Beginnings of Sorrows
Vol: 165 Issue: 26 Friday, June 26, 2015
I’ve always been a keen student of history, as far back as I can remember. Even before I understood the logic of the question, ”how can you know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been?”, the history of man has fascinated me.
I would learn some new historical fact that would explain the reason for some contemporary situation and, bingo! The lights would come on and it would all make sense.
I was always fascinated with the way all the tiny details had to fit together exactly, and what a difference a single change could make to the Big Picture as it exists today.
What if Gavrilo Princip had not shot Franz and Sophie Ferdinand to death on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo?
(Who? I’m glad you asked.)
Gavrilo Princip was a member of a Serbian nationalist terrorist squad. Franz Ferdinand was the Archduke of Austria, Prince Imperial of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia and heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.
His assassination precipitated the Austria declaration of war that triggered the First World War.
What if Princip was captured or killed before he could do the deed that ultimately killed more than thirty-eight million people? That single event forever changed the course of history, brought down empires, and freed the Holy Land from centuries of Islamic rule.
So, what if Gavrilo Princip missed? What if his weapon misfired? Jerusalem would have remained a minor city in minor province of the Islamic Ottoman Empire. The modern map of the Middle East would not exist. Germany would have no need of a Jew-hating rabble rouser demanding vengeance for its defeat in a war that didn’t take place.
A single act by a single person on a single day that essentially created modern history. Who could have predicted such a thing? Yet had this one thing not happened, the world as we know it would not exist.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ was asked by His disciples to outline the signs of His Second Coming in the last days. In His reply, He said,
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” (Matthew 24:6)
Jesus outlined the signs that would signal His return chronologically.
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (v.7-8)
As we go on, it is important to keep our historical perspective. Jesus was speaking from the perspective of His audience, the Jews of Israel.
The history of the 20th century is one of constant war, both hot wars and the Cold War (the ULTIMATE ‘rumor” of war), but it was those wars that gave us our present world situation. It was the First World War that liberated the Holy Land from Islamic control.
“Then shall they deliver you [the Jews] up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake. [Christ-killers].” (24:9)
It was the Holocaust of WWII that ultimately resulted in the restoration of Israel in 1948. And it was Israel’s declaration of statehood that has driven the course of modern history since.
“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” (v.10)
The Arab-Israeli conflict shaped the lines of the Cold War, dominated the United Nations agenda for a half-century, provided the backdrop for the Persian Gulf War, and sparked the current Islamic terror war against the West.
The outline that Jesus gave on the Mount of Olives 2000 years ago is a perfect fit for the outline of world history as this current generation has experienced it.
We grew up amidst the wars and rumors of wars, watched world events literally shape our history before our eyes, from Yasser Arafat’s invention of aircraft hijacking as a terrorist weapon of the Middle East in 1968 to the attacks on the US homeland in 2001.
Now, to return to the question: What if Gavrilo Princip had not shot Franz and Sophie Ferdinand to death on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo?
For 1900 years, the prophecies of the signs of the Second Coming just sat there, unfulfilled and largely ignored by students of Scripture. Although the great Reformers like Calvin and Luther wrote commentaries on the entire Bible, neither attempted to expound on either Daniel or Revelation.
Neither made any sense at the time and were written off as “symbolic” or “allegorical”.
When the Prophet Daniel, who didn’t understand the visions himself, asked the revealing angel what they meant, he was told,
“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4)
The Olivet Discourse was similarly written off as ‘allegory’ by centuries of Bible scholarship, until after Gavrilo Princip shot Franz Ferdinand.
Then the pieces began to fall into place, one by one, detail by detail, from the ‘beginning of sorrows’ through the Holocaust, to the restoration of Israel, to the 9/11 attacks, right up to the impending Persian/Islamic war just over the horizon.
For Jesus Christ to get it right, Gavrilo Princip had to shoot Ferdinand. The first World War precipitated the rise of a discontented Prussian corporal to Fuehrer of the Third Reich and architect of the Holocaust. The Holocaust precipitated the sudden influx of Jews to Jerusalem and its environs.
All these were the beginnings of sorrows. But they HAD to happen EXACTLY in order for the Words of Jesus, spoken some 1900 years before, to find their fulfillment in this generation.
Bible prophecy is the Signature of its Author. Only God can predict the future.
Logic dictates that in every generation of history from AD 33 to this present day, there has been a Gavrilo Princip, some unknown actor whose actions shaped the events of the next generation.
And EVERY SINGLE ONE of them had to do EXACTLY as they did for Jesus to get it right on the Mount of Olives 2000 years ago.
Had Gavrilo Princip not killed Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June, 1914, there would be no Israel to be threatened by its Islamic neighbor states in 2007.
Having outlined events as they would happen, 1900 years in advance, Jesus paused to remind His audience, “Behold, I have told you before.” (Matthew 24:25)
Bible prophecy is undeniable evidence that the God we worship is no ‘cunningly devised fable’ to this generation, anymore than it was to Peter when he wrote:
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2nd Peter 1:16)
We have that same assurance, because, (now think about this!) Bible prophecy provides us with that same EYEWITNESS to His majesty! Nobody else but God could know in advance about all the Gavrilo Princips scattered throughout history.
We are eyewitnesses to history, and that history confirms His Word to the tiniest detail.
The same God Who outlined history in advance also assured us:
“In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2-3)
He IS coming soon! And He’s provided us with all the evidence necessary to prove it.
We need to get the word out.
Original Publication: March 26, 2007
Featured Commentary: She’ll be right, Christian ~ Alf Cengia