Thursday, June 23, 2011

Know God, Part Five: Setting the Stage cont.

Here are the links to Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four in case you're just jumping into the conversation now.

In the last post, I talked about the comparison that is made in Scripture to the happenings of the world leading up to the return of Jesus Christ as being like the contractions of a woman in labor. They grow closer and closer together and become more and more intense. Finally, there comes a point where she is in full-blown labor and there is nothing she can do to stop her baby from being born. Likewise, once the world has reached a certain point, and we have seen a culmination of certain prophecies and predictions occurring all within ONE GENERATION, God is not going to just reach down, dial down the intensity and wait another hundred years or so to get things going again (Matt. 24:32). I ended the previous post by saying that I, personally, believe, along with many others, that that moment of no return, so to speak, was sparked in 1948, with the rebirth of the nation of Israel. So, now we'll take a look at this and other specific prophecies, as well as the predictions of the Bible that describe what the world will look like in the very last days before Christ returns.

"Jesus replied, 'Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so the signs indicate that the end is near.'" Luke 18:37

So, what are the signs?

"...for many will come in my name, claiming 'I am the Messiah.' They will deceive many." Matt. 24:5 chronicles 5 people who claimed to be Christ in the 19th Century. That number jumped to 25 in the 20th Century, and the number is growing. These people may not be in the worldwide spotlight, but they are deceiving countless people nonetheless, and they are fulfilling this prophecy in unprecedented measures.

"And you will hear of wars and threats of wars..." Matt. 24:6 The fighting that has been occurring in the Middle East is only intensifying, and the growing threat to Israel is on the cusp of fulfilling the prophecies of the War of Gog and Magog, detailed in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, something we'll get into later as well. The threat that Iran poses to the entire world is growing to unprecedented levels, particularly as long as the U.S. government continues to be blind to Iran's true intentions, refusing to acknowledge that the leaders within Iran truly view this as a jihad, a holy war, and they believe it is their calling from God to destroy Israel and the West so that their messiah may return.

"There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world." Matt. 24:7 Throughout the Bible, we are told of earthquakes and other natural disasters that will shake the world unlike anything ever seen before. In recent years, we began hearing of such disasters that were breaking records that were hundreds of years old. But it didn't stop with those first record breaking floods and earthquakes. The next year, we hear of another one that breaks the record of the one before that. And then another one that breaks the record of the one before that. So, not only has it been centuries since we've seen these kind of disasters, but it's not stopping with one. It is ratcheting up and up and up, and they are happening closer and closer together in unprecedented intensity and frequency. We had record-breaking hurricane Katrina; we had record-breaking earthquakes in Haiti; we had a record-breaking earthquake in Japan, which led to a record-breaking tsunami, which led to a record-breaking nuclear meltdown; we have seen record-breaking floods and record-breaking tornadoes ravishing the land right here in the U.S. THE LORD IS TRYING TO TELL US SOMETHING! HE IS TRYING TO TELL US TO WAKE UP!! The time is near. He is coming back soon.

"You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold." Matt. 24:9-12 How popular are we with the world right now? Do they love us? Or do they hate us? Never before in history has Christianity been abhorred to the extent that it is right now. Around the world, Christians are being persecuted and killed in frighteningly unprecedented numbers. And right here, in our own country, in a nation that was founded on the gospel and the word of God, we are seeing a complete rejection of everything that has anything to do with Jesus Christ and the church. False religions and the idea that there are many ways to God and many ways to heaven is being praised around the world with an unprecedented intensity.

"And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come." Matt. 24:14 With the help of modern technology and the ease of travel that had not been possible until this post-WWII era, missionaries have been able to reach parts of this world that were untouchable in the past. And not only are people all over the world hearing the gospel from people who are coming to share with them, but there have been reports from pastors and churches around the world who are showing up at places that have been completely untouched by outside civilizations and finding that God has been appearing to these people in their dreams in vivid ways, revealing himself to them even before he sent people to actually share the gospel, and they have been prepared ahead of time with hearts ready to receive Christ. The Lord isn't waiting for us anymore. He's showing up all by himself and turning hearts to Himself in unprecedented numbers. Reports state that there have been more muslims coming to Christ in the last 30 years than in the last 2000 combined. CONSERVATIVE reports estimate about 1,000,000 believers in Iran, where other estimates go as high as 3,000,000. Not so long ago, you would have been hard pressed to find one. Reports like this are only the beginning. The Lord is moving swiftly throughout the land. He is preparing the world for his return. And just in case there is anyone who has not heard before the rapture of the church and the beginning of the tribulation, we are told in Revelation 14:6-13 that three angels will fly through the air proclaiming the truth for all to hear. Yet, sadly, many will still reject God's free gift of salvation.

Now, let me just take a moment to distinguish between the rapture of the church and the return of Christ. These are not the same thing. There is nothing else that needs to occur in order for the church to be "raptured" or caught up with the Lord, as Scripture describes it. This could happen at any moment, which would then trigger the beginning of a literal 7-year period of tribulation. We'll get into all of that later. The return of Christ is what is spoken of in Revelation 19:11-16 as well as throughout Scripture as the "day of the Lord." It is the moment, at the end of the tribulation, in which Jesus Christ physically returns to earth and his feet touch down on the Mount of Olives. Don't get too caught up in the details of all of that yet. We'll get into it later. For now, the reason I am bringing this up is because it is important to understand that there have been many prophecies and predictions about specific things that will occur during the tribulation which could not have happened without the technology we have today, without the world governments we have today, and perhaps most importantly, without Israel in the social, economic, and physical position that it is in today. The stage has already been set. There is nothing else that needs to be established before the world will be ready to enter into the tribulation and easily fulfill every single on of the prophecies concerning that time.

