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1Cor. 10:26 For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof



QUESTION:   I’ve read different views and commentaries on the Book of Life plus Scripture and some of it sounds kind of “predestinationalist”.

In the Old Testament, people talked about “blotting out of names from the book that God had written. Is this the same as the “Lamb’s Book of Life”?

A passage in Rev. 13:8 NASB refers to those who’s name has not been written from the foundation of the World in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. I think it means the book of the Lamb who has been slain from the foundation of the world.

Anyway, would you comment on the “Book of Life”, when the names are there, whose they are, how they get there, do you have to be an overcomer to stay there? etc.

ANSWER:   According to Jewish theology, God keeps a record of everyone’s deeds good and bad. The books are opened every year on Rosh Hashanna and those who’ve led exemplary lives are written in the Book of Life and appointed another year of life. Those whose lives are completely without merit are scheduled for death, and those who are in between are given 10 days to tip the balance in their favor. These are called the Days of Awe and Jews go around trying to right all the wrongs they’ve done, seeking forgiveness for their sins and and reconciliation with their adversaries, all in an effort to have their names inscribed in the Book of Life for another year. On the 10th day, Yom Kippur, the books are closed and their fates are sealed.

In Exodus 32:31-32 Moses asked the Lord to blot him out of His Book instead of punishing the Israelites for their sins. He was offering his life for theirs, a model of the Redeemer.

The Lamb’s Book of Life is different. According to Rev. 13:8 it was written before the foundation of the world and contains the names of every believer in the history of man. In Rev. 3:5 Jesus told the Church that He would never blot the names of those who overcome out of his book of life. In 1 John 5:5 John said that those who overcome are those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. In John 3:16 He said that God so loves the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will never perish but have everlasting life. If you’re in the Lambs Book of Life it’s because you believe that God gave His son’s life for yours. And once you’re in it you’re in it forever.


QUESTION:   I have a question regarding Revelation 3:5 and the Book of Life. My pastor recently preached this verse to say that all the names of every human being who ever lived has their name written in the Book of Life, then if they die without faith in Christ, their name is blotted out. However, when I look at this verse it speaks of not blotting out names. I have always understood that the Book of Life has only ever contained the names of the elect, and that this verse assures us that we cannot lose our salvation: if we have repented of our sin and accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then we can never lose the promise of our eternity with Christ, we can never be blotted out of the Book. Can you please clarify this for me?

ANSWER:   Jewish tradition holds that a person’s place in the Book of Life depends on their obedience to the Law. Each year on Rosh Hashanah the Book is reviewed and those deserving are inscribed for another year of life. Those who are not deserving have 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to right every wrong they can. If they’re successful, their names will be inscribed for another year before the book is closed on Yom Kippur. A common greeting among Orthodox Jews during that time is, ”May your name be inscribed in the book.” What that means is life is only granted on a year by year basis and is dependent on obedience. Obviously this was only intended for Jews and is not meant to be universal. (Otherwise all Gentiles would die in their first year of accountability.)

Also, the context here is physical life. When Moses offered to have his name blotted out of the book to pay for the sins of the people (Exodus 32:32) he was offering to give his life to pay for their disobedience. God refused his offer but later sent His Son to accomplish a similar but much grander purpose. Jesus gave His life to pay for our disobedience. But His death didn’t didn’t simply buy us another year of physical life. Those who believe in Him won’t ever perish but will have eternal life (John 3:16). This is what He meant in Rev. 3:5 when He said He would never blot our names out of the book. We who are His never, ever, ever have to worry about having our names blotted out of the book of life, because thanks to our belief in Him we have eternal life.





News Clips Obtained From Many Sources – Including


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Is. 17:1The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.

Is. 17:3 The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts.

Jer. 49:23 ¶ Concerning Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad: for they have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet.

Jer. 49:24 Damascus is waxed feeble, and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her: anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail.

