There are seven major prophetic signs of the Second Coming, and for the first time in history all seven are in some stage of fulfillment. As in years past, I’ll list the seven with their primary biblical references and offer commentary from current events.
1. Israel Will Be In The Land… Ezekiel 38:8
After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety.
In 1948, when Israel took its place among the nations of the world again for the first time in nearly 2000 years, students of prophecy recognized the fulfillment of the primary sign that the end of the age was upon us. Jesus had said that the generation being born when that happened would still be alive when He returned (Matt. 24:34).
The fulfillment of this prophecy caused another reaction as well. Satan reads prophecy too, and began exerting his influence on world leaders in his continuing effort to thwart the plan of God. As a result, Israel has fought six major wars in the last 58 years, each of them an attempt to erase the Jewish Homeland from the face of the Earth. And it’s clear that this effort will continue, with the biggest battle of all looming on the horizon, foretold by Ezekiel in chapters 38-39. Israel’s enemies, both physical and spiritual, won’t let up until they’ve either succeeded (their view) or been destroyed (God’s view).
But in abandoning their Gaza settlements last year, and with their inconclusive performance against Hezbollah this summer, it seems to many as if the Israelis have become their own worst enemy. In Gaza, the plan was to free the military from having to protect the settlements (a major commitment) while maintaining control of their borders. But turning part of their border security over to Egypt has been a disaster, permitting the Palestinians to smuggle in tons of weapons, ammunition and explosives from the Sinai (courtesy of Syria and Iran) and fire more mortars and missiles into Israel than ever before.
Although US and Israeli leaders promised that abandoning Gaza would improve the nation’s security, the opposite has happened. And as those opposed to the abandonment predicted, Gaza has become a major center for terrorist activity. When Hamas won the Palestinian elections they quickly turned Gazainto an armed camp. Now Hamas appears to be just as dangerous a threat as Hezbollah and Israel seems to be caught between two forces powerful enough to make defeat a distinct possibility.
But the God of Israel sees a different outcome. “I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God. (Amos 9:14-15)
2. Jerusalem Will Be In Jewish Hands… Luke 21:24
They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
The Lord prophesied that the reunification of Jerusalem as a Jewish City would be a sign that foreign (gentile) influence over His land, and indeed the world, was about to end. When this happened in 1967, prophecy experts saw it as another major sign fulfilled. The almost world wide effort to take the city apart again is in essence a battle of wills; the Will of God vs. the will of man. Until recently every Israeli politician has stood firmly on a pledge to keep Jerusalemunited forever as Israel’s capital.
But then former Prime Minister Sharon said that if re-elected he’d consider abandoning parts of the suburbs to achieve peace. His stroke-induced coma ended his political career, but his hand picked successor, Ehud Olmert, has hinted at following through on Sharon’s proposals. Olmert’s poor performance in the war against Hezbollah has robbed him of the political strength to follow through for now. And God said that when He re-gathered His people in the land for the 2nd time (the first was after Babylon) they’d never be dispersed again, and so far it looks like He meant it. (Amos 9:15)
The fulfillment of these two major prophecies concerning Israel has caused confusion in the minds of some commentators. It centers around an incorrect interpretation of Matt. 24:34, that all end times prophecies are to be fulfilled within a generation, nominally 40 years, of Israel’s re-gathering in 1948. That error made 1988 seem like the likely time for the End. But when 1988 came and went scholars focused on the Jerusalem date, 1967, and began adding 40 years to that, advancing their predictions to 2007. The rationale for this is that the timing of the First Coming prophecies in Daniel 9:24-27 keyed off the rebuilt city, not off the return to the Land.
But the Lord didn’t promise that all end times prophecies would be fulfilled within a generation of their beginning, only that the generation being born at the time of the first of the signs would still be alive to see their completion. According to Psalm 90:10 a Biblical life span is 70 years, so predicting the approximate time of the End requires the addition of 70 years to either 1948 or 1967, not 40.
There are good arguments in favor of either date, so the safest bet is to construct a window of time opening in 2018 and extending to 2037 for the fulfillment of all End Time Prophecies. And remember, the culmination of End Times prophecies is the Second Coming, not the Rapture of the Church, which precedes it by at least 7 years.
