The prophet Daniel predicted precisely this time on God's prophetic timeline, I am convinced: "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Dan. 12:4).
The Book Opened
Those who studied Bible prophecy throughout the decades since the close of the second century did so in the dark, from the point of history not shedding much illumination on how God's prophetic Word would unfold. The angel had told Daniel the prophet that this would be the case--that the book (the understanding of end things) would remained closed until the time of the very end was reached.
Bible prophecy was then put on the back burner, for the most part, as far as any endeavors into understanding end-times matters was concerned. The Catholic Church in its various manifestations, then the Reformation church derivatives of Martin Luther and the others, drifted far from the early church fathers' devotion to studying the part of the Scriptures that dealt with prophecy yet future. It was intellectual and spiritual laziness, as much as luciferian influence, that caused this callous disregard for prophecy to infect the Body of Christ.
Some would say that this must have been the way God wanted it. He must have desired for believers to not have understanding, so doused the light of understanding during this long period -longer even than the 400-plus year drought of prophetic activity just prior to Christ's first advent. That's one way of looking at the dearth of prophetic enlightenment during the almost 2,000 years since Christ's resurrection. However, I believe the words of the angel to Daniel telling the old prophet to "shut up the book" was more akin to the Bible's telling about Abraham, David, and Solomon having multiple wives, and even concubines. God reported these things, but He did not cause them to happen. Nor did God approve of these goings on. The Lord used reports of these sins to show His children down through the ages the folly, even deadly consequences, of disobeying their heavenly Father. The lessons of these sinful activities of even the greatest of the Bible heroes is that we are fallen, and without staying close to the Creator "our Father" we, too, can and will slip into egregious activities that push us away from God's loving, directing hand.
This disobedience, He is telling us through such reportage, causes severe repercussions and ramifications. There is no better example of those repercussions and ramifications than what has happened since Abraham and Sarah decided to get ahead of God's will when Sarah sent her handmaid, Hagar, into her husband to produce an heir. And, this is where that disobedience and prophecy yet future converge and merge. The whole world faces the consequences of that sin today in the hate-filled conflict between Arabs and Jews that is gushing humanity toward man's final conflagration - Armageddon. So, the angel's instruction to Daniel to "close up the book" (of understanding end-time things) was God's reporting, in my view, the deliberate intellectual and spiritual slothfulness - even callous disregard - that would clutch the minds of even God's best Bible students until the very end of days. God was reporting this dearth of His people being able to ascertain end-time matters. God did not cause the book of understanding to be closed so they would'nt comprehend. The vital, glorious thing to see is that now that book has, I'm convinced it is overwhelmingly obvious, been open, and each and every hour seems to bring increased understanding. Knowledge is indeed increasing, and at an exponential rate!
Timeline Issues and Events
Signals that we are in the end times are so ubiquitous, and at the same time proliferating at such a profound pace, that it is sometimes difficult even for those of us who watch diligently to fully gather within our eschatological radar scopes all that is occurring. But Jesus, right after giving those signals that would be prevalent leading up to His second coming, concluded, as reported in the book of Mark: "And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch" (Mk. 13:37).
It is therefore incumbent upon us "all Christians" to discern the signs of the times. We will look at them, trying to put them in the order given us by Jesus and the prophets as they foretold these end-time things. Those who consider such things calculate that about 27 percent of God's Word is given to prophecy. Roughly half, those who figure these things believe, has been fulfilled. Therefore about 14 percent of Bible prophecy is yet to be fulfilled. Careful study of the historical record validates Bible prophets as 100 percent accurate, in considering prophecies already fulfilled. We can, through application of human rationale, therefore, think the rest of prophecy will likely be fulfilled. Christians should trust, without reservation, that their Lord, the "Word" (John 1:1-2), will accomplish fulfillment of the remaining prophecies - those yet future.
Those who read this article following the disappearance of millions of people, the rapture of all believers in Jesus Christ, are urged to examine the history of these matters. Those who read this post-rapture will have considerable, and quite recent, history to look to and consider whether God's Word is true, about end-times matters.
As this is written, the world stands on God's prophetic time line facing the apocalyptic storm in the distance while it approaches. If you are reading this following the rapture, you are likely actually in the early stages of that prophesied storm of evil - the last seven years of human history that lead to the second coming of Jesus Christ to Planet Earth.
There are no prophecies yet to be fulfilled before the rapture of Christ's Church. That is not to say prophecies yet future will NOT be fulfilled before the rapture, just that none are given that MUST BE fulfilled before that stunning event.
We will not address here all of the many geophysical and even societal and cultural "perilous times" signals we see all around us in this generation. We will look at specific major events scheduled to unfold. However, it is unavoidable to think of the birth-pang like convulsions of earthquakes, record hurricanes, and the upheavals of violence that seems to fill the whole earth, while thinking on the following.
Israel: Prophecy Fulfilled
Many of us who carefully study these matters believe that Israel's once again being a nation in its ancient homeland, and with its ancient language, Hebrew, is a fulfillment of prophecy. I don't see how it can be otherwise. Israel has to be back in the land for the final prophecies to roll out as foretold. That nation is at the very heart of end-times things to come. The most profound prophecy in that regard is the fact that the Messiah - the returning Lord of Lords and King of Kings will set His throne atop Zion once He returns. That will be a dramatic topographically changed Mt. Moriah, with Christ's millennial temple set high above the city of Jerusalem.
But, before that happens, Israel will have to endure the time of "Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7). It will be the worst time ever in history for that people, according to Jesus, himself. As a matter of fact, His prophecy indicates the same degree of horror for the whole world at that time. He said: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matt. 24:21). Zechariah the prophet foretold there would be an Israel and a Jerusalem during that period of tribulation. God spoke the following through His prophet: "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it" (Zech. 12:3).
Israel today is already the center of attention, and of much scorn from its neighbors and the rest of the world. As I often say when interviewed, no matter which way the news microphones and cameras turn to capture other stories, they always swing right back to Israel, Jerusalem, and the surrounding areas. That is because that region offers the greatest threat to spark thermonuclear conflagration. The Bible foretells that it WILL host the most horrific conflict of human history - Armageddon!
End-Times Order of Things To Come
With that framework --that Israel is back in the land, which is surely a fulfilling of prophecy-- let us look at where things unfold from here on God's end-Times time line.
Rapture - While the storm clouds of apocalypse gather and approach, Christians attuned to God's whole word should watch, according to the Lord Jesus Christ. They should be aware of the elements of that approaching storm of tribulation. Things of society, cultures, in every endeavor of life, will, at the same time, seem to be business as usual. Times will be like the days of Noah and Lot at the moment of His next intervention into the affairs of humanity, according to Jesus. (Read Luke 17: 26-30.) It will be a catastrophic intervention. Jesus will step out on the clouds of glory and shout "Come up here!" (Rev. 4:1-2). All Christians - those who accept Christ's blood atonement for salvation (born-again believers) will instantly be with Jesus above the earth. (Read 1 Cor. 15: 51-55 and 1 Thes. 4:13-18.) Millions of people (those raptured) will vanish, will disappear from the planet before the astonished eyes of those left behind. Those who have gone to be with the Lord will be taken back to heaven, where He has prepared a place of eternal dwelling for them (Jn. 14:1-3). The Bema Judgment (to give rewards for service to the Lord while on earth) will take place. Crowns will be handed out to God's family. The marriage supper of the Lamb will occur (Christ's Bride made ready for the wedding), then the Wedding Feast (Revelation 19:9). Things on Planet Earth will be gearing up for the great end-time storm. God, the Holy Spirit, according to 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 2, will remove as restrainer during the times following the rapture.
