Much of the story of Israel in history and prophecy has been fulfilled. Evidence is accumulating that the end time when Israel will again come into its own is very near. But there are still a number of spectacular and tragic events ahead.
Back in 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar took Daniel and a number of young men of Jerusalem to Babylon. Daniel was placed in a position of prominence and responsibility and he spent a long life there as a governmental official and as the prophet of God. Throughout his life, he was uncompromising and faithful to God.
As a prophet, Daniel was given two major prophecies, one, the program of God for the Gentiles and the other, the program of God for Israel.
Through divine revelation, beginning with the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2, God revealed four great empires that would characterize the period of Gentile domination over Israel. The great image of Daniel 2 had a head of gold that represented Babylon; the upper part of the body of silver, the empire of the Medes and the Persians; the lower part of the body of brass, the empire of Greece; and the iron legs and feet, the empire of Rome.
This is explained more fully in Daniel 7 and 8, where these empires are named and the four beasts represent the same four empires.
To better understand these things, I would suggest you read these references in Daniel.
Daniel lived to see the fulfillment of the first part of this prophecy when the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. (Daniel 5).
Two hundred years later the Greeks, led by Alexander the Great, conquered the Medes and Persians. Then in the second century B.C. the Roman Empire rose to power and became the most influential empire of all time.
These four time periods are referred to by Christ as "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24) with Jerusalem being under Gentile control except for brief periods of time. Israel will not be fully free from the power of the Gentiles until the second coming of Christ.
All of this prophecy except the last stage of the Roman empire, symbolized by the feet of the image in Daniel 2 and by the ten-horn stage of the beast of Daniel 7, was fulfilled in the rise and fall of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.
Based on these prophecies, there will be a future revival of the Roman empire which will come about after the church has been raptured and before the second coming of Christ. Scripture refers to this as "the time of the end" in Daniel 11:35.It will have a profound affect on the whole world in leading up to the Second Coming of Christ.
At the completion of the times of the Gentiles, and with the second coming of Christ to the earth, Gentiles who were saved in the Tribulation period will enter the Millennial Kingdom and enjoy special blessing from God. This is the final prophecy concerning the Gentiles and their role in world history.
-----------------------------------------------Next, we’ll look at another of Daniel’s prophecies, this time concerning the Jews and the time periods God has set out for them in the prophecy called the "70 Weeks of Daniel."
Present world conditions are in line with everything the Bible prophesies and seem to indicate that the rapture of the church will precede the end times.
In order for Christ to come to earth the second time and establish His millennial kingdom, these end times have to be fulfilled.
This major prophecy in Daniel directed to the Jews is called the 70 Weeks of Daniel and is recorded in Daniel 9:24-27.
According to the information given Daniel by the angel Gabriel, "seventy weeks" or seventy sevens (70 weeks of years totalling 490 years) were to outline Israel's future. Daniel 9:24,“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”
The prophecy was to begin when the command to restore the Temple and to rebuild Jerusalem was given. 483 years of the total of 490 years were to be fulfilled before “the Messiah the Prince,” Jesus Christ, would come. Daniel 9:25: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”
There are different interpretation of this passage, but probably the best view is to begin this period of 490 years with the time of Nehemiah's reconstruction of Jerusalem in 445 B.C. In that case, it would end about A.D. 32, approximately the time when Christ died on the cross. The death of Christ has been interpreted as early as A.D. 30 and as late as A.D.33.
Daniel's prophecy stated the Temple and Jerusalem would be destroyed and the Messiah ‘cut off” after the 483 years, leaving seven more years of the prophecy. Daniel 9:26: “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” This historically was fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ, followed by the later destruction of Jerusalem and the “sanctuary,” that is, the Temple in A.D. 70.
It appears that there is a considerable time period between the end of the 483 years, (69 weeks,) and the beginning of the seventieth "week," or the last seven years.
In that last week a prince who is related to the people who destroyed the city is to make a covenant with the Jews. The people who destroyed the city of Jerusalem were Romans, so the antichrist, "the prince that shall come" (Daniel 9:26) will apparently come from a revived Roman empire. This will occur after the church has been raptured.