As the time draws nearer, the timing of the 2nd Coming will become more and more obvious. Those people around when a treaty is enforced permitting the Jews to build their Temple in Israel will know that it’s seven years away. Those who witness the anti Christ standing in that Temple proclaiming himself to be God will know there are only 1260 days left until the end of the Great Tribulation, and the 2nd Coming happens right after that. As Paul so clearly put it, only those in darkness will be taken by surprise. But at this point in time, the 19-year range I’ve given above offers a minimally speculative period within which it could all come to pass.
3. A Moslem Coalition Armed And Led By Russia Will Attack The Holy Land… Ezek. 38:2-6
“Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army–your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops–the many nations with you.”
(For a more detailed explanation of the modern equivalents to these biblical names, read “An In Depth Look At The Modern Equivalent To Biblical Names in Ezek.38)
Over 130 historical references make it plain that Magog stands for modern Russia, and the other countries named here form a coalition based on their common religion, Islam. (Today Russia is 30% Moslem and growing.) Among them are Iran, several North African countries, Eastern European countries along the Danube, and the Turkic nations of Asia Minor. A quick look at a world map will reveal that these areas are home to some of the most violent Islamic terrorist groups.
The Russians are already a major supplier of arms for the Moslem coalition, just as Ezekiel prophesied, and will be drawn into joining in this battle by God Himself. Russia’s barely disguised policy of becoming the major outside force in the Middle East is playing right into the Lord’s hands. Iran and Russia are well into the implementation of a $50 billion deal to provide Iran with nuclear power. The 10 reactors called for in the deal are supposedly for electrical power generation, but most western leaders suspect they’ll be used to build bombs, too. Iranian Pres. Ahmadinejad says he’ll proclaim Iran to be a nuclear power right after the New Year, but most experts think a bomb is still a ways off. Israel has again vowed to prevent that ever happening, but the US seems to be backing off its similar promise.
Recently, to offset the loss of Iraq as their primary mid-east asset, Russia has formed commercial and military alliances with Turkey and Syria, becoming Turkey’s 2nd largest trading partner after Germany. Turkey’s inability to resolve the issue they have with Greece over Cypress will likely torpedo their attempt to join the EU. Recent polls also show a dramatic decrease in public support among Turks for EU membership. From an initial high of nearly 90%, less than half of all Turks now favor joining. Russia is quickly moving to bring Turkey under its influence, a shift that could cause Turkey to abandon the West and line up with the Moslem coalition as Ezekiel foretold.
Russia has also sold Damascus a state of the art anti-air defense system along with their latest generation missiles and anti-tank rockets and plan to construct a major military seaport in northern Syria, moving components of their Black Sea fleet there. As this is being written Syrian Pres. Assad is in Russia with $500 million Iranian dollars shopping for more weapons. In Lebanon, Russian Military Intelligence has just about taken over the town of Sidon, spying on Israel for Iran and Syria. Iran has taken delivery of a Russian air defense system too, to protect its Bushier reactor site.
Iran seems to be preparing its people for war with Israel and even the US, making the most outlandish claims in an effort to whip their people into a frenzy not seen since the days of the US embassy kidnapping of the 70’s. This inflammatory ranting has included a Holocaust denial seminar attended by 30 countries, and a promise to wipe Israel off the face of the map. Former Israeli PM Netanyahu has said that it’s like 1938 all over again. (He has also said that Iran is only 1000 days from achieving its goal of nuclear weaponry.)
The major obstacle to an early fulfillment of this prophecy is the reference to its occurrence at a time when Israel is “peaceful and unsuspecting” (Ezekiel 38:11). I believe that the removal of the US as Israel’s powerful ally is necessary to create this condition. I don’t think the Moslem coalition will attack until they’re sure the US won’t retaliate. It’s no accident that Iran has led a charge against the US dollar, causing a major weakening in world markets and setting the stage for an end to the monopoly the dollar has enjoyed in international oil markets. Iran is also the primary force behind the instability in Iraq. The cost of this war is creating unsustainable deficits for the US, and with the dollar weakening, the US may be forced to vacate the Middle East soon. The coming change in government will be an interesting addition to this mix, but the bottom line is that either the US or some other entity (the UN?) has to make a toothless agreement to protect Israel to set them up for this battle.
As we begin 2007, the Middle East is in the most volatile situation of our generation. The Palestinian Territories, Iraq and Lebanon could all erupt into civil war this year. Syria and Israel are at each other’s throats with some predicting a spring war, and both Hamas and Hezbollah are itching to jump into the fray. The US is building up forces off the coast of Iran, and Israel has said it will not allow Iran to go nuclear. Surely one of these powder kegs will explode and could even start a chain reaction.
I believe that once these issues are resolved, either by warfare or negotiation or both, a false peace will come to Israel very suddenly and unexpectedly, like the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Israel will be set up for Ezekiel 38 by its supposed peace partners.
When the time is right, having recently taken His church to Heaven, the Lord will use this battle to orchestrate His reconciliation with Israel, and on its heels the anti Christ will emerge with a peace plan that includes a Jewish Temple. So once this battle takes place, end times prophecy will go on fast forward.
4. The Ancient Roman Empire Will Re-Emerge As A Political Force… Rev 17:9-10
“This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while.”(This one is a little obscure if you don’t know your history. When John was writing this, about 95AD, there had been five great world powers; Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. All were conquered and absorbed. The current power was Rome, which was never really conquered and will re-emerge at the end of the age, according to Daniel 9:26.)
Daniel 2:36-45 describes Gentile Dominion from Daniel’s time forward (Egyptand Assyria had already fallen) in the form of a giant statue. Read it carefully and you’ll find some interesting things in the description of the feet of iron mixed with clay, representing the revived Roman Empire of our time. In the first place the two don’t mix. We can imagine sticky clay serving as glue sticking pieces of iron together, but the language describes a clay that’s made of dust and already baked… hard and brittle like shards of pottery. You can’t make random pieces of iron and pottery adhere. They’ll keep falling apart.
In 2005 the EU constitution vote was defeated as one more example of how the EU has had trouble sticking together just as Daniel prophesied. Half-hearted efforts to revive it in 2006 bore no fruit. When Germany takes over the EU Presidency in 2007, look for another, more serious attempt to get the constitution passed. Remember the common currency issue a few years ago? Each one of these controversial steps has nearly driven the EU to its knees, but each time it has recovered. One day soon the EU will assume its destiny as the leading world power for the End of the Age.
In the mean time the Western European Union (WEU) a 10 nation confederacy of the only permanent and fully vested members of the EU has assumed responsibility for creating its military arm, based on its Recommendation 666, passed earlier. And in January 2007 the EU’s European Neighborhood Plan (ENP) takes effect. It’s a seven-year treaty that brings 12 Middle Eastern countries including Israel and the Palestinian Authority into economic cooperation with the EU. The EU’s Javier Solana has been fighting to get this program off the ground for years, and its coming implementation has made him the current favorite among those looking for the anti-Christ.
5. The World Will Embrace A Single Religion… Rev 13:8
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
The one world religion idea has been around for most of our generation, often under the guise of ecumenism. As the liberal denominations continue watering down their theology there are fewer things keeping them apart. Now some Evangelical leaders are questioning whether Jesus is really the only way to salvation. The flirtation between certain Evangelical groups and the Catholic Church is interesting, as is the dialog between the Pope and Leaders of Islam, and their common devotion to Mary. The Catholic Church is one of the richest organizations on the planet with over 1 billion members on 6 continents, and clearly thinks of itself as the world’s dominant religious group. It’s no secret that the Catholic church is posturing itself to be a major player in End times events.
But make no mistake about it. The rise of radical Islam is the chief threat to world peace today and their goal is nothing less than world domination. Their god is not the God of the Bible, and their fight with Jews and Christians actually began in the 7th Century AD when the Jews rejected Mohammed’s offer of consolidation. Prior to that time he had counseled his followers to respect and befriend the Jewish people, but when they refused to join his religion, he declared jihad (holy war) against them. Christians were included 400 years later as a result of the Crusades.
Currently nearly one out of five inhabitants of the world is Moslem, and like most Christians and Jews don’t really know what they believe or why. Ignorance and misinformation are primary tools of the devil so I would urge all thinking people to really study the origin and goals of Islam. It will soon be the world’s most popular religion, and after the removal of Evangelical Christians in the Rapture could easily be the foundation on which the one world religion is built.
In 2 Thes. 2:7 Paul wrote that the secret power of lawlessness was already at work in the world but that the One who holds it back would continue to do so until He is taken out of the way (out of the midst). Understand that Paul wasn’t referring to man’s disregard for the law here, but rather to his refusal to accept the truth. In New Testament Greek the word for unbelief is also translated disobedience. God’s view is that there’s just too much clear evidence of His existence for anyone not to believe in Him. Therefore so-called unbelievers are really disobeying by refusing to believe.
In 1 Tim 4:1 Paul warned us of the doctrines of demons and in 2 Tim 4:3-4 of the growing popularity of mythology as being part and parcel of this end timesreligion. This is the lawlessness Paul was writing about. Having rejected the truth, those left after the Rapture will be ripe for the Great Lie of 2 Thes 2:9 to fill the need every man has to believe in something greater than himself. All it will take is for a charismatic religious leader to emerge, a leader powerful enough to bring all those who are left behind into one counterfeit religion.
Much has been written this year about al Mahdi, a manifestation of Moslem prophecy that is strikingly similar to Christian prophecies of the anti-Christ. Both come on the scene during a time of great turmoil on Earth, both come claiming a desire to restore peace, both have a seven year reign, both head a one world religion and one world government, both claim supernatural origins, and both reigns end in a battle between good and evil that brings about Earth’s final judgment. Some students of prophecy remind us that the Roman Empirehad an Eastern component composed of the very countries whose people are the most militant advocates of Islam today, and that the anti-Christ could easily come from there.
Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion and is second only to Christianity in number of adherents. But the true Church will soon be gone in the Rapture. The remnant, with its celebration of pluralism and its inclusive view of the way to salvation will be ripe for conversion. Add the widely held but incorrect beliefs that God and Allah are the same, and that Islam is a religion of peace, and you can see how Islam could be the straw that a world on the verge of chaos grasps for survival.
6. The World Will Accept A Single Government… Rev 13:3
The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.
Earlier, I stated my view that a decline in US strength would be necessary to permit the Battle of Ezekiel to take place. This is also a necessary precursor to the emergence of a one world government.
Last year I said that unless something happened to fracture us again, Evangelicals would become an increasingly powerful voting block as viewpoints become more polarized over conflicting moral values. I also said that the voting power of Evangelicals would, more than any other factor, keep America strong and independent.
Well, something did happen. Partly because of media distortion, and partly because of the constant meddling by Iran and Syria, the war in Iraq has become so unpopular that it’s driven public opinion to devastating levels of dissatisfaction with the way the current administration is running it. As a result both houses of Congress have changed hands and 2007 could very well see the beginning of our departure from the Middle East entirely.
And a successful attack on the strength of the dollar could eventually sideline us from world affairs entirely. This year the five year old Euro became the most popular currency in circulation, surpassing the dollar for the first time. It still has a long way to go before it takes the lead as a reserve currency, but breaking the dollar’s monopoly on oil transactions will provide a substantial boost. Iran, China, Russia, and Venezuela have teamed up with the intention of doing just that.
The Rapture of the Church would be the final and fatal blow to US supremacy, paving the way for the 10 Nation Confederacy of Bible prophecy to consolidate its hold on world affairs.
7. Babylon Will Re-Emerge As A Prominent City In World Affairs… Rev 18:2-3
With a mighty voice he shouted: “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”
Babylon is still a ways away from accepting its destiny as a city of power in the end times. It’s just a ceremonial city right now, but 15 years ago nobody even knew it existed at all. One of the shocks of Gulf War 1 was the discovery of Babylon standing there on the banks of the Euphrates again.