Jer. 49:27 And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Benhadad





by Geoffrey Grider

The PLO will pursue an “international formula” for achieving statehood. The developments were outlined in a report that aims to redefine not only the parameters for future relations with Israel and the Unites States, but also change the status of the Palestinian Authority from a “transitional authority” to a “state under occupation.” The details are intended to be finalized in a follow-up meeting of the PLO mid-month.

The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the umbrella organization that is internationally-recognized as the representative of the Palestinian people, will push to withdraw formal recognition of Israel and end Washington’s longstanding role as mediator of the peace process.

“They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:” Psalm 83:4,5 (KJV)

EDITOR’S  NOTE: So now that President Trump has recognized that the capital of Israel is Jerusalem, the Palestinians no longer wish to be a part of the ‘peace process’ that they never had any intention of actually making peace with Israel for anyway. They are withdrawing so they can pursue and “international solution” to the status of Jerusalem obtaining statehood. What they are really doing is releasing themselves from the Oslo Accords so they will then be free to form a multi-nation confederacy to attack Israel. 

Instead, the PLO will pursue an “international formula” for achieving statehood. The developments were outlined in a report that aims to redefine not only the parameters for future relations with Israel and the Unites States, but also change the status of the Palestinian Authority from a “transitional authority” to a “state under occupation.” The details are intended to be finalized in a follow-up meeting of the PLO mid-month.

The PA was formed as an interim governing body by the 1993 Oslo Accords—signed by then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and previous PLO chief Yasser Arafat—and was meant to be dissolved after no later than five years as part of a final peace agreement.

Two-and-a-half decades later, the PLO is now threatening to do just that, which, in its view, would release the Palestinians from political obligations stipulated in agreements with Israel.

According to PLO Executive Committee member Ahmed Majdalani, Israel “didn’t commit to any of the terms,” thereby effectively absolving the PA of its responsibilities. “I believe we are late in making these decisions and implementing them,” he told The Media Line, “which has created a gap between the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people.”

In this respect, there does, indeed, appear to be a growing chasm between the PA and the Palestinian “Street,” with a number of individuals expressing to The Media Line a distrust of Ramallah, the administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority. One businessman, who spoke to The Media Line on condition of anonymity, called on PA leaders to resign, as they are no longer “qualified” to make decisions “that have no impact on the ground.”

Another Palestinian, Bashar, noted that PLO leaders have made similar threats numerous times in the past, yet cooperation with Israel, security coordination foremost, remains intact. “They practice double standards,” he exclaimed, whereas another person, who asked not to be identified, went so far as to suggest that the PA shares “mutual interests” with “the [Israeli] occupation” and thus cannot be expected to advance the Palestinian cause.

Even those supportive of the PLO’s newly stated goals do not believe that they will be implemented. “These decisions might be good for Palestine,” one Ramallah resident told The Media Line, “as they could potentially change the [negative] situation caused by the Oslo Accords.” Nevertheless, she qualified, “I don’t think the PA is capable of forging a better agreement, unless they focus on a national agenda to support the Palestinian public.” Many other Palestinians echoed these sentiments, calling on the PA to change course after years of failed negotiations.

To this end, Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee and chief Palestinian negotiator, reiterated on Tuesday the PA’s refusal to engage in any peace initiative sponsored by the US unless the Trump administration retracts its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This comes after Erekat earlier this month slammed American threats to cut aid to the Palestinians, describing the prospect as tantamount to “starving refugees…in support of Israeli positions.”

Nevertheless, Erekat appeared to leave the door open for a rapprochement, saying that while the Palestinians do not want to clash with Washington, President Trump had left them with no choice.

As such, Abbas is expected to boycott US Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the Middle East later this month. The PA chief is tentatively slated to travel on January 22 to Brussels—thus precluding the possibility of hosting Pence in Ramallah—where he will attempt to curry favor from Western European countries which uniformly opposed President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration.

