We Are Perplexed But Not in Despair!

BriBlog, BriRants

At church this evening, the teaching was on 2 Corinthians 4, including…
2 Corinthians 4:8-9[NKJV]
8We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed
It occurred to me while listening to the message, that most people – not having the assurance of salvation in Christ Jesus – must view current events in the Middle East in an entirely different light than I do. Most people are following these unfolding events with a sense of dread with regard to what might happen instead of looking forward with great anticipation and joy to what God has foretold in His Word will happen. So before I go off to a peaceful night’s sleep knowing that God reigns supreme in all these things, I thought I’d just take an hour or so to talk about the amazing fulfillment of ancient prophecy we are observing, and to…
1 Peter 3:15b
give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
As we all know, Russia has begun conducting military operations within Syria – Israel’s next door neighbor – in support of the existing government of Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah fighters who are supported by and under the direction of al-Assad’s ally, Iran. This has made the already difficult situation in Syria significantly more complex and unstable, especially considering that Israel, Russia, and the USA (which was already conducting operations in the area) are all nuclear powers. Naturally, people are very fearful about what might happen.
The purpose of this BriRant isn’t to express my opinions about the conduct of the nations involved, although the reader may certainly rest assured that I do hold strong opinions on the subject. Rather, I wish to bring to light for those readers who may not know it, exactly what God’s Word has to say on the subject, and hopefully to thereby inspire the readers’ confidence that God has the entire situation well in hand, and actually foretold all these events over 2,500 years ago.

The salient biblical passages are found in the book of the prophet Ezekiel, specifically in chapters 37-39. The first part of this prophecy relates how the prophet was taken by the hand and led in God’s Spirit to a valley full of dry bones. God then asked Ezekiel whether it was possible for the bones to live again, to which the prophet wisely responded “O Lord GOD, You know.” [Ezekiel 37:3 NKJV]

God then directed Ezekiel to prophesy restored life to the bones and to their breath, whereupon they formed into living, breathing bodies again. God explained the vision to Ezekiel, giving him the words of this prophecy which he then delivered to the nation of Israel over 500 years before Christ…

Ezekiel 37:21[NKJV]
“Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;
We have already seen this prophecy fulfilled when Israel became a nation again after WWII. But the prophecy continues, saying that Israel will be united under one King again (something that has yet to take place, and has not been true of the nation of Israel since the time of King Solomon). God goes on to declare that He will establish peace in the nation, and will establish His own sanctuary in Israel forevermore. We also know all too well, that Israel has never yet enjoyed this eternal peace which God foretells for them through Ezekiel.
Before that peace comes, God proclaims (Ezekiel 38-39) that Israel will be attacked by Gog of the land of Magog. In this prophecy, Ezekiel also writes that Gog’s invading army will be allied with Persia (Iran), Ethiopia, and Libya, and that some of the army’s troops will come from “the far north” (Ezekiel 38:1-6). The exact location of the land of Magog is uncertain, but it was somewhere around the area of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea in the southern area of the modern nation of Russia. God directs Ezekiel to prophesy against Gog – the leader of this alliance – saying…
Ezekiel 38:8-9
8After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely. 9You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you.
This prophecy is bleak news, indeed, for the modern nation of Israel, but in the next chapter God further commands Ezekiel…
Ezekiel 39:1-8

1“And you, son of man[Ezekiel], prophesy against Gog, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; 2and I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel. 3Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand. 4You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. 5You shall fall on the open field; for I have spoken,” says the Lord GOD. 6“And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands. Then they shall know that I am the LORD. 7So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel, and I will not let them profane My holy name anymore. Then the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel. 8Surely it is coming, and it shall be done,” says the Lord GOD. “This is the day of which I have spoken.

Of this prophecy, only the re-emergence of Israel as a nation has already been fulfilled – an event which, by the time of the Protestant reformation,even many great Christian theologians had abandoned all hope of ever seeing take place. Yet we have seen this amazing, and seemingly impossible, resurrection of the nation of Israel within our own lifetimes. There is no reason to doubt that the remainder of Ezekiel’s prophecy will certainly take place as God has foretold.

The current Russian military actions in Syria, taking place as I write, clearly indicate that the complete fulfillment of the remainder of Ezekiel’s prophecy will take place very soon. There are no other prophecies given in the Bible which must be fulfilled before the remainder of Ezekiel’s prophecy. Furthermore, there is no indication in the Word of God whether the removal of God’s church – the restraining Spirit – from the earth will take place before or after Gog’s invasion of the Holy Land.

Jesus promised His disciples that He would return one day…

John 14:1-3
1“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Despite recent rash and foolish predictions to the contrary, Jesus tells us that no one knows when this will happen, but that we are to be continually ready for it…

Matthew 24:32-37
32“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming – in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning – 36lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

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