Look Up, Redemption Is Near … Part II
Flash: “To appear suddenly … to move with great speed … to break forth or out so as to make a sudden display.” These are some of the meanings found in Webster’s Dictionary. Flash is often used in our conversation and writing, such as: flash of lightning, news flash, flash mob, flash sales, and flash floods. For purpose of last week’s and this week’s article, another flash phrase will help illustrate that Biblical end-times prophecy is in flash-mode throughout the entire world.
Flash Point. Defined by Webster’s Dictionary as what happens when a, “combustible substance ignites.” But what began as mostly a scientific term has morphed into a personal and social dynamic of what Webster’s describes as, “a point at which someone or something bursts suddenly into action or being.”
Just recently I watched a few episodes of a television series by that name, Flash Point that aired in 2008 on Canadian TV. Subsequently, the program was transferred to the ION TV Station and ended in December, 2012. Flash Point was based on a fictitious elite SWAT- like police squad called the Strategic Response Unit … SRU. The scripts were well written and acted, with some pretty intense drama mostly about rescue of hostages and response to bomb threats. The producer of the series wanted the show to take viewers to their, “own personal flash point.”
As applied to the contemporary unfolding of Biblical prophecy, that’s not a bad idea. When it comes to suddenly bursting on the scene and igniting the highly combustible components of current events, we could Biblically consider and call what’s happening in today’s world, Flash Point Prophecy.
My intention here is not to coin a new term or otherwise pigeon-hole Scriptural prophecy into an oversimplified expression. Indeed, Biblical prophecy is absolutely sweeping in its scope and impact, with various predictions fulfilled in a matter of days, weeks, a few years, or hundreds and even thousands of years after the prophecy was given. But when current events begin to unquestionably match up and catch up with Biblical forecasts and warnings, we need to upgrade them to the level of flash point.
God has graciously and generously provided us with many prophecies. In fact, all of God’s plans to accomplish his purpose for the human race have been given to us ahead of time as conveyed by these striking words from Scripture: “Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7, italics for emphasis).
A careful study and comparison of Scripture to World History will show that the rise and fall cycle of mankind itself, of Israel, of key Gentile empires all hinge on God’s majestic plan for the human race … salvation through God’s Son, Messiah Jesus. With the triumphant result of that salvation to be realized through the resurrection of the dead in Christ and transfiguration of the living in Christ to new glorified everlasting bodies at the Rapture. Followed by God’s judgment and vanquish of evil during the Great Tribulation leading to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth with the purest form of justice and peace.
Whereas, most Old Testament prophecies pertained directly to Israel, several others concern Gentile nations (applicable also to the United States of America) in terms of the general principles involved … both positive and negative. For example, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…” (Psalms 33:12, NASB). And, of course, the opposite of that would be true: nations that abandon the Lord, that mock and defy him will certainly not be blessed.
Also, “Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire” (Psalm 37:3-4). Conversely, if we don’t trust in the Lord and do what is right, then our land and well-being are in danger. If our personal and national pursuits exclude God in every way, then the things that really matter may never be achieved.
When Biblical Prophecy Reaches Flash Point
For hundreds of years, God’s patience permitted Israel ample time to change, to repent, and return to the true and living God. But as Israel became more and more disobedient, the intensity of the warnings increased through God’s prophets. To the point where the prophets solemnly cautioned the people that God’s judgment would fall upon them soon, any day. Thus, by the time we get to Jeremiah, barely twenty years elapsed from the beginning of his forewarnings to the first Babylonian assault on Israel and forty years to the final attack, when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and most of the people killed or taken captive to Babylon.
Then came Ezekiel who, as a captive himself, prophesied to the exiles taken to Babylon in 605 and 597 BC, but his warnings also applied to Jews still in Israel. Less than ten years later, the final Babylonian sack of Israel took place in 586 BC. Right up to the time that Jerusalem finally fell and the Temple was demolished, the Jewish leaders were still spurning and blaming Jeremiah and Ezekiel for telling them what would happen. They simply couldn’t and wouldn’t grasp the fact that God would punish them in this way. Why? Because they refused to acknowledge two things: (1) that they were even sinning, let alone the despicable nature of the transgressions that included child sacrifice. (2) That God meant what he said in all the prophecies given hundreds, then dozens, then only a few years before the great and tragic fall of Israel.
