For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing .
“A BLUEPRINT OF TOMORROW’S HISTORY”
(The Rapture: Truth or Consequences, by Hal Lindsey, 1983)
Few people today doubt that history is moving toward some sort of climactic catastrophe. As I have discussed in previous books [The Late Great Planet Earth, There’s a New World Coming, and The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon, all published by Bantam Books, New York], current events are moving toward a showdown between the major world powers. Many secular scientists, statesmen, and military experts believe that the world is heading for a global holocaust, involving an all-out nuclear war. The only variable with most of these experts is when.
Of far greater significance is the fact that all the predicted signs that set up the final fateful period immediately preceding the second coming of Christ are now before us. We are on the verge of this period, which will last seven years. Students of prophecy have commonly called this time “the Tribulation” because of its awful worldwide judgments. Though the term “Tribulation” may not be the best, I’ll use it for the sake of easy identification.
There is more prophecy pertaining to these seven years than any other comparable time period with which the Bible deals. Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, most of the so-called minor prophets, as well as almost the entire book of Revelation, prophesy about this period. The Tribulation is also the topic of Jesus’ most extensive prophetic discourse (see Matthew 24 and 25; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-36).
The sheer volume of prophecy devoted to the Tribulation shows how important it is to God. Since we live in the general time of its occurrence, it is of immense importance to know what the Bible says will happen.
In this chapter I’m going to seek to arrange the events of the Tribulation in chronological order. I approach this task with a true sense of humility and reliance upon God’s Spirit, for it is the most demanding of all Biblical interpretation. What is summarized here represents hundreds of hours of my own study over a period of twenty-six years, as well as the work of a number of other Biblical scholars.
The Duration of the Tribulation
The prophet Daniel gave the framework for the Tribulation era in Daniel 9:24-27. He was given a revelation concerning the main course of Israel’s future. God decreed that seventy weeks of years [Israel reckoned time in weeks of years as well as weeks of days (Leviticus 25:1-7). The context of this prophecy is that Israel was put in exile for failure to keep seventy Sabbatical years (2 Chronicles 36:15-23)] were allotted to the people of Israel. (One “week” of years equals seven years.) The prophecy is specifically concerned with the future of the Israelites and the city of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:24).
God’s Prophetic Stopwatch
Around 530 B.C., Daniel prophesied that Israel’s allotted time would begin with a decree to restore and rebuild the city of Jerusalem. This decree was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus of Persia in 444 B.C. Imagine that God had a great stopwatch with 490 years on it. He started the watch counting down the allotted time the day Artaxerxes signed the decree.
Daniel predicted that from the giving of this decree until Messiah the Prince appeared would be sixty-nine weeks of years, or 483 Biblical years, each of which are 360 days long. Scholars [Sir Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel, 1975)] have carefully worked out the chronology from ancient records and found that exactly 173,880 days (that is, 483 x 360 days) later, Jesus of Nazareth allowed Himself, for the first time, to be publicly proclaimed Messiah and heir to the throne of David (Luke 19:29-44).
Two Critical Historical Events
The prophecy then forecast that two historical events would take place after the 483 years, but before the final seven allotted years. First, the Messiah would be “cut off” or killed, and have nothing that was due Him as the heir to David’s throne. Second, the city of Jerusalem and the temple, which was rebuilt by the Jews who had returned from Babylonian exile, would both be destroyed.
Jesus was crucified five days after being publicly presented as Messiah, and Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed some thirty-seven years later by Titus of Rome in A.D. 70.
God obviously stopped the “prophetic stopwatch” after it had ticked of 483 years. The predicted destruction of Jerusalem happened far outside the predicted bounds of the last remaining week of years, so the clock could not have just continued ticking consecutively.
Because Israel failed to accept her Messiah and instead “cut him off” by crucifying Him, God stopped the countdown seven years short of completion. During the ensuing parenthesis in time, God turned His focus to the Gentiles and created the Church.
The Last Week
It is the remaining seven years of this prophecy that shed so much light upon the Tribulation period. Daniel Chapter 9, Verse 27 tells us the following:
(1) The final seven years, or the Seventieth Week of Daniel as some call it, begins with the signing of a protective treaty between Israel and the Antichrist, who will come from the revived Roman Empire (9:27) composed of ten European nations.
(2) There will apparently be a temple rebuilt shortly before or at this time, because sacrifice and offerings will be resumed. Jews wishing to return to this type of observance of Mosaic law and worship could do so only in a temple rebuilt on its ancient site in old Jerusalem.
(3) After three and one-half years, the Roman Dictator will betray Israel and set up “The Abomination of Desolation.” This refers to the desecration of the temple. The Antichrist will enter the holy of holies and will erect there a statue of himself, and proclaim himself to be God (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 13:14).
(4) Jesus, speaking of this event, warned that it signaled the beginning of the worst tribulation ever seen on earth, which will continue for the remaining three and one-half years (Matthew 24:15-22).
(5) I have gone into some detail on Daniel 9:24-27 because it clearly illustrates that the final seven years, or the Seventieth Week, specifically pertains to God’s unfinished business with the Israelite people and Jerusalem. It is a time when God’s special focus is back on the Israelites as a people distinct from the Gentiles and the Church. It is an allotment of time in which Old Testament covenants to Israel are to be fulfilled and completed.
