I feel as if the whole world has gone crazy. A man burned to death and the video sent to the world. A young woman, who spent her short life giving to others, killed in the name of religion. A world leader using deeds committed 800-1000 years ago to justify these acts. However, the question continues to arise – Why???? My sons began asking that question as soon as they were old enough to speak. As I get older, the question continues to nag me as I encounter “why” questions as every turn. When I see evil, pain, and suffering in the world, I ask, “why?”
Several years ago, I read Tim LaHaye’s book, Revelation Unveiled. It was so helpful in putting things in context. It’s no surprise to me that Jordan, though a Moslem nation, is rising against the current atrocities. Isaiah 16 tells us that, in the last days, Jordan will harbor Jews and Christians, protecting them from the anti-Christ. LeHaye stressed the following verses: “And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.” I hear teachings I’ve had over the years. I know that all of these things must come to pass for Jesus to return. And so I continue to pray – Come, Lord Jesus!
There are some prophecies, as I see, that have to be fulfilled before Jesus returns.
- The human race would have the capacity to exterminate itself. In Matthew 24:22, describing world conditions prior to His second coming, Jesus said that “if that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive; but for the sake of God’s chosen it will be cut short.” The main message that Jesus brought was of the coming Kingdom of God. While some of the prophecies concerning events prior to the establishment of the Kingdom can seem negative or scary, I have to remember to keep in mind that the central focus of the Bible prophecy is the good news or gospel of the coming Kingdom of God. Matthew 24.22 tells me that if Jesus does not intervene in world affairs, the human race will be faced with extinction. The good news in all of today’s news is that Christians have the assurance that Jesus Christ will return to save mankind from annihilation.
- A Jewish Homeland is to be established in the Middle East. Geopolitically, the central focus of end time events is Jerusalem and its environs. Luke 21 is a parallel chapter to Matthew 24. Notice Luke’s account of Christ’s long prophecy that answered the disciples’ questions. Jesus showed that Jerusalem would be the central focus of the political and military upheavals that would immediately precede His return. Anyone living a century ago would have found these words nearly impossible to comprehend. Jerusalem in ancient times had been fought over countless times, but for four centuries from 1517 the city had been at peace within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. Jews lived there as a minority under Turkish rule. But this was going to change dramatically during the course of the 20th century. It had to change for the fulfillment of Bible prophecy to take place. The Old Testament prophet Zechariah was used by God to reveal a great deal about end-time events and the second coming of the Messiah. Zechariah lived and prophesied more than 500 years before Christ’s first coming, yet his prophetic book tells us a great deal about our world of today. In Zechariah:12:2-3 God says: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah [the Jews inhabiting the land of Israel] and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all natons of the earth are gathered against it.” In verse 9 He adds, “It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.” Reading these verses, it is possible to think that they apply to ancient events, as Jerusalem has been fought over repeatedly down through the ages. However, chapter 14 makes clear that this is talking about future, not past, events. The time setting is immediately before Jesus Christ’s return. “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming . . . For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity . . . Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah:14:1-4 ). Clearly the last few lines of this prophecy remain to be fulfilled. Further in this same chapter we read of how those nations that came against Jerusalem will have to go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Jesus Christ (verse 16). These chapters of Zechariah are a prophecy about the events that precede and include the second coming of Jesus. A Jewish-controlled Jerusalem is noticeably the central focus. Shortly before Zechariah, another Jewish prophet named Daniel lived during the time of the captivity of the Jews in Babylon. His book speaks of the Jews’ daily sacrifices being cut off in the end time (Daniel:12:11; see verses 1-13)—an event that had a forerunner in the temple defilement under Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century B.C. However, Jesus Christ confirmed this as a future event to precede His return (compareDaniel:11:31; Matthew:24:15). This means that these sacrifices must first be reinstituted in Jerusalem—requiring Jewish rule over the city. After rebelling against the Romans in A.D. 66 and again in 132, Judea was crushed and most of the remaining Jews were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. No Jewish homeland existed again until 1948 when the modern nation of Israel was established. An independent Jewish homeland was merely a dream for a small group of zealots a century ago. It moved a step nearer during World War I, when forces of the British Commonwealth took control of Jerusalem from the Turks in December 1916. A few months later, the British government pledged itself to the establishment of an independent Jewish homeland in the ancient lands the Jews had inhabited for centuries. It was to be another 30 years before the dream was realized in 1948. Yet since then tiny Israel has had to fight wars for survival in 1948, 1967 and 1973 and has suffered countless terrorist attacks and threats of annihilation from hostile neighbors determined to eliminate the Jewish state.
- The end-time king of the North and king of the South In Daniel 11 we find an amazing prophecy about two leaders, the kings of the North and South, the heads of regions that were geographically north and south of the Holy Land. To understand this prophecy we have to go to the time of Alexander the Great, who lived near the end of the fourth century B.C., 200 years after Daniel. Alexander figures prominently throughout the book of Daniel, even though Daniel did not know his name and never knew him personally. He couldn’t have, since he died almost two centuries before Alexander appeared on the world stage. But God revealed to Daniel that after Babylon, Persia would arise as the greatest power of the region, to be followed in turn by Greece. Not surprisingly, the prophecies regarding the rise of Greece are centered on Alexander the Great, one of the greatest conquerors in history. Daniel 8 gives a vivid account of the coming clash between Persia and Greece. As you read it, remember that a horn symbolizes royal power and authority. Persia had “two horns and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.” This refers to the Medo-Persian Empire, the coming together of two nations or peoples. As foretold here in verse 3, the Persians rose to greatness after the Medes. In verse 5 we read of Persia’s later defeat by Alexander the Great: “And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes” (verse 5). The “notable horn” or royal leader was Alexander the Great. The prophecy about his army not even touching the ground is a reference to the incredible speed with which he conquered the known world. All this was achieved in a very short time. Alexander died in 323 B.C. when he was only about 33 years old. Even his sudden, unexpected death was prophesied: “The male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven” (verse 8). When Alexander died, his empire was eventually divided between four of his generals—the four “notable horns” mentioned here. Two of these established dynasties would have a profound effect on the Jewish people, caught in the middle between them. These two dynasties were the descendants of Seleucus, who ruled a vast empire from Antioch in Syria, north of Jerusalem, and Ptolemy, who ruled Egypt from Alexandria. Daniel 11 is a long and detailed prophecy about the dynastic conflicts between these two powers, their respective leaders being referred to as “the king of the North” and “the king of the South.” Of great significance is that whenever they went to battle against each other, the Jews got trampled on. This was to continue from the time of Alexander until the middle of the second century B.C., a period of almost two centuries. Then, suddenly, the prophecy jumps down to the end time. In verse 40 we read: “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land [the Holy Land], and many countries shall be overthrown” (Daniel:11:40-41). The latter part of Daniel’s prophecy of the North-South conflict describes a clash of civilizations between the leader of a soon-coming European superpower—a revived Roman Empire (successor to Seleucid Syrian rule)—and a leader who is the successor to the Ptolemaic rule of Egypt, which is now part of the Islamic world.
All has now become possible. This, in turn, makes it much more likely that our generation will live to see Jesus Christ return and establish the Kingdom of God on earth. After all, Jesus Himself said that once these things begin, the generation alive at that time “will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (Matthew:24:34).
It’s both sobering and encouraging to think that we appear to be living in the generation that will ultimately witness the most important event in the history of mankind. As Jesus Christ tells His followers in Luke:21:28, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
Instead of asking “why,” I think I will lift my head and look up. My redemption draws near. 🙂