Babylon is a city that has a 4,500 year old history that dates back to soon after the “flood” of Genesis 6-8 and the times of “Nimrod”, Genesis 10-11, the great grandson of Noah. Nimrod built Babylon in defiance to God who told all of Noah’s family to be fruitful and “re-people” the earth.
Instead, Nimrod went into the valley between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers and on the shores of the Euphrates built a “great city” the city of Babylon that still stands where it was first built.
Babylon has a long history that includes being the headquarters for the Babylonian Empire where Daniel and Ezekiel were taken as captives, along with the Jewish people, 2,500 years ago.
It was also the headquarters for Alexander the Great and the Grecian Empire. Alexander, at 32 years of age had conquered the known world, and after his death at this young age had his empire divided into four parts.
Both of these accounts, which include the city of Babylon, are the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. In fact, the events in history associated with Babylon are “prototypes” of that which will happen in the future, seemingly the very near future.
The actual city of Babylon, which has never been destroyed as called for in Isaiah 13-14 and Jeremiah 50-51, Babylon will be destroyed, as foretold in our devotional reading today. This destruction will come to this the headquarters for another “world leader”, the “Antichrist”.
In the last three and one half years of the Tribulation Period Babylon will come back to power and be the “economic, political, governmental center” of the earth. Antichrist will rule the world from this location on the Euphrates River.
Our key verse, verse 17, along with verses 10 and 19, indicates that the “great city of Babylon” will be destroyed in “one hour”. In Revelation 16:17-21 we see how this unfolds. There will be a “major earthquake”, the largest to ever hit the earth, verse 18.
Also, large “hail” the size of a “talent”, around 75 pounds, will fall on the “city”, verse 21, and devastate this “stronghold of Satan”. Finally, the many prophecies of the destruction of Babylon will be fulfilled, after 4,500 years.
In fact, this destruction of Babylon is the last event to happen before Jesus Christ steps back on earth, Zechariah 14:4, in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives. I believe these events are near, in light of the events that are unfolding today.
Babylon, Biblical Babylon, is what we know today as Iraq. The war, and now the rebuilding of war-torn Iraq are the “setting of the stage” for these prophecies to be fulfilled. As I said, we are living in the days that will lead up to God’s Word being completed, as it was written.
Biblical Babylon is today modern Iraq. Babylonia was a state in ancient Mesopotamia. The city of Babylon, whose ruins are located in present-day Iraq, was founded more than 4,000 years ago as a small port town on the Euphrates River. … Biblical and archaeological evidence point toward the forced exile of thousands of Jews to Babylon around this time.
In the Book of Genesis, chapter 11, Babylon is featured in the story of The Tower of Babel and the Hebrews claimed the city was named for the confusion which ensued after God caused the people to begin speaking in different languages so they would not be able to complete their great tower to the heavens.
After Nebuchadnezzar II died, the empire began to fall apart once again. In 529 BC, the Persians conquered Babylon and made it part of the Persian Empire.
In the last three and a half years of the Tribulation Babylon will be the world headquarters for the “one-world” economic, political, governmental system that will be controlled by the “Antichrist.”
The total destruction of the literal city of Babylon takes place at the end of the seven year Tribulation Period (Revelation 16:17-21) and it is done in one hour (Revelation 18:10, 17 and 19).
The reason that the Lord totally destroys the city of Babylon and all the Babylonians, the modern-day Iraqi’s, is that King Nebuchadnezzar took the implements out of the Temple in Jerusalem and placed them in his idolatrous temple in Babylon, and then burned the Temple (II Chronicles 36: 18-21).
Calvary, the spot where Jesus carried our sins to the cross, was also called “Golgotha,” (“the place of the skull,”) because of its skull-like rock formation. This same spot, known also as Mt. Moriah, is where Abraham offered Isaac to God. Did you know that Mt. Moriah, the Temple mount, and Calvary are all on the same limestone ridge? They are all part of the same mountain.
Centuries before Jesus’ birth, God told Abraham, “I want you to take your only son, the son you love, the son of promise, to a place I will show you. Not just any place—a certain place. And there you are to offer your son.” That is the very spot where one day, centuries later, Jesus Christ would be crucified.
Some 40 miles from Rome, strategically located between the Aegean and the Mediterranean, lay the beautiful city of Corinth. Unlike Athens, where there were family connections and traditions, Corinth was a new city with fast money and loose morals. In Paul’s day to call somebody a Corinthian was desultory or debasing—a pejorative term that made someone fighting mad.
Yet Paul spent 18 months there and over a period of time wrote at least four letters to the Corinthians correcting, instructing, and, at times, rebuking them for their failures and errant thinking. “So, if you think you are standing firm,” he advised, “be careful that you don’t fall!” Those words are needed just as badly today in a culture that is akin to that of the Corinthians—where temple priestesses under the guise of religion practiced prostitution, and licentiousness was the practice of the day.
|Garden Of Eden|
There is a great depth of knowledge in Genesis 2, which includes the record of Jesus creating the Garden of Eden, verses 8-17. Actually the “Garden” was created on the third day of Creation when the Lord brought forth the grass, the herb yielding seed and trees, Genesis 1:9-13.
It was in the “Garden of Eden” that the Lord created man and woman. The Lord placed man in the “Garden” to dress it and to keep it, verse 15.
