Zero-Sum - Pete Garcia -
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 4:4-5
Many great expositors, preachers, and writers over the years have attempted to chronicle the zeitgeist of our day. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, we often paint too small a picture. In so doing, we lose sight of the overarching themes and campaign plans being waged by both sides of the battlefield. Yes, in the end, God wins and ultimately, that is all that matters. There is however, major issues with treating bible prophecy as if it doesn't matter, or conversely, applying the historicist-approach of attempting to insert every new development into the pages of holy writ, regardless of whether it fits or not.
While it is impossible for us on this side of the veil to completely understand the prophetic picture in its totality, we must be diligently objective regarding our understanding of the ramifications the prophetic nature of God's timing. We must provide objective reasoning to our analysis if we are to do our research any justice. An idea struck me as I was sitting outside of my house a few weeks ago talking to my mom about Galatians 4:4-5. It was something about the word fullness that struck me oddly. Fullness is not so much about convergence (although that is happening) as it is capacity or volume. What we discussed was that at the perfect time, God sent His Son to become the Man who would redeem mankind.
So what made that time perfect? Why couldn't Christ have come earlier or later?
1. Christ was born at the turn of the first millennium before the scepter departed from Judah (Gen. 49:10), thus fulfilling the prophecy spoken of by Jacob some 1,700 years prior. Whether we attribute this 'scepter' and 'lawgiver' as the legal right to sit on David's throne, or if it meant the right to apply and enforce Mosaic Laws to include adjudicating capital punishment, either way, Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled this by being born prior to the scepter departing from Judah.
2. Christ's birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection occurred before the Second Temple was destroyed. Had Christ arrived after the destruction of the Temple and the beginning of the diaspora, all records would have been lost and His legal right to David's throne could have been challenged. As it were, both Joseph and Mary were from the tribe of Judah and had to go to Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) for the Roman census (Luke 2:1-5).
3. Pax Romana meant a "state of comparative tranquility throughout the Mediterranean world from 27 BC, to 180 AD." (Source) Although Christianity remained relatively small during the first few centuries of the Roman Empire, the conditions were ripe for Christianity to explode over the next two centuries until Constantine finally legalized it.
We now know why He could not have come later, but why couldn't Christ have come earlier? His arrival and support of the Maccabean Revolt could have resulted in His political ascension to the throne and physical rule in Jerusalem.
Well, primarily, because Mary and Joseph had not yet been born.
They were His chosen vessels by which His Incarnation would occur. There was also the promise of John the Baptist (Christ's forerunner) and the personal promises to Simeon and Anna the prophetess in that they would see the Messiah before they died. More importantly, there needed to be this fullness of time (Daniel 9:24-26, Gal. 4:4-5) by which all of the aforementioned variables would be at their optimal conditions.
This lends further credence to an oft-underrated truth regarding Christ's First Advent in that Satan did not see it coming. Genesis 3:15, along with other First Advent prophecies, never specifically said that God Himself would put on human flesh. We assume Satan knew roughly, when the messiah would come. However, Satan must have assumed, as did most Jews, that the coming messiah would be a man like Moses or David. We know Satan successfully corrupted Moses (fear of leadership, striking the rock twice) and David (Bathsheba, census). However, Satan's attempt to corrupt Jesus in the wilderness failed spectacularly, thus adding fuel to his rage so much so that he convinced that generation to crucify Jesus. Furthermore, Satan did not know about Christ's true intentions, because Jesus largely kept this to Himself and to His apostles, and spoke cryptically about this when He did mention it to them (Mark 8:31, 9:30-32, 10:33-34). The Apostle Paul expands on this thought in 1st Cor. 2:7-8,
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
The fact that Satan did not know how the Christ would come (i.e....the Incarnation), and what His intentions were (the death, burial, and resurrection), gives us some insight to the events surrounding the mystery of the Rapture of the Church.
