How Close is the Second Coming? By Britt Gillette The past year has been a…
Seven Major Prophetic Signs Of The Second Coming: 2017
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
15th Annual Update April 2017
Note: Jack’s year end prophecy updates are one thing our readers have missed most. Since his last update in 2015 is now two years old, I started asking the Lord to send me someone to pick up where Jack left off. And He did! Our God is faithful, and He prompted Clark, one of our readers and an avid student of prophecy, to offer his input. Below you’ll find Jack’s original text with currents events added in from Clark. ~Samantha[You can compare this with Jack’s last update here: 7 Major Prophetic Signs of the Second Coming Jan 2015]
“Watching prophecy fulfilled in current events brings the Bible to life. It energizes our faith and demonstrates the nearness of End Times events. Few, if any, recent generations could sit with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other and see the fulfillment of prophecy. But for us, it’s almost routine.”
Jack wrote the comment above in one of his articles a few years ago, and what he described then still holds true today—only at an accelerated pace. Never before in history have all of the signs of the End Times been so obvious to believers. The simultaneous convergence of all the prophetic signs is viewed by many as an indicator the Second Coming is more imminent than ever before.
There are seven major prophetic signs of the Second Coming, and currently, all of them are in some stage of fulfillment. As in years past, we’ve kept Jack’s list of the seven with their primary Biblical references and offer comments from current events. These comments are based on reports from a variety of international news services that have appeared in our daily “Prophecy In The Headlines” feature during the past year.
1. Israel Will Be In The Land … Ezekiel 36:8-12, 37:21
Speaking to the Land God said,
“You, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the LORD. I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk upon you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children.
And to the people He said,
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.
Although Ezekiel wrote these words while the Israelites were in Babylon, they were not fulfilled in the nation’s return from exile there. Like Isaiah before him (Isaiah 11:11) Ezekiel was speaking of the second and final return, not the one after the Babylon captivity. We know this because in Ezekiel 36:12 the Lord said His people would possess the mountains of Israel, and they would never again deprive His people of their children. That means from the time this prophecy was fulfilled there would always be Jewish children born in Israel. And yet in the first century, the nation ceased to exist altogether. Therefore in 1948, when Israel took its place among the nations of the world again for the first time in nearly 2000 years, students of prophecy recognized the fulfillment of the primary sign that the end of the age was upon us.
After surviving all previous attacks on its sovereignty, the demand for Israel to retreat behind pre-1967 borders and divide its land with the Palestinians is still being promoted as the solution for peace. In 2016, at the end of President Obama’s last term in office, Israel, the apple of God’s eye, seemed to have its back against an international wall when the United States abstained from, rather than vetoed, a United Nations resolution condemning Israel. This, considered by many to be a back-stabbing event, followed the signing of the ill conceived 2015 Iran nuclear agreement (United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737) which included sanctions barring conventional arms purchases by the Islamist regime in Tehran that will be mostly lifted in 2020.
Iran is still openly calling for Israel to be wiped off the face of the Earth, and Hamas, Hezbollah, The Islamic State (ISIS ) and other related groups remain a constant threat to Israel’s peace and security. Hamas claims to have rebuilt even more tunnels under the Southern border than were previously destroyed by Israel, and have announced the future deployment of drones from these tunnels once the new battle begins.
Hezbollah claims to have 100,000 missiles aimed at Israel along the Northern border with Lebanon. According to Israeli security officials, unlike Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, a future war would include the Lebanese Armed Forces on Hezbollah’s side. With the conditions for the Isaiah 17 war falling into place, It’s more than likely that a large number of pre-trib believers see these things as another imminent sign and are praying “Come Lord Jesus.”
Antisemitism is returning to a level not seen since WW2. In the United States, death threats are being made against Jews, and Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized. Several European countries have voted to recognize “The State Of Palestine,” while the Israeli government is taking enormous flack for declaring Israel to be a Jewish nation—even though its charter already says it is. And its Muslim neighbors are enraged over rumors that Israel wants to make it possible for Jews to worship on the Temple Mount. Israel’s enemies have even asserted the Jewish people have no historical ties to Jerusalem.