In this chapter you will find several points of interest in relation to the “Garden”. There were all types of trees in the “Garden”, the “Tree of Life” and the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” were only two of the trees. The trees put forth fruit for Adam and Eve to eat, with the exception of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
Notice also there is one “river”, not four rivers, coming out of the “Garden of Eden”, verse 10. One river flowed out of the “Garden” and became four rivers somewhere outside of the “Garden of Eden”.
The river flowing out of the “Garden of Eden” was the Gihon, which gave the water for King David to anoint his son Solomon to be king, I Kings 1:33, 38 and 45. By the way, the Gihon’s headwaters are located underneath the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The original sight of the “Garden of Eden” is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The “foundation stone” underneath the Dome of the Rock is, according to Jewish tradition, the place the Lord created man. It was also the site of the Holy of Holies in the Temple.
This has been the belief of the Jewish people for the location of the original sight of the “Garden of Eden”, and has been known by the Jews for 5,778 years. In Jewish years, on their calendar, it’s 5778. Where Jesus started, as the Creator, He will rule and reign from forever, the “Garden of Eden”.
This is the reason why the Muslims want the Temple Mount as their land. However, Bible prophecy says that the Garden of Eden belongs to the Jews, which will be the case in the last days, Isaiah 51:3, Ezekiel 36:35 and Joel 2:3.
|Garden Of Gethsemane|
On the eastern edge of Jerusalem within sight of the Temple Mount, there’s a hillside still dotted with ancient olive trees. Somewhere among them is the location of the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus wrestled in prayer over His mission. The spiritual and emotional sufferings of Christ in Gethsemane were incredibly painful. Matthew said that Jesus “began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.” Then He said of Himself, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:37). Luke tells us He was in agony, and “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
This is arguably the deepest, darkest, and most mysterious hour in the eternal life of Christ, save only for the moment of His death.
In a much different but real sense, we all have moments when we find ourselves in Gethsemane. There are times when we have to say, “Father, not my will but Thine be done.” These are moments of surrender—but only in the Christian life does surrender bring victory.
Golgotha is the biblical name for the place where Jesus was crucified. It was probably a small hill just outside the walls of ancient Jerusalem. According to Christian tradition, it was within the area now occupied by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. But some biblical scholars doubt that this is the correct location.
The name “Golgotha” is derived from the Aramaic word gulgulta. Matthew 27:33 and Mark 15:22 give its meaning as “place of the skull.” When Saint Jerome translated these verses into Latin, he used the Latin word for skull, calvaria, which was later converted into the English word Calvary.
The gospels don’t say why Golgotha was called the “place of the skull”. One common suggestion is that the site was on a hill or near a rock that had the shape of a skull. Another suggestion, first made by the third-century scholar Origen, is that the name referred to the burial place of Adam’s skull, traditionally believed to have been interred at Jerusalem. But these are just suggestions, and no one really knows how the site got its name.
The bible also doesn’t say where Golgotha was located. But it does give three specific clues:
Clue 1. John 19:41-42 says that Jesus’ body was carried only a short distance before it was placed in the tomb. This indicates that the site was probably near a cemetery.
Clue 2. Hebrews 13:12 says that the site was “outside the city gate”, but unfortunately doesn’t say which gate.
Clue 3. Matthew 27:39 indicates that the location was near a road which carried a lot of foot traffic.
The second clue is consistent with a traditional Jewish religious requirement that all executions had to take place outside the city, a requirement which the Romans appear to have generally honored. And the third clue is consistent with the fact that the Romans often crucified people on elevated spots near major roads, to serve as a warning of the probable fate of anyone who challenged their authority.
Some scholars have suggested that Golgotha was probably near the northern section of the city, because this would put it close to the administrative area, where the main public buildings were located. At the time of the crucifixion, the northern section of the city was bounded by the so-called Second Wall. Unfortunately Jerusalem was destroyed twice by the Roman army during Jewish revolts in the first and second centuries, and this makes it difficult to determine the exact boundaries of the ancient city. However, the approximate location of the Second Wall is known.
During the first destruction of Jerusalem, most Christians fled the city, and the second destruction dispersed almost the entire population. Because of these upheavals, and because Christian writers rarely mentioned Golgotha during the next two centuries, some scholars think that knowledge of its location was probably lost. But other scholars argue that local traditions could have been strong enough to preserve the knowledge despite the upheavals. The scarcity of reliable information from these early centuries makes it impossible to know for sure.
Better information is available in writings from the fourth century onward, starting from the time of Constantine the Great. During his reign he and his mother, Empress Helena, became interested in building a church near the locations of Golgotha and the tomb in which Jesus was placed. The idea was especially appealing to the Empress, and in 326 AD she made a trip to Jerusalem to explore the possibilities.
Genesis 13 provides a record of the establishment of the first Jewish city by the “father” of the Jewish people, Abraham. Hebron is the oldest Jewish community in the world dating back some 4,000 years ago. Abraham set claim on the city that today has around 800 Jewish people living there.
In a future reading, Genesis 23, we’ll see how Abraham purchased his burial site in Hebron. He paid cash money for the site and when he was buried there, along with his son and grandson, Hebron became the second most sacred piece of real estate in the universe for the Jewish people, second only to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The Bible says Israel was the center of all nations on Earth.
Israel is surrounded by 37 countries that want to kill them. Russia is 385 times the size of Israel and hungers to defeat and plunder them.
