Ever since I began studying Bible prophecy several years ago I have enjoyed sharing what I have learned with others. In fact, I published a book about Bible prophecy a year ago, have started a full time ministry, and I enjoy visiting with groups to speak about the topic. While doing so, I have always been careful to not sound “alarmist” about a subject that can get its fair share of people that sensationalize the topic and, as a result, feed scoffers (2 Peter 3:3-4).
Consequently, I maintain that the best approach is to study the Bible diligently, ask for God’s wisdom and understanding, and to discuss ideas with others as we cautiously watch for signs of the end times. Then, when led by the Spirit, we should tell others in a level-headed, educated manner.
Undoubtedly a balance must be had, as we should not fear telling people about God’s Word either. What makes this all the more interesting to me is that myself and many others that carefully study Bible prophecy can not help but notice prophetic events seem to be culminating faster than ever before. It would seem that a sense of urgency to discuss how the events going on around us are prophetic, and it is being put upon the hearts and minds of many to share that information.
In 2 Peter 3:9-10 we read that the Lord is patient; but one day, like a thief, a literal end to the world as we know it will happen:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
Before I begin discussing signs that we can watch for as we approach what the Bible calls “the time of the end” (Daniel 12:8-9), I want to be sure an important concept is understood, and that is that the Rapture is imminent! The Rapture is when Christians will be taken from the earth (1 Thes 4:16-17) and then, some time afterward, many catastrophic events will happen on earth: a time known as “The Tribulation”. The Bible tells us that the Rapture will come “like a thief in the night,” when “no one knows,” and at a time when people are going about their usual lives (as in the days of Noah). Thus, it could happen before you finish reading this sentence, complete this article, or it may happen the next time you are asleep. If that concept seems unsettling to you (that is, you do not consider that a “blessed hope” like we read about in Titus 2:11-14), please be sure to read “Are You Ready?“
With an understanding that The Rapture is imminent, it’s important to realize that when we discuss the signs of the end times, we are really looking for signs that point to events that happen during the tribulation and Second Coming because there will not necessarily be any signs that precede the Rapture. However, because the Rapture will precede the tribulation, we can expect to observe some foreshadows to the final end-time events foretold in the Bible. Below is an illustration that may help anyone new to the terms. We are now living in what is referred to as the “Church Age”, with “The Rapture” something that can happen at any time now. The “7 Years” depicted in the illustration below is essentially the tribulation period which will be followed by “The Second Coming”:
My friend Dr. Tim LaHaye (co-author of the best-selling Left Behind series) explains how the signs of the end times relate to the Rapture with a clever illustration. He says it is like observing merchants putting up Christmas decorations. While that obviously points to the soon coming of Christmas, given that it occurs several weeks prior to Christmas (even before Thanksgiving), when we see merchants putting up Christmas decorations, we can use that as a sign that Thanksgiving is very near. Similarly, when we see signs of the tribulation, we can use that as an indication that the Rapture is more near than ever.1 Chapter 3 of Pray That You May Escape describes all the major end-times events in much greater detail than I can provide in this article.
THE NATION OF ISRAEL
One of the most notable prophetic events in recent history has set the stage for many other end-times events to begin unfolding; and, as seen in current headlines, that is exactly what is happening. Namely, after being dormant for nearly 2,000 years, Israel became a nation again. It’s important to recognize that notable event happened just recently (1948). The following chart demonstrates how that was just a relatively short time ago in history:
Jesus explained to us that once end-times events began to happen, they would also conclude within the same generation: Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened (Matthew 24:32-34) We can see that the issue is important because of Jesus’ own words: “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (emphasis added). I add the emphasis because that is exactly what Jesus did. Of course, all of what Jesus says is absolutely true and not to be taken lightly, but the fact that He precedes His statement with “I tell you the truth” (a common way to provide emphasis in the language of Jesus’ time) and then also includes the word “certainly” should cause one to take note of how strongly He wanted to get His point across.
