Signs of the Times in End-Times Bible Prophecy
This article describes many signs of the times which indicate that end-times prophecies are being fulfilled at an unprecedented rate, right in front of our eyes. Bit by bit, step by step, the world is shaping itself into an exact picture of the end-times world described throughout the Bible.
What Will Be the Sign of the End of the Age?
In Matthew 24:3-8, Jesus described
specific sign which will tell us when "the end of the age" has begun.
Before we look at that passage, let's consider an illustration concerning idioms or expressions. Notice that if a sports team says, "We're going to whip those guys," they probably mean that they have a game coming up, and they intend to score more
than the other team. But if a street gang says, "We're going to whip those guys," they probably mean that they're planning to fight another gang, and some people are going to be
And during wartime, if people say, "We're going to whip those guys," they mean that they're going to defeat the enemy, and people are going to
So in order to interpret an idiom or an expression, we need to take the
into consideration. In the above illustration, the context gives us the
of what that expression is describing. Now, consider a person from a foreign country. If he hears us say, "We're going to whip those guys," maybe he knows enough English to know that a whip is a long, flexible thing that you whip people with. Therefore, he might imagine that we are literally going to take a whip and whip some people. So in order to properly understand an idiom or an expression, not only is the context important, but it is also important to take into account the culture and even the time period in which that idiom is being used.
With that in mind, let's look at Matthew 24:3-8. In this passage, the disciples asked Jesus what will be the
specific sign of His return and of the end of history as we know it. Jesus' reply takes up virtually all of chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew's Gospel, and it provides a lot of information concerning things to come. He began His answer by saying that there will be wars and rumors of wars, but He said that these have no bearing on the end of the age:
"As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and
what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 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.""
Notice carefully Jesus' response, because He gave us the
single event which will mark the beginning of the end of history as we know it. He said that the end of the age will be like a woman who is in labor, because when her labor pains begin then she knows that the baby will soon arrive. First Jesus said that there will be false Messiahs and wars, but He said that these things will continue to happen throughout history because they are not signs of the end of the age. Then He gave us the
significant event which will mark the beginning of the birth pains: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom," and He added that there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All of these together are the beginning of the "birth pains," the beginning of the end of history as we know it.
This is how Jesus' reply is recorded in Luke's Gospel:
""When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away."
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 21:9-11)
Notice in this passage how the statement, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom," is set apart from Jesus' previous statement about wars and revolutions. Luke has inserted the phrase,
"Then he said to them,"
as a break between these two statements, indicating a separation between two thoughts. The statement, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom," is not merely a continuation of Jesus' comment about wars and revolutions, but instead it is a separate thought with a separate meaning.
Recall the example of "We're going to whip those guys." In order to understand an idiom or an expression, it's important to take into account not only the context, but also the culture and the time period in which that idiom is being used. Jesus and the first disciples were Jews who lived in the Middle East in the first century, and Jesus used the Jewish idiom, "Nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom." In those days, that was a form of expression which described a
in whatever area was being discussed. According to Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum:
"The key factor then is to find out the meaning of the idiom, "nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." This idiom, taken in the Jewish context of the day when it was spoken, points to a total conflict of the area in view."
(The Footsteps of the Messiah,
Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, p.63)
For example, this same form of expression is used in Isaiah 19:2 to describe a
all over Egypt:
"I will stir up
Egyptian against Egyptian
-- brother will fight against brother, neighbor against neighbor,
city against city, kingdom against kingdom."
This doesn't necessarily mean that every Egyptian or every city or every kingdom in that area was involved in the conflict, but it tells us the
of the conflict.
The same form of expression is used in 2 Chronicles 15:5-6 to describe a
all over "the lands" (the Middle East):
"And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in; but great vexations were upon
all the inhabitants of the lands.
And they were broken in pieces,
nation against nation, and city against city"
(2 Chronicles 15:5-6, American Standard Version)
Again, this doesn't necessarily mean that every person or every city or every nation in that area was involved in the conflict, but it tells us the
of the conflict.
This was a Jewish form of expression which described a
in the area being discussed, whether it was a city or a nation or a region. Jesus used that same idiom, and then He put it into context for us. Notice that as Jesus replied to the disciples' questions in Matthew 24 and 25, He made repeated references to "the whole world" and to "all nations," as in Matthew 24:14:
"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." (Matthew 24:14)
Recall that in Matthew 24:3-8, the disciples had asked Jesus what will be the one specific sign that the end of the age has begun. First Jesus said that there will always be wars and revolutions, but they are not the sign of the end. Then He said that there will be a
type of war, and this war will be the one sign to watch for to know that the end of the age has begun. Based on the first-century Jewish idiom that Jesus used, and based on the context that He gave us for this idiom, that specific type of war is a
war, which will be accompanied by earthquakes, pestilence, and famine (Matthew 24:3-8 and Luke 21:9-11, above). Again, this doesn't necessarily mean that every person or every country in the world will be involved in the conflict, but it tells us the
of the conflict.
So Jesus said that when a
takes place, accompanied by earthquakes, pestilence, and famine, this will be the specific sign which tells us that the end of history has begun.
In 1914-1918, the first-ever
took place, and it was accompanied by major earthquakes, pestilence, and famine, just as Jesus had prophesied.
Many historians agree that World War II was essentially a
of World War I (see for example
Papers on World War 1 & 2
HISTORY OF WORLD WAR II
Wars of the World ).
Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia describes a number of treaty disputes and territorial wars which broke out after WWI as various countries tried to benefit from the unstable world situation. This continued until Hitler came into power and began aggressive acts which led up to the invasion of Poland and the beginning of WWII. So WWII was really a continuation of the disputes which were left unsettled by WWI, according to historians.
After WWI, a U.S. Senator gave a speech in which he said:
"The late war cost seven million lives . . . It has destroyed hundreds of towns . . .
it has brought in its train . . . pestilence and famine."
American Library of Congress ).
In between these world wars there was a pestilence which killed between 20 and 40 million people worldwide in 1918-1919 (see
The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 ),
there were almost two dozen famines throughout the world during the period of WWI and WWII (see
List of famines - 20th Century ),
there were 239 earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 to 7.9 worldwide between 1914 and 1946 (see
Significant Earthquakes ),
there were 50 earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 or higher worldwide between 1914 and 1946 (see
Significant Earthquakes ),
and so on.
A number of prophecy teachers have said that deadly earthquake activity has been on a strong increase since WWI, but the data from the U.S. Geological Survey does not support this (see the official USGS answer to the question,
"Has earthquake activity been increasing?" ).
What many prophecy teachers seem to have overlooked is that Jesus said that there will be earthquakes, famines, and pestilences
in various places
(see Matthew 24:3-8 and Luke 21:9-11, above), but Jesus never specifically said that earthquake activity will continually
What this all boils down to is that beginning in 1914 we had the first-ever
war, which was accompanied by famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, just as Jesus had prophesied. Jesus said that this will be the
specific sign to watch for which will signal the end of history as we know it.
Now, when a woman goes into labor, it might last a few minutes, or several hours, or even longer. That's the
timeframe for labor. In God's timeframe, we really don't know how long the "birth pains" (as Jesus called them) will last.
But the "birth pains" have begun. We're in "labor" right now. We're in "the end of the age," and we have been in the end of the age since about 1914. History as we know it is drawing to a close. Jesus is returning soon! Are you ready?
More Signs of the Times
Jesus said that even though we don't know when He will return, we can know the
of His return:
"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."
He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees.
When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves
and know that summer is near.
Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.""
In the above passage, Jesus said that it will be possible to recognize the
of the Second Coming. In addition, He
the religious leaders of the day because they could not interpret the signs of their times:
"The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.'
You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.""
It is important for us to interpret the signs of
times because many of the events described in the book of Revelation and in other prophetic passages have
in the last half of the twentieth century or else they are
Here are some examples:
Around 930 B.C. the nation of Israel split into two. The ten northern tribes formed the kingdom of Israel, and the two southern tribes formed the kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom of Israel was invaded around 722 B.C. by the Assyrians, who destroyed the nation and carried the 10 tribes into captivity. In 586 B.C., the Babylonians conquered the southern kingdom of Judah, and they destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the First Temple, and they carried most of the remaining Jews into exile. Later, many Jews returned and rebuilt the temple, but multitudes of Jews remained scattered throughout the nations of the world. In 70 A.D., the Roman army attacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple, and those Jews were scattered among the nations. For example, the book of James was specifically written to the 12 tribes of the Dispersion, and Acts chapter 2 says that Jews from every nation under heaven were in Jerusalem for Pentecost. For a timeline of these events, see the Historical Highlights at
Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs .
So the Jews have been dispersed throughout the world for thousands of years. After the New Testament was written, for almost 2 millennia there was never again a united Jewish nation of Israel nor a Jewish temple in Jerusalem.
According to Bible prophecy, however, Israel will be
as a nation because God said that He will gather the Jews from around the world back to the nation of Israel:
"Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone.
from all around and bring them back
into their own land.
I will make them
in the land, on the mountains of
There will be one king over all of them and they will
be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.'" (Ezekiel 37:20-22)
For the past several hundred years (according to prophecy teachers), people who study Bible prophecy have been saying that the absolute
sign of the soon return of Jesus will be when Israel is re-established as a nation. For hundreds of years, other people
at the idea of Israel ever being reborn as a nation. They said that it will
In 1948, the nation of Israel was re-established in fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy.
The birth pains are continuing. The pieces are falling into place. The world is shaping itself into an exact picture of the end-times world described in Bible prophecy.