So, let's take a look at some of them together*:

"But the mountains of Israel will produce heavy crops of fruit for my people --for they will be coming home again soon! See, I care about you, and I will pay attention to you. Your ground will be plowed and your crops planted. I will greatly increase the population of the people, but also your animals. O mountains of Israel, I will bring people to live on you once again. I will make you even more prosperous than you were before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I will cause my people to walk on you once again, and you will be their territory." Ezekiel 36:8-12

All of chapters 36 and 37 speak of this return to the land, the prosperity that will follow, and eventually the spiritual renewal that will happen during the tribulation as the Jews finally recognize Christ as their messiah. These prophecies, with the exception of the spiritual redemption, have already been fulfilled. In 1948, after 2,000 years of being scattered throughout the earth, the six-day war was fought, and Israel regained her land. And since then, she has been rapidly fulfilling every last one of these prophecies which were written in Ezekiel in about 571 BC as well as throughout Scripture. Israel is now a mass exporter of all kinds of fruit, of flowers, of textiles and countless other goods. If you do a little research and compare their current prosperity with the absolute devastation of the historical land, it can hardly be attributed to anything less than a miracle.

"Therefore behold, the days are coming declares the Lord, when they will no longer say, as the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt, but as the Lord lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I have driven them. Then they will live on their own soil." Jeremiah 23:7-8 The "north land" here refers to Russia. One site* notes that "In the 1970's and 1980's there was a mass exodus of Russian Jews out of Communist Russia. In 1999 the Associated Press reported a dramatic increase in the number of Jewish immigrants from Russia, bringing the largest number of Russian Jews to Israel since the early 1990's."

"For then I will return to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent." Zephaniah 3:9 "Prior to the restoration of Israel in 1948, Hebrew was a dead language. Now Hebrew is spoken throughout Israel."*

"This is the statute of the law which the Lord has commanded, saying, 'Speak to the sons of Israel that they bring you an unblemished red heifer in which is no defect and on which a yoke has never been placed..." Numbers 19:2 When the temple is rebuilt, a red heifer will be required again for the process of purification. "In May 1997, the first red heifer was born in 2000 years. Another red heifer was born in Israel in March of 2002."*

Ezekiel 40-48 speaks in GREAT detail about the new temple that will be rebuilt in Israel. Many people believe that this is a distant concept given the current situation in Israel, but most would probably be surprised to know that the Israelis are already prepared. "There are many groups already working on preparations for the new temple. The blueprints are already done, the temple garments have been made, and there have already been attempts to lay the cornerstone of the temple. The only thing standing in the way of the construction of the new temple is Islam's third holiest site, the Dome of the Rock and government support for such an undertaking."* These obstacles may seem impassable, but given the war of Gog and Magog that is coming, and the miraculous intervention that God is going to make (Ezekiel 38, 39), this will become a reality much faster than many believe possible.

These are only a few of the many prophecies concerning Israel in the end times. I encourage you to study on your own to see just how faithful God has been in fulfilling his promises to his people. Here are just a couple other prophecies related to the end times in general:

Revelation 9:16 says, "And the number of the armies of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number from them." One website* notes that "an army of that size had never existed until China's army reached that number in the 1960's.

"And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name." Until the last few decades, the kind of technology that would be necessary for something like this was non-existent. Now, the idea of perhaps a biochip of some sort that can be inserted under the skin and scanned like a credit card is entirely possible and would be easily administered.

What about the concept of a one world government, something we know will exist during the tribulation under the leadership of the antichrist? Many might think that we're a ways off from something like that, but are we really? "The United Nations, World Trade Organization, International Criminal Court, UN peacekeeping/police force, numerous UN NGO's, and other agencies are preliminary steps to the formation of a one world government. We now have the communications technology, transportation, and the pro-globablization media necessary to usher in the one world government headed by the antichrist."* And how quickly do you think the world will join together if millions of people suddenly disappear from the earth (the rapture), causing catastrophic car crashes, plane crashes, and other disasters, leaving parents mourning their missing children, and worst of all, the removal of the Holy Spirit who lives within each of us from the face of the earth? How desperate do you think the world will be for someone to step up and make sense of the madness? How quickly do you think they will fall at the feet of the antichrist, one who will appear to be their savior and even God himself, and eagerly join together to form one world government?

"But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come." Matthew 24:8

As awful as things seem now, the devastation of the floods and tornadoes and earthquakes and tsunamis that have ravished the earth, the horrors of the Holocaust and other devastating acts of violence, the financial troubles of the world, the hunger and sickness of the nations, all of it will seem like a Sunday stroll through the park compared to the absolute horrors that are coming during the tribulation. No one HAS to live through this nightmare! It is a CHOICE that we make when we reject Jesus Christ and the free gift of salvation that he has offered us. We need to make sure that we are making the world aware of what is coming. This is something that absolutely should be feared and avoided at all costs.

BUT, if you have Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, then you have nothing to fear. You will be spared the horrors of the tribulation. In the next post, we will look at the reasons that we can be assured of that hope and we will at least begin to look at what the Bible has to say about the 7-year tribulation leading up to his return.

In the mean time...

"When these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!" Luke 21:28 WAKE UP AND PAY ATTENTION! DO NOT BE CAUGHT SLEEPING!


"'Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,' Amen." Matthew 28:19-20 GO OUT AND TELL SOMEONE! LEAVE NO ONE IN YOUR LIFE UNINFORMED OF THE GOSPEL.

*These can be found at

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