Monday, December 22, 2008

Could this be it? Israel removes Hamas and then...

A few weeks ago Tony Blair was saying that the Israeli government and the Palestinian government had reached a secret peace agreement but that it had not been signed. Though there were several pieces in several papers and websites covering the story it didn’t really get that much attention and it wasn’t really disputed by either side.

I don’t know why it was brushed off, maybe people just thought he was exaggerating or that it was just one of another little peace deals that didn’t mean much anyway. I took notice of the story and wondered about it and then left it there without too much in depth thought about it. However now another story has come out that might be a link back to this story and could have serious consequences and possibly point to something significant in the end times timeline.

Yesterday that was a story about how the Israel government had decided to launch a major operation in Gaza. This really didn’t catch my eye at first because Israel has been in and out of Gaza with several major operations over the last year or two. The article however quoted Israeli Foreign minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Bemjamin Netanyahu (one of who will likely be the next prime minister) as saying they see it as necessary to topple the Hamas government from Gaza. However while neither of them are currently Prime Minister of Israel, one of them is likely to be soon. But the article seemed to indicate that Prime Minister Olmert’s government was about to take such action. Today however, defense minister Ehud Barrack came out strongly against such a plan.

So is or isn’t Israel about to launch a major operation into Gaza and if so what does it mean? If such an operation is under way it could be one of the last peaces to be put into place for a peace agreement to be reached between Israel and the Palestinian government. The reason for this is because currently Hamas has been democratically elected as the government in the Gaza strip and as such the Fatah party which Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas controls can not make a real peace agreement. Fatah and Abbas don’t really have the power or the mandate to remove the Hamas government but if Israel would do it for them that just might be all that is needed for a secret peace agreement to be signed and become not so secret.

Then the biggest question is, is this a seven-year peace agreement? If it is we all know that this would be a definitive step in marking the beginning of the tribulation period. I am not saying that these things will definitely happen but this could be the first step towards such a possibility. Even if Prime Minister Olmert is reluctant to launch such an operation, the two front-runners to replace him in the February election seem eager to take that step. Once the elections happen and the new government is in place and if Hamas hasn’t been removed already, it will be time to find out if Livni and Netanyahu were just speaking to get votes.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eschatology and reformed theology.

I am not a big believer in traditional reformed theology, at least as far as predestination, infant baptism and eschatology are concerned.

Purely from an anecdotal point it has been my impression that those who believe in reformed theology came to it from a background of not having a lot of thought put into theology. It seems like the average believer in reformed theology says something like “I used to believe x but then I was told about reformed theology and I couldn’t believe no one had ever told me about this before”. It seems like they think some one should have told them everything to believe. While it is important to understand all of God’s Word, the basics of salvation come first and the rest usually takes some study and reading of the Bible on the part of the Christian. We need to seek the truth, even beyond salvation. The next part goes something like this, “those people preaching non reformed theology why are they not telling the truth of reformed theology?” Not that they necessarily think others are lying, they are just incredulous that not everyone believes reformed theology. Then when it comes to eschatology they say things like, the rapture and the tribulation are new ideas.

Let me explain the problem with this viewpoint. Working my way backwards, “new” ideas are not bad if they are Biblical, in which case they are not really new, just not understood by modern day Christians. The original reforms of Martin Luther were not new ideas but the Roman Catholic Church had gotten away from the truth. The other main issue is that not every truth of the Bible has necessarily been completely understood. God’s word is filled with so much that it is nearly impossible for us to have complete understanding of it all. While many important truths for salvation and daily living are clear and not really disputable, the Bible has so much to offer, mankind will likely never fully grasp all of what God has said to us in his Word until we are in His presence. The other issue I have is that because not everything can simply be told to you, we must read the Bible on our own and study it. God can and does reveal truth to us in a personal way when we read His word. God’s word is complete in that there is no new scripture but we can come to understand scripture more clearly, especially concerning prophecy.

I am bothered when I read reformed teaching that says there is no place in the Bible that talks about the rapture or the tribulation either in word or in concept. Not only do I see the words but I clearly see the concepts there. If these ideas weren’t there, then they would be just that, someone’s ideas that aren’t Biblical. And indeed that’s how the reformed minded person sees them. But the end times theology of the rapture and the tribulation are clearly present all throughout the Bible in many places.

We can debate when the rapture is, pre, mid or post and we can talk about whether or not the tribulation is literally seven years long but to say such things are non existent makes no sense. These issues and concepts are in the Bible, it is up to interpretation as to what they mean. Everything in the Bible is important though not everything is central to salvation. We should be careful not to throw up our hands and say, “it will all pan out in the end”. Studying of eschatology should be done but not become an obsession.
I have one last important note for studying eschatology. When you or someone else ascribes a passage to have already taken place in the past,, read carefully to see if all of the events have completely taken place or just parts. A prophecy not completely filled is not a prophecy fulfilled. Many times it seems there is a rule of double fulfillment, where part of a prophecy has come true but not all of it, it seems to be a foreshadow of what will come when the prophecy is completely fulfilled.