“Behold, the former things have come to pass, And new things I declare; Before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”
“Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure’.”
“Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass,
you may believe that I am He.”
The future is coming. Profound, isn’t it? Because you’ll no sooner read that, but it’s here. We are barreling headlong into it every minute of every day. The current moment doesn’t even exist, really, in as much as each minute merely slips through our fingers like warm sand on a sunny day, and before you know it you have more days in your past than in your future. We can’t see one minute ahead, and yet we make our plans, watch the seasons come and go, and then marvel at how fast it all flies by. “Where did the time go?” is a common lament in these fast-paced times. Truth is, no one gets out of here alive, and the minutes tick by, days drip off the page.
And yet I will say something even more profound: some day, maybe not too long from now, I won’t even be able to say that “the future is coming”, because from our perspective on this side of eternity, time as we know it will have wound down. And for those we love who have passed on, their future is already sealed. It’s only the living, really, who can even consider boasting in some sort of “future” as we understand it in the time domain. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Now, that elusive “future”, as we normally define it, is or has been very important to every human. Whether you plan for it, as every sensible human should to some degree, or whether you take absolutely no thought for it whatsoever, everything you do, and a lot of what you say and feel will affect it for better or worse. If you live foolishly and disregard health, safety, and even the law, your future might turn out pretty sour and full of regret. If you live wisely and try to avoid the big stupid stuff, you will probably reap the benefits of your level head, which, while being a good thing for you and all those around you, reality being what it is, you might get hit by a bus in the fog tomorrow morning. Ah, the late, great you.
So what’s my point? It’s this: we all know tomorrow matters. Even for those who have convinced themselves to be atheists or existentialists so they can take the spiritually lazy route, deep down they know tomorrow matters. Reality check: if there were no such thing as God and faith, the self-proclaimed atheist/agnostic wouldn’t even have a religion in the first place. Atheism is the “anti-faith” religion, the polar opposite of truth – which does exist, and can be known. The adherents of such “beliefs” are simply being rebellious, not original or independent in their thinking as they like to believe.
There is no alternate, or opposite belief system that exists independent of truth, in the same way that Satan is not an opposing force to God, but a rebel fully against Him (the “Father of Lies”). Think of it this way: why do vegetarians eat patties that look like hamburgers? It’s because this ideology is not so much “for” something so much as “against”, and I am referring to those who have politicized or spiritualized their food choices either because of radical environmentalism or New Age beliefs. They are not pro-veggie, but anti-meat. The atheist then, is opposing God, period, no intellectualizing needed, check your brain at the door on this one, and pass the A-1 sauce, please.
Now, the bible has a lot to say about numbering our days and making provision for eternity. It also contains a lot of warnings so that we can have some idea of where this old world is heading. Again, we have choices to make: take the Bible seriously for all things pertaining to life and eternity
(you WILL live forever – somewhere), or just go on whistling in the dark and hope it all comes out OK in the end. One of these things is wise, the other eternally and regretfully foolish. As that old Sesame Street song goes, “one of these things just doesn’t belong here…”
Most people today think the Bible is full of dusty old sayings uttered by dusty old people in goat sandals who really don’t communicate well, and are so intellectually lame they can’t seem to get their point across to a generation that just wants some drive-through spirituality, hold the guilt please. The truth is, the Bible is a very unique set of writings, and in order for the honest seeker to take prophecy seriously, the subject of this article, I have to take a moment to establish that the nuts and bolts of what we call bible prophecy is even worth taking seriously. Without that, we might as well be talking about “Moby Dick”. But who quotes chapter and verse of Moby Dick anyway?
Inspiration or Perspiration?
First, the Bible is not just one single book, it is actually a collection of 66 books, the “canon of Scriptures”. These 66 books cover history, poetry, prophecy, wisdom, literature and letters, convey the future, teach essential doctrines, and outline the redemptive plan of salvation for every human who ever lived and curiously and courageously peered into its pages looking for the answer to the eternal question, “why am I here?”
Maybe you’re one of those who likes to see the numbers, and not just take my word for it. That’s OK. So, for the scientist and mathematician in you, here is something to chew on.
The number of prophecies in the Scriptures about Jesus of Nazareth being the fulfillment of all that God has promised in the Messiah is about 300, those being made before he was even born. What is the mathematical possibility of just one man accidentally fulfilling, or maybe even purposefully manipulating over 300 predictions written hundreds of years before his birth? If it’s either accidental or manipulative, you have lost me already and there is no reason to be a Christian. Hey, I’m not gullible. God gave us brains, and He expects us to use them. But neither is true, and truth is what we are in pursuit of here.