In addition to Ezekiel 37:20-22 (above), a number of other passages clearly describe a regathering of Jews from among all of the nations back to Israel in the end-times:
"As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will rule over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm
and with outpoured wrath. I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered--with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath.
I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face,
I will execute judgment upon you.
As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will take note of you as you pass under my rod,
and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me.
Although I will bring them
out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel.
Then you will know that I am the LORD." (Ezekiel 20:33-38)
Notice that these passages describe a regathering of Jews back to the land of Israel in an
condition, which will take place
the day of the Lord's wrath begins. That phrase, "the day of the Lord's wrath," is one of several specific terms which are used throughout the Old and New Testaments to describe a future seven-year period of time during which God will pour out His wrath on the earth. That's the time period when the prophecies about the Antichrist, the mark of the beast, and so on, will be fulfilled, and we usually refer to this future seven-year period as "the Tribulation." Sometimes the Old and New Testaments refer to this time period as the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7), the "Tribulation" (Deuteronomy 4:30), the "day of vengeance" (Isaiah 34:8), the "time of distress" (Daniel 12:1), the "day of the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 5:2), the "day of the Lord's wrath" (Zephaniah 1:18), the "day of God's wrath" (Romans 2:5), or simply the "day of wrath" (Zephaniah 1:5). These are terms which are often used in the Bible to describe the future seven-year Tribulation period.
"Then the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man,
the house of Israel has become dross to me;
all of them are the copper, tin, iron and lead left inside a furnace. They are but the dross of silver. Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'Because you have all become dross,
I will gather you into Jerusalem.
As men gather silver, copper, iron, lead and tin into a furnace to melt it with a fiery blast,
so will I gather you in my anger and my wrath and put you inside the city and melt you. I will gather you and I will blow on you with my fiery wrath,
and you will be melted inside her. As silver is melted in a furnace, so you will be melted inside her,
and you will know that I the LORD have poured out my wrath upon you.'""
"Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things,
but for the sake of my holy name,
which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.
I will show the holiness of my great name,
which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them.
Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD,
when I show myself holy through you
before their eyes.
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.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean;
I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my Spirit in you
and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.'" (Ezekiel 36:22-27)
"Gather together, gather together, O shameful nation,
before the appointed time arrives and that day sweeps on like chaff,
before the fierce anger of the LORD comes upon you, before the day of the Lord's wrath comes upon you."
So according to Bible prophecy, the Jews will be regathered back to Israel in an unrepentant condition before the seven-year Tribulation begins.
This end-times regathering of Jews back to Israel began during the twentieth century. With the fall of Communism, for example, Russian Jews were finally free to leave the Soviet Union, and multitudes flocked to Israel (as you might recall from the airlifts on the nightly news some years ago). In the area where Israel now exists there were roughly 50,000 Jews in 1900. When Israel was re-established as a nation in 1948 there were roughly 650,000 Jews. By 1998 there were almost 5,000,000 Jews in Israel (see the
Jewish Population in the World and in Israel ,
which comes from
Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics ).
Some Christians do not believe that the modern country of Israel is a fulfillment of end-times prophecy because they believe that the Bible says that the Jews must be
before they can be restored back to their land. However, the above passages clearly describe a regathering of Jews back to Israel in an
state before God's wrath is poured out on them. This exactly describes the modern country of Israel because it has not yet turned to Jesus as the Messiah, and God's wrath being poured out on them is an exact description of what will happen during the seven-year Tribulation as God tries to turn their hearts to His Son. Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians alike should "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6). For more on this, I invite you to see my article called
Is Modern Israel a Fulfillment of Prophecy?
So the Bible says that before the seven-year Tribulation period begins ("the day of the Lord's wrath"), the Jews from all of the countries where they were scattered will be gathered back to Israel. This doesn't necessarily mean that every single Jew will return to Israel, but this end-times regathering is currently in progress, right in front of our eyes, in fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy.
The pieces are falling into place. Jesus is returning soon.
For thousands of years, Israel has been a burning wasteland, just as Moses prophesied:
"Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see
the calamities that have fallen on the land
and the diseases with which the LORD has afflicted it.
The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur--nothing
planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it."
However, Isaiah prophesied that the desert will bloom again and be fruitful in the end-times:
"The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus,
it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you."
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way;
wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But
only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
In the above passages, the context describes things which will happen in the end-times and beyond, and these prophecies tell us that the desert around Israel will rejoice and blossom and burst into bloom in the end-times, and that Israel will fill the world with fruit.
your dead will live; their bodies will rise.
You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.
See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins.
The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer. In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword, Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea. In that day-- "Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the LORD, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it. I am not angry. If only there were briers and thorns confronting me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them all on fire. Or else let them come to me for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me." In days to come Jacob will take root,
Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit."
In fulfillment of these end-times prophecies, the parched and burning wastelands of Israel are
blooming, and Israel actually
hundreds of thousands of tons of fruits and vegetables each year to other countries. For example, here are some quotes from The Jewish Virtual Library, based on research from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (see
Israeli Agriculture: Coping with Growth ):
"Today, just under a quarter of the income of Israel's farmers derives from the
of fresh produce, including items such as flowers, avocados, out-of-season vegetables and certain exotic fruits
grown for export.
In 1996 some
140,000 tons of fruit and vegetables
- 14 percent of the entire crop - were sold to factories for processing
The parched and burning wastelands of Israel are
budding and blossoming and filling all the world with fruit in fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy.
"Desert agriculture is already playing an indispensable role in Israel's economy."
"Since the late 1950s,
Israel has been sharing its agricultural expertise with scores of countries.
MASHAV, the Center for International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is active in Asia, Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Europe and Latin America; and it is broadening its cooperation programs with a growing number of countries in the Middle East."
"Citrus, the country's oldest export sector, continues to be
a leading export product with hundreds of thousands of tons
of oranges, pink and white grapefruits, lemons, pomelos and several varieties of easy-peeling tangerines, as well as concentrates, juices and other products,
shipped abroad annually."
"Today, most flowers are sold by the individual growers directly to buyers in the flower auctions of the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and elsewhere"
"Ornamental plants are a rapidly growing industry.
Over $50 million worth of scores of different ornamental plants,
either as rooted or un-rooted cuttings, or in pots in various stages of growth,
are exported worldwide, but predominantly to Europe."
The pieces are falling into place. The world is shaping itself into an exact picture of the end-times world described throughout the Bible. Jesus is returning soon.
The Lord told Zephaniah that in the end-times, the time when He will pour out His wrath on the whole world, He will purify the lips of the people:
""Therefore wait for me," declares the LORD, "for the day I will stand up to testify. I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms and to
pour out my wrath on them
-- all my fierce anger.
The whole world
will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger.
Then will I purify the lips of the peoples,
that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder."" (Zephaniah 3:8-9)
According to Strong's Hebrew Dictionary, the word "lips" means "language, lip, speech, talk, words," and so on, and the word "peoples" means "a people (as a congregated unit); spec. a tribe (as those of Israel)."
So this prophecy is often taken to mean that the speech (the language) of the people of Israel will be "purified" in the end-times. This is brought out more clearly in the Revised Standard Version:
"Yea, at that time I will
change the speech
of the peoples
to a pure speech,
that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve Him with one accord." (Zephaniah 3:9)
When the Jews were scattered throughout the nations after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., Hebrew as a language for daily communication
Bringing a Language Back from the Dead
at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website). Hebrew was still used for religious purposes, but it became extinct as a daily spoken language.
In the late 1800's, a man named Eliezer Ben-Yehuda decided to dedicate his life to reviving the Hebrew language for daily communication, and he coined hundreds of new Hebrew words (see
Eliezer Ben-Yehuda: A Language Reborn
at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website). He wanted his son to be the first all-Hebrew speaking child in modern history, so he made his wife promise to speak only Hebrew around their son. This also meant that visitors to his house had to speak Hebrew (if they didn't know Hebrew, then he sent his son to bed so that his son would never hear any language other than Hebrew!).
If you remember your history lessons, recall that Old English was spoken from the 5th century until the 11th century (see
Old English Online ).
For example, here is part of the poem "Beowulf," which was written in Old English (see
Old English Online - Lesson 1 ):
HWĂT, WE GAR-DEna in geardagum
Imagine how incredibly difficult it would be to revive Old English and to make new words for new technology, and then to convince
in America or England to speak Old English as their
language. Yet Hebrew (which had been extinct as a daily language since 70 A.D. or earlier) became the
language of Israel when Israel was re-established in 1948, and now they are able to read the Old Testament Scriptures in the original language.
■eodcyninga ■rym gefrunon,
hu a Š■elingas ellen fremedon!
Oft Scyld Scefing scea■ena ■reatum,
monegum m?g■um meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas, syan ?rest wear
he ■Šs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum weormyndum ■ah,
o ■Št him ?ghwylc ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade hy»ran scolde,
■Št wŠs god cyning!
The lips (the speech) of the people of Israel have
been purified in fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy.
The pieces are all falling into place. We're in "the end of the age," and we are seeing that all of these different lines of end-times prophecies are all coming together
in the same timeframe
(beginning in the twentieth century). Jesus is returning soon.
According to prophecy, the Jewish temple (which was destroyed in 70 A.D.) will be rebuilt, because a number of passages indicate that the Antichrist will desecrate this temple and put an end to the temple sacrifices:
"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.