That is when prophecy reached the flash point stage. The kind that Jesus described of the last generation when he compared them (us) to Noah’s and Lot’s day. Folks, we are irrefutably smack in the middle of Biblical end-times flash point prophecy. Like bolts of lightning from slow to fast gathering thunderstorms, Biblical prophecy has burst on the 20th & 21st century one flash after another.
In today’s world there are two general reactions to modern-day fulfillment and unfolding of prophecy: (1) With a combination of scorn and a large global yawn, people think and say in some fashion or another what was quoted in last week’s Part I Article: “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created” (II Peter 3:4). It’s a big, so what response that merges a deliberate defiance of God with a disdain for anything that would dare interrupt their pursuit of pleasure, comfort, and self-indulgence.
(2) Or, many people become numb to the incessant media sensationalized depictions of crime, terror, political corruption, scandals, roller coaster economic fluctuations, and international events such as the recent historically bad nuclear deal between the more powerful nations of the world and Iran.
Fortunately, a handful pay attention to what is happening; to the point (some not all believers) of realizing that the end of the age is near and (some unbelievers) looking for answers. In fact, there’s an increasing number of unbelievers that are searching for something deeper, more lasting, more meaningful. It’s just that they’re searching in all the wrong places … the occult, the New Age mantra, the paranormal, science-fiction, social feel-good Christianity, quick-fixes through political and economic changes, and the like.
We are bombarded with these searches through books, articles, movies, television, and the internet.
But the bottom line is that believers and unbelievers alike tend to minimize, if not ignore, the profound parallel between global events and last-days prophecies; thereby, missing the flash point impact that God intended for his prophetic Word to exert on people, especially those living in the final generation … the Omega Generation.
Twelve Modern-Day Flash Point Prophecies
Last week we identified fulfillment of six prophecies. All of them have taken place in a generation’s time, no matter whether that generation meets the one hundred year or seventy-year parameter as established in Scripture. All six relate directly or indirectly to Israel and Jerusalem.
In a moment we’ll look at six more flash point signs of the last days, beginning with one of the most well-known passages in Scripture … Jesus’s Mount of Olives prophetic disclosures to his disciples: “And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come” (Matthew 24:6-8).
Nearly all unbelievers and even some Christians react to this prophecy (and others like it) by saying something to the effect, “We’ve had wars and rumors of war and natural disasters from time immemorial. So what makes the 20th and 21st centuries any different? What makes our generation the final one?”
Christ answers that question in this same passage, but his explanation is often overlooked or minimized or even disregarded. The Lord says two things that puts all of his end-times prophecies (as well as the predictions of the prophets) into perspective by using an analogy, then confining that comparison to one generation.
First, Jesus uses metaphorical imagery to dramatically illustrate that when his and all Biblical prophecies reach the stage of critical mass or flash point, things will develop so rapidly that it will be like birth pains of a woman in labor. “But all this is only the first of the birth pains…” (Matthew 24:8).
But then he narrows down the parallel to demonstrate that the progressively painful labor time of a pregnant woman is likened to one generation when he says, “…this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34).
Or another way to understand the comparison is to equate the nine months of pregnancy to the 1900 years from the time that the final prophetic revelation of Jesus Christ and the end times was given in the Book of Revelation to this final generation. Once the signs of the end-times begin, it is precisely like the birth pains of a woman about to deliver her child. Meaning, things will take place with exponential speed and strength, i.e. number and severity of labor pains (spasms of the last days). That’s how we can identify and isolate the events of this generation from all generations before us.
It’s like the first 8+ months of a woman’s pregnancy that involves mostly just discomfort; but turns into outright anguish during labor. As a man I can only imagine; I would never claim to know the pain that a woman goes through during childbirth. But the gestation period that leads to delivery can be compared to what people of this earth have gone through for some nineteen centuries; with the actual birth pains beginning in the 20th century, then intensifying in frequency and severity to this very day.
Scripture is explicit that God has given us this time for three primary reasons: (1) to allow people the God-given privilege and right to exercise free will, for mankind to choose between good and evil. (2) That true righteousness (right standing with God), perfect justice (for all), and real peace (with God and among people) cannot be achieved through human effort, be it political, cultural, economic, scientific, or even religious … especially not through religion. Rather the realization for our very existence and purpose in life comes only through the change of the human heart, accomplished by believing and receiving Christ as personal Savior. (3) So that a lot more people will experience the new spiritual rebirth in Christ that will enable them to life forever with God and the host of heaven.