Pence will nonetheless meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and with Jordanian King Abdullah II on January 21; this, before spending two days in Israel. The American vice president is scheduled to address the Israeli parliament and visit the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, a move that could spark further controversy due to its location in east Jerusalem, conquered by Israel in the 1967 war and which the Palestinians claim as their future capital. source





Salman Masalha – 

The importance of Iran’s involvement in Syria is rooted in Iran’s vision of the Shi’ite apocalypse

Iran’s involvement in Syria’s civil war did not grow simply out of its strategic interests in the region. The importance of events in Syria transcends mere worldly matters and is rooted in Iran’s messianic vision of the Shi’ite apocalypse. Iranian religious leaders believe the Islamic revolution that founded their state paves the way for the appearance of the Mahdi – the Shi’ite messiah – who will bring final justice to the world.

The Islamic revolution, which brought the ayatollahs to power in Iran, awakened messianic demons from their sleep. The rulers dreamed of a greater Iran and acted to export the revolution beyond their borders. For this purpose they made Palestine and Al-Quds their first priority. They turned the name Palestine into a club with which to bash the incompetent Arab leaders.

The ayatollahs wanted to use the Palestinian cause to gain the support of the Arab masses, which are sympathetic to the Palestinians’ aspirations. They learned to use the Palestinian issue from other Arab rulers. Since Sunni Islam’s rise to power in Turkey, Iran’s leaders have been embroiled in a lively competition over this issue with Sultan Erdogan.

But Syria is important to Iran for messianic reasons because according to Shi’ite traditions, the Mahdi’s reincarnation is associated with a bloody civil war that will take place in Syria and cause hundreds of thousands of deaths. It begins on a small scale then escalates. Every time it seems to be calming down in one area, it bursts out in another, until the Mahdi appears.

Shi’ite traditions based on statements of Shi’a founder Ali ibn Abi Talib also refer to the yellow-flag carriers, who come from the west and take part in the war in Syria. Some even link this tradition to the color of Hezbollah’s flags, as did Iranian parliament member Roh Allah Hosseinian, whose statements were cited by the Iranian news agency.

The message was clear: When the yellow-flag carriers fighting against the Shi’ites’ enemies in Damascus are joined by the Iranian forces, it’s a sign of the Mahdi’s imminent appearance.

The Islamic Shi’ites couldn’t care less, from the religious point of view, about Palestine and Jerusalem. Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque carry no religious significance to the Shi’ites. The Shi’ite interpretation of the Koran proverb mentioning Al-Aqsa says it means “a mosque of above” located in the sky rather than in Jerusalem. For the Shi’ite faith, the Great Mosque of Kufa, in Iraq, is holier than the one in Jerusalem.

The Shi’ite end of days plot also has a twist – the Arabs won’t get any joy from the Mahdi’s coming, because when he appears, “only the sword will talk between him and the Arabs.” Can these religious traditions explain the atrocities committed by the Alawi regime, supported by Iran and Hezbollah, against the Syrian “Arabs,” who belong to the Sunni faction?

Wonder of wonders, when the Shi’ite Mahdi appears, he will bear God’s explicit name in Hebrew. He will also hold Moses’ staff, wear Solomon’s seal and carry the Israelites’ Ark of the Covenant, in which the Divine Presence (shekhina) dwells. With the ark with the Divine Presence he will conquer cities and countries and impose law and justice in the world.

If this is the state of affairs in the end of days, it seems all the commotion between the Tehran regime and the Jerusalem regime is over nothing. All that remains is to call for an Israeli-Iranian messianic convention to sort out the dispute between the Shi’ite messiah and the Jewish one.

It appears the disagreements are not significant and the gaps can easily be bridged. Surely the Jewish messiah’s followers can explain to the Shi’ite messiah’s followers that they came to the wrong address.

And with such wacky rulers in the region, go build a modern state!





Alf Cengia

What’s going on with Iran and those civil protests? The recent Iranian civil unrest has drawn some interesting predictions and analyses from the pundits. This is one of those frequent times I’d profit from input from Omega Letter founder Jack Kinsella.

