The Lord Jesus issued a warning to His followers: “be on the alert for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:42). This warning was apparently given by Jesus because He knew that losing focus on His return is a real possibility. Believers tend to lose focus since Jesus just seems to be taking His time in coming back. And while this might be considered understandable, it is also spiritually dangerous. When our view of the future fades, then we become quite vulnerable to our Enemy who delights to trap us in his schemes and philosophies. In the interest of making sure we are staying awake, consider again what is taking place in our world.
- ISRAEL. The Scriptures are quite clear that Israel is key to our understanding of end times events. When Israel became a nation some 75 years ago, the prophetic landscape changed dramatically. With the Jews back in the Land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, many end time events, which focus on the Jewish people, and their land were open to fulfillment. This is the most significant of prophetic truths. Israel, after so many centuries, is now in their land. This is no small matter. But there could be more. Israel today is sharply divided (just like the USA). The coming Tribulation period begins when the leaders of Israel make a treaty with a western leader (the Antichrist). But one wonders what would cause this fiercely independent nation to seek outside support and enter into such an agreement. It is within the realm of possibility that both outside threats combined with inner turmoil could bring about this treaty signing. Israel’s enemies, within the country and outside of it, are doing their best to create and encourage division. (Similarly, almost 2,100 years ago, in the days of the Maccabees, the fledgling nation of Israel was beset with outside threats and great inner turmoil. The leaders of Israel allowed that up-and-coming western power, Rome, to come in to stabilize their situation. Rome entered and Rome ruled). Whatever the reason in the present, Israel will seek outside help from the individual we refer to as the Antichrist. So, as we interpret current events, the key indicator to end time events is the fact that Israel is back in their land, which opens the door to prophetic events being fulfilled.
- IRAN. It is not new news that Iran wants to destroy the Jewish state and drive Israel into the sea. The regular rhetoric out of Tehran is that there will be nothing left of Israel after Iran is through with them. This is their passion. Iran continues to prepare for all-out war on Israel. The Ayatollahs have strengthened their position by cozying up to both China and Russia. Iran is getting ready for war with Israel and is arming itself and its proxies. The recent severe earthquake that hit Turkey and northern Syria provided Iran with a cover for accelerating arms shipments to Syria, and to its own Revolutionary Guard in Syria. Pretending to bring in plane loads of aid to help with earthquake relief efforts, Iran instead brought in large amounts of military equipment to use against Israel, using the northern Syrian airport at Aleppo as the staging area for this influx of armament. Ezekiel 39:5 clearly states that Iran (Persia) will be a key participant in the end times attack on Israel. Iran is willing and it is getting ready.
- RUSSIA. For over a hundred years, communist Russia has been a plague on this earth. Russia has brought misery and death to millions. And they are not done. Ezekiel 38 declares that they will lead the end times invasion of Israel to wipe out God’s chosen nation. Behind the scenes, Russia is actively supporting Iran and the terror groups directed by Iran. And while we might think that Russia is totally occupied with Ukraine, the reality is that their interest in the middle east, and Israel, is growing. Periodically, Russia will warn Israel about Israel’s “invasion” of Syrian air space. Events transpire so very quickly in the world we live in, and Russia, with troops in the region, could become actively involved in a war against Israel in a matter of days. Russia has an eye on the natural gas reserves of Israel as well as other sources of Israel’s wealth. And Ezekiel states that this will be a strong motivating force which will trigger the end times battle (Ezek. 38:12). Russia is present in Syria and is very much an enemy of Israel, ready to take that land.
- THE UNITED STATES. Most reading this article would likely agree that our nation is in a rapid moral and spiritual decline. We can be thankful for the men and women in positions of some power who are good people, attempting to stop this moral freefall. But marginalizing God and His laws, as our nation has done, has certain and terrible consequences (Rom. 1:18-32). That our country is in a dangerous decline is seen by both believers and non-believers. Unfortunately, the church is not the salt and light it should be as many church leaders have given in to the culture. While some churches remain steadfast in their loyalty to Christ and His word, more and more churches have pathetically made accommodations to the perversities of the culture and are even embracing (perhaps unknowingly) New Age mysticism and occultism. In seeking to be loving and relevant, the church generally has become irrelevant. The moral/spiritual decline of the USA is also true of Canada and Europe. Western culture is looking more and more like Sodom and Gomorrah. The chaos, division, anger, and violence that we observe will only worsen. But into that unsettled situation will arise a man who will be intelligent, powerful, attractive, and capable. This man (who is the Antichrist), is the leader of a western nation (Dan. 7.). He will step onto the world stage to be the savior of mankind. When the church of Jesus Christ is removed from the world at the Rapture, it will take little time for this Satanically-empowered man to take over.
- CHINA. The Scriptures do not appear to have too much to say about China in the end of times but might give hints about that nation. China today is deceiving, threatening, bribing, and lying as it strives towards world domination. They do seem to be making some headway. It should be observed that the sixth trumpet judgment in Revelation (Rev. 9:16) foretells an army of 200,000,000 involved in the killing of 1/3 of what is left of the earth’s population. This takes place towards the end of the Tribulation period. It is not stated, but it is possible, that this huge army could be from China. China has the population and the military to fulfill this horrible role of the destruction of much of humankind. And they could also be part of the vast numbers who descend into “God’s winepress” (Rev. 14) where they will be overwhelmed by the terrible judgment of God targeting unbelieving nations who hate Israel. China, however, does not appear to be the major player in the end times, as the Scriptures focus on the Antichrist, the western leader. But if they are the nation of the sixth trumpet judgment, then they are ready for action.
If we stop and observe and think about what is going on in our world, surely, we can see that the Scriptures have given us enough information to keep our eyes on the heavens “from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). It is foolish for us to try and set a date for the Lord’s return and the unfolding of end time events, but it is equally foolish to live today without keeping one eye on the heavens. The truth of the imminent return of Jesus is designed to help us keep the main things, the main things; and to help us with our ongoing struggle with the world (culture), the flesh and the devil. Jesus’ words about the tribulation and His Second Coming apply nicely to us and the Rapture, when He said: “lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).
Saints, keep wide awake.