Professor Peter Stoner (1888-1980) was Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at PasadenaCityCollege, and Chairman of the Science Division of Westmont College from 1953 to 1957. This man calculated the probability of one man fulfilling only a handful of the over 300 Messianic prophecies. In 1944, he published his research results in Science Speaks: Scientific Proof of the Accuracy of Prophecy and the Bible. Stoner concluded that the probability of one person fulfilling just eight of the prophecies was one chance in 1017 (one, followed by 17 zeros). How about one person fulfilling just 48 of the over 300 prophecies? Stoner calculated these odds at one chance in 10157 — a statistical impossibility, I’m thinking.
Stoner presents an illustration that should drive it all home – take 1017 silver dollars (10,000,000,000,000,000) and lay them on the face of Texas, covering all of the state two feet deep. He says, “Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man.”
Stoner considers 48 prophecies and says, “we find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10157, or –
This is something every person who thinks believing in the God of the Bible as revealed through Jesus Christ is nothing more than blind faith must consider.
Now, why do I begin here? It’s simple. In all my years of walking with Jesus, I have frequently found myself trying to communicate the necessity of the new birth and walking by faith to someone, only to find an iron curtain come down in my face right about the time that I present the truth as it is found in the Bible. All of a sudden the person I am speaking to is an expert on a Book he or she has never even read, and their objections generally sound something like this: “Too many people have had a hand writing this book to make it God’s Word. Too many people interpret it any way they want. Too many people don’t believe in it, and they can’t all be wrong.” Yes, and too many people parrot these lame excuses for not picking up the bible for themselves, and continue to compare themselves with one other, instead of comparing themselves with the only perfect and holy One, the only One whose opinion really matters.
This is the heart of it: when a Christian’s testimony gets a bit too close for comfort to a non-believer’s heart, that place that all too often has a ‘do not disturb’ sign hung on it, all they have to do is say, “but I don’t believe that the Bible is the Word of God” — invariably and conveniently ending any discussion on the need to heed the words of Jesus that, “you must be born again.” Because, if He did not really say that, or if it’s open to multiple interpretations, you’re off the hook and you can go back to whatever it was you were doing that tends to resemble Christianity Lite, with one-third less conviction, and their self-contained spiritual commitment-free zone.
Now, I am not in the arm-twisting business, and neither is the Lord. I’m just trying to bring some reason to the matter – so you can of course still believe what you want, you have a free will; but that doesn’t mean the Bible isn’t true nonetheless, and again, you are whistling in the dark on that. So likewise, this article is going to go merrily on, with or without you, but if you shut the door now to God’s Word and it’s power to change you utterly from the inside out, you will never really understand bible prophecy and those things which ARE coming on the earth, ready or not. Remember the title of this article? “Are You Ready for the Future? Well, it’s Ready For You”.
So, beg or borrow a bible, (stealing is a sin!), and finish this with me, you won’t be sorry. I hope you can do that much, your eternity depends on it. Better a little anguish now while you have your wits about you and a comfy couch, than a lot of anguish and regret later in a very hot place. This is our jumping off point, an understanding that Jesus Christ is not some random figure who twisted things to fit an agenda, but the One who came the first time as a suffering servant and atonement for sin, fulfilling hundreds of prophecies – and will return again in glory to judge the living and the dead, bringing planet earth to it’s knees over the issues of sin and holiness. I hope you stay with me. It won’t hurt near as much as dying unprepared to meet your Maker.
No Shallow End in This Pool.
As I indicated earlier, when Jesus came the first time, the Old Testament Scriptures yielded plenty of information to the reader about just who they were to expect as their Messiah. And we should not be surprised at this if we even remotely comprehend how powerful and omniscient God really is. Prophecy is the proof text for the Scriptures. Only a God who knows the end from the beginning is able to tell us how it will all come out. It’s a bit like being in an airplane and watching a parade down below. From that vantage point, there really is no time constraint on that parade, because you would be in a position to see both the beginning and the end, all at once. From your lawn chair on the curb, you have to await each segment. God is not bound by time, yet His creation is. Another way to look at the difference is to consider the mechanics of writing a book.
Suppose I am writing a novel. I write this in my novel:
“Mary laid down her work. The next moment, there came a knock on her door.” Mary lives in the time domain of the story I am writing about her. She did one thing, then the next thing took place, and to the reader it is a smooth, flowing series of events. Now, she cannot get out of that time domain, I put her there and she is a limited creature bound by my novel’s universe and it’s laws. But I, who am Mary’s maker, do not live in that imaginary time at all. Between writing the first half of that sentence and the second half, I might sit down and think about Mary for 3 hours or so, or however long I want to. I can think about her as if she were the only character in the book for as long as I want, because I have all eternity to do it. But that time I spent thinking about her does not appear in my book. I wrote half the sentence, and then got back to finishing it much later. Days, weeks, months, millennia, it matters not. But anyone reading about Mary would never know that. In the same way, God has infinite attention to spare each of us, He is not bound by time, and this is borne out in Scripture as it says that His thoughts toward us are as the sands of the sea.
