Prophecy - Signs
Monday, October 03, 2016
Governed by Rome in 32 AD, the kingdom of Judah existed for 38 years alongside the fledgling, but rapidly growing Christian community in Jerusalem. In 70 AD, the Romans under General Titus (whose father Vespasian had just become Emperor), sacked the city, destroyed the Jewish temple, and killed over one million of its inhabitants.
Although this effectively ended the kingdom of Judah in any official capacity, Jews and Christians still geographically coexisted in the land of Israel for another 100 years until the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132 AD. By 135 AD, the revolt was over, and the remaining Jewish people were dispersed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to the four corners of the earth, officially beginning the start of their global diaspora.
My God will cast them away,
Because they did not obey Him;
And they shall be wanderers among the nations. Hosea 9:17
Fast forward roughly two millennia to the late 19th century. Headed by an Austro-Hungarian Jew named Theodor Herzl, the Zionist movement began making the case for developing a plan whose singular purpose was to return to their ancient homeland and reestablish a Jewish nation again. The problem was that the Ottoman Turks currently occupied what was then known as Palestine, and had single-handedly ruled most of the Middle East, including Jerusalem, since 1517. But as with the case of Newtown’s Second Law of Thermodynamics, after 400 years the Turkish Empire was in a rapid-state of decline. The Turks made the fatal mistake of siding with the Central Powers in a desperate gamble to keep their empire intact.
On November 2, 1917, the British Foreign Secretary Lord James Balfour, wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild, who was then the chairman of the British Zionist Federation, which has come to be known as the Balfour Declaration.
In effect, it gave legality to the process of reestablishing a Jewish homeland. So it was, that when the Commander in Chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, General Edmund Allenby recaptured Jerusalem on December 10, 1917 from the Ottoman Turks, he understood the religious and political significance of it.
From 1917 to 1945, ‘Palestine’ remained a British mandate and ultimately divided the land between what was supposed to be the Arab-portion (Transjordan), and the Jewish-portion (then unnamed). Immediately after WWII, ‘Palestine’ then shortly fell under the newly-formed United Nations mandate and with the horrifying details of the Nazi Holocaust coming to light out of the Nuremberg Trials, as well as the discoveries of numerous concentration camps across Europe, the UN approved the Jews right to statehood on November 29, 1947. By May 14, 1948, the Jewish-nation state of Israel existed once again after nearly 1,878 years in diaspora.
“Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.” Ezekiel 37:21-22
So why the rehash of the last two-thousand years of Jewish history? It wasn’t for the history lesson, as many of you are already familiar with much of what was covered. Given that the Bible is divinely inspired by God, who declares the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:9-10), what we know about Bible prophecy should help us define what we know about history and the significance of particular events regarding Israel. Since it’s not kosher to believe in coincidence, and speculation is only as good as the assumptions leading up to it, this author will not ascribe to either, but will simply lay the facts before you the reader to decide.
What we are looking at is historical events that corroborate the Bible’s prophetic narrative regarding where we are on God’s timeline of events to come. We are in a window of time that is increasingly narrowing to a culmination point. But for some historical perspective, consider the first coming of Christ.
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:5-6
- The Messiah would have to come before the law departs from Judah (Gen. 49:10)
- The kingdom of Judah lost this around 7 AD when Herod Archelaus was removed from the throne and replaced by a Roman procurator named Caponius, who quickly restricted the legal authority of the Sanhedrin to prosecute capital cases. This is why the Sanhedrin had to take Jesus before Pontius Pilate for a legal death sentence. (John 18:31)
- The Messiah would have to come before the temple was destroyed.
- Daniel was told that the Messiah would be cut off (executed) before the prince who is to come (Titus was the prince — remember his father, Vespasian, had just taken over as emperor) sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD (Dan. 9:26).
- Psalm 118:26: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord (the house being the Temple)
- The Mosaic Law could only be in effect if the Temple, sacrificial system, and Holy of Holies were operational.
- The Messiah would have to come according to the timeline given to Daniel, by the Angel Gabriel. The Messiah would have to come 69 weeks (weeks of years) after the commandment was given to Nehemiah by the Persian King Artaxerxes in 445BC) as recorded in Daniel 9:24-27 and Nehemiah 2.
- Jesus officially presented Himself as Messiah only three times in His earthly ministry
- At His baptism (John 1:29-34)
- At the temple marking the beginning of His ministry (Luke 4:16-22)
- On Palm Sunday as He rode into Jerusalem as the promised Messiah (approx. 173,880 days = 483 years = 69 weeks of 360-day years from the commandment given to Nehemiah)
What we see here in this brief overview then, is that there was but a small window of time that the promised Messiah could have come to the nation of Israel. There are many other reasons and factors as to why He had to come when He did, but to me, these are the most convincing and irrefutable.
Now, let us look at the Second Coming prophecies. Hosea 6:1-3, Luke 21:24, Romans 11:25-29, Amos 9:15 and many other prophetic passages narrow down the window of time that would point to when Christ will return to earth. This is separate from the Rapture of the Church, which could have happened at any point in the last two thousand years. The Second Coming is the official, physical, return to earth to rule and reign.
- Israel would have to be a nation again. (Amos 9:15, Isaiah 11:11)
- The Jew’s were only conquered and displaced twice; first by the Babylonians and the second time by the Romans.
- The first diaspora ended in 537 BC under the Persian King Cyrus. (2 Chronicles 36:15-23)
- The second diaspora (from the Romans) ended in 1948 with the creation of the nation of Israel.
- The world would be fixated on destroying and dividing the land of Israel and Jerusalem.
- Both the United Nations General Assembly, and the Humans Rights Council, have condemned Israel by resolution more times as an individual nation, than the rest of the world combined. Zechariah 12:2-4, 14:1-2, Joel 3:1-3.
- Israel has been in a perpetual state of war with her surrounding neighbors, both Shia and Sunni Muslims, since her rebirth as a nation.
- The signs of the times are escalating in both intensity and rapidity. (Matt. 24, Luke 21)
- Man-made: Wars, rumors of war, famines, apostasy, lawlessness, wickedness, violence, technological breakthroughs
- Natural: Earthquakes, signs in the heavens, pestilence
Not to belabor the point any more than necessary, because there are many other resources that are much more detailed and exhaustive than what is offered here today. The intent of the lists is to show that all of the signs are confirming what Scripture states, not detracting from it. For example, if the world was getting better and war no longer existed and militaries were deemed unnecessary, and everyone lived in relative peace and harmony, this would resoundingly prove the Bible as inaccurate, because the world (in the macro-sense) would be in stark contrast to what the Bible says should be happening.
Unfortunately, it’s not. The world is progressively getting worse just as the Bible says. The threats are getting graver, and the probabilities of some existential threat to humanity are only increasing, not diminishing. Just watch National Geographic or the History Channel for a week and see how secular scientists are far more likely to project their ‘doom and gloom’ theories with any number of potential earth-ending catastrophes than even the best of us Pre-Trib Rapture believing Dispensationalists ever could. According to Nat Geo and the like, meteor strikes, solar storms, alien invasions, pandemics, super-volcanos, global warming, etc., are not only imminent, but certain. I suppose they make for better television.
My last point is on numbers and dates. While I firmly support and believe in the doctrine of immanence, I do however find it interesting that we are coming on some dates which seem to have significance. Significant of what, I can’t be dogmatic. But I offer these thoughts for your consideration.
From 32 AD — 70 AD, both Jews and Christians lived together in and underneath the governmental leadership of the kingdom of Judah. This rule was tenuous as the Romans controlled the territory, and the Jews typically disdained the Christians. (38 years overlap)
Jews and Christians physically and geographically coexisted in the land from 32 AD (the Cross) until the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132 AD. You can’t have Christians until after the death/burial/resurrection of Christ in 32 AD. (100 years overlap)
From 1917 until 2017, Jews and Christians once again are geographically coexisting in the land of Israel. (100 years overlap)
From 1948 to 2018, the Jewish state of Israel (Ezekiel 37) exists again as a sovereign nation going on its 70th anniversary. If we start from the birth of Christ (01 BC?) to 70 AD, the Jewish nation officially coexisted with the Church (Jesus is the head of the Church) for 70 years before Israel’s destruction, but we (Christians) couldn’t coexist until after the resurrection of Christ in 32 AD. Using 01 BC as the birth of Christ and the Roman siege on Jerusalem 70 AD as bookends, we see that
- 01 BC-70 AD = 70 years (1st century Church overlap with Israel government)
- 1948-2018 = 70 years (21st century Church overlap with Israel government)
- 32 AD-132 AD = 100 years (1st century overlap with Christians in Israel)
- 1917-2018=101 years (21st century overlap with Christians in Israel)
So what does the similarities in the numbers mean? One thing it doesn't mean is that Jesus has to come back on January 1, 2018. It doesn't even tie Him to a year. Jews and Christians have lived in the land of Israel for millennia, but not in any great numbers and definitely not with Israel or Judah in any governmental position of authority.
But what is significant, is that two actors (Israel and the Church), from two decidedly different dispensations, are both in play, operating in the same geographical and geopolitical domains. Clarification is that Jews can become Christians and there is a growing number that are, and that is not the issue. When a Jew becomes a Christian, just as the same as a Gentile, they become part of the Body of Christ.
The issue is with Israel as a nation, being back in her land, and fulfilling the prophetic passages (Ezekiel 36-37, Isaiah 11, Amos 9, Luke 21:24, Romans 11:25-29, etc.) while the Church Age is still in effect. We see a little bit of overlap at the beginning, and we are now living through it at the end. So we compare how much of that existed at the outset, and it ‘should’ by similar to what we see today. We can’t be dogmatic, because the numbers may vary a little, but I do not believe they will vary significantly. So we see between 38 and 100 years in the 1st century, and we are coming up between 70 and 100 years in the 21st century. Is 100 years significant? If nothing else, it is very interesting and only adds to the strength of the other prophetic markers that we are witnessing today.
God created time, and uses events to create the necessary conditions on the ground which provide the ‘fullness’ for specific events to come to pass. Both time and the aforementioned prophetic markers point to a convergence of events, and reinforces what Scripture already has to say about the last days. And like Mark Twain once said, history may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.
Even so MARANATHA!
About Pete Garcia
Last week: The Last Trump
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