Events in the Middle East seem to be getting more and more apocalyptic, and people want to know: Is the book of Revelation unfolding before our eyes? So many are speculating about whether or not we’re seeing biblical prophecy in action.
But what you might not have heard is that many of the people asking questions are non-believers.
On the most popular podcast in the world, the host recently read an entire chapter of Revelation on his show. Joe Rogan may have mocked the Scriptures in the past but not anymore. He is genuinely asking whether we’re seeing these events coming to pass right now. Rogan is a man of the world who often smokes weed while talking to his guests, but just enthusiastically shared a song about Jesus he’d found and loved. The shakings are bringing all sorts of interesting things to the surface.
We have had a lot of messages from Israelis who don’t yet know Jesus, asking about biblical prophecy. Is this Psalm 83? Is Jesus going to appear soon? For some it’s a matter of fear and dread, for others it’s an extraordinary discovery that maybe life isn’t so meaningless after all.
What should we make of it all, and how can we best support those around us, whether they’re believers or non-believers, as the world continues to shake? Can anyone really know for sure? One thing is certain: these events all point to the most wonderful future anyone could ever imagine.
God’s end time peace plan in biblical prophecy
Rather than being a scary subject, biblical prophecy should be a powerful antidote to fear. God, Master of the Universe, has told us it’s all going to be ok. More than that, it’s going to be absolutely amazing. Jesus likened end-time events to labor pains, but people often forget that birth pangs result in… a birth! An expectant family won’t focus constantly on the contractions and the agony of childbirth (though smart to be forewarned and forearmed) but rather they get busy painting the room, collecting clothes, and getting excited to meet the new member of the family. They are getting ready for something wonderful, something to look forward to and celebrate.
When Jesus lays out the plan of what will happen during the birth pangs, it’s in the context of looking forward to the coming Kingdom.
With all the talk of end times, most people forget to actually look at the END! Instead of looking at the painful birth pangs, let’s look at the picture painted in biblical prophecy of what will happen when Jesus comes again. The Messianic Age is going to be incredible! Ironically, this is something Jewish people seem to have grasped better than Christians. Part of the reason that Jewish people are more conversant with biblical prophecy about the coming Kingdom is that it’s mostly found in the Jewish Scriptures. The vast majority of the book of Isaiah, for example, deals with the themes of the redemption of Israel, the Day of the Lord, and the glorious return of our Messiah. There are hundreds of prophecies scattered throughout the 66 books of the Bible, and there are about 150 chapters that deal directly with the return of Jesus. There’s far too much to cover in one article, but here are a few aspects of His coming Kingdom in biblical prophecy that we can look forward to:
The coming kingdom
* Jesus will rule and reign from Jerusalem, and no one will be able to oppose Him (Psalm 2:6, 110:2, Zechariah 2:12, 9:10, Revelation 2:27, 19:15)
* There will be world peace – weapons of war will be changed into tools for agriculture (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3, Psalm 46:8-10)
* Middle Eastern nations will join together in worship of the God of Israel, and freely travel throughout the area (Isaiah 19:23-25, 60:6,14)
* Lifespans will change, along with other changes in nature, as illness, death, decay and evil are limited (Isaiah 11:6-9, 65:17-25)
* The enemy will be bound for 1000 years so he can no longer deceive people (Revelation 20:3-10)
* The nations will come to Jerusalem to pay homage to Jesus and learn from the Jewish people about their God (Isaiah 2:2-3, Isaiah 60, Micah 4:1-2, Zech 8:22,23)
* Each nation is obliged to come to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot in Jerusalem, and will be punished if they don’t (Zechariah 14:16-19)
* The earth will be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 11:9)
* There will be a river flowing from the Temple in Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, which will become alive again (Ezekiel 47, Zechariah 14:8, Isaiah 35:6-7, Psalm 46:4)
* Israel will be vindicated in the eyes of the world (Ezekiel 36:16, Ezekiel 37:24-28, Isaiah 19:24, 60, 62, Zechariah 8:3,8, Zephaniah 3:20)
* Jesus will finally be embraced as the Messiah by all His people. (Zechariah 12:10, Romans 11:25, Ezekiel 20:40-44)
The Messianic Age where Jesus rules and reigns from Jerusalem for a thousand years is not the same as eternity—all of that wonderfulness will come later. For one thing, it still seems to be possible to rebel against God during the millennium rule (for example refusing to go to the Feast of Sukkot, Zechariah 14). Rebellion is something that will not happen after the final judgement. But when Jesus returns, the world will but run by His rules, and He will punish the wicked to keep them in line. He will be the One in charge. Can you imagine? The world run by Jesus? How amazing! In this Messianic Age people will still marry and give birth, and people will still die, all be it at grand old ages. In eternity with God however, there will be no death at all.