Let’s examine the remaining six developments that have occurred or are unfolding in the last one hundred years, but especially in the past seventy years.
Number Seven: National and Ethnic Wars in the 20th & 21st Centuries
The number and severity of ethnic conflicts and national wars beginning with World War I have easily surpassed all of the previous wars and rumors of wars since the last book of the Bible was written. In fact, we could accurately point to World War I as the first flash point labor pain of Jesus’s analogy of the beginning of the end. Space in this article will permit some statistical documentation, but not a lot. For some grim statistics on World War I, WWII, and the coming Tribulation, please refer to the Eye of Prophecy article entitled, Shocking Statistics of the Great Tribulation, published 6-6-15.
The very fact that World War I was the first (labeled the War to End All Wars) international conflict that involved multiple nations of the earth was a monumental milestone that Jesus’s words of “nation against nation and kingdom (ethnic groups) against kingdom” had reached a flash point of fury never before experienced… the commencement of the final generation’s birth pains. Then World War II brought that to a whole new level of horror which made Jesus’s prophecy all the more relevant to this generation. Plus, the sheer number of smaller national wars and ethnic battles in the 20th & 21st centuries are absolutely staggering compared to what went on in the first 1900 years since Christ came to this earth.
Number Eight: Amazing Increase of Natural Disasters … Famines, Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Plagues, Tornadoes, Volcanic Eruptions, Hurricanes
Our Lord mentions just two (famines and earthquakes), but the implication is unmistakable that he is referring to natural disasters of all kinds. The unbelievable increase in the frequency and severity of natural catastrophes in the last hundred years far exceed proportionally what happened in the nineteen centuries before that.
In general (all kinds), five of the top ten natural calamities of all time have occurred in the 20th and 21st centuries. That’s fifty percent in the last one hundred years alone! Likewise, five of the top ten earthquakes through the ages have occurred in the 20th & 21st centuries. Or expanding that to the top twenty-five deadliest earthquakes of all time, fourteen have taken place in the last hundred years or so. Of the ten deadliest tornadoes recorded, eight have occurred in this and the last century.
Yes, it’s true that there are more people now and the death toll would accordingly increase, but that’s not the whole story. Not only has the severity increased, but also the frequency. Although the Richter scale wasn’t invented until 1935, four of the top ten measured earthquakes have taken place just since 2004. Also, geologists can pretty accurately estimate the magnitude of earthquakes before the Richter scale.
Look at the charts below: The first chart shows the year to year number of earthquakes with a 6.0 magnitude since 1970. The second chart displays the number of earthquakes above 6.99 magnitude lumped into four time-frame categories since 1863. The numbers speak for themselves and further corroborate that this is another indisputable sign that the flash point contractions are increasing in quantity and seriousness.
Number Nine: Moral & Spiritual Decline & Intense Persecution of Christians
First, the words of Christ Jesus: “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other … Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:9-12).
Although there was great persecution of Christians during the first three centuries, it is a known fact that more Christians have been killed in the last couple of centuries than in all the years before that. In the Far East, in Africa, in Central and South America, and most recently in the Middle East through terrorists groups, particularly ISIS, hundreds of thousands of Christians have been slaughtered for one reason only … their belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior of mankind.
And, of course, the Jews—God’s chosen people to bring Messiah and salvation and light to the whole world—have been oppressed and murdered in shocking numbers, particularly during the Holocaust of the 20th century.
Fortunately, in Western nations such as the United States and Europe, Christians have not yet suffered death. But the changing tide in all other facets of life clearly confirms that Christians are the target of increasing verbal, social, and legal attacks; by court decisions, by illegal and misguided separation of church and state agendas, by ostracizing, censuring, and discriminating in the military and on college campuses, and any number of other ways that we see and read about almost daily.
Next, the words of the Apostle Paul: “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” (II Timothy 3:1-5).
