving. It was during this time that God made a most gracious promise to Jeremiah, that in the future, He would save a great number of Jews (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

But finally, God had enough of the Jews’ sin, and so He punished His people by sending them out of Israel (722 BC) to Assyria, and out of Judah to Babylon (606 BC). Then after 70 years, God, through Haggai, Ezra and Nehemiah, began mercifully bringing these Jewish exiles back to their land. They rebuilt the temple and the city wall, and again began to worship the one true God. And as time went on, the Jews were sinning more and more, but it wasn’t idol worship as much as it was a proud and self-righteous rebellion against God.

Then, in the fullness of time, around 4 BC, JESUS, a Jew, a descendant of Abraham and David, the Messiah, the Son of God, was born. When He was 30, He began His ministry, teaching, healing and making disciples. Then He humbly and lovingly went to the cross, suffering and dying for our sins – but God raised him from the dead, and after 40 days He ascended into heaven. Amen!

Sadly, most Jews were hard hearted, and didn’t turn from their sin and trust in Christ for salvation. And so in 70 AD, God severely punished the Jews – close to one million of them died, and the rest were led captive into all the nations. But God’s promises and plans for the Jews were not then nullified or changed, as some believe, but were only suspended. The church age had begun: from heaven Christ was building His church on earth – it was the time for people to call on the Lord to be saved from their sin.

It is now 2017, close to 2000 years later, and it’s still the church age. But now we live in the end times, the last part of the church age, for the Jews, after being scattered for over 1800 years, have miraculously returned to their land. The prophetic pieces of the puzzle are being put into place; God’s work with both the church and the Jews is clearly evident; and it won’t be long before Christ returns to rapture the Christians, and then pour out His wrath on this world. Then God will be true to His Word, and fulfill His promises to the Jews – the promise of salvation, the promise of land, and the promise of a King. Finally, world peace. Shalom.

P.S.   My new article will further help you to  understand this subject of God’s working with the Jews:  Charting God’s Miraculous Working With the Jews.

Do Business Until I Come Back

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #18 ~

Image result for Iowa farmer

I want to look at a parable that has greatly impacted my life, that has made me very excited about serving the Lord in these days. Luke 19:11 – “Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that God’s kingdom was going to appear immediately.” This story was about a nobleman going away to receive a kingdom, and in the meantime his ten slaves were to invest his money, to put his money to work. He instructed them, “Do business until I come back.” Luke 19:13. The main lesson of this parable is that, during this church age, you are to use the talents, time and money God has given you for His purposes and glory.

God has given you unique gifts and abilities, and a certain amount of money to use, and a certain amount of time to live. And as a Christian, these things aren’t yours – you don’t own anything, for everything you have is what God has temporarily given you. He is the owner, He is the Master, and you are just a manager, a steward, a slave. And you are not to work for yourself but for God, using the gifts, abilities, money and time He has given you.

You have to realize that God Himself has made you a certain way, and has given you all you need to do all the work He wants you to. This should excite you, and motivate you to work for God, to “do business” right up until Christ comes back, right up to the rapture. As a Christian, you are extremely privileged to be God’s servant, and so work for Him and do His work. Be faithful. Be diligent. Be pragmatic. Work joyfully. Work hard. Work smart. “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

This God-planned work can relate to serving in the church, and so use your spiritual gifts. It can relate to working at a job, and so use your talents. Yes, you may be a nurse, a teacher, an engineer, a factory worker, a farmer, a cook, a graphic artist, a wife and mother, a pastor, etc., but remember, all your work is spiritual, and it has both earthly and eternal value. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” Colossians 3:23-24.

Now you may retire from working at a job, but you are to never retire from working for God. No matter your age, keep investing your life in God’s work until Christ comes back, or until you die. Don’t be short sighted, but see your life in light of the ages to come – and remember that God wants to eternally bless you for your earthly work. Look forward to what Jesus wants to say to you, “Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.” Luke 19:17

Then there is the sad part in this parable about the wicked, worthless and fearful slave, who wasn’t working for his master, and who was wasting his money. Luke 19:20-26. The master was right to take what he had given him and give it to someone else who would use it in a productive way. The lesson for us is simple – might we not be lazy, selfish or worldly, but might we wake up and get to work.