Israel is prosperous and generates over 500 business startups per year and is only exceeded by the US.
Israel is the size of New Jersey.
The original lands that God gave Israel actually would increase the Israel of today plus Iran, Iraq, and others. Its boundaries were From Dan Be’er Sheva and from the Nile to the Euphrates.
The Lord promised King David that there would be a Temple in Jerusalem and that his son Solomon would sit on the throne in Jerusalem. The Lord told Solomon and all saints down through the ages that, in fact, He has chosen Jerusalem as the location on earth where He will dwell among His people, the Jewish people, forever.
This was the Lord’s plan from eternity past and is the reason that King David purchased the threshing floor from Ornon the Jebusite. It’s the reason that King David made Jerusalem the “political capital” of the Jewish people and also the “spiritual capital” of the Jews.
God, in eternity past, chose Jerusalem as His eternal abode among His people, the Jewish people. It is the reason the Lord had Solomon to build the first Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
This is also the reason that Jerusalem has been a center of controversy in the past. It’s the reason that Jerusalem is so controversial today and it will continue to be that way until the Lord Jesus comes to build His permanent Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and to dwell among His people, forever.
Magog is a land “in the far north,” from Israel’s point of view (Ezekiel 38:15; 39:2). Most Bible commentators interpret “Magog” as Russia—and, indeed, Russia is straight north of Israel, all the way up to the Arctic Circle.
According to this view, “Rosh” is a reference to Russia, “Meshek” is either Moscow or the people north of the Black Sea (the area of southern Russia and Ukraine), and “Tubal,” which is always listed with Meshek in Scripture, is identified as a city in Siberia or an area in central Turkey.
Others see “Magog” as a general term used in Ezekiel’s day to identify barbarians living near the Black and Caspian Seas. Regardless of the exact locations of Magog, Tubal, and Meshek, there is no doubt that the general area includes portions of Russia and the former Soviet Union, and possibly some Arab countries.
The passage that we will look at today is a very troubling portion of scripture for many people. It is discussing the events that take place at the Temple in Jerusalem, the one that Jesus will build when He returns to the earth at the Second Coming, Zechariah 6:12.
As you read through the whole chapter in this portion of Ezekiel’s prophetic book we see that seven chapters, Ezekiel 40-46, are dedicated to dealing with the Temple that Jesus will “rule and reign” from, Zechariah 6:13, in the Kingdom to come.
In these chapters, we find that the Prophet, in 202 verses, lays out all that is needed, every detail, to construct the Messiah’s Temple and he describes all the activities that will take place at this Temple, which includes “animal sacrifices”.
You read correctly, “animal sacrifices” will be performed at the Temple in Jerusalem during the 1,000 year Kingdom Period. Let me set that aside for a moment to look at several other details.
This passage, along with Ezekiel 42:20, defines the size and area of the city of Jerusalem, verses 1-6. It also describes the Temple Mount as well, Ezekiel 42:20. These are details that must be followed, in all instances in order for Bible Prophecy to be fulfilled.
These first six verses in Ezekiel 45 set the borders of the city of Jerusalem, and the size of the Holy City, in the Kingdom. Studying the details reveals that Jerusalem will be 2,500 square miles, 50 miles on each side. That is almost the width of the State of Israel.
The Temple Mount, Ezekiel 42:20, will be right at one square mile. This is almost three times its size today. Actually, the “Old City” is today almost one square mile. The Temple Mount, in the Kingdom will be where the Lord has chosen to “dwell among His people, forever”, Psalm 132:13-14.
Now, back to the restoring of the “sacrificial system” in the Kingdom Period. In this devotional I am not going into full detail on this troubling passage and issue. Let me say that the “sacrifice of animals” in Old Testament times and in the Kingdom Period to come did not, and will not effect the “eternal salvation” of anyone.
Sacrifices were offered up in Old Testament times to restore fellowship of those who “sinned”.
In the Kingdom there will be Jews in human bodies, that will not only enter the Kingdom, but also will have “children”, Isaiah 65:20.
As is the case during all dispensations, every one is “saved by grace, through faith”, Ephesians 2:8-9. All Old Testament “saints” accepted what God told them to do, by faith, and thus “salvation”, by faith. This salvation is a “gift” from the Lord, not because of offering sacrifices.
Sacrifices will not only restore fellowship, but the whole operation of the Temple will be to instruct the Jews in the Kingdom Period of how to worship the Lord. Look on my website for an article that will go more in-depth on this subject.
Before the Messiah’s Temple is erected in Jerusalem during the Kingdom Period, there will be a Temple in Jerusalem during the Tribulation Period, Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15 and Revelation 11:1-2. All preparations have been made for this next Temple to be up and operating in the very near future.
This Tribulation Temple will be where the Antichrist will receive “worship” from all on the earth that do not trust in the Messiah for eternal salvation. All preparations have been made for the Tribulation Temple to be put in place, but first the Rapture must take place, and that could happen today. Even so come, Lord Jesus.
|New Heavens and New Earth|
When humanity sinned against God, the earth was cursed.
And to the man He [God] said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field (Genesis 3:17,18).
Heaven And Earth Will Perish
The Bible says this cursed earth along with the present heavens will one day perish.
They will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment. You change them like clothing, and they pass away (Psalm 102:26).
The prophet Isaiah recorded God promising a new heavens and a new earth.