Daniel 9 describes a seven-year covenant this ruler will make with the people of Israel in verse 27: "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
The covenant will be broken after three and one half years, that is, in the middle of the 70th week, and the last three and one half years will be a time of persecution and trial for Israel. This period is detailed in Revelation chapters 6 through 18.
The “Prince to come,” who is the Antichrist, will stop the sacrifice and oblation in the Temple. This implies a future temple in Jerusalem and that the practice of animal sacrifices, which was given through Moses, will be practiced by Orthodox Jews between the Rapture and the second coming of Christ.
Without a doubt, the first 483 years have been literally fulfilled. The first 49 years (7 weeks) were fulfilled when Jerusalem was rebuilt as indicated in Daniel 9:25. The Messiah was cut off after 62 more weeks, or a total of 483 years. One week remains unfulfilled, the time leading up to the second coming of Christ.
To understand the events of the end time, we need to go forward to the time following the Rapture. Every person who has ever accepted Christ as their Savior will be caught up in the Rapture. I believe this includes babies, born and un-born, and anyone too young to, or mentally incapable of, understanding salvation. This will be the beginning of a series of events which will climax with the second coming of Christ.
The disappearance of all Christians from the earth will have a strange effect on the world. The restraining influence, the Holy Spirit, Who is present in all Christians, will be gone and evil will become the norm. This will allow the fulfillment of satanic purposes in ways never before possible. The world will adjust to the practice of evil as the normal course of life and honesty and integrity will be gone and major prophetic events concerning the professing church as well as Israel and the Gentile nations will be fulfilled.
The professing church, which will be composed entirely of unsaved individuals, will remain on earth after the Rapture in accordance with prophecies relating to it.
The professing church is symbolized by the harlot of Revelation 17, pictured riding the scarlet beast. Her dominion over the whole world is symbolized by the many waters (Revelation 17:1,15). The world church today seems to be in the early stages but after the Rapture it will be free from the true Christian influence that restrains it somewhat now. Complete apostasy will come when every true Christian is raptured. The period after the Rapture will accelerate the movement toward a world church and a world religion, devoid of any true Christian doctrine.
The post Rapture period will, however, bring a time of revival for Israel. According to Romans 11:25-26, Israel's present blindness will be alleviated, and many in Israel will accept the fact that Jesus Christ truly is their Messiah and Savior.
Thousands of Jews will turn to Christ. There will undoubtedly be Christian literature such as the New Testament Scriptures and books on Christian doctrine that will be left behind at the Rapture as well as the Old Testament Scriptures which many Jews already possess.
There is no doubt they will be curious as to what happened to the Christians who disappeared.
In the first century of the true church, Jews became the ambassadors for the Gospel and took it to both their own people and the Gentiles throughout the known world. Today, the Jews are scattered all over the world and know many of the world's languages so the Gospel will be preached to all the world.
The believing Jews at this time will undoubtedly lead many to Christ. Sad to say, not all Jews will turn to Christ. Salvation is only for those who believe Christ died for their sins.
Another difficult subject to understand is the revival of the ancient Roman Empire and its political ramifications. In Daniel 2 we had the prophecy of the feet stage of the image and in Daniel 7 the ten-horn stage of the fourth beast. These have never been fulfilled. When you combine the prophecy from Revelation 13 with these, it indicates that the Roman Empire will be revived in the form of ten nations as a confederacy. Today’s Common Market with its center of political power in Europe may be the forerunner of this but the center of power for this confederacy appears to be in the Mediterranean area.
When these ten nations are joined together, a ruler described as the "little horn" of Daniel 7:8, will become a dictator and gain control of three nations first and then of all ten.
He will be the political leader of the Middle East and will work with the world church to gain world power. Once this happens, he will make a 7 year peace covenant with Israel.
Daniel 9:26 refers to this dictator as the "Prince that shall come." No details of how he is able to accomplish this are given in Scripture, but it implies that he can somehow protect Israel.
Israel will be made secure, relatively speaking, but there is no indication this will be a period of complete peace. It apparently has more to do with economic properity than military freedom.
