Jonathan Bernis – Unlocking the Prophetic Mysteries of Israel

Book Review:

The Mystery of the Promised Messiah – 

It’s not a coincidence that with the rebirth of the nation of Israel, Christian’s began to view Bible prophecy in a more “Jewish” context. I’ve been a student of Bible prophecy for nearly thirty years now and I can still remember what a thrilling discovery it was for me when I learned about the significance of the Bible’s feast days as they relate to YHWH’s redemptive plan for mankind through Yeshua (Jesus). Today the Biblical holy days and their prophetic significance are widely known.

Each year the importance of seeing the Bible, and especially the New Testament in its Jewish/Hebraic context is illustrated in new and wonderful ways. In his latest book Unlocking the Prophetic Mysteries of Israel, Jonathan Bernis provides you with a road map for understanding the context of Israel in YHWH’s redemptive plan for mankind.

This is a well thought out book which starts in Genesis with the sin of our ancestors and ends in Revelation with the restoration of mankind to their intended state. I really appreciated the way Mr. Bernis developed the story arc in this book. Each chapter builds upon the Messianic theme of the promised seed. Mr. Bernis provides his readers with a unique perspective on this Biblical theme, showing that it was through the descendants of Abraham that this ancient promise was fulfilled in the past, kept alive in the present, and will be brought to completion in our future.

But this book does more than just tell the story of YHWH’s redemptive plan through Yeshua . The book makes a compelling case that YHWH is not finished with his chosen people, that the descendants of Abraham still have a distinctive role to plan in our Creators redemptive plan for mankind.

To give you a sense of how Mr. Bernis develops the theme of this book here is a sampling of the chapters:

  • CHAPTER 1 Key One: The Seed Promise
  • CHAPTER 2 Key Two: The Abrahamic Blessing
  • CHAPTER 3 Key Three: The New Covenant
  • CHAPTER 4 Key Four: The Restoration of Jerusalem
  • CHAPTER 5 Key Five: The Gospel to the Jew First
  • CHAPTER 6 Key Six: Bringing Life From the Dead
  • CHAPTER 7 Key Seven: The Restoration of All Things CONCLUSION: Fight the Good Fight

To me the best part of the book was Mr. Bernis’ explanation of how because of Yeshua both Jews and Gentiles have unrestricted access to YHWH. How Yeshua atonement for our sins forever rent the temple veil and gave all access to the presences of God.

On a related theme Mr. Bernis explained Ephesians 2:17-22 and how Gentiles because of Yeshua now are become fellow citizens in the household of God. But if you back up use a few more verses Paul provides some stunning Messianic symbolism that only a 2nd temple context can illuminate.

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;” (Ephesians 2:13-14)

You see during the 2nd temple era when Yeshua and Paul walked those ancient temple stones. That “middle wall of partition” was built between the court of the gentiles and the temple proper. That wall had a warning written on it that any gentile caught passing through the wall was to be immediately put to death. This barrier effectively gave the Jewish people exclusive access to the temple proper and the presence of YHWH. But as Paul explains, Yeshua death and resurrection symbolically broke down that wall and gave gentiles equal access.

Here’s the amazing messianic symbolism of this passage that’s been hidden in plain site. During Yeshua’s and Paul’s day the ancient Jewish writers tell us that “wall” was accessed by 14 steps and entry to the temple was granted by one of 13 gates.

During Yeshua day, as commanded by the Torah, on each of the 7 feast of YHWH, the priests where required to offer some combination of 13 or 14 sacrifices.

In the gospel of Matthew, the New Testament account of Yeshua which scholars believe was written by the apostle Matthew for a Jewish audience with all of the symbolism and metaphor his Jewish brethren would understand, we find this sacrificial symbolism presented in a thrilling way.

In the first chapter of Matthew account we find a list of Yeshua ancestors beginning with Abraham. This list is arrange into three groups of 14 generations. The first group gives us 14 generations from Abraham to David. But interestingly the last grouping when written out only gives 13 generations until Yeshua. Thus Yeshua, symbolically becomes both the 13th and 14th generation. Yeshua becomes symbolically both the suffering servant (13) and the future king (14). Keep in mind David was represented by Matthew as the 14th generation.

Now lest you think Matthew made a mistake, a reasonable case can be made that he purposely left out four kings in Yeshua’s lineage. And “coincidently” one of those kings was left out between the 13th and 14th generation. Kind of brings new meaning to Ephesians 2:13-14 doesn’t it.

Middle wall of partition indeed!

In summary, Mr. Burnis’ book is an enlightening and encouraging read which highlights the Jewish peoples past, present, and yes – future role in our Creators wonderful redemptive plan for mankind. A redemptive plan which allowed even an undeserving gentile like me to reconciled to God by Yeshua – the Salvation of YHWH.

Maranatha!

Author: Jonathan Bernis
Book Title: Unlocking the Prophetic Mysteries of Israel: 7 Keys to Understanding Israel’s Role in the Endtimes
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Thomas Horn – Saboteurs

Book Review:

The Eye of Enlightenment – 

What’s your view of the founding of the United States of America? Were the founding fathers Christians who set out to establish a truly Christian nation? Or were our founders men of the enlightenment who saw Judeo-Christian principles as valuable but only in the context of a non-personal God?

In his latest extravaganza Thomas Horn and a cast of respected contributors dive Deep into the subject of America, its complex beginnings, its sobering present, and its dream of a utopian future. This book is jam packed with information which runs the gambit from strong Biblical truth, to insightful history, and in some cases what I believe to be well meaning but unsupported speculation.

What I liked:

• Mr. Horns exploration of the claim that America was founded as a Christian nation
• Mr. Horn’s insightful examination of our founder’s appreciation for Judeo-Christian principles juxtaposed with the reality of their view of god.
• Mr. Horn’s exploration of America’s national symbols
• Carl Gallup’s chapter exploring the subject of Nationalism vs. Globalism
• Derrick Gilbert’s chapter on Dominionism
• Allie Andersons chapter on If My People…

What I didn’t like or at least though needed a more thorough explanation:

• After reading several of Mr. Horn’s books this book follows the challenging pattern of presenting so much information that it is hard to determine when the reasonable facts ends and well-meaning speculation begins.
• There is repetition to the book which doesn’t really help clarify the overall theme of the book.

In the spirit respectful criticism I have a friendly bone to pick with Mr. Horn’s negative view of the number 13 which I believe creates a blind spot in his work. His perspective shadows a spiritual dimension which was reflected in early years of our nation’s founding. Let me give you an example from p. 245 of the book:

•“But according to esotericists like Hall, the extraordinary truth about he number thirteen so affixed ot the Great Seal was a marker for those who understood it as a Masonic “power number,” sacred to the moon and representative of the head of Isis, as well as the number of Osiris’ remaining body parts Isis recovered along the Nile River (fourteen total; the male reproductive organ was never found, equaling thirteen). This is, of course, not even taking into consideration what numerology Biblical scholars might reveal.”

