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It is now one week since Hamas attacked Israel, and I have taken some time to gather my thoughts. I am not a scholar of biblical prophecy, yet I have read and followed many of the scholars for years. Over the past 5 months, I have been systematically studying through the book titled Book of Signs by Dr. David Jeremiah - which I highly recommend. He has a study version published that is great for small groups, which is the one I am currently doing (and I have almost completed) with a small group.
Now, I have wondered what should I share with my readers and listeners at this time? And it came to me that I need to share with you all what I have shared with my own children (who are now young adults). About 9 years ago, I taught a class to teens (ranging from 6th grade to 10th grade), It was a class that incorporated some basic knowledge about biblical prophecy - and this is what I taught them to be the three most important things to know about biblical eschatology, or prophecies about the 7 year tribulation and end times. I realized that what I am to share with my readers and listeners are these same things.
Before I get to the three main things to know, I want to back up just a little and admit that biblical prophecy does not have a consensus on how it is to be interpreted. I can share with you a few big events that we have already seen occur, and I can share about some events that we should continue to watch for. I am referring to the big events that are clear in the prophecy.
First, the prophecy related to Israel that has been fulfilled was that the people of Israel would be dispersed and then become a nation again. This happened in 1948 when Israel was made a nation again, in the area of it's homeland, with it's language and customs intact - after having been dispersed for over 1000 years. Many younger adults aren't aware of this prophetic history. Israel as a nation did not exist for over 1000 years until 1948 when after WW II they became a nation again. I'm not going to go into all of the history of how that happened, but if you have time to research it, its fascinating and explains what is happening and why there is no peace over there.
So what to look for next? There are a few things to look for and watch for. First, we want to watch for the continued convergence of end time signs. Again, I won't go over those in detail so get Dr. David Jeremiah's book if you want to read more on the signs. But watch Israel, because based on biblical prophecy, Israel is going to expand their land. Another prophecy to look for is that there will be a peace agreement with Israel. It will be a new peace agreement, or perhaps it will be an extension of one already begun. It will be a significant peace agreement when Israel and the world finally seem to collectively take a sigh of relief that the long sought for peace has been accomplished.
However, not long after that peace agreement is signed, the main broker of the peace deal with Israel will break their part of the treaty, and Israel will be invaded by a nation from its North. Many scholars teach that Russia will likely be involved or Turkey or both (both are north of Jerusalem). There is so much more in the Bible prophecies, but those are the 3 key geo-political signs to be on the watch for. 1)Israel expands its land; 2) Significant peace agreement; 3) Invasion of Israel from the North.
Now - what do we need to know to be prepared for anything? In my opinion, these are the three top teachings from Jesus and the Bible that I taught my own children when they were teenagers (they are now young adults) regarding these prophecies:
1) When Jesus returns as Messiah, we will know. No one will have to tells us, "Messiah is here," or "This person is the Messiah, or that person is Jesus." If someone has to tell you or explain to you why "this person is the Messiah," then you know whoever they are referring to IS NOT Jesus nor the Messiah." This is important to know because a false leader will arise who will be able to perform miracles and signs; and many - even the majority - will be fooled into following the false world leader, who is an antichrist. Jesus taught in Matthew 24: 23-27:
"Then if anyone tells you, 'Look, the Messiah is here,' or 'There he is,' don't believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God's chosen ones. See I have warned you about this ahead of time."
So if someone tells you, 'Look the Messiah is out in the desert,' don't bother to go and look. Or 'Look, he is hiding here,' don't believe it! For as lightening flashes from the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes." Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate the end is near." (NLT)
2) The second thing to know is that there will be a period of severe global tribulation lasting 7 years, and there may or may not be a physical pre-tribulation rapture. The worst of the tribulation will surround Israel and the Middle East, but we will all be affected globally. Bible scholars are not in agreement over the rapture and whether or not it will occur physically, nor when it will occur if it does. There are three main theories 1) the church will be raptured just before the tribulation period begins (pre-trib rapture); 2) the church is raptured in the middle of tribulation period (mid-trib rapture); and the church is not raptured out of the tribulation (post-millennial or post trib). My own view is that I hope for a pre-trib physical rapture, but I plan realistically for no physical rapture. Specifically I consider that "the rapture" may be something that occurs within our spirits, but not physically. In other words, I think that God's people could be here physically for the tribulation; but God will pour out his Spirit on us so strongly that we are strengthened in our spirits to such a degree that we will have inner peace and a deep awareness of His presence through it.
With all this said, the important thing to know is that in the middle of the tribulation, the Bible prophesies that the whole world will be required to take "a mark;" and nearly everyone alive will take the mark, because they will be required to take it in order to participate in society, and in order to buy or sell anything, including basic necessities and food. Most scholars have long held that "the mark" could be a microchip inserted either in the right hand or wrist or forehead. It is important to refuse to take this mark in your hand or forehead. By this time, things will be so bad globally that most of us will be wishing for death or for the afterlife anyway. So if you get to a point where you must take "the mark" or die - don't take the mark on your hand or forehead or at all. Because on the other side of death for those who believe in Jesus - is eternal life with Christ. Here are the passages of Scripture about this:
Revelation 13:16-17: "He (referring to the false leader, "the beast," the antichrist) required everyone - small and great, rich and poor, free and slave - to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name......
Revelation 14: 9-10: "
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