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The fault, of course, does not lie with God the communicator but with man the interpreter of God's messages. And there is probably no part of God's message that is subject to more disagreement and diversity than that of Bible prophecy. Therefore, it is important for us to spend some time discussing how to interpret the prophetic Scriptures before we investigate the specifics of those events yet to come.
Many Christians view Bible prophecy with confusion or cynicism. Some of them are convinced that prophecy is so complicated that only those with special gifts of insight or intellect can make sense of intricate details, such as ten-horned beasts and locusts that resemble horses but have the faces of men. Others have been exposed to enough bizarre interpretations and failed predictions that they have retreated into "eschatological agnosticism," pleading ignorance on prophetic matters.
This is perhaps understandable for the person who once was totally persuaded that a certain prominent politician was the Antichrist or had several times waited for the rapture to take place on specifically announced days. But as we approach the subject of interpreting the prophetic Scriptures, we need to remember several things that the Bible has clearly said. The apostle John began the book of Revelation with the declaration that this book was "the Revelation of Jesus Christ" Rev. The Lord has revealed prophetic truth so that we will be changed by it.
This presupposes that truth can be understood. If the prophetic Word is important to the Lord, it ought to be important to us as well. When we were born into the family of God, we were anointed by the Holy Spirit 1 John , 27 , and this anointing gives us the capacity to understand the truth of God. Prior to our conversion we had darkened minds with no real capacity to understand messages from God. Now we not only have a new capacity to understand God's truth, but the Holy Spirit is committed to illuminating the truth of God so that we can understand it. The Spirit, who alone knows the mind of God, takes these matters and opens them to us 1 Cor.
If that is true, then no Christian can legitimately say that Bible prophecy is unintelligible and the exclusive domain of a few scholars. The Scriptures given by God through writers are verbally inspired 2 Tim. The very words of Scripture are critical. Contrary to the view of some, God did not simply toss out an idea and have a human author develop the thought. The very words of all Scripture, including those prophetic portions, are significant and worthy of our time and attention.
This should motivate us to investigate Bible prophecy and do our best to understand this message that God has communicated to us: a message He clearly wants us to understand. As the apostle Peter put it, "We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention" 2 Peter With those realities in mind, here are four principles for sound interpretation of biblical prophecy.
Of all the rules for interpreting prophecy, this is the most important. But, when we speak of interpreting literally, what do we really mean, since it is obvious to everyone that many prophetic portions are loaded with symbols and figures of speech? We interpret literally when we approach the words of a Scripture passage in the same basic way that we would any other literature or any ordinary conversation.
For example, if I told you that I just saw three brown dogs in the alley, you would interpret that statement literally.
Key Bible Passages
You would not seek to find hidden meaning in my comment but would assume that I saw three not five brown not black dogs not cats in the alley not in the park. Not to interpret literally in everyday life would render our communication confusing and fundamentally useless. And our approach to the prophetic Word is very similar. The literal method of interpretation is that method that gives to each word the same exact basic meaning it would have in normal, ordinary, customary usage It is called the grammatical-historical method to emphasize Literal interpretation assumes that, since God wants His revelation understood by people, He based His revelatory communication on the normal rules of human communication.
Literal interpretation understands that in normal communication and in the Scriptures figures of speech are valuable as communication devices. Again, if I were to say to you, "I was sitting in the backyard the other evening, and there were millions of mosquitoes out there," you would immediately recognize "millions" as a figure of speech in this case, a hyperbole , realizing that I did not count the mosquitoes but was simply saying that there were a large number of them.
You would interpret my statement within the normal use of language. If a person declares, "I'm freezing! We do not assume that their body temperature has dropped to 32 degrees but, rather, that they feel very cold. Literal interpretation is not, therefore, a rigid "letterism" or "mechanical understanding of language" that ignores symbols and figures of speech. Gary North PhD, University of California is the author of over forty books on economics, theology, history, and education.