So much could be said about this end-times warning. Personally, it would probably take me two articles to do justice to this passage. Thus, suffice to say in this article (as the main purpose is to list six more milestones of the final generation): Paul’s description of those living in the last days can unmistakably be seen in and applied to a cross-section of people all over today’s world. From politicians, to Hollywood celebrities, to professors, to economists, to the military of many nations, to sports figures, to the average person on the street, we can see the dissimilarity from just the past 50 years or so in the exhibition of any and all of the specific areas of behavior cited by Paul.
All of us could list examples of this conduct, as the contemporary symptoms are legion. Just one instance, which I’ve encountered several times and I’m sure is repeated in many places: The other day as I entered a mall, I walked past (walking slowly then stopped as I was in no hurry) a group of 5-6 teenagers who were engrossed in what teenagers do best … talking and seemingly all at once. But the thing that caught my attention was the language. Every other word was a four-letter profanity that for all practical purposes dominated and drowned out the actual topic of conversation. If the conversation was about something traumatic that had just happened or if one or more of the teenagers was angry about something, I suppose the language might have been a little justified. But from what I could gather, they were just carrying on a normal, everyday conversation. When I was growing up as a kid, you would never hear this kind of profanity on a routine basis.
I’m certainly not picking on or indicting today’s kids. Frankly, that’s not my thing. In fact, they were simply doing what came natural to them, acceptable in the context of today’s questionable morality, or lack thereof. Swearing is actually a relatively mild symptom of what is taking place in this post-modern world. Read again the words of Paul regarding the really bad and serious stuff that characterizes the age we live in. Anyone who is at least of Baby Boomer age (like me) can clearly see the difference in the decency of just five to seven decades ago compared to today’s morality. For someone to say there is no change (decline), is to be blatantly oblivious to what is taking place.
Number Ten: False Messiahs & Prophets
“Jesus told them, Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5). Also, “And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people” (Matthew 24:11). And then, “For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones” (Matthew 24:24).
Christ is (mostly) referring to messiahs and prophets who will surface in the last days from religious sources, such as the many cults and false religions in today’s world. For example, Muslim leaders in several nations (especially Iran) have been telling the world that the 12th Imam is about ready to leap onto the stage of history. In fact, that’s why Islam is in the midst of launching a world-wide Intifada; as they believe their messiah won’t appear until such an uprising begins.
But I believe that Jesus is not referring only to religious leaders who claim to be a messiah or that their messiah will soon appear. The great signs and wonders and deceit of these Messiah imposters can and does also apply to world leaders of the 20th & 21st centuries, who arose to power on the premise that they would rescue or save or liberate or enhance the lives of their people. In ancient times both good and bad monarchs didn’t rise to prominence on a platform of saving their people from this or that. They were simply part of an ascension to power that represented and reflected the emergence of an empire, such as Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Ottomans, Holy Roman Empire, British, and others.
Not so in the last one hundred years. For example, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Mao Tse-tung (China) soared to power largely through grandiose promises to save their nations from economic, political, and military ruin. They were messiahs to their people, particularly Adolph Hitler, who even mislead thousands upon thousands of Christians. The same is true of several contemporary African and Arab rulers, whether Muslim or not. Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is seen in a messianic light by tens of millions of Russians. With the preliminary prototype exception of Napoleon, we had not seen such a rise of messiah figures until the 20th and 21st centuries.
The underlying motive and method of all of these false prophets and made-up messiahs is that of deceit. None more so than the final and most obvious would-be messiah of all time, the Antichrist.
Number Eleven: Unequaled Increase in Quantity and Speed of Transportation and Information
Let’s now go to a famous prophecy from the prophet Daniel: “But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4).
In a couple of prior Eye of Prophecy articles, I’ve gone to great lengths to explain what is meant by sealing of Daniel’s prophecies. See in particular, The Seal of Approval … Identity of Antichrist, published 11-15-14.
Several passages in Scripture both state and imply that the last days actually began with the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Messiah Jesus. But the final Day of the Lord (as it is termed in the Bible) and other references to the end times that clearly depict the last days of the end times—the signs given by Jesus in Matthew 24 and by most Old Testament prophets—will begin with the Rapture and continue with the Great Tribulation and then the glorious physical return of Jesus Christ to usher in the millennium.