So when you see
standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel
--let the reader understand-- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." (Matthew 24:14-16)
According to these passages, a ruler or a king (in other words, a world leader) will someday rise to power, and he will exalt and magnify himself above all other gods until "the time of wrath" is completed. When prophecy teachers talk about this man, they refer to him as "the Antichrist." These passages tell us that the Antichrist will desecrate the Jewish temple by setting up "an abomination that causes desolation," and that he will exalt himself as the one true God during "the time of wrath." As we saw in Sign #2 (above), "the time of wrath" is the period of time in the future which we usually refer to as the seven-year Tribulation, or "the day of the Lord's wrath."
"The people of
the ruler who will come
will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven'
he will put an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on a wing of
he will set up
an abomination that causes desolation,
until the end that is decreed is poured out on him." (Daniel 9:26-27)
"His armed forces will rise up to
desecrate the temple
fortress and will
abolish the daily sacrifice.
Then they will set up
the abomination that causes desolation.
With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him. ...
The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods.
He will be successful
until the time of wrath is completed,
for what has been determined must take place. He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will
exalt himself above them all."
"At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise.
There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.
... From the time that
the daily sacrifice is abolished
the abomination that causes desolation
is set up, there will be 1,290 days." (Daniel 12:1, 11-12)
The above passages tell us that the Antichrist will desecrate the Jewish temple and put an end to the temple sacrifices during the seven-year Tribulation. But the Jewish temple was destroyed almost 2000 years ago, and it has never been rebuilt. So according to Bible prophecy, the Jewish temple will need to be
for these prophetic end-times events to take place.
several groups of Jews in Jerusalem are in the process of recreating, to precise Scriptural specifications, the temple implements and priestly clothing which will be needed for a fully-functioning, consecrated temple. For example, The Temple Institute has a
which contains pictures of many of these recreated temple implements and priestly garments.
time since the temple was destroyed almost 2000 years ago, plans for a
temple have been made, and the required ritual implements and priest's clothing have been recreated, and so on. The fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy is underway, right in front of our eyes. Practically all that is left is the actual building of the temple itself.
The Jewish temple will need to be rebuilt on the holy ground in Jerusalem, where the previous temple stood. But after Israel's War of Independence in 1948, the nation of
had control of the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Wailing Wall (which is the last remains of the previous Jewish temple).
Israel will need to control some or all of Jerusalem in order to have any capability of rebuilding the Jewish temple on holy ground.
In 1967, during the Six-Day War, Israel took complete control of Jerusalem. The Israel Defense Forces website says:
"General Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the chief chaplain of the IDF blew a long blow on the rams horn, announcing the release of the Western Wall and the old city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the divided and split capital of Israel, was reunited." (see
40th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem )
So when you hear people discussing about where the Third Temple should be built, considering that certain Muslim holy sites seem to be in the way, let it remind you that the steps toward the fulfillment of end-times prophecies are underway, right now. All of these different lines of prophecies are all coming together
in the same timeframe
(beginning in the twentieth century). The world is shaping itself into an exact picture of the end-times world described in the Bible. Jesus is returning soon.
In order to consecrate the new Jewish temple and the priests, an unblemished red heifer will be required:
"The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: "This is a
of the law that the LORD has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you
a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke.
Give it to Eleazar the priest; it is to be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the Tent of Meeting. While he watches, the heifer is to be burned--its hide, flesh, blood and offal. The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer. After that, the priest must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water. He may then come into the camp, but he will be ceremonially unclean till evening. The man who burns it must also wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he too will be unclean till evening. A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp. They shall be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin. The man who gathers up the ashes of the heifer must also wash his clothes, and he too will be unclean till evening. This will be a lasting ordinance both for the Israelites and for the aliens living among them."" (Numbers 19:1-10)
In the above passage, God commanded that a red heifer without defect or blemish must be used as part of the purification rites for anyone entering the temple, and from the time of Moses until the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D., nine red heifers had been used for these purification rites (see
The Tenth Red Heifer ).
So even when the Jewish temple is built, the purification rites cannot be accomplished without a red heifer. According to rabbinical teaching, no flawless red heifer has ever been born within the land of Israel since the Second Jewish Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. (see
Jews hail birth of red cow as sign to start third temple ).
In August, 1996, a red heifer was born on a farm in Israel. A rabbi said on Israel Radio that "It is written that it is the tenth red heifer that the Messiah will discover, and here we have the tenth heifer" (see
Why do a Pentecostal cattle breeder from Mississippi and an Orthodox rabbi from Jerusalem believe that a red heifer can change the world? ).
This red heifer was so significant that it was hailed by religious Jews as a sign from God that they should soon begin building the Third Temple and preparing the way for Messiah's entry into Jerusalem. Jewish activists said that they regard it as their divine mission to build a new temple, and they said, "We have been waiting 2,000 years for a sign from God, and now he has provided us with a red heifer" (see
Jews hail birth of red cow as sign to start third temple ).
this red heifer was to them.
So non-Christian devout Jews are saying that God has been providing signs that it is time to build the Third Temple and prepare the way for Messiah. For example, consider this quote:
"In recounting this historical record in his commentary to the Mishna, the great Maimonides ends with the enigmatic statement:
"... and the tenth red heifer will be accomplished by the king, the Messiah; may he be revealed speedily, Amen, May it be God's will."
It is fascinating that not only are Christian prophecy scholars anticipating the soon return of the Messiah, but orthodox Jewish scholars are
anticipating the soon arrival of Messiah! We're living in a very unique period of time.
"With this amazing statement, Maimonides recounts an ancient tradition - that the tenth red heifer is associated with the Messianic era. Does this perhaps mean that the appearance of a red heifer in these waning end times is an indication, a forerunner of the appearance of the Messiah himself, who will officiate at its preparation?
"If there has been no red heifer for the past 2,000 years, perhaps it is because the time was not right; Israel was far from being ready. But now... what could it mean for the times we live in, to have the means for purification so close at hand? With the words of Maimonides in mind, we cannot help but wonder and pray: If there are now red heifers... is ours the era that will need them?" (see
The Tenth Red Heifer ).
In November, 1998, when the red heifer was about two years old, a spot of white was found on her, and therefore the rabbis declared her to be unfit for the sanctification of the Priesthood (see
The Red Heifer & the Third Temple ).
But in April, 2002, another red heifer was born in Israel, and the rabbis who inspected her were satisfied that she could be a candidate to be used in the purification process (see
NEWS FLASH: Red Heifer Born in Israel! ).
In November, 2002, this red heifer was also disqualified for the purification rites (see
NEWS FLASH: Red Heifer Born in Israel! ).
However, a Mississippi cattle breeder named Clyde Lott (who is also an ordained pastor) has been working with rabbis in Israel to ship five hundred pregnant Red Angus cows, bred in Nebraska, to the Jordan Valley in Israel. They believe that a descendant of one of these Red Angus cows might be fit to be used for the sanctification rites (see
Why do a Pentecostal cattle breeder from Mississippi and an Orthodox rabbi from Jerusalem believe that a red heifer can change the world? ).
A red heifer is a vital part of a consecrated Jewish temple. A red heifer
be in the news again. Watch the nightly news and read the newspapers and magazines with a discerning spirit and you will be able to watch this unfold in fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy.
Someday there will be a one-world government:
"He [an angel] gave me [Daniel] this explanation: 'The fourth beast is
a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth.
It will be
from all the other kingdoms and
will devour the whole earth,
trampling it down and crushing it.
The ten horns are ten kings
who will come
another king will arise,
different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.
He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints
and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for
a time, times and half a time."
In Daniel chapter 7, the prophet Daniel had a dream in which there were four strange beasts. An angel gave him the interpretation of the beasts, saying that a kingdom will one day arise which will be
from all other kingdoms and it will
devour the whole earth
(Daniel 7:23-25, above). In other words, it will be a kingdom which covers the whole world. It will be a one-world government.
But notice that the angel told Daniel that this one-world government will somehow split into ten kingdoms (Daniel 7:23-25, above). Then,
this ten-kingdom stage a
ruler will rise up, and he will speak against the Most High God, and he will oppress the saints, and so on. The name that we usually use for this man is "the Antichrist." So this one-world government will happen
the Antichrist comes to power, but there is nothing in the Bible which tells us when it will happen.
Consider that less than 150 years ago (from the time when this article was written) we had the Pony Express mail-delivery system here in America (see
Pony Express Home Station ),
as well as the transcontinental telegraph line (see
The History of the Telegraph and Telegraphy ).
So let's imagine one of those Pony Express riders. He made it through, he delivered the mail, he didn't get into any gunfights. It was a good day. He gets his Bible out of his saddlebags, he sits down to drink a cup of coffee, and he sees these prophecies of a one-world government. Well, he's got to be thinking to himself, "If the Pony Express and the telegraph and steamships are the
way that we can deliver the mail, then this one-world government must be in the
future." We can understand why he would feel that way, right? After all, you can't run a global government with such limited and slow communications tools as the Pony Express and the telegraph. That Pony Express rider didn't know about global telecommunications satellites. He didn't know about the Internet. He didn't know about online banking and e-commerce. He didn't know about email and instant messaging. He didn't know about video teleconferencing, and those inexpensive little webcams that you can hook up to your PC and have face-to-face conversations with people across the world. He didn't know about mobile communications on your laptop or your Blackberry. He didn't know about cell phones. He didn't know about supersonic air travel. He didn't know about virtual reality and virtual conferencing. He didn't know that in just 150 years in his future a one-world government would be feasible, and prominent leaders would be actively planning and shaping what they call the "New World Order" or the "Global Village." Hillary Clinton and many others talk about the "Global Village," and they are actively pursuing it (e.g.
It Takes A Village to Raise a Child ).