After prejudicing the discussion of the number 13 with what one of the “Saboteurs” believes, Mr. Horn goes onto give several more negative examples of the number 13 as found in the Bible. Such as 13 famines and that Satan’s name in both Hebrew and Greek is a multiple of 13. Mr. Horn finish his assassination of the number 13 by quoting the great Biblical scholar and numerologist E. W. Bullinger from his book Number in Scripture. This famous quote explains how the first usage of the number 13 in the Bible is related to the year a group of kings rebelled.

But here is where Mr. Horn prejudices the information so that it supports his theory concerning the number 13. Mr. Bullinger’s explanation of the number 13 doesn’t end with it as a number of only rebellion. The following passage comes from page 228 in Number in Scripture just a few pages after the quote Mr. Horn uses in his book:

“The Connection of the Number Thirteen with Substitution and Atonement
The Saviour, though without sin, was “made sin,” or a sin offering, for His people. He was “wounded for our transgressions,” and bruised for their iniquities. He was, in fact, “NUMBERED WITH THE TRANSGRESSORS” (Isa. liii. 12).

Therefore this number is not only the all-pervading factor of SIN, but also of sin’s atonement. It is not only the number which brands the sinner as a rebel against God, but it is the number borne by the sinner’s Substitute.

His very names in the Old Testament, before the work of Atonement was entered on or accomplished, are all multiples of 13, just as His names, afterwards in the New Testament and when the work of Atonement was carried out, are all multiples of 8. See the names on p. 204.

The Old Testament names are:-
Jehovah = 26(13×2)
Adonai = 65 (13×5)
Ha-Elohim = 91 (13×7)”

As you can see Mr. Horn only presented one side of the number 13. The very names of God including – YHWH – as found over 6500 times in the Bible is a multiple of the number 13. But this symbolism of atonement for sin is even more apparent in the New Testament. We need to look no further than the first chapter of the first book of the New Testament.

Here the apostle Matthew gives the opening salvo in his case for Yeshua (Jesus) as the Jewish Messiah. Matthew provides his readers with a lineage of the Messiah which exceptional in the Biblical record. This lineage is grouped generationally into three groups of 14 generations but with an amazing twist. You see while Matthew presented Yeshua’s generations as 14+14+14 if you actually count out the names Matthew cleverly arranges it so Yeshua is actually the 13th generation. This makes the lineage of Yeshua not 42 names (14+14+14) but rather 41 names (14+14+13) (41 also being the 13th prime).

Think about it this way. Mathew presented Yeshua as the 13th generation, the atonement sacrifice for sin. But by His death and resurrection, he became the 14th the risen Savior and future ruling king. Keep in mind also that in Matthew’s list king David is the 14 generation in the first generational grouping. Thus we have the fulfillment of this famous prophecy the angel gave to Mary:

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: (Luke 1:30-32)”

But the symbolism of Yeshua as the 13th and 14 generation has an even more important relationship to Mr. Horn’s thesis cornering the Great Seal of the United States. I quote from page 263 of Saboteurs:

 “In the New Testament, the identity of the god Apollo, repeat-coded in the Great Seal of the United States as the Masonic “messiah” who returns to rule the earth, is the same spirit – verified by the same name – that will inhabit the political leader of the end-times New World Order.”

To get the full picture here you must remember the one symbol that Yeshua most often used to refer to himself. He described Himself as the “stone” refused by the builders which then miraculously becomes the “head of the corner”. Yeshua’s quote comes from Psalms 118:22. Taking in its most literal sense the only geometric shape which totally satisfies the criteria of “head, top or summit” of the corner is a capstone of a pyramid.

Psalm 118:21-23 – I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the YHWH’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.

Indeed this is the very symbolic description that the apostle Paul mentions in Ephsians 2:21 when he describes Yeshua as the “chief corner stone” under which the entire building is “fitly framed together” as a “holy temple in the Lord”.

Ephesians 2:20-22 – And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Now consider Great Seal once again with this Biblical foundation. If Mr. Horn’s interpretation of the Great Seal is correct then there is reasonable Biblical evidence to suggest that in fact there is an “Anti-Christ” symbolism encoded in the Seal. We have a pyramid of 13 levels and the Capstone (the 14th level) representing the Masonic eye of enlightenment, their god Osirus whose body was cut in to 13/14 parts.

Further supporting Mr. Horns view of the Great Seal is the map of Washington D.C. created by French Freemason Pierre L’Enfant under the direction of George Washington. If you draw a line through US Capitol, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial and you use this line as the base of a triangle. Then using New Hampshire Ave as the left side of that triangle and a similar line beginning at the US Capitol and continuing through Logan circle and across to Dupont circle you have a pyramid without a capstone centered on 16th Street and the White House. This pyramid according to L’Enfant’s original design is 13 city blocks from its base on the National Mall. The capstone, the 14th level, is enclosed by Logan and Dupont circles and its point where the sides meet at U and 16th street above them.

Now the only thing missing for this symbolism to be complete is the all seeing eye of Masonry. Take a close at the map just north of R street and east of 16th street. What you will see at that location is a building 130 feet high designed based upon the ancient Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The roof of this building is 13 levels, which from ground looks like an unfinished pyramid. When viewed from a higher elevation you’ll find it is capped with 14th level glass capstone.

This building is called the House of the Temple and is home to the The Supreme Council, 33 degree Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Not too subtle are they.

So before you discount all of Mr. Horn’s thoughts on Freemasonry and the founding of our new nation, consider the implications of L’Enfant’s map of Washington DC which was commissioned in 1791 just 9 years after the Great Seal. It’s a map which shows a 13 level pyramid, only its capstone is not graced with the “All-Seeing Eye of Providence” but rather the headquarters of Scottish Rite Freemasonry.

The truth truly is stranger than fiction, no?

In summary, Saboteurs is shocking expose, heavy on conspiracy theory which could have been better grounded in a panoramic Biblical world view. There is a great deal of important information is this book but I’d encourage each reader to run down the facts for themselves. Filter out the unprovable conspiracies and hold fast to the those things which you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Click on Image for full size

Author: Thomas Horn
Book Title: Saboteurs: How Secret, Deep State Occultists Are Manipulating American Society Through A Washington-Based Shadow Government In Quest Of The Final World Order!
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Mark Hitchcock – Russia Rising

Book Review:

Israel Dwelling Securely in the Land –

Once again Russia is on the mind of many students and teachers of Bible prophecy. After the fall of the Soviet Union we didn’t hear much about Russia as a fulfillment of the Gog & Magog prophecy found in Ezekiel 38 & 39 but now that Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin have begun to assert their power on the world stage prophecy teachers are again taking notice.

Bringing attention to this subject is the new book, Russia Rising: Tracking the Bear in Bible Prophecy, by the popular Christian prophecy teacher Mark Hitchcock. Mr. Hitchcock is a respected voice in prophecy circles and he brings his level headed perspective to this important subject. Like all of us, Mr. Hitchcock brings his bias to the subject. This book is written from a pre-tribulational immanency world view. Thought I don’t always agree with Mr. Hitchcock I do appreciate seeing the subject of Bible prophecy through his eyes.

