The Signs of The Times: PART 2 :: By Ron Ferguson
THE DANGERS: In studying and teaching prophecy, there is a great danger to go too far with trying to understand events. This has been a common failing by some who begin making predictions and claims; only one of those has to fail, and all credibility is lost. As an example of this, I will post this review from TIME Magazine. In the 1970s and in 1988, I was teaching Revelation in the places where I was living, and we had to debunk these silly ideas which were sweeping the churches at that time.
“Edgar Whisenant published a book in 1988 called 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988, which sold some 4.5 million copies. Whisenant once famously said, “Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong.” When 1989 rolled around, a discredited Whisenant published another book, saying the Rapture would occur that year instead. It did not sell as well, nor did later titles that predicted the world would end in 1993 and again in 1994. The genre’s most popular tales are in the Left Behind series, written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, which, though they do not predict an end date, provide a vivid fictional account of how Earth’s final days could go. The 16 novels have sold more than 63 million copies worldwide.“
As mentioned earlier, this is what happens to those who made predictions in the past, and now again, predictions for 2020 or for some other year, or who try reading events into blood moons or distorting a person’s name to make it read something someone wants it to read (like President Trump = “the last trump” [1 Thess 4, KJV] the trumpet leading to the Rapture).
All biblical prophecy is literal, but making it fit the times is something that needs caution. For example, in Zechariah 14, Jerusalem is surrounded by all the nations’ armies (yes, that is what the verse says), and it is written in terms the writer knew in his own day. With modern warfare, things are different, and Jerusalem could be destroyed with just one bomb. However, taking the Zechariah passage literally, Jerusalem WILL be surrounded and WILL be sieged as Zechariah says. (We must take note that Zechariah 14 is set for the Second Coming [time of Armageddon] and beyond. It ends the Tribulation; and if you study Revelation taking note of the judgments of God through those 7 years, it seems only a small minority of people are left on earth. Mind you, right through the Tribulation, people have the opportunity to repent, but this is typical of their attitude (Rev 9:20-21).
I caution again – anyone calling him or herself a prophet is not one. There are no prophets past the completion of scripture. These are false prophets, and we are warned about many false teachers arising.
Study the Bible, comparing scripture with scripture, and have all that you find meld together as a flawless whole. If a Bible prophecy does not fit harmoniously with other biblical prophecies, then you are applying it wrongly.
There were commentators who lived a few hundred years ago who really did not understand the position of physical Israel, mainly because back then no one remotely saw the beginning again of the Jewish nation; that happened in 1947 thanks to WW2. These commentators used to take the Old Testament prophecies about Israel and apply them to the Church, which is where they placed their fulfillment. Look at Joel 2 and 3, where these great chapters deal with Israel’s future and restoration in terms that could never be applied to the Church, and it does not fit; but a lot of commentators try making it fit the Church. That is what happens when you force prophecy to fit some wrong theology or wrong event or wrong timescale. That, though, is a different kettle of fish from the modern herd, those who arise and claim for themselves the title “prophet.”
We know from chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel that Gog and Magog and their allies will be part of the world’s armies in Israel at the end of the Tribulation, leading up to Armageddon. This is one small part – Ezek 38:1-6, “The word of the LORD came to me saying, Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him . . . Persia, Ethiopia, and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer with all its troops; Beth-togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all its troops — many peoples with you.”
There you see Persia (Iran) and the nations of the remote north (of Israel), which has to be Russia and its allies (and possibly current Islamic nations). They will have a hatred for Israel, and assemble for the battle of Armageddon. Today, Iran is building its forces and supplying Israel’s enemies in ‘Palestine’ with weapons. Iran is threatening to exterminate Israel. Also, Russia is developing a military base in Syria where Putin and Assad are in an alliance. Assad is one of the world’s most evil men. This is most significant: Gog and Magog is taking shape. These are the signs of the times.
Jesus said of His Jewish believers in the Tribulation, “You will be hated of all men for My Name’s sake.” The world will increasingly hate Israel, and has started to legislate against God’s nation.
Here is a report on the United Nations vote on Israel from 30 November 2017:
“The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to disavow (disallow) Israeli ties to Jerusalem as part of six anti-Israel resolutions condemning Israel it approved on Thursday in New York. The vote was 128 in favor and 9 against, with 35 abstentions. The resolution came as the Trump Administration decided to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem.