World Leader Comes Forth - The nations of earth will be in chaos. The turmoil will cause severe ramifications while governments seek to restore civil order and regain governmental and economic equilibrium. Profound shifts of power will likely take place, with the EU becoming the new superpower, absorbing America's power and authority, the U.S. having lost the most people in key places, thus having suffered the most loss of control. According to prophecy, one man will step forward to proffer a plan to quell the fears of war in the Middle East (Daniel 9:27). This prophecy correlates to Revelation 6: 2, with the rider on the white horse riding forth.
Peace Covenant Confirmed - The great world leader will arrive just in time to look to be the shining knight on the white horse. He will have the answer to the looming all-out war in the Middle East. He will be able to sell a seven-year peace plan that is already available, apparently. Israel will agree to the covenant, as will her enemies, and, in effect, the whole world will accept the European leader's masterful sales pitch. But Israel's acceptance will fly in the face of God. This "covenant made with death and Hell," as it is called in Isaiah, Chapter 28, will cause God's judgmental wrath to begin to fall.
Attack upon Israel - The Gog-Magog attack prophesied by Ezekiel is one that is controversial, so far as to where it will fit into the end-times time line is concerned. Some have the event just before or in conjunction with the rapture, while others believe it will happen right after the rapture or nearer the mid-point of the seven-year tribulation period. Russia is destined to present some of the most fearsome trials and tribulations for Israel. Gog, "chief prince of Rosh," is the leader of Russia described in Ezekiel 38 and 39. In ancient language, Gog means "leader." "Rosh" is the ancient name for the land of Russia. In the last days, Russia will be the leading nation of the Gog-Magog coalition of nations that will make a move against Israel and be defeated by a supernatural act of God. Persia (Iran) comes right along beside Russia, in prophetic parlance. According to Ezekiel 38:5, Iran will aid Russia in attacking Israel before or during the tribulation. Even now, Iran acts as a destabilizing force in the world.
144,000 Evangelists - The Lord will not allow the dark, satanic realm to go unchallenged. God will seal (protect from Satan and his minions) 144,000 Jewish men with the gospel message of Jesus Christ, the only way to salvation, redemption, and reconciliation to God, the Father. (Read Rev. 7: 3-8.) These will proclaim the gospel message throughout the world. Millions upon millions of people will hear the message and become Christians of the tribulation period.
Two Old Testament-Type Prophets Preach - Two Jewish men will be placed during this period for preaching then Gospel, and for pointing the finger of judgment if repentance isn't forthcoming. No one knows for sure who these men will be, but there seems good evidence that at least one of them will be Elijah, the Old Testament prophet whom God took up from earth in a fiery whirlwind. The Satanic governmental regime will seek to kill these men, but will not be able to do so until God allows. Anyone who tries to kill them will, in like manner, be killed, according to the prophetic Word. Finally, the regime will be able to kill them. There dead bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three days, then they will be resurrected to life, and will lift into the sky before the astonished eyes of their murderers and of the whole world.
Antichrist Revealed - The great world leader , who confirmed the seven-year peace covenant, convincing Israel and its enemies to rely on him and his regime to keep the peace, will be struck with a deadly head wound. But, he will resurrect, supposedly, from death. He will, following this, in what I believe will be a false resurrection (possibly following the defeat of the Gog-Magog forces), suddenly walk into the Jewish temple atop Mt. Moriah at Jerusalem and declare himself to be God. He will demand worship from all of the world's inhabitants. (Read 2 Thes. Chapter 2 and Revelation, chapter 13.) He is then revealed as Antichrist, the son of perdition, the man of sin. He will cause all to accept his mark or be cut out of the economic system - all buying and selling. He will order all killed, who will not worship him. The chief method of death dealing will be beheading. His partner in the satanic duo will point all worship to the beast - Antichrist. The false prophet will be AntiChrist's John the Baptist figure
Jews Flee - Jesus forewarned the Jews who will occupy Jerusalem at the time of AntiChrist's revelation to flee to the mountains. (Read Matthew chapter 24, and Revelation, chapter 12.) This era, the mid-way point of the seven-year tribulation era, will begin the time of Jacob's trouble (Jer. 30: 7) - a time Jesus says will be the worst time of all history (Matt 24: 21). Antichrist will begin the greatest genocide ever to be visited upon the planet.