Let us also remember the overall work of the church. Matthew 24:14 – “This gospel is to be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go and make disciples of all the nations…” Yes, we have different jobs we’re doing for the Lord, but they need to be seen in the context of preaching the gospel and making disciples. It’s important then to be in a church that’s focused on preaching the gospel and teaching the Word.

This parable is for all believers during this church age, but it has particular relevance for us at this time. About 2000 years ago, “they supposed that God’s kingdom was going to appear immediately.” But now we live in the end times, and so we know that Christ is coming back soon, and then His kingdom will appear. We should be thrilled to think that in all of history, now is our time, now is our opportunity to serve the Lord. Let it be said again, “Do business until I come back.”

P.S. Here are two links to information related to this post which I believe may encourage you: Luke 19 sermon – Being a Good Steward; and a new article: The Time of My Life.

The Suspension of God’s Plan for the Jews, and the Church Age

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #17 ~

The book of Acts is God’s history of the early church. But it is in Acts 1, 2, 3, where God tells us some things He wants us to know about the future of the Jews and the future of the church. God tells us that Christ ascended into heaven and that He’d come back, but in between there’d be this interval, the “last days”, the church age. God tells us that it’s during these last days that the gospel is to be preached, and then this age will come to an end. God also tells us that there will be the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, but more than that, the restoration of all things. Let me explain further:

Acts 1:4-11. Jesus was teaching the apostles about the kingdom of God, and this was both the spiritual kingdom of God where He’d rule in the hearts of Christians, and the physical kingdom of God where He’d rule over the world. These Jewish apostles then asked Jesus the question that was uppermost in their minds. “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus answered them, but He didn’t say that the kingdom wouldn’t be restored to Israel, but that they didn’t need to know when it would be restored – He just wanted them to focus on their new job, proclaiming the gospel to all the nations.

Not long after this, the apostles watched Jesus ascend into heaven. They had to have been confused seeing Him leave – they had to have been wondering what was going to happen. But the angel assures them, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” To hear that Jesus was coming back had to have been very encouraging, for they knew it meant that He would then be “restoring the kingdom to Israel.”

Acts 2:17-21. With passion and clarity Peter is preaching to the Jews. He calls the church age “the last days”, a phrase referring to the last part of this present evil age, an age that started a long time ago with the sin of Adam and Eve. But it was about 2000 years ago that the church age started with the outpouring of the Spirit, and an age that will end with the sudden appearance of signs on the earth and wonders in the heavens. The Jews knew from the prophets that these signs and wonders would occur before the Day of the Lord, God’s devastating judgment of the earth (Isaiah 13:6-11, Joel 2:30-31). But it’s during this church age that the gospel is to be preached, and that people need to call on the Lord to be saved from their sins – before it’s too late, before the Day of the Lord.

Acts 3:17-21. A primary purpose during the church age is stated again, that sinners are to “repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” But what happens after the last days, after this church age is over? It will not just be “restoring the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6), but the “the restoration of all things.” This restoration will be under the direction of Christ Himself, and will take place after the celestial signs and after the Day of the Lord. “The Lord will be King over all the earth.” Zechariah 14:9

Acts 1, 2, 3 makes it clear that God never diminished or negated His promises to the Jews, that the church never replaced the Jews. But what did happen back in the first century is that God suspended His plans for the Jews. One reason He did this was so His plans for the church would be fulfilled during the last days. “A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and so all Israel will be saved.” Romans 11:25-26

In summary, Acts 1, 2, 3 tells us that the church age starts with the pouring out of the Spirit, and ends with the appearance of the signs and the wonders. Then Christ will come back and rapture the believers, and then the Day of the Lord, the wrath of God, will begin. After God’s justice is carried out, then Christ will rule over the earth for 1000 years, and there will be the restoration of all things, and the fulfillment of God’s promises to the Jews. As Christians, we will reign with Christ during His millennial kingdom.

Whereas the book of Acts talked about the beginning of the church age, now we live at the end of the church age, and we know that Christ’s return is very soon. The apostles had their time to serve the Lord and now it is our time to serve the Lord. With love and zeal for God, might we fight the good fight and finish the course He has given us. And maybe you and I will see Christ “come in just the same way” as the apostles saw Him taken into heaven, and then, “We who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we always be with Him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Amen!

