By Eric Metaxas/Breakpoint.org
By Eric Metaxas/Breakpoint.org
Since Rene Descartes formulated his famous dictum, “I think, therefore I am,” philosophers have been wrestling with the question of how we can know that what we think we know is really real. In the last couple of decades, pop culture has wrestled with that question, as well.
Recall the 1999 movie, “The Matrix,” in which a man discovers his whole life has been lived in a virtual prison that simulates the real world. In the movie, he’s given a choice between two pills–a red one and a blue one.
The first will awaken him from the simulation, and the second will lull him back into blissful ignorance. Since then, “choosing the red pill” has become synonymous with throwing off comfortable illusions and confronting reality.
But in many ways, the concept of the Matrix has transcended Hollywood. If you can believe it, the idea that the world around us may not be what it appears has become increasingly popular among scientists, philosophers, and even technology tycoons.
And some of these folks are now actively searching for the “red pill” that will wake us from our collective illusion.
The Independent reports that two anonymous Silicon Valley billionaires are pouring money into a project to break us free from a real life Matrix–if we’re living in one, that is. Although the details of this project are unclear, we do know it involves a team of scientists and some of the richest, most influential innovators in America.
This shouldn’t surprise us that much. Those who invent cutting edge products and technologies have long embraced some pretty weird ideas. Take, for instance, PayPal co-founder and “transhumanist” Peter Thiel, who hopes to achieve immortality by “uploading” his consciousness into a computer!
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, thinks we may already be living in a computer. We just don’t know it yet. In a recent interview, he placed the odds that our reality is not the ultimate, “base-level reality” at “billions to one.”
In other words, the guy behind today’s top-selling electric cars and best-known private space program is almost certain we’re trapped in the Matrix!
Bizarrely, even the Bank of America has gotten in on the hype, suggesting in a recent report to clients that the chances we’re living in a simulation concocted by highly advanced beings are roughly twenty to fifty percent.
What’s going on here? Well folks, if I can venture a wild guess, I think this is what religion looks like when you take away churches, scriptures, and belief in God. Silicon Valley is a notoriously secular place, even sporting one of the nation’s only atheist churches, weirdly called the “Sunday Assembly.”
But as Os Guinness points out, secularists–even brilliant and fabulously rich secularists–can’t live consistently within their worldview. A materialistic universe doesn’t satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart, so those who don’t believe in God frequently grasp at what sociologist Peter Berger calls “signals of transcendence.”
We are religious creatures, and as Paul teaches us in Romans 1, we know instinctively that there’s “something more.” So it’s no surprise that those who work on the cutting edge of technology are looking to computers as the answer to their transcendent longings.
But in Christianity, we don’t have to break out of some Matrix before we can know and experience transcendence.
In our faith, the One Who is transcendent broke into our reality and purchased for us everlasting life. Besides being true, that’s just a much better story than anything coming from Hollywood, Silicon Valley, or any other town in California.
By Enoch Lavender
For us who are watching prophetic developments in the earth, there is something very exciting about monitoring the historic preparations taking place for the rebuilding of Israel’s Temple.
In the last few weeks, two big stories have hit the headlines that are worth noting.
The first news item concerns the resurfacing of a report of a mysterious gemstone that could belong to the original breastplate of the High Priest.
The second news headline is that Israel’s reconvened Sanhedrin has taken the momentous step to nominate a High Priest – for the first time since the Temple’s destruction in AD 70!
In this article we will look more at these intriguing developments and will then look at the prophetic implications for us as believers as we draw closer to the time of the Lord’s coming.
Mysterious Gem Discovered
Detailed reports of a mysterious gem re-surfaced this week and have also made headlines in the secular media. There is strong speculation that the gem could be from the breast plate of the High Priest.
Others suggest that it may be one of the two stones worn on the High Priest’s shoulders or even be part of the legendary Urim & Thummim. While these speculations may seem far-fetched at first glance, a detailed and scientific analysis of the gem has highlighted its stunningly unique and mysterious features.
The precious stone – which has been carefully passed down the documented line of a Crusader’s family tree – is a semi-precious sardonyx with little intrinsic value in and of itself. It has been cut into a hemisphere, and researchers are baffled as to how the ancients could possibly have cut the stone in this way.
Even more astounding than the cut of the stone, is an inscription in ancient Hebrew inside the stone, visible through its clear surface. Professor Moshe Sharon – who is an expert on ancient Hebrew Script at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem – describes the Hebrew inscription as being in a style of Script from approximately 1000 BC.
