August 20, 2006
What a time to be alive! We find ourselves living in the days in which the ancient prophecies of the Bible are beginning to be literally fulfilled right before our eyes. I am one of those who believe the endtimes have begun.
On June 25, 2006 Hamas terrorists in Gaza abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, thus beginning an Israeli smack down of Gaza. A few days later, Hezbollah terrorists abducted two Israeli soldiers in the north of Israel resulting in the commencement of hostilities. Iran is determined to develop nuclear capabilities and its president has openly declared many times that Israel should be destroyed. On July 4 North Korea began test-firing missiles, many believe in concert with Iran, and Syria and Iran have been involved in a proxy war with Israel. On July 23 Condileezza Rice flew to the Middle East for a series of meetings with various leaders, and on July 26 a meeting of international leaders was held in Rome (!!!) to attempt to find a resolution to the Middle East crisis. The meeting was not a success, Rice went on to Malaysia for another conference, then returned to the Middle East to continue the process. It is not clear whether it was Condi Rice or Beirut that withdrew plans for her to go to Lebanon, but she had meetings with the Israelis on July 30 then went home, and the war continued to escalate.
On July 17 Fox News quoted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert saying, "We seek a covenant of peace," and on July 22 Condi Rice saying, "We are seeing the birth pangs of the new Middle East." These folks are not Bible scholars, yet we see them using, not just scriptural terminology, but prophetic terminology in their declarations regarding current events.
On August 13 the UN passed a resolution for a cease fire which is supposed to include a multinational force of 15,000 soldiers plus 15,000 Lebanese soldiers to be stationed in southern Lebanon. A few nations, including France, have agreed to place some of their military forces in harm’s way, but here we are one week later and these forces are not yet deployed to the area. During this past week we have seen video of Hezbollah making cash payments to bombed out Lebanese and there are reports that Hezbollah is joining the Lebanese army. The IDF will not leave southern Lebanon until the multinational force is in place, and some skirmishes are occurring.
The EU does have a rapid reaction force, and I believe this force will be deployed to the area at some point. Once this outside force is in place the diplomats plan to come up with a plan for an enduring peace. Iran, Syria and Hezbollah are claiming victory in the war, and the Israelis are very angry with their government for their handling of the conflict. Tension remains high and it is generally agreed that hostilities could recommence at any time.
While we do not take any joy in the destruction of life and property that has occurred in the area, we take great joy in knowing that these events indicate the coming of Jesus is going to happen soon and very soon. These events, and others on a more personal level, are resulting in some of us receiving and using open doors to witness to people around us that the time to ‘get right with God’ is NOW. (If the reader is not born again, click here to find out how to be saved.) I find that some of the ‘unchurched’ are interested in hearing about these things (and the gospel message), while I receive ‘Christian’ comments along the lines of, "I’ve heard that all my life." The Laodicean church is alive and well in the world today.
The alignment of the nations indicates the lateness of the hour. Luke 21:29-30 says, "And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand." It is commonly believed that the fig tree is Israel, therefore the other ‘trees’ would be other nations in prophecy. Eze. 38 -39 describes an invasion of Israel known as Gog/Magog, and the passage includes a list of nations who will be involved. They are:
Magog - commonly believed to be Russia, although
more likely Turkey
The nations named are Islamic Middle East nations. Turkey has been unsuccessfully trying for some time to join the European Union. It would appear from the Ezekiel list that their attempts will continue to be unsuccessful, with a final result of being involved in, or possibly leading, the future invasion of Israel. The other nations listed are firmly in place to fulfill the prophecy. Of special interest is the fact that Syria is missing from the list. Syria, home to headquarters of various terrorist groups. Syria, who works hand-in-glove with Iran.
There are several different theories as to the timing of this invasion: pre-trib, just after the rapture, mid-trib, second advent of Jesus, and end of the millennium. The passage itself gives us the characteristics at the time of the event.
Ezek 38:8 addresses the leader of the invasion: "After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them." The land that is brought back from the sword indicates a land that has recovered from war. Israel has been under attack of one kind or another since its birth on May 14, 1948, and within the past few weeks has been involved in an open war.
Verse 11 reinforces that Israel will be living in peace at that time: "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..." In ancient times cities were defended by the building of walls. During the past year or so Israel has been building a wall to separate the Islamic areas from the Jewish areas. According to the prophecy, that wall will come down. Further, if walled villages was the common defense in ancient times, we might translate that into military forces today. I believe the prophecy indicates Israel will drop its national defense prior to the fulfillment.
Verse 12 tells us why the invasion comes: "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." ‘To take a spoil’ indicates that Israel will have one or more commodities that will be desired by the invaders. Israel has been a major exporter of produce and it’s my understanding that much of the produce was grown in the greenhouses of Gaza, which now are mostly destroyed. However, visit Google maps and look at the satellite image of the Middle East. It is amazing how green Israel is while the countries around her are not.
In addition, for some time now a company named Zion Oil and Gas has been drilling for oil in the north of Israel, with the sites selected by interpretations of various Bible passages. The company believes, and I think it is entirely possible, that they may succeed in locating a huge oil field, one that will cause anger in the oil-producing countries around them.
