I wrote this article six years ago as summarization of what I believe the Bible says will occur just before the return of Christ. The current events of that time continue to escalate and become more refined as they follow exactly the pattern found in the Bible. This article is long, but it will help your understanding of the events that will lead up to the rapture of the church and the Second Coming of Christ.
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:6-8).
I want to comment some more on the unrest currently expanding in the Middle East ,Northern Africa, and now Europe (France)with radical Jihadists and ISIS. In my studies and reading about the Second Coming of our Lord, I see eerie parallels to what is occurring right now. Without a proper understanding of the Word of God, it’s hard to make sense out of what we see and hear from that part of the world. Why did radical terrorists kill those 12 innocent people in Paris at the Newspaper office where some guys published a satirical cartoon about Islam? What has America done to deserve such treatment such as what happened in Benghazi with the attack on our embassy and the killing of our Ambassador to Libya? Why are these radicalized people so upset with Israel and the US, burning our flags and encouraging violence and death to our representatives?
Some basic ideas are necessary in order to make sense out of the chaos. When it comes to understanding what the Bible says about world events just prior to the return of Christ, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. This is a spiritual battle that began over three thousand years ago. Abraham had a son named Ishmael by his concubine Hagar. This was before his child of promise Isaac was born when he was one hundred years old. These boys were in conflict from birth. This conflict continues through their descendants. It’s a natural conflict with a spiritual root system. The Arabs are descendants of Ishmael, while the Jews are descendants of Isaac. Both have roots in Abraham. Isaac was the child of promise by grace and faith. Ishmael was the child by human independence, pride, and carnality.
2. God has made four covenants that will be fulfilled: The Abrahamic Covenant, The Palestinian Covenant, The Davidic Covenant, and The New Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant promises that God will bless all the families and nations of the earth through Abraham and his progeny. The Palestinian Covenant promises a certain parcel of land to Abraham and his descendants forever. The Davidic Covenant promises that one of King David’s ancestors will sit on the throne of Israel forever. We know this ancestor to be Jesus the Christ! The New Covenant promises that all mankind can be regenerated and cleansed from sin by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. All who partake of the New Covenant are heirs of all of God’s promises to Abraham!
3. God revealed many times through the prophets that before the return of Christ in His Second Coming, Israel would once again become a nation after having been scattered all over the world as disobedient exiles from their God promised land (See Deuteronomy 30: 1-3; Hosea 2: 14-23; Ezekiel 11: 16-21; Isaiah 11: 11-12; Isaiah 14: 1-3; Isaiah 27: 12-13; Isaiah 43: 1-8; Isaiah 49:8-16; Isaiah 66: 20-22; Jeremiah 16: 14-16; Jeremiah 23:3-8;Jeremiah 30: 10-11; Jeremiah 31:8, 31-37; Ezekiel 11: 17-21 ; Ezekiel 20:33-38; Ezekiel 34: 11-16; Ezekiel 39: 25-29; Hosea 1: 10-11; Joel 3: 17-21; Amos 9: 11-15; Micah 4: 4-7; Zephaniah 3: 14-20). Israel became a nation again in 1948 after 1,1878 years of exile. This a tremendous signpost that tells us that the Second Coming of Christ is soon. Furthermore, in 1967 Israel regained control of Jerusalem for the first time since A.D. 70! Israel will NEVER AGAIN CEASE TO BE A NATION! For eternity!
4. When Jesus returns, He will personally judge every nation that has harassed, dominated, and hindered Israel and His plans for it. The Bible is His-Story, the history of God’s purposes and dealings with His people both Old and New Covenants. When the Bible addresses the return of Christ, ALL of the scripture about this event have to do with Israel and the nations that have dominated it through the thousands of years of time since it began as a nation. These nations are in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The Bible doesn’t mention the USA, because we have not ruled Israel and its land over the centuries of time. The Bible is written from the perspective of Israel and Jerusalem being the center of activity, not from the perspective of the USA and its power over the last few decades. This a really important point. Without understanding this, you will be hopelessly confused when studying about the Second Coming of Christ.
5. Hang with me as I explain this one.The Bible mentions the nations that have dominated Israel and its land there in the Middle East since it became a nation. Every nation or empire that has ruled Israel through history has assumed control of the previous empire and it’s land that ruled Israel and the Middle East. These empires include the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman Empires. And when Jesus returns, He will judge every single one of these nations for their resistance to His purposes for Israel.
According to Revelation 17:10-11, an empire would emerge that would assume the control over Israel and the Middle East that the Roman Empire had for two thousand years. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. (11) The beast (empire) that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.
These verses are so insightful. Verse 10 mentions seven kings or empires that will rule over Israel before Jesus Christ comes to rule the earth. Then it reveals that five of these kings or empires have fallen or have been defeated and assumed by the next empire that will rule over Israel and the Middle East. As I mentioned, the five that have fallen or have been defeated are the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, and the Grecian empires. During the time of John writing the book of Revelation, Rome ruled Israel and the Middle East and Rome was the sixth empire to rule over Israel and the Middle East.