This Hebrew inscription leads to speculation that the gem could belong to the legendary Urim and Thummim which were used in Bible times to determine God’s will (Ex. 28:30, 1 Sam 28:16).
It is interesting to note that the Jewish Talmud describes the Urim and Thummim as being stones that would light up to spell an answer in Hebrew in response to petitions to God. Could this stone be one of the mysterious Urim and Thummim?
Another mystery is how this ancient Hebrew script was inscribed inside the gem – without any visible signs of engraving or cutting of the stone.
Noted professor of archaeology and religious studies Dr. James Strange comments that, ‘there is no modern or ancient technology known to me by which an artisan could produce the inscription (inside the stone), as it is not cut into the surface of the stone”.
Upon examination, Dr. Strange also noted that the stone has no external markings, ruling out that it had been part of a ring or necklace. His conclusion was that the stone must have been set in a large plate or breastplate.
Ian Campbell, a leading South African gemologist, priced this unique gem at $200 million as a starting point, but acknowledged the difficulty of pricing a one-off unique gem with such tremendous religious significance.
While the owners have expressed interest in the gem being restored to Jewish hands, the cost is prohibitive and its authenticity must be proven.
Dr. Strange is today issuing a call for a fresh scientific examination of the stone to determine whether it is an elaborate hoax or a genuine artifact belonging to the Jewish people. At this stage it is too early to tell, but perhaps this stone will be restored to Israel and play a role in the rebuilt temple?
The Sanhedrin Nominates a High Priest
Just prior to the reports about this mysterious gem, another prophetic headline ricocheted across the world as the Israeli Sanhedrin announced that it had taken the ground breaking step to nominate a High Priest.
The Sanhedrin at the time of Jesus served as a kind of Supreme Court for the Jewish nation. It was disbanded in 425 AD, and was only reconvened in 2004. At the time, leading prophecy teachers hailed it’s reconvening as an important step in preparing for the rebuilding of the Temple.
The modern reconvened Sanhedrin consists of 71 distinguished rabbis (after the pattern of Moses + 70 elders), and it meets monthly to rule on key spiritual issues.
Rabbinical teaching holds that the High Priest for the Third Temple would either be appointed by the Sanhedrin or by the King (the Messiah Himself). In the absence of the Messiah, and in the lead up to the all important Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) sacrifice for the nation, the Sanhedrin has agreed on the need to nominate a High Priest who can perform this vitally important sacrifice if permission is granted.
Permission to sacrifice on the Temple Mount could come sooner than many expect. With the unexpected and dramatic rise of Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehudah Glick into Netanyahu’s coalition government, and the increasing support for a rebuilt Temple among both Government ministers and a small but growing segment of the population, the Sanhedrin can sense a change in the air.
This sense of change also carries with it great responsibility as it would be a disaster if permission was granted and no High Priest was ready to perform the crucial Day of Atonement sacrifice for the nation.
It is against this backdrop that the momentous decision was taken by the Sanhedrin to appoint a High Priest – for the first time since the temple was destroyed in AD 70! The nominated candidate for High Priest was Rabbi Baruch Kahane, an expert on the complicated laws pertaining to the Temple Service.
In a surprising twist, Rabbi Baruch declined the role at this time, but accepted a similar role with the title of ‘Rosh Kohanim’ (Head of the Priests). This role is often but not always synonymous with being High Priest. In other words, Rabbi Baruch will be available to be called on to be High Priest if and when the situation should arise.
It is important to note that sacrificing on the Temple Mount does not require the prior existence of a rebuilt Temple and can be restarted before the construction has even begun.
If granted permission by the Israeli authorities – which would still be a major miracle in itself – the Sanhedrin’s goal is to be ready to conduct sacrifices with only a week’s notice.
The appointing of a High Priest is therefore a crucial step in preparation for the resumption of sacrifices on the Temple Mount.
The Temple and End Times
Believers in Jesus rightly point to Him as the ultimate sacrifice for mankind and that we as believers no longer require animal sacrifices for sins. However, restoring the sacrificial system could be an important step in preparing the Jewish people for their Messiah and certainly plays a key role in the End Times.
Modern rabbinical Judaism has moved away from sacrifices to good works as a means of salvation, and it is therefore hard for many Jewish people to understand the significance of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
But as sacrifices are restored to the Jewish nation, it will shift modern Judaism back closer to Biblical Judaism. This would open the eyes of many to the importance of the sacrifice in dealing with sins, and perhaps even help prepare the way for the nation to understand fully the sacrifice of Jesus and what was accomplished at the cross.