How much more of this can Israel be expected to take? What other legitimate country in the world is routinely subjected to such attacks? Little do Israel’s enemies know that they are acting against the stated will of God, and the more pressure they apply against Israel, the sooner God Himself will intervene on behalf of His people. Speaking for Him, Ezekiel said, “I will display My glory among the nations and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I will lay upon them” (Ezekiel 39:21).
We long for the Rapture, but as the Scriptures tell us, our way of thinking and God’s way of thinking and timing, are not necessarily the same. Just as all of the pieces of the puzzle seemed to be coming together, the European Union, starting with Brexit, is showing signs of breaking up. And with the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, some see this as a possible second chance for the U.S. Others are calling this unexpected turn of events as a temporary reprieve from the economic and moral downward spiral over the last decade. Still others hold the opinion these upsets in the progress of the new world order agenda may very well turn out to be the events needed for the peace and security which must precede the fulfillment of all of the other prophetic events leading to the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week. Only time will reveal God’s plan, but we are commanded to be aware and be ready!
2. Jerusalem Will Be In Jewish Hands… Luke 21:24
They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Jesus prophesied that the reunification of Jerusalem as a Jewish City would be a sign that foreign (gentile) influence over the Promised Land, and indeed the world, was coming to an end (Luke 21:24). Fulfillment of this prophecy began in 1967, when Jerusalem became an undivided Jewish city again, and scholars saw it as another major sign that the End of the Age had begun. The almost world wide effort to divide the city again is in essence a battle of wills. Nearly every Israeli leader has stood firmly on a pledge to keep Jerusalem united forever as Israel’s capital, but the unbelieving leaders of the world are just as resolutely determined to see it divided with the Palestinians. At year end, a UN Security Council measure that would have required Israel to make East Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state came within one vote of passing. The Palestinian resolution might be resubmitted early in 2015 due to a change in the Security Council’s make up effective January 1.
The Lord said that at the End of the Age He will make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling, an immovable rock for all nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves (Zechariah 12:2-3). This year much of the talk against Israel has been focused on Jerusalem with Hamas and ISIS loudly declaring the time has come to “liberate Jerusalem.” American leaders have joined in, publicly calling East Jerusalem “occupied territory” and demanding that no more Jewish homes be built there. They have even spoken against construction in undisputed neighborhoods of Jerusalem, saying it’s harmful to the peace process.
Whether the Trump administration makes good on its campaign promise to move the Embassy to Jerusalem or not, it seems likely peace will not be coming soon. The Bible tells us Jerusalem won’t be free of Gentile “trampling” until the Lord returns. Daniel’s prophecy that Gentile Dominion will not end until the Lord establishes His kingdom (Daniel 2:36-45), Zechariah’s prophecy of half the city’s inhabitants going into exile just before the Lord’s return (Zech. 14:2), and John’s observation in Rev. 11:1-2 of the Gentiles trampling the outer court of the Temple during the Great Tribulation all confirm this. But even so, the fact that Jerusalem is back in Jewish hands is another big sign that the End is coming soon.
3. A Muslim Coalition Armed And Led By Russia Will Attack The Holy Land… Ezek. 38:2-6
“Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army–your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops–the many nations with you.”
Numerous historical references make it plain that Magog stands for modern Russia, and the other countries named here form a coalition based on their common religion, Islam. Among them are Iran, several North African countries, Eastern European countries along the Danube, and the Turkic nations of Asia Minor. A quick look at a world map will reveal that these areas are home to some of the most radical Islamic groups. (For a detailed explanation of the modern nations to which these Biblical names refer, read “An In Depth Look At The Modern Equivalent To Biblical Names in Ezek.38”)
Additionally, Iran’s religious differences have not prevented Iran’s sponsorship of Hamas with money, weapons, military equipment, and training, giving Iran proxy armies on both the northern (Hezbollah) and southern (Hamas) borders with Israel. Iran has also begun funneling arms into the West Bank with a goal of completely surrounding Israel with a strong, motivated, and well-equipped army.
Recent reports also reveal the US, Iraq, and Iran, are involved in an alliance against the Islamic State in Iraq with Iraq providing the manpower, the US contributing training, money, and weapons, and Iran assuming the leadership role.
It doesn’t take much imagination to predict that this Iraq and Iranian alliance could easily be turned against Israel at the proper time. If so, then the US will have been complicit in helping the Muslim coalition fulfill Ezekiel’s prophecy.
