ARMAGGEDON END GAME 4

THE COMING WAR: ARMAGGEDON

World War 3 and the End Matthew 24:6-7

There is no doubt that world war will be a part of the future. Christ plainly taught that there would be war prior to His return (Matthew 24:4-31). Some hold that He spoke generally of the Church age in verses 4-14 and spoke of the tribulation period starting at its mid-point in verses 15-31. Others believe that Christ spoke of only the seven-year period known as the tribulation in verses 4-31. Though verses 4-14 do seem to be giving general descriptions, they parallel the description given early in Revelation 6, which records details concerning the beginning of the tribulation. Matthew 24:6-7 says there will be “wars and rumors of wars…For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” Here, Christ makes it very clear that war will play a significant role in the last seven years prior to His return.

 

To be more specific, the future does hold at least one more world war. There is nothing in Scripture that says there will be only a certain number of world wars. World Wars I and II are not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, nor is a possible third World War. It is only the last war that will be fought among many nations that is mentioned in detail, which allows the interpretation that there may be others before the final conflict.

John the Apostle was shown what the end times would be like, specifically the last seven years prior to Christ’s return. Beginning in Revelation 6, he recorded what he saw concerning the future. War is found in this chapter, and continues to be a part of the unfolding events until Christ returns in chapter 19: I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest…Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword….Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them…And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back…Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”… He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation…They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty…They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers”… I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war…Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army” (Revelation 6:2; 4; 11:7; 12:7; 13:4, 7; 16:14; 17:14; 19:11; 19:19).

Revelation 19:11 says, “. . . in righteousness He [Christ] judges and wages war.” Revelation 19:19 says John “saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, assembled to make war against Him (Christ) who sat upon the horse, and against His army.”  Take special notice that it says the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Christ. This clearly describes a world war. It also should be noted that the victor in this war is clearly Christ, who seizes the beast/antichrist and the false prophet and casts them into the lake of fire, and the armies that followed them are destroyed: But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh (Revelation 19:20-21). So, although there will be at least one more world war, there is no doubt of the outcome—righteousness will prevail as Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, defeats all who oppose Him.

It is also worth mentioning at this time that following the 1,000-year reign of Christ, there will be another uprising, which could possibly have the scope of a world war. Satan will be bound for 1,000 years and then released. Upon his release, he leads a rebellion among the peoples of the earth. Christ quickly puts down this rebellion and permanently judges Satan, casting him into the lake of fire. This will be just like He did with the beast/antichrist and the false prophet: when the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:7-10).

Gog and Magog Matthew 24; Revelation 20:7, 8

Prophetically, Gog will be the leader of a great army that attacks the land of Israel in the end times. Gog is described as “the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” from the north, “the land of Magog” (Ezekiel 38:2-3). The prophet Ezekiel prophetically describes Gog attacking Israel with a powerful force (Ezekiel chapters 38–39). According to this prophecy of Ezekiel Gog will be defeated by God Himself on the mountains of Israel. The slaughter will be so great it will take seven months to bury all of the dead: For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land  (Ezekiel 39:12). The book of Revelation also mentions Gog and Magog: When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore (Revelation 20:7-8). This prophecy that contained in Revelation 20 is in essence a restatement of Ezekiel’s prophecy, although there is a caveat.  John connects the army inauspiciously to an anti-Abraham covenant promise.  God’s promise to Abraham constituted the fathering of a people whose descendents would be as innumerable as the sand on the sea shore or stars in the sky. Magog was a grandson of Noah: The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras (Genesis 10:2). The descendants of Magog settled to the far north of Israel, probably in Europe and northern Asia: Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him  (Ezekiel 38:2).

Magog refers to “northern barbarians” in general, but it also has a connection to Magog as a person. The people associated with Magog are described as skilled warriors: You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army…Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. 4 On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. 5 You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. 6 I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord. 7 “ ‘I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel. 8 It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of. 9 “ ‘Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel (Ezekiel 38:15; 39:3-9).

The book of Revelation uses Ezekiel’s prophecy about Magog to portray a final end-times attack on the nation of Israel: (he) and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them (Revelation 20:8-9). Many Bible prophecy teachers identify Gog and Magog as Russia and/or China. This is possible, but it is not explicitly clear in the Bible.

Deception: Be Warned!