In regards to End Time Prophecy, many believe that the Scriptures warn of Temple Sacrifices being stopped for a period of time by the Anti-Christ (Dan 9:27).
If this is correct, then a rebuilt Temple is an essential piece of the prophetic puzzle. The rebuilding of the Temple and the re-institution of a High Priest (with or without the mysterious gem!) are therefore all significant steps bringing us that much closer to the day when the Lord Himself will return!
Learn more about efforts to rebuild the Temple with our featured DVD “Still Ready To Rebuild”
Photo Credit: @Israel_Shield
If you are an Israel friend or foe, your social media feeds were probably taken up with the recent UNESCO decision that the Temple Mount, Jerusalem and the Western Wall have no connectino to Jewish history.
The anti Israel crowd were probably applauding the decision while the pro Israel crew were either laughing it off or seriously ticked off by it. Personally, I certainly belong to the second category, but when I heard the decision, I stood up and started applauding it. Why you ask? So happy you did!
No, I don’t agree with this ludicrous, historically fabricated, Islamic terror apologetic UNESCO decision, but for those of you who were surprised or even in the slightest bit disappointed by UNESCO, it’s time to wake up!
Can you see it?
This conflict was never about settlements or occupation of a country that never existed and it was never about an Arab national dream to build a country called Palestine, this conflict has always been about an Arab national dream to destroy one called Israel.
The recent UNESCO decision proved beyond a doubt that this is not about an effort by the world to bring about peace, but rather an attempt by the world to take apart Israel piece by piece.
It’s one thing to create a national Arab identity based on a fabrication of history, it’s another to try to delete real Jewish history in the land of Israel, in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount. Let’s forget about the fact that the Torah, New Testament and the Quran clearly calls the Land of Israel a Jewish homeland and let’s ignore the fact that the Islamic Al Aqsa mosque was originally called BAYIT AL MUQDAS (Translated literally as; Built on the Temple!)
Let’s make believe there is no actual depiction of the Roman empire ransacking Jerusalem and stealing the vessels from JEWISH Temple that existed in Jerusalem long before a religion called Islam was born!
Let’s ignore the fact that Jerusalem is mentioned in the Jewish Bible 669 times and the word Zion is mentioned 154 times and the fact that Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Quran even once!
Let’s ignore all those pesky facts and still make believe the UNESCO decision has something to do with countries fighting for human and civil rights.
Here is a list of the countries that voted for the UNESCO decision to delete any Jewish connection to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or the Western Wall.
I gave you the countries that are officially Muslim or have a majority population of Muslims, can you point out which one of these countries have a full democratic government?
The only thing that happened in the recent UNESCO vote is the masks came off. The only people who were surprised about this vote are those who built themselves a fantasy world where the enemies of Israel are actually interested in peace.
The only people upset about this vote are leftists who convinced themselves of some kind of Alice in Wonderland reality where the radical Islamic queen will not cut off their heads if they just give them some land.
The only question that remains is; do the liberal leftists in the world have enough sanity left to actually deal with reality or will they cling on to the fantasy world they built for themselves?
Dear America, England, Germany, Estonia, Lithuania and The Netherlands,
Thank you for having the courage to stand up and vote NO to this total fabrication of history and poor excuse for Islamic terrorism. Can you do me a favor?
Can you please stop making believe settlements are the issue and can you please stop accepting the false narrative the Arabs created with which they justify attacking Israel and murdering Jews.
A message the British Prime minister and her government…
I am pleased by the decision to stop providing funding for the PA’s financial rewards to terrorists and their families. But it isn’t something you should be patting yourselves on the back for. You should never have been giving money to those murderers in the first place!
Now that the British people have chosen to leave the anti-Semitic EU, which recently gave a standing ovation to Mahmoud Abbas, after he spewed his lies about Israel poisoning the Palestinian water supply. It’s time to go a step further and use the British veto the next time the UN Security Council tries to pass an anti-Israel/anti-Semitic resolution.
If you want Britain to prosper, this is the way forward.
Gen 12:3. “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
By PNW Staff
Current estimates indicate that some 50,000 people around the world may already have these implants and be using them for access to their homes and businesses, contact details, and more.
By Yves Mamou/Gatestone Institute