Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign
By Alf Cengia
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. When will Christ return? What are the signs of His premillennial coming? What’s taking Him so long?
When I first expressed interest in prophecy I was quickly reminded that people have been watching for Christ’s return for centuries, and it hasn’t happened yet. We’ve all the seen mocking cartoons of a man with long hair and beard holding up a sign reading: The end of the world is nigh.
If we’re looking for signs of Christ’s premillennial return (in contrast to the rapture), look to Israel. That’s the surest sign I can think of. Unfortunately Replacement Theology (or whatever one prefers to call it) consistently imposes a different meaning over passages such as Jer 31:31-37 and Zech 14:2-4. Christians are discouraged from taking it seriously.
The study of prophecy is often treated like that old eccentric uncle no one in the family wants to talk about. One reason cited is the long list of failed prognostications. But it’s more than that. The “New Testament” Christian bias against prophecy is related to national Israel’s prominence within it.
Israel has become a nation again after centuries in oblivion, and has survived numerous attacks by Arab nations. However, this doesn’t impress prophecy skeptics. To them, literal prophecy can’t be true because the church is the “New Spiritual Israel.”
Pro-Palestinian activists like Gary Burge, Colin Chapman and Stephen Sizer attribute modern Israel’s existence to Zionist interference, rather than God’s sovereign intervention. They say the Balfour Declaration was a disaster which led to the Arab-Israeli conflict we still see today.
In fact Jews experienced existential threats long before Balfour. Europe was in conflict with Islam well before Israel became a nation. And if Zionist meddling brought statehood to Israel, then why can’t pro-Palestinian activists do the same for Palestinians?
One answer is that God is in the works. The other is that the Palestinian people have been hijacked by Islamic hatred of the Jew. They’ve found excuses to consistently reject statehood because they want a One-State solution – sans Israel.
If you want to debunk prophecy, get the world to love Israel and stop anti-Semitism. As it stands, irrational animosity against Jews and Israel is itself a prophetic fulfillment (Deut 28:37; Psalm 44:14; Zech 12:3). And many in the church are helping it along.
I don’t like hammering daily news items into prophecy slots. But a broad prophetic picture appears to be forming. It’s one we shouldn’t ignore.
Hal Lindsey was once excoriated for his prediction of a Russians involvement in an attack on Israel, especially after the Soviet Union fell. His association of Russia and several ME nations to Ezekiel’s Gog-Magog alliance was ridiculed. Scoffers tend to be people who deny a future prophetic fulfillment of Israel’s promises.
Yet today we see Russia in a strong leadership position among a Northern Coalition of nations which share the desire to destroy Israel. While some pundits considered Putin to be a wannabe-Czar. He’s now been accused of fixing the American election. Moreover, under his leadership, Russia is giving Europe the jitters via his war games. See also Joel Rosenberg’s Blog. Not bad for a pretender.
The Gog-Magog prophecy is found in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. A great online summary by Mark Hitchcock can be read HERE. I also recommend reading Ron Rhodes’ 2008 book Northern Storm Rising, and Hitchcock’s more up to date (published in 2017) Russia Rising.
Hitchcock notes that one of the first ingredients for a Gog-Magog conflagration was Israel’s re-establishment as a nation in 1948.
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Ezek 36:22-25
While there are some chronological backward looks to Ezekiel 36 & 37, the gist is the final restoration and purification of Israel in the sight of the nations. Note also that God will do this for His name’s sake. He will deliver on His promises to Israel in the sight of the nations.
So far we’ve only seen the restoration portion of this process. The Gog-Magog invasion is likely the next step. When will it happen?
Ron Rhodes favors the possibility of an invasion occurring after the rapture but before the 70th week (p 193). Mark Hitchcock envisions it occurring in the first half on the tribulation. Notably, he also sees the possibility of it happening at any time (p 135).
It’s interesting that they closely agree on timing, and virtually agree on the identication of the players. Hitchcock’s book mentions the fact that, forty years ago, Charles Ryrie predicted Turkey’s move into the sphere of Russian domination (p 86). How did Ryrie know?
Even more remarkable is the fact that these players are currently on the board. What this strongly implies to me is that Jesus’ premillennial return cannot be far away. If this is correct, then the rapture of the church is even closer. Are we ready?
More things to ponder:
Barring God’s supernatural intervention, can these spiraling Middle East events can be turned around? Can North Korea be safely neutralized? How will Europe react to the Russian war games? And what about the changing face of Germany and France because of its immigration policies?
Finally, how do the recent natural disaster factor into all of this? Is this God talking to us? It’s notable when even secular people see the spate of hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and begin to wonder about the end of the world.
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign – there seems to be a convergence of signs. Should we be paying attention?
I think so.