In this book I thought Mr. Hitchcock did a good job of describing current world events related to Russia and its concerted push to reassert itself as a world power. Mr. Hitchcock also provides a reasonable assessment of Iran, Turkey and their growing alignment with Russia.

To give you an idea of subjects covered in this book here are the 10 well written chapters in the book:

1. There is a Bear in the Woods
2. The Final Game of Thrones
3. Is Russia Really in the Bible?
4. Ezekiel’s Prophetic Intelligence Briefing
5. Triple Threat: Russia, Iran, and Turkey
6. Vladimir Putin, Rising Czar
7. Red Dawn: The War of Gog and Magog
8. How Close Are We?
9. What Does the Future Hold?
10. It’s Always Soon

As compelling as Mr. Hitchcock’s arguments are for the modern day Russia as a fulfillment of Gog & Magog, the book has a major weakness. That weakness relates to the timing of Israel dwelling securely in their land just before the invasion of Gog & Magog. On page 129 Mr. Hitchcock acknowledges the challenge:

“There are not many occasions in God’s prophetic program when Israel is secure and at rest. The Jewish people have been scattered and persecuted over the face of the earth, and not even in the future will Israel have many periods of rest and security.” (Hitchcock, Mark. Russia Rising: Tracking the Bear in Bible Prophecy (p. 130). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.)

Mr. Hitchcock goes on to explore four views on the timing of this Gog & Magog invasion:

• View #1 – Ezekiel 38-39 is the Same as Revelation 20:8
• View #2 – The War Can Happen at Any Time
• View #3 – The War in Ezekiel 38 -39 is the Same as the Campaign of Armageddon
• View #4 – The War Will Transpire During the First Half of the Tribulation

Surprisingly, in none of these four points of view does Mr. Hitchcock explore the OT prophetic context of Israel dwelling securely in their land.

In Ezekiel 38 & 39 the statement of Israel “dwelling safely” in the land just before the invasion of Gog & Magog invasion takes place, comes from the Hebrew words yashab betach. In Ezekiel 38 this context of Israel dwelling in safety is so important to the timing of the invasion that it is repeated three times. This timing is further repeated in Ezekiel 39:6, with the further explanation that they will dwell safely (yashab betach) with “none to make them afraid”. Here take a look:

• Ezekiel 38:8 8 After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou [gog & magog} shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely [yashab betach] all of them.

• Ezekiel 38:11 11 And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely [yashab betach], all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,

• Ezekiel 38:14 14 Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely [yashab betach], shalt thou not know it?

• Ezekiel 39:26 26 After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely [yashab betach] in their land, and none made them afraid.

Here is the challenge to these passage which Mr. Hitchcock and many of his peers fail to explain. Yashab betach is conditional promise give to Israel in Leviticus 25 and 26 which is contingent upon the Israel’s obedience to the Torah.

• Leviticus 25:18  -Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell [yashab] in the land in safety [betach].

• Leviticus 26:3-6 – If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell [yashab] in your land safely [betach]. 6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.

What is fascinating to understand is that the context of Jeremiah 32, Ezekiel 28, Ezekiel 34, and Zechariah 14 all confirm that this dwelling securely (Yashab betach) is a condition Israel experiences during the millennial reign of the Messiah, after they have returned to Him. From Yeshua’s own words we know that He does not return until they acknowledge Him as the promised Messiah. This means that Israel will not dwell safely in their land until Yeshua reigns in Jerusalem. This as we know will not happen until the millennium.

• Jeremiah 32:37-40 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely [yashab betach]: 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.

• Ezekiel 28:25-26 Thus saith the Lord YHWH; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob. And they shall dwell safely [yashab betach] therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards; yea, they shall dwell with confidence [yashab betach], when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them round about them; and they shall know that I am YHWH their God.

• Zechariah 14:9-11 And YHWH shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one YHWH, and his name one. All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses. And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited [betach yashab].

What I find hard to understand is why Mr. Hitchcock does not address the statements of Ezekiel 28 & 34 which clearly demonstrate that yashab betach (dwelling safely) is prophetic statement of Israel’s status during the Millinnium. Keep in mind both these statement come before Ezekiel statements of Israel dwelling securely just prior to the invasion of Gog & Magog as found in Ezekial 39 & 39.

Further consider Ezekiel 39:26 where it states that Israel dwelt safely “with none to make them afraid”. This phrases is only repeated one other time in the Old Testament and it is found in Ezekiel 34:28 where again it is describing conditions during the millennium. Here take a look:

• Ezekiel 34:28 And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely [yashab betach], and none shall make them afraid.

• Ezekiel 39:25-26 Therefore thus saith the Lord YHWH; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely [yashab betach] in their land, and none made them afraid.

As you can see the balance of the Old Testament record shows that Israel dwelling securely is a reference to Israel’s status during the coming messianic age. At the very least Mr. Hitchcock needs to clearly explain to his readers why this OT context is not relevant to his interpretation. As a final thought on this aspect of the book consider this.

Revelation 20 describes a period of time during the millennium when the following conditions are present (based upon other OT prophecies).

1. Yeshua reigns from Jerusalem
2. Israel is dwelling safely in the Promised Land.
3. Weapons of war have been exchange for implements of agriculture (Isa. 2:3-4)
4. Israel is the head of the nations to whom the others bring tribute. (They are wealthy)
5. They live in peace with none to make them afraid.
6. Gog and Magog invades Israel with nations from four quarters of the earth.
7. Their weapons of war are rudimentary by our standards. (because modern weaponry was converted to agricultural use at the start of the millennium- see Isa. 2:3-4)
8. YHWH supernaturally destroys the armies of Gog and Magog.

Based upon the above context a couple of questions come to mind. If Ezekiel 38 & 39 is read within a millennial context as suggest by Ezekiel 28 & 34 how many of the above conditions would be present? Would the Russia of today have any relevance to the prophecy of Gog & Magog?

And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of YHWH, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of YHWH from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:3-4)

In closing I would like to better understand how Mr. Hitchcock sees the context of Israel dwelling safely (yashab betach) as it relates to Leviticus 25, 26, Jeremiah 32, Ezekiel 28, 34, Zechariah 14. This context is fundamental to understanding the identity of Gog & Magog as well as the timing of this great invasion of Israel. Until this subject is adequately addressed I believe the interpretation as presented in this book must be considered in light of a Berean’s skepticism. I’d encourage you to read the book and then open your own Bible and see what it has to say about Israel dwelling securely in the promised land.