One problem is that there are so many variables and twists and turns to this complicated Middle East scenario. The other problem is that I can’t access Jack. Hence there will be no assertive predictions from me!

If we’ve learned anything from the past ten years or so, it is to expect the unexpected. I’ve said this before: who would have expected a junior senator to appear out of nowhere and radically impact the US and the Middle East? And what about Donald Trump? My money certainly wouldn’t have been on him!

So what about those Iranian protests? In a nutshell, the basic reason for the unrest is the economy. It’s no secret that Iran has been channeling funds to Hezbollah and Hamas, rather than passing Obama-Iran-Nuclear-Deal benefits onto its people.

According to Joseph Klein:

The current protests are not led by students and the urban middle class, as was the case during the failed Green Movement in 2009. Nor are today’s protests about the legitimacy of a single presidential election, or a battle between so-called “reformers” and hardliners. These are populist protests, initially fueled by economic discontent amongst young people in rural areas, towns and small cities, who have come to despise the entire theocratic establishment.

Following the Iranian protests, several people (e.g., Michael Brown) have rightly noted that Christianity has been growing exponentially in that nation. In fact Back to Jerusalem’s Eugene Bach wrote a book (Jesus in Iran) which highlights this decades-old movement.

While there has been an underground movement of the Holy Spirit in Iran, I doubt this is significant to the current protests. Were these violent protests or did the regime respond in violence? Understandably, any information disseminated by the Iranian regime will be sanitized. Nevertheless, we ought to be careful in arriving at conclusions.

My next few thoughts will appear to be going off on a long tangent. But they’re somewhat relevant to the discussion. During a Q & A session (24:35 min mark), Theologian Sinclair Ferguson stated that the greatest threat to Christianity today was “Christianity” – even a greater threat than Islam.

Ferguson was taken to task by Islam-critic Robert Spencer. He scolded:

Ferguson is spreading a dangerous message and perpetuating a blindness and navel gazing within the Church. This reduction to irrelevance in the current day has caused the Church to lose numbers, “lose its salt,” and lose its compassion for victims of jihad terror. Worst of all is Ferguson’s implied message that the world’s problems are the fault of Christians.

I respect both gentlemen. Spencer is a recognized expert on Islam. Not a self-professing one, as Wiki pejoratively states. He has bravely warned about the (physical) dangers of Islam for years. But Sinclair Ferguson is correct in this instance.

Ferguson didn’t infer that the world’s problems are the fault of Christians. He understands the temporal-existential dangers of Islam. What he’s referring to is the False Christianity (false gospel) which permeates the West, and which leads to eternal damnation. The way we identify the false is to know the true.

I alluded to Chrislam in a previous article. The gospel is precise regarding salvation and there are biblical warnings about this (Gal 1:8-9; 2 Tim 4:1-4; Jam 3:1). Something resembling Christianity, yet preaching a false gospel, is far more dangerous to one’s eternal state than anything obviously opposed to it. That was Ferguson’s point.

We can see by the Iranian example (and many others) that Christianity can thrive under oppression – and often because of it. Erwin Lutzer’s The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent is well worth reading on these issues.

One European expert believes Trump may be responsible for the Iranian demonstrations. As an example she cites Reagan and the fall of the Soviet Union. She suggests that the Iranian protests could lead to the downfall of the Islamic Republic. I’m not convinced.

While Iran’s economic problems won’t go away any time soon, the demonstrations will likely subside. (I’ve been wrong before). In and out of the Soviet Union example there were reformers helping Reagan’s initiative. What would replace the current Iranian regime today? The Saudis might well be happy with the current Iranian civil unrest. Yet if Turkey, Syria and Libya are any indication, we shouldn’t assume a change for the better.

Others have pointed to Putin’s concerns regarding Russian investments in the region in light of this unrest. Russia has already invested so much into the region that you might say it is hooked to it. Pun intended. Russia needs to stay committed to the region.

Considering all this, Iran is of particular interest to students of biblical eschatology. See the article: What role does Iran play in the end times?

