Saturday, May 16, 2009

How close are we?

Often, its easy to get caught up in the daily prophetic events and watching the various signs, and as a result, its easy to forget the bottom-line on prophecy. To me, that "bottom-line" refers to the grand finale: The Rapture of the Chuch, followed by the Tribulation which concludes with the Second Coming of Christ Jesus.

We watch the various signs that have been given; those signs that indicate that we're in the last days. These get discussed daily, and most of us are well familiar with them. But occasionally its best to go back to the basics and a couple of key "events" which warrant close observation.

We ("we" being the group of prophecy watchers who take a highly literal view of biblical prophecy) believe the bible speaks to prophecy in a specific, detailed, literal way. We take such a view, because ALL prophecy which has already been fulfilled, going back several thousand years, has ALL been fulfilled in a literal manner. There is no reason to believe that future prophecy will be any different.

As far as the sequence of events, we believe that there is overwhelming biblical evidence that the Rapture of the Church takes place prior to the Tribulation. The bible gives us one important "date" for a clear and distinctive event that indicates that the Tribulation has "officially" started, and that is the verse given in Daniel 9:27. That verse tells us that the Tribulation begins when the "covenant" is confirmed between the antichrist and "the many": a comprehensive peace deal that finally gives the world "peace and safety" for Israel and her surrounding neighbors.

Another key "date" is given by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24. In this discourse, Jesus said that only one generation would witness ALL of the events (aka "signs") that He had just given, including the signs of the generation, the Tribulation and the Second Coming.

So we have two key dates that seem highly significant:

- The "confirmation" of the peace covenant (which marks the beginning of the Tribulation), and
- The length of a generation - which tells us how long these signs will last before the Tribulation and Second Coming.

Regarding the peace covenant, it appears that we are finally at the threshold of confirming such a covenant. As stated in earlier posts, the Obama administration is putting on the "full-court press" towards a peace plan in the Middle-East. The international community, as led by the "Quartet" (Russia, U.S., UN and the EU), and its special envoy, Tony Blair (who is also speculated to become the "permanent" President of the EU, interestingly), and the surrounding muslim countries, who are all pressing for a "final solution" to the ongoing Middle-East conflicts.

Almost everything being discussed now, in terms of a peace plan, is based on the "Oslo Accords" of 1993, which was intended to be a 7 year plan - which involved progressive independence of a separate "Palestinian State". The plan involved a 5 year period, followed by a 2 year period (its complicated), before the final Palestinian State would be recognized. The plan was agreed, but never "confirmed" in 1993 due to the violence which erupted shortly after the plan was signed. We are now watching the process of having this plan "confirmed".

In 25 years of watching prophecy I have never seen the world SO lined up and ready to confirm such a covenant. I believe we're VERY close to the fulfillment of Daniel 9:27.

So the question becomes - what does it mean to "confirm" a covenant? This idea receives a lot of attention in prophecy circles. I believe (and this is just my opinion) the "confirmation" aspect involves sending in peace-keeping military forces into the region (mainly Israel), in order to ensure that the plan is enforced (aka "confirmed"). I believe this for one simple reason: in the past, any such agreements immediately dissolved because of violence in the region. The only way to prevent such violence is to have a strong military presence in the area.

Therefore, I believe (again, my speculation only) that the antichrist could be the individual who arranges for, and agrees to sending in the peace-keeping forces. In the past, the EU has offered such "assistance", and those plans have been offered in the past. The reason is obvious: the U.S. cannot send in troops to maintain the peace, as they are not trusted by the Islamic groups in the area. The UN could, theoretically, but they are stretched to the max currently and its hard to imagine the UN having a potent force in the Middle-East. However, the EU would be a desirable candidate for many reasons.

We also know that the antichrist will come from the "revived Roman Empire", and the EU certianly fits that bill. So, as the month of May progresses and meetings between parties in the region are progressing in a fast and furious way - one thing I am paying CLOSE attention to, is any offer to "confirm" the treaty via peace-keeeping forces, during these negotiations.

The second "key date" is the length of a generation - as Jesus said only one generation will witness ALL such end-times events, including the Tribulation period and the Second Coming.

So what is a generation?

Biblically, there are many references. This receives a lot of discussion, and it would take too long to dissect each view. Some folks want to say it must be 70 years. Some folks believe its 40 years. I am part of the group who believes a "generation" (given the context of Matt. 24) represents the length of a life-span, during THAT era being discussed - in this case, as directed to the people living during the end times events.

Currently people are living to 110-120 years and there are many people alive today who are between 110-120 years of age.
(see here). Additionally, we were told, by Jesus, that these end times would be like the days of Noah:

"As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Matt. 24:37)

We can then read those specific scriptures regarding the "time of Noah" (Genesis 6:3):

"Then the Lord said, 'My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years".

Interestingly, from the linked article above, we can see that the longest life-span in this generation has been 122 years, and we can also see that there are many people alive today who are 110-120 years of age. Interesting correlation.

Combine that fact - with the beginning of the generation - and we have something to work with.

According to Jesus' very words, He clearly identified the beginning of "birth pains" (aka the "generation"), and we believe that the WWI era fit Jesus' description perfectly. Each of the beginning signs, as given by Jesus, appeared in that era around 1918. World war, famine, earthquakes, pestilences, ALL spiked dramatically, together, for the first time in human history during that era. There was never before such a time, when ALL of these signs spiked, in concert, at the same time.

So. Putting two and two together becomes quite revealing. If the "last generation" began during the WWI era, and I believe the evidence is overwhelming that it indeed began at that time (1914-1920 period), and given that a generation today is approximately 120 years, that places us at the very very end of "the generation". Further confirmation of this idea is revealed because ALL signs which have been given for us to watch - have ALL occured during this generation.

Then, on top of these ideas - we see the "final peace" settlement for Israel and her neighbors coming together in a fast and furious way, right here at the end of the generation. All we need is for a "great leader" to step forward and come up with a plan to "confirm" the peace deal. I believe we are right at this threshold.

Two last points:

1. Jesus did not say that the generation would be "completed" when we see the conclusion of end times events. He merely said that not one generation would pass before these events conclude with His Second Coming. In other words, the conclusion of stated events will come at some time before the generation ends. How close these very last events occur in relation to the very end of the 110-120 year period is anyone's guess.

2. We know that the Tribulation will have to reach its conclusion before the Second Coming. The Tribulation is a 7 year period, so that time period must be factored in as well. So a prophecy watcher, who is waiting for a pre-tribulational Rapture of the Church, must subtract 7 years from this generational period.

All of these factors give strong indication that we are very very close to the last days of this generation. The push for this so-called "final peace solution" screams to the believer that the time is upon us. The antichrist is alive today and waiting for his opportunity to come to power; that much seems clear. He'll make his initial "splash" on the world-wide scene by confirming this covenant.

But we won't be here for that. We have a destination that awaits us, a destination far better than anything on earth. Its our heavenly destination. Jesus will take us there, as He has promised:

"I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:1-3).

That glorious place awaits us now. The signs tell us that we will be there soon.

Maranatha! Our Lord Comes!

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