Author: Mark Hitchcock
Book Title: – Russia Rising: Tracking the Bear in Bible Prophecy
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Jonathan Cahn – The Paradigm

Book Review:

Prophecy, Politics, and the Paradigm –

Let me tell you right up front that Jonathan Cahn’s latest book, the Paradigm, will be considered his most provocative book to date. I say that because it combines under one cover, two of mankind’s most contentious subjects, namely – religion and politics. If you thought the Harbinger was controversial, you’ll find the Paradigm several magnitudes more so.

Personally, I found the book to be an uncomfortable mix of two very important subjects. If you’ve read any of Mr. Cahn’s recent books you already know that he has vision for shadow and type which compels his readers to see important topics in new ways. The Paradigm, takes that propensity to a whole new level.

The book begins with Mr. Cahn’s powerful and compelling exploration of Israel’s decent into immorality as a template to America’s current state of affairs. Mr. Cahn shows how two nations, with such auspicious beginnings, show uncanny parallels that are inescapable and troubling. This part of the book provides many valuable insights.

As the book progresses Mr. Cahn unpacks his Paradigm beginning with a look at the two infamous Biblical characters of Ahab and Jezebel which he sees as types for two of today’s most famous or infamous (depending on your point of view) political characters. This exploration of shadow and type of Old Testament hero & villain and twenty first century American politician continues up to our present day with the election of our current president.

Had Mr. Cahn left the exploration of shadow and type to a general character sketch which looked at the how immorality and righteousness influence men and women, especially those in positions of power, then I would have considered this book a home run.

Unfortunately Mr. Cahn didn’t stop with a paradigm which shows how human actions which separate themselves from the laws of God lead naturally down a path which has common threads amongst all human beings. In what appears to be a well-meaning effort to buttress this paradigm Mr. Cahn takes the ancient Biblical types and attempts to show how specific actions and dates are paralleled in their modern American political anti-types. This takes the subject from type and anti-type into the realm of the prophetic. This makes me more than a little uncomfortable for several reasons.

First of all the Bible is unquestionably a prophetic book. In fact over ¼ of the Bible is of a prophetic nature. But that prophetic aspect of the Bible has a specific purpose which is describe among other places in Revelation 19:10:

“…for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”

Jesus comes from the Hebrew Yeshua which means the Salvation of Yahweh or Yahweh’s Salvation. So in other words the spirt of prophecy is the testimony of Yahweh’s salvation for mankind. This spirit or underlying theme is the litmus test of all Biblical interpretation which claims to be of a prophetic nature. The Paradigm as prophecy fulfilled in our day fails this important test.

Second, the dates and timing aspect of the Paradigm are simply unnecessary. Instead of adding credibility to Mr. Cahn’s great exploration of human nature and the natural consequence of mankind’s sin, the subjective aspects of the dates and events used in the Paradigm will become the central focus of the book. This undermines the credibility of both the book itself and ultimately Bible’s prophetic record.

In summary, the Paradigm will probably be one of the more controversial Christian books of 2017 but for the wrong reasons. I have a feeling it will be a case study in why religion, prophecy, and politics aren’t the best mix.

Author: Jonathan Cahn
Book Title: – The Paradigm: The Ancient Blueprint That Holds the Mystery of Our Times                                                                                                            
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Jeff Kinley – The End of America?

Book Review:

A Squandered Heritage –

As a Christian and an American I’m often struck by the divergent opinions espoused by fellow believers concerning America’s place in Bible prophecy. On one end of the spectrum you have those who believe America is not implied or mentioned in the Bible’s prophetic texts. On the other hand are those who say the USA is a central figure in the Bible’s end-times prophecies. One thing both sides seem to agree on is that America’s moral decline plays an integral part in either scenario.

Into this mix of conflicting and competing world views Jeff Kinley offers a timely and important look at the subject in his new book The End of America? – Bible Prophecy and A Country in Crisis.

It has been some time since I’ve read a better or more eloquent exploration of America’s greatness and failings than given by Mr. Kinley in this book. I especially appreciated Mr. Kinley reminding his reader that we as Christian’s must remember that our ultimate allegiance belongs to a heavenly king, a kingdom, and a city not made with human hands. In today’s supercharge political environment, it’s a reminder that I believe should be at the forefront of our thoughts.

The book begins in Chapter 1 with an exploration of the question: Is America Really in Decline? I must warn the reader that Mr. Kinley pulls no punches when looking at the underbelly of America’s moral decline.

Then in Chapter 2, Mr. Kinley gives sobering context to our country’s moral decline by sharing a compelling overview of our Judeo-Christian roots. I really appreciate this part of the book because I felt Mr. Kinley did a great job of painting a balanced picture of America’s Christian heritage. In the book he did not paint every founder as an evangelical Christian but rather showed how a diverse group of men from various backgrounds and religious beliefs understood the importance of setting our country’s laws upon Judeo-Christian principles.

* * *

In what I hope is taken as constructive criticism, I think it would have been helpful for Mr. Kinley to explore a bit more thoroughly the corrosive influence humanism played in undermining America’s Judeo-Christian roots. Like the Biblical wheat and tares, those seeds of humanism which always lie dormant in the human heart were provided fertile grounds in early years of the republic. Those seeds originally sown in Eden by the adversary found ideal conditions to flourish as “We the People” case off the shackles of Biblical morality in an over estimation of our own “exceptionalism”.

Those shackles of Judeo-Christian morality were cut completely during the mid-1900’s by our Supreme Court when it began to eradicate religion in the public sphere. What few realize is that these events were not an accident but a purposeful agenda. During the years 1941-1971 a majority of the Supreme Court justices belonged to an organization which has as one of its core tenants the promotion of secular humanism. I believe this context is essential to understanding the accelerated decline of morality in American in the mid-20th century. It would have been a valuable addition to the book.

* * *

In Chapter 5, Mr. Kinley looks at American’s Holocaust – Abortion and our National Shame. This chapter was quite frankly heart breaking and terribly sobering. By the time you have finished this chapter you are left with the unescapable conclusion that we as a nation have nurtured an atrocity of proportions which makes the bloodshed of the past 6000 years of human history pale in comparison. Instead of proclaiming American greatness and exceptionalism we should be bowing our heads in shame because of what we have allowed to take place on our watch. This chapter really made me realize our extreme hypocrisy as we point to the tens of thousands of precious souls killed by Islamic terrorism each year, or the 6 million precious Jewish souls murdered by the cold blooded hands of the Nazi’s during WWII, yet each year the blood of 1 million innocent children soaks the soil of our own land. Where is the greatness in that?

In Chapters 6-9, Mr. Kinley focuses in on Bible prophecy, potential scenarios for America’s demise, and the consequences of our national moral decay. Although I don’t agree with Mr. Kinley on some of his eschatological assumptions, there is a lot of valuable information in these chapters.

Once particular area of disagreement regards Mr. Kinley’s Gog and Magog scenario. This section of the book I found to be especially lacking in context. As an example I quote from page 212 of the book:

“As to the timing of this particular battle, I believe there is scriptural evidence to suggest it will occur sometime after Israel enters the land before Jesus Christ returns. More specifically, the Bible tells us it will take place during the “latter years” and when Israel is “living securely” in the land (Ezekiel 38:8, 11, 14, 18-22).”

