Saturday, January 9, 2010
2010 - Review of 7 major prophetic signs
This Week’s Feature Article by Jack Kelley
9th Annual Update January 2010
There are seven major prophetic signs of the Second Coming, and currently all of them 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 36:24, 37:21
For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land .
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.
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. Isaiah 11:11-12, Ezekiel 36:8-12 and Amos 9:14-15 had also clearly foretold this. Jesus said that some from the generation being born when this 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 even more 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 62 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).
This past year we’ve seen unparalleled efforts by friend and foe alike to diminish both Israel’s influence and its size. Much of the attack has been focused on the capital city, Jerusalem. The new leadership in the USA, traditionally one of Israel’s most loyal allies, has caused many to doubt its willingness to stand with Israel by calling East Jerusalem occupied territory and demanding that no more Jewish homes be built there. At year’s end the European Union called for an official declaration dividing Jerusalem to make way for a future Palestinian State to have part of the city as its capital. And several Middle Eastern countries are said to be working with the Palestinians to introduce a UN resolution that will unilaterally declare a Palestinian state on Israeli land, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
But try as these nations might to destroy Israel, God has a different outcome in mind for Israel.
In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. (Isaiah 11:11-12)
“You, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the LORD. I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk upon you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children. (Ezekiel 36:8-12)
“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)
And the nations who tried to divide Israel?
I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. (Joel 3:2)
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 (Luke 21:24). Fulfillment of this prophecy began in 1967, and scholars saw it as another major sign that the End of the Age had begun. The almost world wide effort to take the city apart again is in essence a battle of wills. Nearly every Israeli leader has stood firmly on a pledge to keep Jerusalem united forever as Israel’s capital, but the unbelieving leaders of the world are just as resolutely determined to divide it. Behind all this of course is a spiritual battle of massive proportions. While there’s no doubt as to the outcome, the battle will be a fierce one.
I’ve come to believe that Jerusalem won’t really be free of Gentile “trampling” until the Lord returns. Daniel’s prophecy that Gentile Dominion would not end until the Lord establishes His kingdom (Daniel 2:36-45), Zechariah’s prophecy of the city being captured and divided just before the Lord’s return (Zech. 14:2), and John’s observations in Rev. 11:1-2 of the gentiles trampling the outer court of the Temple during the Great Tribulation all confirm this.
The ongoing fulfillment of these 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 would 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 that date proved wrong as well.
The problem is, 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 an average Biblical life span is 70 years, so predicting the approximate time of the End requires the addition of 70 years to 1948, not 40.
As it draws nearer, the approximate 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 about seven years away. (Daniel 9:27) 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 shortly after that. (Matt. 24:15,21 & 2 Thes. 2:4) But even so, the Lord did state quite clearly that those alive on Earth at the end of the Great Tribulation would not know the exact day or hour of His coming until He actually appeared. (Matt. 24:42 & 44, 25:13)
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.”
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 radical Islamic groups. (For a detailed explanation of the modern nations to which these Biblical names refer, read “An In Depth Look At The Modern Equivalent To Biblical Names in Ezek.38)
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. Some experts claim that Iran will become a nuclear power this coming year, but others think a bomb is still a year or two off. Israel has again vowed to prevent that ever happening, but don’t be surprised if the US continues to back away from its similar promise, even though at year end the language coming out of Washington seems to be getting tougher again. I read recently that Pres. Obama and PM Netanyahu have agreed on delaying talk of military action until the spring of 2010 to give the next round of sanctions a chance. Netanyahu had previously announced a Dec. 2009 deadline for evidence of diplomatic progress.
Russia has also formed commercial and military alliances with Turkey and Syria, and has become Turkey’s 2nd largest trading partner after Germany. They’ve sold Damascus a state of the art anti-air defense system along with their latest generation missiles and anti-tank rockets and are building a major military seaport in northern Syria, in preparation for moving components of their Black Sea fleet there. 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, first in the series Russia has promised to build.