It is abundantly clear that we should continue to watch Israel because Scripture tells us that God has chosen Israel for special purposes, both historically and for the fulfillment of end-times prophecy. Chapter 2 of Pray That You May Escape explains that idea in eye-opening detail and Chapter 3, particularly the subsection entitled “Daniel’s 70th Week”, discusses some fundamental concepts about end times Bible prophecy in relation to Israel, the Church, and the timing of those critical end times events. Those are events that are very important to Christians and non-Christians alike, especially in light of the times in which we live.
NATURAL DISASTERS AND SIGNS FROM HEAVEN
Also discussed in Pray That You May Escape is a concept that scientists have been observing for a few years now: the earth’s magnetic core is shifting. Within the past few weeks headlines are finally catching up to the topic because we are beginning to see some results of that: airport navigation problems and other phenomenon that may be a direct result. That’s not surprising given the magnetic pole is not just shifting a few inches, or even a few feet, per year; rather, it is shifting about 40 miles a year towards Russia! To make matters worse, every 11 years the sun has a noticeable increase in solar flare activity and the earth’s magnetism helps alleviate the harmful impact of that; but the shift that is occuring this time may lessen that “defense”. The next solar flare activity is expected to increase at the end of 2011 and continue through 2012.
As a result, we can likely expect our solar grid and communication processes to be compromised, and potentially quite severely. Another side effect of the earth’s core shifting is that it may be what is causing the animal death phenomenon, as it’s disrupting the birds’ ability to navigate properly, schools of fish to swim to their deaths, and herds of other animals to behave abnormally. That would explain why it happens to large groups at once (animals that travel in flocks, schools, and herds) and not affect other animals around them.
It may be also the reason for the increase in natural disasters, such as earthquakes and storms, which the Bible specifically predicts will happen in the end times (Matthew 24:8, as one example). Current headlines are reporting an increase in earthquake activity, record-breaking storms, floods, etc. Not only do humans feel their immediate impact, but those events lead to food shortages: which leads to inflation, and eventually famine. Again, specific end-times events foretold to happen in the Bible!
Another curious event is that the Euphrates River is drying up according to a recent article in the New York Times. Some of it is a result of water policy mismanagement by Iraq, a two-year drought, and the use of various dams.3 Revelation 16:12 foretells that the Euphrates will dry up in preparation for the Battle of Armageddon. If you observe a map of the Middle East, you will see how the removal of the Euphrates River as a natural barrier would permit nations east of Israel easier land access to Israel. Interestingly enough, it also could be achieved via man-made technology as well. In 1990 Turkey completed the construction of the Ataturk Dam on the Euphrates. The dam has been used to cut off the flow of the river in order to fill up the lake behind the dam. The interesting topic of natural disasters, solar flares, and the earth’s magnetic core shifting and more are all explained further in chapter 4 of Pray That You May Escape.
THE REBUILDING OF THE TEMPLE
Without a doubt, the rebuilding of the holy temple in Jerusalem would be a significant prophetic sign that we are in the end of times. At this point in time, it would be nothing short of a miracle for that to happen, given all the unrest and conflict concerning the Temple Mount right now. Yet, statistically, we have a much greater chance now than has ever been possible because in 1967 Israel took control of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War.
Of course, just as the Bible has been right in all its prophecies, we know this is going to happen because Scripture tells us it will. In essence, the rebuilding of the temple will set up the “abomination that causes desolation” described so clearly in Daniel 9:27, explicitly referred to by Jesus in Matthew 24:15, and later mentioned by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Therefore, it’s interesting that currently many Jews want to rebuild the temple, and even now are preparing to do so. According to the Temple Institute’s Statement of Principles, The Temple Institute is dedicated to all aspects of the Divine commandment for Israel to build a house for G-d’s presence, the Holy Temple, on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. The range of the Institute’s involvement with this concept includes education, research, activism, and actual preparation. Our goal is firstly, to restore Temple consciousness and reactivate these “forgotten” commandments. We hope that by doing our part, we can participate in the process that will lead to the Holy Temple becoming a reality once more.2
SEVEN YEAR COVENANT WITH ISRAEL
Related to the aforementioned rebuilding of the temple, we can also watch for early signs of a seven-year peace treaty with Israel. This very important event will start Daniel’s 70th Week and set the stage for the “abomination that causes desolation” (Daniel 9:27).
WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS
Before peace, however, we can expect war, as that is the sequence of events described in prophecy. Specifically, we know there will be “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6). Historically, there is war and the threat thereof before there is peace. For the past few years prophecy experts have been taking a close look at Psalm 83, which describes events that could almost be pulled straight out of today’s headlines. That is, the nations that share borders with Israel continue to line up against her, lobbing missiles and instigating terroristic attacks against Israeli citizens. These nations are Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist entities are also essentially part of the list. My good friend Bill Salus, author of Isralestine, has some insight about this topic that I believe is very important. He notes that Ezekiel 38 prophesies that Israel will be dwelling securely and that when we read about the war of Gog and Magog, there is no mention of the nations that immediately border Israel. In an interview with David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries, Bill Salus says this about Israel’s neighbors being conspicuously absent:
It is intriguing that Israel’s most observable opponents over the last 60 years since the restoration of the nation are not enlisted in the Ezekiel 38 nine member consortia of nations. This has puzzled the scholar[s] a lot recently. These are the very nations that border Israel through which the Russian invasion would be trespassing into to get into Israel to invade. So, why are they [not] listed? And, of course, what we are referring to are Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and what has evolved out of those entities are Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinians, and other terrorist entities could be included in that list.
MAJOR GEOPOLITICAL SHIFTS
A ten-nation alliance that is, or could easily become, aligned against Israel. This alliance likely will involve some component of the original “Iron Empire,” which we know was the Roman Empire (Daniel 7:23; Revelation 13:1-2; and others). The global power of the United States declining (economically, politically, and/or militarily) and/or the U.S. becoming less friendly to Israel. We know that in the end times, Israel will not have any nation on its side (Zechariah 12); thus, we can conclude the U.S. will either be diminished as a major superpower and/or will not support Israel as it has in the past. Hyperinflation as described in Revelation 6:5-6. The worldwide economic turmoil we are now facing, coupled with food shortages and natural disasters that would cause increased stress on our food supplies will contribute to that concept. An increase in the price of oil would also substantially contribute to higher prices at the pump and in stores.
A one-world government and banking system that, when controlled by the Antichrist, would control commerce, religion, etc. (Revelation 13:17).
The rise of a prominent figure who becomes head of the aforementioned ten-nation alliance and will eventually be revealed as the Antichrist (Revelation 13:1). I have not found definitive proof that the Bible tells us the Antichrist will come from any certain religion, country, etc. (so I will not mislead by saying otherwise).
Chapters 7 and 8 of Pray That You May Escape discuss geopolitics and what role the United States plays in end-times Bible prophecy.
MORE EVENTS TO WATCH FOR
The preaching of the gospel to all nations as described in Matthew 24:14, where we read, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Today’s technology is making that possible. Pray That You May Escape discusses technology in relation to the end times (Chapter 9). A rise in apostasy and false teachings will be prevalent in end times, (Matthew 24:10-11; 2 Timothy 3:1-4). This is something anyone sensitive to the topic knows is happening at an increasing and alarming rate. Chapter 6 of Pray That You May Escape discusses that topic with an especially prolific amount of scripture.
As described in detail in chapter 5 Pray That You May Escape, the end times will be marked with a continued decay of morals in society (2 Timothy 3:1-4). The study is fascinating and eye-opening.
A rather curious, albeit scary, event is described in Revelation 6:7-8, wherein we learn that wild beasts also will be the cause of many deaths. When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
1. Timothy LaHaye, Rapture Under Attack (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1998), 72-73. 2. The Temple Institute, “Statement of Principles,” www.templeinstitute.org/statement.htm (Accessed January 5, 2010). 3. Campbell Robertson, “Iraq Suffers as the Euphrates River Dwindles,” www.nytimes.com/2009/07/14/ world/middleeast/14euphrates.html?_r=2 (Accessed November 14, 2009).