The first item Jesus speaks about in His response to the disciples questioning warns them about the risk of deception that will prevail in the era that leads up to His return. Jesus essentially issues a warning, challenging those who would be alive during that period of time to exercise care and caution as many will be deceived.  It is worth speculating about the nature of the splendor of the Temple and the connection to deception.  The disciples were dumbfounded by the splendor and majesty of the facilities and rightly so.  The Temple Mount was beautiful to look at, with great riches and wealth contained inside its walls.  Wealth and security can be deceptive. Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, ‘ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4, 5)

The Olivet Discourse contains a reoccurring theme surrounding deception, as Jesus warned His disciples about the age of deception that would be in power prior to the return of the Son of Man. Deception and becoming spiritually alert were the top two priorities of Jesus’ regarding the end of the age.  This is not a new issue, as deception and false teaching are always concerns.  The major difference is in Jesus emphasis in connection to the last end of the age.  As the time draws near, there would be an increased need for caution. The apostolic witness also echoes Jesus’ concern relating to deception and false teaching in the church when they wrote about the last days: For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Following His warning, Jesus then proceeds to explain that humanity would continue to act and respond as they always have, with conflicts and wars continuing all the way to the end of the age. These connections to t war and conflicts alone are not singular indicators that the end is at hand: You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come (Matthew 24:6).

Most conservative prophetic commentators typically attach Matthew 24:4-8 to the first part of the tribulation period.  This is partially due to Daniel 9:27, which indicates that the tribulation will be divided into two parts.  These parts may or may not be completely equal in length, as prophetic time can have differentials, although they will make up a time period of about seven years.  The pain of birth refers to the sufferings (persecution/opposition) politically that Israel will experience during this time. The specific signs that refer to Jesus second coming and the end of the age are:

1) False saviors: For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many (5)

2) Reports of wars: You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places (6-7)

3) Natural catastrophes: There will be famines and earthquakes in various places (v.7)

Another parallel to this passage is Revelation 6, which is where John foresees the issuance of the seal judgments.  Revelation 6:2 addresses a rider on a white horse, as John says: I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.  Some conclude that this refers to a false messiah.  Revelation 6:4 indicates that peace is removed from the earth, as a new time of war begins: then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.  This emerging war indicates a conflict on a large scale, as the world is almost always fighting somewhere.

This conflict will be one that affects the State of Israel, her allies, the Revived Roman Empire, and the Antichrist’s Kingdom.  Revelation 6:6-8 addresses famine, plague, disease and death: Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages (a denarius), and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” 7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 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.

These references are only the “beginning of birth pangs” (Matthew 24:8), as greater horrors are soon to come. It is safe to assume that the Book of Revelation indicates that the last half of the tribulation will not begin until Revelation 13, although it is hard to gage apocalyptic messages and time.  Revelation 13 concerns itself with the events that surround the Beast setting up his rule for 42 months, (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15).  Revelation also refers to a period of 1,260 days (42 months or 3 1/2 years) in 11:3 and 12:6: And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth… The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

Signs of the End

Matthew 24:5-8 gives us important information about what to look for in discerning the end, when he tells us that Jesus said that; “For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” An increase in false messiahs, an increase in warfare, and increases in famines, plagues, and natural disasters—these items are signs of the end times. Even in this passage, though, we are given a warning. We are not to be deceived, because these events are only the beginning of birth pains; the end is still to come.”

Some teachers on end times and prophecy tend to point to every significant earthquake, political intrigue or attack on Israel as a sign that the end times are approaching or here.  It may be true that events of this nature may signal the onset or continuation of the last days, events of this nature are not necessarily indicators that the end times have arrived. The Apostle Paul warned that the main indicator that points to the beginning of the last days would see a significant increase in false teaching. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). The time of trouble have been described as “perilous times” as the increase of evil and the corruption of the character of man increase in their ability to “resist the truth:”

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone… Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction (2 Timothy 3:1-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Other possible signs of the end also include a rebuilding of a Jewish temple in Jerusalem, hostility towards Israel, and advances toward a world influenced by one government. The most important precursor of the end times in my opinion, is the land of Israel. 1948 is a major Israel as a homeland for displaced Jews was recognized as a self-governing Jewish state for the first time since either 70 or 135 A.D.  God had promised Abraham that his progeny would be in charge of Canaan as gift from God, as “an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8).  Ezekiel prophesied both a substantial and religious recovery of Israel (Ezekiel 37).  Israel as a recognized nation in charge its own land is important in light of end-time prophecy because of Israel’s place in eschatology: Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come… He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand… Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified  (Daniel 10:14; 11:41; Revelation 11:8).

With these signs in mind, we can be wise and discerning in regards to the expectation of the end times. We should not, however, interpret any of these singular events as a clear indication of the soon arrival of the end times. God has given us enough information that we can be prepared, which is all that can be expected.

Birth Pains and Times of Sorrow

Matthew’s version of the Olivet Dissertation begins with a sequence of menacing symbols:

For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains (Matthew 24:5-8).

