III. what happens next?
If one was to answer question without the guidance of the Bible, it might result in some pretty grim predictions. The professor we quoted earlier, for example, gave his answer as “we’re lost, our civilization is lost.” A threshold seems to have been crossed where things once seemingly unthinkable now occur with regularity, conditioning many to expect the unexpected. WIRED, writing in the wake of a Superbowl in which a team rallied from a 25-point deficit to win in overtime, and an election which saw the underdog win, said "Watching yet another sure victory dissolve into defeat contributed to a sense that the world is fundamentally lawless and unpredictable." Among the questions they pose, "does it indicate that our models are broken, that—when it comes down to it—our understanding of the world is deeply incomplete or mistaken?" While WIRED answers "we can't know," I believe those who correctly understand the Bible and God's plan can know and understand the unpredictability of the world without being burdened by fear and despair.
As mentioned previously, the subclass of long-term prophecies known as “latter day” prophecies provide a clear picture of what is to be expected in the time leading up to Christ’s return. The most well known of these is found in Ezekiel 38, in which an overview is given of the events that occur between when Israel is back in the land, established as a nation – with a number of its citizens living in the area known as the West Bank – and the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. In other words, it describes a period of time beginning no earlier than 1948 when Israel once again became a national homeland for the Jews. It ends with Jesus Christ returning in defense of Israel before it can be completely destroyed at the hands of a hostile confederacy of nations.
one can be confident the time period of the unfolding of the events described in this chapter is now
Since Israel has returned to the land, and since Christ hasn’t returned yet, one can be confident the time period of the unfolding of the events described in this chapter is now. The chapter tells of an antagonistic leader who leads his nation and a confederacy of other nations into the land of Israel to opportunistically and militaristically “take a spoil, and to take a prey” (v12). This confederacy hostile to Israel is opposed by an alliance of nations who condemn the hostilities, but offer no military defense of Israel. Upon reading through the chapter, very few of the nations are recognizable because Ezekiel was using names of the countries as known in his day. Yet because it is known to be a prophecy of the latter days, one must conclude these nations are still existing in some form, and they must be known today, only by different names.
Britain in bible prophecy
Bible scholars have studied these ancient names and have worked out the nations to which they correspond today. While it’s outside the scope of this article to look at the identification of each one, there is one nation among them relevant to the subject at hand – Tarshish. When one reads about Tarshish in this chapter and its other occurrences in the Bible, the following picture comes into view:
- The people of Tarshish were descended from Japheth (who was the son of Noah).
- It was an ancient maritime power and island.
- It traded in ancient global markets.
- It was located to the west of Israel.
- It was ancient source of silver, iron, tin, lead.
- It assumes the trading and merchant role played by Tyre upon its destruction.
- It is a colonial power.
When all of these clues are taken into consideration, there is a high degree of certainty only one nation in the world today satisfies each description – Britain.
Based on the alliances and events described in Ezekiel 38, Britain and its former colonies will belong to an alliance which opposes the military invasion of Israel. That’s the reason it was so significant for Britain to break from the European Union – Europe is to be counted among the confederacy which is hostile to Israel, while Britain belongs to the alliance opposing the hostility.
In looking at Britain's recent history, Britain joined the precursor to the European Union, the European Economic Community (EEC), in 1973. While Bible students did not expect to see Britain join itself to Europe, they were able to understand that prophecy required for it to eventually separate from Europe and again become independent. The 2,300 days prophecy of Daniel is an example showing how Bible students have been able to understand future events; here’s another one – in 1981, with Britain being a member of the EEC, writer Graham Pearce wrote the following:
“So though we do not know how it will happen, Britain will separate from Europe. The time will come when the European system will be bound together as the Fourth Beast of Daniel, to be destroyed by the saints, and its body given to the burning flame (Daniel 7); or in terms of the Revelation, the Beast and the False Prophet 'were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone' (Rev. 19:20). On the other hand Britain, and probably later America, will receive enlightenment, respond to it, and carry on their sea-going spirit, bringing Israel’s son’s back to their land.” (Milestones 1981)
As the ballot results of the referendum last spring flooded in and dramatically showed, the people’s will was clear: Britain was to separate from Europe in fulfillment of Bible prophecy!
Trump in Bible Prophecy
Donald Trump rising to the American Presidency should be understood as an instrument of God, playing the role appointed for him – a principle found in Daniel 4:17, 32: “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” Also, it is written in Romans 13:1 that “there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” With this principle in mind, and as much as it may be to the utter dismay of at least half of the American public, there can be no mistaking Donald Trump was put into office by God to ensure that America plays the role charted for it long ago. Certainly, Donald Trump is a close friend and tremendous supporter of Israel for the time being; there can be little doubt these sympathies play a part in bringing the nations down upon Israel, as prophecy requires.
Anger in the Latter Days
I mentioned earlier about there being a common thread in these elections, about how people were dissatisfied and upset with the governing of their countries. It's anger that seems to be the prevailing sentiment of the world today, and especially the anger in this country now being at a rolling boil thanks to policy changes enacted in the first weeks of Trump’s presidency. There are many examples from around the world of things happening as a result of anger – and as noted already, the Women's Protest March following the inauguration and immigration protests at various airports are only two of the most recent displays of anger, and I believe this is significant from a Biblical perspective.