It’s important to remember Ezekiel 38 calls for a sneak attack on Israel. Currently, that prerequisite is the major obstacle to an early fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy. It has to occur at a time when Israel is “a peaceful and unsuspecting people, living without walls or gates” (Ezekiel 38:11) . This is not the case today. By no standard of measure can Israel be described as living in peace. They are surrounded by enemies sworn to their destruction. They are under constant threat of attack and have had to build a giant wall along their border to protect themselves. However, if the Trump administration is successful in brokering a peace deal, could that lead to a feeling of peace and security? We’ll see.
But Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17 are yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies that, taken together, appear to involve all of Israel’s next door neighbors in another attempt to wipe the Jewish nation off the map. The countries lined up against Israel in Psalm 83 inhabited the lands of Israel’s current neighbors. Edom was in a land called the an-Nafud desert today. It stretches across Northern Saudi Arabia, southern Jordan, southern Israel, and into the Sinai Peninsula. Moab and Ammon were part of today’s Jordan, represented by the Palestinians (the same process that led to the rebirth of Israel as the Jewish homeland also created Jordan as the Palestinian homeland). Today about one-third of the people living in Jordan identify themselves as Palestinians. Personally, I don’t believe that Jordan will be officially involved. But I don’t think the government will prevent their Palestinian population from joining the attack.
Some have tried to link the Hagrites to Egypt, saying they were the descendants of Hagar. Remember, she was the Egyptian slave woman Abraham and Sarah acquired there who became the mother of Ishmael (Genesis 16). Other scholars say the names “Hagrite” and “Ishmaelite” are synonymous. If so, this aligns them with the desert tribes of Ishmael rather than with Egypt and locates them in the desert east and south of Israel.
A victory by Israel would explain why these next door neighbors do not appear on Ezekiel’s list of antagonists, although you’d expect them to be at or near the top. It would also explain how Israel could soon be living in a perceived state of safety as Ezekiel 38:11 requires. Other than the miraculous acceptance of a Trump-brokered peace deal there doesn’t currently seem to be any other way for the Israelis to think they’re living in peace with no threat on their borders. The resulting semblance of peace could be just enough to cause Israel to let down its guard, making it vulnerable to the Ezekiel 38:11 attack.
Another prerequisite for Ezekiel’s battle is clearly being met. Until recently, Israel really hasn’t had any wealth to speak of, but recent offshore oil and gas discoveries, said to be worth billions of dollars, could provide the wealth necessary to make Israel an attractive target for attack. This could fulfill the precondition of Ezekiel 38:13 that Russia will be looking for plunder. These discoveries could make enough natural gas available to supply Israel’s needs for more than 100 years while turning the country from a net importer to a net exporter of natural gas. Russia is already looking for ways to get involved in bringing this gas to market, and according to Ezekiel they’ll eventually go to war in what will turn out to be a failed attempt to do so by force.
The removal of the US as Israel’s powerful ally is also necessary to pave the way for Ezekiel’s battle. I believe this is still possible. Because of the political unrest and rising threat of a terrorist events in our homeland, our continuing economic struggles, and the nearness of the Rapture of the Church, Israel may no longer be assured that a US administration can or will follow through on its promise to “have Israel’s back,” regardless of what the rhetoric is at the moment.
When the time is right, having recently taken His church to Heaven, the Lord will use this battle to orchestrate His reconciliation with Israel, and on its heels the anti Christ will emerge with a peace plan that includes a Jewish Temple. So once this battle takes place, end times prophecy will really go on fast forward.
4. The Ancient Roman Empire Will Re-Emerge As A Political Force… Rev 17:9-10
“This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while.”
This one is a little obscure if you don’t know your history. When John was writing this, about 95AD, there had been five great world powers; Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. All had been conquered and absorbed. The current power was Rome, which was never really conquered and will re-emerge at the end of the age.