Gary continues to speak and write prolifically. The claim has been made by a number of prophecy writers that the early church was predominately premillennial on millennial issues and exclusively futuristic on almost everything else. This means that early Christian writers who commented on prophetic passages like the Olivet Discourse Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 believed and wrote that the biblical authors were always referring to events in the distant future just before the return of Christ. While these claims have been made with certainty, there has always been a lack of clear historical documentation to back them up.
Sometimes the historical record has been stretched and exaggerated to fit an already developed theory. But since the futurist perspective has been promoted as an early church reality by so many for so long, few people today actually question it. The Early Church and the End of the World is the first book to question the prevailing futurist view by a careful study of the historical record. The Early Church and the End of the World asks this fundamental question: What did the earliest of the early Christian writers actually believe about prophetic events?
We can only answer this question by actually studying what they wrote. Unfortunately, we do not have a complete record of the period.
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To make our historical investigation even more difficult, there are translation issues. Many of the works of those who wrote soon after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and beyond remain untranslated. This book seeks to remedy some of these problems. Thomas Ice, in his chapter on the history of preterism in The End Times Controversy , makes some bold historical claims that cannot be supported when the historical record is actually analyzed.
The early church was not monolithic in its views of Bible prophecy. There was no unanimous acceptance of either premillennialism or a distant futurism. The Early Church and the End of the World will show that some of the earliest writers, most likely writing before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, were referring to the judgment coming of Jesus, an event that the gospel writers tell us was to take place before that first-century generation passed away Matthew Adding to the confirmation of this view are the writings of the church's first historian, Eusebius Pampilus of Caesarea, whose Ecclesiastical History is a window on the first few centuries of the church.
In addition, Francis Gumerlock has undertaken the task of translating a number of ancient and medieval commentators who have written on Matthew He shows that many early and medieval writers believed that these prophecies had already been fulfilled before the end of Jerusalem, that is, before its destruction by the Romans in AD Francis X. It seems that almost on a daily basis we are losing our God-given rights. Some even make the case that there is a direct assault on the Christian religion because it is the only belief system that is greater than government and puts limits on governments.
Relegating God to a distant corner of the universe empowers and emboldens governments to do what they will. The Bible tells us that civil rulers are ministers of God. The Greek word translated ministers is the same word used to describe ministers in a church. There are civil ministers and church ministers. Both serve as God's ministers within their jurisdictions. It is unbiblical to assume that civil rulers are autonomous, that they can legitimately rule independent of God's limiting authority of them.
It is a serious mistake to take Paul's instructions in Romans 13 and claim that civil rulers cannot be challenged by the citizenry. Civil authorities are to rule in terms of good and evil. Those who rule are bound by the same laws as the rest of us. To obey Romans 13 is to call our civil officials to uphold their oath of office, an oath that nearly all of them took by repeating the words "So help me God! What's most helpful about it is that it was written in a time that is not muddied by the politics of our day.
There are no current or recently passed politicians named. He sticks to principles based on the Bible. If we are to save our Republic, then we are bound to heed his instruction and warnings. James M. He graduated from Union College in He studied theology under the direction of this father, James R. Willson, and was licensed by the Presbytery, June 5, He was ordained by the same Presbytery, and became Pastor of the First Congregation of Philadelphia, November 27, Willson died at his residence in Allegheny, August 31, Daniel is a book in two parts.
In this respect, this commentary stands within the mainstream of all Jewish and Christian commentaries. Jordan, refuses to jump the prophecies off until the end of time, but takes seriously what they meant for those who heard them. The Handwriting on the Wall is written in a reader-friendly style, designed for layman, pastor, and scholar alike.
Jordan successfully takes the reader both into the amazing stylistic features of the text and into the amazing adventures of the protagonists. The prophecies of Daniel deal with the events in the Covenantal Era that were dawning in Daniel's lifetime: the Restoration Era after the exile, and the return of God's people back to the land, city, and temple.
There are no "historical parentheses" or "gaps", no leaps of thousands of years into the future. The book of Daniel is not concerned about predicting the course of European church history after the Apostolic Age and into our time.