A little over 70 years ago (from the time when this article was written), commercial long distance telephone service was
between America and England (see
Telephone History ).
So 70 years ago they could not have had a one-world government because they didn't have the communications technology yet (they were driving Model T cars back then - see
The Model T ).
30 years ago there was no Internet, no email, no instant messaging, no online banking, and so on (see
A Brief History of the Internet ).
20 years ago the FCC authorized commercial cell phone service for the USA (see
History Of Cellular Phones ).
20 years ago IBM introduced the first successfully-marketed IBM PC (see
History of Information Science and Technology, 1980-1990 ).
That's just 20 years ago!
Technologies such as these will make it possible for a single leader (or group) to govern the entire world, so a one-world government was just not feasible even a few decades ago.
In this article we have seen that we are in the season of Christ's return. It is no coincidence that we are now living in the very
time in history in which these one-world prophecies could technologically be fulfilled. It is no coincidence that influential leaders are actively working behind the scenes to shape this "global village" and make it a reality. Notice that we already have a
Health Organization, a
Trade Organization, a United Nations, and so on; notice that our mindsets are becoming more global (for example, American children are currently collecting money for Afghani children during the war on terrorism); notice that we are seeing global communications technologies developing and maturing, and so on, all of which are making this one-world government more and more possible.
Keep watching the nightly news and reading the newspapers and magazines with a discerning spirit and you will be able to watch this one-world government or "New World Order" or "Global Village" coming together right before your eyes in fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy.
In addition to the Antichrist, who will rule over the final one-world government before the Second Coming, there will also be a False Prophet who will be the leader of a one-world
"Then I saw
coming out of the earth.
He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon.
He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and
made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed." (Revelation 13:11-12)
Revelation 13:11-12 (above) says that there will be a second "beast" who looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. In other words, he will be a wolf in sheep's clothing. He will appear to be a legitimate religious leader (because the "lamb" is a picture of Jesus, as in Revelation 5:12), but in reality he will be speaking for the devil (because the "dragon" is a picture of the devil, as in Revelation 12:9). Revelation 20:10 (above) calls him "the False Prophet."
"And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and
the false prophet
had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Revelation 20:10)
According to Revelation 13:11-12 (above), the False Prophet will try to force everyone in the world to worship the Antichrist (the "first beast"), which means that the False Prophet will be the leader of a one-world
system. So there will be a worldwide state religion in opposition to Christianity because people will be expected to worship the Antichrist.
However, before the Antichrist comes to power there will be a different one-world religion:
"One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great
who sits on many waters.
With her the kings of the earth committed adultery
and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries. Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw
a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.
The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw that
the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints,
the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished." (Revelation 17:1-6)
The meanings of some of these symbols are described a few verses later:
"This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also
Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
The ten horns you saw are ten kings
who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings--and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." Then the angel said to me,
"The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.""
A prostitute takes something which has a proper use and perverts it, turning it into adultery or fornication. That's the normal, physical sense of what a prostitute does. In a spiritual sense, the "prostitute" described in Revelation causes people to commit spiritual adultery or spiritual fornication with her. This "prostitute" is a one-world false religion which will be responsible for killing multitudes of Christians. This "prostitute" is riding on the "beast," indicating that this false religion has government support (because the heads and horns of the "beast" are explained as being kings in the above passage). This is also indicated by the fact that the kings of the earth commit spiritual adultery with this "prostitute" of false religion, according to Revelation 17:1-6 (above). Since this "prostitute" sits on "the waters" (which are explained as being peoples, multitudes, nations and languages), it indicates that this false religion is a one-world religion.
In the news we can see that different religious groups are trying to find common ground with one another and trying to put aside past differences. God says that there will be a one-world religion someday, and we are seeing people of faith trying to unite with people of other faiths. There is already a coming-together of religious faiths as a stepping-stone to the ultimate fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy.
It is important for the body of Christ to be united, but if you pay close attention to the news then you can see that Christian churches and denominations are sometimes putting aside the differences that they have with
religions, and meeting together with them, all in a misguided notion of unity. As prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes, even Christians are sometimes getting caught up in this false spirit of brotherhood. But remember, 2 Corinthians 6:14 says:
be yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14)
With that in mind, keep watching the nightly news and reading the newspapers and magazines with a discerning spirit and you'll be able to watch this mindset of a one-world religious system coming together right before your eyes. The world is shaping itself into an exact picture of the end-times world described throughout the Bible. Jesus is returning soon.
The False Prophet will set up some kind of image of the Antichrist so that it seems to be alive and so that it can speak:
"Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth.
He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon.
... Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth.
He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed."
It is no coincidence that we are now living in the very
time in history in which the end-times prophecy of a "living" image of the Antichrist can be fulfilled, whether it is through robotics or holograms or virtual reality or cloning or some other modern technology.
Again, we are living in a very unique time period in which many different end-times prophecies are being fulfilled step-by-step
in the same timeframe
(beginning in the twentieth century) so that they can be brought to completion during the seven-year Tribulation.
The False Prophet will force everyone to receive a "mark" on his or her right hand or forehead in order to be able to buy or sell anything:
"He also forced
small and great, rich and poor, free and slave,
to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark,
which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for
it is man's number. His number is 666."
Here we have the infamous "mark of the beast." Everyone in the world will need to have some kind of a mark, either on their right hand or on their forehead, in order to be able to buy or sell anything. Somehow the number 666 will be associated with the name of the Antichrist, possibly by substituting the letters of his name with the appropriate numbers.
This "mark of the beast" system, which only allows financial transactions between those who have the mark, would probably be impossible without today's technology. Consider, for example, that grocery stores often use a scanner to read the barcodes on the things that we buy. It would be simple to give people a barcode tattoo on their right hands or foreheads, which could then be read by a scanner like the grocery stores use. In this way, people's bank accounts could be adjusted automatically whenever they make financial transactions (such as buying or selling anything). That technology exists today (see
Barcode Tattoos Could Lead to Cashless Purchasing ).
In addition, the technology to implant tiny computer chips under the skin exists today, and it's already in use. Several European countries and U.S. cities already require dogs and cats to have a small computer chip implanted under the skin between their shoulder blades, which contains the owner's identity, and so on (see
Microchip Implants to ID Pets ).
Now, notice in Revelation 13:18 (above) that the number 666 is called "man's number." This is because numbers had important meanings back then. For example, the NIV Study Bible (p.2426) says that in Revelation there are 7 beatitudes, 7 stars, 7 seals, 7 horns and 7 eyes, 7 trumpets, 7 thunders, 7 signs, 7 crowns, 7 plagues, 7 golden bowls, 7 hills, 7 kings, and so on, and it says that symbolically, 7 is the number of completeness. 7 is the number of perfection, and it was considered to be God's number. In contrast, 6 is the number of man because it falls short of the perfect number 7. That's how these numbers were symbolically used back then, as most Bible commentaries will tell you. So 666 is a trinity of "man's number."
These prophecies about receiving a "mark" have caused some people to be concerned about all kinds of things in our modern society. There are entire websites devoted to finding the meaning of 666 (see
666-Mark of the Beast Studies ,
for example), and they talk about such things as Social Security numbers, or the metallic strips that you can see when you hold $20 bills up to the light, or UPC bar codes on the packages that you buy (because many of these bar codes seem to have "666" embedded in them), or certain identification methods for military personnel, or debit cards, or "smart cards," and so on. But if you read Revelation 13:11-18 closely then you'll see that the "mark of the beast" is not simply an economic system, it is also a
system. Those who take the mark will be declaring that they are willing to worship the Antichrist as God, and this will seal their fates for all eternity:
"A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone
the beast and his image
and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand,
he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath.
He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.""
Since the Antichrist has not yet taken over the world, we do not need to be frightened that "they" will somehow sneak this mark onto us and doom us to hell without our knowledge. When this "mark of the beast" system gets underway during the Tribulation, people will know that they must make a decision, and true believers will make their stand for Christ.
By the way, Professor Kevin Warwick is the head of the Cybernetics Department at the University of Reading in England. In August, 1998, doctors implanted a small computer chip under his skin using a local anesthetic (see the "Project Cyborg 1.0" link at
The computers in the Department of Cybernetics tracked his movements, and he was able to operate doors, lights, heaters, and computers without lifting a finger. He says that such an implanted chip could carry all sorts of information about a person, such as your credit card information, your blood type, your medical records, and so on, with the data being updated when necessary. His website said that in November, 2001, he was planning to have a new microchip implanted under his skin and wired up to his nervous system so that it can communicate with his brain (see the "Project Cyborg 2.0" link at
If the experiment is successful then his wife will be hooked up the same way, with an implanted chip which will communicate directly with her brain.
The operation to implant a "microelectrode array" into Professor Warwick's arm and connect it to his nervous system took place on March 14, 2002, and a number of experiments have already been carried out. See
The next step towards true Cyborgs?
Scientists test first human cyborg .
There is also a company called
(formerly known as Applied Digital Solutions) which was developing a mass-market implantable computer chip called the "Digital Angel," which could be implanted, for example, in children to help locate them in case they become lost or kidnapped, as well as any number of other uses. Recently I saw a news item which said that the "Digital Angel" company has backed away from developing implantable chips, partly because of adverse publicity due to "privacy concerns and religious implications" (see
Smart chips get under our skin ).
So keep a discerning eye on these developments as well.
Here is an excerpt from a recent CNN.com article:
"Queuing to get into one nightclub in Spain could soon be a thing of the past for regular customers thanks to a tiny computer chip implanted under their skin. The technology, known as a VeriChip, also means nightclubbers can leave their cash and cards at home and buy drinks using a scanner. The bill can then be paid later." (see
Technology gets under clubbers' skin ).