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind (Isaiah 65:17).
The glorious promise of God is that this earth will be made new. This will be a reversal of the curse of Eden.
The New Jerusalem, which is also called the Tabernacle of God, the Holy City, the City of God, the Celestial City, the City Foursquare, and Heavenly Jerusalem, is literally heaven on earth. It is referred to in the Bible in several places (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10; 12:22–24; and 13:14), but it is most fully described in Revelation 21.
In Revelation 21, the recorded history of man is at its end. All of the ages have come and gone. Christ has gathered His church in the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17). The Tribulation has passed (Revelation 6—18). The battle of Armageddon has been fought and won by our Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:17–21). Satan has been chained for the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:1–3). A new, glorious temple has been established in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40—48). The final rebellion against God has been quashed, and Satan has received his just punishment, an eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7–10.) The Great White Throne Judgment has taken place, and mankind has been judged (Revelation 20:11–15).
In Revelation 21:1 God does a complete make-over of heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:12–13). The new heaven and new earth are what some call the “eternal state” and will be “where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). After the re-creation, God reveals the New Jerusalem. John sees a glimpse of it in his vision: “The Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). This is the city that Abraham looked for in faith (Hebrews 11:10). It is the place where God will dwell with His people forever (Revelation 21:3). Inhabitants of this celestial city will have all tears wiped away (Revelation 21:4).
The New Jerusalem will be fantastically huge. John records that the city is nearly 1,400 miles long, and it is as wide and as high as it is long—a perfect cube (Revelation 21:15–17). The city will also be dazzling in every way. It is lighted by the glory of God (verse 23). Its twelve foundations, bearing the names of the twelve apostles, are “decorated with every kind of precious stone” (verse 19). It has twelve gates, each a single pearl, bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (verses 12 and 21). The street will be made of pure gold (verse 21).
The New Jerusalem will be a place of unimagined blessing. The curse of the old earth will be gone (Revelation 22:3). In the city are the tree of life “for the healing of the nations” and the river of life (verses 1–2). It is the place that Paul spoke of: “In the coming ages [God] might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). The New Jerusalem is the ultimate fulfillment of all God’s promises. The New Jerusalem is God’s goodness made fully manifest.
Who are the residents of the New Jerusalem? The Father and the Lamb are there (Revelation 21:22). Angels are at the gates (verse 12). But the city will be filled with God’s redeemed children. The New Jerusalem is the righteous counter to the evil Babylon (Revelation 17), destroyed by God’s judgment (Revelation 18). The wicked had their city, and God has His. To which city do you belong? Babylon the Great or the New Jerusalem? If you believe that Jesus, the Son of God, died and rose again and have asked God to save you by His grace, then you are a citizen of the New Jerusalem. “God raised [you] up with Christ and seated [you] with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). You have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). If you have not yet trusted Christ as your Savior, then we urge you to receive Him. The invitation is extended: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).
The chapters in Revelation and the Bible, give us a look into “eternity future”. We will see a description of the “new Jerusalem” the eternal habitation for all “believers” in Jesus Christ.
First, it will be hanging in “space” above the “new earth” for eternity. This is concluded by the fact that Ezekiel 37:26 and 28 tell us that the Temple that Jesus builds will be in the “earthly Jerusalem” on the “new earth” forever.
There will be no Temple in the New Jerusalem, chapter 21, verse 22, because God and Jesus are there. The New Jerusalem will be the eternal home for all Christians, with the “Jewish believers” and “Gentile believers” on the New Earth.
By the way, there are no “streets” of gold in the New Jerusalem. Notice the word “street” is not in the plural, the way so many people speak of them or sing about them. In the New Jerusalem there is only one “street”, Revelation 21:21 and 22:2. Therefore, we all live on “main-street” in the New Jerusalem, not on some “back street”.
There will also be a “tree of life” in the New Jerusalem, 22:2, where we will take “fruit” to eat through eternity. We are not sure exactly what it means when John wrote, “for the healing of the nations”. What we should be excited about is that we will “eat” forever.
From the prophecy of Nahum 3, we are reminded of how cruel the Ninevites had been to the nations and peoples surrounding them.
The Ninevites were a treacherous people. The Bible refers to Nineveh as the “city of blood”. Nineveh was truly a “city of blood” – blood spilled by her uncontrolled lust and murder. She earned the title by her treacherous practices of cutting off hands and feet, ears and noses, gouging out eyes and lopping off heads.
These mutilated bodies would be impaled or flayed alive through a process in which their skin was gradually and completely removed.
The land of Nod was where Cain settled after he was punished by God for the murder of his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8). The Bible reads, “Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (Genesis 4:16). No one knows where the land of Nod was located, only that it was east of Eden. The Bible does not mention the land of Nod again.
Cain’s settling “east of Eden” implies that he was further removed from the garden than Adam and Eve were. His fate was to live the life of an outsider. The fact that Cain left God’s presence suggests that he lived the rest of his life alienated from God.
The word Nod, in Hebrew, means “wanderer, exile, or fugitive.” This corresponds to God’s word to Cain that he would “be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth” (Genesis 4:12). Some Bible scholars have suggested that Nod is not an actual place; rather, the Bible simply means that, wherever Cain went, it could be called the “Land of the Wanderer.”
