The Jerusalem Post reports today:
Kerry: Israel, Palestinians agree to hold sustained talks on all issues
"The Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will meet again within two weeks in either Israel or the Palestinian territories to continue peace talks, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday following the initial round of talks in Washington. Kerry, speaking with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators at his side, declared that the parties in the historic conflict had agreed to hold "sustained, continuous and substantive" conversations on all issues requiring resolution for a final peace agreement. Kerry said the parties had agreed that the only solution the conflict is the implementation of a two-state solution, with both states given assurances of peace, security and mutual recognition."
U.S. gave Israel, Palestinians letters of assurance in order to renew talks
Content of letters remains classified, yet probably addresses the issues of borders and refugees; Kerry says objective of talks is to reach a final-status agreement within nine months.
"The United States administration gave the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams on Tuesday letters of assurance which outlined the U.S. position vis-à-vis the peace talks, their conduct and their goals, in order to facilitate the renewal of peace talks, a senior Israeli official said. The content of the letters remains classified, yet it likely addresses the issues of borders and refugees. Although disagreement remains over some technical details, the parties
reached consensus over a number of issues, which Kerry announced at the
press conference. In addition to the nine-month timetable with its goal
of a final status agreement, Kerry said: “The parties have agreed to
remain engaged in sustained, continuous and substantive negotiations on
the core issues, and they will meet within the next two weeks in either
Israel or the Palestinian territories in order to begin the process of
The Great Gathering Up (rapture) is described in 1 Thessalonians. The Thessalonians were concerned because they thought the rapture was going to take place very soon, in their lifetimes, yet some of them had died already. The living brothers got worried. Were their dead fellow believers going to miss it? Paul wrote back. That letter is the Thessalonians letter 1 and 2. The reason that Paul was writing to the Thessalonians was to reassure them that the friends and relatives who had died were not going to miss the rapture. Paul began explaining it this way:
The Coming of the Lord
"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
You notice Paul said 'the coming of the Lord' and uses the pronoun "we". This passage describes the believing dead who are reunited with their by-then glorified bodies, and the living faithful who will also be instantly transformed into glorified bodies. We will be 'caught up' to meet Jesus in the air. In a great glory train He will lead us all home. It all happens very fast in the blink of an eye. (1 Corinthians 15:52).
By the way, the rapture is also mentioned in John 14:1-3: "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."
The 1st Thessalonians chapter ends with verse 18. Paul continues in chapter 5.
The Day of the Lord
"Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief." (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).
You notice now Paul is now talking about them. He doesn't even go into the Day of the LORD (judgment) because that was well covered in the Old Testament. Paul acknowledges this by saying to them 'you know full well...'. It was the rapture they had a hard time understanding. They were confused about the friends who had died and how it was all going to work. How was it going to fit into the new scheme of things? It was a newly revealed concept to all believers. (1 Corinthians 15:51). It was the rapture they had a question about. So now Paul goes on to reference the Judgment Day, AKA The Day of the LORD, but not to explain it, because they already knew.
Even today, two thousand years later it is a comfort to think about the blessed moment when we will be reunited with our Lord. We shall be with Him evermore from that moment, never out of His presence and always in His glory and purity and holiness. Wow. That IS a comfort.
So, in chapter 5:1, Paul begins by saying, "Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you." That phrase 'now concerning' is a Greek way of changing the subject. It was a linguistic marker, meaning 'pay attention, new subject.' And Paul does launch into a new subject, the Judgment of the Lord also known as the Tribulation. He is not talking of the rapture any more, but of the wrath of God leveled on the remaining unbelieving world.
So when we read of people saying "peace and security" it is in fact a harbinger of the rapture, because the phrase is related to those who are in the Tribulation. And since the rapture precedes the trib, how much closer is the great gathering together with Christ? But the phrase "when they are saying peace and security" it does not directly relate to the rapture. When they are saying peace and security destruction comes. We are not appointed to destruction, but of homecoming. Just please be aware that 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 is about us in the rapture and 1 Thessalonians 5 is about them in wrath and destruction- and that is where the phrase "peace and safety" is (or "peace and security" as stated in other translations).
"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;" (1 Thessalonians 5:4)
We don't even need to seek a sign or know when, exactly. It will happen suddenly and then we will be gone. We don't even need to worry about the wrath of the Lord, we are not appointed to it. (1 Thess 5:9). That Day will not overtake us. We are the "we" Paul wrote about in chapter 4, not the "them" in wrath of chapter 5.
I think the rapture will be soon. Paul thought it would be soon. I believe the point is to understand eschatology so it will give us an urgency to holy living and witnessing. And to live as if each moment on earth will be the last moment before rapture- or death. We live in expectation of the great reunion either of spirit through death or the body if we are alive and raptured. Yes, they are saying peace and safety. Yes, they are talking about confirming a covenant. Damascus is being destroyed and Egypt is falling and a whole host of other things are happening that align with the way Jesus said things will look like in the last days.
Since 2006, just 18 months after I was saved I began to gravitate to prophetic study. We live in a state of expectation without setting dates and times, but then again, we know He is coming soon! We know this. It is truer today than it was in Paul's time when Paul said, so therefore He is coming sooner than soon!
As always, keep your eye on Israel. She is the umbiculus urbis, the omphalos, belly button of the world- all the events taking place there should concern us greatly. We should be watching with a laser focus and that should energize us to live as holy people.
"'Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 20:7). Consecrate means to set apart or to set aside. Set yourselves apart for holy works. Always ask yourself, is this the thing I want to be doing the moment I hear His trumpet and meet Jesus? Is this the thing I want to be saying the second I hear the trumpet and am caught up? Be holy. He is coming soon.
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