Here is an excerpt from a recent USAToday.com article:
"Security has reached the subcutaneous level for Mexico's attorney general and at least 160 people in his office - they have been implanted with microchips that get them access to secure areas of their headquarters. ...
"Mexico's top federal prosecutors and investigators began receiving chip implants in their arms in November in order to get access to restricted areas inside the attorney general's headquarters, said Antonio Aceves, general director of Solusat, the company that distributes the microchips in Mexico. ...
"The chips that have been implanted are manufactured by VeriChip Corp., a subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions Inc. of Palm Beach, Fla.
"They lie dormant under the skin until read by an electromagnetic scanner, which uses a technology known as radio frequency identification, or RFID, that's now getting hot in the inventory and supply chain businesses." (see
Mexican attorney general personally goes high-tech for security ).
Take a look at this excerpt from a CNN article, which describes a foreshadowing of the future "mark of the beast" system:
"In May 2005, Congress passed the "Real ID" Act, which requires states - starting in May 2008 -- to issue federally approved driver's licenses or identification (ID) cards to those who live and work in the United States. ...
"The Real ID Act's identity cards will be required if one wants to drive, visit a federal government building, collect Social Security, access a federal government service or use the services of a private entity
(such as a bank
or an airline) that is required under federal law to verify customer identity.
"It will be nearly impossible to live without such an ID."
(Why the 'Real ID' Act is a real mess ,
Step by step, end-times prophecies are coming together, right in front of our eyes.
The only way for this type of "mark of the beast" system to be implemented is if we are a totally
society, because this would allow for complete control over who can buy or sell anything. There is a movement
to create this cashless society, as you can see once in awhile in the news (see
Cashless Society or Digital Cash?
Majority of Baby Boomers and Echo Boomers Predict a Cashless Society
The Virtually Cashless Society ,
for example). This cashless "global village" will make it easy to force everyone on earth to use
specific mechanism for buying or selling, such as a "mark" on the right hand or on the forehead.
This global cashless society would be impossible without today's technology of computers, global telecommunications, the Internet, online banking, e-commerce, and so on. It is no coincidence that we are now living in the very
time in history in which the end-times "mark of the beast" prophecies could technologically be fulfilled.
Keep watching the news and reading the newspapers and magazines with a discerning spirit and you will be able to watch this cashless society coming together, step by step, right before your eyes. The world is shaping itself into an exact picture of the end-times world described in Bible prophecy. Jesus is returning soon.
The Bible tells us that the city of Babylon will be destroyed during the seven-year Tribulation:
"With a mighty voice he [an angel] shouted:
"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.""
So the book of Revelation tells us that Babylon will be
in some way during the seven-year Tribulation. But the ancient city of Babylon died out millennia ago (see
The International History Project 2004 ).
According to this and other passages, the ancient city of Babylon will become a center of commerce during the Tribulation, and possibly it will be the headquarters of the Antichrist, so it will need to be
somehow. Some people try to interpret this Babylon in a spiritual sense, saying that America is the new Babylon, or that capitalism is the spiritual Babylon, and so on.
However, Saddam Hussein spent millions or billions of dollars rebuilding and reconstructing ancient Babylon, and you can see pictures of the rebuilt Babylon at
Why the Confusion? .
He followed in the footsteps of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of ancient Babylon, by embossing his own inscription into bricks throughout the many walls and buildings. Some of these inscriptions say:
"In the era of President Saddam Hussein all Babylon was constructed in three stages. From Nebuchadnezzar to Saddam Hussein, Babylon is rising again."
In this article we have seen a number of signs which indicate that we are in the season of Christ's return. The Bible says that Babylon will be a center of commerce during the seven-year Tribulation, and possibly it will be the headquarters of the Antichrist, so perhaps it is no coincidence that the ancient city of Babylon has
been rebuilt in preparation for its destruction during the seven-year Tribulation. We can't really say for sure whether Saddam's Babylon is the same as the "Babylon" described in Revelation, but we shouldn't lightly dismiss the possibility. Remember, these different end-times prophecies are all being fulfilled
in the same timeframe
(beginning in the twentieth century), right in front of our eyes. We're living in a very unique time period because there is no other time in history when so many end-times prophecies were being fulfilled.
At some point during the seven-year Tribulation, God will raise up two witnesses to proclaim His name:
"I will give power to my
and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." (Revelation 11:3)
Notice that people
all over the world
will gaze on the dead bodies of the Two Witnesses. This is another example of the many end-times Bible prophecies which could not have been understood in any other time period but ours. For example, the dead bodies of the Two Witnesses will probably be shown around the world on CNN and Fox News and other news shows, and the images will no doubt be broadcast across the Internet.
"Now when they [the Two Witnesses] have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days
men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies
and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth." (Revelation 11:7-10)
It is no coincidence that we are now living in the very
time in history in which the end-times prophecy of the entire world gazing on the bodies of the Two Witnesses could possibly be fulfilled. Before 1935, when the first television broadcasting service began (see
Television History - The First 75 Years ),
nobody could have
how this prophecy can be fulfilled. But
can understand how.
We are living in a very unique period in history. We've already seen that the "birth pains" have begun, as Jesus called them. We're in "labor." We're in "the end of the age." These different end-times prophecies are all being fulfilled in the same timeframe, right in front of our eyes, unlike ever before. History as we know it is coming to an end. Jesus is returning soon.
Another major end-times prophecy yet to be fulfilled is a Russian invasion of Israel:
"The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, set your face against
Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal;
prophesy against him and say: ...
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. ...
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."
According to this passage there will be a massive invasion of Israel sometime in the future. The passage tells us that the people being invaded will be the regathered Jews, and it says that the land in Israel
used to be
desolate: "whose people were
from many nations to the mountains of
Israel, which had long been desolate"
(Ezekiel 38:8, above). From some of the signs of the times which we have already examined we know that the regathering and the replanting are currently in progress, so this invasion is still in the future, it is not a past invasion.
The leader of the invasion is "Gog, of the land of Magog" (Ezekiel 38:1-8, above). Many Bible scholars identify Magog as being Russia, as in the following quote:
"The identification of Magog, Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal is to be determined from the fact that these tribes of the ancient world occupied the areas of modern day Russia. Magog, Meshech and Tubal were between the Black and Caspian Seas which today is southern Russia. ... These names, then, cover the modern territories of northern and southern Russia in Europe and Siberia to the east in Asia. The modern nation of the Soviet Union encompasses all these areas of Ezekiel.
Other nations involved in this massive invasion of Israel are "Persia, Cush and Put" (Ezekiel 38:5) as well as "Gomer ... and Beth Togarmah" (Ezekiel 38:6). The names and borders of nations have changed over the centuries, but prophecy teachers tend to agree that the invasion force will probably include Russia, Iran, Ethiopia, and Germany, and it will also probably include Somalia and Armenia. Other possible allies (according to various prophecy teachers) are Iraq, Lybia, Jordan, and the Persian Gulf states including Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen.
"As if to avoid any further possible doubt, verse six adds that these come from
the uttermost parts of the north.
This is repeated in 38:15 and 39:2. From Israel the uttermost parts of the north is Russia with Moscow being almost a straight line due north from Jerusalem."
(The Footsteps of the Messiah,
Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, p.70)
This massive invasion force will advance against Israel "like a cloud that covers the land" (Ezekiel 38:16), and God gives us the purpose of this invasion: "I will bring you against my land,
so that the nations may know me
when I show myself holy through you" (Ezekiel 38:16). God will show Himself holy through this invasion by supernaturally defeating it:
"This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign LORD. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign LORD. Every man's sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.'" (Ezekiel 38:18-23)
Some people see the possibility of nuclear war in the above passage. It also appears that God will supernaturally create confusion or anger among the armies, causing them to turn on each other, because the above passage says that "Every man's sword will be against his brother."
After this massive destruction of the invading armies, the Jews will burn the weapons of war for fuel for seven years. There will be people who are employed to bury the dead and cleanse the land, and workers who find a human bone will set a marker beside it so that the specialists can bury it. This is sometimes taken as an indication that there will be radioactive contamination:
"'Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up--the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears.
For seven years they will use them for fuel.
They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. ... For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. ...
Men will be regularly employed to cleanse the land.
Some will go throughout the land and, in addition to them, others will bury those that remain on the ground.
At the end of the seven months they will begin their search. As they go through the land and one of them sees a human bone, he will set up a marker beside it
until the gravediggers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon Gog. (Also a town called Hamonah will be there.)
And so they will cleanse the land.'"
Scripture is not specific concerning the timing of the Russian invasion, so we don't know when it will happen. Keep an eye on international news, especially where it concerns the former Soviet Union and Israel. Prophecy teachers point out that in times when Russia has had internal chaos, they have attacked somewhere in order to get more resources. With Israel trading land for peace and with the republics of the former Soviet Union struggling economically and fighting among themselves, it's not too hard to imagine that the time is almost ripe for the prophesied invasion.
Iran will probably be part of the invading force (as we saw above), and in 1985 when Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum wrote his end-times prophecy book,
The Footsteps of the Messiah,
"Though Iran has generally been
this must eventually change."
(p.70, emphasis added).
In the 1995 printing of
The Footsteps of the Messiah,
the above statement has a footnote:
"Written before the Khomeini Islamic revolution. As of now Iran is
but not as yet within the Russian sphere of influence."
(p.70, emphasis added).
On August 1, 2002, CNN ran an article entitled
Anger at Russia-Iran nuclear ties .
