The Jewish revolt against Rome in 66 A.D. culminated in the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and Herod’s temple in 70 A.D. God’s covenant people were then scattered to the four corners of the earth in an unprecedented diaspora that has continued until modern times. God poured out His wrath upon the children of Israel for the rejection of their Messiah, Jesus, the Son of God.
“For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people” (Luke 21:22-23).
The revolt broke out in 66 A.D. when Gessius Florus, the final procurator of Judaea, plundered the Jewish temple. War erupted, and the Jews were initially victorious. Fortunes shifted when Emperor Nero dispatched the Roman war general Vespasian, famed for his recent conquest of Britain, to crush the Jewish revolt. By October of 67 A.D., Vespasian and his armies had conquered Galilee and were headed south toward Jerusalem. Most of the land was lost to the Romans. In 68 A.D., Nero committed Suicide, and Vespasian left for Rome to become Emperor. He left his son Titus in charge of the war in Judaea.
In July of 70 A.D., the Romans had surrounded Jerusalem. Famine on a massive scale resulted. The Sicarii (a group of radical Jewish zealots) gruesomely murdered many attempted escapees. Those who did escape successfully were crucified by the Romans on the Mount of Olives.
According to the Jewish historian Josephus, 1.1 million Jews were killed in the war.
On Tisha B’Av, Herod’s temple was burned to the ground. In exact fulfillment of the words of The Lord, not one stone of the temple was left standing (Matthew 24:2). The Roman soldiers literally broke apart each marble stone to collect the melting gold.
The Jews were evicted from their ancient homeland and sold off as slaves to foreigners. The war officially ended in 73 A.D. when Masada, a mountaintop fortress near the Dead Sea, fell to the Romans.
The next 1,900 years would see countless Gentile powers occupy the Holy Land, all in accordance with the Times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24).
Following World War II and the Nazi Holocaust, on May 14, 1948, the modern State of Israel was created, and the Jews once again inhabited their homeland. Great numbers of Jews have emigrated to Israel, and today, the population of Israel is over nine million. All of this occurred in our generation in stunning fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea” (Isaiah 11:11).
“And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land” (Ezekiel 37:21).
Make no mistake about it: this supernatural regathering of God’s chosen people from the nations was out of judgment (the holocaust) and unto judgment (the future seven-year tribulation).
Ezekiel 20:34 says, “And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.”
Why would God pour out His judgment on His people only to bring them back into their ancient homeland and judge them one final time? Because it is only through this fiery judgment that Israel will come to faith in Jesus, their Messiah whom they continue to reject. Through this future time of trouble, their stubbornness will be broken, and 2,000 years of blindness will be undone.
God says this in Ezekiel 22:20: “As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you.”
God’s chosen people have suffered tremendously over the past two millennia in fulfillment of Scripture. Because the nation of Israel is chosen by God to be the conduit of blessing for all nations (Genesis 12:2-3), their utter disobedience and unbelief have resulted in a special chastisement from a Holy God who has uniquely revealed Himself to them in a covenant relationship.
The first holocaust (the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.) resulted in the diaspora.
The second holocaust (the Nazi holocaust) resulted in the regathering of the Jews and the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948. The third holocaust is the next one. It will bring unprecedented evil and brutality on the Jewish people. According to the Lord, this future trial will be so severe that if it were not terminated by His return, no one on earth would survive (Matthew 24:21).
This next trial is the Great Tribulation. While no nation on earth will escape it, it will be centralized in the Holy Land. This time of devastation will culminate in the Jewish survivors in Israel calling out to Jesus for deliverance in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 30:3, Joel 2:32, and Matthew 23:39. Jesus the Messiah will come, deliver Israel, and usher in the Messianic Age.
Who will God use to bring about this final chastisement on Israel?
Scripture is clear. Just as Israel was reborn in modern times, their ancient destroyer from the first century will also rise to fulfill its end-times role. Rome will rise again in the form of a ten-kingdom empire centered in the region of the ancient Roman Empire. The ten kingdoms, however, will encompass the entire world.