According to history, Rome divided into the Western and Eastern Roman Empires. The Western Roman Empire lost its power around 476 AD. The Eastern Roman Empire rose to power under the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 300’s AD and it ruled from the city of Constantinople in Turkey until it was defeated by the Ottoman conqueror Mehmet II in 1453 AD. The Ottoman Empire was Islamic. It rose to power in the eleventh century, a few hundred years after the prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 AD.
So, the empire that conquered the Roman Empire and rose to power in the Middle East was an Islamic Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and it ruled from Istanbul, Turkey (formerly Constantinople), from 1453 AD until around 1923. After World War 1, the Islamic Ottoman Empire lost its control of the lands in what we know now as the Middle East. This empire with its Islamic Caliphate faded away. Turkey became a secular pro-Western country.
This verse in Revelation 17 reveals that this seventh empire ruling over Israel and the Middle East, which I believe was the Islamic empire, would last for a while then would not be, that is, it would lose power. That’s exactly what has happened! And Revelation 17:11 reveals that the eighth empire to assume power in the Middle East would come from the seventh empire. I submit again that the seventh empire is Islamic. This eighth empire that will be in power when Jesus returns will be the reformed Islamic “Ottoman” Empire! It will have its base in Turkey! Islam will once again be a major player in Middle Eastern affairs before the return of Christ, and will seek to stop God’s purposes for Israel and the church.
For many years now, End-Time teachers have said that the Roman Empire would revive again and from that empire the Anti-Christ would rise. I submit that yes, the Roman Empire may rise, but not the Western Roman Empire, but the Eastern Roman Empire that rose to power in Constantinople, now Istanbul, Turkey. And this revived empire will be an Islamic Empire seeking to revive an Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
6. The battle of Armageddon, the battle that will end all battles, will be the armies of the AntiChrist seeking to remove Israel from the map as a nation. Ezekiel 38 and 39 mentions the last battle, and it mentions Gog, who is the AntiChrist, and Magog, the land from which the AntiChrist comes. It also mentions Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. The origin of the people mentioned here can be traced back to modern day Turkey, which was the seat of power for the Ottoman Empire from 1453 until 1923! This is where the AntiChrist will originate. Who is he? We may soon know.
So, in a nutshell, here is what has been and is happening in our world that shows us that Jesus is returning soon. The nation of Turkey has been changing from a secular, pro-western nation to an Islamic country for several years now. Recip Erdogen, the current President of Turkey, has been instrumental in combining Islamic law with the government of Turkey through his political party for over a decade now. Turkey has the second largest army in NATO (4 million troops), and is now a central figure in bringing agreement between the Islamic nations of North Africa and the Middle East. Watch for a huge rise of power in the Middle East through Turkey.
The current situation in Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, and several other Islamic nations where the embassies of the US have been breached and US flags taken down and replaced by Islamic flag is prophetic. We are watching the rise to power of radical Islamic jihad against the powers of the nations of the West, mostly the USA and Israel. The instability will continue until these nations adopt to some degree Sharia law (Islamic law), and demand compliance to these laws by their citizens. Eventually, these nations will band together under the rule of a Middle Eastern ruler termed by the Bible Anti-Christ. Serious persecution of Christians and Jews in the Middle East and Northern Africa will result. And, it may spread to our own beloved country unless our politicians work hard to keep it out.
7. Look for a peace agreement between Israel and its Islamic neighbors. Daniel 9:27 is clear that this Middle Eastern Leader, Antichrist, will confirm a covenant between Israel and many (probably the Islamic driven nations surrounding Israel) for seven years. When you see that seven year peace treaty affirmed, count seven years from that time and you will experience the Second Coming of Christ! And before that, the rapture of the church to heaven will occur!
It could very well be that the instability we are witnessing right now in the Middle East will be one of the catalysts for a peace agreement to arise and be ratified. Again, watch how Turkey may provide leadership to these nations in the Middle East. Things are falling into place like the pieces of a puzzle.
Jesus return is on the horizon! Before the rapture of the church and during these tumultuous days, there is a prophesied revival that will cover the earth (see Isaiah 60:1-3; Joel 2:28-32)! It’s time to engage God full force. Don’t look back. Don’t look at yourself. Don’t look around. Look up! Your redemption is getting close. Jesus wants to use you to minister life to all around you who walk in darkness. Get into the Word of God. Saturate yourself in it. Get familiar with the Holy Spirit and how He speaks. He wants to use you to set people free from sin, sickness, and all kinds of habits that mar life. The harvest is ripe. The time to act is now.
Here are four books that I highly recommend to you: The Islamic AntiChrist by Joel Richardson; God’s War on Terror by Walid Shoebat; Mideast Beast by Joel Richardson; and The Prewrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthal.