In returning to Bible basics I’m grateful to Neil Mackereth, author of signs and of several items on this blog for permission to publish his latest, as submitted on 1st July. It wasn’t possible to acknowledge, however, until Monday 8th – the day before Nina heard about Jesus’ return being sooner than we may think.
In his covering email, Neil mentions a nearby church “everyone calls St John’s, but I have had laid on my heart that it is St John the Baptist Church (its proper name!) and that it is on the Pilgrims’ Way: “I will send my messenger ahead of you who will prepare the way ……. Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him”.
“I absolutely believe that we are required to do all we can to convince the world that Jesus will return soon. Your blog is a magnificent and essential part of that process, commission to communicate God’s intentions.”
“I have felt very strongly of late that, whilst it is absolutely right and proper to pray into the tremendous shaking, sifting and repositioning that’s going on (which are in line with expectations for end times), and to seek God’s will and prophetic indicators about Brexit etc. we are not to lose sight of the BIG PICTURE revealed in long-established scripture. ie. Biblical prophecy:
PART 1 – EYES TO SEE AND EARS TO HEAR
How do we draw people’s attention to the Bible’s astonishing, supernatural and extraordinarily accurate foretelling of events? Studying and seeking to understand biblical prophecies takes on a new urgency in light of recent (last 75 years) and current world events, especially in the Middle-East. Those who are intentional and rigorous in looking to marry historic prophecies with contemporary occurrences will surely recognise that we are witnessing End-Times: signs:
- Egyptian will turn against Egyptian (Isaiah 19:2)
- Damascus will be in ruins (Isaiah 17:1)
- Gaza will writhe in agony (Zechariah 9:5)
- There will be false teachers and prophets who lead people astray (2 Peter 2:1-2)
- Earthquakes, famines, plague and pestilences will intensify (Luke 21:11)
- Travel and knowledge will increase greatly (Daniel 12:4)
- People will prefer fantasy to reality, myth to Christian truths (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Some other signs, in categories roughly corresponding to past, present and future events:
Fulfilled Prophecies Relating to Jesus’ First Advent (examples of amazing detail and accuracy)
|Prophecy Fulfilled||Old Testament||New Testament|
|Born of a virgin||Is 7:14||Matt 1:22-23|
|Born in Bethlehem||Mic 5:2||Luke 2:4-6|
|Called out of Egypt||Hos 11:1||Matt 2:14-15|
|Taught in parables||Ps 78:1-2||Matt 13:34-35|
|Healed the sick||Is 29:18-19, 35:4-6, 61:1||Matt 11:2-6|
|Entered Jerusalem on a donkey||Zech 9:9||John 12:12-15|
|Flogged and abused||Is 50:5-6||Mark 14:53-15:20|
|Hands and feet pierced||Ps 22:16||Mark 15: 20-26|
|Clothes divided||Ps 22:18||Matt 27:35|
|Killed and Buried||Is 53:8-9||Matt 15:33-47|
|Raised on the third day||Hos 6:2||1 Cor 15:3-4|
Happened and Happening
- Because of their disobedience, the people of Israel were scattered amongst the nations and had no peace in exile – Deuteronomy 28:64-66.
- The Jews have returned to their Biblical homeland, however, not all of the Jews have returned, and not to all of what was originally the Promised Land. The return is the fulfillment of many prophetic scriptures. Words taken to be metaphorical or allegorical are now seen to be amazingly accurate and absolutely literal.
- The formerly desolate land of Israel has become fertile and fruitful – Zechariah 7:14.
- The Gospel will be preached to all nations – Matthew 24:14. The Gospel is being preached in many nations though not yet in all nations. It may be difficult for us to determine when full coverage has been achieved!
- Things will be as they were in the days of Noah and people will be proud, unforgiving, lovers of self, lovers of money and pleasure, preferring myth to truth (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
- We can expect that in any communication on end time prophecies the message, and the messenger, will be mocked and ridiculed (2 Peter 3:3-4).