Luke’s summation includes ostensibly identical signs:

When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away. 10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven (Luke 21:9-11).

Various scholars have observed that these signs also seem to parallel the same series of signs in the opening of the Seven Seals in Revelation Chapter 6.  Matthew’s account continues by saying that: “Then shall…” The bulk of his record deals with events after these ‘sorrows’ or birth contractions. Both Matthew and Mark also include with great emphasis  an additional sign that is absent from Luke’s account:

So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand  (Matthew 24:15).

This passage of Scripture provides us with intriguing possibilities for Scriptural understanding. Jesus authenticates His understanding of the authorship of Daniel, which is a compelling incident in light of modern textual criticism.  Not only is the authorship dilemma addressed, Jesus also gives us heavens view of Daniel’s placement in Scripture.  He was a prophet before he was a Satrap.  Jesus also referred to a key historical event: the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes that had occurred two centuries earlier in 167 b.c.

This is historical event would have been well known by virtually every Jew, both then and now.   This desecration and the subsequent rededication of the Temple is what is celebrated every year at Hanukkah.  The Hanukkah celebration is even alluded to in John 10:22, 23: then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade

As we have already seen, the “Abomination of Desolation” incident and referral addresses Antiochus establishing an idol that was dedicated to Zeus in the Holy of Holies.  Following the sacrificing of a pig on the altar that was dedicated to YHWH, which precipitated the Maccabean revolt, the Jewish patriots ultimately threw off the Seleucid yoke and ushered in the rule of the Hasmoneans.

Jesus is indicating in His homily that something similar to this particular type of desecration will happen again, only this time the act of desecration will be a part of a era that Jesus Himself labeled “the Great Tribulation,” quoting from Daniel and identifying what Jeremiah called “the time of Jacob’s trouble.”  Both Matthew and Mark renderings include the parenthetical admonition to the reader for understanding, thus challenging us to discern this event as one that carries strategic importance in the unfolding eschatological drama.

Jesus then mentions a number of events that combine with wars.  This is that which He says will be the beginning of the events leading to the return of the Son of Man:

Nation {ethnos} will rise against nation {ethnos}, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains (Matthew 24:7).

In this passage the Greek word ethnos is translated as “nation,” however, an understanding of the Greek definition of ethnos may help us understand what Jesus means when He tells us “ethnos will rise against ethnos.” Ethnos means a race, as in those who are of the same habitat, or a tribe. This alludes specifically to foreign (non-Jewish) peoples, which usually means pagan, definitely gentile heathen nations, and people groups.  We derive our English word ethnic from ethnos.

What this means is that Jesus was telling us that ethnic group will fight against ethnic group and government against government. He was also warning us that there will be natural disasters including famines, pestilences and earthquakes. All these things together will be the “beginnings of birth pains.” This idea of birth pains is from the Old Testament, where the Messiah’s arrival is described as Israel “giving birth” to the Kingdom of God.  The concept of the deliverance of His people (Israel) through birth is described in Isaiah 66:7-11 and Micah 5:2-4: “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. 8 Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. 9 Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God. 10  “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her… 11 For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.” “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Fulfilled or Not fulfilled: That is the Question Matthew 24:5-8; Revelation 4:1

Revelation 4:1: After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this,” introduces a section of Scripture that detail “what must take place after this.” What follows are prophecies of the “end times.” We have not yet reached the tribulation, the revelation of the Antichrist, or other “end-time” events. What we do see is a “preparation” for those events.

Jesus said that the last days would be preceded by several things: many false Christ’s would come, deceiving many; we would “hear of wars and rumors of wars”; and there would be an increase in “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows:” For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains (Matthew 24:5-8). Today’s news is full of false religions, warfare, and natural disasters. We know that events of the tribulation period will include all that Jesus predicted: I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. 3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword. 5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quarta of wheat for a day’s wages,b and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” 7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 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 (Revelation 6:1-8); current events seem to be a build-up for greater trouble ahead.

Paul warned that the last days would bring a marked increase in false teaching. “In later times, some will abandon the faith, and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons:” The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons (1 Timothy 4:1). The last days are described as “terrible/perilous times” because of the increasingly evil character of man and people whom actively “oppose the truth:” But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone (2 Timothy 3:1-9); also: Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessnessa is revealed, the man doomed to destruction  (2 Thessalonians 2:3). The list of things people will be in the last days—lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power— (2 Timothy 3:1-2) seems to fit our modern age.

Can there be any doubt that the prophecies concerning apostasy are being fulfilled? Our 21st-century world has embraced moral relativism, a philosophy that is tainting even the church. For example, many denominations are having a hard time defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, and many religious leaders today are openly supporting homosexuality. The Bible has become subordinate to the modern church’s quest for a more appealing “truth.” These are “perilous times” spiritually.