God's purpose for sending His Son to cruelly die confounds human wisdom. It seems antithetical to all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah's victorious physical rule on earth. They (along with Satan and his hosts) were unable to comprehend that God's overarching strategic plans was providing mankind a pathway to redemption, because He kept this close to the chest. God knew that Satan and his hordes would be so intensely focused on winning the battle (killing Jesus), that they would lose the war.
Satan is prideful, hateful, murderous, wicked, and the father of lies, however, he is no dummy. Most reputable scholars believe that Satan was the most powerful and intelligent angel ever created (Ezekiel 28:11-19, Isaiah 14:12-17). And although he may have had delusions of grandeur at the beginning believing he could somehow unseat God, he now knows that the best he can hope for is a zero-sum ending. So although he has been busy trying to either destroy or corrupt the church for the past two-millennia (because Israel had not yet come back as a nation), we are not his main objective. Satan does not want to take as many people to hell just to spite God; he himself does not want to spend an eternity in the lake of fire. However, to achieve zero-sum between himself and God, he has to destroy Israel. If he can destroy Israel before the end, then he would have theoretically broken bible prophecy, which is to say, made God a liar (Isaiah 46:9-10).
The fact that the church (Matt. 16:18-19) Christ is building has been able to withstand the rise and fall of two-thousand years of pagan, satanically-influenced gentile rule, is a testament to the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit (Comforter/Restrainer) whom indwells and seals His believers (2 Cor. 1:21-22, Eph. 1:11-14, 4:30). The Holy Spirit uses the church as salt and light in a dark and dying world. However, as powerful as the church was (and is), even the church's influence would diminish in the last days as foretold in Scripture.
This waning is due to the proliferation of evil and wickedness causing many within Christendom to apostatize (Acts 20:25-29, 2 Timothy 3, 2 Peter 3, Jude 1:3-4, etc.). Furthermore, that waning has consequences such as leaving a spiritual vacuum. Like divine bookends locking the church in a specific period of time, the dispensation of the church (Eph. 1:10) would have a beginning (Acts 2-Pentecost) and have an ending (Rev. 3:14-22). Unfortunately, due to the proliferation of apathy and ignorance promoted across Christendom today, most professing believers do not have a clue where and when the end comes. Most Christians today are like the Jews at Christ's First Advent, either not knowing or not caring when the Messiah arrives.
So where are we today? What are the signs that we are at the fullness of times?
Strange and unexplainable phenomena
As the influence of Christianity declines in the world, the spiritual vacuum created is filling up with a return to paganism and occult. This then increasingly invites dark and malevolent entities to enter our domain. Aided by new technology, we are now able to capture verifiable evidence through video footage, high-definition pictures and audio, International Space Station (ISS) CCTV, Google earth and other satellites, military aircraft, air / ground radar, infrared cameras, etc. These are providing legitimate evidence that the bizarre is going mainstream. Numerous government agencies, to include the Department of Defense and NASA, are finding it harder and harder to dismiss the mounting evidence. In other words, disclosure as near at hand.
~The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders...2 Thessalonians 2:9
Wickedness and immorality
Conditions on the ground have been getting progressively worse for some time now (at least from the 1960s until today). Events like 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis serve as warnings to the Tribulation kingdoms that US dominance is ending. From 2008-2016, we saw a tidal wave of immorality and wickedness sweep across the United States in the form of federal and often, unconstitutional mandates. From the FBI to the IRS, to Supreme Court judges and other federal positions, people who should have never served in any appointed office were riding in on Obama's coattails. It is as if the floodgates had busted open and anything goes. Which explains why our current administration is finding so much resistance across all levels of government and private sector in their threats to "drain the swamp." While we may make some headway slowing this tidal wave of evil, we will by no means thwart it. If nothing else, President Trump's presidency has finally exposed the rotten-underbelly hiding out in the shadows for far too long. They will never cease in their efforts at redefining evil for good, and good for evil.
~But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come...2 Timothy 3:1
Technology in and of itself is not evil; however, where we are today regarding our technological progression is frightening. Cloud data storage, quantum computing, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, unmanned space missions, lethal unmanned autonomous weapon systems, digital crypto-currencies, bio-metrics, and digital facial recognition are just some of the new technology available to mankind today. Despite all of this, the overarching agenda seems geared specifically toward erasing privacy and connecting everyone to a giant grid, whether they like it or not. Someday soon, all of this great and fantastic technology will be at the disposal of just two men, the false prophet and the Antichrist.