Daniel’s prophecies were unsealed partially during Jesus lifetime, then the following years of the epistles and finally with the book of Revelation. The increase of knowledge and transportation (rushing here and there) took place gradually in the succeeding centuries after Daniel’s prophecies, particularly during the apex of the Roman Empire. But when placed into the context of today’s spectacular advancement in all forms of transportation and communication, it’s quite evident that Daniel’s prophecy fits into the same category as the flash point prophecies given by Jesus to his disciples.
Thus, the absolutely stunning technological accomplishments of the 20th & 21st centuries which enable us to fly across the world in a few hours and for knowledge to double in scope every few years is off the charts. In fact, many Bible scholars point to this one prophecy as the only one needed to prove we are in the last of the last days. But when you factor in the other eleven markers, someone would be foolish and would give a whole new meaning to ignorance not to see the correlation. However, I think it’s mostly apathy.
Number Twelve: Unprecedented Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the World
“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
I believe all twelve indicators are of paramount importance, but if I had to select one above the others it would be this one. Why? Because Jesus, himself, said that when this sign was manifested, “the end will come.” That alone is reason enough.
When Jesus refers to the whole world, he doesn’t necessarily mean every single person on earth, or even every tribe or ethnic group of every nation in the world. For clarification on Scripture’s terminology of all peoples or the whole world, please refer to the Eye of Prophecy article entitled, One World Government? published 2-28-15.
In fact, he actually says, the gospel will be preached throughout the whole world, which is not the same as to the whole world. For example, the New American Standard translation says, “in the whole world.”
The emphasis and implication here is that the Gospel will be disseminated on a global scale by means of advanced transportation and communication (Daniel 12) that would be unrivaled by anything before that time. And that is exactly what is taking place as we speak. Once again, time and space does not permit a lot of statistics. You can look them up if you’re interested. Suffice to say that the translation of the Bible into hundreds of languages and dialects, and myriad outreach ministries available through radio, television, and the internet have propelled the Gospel all over the world during the past few decades.
*Here I would like to interject a personal note. This Eye of Prophecy post you are reading is the 104th consecutive weekly article posted since this website began … exactly two years ago. I take no personal credit; all praise and gratitude goes to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without him I can do nothing (right). With him all things are possible.
But some time ago I noticed a remarkable correlation. Around the 70th article or so, I happened to count the nations of the world from which one or more people had visited the website. The number of countries matched exactly the number of articles. As the weeks have gone by the number of nations continues to equal the number of articles. And yes, this week the 104th nation (Poland, if you’re interested) showed up in the WordPress statistics available only to the administrator. Plus, the flag of each country is displayed. Cool!
As indicated, it’s personal, but to me that is a tremendous blessing from the Lord. I have no idea how long this might continue, but if it ended next week, that’s okay. It will always be an intriguing but astonishing association to/for me.
Things to Ponder
I’m going to conclude by saying something a bit unexpected, something that at face value may seem contradictory to the flash point theme of this article.
All of these twelve indicators, including the restoration of Israel as a nation, could have developed and taken place in the first century or any century thereafter. For example, the transportation and communication advances have been relative to each generation … progressively expanding in quantity and quality. The reason that all of these things could have been in place is that Christ could have returned at any time in history, what we call the imminent return of Messiah.
What is different now from then is that all twelve have synchronized with a frequency and magnitude never seen before. With intensity that really can’t get much more extreme or enhanced than it already is. Together they have formed a combustible concoction ready to spontaneously ignite. The accumulative impact of these flash point prophecies fits precisely with the Lord’s comparison to childbirth, all in a generation’s time.
Here is the list of the twelve in a handy concise format. Check each one to see if they either have been fulfilled or if they have reached or nearly reached their optimum and maximum flash point.
- Rebirth of Israel as a Sovereign Nation, 1948
- Recapture of Jerusalem in the June, 1967 Six-Day War
- Jerusalem, a Heavy Burden to the Nations
- The 3rd Rebuilt Temple
- Israel’s Phenomenal Agricultural Accomplishments
- Modern-Day Alignment of Gog/Magog Nations against Israel
- National and Ethnic Wars in the 20th & 21st Centuries
- Amazing Increase of Natural Disasters
- Moral & Spiritual Decline & Intense Persecution of Christians
- False Messiahs & Prophets
- Unequaled Increase in Quantity and Speed of Transportation and Information
- Unprecedented Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the World
“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2:11-13).