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This book is not only a commentary on Daniel, but an education in how to read and study the texts of the word of God. James B. Jordan is the founder and director of Biblical Horizons, a Christian research and publishing institute located in Niceville, Florida. Petersburg, Russia, where he teaches Old Testament and eschatology. Everyone knows Christianity is a religion; but what difference does it make in a society? Is Christianity just a religion for private time, or is it a way of life that shapes one's understanding of the world——even able to transform a nation?
Does the Bible teach anything specific about how to raise a family, run a country, or manage an economy? Moreover, if the Bible does have something to say, do we have to observe those commands, or are they mere suggestions or general principles? Despite widespread ignorance of the Bible's teachings—both inside and outside of the church—the Bible has plenty to say about social, civil, and political affairs. And when men and women apply these teachings to their lives and the world around them, the world will change for the better.
A primer in the Christian faith, Unconditional Surrender provides readers curious about the Bible with the blueprint of a biblical worldview.
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Using the Bible's basic teachings about God, man, law, judgment, and time—and illustrating how these beliefs affect society at large—Gary North wades in at the heart of the battle in today's culture war, and shows that the Bible has the answers modern science and socialism lack.
Gary North PhD, University of California, Riverside is the author of over forty books on economics, theology, history, and education. Logos 8. Courses What is Logos Mobile Ed?
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Format: Digital. Discount Price. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like. But we should watch carefully for a rapprochement.
Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now , and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet. That really would be an act of apostasy. Musa Cerantonio and the Salafis I met in London are unstumpable: no question I posed left them stuttering. They lectured me garrulously and, if one accepts their premises, convincingly. To call them un-Islamic appears, to me, to invite them into an argument that they would win.
If they had been froth-spewing maniacs, I might be able to predict that their movement would burn out as the psychopaths detonated themselves or became drone-splats, one by one. But these men spoke with an academic precision that put me in mind of a good graduate seminar. I even enjoyed their company, and that frightened me as much as anything else.
Non-muslims cannot tell Muslims how to practice their religion properly. But Muslims have long since begun this debate within their own ranks. There is no such thing as a nonpracticing vegetarian. There is, however, another strand of Islam that offers a hard-line alternative to the Islamic State—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions. This strand has proved appealing to many Muslims cursed or blessed with a psychological longing to see every jot and tittle of the holy texts implemented as they were in the earliest days of Islam.
Islamic State supporters know how to react to Muslims who ignore parts of the Koran: with takfir and ridicule. But they also know that some other Muslims read the Koran as assiduously as they do, and pose a real ideological threat. Baghdadi is Salafi. The term Salafi has been villainized, in part because authentic villains have ridden into battle waving the Salafi banner. But most Salafis are not jihadists, and most adhere to sects that reject the Islamic State.
They are, as Haykel notes, committed to expanding Dar al-Islam , the land of Islam, even, perhaps, with the implementation of monstrous practices such as slavery and amputation—but at some future point.
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Their first priority is personal purification and religious observance, and they believe anything that thwarts those goals—such as causing war or unrest that would disrupt lives and prayer and scholarship—is forbidden. They live among us. His mosque is on the border between the crime-ridden Northern Liberties neighborhood and a gentrifying area that one might call Dar al-Hipster; his beard allows him to pass in the latter zone almost unnoticed. Pocius converted 15 years ago after a Polish Catholic upbringing in Chicago. Like Cerantonio, he talks like an old soul, exhibiting deep familiarity with ancient texts, and a commitment to them motivated by curiosity and scholarship, and by a conviction that they are the only way to escape hellfire.
When I met him at a local coffee shop, he carried a work of Koranic scholarship in Arabic and a book for teaching himself Japanese. He was preparing a sermon on the obligations of fatherhood for the or so worshipers in his Friday congregation. Pocius said his main goal is to encourage a halal life for worshipers in his mosque. But the rise of the Islamic State has forced him to consider political questions that are usually very far from the minds of Salafis.
But when they get to questions about social upheaval, they sound like Che Guevara. Instead, Pocius—like a majority of Salafis—believes that Muslims should remove themselves from politics. Quietist Salafis are strictly forbidden from dividing Muslims from one another—for example, by mass excommunication.
