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LATEST WORLD NEWS-ARTICLES WEDNESDAY JANUARY 10th 2018

DAILY SCRIPTURE:

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

REWARDS AT THE BEMA JUDGMENT:

Gracethrufaith.com

QUESTION:   Hi, I love your website. My question is on what works are our Rewards at the Bema Seat based upon? Is it our obedience to the Lord’s commandments on a day to day basis, struggling to be obedient in times of Temptation, etc. Or are they something different, like seeing a starving person on the street, and getting them a sandwich to eat, or giving someone some clothes that are in need? Or is it a combination of both?

ANSWER:   In Matt. 6 Jesus warned us to perform our “acts of righteousness” in private, as well as our prayers and fasting, to avoid getting immediate credit on Earth at the expense of future credit in Heaven. He also said the be careful not to store up earthly treasure, but use our earthly substance to build up treasure in Heaven.

In rewarding tribulation believers at the 2nd Coming, He said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matt. 25:40) By this He meant protecting and caring for other believers, especially Jews.

In 1 Cor. 4:5 Paul said that the random acts of kindness we perform have to be done with pure motives, expecting no recognition for ourselves.

He also spoke of crowns for the Church as rewards for certain kinds of behavior. These crowns are identified as the Everlasting Crown (Victory) in 1 Cor 9:25, Crown of the Soul Winner in Phil 4:1 and 1 Thes 2:19, Crown of Righteousness in 2 Tim 4:8, Crown of Life in Jas 1:12 and Rev 2:10, and the Crown of Glory in 1 Peter 5:4.

The Crown of Victory is for believers who overcome the temptations of this world and live a victorious Christian life. The Crown of the Soul Winner is for those whose evangelistic endeavors bring others to salvation. The Crown of Righteousness is for those who long for His appearing. The Crown of Life is for those who persevere under trial, and the Crown of Glory is for those who are shepherds of God’s flock, elders, preachers, teachers and mentors of the young.

It seems clear that to qualify for all these rewards our motives have to be expressions of gratitude to the Lord for what He’s done for us, and cannot be for the purpose of earning any sort of recognition, position or favor.

LOSING REWARDS:

QUESTION:   Thank you so very much for your wonderful bible teachings. I have been extremely blessed by them. I have found in my own bible studies and extra biblical books a very distressing interpretation of judgment about crowns/rewards at The Bema seat of Christ. One book by a popular writer quotes 2 John 8 “Watch yourselves that you do not lose what you have accomplished.” It goes on to explain that many Christians who have served the Lord for many years, will lose their rewards and crowns which they have already earned if they backslide into temptations of carnality, sensuality, or other temptations of the flesh.

Am I wrong in understanding every time we sin, we are forgiven but our rewards are taken away? I am heartsick to think anything I might have earned in the way of rewards was lost because of a sin (no matter how big or small) even though the sin was confessed.

Please help me to understand this because I want to serve the Lord in Heaven based on my rewards, and I want to please him, but if every time I get angry at my husband or adult children, or think a bad thought or bad attitude (though confessed and forgiven) I have to start all over again and that takes the joy out of serving the Lord. Is there something wrong with my thought process?

ANSWER:   In the first place the context of 2 John 8 is Gnosticism, not heavenly rewards. John was warning his readers not to get caught up in that teaching because doing so would be an indication that they “do not have God.” Only by continuing in the the teaching of Christ will they know that they have both the Father and the Son. This is the reward he was referring to. He further warned them not to even let the teachers of Gnosticism into their houses. Your reaction to this author’s writing is an indication that your Spirit of Discernment is active.

God wants us to have all the rewards we’ve earned, and is not looking for a way to take them back. If this writer was correct, then every one of us would lose everything, because we’ve all stumbled at some time. This is just another twist on the age old effort by some teachers to use the Bible as a club to keep believers in line.

In Rev. 3:11 Jesus told us that He was coming soon, and to hold on to what we have so that no one could steal our crowns. That means to keep expressing our gratitude for His promise to return for us by thinking about him, longing for His return, maintaining our righteousness through prayers of forgiveness, and performing acts of kindness in His name. It’s our attitude of gratitude that motivates us to qualify for rewards, not the fear of losing rewards we’ve already received.