The major obstacle to an early fulfillment of this prophecy is the reference to its occurrence at a time when Israel is “a peaceful and unsuspecting people” (Ezekiel 38:11). This certainly is not the case today, but in Psalm 83 there’s a yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecy that appears to involve all of Israel’s next door neighbors in another unsuccessful attempt to wipe the Jewish nation off the map. The psalmist pleads with the Lord to intervene and defeat Israel’s attackers. If this happens, it will help explain why none of them are named in Ezekiel’s list of antagonists, and how Israel could be living in a perceived state of safety as Ezekiel 38:11 requires. Two of Israel’s neighbors, Hamas and Hizbollah are making frantic preparations for war and are on record as saying they expect one soon. Not surprisingly, these preparations are being bought and paid for by Iran.
But two other pre-requisites for Ezekiel’s battle are clearly being met. The Gaza war strained Israel’s relationship with Turkey to the breaking point, and as I’ve shown Turkey will be on the Moslem side in Ezekiel’s battle. Public support in Turkey for membership in the EU is also declining, another sign that attitudes toward the West are changing. Turkey’s Prime minister Erdogan believes Turkey’s destiny is to rebuild the Ottoman Empire into the new Middle Eastern powerhouse. He’s getting cozy with Iran and Syria to accomplish this. It won’t be long before Turkey lands solidly in the camp of the Moslem coalition. Israel’s recent offshore natural gas discovery, said to be of “historic” proportions, could create the wealth necessary to make Israel an attractive target, fulfilling the prophecy of Ezekiel 38:13 that Russia will be looking for plunder. Till now Israel really hasn’t had any wealth to speak of, but the natural gas discovery is worth billions, and in the past few weeks oil has been found near Tel Aviv as well. There’s no specific information yet on how big the strike might be, but it could be significant and it already has people excited.
I believe that the removal of the US as Israel’s powerful ally is also necessary to pave the way for Ezekiel’s battle, because I don’t think the Moslem coalition will attack until they’re sure the US won’t retaliate. Any one of several scenarios currently being played out could accomplish this, especially since our national policy toward Israel is already changing. A deepening recession could turn the nation inward again and cause us to lose interest in defending Israel. Further decline of the dollar on world markets could even render us financially unable to do so. The funds would have to be borrowed, and our ability to repay current debt is already being questioned. The threat or actual occurrence of a major terrorist attack could cause us to stand down. And finally, the Rapture of the Church could deprive the US of both the leadership and manpower to respond. Any one of these would mean serious trouble for the US and all of them have a better than average probability of coming to pass in the coming years. In summary, it’s a whole lot easier to see the US abandoning its commitment to Israel than it was just a short time ago.
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 (Egypt and Assyria had already fallen) in the form of a giant statue representing the four remaining Kingdoms. Babylon was the head of gold. Persia was the chest and arms of silver. Greece was the belly and thighs of bronze, followed by the two appearances of Rome, two legs of iron (Biblical Rome) and two feet of iron mixed with clay (the revived Roman Empire). Read it carefully and you’ll find some interesting things in the description of the two feet upon which the statue stands. In the first place iron and clay 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.
The two iron legs of the statue describe the two divisions of the Roman Empire of Biblical times, Western and Eastern. Today the territory of the Western division is occupied by Europe, while the Eastern territory holds the Islamic countries of the Middle East. They’re the two feet of iron mixed with clay. Both divisions are steadily becoming more and more powerful. Some experts insist that the combined defeats spoken of in Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39 will render the Eastern (Islamic) leg incapable of becoming part of the World Empire of the End Times. But rough estimates indicate that as little as 15% of the Islamic world will be represented by the forces aligned against Israel, and remember it’s only their soldiers who die in battle, not their total populations. And besides, Daniel had both the statue’s feet in view in chapter 2 so both divisions of the Roman Empire have to be present at the End of the Age. The next step will be an uneasy alliance between these two divisions. Daniel’s use of iron and pottery in their makeup speaks to the difficulty the Western and Eastern cultures will have in remaining united. But the fact that Daniel only identified four empires means the last one can only be some form of ancient Rome. (I find it interesting that with the inroads Islam has already made in western Europe, some commentators have begun calling it “Eurabia”.)
