Prelude to the Tribulation
By Jonathan C. Brentner
A common response to those like me who believe we live in the last days is this: “The world has seen violence and wickedness all through its history. What’s so different about today?”
I fully understand that question. When one considers the world wars of the previous century, it seems as though things could not get any worse than that. Seventy-five years ago many Christians thought Hitler was the antichrist based on his hatred of the Jews and his efforts to establish a worldwide socialist empire. This was truly a terrible time in world history, but it was not the prelude to the tribulation.
My assertion regarding the nearness of the day of the Lord does not stem from a comparison of the peril in years past to that of today. Our time in history is unique because of the abundance of biblical signs telling us that the biblical period of time known as the tribulation is rapidly approaching. It’s what many refer to as a “convergence” of signs all shouting to us that the Lord is coming soon!
Below, I list several key signs that warn us of its nearness in time:
The Flourishing of Israel as a Nation
Based on his study of Daniel and the book of Revelation, Isaac Newton predicted Israel would again become a nation. Over two hundred years after his death, the Lord miraculously resurrected the nation from the ash heap of history just as the Bible said He would do!
Since her rebirth, Israel continues to fulfill prophecy. Not only is God gathering Jews back to the Land from all over the world as He promised, He is also turning the once desolate land into a fruitful garden (see Ezek. 36:34-35). Isaiah 27:6 states that once restored, Israel would “fill the whole world with fruit.” Israel now exports one billion dollars’ worth of fruit each and every year. Israel is the third largest exporter of fruits and vegetables in the world.
Ezekiel 38:12-13 predicts that a future invasion of Israel will result from a desire of her enemies “to seize spoil and carry off plunder.” It has just been in the last dozen years that Israel has obtained wealth that other nations would desire. Israel is building a pipeline to Europe to sell natural gas of which it possesses a massive amount off its coast. Recent discoveries of oil in the Golan Heights and a rich vein of gold add to Israel’s vast wealth of resources, just as the Lord said would happen in the last days. In addition, Israel is becoming a world leader in technology and medical innovation.
Nations Aligning According to Ezekiel 38
Ezekiel 38 provides additional details of this latter day invasion of Israel that many refer to as the “Gog and Magog” war. Although the prophet lists the invading armies by their ancient names, most scholars believe that this alliance will consist of Russia, Iran, Turkey, Sudan, and Libya. Today, the first three nations have abundant military resources and soldiers in Syria, close to Israel’s borders. Iran has a strategic alliance with Libya and Russian just completed a deal that joins itself with Sudan.
Equally remarkable are the countries missing from the Ezekiel list of Israel’s latter day enemies. Egypt and Jordan currently have peace treaties with Israel; Saudi Arabia has recently formed a close alliance with Jerusalem in response to the threat from Iran. The Lord through the prophet Ezekiel precisely described today’s current Middle East alignment of nations over 2600 years ago.
Iran’s recent attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil fields has ramped up tensions in the Middle East. A retaliatory strike against Iran could quickly and easily put the area on a certain path to the war described in Ezekiel 38-39.
The Dire Economic Position of Russia and Iran
At this point, you might be wondering why Russia and Iran would risk an invasion of Israel.
From Russia’s viewpoint, not only is its economy currently in shambles, but Israel poses a great threat to its profitable sale of natural gas to Europe. The prospect of losing much of this income to Israel only adds to their financial crisis. Furthermore, Russia’s presence in Syria has been costly and they have not benefited from Syria’s oil reserves due to America’s presence in there.
Iran spent their financial windfall from the deal brokered by former President Obama on weapons and their terror network. Now that President Trump has put an end to that deal and imposed tough new sanctions, Iran finds itself in a dire position financially. The Jerusalem Post recently reported that the sanctions have left their pension programs in serious peril.
An attack on its oil production facilities could leave Iran with no other option but to invade Israel, which they would not do without Russia who at some point will desire to obtain the wealth in Israel.
The Push for Third Temple
The Bible predicts the existence of a third Jewish temple in the last days. In Matthew 24:15, Jesus referred to a prophecy of Daniel that the coming antichrist would defile a rebuilt Jewish temple in the middle of the seven-year tribulation (see also Dan. 9:27).
The push for this temple is at a fever pitch in Israel. For over thirty-five years, the Temple Institute has conducted research and actively planned for this temple; they recently spent $100K on architectural designs for it of which one can take a virtual tour on their website. The institute now trains Levites for service as priests in the temple and has constructed most of the furnishings for it.
The Long-Awaited Deal of the Century
President Trump has stated his intention to reveal his long-awaited peace plan soon after this week’s election in Israel.
Why is this so significant? Daniel 9:27 states that the coming antichrist will “make a strong covenant with many for one week” or the seven years of the tribulation. The Hebrew word for “make” signifies the taking an existing peace covenant and making it better. In other words, the antichrist will use an existing plan or idea for peace as the basis for his treaty with Israel.
Notice also the word “many” in Daniel 9:27. We do not know most details of the plan dubbed “The Deal of the Century,” but we do know the proposal involves several other nations. This fits precisely with what Daniel says about the future deal of the antichrist as it will be “a strong covenant with many.” The timing of the release of Trump’s plan as the threat of major war in the Middle East grows greater each day seemingly adds to its prophetic significance.