Failing to do these things because we’ve lost faith in his promise is in effect letting the enemy steal crowns we might otherwise have received.

 

LOSING SALVATION:

QUESTION:   Thank you again ever so much for the continued additions to the website. Its such a big help to everyday living as well as positioning ourselves better in this world.

I had a question regarding salvation. You mentioned in one of your answers that the belief of Assemblies of God and Church of God relates to losing our salvation if we don’t live right.

But if that’s not true in the whole sense, does it mean that if I accept the Lord into my heart once, regardless of how I live my life, I would still go to heaven?….Wouldn’t I lose my salvation?

ANSWER:   Ephesians 1:13-14 says that the Holy Spirit was sealed within you from the moment you first believed the gospel of your salvation. 2 Cor. 1:21-22 confirms this and adds that it is God who makes us stand firm.

Throughout the Gospels we are described as sheep while Jesus is portrayed as our Shepherd. Sheep are prone to wander. It’s the shepherd’s job to keep them in the flock. There are several other verses that support this view. We covered many of them recently in a series of questions on Eternal Security. You can find them by typing OSAS in the search box at the top of the right hand column on any website page

I’m persuaded beyond reasonable doubt that once we make a sincere decision to allow the Lord’s death to fully pay for all the sins of our life our position in eternity is guaranteed forever.

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

What’s The Bema Seat Judgment?

Where And When Is The Bema Seat Judgment?

Crowns Of Victory, Crowns Of Gold

A Question On Rewards

Sin, Salvation, And Rewards

Losing Salvation in Revelation

 

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(CLICK ON) LATEST DAILY NEWS CLIPS:

News Clips Obtained From Many Sources – Including

HEADLINES FROM TRACKING BIBLE PROPHECY

http://www.trackingbibleprophecy.org/birthpangs.php

Rapture Ready News

Prophecyupdate.Com

Main News Channels

Other Christian Sites ​​10/01/2018

 

ISRAEL NEWS:

 

WORLD TERRORISM – WARS

 

 

GENERAL WORLD NEWS:

 

 

MASSIVE EARTH CHANGES/EARTHQUAKES/VOLCANOES ETC:

 

 

EXTRA WORLD – ALTERNATIVE NEWS:

 

 

 

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PROPHETIC NEWS ARTICLES:

MIDDLE EAST WAR LOOMING THE BUILD UP TO PSALM 83 AND GOG OF MAGOG WARS EZEKIEL 38:

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 OUR WORLD: TRUMP KICKS AMERICA’S PALESTINIAN HABIT

By Caroline B. Glick – http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/OUR-WORLD-Trump-kicks-Americas-Palestinian-habit-532891

The US is UNRWA’s largest funder. In 2016, it transferred more than $368m. to UNRWA.

It was probably a coincidence that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley hailed the Iranian anti-regime protesters and threatened to end US financial support for UNRWA – the UN Palestinian refugee agency – and the Palestinian Authority more generally in the same briefing. But they are integrally linked.

It is no coincidence that Hamas is escalating its rocket attacks on Israel as the Iranian regime confronts the most significant domestic challenge it has ever faced.

As IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said this week, Iranian assistance to Hamas is steadily rising. Last August, Hamas acknowledged that Iran is its greatest military and financial backer. In 2017, Iran transferred $70 million to the terrorist group.

Eisenkot said that in 2018, Iran intends to transfer $100m. to Hamas.

If Iran is Hamas’s greatest state sponsor, UNRWA is its partner. UNRWA is headquartered in Gaza. It is the UN’s single largest agency. It has more than 11,500 employees in Gaza alone. UNRWA’s annual budget is in excess of $1.2 billion. Several hundred million each year is spent in Gaza.

The US is UNRWA’s largest funder. In 2016, it transferred more than $368m. to UNRWA.