About 600 years earlier, the Prophet Daniel had spoken of a period of time theologians call Gentile Dominion that gives us added insight into Rev. 17:9-10. In Daniel 2:36-45 Gentile Dominion is symbolized by a giant statue that Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, had dreamed about. Egypt and Assyria had recently been defeated by Nebuchadnezzar, and Daniel said the statue represented the four remaining Gentile kingdoms, which we know as Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. In the dream, Babylon was the head of the statue and was made of gold. Persia was the chest and arms, made of silver. Greece was the belly and thighs of bronze, followed by the two appearances of Rome, two legs of iron (Biblical Rome) and two feet of iron mixed with clay (the revived Roman Empire). After that God would set up His own, eternal, kingdom.
There are some interesting details in the description of the two feet upon which the statue stands. Remember, they represent the end times version of the Roman Empire. Let’s read it.
Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay (Daniel 2:41-43).
In the first place iron and clay don’t mix. We can imagine sticky clay serving as glue that holds pieces of iron together, but the language describes a clay that’s already baked, hard and brittle like shards of pottery.
You can’t make random pieces of iron and pottery adhere, and according to Daniel 2:41-43 this will be the end times empire’s insurmountable problem. Today the western leg is known as Europe while the Eastern leg consists of the Islamic nations of the Middle East. Although the world is currently focused on the economic challenges Europe faces, ultimately the number one issue of this end times empire will be that of integrating the vastly dissimilar cultures of the western and eastern legs. They are just too different to be blended and already the failure of the European social experiment called multi-culturalism has become evident. Throughout the end times the revived Roman Empire will be partly strong (eastern leg) and partly brittle (western leg) and will not adhere.
I’m convinced the aggressive and growing culture of the eastern leg (Islam) will overtake the dying culture of the west and become the dominant voice of Europe.
ISIS has threatened to spread its chaos worldwide in the coming years, and current growth trends show that Islam will be the dominant religion in the UK within 10 years.
France and Germany may be beyond the point of their own cultural ways because of the growth of Islam in their countries.
Nevertheless, the prophecy clearly shows both divisions present until the Lord returns to set up His Kingdom, putting an end to Gentile Dominion forever, whether Islamic or not. (Daniel 2:44).
5. The World Will Embrace A Single Religion… Rev 13:8
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
Islam is a major religious force in the world today and its goal is nothing less than world domination, by any means necessary. It’s the world’s fastest growing religion and is second only to Christianity in the number of adherents. Already nearly one out of every four inhabitants of the world is Muslim. I’m no prophet, but as I look into the future, it’s much easier for me to see Islam riding its current wave of momentum to fill the void left by the departure of the Church than it is to imagine some watered down mix of apostate Christianity and New Age Mysticism doing so.
By now, most serious students of the end times are aware of Muslim prophecies of the one they call alMahdi and their striking resemblance to Christian prophecies of the anti-Christ. For example, both show a leader coming on the scene during a time of great turmoil on Earth. Both depict him as man of peace who will have a seven-year reign, head up a one world religion and one world government, and claim supernatural origins. Both prophecies culminate in a battle between good and evil that brings about Earth’s final judgment. It’s as if they’re pointing to the same person. The difference is that in Islam he’s a good guy, while the Bible calls him evil.
Take this charismatic political and religious leader with his supernatural power, add the widely held but incorrect belief that God and Allah are the same, and that Islam is a religion of peace, and then subtract the spirit of discernment that will disappear with the Church and you can see how this charismatic Islamic leader could unite a frightened world on the brink of disaster.
6. The World Will Accept A Single Government… Rev 13:3
The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.
When you look at the deteriorating shape of the world over the past decades, it doesn’t take much to imagine conditions getting to a point where people will cry out for a leader who can bring order out of chaos. Whether the issue is climate change, the decline of the US dollar, the slow motion economic collapse of Europe, war in the Middle East, or the price of oil, the one solution most leaders agree on is the need for some form of coordinated world government. With the things that already threaten our stability getting worse by the day, how much more frantic will people be after millions of their neighbors suddenly disappear in the rapture without warning or explanation, and there’s been a war (Ezekiel 38) that brings destruction from Europe through the Middle East and into Russia? When people become convinced that their problems cannot be solved by human means alone they look to the supernatural for answers. In this regard, Paul wrote:
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing (2 Thes 2 :9-10)
A leader who promises to restore peace and safety and demonstrates miraculous power that astonishes everyone will quickly be given the reins of world government. By many accounts, this lawless one is standing in the wings as you read this, awaiting his cue.