The Push for a One World Government
We know from the Bible that a one world government will emerge during the tribulation. Do we signs of this today? Absolutely! Proponents of this new world order have annual meetings attended by the rich and powerful in our world along with many celebrities. Pope Francis continually pushes a new world order as the only way to save the planet from destruction via climate change.
The United Nations has plans for a socialist world order by the year 2030. One can read about their plans for this one world government on their website. The powerful and wealthy forces pushing for a one world government and religion are now doing so publicly with no effort to hide their intentions.
Revelation 13 Technology
Revelation 13:5-17 tells us after he gains control of the world order, the antichrist will control the buying and selling of people living during this time. The world not only has the technology for such a system, but China already uses such a system to control the buying choices of many of its people.
The recent development of gigantic databases and artificial intelligence now make it possible as never before in history for one person to control the people of the world in the way the Bible tells us will happen during the tribulation.
Satan’s Increased Activity
Revelation 12:7-12 depicts a time of Satan’s increased activity on earth. Although opinions differ as to the exact timing of Revelation 12, we do see many signs of his heightened activity today, much too numerous to list here.
I have never seen such a time when the devil’s attacks against believers have been so pronounced. The church of Satan attracts a multitude of followers, celebrities openly credit the devil with their success, and the number of self-proclaimed witches in just the United States now exceeds one and a half million. In addition, the wickedness of today exceeds anything I thought possible a decade ago.
The Pervasive Delusion of our Time
One of the more significant identifiers of the approaching tribulation is the great delusion of our time.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:11, we read that along with the wicked deception of the antichrist, God will send upon those who reject Him “a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false.” Although this prophecy is for the seven year tribulation, we see the signs of this delusion everywhere we look as the Lord is allowing Satan to blind the eyes of those who reject Him.
Despite the economic opportunities of the past couple years and unprecedented wealth of our nation, many in the United States believe socialism is the answer. The leaders of the Democratic Party seek to impose their brand of Marxism that will bring misery to the vast majority of people in America and result in the death of tens of millions of people, if fully implemented.
Is this not a part of the great delusion of the last days that so many in America remain blind to the great suffering socialism caused in the past hundred years? I’m convinced it is.
Widespread Apostasy in the Church
The New Testament predicts that in the last days we will see great apostasy in the church. 1 Timothy 4:1 says, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” Again in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 Paul wrote, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
Do we see these things happening today? Absolutely! One popular pastor has 60,000 people show up on Sunday mornings to hear him preach feel good sermons devoid of the truth of the Gospel. Today, more churches than not affirm immoral lifestyles with some even supporting Marxist socialism as the answer to the inequities they see in the United States.
Few churches today uphold the truth of God’s Word. Many have departed far from the Gospel of grace.
The Mocking of Jesus’ Return
The apostle Peter wrote this about the last days, “Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Such scoffing of Jesus’ return is commonplace today in the world and even among many Christians.
It’s rare that a week goes by without reading comments on Facebook that mock me for my beliefs in the rapture and Jesus’ future reign on the earth. One motivation the Lord used to lead me into my writing ministry was a desire to respond to the prevalent ridicule of these things.
The Matthew 24 Signs
In Matthew 24:3-14, Jesus lists many signs of the last days, particularly what the world will see during the beginning of the tribulation. Jesus describes these as “the beginning of birth pains” (v. 8).
Today we see the start of these things as well as their increase in frequency and intensity. Consider this brief list summarizing what Jesus said we would see in the last days:
– False teachers and prophets (vv.4-5)
– Wars and rumors of wars (v. 7)
– Famines and earthquakes (v. 7)
– Hatred toward those who follow Jesus (v.9)
– Increase in lawlessness (v. 12)
I could write many paragraphs on each of the above points showing how these things are happening in more frequently in our day and with increasing intensity. Remember, these things will not reach their full potential until the tribulation begins and yet we already see these things throughout our world (although most are not paying attention).
There have always been earthquakes, wars, and rumors of wars. However, we have never witnessed a time since Jesus ascended into heaven where the signs I listed in this article have existed at the same time. It’s only been this century where Israel has prospered, the nations have aligned as the prophet Ezekiel said they would, and we have had the technology needed for the antichrist to control buying and selling (Rev. 13). Never before has there been such a unified push for a world order as we see today.
And, it’s this week (or maybe next week) when we will see a peace plan that might become the basis for one that the antichrist will use in the future.
This is the prelude to the tribulation.
The Bible tells us we cannot know the timing of Jesus’ return for His church, which happens before the tribulation. But He did give us several signs so we would recognize the season of His return and we are in that season.
I sense Jesus will return for us very soon; in my three years of writing about prophecy I have never felt such an urgency regarding His appearing as I feel at this moment. Please know I am not setting an end date for the rapture or making any prediction regarding its timing; that would be wrong. However, current events have captured my attention to the degree that I sense another huge prophetic sign or event looms on the horizon.
Will it be another sign of what’s ahead for the earth? Will it be Jesus’ return for us? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I will keep serving Him with my writing while I have breath.
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