It therefore does not seem to be a time when the Church, with its distinct calling and purpose, could be present. For if the Church were present, there could be no distinction between Jew and Gentile as the following verses indicate are the rule for this present age:
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him;” (Romans 10:12)
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:2
“—a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)
Yet in Daniel’s prophecy about the Tribulation period, as well as in Revelation Chapters 6-18, the Israelites are again dealt with as a distinct, separate, and special people. Remember this very important point, for much will be said about it later.
To summarize, from the prophecy of Daniel 9:27, we know the following as illustrated by the chart on page 6.
Now using this framework, I’m going to fit the many other prophecies together.
Events Just Before Tribulation
It is apparent that sometime before the seven-year Tribulation begins, the Antichrist will receive a mortal wound, be miraculously healed, by indwelt by Satan, and take over the ten nations of what we now know as the Common Market (Revelation 13:3). These things must first occur in order to give him the political position and power base from which to sign the protection treaty with Israel which officially begins the Tribulation.
A False Prophet, or pseudo-Messiah to Israel (Revelation 13:11-17) will be manifested before the Tribulation begins, for he is the leader of Israel who will make the covenant with the Roman Dictator (the Antichrist).
The great falling away or apostasy of the professing Christian Church also takes place before the beginning of the Tribulation which is sometimes called “The Day of the Lord.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
The Tribulation Begins
When the Antichrist and the Israeli pseudo-Messiah sign the treaty of protection for Israel, the last seven years of Daniel’s prophecy begins (Daniel 9:27 and 11:36-39). From that point on final countdown resumes on God’s prophetic stopwatch. There will be exactly 7 x 360 days, or 2,520 days, until the second coming of Jesus the Messiah.
In the beginning of this time frame, there will occur the most important and incredible manifestation of God’s grace for this period. One hundred and forty-four thousand Jews in Israel will be miraculously brought to faith in their true Messiah, the Lord Jesus. According to Revelation 7:1-4, this will occur before any harm comes upon the earth, the sea, or any vegetation. This means the conversion must be right at the beginning of the Tribulation.
The context indicates that the evangelistic success of these elect and chosen people from the twelve tribes of Israel (excepting the tribe of Dan) will be awesome (Revelation 7:9-17).
Two Prophets that Shake the World
Revelation 11:3-13 traces the unusual mission of two prophets. God sets them uniquely apart by calling them “His two witnesses” and by granting them “His own authority.” I believe that these two will be none other than Moses and Elijah, who will be sent to prepare Israel for the true Messiah, and to expose the pseudo-Messiah. They will shake up no only Israel but the world for 1,260 days, or the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation.
Apparently the world at large will hate their message of warning and exposé, because all rejoice at their death.
The First Series of Judgments Begins
The first series of judgments to be unleashed on the world are called “the seven seals,” and are recorded in the book of Revelation. These “seals” are fixed on a great scroll that contains God’s decreed judgments. The scroll is progressively unrolled with the breaking of each seal.
THE FIRST SEAL—ANTICHRIST REVEALED
The first seal is broken at the beginning of the Tribulation. It releases the Antichrist of Rome to begin his mission of world conquest. He will bring all nations under his authority, using the European Common Market as his economic and political power base (Revelation 6:1-2; Daniel 8:23-25). [Hal Lindsey, There’s a New World Coming (Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House, 1973), pp. 180-195; 228-249]
General Conditions of the First Half of the Tribulation
The fear of war will apparently be stopped by the negotiating genius of the Roman Dictator. He will find solutions to such problems as the Soviet Union’s desire for world conquest, the Sino-Soviet split, the enmity between the Arab and the Jew, the poverty-spawned revolutions of the third world, and the forthcoming international economic collapse.
Listen to what the Holy Spirit foretells the people of the world to say: “Who is like the beast [Antichrist], and who is able to make war with him?” (Revelation 13:4). “While they are saying ‘Peace and safety!’” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). In fact, Daniel shows that the Antichrist will use people’s desire for peace to gain control of the world, “And through his [Antichrist] policy, also he shall cause craft [deceit] to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by means of peace shall destroy many...” (Daniel 8:25, KJV) [Throughout the book, my emphases in quotes from Scripture are shown in boldface italics; regular italics show natural emphases; and amplified word or phrase meanings are set off by square [ ] brackets.] This man will know how to use the world’s desire for peace to his own diabolical ends. The Messiah-rejecting world will be given over to his deceptions as a Divine judgment (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
Persecution will begin to spread worldwide upon those who believe in the Messiah during this first half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week. Many false teachers and prophets will arise, and millions of true believers will be massacred. The Antichrist’s apostate world religion will apparently spearhead this persecution (see Matthew 24:9-24 and Revelation 17:14).
The Midpoint of the Tribulation
Many things begin to happen quickly as the midpoint of the Tribulation is reached. This very important time is signaled by a very specific event. In the middle of Daniel’s Seventieth Week the Roman Dictator will break his covenant with the Israelis and stop the offering of sacrifices and temple worship. He will then desecrate the temple by entering the holy of holies and proclaim himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
This act is technically known in Scripture as the “abomination of desolation.” Jesus said that this would be the sign for believers living in Israel to flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:15-20) because this would be the beginning of unprecedented catastrophes. Listen to His warning:
“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, those days shall be cut short.” (Matthew 24: 21-22)
Jesus’ warning for the believing Israelites to flee for protection coincides with the prophetic promise of protection in Revelation 12:6, 13-17.