This article said:
"After meeting with Russian officials in Moscow on Thursday, U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said Washington was deeply concerned that Russia was helping to build nuclear reactors in Iran. ... "We do have concerns about the potential assistance Iran is gaining from contacts with Russia with respect to chemical and biological weapons," U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Alexander Vershbow said during Thursday's news conference."
So it would appear that Iran might be coming under the Russian sphere of influence.
Here is an excerpt from a recent CNBC.com article:
"Today commodities traders are trying to determine whether recent talk of a new OPEC-style cartel for natural gas is serious or not. The proposed alliance would primarily be between Russia and Iran. ...
"The Russians want to increase their influence in the Middle East," he said. "They want to be seen as a power broker... In respect to that, this move makes sense for strengthening Russian influence in foreign policy."
In other words, Putin is trying to put himself center stage in the nukes dispute between Iran and the White House. "He has carrots to give the Iranian regime," continued Turtletaub. "If (Iran) sticks it out and continues to improve relations with Russia - "Russia has things to offer that will be valuable to Iran as a dependable ally."
(Putin: Russia/Iran Gas Cartel "Interesting" Idea )
Step by step, end-times prophecy is being fulfilled right in front of our eyes.
To provide some background for this next sign, let's consider the history of the Church. In the first century there were the original apostles, and the New Testament was in the process of being written. That's one period in Church history. According to the book,
The History of Christianity,
by Dr. Tim Dowley (p.82), there was brief, localized persecution of Christians under Nero, but it was near the
of the first century when a long period of persecution against Christians began
(The History of Christianity,
Dr. Tim Dowley, p.82-84). That's the second period in Church history, and it lasted under a number of Roman emperors until Constantine converted to Christianity around 312 A.D.
(The History of Christianity,
Dr. Tim Dowley, p.139). This began the third period of Church history, in which the Church and the state were generally "married," so to speak, under a number of Christian emperors
(The History of Christianity,
Dr. Tim Dowley, p.139-151). Then in 590 A.D., Gregory the Great became pope.
The History of Christianity
"Gregory's period as pope, by its extension of the pope's authority, marks the
from the ancient world of imperial Rome
to medieval Christendom
united by the Roman Catholic church." (p.203, emphasis added)
So that was the fourth period of Church history, the period of the Middle Ages, which brings us all the way up to 1517 A.D., when the period of the Reformation began
(The History of Christianity,
Dr. Tim Dowley, p.366), which is the fifth period in Church history. Then in 1648, with the Peace of Westphalia, an era of wars of religion came to an end, according to
The History of Christianity
(p.466). This opened the door for the Great Missionary Movement
(The History of Christianity,
Dr. Tim Dowley, p.466-484), which is often considered to be the sixth period in the history of the Church, and this brings us up to the modern era, which is the seventh period of Church history. That's a general outline of how Christian scholars tend to break down the history of the Church Age. Church history just naturally falls into these 7 distinct periods.
Now, notice that in chapters 2 and 3 of the book of Revelation, Jesus dictated letters to 7 churches:
"To the angel of
the church in Ephesus
write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." (Revelation 2:1-7)
These were 7 actual churches which existed in the first century, but some Bible scholars say that these 7 churches were also meant to be representative of the entire Church Age. To illustrate why, let's look at Numbers 21:8-9:
"To the angel of
the church in Smyrna
write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death." (Revelation 2:8-11)
"To the angel of
the church in Pergamum
write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live--where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city--where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." (Revelation 2:12-17)
"To the angel of
the church in Thyatira
write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan's so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): Only hold on to what you have until I come. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations--'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery' -- just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
"To the angel of
the church in Sardis
write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
"To the angel of
the church in Philadelphia
write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
"To the angel of
the church in Laodicea
write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.""
"The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live."
So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole.
Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived." (Numbers 21:8-9)
This bronze snake was a "type" or a "foreshadowing" of Christ, as John 3:14-15 tells us:
"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." (John 3:14-15)
When Moses lifted up the bronze snake, that was the
application of Numbers 21:8-9 (above), but the apostle John tells us that Jesus was the
of that bronze snake. The bronze snake was a "type" or a "foreshadowing" of Christ.
In a similar way, the 7 churches in the above letters were actual churches in the first century, which was the
application of the 7 letters in Revelation, but these churches also appear to be "types" or "foreshadowings" of the 7 distinct periods of Church history. For example, take a look at Revelation 1:10-11:
"On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to
the seven churches:
to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."" (Revelation 1:10-11)
So Jesus told the apostle John to write letters to
7 churches," and then He named 7 specific churches. But think about it. How can those be
7 churches? What about the Corinthian church? What about the Philippian church? What about the Thessalonian church? They're not mentioned in these letters, so the churches in these letters were not the only 7 churches back then. There's more here than meets the eye. Now let's look at Revelation 1:4:
the seven churches in the province of Asia"
So the apostle John addressed the book of Revelation to
7 churches," just like Jesus told him to do, and he added the phrase, "in the province of Asia" (because the 7 churches were all in Asia in the first century). But the church of the Colossians, for example, was
in Asia, as were other first-century churches. So again, why were these specific churches called "the" 7 churches? Well, recall that earlier we saw that the number 7 is the number of perfection, the number of completeness. So "the" 7 churches are perhaps intended to be representative of the complete Church body. After all, these were
the only 7 churches back then, nor were they the largest churches back then, according to Bible scholars (see
The Bible Knowledge Commentary,
Walvoord and Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, p.932).
To make the point even further, let's look at Revelation 1:4 again:
"John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia:
Grace and peace to you
from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and
from the seven spirits
before his throne" (Revelation 1:4)
In this passage, surely the apostle John was not saying, "Grace and peace to you from the 7
right? After all, grace and peace only come from God, and the Bible describes
than 7 angels (as in Revelation 5:11). So Bible commentaries often say that the 7 spirits of God in the above verse really represent the
Spirit of God. For example, notice that Isaiah 11:1-2 describes the Holy Spirit by saying that He is the Spirit "of" 7 different things:
"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit
of the LORD
will rest on him-- the Spirit
of the fear of the LORD
--" (Isaiah 11:1-2)
Again, the number 7 is the number of completeness or perfection, so the "seven-fold Spirit of God" represents the completeness or the perfection of the Holy Spirit of God. In a similar way, the 7 churches are often considered to be representative of the complete Church body. In fact, notice that in each of the 7 letters, Jesus specifically said that He was speaking to
of the churches (see Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22, above).
So when we take all of these things into consideration, the weight of evidence leads many Bible teachers and preachers to the conclusion that the letters to the 7 churches had a
application to those 7 specific churches back then, but that these letters are also "types" or "foreshadowings," in sequence, corresponding to the 7 distinct periods in the history of the Church. Among those who look at it from that perspective, there seems to be unanimous agreement that we are now living in the
period of Church history. This last period of Church history is described in the 7th letter, in Revelation 3:14-22, and it is a period of apostasy, meaning that churches will call themselves Christian but they have actually fallen away from Scriptural doctrine in different areas.
For example, homosexual activity is strongly condemned in the New Testament, and it is no coincidence that we are living in an age where practicing homosexuals are being allowed to pastor churches (see for example
Gay pastors, Methodist policy clash
Church of Scotland abandons Bible - allows gay pastor
The Homosexual Christian Movement ).
We are seeing debates within churches and denominations as they struggle with the "question" of homosexuality, even though the Bible leaves no question about homosexual activity (see my article called
Is Homosexuality a Sin?).
We seem to be living in the last period of Church history, the Church of the apostasy, and it is no coincidence that people are trying to steer churches and denominations away from the Scriptural teaching about homosexuality. Do you recall the TV sitcom "Ellen," in which the main character announced that she was gay, and when Ellen DeGeneres, the actress who played that character, also announced that she was gay? Lamb & Lion Ministries sent out an electronic newsletter at the time which said:
"In a San Jose newspaper,
25 prominent Bay area churches
took out an ad to show their
for the ABC sit-com Ellen, which recently thrilled the gay world when the lead character announced that she was a lesbian. The ad read:
"We celebrate your coming out of the closet
and welcome you into our homes, just as we wish to welcome all members of the gay and lesbian community into our houses of faith.
to Ellen, ABC, and its sponsors!"" (emphasis added)
That's what these
said. They celebrated and applauded the homosexual lifestyle being depicted in that sitcom. But homosexual activity is strongly denounced in Scripture and should never be supported, celebrated, or applauded by Christian churches.
We are also living in a time period when God the Father is being renamed in some churches as "God the Mother" (e.g.
Mother God )
or "God the Parent" (e.g.
The Parent (god) ),
and where many church leaders believe in some form of the theory of evolution (my article called
The Biblical Evidence Against the Theories of Evolution
demonstrates the overwhelming Scriptural evidence which supports the literal interpretation of Creation). We say that the Bible is the
Word of God, and God talks about Special Creation throughout the Bible but says nothing at all about evolution. There is not even a hint of an evolutionary process in the entire Bible, yet many church leaders have more faith in human scientists than in the Word of God in this area.
Also, we saw earlier that Christian churches and denominations are sometimes meeting together with non-Christian religious faiths in a misguided sense of unity, which is another example of falling away from clear Scriptural doctrine.
Another movement which is causing much concern and criticism among evangelical scholars is called the Emerging church movement (or Emergent church movement). Here are some quotes from the Wikipedia article on this movement:
"Some Evangelicals such as D. A. Carson have characterized the emerging church movement as primarily a movement of protest in which participants are reacting against their more conservative heritage. ...