So if you think that bible prophecy is the imaginings of created humans, let me ask you this: is the God (author) of the universe so limited He is unable to communicate His plans with lowly humanity? If He wishes to tell His creation of His plans beforehand in a manner they can understand, who can stay His hand? This great gift to us has come in the form of the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation. And somewhere in the middle, in the book of Daniel, we have one of the most phenomenal prophecies of all, and again, for those who want some concrete numbers, there is no mistaking that God definitely does math, even though I do not.
The Book of Daniel was written 500 years before the birth of Jesus. Many try to discredit the time of writing of Daniel, and in light of the importance of this prophecy, this is understandable, spiritually speaking. In Chapter 9, Daniel predicts the very day that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem and allow Himself to be worshiped for the first time. The prophecy states that 69 weeks of years (69 “7s”, or 69×7 = 483 years) would pass from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Messiah. Since Daniel was written in Babylon during the Jewish captivity after the fall of Jerusalem, this prophecy was based on the Babylonian 360-day calendar. Thus, 483 years x 360 days = 173,880 days.
According to records found in the ShushanPalace, and confirmed in Nehemiah 2:1, the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was issued by the Persian king, Artaxerxes Longimanus, on March 5, 444 BC. Remarkably, 173,880 days later (adjusting for leap years), on March 30, 33 AD, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (fulfilling Zechariah 9:9). Five days later, Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross just outside Jerusalem. (crucifixion as a form execution did not even exist when His last words were foretold hundreds of years earlier in Psalm 22, but the Romans would later adopt it.) Three days later, the New Testament declares that Jesus rose from the dead, fulfilling many other prophecies too numerous to mention here. But the majority of humans alive at that time, and even those who saw Him with their own eyes, missed it. And so one must wonder why few if any actually were watching and waiting for His first coming – a clue as to what the days would be like leading up to His 2nd coming? Perhaps so.
This next point may sound like the most obvious thing in the world, but just so we are all on the same page: the #1 focal point of all of future prophecy is the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is the centerpiece of prophecy in this age, this is what we watch, wait, and look for eagerly. Prophecy students are caricatured as loony toons carrying signs that say, “The End is Near!”, but this is nothing more than a cynical misrepresentation and not even true on a ”technicality”.
Jesus is coming, yes. This will usher in the end of this present order, but really is only a beginning. If our claims, observations of the times, and teachings are not centered on Jesus’ return, it is not the real deal. In other words, if someone claims to understand future events but they do not focus on the return of Jesus, it is not biblical prophecy, but a counterfeit. A good example here would be Nostradamus. I don’t care how poetic he is in his prognostications, it’s not going to be 100% reliable and so he fails the truth test. The bible warns that in the last days that many false prophets will arise and deceive many, (Matt. 24:24) but if you understand the real deal, the counterfeit will be easily detected. It is ALL about His return. Nostradamus may provide some clues if he had some sort of prophetic gift, but the Bible predicts the truth. Big difference.
But how do we know this coming will take place at all?
The book of Acts, the gateway book into the church age, begins with His ascension into heaven. When Jesus was taken up bodily, the people watched Him ascend into the clouds and out of sight. Two angels appeared in their company and said this: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This SAME JESUS, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11). Here is a promise we can believe in, and so true believers have been watching the skies ever since, keeping in mind the Bible’s track record of fulfilled prophecies up to this point, and studying numerous other passages that shed considerable light on this promise. Considering how precise God was with Daniel 9, how much can we understand about coming #2? Glad you asked, and this leads me right up to the present day and age.
Having studied prophecy for nearly 3 decades, I can say confidently and without any hesitation, that we are indeed living in the times of the signs, and one must seriously consider the odds of all the following signs coming together in one generation all the while being painfully aware of how many missed coming #1. Once you consider these, you will be hard pressed to deny that Jesus must surely be coming soon, and if you are not His, time is running out for you. Can you be fully persuaded that the God of beginnings and ends loves you and has provided for your eternity through Jesus, the One who is to come?
