On Sunday the Israeli Defense Forces launched the largest military exercises in their nation’s 74-year history. Dubbed “Chariots of Fire,” the exercises will last for four weeks, ending on Pentecost Sunday. The drills will include every unit in the IDF in preparation for what could soon be war with Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and perhaps other players like the Syrian government, Jordan, and Egypt in the event of a major and uncalculated escalation during the looming confrontation. As some have speculated, Russia might even get involved in some capacity.
The major issue at hand: the nuke talks have collapsed and Iran has essentially reached nuclear breakout capacity. Russia is no longer restraining its Islamic partner because of the burgeoning war in Europe and its face-off with NATO. Israel has probably made the decision to strike, which in turn is the reason we’re witnessing a major escalation from Hamas and Hezbollah. There have been weeks and weeks of riots, attacks, and threats of a new intifada from these Iranian-aligned proxies.
This sudden and major escalation in the Middle East comes as Russia is threatening a nuclear response against NATO members involving themselves in the Ukraine conflict, Finland and Sweden may join NATO, the World Health Organization is about to obtain Orwellian power via the planned Pandemic Treaty, inflation is exploding, stocks are crashing, shipping is collapsing, mothers can’t get formula for their babies, and the Supreme Court of the United States seems set to unveil a ruling overturning Roe v. Wade in the penultimate hat tip to the Revelation 12:5 escape. Adding to the crescendo, Israelis have literally started cutting stones for the Third Temple. They’ve already cut the cornerstones, built the Altar of Burnt-Offering, recreated the priestly garments, vessels, lampstand, and Table of Shewbread, trained the priests, and appointed a high priest. Now they’re actually gathering stones for the walls, an endeavor they began on May 5th, the date of Israel’s rebirth on the Rabbinical calendar.
But circling back to the “largest ever” military exercises now underway in Israel: consider where chariots of fire most prominently appear in the Bible:
And it comes to pass, they are going, going on and speaking, and behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire [appear], and they separate between them both, and Elijah goes up to the heavens in a whirlwind. (2 Kgs. 2:11, LSV)
It should be noted that before virtually every major judgment in the Bible there was either a flight to Heaven, a disappearance, or an escape:
BEFORE the Great Flood, Enoch was raptured to Heaven. Likewise, Noah and his family were hidden in the Ark seven days before the Flood.
BEFORE the destruction of Sodom and the Cities of the Plain, Lot and his daughters were forcefully taken by angels to a safe place outside the danger zone.
BEFORE seven years of famine struck the known world, Joseph was hidden away in Egypt from the family that rejected him, rising to the right hand of power and taking a Gentile bride (cf. Jn. 1:11; 7:5; Mk. 16:19; Acts 15:14; Eph. 5:25–27).
BEFORE cataclysmic judgment fell on Egypt, Moses was hidden in a basket (also called an “ark” in Exodus). Likewise, all the Israelites were hidden in their rooms as the death plague passed over (cf. Isa. 26:19–21).
BEFORE seven years of famine struck the land of Israel in Elisha’s day, his mentor Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a whirlwind.
BEFORE Jerusalem, the Second Temple, and a million Jews were destroyed in 70 AD, Jesus had been taken up to Heaven, and Christians, heeding His words about the Temple’s destruction, had fled to safety outside of Israel.
God’s ways do not change. Before major judgments and cataclysms that God Himself initiates there is always an escape. Consider even the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the First Temple: God told His people there would be an escape for those who would leave Jerusalem and submit to the yoke of the king of Babylon.
Like the ark that Noah and his family were protected in and the ark that baby Moses was hidden away in, there is also an ark awaiting us: New Jerusalem. In John 14 Jesus told His disciples that He was going away (to His Father in Heaven) to prepare a place for us and that He would come again to take us to be with Him there. This heavenly ark is our destination; in this ark we will be safely protected from the devastation on earth. Note that “ark” is just an archaic term for “box.” The “Zion Cube” as someone recently put it, is literally a giant box—an ark designed to protect the precious children of God contained inside (see Rev. 21:9–21). And the way into this ark—the single path of entrance—is through faith in Jesus Christ who rescues us from the wrath that is coming (1 Thess. 1:10).
“Chariots of Fire” began one week prior to the end of Israel’s 74th anniversary on the Gregorian calendar, the day a total lunar eclipse (blood moon) will commence across North and South America, Europe, and Africa. Some of the partial phase of the blood moon will be seen across Israel and the Middle East. May 14–15 will also mark exactly 888 months since the rebirth of Israel and 911 months since the birth of Donald Trump of “Trump-Pence” fame (cf. 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16). 888 = Jesus Christ and 911 = emergency. EMERGENCY! THE TRUMPET WILL SOUND! JESUS IS COMING!