"Many Evangelical scholars criticize the movement for maintaining that certainty in faith is not achievable and for rejecting the view of historical orthodoxy regarding the perspicuity of Scripture. Brian McLaren admits to not knowing why Jesus died on the cross, and he maintains that even Jesus did not know the reason for this sacrifice. ...
"While many Evangelicals have been open to some of the criticisms that the emerging church movement has offered, most seem to have rejected the emerging church movement's views of several key theological themes within their soteriology [the study of salvation] and eschatology [the study of the end-times] as well as the openness of some in the emerging church movement to alternative lifestyles. Many of these critics seem especially concerned about unorthodox views in the emerging church movement on doctrines such as blood atonement, salvation by faith, hell, and the sovereignty of God. ...
"Conservative Evangelicals have also contested the emergent view of evangelism. They believe the emergent view of God's kingdom is too narrowly limited to improving social conditions while ignoring eternal matters ...
"Some Evangelicals also express concern that the postmodern spirituality embraced by many emergents is more syncretistic [attempting to combine the practices of different beliefs] than scriptural."
(Emerging church )
These and other forms of apostasies are becoming more widespread in churches today in fulfillment of the final stage of Church history, which is described in the letter to the church at Laodicea. After Jesus told the disciples about the one specific sign which marks the beginning of the end of history as we know it (as we saw earlier), He then said:
"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. So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand--" (Matthew 24:10-15)
The context in the above passage relates to the end-times (notice "the abomination that causes desolation," which we saw earlier), and in that context Jesus described false prophets as well as people turning away from the faith and their love growing cold. Again, this is a graphic picture of apostasy in the end-times.
History as we know it is drawing to a close. We're in the final stages, approaching the seven-year Tribulation. Whether we're ready or not, Jesus is coming back soon.
Notice how the apostle Paul described "the last days":
"But mark this:
There will be terrible times in the last days.
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (2 Timothy 3:1-4)
This passage certainly describes the way our society is heading! Paul said that people will be lovers of themselves, and that they will be proud and abusive and without self-control and brutal and treacherous and rash and so on. It is no coincidence that people today tend to be so focused on themselves and so inconsiderate of others that we have terms in our vocabulary such as "the Me generation" and "road rage" and "air rage" and so on.
It is also interesting that Paul said in the above passage that people will be "without love" in the last days. In the Greek language there are different words for different types of love, such as
(which is used in Matthew 24:10-15, above),
("brotherly love"), and so on. When the apostle Paul said that in the last days there will be people "without love," the Greek word that he used was
which describes a specific type of love. According to
The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament
(Spiros Zodhiates, p.281), this Greek word specifically means "Without
love." In other words, without the natural family bond of affection and love.
So Paul said that in the end-times there will be people who do not have that natural family bond and natural family love. How many times in the last few years have we seen in the news where parents have actually murdered their own children in cold blood, where teen-agers have murdered their parents, and where children have "divorced" their own parents (see
A Child's Lawyer )?
At times it seems like a never-ending parade of family destruction in the news. Not too long ago, a daytime TV talk show was dedicated to this recent type of phenomenon, and it was entitled, "I'm Afraid of My Children."
With divorce rates and abortion rates skyrocketing, and with parents killing their own children or throwing their unwanted newborns out of car windows or into trash dumpsters, we are seeing the fulfillment of Paul's end-times prophecy. We even have a name for infants who are tossed into trash cans. They are called "trash babies." This is now so prevalent that it has become a part of modern-day vocabulary. A radio show called "Stand to Reason" reported that Newsweek had an article entitled "Cradles to Coffins" which highlighted the tragic increase of "neonaticides," the killing of our infants (see
So we even have a scientific name for this phenomenon because it has become such a problem. In ancient cultures they sometimes sacrificed infants, but they felt that they
to do it in order to appease the "gods." In
culture, people simply discard their newborns just like another piece of trash, because that natural family bond of love and affection has broken down, exactly like Paul said would happen in the last days. The above radio show also reported that the L.A. Times published an article called, "We All Must Answer for Why Teenagers Kill Their Babies" (see
The accompanying cartoon had a sign which said, "Please separate your trash," and the picture showed three trash cans which were labeled, "paper," "plastic," and "babies." That's a sad commentary on our society.
We have reached a point in America where there are billboards
people not to throw away their unwanted babies. For example, in December, 1999, 75 billboards went up in Houston, TX, which said, "Don't abandon your baby!" We have to
people not to do that! There are centers which were specifically established so that people can bring their unwanted newborn babies and turn them over to these centers rather than tossing newborn babies into trash dumpsters or leaving them on doorsteps or in the streets. There are cemeteries which were specifically created for abandoned babies who were left to die anonymous deaths. There are programs such as the AMT Children of Hope Foundation, the National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center, Project Cuddle, Baby Rescue Program, the Safe Place for Newborns, the Harris County Baby Abandonment Task Force, etc., to deal with this growing problem. There is a Safe Place for Newborns Act in Georgia Law, there is a program in Alabama called the Secret Safe Place for Newborns, in Texas there is the Baby Moses Project, which is a nonprofit group set up to publicize safe legal abandonment as an alternative to baby-dumping, and so on. Laws are pending or have been passed in at least 34 states which would decriminalize baby abandonment so that mothers will not be afraid to bring their babies to an abandonment center rather than throwing the babies out of car windows or leaving them floating in airport toilets. To learn more, see the
U.S. Infant Abandonment Resources
page or search the Internet for the above facts.
The apostle Paul specifically said that in the last days the natural family bond of love will break down. We have seen that the "birth pains" have begun, as Jesus called them. We are
the last days before Jesus comes back, and it is no coincidence that Paul's prophecy is now coming true. Jesus is returning soon.
Imagine that you are the apostle John. Imagine that you live in the first century, and that God is giving you a vision of nuclear war in the twenty-first century. How would you describe what you are seeing? After all, you're living centuries before gunpowder was invented (see
Formation of the Chinese Civilization ),
and you've never seen
like what's in your vision!
So how would you describe nuclear detonations using first-century words and images? Well, a nuclear blast is accompanied by incredible thunderous noise, so maybe it reminds you of
Nuclear blasts are also accompanied by blinding flashes of light, so maybe it makes you think of
A nuclear explosion would shake the ground with incredible intensity, so maybe it reminds you of an
During nuclear blast testing in the U.S. in the 1950s, people reported pink radioactive hail falling on their ranches (see
We Were in Awe ).
So not only do you have a
from the explosion, but there can be radioactive
as well. Also, footage of actual nuclear detonations shows that the fireball burns up many things in its path as it rolls out from the epicenter of the blast, so you might describe this type of devastation by saying that
These are natural ways that a first-century person might describe nuclear blasts. Now compare these descriptions with what John wrote in Revelation 8:5-7:
"Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of
Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them. The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came
hail and fire mixed with blood,
and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was
a third of the trees were
and all the green grass was
Notice that the apostle John accurately described some of the effects of nuclear blasts, even though he did not have our modern technological vocabulary to help him describe these things. If this passage describes nuclear detonations, then John has described the effects that a nuclear war will have on the
Now, imagine the carnage that will result in the oceans when these weapons of destruction are targeted at ships, submarines, naval bases, and so on. If you were living in the first century, how would you describe a massive Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (or ICBM) with a long trail of fire propelling it? Would you say that it is something like
a huge mountain, all on fire?
Would you say that it is
a star falling from the sky?
Would you say that it blazes like
Here is how John described what he was seeing:
"The second angel sounded his trumpet, and
something like a huge mountain, all ablaze,
was thrown into the sea. A third of the
sea turned into blood,
a third of the
living creatures in the sea died,
and a third of the
ships were destroyed.
The third angel sounded his trumpet, and
a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water
-- the name of the star is Wormwood.
A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter."
If the above passage describes nuclear war, then notice that John has described some of the effects that nuclear blasts will have on the world's
oceans and water supplies.
Now, in verse 10 in the above passage, John described a great "star," blazing like
which fell from the sky and
the waters. Imagine a modern rocket which is delivering a nuclear payload. As it reaches the top of its arc and begins coming back
toward its target, the flames coming out of the rocket look like they are now
the rocket. Doesn't that make it look like a blazing torch, falling from the sky, just like John described? And if that rocket is nuclear-tipped then the residual radiation would begin poisoning the water, and people would die from radiation poisoning after drinking that "bitter" water, just as John described. In verse 11 (above), notice that this "blazing torch" was given a name, "Wormwood." Why was that object given a name? God does not do things without reason, so what is the significance of this name?
In Revelation 8:10-11 (above), the name of this object is "Wormwood." Wormwood is a bitter plant which has the scientific name of "Artemisia absinthium," and in Russia the wormwood plant is called "chernobyl" (search the Internet for "wormwood"). Hal Lindsey points out that the Chernobyl nuclear plant is at the headwaters of a series of rivers, and after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster many people died of radiation sickness from the bitterly polluted waters, just as John described in the above passage (see
Planet Earth - The Final Chapter,
p.226). Although the prophecy in Revelation 8:8-11 has not yet been fulfilled, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster perhaps gives us clues about how this prophecy will come to pass (e.g. radiation poisoning).
Another effect of nuclear blasts will be massive amounts of dust and debris hurled into the atmosphere, creating what scientists call "nuclear winter" because much of the light from the sun and stars will be obscured (see
What is nuclear winter? ).
Here is John's description, in Revelation 8:12-9:2:
"The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them
turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.
As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: "Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!" The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss,
smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss."