What Mr. Kinley fails to explain in his book is that Israel “living securely” (yashab betach) is taken originally from the context of Leviticus 25 & 25 and is a Biblical promise to Israel contingent upon their obedience to the Torah. Further Jeremiah 32, Ezekiel 28, 34 and Zechariah 14 all congruently describe Israel dwelling securely (yashab betach) during the millennial reign of Christ. Not to be ignored is Revelation 20 were it describes the attack of Gog and Magog as taking place in the latter years when Israel is in fact dwelling securely in their land.

In consideration of the importance Mr. Kinley places on the Gog & Magog invasion of Israel as it relates to the Rapture and his end-times framework, at the very least he should provide his readers with a more contextual explanation of why he believes Ezekiel 38 & 39 description of Israel “dwelling securely” in the land is exceptional to the context provided in the balance of the Biblical record.

The reason I believe this is so important is what we believe about prophecy can’t help but influence how we see the world. Today many of my evangelic peers see the Russia of today as the embodiment of the prophesied Gog and Magog. At the very least these expectations should be tempered with a complete contextual rendering of the applicable passages relating to Gog and Magog and its timing. Anything less creates a potential stumbling block as we draw closer to the end of this age and the return of Yeshua.

Finally Chapter 10 is a call for Christians to be the light and salt to the world around us. Mr. Kinley rightly encourages his reader not to hide their lights but to be active agents in our spheres of influence in the time remaining before Yeshua returns.

In closing, my respectful disagreements notwithstanding, this book was an outstanding look at America, its Judeo-Christian roots, and our place in Yahweh’s redemptive plan for mankind. I sincerely believe this is one of the books every American Christians need read this year. After you’ve read the book then I’d encourage you to open your Bible’s and see if these things be so.

Maranatha!

Author: Jeff Kinley
Book Title: The End of America? Bible Prophecy and a Country in Crisis
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Paul Fisher – Behind the Lodge Door

Book Review:

Learning from our Past –

If you have ever wondered how we as a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles could turn our backs on those principles and embrace the values of secular humanism then you should take a few hours to read Paul A. Fishers revealing book, Behind the Lodge Door: The Church, State and Freemasonry in America.

In the book Mr. Fisher explores the mid 1900 rulings of the Supreme Court on religious freedom in America and finds an unexpected source for the courts anti-religious bias. Up until the 1940’s rarely more than two Freemasons were on the court and any one time. But starting in 1941 and continuing until 1971 there were at least 5 and for several terms as many as 8 Freemasons serving on the Supreme Court. Mr. Fisher explains:

 “Masons dominated the high bench from 1941 to 1971. That was an era when traditional Judeo-Christian values were removed from the curricula of public schools—and from public life generally. That amazing (and rarely discussed) facet of American jurisprudence was discovered completely by accident when the author was conducting research on the religion clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. …

Following Everson, the Court repeatedly leaned on the “wall” to impose its will, and prohibited public financial assistance to children attending schools teaching traditional religious values. As a consequence, the high bench: outlawed released time for children to attend religious classes within public school buildings;3 declared atheism and secular humanism to be religions protected by the First Amendment;4 prohibited recitation of prayer in public schools, even though the prayer in question was approved by leaders of the three major faiths in the United States;5 and banned recitation of the “Our Father” and oral Bible reading as religious religious exercises in public schools.6 Related cases denied State funds to religious-oriented schools for teaching aids, periodicals, maps, etc.; banned singing of Christmas carols in public schools; prohibited public school teachers from teaching in religious schools; and held that a law permitting employees to observe the Sabbath as a day of rest impermissibly advanced a particular religious practice, and thus violated the religion clause.

Those decisions by the Court seemed to demonstrate a bias in favor of a totally secularist society, and my research could uncover no convincing evidence that the First Amendment ever was intended to quarantine religion from public life, a proposition being advanced suddenly by the Court in the 1940s. The Court’s curious tilt stirred nagging questions: Why did the high bench suddenly take up an interminable series of religion-clause cases in the middle of the 20th Century?”

Mr. Fisher explains that after further investigation he realized that Masons by their own admission view the world through a secular humanist bias and this bias, contrary to their oath of office, influenced their fateful decisions regarding the free exercise of religion in public life.

One of the more surprising aspects of the book for me was the role Protestant and Catholic antagonism had in the Masonic intrigues of the past two centuries. By playing Protestant and Catholic against each other, Masons sowed the seeds of Christianity’s demise in America. Today we are reaping the bitter harvest of those evil machinations.

Our generation would do well to learn the lessons from this important era in American history so that we do not further its evil. You see, the same playbook which was used to pit Protestants and Catholics against each other has been pulled out once again, only this time it is pitting Christian’s against Muslims. Unless we can learn from the past I’m afraid we will forfeit the remaining freedoms we hold dear.

In closing we would do well to remember the words of George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Id encourage you to read this book and learn from the past, our future may depend on it.

Author: Paul A. Fisher
Book Title: Behind the Lodge Door: The Church, State and Freemasonry in America
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Paul Bass – The Singing Stone

Book Review:
The Stones Cry Out –

In Luke 19 we find one of those powerful stories which stirs the imagination and demonstrates the power of God. In that account Jesus enters Jerusalem to the people proclaiming, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord…” Because they consider the people’s words blasphemous, the Pharisees ask Jesus to tell the people to be silent. In response to the Pharisees request Jesus makes a statement that has captured believer’s imaginations for nearly 2000 years.

“…I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Can you imagine what it might have been like to be there and hear the stones cry out if the people had been silenced?

Today that great New Testament story has been retold by author Paul Bass in a wonderful little illustrated children’s book entitled: The Singing Stone. The story is an easy read and provides a wonderful opportunity to share with your child some valuable life lessons based in fascinating Biblical history.

Author: Paul Bass
Book Title: The Singing Stones
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

 

 

Phil Hotsenpiller – One Nation Under God Without Law

Review:

– The Power of Hope –

In my lifetime many books have been written on the subject of Bible prophecy. Often these books, when dealing with the negative aspects eschatology, tend to have a rather narrow focus without giving the reader the underlying context or thread that helps them see the bigger picture. That is not the case with Phil Hotsenpiller’s new book.

In his book One Nation Without Law: The Rise of Lawlessness, the End Times and the Power of Hope – Mr. Hotsenpiller looks at the subject of Bible prophecy with an eye towards giving his reader a panoramic of the causes and effects of evil in our present world. This information then allows the reader to see the origins of sin in our world and how that sin has been corrupting mankind ever since.