7. Babylon Will Re-Emerge As A Prominent City In World Affairs… Rev 18:2-3
With a mighty voice he shouted: “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”
You may not realize this, but Babylon is being made ready to accept its destiny as a focus of world power in the end times. It’s just a ceremonial city right now, but 25 years ago nobody even knew it existed at all. One of the shocks of Gulf War 1 was the discovery of Babylon standing there on the banks of the Euphrates River. Today there’s a concerted effort underway to complete what Saddam Hussein began and return Babylon to world prominence.
But more has already been accomplished than most people think. For example, if you take a close look at the dimensions and capabilities of the new US embassy in Baghdad you will see how easily it could be prepared to house a world governmental headquarters. At 104 acres, it is the largest and most expensive embassy in the world, and is nearly as large as Vatican City. Babylon is only about an hour away by car.
In addition, one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces overlooks ancient Babylon and has been completely restored as a hotel and tourist destination. It could easily house the anti-Christ and his entourage. Finally, there are several large military installations nearby as well. In short, preparing Babylon to become the capitol of the world won’t take anywhere near as long as most people think.
Because of Babylon’s current lack of importance in the world, some students of prophecy search for an allegorical fulfillment of its destruction described in Rev. 18, and of course many see the USA or some American city as a logical candidate. But remember, even though in Revelation 17:9 John describes “mystery Babylon” as seated on seven hills, a prophecy in Zechariah 5:5-11 shows it being moved “to the plains of Shinar” a reference to ancient Mesopotamia called Iraq today. We can’t switch from literal to allegorical interpretations of Scripture without clear direction, and where Babylon is concerned no such direction exists. In fact, the opposite is true. Almost from the beginning, the Bible has been a tale of two cities. Jerusalem is the city of God while Babylon has always been the city of man. Both disappeared from the world stage for many centuries, but when Jerusalem came back it was to its original location. The Bible says the same will be true of Babylon.
Birth Pangs … Matt. 24:6-8
Jesus told us to watch for specific signs leading up to his return. He called these signs “birth pangs” (Matthew 24:6-7, Mark 13:7-8, Luke 21:9-11). No one knows the hour or the day when Jesus will return, but we are given these signs in Scripture that we may know the season. When these signs first appear, which many believe we are witnessing now, we are told to expect an increase in frequency and intensity of natural and man-made catastrophes and disasters as the time for the Lord’s return is near. All these are the beginning of birth pangs.
Matthew 24:6-7 “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places”.
Mark 13:7-8 “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pangs.”
Luke 21:9-11 “When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
Wars and rumors of wars
All around the globe, nations are either preparing for war or at war. The civil war in Syria, being partly fought by proxy (including involvement from Russia, Turkey, Iran and the US) plus the ongoing battles Israel faces against the Palestinians, Hamas and Hezbollah could rapidly lead to the fulfillment of Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17.
During a recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his concern for Russia allowing Iran (Russia’s ally in supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad) a permanent foothold in Syria. He voiced Israel’s strong opposition to the presence of Iranian forces, and those of its proxies, on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and in the Mediterranean Sea. PM Netanyahu also said “Victory over the terrorism of the Islamic State ( in Syria) cannot lead to an upsurge in terrorism by Iran and its proxies. We will not exchange terrorism for terrorism.”
Southern Damascus has been in a state of siege by pro-government forces for several years with neighboring areas controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq, ISIS and other former al-Qaeda affiliates. The Syrian army, affiliated Palestinian-Syrian militias, and Lebanese Hezbollah surround the remaining areas not controlled by the government. Hezbollah and Iran-backed militias are also present.
In spite of claims that ISIS is on the run in Iraq, coalition forces are still fighting holdouts and trying to come up with a workable plan to not leave a void to be filled by terrorists again as the coalition forces withdraw and Iraq is left to stand alone.
As we know, God has a plan for Babylon and Damascus, so none should be surprised to find it works out just as He intends.
China is building up its military presence by expanding its military capabilities including the construction of a second aircraft carrier, and building man-made islands in the South China Sea for “defense purposes.” According to a US Department of Defense report, “the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is engaged in a massive, extensive modernization program, drawing upon the resources of a continually expanding economy (now the world’s second largest) to support these improvements. In addition to the ground forces, the PLA Navy, the PLA Air Force, the Second Artillery (China’s rocket forces), as well as space and cyber-espionage capabilities are all being expanded and upgraded.”