The next thing on the agenda, factoring in a time of some possible and random world-wide upheaval in the area of politics, financial crises, various pestilences and like perils (the Bible calls these “birth pangs” as the world moves from the kingdom of man to the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour) is the Rapture of the Church. This is an event in which Jesus snatches up the true believer (having become His through the new birth, out of every tribe and nation), meeting them in the clouds and taking them to heaven for the duration of a 7-year season that will come on the earth to judge a thoroughly wicked generation. This time period is commonly referred to as the Tribulation, or Time of Jacob’s Trouble. There are various views out there about the timing of the rapture, but the Bible teaches that since this is a time of God’s wrath, and Christ took our wrath on the cross, those who have trusted in His finished work will not be judged a second time for any reason; God does not judge the righteous with the wicked. There are no events or signs that must be in place for this to take place, and it will come upon the world without warning; it is a sign-less event. (Matthew 25; Luke 21:26; 1Cor. 15:52; 1Thess 1:10; 1Thess 4; 1Thess. 5)
And since Bible prophecy focuses on God’s plans for the nation of Israel primarily, we understand that the season of time for these events is directly related to the time frame on earth that sees a re-gathered Israel in the ancient land of her fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They missed coming #1, but since they are still His chosen ones, He will once again present them with the opportunity to see that He was, all along, their Messiah. May 14, 1948 was the date of one of the most amazing fulfillments of prophecy ever, and we look to Israel today as God’s timepiece for both Jew and Gentile alike. (Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7; Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24)
In addition, in your history books, you will find that at the precise time that God was reestablishing the modern state of Israel, prophecy was being fulfilled in another very important way. The key Gentile kingdom of the last times, a revived form of the Roman Empire, was being framed out, beginning in 1948 and continuing today through layers of treaties, which will be the fertile ground from which the final world ruler/despot/dictator will arise, the one the bible calls “the Antichrist”. The book of Daniel, once again, provides multiple reasons as to why a EuropeanSuperstate (growing into a great economic power as I write) will be the seat of final world government when Jesus returns. The 4 major world kingdoms that God deems important to the prophetic timeline were/are: Babylon, which was conquered by the Medo/Persian empire, which in turn was swallowed up by the Greeks, which in due season gave up the ghost to the Romans. This account is found in Daniel 2 – and while there is much that could be said here to further verify this exciting layout of world history that was written centuries before it took place, prophecy students can surely see “the handwriting on the wall” as the EU takes center stage in many critical areas of fulfillment both economically and politically.
Once the rapture of the church takes place, the world will immediately turn to survival mode and life as it has been will be radically altered, as people do their best to attend to the necessities of life in the area of buying and selling, health and well-being, and protecting their loved ones. And yet, with the world headed into a season about which the bible has more to say than any other, if we are considering the following scenario honestly, how can we not find ourselves becoming sober-minded about the future of planet earth, foregoing trivialities and focusing on what is really important?
Bible prophecy is a huge subject, but I trust that by simply outlining a portion of what is to come as I wrap this up, it will encourage you to do your own homework on these things.
Here is a summary of the top signs of the times with Bible references:
The Jews would begin to regather in Israel (Isaiah 11:11-12; Ezekiel 37:21-22; 38:8); The nation Israel would be born in one day – this was fulfilled literally on May 14, 1948 (Isaiah 66:8) Over five million Jews have returned to Israel in recent times, coming from the north, south, east, and west (Isaiah 43:5-6; Jeremiah 31:7-10). Nearly a million Jews have emigrated from Russia in the north. This continues on today.
Israel, once a desolate desert during the Diaspora, would blossom in the last days and export produce to the whole world (Isaiah 27:6; 35:1-2; Ezekiel 36:34-36). Advanced irrigation technology has caused the land to blossom. They currently export over 800 million dollars worth of fresh produce each year including over 200 million in flowers.
The Hebrew language would be restored (Zephaniah 3:9). The end of the 19th century brought about the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language. In 1948, Hebrew became an official tongue of the modern state of Israel. The son of Elieazer Ben Yehuda was the first child in Israel in modern times to be fluent in Hebrew, fulfilling this prophecy.
False Bible teachers will arise and introduce heretical teachings, have many willing followers, and cause others to reject God’s Word (2 Peter 2:1-2) There will be a great falling away from the true faith (2Thess.2, 1Timothy 4, 2Peter 2). Spiritual deception will be on the rise. Every major cult in the world today has appeared on the scene within the last 125 year or so, and the New Age movement continues to build and grow, taking many unforeseen forms such as the Emergent Church and a growing arm of liberal theology. Instant spiritual gratification through contemplative and mystical practices is now accepted in orthodox Christianity, much to the dismay of biblical Christians.