God has made many promises about the restoration of Israel when Jesus comes in glory. He has never yet failed to keep His word. Biblical prophecies concerning the Messiah’s first coming all came to pass in very real and literal ways, (for example, the Messiah was born in Bethlehem as Micah said in chapter 5, to a virgin as Isaiah prophesied in chapter 7, and they actually pierced His hands and His feet, as David wrote in Psalm 22). These things were not metaphorical. So we can expect the biblical prophecies regarding His second coming to be accurate as well. It’s all really going to happen. Not one word will fall to the ground. But this makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Particularly in relation to the Jewish people.
Why do the nations rage?
God chose Israel for a purpose: to bless all the families of the earth. But God doesn’t just use and discard people. He made a covenant with Israel and He will keep it, but it’s for the benefit of the entire world, and principally for the glory of His name. God’s choice of Israel can send people into a fury that is visceral and deep. It’s a fury triggered by God’s sovereignty clashing with human ideas of wisdom and justice, as if God isn’t the very source of those things. Those who hate Israel may chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, but God has another vision entirely…
However, we can see (also in biblical prophecy) that things will get a little hairy before he rolls out His perfect peace plan.
For behold, your enemies make an uproar;
those who hate you have raised their heads.
They lay crafty plans against your people;
they consult together against your treasured ones.
They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation;
let the name of Israel be remembered no more!”
For they conspire with one accord;
against you they make a covenant—
the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites,
Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
Asshur also has joined them;
they are the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah
These very nations mentioned here by their ancient names were the peoples positioned all around Israel, in Jordan, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and the Arabian Peninsular. No wonder so many are wondering if this is a prophecy coming to pass right now! However, God has promised that the people of Israel will never be wiped out, and that they will be around as long as the sun, moon and stars are in place. (Jeremiah 31:35-36). Israel’s enemies have clearly not got this memo. Their stated goals are to have a Judenfrei land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, and for things to go back to Muslim rule as it was before.
If you look at the passages of biblical prophecy the describe nations coming up against Jerusalem you’ll notice that it’s God Himself who draws the nations against Jerusalem for battle (see Zechariah 12, 14, Ezekiel 38). He’s completely in control the entire time. Why would God do that? Just as Pharaoh made his decisions but God hardened his heart, God creates the conditions for maximum miracles and peak glory. In the Exodus a multitude of Egyptians turned to believe and follow Him out of Egypt to the Land of Promise. God wants both Israel and Israel’s enemies to know Him.
Here’s the end of Pslam 83:
Fill their faces with shame,
that they may seek your name, O Lord.
Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever;
let them perish in disgrace,
that they may know that you alone,
whose name is the Lord,
are the Most High over all the earth.
God’s goal is the salvation of as many as possible. Even if it means hardship here on earth, He wants to bring as many as possible into eternity: Jews, Arabs, and all the nations of the earth.
Israel is the timepiece, biblical prophecy is the map
In this time of war, which could rapidly escalate, antisemitism is rising around the world like nothing we’ve seen since the Holocaust. It’s right that we should start to pay attention. There are still major events that need to be in position for it to really be the end (a seven year peace deal broken half way through, the antichrist in the third temple, the mark of the beast, the fulfillment of the Great Commission to give a few examples) but there’s a lot in place now in a way it has never been for the last 2000 years. Israel has been reestablished as promised in God’s word, and we are seeing the Jewish people come home, both physically and spiritually. The people of Israel are being regathered, by hook or by crook, as time of Gentiles comes to an end. We are in an era that’s seeing more Jewish people accepting Jesus than ever before, since the time of Acts. There will come a time when enemy nations surround Israel in order to wipe us off the map, but when that time comes but Jesus Himself will come to the rescue—the warrior Messiah will come to save the Jewish people, just as they always believed He would. His identity might turn out to be a bit of a shock to the unsuspecting, but He will be wholeheartedly welcomed, just as He predicted 2000 years ago:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Luke 13:34-35)
At the same time that the Jewish people suddenly recognize and mourn for the One they have pierced, Israel will be restored in the sight of the whole world, and the nations will see that God meant every word He said. The restoration of Israel will take place when the Kingdom of God is established from Jerusalem. Bring on God’s kingdom rule!
Jesus tells us to watch, to pray, and to be ready. We are warned in the parable of the five foolish virgins who fell asleep not to fall into complacency (Matthew 25:1-13). God esteems those who yearn for His appearing, not those who mock and scoff, saying it will never come. As we see biblical prophecy coming to pass and the circumstances lining up to match God’s word, may He find us eagerly looking up, ready and waiting for Him.
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.