In 2014 China launched its first aircraft carrier, nuclear-armed submarines, and a stealth fighter aircraft. In addition to the obvious threat this poses to China’s neighbors, it has also been reported that China eventually expects to go to war against the US. In March 2016 Global Research reported, “The start of 2016 has witnessed a sharp escalation in the militarization of the South China Sea. The cause of the escalation is multifaceted and comes from both regional and international quarters. The militarization has been initiated and exacerbated by both China and the United States, both bearing responsibility for the current level of tension in the region.”
North Korea’s first atomic test was in 2006 and its nuclear weapons program was considered to be mostly an attempt to gain prestige and recognition as a world power so the US would have direct negotiations with them over the ongoing Korean/US conflict. Economic sanctions and a recent plea from China, its biggest ally, have failed to deter or restrict North Korea’s weapons program.
Pyongyang has now developed and successfully launched both short and intermediate range missiles into the Sea of Japan, and claims to have nuclear submarine launch capabilities and to be working on a long-range ICBM that could reach Hawaii and the west coast of the US. They have certainly achieved their goal of getting the world’s attention. Considered by many as being highly unstable, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s relentless pursuit of developing a long-range missile that could carry a nuclear warhead to our shoreline has U.S. officials declaring this to be a rapidly growing threat.
In response to that threat and to North Korea’s repeated testing of other ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, the United States is deploying an advanced missile defense system in South Korea called THAAD. Other potential in-range target nations closer to North Korea, such as Japan, are also considering the development of its own defense system; and to change its long-standing ‘fire only if fired upon’ policy to a ‘preemptive strike’ policy if the threat of any potential devastating aggressive action is determined to be imminent. All of these factors increase the risk that a mistake or miscalculation by any party could trigger massive devastation with both regional and world war implications.
Africa continues to be a major battleground as forces loyal to Islam continue in their efforts to gain control of the continent. Somalia and Sudan, the Congo, Nigeria and Libya are but a few of the hot spots that have created millions of refugees and internally displaced people. Thousands of people have been slaughtered from a number of conflicts and civil wars on the African continent. These wars are mainly along the northern coast area, but extend from northern Mali through southern Algeria and Libya into Egypt and the Sinai peninsula. Those not killed or displaced are suffering from devastating food shortages and a need for clean water and medical supplies.
There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21:11)
Around the world there are news reports daily of moderate earthquakes, volcanoes threatening eruption, hurricanes, cyclones and tsunamis, seasonally early tornado patterns, warmer than usual weather for some—colder than usual for others, floods in some places and drought in others. 2015 was reported to be the hottest year on record in the United States.
Many experts agree earthquakes have steadily become more frequent in recent years. They are now reported to be an everyday occurrence, averaging more than three earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.0 or higher somewhere in the world every day.
A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey acknowledges and warns that Southern California is overdue for a major earthquake with a likely magnitude 7 or greater on the southern San Andreas fault line, the longest in the US. Geologists have recently discovered a new fault line in Southern California, called the Salton Trough Fault, that runs parallel to the San Andreas Fault which could explain why no major earthquake has occurred over the past 300 years as expected in the San Andreas area. The southern portion of the San Andreas Fault normally ruptures every 175 to 200 years and is far overdue. It’s possible that the newly discovered Salton Trough Fault may be helping absorb the strain from San Andreas, which could help explain why a major earthquake is long overdue. Definitive research, however, is not available to make the conclusion that there is interaction between the two faults.
Another newly discovered fault line called the Cascadia subduction zone runs for 700 miles off the Pacific Northwest coast from Vancouver through parts of California and is considered to have the potential of a seismographic event with a much greater impact than San Andreas. An earthquake along this fault line would make disasters like Hurricane Katrina, San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake, and Hurricane Sandy seem tame in comparison. If only a part of the Cascadia subduction zone moves, the magnitude of the resulting quake could be somewhere between 8.0 and 8.6. If the entire zone moves at once, causing an event that seismologists call a full-margin rupture, the magnitude could be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2.