John Haller delivers weekly presentations on issues relating to prophecy. One of these was aptly titled “Powder Keg.” It is recommended viewing. The Middle East is a dry powder keg threatening to explode any time. If and when that occurs, the ramifications will be global.

Are we hearing the footsteps of the Lord’s return?





Hal Lindsey –

At the beginning of each year, it is my practice on “The Hal Lindsey Report” to review the previous year and highlight both major and minor events or developments that I believe have prophetic significance.

This week, I’ll present Part One of “2017: The Prophetic Year in Review.”

When Jesus was describing conditions just previous to the end of this Age, He said “you will hear of wars and rumors of war.” (Matthew 24:6) In a broad sense, that’s true of all years. But 2017 was different. It was rife with rumors of warfare at a level perhaps never seen on earth before.

Two nations figured prominently in those threats. One or both of them may one day make up part of an alliance known in Biblical prophecy as the “kings from the east.” (Revelation 16:12)

Of course, I’m speaking of China and North Korea.

The Eurasia Group says that China leads all geopolitical risks in the coming year. To begin with, their war production is off-the-charts. Their state of the art factories are working round the clock producing futuristic weapons specifically designed to defeat the strengths of the United States military.

And some of them, such as the DF-17 missile that utilizes hypersonic glide technology, have western military leaders worried.

China is even working feverishly to engineer genetically-modified super-soldiers.

Just how serious is China? Recently, China’s president Xi Jinping gave a three hour speech outlining China’s plans for world domination within 30 years. And that was just what he was willing to reveal in public!

It goes without saying that 2017’s poster boy for rumors and threats of war was North Korea’s maniacal dictator Kim Jong-un. During the year, North Korea tested a series of ICBMs that eventually yielded a missile potentially capable of striking any target in the United States—or the world, for that matter.

Kim also boasted that North Korea had tested its first hydrogen bomb. Seismic data from that region suggests that he may have been telling the truth.

What’s more worrisome is that in December, Kim’s regime announced that it will continue preparing “pre-emptive attacks with nuclear force.” “Pre-emptive” means they’re getting ready to fire the first shot.

As a result, nations across the Pacific region began seriously preparing their responses to a nuclear conflict.

And just as 2017 was fading into the sunset, reports came from Japan that North Korea is already loading anthrax into ICBMs. The presence of anthrax in the blood of a recent defector seems to confirm that North Korea is engaged in a serious bioweapons program.

How’s that for “rumors of war?”

In 2017, European leaders may have finally begun to see how vulnerable they are to the Muslim migrants they have been welcoming for decades.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister warned his counterparts that they “…have begun to collapse Europe… Holy wars will soon begin in Europe.”

In the Netherlands, in order to get re-elected, the liberal Prime Minister had to sound like an ultra-nationalist! He took out a full-page newspaper ad telling migrants, “Act normal or go away… go back to Turkey.” That’s a complete U-turn!

Sweden still appears to be living in denial. That nation began accepting large numbers of Muslim in 1975. Since then, violent crime has risen 300%. Rapes have increased 1,472% through 2014. We receive e-mails from older Swedish citizens dejectedly telling us that they no longer recognize their nation—and that they are afraid to go out at night. Many of them will only leave home in groups.

The bottom line is this. No matter what Angela Merkel, the mayor of London, or the leaders of the EU say, most European Muslims are NOT assimilating!

In April of 2017, the citizens of Turkey narrowly voted for constitutional amendments that removed all the checks and balances from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power. And for a man who has long held delusions of a worldwide Islamic caliphate with himself in charge, that promises to be a dangerous thing.

Already, Erdogan has taken steps to establish a Turkish military presence in the Persian Gulf. The Jerusalem Post reports that his next goal is the Red Sea: “While Iran has taken the world’s attention, Turkey is stealthily pursuing its goal of developing a military and intelligence infrastructure on the Red Sea.”