~He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Revelation 13:16-17
From crime in our cities, to war-torn regions across the equatorial region (the 10/40 Window), lawlessness is on the rise. Opioids, pornography, alcoholism, socialism, racial tensions, economic disparity, synthetic drugs, laissez faire attitudes and subjective reasoning, have all contributed to increased lawlessness around the world. Moreover, where there is lawlessness, there is violence. Because the West led from behind for the previous eight-years, and because the government then, refused to deal with the lawlessness, violence flourished across the Middle East and Europe. Furthermore, the more urbanized the world becomes, the more lawless it becomes, and with a global population pushing past 7.6B people, things are getting crazier by the day...just as it was in the days of Noah (Luke 17:26-27).
~The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. Genesis 6:11
Unsolvable global issues
There has been noticeable increase in seemingly unsolvable dilemmas compounding the world. From the ever-elusive threat of climate change, energy and water shortages, potential pandemics, terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), man is increasingly finding himself in dire situations. Although these issues vary in size and scope, they do however, have one common denominator, forcing mankind into uniting. By doing this, more and more individual liberty is sacrificed on the altar of the collective good, making way for the acceptance of the Beast.
~And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Luke 21:25-26
Geopolitical alignment along the biblical framework is the true telltale sign that major prophecies are on the verge of fulfillment. The exact alignment of the nations in Ezekiel 38 for instance, takes considerable time and resources. More importantly, it takes a shared common goal amongst its varied participants, which frankly, never existed in the past. The fact that Russia, Turkey, and Iran are all participating in major military operations inside of Israel's immediate northern neighbor, is striking. Furthermore, the fact that Scripture talks about a revived Roman Empire (Rev. 17:9-11) coming about, and seeing this transpire from 1942 until today, is equally compelling. However, the glaring absence of the most powerful nation the world has ever known, the United States, is what is truly shocking. Even today, we are in the process of divorcing ourselves from the United Nations and all its varying entities whilst the EU begins preparing for their end-times role.
~ Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Revelation 13:1
Currently, there are three nations and one political union who are in the midst of major demographic shifts in their populations. The changes these nations are about to experience will signal massive shifts in their demography that frankly, disqualify them from being major role players beyond 2040. Russia and Japan are suffering from massive population declines due to falling birthrates. China is suffering from a massive imbalance between male and females, as well as a burgeoning geriatric population. Within twenty-years, the European Union will cease to be ethnically European (even of varying nationalities) due to the massive influx of Middle Eastern and African immigrants who are currently fleeing their homelands. Of note, is that these nations know this, and know the longer they wait, the worse it will get. Which is why we are seeing them make the geopolitical, economic, and militaristic moves they are currently making (Dan. 2:42-43).
The further we move along God's timeline, the more militantly ignorant the world has to become, in order to ignore the giant, neon-flashing signs pointing at the nearness of the end. All one has to do is turn on the news and see wickedness bleeding through every facet of our society. Every time humanity has reached its fullness in iniquity, there has been a divine reckoning by way of a reset. The first reset ended with the flood in Noah's day (Genesis 6-9). The second reset occurred at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). The third reset occurred with Christ's first coming. The last reset will occur at Christ's second coming.
Nestled securely and shrouded in mystery between the First and Second Advent, is Christ's removal of His own change agents / ambassadors, the Church. I believe that the Rapture of the Church (1 Thess. 4:13-18, 1 Cor. 15:51-55, Rev. 3:10) will reset the global world order into one fitting the final governmental system we see in the last week of years as described in Scripture. Upon our departure, Satan knows he has but a short time left. He will turn his full attention towards destroying Israel (Jer. 30:7-11, Dan. 9:27, Matt. 24:15-22), and wickedness will explode upon the earth ushering in a new and final dark age.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. Matthew 24:21-22