It can mean, more broadly, allegiance to a religious social contract and commitment to a society of Muslims, whether ruled by a caliph or not. Quietist Salafis believe that Muslims should direct their energies toward perfecting their personal life, including prayer, ritual, and hygiene.
Through this fastidious observance, they believe, God will favor them with strength and numbers, and perhaps a caliphate will arise. At that moment, Muslims will take vengeance and, yes, achieve glorious victory at Dabiq. But Pocius cites a slew of modern Salafi theologians who argue that a caliphate cannot come into being in a righteous way except through the unmistakable will of God. The Islamic State, of course, would agree, and say that God has anointed Baghdadi.
Dissent itself, to the point of bloodshed or splitting the umma , was forbidden. That is not what happened. ISIS came out of nowhere. The Islamic State loathes this talk, and its fanboys tweet derisively about quietist Salafis. More pressing than state of Ummah. Still, his quietist Salafism offers an Islamic antidote to Baghdadi-style jihadism.
The people who arrive at the faith spoiling for a fight cannot all be stopped from jihadism, but those whose main motivation is to find an ultraconservative, uncompromising version of Islam have an alternative here. It is not moderate Islam; most Muslims would consider it extreme. It is, however, a form of Islam that the literal-minded would not instantly find hypocritical, or blasphemously purged of its inconveniences. Hypocrisy is not a sin that ideologically minded young men tolerate well. Western officials would probably do best to refrain from weighing in on matters of Islamic theological debate altogether.
The ones who are susceptible will only have had their suspicions confirmed: the United States lies about religion to serve its purposes. Within the narrow bounds of its theology, the Islamic State hums with energy, even creativity. Outside those bounds, it could hardly be more arid and silent: a vision of life as obedience, order, and destiny. Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death and eternal torture to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee or treacly pastry, with apparent delight in each, yet to me it seemed that to embrace their views would be to see all the flavors of this world grow insipid compared with the vivid grotesqueries of the hereafter.
I could enjoy their company, as a guilty intellectual exercise, up to a point. They believe that they are personally involved in struggles beyond their own lives, and that merely to be swept up in the drama, on the side of righteousness, is a privilege and a pleasure—especially when it is also a burden. Nor, in the case of the Islamic State, its religious or intellectual appeal. That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent.
It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. There are the vital signs: heart and respiratory rates and body temperature. Sometimes blood pressure. These are critical in emergencies. But in day-to-day life, the normalcy of those numbers is expected. The most common numbers are age and body weight. The U. This number has come to be massively consequential in the lives of millions of people, and to influence the movement of billions of dollars.
Five years ago, the flight vanished into the Indian Ocean. Officials on land know more about why than they dare to say. At a. The designator for Malaysia Airlines is MH. The flight number was Fariq Hamid, the first officer, was flying the airplane. He was 27 years old.
This was a training flight for him, the last one; he would soon be fully certified. His trainer was the pilot in command, a man named Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who at 53 was one of the most senior captains at Malaysia Airlines. In Malaysian style, he was known by his first name, Zaharie. He was married and had three adult children. He lived in a gated development. He owned two houses. In his first house he had installed an elaborate Microsoft flight simulator. Jimmy Carter was a terrible president. Vast numbers of illegal immigrants may soon be deported from the United States. And, circling back to Putin, the Russian president kind of makes sense when he says that Western-style liberalism is dead, at least when you consider the sorry state of a couple of Democratic-run cities in California.
These words came from an elderly woman sitting behind me on a late-night flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D. The plane was dark and quiet. To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm iPhone app. I listened with morbid fascination, forming an image of the man in my head as they talked. I imagined someone who had worked hard all his life in relative obscurity, someone with unfulfilled dreams—perhaps of the degree he never attained, the career he never pursued, the company he never started. In his rambling screed against the soccer star, the president revealed a lot about his worldview.
Finish the job! Be proud of the Flag that you wear. Share Tweet. An Unimaginable Tragedy. Emily Buder Jun 28, Start Here Table of Contents. Updated at p. ET on June 4,