For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Rev. 7:17)
Are we in the last days?
Let’s examine the latest news:
Bennett’s government at work to expand Abraham Accords / Al-Monitor, October 1, 2021
The normalization agreements reached August 2020 between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan were achieved under the former Israeli government and the former US administration. Since then, leadership has changed in both Israel and the United States. But are the Abraham Accords of last year about to expand soon, despite the change of governments? Are additional Arab and/or Muslim states in the Middle East or on its periphery mulling whether to join in?
Judging by the buzz in the Israeli corridors of power, the answer is “yes.” Apparently, other countries are on the fence, one foot there, one foot here, trying to decide in which direction to jump. Are we seeing a maturation of the normalization process and the future expansion of the circle of peace around Israel, or simply a nonbinding flirtation with few prospects?
Behind closed doors, intensive work is underway to upgrade the agreements or bring additional partners on board. Bennett issued the first hint of this under-the-radar activity on the UN podium. After referring to the “Abraham Accords that normalized our relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco,” he added, “more is to come.” He did not elaborate, but prompted a wave of rumors.
Israeli diplomatic sources say these rumors are grounded in facts.
With Gen. Bar as new IAF chief, 3 top IDF officers favor pre-empting nuclear-armed Iran. Bennett at UN: “We can prevail.” / DEBKAfile. September 27, 2021
“The IDF must function in several levels to deal a powerful multi-dimensional blow for eradicating pinpointed Iran’s capabilities. Spearheaded by air strikes, it must use powerful, high precision bombs, cyber, and electronic warfare for operations on land and sea.” Gen. Bar went on to explain: “This operation we conceive as being preceded by actions to disable Iran’s communications system and crash its computers, so that the main force of the blow finds Iran’s fighting spirit at a low pitch.”
For the first time, three top IDF generals are lined up in favor of attacking Iran’s nuclear program: The Chief of Staff, the Air Force chief and the head of the Iran Command. The order for them to go ahead must come from the government and its head Naftali Bennett. In his UN speech on Monday, the prime minister sounded willing to give the order.
Climate and weather related disasters surge five-fold over 50 years / UN Report, September 1, 2021
Climate change and increasingly extreme weather events, have caused a surge in natural disasters over the past 50 years disproportionately impacting poorer countries, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) said on Wednesday.
According to the agencies’ Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes, from 1970 to 2019, these natural hazards accounted for 50 per cent of all disasters, 45 per cent of all reported deaths and 74 per cent of all reported economic losses.
Of the top 10 disasters, droughts proved to be the deadliest hazard during the period, causing 650,000 deaths, followed by storms that led to 577,232 deaths; floods, which took 58.700 lives; and extreme temperature events, during which 55,736 died.
Meanwhile, economic losses have increased sevenfold from the 1970s to the 2010s, going from an average of $49 million, to a whopping $383 million per day globally.
Storms, the most prevalent cause of damage, resulted in the largest economic losses around the globe.
Three of the costliest 10 disasters, all hurricanes that occurred in 2017, accounted for 35 per cent of total economic disaster losses around the world from 1970 to 2019.
In the United States, Hurricane Harvey caused $96.9 billion in damage, Maria in the Caribbean 69.4 billion, and Irma $58.2 billion in Cape Verde.
“The number of weather, climate and water extremes are increasing and will become more frequent and severe in many parts of the world as a result of climate change”, said Mr. Taalas. “That means more heatwaves, drought and forest fires such as those we have observed recently in Europe and North America”.
More water vapor in the atmosphere has exacerbated extreme rainfall and flooding, and the warming oceans have affected the frequency and extent of the most intense tropical storms, the WMO chief explained.
Climate change has also increased extreme sea level events associated with some tropical cyclones, which have increased the intensity of other extreme events such as flooding and associated impacts. This has augmented the vulnerability of low-lying megacities, deltas, coasts and islands in many parts of the world.
Is it possible that our Shepherd is coming, and the long expected Rapture will take place this year?
Jesus as the Lamb of God is a theme that runs throughout the Scriptures. Jesus is our shepherd in the sense that he cares for God’s flock, but he is the lamb in the sacrificial sense.