For the past decade, the Center for Near East Policy Research has copiously documented how UNRWA in Gaza is not an independent actor. Rather it is an integral part of Hamas’s regime in Gaza.

UNRWA underwrites the jihadist regime by paying for its school system and its healthcare system, among other things. Since 1999, UNRWA employees have repeatedly and overwhelmingly elected Hamas members to lead their unions.

In every major missile campaign Hamas has carried out against Israel since the group seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, UNRWA facilities have played key roles in its terrorist offensives. Missiles, rockets and mortars have been stored in and fired from UNRWA schools and clinics.

UNRWA teachers and students have served as human shields for Hamas missile launches against Israel.

UNRWA ambulances have been used to ferry weapons, including mortars, and terrorists.

UNRWA officials have served as Hamas mouthpieces in their propaganda war against Israel.

In the UNRWA school curriculum, the overwhelming message in nearly every class, and nearly every textbook, is that students should seek martyrdom in jihad against Israel. They should strive to destroy the Jewish state.

Hamas’s youth group, which provides children’s military training and jihadist indoctrination, gathers at UNRWA schools.

Despite repeated demands by the US Congress, and the passage of US laws requiring UNRWA to bar Hamas members from working for the agency, UNRWA administrators have insisted for more than a decade that they have no way to conduct such screening. Yet rather than cut off US funding for the agency, successive US administrations have increased funding for UNRWA every year.

Given all of this, Hamas is comfortable using Iran’s $100m. to build attack tunnels and missile launchers, because it trusts that the US and other UNRWA donor countries will continue to underwrite its regime through UNRWA.

If the US cuts off its assistance, then at least some of Iran’s money will have to be diverted to teachers’ salaries.

Hamas’s recently escalating rocket attacks on Israel may be happening because Iran wishes to deflect international attention away from its plan to brutally suppress the anti-regime protesters at home.

So the more Hamas is financially squeezed by the US and other UNRWA funders, the more likely any Hamas-Iran war plans being advanced now will be placed on the back burner.

So whether or not Haley realized it, her statement on cutting off US funding to Hamas strengthened the anti-regime protesters against the regime.

Those protesters, of course are demanding that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his henchmen stop raiding Iran’s treasury to finance Hezbollah, Hamas and Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.

Haley’s comments, as well as President Donald Trump’s follow-on threat to end US funding of the PA, were more than a blow to Hamas. They marked end of the past 25 years of US-Palestinian relations.

For the past generation, the bipartisan position of all US administrations has been that the US must support the Palestinians unconditionally. The Obama administration did not differ from George W. Bush’s administration on that score. The main difference between the Obama and Bush administrations was Obama’s hostility toward Israel, not his knee-jerk support for the Palestinians.

The Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations provided the Palestinians unstinting and unconditional support, despite the fact that the Palestinians never abided by any of their expectations. They never embraced the cause of peace. Indeed, the supposedly moderate ruling Fatah faction that controls the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, and has accepted billions of dollars in US aid since 1994, doesn’t even recognize Israel’s right to exist. Fatah remains deeply involved in committing terrorism.

And the Fatah-controlled PA has sponsored, incited, financed and rewarded terrorists and terrorism since it was established under US sponsorship in 1994.

When the Palestinians last voted for their governmental representatives in 2006, they flummoxed Bush and his secretary of state Condoleezza Rice by electing Hamas to run their affairs. Rather than accept that the Palestinians were uninterested in peace and cut them off, Rice and Bush chose to pretend their vote just meant they didn’t like Fatah corruption.

A year later, after US-trained and -armed Fatah security forces cut and ran when Hamas gunmen opened fire on them in Gaza, the US didn’t cut off its support for Fatah’s security forces. The US massively expanded that support.

As for Hamas-controlled Gaza, Rice responded to Gaza’s transformation into the Palestinian equivalent of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan by immediately raising US financial support for UNRWA by $40m. and pretending that the money would not benefit Hamas.

After that, both the Bush and Obama administrations touted UNRWA as an independent counterforce to Hamas, despite the fact that their protestations were demonstrably false and indeed, entirely absurd.

In this context, Abbas and his deputies had every reason to believe they could initiate anti-American resolutions at the UN in response to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and face no consequences. It made sense as well for them to boycott administration officials in retaliation for Trump’s Jerusalem policy and assume that the US would continue to finance them.

The Trump administration’s threat to cut off funding to UNRWA and the PA does not point to a new US policy toward the Palestinians. It simply makes clear that unlike all of its predecessors, Trump’s support for the Palestinians is not unconditional.

As Trump, Haley and other senior officials have made clear, they are still trying to put together their policy for the Palestinians. And this is where Israel needs to come into the picture.

IT IS important to recall that the US’s unconditional support for the Palestinians across three administrations was the result not of a US decision, but an Israeli one. It was Israel under the Rabin-Peres government, not the US under then-president Bill Clinton, that decided to recognize the PA in 1993 and give Yasser Arafat and his deputies control of Gaza and the Palestinian towns and cities in Judea and Samaria. If Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres hadn’t decided to abandon the then-ongoing US peace talks that excluded the PLO in favor of Norwegian talks with the PLO, the US would probably not have embraced the PLO.

Now that the Trump administration is abandoning its predecessors’ policy, the time has come for Israel to offer it an alternative. This week, the government and the governing Likud party took two steps toward doing just that.

On Sunday, the Likud central committee passed a resolution unanimously that called for Israel to apply its law to the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. Although the resolution was declarative, and does not obligate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it points toward the policy that either this government or its successor will likely adopt.

In both the 2013 and 2015 elections, facing the hostile Obama administration, Netanyahu refused to run on any platform other than his personal credibility. With the Likud resolution, and with a Trump administration interested in considering alternatives to the failed policies of its predecessors, Netanyahu can be expected (and should be urged) to pledge to implement his party’s policy if reelected.

On Monday, the Knesset passed an amendment to the Basic Law: Jerusalem. The amended law protects Israel’s sovereignty over the territory now within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries while permitting the government to take some of that territory out of the municipal boundaries. The idea is that some Arab villages now within the city limits will be given their own local councils.

Today, for political reasons, Arab residents of Jerusalem refuse to vote in municipal elections. Consequently, they have effectively disenfranchised themselves. By providing them with separate local councils while ensuring that they will remain governed by Israel’s liberal legal code, the Knesset provided a model for future governance of the Palestinian population centers in Judea and Samaria.

In response to Haley’s and Trump’s threats to cut off funding to the PA and UNRWA, Rice’s Israeli counterpart, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, wrote on Twitter that the government should lobby Trump to maintain funding. In her words, “A responsible and serious government would sit quietly and discretely with the US president and explain the Israeli interest.”

Livni maintained that interest remains what it was when she backed Rice’s decision to expand US funding to Hamas-controlled UNRWA and the feckless US-trained Fatah security forces.

Luckily, like the Trump administration, Israel’s government today recognizes that repeating the failures of its predecessors makes no sense.

The Likud’s resolution on Judea and Samaria and the Knesset’s amendment to the Basic Law: Jerusalem represent the beginning of a new Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.

If the Trump administration follows Israel’s lead, as the Clinton administration followed its lead in 1993, then the new era in US policy toward the Palestinians won’t be limited to ending US unconditional support for the PLO and through UNRWA, Hamas.

A new US policy will involve providing the Palestinians the means to govern themselves while enjoying the protections of Israeli law. It will involve ending US support for Palestinian sponsorship and finance of terrorism. It will involve securing Israel’s borders, security and national rights. And of course it will involve kicking Iran out of Gaza and out of the Levant more generally.

 

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NEW PUSH FOR EU SUPERSTATE ARMY

http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=1918

It’s called PESCO.  It stands for the Permanent Structured Co-Operation and is a treaty among EU nations providing a framework for mutual defense that many EU superstate proponents have been pushing for a long time. 

Technically, it is not a European army, per se, but many consider it a necessary first step as it requires each country to strengthen its military assets and defense capabilities and cooperate if needed.