In Revelation 11:18, there is a description of the time when the nations of the earth will be judged upon Christ’s return to the earth. This is what is written – “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth." The nations, it says, will be angry in the time when Jesus returns.
This indication is also found in the "Olivet Prophecy" given by Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke 21:24-26 – "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 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."
I want to draw attention to the components in this passage most relevant to this article – having already looked at the expression, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”, it must be understood to mean precisely the year 1967. Everything Jesus describes after that sentence are things which are to occur in the years following 1967.
"And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged"
One of the things Jesus says will happen in the time following would be “distress of nations” and that the “sea and the waves” would be “roaring”. Was he talking about the literal sea? I think to some extent, that understanding is appropriate, but there's more to it because in the the symbolic language of the Bible, water and seas are representative of people and nations. In Isaiah 17:12, for example, it's written, “Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!” Similarly, rivers are used to represent nations, and the Bible speaks of them overflowing their banks to indicate a conquering power or a “drying up” to indicate the end of an empire.
When I look at all these protests, and see all this anger, I see and hear the sea and waves roaring. God is at work and Bible prophecy is being fulfilled.
confounding the wise
Early on I made a point to say I believed it was Biblically significant the events of Brexit and the presidency of Donald Trump were unexpected and shocking. There is a principle at work here, first established in 1 Corinthians 1:27 – "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." To many, that Britain would vote to leave the European Union was foolish and didn’t make any sense. And the same goes for the election of Donald Trump – it was beyond foolish, it was unimaginable – unthinkable – that this man could and would become president. Yet, half of America was perplexed and utterly confounded when the unthinkable occurred. These events were improbable and serve as reminders the principle revealed in this verse is at work today.
"God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise"
Those who understand this principle, and those who recognize it is God pulling the strings behind the scene, know all things are working in accordance with His plan and purpose. This knowledge of God’s plan and purpose with the earth has removed any fears of the uncertainty of the future. For me and many others the events of 2016 are notable signs of the times. These signs are not ambiguous, they are not vague. They are very specific signs worthy of attention, effectively shouting the nearness of Jesus’ return.
Jesus spoke of the importance of recognizing signs and being able to correctly interpret them. Members of the religious establishment of his day on multiple occasions demanded that he show them signs as a means of confirming his claims of being the son of God, in order that they might have conclusive proof. On one such occasion they demanded, “Master, we would see a sign from thee.” Jesus sharply reproved them – “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign,” he said (Matthew 12:38,39). Calling them “adulterous” may seem an unusual characterization but in the context of the conversation it made perfect sense when its realized to be an adulterer is to be unfaithful – the religious establishment of his day had been unfaithful to God. They equated righteousness merely with how well one could obey the Law of Moses to the letter. In their zeal to uphold every “jot and tittle” of the law, they completely failed to see its greater significance in foreshadowing Jesus Christ. They co-opted God’s law and made it their own, reducing it to performances of ritual, custom, and outer displays of righteousness. Jesus would later compare them to whited sepulchres, appearing beautiful on the outside, but on the inside filled with dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:27).
It was absurd for these men to demand such signs – no one was more closely following his ministry than they. They would have seen the miracles he performed and how perfectly the words of the their prophets were being fulfilled. No, they were spiritually blind to these facts of his ministry. While the question arises as to how they could be so dense as to not recognize the truth of his claims, it is possible for us to be just as blind if we cannot recognize the significance of the extraordinary times in which we find ourselves.
a new millennium
In his inaugural address, President Trump proclaimed, “We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.” His optimism and vision for the new millennium paints a picture of boundless potential, and vast improvements to society. There is at least one leader, however, who feels very differently. Former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev wrote an opinion piece for TIME, published January 26 in which he expressed grave concerns for the world’s future. This is some of what he had to say:
"The world today is overwhelmed with problems. Policymakers seem to be confused and at a loss... While state budgets are struggling to fund people’s essential social needs, military spending is growing. Money is easily found for sophisticated weapons whose destructive power is comparable to that of the weapons of mass destruction; for submarines whose single salvo is capable of devastating half a continent; for missile defense systems that undermine strategic stability... Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defense doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and TV personalities are joining the bellicose chorus. It all looks as if the world is preparing for war."
"It all looks as if the world is preparing for war."
Gorbachev couldn't have known this, but his language was eerily reminiscent of Bible prophecy. Through the prophet Joel, God says to the nations in another latter day prophecy, "Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord." (Joel 3:11)
War there will be and the nations are indeed preparing for it. The events occurring throughout the world are merely the prelude. And yet, the Bible offers a vision of the world in the time following the war – the inverse of Joel 3 – a time when there will be no more war.
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2:2-4)
In that day – in that new millennium – when it is the God of Jacob who judges among the nations, the uncertainty, and turmoil, and perplexity of this time won’t be remembered. The monumental events of Brexit and Donald Trump will be a thing of the past – the anger of the nations will be a thing of the past. The nations will not go to war with each other. Instead, all nations will live peacefully, subject to the same universal, righteous law.
Today, as is plain to see from the events happening, Jesus Christ stands at the very threshold and will soon gather those who have put on his name and anxiously await his return.
Today we stand at the very threshold of the return of Jesus Christ to the earth