“In New York, only nine countries out of 193 UN member states fully supported Israel’s ties to Jerusalem: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Togo, Guatemala, Palau, Honduras, the United States and Israel itself, voted against the UN resolution. There were 35 abstentions. The full list of abstaining countries (a bit cowardly of them) was: Antigua-Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, the Bahamas, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Haiti, Hungary, Jamaica, Kiribati, Latvia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda and Vanuatu.“
When speaking on “the signs of the times,” one must be careful not to read too much into what is observed, because it is possible that events in coming years or even months might alter or clarify one’s view. We read the signs of the times according to our current estimations.
False prophets and false teachers are definitely on the increase, and because of the social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), have worldwide exposure. There are two of these at present who have huge YouTube followings, and I am following the errors on both sites. One is an Arian (from the Arianism heresy in the 300s A.D. that taught Jesus was begotten of God in heaven = He was created by God and has existed from that time, and many other falsehoods). The other believes we are in the Tribulation and explains the 4 horses of Revelation 6 as matching world events now. He reads messages into numbers and signs of the moon.
The Pandemic of Lawlessness
There is one important matter emerging as we look at the Signs of the Time. I call this a pandemic because it has gone worldwide. Let us consider these verses:
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him [THE RAPTURE], that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. [THE DAY OF THE LORD COMES AFTER THE RAPTURE.] Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.”
The man of lawlessness is the Antichrist/World Leader who arrives on the scene with the opening of the first seal in Rev 6:1. Lawlessness is rebellion, and the one who fits that description is Satan who rebelled against God and was cast from heaven. Those who do not follow God are sons of rebellion. It is Satan and his demonic forces who stir up lawlessness in the world.
Decent people in June of 2020 were horrified and saddened at the unfolding events over the death of a man in the USA. As a result of that, there have been protests worldwide, marches with banners saying “black lives matter,” and emerging from that, an attack on statues and institutions everywhere, but not in totalitarian nations like China and North Korea. Why is this movement of protest and rebellion the way it is?
Nothing will justify the way the black man in the US died, but why is it that we are seeing such violence and retribution and anger being spread throughout because of it? These people are protesting against the violence that killed him, but are themselves far more destructive and horrifying and violent than the initial act. Then to follow that wickedness and to turn against statues of ones like Winston Churchill and Captain James Cook, and even a threat to Abraham Lincoln’s Memorial, is a sinister move. It can only be understood in terms of increasing lawlessness in this world. I believe we must expect that as we near the end of the Church age, because it won’t be long before this world finds itself in the Tribulation where lawlessness will be rampant, because the lawless one will have control.
There is no time to talk about the anarchists and agitators, mainly from the left, who inflame these protests.
Personally, I get really saddened about the unfolding of chaos the nations are entering, but I know lawlessness will increase. Paul says so: 2 Thess 2:7, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.” (The Restrainer is the Holy Spirit, but that is another topic.)
Our redemption is drawing near (and fast). The Lord is our Hope! The rapture is our blessed hope.
LASTLY, THE VIRUS: There is a lot of discussion about this corona thing from what could be called “Christian websites,” from the utter ridiculous to some sane comments. Can we say anything about its relationship with the signs of the time? No doubt, this is the greatest tragedy to hit the world since the second world war, but can we read anything into it or match it with some Bible prediction?
There is no link whatever to any biblical event or prophecy. This is another health disaster like the Spanish flu was in 1918/19 when one-third (or 500 million) of the world’s population was inflected, and at least 50 million people died. That is over 300 times more than those who have died with corona. The Spanish flu (from bird origins) was a pandemic as corona is.
I have said this before, but what I see in it is God allowing a slight glimpse into what is one small detail of what the soon-coming Tribulation will contain.
The fourth horse at the start of chapter 6 (verse 8) is a pale or dappled horse and represents “pestilences” which include infections, diseases, etc.; following the third horse which is famine; following the second horse which is wars and rumours of war when peace is taken away from the earth. All that follows the first horse in Revelation 6:2 which is the appearing of the Revived Roman Empire, or Antichrist if you like. The Church WILL NOT ENTER THE TRIBULATION, FOR THE RAPTURE TAKES THE CHURCH AWAY BEFORE ANTICHRIST CAN BE REVEALED.
1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Matt 7:15, “Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
2 Timothy 2:15-16, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth, but avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness.”
Look up, for your redemption draws near. The Lord is coming again, and that should be soon.