There are plans for enhanced joint training, streamlining of cross-border military operations, and medical operations.  It establishes a defense fund for procurement of weapons and the development of “rapid reaction forces,” armed with tanks and drones. 

The initial funding will include a 5 billion-euro ($5.83 billion dollar) defense fund. PESCO allows for integrated armed forces, a combined pool of Defense spending, and the creation of a joint command headquarters.  European Union Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini said the pact will focus not just on military cooperation, but also on cyber-security.

The idea of a central defense was proposed back in the 1950’s, but Britain resisted and the movement fizzled.  Now, 25 countries have signed on to come together on planning, operations, and deployment.  Only Britain, Malta, and Denmark have not signed on.

Overlap With NATO

There is overlap with NATO nations, but not all NATO allies are taking part in PESCO.  NATO, as an organization, supports the move, but not all NATO countries support it.  Turkey, for example, is a NATO member, but not a member of the E.U. 

Turkey hosts about five thousand U.S. Air Force troops, but it has its own issues with Germany and has even discussed joining a security bloc with China, Russia, and Central Asian nations (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan) called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (CSO).

United States Support

Germany, which led the charge to establish joint E.U. military operations has concerns that the United States can no longer protect Europe. U.S. President Donald Trump’s warning that they need to pay their own way if they want U.S. military help, coupled with the United Kingdom’s Brexit from the European Union, fueled talks that have been stalled for decades.

“Over the past decade, it has become crystal clear that our American partners consider that they are shouldering too much of the burden for their wealthy European Allies,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a June speech, advocating the creation of a joint defense operation.  “We have no other choice than to defend our own interests.”

In fact Germany’s foreign minister has expressed hopes of a European superstate becoming a global player in international politics. Foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said it was time Europe found its “own voice” instead of letting the US dictate global affairs while the continent argues amongst itself.

Whereas Britain is not part of PESCO, the door is open for future discussions.  Britain and France, both nuclear-armed, came together in 2010 to establish the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, which promised British Armed Forces and French Armed Forces to provide mutual aid and deployments with land, air, and sea forces under a combined command, control, and support logistics.

The Clock Is Running

“In the last decades, there has not been a more compelling set of security challenges, economic facts and political arguments justifying a drastic step change in European defense,” Juncker said.  “But more than that, the clock is running on how long we can live in a house half built. A European Security and Defense Union will help protect our Union, which is exactly what EU citizens expect.

Bible prophecy watchers have long speculated that an EU superstate could represent the final “Beast” empire talked about in the book of Daniel and Revelation.

The potential for a new more powerful/federalist Europe with a single president to lead it has ramifications not only politically and economically but prophetically as well. 

Surprisingly, even The Economist magazine recognized that this was an important factor for some Protestants voting to leave the Union in their article: “Protestants, leaving Europe is a matter of eschatology”. 

These evangelicals believed that remaining in the EU put them at risk of eventually joining the “The Beast’s” final world empire.  Why did they believe this? 

The Bible speaks of several different beasts. Each one is used symbolically to give insight into different aspects of the final world empire and it’s leader, and when studied together give us a much better picture of what to expect in the Last Days.

Revelation 13 speaks of a beast in its first 7 verses. Another beast, ridden by a woman, is described in Revelation 17. Daniel 7 speaks of four separate beasts, with a reference to a “little horn” that appears during the time of the fourth beast. Revelation 13 also describes a second “two-horned beast,” beginning in verse 11. These beastly images are also to be understood in the context of the giant image of a man composed of four separate metals in Daniel 2.

Relative to most of these descriptions, in describing this final world empire is the number 10; 10 toes, 10 heads and 10 horns. Each give us different understanding but all point to an alliance of 10 nations or leaders that will one day be controlled by the “little horn”, the Antichrist.

It remains to be seen how the number 10 will figure into this new European push but some have suggested as the EU enlarges it needs a smaller council to help it be administered.  A  European council of 10 that represents the bloc of nations to the EU president is an interesting possibility.

Will a new, powerful and charismatic leader emerge on the scene to lead Europe? European Commission Juncker is already pushing for the spread of the Euro to non-European nations.  This would certainly spread the economic power of the joint bloc as well.