The formation of the European Union—and the fact that we have a reunified Germany—is very interesting in light of biblical prophecy. The “ten toes” of Daniel 2:42: As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle,  and the ten-horned beasts of Daniel 7:20: I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully, and Revelation 13:1: And the dragona stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name, are references to a “revived” Roman Empire which will hold power before Christ returns. Although the precise political structure has yet to be formed, the pieces can be seen as falling into place.

In 1948, Israel was recognized as a sovereign state, and this, too, has ramifications for the student of Scripture. God promised Abram that his posterity would have Canaan as “an everlasting possession:” The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8), and Ezekiel prophesied a physical and spiritual resuscitation of Israel (Ezekiel 37). Having Israel as a nation in its own land is important in light of end-time prophecy, because of Israel’s prominence in eschatology: Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come…” He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand… Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified  (Daniel 10:14; 11:41; Revelation 11:8). Edom: The territory is currently controlled by Jordan. This area once known as Edom is located in the region to the southeast of Israel. Moab: The ancient border between the Israelites and the peoples of the Moabite kingdom was not that different from the modern Israel-Jordan border. The Moabites occupied the mountains to the east of the Dead Sea and the Jordan river and eastwards toward the Arabian Desert. The Moab capital was Dibon, located near to the present Jordanian town of Dhiban. Ammon: Psalm 83 contains an intriguing prophecy of many Middle Eastern nations that appears to be as yet unfulfilled and to possibly tie in with end-time events. If so, it foretells a confederation of Arab nations that are determined to eliminate Israel.

“They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’ For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You: The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them” (verses 3-8).

These biblical names are significant when we understand the areas and peoples to which this prophecy refers. Edom includes the Palestinians and some of the Turks. The Ishmaelites, descendants of Ishmael, are many of the Arab peoples throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Moab is the area of central Jordan. The Hagrites appears to refer to other descendants of Hagar, mother of Ishmael.

Gebal, meaning “mountain” or “boundary,” is commonly equated with the Phoenician city of Byblos, modern Jubayl in Lebanon. Ammon refers to northern Jordan around Amman, the capital (which gets its name from Ammon). Amalek appears to refer to a branch of Edomite Palestinians. Philistia is the area around what is today known as the Gaza Strip. Anciently Tyre was a major city-state in southern Lebanon along the Mediterranean coast. Assyria ethnically appears to refer to inhabitants of Central Europe who migrated there many centuries ago, while geographically Assyria is in what is today northern Iraq. The children of Lot refers to Moab and Ammon—again, regions of modern-day Jordan.

Arab unity has long been elusive, but slowly a common purpose is bringing the different peoples of the Arab world together. This common purpose is the desire to destroy the nation of Israel and its chief backer, the United States of America, along with the West’s liberal culture, long perceived as a threat to the Muslim way of life (The Middle East in Prophecy website).

While there is no biblical proof that the things mentioned above are the fulfillment of specific end-times prophecies, we can see how many of these events are similar to what the Bible describes. In any case, we are to be watching for these signs because Jesus told us that the day of the Lord—His return for His own—would come like a thief in the night: 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 (2 Peter 3:10), unexpected and unannounced. “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

Revelation: Apocalyptic and Prophetic Themes

The book of Revelation (which has the unique literary form of letters plus visions of the future) borrows from Old Testament and Intertestamental apocalyptic, as well as from Old Testament prophetic literature as a whole. For example, it highlights:

  1. a) The Son of Man,
  2. b) The second coming of Christ,
  3. c) The ultimate glory of the kingdom of God (Revelation 21), and
  4. d) The resurrection of final judgment:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11–15).

In Intertestamental apocalyptic writings, we also find themes that surface in Revelation: a) a woman representing a people and a city: The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18),

  1. b) Horns representing authority and eyes representing understanding: Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth (Revelation 5:6),
  2. c) Trumpets signifying a superhuman or divine voice (Revelation 8:6–11:19),
  3. d) White robes symbolizing the glory of the coming age: Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed (Revelation 6:11),
  4. e) Crowns depicting dominion: I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest (Revelation 6:2),
  5. f) The number seven standing for fullness or perfection: Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals… Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them (Revelation 5:1; 8:6),
  6. g) The number 12 standing for the ultimate perfect people of God: From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, 6from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, 7from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, 8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000… down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations  (Revelation 7:5–8; 22:2), and
  7. h) The frequent appearance of angels: After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree… Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars (Revelation 7:1; 10:1)

 

 

 

a Greek a choinix (probably about a liter)

b Greek a denarius

a Some manuscripts sin

a Some late manuscripts And I

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