Though God had driven Cain from his home, it was Cain’s choice to live outside the presence of God. Essentially, Cain’s punishment in becoming a wanderer and a fugitive was to lose all sense of belonging and identification with a community. Living in the “land of Nod,” Cain lived without roots in isolation. For his sin, Cain was made a castaway and later became a godless, hollow person “in the land of Nod.” Upon separating himself from God, Cain built a society totally detached from God. The Bible tells us that the children of Cain followed in his path and established a godless civilization (Genesis 4:16-24).
The small island of Patmos is about 7.5 miles (12 km) long from north to south and at its widest is 6 miles (10 km) from east to west. It is the northernmost island of the Dodecanese. With an area of 13 square miles (35 sq. km) and a circumference of 25 miles (37 km), the volcanic island presents a largely rocky and treeless landscape.
The book of Revelation explicitly states that it was written while John was on the island of Patmos. This is the only book in the New Testament where the place of writing is given. According to a tradition preserved by Irenaeus, Eusebius, and Jerome, John was exiled in AD 95 during the reign of Emperor Domitian. His exile ended upon the accession of Nerva in 96.
Holy Cave of Apocalypse
Rev 1:9 (ESV) “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
According to Pliny and Tacitus, the Romans often sent their prisoners to islands. Tacitus mentions three islands in the Sporades by name: Donusa, Gyarus, and Amorgus. That Patmos was not listed indicates that it was not a primary place for imprisonment at this time. It is not clear if John was imprisoned on Patmos or banished here to live.
Monastery of St. John
The most imposing building on the island is the Monastery of St. John the Theologian. Constructed by Christodoulos in 1088, the monastery is located in the town of Chora overlooking the harbor. With walls 50 feet (15 m) high, it was built like a fortress because of the threat from pirates. The monastery was built on top of the remains of a 4th century AD church and an earlier temple of Artemis. An inscription that mentions the temple of Artemis is displayed in the monastery’s museum.
A tradition says that John received the vision of Revelation from heaven verbatim and dictated it to his assistant Procorus, who wrote it down. Procorus is mentioned in Acts 6:5 as one of the seven original deacons. Many other traditions on the island are associated with miraculous works of John and are found in the Acts of John by Prochorus, a pseudepigraphal work that was written in the 5th century and attributed to John’s scribe (cf. Acts 6:5).
The city of Petra is not mentioned in the Bible by that name; rather, it is called by its Hebrew name, Sela in Isaiah 16:1 and 2 Kings 14:7. Both Petra and Sela mean “rock,” an appropriate name, since much of the city is carved into sandstone cliffs. Petra is located about fifty miles south of the Dead Sea and 170 miles southwest of modern Amman, Jordan.
Petra’s main access is via a narrow crevice called the Siq, which winds for about a mile through mountainous terrain. The Siq provided an excellent natural defense for Petra’s inhabitants. Many moviegoers are familiar with the Siq and the treasury building of Petra, which were featured in the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Petra was in the land of the Edomites, who were descendants of Esau. Israel and Edom were constantly at odds, starting with Edom’s refusal to allow Moses and the Israelites passage through their land on their way to Canaan (Numbers 20:18-21). During the kingdom years, King Saul and King David both fought the Edomites (1 Samuel 14:47; 2 Samuel 8:13-14). During the reign of King Jehoshaphat, Edom invaded Judah and was repelled (2 Chronicles 20). Later, King Amaziah fought against Edom, and he took control of Petra, renaming it “Joktheel” (2 Kings 14:7).
When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, the Edomites gave aid and comfort to the enemy (Psalm 137:7). For this, they were strongly condemned by the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Obadiah (Isaiah 34:5-8; Jeremiah 49:16-18).
For centuries, Petra seemed secure in its unassailable fortress of rock, but today its ruins lie uninhabited, in fulfillment of the prophetic word: “‘As Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown, along with their neighboring towns,’ says the LORD, ‘so no one will live there; no people will dwell in it’” (Jeremiah 49:18).
At the climax of the seven years of terrible judgment on the Earth, Jesus will have returned to the Earth just days earlier and after building His Temple in Jerusalem, (Zechariah 6:12), He will go to the Jezreel Valley for the Battle of Armageddon.
Then Jesus will make His way to Petra, (Isaiah 63:1-6), to gather the Jews that will have been protected in a “place prepared by God”, (Revelation 12:6), for the last half of the seven year Tribulation Period.
They will make their way from Petra, verse 2, across the Jordan Valley, up the backside of the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley and then enter through the “Eastern Gate”, verse 4, and up onto the Temple Mount.
In this passage the word “glory”, used four times, is referring to the person of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. In the record found in the Old Testament of when the “ark of the covenant” was brought into the Temple, I Kings 8, the “glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.” This is what happens as this prophecy is fulfilled.
Verse 7 tells us that the Lord will walk into the Holy of Holies and be seated on this throne, where He will dwell among His people, the Jewish people, forever. It is at this time that the Lord Jesus Christ fulfills the Jewish Feast Day of Yom Kippur.
Edomites were a proud people – one of the reasons for God’s judgment. Their pride was due to their home base, which was the city of Petra, the “impregnable” city in southern Jordan.
The city had one entrance, a high narrow gorge that extended for about a mile into the city. At some points, it was 8 feet wide, at others, up to 30 feet wide. The walls of this gorge were between 500 and 600 feet high.