The passage tells us this war will occur upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations. The Jewish people began to return to Israel in great numbers following the declaration of statehood on May 14, 1948 (and Jews from outside Israel have continued to make Aliyah during the past few weeks). One of their biggest projects over the years has been reforestation - they have planted large numbers of trees in the land which in turn has caused the necessary natural event, rain, so they can actually grow crops in an area that had been desert.
The key to pinpointing the time of this invasion is the prophecy that Israel will be living in peace, with no defenses in place, at the time it occurs. This could not be said of Israel from 1948 through the present hour, but the peace covenant could happen at literally any moment.
There is currently an uneasy cease fire between Israel, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Even though Israel has been on the receiving end of rocket attacks and suicide bombers for years, most of the world wants Israel to stand down from this conflict. They say the Israeli response was disproportionate to the damage done to them. Israel planned to wipe out Hezbollah once and for all, and this has resulted in the destruction of the Lebanese infrastructure and the death of hundreds of Lebanese civilians (because the Hezbollah fighters hide among civilians and use them as shields). Yet Hezbollah remains firmly in place and is using this time to replenish their arms supplies.
As is noted above, on July 26, 2006 a peace conference was held in Rome, and it was attended by Condi Rice, Javier Solana (EU Foreign Policy Chief, and EU High Representative), Kofi Annan and other international leaders. While most of the world wants Israel to stand down, the U.S. was apparently willing to let the Jewish nation continue for a time in its attempt to destroy Hezbollah. The peace conference, convened to negotiate a cease fire, was reported to be unsuccessful.
In Rome, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana proposed that a rapid reaction force be established to deal with the present Middle East crisis. He said this force "would ideally be built around French, German and Spanish troops, supplemented by forces from Turkey, the Netherlands, Canada and Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia." I find it interesting that Solana is proposing to form what he has had at his disposal for at least a year.
Dan 9:26-27 says, "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. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
The people that destroyed the city and the sanctuary was Rome, the last of the four superpowers prophesied by Daniel in Dan. 7:19-23, and it is widely believed that Rome will be revived in its final form under the leadership of the antichrist at the time of the end. It is further believed that revived Rome is today known as the European Union, and even more specifically, the Western European Union, which is the military arm of the group and which is made up of ten nations. This is why so many Christians (including this one) are watching Solana’s every move.
Dan. 9:27 says, "he shall confirm the covenant with many." In order for a covenant to be confirmed it must first exist, and this is what I think we may see happen in the next week or so. A group called the Quartet (the UN, the US, the EU and Russia) has been trying for a few years to establish the ‘Roadmap to Peace’ in the Middle East.
This plan will provide for an Israeli state and a contiguous Palestinian state living side by side in the region, and its initial target date for enactment was June, 2006. Instead, we got a war that began with the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to Gaza on June 25, 2006. It should be considered that the Roadmap was supposed to be a deal between Israel and the PLO and the recent hostilities were wider in scope, involving Lebanon, Syria and Iran. While I do not profess to know which, if any, of the many peace proposals over the years may end up being the final peace covenant, according to scripture the covenant is prophesied and I anticipate that it will be in place very shortly, and I think it will most likely include elements of the ‘Roadmap’.
Israel must be living in ‘peace and safety’ when the Ezekiel invasion occurs, which in turn means the covenant must be in place, and confirmed (or proven), so Israel will let down its guard. It is the confirmation, not the enactment, that will reveal the antichrist.
I believe the Ezekiel invasion will occur at the middle of the tribulation. During the first half, antichrist will be busy with lots of things, but one of his primary goals will be the attempt to get the Jews to accept him as the Messiah. This would include his protection of the land of Israel. At the middle of the tribulation he enters the rebuilt Jewish temple (many of the Jews expect ‘Messiah’ to rebuild the temple) and will identify himself as god, and at the same time the ‘abomination of desolation’ (Dan. 9:27, Matt. 24:15), will be placed in the temple. Jesus said when this happens the people in Judea should flee to the mountains. They are not to return to their houses for any reason - they are to get out of Dodge immediately. In Luke 21:21 he gave the same warning, only this time they were to flee when they see Jerusalem surrounded by armies. Now, either the Jews will be leaving and returning to Jerusalem on at least two different occasions, or these events happen on the same day. According to Rev. 12:6 the woman (Israel) will flee once at the middle of the tribulation. I believe the Luke prophecy had an immediate fulfillment in 70 A.D., but it has a larger fulfillment in the end times.
Some folks believe the Gog/Magog invasion occurs at about the time of the rapture based on the burning of the weapons of war for seven years (Eze. 39:9-10), but it should be noted that this is burning for fuel, not using the weapons for warfare, which means the burning could continue for the first 3.5 years of the millennium. Just as today, the people living on earth at that time will have a need for fuel, and the burning will also be part of the cleanup that will need to occur after the end of the tribulation.
The current war is not the Ezekiel invasion, but like many, I believe it is a major opening event of the endtimes and will eventually lead to that invasion.
