Most every indicator points to the likelihood that this generation stands at the very end of the age, when considered from the dispensational view of Bible prophecy.
I will confess at the outset of writing this commentary that I borrow heavily from my good friend, Dr. Mark Hitchcock, in considering these matters. He has expressed thoughts along the same lines of what I was thinking when I began to create the story line of my novel, The Rapture Dialogues: Dark Dimension.
The heart of the story for the novel series (three novels, I prayerfully hope), I determined, would involve the defining moment in modern history when things began to gush like a flood, in fulfillment of the prophet Daniel’s forewarning: “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined” (Dan. 9:26).
The prophecy that Daniel was given for the consummation of man-made governmental control of this fallen world foretold that things would begin winding up for the big finale with the death of Israel’s Messiah. The end would begin with the destruction of the city and the sanctuary (Jerusalem and the Temple on Mt. Moriah). A prince from the people who destroyed the city and the sanctuary, the prophecy said without giving a specific timeline, would come on the world scene. History’s conclusion would then, according to the prophecy, rush in a growing tidal wave of devastating events until it became a flood, and this flood would make all things of Planet Earth desolate.
So, I will get back to telling you about what was my thinking on a watershed event, or events, I might use to build into the novel’s story line before I began writing. It came to me to consider something of our time that is a constituent part of these last days which might seem to have caused a breach in the walls of civilization. A powerful schism-producer that allowed the torrent to grow into a gush that will irreparably burst the dam separating good from evil.
While Dr. Mark Hitchcock expresses it in a different way than I do, we both agree that Daniel’s flood seems to be about to crash through that ever-weakening barrier. The crack in the dam, we believe, has already occurred.
Dr. Hitchcock wrote a number of years back:
“Five years ago, in the solemn wake of September 11, I made the statement in one of my books that it appeared that the events of 9/11 and its aftermath had a major stage-setting effect on the events of the end times. That a kind of ‘prophetic shift of gears’ had occurred on that day. That many of the major players in the Biblical end time scenario appeared to be rapidly ‘shifting’ into place. As I look back over the last five years, and gaze ahead to what’s looming on the horizon, I believe this statement even more today than I did five years ago” (Prophecy Update – News & Information for the End Times, 9/13/06).
I like the way Mark used seven distinct indicators to illustrate the “shifting prophetic gears,” as he puts it. I, myself, liken it to a breach in the endtime barrier seemingly inflicted when those fuel-laden passenger planes crashed into the World Trade towers, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania. I will loosely use Mark’s indicators to frame my contention that this generation is witnessing the beginning of the last of the last days.
1. I’ve said many times that since Israel was reborn as a nation May 14, 1948, the Middle East has been the focus of the whole world. All we have to do to realize this is to ask ourselves where the news cameras and microphones always turn when things heat up in the Mid-East region. No matter what they had been trained on before the heating up occurred, the cameras and microphones always turn back to that troubled land.
Oil, of course, is the catalyst for this concern, thus the region demands attention, rationale would have it. But ancient, satanic rage and hatred is the true catalyst that galvanizes the fears of those who suspect World War III will break out at or near Jerusalem. The attacks of 9/11/01 put Israel and its enemy neighbors who harbor Islamic fanatic terrorists that are blood-avowed to murder every Jew and anyone who befriends the Jew, directly in the last-days spotlight of Bible prophecy.
Those attacks seem to have torn a gash in the fragile fabric of civilization. Indeed, World War III–Armageddon—might have already begun.
2. The Islamic fanatic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 –in less than two hours of murderous carnage—brought through that breach, and into the open, the Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 Gog-Magog forces. Again, Mark Hitchcock says it well: “As one reads the names of the nations that will invade Israel in the end times in Ezekiel 38:1-7, it looks like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Israel’s enemies today, especially Iran. The close, developing ties between Russia (Rosh) and Iran (Persia) have been greatly accelerated since 2001″ (Prophecy Update-News & Information for the End Times, 9/13/06).
Not many will argue that at this time, with Iran’s ruling Mullahs angrily expressing desire to kill every Jew, and with their terrorist-sponsoring regime trying as hard as possible to produce atomic weapons, Daniel’s last-days flood rages onward toward the apocalypse!
Weariness sets in at the end of each day for most of us. Under normal circumstances –i.e., if we are basically healthy in body and attitude—we awaken each morning with a fresh outlook, ready to begin the day. This approach to life, I realize, can vary with us, individually, from time to time, with even the most optimistic among us.