The “King’s Highway”, the route of the merchants who traveled from Africa to Arabia, passed by the entrance to Petra. The Edomites would rob the merchants and run back through the gorge into Petra, which is about 25 square miles in size. Inside, the cliff walls are as high as 2000 feet and there are all kinds of man-made and God-made caves where the Edomites could hide like “eagles in their nests among the stars”.
Ezekiel 48 tells how The Lord made a promise to Abraham and to Moses about the “land” that He will give the Jewish people and this passage is the “title deed” for the Jews.
The entire chapter, as you read it, is sometimes difficult to understand. The Lord is telling the “twelve tribes” of Jacob that they will get a piece of real estate that will be theirs forever.
This list is only one of 38 different passages in the Bible that gives us information on the exact borders for each of the tribes. Space will not allow for all this information, so let me give you a summary of these passages.
God will be giving the Jews ten times what they have today. The actual borders start near the Nile River in Egypt extending north to the Euphrates River, taking in half of Egypt, all of Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
The borders go south along the Euphrates to the Persian Gulf, which will take in half of Iraq and three quarters of Saudi Arabia. All of this real estate is promised to the Jewish people. Ezekiel starts to reveal only a portion of all that God will give the Jews.
The late President Assad of Syria said that the problem in the Middle East is the Jews believe that God has given them all of this land. It is true, God has given all this land to the Jews, to be theirs during the Kingdom to come.
Until that time there will be “major conflicts” between the Jews and their “enemies” listed in the pages of God’s Word. These conflicts, the fight by these listed nations to keep the Jews from getting this land, will not negate God’s promises and plans for the Jews.
The Lord talks about the Jews returning to the “land” and He tells them the land will be producing for them all that they may need in the way of food, clothing and shelter. Then He tells them that what He is doing is not for them but for “His holy namesake.”
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory is “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” To summarize, in Catholic theology Purgatory is a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully satisfied during life. Is this doctrine of Purgatory in agreement with the Bible? Absolutely not!
Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins (Romans 5:8). Isaiah 53:5 declares, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Jesus suffered for our sins so that we could be delivered from suffering. To say that we must also suffer for our sins is to say that Jesus’ suffering was insufficient. To say that we must atone for our sins by cleansing in Purgatory is to deny the sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus (1 John 2:2). The idea that we have to suffer for our sins after death is contrary to everything the Bible says about salvation.
The primary Scriptural passage Catholics point to for evidence of Purgatory is 1 Corinthians 3:15, which says, “If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” The passage (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) is using an illustration of things going through fire as a description of believers’ works being judged. If our works are of good quality “gold, silver, costly stones,” they will pass through the fire unharmed, and we will be rewarded for them. If our works are of poor quality “wood, hay, and straw,” they will be consumed by the fire, and there will be no reward. The passage does not say that believers pass through the fire, but rather that a believer’s works pass through the fire. 1 Corinthians 3:15 refers to the believer “escaping through the flames,” not “being cleansed by the flames.”
Purgatory, like many other Catholic dogmas, is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of Christ’s sacrifice. Catholics view the Mass / Eucharist as a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice because they fail to understand that Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice was absolutely and perfectly sufficient (Hebrews 7:27). Catholics view meritorious works as contributing to salvation due to a failure to recognize that Jesus’ sacrificial payment has no need of additional “contribution” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Similarly, Purgatory is understood by Catholics as a place of cleansing in preparation for heaven because they do not recognize that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are already cleansed, declared righteous, forgiven, redeemed, reconciled, and sanctified.
The very idea of Purgatory and the doctrines that are often attached to it (prayer for the dead, indulgences, meritorious works on behalf of the dead, etc.) fail to recognize that Jesus’ death was sufficient to pay the penalty for ALL of our sins. Jesus, who was God incarnate (John 1:1, 14), paid an infinite price for our sin. Jesus died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2). To limit Jesus’ sacrifice to atoning for original sin or sins committed before salvation is an attack on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. If we must, in order to be saved, pay for, atone for, or suffer because of our sins, then Jesus’ death was not a perfect, complete, and sufficient sacrifice.
For believers, after death is to be “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23). Notice that this does not say “away from the body, in Purgatory with the cleansing fire.” No, because of the perfection, completion, and sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are immediately in the Lord’s presence after death, fully cleansed, free from sin, glorified, perfected, and ultimately sanctified.
The little territory north of Judah inhabited by those who had survived the Assyrian Invasion of 701 B.C. and who had intermarried with pagan settlers.
The Jewish leaders disparaged these people, but Jesus visited the region, told a parable about a Good Samaritan, and directed His disciples to take the Gospel there after His resurrection (Acts 1:8). In Acts 8, the evangelist Philip led a revival in this region. Paul and Barnabas also made a trip into the area (Acts 15:3).
Shiloh was the headquarters for the children of Israel when they came into the Promise Land under the leadership of Joshua. It is also where they erected the Tabernacle, to house the Ark of the Covenant.
Shiloh was the political and spiritual capital of the Jewish people for the first 350 years they were in the Promised Land, Joshua 18:1. The account of God’s judgment on the Jewish people at Shiloh in I Samuel 3 and 4 indicates that the “Glory of the Lord departed from Shiloh.”
God’s spokesman, Jeremiah, was to tell the Jewish people to amend their ways, in other words, to “get their hearts right with God or else face judgment.” The judgment from the Lord was to start at the “house of the Lord,” the Temple. The Lord had Jeremiah remind the people of Israel of the judgment that took place at Shiloh, some 500 years earlier, I Samuel 3 and 4.
