Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ready for What’s Next? (Part 2)

Volume 3, Number 3
January 11, 2009

But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. (Isa 11:4)[1]

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. … From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev 19:11, 15-16)

Through His Word, God precisely pointed us to the first coming of Christ. Based on this past record, we can trust the biblical indicators for His second coming. With an eye on current events, let us examine what the Bible says about Christ’s Second Advent.

Signs of His Second Coming

The first and most significant sign is that of the rebirth of the nation of Israel. In 70 AD, the armies of Rome razed Jerusalem along with Herod’s Temple. The Jews were dispersed throughout the world never to return to their land again, and the land was trodden down by the gentiles.[2]

We need to understand that Bible prophesy is always centered on the nation of Israel. All prophecies concerning the reigning Messiah indicate that He will come to an established nation. In order for Christ to establish His earthly kingdom, the nation of Israel must be in place. So it is significant that on May 14, 1948, the nation of Israel was reborn. This was foretold by Old Testament prophets around 2500 years ago.[3]

On May 14, 2008, Israel celebrated the 60th anniversary of its rebirth. Although it is surrounded by hostile Muslim nations that have pledged its destruction, it survives under the watchful protection of God for He has promised never to permit its complete destruction again.[4] In speaking to the mountains (the land) of Israel, God makes this promise: “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘I have sworn that surely the nations which are around you will themselves endure their insults. … Yes, I will cause men — My people Israel — to walk on you and possess you, so that you will become their inheritance and never again bereave them of children.’” (Ezek 36:7, 12) The nations rage against Israel,[5] but they shall never again overcome her.

Another significant prophecy linked to the rebirth of Israel came from the words of our Lord Jesus. Likening Israel to a fig tree, Jesus compared the rebirth of Israel to the budding of a fig tree. We know that when a tree begins to bud, spring is just around the corner. In the same manner, Jesus said, when Israel is reborn, “This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.”[6] The three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, include this illustration. “Only Luke, however, indicates that ‘all the trees’ would simultaneously ‘shoot forth’ along with the fig tree. This seems to indicate that Israel’s neighboring nations, long dormant and of little consequence in world affairs, would again grow and become significant in the latter days. Witness the resurgence in recent decades of such ancient nations as Egypt, Syria, Iran (same as Persia), Iraq (same as Babylon) and others.”[7] Some have argued that “this generation” referred to the generation of Jesus’ time. After all, it is argued, it was that generation that witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the razing of the temple. They witnessed the terrible atrocities described by Jesus in His discourse. However, in the Greek text, “the word ‘this’ is the demonstrative adjective, and could better be translated ‘that generation.’ That is, the generation which sees all these signs (…) shall not have completely died away until all these things have taken place.”[8] My father, who is currently 82 years old, was 21 years old when Israel was reborn. Jesus promised that his generation would not pass away until all prophecy is fulfilled. This indicates that the time is very short.

Another sign pointing to the Second Coming of Christ is the global importance of oil and its impact on the global economy. “Few would question the fact that oil has become the new basis for our world economy. … Surely the world’s fascination with oil – a hot commodity with a source in lands hostile … to Israel and to us – qualifies as a sign”[9] Israel’s hostile neighbors wield a heavy club with which to beat the world into economic submission. Yet with all of that oil, not a drop has been discovered on Israeli soil. However, God’s promise to Israel upon their return to the land, is that He will treat them better than before.[10] “While little oil has ever been found in Israel, today there is a growing belief that there may be significant oil deposits under its surface. Two major oil companies have been formed to explore oblique references to oil found in the Bible. … John Brown, an evangelical Christian and founder and chairman of Zion Oil and Gas, believes that there is indeed oil in Israel. He is certain that several biblical passages indicate where rich deposits might be found.”[11] Brown is referring to Deuteronomy 33:24 “More blessed than sons is Asher; May he be favored by his brothers, And may he dip his foot in oil,” and Genesis 49:22-26 “Joseph is a fruitful bough, A fruitful bough by a spring [well] … From the God of your father who helps you, And by the Almighty who blesses you With blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath … May they be on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head.” Where the toe of Asher and the crown of Joseph meet, there be oil! The significance of oil in the last days and the economic collapse is prophesied in Revelation 6:6, “And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.’” It would be interesting to see how the discovery of oil in Israel will play out in these last days.

Another sign that we see developing and gaining strength in these days is the revival of the Roman Empire known to us by its pseudonym, the European Union (EU). Daniel, in his prophetic book, told of four great kingdoms that were to come on earth.[12] The first and second existed in his day and took the form of the Babylonian and the Persian empires. The Greek and Roman empires followed after that. Of the four empires foretold by Daniel, three were conquered by the subsequent empires, except for Rome. Rome sort of just fizzled out. Daniel describes a fourth empire as the legs of iron on the colossus that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The iron legs, representing strength and power, were supported on feet with made of a mixture of potter’s clay and iron. The ten toes representing ten kingdoms and the mixture of clay and iron represents the fragmented nature of the latter kingdom.[13] So we see Rome sort of crumble on its own and now in these latter days, it is attempting to reunite like a phoenix rising out of the ashes.

