The Festival That Signals God Will Soon Shake the Nations
We've all experienced those moments... the unexpected phone call or knock on the door that instantly changed our lives. It can be deeply personal, like the death of a loved one, a health scare or a criminal act. It can also be a national event; for example, like the day the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up, the morning of September 11th, or the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that snuffed out over 227,000 unsuspecting souls.
Last-day tragedies of global impact are fast approaching, which will radically alter our world, our nation, and our individual lives. The Word connects this and several momentous earth-shaking events to the annual Biblical Festival days ("moed" meaning "rehearsals" in Hebrew), as they relate to God's appointed times and seasons. Haggai 2 points to one of those days--a prophetic moment that will signal and unlock the escalating series of events that lead to war and global upheaval. In Haggai, God reveals one of the most specific dates found in the prophecies, which is repeated several times in this chapter for emphasis: "the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month," known as the month of Kislev. The ninth month of the Biblical calendar arrives each year around November/December... and, in 2020 it falls on Thursday, December 10. That evening ushers in the first night of lighting the Hanukkah menorah--the Festival of Lights, or Dedication. Two thousand years ago John recorded a Hanukkah interaction between Jesus and some of His opponents, "Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the Temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade," (John 10:22-23).
The Hanukkah encounter harkens back almost 200 years earlier to the Maccabean victory over the Syrian-Greek army in 165 B.C. After the defeat, the Maccabees entered Jerusalem in triumph and ritually cleansed the Temple, reestablishing traditional worship there. When the Temple was restored, the small flask of pure oil that could only last one day stretched for eight days, proving a miracle had indeed happened there. The little flask of oil shed light on the big military campaign. “Not by the army, not by power, but through My Spirit, says God” (Zechariah 4:6). Hanukkah is about the little light that portrays the Great Light.
The Haggai passage indicates although the nation of Israel past and present has failed miserably to obey God (so too, Gentile believers); nonetheless, starting on this future date, specifically the "twenty-fourth day of the ninth month"... likely a subtly event, a military signaling of things to come, referred to as "the day of small things" (Zechariah 4:10) -- the process of God methodically leading His chosen --Jew and Gentile alike-- into and through the appointed times of the end to the eternal Kingdom of God will begin. However, any forthcoming spiritual victories will not be without significant human tragedy, bloodshed and tribulation.
The prophet Haggai wrote this future oracle in chapter 2. Here we learn that the 24th day of the ninth month (this year, December 10, 2020) -- that from this day forward, we could begin to see the following events accelerate in the weeks and months that follow:
1) Of Jews & Gentiles, God's awakening, He will "shake all nations," (v. 7), indicating global upheaval.
2) Of Israel's national religion, "whatever they do and whatever they offer... is defiled," (v. 14), not following God's redemptive plan provide by His SON, but instead continuing in ancient traditions.
3) Of Israel's current rebellion, "you did not return to me," (v. 17), stubborn in not repenting of the sin of rebellion, but God will still keep His covenant promises to Abraham.
4) Of Israel's future blessings, "give careful thought... from this [24th] day on I will bless you," (vs. 18, 19), yet God will protect the nation of Israel from annihilation, and Jerusalem will become the focus on the nations.
5) And again, of God's tribulation, "I will shake the heavens and the earth," (v. 21), global troubles will escalate into global war, and many trials will continue through the appointed times of the end.
6) Of Gentiles, God will begin to take down the world's most powerful governments (including America), as He will "overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms" (v. 22), including Israel's Islamic enemies, Iran and Syria.
7) Of Israel, a favored nation/people, "on that [24th] day, declares the LORD Almighty, 'I will take you... I will make you my signet ring, for I have chosen you,'" (v. 23) as my chosen people and possession to fulfill My prophetic plan and My promises.
Damascus & The Middle East Military Showdown
As in the past, the nation of Israel continues to be surrounded by both hostile and passive Islamic nations--Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and distant foes such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and others. The prophet Haggai wrote of events in his day and prophetic miracles of the last days--that although disobedient, God was about to bless Israel with eternal blessings by overthrowing the nations and military might of Israel's enemies who surround her. Psalm 83 tells of miraculous victories over surrounding enemies and the enlargement of Israel's territory, as God promised long ago by the ancient Hebrew prophets. In this context, the Scriptures also forewarn of the Damascus tragedy--an event of mass destruction. The Word warns, "A prophecy against Damascus: 'See, Damascus will no longer be a city, but will become a heap of ruins,'" (Isaiah 17:1). Woe to the Syrians; your leader and generals have betrayed you.