In Chapter 3, Mr. Hotsenpiller looks at a case study of the evils of lawlessness which hits close to home for many of us. The chapter is entitled, Lawlessness in America: A Case Study. Though not comprehensive, the author provides more than enough information to show how sin and evil are not just other people’s problems. But in fact, as that famous adapted quote by Kelly so appropriately states:

“We have met the enemy and He is Us”

In this chapter Mr. Hotsenpiller explains that even though many of our nation’s founders believed in a Judeo-Christian morality, that in fact darkness and its companion the monster Sin lurks in the shadows just waiting to escape when our moral vigilance is lulled into complacent slumber.

After giving the reader a good grasp of historical nature of lawlessness in the Bible and its clear and present danger to our present generation(Part I of this book), Part II of this book then shifts gears to look at the lawlessness in the context of the end times. Part II includes the following chapters:

5. The Rise of Israel
6. Strange Alliances and Shaken Nations
7. The antichrist: Man of Lawlessness

Finally in Part III of the book Mr. Hotsenpiller ends with the power of hope. Notice I said the “power” of hope. As the author explains, far too often we think of hope as a passive idea. As Mr. Hotsenpiller explains, the power of hope is derived from YHWH and His spirit working through us to accomplish His will for mankind. He explains as follows:

“Never underestimate what you can do. Never let the enemy convince you that you are worthless or weak. You carry the divine presence of God with you and are mighty in God for the pulling down of spiritual strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).”

In the final section of this book Moving Forward with Hope, Mr. Hotsenpiller provides some excellent advice and comfort to believers. I quote:

“It is my prayer that this book leaves you with a sense of renewed confidence and hope in our wise, powerful and gracious God. His perpetual presence, and your access to Him through prayer, will enable you to anticipate struggles, make wise decisions and avoid tendencies to panic when you hear frightening news. Although the world may continue to increase in lawlessness, fear and conflict, we can move forward in the power of God, bind the strong man and see the miraculous outpouring of the Spirit of God.”

* * *

In the spirit of respectful criticism there were several topics in this book where I believe the author did not provide as thorough explanation as the subject deserve. One example is found in Chapter 6 where Mr. Hotsenpiller described the future invasion of Israel by the armies of Gog and Magog. Mr. Hotsenpiller envisions the invasion as taking place at some point before the final tribulation, the Anti-Christ covenant and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. What I find disconcerting in Mr. Hotsenpiller’s explanation of this subject is that he does not thoroughly address the context of Israel “dwelling securely” in the land as described in Ezekiel 38:

“After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall – dwell safely – [yashab betach] all of them.”(Ezekiel 38:8)

The phrase “dwell safely” comes from the Hebrew yashab betach. This distinct Hebrew wording is originally found in Leviticus 25 & 26 and refers to a conditional promise given to Israel which stipulates that if they keep YHWH’s statues and judgments they would dwell securely in their land. In other words Israel’s dwelling safely in their land is contingent on obedience to YHWH and his laws.

Further Jeremiah 32, Zech. 14, Ezekiel 28 and 34 all show that it is during the millennial reign of Christ when Israel’s dwelling securely (yashab betach) takes place. In light of Leviticus 25 & 26, Jeremiah 32 and Zechariah 14 it seems incongruent that Ezekiel 28 & 34 would described Israel dwelling securely during the millennium only to then (in Ezekiel 38 & 39) place this “yashab betach” before the millennium when the conditions of Leviticus 25 & 26 are not present. Also it should not be ignored that Revelation 20 a describes a Gog and Magog invasion during the millennium when Israel – is – dwelling securely in the land, exactly the same conditions described in Ezekiel 38 & 39.

In consideration of the fact that Mr. Hotsenpiller believes these events take place before the millennial reign of Yeshua and that they are relevant signs for those of us living today it would have been helpful for him to explain how he reconciles the clear millennial context of yashab betach in the Old Testament with his interpretation of Ezekiel 38 & 39.

* * *

In closing, even though I don’t agree with every aspect of Mr. Hotsenpiller’s interpretation of Bible prophecy I think his book is a valuable contribution to the subject of lawlessness and its relevance to the day and age in which we live. His explanation of the “power of hope” is an excellent and important primer which every believe would benefit from reading. Once you’ve read Mr. Hotsenpiller’s book I’d encourage you to open you Bible and see if these things be so.

Maranatha!

Author: Phil Hotsenpiller
Book Title: One Nation Under God Without Law: The Rise of Lawlessness, the End Times and the Power of Hope
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

Dr. David Reagan – Israel in Prophecy: Past, Present, & Future

Book Review:

– The Relevance of Israel in Bible Prophecy –

Does God still love the Jewish people? Are the promises made to the descendants of Abraham in the Old Testament still valid since the death and resurrection of Jesus the Jewish Messiah?

In his new book, Israel in Bible Prophecy: Past, Present, & Future – Dr. David Reagan explores the Biblical record in search of answers. As is typical for Dr. Reagan, he approaches the subject with an engaging style, a great deal of common sense, and plain spoken no-nonsenses. Over the years I’ve read many of Dr. Reagan’s books and I’ve come to appreciate his love for the Jewish people and the Bible’s prophetic record.

In this present work Dr. Reagan looks at the subject in Israel in Bible prophecy in the following three part format:

Part I: The Past
• Chapter 1: The Worldwide Dispersion of the Jews
• Chapter 2: The Relentless Persecution of the Jews
• Chapter 3: The Miraculous Preservation of the Jews
• Chapter 4: The Desolation of the Land of Israel

Part II: The Present
• Chapter 5: The Regathering of the Jewish People
• Chapter 6: The Re-establishment of the State of Israel
• Chapter 7: The Revival of the Hebrew Language
• Chapter 8: The Reclamation of the Land of Israel
• Chapter 9: The Resurgence of the Israeli Military
• Chapter 10: The Re-occupation of the City of Jerusalem
• Chapter 11: The Re-focusing of World Politics on Israel

Part III: The Future
• Chapter 12: The Redemption of Israel

Of these chapter 3, 5, & 12 really stood out to me.

* * *

In the spirit of respectful criticism, there is one aspect of the book which I believe that Dr. Reagan failed to address in as thorough manner as is his typical style. What I’m talking about is the subject of Daniel 9 and the prophecy of 70 weeks. In this book Dr. Reagan uses the prophecy of 70 Weeks as foundational pillar in his explanation of the past, present, and future place the Jewish people have in YHWH’s redemptive plan. As such, I believe it deserves a much more thorough and congruent explanation than given in the present work.

For example Dr. Reagan makes the following claim. I quote from Kindle loc. 2508:

“In Daniel chapter 9, the prophet was given and amazing prophecy about the future of the his people and the capital city of Jerusalem. Daniel was told by the Angel Gabriel that God would accomplish all His purposes for the Jewish people during a period of 70 Weeks of Years (Daniel 9:24) starting with a decree to restore and the city of Jerusalem from its destruction by the Babylonians. The first 483 years of that period came to an end with the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem at the beginning of the last week of His life.”

