Signs of the Times... Times of the Signs
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
The Pharisees and Saducees came to Jesus and tested Him by asking Him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, "When evening comes you say 'It will be fair weather for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the signs of the sky but cannot interpret the signs of the times." (Matt 16:1-3). Events are moving at such a rapid pace just now that it seems appropriate to stop again and bring you a summary of the week from a prophetic viewpoint. We should closely watch these signs of the times, for if we believe the end of the age is near then these are the times of the signs.
This week in the Middle East, Ariel Sharon took office as Israel's Prime Minister insisting that he be sworn in with his right hand on a Bible. Ariel means Lion of God, and Sharon probably comes from a root meaning straight or level. Pray that this Lion of God will always be straight with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and on the level with the Jewish people as well as with their adversaries. Terrorist organizations claim that at least 10 suicide bombers are standing by to show their displeasure with Israel's elections, and among Israelis there are rumblings about taking back some of the land given in exchange for a peace that hasn't come. In Egypt Arab diplomatic sources report that the Egyptian military is bracing for the prospect of an Israeli invasion of the Palestinian Authority areas. Egypt is hosting an emergency meeting of the Arab League in Cairo on March 12 to discuss these latest developments.
Heaven Is My Throne And Earth Is My Footstool ... Where Is The House You Will Build For Me? (Isa 66:1)
Also this week an independent group of prominent archaeologists, educators, military officials and politicians petitioned the Israeli high court to require the government to enforce laws prohibiting unauthorized excavation under and around the Temple Mount. Since November of 1999 Islamic authorities have been flouting these rules and have "carried off 15,000 cubic meters of debris and earth saturated with archaeological artifacts from every era" according to the Jerusalem Post. In spite of Arafat's promise to keep the religious sites of all faiths accessible to the public, the Temple Mount has been closed to non-Moslems for months. This group believes there is a clear intent to eradicate all signs of the Mount's Jewish origins, turning it into an exclusively Moslem place of worship. Previous Israeli governments have looked the other way for fear of arousing the anger of the Moslem leadership, so we'll have to watch and see what happens next. Disputes involving the Temple Mount have a way of becoming nasty very quickly.
Persia, Cush And Put Will Be With You ... Also Gomer With All Its Troops (Ezek. 38:5-6)
Iran and Germany appear close to rebuilding their diplomatic relationship that's been under severe strain in recent years, according to this week's Intelligence Digest. Ezekiel identifies Gomer as a member of Persia's coalition against Israel. Gomer settled the Danube and Rhine River valleys and had three sons; Ashkenaz, Ripath and Togarmah. German Jews call themselves the Ashkenazi, the word Europe comes from a corruption of Ripath, and we have previously discussed the link between Togarmah and Turkey, another Persian ally. Before the fall of the Soviet Union prophecy students routinely placed East Germany and the other "Iron Curtain" countries of Eastern Europe in the Persian coalition as descendants of Gomer, but of late little mention of them has been made. Watch this one.
Back To The Future
In spite of all this, The Intelligence Digest doubts that war is imminent, expecting a period of escalating terrorist activity first. But they also admit that PA leadership has lost control of events, the situation is highly volatile, and war is inevitable. So now's a good time to preview the probable sequence of coming events.
Some day soon, a Moslem coalition led and armed by Russia, and including Iran, Iraq, as well as countries from Central Asia, North Africa and Eastern Europe, will attack Israel from the north over the Golan Heights (Exe 38:5,6,8). God will use this event to reveal Himself to the world as Israel's protector by decimating the attackers (Eze 39:2-4). In the process it appears that nuclear weaponry will be used not only on the battlefield but also against Russia and at least Europe, and perhaps the US (Eze 39:6, 9-10). (Most likely the Church will disappear from the Earth at this point in an event called the Rapture.)
In the aftermath of this conflict a charismatic leader will emerge with a 7 year plan to bring peace to the Middle East and indeed to all the world (Dan 9:27). The provisions of this plan will include a Temple for Israel, which the Jewish people will have demanded after realizing that it was the Lord Who defeated their enemies. They will renew their (old) covenant relationship with Him and Jews from all over the world will return to Israel (Eze 39:28-29). Thinking this leader to be their Messiah, unbelievers will accept him as the object of their worship, and those who reject him will be ostracized from society and even hunted as fugitives (Rev 13:15-18). In the middle of this 7 year period, he will stand in the new Jewish Temple and publicly proclaim that he is god (Dan 9:27 & 2 Thes 2:4).
At this point 3 1/2; years of the most devastating war ever seen will commence, threatening to annihilate mankind completely (Matt 24:15-22). But before that can happen the Lord will return with His Church, (Matt 24:29-31) rid the earth of all unbelievers (Matt 25: 31-46), bind Satan (Rev 20:1-3) and begin His 1000 year reign (Rev 20:6). It's probably not time to note all this in your day timer just yet, but it is time to recall the Words of the Lord, "Therefore keep watch because you do not know the day or hour" (Matt 25:13). You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.