You may think that being little more than a giant museum is a far cry from being a center of world power, but some of Iraq’s new political leaders are calling for their nation’s capital to be moved to Babylon. The logic behind this is that Baghdad was Saddam’s capital, and the new Iraq needs a new capital, more consistent with its heritage. Babylon fills the bill, and becoming the capital of Iraq would be a giant first step toward achieving its transformation into a center of power.
Because of Babylon’s current lack of importance in the world, some students of prophecy search for an allegorical fulfillment of Rev. 18, and of course many see the USA or some city therein as a logical candidate.
But remember, even though in Revelation 17:9 John describes “mystery Babylon” as seated on seven hills (meaning Rome), a prophecy in Zechariah 5:5-11 shows it being moved “to the plains of Shinar” a reference to ancient Mesopotamia called Iraq today. We can’t switch from literal to allegorical interpretations of Scripture without clear direction, and where Babylon is concerned no such direction exists. In fact the opposite is true.
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:6-14)
Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21:10-11)
“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25-28)
WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS … Depending upon whose intelligence reports you read somewhere between 30 and 50 wars are currently being fought around the world, with a substantial number of additional disputes threatening to erupt into war at any time.
THE INCREASE OF NATURAL DISASTERS … More frequent and more severe hurricanes, more frequent and more intense earthquakes. Killer storms and quakes continue to dot the news, although 2006 didn’t achieve the record levels of devastation caused in 2005
SIGNS IN THE SUN, MOON, AND STARS … The magnetic polar reversal, predicted by computer model for 2012 is gaining more attention since its likelihood was first announced. Having moved several hundred miles across Canada the Magnetic North Pole is currently headed for Siberia. While the effects of a Magnetic Polar Reversal have never been observed by mankind, it has apparently happened in the distant past. What’s unique this time is that the Sun is due for a polar reversal at the same time. I’ve speculated that the effects of the polar reversal could fulfill Revelation 6 and if the projected time of 2012 is correct, it fits nicely into the End Times prophecy window we opened above.
PESTILENCE… Not only new diseases like HIV and SARS but also the return of old ones like Whooping cough. But the big news again this year is the likely spread of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu). A few cases among humans have lead to fears that the virus has mutated to thrive in a human host. Dire predictions are placing possible deaths from this pandemic in the millions
THE LOVE OF MOST WILL GROW COLD … 3500 people die every day in defense of the Christian faith. Run away crime, children being abused and murdered by their parents, children killing children. Murder trials as public entertainment soon to be followed by televised executions. Ethnic cleansing, rape and forced pregnancy, pedophilia, random shootings, the incidence of disrespect is enough to make you sick.
THIS GOSPEL WILL BE PREACHED IN ALL NATIONS … Looking at the state of the world, it’s hard to be encouraged. But as world news gets worse and worse, more people are turning to the Lord for solace. According to some reports as many as 175,000 new believers are born again every day, mostly in Africa, China, and India. Reports of these conversions are accompanied by accounts of miracles, people receiving supernatural healings and even being raised from the dead. Just as He did at the beginning of the church Age the Holy Spirit is moving mightily at its End. I believe the Lord is issuing a giant “last call” before He suddenly takes the church out of here to begin the End Times judgments.
The above are given as indicators in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) and we’ll continue to bring you periodic information on these as well.
As you know most of the signs in the Olivet Discourse are progressive and all are described as happening well before the end. Their main interest to us is found in the phrase “beginning of birth pangs.” Natural disasters, the tendency toward war as a tool of diplomacy, famine amidst plenty (35,000 children die each day of starvation and related diseases) and pestilence are described as being common to the era but increasing in frequency and intensity as the end approaches. This was certainly the case in 2005 and is an indicator of how close we are to the end.
It’s true that for over 100 years folks have been saying, “how much worse can it get?” Sadly, the answer now as it was then is, “Much!” It seems man’s depravity knows no limits. But take heart. Though we are in the world, we are not of the world. We don’t belong here, being citizens of heaven. And one day soon our long awaited King will return to take us there. Maranatha!