“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. All these are the beginning of birth pains. "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.,” [Matthew 24:6-14]
“The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army -- your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops -- the many nations with you. "`Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety. You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land,” [Ezekiel 38:1-9]
In recent weeks I’ve been asked (on many occasions), “George, are we getting close to the end?” The answer? “Yes. Certainly.” There are things happening in the world today that are truly unprecedented. The Bible gives pretty detailed information about what will happen before the end. We know these things will happen, and they should motivate us to be that much more diligent as Christians because we see the Day approaching [Hebrews 10:25]. Now it is true that many “chicken little”-style prophets have proclaimed the end many times for nearly 2000 years, and the world seems to yawn all the more when valid events do happen, in line with God’s prophetic time line, such as the restoration of the State of Israel. Have you ever found it remarkable that though the signs of the times should inspire Christians to be more diligent, the love of many is growing cold? Jesus warned us that this would happen. He said that many things will happen leading up until the end, but there are some specific events that will be a clear indication that the end is near. However, He told us not to be alarmed. Christians should not live in fear, startled by the latest events as though we didn’t know this was coming. On the contrary, Christians should never neglect meeting together to preserve a strong bond for fellowship [Hebrews 10:25] so that they won’t be tempted to leave the faith. And Christians must always be ready to serve, kind of like the ancient Persian courier motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these from the swift completion of their appointed duty.”
Having said this, yes, there are prophetic events that have yet to be fulfilled. Before the “Time of Jacobs Trouble” [Jeremiah 30:7], also called the “Great Tribulation,” the “Time of Distress,” the “Times, time and half a time,” the “3 ½ years,” or the “1290 days,” there are other events that lead up to those terrible times. The event that people seem to ask the most about in recent days is the immanent attack of Israel. Iran (called Persia in ancient times) has stated that it would like to “wipe Israel off the map.” And just recently, the Ayatollah stated that “Israel is a cancer that must be cut out.” Iran isn’t fooling anyone with their supposedly “peaceful” energy plan –they intend to literally wipe Israel off the map. The recent revolutions throughout the Middle East have very little to do with democracy or overthrowing dictators to ensure a better quality of life. The protests have everything to do with a resurgence of Islam with the united attempt of committed Muslims to destroy Israel and control the entire region economically. This endeavor is promoted the most by Iran, but Iran does not stand alone.
The majority of committed Muslims in Iran are of the Shi’ite school of Islam. Shi’ite Islam is by far the most radical form of Islam which believes that a Muslim “messiah” (called the Mahdi) is coming very soon. Their belief is that if faithful Muslims will instigate a chaotic world war that is committed to Islam’s cause, this will culminate in the appearance of the Mahdi who will supposedly cause the entire world to convert to Islam –or will destroy anyone who doesn’t. The current president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, uses the people’s anticipation of the Mahdi for his own political gain, which creates some strange alliances.
Historically, Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims (the two primary schools of Islam) have been at odds with each other, supposedly over who the correct successor should have been after Mohammad died. But the historical hatred for one another may be more ethnic than truly religious (Arabs vs. Persians). However, at brief intervals throughout history, the Sunnis and Shi’ites somehow found the temerity to unite for a common cause. A recent example of this phenomenon would the be Iraq (primarily Sunni) – Iran (primarily Shi’ite) war in the 1980’s. These two countries committed atrocious crimes against one another until finally calling a stalemate, after many, many had died. Then, shortly after this war ended, the first Gulf War began. During the Gulf War of the early 90’s, Iran allowed Iraq to hide an enormous amount of military hardware in Iran, particularly near their capital, Tehran. When a common enemy is perceived, the Shi’ites and Sunnis are quick to forget their differences. But in times of relative peace, they are equally quick to start attacking one another again.
In recent days, The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Qatar and Iran have all been realigning themselves to attack Israel. They have put historical differences aside, once again, in hopes that a world war might be initiated for the glory of Islam. It should also be noted that these countries have adopted beliefs that were inherited through studies of fascism, which believe in the power of a police state and have identified the Jews as the root of all evil. The overthrow of recent dictatorships have been a precursor to greater bloodshed. It should not surprise us that Iran is developing nuclear weapons or that governments are being overthrown continuously. Islam is “purifying” itself of “corruption” in anticipation of a glorious battle, united against Israel. But there are more “players” in this game –some of them less obvious. Iran did not procure the materials necessary for making weapons-grade plutonium all on its own. No, Iran has often found an ally in Russia, and sometimes in China in recent years. Most notable is Russia, which has often had imperialistic motives in its dealings in the Middle East. Russia claims the entire Middle East as its “sphere of influence” and more than one voice in Russia has had ambitions of allowing their armies to “dip their boots in the Indian Ocean” (i.e. claim all the territory –and oil between Russia’s southern borders and the Ocean). But Russia would need a good reason to move into the region. Afghanistan was a tragedy for the former Soviet Union, much like Vietnam was for us. But Russia is ever waiting for an opportune moment to move into the region –if invited. While the majority of the world has imposed sanctions on Iran, Russia has not –and will not break ties with Iran.
Analysts now project that Israel will have attacked Iran by spring to prevent Iran from fully developing nuclear weapons. Iran currently already has missiles that could reach Israel, but Iran is now also developing intercontinental missiles. For what purpose? Russia is also developing super nuclear bombs, capable of causing enormous damage to an entire region. For what purpose? And Russia has been the strongest opponent to NATO developing protective missile shields for Europe and North America. Why?
There’s a lot to this story that we don’t know about. But while men scheme together secretly with ambitions of taking over the entire world, the Lord in heaven laughs. In fact, He told us that this battle would happen in Ezekiel 38 and 39. It’s nothing new under the sun. But what is remarkable about this story is a strange twist: God himself will intervene and protect Israel miraculously. The modern State of Israel is predominantly secular, just like America has become. But the underground church in Israel is growing like wildfire. And while Iran plans to wipe Israel off the map… God has other plans. A day is coming soon when the majority of Israelis will turn to their Messiah and accept Him –the real Messiah of the world. And many will stand in awe of our Awesome God when He intervenes.
Are we close to the end? Yes. But as Jesus said, “Don’t be alarmed.” None of this should catch us off guard. We should know that it’s coming, we should grow even more committed and faithful as we see these things unfold. And we should be ready for a world that is doubtless going to have a lot of questions…
Come Lord Jesus, come!
Proclaiming the soon-Return of Jesus,