Then concerning the six messianic goals of Daniel 9:24, Dr. Reagan has this to say:

“From a Jewish viewpoint, the Tribulation should be called ‘Daniel’s 70 Weeks of Years.’ This terminology refers to the fact that Daniel prophesied a period of 70 weeks of years (490 years) during which six goals would be accomplished among the Jewish people. The goals were (Daniel 9:24):

1) “To finish the transgression” (by accepting the Messiah).
2) “To make and end of sin” (the repentance of a remnant).
3) “To make atonement for iniquity” (the Messiah to die for sins).
4) “To bring in everlasting righteousness” (the establishment of the Messiah’s millennial reign).
5) “To seal up vision and prophecy” (fulfill all Messianic prophecies).
6) “To anoint the most holy place” (begin the construction of the Millennial Temple).

As you can see, only one of these aims have been fulfilled- the Messiah’s atonement for sin. All the rest remain unfulfilled. Four hundred eighty-three years of Daniel’s prophecy led up to the crucifixion of Jesus (Daniel 9:26). The last seven years remain, during which all the rest of God’s aims for the Jewish people will be met.”

From the quotes above Dr. Reagan rightfully believes that the 6 messianic goals of Daniel 9 are to be fulfilled within the 70 “weeks” of Daniel 9. Dr. Reagan explanation becomes problematic when he goes on to state that 69 of those weeks (483 years) were fulfilled with Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. The reason this is problematic is because this then leaves only the final 7 “years” during which the 6 goals of Daniel 9 can be fulfilled.

Daniel 9:24 is clear that these 6 goals are fulfilled within the 70 weeks. Jesus “atonement for iniquity” did not take place until His death and resurrection. By Dr. Reagans reasoning and the criteria of Daniel 9:24, this then means that Jesus “atonement for iniquity” took place after the 483 years and in the 70th Week of Daniel 9.

Dr. Reagan then contradicts this reasonable conclusion by claiming that “the last seven years remain, during which the rest of God’s aims for the Jewish people will be met.” In other words Dr. Regan places the 3rd goal of Daniel 9 after the 483 years but not within the final 7 years, thus adding to the length of the prophecy of Daniel 9. This is not possible because Daniel 9:24 plainly states that the 6 messianic goals are fulfilled in the 70 week period.

It is my hope that in some future writings Dr. Reagan will explain this apparent contradiction in his understanding of Daniel 9 and provide a more congruent and reasonable explanation.

* * *

In closing my criticisms notwithstanding, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more sincere advocate of the Jewish people and their past, present, and future in YHWH’s redemptive plan for mankind. In this book Dr. Reagan does a wonderful job of illustrating that story in manner which is both accessible and thrilling. After reading this book I’d encourage you to open your Bible’s and see if these things be so.

Maranatha!

Author: Dr. David Reagan
Book Title: Israel in Bible Prophecy: Past, Present, & Future
Author Website:
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse

John MacArthur – Ezra and Nehemiah

Book Review

– An Inspirational Read though Lacking a Solid Chronological Context –

Few periods in Biblical history offer more inspiring illustrations of YHWH’s love for the Jewish people than the 2nd temple era. Two of the most important books describing the triumph and tragedies of the repatriated Jewish people during this time are the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Taking you on a guided tour of this important era is the respected Biblical scholar John MacArthur. In twelve interesting chapters Mr. MacArthur walks you through the history of the 2nd temple era as described in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Along the way Mr. MacArthur skillfully draws you into the story of Ezra and Nehemiah and the people they led showing how the lessons these 2nd temple era people learned are just as important to you and I today. In the introduction Mr. Macarthur describes the book this way:

“In these twelve studies, we will examine the events that led to the people being allowed to return to their homeland and what took place during the first two waves of their return. We will see how God raised up leaders among the exiles to not only champion the rebuilding efforts but also to protect the people from outside attack and turn them back to the worship of the Lord. We will discover what it means to put God first and see that apart from the new covenant and the Messiah, none of us would be able to be righteous before the Lord.

Through it all, we will learn some precious truths about the character of God, and we will see His great faithfulness in keeping His promises. We will learn, in short, what it means to follow Him wholeheartedly, walk by faith, and remain committed to His Word.”

After reading this book I think you’ll agree that Mr. MacArthur’s achieved his goal. Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s stories are a testimony, first of all to Gods love for his people, and second how YHWH uses those who desire to serve Him in wonderful and unexpected ways. There are many valuable lessons to be learned from the people and events of this period in Biblical history and Mr. MacArthur does a great job of highlighting them.

* * *

In the spirit of respectful criticism I am sorry to say that Mr. MacArthur did not provide a solid Biblical historical context for Ezra and Nehemiah’s place in the 2nd temple era. Many of the chronological statements and dates are provided without any real Biblical context. For example in the introduction Mr. MacArthur made the following statements:

“Ezra was most likely the author of both Ezra and Nehemiah, which might have originally been one book. After his arrival in Jerusalem in 458 BC, he changed from writing in the third perions (Ezra 1-6) to writing in the first perions (Ezra 7-10).”

Then a few paragraphs later Mr. MacArthur goes on to say:

“Zerubbabel led the first return in 538 BC. Ezra led the second return in 458 BC. Nehemiah led the third return thirteen years later in 445 BC.”

Considering that the entire chronological framework of this book rests upon these dates it is disappointing that Mr. MacArthur did not provide his reader with a solid Biblical foundation for them.

This neglect has at least two unintended negative consequences. First it presents a potential stumbling block to the reader who, inspired by Mr. MacArthur’s compelling exploration of this subject, seeks to better understand it in terms of the Bible’s own chronology only to find that the historical dates presented in this book rest upon several unreasonable assumptions. The 2nd unintended consequence is that Mr. MacArthur’s dating of Ezra and Nehemiah then require some rather incongruent chronological gymnastics regarding the Persian period which do not allow the reader to take the text at face value.

I’ll try to briefly explain.

Taking the Biblical record at face value we learn in 2 Kings 25 that Ezra’s father was killed in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar. Using the most optimistic assumptions this would then mean that Ezra was at his youngest only 1 year old in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar. By the reign of the Persian “Artaxerxes” Longimanus the absolute youngest Ezra could have been was nearly a quarter century older than Moses. As Thomas Ice and Ed Hindson explain in their recent book, Charting the Bible Chronologically: A Visual Guide to God’s Unfolding Plan, after the flood the lifespan of mankind experienced an exponential decay curve which resulted, by the time of King David, in the average life span of about 70-80 years. At the very least Mr. MacArthurs should have provided an explanation as to why he believes Ezra’s exceptional age is justified.

This dating of Ezra’s age and return to Jerusalem is further complicated by the fact that this then requires a similar age for the priests and Levites of Nehemiah 10 & 12. (Those who came up with Joshua and Zerubbabel and who still alive in the 20th year of “Artaxerxes”.) The bottom line is that Mr. MacArthurs dating of the events in the book of Ezra and Nehemiah is not justified by a reasonable reading of the Bible’s own chronology.
Let me give another example of why this is problematic for Mr. MacArthur. I quote from page 91:

“He [Nehemiah] was also going to ask to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem from the very king who had ordered that building to stop.”

