The world is on the brink of crisis. One only has to look at the situation in the Middle East with the rise of ISIS and the gathering of the nations for war, to see how volatile and finely balanced things are. Many consider current events as depressing, but as Christadelphians and Bible students we look into the mess the world is in and gain great encouragement as we see many signs that Jesus is soon to return to bring about an era of peace, tranquility and righteousness. This is Matt Davies joining you for Bible in the News.
How is it that we can be sure that we are living in the days which are preceding the return of Christ? One of the huge signs the Bible speaks of is to do with the nation of Israel.
Bible Prophecy and Israel
Back at the time of Moses, around 1400BC the Bible records how that God chose Israel, from all the nations of the world, to outwork His purpose. He gave them a special national law. This law had consequences though if it was broken. This is what God's law stated in Deuteronomy 28:15 and 63-65:
“…if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God… all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:.. …and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other... And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:”
So if the people of Israel turned their back on the ways of God they would be scattered from that land. This is exactly what happened in the events around AD70 when the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and dispersed the Jews from the land of Israel.
Jesus Christ, a Jew himself, warned the Jews of his day who were living just before their dispersion by the Romans of their impending scattering:
"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh… there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” Luke 21:20-24
However God still has a purpose with his chosen people of Israel. This is what the prophet Hosea says, by inspiration of God, in Hosea 3:4-5
“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return… in the latter days.”
So although there would be no royal rulership and no religious rituals practiced by the nation in their dispersion, eventually they would retrun - in a time period called in the Bible "The Latter Days". As Jesus says "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled".
Bible Students were waiting for this
Many Bible students looked forward to this event. One such Bible student was the famous Physicist and Mathmatician, Sir Isaac Newton. Newton was an avid Bible student and in his notes entitled “An Interpretation of the Prophecy of Daniel’s weeks by jewish years.” he wrote:
“… since the commandment to return and build Jerusalem precedes the Messiah [return of Christ]… it may perhaps come forth not from the Jews themselves, but from some other kingdom friendly to them, and precede their return from captivity and give occasion to it… The manner I know not. Let time be the interpreter”
So Bible students like Isaac Newton were waiting for the Jews to return to their land because the Bible demanded this to occur before Jesus returns.
Of course, we are now living in the time when this has been accomplished. In 1948 the state of Israel was declared and since that time the Jews have been making "Aliya" or returning to their homeland. Against all the odds they have survived 2000 years of scattering, retained their identity as Jews and survived the most terrifying of persecutions, and are now established as a nation once again in the land of Israel. This fact is a sure fulfilment of Bible prophecy and give us great confidence that we are living in the latter days.
The coming Crisis
There is more to this though. The prophets of the Bible, by inspiration of God, speak about a coming crisis which will befall the nation of Israel after they have returned. For example in Joel 3 we read:
“For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat (God’s Judgement), and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.” Joel 3:1-2
God has gathered the captivity of Judah in 1948 when the state of Israel was declared. God has regathered the captivity of Jerusalem when the Jews retook Jerusalem in 1967 after the 6 day war. Therefore soon all nations will be gathered to battle against them.
God's prophet Joel continues:
“Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision (threshing) : for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision” Joel 3:12-14
This coming crisis is often couched in the language of a harvest. The idea being that when crops are harvested there is a process of getting rid of the useless elements, like the husks, so that you are left with the pure seed. This process of harvest is called threshing where the harvested crop would be thrown into the air, the husks and useless elements would blow away and the pure seeds would fall the earth. The language of the Bible therefore indicates a judgement of the nations where those who are useless will be removed and those who accept God's ways will be kept.
In the book of Revelation the crisis is given a symbolic name: Armageddon:
"And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." Revelation 16:13-16
The real Armageddon is not therefore the destruction of the earth by some cataclysmic event like a asteroid hitting the earth as popular culture has depicted. Rather, it is the gathering of the nations to Battle against Israel.
As a side note - In the last week, the Christadelphians in Nottingham UK held a special public talk about the Real Armageddon. If you are interested in finding out more about this topic the video of the talk can be viewed on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQSfeHFOnzQ
It is at this time of Armageddon that the prophets speak of God acting to save his people. For example in Zechariah we read of the same event:
"For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” Zechariah 14:2
You can see that for this prophecy to take place Israel would have to be regathered to their land. Speaking of that time the prophet gives us details as to the salvation that God will give to His people in that day:
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him…” Zechariah 12:9-10
This one, who bears God's name, who the Jewish nation pierced in the past is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ who will return to save Israel at the Battle of Armageddon. We know this refers to Christ because we are told this in John 19:37.
As Jesus tells us in the passage in Revelation 16 we read a moment ago, it is at this time of Armageddon when he says"Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame."
Jesus is coming
Although we see great turmoil in the world at large then, for Bible believers we know we are living in the last days and soon Jesus will return, just as he left, to establish Gods kingdom on the earth. When Jesus departed the earth to ascend to his Father the Bible tells us he was with his disciples and that an angel appeared and said to them:
"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11
Indeed Jesus is therefore coming. We are in the latter days. We need to prepare - and the Bible tells us that to be acceptable to him when he does return we need to have sort out, understood and believed the gospel message contained within it. We need to of been baptised into the saving name of Christ and striven to have lived Godly lives waiting patiently for his return. The wonder of the gospel message is to have our sins forgiven and to be acceptable before God through the work of Christ. If we do this we will have a part in the resurrection of the dead and obtain the gift of eternal life to live as an immortal being in the Kingdom.
We therefore encourage you to keep reading your Bible and keep watching with us here at www.bibleinthenews.com