“And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days [three and one-half years].
“And when the dragon [Satan] saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child [Jesus].
“And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time [one year], and times [two years], and half a time [one-half year], from the presence of the serpent [Satan].
“And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth [symbolic of invading armies of Ezekiel 38-39] after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth [great earthquake] and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.”
Most believe that this place of protection for believing Israel will be the ancient fortress city of Petra, which is carved out of the rock of a protected canyon in southern Jordan.
THE SECOND SEAL OPENED—WAR BEGINS
Shortly after the “abomination of desolation,” the second seal is opened, “and another red horse went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from earth, and that men should slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.” (Revelation 6:4)
Up until this point, the Antichrist has kept a pseudo-peace going on earth. But now war begins and his careful alliances are shattered. The second seal unleashes the following:
First, the Arab armies led by Egypt launch an all-out attack against Israel (Daniel 11:40). This war will probably start over a dispute concerning Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3).
Second, the Soviet Union and its allies seize upon the excuse and launch an all-out invasion of the Middle East by land, sea, and air (Ezekiel 38:8-17; Daniel 11:40-41). The Soviets then continue through Israel into Egypt and take it over in a classic double cross. The Soviets commander will apparently plan to take over Africa as well (Daniel 11:42-43).
At this point the Soviet invasion is stopped. News from the north troubles the commander. As he looks northward from Egypt, he faces Western Europe and sees the mobilizing of the Western armies led by the ten-nation confederacy of the Common Market.
Also the Russian leader is troubled by news from the east. The Oriental forces led by the People’s Republic of China declare war on Russia and start their thrust toward the Middle East (Daniel 11:44; Revelation 16:12).
The Soviet army returns to Israel to make a stand against the combined Western and Eastern forces. It is here that the Soviets and their satellite countries will be annihilated (Daniel 11:45; Ezekiel 39 and 39; Joel 2:20).
All of this will take considerable time, perhaps months. In the same time frame the remaining seals of Revelation are opened.
THE THIRD SEAL—GLOBAL ECONOMIC CATASTROPHE
The opening of the third seal brings worldwide economic collapse. After war breaks out in the Middle East, oil from the Persian Gulf will be halted and worldwide economic chaos will set in. Food will become scarce and very expensive (Revelation 6:5-6).
THE FOURTH SEAL—ONE-FOURTH OF MANKIND PERISHES
The opening of the fourth seal brings death to one-fourth of the world’s population. The enormity of this tragedy can hardly be imagined. In the space of a few months over one billion people will perish through war, famine, epidemics and breakdown of society (Revelation 6:7- . All of these things will be the natural repercussions of the war in the Middle East.
THE FIFTH SEAL—MASSACRE OF SAINTS
The opening of the fifth seal unleashes a horrible persecution of believers. The Roman Antichrist and the Israeli False Prophet launch a wholesale slaughter of believers (Revelation 13:5-7). They have an ingenious method of exposing believers. The Antichrist and False Prophet use economics to achieve absolute control of the people. They will institute a monetary program by which every person in the world receives a number whose prefix is 666. This begins during the first half of the Tribulation. Without this number, no one is able to buy, sell, or hold a job. But to get this number, a person has to swear allegiance to the Roman Antichrist. A true believer in the Messiah cannot do this, so he is exposed and has no means of survival (Revelation 13:13-1 . The persecution which begins during the first half of the Tribulation (Matthew 24:9-13) now achieves full force.
Computers have made it possible for the first time in history to do exactly what is predicted here. Plans are already being made for a cashless society in which people will have credits electronically transferred by computer instead of currency.
THE SIXTH SEAL—FIRST NUCLEAR EXCHANGE
The opening of the sixth seal begins all what nations fear—nuclear war. Apparently warfare has been fought conventionally up until this point. But the Soviet leaders, in a desperate situation, decide to launch a first strike. Ezekiel 39:6 says that fire is unleashed upon Magog (the cryptic name for Russia) and the “coastlands,” which in ancient times referred to the great, faraway Gentile civilizations. Today the term would mean “continents.” I believe that this is forecasting a nuclear exchange between the Soviet Union, Europe, United States, and China.
The world is horrified, but the worst is yet to come.
THE SEVENTH SEAL—ANOTHER SERIES OF JUDGMENTS
The seventh seal is opened and there is a lull in judgment as God gives mankind a chance to repent. The seventh seal is actually the releasing of the seven trumpet judgments which are much more severe than the first six seals (Revelation 8:1-2). It is important to note that God gives a gracious interlude between each series of judgments, which shows His reluctance to pour out more of His wrath. But each series of judgments is more severe and seem to be timed more closely together.
With the sounding of the seven trumpets judgment greatly increases in speed, scope and severity.
THE TRUMPETS—A JUDGMENT OF THIRDS
The first trumpet brings a burning of one-third of the earth’s surface, one-third of the trees, and all the grains and grasses on earth (Revelation 8:7). This could be caused by fire storms started by the numerous nuclear explosions of the sixth seal.
The second trumpet gives a foreview of a great nuclear naval battle. Convoys of merchant ships and warships are all destroyed. It appeared to the apostle John to be caused by a great burning mountain cast into the sea. I believe this is an excellent first-century description of a twentieth-century hydrogen bomb. A third of all ships and life in the sea is destroyed by this nuclear battle (8:8-9).
The third trumpet brings a poisoning of one-third of all the world’s fresh water. This could be caused by another nuclear exchange resulting in fallout, which would poison the fresh water with radiation. The burning star or meteor hitting the earth (8:10) is a perfect description of ballistic missile warheads re-entering the atmosphere.
The fourth trumpet is a judgment against light reaching the earth. Light from the sun, moon, and stars is diminished by one-third. I believe this is a result of the debris spread into the upper atmosphere by the blast of hundreds of nuclear warheads. This would block out light from space. Just imagine how this will add to the panic and terror already gripping the earth (8:12).
The fifth trumpet is very difficult to discern. Whatever it is, some very vicious demons who have been bound until that time will be closely involved. Unbelievers will be so tormented by this judgment that they will seek death but be unable to find it. This will last for five months (9:1-12). This could be the result of some form of biological warfare. The Soviet Union already has a formidable arsenal of chemical weapons that could easily produce the symptoms given here.
The sixth trumpet coincides with the prophecy of Daniel 11:44, where news from the east troubles the Soviet commander. The vast Chinese army and its Oriental allies mobilize to contest the Soviet invasion of the Middle East and Africa. The activity at the Euphrates River which was the ancient boundary between east and west, indicates that the Oriental power is incited to war by some especially power and vicious demons who were bound there (9:13-14).
This army numbers two hundred million. Only China could raise such an army, and has already claimed that number of men under arms. As they move toward the Middle East, they wipe out one third of earth’s population. They do this with fire and brimstone, which again seems to indicate a massive use of nuclear weapons.
Can you imagine the horror of these times: With one-fourth of mankind killed by the fourth seal of judgment, and one-third killed by this one, it brings the total of the earth’s population destroyed to one-half. And all of this occurs in a period of less than three years. No wonder Isaiah said of this time, “The inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left.” (Isaiah 24:6) And again, “I will make mortal men scarcer than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken from its place at the fury of the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 13:12-13)
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An Incredible Survey of World Opinion
As terrible as all this is, the real holocaust is yet to come. It staggers the imagination to consider the hardness of the human heart reflected in the Divine survey of mankind’s attitude after all these judgments take place. But listen to the Holy Spirit’s preview of the world’s attitude. “And the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as to not worship demons, and the idols of gold and silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.” (Revelation 9:20-21)
It is important to note that the history of the Tribulation period recorded in Revelation unfolds chronologically with the three series of judgments. The seventh seal actually unleashes the seven trumpet judgments. The seventh trumpet unleashes the seven golden bowl judgments.
Interspersed between the three series of judgments, in typical ancient Hebrew style [Note that the style, not the language, is Hebrew. The language of Revelation, like all of the New Testament, is Greek.], are many historical sketches of the main subjects who are the prime movers during the seven years of Tribulation. These masterfully written vignettes display the wisdom and genius of the Holy Spirit who inspired them. They sometimes reach far back into history to trace why certain things occur; or they will reach into future history to show their final outcome and influence on the other events of the Tribulation.
More will be said about the framework of the book of Revelation in a later chapter. Those who wish a full exposition of the Revelation may wish to read my book, There’s a New World Coming.
The Seventh Seal—Bowl Judgments Unleashed
When the seventh trumpet sounds, it is very near the end of Daniel’s Seventieth Week (Revelation 11:15). There is another gracious delay of events on earth before the judgments of the seventh trumpet strike. Meanwhile, in heaven the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, proclaims his right to the title deed of the earth and inaugurates His kingdom.
Mankind is given one last chance to repent before the most horrible and extensive judgments of all time hit the earth. During this time Babylon, the great worldwide religious system ruled from Rome, is destroyed by the Antichrist and his ten-nation confederacy (see Revelation 17:16-18 and 18:1-24).
There are also two “reapings” of the earth at this time. The first is a great final evangelistic movement whose purpose is to bring the last group of souls to salvation. The second will bring the rest of the unbelieving world into a final great war whose vortex is centered near Jerusalem and throughout the Jordan Valley (Revelation 14:12-20).
Apparently all those who are going to believe in the Messiah have done so by this time. The choice of whether to receive or reject the 666 mark of allegiance to the Antichrist will have been made. Only someone who believes and understands the truth about Jesus and the Bible will have the reason and courage to stand up to the consequences. Those who do receive it cannot be saved (see Revelation 14:9-12). The die is cast. At this point, the eternal destiny of every living human being will already be determined by his own choice.
THE SEVEN GOLDEN BOWLS OF GOD’S WRATH
About these final judgments John the Apostle wrote, “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished…and one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels, seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever.” (Revelation 15:1-7)
These seven horrifying judgments are all predicted in the Sixteenth Chapter of Revelation. Whereas the previous judgments had some restraint, these are worldwide and unrestrained.
The first bowl brings cancer upon all those who have the 666 mark on them. This could be the natural aftermath from the radiation of so many nuclear explosions. It appears that God will Divinely protect the believers from this plague.
The second bowl turns the sea to blood and every living thing in the ocean dies.
The third bowl turns all fresh water on earth to blood.
The fourth bowl judgment intensifies the sun’s rays causing horrible heat waves. This would happen when the ozone layer of the upper atmosphere is damaged by the nuclear warfare.
The fifth bowl brings a special judgment of thick darkness upon the throne of the Roman Dictator.
The sixth bowl is terrifying indeed. The mighty two-hundred-million-man Oriental army has now reached the Euphrates River, which has dried up so that their advance can be quickened. It seems that this army will also take advantage of the confusion caused by the darkness in the Antichrist’s capital. Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet use demonic power to deceive all the nations on earth to gather for a suicidal war. Since by this time the Soviet bloc will have destroyed the Arab armies, and the Soviets in turn will have been destroyed (Ezekiel 39:1-6; Daniel 11:45), the last battle will be fought between the Western armies and the Chinese-led Eastern army.
The vortex of this enormous battle will be fought at the place called in Hebrew Har-Magedon and in English Armageddon. This is the area around the ancient city of Meggido, which overlooks a great valley in northern Israel.
The Death of All Cities
The seventh bowl judgment seems to be primarily against cities. The greatest earthquake in the history of mankind occurs. Then all the cities of the Gentile nations are destroyed (Revelation 16:19). Apparently, the earthquake will affect the whole world. Just think of it. Cities like New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Mexico City all destroyed. And remember, these are not cleverly devised myths we are talking about. Four-fifths of all Bible prophecy has been fulfilled in history. The last one-fifth relates to the end times and is beginning to fit into place. Even as I write these words I am overwhelmed by the horrors that will befall this unbelieving generation.
THE SECOND ADVENT OF THE MESSIAH
Shortly after the final bowl judgment, the personal, awesome return of Messiah Jesus, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, begins. These are some of the characteristics of his return:
First, it will be sudden and instantaneous, “For just as lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:27)
Second, Jesus will personally return in bodily form, and will be visible to all the world.
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)
“Behold, he is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.” (Revelation 1:7)
Third, His return will be with power and great glory.
Fourth, all the people will mourn over Him, though for most of the survivors it is not in repentance. Hearts are so hardened by this point that the armies fighting each other join forces and try to prevent the Lord Jesus’ return. “And I saw the beast [the Roman Antichrist] and the kings of the earth and their armies, assembled to make war against Him who sat upon the horse, and against His army.” (Revelation 19:19) This reveals the incredible truth that these men hate the Lord even more than they hate each other. So, demonstrating hardened hearts beyond comprehension, they join forces and attack the Lord Himself.
Fifth, His return will be with violent judgment and devastating, unprecedented destruction of those who resist Him.
“For the Lord’s indignation is against all the nations, and His wrath against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to slaughter.” (Isaiah 34:12)
“For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle…then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle.” (Zechariah 14:2-3)
“And those slain by the Lord on that day shall be from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, gathered, or buried; they shall be like dung on the face of the ground.” (Jeremiah 25:33; see also Revelation 19:11-16)
Sixth, He will return with His bride, who is already prepared and adorned with her rewards,
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
“And he said to me, ‘Write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” ’ “And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God’...and I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war…and the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following him on white horses.” (Revelation 19:7-9, 11, 14)
These verses clearly show that the bride of Christ, who is already judged and rewarded before the second advent, is also the army that comes with Him when He returns to judge the earth.
Remember this, for much more will be said about who this bride of Christ is and why she is already in heaven and rewarded before the second advent of Jesus.
Seventh, He will return to set up the kingdom of God on earth. This kingdom was offered and rejected in His first coming, postponed during the present age, and to be set up at His second coming (Matthew 4:17; 23:27-39; Acts 1:6; Zechariah 14:9-21; Daniel 7:26-27; Revelation 19:11—20:6).
The Enormity of the Tragedy
At this point, I feel it important to take stock of the enormous loss of life during the seven years of Daniel’s Seventieth Week.
First, there will be many who will die during the persecution of believers in the first half of the Tribulation (Matthew 24:9-14).
Second, there will be a minimum of over one billion people killed under the judgment of the fourth seal (Revelation 6:7- .
Third, there will be “a multitude of believers too great to be numbered” massacred during “the great Tribulation” of the last half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week (Revelation 6:9-11 compared with 7:9-17). Since there are numbers like two hundred million used in Revelation, this must be an enormous group, too large to be numbered.
Fourth, one-third of the remaining population will die under the sixth trumpet judgment (Revelation 9:15). Assuming that the population at the beginning of the Tribulation will be about five billion, two billion, five hundred million people will die in the fourth seal and sixth trumpet judgments alone.
Fifth, in the great worldwide destruction of cities that occurs during the seventh bowl judgment, many millions more will surely be killed.
Sixth, vast numbers around the whole world will die during the actual second coming of the Messiah according to Jeremiah 25:33 and other passages.
In summary, it would appear that those who survive would not be more than fifty million. No wonder God warned through the prophets about the end, “I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold…” (Isaiah 13:12); “the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left…” (Isaiah 24:6); and Jesus Himself said, “Unless those days are cut short, no life will be saved…” (Matthew 24:22).
Why have I gone into all this? Because I believe it is of utmost importance to squarely face exactly what the Scriptures predict about this period. Those who say that the believers in the Church are going to go through all these horrors never really bring out what that means. And no wonder. It’s easy to see why they minimize these things, because against the backdrop of such terrifying events, it’s rather difficult to get people excited about the nearness of Christ’s return.
In the light of these prophecies, very few who begin the Tribulation would live to see His coming anyway. So how could anyone inspire the hope and comfort that is promised in Paul’s teaching of Jesus’ imminent return (1 Thessalonians 4:15-1 ? Ladd, Gundry, and other post-Tribulationists talk about the hope being the prospect of seeing and being with the Lord in eternity. That is the hope normally promised to those who will die and be resurrected. But the Rapture is a hope presented to the living, not the dead. There is an enormous difference in the hope (if you can call it that) of the post-Tribulationists and the pre-Tribulationist hope presented around the mystery of the translation (Rapture) of living saints.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE END OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
I have endeavored to cover briefly the main events that take place during the Tribulation. Much prayer was offered as I sought to correlate important prophecies and arrange them in chronological order.
No one who takes seriously these terrible and momentous events that are soon to come upon our world can fail to feel an overwhelming sense of burden. As I wrote these things, my heart literally cried out for a sure hope. I realized that these things will almost certainly fall upon my loved ones—unless...
The rest of this book will deal with whether or not we have a real hope. (pp. 1-25, Chapter One: “A Blueprint of Tomorrow’s History,” The Rapture: Truth or Consequences, by Hal Lindsey, ©1983)
“WORLD WAR III”
(The Late Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey, 1970)
There is no defense in science against the weapons which can now destroy civilization.—Albert Einstein
In the next war, none of us can count on having enough living to bury our dead.—J. Robert Openheimer
Mankind must put an end to war—or war will put an end to mankind.—John F. Kennedy, 1961
A war would be an irreversible and fatal occurrence. It would not be the end of difficulties, but the end of civilization.—Pope Paul VI.
...you will be hearing wars and rumors of wars—then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved.—Jesus Christ, A.D. 33
From the beginning of man’s history he has sought peace, but war has been his chief legacy. Among certain people today the peace sign has become an outward expression of their revulsion against war. This desire is like the people of Jeremiah’s day who said, “...peace, peace, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14)
The great men of our day warn us about the insanity of another major war. Many experts, however, feel that it is inescapable. Whether we agree with the conclusions or theories of some of these experts or not, it is important to know what they are saying.
Several years ago a number of Nobel prize-winning scientists from various countries prepared a document and sent it to the leaders of all the world powers. They warned: “Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: shall we put an end to the human race or shall mankind renounce war? We appeal, as human beings to human beings: remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new paradise: if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.”
Many of the scientists who were most responsible for the development of the H-bomb signed the document quoted above.
War has greatly increased in frequency and intensity in this century. It has kept pace with the acceleration of technological advances. Some people have undoubtedly become callous to the continuous fighting on our globe, but it is shocking to review the statistics since World War II:
“Since World War II there have been 12 limited wars in the world, 39 political assassinations, 48 personal revolts, 74 rebellions for independence, 162 social revolutions, either political, economic, racial or religious.”
Since these statistics were written there have been more major assassinations and several more revolts.
In spite of all the oratory and books that have been aimed at steering man away from another world conflict, all-out war continues to be an ever-impending possibility. Any one of the limited wars such as Viet Nam or the Middle East crisis could at any time strike the spark that ignites World War III.
Why is it that in spite of the terrible lessons learned from history about war and the terrifying predictions of a future war, man keeps playing on the precipice of complete destruction? Jesus predicted that man would not learn from the past nor heed the warnings of the future; man would ultimately plunge the whole world into a war so vast, so utterly destructive, that only the personal return of Jesus Christ Himself to stop it would prevent the total annihilation of all life.
Here is the further solemn prediction of Jesus Christ as He described the world situation that would be present at the moment of His return:
“And unless those days had been cut short [abruptly ended], no life would have been saved...” (Matthew 24:22 NASB)
Why Can’t Man Live Without War?
We believe the answer to that question is important to consider before presenting the predicted path that man will take to the last great war which the Bible calls Armageddon.
Man cannot stop war because he will not accept the basic reason and cause for war—nor will he accept the cure for this basic cause. God says, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lists that war in your members? Ye lust and have not; ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain; ye fight and war, yet ye have not…” (James 4:1, 2 KJV)
Inside of man there is a selfish, self-centered nature. This is the source of what God calls sin. Sin is basically self-centered seeking and striving—going our own way, with our backs turned on God. It is because of this selfish nature with which we were born that we cannot have consistent peace with ourselves, our family, our neighbor, or, on a broader scale, with other nations.
As one man has said, “What’s wrong with the world?” And answered himself truthfully, “I’m wrong with the world.”
God didn’t intend for man to have this condition. Man was created originally to have fellowship with God. This fellowship is so vital that without it man is like a jet aircraft flying in a dense fog and suddenly losing all its instruments.
God warned man of the consequences when He gave man one simple prohibition. Man understood that to disobey God on this one command was to reject fellowship with God. In spite of all the evidences of God’s love and veracity, man went his own independent way and lost fellowship with the only One who can give him the true fulfillment for which he was created.
Man has been turned in upon himself; he has become self-centered and discontented. No matter how much he gets of fame or wealth or power, he is not satisfied. Why? Because he cannot fill the vacuum once filled by God with any other thing. So he fights with himself, with his mate, with his family, and with other nations.
The only cure for war is to change the hearts of men. Jesus came into the world to bring men back to fellowship with God and consequently make that change in their hearts. The Bible promises, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God…” (1 Peter 3:18 NASB)
Jesus took the just rap due our sins and died under its penalty so that God might forgive us and receive us back into fellowship. When this occurs God gives us a new heart that desires to follow Him and a love for our neighbor. He gives us a new dimension of life with which we can perceive and know Him. He puts His Spirit within us to live so that He motivates and empowers us to follow God’s purpose for our lives.