As mentioned, the Word indicates God has chosen this process of growing tensions and global turmoil with the 24th day of Kislev as an indicator date--the divine stamp on the Hebrew Calendar of God's appointed times are at hand, and beginning subtly from that day forward will escalate with turmoil and a major military showdown with Israel's enemies in the weeks and months to follow, while the Gentile nations will begin to turn on one another as global tensions magnify, and citizens will turn on each other. The final unfolding of prophetic events that will follow Hanukkah are, in reality, a continuation of God's blessings that started 100 years ago with the Balfour Declaration (November 2, 1917). Within forty days the Islamic Ottoman Empire's Turks surrendered Palestine to the British during World War I, on the 24th day of Kislev (December 9, 1917). These historical events set in motion the restoration of Davidic sovereignty over the Holy Land that came to fruition through the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine by the United Nations on November 29, 1947--eight days before Hanukkah; followed by the May 14, 1948 Declaration of Independence, when Israel became a nation.
Focusing on God's chosen land and people, Israel's very existence continues to stir the anger of Israel's Islamic enemies. Now, we sit on the verge of Middle East war that will mushroom into immense tragedy and the loss of treasured souls. When the Middle East erupts--the Persian Gulf conflict led by the U.S. coalition against Iran (Daniel 8:1-8; 17, 19-21) and Israel's overthrow of Syria and their surrounding enemies--we can know with certainty the appointed end-time crisis is at hand. Starting with the 24th day of Kislev as the subtle point of forthcoming earth changes, the prophetic point of God's final blessings for the people of Israel will begin, and the Jews will soon experience Iran's conquest and the expanse of Israel's influence that initiate the final events portrayed in the books of Daniel and Revelation. Major earth-altering events will later, during the appointed time of the end, lead to the placement of the foundation stone for the Third Temple in Jerusalem; but, not before the quake-shaking devastation of the City we know and love, and the collapse of the Western Wall and Temple Mount, along with its Islamic structures.
Over the last 120 years, the world has been quietly marching around the sun spinning towards the appointed time God ordain from before the beginning of time. Now, the clock sits just before midnight and the world at large is about to explode into chaos and turmoil beyond the faculty of minds to fully conceive, but which we will surely face. From Theodor Herzl's inaugural First Zionist Congress in late August 1897 to promote Jewish immigration to Palestine in an effort to form a modern Jewish state, we add 120 years (as in Noah's years of warning and delay) and this brings us to August 2017. Then follows the Balfour Declaration delivered in November 1917 to which we can add 100 years (as in Isaac's miraculous birth to the aging Abraham); this takes us to November 2017. From the UN Partition in November 1947 we add 70 years (as Israel spent 70 years in captivity in Babylon) and come to November 2017. From the retaking of the Western Wall in June of 1967 during the Six-Day War, we can add 50 years (as in the 50 year Jubilee cycle); this takes us to June 2017. All these time periods point to the year 2017 --the first year of President Donald Trump's leadership that richly blessed Israel --as being the "year of focus" with prophetic events nearing every year that follow.
As we near these momentous events, not only the world but Jerusalem sits on the brink of earthquake and war that will forever change the landscape of the beloved City and the course of human history. The Iran conflict and the Middle East will explode in anger and religious fervor. In just mere days/weeks, massive casualties of World War III will multiply, along with global financial collapse, natural and man-made catastrophes, local and regional upheaval along with national division among citizens. Pandemic deaths and health threats will increase in severity during the appointed time of the end. As the great turmoil unfolds during the counting periods, fear of mankind's survival will eventually be used to enforce the Mark of the Beast, and those who resist the united global effort to worship the Beast and inoculate will warrant the death sentence. As global chaos begins to unfold, humanity will fear the end of civilization as we know it; but Jesus warned, "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. All these are the beginning of birth pains," (Matthew 24:6-8). Once ajar, the door of prophecy can never be shut. Mayhem will reign, and the world will never be the same.
Knowing that time is short, what spiritual guidance can we apply to our lives? God's prophetic Word! Daniel 12:10 says, "Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand" the hidden and mysterious timelines of Daniel and Revelation, and God's plan for the end of the ages. Are we wise? To be so, we must be teachable! We can be refined and purified, if we are willing to humbling submit to Christ and His Word. Through it all, we must give our lives and future to Yeshua--Jesus our Messiah. Whatever trials come our way, we must pray and trust day by day in the One who sacrificially gave His life for us.
The Light of the World promised, "I am going there to prepare a place for you [New Jerusalem]. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am," John 14:2-3. Jerusalem and the world will drastically change, but we are promised a new and better City whose builder and maker is God. A place we can call home, where pain, tears and sorrow will be wiped away. Where, as one family, we will enter through the gates of the Kingdom City and into the realm of Heaven's peace and tranquility.
"The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light," (Revelation 22:3-5).
Until that day...
Keep looking up!