The Bible first refers to the Roman Empire’s ten kingdoms in Daniel 2. In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar has a terrifying dream that no one can interpret. Nebuchadnezzar gives the order for all the wise men of Babylon to be killed if they cannot relay his dream to him and interpret it. Daniel prays, and God gives him the meaning of the dream.
In his dream, Nebuchadnezzar sees a giant image. The image’s head is constructed of fine gold. This head represented the 1st of four world empires: the Babylonian Empire. Babylon ruled from 629-539 B.C. The 2nd empire, Medo-Persia, is symbolized in the image’s chest and arms of silver. Medo-Persia replaced Babylon and dominated the world from 539-330 B.C.
In 330 B.C., Alexander the Great of Greece crushed Persia and Greece became the 3rd major world power. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Greece is represented in the belly and thighs of bronze. Greece ruled from 332-63 B.C. In 63 B.C., the Roman general Pompey conquered Judaea and subjugated Israel to Roman rule. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Rome is represented in the image’s legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. More details are provided about this 4th kingdom than the preceding empires combined. Daniel says in verses 34-35 that it will be destroyed suddenly and catastrophically.
Daniel 2:34-35: “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.”
In verse 44, Daniel reveals this stone as the Kingdom of God. It will develop into a global kingdom of righteousness that will come immediately following the destruction of the Roman Empire. Daniel also says that God’s kingdom will come “in the days of these kings.”
What kings? The only king mentioned in Daniel 2 is King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel, however, is referring to kings. These kings are represented by the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image. Read verses 42 and 43.
“And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.”
Notice that the image’s feet are comprised of an iron and clay mixture. The iron symbolizes the strength of Rome (continued from the legs), and the clay symbolizes inherent vulnerabilities in the kingdom. These feet of the image represent a final division of the Roman Empire into ten kingdoms. Jesus Christ will violently destroy it at His second coming. Christ will then usher in His millennial reign.
The Roman Empire has never existed in a ten-king alliance, nor was it violently destroyed. Instead, it slowly imploded from within as barbarians invaded. In 364 A.D. Emperor Valentinian divided the empire between East and West. This East-West division was anticipated in the image’s two legs of iron. The Western Roman Empire was headquartered in Rome until it fell in 476 A.D. The Eastern Roman Empire was headquartered in Constantinople until it fell in 1453 A.D. when the Turks invaded. Ever since then, the basic geopolitical configuration of the world has been maintained in an East-West balance of power with the Eastern powers today represented in Islam and the Western powers consolidated in the United States of America and the European Union. This will not last.
The current order will soon give way to the final stage of the Roman Empire – a one-world government with ten kingdoms. This one-world government, however, will be very short-lived. According to Daniel 9, it will only be in power for approximately 7 years.
In Daniel 9, the 70 weeks prophecy is given. The seventy weeks of Daniel comprise a 490-year period that God has decreed just for Israel. In it, God will complete His national and redemptive purposes for Israel (Daniel 9:24). This 490-year period commenced in 445 B.C. when King Artaxerxes issued a decree allowing the city of Jerusalem to be rebuilt (Nehemiah 2:1-8). It continued straight until Jesus’s triumphal entry, and then the prophetic clock stopped. 69 weeks (483 years) were completed with one week of seven years remaining.
Verses 26-27 detail the climax of God’s prophetic plan for Israel. This includes the First Coming of Messiah, Messiah’s death, the destruction of Jerusalem, the rise and fall of the Antichrist, and the Second Coming of Jesus the Messiah.
The Church exists between verse 26 and verse 27, unforeseen by Daniel and all other O.T. prophets.
“26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
Read verse 26 again. Following the prophecy of Messiah’s substitutionary death (but not for himself), another specific prophecy is made: The people of a future prince will destroy the city (of Jerusalem) and the (second) Jewish temple. Notice that it isn’t the prince himself who is in view here but, rather, his people.
Thus, there is an explicit link between the historical people who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (the Romans) and this future ruler (the Antichrist).
The connection is that the Romans are the people of the Antichrist. Rome is his power base. For the Antichrist to rise out of the Roman Empire, the empire must be reconstituted both in identity and geographical location.