P.S. Please consider listening to the sermon series I just started on God’s Love here and here (and continuing on for the next several Sundays.)

Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #16 ~

About two months ago I received a call from another Christian. He had been reading my posts and was wondering why I was writing things in an urgent way, making it sound like Jesus Christ was returning right away. Let me share a few things that I believe will help you understand why and how I think about end times’ prophecy and the timing of Christ’s second coming.

1. Christ’s return is an urgent matter. Two hundred years ago I wouldn’t have written articles like I’m doing now, but the fact that the Jews have been gathering back to their land for the past 130 years is a wake up call from God, a clear sign that we live in the end times. God is gearing things up, actively carrying out His final plans for this present world, and soon enough, Christ will return to rapture the church. Now is when we need to know what God’s Word says about Christ’s coming, and how then we should live. Luke 12:56, 1 Chronicles 12:32

2. Christ’s coming is very soon. In Revelation 22:20 Christ Himself said, “Behold, I’m coming soon.” If His coming was soon back in 95AD (the approximate date Revelation was written), then now it’s very soon. In Romans 13:11, Paul says, “Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now, salvation is nearer to us than we believed.” If Christ’s return was near in the 1st century, then how much nearer is it today? Hebrews 10:37 says, “In a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.” Acts 2:17 describes the church age as the last days and that was about 2000 years ago, and so now we are living in the very last part of the last days.

3. When I say Christ’s coming is very soon, I don’t mean it could be tomorrow or next week, or even in the next year or two. And I don’t mean His coming is imminent, that no prophesied events need to precede it, for it’s not imminent, for many prophesied events need to take place before the rapture. When I say Christ’s coming is very soon, I mean it is very soon when you think about all of human history, from Adam and Eve to the present day. As Christians we need to step back and get perspective – we need to see the big picture. I like sports and I think of it this way: it’s the bottom of the ninth inning, and the baseball game will soon be over; or the two minute warning has sounded, and the football game is nearly finished.

4.  When people ask me where we’re at with regard to Christ’s return, I tell them it’s “the beginning of birth pangs” stage (Matthew 24:8). These birth pangs (false christs, earthquakes, wars, famines) have already been occurring. For example, many false religions have started since the early 1900’s. There have been wars and rumors of wars for the past 100 years, and most recently there’s been the North Korean situation. Then a few weeks ago I read, “20 million people are now threatened by famine – more than at any time since World War II.” (Tampa Bay Times – 4/14/17). And in the near future you’ll hear about some major earthquake. All these birth pangs will continue to take place as we approach Christ’s return, but with increasing intensity and frequency. Where are we at? We’re at the beginning stage of the end times, but let me add, well into the beginning stage.

5. Yes, Christ’s coming is very soon, but it’s going to be years before He comes, and whether that is five years, fifty years, or more, I don’t know. You see, many things still need to happen before Christ returns. The birth pangs will increase in frequency and intensity (Matthew 24:4-8). The world will get more lawless and wicked (Matthew 24:12). Evangelism needs to continue around the world (Matthew 24:14). Persecution of Christians will get worse (Luke 21:16-19). The desire for globalism will increase before the Antichrist is revealed (Revelation 13). Nations need to be realigned and reformed; and yes, the USA needs to decline in power (Daniel 7:19-24). The peace treaty involving Israel and the Antichrist will be signed (Daniel 9:27). And there is more. I am trying to make it clear to you that Christ’s coming is very soon, but in the whole big scheme of things, we still have a little ways to go, a number of years. But we don’t know the day or the hour of Christ’s return.

As Christians we should be extremely excited to be alive at this time in history. How amazing that God has chosen these end time days to be our days to be living for Him. But many Christians are asleep, and need to be woken up. And somebody needs to wake them up and let them know that events now taking place in the world are confirming God’s prophetic Word. That “somebody” may be you. “I have appointed you a watchman.” Ezekiel 3:17

P.S.   I have written a new article for encouragement  ~  Thinking of Jesus Christ!

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