If the above passage is related to nuclear war, then notice that John has described the effects that nuclear detonations will have in the
So John did a good job of describing the effects that nuclear war will have on the ground, in the water, and in the air.
Okay, imagine that you're the apostle John. You're living in the first century, and God gives you a vision of twenty-first-century helicopter gunships which are carrying biological or chemical weapons that for some reason don't kill people, but rather they cause long-lasting agony. How would you describe all of that? Perhaps the helicopters remind you of a swarm of
Perhaps the weaponry makes you think of
the sting of a scorpion.
The helicopters might remind you of
horses prepared for battle.
The sun reflecting off of the canopies of the helicopters might look to you like
crowns of gold.
Perhaps you can actually see
the human faces
of the pilots. And what about those spinning rotor blades, don't they kind of look like
The rocket pods might remind you of
Perhaps the metal frames of the helicopters remind you of
breastplates of iron,
and maybe the helicopter gunships are so noisy that they remind you of
the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle.
When the helicopters fire their rockets, the smoke makes the helicopters look like they have
Those might be appropriate ways for a first-century person to describe modern-day helicopter gunships. Here's what the apostle John said in Revelation 9:3-10:
"And out of the smoke
locusts came down upon the earth
and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was
like that of the sting of a scorpion
when it strikes a man. During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails and stings like scorpions,
and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months." (Revelation 9:3-10)
Notice that the above passage says that the "locusts" will not kill people, but instead these "locusts" will inflict suffering of some kind for a limited duration. This sounds rather odd, because normally we think of weapons of war as being used for
people. So if the apostle John was experiencing a vision of warfare in the twenty-first century, then it seems strange that he would see
weapons being used.
It turns out that various forms of non-lethal weapons of war are being developed at this very moment. For example, here is an excerpt from a recent Associated Press article (emphasis added):
paralyzing potential attackers or noncombatants like a long-range stun gun,
directed-energy weapons could fry the electronics of missiles and roadside bombs, developers say, or even disable a vehicle in a high-speed chase. ...
So there are non-lethal weapons of war under development at this very moment, and perhaps one such weapon will be the fulfillment of the non-lethal "sting" of the "locusts" in John's prophecy.
"At the same Air Force Research Laboratory in New Mexico, researchers working with Raytheon Co. have developed a weapon called the Active Denial System, which repels adversaries
by heating the water molecules in their skin with microwave energy. The pain is so great that people flee immediately.
"It just feels like your skin is on fire," said Rich Garcia, a spokesman for the laboratory who, as a test subject, has felt the Active Denial System's heat. "When you get out of the path of the beam, or shut off the beam,
everything goes back to normal. There's no residual pain."
"You can rest assured that with this system, when it finally is deployed, we will be very, very clear about what the intended uses are and what is clearly outside of bounds," said Marine Corps Capt. Daniel McSweeney, spokesman for
the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate...
"The device being developed by Schlesinger's company, HSV Technologies Inc. of San Diego, will operate similarly to Bitar's, except the electrical charge will be created by an ultraviolet laser beam, rather than plasma. He, too, says
the device is designed for non-lethal purposes only."
Military embrace of 'non-lethal' energy weapons sparks debate ).
We don't really know how the above prophecies will actually be fulfilled, but it certainly appears that the apostle John did an amazing job of describing modern warfare in the nuclear age, using images that he and his readers were familiar with. Would we have done any better in describing these things if we lived in the first century?
Another weapon in the nuclear age is the neutron bomb. The sole purpose of the neutron bomb is to destroy living flesh without causing much destruction of buildings and property. According to a BBC news report, the neutron bomb is described as being "Extremely destructive to living tissue" (see
Neutron bomb: Why 'clean' is deadly ).
Now, the prophet Zechariah described the Second Coming of Christ and some events which will happen just before the Second Coming, and notice what he described in Zechariah 14:12:
"This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem:
Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet,
their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths." (Zechariah 14:12)
Zechariah saw people's flesh being destroyed
while they were still standing on their feet.
This is said to be an accurate description of the presumed effects of neutron bombs. Perhaps the Lord will supernaturally destroy the nations in the above verse, or perhaps He will destroy them through human weapons of war (as we see in the Old Testament).
We are living in the
time in history in which such descriptions of nuclear warfare could possibly be fulfilled. Considering all of the nuclear weapons in the world today, and considering the lawlessness and immorality which will be rampant during the seven-year Tribulation, can there be any doubt that nuclear war is inevitable?
Of course, it is possible that not all of these passages describe modern warfare in the nuclear age. Bible scholars have different opinions, and some of them believe that the above passages describe supernatural activity (by demons or by God) rather than human warfare. Still, most of these scholars seem to agree that a nuclear war during the Tribulation is a strong likelihood.
The apostle Paul said that in "later times" some people will follow deceiving spirits:
"The Spirit clearly says that
in later times
some will abandon the faith
and follow deceiving spirits
and things taught by demons." (1 Timothy 4:1)
The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare,
Dr. Ed Murphy (international teacher/trainer in spiritual warfare) says the following:
"We seem to be living in the beginning of this fulfillment of predicted last days of demonic deception.
The fastest-growing, pseudo-Christian demonic movement today is the New Age movement, a refined form of spirit world deception now infiltrating not only the world, but also our churches. Satanism, satanic cults, and some branches of witchcraft are the more gross manifestations of the same spiritual deception sweeping our land today. Hinduism, Islam, and materialism as a religion are rapidly growing worldwide.
All this is possible evidence that we are in the last of the Last Days."
(p.385, emphasis added)
The apostle Paul's end-times prophecies of demonic deception are being fulfilled to a greater and greater degree right before our eyes. In the last few years the news reports have repeatedly brought to light numerous demonic cults led by false Messiahs, most of which met their end through the mass suicide of their deceived members. As Dr. Murphy points out, this is possible evidence that we are in the
of the last days.
To summarize, all of the above signs of the times demonstrate that end-times prophecies are being fulfilled at an unprecedented rate, right in front of our eyes.
Prophecies of the Last Days Were "closed up and sealed until the time of the end."
Have you noticed that because of our supercomputers and televisions and global telecommunications satellites and the Internet and implantable computer chips and nuclear warheads and other modern technologies, we are the very
people in the entire history of the world who are able to
many of the above end-times prophecies? When we consider what the prophet Daniel was told, we can see how significant this is. Daniel was given a number of visions concerning the Antichrist and the seven-year Tribulation, but take a close look at what Daniel recorded at the end of his book:
"But you, O Daniel,
shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end.
[Then] many shall run to and fro and search anxiously [through the Book], and
[of God's purposes as revealed by His prophets]
shall be increased and become great."
(Daniel 12:4, AMP)
Notice that Daniel was told that the words of prophecy were "closed up and sealed" until the time of the end. Obviously it was not the actual book of Daniel which was sealed up because the book of Daniel has been a part of Scripture for thousands of years. Rather, it is the
of the prophecies which was closed off until the time of the end. Daniel was told that at the time of the end, knowledge shall be
and shall become great. Consider that knowledge has
exploded to such an extent that people refer to our times as "the Information Age." This great increase in knowledge has led to all sorts of new technologies which suddenly make many end-times prophecies technologically feasible and able to come to pass at any time.
"I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, "My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?" He replied, "Go your way, Daniel, because
the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end."
For the very
time in history, our knowledge has increased to the point where we can actually understand end-times prophecies in ways that people in earlier ages could not have fathomed. For example, because of things like CNN and the Internet we can easily understand Revelation 11:9, which says that "men from
people, tribe, language and nation" will look upon the dead bodies of the Two Witnesses (as we saw earlier). For almost two millennia, nobody understood how this prophecy can possibly be fulfilled. So when we consider this prophecy and Daniel's prophecies and other end-times prophecies, the
of these prophecies is
Think about that for a moment. Remember, Daniel was told that the words of prophecy were closed to people's understanding
the time of the end. We
have an understanding of how Daniel's prophecies can be fulfilled. They don't sound "magical" or "mysterious" to us like they did to people even a few decades ago. We are now
the time of the end which the angel told Daniel about. History as we know it is coming to a close.
Step by step, the world is shaping itself into an exact picture of the end-times world described throughout the Bible. We are living in the very first time in history when most of the end-times prophecies listed above could possibly be fulfilled, and those different prophecies are all being fulfilled
in the same timeframe,
right in front of our eyes. We appear to be the "terminal generation," the last generation before the coming of Christ. This would mean that the Antichrist is alive at this very moment somewhere in the world. The first "birth pain" which Jesus specifically said will mark the end of the age occurred in the 20th century, and we have seen many more signs of the times which demonstrate that end-times prophecies are being fulfilled at an unprecedented rate. In fact,
end-times prophecies have been fulfilled in the last 80 years or so than in the previous 1900 years
all put together.
These signs of the times indicate that the Tribulation and the Second Coming might be just around the corner, which means that we should live our lives expecting to see Jesus face to face at any moment because the Bible says that He will "snatch" all Christians off of the earth
the seven-year Tribulation begins (see my eight-part series called
The Rapture of the Church).
This is not being an "alarmist," this is not doom and gloom, this is an
time in which to live! We are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20), and we are only here on earth as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). Don't get confused about where your true citizenship lies, but instead try to get your priorities right before God in the short time that you might have left. Can you honestly say that your only desire is to live a holy life for a holy God? Are you sold out to the will of your Savior no matter the cost, whether your flesh likes it or not? Is Jesus your
love, and are you passionately in love with Him?
As I described in my eight-part series called
The Rapture of the Church,
our heavenly bridegroom will return at any moment to fetch us!
Are we ready?
Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20).