Based on the feedback I receive from my writing, I know several believers question the relevance of what we are seeing today in regard to the return of the Lord. The world has seen natural disasters, earthquakes, and wars since the beginning of recorded history. What’s so significant about the things we are seeing today? Are they really any different than what has happened in earlier times?
I know many sincere Christians who do not recognize the signs of the times because people have talked about Jesus’ soon return for so long and nothing has happened. They point to World War II and how bad things looked then, but we recovered from that. “Things may look bad now,” they say, “but history has a way of correcting the extremes in society.”
Do current world events really signify that we are living in the last days? Yes, I believe they do for the following reasons.
If I could sum up the significance of what we are seeing today in one word it would be “Israel.” Its mere existence as a nation adds considerable weight to everything we see happening throughout the world.
Many people, including myself, believe Jesus’ reference to the fig tree in Matthew 24:32-33 depicts the reemergence of Israel as a nation. Scripture often portrays Israel as a fig tree and if that is also the case here, Jesus’ words indicate that the flourishing of Israel as a nation today is definitely a sign we are living in the last days.
The Old Testament prophets often spoke of God gathering the people of Israel back into a nation in the last days. Jeremiah stated that as long as the “fixed order” of the sun, moon, and stars remains, Israel would be a nation in God’s eyes (Jer. 31:35-37). He also spoke of a time when God would bring His people back from nations and securely plant them in the land (32:36-41). The promises go far beyond what happened when the people of Judah returned from their Babylonian captivity; they speak to a future restoration that leads to a descendant of King David, the Messiah, ruling over the nation.
In Luke 21:24 Jesus said this, “They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” The implication is clear. Israel’s capture of old Jerusalem in 1967 was highly significant and is a strong indicator that Jesus remembers His promise to return to earth someday.
Many who have studied prophecy throughout the ages have not only looked for God to establish Israel as a nation again, but also for the rebuilding of the temple. Isaac Newton, the famous physicist, believed this and looked for both. Irenaeus, a famous church father of the second century AD, also wrote about a future temple existing in the last days, one that the antichrist would defile.
Jesus said that Daniel’s “abomination of desolation,” the Antichrist’s defiling of the temple, would take place during the tribulation before His glorious return to earth (Matt. 24:15; Dan. 9:27). In order for this to happen, Israel will need to build another temple and this is exactly what we see happening today.
The Temple Institute in Israel has drafted the plans for the temple, built many of its furnishings, and is training Levites to serve as priests. The Sanhedrin recently selected a high priest for the temple. And the nation is already planning the infrastructure necessary for the large crowds that will come to visit the temple from all over the world.
The signs receiving so much attention today come from the lips of Jesus Himself. In Matthew 24:3-8, He described these indicators of the last days as “the beginning of birth pains.” Yes there have always been wars and threats of wars, but never with the frequency as well as the potential for such severe consequences. If North Korea were to follow through on their threats, the resulting war could kill tens of millions almost instantly.
As of writing this paragraph, there have been 249 earthquakes in the world with an intensity of 4.0 or greater in the last seven days. It’s rarely been over 100 earthquakes in the time that I have followed this. Famines and pestilences are also increasing worldwide, just as Jesus said.
After Jesus gave us these signs and talked further of His coming He said this, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:44). Jesus’ command for believers of all ages was to be ready and watchful for His return. How much more so should we doing this with all we are seeing today?
Something else that ignites the interest of prophecy nerds such as me is the aligning of nations in the Middle East exactly according to what Ezekiel prophesied for the last days (see chapters 38-39). Let me give you some of the highlights of what he predicted without going into the details of how we arrive at these conclusions.
Ezekiel said that in the last days a coalition of nations, led by Russia, Turkey, and Iran would come against Israel. Many refer to this as the battle of Gog and Magog. Today we see these nations closely aligned as never before in history and all three have a significant military presence in Syria, close to the border of Israel. Earlier this month, Israel attacked a chemical and biological weapons factory in Syria run mainly by the Iranians. Could something like this be the spark that ignites this prophesied conflict?
Why would these nations attack Israel? Ezekiel says the motive will be the wealth of Israel, which until recently no one would have thought possible. Now, however, we know that Israel possesses a gigantic reservoir of natural gas as well as a rich supply of oil discovered in the Golan Heights. Putin, the president of Russian, already feels threatened by Israel’s natural gas deals with Europe and the closeness of the oil reserves to Syria could easily lead to an attack.
In addition, Iran issues frequent threats to annihilate the nation of Israel and Turkey, which once was an ally of Israel, has now closely aligned itself with those seeking her destruction.
Of equal significance are the nations that do not come against Israel. Egypt is missing from the list and text says that Saudi Arabia will merely protest the attack. Events in the past few years have brought these nations into a much closer alliance with Israel than ever before.
A One-World Government
While the Bible does not use the term “one-world government,” it’s clear from passages both in Daniel and Revelation that the coming antichrist will gain control of much of the world if not all of it. Scripture says a time is coming when the world will be under a ruling body of some sort led by the antichrist, which I believe will form quickly at the start of the coming tribulation.
We see calls for such a world-wide government in many places today. Pope Francis repeatedly calls for this as a way to combat global warming. George Soros is putting much of financial resources into making this happen as he repeatedly calls for a one-world monetary system. The UN has an agenda in place to help facilitate the transition to such a universal government. All these indicators and much more show the readiness of the world for this.
The signs we see today point to the nearness of the Tribulation where the natural disasters we see today will intensify to a degree never seen before in the history of the world. Since Jesus is coming before this time, the signs also signify the nearness of His return to take His church back to His Father’s house as He promised in John 14:2-3.
Let me be very clear that I am not setting any dates or deadlines for Jesus to come for us. He is exceedingly patient and waiting for as many as possible to repent and turn to Him. While I believe He will come for us quite soon, I am not putting any limitations on that. He may come today, later this month, next year, or sometime after that.
What I am saying is what we are seeing today points to the nearness of His return. So many things are already in place for the tribulation to begin, but are seemingly held in suspension waiting upon the Lord to remove His restraining force to bring about all that the Bible predicts for this time of trouble upon the earth.
It’s like watching a juggler with ten balls in the air. Eventually you know he will miss one of them and all the rest will soon be bouncing on the floor. He or she may keep all the balls up in the air much longer than we expect, but eventually they all will fall. Soon and suddenly, I believe, all that we are seeing today will converge into the beginning of the tribulation, but we will be with Jesus.
Jonathan C. Brentner
Eternity Versus the Moment