“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
In the famed Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24, Jesus was asked by a few of His disciples when they could expect His Second Coming and the end of this sinful world. He gave them some of the most detailed prophetic signs that had to happen BEFORE He would return to set up His perfect Reign. If you are a follower of my blog, you may remember my recent post (Has the Gospel been Preached YET to the Whole World?) where I gave some statistics about the incredible and unprecedented rise of evangelical Christianity throughout the world and Jesus’s soon Return. However, in that post I missed something VERY important!
I recently had the Blessed opportunity to spend almost 2 weeks in Israel, visiting many of the historical sites mentioned throughout the Bible. This life changing event strongly reinforced my view Jesus lived and died for the remission of our sins. He rose again after 3 days from the tomb in Jerusalem as the final payment for our sins (BUT, only if we accept His gift) AND someday He will return as Promised and establish His Reign on earth which will be based in Jerusalem. While we were touring Israel we had the opportunity to meet Peter Tsukahira, an Asian American pastor who immigrated to Israel in 1987 to teach God’s Word. I noticed he had a book on sale at Mt. Carmel titled God’s Tsunami, Understanding Israel and End-time Prophecy. Knowing I had a 13 hour plane ride home in a few days, I bought the book and reading it absolutely opened my eyes to something I had NEVER seen or heard before.
“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia (Western Turkey) and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia (#1), After they had come to Mysia (Turkey), they assayed to go into Bithynia, BUT THE SPIRIT SUFFERED THEM NOT (#2)(capitals mine). And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas (Troy). And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there stood a man of Macedonia (Greece), and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel unto them.”
Here you have Paul (along with Silas, Timothy and Luke) doing what the Lord had instructed them to do, and that was described above in Mathew 24:14. They were to preach the Word to the entire world. They were told by Jesus after that had happened, “…THEN SHALL THE END COME (capitals mine).” All the disciples had diligently spread out after Christ’s Resurrection and Pentecost to try to teach the Jews what Jesus had taught them. History has shown all except John were killed as a direct result of their Christ inspired ministries. Paul was somewhat unique because he primarily took Jesus’s message to the Gentiles (non-Jews). But, did you capture what the Holy Spirit told him?
“DO NOT GO EAST!”
They were very familiar with the “east”, both by culture, language and history. Paul grew up there. It seemed only natural they would go where they believed their message would be better understood and accepted. While they were in what we would today call Western Turkey, they wanted to travel East and preach more to the people of that land. But, God had a different Plan! The Holy Spirit told them NOT once (Asia) but twice (Bithynia) to not go East but to go West! This was a huge first step in the deliverance of God’s Word to the whole world. Troy was in Turkey (Asia) while Macedonia was in Greece (Europe). After the vision Paul had of the man from Macedonia (Greece) who appeared to him, they all agreed this was a message directly from God and they changed their travel plans and went instead West to Greece.
Why is this important, you might ask? Think about this for a moment. The New Testament WAS NOT written in Arabic (the language of the day for the people in the area). Instead, the New Testament initially was written/translated into Greek. After the Fall of the Roman Empire, the Byzantines became the power of the area so what came out of Greece and Rome permeated much of their previously conquered area. The New Testament was one of those things which spread throughout Greece and Rome. Also, Constantine, who was of Greek origin, eventually became the Roman emperor and was the first emperor to convert to Christianity. Obviously, this had a lot to do with the spread of Christianity throughout the area, especially the Roman Empire (Europe).
Now, look at the progression of the Christian evangelical movement from the days of Paul to today. Here is where my recent post has much more relevance. After Greece and the Roman empires embraced Christianity, Europe in total had an awakening that caused Europe and eventually England to prosper beyond anything the world had ever seen. Militarily, economically, scientifically, etc. They prospered! This lasted for many centuries until the governmental power that came with the religious power so corrupted the countries, men and women were forced out of Europe in order to continue to practice their Christian religion. Their journey took them, you guessed it, further West where they landed on the shores of what was to become America. This became a place where their religious freedom flourished and the entire country became Blessed by God. America then became the most powerful and richest country in the history of the world.
Less than a century ago, American evangelicals started Christian ministries in Africa, Japan, India, China and the rest of the Far East. Today, as I previously quoted the stats, the largest movement of people to Christ is happening in these same countries. Hundreds of millions of people are finding Jesus in just the past few decades. At the same time, Christians in America are now becoming a cultural “sidebar” and anti-Semitism and anti-Christianity are on the rise as non-Biblical practices (abortion, gay marriage, etc.) are widely accepted and have corrupted the morals of this once Judeo-Christian nation. While America teeters on the brink of economic and social collapse, countries like India, China and Africa have become booming recipients of the Blessings from God.
Ultimately, all this leads in only one direction. If you travel West far enough on the globe, you eventually will end up in the East at the place where it all started – Israel!
“For I would not brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery; lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.”
Here we are clearly told two things. First, the Jews in Israel are “blinded” to the Word of God. Secondly, the Jews will be “blinded” UNTIL the fullness of ALL others (Gentiles – other nations) has occurred. In other words, until the entire world has heard, although many will still not accept, the Word of God, the Jews as a nation will not believe Jesus is THEIR Messiah. However, once the Word has been proclaimed to the entire world, the Jews will finally see the same thing we Christians see:
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Also, do you see it as coincidental that Ezekiel, one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament, wrote “Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel CAME FROM THE WAY (capitals mine) of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory:” “And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east.” Ezekiel 43:1-2, 4. If God sent His Word purposefully to the West, knowing it would eventually circle the world and come back to Jerusalem from the East, doesn’t it make sense that Jesus in the Last Days would then re-enter Jerusalem from the East? Today, the Eastern Gate in Jerusalem is the ONLY sealed gate entering the city. It was originally sealed by Muslim leader Saladin in 1187 A.D. and rebuilt and resealed by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman in 1541 A.D.. He even put a cemetery in front of the gate because walking through a cemetery was viewed as unclean by the Jews. Even a thousand years ago Muslims feared Jesus’s return! And when he does, NO man-made “seal” will prevent Him from entering His city. I was fortunate to personally see the Eastern gate during our trip to Israel and take the picture below:
Strange, but I doubt it coincidental the three kings of the East also traveled West to Bethlehem, which heralded the birth of Jesus.The miracles of God are absolutely amazing! Almost 600 years before Jesus was even born and the disciples had begun their journey to spread the Word throughout the world by traveling to the West, we are told Jesus would re-enter Jerusalem from the East, a sign that the Word had been spread throughout the world and “…the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” Again, this is so rewarding, so comforting to see the fulfillment of what God said would happen in these Last Days. This should not frighten us. It should not scare us! Rather, it should comfort us knowing God does not lie and His Word is forever truthful. If you are as comforted as I am by knowing this, I encourage you to do as we are ALL instructed by Jesus to do, and that is to “…therefore comfort one another with these words.”
May God Bless you!