We begin to experience peace of mind, a new stability, a new sense of purpose, an awareness of Christ’s presence, and a healing of our personality that makes us a whole person. We find ourselves concerned about the interests of others. A new kind of love impels us to place others before ourselves. This cannot be done by any system of government, education, psychology, or outer environmental changes. It can be done only by a personal invitation of Christ into the heart and an acceptance of the gift of forgiveness which He gave His life to provide.
Right where you are, as you read this chapter, you can make this decision in the quiet of your heart.
General Douglas MacArthur was eternally right when he said on the deck of the battleship Missouri at the close of World War II: “We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, ARMAGEDDON will be at the door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past 2000 years. It must be the spirit if we are to save the flesh.”
The sad prediction of the Bible is that mankind will not accept God’s diagnosis or His cure. Therefore, they will seek to solve the problem themselves. Fear of war will grow until it prepares man to accept the Antichrist’s solution for preventing war. Paul predicts the false hope the world will have in the Antichrist: “While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (II Thessalonians 5:3 NASB)
Where Are We Going?
In the previous chapters we have shown the predicted powers that would arise shortly before the return of Jesus Christ and how these powers are simultaneously developing in current history. We have outlined how world conditions in this generation are launched into a countdown that will end in the final collapse of man’s efforts to run the world without God.
In this chapter we will trace consecutively the predicted events that lead to the Armageddon campaign: the various sequence of battles, the particular powers who fight each other, and how in turn each is destroyed. The crucial prediction of the revived state of Israel’s part in triggering Armageddon will also be shown.
The Fuse Was Primed
When the Jews re-established their nation in Palestine they created an unsolvable problem: they displaced Arabs who had been living in Palestine for several centuries. All the legal debates and logical dissertations that can be advanced will never change the basic state of hostility that exists between the Israelis and the Arabs.
The Jews will never be convinced that they should leave the land that God gave to their forefathers. They believe that they were robbed of their inalienable right to the land by the Romans. Centuries of persecution have taught them that there is no country in the world where they can be assured of continuing acceptance, much less safety. Remaining as a nation in Palestine is a matter of survival for the Israeli. He feels that it is his only hope in a hostile world.
The Arabs are equally implacable in their unwillingness to accept the Israeli occupation of what they consider to be their land. It has become a matter of racial honor and sacred religious duty to drive out the Israelis.
Israel’s Treaty with Hell
According to the Bible, the Middle East crisis will continue to escalate until it threatens the peace of the whole world. The focus of all nations will be upon this unsolvable and complex problem which keeps bringing the world to the precipice of a thermonuclear holocaust. This is apparently the first major problem that the incredible Roman leader will solve after taking over the ten-nation confederacy of European nations.
Some 2500 years ago the prophet Daniel said that a prince would come to power from the people who would destroy the city of Jerusalem and the second Temple (Daniel 9:27). The Romans under Titus did the destroying, so the coming prince would have to be someone out of the Roman culture. This Roman prince, as we described in “The Future Fuehrer,” will come to power just before the return of Christ. He will make “a strong covenant” with the Israelis, guaranteeing their safety and protection. The world translated “strong covenant” has the idea of a treaty or mutual protection pact. The Israelis will then be permitted to reinstitute the sacrifice and offering aspect of the law of Moses. This demands that the Temple be rebuilt, because according to the law of Moses, sacrifices can be offered only in the Temple at Jerusalem. Apparently all this will be done under the protection of the Antichrist of Rome.
(P.S. The Arabs are not going to like this idea of rebuilding the Temple one bit.)
According to Daniel’s prophetic chronology, the minute the Israeli leader and the Roman leader sign this pact, God starts His great timepiece which has seven allotted years left on it. This event marks the beginning of the period of Biblical history previously noted as the Tribulation.
Isaiah prophetically expressed warning to the Jews concerning this covenant when he declared: “Because you have said, ‘We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement; when the overturning scourge passes through it will not come to us; for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter’; Then your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through you will be beaten down by it” (Isaiah 28:15, 1
It is through the ingenious settlement of the Middle East problem that the Antichrist will make good his promise to bring peace to a world terrified of war. After this he will rapidly bring all nations under his control. The world will experience great hope and put its full trust in the genius of Rome. He will begin to bring in fantastic plans of economic prosperity, even to underdeveloped countries. War will seem to be a curious game that men used to play. The world will be universally acclaiming the Dictator.
“Who is like the Dictator, and who is able to make war with him?”
After three and a half years of remarkable progress, the Antichrist will become worshipped for his brilliant statesmanship and the wonderful progress in the world. The believers in Christ will oppose his rule and be ruthlessly exposed. Publicly, they will not be able to buy, sell, or hold a job. They will be executed en masse as examples to those who would hinder the “brotherhood of man,” because they will insist that Christ is the only lasting hope for man.
Riding upon the crest of public worship the Roman Dictator will go to Jerusalem and in the Temple proclaim himself to be God incarnate (II Thessalonians 2:4; Matthew 24:1After three and a half years of remarkable progress, the Antichrist will become worshipped for his brilliant statesmanship and the wonderful progress in the world. The believers in Christ will oppose his rule and be ruthlessly exposed. Publicly, they will not be able to buy, sell, or hold a job. They will be executed en masse as examples to those who would hinder the “brotherhood of man,” because they will insist that Christ is the only lasting hope for man.