Compared to the San Andreas fault that has an upper limit of approximately an 8.2, Cascadia would rightfully be called a very big one. Unlike San Andreas, Cascadia also has the ability to generate a tsunami at the same time which would wipe out the coastlines of Washington State, Oregon and parts of Northern California, and Vancouver. FEMA estimates that such an event involving both an earthquake and tsunami could cause nearly thirteen thousand people to die, and another twenty-seven thousand could be injured. The agency expects that it would need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million.
The Central US also has been experiencing a high number of earthquakes. The fault known for the most devastation historically in that area is the New Madrid Seismic Zone which potentially threatens parts of eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. The New Madrid fault is also labeled ‘past due,’ and some have speculated that a major rupture of that fault line has the potential to flood most of the Mississippi River Valley all the way from Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico killing thousands and wiping out valuable farm land.
Volcanoes are some of the most devastating natural disasters on Earth, and some services that routinely track volcanic eruptions are reporting an increase in frequency. The most devastating volcanoes are called super volcanoes for a good reason. Perhaps the best known super volcano in the US is in Yellowstone National Park. If Yellowstone were to erupt, the explosion could create a force that is 2500 greater than a Mount St. Helens eruption. Although the magma could explode as high as 30 miles into the atmosphere, the flowing lava wouldn’t be the main problem.
Scientists have estimated that enough ash would come out of the volcano to cover all of the US with five inches of ash and would be devastating for much of the United States . Much of the California and Midwest agriculture industry would be damaged for years. Muck in rivers and streams could result in the death of many of the surviving wildlife and domestic livestock. Within 60 miles of the eruption, virtually all living plants and animals would be killed by falling ash, lava flows and the explosive force.
Such a cataclysmic event would fit Biblical descriptions where light from the sun is blocked for an extended period of time followed by a plummeting drop in temperature. Food crops in the fields would be covered with ash and be unharvestable or would die from the extreme cold leading to massive food shortages.
There’s much more that could be said about such an extinction level event, but you get the picture.
The United Nations says the world is facing its largest humanitarian crisis since 1945 and has issued a plea for help to avoid “a catastrophe.” UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said more than 20 million people faced the threat of starvation and famine in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria. Unicef has also warned 1.4 million children could starve to death this year.
Hundreds of cases of mumps have been reported across the US since the start of 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though cases of the mumps fluctuate each year from a few hundred to a few thousand, the high number of cases so early in 2017 has some health officials concerned.
Yellow fever has broken out in the jungles outside Brazil’s most densely-populated cities, raising a frightening but still remote possibility: an epidemic that could decimate that country’s population and spread throughout the Americas, including the United States.
Large numbers of fish and birds have been dying for no explainable reason, and cases of Ebola and strains of bird flu are being reported worldwide.
Three stages of labor
(see Have Birth Pangs Begun?)
Since both the Lord and Paul compared the end times signs to a woman’s labor, let me continue in that vein by comparing the three stages of labor to the end times signs.
The first stage is called early labor. It’s the longest and least intense of the three stages. This is when a woman first concludes her time of labor is beginning. In my opinion, this is what Jesus was describing as wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, etc. I think this is where the world is now.
In the second stage, called active labor, things become more serious. A woman’s contractions become much stronger and more frequent. I believe this stage will begin after the Church is gone, with the introduction of the anti-Christ as the rider on the white horse (Rev. 6:2) followed by the seal and trumpet judgments. This is the first half of Daniel’s 70th Week, the beginning of the time of God’s wrath.
The third stage is called transitional labor. It’s the last, shortest, and most intensive part of a woman’s labor. I believe transitional labor can be compared to the Great Tribulation where the world will experience the bowl judgments which will bring the time of God’s wrath to a conclusion (Rev. 15:1) and set the stage for the Second Coming.
The Lord said these birth pangs would be the early warning signs of the approaching End of the Age, so I have included the above examples to confirm my belief that we’re very close to our last days on Earth. While predictions of what 2017 may bring are all over the spectrum, Christians needn’t worry because we walk by faith not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). Our citizenship is in Heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20). Therefore, having seen these things beginning to take place we stand up and lift up our heads because our redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:28).
These promises have never been more important to us than they will be in 2017. If you have not yet confessed to the Lord that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, repent now and accept His free gift of Salvation. All that is required is to believe that Jesus died for your sins and ask for forgiveness. John 3:16