You see by placing Ezra in the reign of Artaxerxes Logimanus (464-424 BC) Mr. MacArthur stretches the events of the 2nd temple era by nearly 60 years. This then causes him to confuse the different “Artaxerxes” of the Persian period.

It would have been helpful to the reader if Mr. MacArthur would have explained that the word “Artaxerxes” is not a proper name but rather a title give to several Persian kings during the 2nd temple era. It is also important to note that historically Artaxerxes and Ahasuerus were Persian titles that in some cases were used interchangeably. Using the most reasonable and defensible rendering of the 2nd temple era Persian period we have the following Persian kings:

  • Cyrus (536-530 BC as king of Babylon)
  • Cambyses (529-522 BC)
  • Bardis the Magian usurper (522)
  • Darius I ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes (521-484)
  • Xerxes 1 (485-465)
  • Artaxerxes I (Longimanus) (464-424)

Ezra 1 describes the decree of Cyrus which allows the Jewish people to return, thus ending the 70 years captivity prophesied by Jeremiah. After the Jewish people had returned and started construction on the temple their neighbors wrote to “Ahasuerus” in an effort to “frustrate” their temple building efforts. (Ezra 4:6) The text does not indicate that their efforts had any success during the reign of this Ahasuerus. But then “in the days of” Artaxerxes the enemies of the Jewish people found a willing ear. This Artaxerxes did indeed stop construction. (Ezra 4:7) A careful reader of Ezra 4 will notice that the Jewish enemies told the king Artaxerxes that the Jewish people were building walls and foundations as if they were fortifying the city. But in reality the Jewish people were only working on the temple. Notice in Ezra 4:24 after the enemies of the Jews had received “Artaxerxes” decree stopping construction it was the temple construction which was interrupted. This interruption lasted until the Darius the king of Persia.

“Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.”

The most reasonable reading of these events shows that Cyrus allowed reconstruction of the temple. Then after Cyrus in the reign of his son Cambyses (Ahasuerus) the enemies of the Jewish people tried to stop the construction with no success. We know historically speaking that Cambyses mostly continued in his father’s footsteps in promoting the rebuilding of temples and monuments of those people they had conquered. After Cambyses’ untimely death there was a few month period when a Magian usurper (Bardis) took the Persian throne. This pretender did not share Cyrus and Cambyses world view. The most reasonable reading of the text then would have this Bardis as the “Arataxerxes” who stopped construction until the 2nd year of Darius. The simple fact of the matter is there are no other Persian kings between the reign of Cyrus and Darius. This means that Ezra’s description of evens is amazingly congruent with what we know from Persian history.

Ezra 6 further clarifies the events by telling us the construction on the temple did indeed begin again in the 2nd year of Darius (520 BC) and that the temple was completed four years later in the 6th year of Darius. You see by the 2nd year of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes, YHWH through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah commanded the Jewish people to return and building His house. When the enemies of the Jewish people saw that the temple construction was restarted they immediately petition Darius for it to be stopped. Ezra 6 records that Darius checked the Persian records and found that indeed Cyrus had given permission for the Jewish people to reconstruct the temple. Notice that Darius did not give any credence to the decree of the “Artaxerxes” of Ezra 4:7. This makes perfect sense in light of the fact that this “Artaxerxes” was an imposter to the throne of Persia. An imposter whom Darius himself had over thrown.

” 14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.” (Ezra 6:14-15)

Notice in the passage above it names those who were responsible for giving commandments which brought about the completion of the temple by the 6th year of Darius. This is important, the passage qualifies these commandments as those which were responsible for completion of the temple by the 6th year of Darius. Who then is the “and Arataxerxes” of Ezra 6:14. What many overlook is that the letter vaw which proceeds the title “Arataxerxes” in the Hebrew text can be used as both a conjunction and as well as a hendiadys. Or in other words depending on context the word “Arataxerxes” can be a separate king or it can simply be another title for Darius. So instead of “and Artaxerxes” the text could read “even Artaxerxes”. Based upon the context of Ezra 6 the most reasonable reading of the text demands that it be used as a hendiadys. There is simply no other Persian king who gave a commandment to build the temple of Jerusalem before its completion in the 6th year of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes.

This then perfectly explains the events of Ezra 6 & 7. Ezra is still in exile in the 6th year of Darius ‘the great’ Artaxerxes. But when the temple was completed in the 6th year of Darius, Ezra was compelled to go up to Jerusalem and teach the people the Torah. (This then explains the 3rd person to 1st person perspective change between Ezra 6 & 7)

So in Ezra 7, in the 7th year of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes, just after the temple was completed we find Ezra on his way to Jerusalem. There is no need to insert a 60 year gap between Ezra 6 & 7. The most reasonable reading of the text does not support it. By the 7th year of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes, Ezra was of the ripe old age of 70-80 and so were the priest and Levites of Nehemiah 10 & 12. Ezra’s age at this point is perfectly congruent with what is described in Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah. There is no need to believe that Ezra confused the chronology of Persia nor that the book of Ezra is written in a convoluted chronological order. Ezra simply described the events exactly how they happened in chronological order.

Getting back to Mr. MacArthur’s statement that Nehemiah asked permission to build the walls of Jerusalem from the very person who stopped construction. It simple doesn’t make any sense chronologically. As Ezra 4 described it was the temple construction that was stopped. The enemies of the Jewish people in their exaggerated claim to Bardis (Artaxerxds) made it out as if the Jewish people were fortify the city when in fact they were only building the temple as allowed by the decree of Cyrus.

For two decades now I’ve tried to understand why wonderful Biblical scholars like Mr. MacArthur and many of his peers so confuse the chronology of the book of Ezra and Nehemiah and the only reason I can come up with is that their chronology of Ezra and Nehemiah is not a function of sound exegesis of the text but rather well-meaning eisegesis based in their understanding of the prophecy of Daniel 9.

In other words Mr. MacArthur’s understanding of Ezra and Nehemiah is not based upon the chronological facts found in the books of Chronicles, Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah but rather upon the assumption that the 70 Weeks of Daniel 9 must have begun during the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus and thus the 2nd temple chronology must be arranged to accommodate that belief. Once the assumptive framework of Daniel 9 is removed from equation the chronological “difficulties” of Ezra and Nehemiah completely disappear.

My hope is that someday Mr. MacArthur will take another look at the chronology of Ezra and Nehemiah and rectify the contextual neglected that he has demonstrated in this present work.

* * *

In closing, my criticisms notwithstanding, the story of Ezra and Nehemiah as explored by Mr. MacArthur is profoundly important to any student of the Bible. Though lacking in chronological context, this book provides a wealth of inspirational life lessons based upon the events and people in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Any serious student of the Bible will come away blessed and enriched after reading this book. After you’ve read the book I’d encourage you to open your own Bible’s and see if these things be so.

Maranatha!

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Book Reviewed by: William Struse