Antichrist Institutes Regime - AntiChrist's regime will cause all to give worship to the beast, the Revelation 13 term for Antichrist. He will apparently set up some sort of idol, before which all must bow. This will likely be done by the image of himself being telecast in some way to all the world. (Read Revelation chapter 13.) His regime will consist of 10 kingdoms, whose newly crowned kings (political leaders of the region) will give all of their authority and power to Antichrist. We might be seeing the formative months and years of the formation of this 10-kingdom development with the various trading blocs beginning to form. The European Union seems to be the prototype for those that will follow. However, it is possible that a confederation of Arab Nations could make up this group, as well. The North American Union (NAU) that seems to be underway in development, bringing America, Canada, and Mexico together in an economic trading bloc, appears to be one such "kingdom" in the making. Antichrist will bring together one world government, one world economy, and one world religion, to some extent - for a brief time, at least. This is a Babylonian-type system that will all but enslave the entire world.
Babylon System of Religion, Economy, Government Rules - The Babylonian system will actually be an extension of the revived Roman Empire. This was prophesied in Daniel, chapters 2, 7, 9, and 11, as well as in Revelation, chapter 13. Ancient Babylon's and the ancient Roman Empire's influence upon this end-time regime of hell on earth are described in Revelation, chapters 17 and 18. God will completely destroy the chief city of the end time Babylon in one hour, the Bible prophesies in Revelation, chapter 18.
Kings of East Threaten, then Move - China, today, is a growing economic and military behemoth. It exerts hegemony over its neighbors of the Orient. The Bible predicts a day during the tribulation when the "kings of the east" will march across the dried-up Euphrates River to do battle at Armageddon.This juggernaut will consist of 200 million troops, all, prophecy seems to indicate, demon possessed, while they cross the area of the Euphrates. (Read Revelation, Chapters 9 and 16.) All Meet at Armageddon - The kings of the east march toward a rendezvous with all other nations of the world. God says this about this meeting: "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land" (Joel 3: 10-2). (Also, read Rev. 16:16, and Rev. 19: 17-18.)
Christ Returns - Just as the battle is becoming so violent that it threatens the end of all people and animals on earth, the black clouds of apocalypse unroll like a scroll, and brilliant light from heaven's core breaks through, revealing the King of kings and His armies and myriads of angelic hosts. "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Rev. 19:11-15).
Christ Judges Nations - The conquering Creator of all things will establish His earthly throne atop Mt. Moriah, which will be supernaturally reconfigured from topographical renovations made for the millennium. All the nations of the world will come before the Lord Jesus Christ. (Read about the sheep-goats judgment in Matthew, chapter 25.) Those people who have made it alive through the seven-year tribulation will either be believers or unbelievers. Believers will be ushered into Christ's 1,000-year reign on earth, while unbelievers will be cast into everlasting darkness, the Scripture prophesies.
Christ Sets Up Millennial Kingdom - The millennial reign of Christ will begin, a time during which the false prophet and the beast (Antichrist), the first to be thrown into the lake of fire, will begin to serve their eternal sentences. Satan will be confined in the bottomless pit, and there will be none of his minions to torment and tempt the millennial earth-dwellers. It will be a time much like the times of Eden, with the earth restored to its pristine beauty. (Read Rev. 20-10.) After the 1,000 years, the devil will be released from the pit for a short space of time. He will lead millions of those who have been born during the millennium in an assault on Christ at Jerusalem. God will send down fire and consume them all. Satan will be cast into the lake of fire. The lost dead will be resurrected (their eternal bodies joined to their souls), and all will stand before the great white throne of Christ to be judged. All will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. (Read Rev. 20:10-15.) God "Jesus Christ" will remake the heavens and the earth in preparation for everlasting, ever-growing ecstasy in God's presence. (Read Rev. 20:16-22: 16.)