So the question arises as to how the antichrist might "confirm" the covenant. My personal opinion (which is NOT written in stone - it is only a guess) is that he will do this by turning back an attack on Israel.
When the first seal is opened in Rev. 6:1-2 we see the antichrist riding forth on a white horse, he is given a crown, and he has a bow but no arrows. The word translated as ‘bow’ is the Greek word toxon (NT:5115) ; from the base of NT:5088; a bow (apparently as the simplest fabric), and the word is used just this one time in the New Testament. It is derived from the root word tikto (NT:5088), defined as: to produce (from seed, as a mother, a plant, the earth, etc.), literally or figuratively, and is also translated as: bear, be born, bring forth, be delivered, be in travail. So we see a word used that does have a military connotation, but also has to do with the birth pangs prophesied in several scriptures.
It is worth noting that when he is first seen he is given a crown but he already has the bow. If this is a fabric bow (I’m thinking of terms of those ribbons of honor and identification that various beauty queens and world leaders wear around their torsos), then this would indicate that the antichrist will have some honor or recognition prior to being given the crown, or ruling authority.
If this is a bow as in ‘bow and arrows’, then we understand that it is a weapon of warfare, not for hand to hand combat, but something that could be fired from a distance and, with a direct hit, would inflict as much damage as its capabilities allowed. Arrows even look like missiles. Today, when George W. Bush gets on Air Force 1 we do not see missiles hanging beneath the wings, but we do know that a trusted person is with him carrying an item called the ‘football’ - it is a briefcase containing the nuclear launch codes. He has the bow, and when the antichrist is revealed, the antichrist will also have the bow. And in my opinion he will use it, immediately, to turn back an attack on Israel, thus confirming the covenant.
I believe this possible attack will happen shortly after the rapture of the church. It would seem that the rapture would cause worldwide chaos, and what better time for an Islamic attack on the Jewish state. In Luke 21:25 Jesus gave "distress of nations with perplexity" as one of the signs of his soon coming. No particular nation was singled out as being distressed and having no idea what to do about it, so this is not a particularly Jewish prophecy. In my opinion, this distress is due to terrorism. No country is safe from the Muslims - they even bomb each other. I believe the prophecies reveal a European power, not Islam, as the endtime government system. (I simply cannot envision any of my unsaved friends bowing down in worship of a Muslim.) If the antichrist government system is European, then radical Islam must be stopped, and I personally believe the antichrist will be the one to cause this to happen. This may result in the Muslim concept of ‘Hudnah’ - the acceptance of a peace agreement to be observed by Muslims only until the Muslims are able to rebuild their strength for the next push against the enemy. In this case, the Hudnah may last for 3.5 years but Islam will never fully regain its strength because the antichrist system will be in place. In fact, according to Isa. 19:25, Egypt and Assyria will be blessed right along with Israel during the millennium. The war in Ezekiel 38 and 39 will be the final death knell for Islam, and it will be God himself who ends that conflict.
So, what is antichrist going to bomb? It is well known that Damascus, Syria is the home to headquarters of various terrorist organizations. Isa 17:1 says, "The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap." It is believed that Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, and since this destruction has not occurred in the past, the prophecy will be fulfilled in the future, and I believe the antichrist is the likely person to do it. Isa. 17 does not tell us that God directly causes this destruction, but the chapter does indicate that when it happens God is not completely pleased with Israel. It is a Bible fact that God will use an ungodly nation to judge another ungodly nation, and at the end of the game, the nation used for judgment will also be judged and destroyed, as will happen to the antichrist system at the second advent of Jesus.
So my proposed endtime scenario is this: the current war has paused for a cease fire, but the world is waiting to see what may happen on August 22, the day Iran’s President Amahdinejad has promised to "light up the sky over Jerusalem" in honor of Muhammad’s ‘night journey’. Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons and there is agreement in the rest of the world that this cannot be allowed, although, as usual, the rest of the world is not taking any substantial action to prevent Iran from succeeding in their goals. I do not expect Iran to destroy Jerusalem (which is under the protection of God), nor do I expect to see Iran turned into a ‘glass parking lot’ as is currently being speculated on the internet: Iran has a date with God in Israel at mid-tribulation.
I think we will see multiple major terrorist attacks in western nations, perhaps on the 22nd, perhaps within a few days or maybe a week or two, with these (expected) attacks resulting in the western nations pointing their guns at the middle east and saying, "Enough!!" causing an uneasy stand-down of Islamic nations, which would be the enactment of the coming peace covenant. I fully expect this to be followed soon by the rapture of the church. In the chaos that follows that event, it is reasonable to expect a semi-final Islamic push against Israel (the final push is Gog/Magog), resulting in the antichrist using the bow to destroy Damascus (and perhaps the Dome of the Rock making it possible for the Jewish people to rebuild the temple), thus confirming the covenant.
Whether or not this is how events transpire, the daily news reports make it obvious that the end game is about to begin.
As for me, I am looking up on a moment-by-moment basis. I am totally convinced we are going to see the face of Jesus soon and VERY soon.