What makes developments in Turkey even more interesting is that perhaps the biggest prophetic story of 2017 was the historic alignment of Turkey with Russia and Iran. Ezekiel 38 gives a list of nations that will one day launch a massive assault on Israel. Two of the nations are Russia and Persia, or modern Iran. Several of the smaller nations listed correspond to places now within the boundaries of modern Turkey.

How could Ezekiel have seen this alliance of unlikely nations 2,600 years ago when even 10 years ago it would have seemed absurd? (That’s a rhetorical question, of course. We all know how!)

Russia and Iran are traditional enemies. Two years ago, Russia and Turkey were at each others’ throats. But with stunning speed, Turkey has joined an active alliance with Russia and Iran.

From a secular standpoint, it is unbelievable. From a prophetic perspective, it is inevitable.

2017 closed with the people of Iran once more in the streets protesting their despotic government. What started as demonstrations against the mullahs’ economic oppression has morphed into a revolt against their involvement in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. People in the streets have been chanting, “Death to Hezbollah!”

Why? Because that’s where their money’s going. After President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran removed the sanctions and allowed them to go full-bore selling their oil and gas, money has been flowing into Iran. Their coffers should be overflowing. But they’re not.

As fast as it comes in, Iran is spending the money to build up its own military, arm Hamas in Israel, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen. Now, they want to build missile factories in Syria. In other words, the money from Iran’s oil and gas sales has not helped the Iranian people. (Did ANY sane person really believe it would?) Instead, it has funded foreign adventures for the power-hungry mullahs who rule Iran. (And EVERY sane person knew that it would!)

In 2017, America was still fighting in Afghanistan. Why? Because we are at war with the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and ISIS, all of whom are still fighting in Afghanistan. And as 9/11 proved, Afghanistan is important to American security at home.

Speaking of ISIS, in 2017 it was largely defeated on the traditional battlefield. Most of its strongholds in Iraq and Syria were retaken. But the ghosts of ISIS remain. And they haunt the world.

In 2017, what ISIS called “officially endorsed operations” included actions in Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

ISIS lost a lot in 2017, but they have not gone away.

Finally, 2017 brought more of the same turmoil and world condemnation that has characterized Israel’s history. From the Palestinian rioting over the metal detectors placed at the Temple Mount entrances to its condemnation as an “apartheid regime” by a United Nations agency.

When Donald Trump became President, PA president Mahmoud Abbas journeyed to the White House. He was effusive in his praise of the new President. He applauded his “leadership… courage… wisdom.” He tried to flatter Mr. Trump with talk of “your great negotiating ability.” In English, he added, “Now, Mr. President, with you we have hope.”

By the end of the year, things had changed. On December 6, President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. At that point, Abbas decided to cut the United States out of any peace process.

Though Abbas tried desperately to form a united government with Hamas, those efforts seem to be failing. A scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Dr. Ely Karmon, said, “Hamas is just waiting for Abbas to die.” Meanwhile, Hamas remains committed to terrorism and they have increasingly close ties with Iran and Hezbollah.

Folks, things are definitely heating up! If you’ve not been serious about getting ready to leave this world when Jesus comes back for us, don’t waste another moment!

I’ll continue “2017: The Prophetic Year in Review” next week with Part Two.

Don’t miss this week’s Report on TBN, Daystar, CPM Network, various local stations,  or . Check your local listings.




Mike Wittmer

We tend to think that our final destiny is heaven. It seems like that’s what Jesus promised when He said, “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also” (John 14:3). Yet in Revelation, John declares that the place Jesus is preparing will ultimately come “down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2) Scripture doesn’t conclude with God’s children floating on clouds up there, but with God living with His saints down here.

The biblical story begins in a garden of delight, and then it focuses on our embodied God who physically died, rose again and is remembered in the material symbols of the bread and cup. Our hope is equally physical. We long for our resurrection, when we will live as whole people-body and soul-in the new Jerusalem on the new earth. This ending may be surprising, but it is a fitting climax to the story God has been telling all along. If we back up, we’ll see how the story began-with a promise.