In our minds, many of us begin a new “day” (clean page in our lives) on January 1 of each year. It is, for many, a time of resolutions, promises, and a new determination to make the new year better than last. And, we don’t have to put too much effort into reflection to know that this year could be improved over the one just expired. Again, some are excepted from that generalization.
On the other hand, from a prophetic perspective –and, after all, that is most generally the theme of this column—things are scheduled to get worse from this point forward. Much worse, as a matter of fact. Think with me for a moment in terms of dispensations, which, despite detractors from dispensational viewpoint, is precisely the way God deals with this earthly realm, so far as human history is concerned.
This present dispensation–the Age of Grace—or “the Church Age” as some would have it, can be likened unto a single day in the life of the human race. According to all of the signals given in God’s prophetic word, we are in the late hours of this single day God has given humankind to live upon this mortal sphere. Like in the literal 12-month periods we call years, we don’t have to reflect long or hard to know that the next dispensational day could stand improvement over that which is now passing into history.
Those who look at current issues and events –at history of the last 2000 years in general—must conclude, if looking through a prism of reality, that ours has been a day of bloody conflict and rage. Just as the Apostle Paul prophesied: “But evil men and seducers shall [become] worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13).
Paul’s forewarning is fulfilling in our time. Dictators abound, whether looking at North Korea, Iran, Syria, or –some are convinced—China and even Russia, evil men and seducers are indeed growing worse and worse.
It might be difficult to imagine these types getting worse than the likes of Nero, Ivan the Terrible, or even Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tse-tung. But, the technologies available to today’s mass murderer dictators are so ghastly that they cause the swords, arrows, bullets and bombs of the past to pale by comparison. For example, the now executed Iraqi genocidal maniac, Saddam Hussein, murdered 180,000 people in one chemical/gas attack. Basher Al-Assad of Syria is thought to have murdered even more of his own people in that heinous fashion.
There are those in the world today who would wreak even greater havoc, had they the capability. And indications are they might soon have the means. So, as we look to a new year, with a clean slate upon which we can write a better personal history than 2013, let us remember that we are in a fatally flawed–even deadly–world.
There is a Person –and only one Person—who can guide us into a better future. We celebrated His birth just a couple of months ago. His name is Jesus. Jesus is calling out a people for himself from this quickly downward-spiraling world. He, alone, can see to it that we who name Him as our Savior and Lord will awaken into a bright new day, rather than move into the next dispensational day reserved for God’s wrath –the seven-year tribulation era.
Here’s what Jesus Christ tells all who will heed His call for redemption: “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful” (Rev. 21:5).
Let us put Christ at the forefront of our lives while thinking on the new year. He truly assures a new beginning –both now, and for eternity.
Dictators feed on weakness. Hitler did so when Neville Chamberlain brought home to England the document he excitedly waved to the crowd and cameras, declaring: “We have peace in our time.” Stalin did it when he began the purges of the 1930s, eventually murdering at a minimum 30 million of his fellow Russians while the political and military leaders around him did nothing out of fear of what he would next do to them.
Fear, then, is the key to weakness. Franklin D. Roosevelt had it right when he pronounced, “We have nothing to fear but fear, itself” during the time of the Great Depression and the lead-up to World War 2. Fear-engendered weakness is the bane of mankind, and there is only one who can deal with it effectively.
Jesus said: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). Tragically, the diplomatic world, as all other entities of the humanistic kind, will never take this truth into account in dealing with international crises, or any other kind of crisis. Satan is the chief ruler of the darkness of this world, and he more often than not blinds the minds of men and women to the truth that God, alone, has the answers to the problems festering and bubbling upon Planet Earth.
Thus it is with no great wonder that we observe the goings-on in diplomatic circles, while they attempt to deal with the likes of the young North Korean dictator and his possibly lighting off nukes in this fearful world. For the “international community” to have done otherwise than come up with absolutely toothless sanctions against North Korean regimes surprised no one. That they did formulate such an impotent action certainly didn’t surprise the Iranian Mullahs, who, no doubt, carefully viewed the matter at the time of the “sanctions” with much pleasure.
The Iranian dictators, you see, like all other tyrants, feed on fear and fear-mongering. They are of their father, the devil, and that father of lies–Satan—knows that fear sucks the life from humanity, replacing it with a vacuum, a void into which dictators and demons always rush to fill. Make no mistake, the King of Persia, against whom Daniel the prophet and the messenger who brought him prophetic truth from God struggled, is alive and well in the Middle East. That demonic force’s fellow minions strike fear into the rest of the world, making Paul’s forewarning more true than ever in our day: “For we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).
Bible prophecy predicts a time when the world’s diplomats will show their weak-spined impotence. It will be at the most fear-filled moment in history for the nation Israel. We who study current issues and events through the magnifying glass of God’s prophetic Word believe that future time of Israel’s greatest danger will involve many of the devilish antagonists that are Israel’s avowed enemies today. And the assault will include some who today pretend to be the friends of efforts for world peace.
When the force comes like a great juggernaut toward Israel, the Neville Chamberlains of the time will protest. And, that is all they will do, in taking action against the blood-lusting force of evil. God’s Prophetic Word reports this future attack, and the diplomatic protest this way: “And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?” (Ezek. 38:11-13).
This apparently unstoppable force will, thankfully, be stopped. We believe the force to be led by the nation Russia, leading its confederates –including Persia (Iran, today) and many other of Israel’s enemies, to wipe that Jewish state from the map, then take the spoils of war. The intended spoils, no doubt, will mainly be the vast oil fields of the whole region. God, himself, the Ezekiel 38 and 39 Gog-Magog prophecy says, will destroy all but one-sixth of these forces.
Actions by the diplomats today, in dealing with the North Koreans, and next, the Iranians, is a foreshadow of things to come. They are not only setting the stage for the future leader called “Gog” to think his “evil thought,” and bring his coalition against Israel. The diplomatic actions in this regard, by the UN, and even the Obama Administration, in my view, are paving the road for Antichrist to one day take the opportunity to feed on the fears of the people of earth. The people left behind, following the Rapture of the Church, will, for the most part accept the peace made with death and hell (Isa. 28:15, 18). They will take the path of least resistance, and it will mean hell on earth for a God-rejecting world.
Jesus is the answer for escape out of such a future. He offers freedom from fear, and eternal life with God the Father.
There is so much hyperbole about the Holy Land. Does it belong to the Palestinians or to the Jews? Does Israel have any rights to that region of the Middle East, or are they intruders? Exactly what makes the Jews think they have a right to any part of that geographical region?
Israel is blamed today by almost all of the world community as being the culprit in fomenting war against the hapless, helpless Arabs of Palestine.
What is the truth? Who is right in the millennia-long, bloody saga of the Jews versus the rest of the world in the matter of the right –or not—to the land that is strangely, violently, in the news every hour?
The answer to this boils down to a belief. Is God’s Word –the Bible—truth, or is it literature filled with flawed history that is little more than fiction? Either the Bible is God’s Word, or it is a volume that has stirred wars for no good reason.
I have received hate e-mails telling me that we Christians who are of the evangelical/pre-trib belief ilk are the true hate-mongers and progenitors of war in these volatile times. We want to bring on the tribulation, Armageddon, etc., so that we can be snatched off the planet at the rapture. We are a blood-thirsty lot of people who want those who don’t agree with us to get their come-uppance…
Nothing, of course, is further from the truth. We want peace and happiness to reign on earth. It’s just that we know God’s Word on the matters involved says the only way that will happen is when Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, rules over the planet at a specified future time –the millennium.
We can do nothing to hasten, retard or prevent this from happening. We simply believe our mission is to tell the world what the Bible says –to forewarn of things to come so that people will seek Christ and the redemption from sin He gives. The philosophers through the ages have said they seek truth. God’s Word, the Bible, has the only truth there is. It is a love letter from the Creator of all things. So, it is –in our view—time to sit up and take notice when God speaks into our time. He has done so in no uncertain terms when it comes to the matter of the contested land of the region the world historians and geographers call Palestine, but that God called Canaan, and, later, Israel.
Now is time to review but a few statements God made about that land. It is either truth –or a lie. Take your choice. But, keep in mind, if you reject what the Bible says, and it indeed turns out to be truth, not lie, there is a tremendous price to pay for your rejection.
God’s words about the land He gave Israel (which includes much of the region we call the Middle East):
1) God’s first promise to Abraham about a nation Genesis 12:7a:
“The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.'” Genesis 17:7-8: “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
2) To those who say God’s covenant with Israel concerning the nation/land is conditional, consider these words from God:
Psalm 89:30-37: “If his sons forsake My law, and do not walk in My judgments, if they violate My statues, and do not keep My commandments, then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. But I will not break off My loving kindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness. My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His descendants shall endure forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful.”
Jeremiah 31:35-36: “This is what the Lord says, ‘He who appoints the sun to shine by day, Who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar — the Lord Almighty is His Name; Only if these ordinances vanish from My sight,’ declares the Lord, ‘will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before Me.'”
Space doesn’t permit me to add the many, many such promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We are seeing the bloody turmoil today because Satan is determined to make God a liar. If the old serpent, the devil, can destroy Israel, he will –he deludedly must believe—make his own defeat, as prophesied by God, of no effect as well. He can yet set his star above the throne of God.
Yet, Israel is firmly back at the heart of its homeland after nearly 2,000 years of dispersion, just as God said they would be: “‘Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them, says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:14-15).
All of the machinations of John Kerry and the other internationalists who put pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu to give up the West Bank, or whatever other territory that belongs to Israel, will, ultimately, only bring destruction upon the enemies of God. And that is the classification of anyone who wants to divide God’s Promised Land.
Their desire to tear apart what God has put together and Promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is what will bring all of this rebellious world to Armageddon according to Joel 3: 2. “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.”
This generation has witnessed stage setting for the last days, as predicted by Jesus and the Old and New Testament prophets. None is more relevant than the prophetic stage-setting we are watching in this crucial hour of last-time human history.
The prophecy of relevance has been in the stage-setting process for decades, even centuries. But, the 20th and 21st centuries have moved ahead preparation for this particular foretelling as perhaps no other era. The process is part of dynamic rearrangements that will eventuate in configuring the world for man’s most horrific military conflict –the war called Armageddon.
Jesus himself gave the prophecy as part of the Olivet Discourse while sitting with His disciples overlooking the Temple Mount: “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation…” (Matt. 24:6-7).
The prophecy we need to look at in this most fascinating time in history is the prophecy Jesus gave that foretells that nation will rise against nation in an unprecedented way just before He returns to set up His Millennial Kingdom on Planet Earth. When giving only a cursory glance at these words, we think that yes, that’s certainly true. Many a nation has risen against another nation just during the past several decades. There have been many wars, and other wars are looming. But, is this the kind of “nation against nation” reference Jesus specifically gave in His discourse upon the Mount of Olives?
To answer this, we must look at the Greek language –the language from which the New Testament was translated into English. Jesus was in actuality saying that these uprisings would be unusual, in that they would be based in ethnos –the Greek word, here, for “nation.” They would be ethnic in origin. They would pit ethnic, or racial group, against racial group.
It is equally true that ethnic factors have been the cause of many wars throughout the centuries. The Arabs and Jews –as a matter of fact, many ethnic peoples against the Jews– marked the conflicts of Old Testament times. Almost without exception, those early wars were “ethnic” in origin.
Things have not changed. Arabs and Jews still have the ethnos factor at the heart of their differences. And, never in history has the conflict been more virulent –in rhetoric, if not in fact. The Islamic nations –mostly Arab—are blood-vowed to push the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea and to wipe the Jewish race from the planet. Some Arab leaders of the past and other leaders –e.g., the Iranian—continue to want all Jews expunged from the region, and even off the planet. They have made it their national policy, through their oratorical invectives. There have been conflicts in the century just passed involving peoples of the Caucuses, the Balkans, etc., and horrific slaughters in Africa, and other places –all based upon ethnic differences.
Now, this hemisphere is experiencing the early effects of ethnic struggle. The latest is more and more pitting those of Mexican descent against, particularly, Caucasian types, while the protests over immigration laws escalate. These uprisings aren’t spontaneous, but are fomented, obviously, by those who have ulterior motives –other than to see that illegal immigrants get a chance to start new lives in the most materially blessed nation in human history.
I have my personal thoughts on the politics of all of this, which I will keep to myself, except to say that some political entities are showing a total disregard for their national well-being by wanting to just ignore the laws on these important immigration matters, and extend unlimited amnesty to those who have entered America illegally.
Point is, Jesus said that a great, swelling uprising involving ethnic strife would grow to be a major crisis during the Tribulation era –that last seven years just before He returns to put an end to all of the conflicts at Armageddon (Rev. 19: 11).
Ethnic disturbance we are witnessing each day in our headlines is, in my view, something to watch closely, so far as being observant for prophetic signals is concerned. The unrest constitutes yet another indicator of where this generation might stand on God’s prophetic timeline. We can say with a degree of certainty based upon study of God’s Word, and belief in the Pre-Trib Rapture of Christ’s Church, that because of the burgeoning ethnic unrest, in conjunction with all of the other indicators we see interjecting themselves with growing intensity and frequency, Jesus’ shout, “Come up here!” can’t be far distant. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.