The recent Middle East crisis has forced the world to focus it's attention on the nation of Israel once again. But, this latest escalation to the already volatile situation is, as I believe, evidence of God's prophetic Word in the process of being fulfilled. If that is true, we will soon see the end of this present Age. Jesus Christ, God's Son promised to return in the clouds just as He left two thousand years ago. When He returns, He will call the saved out of this world. That event is called the "Rapture" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). This catastrophic event will end the "Church Age" in which we've been living for the past two thousand years. The Church Age started when the Lord Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah was rejected by the Jews and crucified on Mt. Calvary, "He came unto His own and His own received Him not." And the Church Age will end when He returns. In the book of Daniel chapter 9, verses 24-27, God told Daniel (in the year 445 BC) that the Messiah would be killed. He not only told him that it would happen, but He told him when it would happen. We are also told in prophecy that once the "Church Age" is over and the church is gone, God will once again bring Israel back to the center stage of the world and begin to use this tiny nation in a miraculous way as He did previously in the Old Testament. He will leave no doubt that He is the God and Creator of this world. As we clearly see and read in our news today, Israel is definitely being brought onto the center stage of the world's scene.
Let me show you a few of the many exciting prophecies of these last days events recorded in the book of Daniel. I must first explain to you how the word "week" is used. Daniel uses this word week as you and I use the word dozen. We know that the word dozen means twelve. Well, in the same way Daniel uses the word week or weeks to mean seven.
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."
God pronounced judgment upon Israel that will last for 490 years. Seventy weeks or seventy sets of sevens, thus seventy times seven, which equals 490. In this same verse, God tells us six different things that will be accomplished by this 490 year judgment. Number one, "to finish the transgression". Number two, "to make an end of sins". Three, "to make reconciliation for iniquity". Four, "to bring in everlasting righteousness". Five, "to seal up the vision and prophecy". And number six, "to anoint the most Holy".
Daniel wrote this book while he was living in Babylon (present day Iran) under the rule of king Nebuchadnezzar. He was taken captive from Jerusalem by the Babylonians in the first of three Babylonian invasions. The Jews remained in Babylonian captivity for seventy years and in this passage Daniel was questioning God about when they would be permitted to return to their beloved homeland. Thus, the next verse (Daniel 9:25) tells us how we know when to start counting so we can know when the 490 years will have been accomplished. "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and he wall, even in troublous times." There are two time periods revealed in this verse. They are seven weeks (7x7=49) and threescore and two weeks (62x7=434). History records that it took 49 years once Israel left Babylon for Jerusalem to be rebuilt including the streets (March 14, 445 BC-396 BC). Now, for the second time period, threescore and two weeks, God tells us that this is the amount of years from the time that Jerusalem was rebuilt until the Messiah is cut off, or as we know now crucified. Sure enough, when we consult the historical records once again we find God's prophecy correct. A brilliant British scholar and Bible student, Sir Robert Anderson, reduced these two time periods into their exact number of days multiplying the years by 360 (the days in a biblical year). Beginning on March 14, 445 BC, (the day the commandment was given to restore and rebuild Jerusalem) and going forward in history, the date Sir Robert ended up with was April 6, AD 32. This is the very day that Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem to present Himself to Israel as their long awaited Messiah. It's recorded in the Gospels that they recognized Him as their Messiah with great rejoicing, but later rejected Him, because He came as their spiritual redeemer and not their physical. They were under Roman rule and wanted an earthly king to lead them in victory over the Romans. Since He didn't fit their description of a redeemer, they rejected Him and called for His crucifixion. Now when Israel rejected their Messiah, God refused to use Israel any longer and He turned to the Gentiles by establishing the New Testament church for the purpose of preaching Salvation, throughout the whole world. God stopped using Israel to do His bidding and the time clod for that 490 years stopped, this is where the Church Age began and the clock on Israel won't start again until the Church Age is finished. Like I said earlier, for the past two thousand years we've been living in the Church Age.
If we add these two time periods together (49+434=483) we get 483 years. Now if the judgment against Israel was to be 490 years and we only find a total of 483 years completed; that leaves seven years of judgment left to be fulfilled before those previously stated six things would be accomplished, "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."
Daniel tells us about the last week or that last set of seven years (Daniel 9:
27). This seven year period is called the "Tribulation Period". This particular time period will start when a seven year covenant or peace agreement is signed by Israel, negotiated by the Antichrist. The world today is set and ready to receive the Antichrist. For he will be the one who will broker an agreement that the Arab nations and Israel will sign. It is the signing of that peace agreement that will trigger the coming of the Lord and usher in the Tribulation Period. The scripture goes on to say, that we Christians should comfort one another with these words. If the coming of the Lord is not comforting to you, my friend, then you need to ask Jesus Christ to save you from you sin and be ready for His return. To us who are saved, it is great comfort to know our loving Lord will soon come and change our vile bodies and receive us unto Himself, just as He promised.
I'm writing this article to let you know that for us Christians these are some of the most exciting times ever. For we are the generation that has the privilege to see the fulfillment of the final prophecies of scripture right before our very eyes.
Let me share one more exciting evidence from scripture, that proves that we are the generation that will be alive and will see the coming of the Lord.
In Matthew 24:3, the Lord's disciples came to Jesus privately and ask Him two questions about the last days. "When shall these things be? And "what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" The Lord proceeds to answer those two questions in the rest of that chapter, but I want to focus on that second question, "what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Jesus tells them, the parable of the fig tree, verse 32-24 of that chapter, "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putting forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the door. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." . This is the interpretation of that parable. The fig tree represents the nation of Israel. When his branch is tender and putting forth leaves or when the nation of Israel is young and growing, ye know that summer is nigh. So likewise when you see Israel as a young nation you know that the time is near even at the door. But Israel was an ancient nation until 70AD when Vaspasian, the Roman ruler, ordered his son Titus to destroy Jerusalem and the nation.
So, from 70AD until 1948 there was no nation of Israel. Israel is the only nation in all of history to be revived again and come back into existence as a nation after being completely destroyed. This has never ever happened to any other nation in all of history and it never will again. So, in 1948 the fig tree became young again and began to grow. Miraculous! But then again, that revival was prophecy fulfilled. (Ezekiel 37:1-14)
Now here is how we know that we are the generation that will see the coming of the Lord. Jesus said, "Verily or surely, I say unto you, This generation (the generation that witnesses the nation of Israel becoming a young or new nation again) will not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (the end time events in the first part of the chapter that He had just told them about). If you were born in 1948 or later you are in the generation that Jesus said would not pass till they see the end time events fulfilled. Are you ready? Time is running out, for the Lord's coming is nigh at the door!
Tom McCanless, pastor