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.
Make no mistake about it. Islam is the major religious force in the world today and their goal is nothing less than world domination, by any means necessary. It’s the world’s fastest growing religion and is second only to Christianity in number of adherents. Already nearly one out of every four inhabitants of the world is Moslem, and like most Christians and Jews they don’t really know what they believe or why. I’m no prophet, but as I look into the future, it’s much easier for me to see Islam riding its current wave of momentum to fill the void left by the departure of the Church than it is to imagine some watered down mix of apostate Christianity and New Age Mysticism doing so.
Much has been written recently about al Mahdi, a figure out of Moslem prophecies that are strikingly similar to Christian prophecies of the anti-Christ. Both show a leader coming on the scene during a time of great turmoil on Earth. Both depict him as man of peace who will have a seven year reign, head up a one world religion and one world government, and claim supernatural origins. Both prophecies culminate in a battle between good and evil that brings about Earth’s final judgment. It’s as they’re pointing to the same person. The difference is that in Islam he’s a good guy, while the Bible calls him evil.
Take this charismatic political and religious leader with his supernatural power, add the widely held but incorrect belief that God and Allah are the same, and that Islam is a religion of peace, and then subtract the spirit of discernment that will disappear with the Church and you can see how he could be the straw that a world on the brink of disaster grasps for survival.
6. The World Will Accept A Single Government… Rev 13:3
The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.
The last US presidential election showed how quickly a fearful and disillusioned people will get behind someone who promises to change things. When you look at the shape of the world it doesn’t take much to imagine circumstances getting to a point where the whole world will agree to follow a leader who will promise to bring order out of chaos. Whether it’s Global Warming (now called Climate Change) or the decline of the US dollar, the one solution everyone is talking about is some form of one world government. With the things that already threaten world stability getting worse by the day, how much more frantic will people be after millions of their neighbors suddenly disappear without warning or explanation, and there’s been a nuclear exchange that brings destruction from Europe through the Middle East and into Russia? All it will take is a leader who can persuade people he can fix things to bring this prophecy to fulfillment.
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.”
You may not know it, but Babylon is being made ready to accept its destiny as a city of power in the end times. It’s just a ceremonial city right now, but 20 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. Now there’s a concerted effort underway to complete what Saddam Hussein began and return Babylon to world prominence. The government of Iraq has decided that making Babylon an international tourist destination is in the country’s best interest, and the US has agreed to underwrite a feasibility study to see how this could be accomplished.
You may think that being little more than a tourist attraction is a far cry from being a center of world power, but not too long ago some of Iraq’s new political leaders were calling for their nation’s capital to be moved to Babylon, too. 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 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 its destruction in 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. (Matt. 24:6-8)
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 … According to intelligence reports that include all our current wars as well as conflicts where a cease fire exists but are still unresolved, 47 wars are currently being fought around the world. But some reports say there may be as many as 200 additional disputes threatening to erupt into armed conflict.
THE INCREASE OF NATURAL DISASTERS … More frequent and more severe hurricanes, more frequent and more intense earthquakes continue to dot the news. According to the USGS there were 73 “significant” earthquakes around the world in 2009. This compares with 58 in 2008 and 55 in 2007. (Source: www.earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews)
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. 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. What this means is that while the Sun will be experiencing its most intense radioactive storms, Earth’s magnetic field (that protects us from these Sun storms) will be at its weakest and may even be non-existent in some parts of the world. No one knows the extent of the damage this could cause, but based on expert opinion I’ve speculated that the combined effects of the 2 polar reversals could fulfill the 6th Seal judgment of Revelation 6 and if the projected time of 2012 is correct, it fits into the early stages of Daniel’s 70th Week that I believe will begin sometime in 2011.
PESTILENCE… Not only new diseases like HIV and SARS, but also the return of old ones like Whooping cough. The big news this year was the swine flu which has so far failed to materialize into the pandemic experts were predicting.
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. It appears that 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.
As you know these signs from the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) are progressive and all are described as beginning 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.
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!