Happening and Yet To Happen
- Jerusalem will be seen as a problem by the whole world (Zechariah 12:2-3). Zechariah made this prophecy around 520 BC. Jerusalem was in ruins. Today, as foretold, Israel and Jerusalem are the focus of a massive media coverage that is totally disproportionate to the size of nation or city.
- Christians will be persecuted and martyred (Matthew 24:9).
- Many will turn away from the Christian faith (Matthew 24:10).
Yet To Happen
- The governance of Jerusalem will be free of Gentile involvement (Luke 21:24).
- The “Man of Lawlessness” (the Antichrist) will appear on the world stage. He will be seen as a great and very effective unifying world leader (Revelation 13:3-8). He will establish a seven-year covenant of peace with Israel which, after 31/2 years, he will break when he declares himself as god in the Temple in Jerusalem.
- A worldwide financial system will be established requiring people to register and show allegiance to the Antichrist as a prerequisite to being able to shop and trade (Revelation 13:16-17). We hear talk today of a “New World Order”, globalisation, the need for a worldwide economic organisation (World Bank) and a world government.
- A 31/2 year period of desolation and despair, the “Great Tribulation”, will follow the “Abomination of Desolation” by the Antichrist in the Temple.
- In order for the above prophecy to be fulfilled, assuming it is not allegorical, we can expect to see the Temple rebuilt in Jerusalem.
- All nations will gather to fight against Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2).
- Jesus will return and defeat the attacking nations at Armageddon (Zechariah 14:3-4, Revelation 16:14-16, Revelation 19:11, 19-21).
- The full and awesome realisation that Jesus is the Messiah will come to the nation of Israel in startling and unmistakable certainty (Zechariah 12:9-10).
- The nations will be judged according to their treatment of the Jews (Joel 3:1-2).
There is some overlap between these stages. Furthermore, we may feel something has been fulfilled only to find that its first “fulfillment” was a model for something much bigger.
PART 2 – IS IT SOON?
The list of signs at Part 1 helps to highlight an ambiguity, particularly in respect of those signs that are manifestly not yet fulfilled. The apparent contradiction is whether Christ’s return can be imminent (about to happen) when there are prophecies yet to be fulfilled. This can cause tension for believers who are serious about observing the signs of the End-Times. On the one hand, we want to obey the call of Jesus, that we be vigilant and expect his return “at any time”. On the other, we want to honour his command to look for the signs that indicate that the time of his return is near.
Some views on how to resolve this ambiguity:
- Some argue that Jesus won’t come at “any time” but at a particular time that can be determined by observing the signs of the End-Times (this undermines those teachings that emphasise the surprise of His return).
- The signs have already been fulfilled (the Historicist view).
- The signs are simply intended to increase our anticipation (Luke 21:28) and devotion, in the hope that we will not be deceived by false prophets.
- The context and emphasis of Jesus’ statements suggests that He never intended the signs to be seen as an excuse for not needing to be ready.
- Jesus will return in two stages; first in secret to “rapture” believers (at “any time” and before fulfillment of all the signs) and then, after the 7-year tribulation, there will be an awesome public return.
- Similar to e above, but the “rapture” will take place half way through the time of tribulation i.e. at the end of 31/2 years of peace, just before the “Abomination of Desolation” and the start of the 31/2 years of the great tribulation.
- Some signs have been fulfilled and those that are still future will happen very quickly.
Only time will tell! Meanwhile, the certainty is that Jesus gave us pointers for the circumstances that will prevail when he returns, but makes it clear that the specific time of his coming cannot be known.
There is no room for complacency. We should be prepared for the possibility of meeting our Lord and Saviour at any moment, whether by rapture or by our demise!
It seems clear that we are well along the time line of prophetic events. As mentioned above, those signs that await fulfillment could happen very quickly. Reading the Bible, watching what is happening, particularly in Israel and Jerusalem, and seeking to understand the spiritual significance of unusual signs and symbols in the world around us, are all key elements in our being ready for the return of Jesus.
- Nicholas Barrett comment upon Back to Biblical Basics
- A Prophetic Word on the Coming ‘Bowls of the Fury of God’