This perfectly describes what we see today in the EU which is comprised of nations having once belonging to the old Roman Empire.[14] This revived Roman Empire will be on earth when God sets up His earthly kingdom. “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” (Daniel 2:44-45) The EU is currently composed of 25 member nations. Twelve of those are within the original, boundaries of the old Roman Empire. Israel is not part of the current “Roman Empire,” but “It has been proposed, however, that if Israel would sign a peace treaty with its hostile neighbors, it would be offered membership in the EU.”[15]

Europe is more integrated today than at any time since the days of ancient Rome. The iron and clay toes described in Daniel 2, speak of weakness and instability. The best interpretation of this unstable mix is that the combination of clay and iron represents the diverse racial, religious, and political elements that will comprise this final form of the Roman Empire. … While the EU has great economic and political clout, the cultures and languages of its various countries are so incredibly diverse that it cannot hold together any more than iron and clay, unless unity is imposed and enforced by an extremely powerful leader.[16] “Paul-Henri Spaak, the first president of the UN General Assembly, first president of the European Parliament, and onetime secretary general of NATO is credited with making this stunning statement: ‘We do not need another committee. We have too many already. What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of all people, and to lift us out of the economic morass into which we are sinking. Send us such a man and be he god or devil, will receive him.’”[17]

Any thinking person, armed with the Word of God, can look upon our global economic meltdown, and see the puzzle falling into place. Along with this, Jesus promised that there would be wars and rumors of wars.[18] Of course, there are those that will readily remind us that the world has always been at war in one place or another. The Bible also warns us about those naysayers that will come in the last days.[19] By way of reminder, end time prophecy is centered on the nation of Israel, not the world in general; so the wars and rumors of wars are those that concern Israel and not the fighting that goes on in South America or Africa or anywhere else. Israel should be our focus when we look at end-time prophecy.

Jesus also spoke of earthquakes in various places.[20] Government sources that gather this kind of data indicate that there has been a considerable rise in number and intensity of earthquakes around the world in just the last decade. Some of this is attributed to more (in number) and more (in quality) sophisticated methods of gathering data. That may be true. The point is that we are certainly more aware of such things than ever before. Only a few months ago, a small earthquake was experienced in Irving, Texas, which is nowhere near the “ring of fire” that normally experiences earthquakes. The tremor was insignificant yet unprecedented.

Jesus told his followers, which includes modern Christians, that in the end days, we would be hated for His name’s sake.[21] There have been more Christians throughout the world martyred in this last century than at any other time in Christian history. Even in our beloved United States of America, founded on the Word of God, Christians, especially evangelical Christians are awarded the same status as Islamic terrorists. What used to be subtle discrimination is becoming more and more blatant, and it only promises to get worse. Jesus also said that lawlessness would abound and that the love of many would grow cold.[22] Crime in the streets of our cities is growing steadily worse. There is even corruption at our highest levels. Our school boards embezzle monies that should be directed toward the education of our children. We have state governors putting vacated US Senate seats up for sale to the highest bidder. Even our future president must have something to hide because he refuses to produce documentation proving his eligibility to hold the office. And with all of this, we show more concern for the spotted owl than for the unborn child.

Are your ready for what’s next? The fig tree has already budded. It has put forth its bloom, and its fruit is ripening on the branch. Jesus is at the portals of heaven just waiting for His marching orders. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus! Maranatha!

Look, ye saints! the sight is glorious:
See the Man of Sorrows now;
From the fight return victorious,
Ev’ry knee to Him shall bow;
Crown Him, crown Him,
Crowns become the Victor’s brow.

Crown the Savior! angels, crown Him;
Rich the trophies Jesus brings;
In the seat of pow’r enthrone Him,
While the vault of heaven rings:
Crown Him, crown Him,
Crown the Savior King of kings.

Sinners in derision crowned Him,
Mocking thus the Savior’s claim;
Saints and angels crowd around Him,
Own His title, praise His name:
Crown Him, crown Him,
Spread abroad the Victor’s fame.

Hark, those burst of acclamation!
Hark, those loud triumphant chords!
Jesus takes the highest station;
O what joy the sight affords!
Crown Him, crown Him,
King of kings, and Lord of lords!

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quoted is from THE NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE UPDATE. (The Lockman Foundation, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995).
[2] Isaiah 63:18
[3] Isaiah 66:8; Ezekiel 36:24
[4] Isaiah 10:20; Isaiah 62:8; Ezekiel 36:1-12; Joel 2:19
[5] Psalm 2:1-9
[6] Matthew 24:32-34; Mark13:28-30; Luke 21:29-32
[7] Morris, Henry M. The New Defender’s Study Bible, (World Publishing, Nashville, 2006), p. 1551.
[8] Ibid., p. 1441.
[9] Jeremiah, David, What in the World is Going On? (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 2008), p. 27.
[10] Ezekiel 36:11
[11] Jeremiah, pp. 37-38.
[12] Daniel 2:41-43; 7:7, 24
[13] Daniel 2:41-43;
[14] Daniel 7:7, 24; Revelation 13:1-10
[15] Jeremiah, p. 60.
[16] Ibid., pp. 63-64.
[17] Ibid., p. 65.
[18] Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9
[19] 2 Peter 3:3-4
[20] Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11
[21] Matthew 24:9; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17
[22] Matthew 24:12
[23] Kelly, Thomas (1769-1855), “Look, Ye Saints! The Sight is Glorious,” The Baptist Hymnal, (Convention Press, Nashville, 1991), Hymn 169.

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