According to Daniel 9:27, the Antichrist will confirm a seven-year covenant with Israel. What do we know about this covenant?
In Hebrew, the word for confirm ( גָּבַר) means to be strong, mighty, or cause to prevail. A covenant is an alliance, pact, or league. The Antichrist will inaugurate a powerful alliance with Israel that will be contracted for seven years. It appears to be a nonaggression pact. He will vow to exterminate any nation that attacks Israel while giving the Jews freedom to rebuild their temple on the Temple Mount and resume their ancient Levitical sacrificial system. This covenant will be seen by Israel and the world as an unprecedented diplomatic, religious, and military accomplishment that will usher in world peace.
Unfortunately for Israel, this covenant will be a trap. It is merely part of the Antichrist’s deceptive scheme to later annihilate the Jewish people, finishing what his Roman ancestors attempted to do in 70 A.D. Instead of being their protector, he will prove to be their destroyer. Isaiah refers to this deceptive treaty as a “covenant with death and hell” (Isaiah 28:15). Once this covenant is signed, the tribulation will begin.
As Tim LaHaye writes in Revelation Unveiled, “From that point, God’s prophetic clock will begin to tick, and humanity will have only seven years left.”
In the middle of the seven-year tribulation, something terribly wrong will happen to Israel. The Antichrist will break his treaty with the Jews by forcibly terminating their sacrificial system. He will enthrone himself in their newly rebuilt temple and claim to be God. He will then demand that the whole world worship him alone. This act, called the Abomination of Desolation, will usher in the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). It will run its awful course for the second half of the tribulation until Jesus Christ ends it at His Second Coming.
How could any of this happen in today’s world?
Today, the United States is still the number one super-power in the world. America, however, is mentioned nowhere in Bible prophecy.
Once Christ calls all believers away to be with Him in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, demonic activity in high places will no longer be restrained on earth. Christians live in a wicked and perverse generation. Even now, the mystery of iniquity is already at work. God, however, is actively keeping the full manifestation of Satan’s deceptive powers in check. After the Rapture, unprecedented shifts in power will occur as God’s prophetic clock nears midnight and planet Earth stands on the brink of final judgment.
Christians may leave earth in the Rapture, and the last thing they’d see is the geopolitical situation as it exists today. This is a real possibility because the Rapture is imminent. Any day now, the Lord Jesus Christ will, suddenly and without warning, leave Heaven, arriving in Earth’s atmosphere. He will resurrect everyone who died in Him, and at the sound of the trumpet, we will be gone, snatched away to be with Him. Rescued from literal Hell on earth.
This exciting moment of Rapture will usher in the Day of the Lord for those left behind. From that point on, the supernatural will become the natural (Joel 2:30-31).
2 Thessalonians 2:7-10 says, “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
With Satan pulling out all stops, significant geopolitical shifting will occur. Europe will become the center of a comprehensive and intentional resurrection of the old Roman Empire. A one-world government will form, divided up into ten regions.
As the Antichrist conquers through deceptive peace, it is probable that other Western powers such as the United States, mortally weakened by the Rapture, will join this new world order.
If they don’t join willingly, Scripture indicates that they will be crushed in the second seal judgment (Revelation 6:3-4) when the Antichrist launches World War III.
Scripture is clear that this final Gentile kingdom will dominate the entire world and crush it (Daniel 7:23). No one will escape its power (Revelation 13:8,16). Rebellion will occur (Daniel 11:40-45), but this insurrection will foment only after the absolute reign of the Antichrist has been in place. He will rule during the tribulation and then meet his end, just as the Bible predicts.
Why is it important that believers study prophecy today?
All Christians on Earth today will escape God’s final judgment through the Rapture. It could truly happen at any moment. As we see developments pointing to a one-world government, we must take comfort that God has declared the end from the beginning. The world will be deceived into joining as one, and then it will be destroyed.
Followers of Christ, however, have a glorious future ahead of them. It is time to look up because our redemption is rapidly approaching. Watch and pray. Become less attached to this world so that you can hear the footsteps of the Messiah.
Southern California Seminary, El Cajon, CA