No doubt this will inspire Jews from all over the world to return to their ancient land, and Israel will prosper financially.
During this period the world church will continue to grow in power and in combination with this ruler will gain worldwide religious domination. At this same time, many in Israel will turn to Christ, but, on the other hand, some will return to Orthodox Judaism. A temple will apparently be built in Jerusalem and Orthodox Jews will renew the Mosaic system of sacrifices which has not been practiced since the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70.
In Daniel 9:27, it is predicted that these sacrifices will cease and Daniel 12:11 also mentions the daily sacrifice being taken away. Its obvious there has to be a temple to sacrifice in for the sacrifices to be stopped. Scripture doesn’t state exactly when the temple will be built, but it apparently will be in operation during this time period.
Now, to drop the other shoe, so to speak. The events described in Ezekiel 38-39 describe a military attack on Israel. According to Ezekiel 38, it comes at a time when Israel is at peace which corresponds to the time of the covenant with the Roman ruler. The attack on Israel will change the covenant relationship between Israel and the prince to come, the antichrist.
Evidently it is a surprise attack because there is no record of armies being ready to face the invaders. Instead God intervenes supernaturally to save His people and wipes out the invading force by a series of catastrophes described in Ezekiel 38:18-23.
This war shatters the period of peace and prepares the way for the next and final period.
With these armies destroyed, the antichrist will proclaim himself world dictator and seize control politically, economically, and religiously. Revelation 13:7: And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."
Daniel 7:23 predicts that he "shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces." He will control the entire economic world and no one will be allowed to buy or sell without his mark.
Summing this up, at the midpoint of the 7 years of the original covenant, this ruler will break his covenant with Israel and becomes her persecutor. Jeremiah 30:7 describes it as "the time of Jacob's trouble." Christ called it the "Great Tribulation" in Matthew 24:21. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
The period begins in the middle of the seven years of the covenant and will last the remaining forty-two months. When the temple sacrifices are stopped, Israel is advised by Christ, in Matthew 24, to flee to the mountains. Zechariah 13:8 predicts that thousands of Jews will be massacred. “And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.”
Revelation 13:15 states the Temple itself will be desecrated and the world ruler’s idol will be set up in it. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 states the ruler will seat himself in the Temple as god and demand that everyone worship him under pain of death. It will be a time of unprecedented trouble for Israel.
This world ruler, the Antichrist, will become the object of God’s divine judgment. His blasphemy and persecution of both Jew and Christian, as described in Revelation 6-19, will bring those judgments. They will be so terrible that if God didn’t stop them with the second coming of Christ, the entire world population would be exterminated. As much as one-third of the world's population will be destroyed by wars, pestilence, famines, stars falling from heaven, earthquakes, demon possession, and disruption of natural forces.
This will climax in a gigantic world war, centered in Israel, called the battle of Armageddon.
Armies from the North and South, as well as a huge army from the Orient will descend on the Holy Land. The slaughter will be so great that “blood (will flow) unto the horses bridles, (4 1/2 feet deep) by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs (180 miles).” (Revelation 14:20).
The 200 million man army that will descend on Israel from the Orient could only come from one nation today. China could field an army that size today. She alone has had this capability since 1969.
At the height of the battle, Jesus Christ will return to earth in power and glory and will bring judgment on those nations gathered against Him and He will establish His 1000 year reign on earth.
Revelation 19 reveals that Christ will kill everyone in the armies fighting against Him at that battle with just the word of His mouth. Revelation 19:21: "And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh."
The events leading up to the second coming of Christ are described in considerable detail in both the Old and New Testaments. They form a dramatic sequence of events unequaled in any other portion of history or prophecy. The present indications are that the world is moving swiftly toward just such a climax. This makes the teaching of Scripture concerning the imminence of the Lord's return for His own at the Rapture all the more important.
There is still time for anyone not yet saved to confess Christ as their Savior and escape all this horror. The believers in Christ Jesus will spend eternity with Him in heaven while those who neglect this so great a salvation will spend eternity in hell.
Romans 10:9-10: “if you confess with your mouth
the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart
that God has raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved.
10: For with the heart one believes unto righteousness,
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”