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the original sight of the “Garden of Eden”. (See my audio series, “Return to Eden”.) This fact has been known by all Orthodox Jewish academic scholarship from the “beginning,” 5,779 years ago.
Judaism believes that the original Garden of Eden is on the location of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem today. God’s Word says that this is where all joy, gladness, thanksgiving, and the “voice of melody,” singing, emanates from in our old world.
But notice the verse again, the Lord will return this spot to the Jews in the last days, Ezekiel 36:35 and Joel 2:3. This of course is the reason for Islam’s strong desire to take control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Where the Lord began all things, the Temple Mount, He will return there in the last days. It will be the restored “Garden of Eden” on the location of the Creator’s Kingdom headquarters, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Islam’s continuing effort to explain away the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, at anytime in history, and it’s effort to keep Jews off the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is evidence Bible prophecy is moving closer to being fulfilled.
What Is the Temple Mount?
The Temple Mount refers to the elevated plaza above the Western Wall in Jerusalem that was the site of both of Judaism’s ancient temples. The site is also the third holiest in Islam (after Mecca and Medina) and has been a focal point of inter-religious tension for decades. At present, the site is under Israeli sovereignty but is administered by the Muslim Waqf (religious trust). Jews and other non-Muslims are permitted to visit, but Jewish prayer is forbidden there — a provision long contested by a small number of Israeli Jews who oppose Muslim control over the site. Violence has flared at the site on numerous occasions, and Israeli forces sometimes restrict access to Muslims at times of elevated tensions.
Why is the Temple Mount holy to Jews?
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as Har Habayit, is traditionally said to be the site where Abraham demonstrated his devotion to God by taking his son Isaac to be sacrificed. The mount is also the site of both ancient Jewish temples. The first, built by King Solomon, was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The second was built in the sixth century BCE and stood for nearly 600 years before it was destroyed and the Jewish people exiled in 70 CE by the Roman Empire. Jews continue to mourn the destruction on the fast day of Tisha B’Av. According to Jewish tradition, a third temple will be built on the site during the messianic age.
Why is the Temple Mount holy to Muslims?
The Temple Mount is known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) and, according to Islamic tradition, is the site of Muhammad’s ascent to heaven in the seventh century. Today, the mount is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, and the gold-topped Dome of the Rock, one of the most recognized symbols of Jerusalem.
Are Jews permitted to visit the mount?
Yes. However, traditional Jewish law has been understood to bar entry to the the site. Jewish tradition regards entry to the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctum of the temple where God’s presence dwells, as strictly forbidden, and as a result Jews traditionally did not enter the Temple Mount at all for fear of treading on sacred ground. (The exact location of the Holy of Holies is not known.) Though some have challenged this ruling, in 2005 a group of prominent Israeli rabbis, including both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic chief rabbis, reiterated an earlier religious edict that “no man nor woman should set foot in the entire area of the Temple Mount.” The Western Wall, the last standing retaining wall of the Temple Mount, is the closest to the mount that Jews are traditionally permitted to pray.
Who controls the Temple Mount?
Since Israeli forces regained control of the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel has extended its sovereignty over the site, though most of the world regards Israeli authority in all of eastern Jerusalem to be illegitimate. Day-to-day authority over the site rests with the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. A waqf is a charitable trust recognized by Islamic law. Jordan, which had controlled eastern Jerusalem and the Islamic holy sites prior to 1967, continued to exercise a special guardianship over the mount, an arrangement later codified in the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, under which Israel “respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem.” Overall security for the site, including entry to visitors and worshippers, rests with Israeli security forces.
What is Israel’s policy on access to the mount?
The Temple Mount may be accessed by anyone, but entry to the Dome of the Rock is restricted to Muslims. Though there are multiple gates to access the site, non-Muslims must enter through the Mughrabi Gate, located near the Western Wall plaza. Israeli security controls the entry points. At moments of elevated tensions, Israel has occasionally closed the site to visitors, including Muslim worshippers.
Why is the site a flashpoint for violence?
The religious sensitivities surrounding the Temple Mount have repeatedly made the site a flashpoint for violence and unrest. Palestinians have long suspected that Israel intends to alter the status quo established for the site following the 1967 war, and some Palestinian leaders have even claimed that the Jewish temple never stood there. In 2015, rumors that Israel was preparing to impose a change at the site was said to be a contributing factor to the so-called “stabbing intifada,” during which a number of knife attacks were perpetrated against Israeli civilians in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country. In September 2015, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Palestinian television that Israelis would not be permitted to “defile” the Al Aqsa Mosque with their “filthy feet.” Israel has emphatically denied that it wants to change current arrangements at the site; however several Israeli leaders have made symbolic shows of asserting Israeli sovereignty there and there have been plots by Jewish fringe groups to blow up the Dome of the Rock. In September 2000, then opposition leader Ariel Sharon undertook a visit to the site under heavy guard, sparking riots that would eventually blossom into the Second Intifada.
Why are some Israeli Jews pushing for greater access to the site?