We do not know how these proposals will ultimately play out but we do know eventually this prophecy will come to pass.  Recent events represent serious change for this region and the world.  It is an area that the Bible has a lot to say about in the Last Days and we encourage you to become familiar with the different passages in Daniel and Revelation that reveal what the final world empire will look like.

 

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 WHAT BIBLE SAYS ABOUT ARABIAN DESERT

http://www.wnd.com/2018/01/what-bible-says-about-arabian-desert/#hJdytiW5kk7DzDdl.99

Could Sahara have also been a forest just 700 years before Jesus’ time?

Science has lots of ideas about the ancient catastrophic climate change that almost all agree occurred to create the world’s biggest desert in Arabia.

There are as many theories about what happened as when it happened.

What’s not very well-known even by Bible scholars is what the Bible says – or at least suggests.

The Book of Isaiah chapter 21:13 references “the forest of Arabia shall ye tarry all night, even in the ways of Dedanites.” The Hebrew word behind the English “forest” is ya’ar, which generally means forest. Most every older Bible translation renders it “forest,” while some modern ones translate it to “desert” or “thicket” – probably because they can’t imagine there was once a forest in Arabia.

Yet, many scientists, including secular ones, are not only acknowledging that as a fact, some are suggesting it could have been so only a few thousand years ago.

That raises the question as to whether it was indeed a forest in the renowned Isaiah’s time. Even more interesting is the fact that another biblical prophet, Jeremiah, who lived about 100 years after Isaiah, has this to say in Jeremiah 3:2-3: “Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.”

In other words, Jeremiah, quoting what God spoke to him, wrote that the Arabian forest of Isaiah’s time became a desert because of a Divine judgment. And it’s not the only well-known, sprawling desert in the world that was previously forested.

Jeremiah suggests rainfall in Arabia stopped in his time or before. Could the destruction of an Arabian forest have occurred only 2,700 years ago? Is this biblical evidence of just such a possibility?

One recent scientific paper suggests there could have been an Arabian forest instead of desert between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago.

It sparked popular news stories with 2015 headlines like this by the BBC: “Arabia was once a lush paradise of grass and woodlands.”

Other scientists are jumping in to support this conclusion, including the idea that there were lakes and rivers in Arabia thousands of years ago.

And others still say the climate change that brought about the Arabian desert occurred over millions and millions of years – not thousands.

Some Christian scientists and theologians, however, have long believed what the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah said about the Arabian desert in their times was true. Bodie Hodge, a speaker, writer and researcher for Answers in Genesis, explains why.

“After the Flood, the Earth was obviously well watered,” he told WND.” Regrowth should have been abundant over most of the globe. Furthermore, the heat from which the Lord used to burst the springs/fountains of the great deep (Genesis 7:11), had to be a tremendous heat source. Couple this with continental scale movements, this generates immense heat, warming the oceans. Warm oceans produced more precipitation in the early years after the Flood to continue vegetation growth in places we normally wouldn’t see.”

Hodge continues: “This warming would have been the trend until the ice peaked in the Ice Age, with exceptions of course. Calculations by weather experts like meteorologists Mike Oard and Dr. Larry Vardiman put the peak of the Ice Age at about 500 years after Noah’s Flood. This would have been about 400 years after Babel. At this time, Arabia, the Sahara, Negev, and many other places were likely still highly vegetated. Many science articles have reported on the previously lush regions of Arabia, the Sahara, Negev and even Antarctica.”

Speaking of the Negev, today a vast desert, is also referred to as a forest in the underlying Hebrew in Ezekiel 20:46-48. The prophet ministered in the early 600s B.C., around the same time as Jeremiah and about a century after Isaiah.

While the King James Version of the Bible doesn’t specifically refer to the Negev by name, southern Israel is almost entirely desert today, completely occupied by what we call the Negev or Judean Desert. Here’s what Ezekiel wrote in his time about this vast desert: “Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop thy word toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field; And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein. And all flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it: it shall not be quenched.”

According to this account, the Negev went from being a vast forest to becoming a desert because God burned it in judgment.

“At the time of Abraham and Lot, the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea region, where Sodom and Gomorrah were located, were well-watered and lush with vegetation,” said Hodge. “I would suggest some deserts were already forming in Abraham’s day around 2,000 BC, and others much later, including into Isaiah and Jeremiah’s day. Today, the Dead Sea region is very desert-like. Sometimes deserts form relatively quickly. But that takes a significant catastrophe and long-term changes of climate. It makes more sense that deserts form in waves as different areas within the larger forest diminish and as other parts still have sufficient ground water (i.e., the oasis affect) and enough rain to sustain, until further weather changes occur. But the final desertification may take a little time. The Yatir desert in Israel is at the edge of the Negev desert. This shows how one area can be devastated into a desert while an area right next to it can remain lush.”

The specific area mentioned in Jeremiah and Isaiah may pinpoint the precise time for the formation of the desert of Arabia Petraea. Dr. John Gill, commentator and Hebraist in the 1700s, published notes on Isaiah 21:13 along these lines as have other well-known commentators. They all insisted the Arabian forest was no mere grove of trees, or a “thicket,” as some modern translations put it, but a thick wooded forest. Some modern translations have even “corrected” Isaiah by changing the word “forest” to “desert.”

“As Arabia no longer has such a place (a forest), this change had to occur since Isaiah’s day,” says Hodge. “It is reasonable and even scriptural to suggest that it happened within the 100 years to Jeremiah’s day.”

By the way, both Saudi Arabia and Israel are actively reforesting their respective deserts.

 

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GRIM REALITIES

Bill Wilson – www.dailyjot.com

In America, we are afforded the luxury of debating politics, discussing the latest Hollywood gossip, or worrying about trite things. How many times have you seen commercials on television asking you to donate to help this animal or that? I’m a lover of God’s creation, but only in America are we worried about whether a dog has a sweater when the weather turns cold. I don’t see many commercials about people in need of food, clothing, clean water, housing, etc. Or how about all those commercials about drugs to cure skin rashes, depression, or incontinence or whatever? Often the side effects are far more dangerous and worse than the problem. We are so fortunate. Let me give you another perspective.

On the first day of the new year, this is the news from our ministry partner in Ghana, William Agbeti: “An elder in a local church in the village of Busuafise, a rural area deep inside the bushes of Ga South, has just died. He was a little over 70. Earlier in the year, we visited with him, prayed over him and supported him with food items and a small cash amount. We were told he was suffering from hernia, but we noticed his hands were shaking all over. It could have been a much more serious medical condition, besides hernia. Touched by his plight, we offered the family some little money to seek proper medical care for him, rather than for them to resort to total reliance on herbal concoctions.

“The family accepted the offer and sent him to a local clinic a couple of times and relaxed after that, when the money run out. His condition grew worse, leading to his untimely death today. We were told tomorrow he would be buried, because the family can’t afford to send him to hospital for autopsy and embalming. At the time of writing this piece, his mortal remains are still at his mud house in the village. His death has not been reported and would therefore never be recorded by the authorities in the national deaths register. The actual cause of his death would also never be known. The probabilities are that the Elder may be placed in an improvised casket, hurriedly dug shallow grave, and buried somewhere behind his house on his own compound.

“This Elder’s death is quite representative of the circumstances surrounding the lives of many a villager in and around Busuafise. They suffer from numerous medical conditions, involving preventable, curable and manageable ailments, but one after the other they succumb to the cold icy hands of death. Tomorrow, representatives of our MINISTRIES will head to the Elder’s funeral. These are the grim realities that many in rural Ghana are faced with.”

These are the places where the large churches in Ghana won’t go. Too rough, too difficult, too dangerous because of Muslim aggression, too many excuses. But this is where The Daily Jot and William Agbeti’s Redeem West Africa Ministries do go. We try. As Christ said in Matthew 25:40, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” That’s how we roll. When we think we have it really bad, there are always those who face grim realities that we cannot imagine.

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