Old City

God began His salvation plan by commanding Abram to “Go from your country, your family, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Abram obeyed, and his children blossomed into the nation of Israel, from which God promised to restore the entire world (Gen. 12:1-3). Israel acquired its permanent headquarters when King David captured the centrally located, impregnable fortress of Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5:6-10). David brought the ark of God to his capital because of what it meant to the people (2 Sam. 6).

Although they knew God wanted to bless the world through them, Israel betrayed Him and worshiped foreign gods. God punished their idolatry by razing Jerusalem and its temple and allowing His people to be dragged off into captivity. Jerusalem would be destroyed numerous times-by the Babylonians in 586 B.C., the Seleucids in 167 B.C. and the Romans in A.D. 70.

For the Jews, Jerusalem was:

  1. The home of God on earth. David sings “praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion” (Ps. 9:11a). Asaph calls on God to remember “Mount Zion, where you have lived” (Ps. 74:2c) and God Himself concludes the prophecy of Joel with the cheer, “The LORD dwells in Zion!” (Joel 3:21).
  2. The place where God will defeat the powers of evil. Zechariah prophesies that God will destroy all of His enemies at a climactic battle in Jerusalem (Zech 12:1-9; 14:12-15). “Blow the ram’s horn in Zion, sound the alarm on My holy mountain! All the inhabitants of the earth will tremble, because the day of the Lord has come, because it is near” (Joel 2:1). Amos adds, “The LORD roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem” (Amos 1:2a). Isaiah declares that the Lord of Hosts (shall) come down to fight for Mount Zion, and for its hill” (Isa. 31:4c).
  3. The source of blessing for the world. Psalm 46:4 states, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High.” Ezekiel 47 adds that this river, which begins in the temple, runs from Jerusalem all the way to the sea. The sea then carries its new fertile, fresh water to the ends of the earth. He writes: “By the river upon its bank, on this side and on that side, shall grow all kinds of trees for food, whose leaf shall not fade nor shall its fruit fail. They shall bring forth fruit according to their months, because their water issues out of the sanctuary. And their fruit shall be for food and their leaves for medicine” (Ezek. 47:12).

Pivotal City

Even before the carnage began, Isaiah announced that God would keep His promise. “Good news” would eventually come to Jerusalem, for “the glory of the LORD will be revealed” there-in a way that no one would expect (Isa. 40:1-11). God’s glory was revealed when the Son of God came to earth. Jesus recognized the importance of Jerusalem, and He was steadfastly set to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). There, He defeated the powers of evil before the dwelling place of God. His death provided life-giving water for the world. John records Jesus saying, “He who believes in me, … out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” John then explains, “By this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believe in him would receive” (John 7:38-39). The Spirit came to Jerusalem on Pentecost, where the life-giving water of the gospel bubbled up, streamed into Samaria and finally poured “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Those who are washed will join Jesus when He brings His new Jerusalem to the new earth.

New City

John’s Revelation consummates the biblical focus on the new Jerusalem. Its descent from heaven means:

God is here. John writes, “And I heard a loud voice from heaven, saying, “Look! The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them. They shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). Three times in this verse, John says that God will live with His people. The biblical story doesn’t end with God taking us up to live with him, but with God coming down to live with us. He is Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matt. 1:23).

Evil has been vanquished forever. Jesus will return and “wipe every tear” from our eyes. “Neither shall there be any more sorrow nor crying nor pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4b). This perfect bliss will continue forever, for “No unclean thing shall ever enter” the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:27).

The entire world flourishes under the blessing of God. In spectacular fulfillment of Ezekiel’s vision, John declares that a river of life will flow “from the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street” (Rev. 22:1b-2a). Its waters will nourish the tree of life, which bears monthly fruit, and leaves that heal the nations. Every nation bears the scars of their bloody attempts to achieve peace and prosperity. Their wars will continue until the end, when Jesus brings His kingdom of peace to earth and reigns over our world from the new Jerusalem. John closes his letter, and the entire Bible, with the only appropriate response: “Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20b).

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