Efforts to secure Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount have gained traction in recent years, despite the mainstream rabbinic opinion that Jews should not set foot there. A number of rabbis have issued contrary rulings, saying that visitation and prayer should be permitted, and by some estimates the number of Jewish visitors has vastly increased. Among the most prominent activists is Yehuda Glick, an American-born rabbi and current member of the Israeli Knesset . Glick is a leading figure in efforts to secure Jewish prayer rights on the mount, framing his campaign in the language of civil rights. In 2014, he survived an assassination attempt by a suspected member of Islamic Jihad.
|The Judgment Seat of Christ|
This is not a judgment to determine whether we are saved or lost. That will be determined before we ever get to the “Judgment Seat of Christ”. There will be only “saved” people at the “Judgment Seat of Christ”.
Verse 12 states that “Every one of us shall give an account of himself to God”. The “Judgment Seat of Christ” takes place right after the Rapture of the Church. When we leave this earth at the time that Jesus shouts to call us up to join Him in the “air”, I Thessalonians 4:13-18, we stand before the Lord right at that moment, in the “twinkling of an eye”, I Corinthians 15:52.
After departing earth we are “face to face with Jesus”, in order that we can give an account of ourselves. It’s at the “Judgment Seat” where we are judged to determine that our works are those which qualify as our “righteous acts”, Revelation 19:8. These “righteous acts” make up our “wedding garment” for the “marriage ceremony” and the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb”.
Also at the “Judgment Seat” we will be given “crowns” as rewards, crowns for bringing our bodies under subjection, I Corinthians 9:27; for being soul-winners, I Thessalonians 2:19; for not yielding to temptation, James 1:12; for helping young believers grow in the Lord, I Peter 5:1-14; and for eagerly looking for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, II Timothy 4:8.
We will then take these crowns to the throne, where Jesus is seated, and we cast them at the feet of Jesus in thanksgiving for what He has, is, and will do for us, Revelation 4:10.
|The Promised Land|
There are many portions of scripture that deal with a large piece of real estate that is the most controversial in the world, the land of Israel and the surrounding Arab States. God’s Word has the answer to the controversy.
The land of the Bible, the land inhabited by Jews and Arabs, is not the land of the Jews or the Arabs. The land belongs to God Himself. It is His choice to whom the land will be given.
The land in question, Israel, is only one tenth of what the Lord has promised the Jews, Genesis 15:18. And yet, they are actually only caretakers – it is His land. Notice that again. The land does not belong to the Jews, or the Arabs, the “land”, all of it, belongs to God.
Notice again that the ”land” that now is occupied by the Jews is only “one tenth” of the land that God has promised them. According to the 38 different Biblical passages that deal with the true borders of the Jewish State of Israel, the “future Israel”, will be ten times what it is today.
The total landmass for the Jewish people will include land that is now being “occupied” by the Arab world and includes three quarters of Egypt, all of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and three quarters of Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
All the land that God has promised the Jewish people will only become theirs in the Millennial Kingdom. The land will in fact be theirs forever, even on the New Earth in “eternity future”. However, until the return of Jesus, the Messiah, and the setting up of the Kingdom, there will be a continuing conflict in the Middle East over the land.
The “land” promised to the Jews is an “eternal inheritance” as is the New Jerusalem for the Christian – the New Jerusalem where God and Jesus will dwell among us, forever, Revelation 21:22.
1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
In the fourth chapter of Revelation we see John, first on the “earth,” verse 1, and then he is in the presence of God in the “throne room” in heaven, verse 2.
With this in mind, we thus picture the “Rapture of the Church” in verse 1, “the first voice I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me which said come up hither.” That would be the Rapture, and the next verse, verse 2, shows John in heaven.
That phrase, “come up hither,” may well be the words Jesus will shout at the Rapture, to call us up to join Him in the heavenlies.
As we take our guided tour of the “throne room in heaven” there are many things to notice, like the “rainbow” over the throne reminding us of God’s promise that He would never again destroy the earth with water.
Then there are the “twenty-four elders” seated around the throne. Notice they are clothed in “white raiment” and they have “crowns on their heads”. These 24 elders represent the “Church”. I believe this to be true because the number “twenty-four” is the number of “representation”.
Only Christians will wear “white robes” and we Christians will be the only ones who receive “crowns” at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
We also see the “throne room creatures”, the four beast which are actually “angels”. They are different than cherubim and seraphim. These four “angelic creatures” sing “holy, holy, holy” 24-7 at the throne of God the Father.
What an awesome place the “throne room” is with God the Father on the throne, and Jesus seated at His right side. John the Revelator has given us a personal tour of the throne room.
As the Jews stand praying and mourning today at the “wailing wall”, or better known as the “Western Wall”, they are looking directly at the location where Christ was crucified, where His hands were pierced.
The Western Wall, Hebrew Ha-Kotel Ha-Maʿaravi, also called Wailing Wall, in the Old City of Jerusalem, is a place of prayer and pilgrimage sacred to the Jewish people. It is the only remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, held to be uniquely holy by the ancient Jews and destroyed by the Romans in 70 ce.
The holiest Jewish site in the world and a renowned symbol of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Western Wall is a remnant of the retaining wall built by Herod the Great in the 1st century BC, to encompass the Second Temple enclosure.
Placing notes in the Western Wall refers to the practice of placing slips of paper containing written prayers to God into the cracks of the Western Wall.
It will soon have a prayer space for mixed-gender ceremonies and non-Orthodox Jews following a historical Israeli Cabinet decision to finally allow such an area.