“I assure you: Anyone who doesn’t enter the sheep pen by the door but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”
Jesus gave them this illustration, but they did not understand what He was telling them.
So Jesus said again, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. This happens because he is a hired man and doesn’t care about the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.” (John 10:1-18)
“I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11) is the fourth of seven “I am” declarations of Jesus recorded only in John’s Gospel. These “I am” proclamations point to His unique, divine identity and purpose. Immediately after declaring that He is “the door” in John 10:7, Jesus declares “I am the good shepherd.” He describes Himself as not only “the shepherd” but the “good shepherd.” What does this mean?
It should be understood that Jesus is “the” good shepherd, not simply “a” good shepherd, as others may be, but He is unique in character. The Greek word kalos, translated “good,” describes that which is noble, wholesome, good, and beautiful, in contrast to that which is wicked, mean, foul, and unlovely. It signifies not only that which is good inwardly—character—but also that which is attractive outwardly. It is an innate goodness. Therefore, in using the phrase “the good shepherd,” Jesus is referencing His inherent goodness, His righteousness, and His beauty. As shepherd of the sheep, He is the one who protects, guides, and nurtures His flock.
As He did in declaring that He is “the door of the sheep” in John 10:7, Jesus is making a contrast between Himself and the religious leaders, the Pharisees (John 10:12–13). He compares them to a “hireling” or “hired hand” who doesn’t really care about the sheep. In John 10:9, Jesus speaks of thieves and robbers who sought to enter the sheepfold stealthily. In that passage the Jewish leaders (Pharisees) are contrasted with Christ, who is the Door. Here, in John 10:12, the hireling is contrasted with the true or faithful shepherd who willingly gives up his life for the sheep. He who is a “hireling” works for wages, which are his main consideration. His concern is not for the sheep but for himself. Interestingly enough, the shepherds of ancient times were not usually the owners of the flock. Nevertheless, they were expected to exercise the same care and concern the owners would. This was characteristic of a true shepherd. However, some of the hirelings thought only of themselves. As a result, when a wolf appeared—the most common threat to sheep in that day—the hireling abandoned the flock and fled, leaving the sheep to be scattered or killed (John 10:12–13).
First, to better understand the purpose of a shepherd during the times of Jesus, it is helpful to realize that sheep are utterly defenseless and totally dependent upon the shepherd. Sheep are always subject to danger and must always be under the watchful eye of the shepherd as they graze. Rushing walls of water down the valleys from sudden, heavy rainfalls may sweep them away, robbers may steal them, and wolves may attack the flock. David tells how he killed a lion and a bear while defending his father’s flock as a shepherd boy (1 Samuel 17:36). Driving snow in winter, blinding dust and burning sands in summer, long, lonely hours each day—all these the shepherd patiently endures for the welfare of the flock. In fact, shepherds were frequently subjected to grave danger, sometimes even giving their lives to protect their sheep.
Likewise, Jesus gave His life on the cross as “the Good Shepherd” for his own. He who would save others, though He had the power, did not choose to save Himself. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Through His willing sacrifice, the Lord made salvation possible for all who come to Him in faith. In proclaiming that He is the Good Shepherd, Jesus speaks of “laying down” His life for His sheep (John 10:15, 17–18).
Jesus’ death was divinely appointed. It is only through Him that we receive salvation. “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (John 10:14). Furthermore, Jesus makes it clear that it wasn’t just for the Jews that he laid down His life, but also for the “other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16). The “other sheep” clearly refers to the Gentiles. As a result, Jesus is the Good Shepherd over all, both Jew and Gentile, who come to believe upon Him (John 3:16).
As the Lamb who was slain, Jesus cleanses us. He died our death in our place as the sacrificial lamb. Before the Lamb we acknowledge our sin, turn to him in repentance and faith, trust in his forgiveness, and receive his righteousness. His blood is not a stain to be removed; it is a sin-removing power.
As the Shepherd, Jesus leads and guides us to the throne of God. He brings us into the temple of God and to the shelter of God’s presence, where there is no more hunger or thirst (because we are forever being satisfied by the living water), and no more tears or sorrow (because we are forever experiencing the joy of the Lord).
He leads us home.
If you are not sure that you are saved, you can accept Christ into your life right now, by praying:
“Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior.”
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