The rise of technology and a global communication infrastructure (Revelation 11:9-10; 17:8). The Bible says that the whole world will see certain events unfold, and “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4). The doubling of human knowledge, once occurring only every several decades, now happens every 18 months. The sum of human knowledge is now accessible via home computer; the entire Library of Congress could exist on one hard drive.
The Antichrist will arise as a peacemaker with answers to all the world’s problems but in reality will present a false peace to destroy many (Daniel 8:23-25). With all the problems facing mankind, multitudes are looking for a savior, from many faiths and religions; this one powerful man will usher in peace and prosperity and deceive many, often with false signs and wonders. In the last days, possibly coinciding with the Rapture of the church, Israel will sign a peace treaty with her neighbors that the Antichrist will confirm for 7 years up front, but eventually break (Daniel 9:27). Currently the world’s governments are striving over an Israeli peace treaty. Many have tried – The EU, the US, Russia, etc.- but in God’s timing, this will happen and the floodgates to prophecy fulfillment will blow open with incredible and swift force.
Another event whose fulfillment is yet to come is a massive invasion of tiny Israel by a coalition of nations, mostly Muslim, and headed up by the Russian federation. This invasion could take place any time, and the book of Ezekiel gives amazing ( and alarming!) detail as to the who, what, and wheres of a war in which God shows Himself strong on behalf of Israel, as He has many times before, putting her enemies down on the mountains of Israel. What this might do to the cultural and ethnic make-up of the Middle East during the climactic 7 year period, we cannot say at this time, but how can the peoples of the earth not sit up and take notice of God intervening in the affairs of men at that time? (Ezekiel 36- 39)
There will be a global government (Daniel 2:40-44; 7:23; Revelation 13:7-8) The world will be subdivided either into 10 governing regions or the EU will have 10 kings. This has been the subject of great interest to prophecy students for many years, due to the “10 toes” prophecy in Daniel 2, part of the “Metallic Man” image that King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about when he was over Babylon.
A global economic system will exist (Revelation 13:16-17). This was unthinkable in the days of the early church. Yet today, globalists in every level of government are seeking to unite the world to solve current economic failings. Connecting the world monetarily is crucial to their goal, and the bible says that one man will see to it that no one buys and sells without pledging allegiance to him spiritually. Everyone has heard of 666, but only in our time has the technology existed to make it a reality. The current digital payment systems that exist around the globe are part of a huge technological framework/infrastructure that has been building since the days of the old IBM punchcards, the precursor to today’s computers.
There is currently a move to put an RFID chip into every single thing manufactured in the world, to enable each human to be tracked in every move they make every minute. In fact, RFID (radio-frequency identification) can be utilized in a chip as tiny as the period at the end of this sentence. Or it can be made into powder and tattoed on the hand or forehead, visibly or invisibly. This was predicted before any human knew what a “computer chip” was. Imagine that!
In addition, talk of a global currency has moved to action since the G20 summit this past April. Something to watch.
Famines would be common (Luke 21:11; Revelation 6:5-8)
Wars and rumors of war (Mark 13:7-8). This includes ethnic disputes (Matthew 24) Pestilences and earthquakes would be common in diverse places. Can you say, “swine flu”?
Jerusalem will be a cup of trembling to all surrounding peoples and a burdensome stone (Zech 12:2,3). This is in the news every day, all eyes are on that city and it’s inhabitants – and why? The only thing they have to offer the world is that it is the center of the universe (Ezekiel 5:5) and claims to be the home of the world’s 3 largest religions. Look for this prophecy to continue to be fulfilled in ways we perhaps do not even understand at this point.
Humans will be utterly obsessed with self and self fulfillment; acting in ways that are not natural both physically and soulishly, brutal, unloving, disobedient and increasingly rebellious (2Tim.3). Of all prophecies, this is perhaps the most vexing and troublesome as we interact with one another on a daily basis. A world that is in deep trouble in every way now faces out of control human behavior without natural affection for one another. Consider these final verses as defining this future season: “ Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21;26); and, “unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.” (Matt. 24:22)
Yes, this is heavy. No, I don’t want to soft-pedal it or make it go down easier. Americans, it would seem, prefer everything with a spoonful of sugar, but spiritual sugar is bad for you, just like the other kind. If someone had not been brutally honest with me about my lost condition, I would not be writing this today.
The good news? Jesus died for you. All you need to do is come to him in humility, in full knowledge that you have broken His laws. Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Not some, but all. Humans are all in the same drifting and sinking boat, and if it were not for Jesus, we would all perish. Our hearts may condemn us, but Romans 3 goes on to say, “…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Is there better news than that? Repentance, forgiveness, new life in Christ. It really is that simple. Even more so, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3)
He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Revelation 22:21,22)
And so ends the Book.