Major high watch days are upon us, brothers and sisters. Israel will be 80 until May of 2029. Less the length of the Tribulation, which is just short of seven Gregorian years, lands in mid-June of this year. While the connection between Israel and the fig tree is sure and based on the plain reading of Scripture, the importance of “if by strength eighty” in Psalm 90:10 as pertaining to the fig tree is speculation. But it could be right speculation. We’re about to find out.
And to top things off, 2022–2029 happens to be a seven-year Shmita cycle, at least according to modern reckoning.
This brings me to a topic I teased a few months ago: I’m reconsidering the necessity of a Tishri to Tishri Tribulation. As much as I and many others have assumed Jesus returns in the fall of some future year, as I review the biblical data, I’m not so sure I can defend that view—at least not as “gospel truth.”
1. Jesus was resurrected and ascended to Heaven in the spring. Likewise, much of the Old Testament imagery of future resurrections is potentially tied to springtime (e.g., Song of Sol.; Isa. 26; possibly also Mal. 4). The pre-tribulational rapture event includes a resurrection from the dead (see 1 Cor. 15:51–53; 1 Thess. 4:16–17), as does the post-tribulational return of Christ: the resurrection of the Tribulation martyrs (Rev. 20:4). If general resurrections are destined for the spring, that might imply a spring to spring Tribulation.
2. All of the seven festivals laid out in Exodus and Leviticus were fulfilled by the Israelites in the year of their departure from Egypt—a year running from spring to spring. Yet we have assumed for a long time that the second fulfillment of these festivals during the life of Christ did not include the fall festivals. Is this true?
I would argue we may be overlooking something: a growing consensus see the Bethlehem Star alignment of September 11, 3 BC as pinpointing the birth of Christ. That day fell on Rosh Hashanah—the Feast of Trumpets. Male Israelites were circumcised on the eighth day. In other words, Jesus would have been circumcised, first shedding His blood, within a day or so of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). If Jesus’ birth fell on Trumpets of 3 BC, His conception would have fallen right on or right around Hanukkah of 4 BC, which is a delayed celebration of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). He could very well have fulfilled all three fall festivals by His conception, birth, and circumcision.
Even if these 4–3 BC dates turn out to be incorrect, many scholars have argued Jesus was born in the fall, which means some fulfillment or overlap with the fall festivals was likely.
3. The Abomination of Desolation occurs at the midpoint of the Tribulation and signals the remnant of Israel’s immediate need to flee for refuge (Mt. 24:15–18) for 1,260 days (Rev. 12:6, 14). Intriguingly, Jesus adds, “Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.” Why would He command this prayer if winter was not actually approaching or if winter had already passed, if, as I and many have assumed, the Abomination occurs in the spring around Passover?
Perhaps the Abomination actually occurs in the fall. And when we entertain this possibility, something suddenly comes into alignment: all the Abomination types and shadows from the past were in the fall or late summer: Antiochus’ desecration of the Temple (early December 167 BC); the destruction of the Second Temple (August 70 AD); and the desecration of the Temple Mount following the defeat of the Bar Kokhba revolt (August 135 AD). Even the destruction of the First Temple, which predates the Daniel 9 prophecy, occurred in the late summer (on Av 9, just as the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD and the desecration in 135 AD). The ninth of Av is inexorably linked to the darkest moments in Jewish history.
If the Tribulation does range from spring to spring, how might the festivals be fulfilled?
During the first fulfillment in the year of the Exodus, the festivals were fulfilled in simple consecutive order, beginning with Passover and ending with Sukkot.
During the second fulfillment it may have been backwards—fall to spring. Jesus may have fulfilled the fall festivals as a baby, and, of course, He fulfilled the Spring festivals with His crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and sending of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps the third and final fulfillment begins from the middle with Pentecost in some form or fashion. Rapture? Holy Spirit sealing the remnant (Rev. 7:1–8)? Holy Spirit anointing the two witnesses (note: on Pentecost two loaves are waved)? All of the above?
Alternatively, it may not be that the festivals begin or end the Tribulation at all, but rather point to specific events within the Tribulation. For instance, perhaps the Third Temple will be dedicated on Hanukkah, the Israelites begin dwelling in shelters in the wilderness refuge on Sukkot, etc.
I can go either way on this. This little thought experiment is designed to keep us on our toes. We need to be dogmatic about what’s sure: one God, the gospel of grace, the inerrancy of God’s word, and the pre-trib promise, but always be willing to reevaluate the other lesser things lest we be found putting God in the box, or dare I say ark, of our own assumptions.
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