Riding upon the crest of public worship the Roman Dictator will go to Jerusalem and in the Temple proclaim himself to be God incarnate (II Thessalonians 2:4; Matthew 24:15). As mentioned, this will be the great warning sign to the believers of that day that Armageddon is about to begin. The residents of Israel who believe in Jesus will flee to the mountains and canyons of Petra for divine protection, as promised (Matthew 24:16; Revelation 12:6, 14).
The Red Horse Unleashed
“And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men should slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.” (Revelation 6:4 NASB)
Almost immediately after the Antichrist declares himself to be God, God releases the dreaded second of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. This is a figure of the unleashing of war upon the earth.
That beautiful balance of power established by the Antichrist is suddenly ruptured. God begins to show man that the Antichrist’s promises cannot stand. The thing which man feared most, an all-out war, now rushes upon him.
The Beginning of the End
“At the time of the end the king of the south shall attack him (the Israeli leader)” (Daniel 11:40a).
We have identified the characters of this passage. The Arab-African confederacy headed by Egypt (King of the South) launches an invasion of Israel. This fatal mistake spells their doom and begins the Armageddon campaign. “…but the king of the north shall rush upon him (the Israeli leader) like a whirlwind, with chariots (mechanized army) and horsemen (cavalry), and with many ships” (Daniel 11:40b).
Chart one shows the movement of troops.
Russia and her allies use this occasion to launch an invasion of the Middle East, which Russia has longed to do since the Napoleanic wars. Ezekiel 38 describes the development of this great Russian force, and its plan to attack Israel.
Twenty-six centuries ago Ezekiel described the plot of the Russian leaders against revived Israel: “Thus says the Lord God: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme and say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages; I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely, all o them dwelling without walls (i.e., fortifications) and having no bars or gates’; to seize spoil and carry off plunder; to assail the waste places that are now inhabited, and the people who were gathered from the nations, who have gotten cattle and goods, who dwell at the center of the earth” (Ezekiel 38:10-12).
The Russians will make a great tactical blunder by invading Israel. They will construe the defenseless posture of Israel, who will be trusting in the Antichrist’s protection, as an opportunity to finally conquer the great land bridge of the Middle East. They will be motivated by the great material wealth of the restored nation of Israel. Their purpose is thus revealed by Ezekiel “…to seize spoil and carry off plunder…”
The wealth of Israel is also predicted: “…the people who were gathered from the nations, who have gotten cattle and good.”
True Bible scholars have recognized that some day there would be a vast concentration of wealth in Israel. Harry Rimmer wrote in 1940, when the land was scrub brush in comparison to what it is today: “…The development of the resources of that land has only commenced. Ten years of uninterrupted industry there will make Palestine the richest concentration of treasure this world has so far witnessed. Even five years of unbroken application to the cultivation of her natural resources would make Palestine the envy of the world, and a land very well worth robbing indeed.”
The prophetic indication is that Israel will become one of the most prosperous nations on earth during the reign of the Antichrist. It is also said to be “…at the center of the earth.” Geographically, this is approximately true, but more seems to be meant here than physical location. Israel will become a cultural, religious, and economic world center, especially at Jerusalem. The value of the mineral deposits in the Dead Sea alone has been estimated at one trillion, two hundred and seventy billion dollars. This is more than the combined wealth of France, England, and the United States!
I was talking to a prominent Los Angeles engineer after a message on this subject, and we discussed the need for a cheap source of energy by which these Dead Sea minerals could be refined. He said that he is certain that there is enough steam trapped under the numerous faults in the earth around Israel to provide power to run turbines to produce electricity very economically. In the near future Israel will discover a way to produce cheap energy to develop this gold mine of riches.
One of the chief minerals in the Dead Sea is potash, which is a potent fertilizer. When the population explosion begins to bring famine, potash will become extremely valuable for food production.
It is strategic wealth of this sort that will cause the Russian bloc to look for an opportunity to invade and conquer Israel, according to Ezekiel.
The strategic military importance of “the land bridge of the Middle East” which begins in the north with the Bosphorus (the narrow channel which divides Turkey connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean), and extends southward to Egypt, has been established by centuries of military conflicts. The one who would control Europe, Asia, and Africa must control this area, which literally connects the three continents. This must figure into the Russian motivation for future conquest. Since Israel lies in the center of this land bridge, it has been made a battleground innumerable times.
This writer is indebted to Col. R. B. Thieme, Jr., a man who is uniquely qualified to explain this passage, since he is both a scholar in military history and in the original languages of the Bible, for pointing out the military aspects of this war.
The Classic Double-Cross
When the Russians invade the Middle East with amphibious and mechanized land forces, they will make a “blitzkrieg” type off offensive through the area. As Daniel saw it centuries ago, “…and he [Russians] shall come into countries [of the Middle East] and shall overflow and pass through. He will come into the glorious land . And tens of thousands shall fall” (Daniel 11: 40b, 41a).
Ezekiel describes the same invasion as follows: “Therefore, son of man, prophesy, and say to Gog [the Russian leader], Thus says the Lord God: On that day bestir yourself and come from your place out of the uttermost parts of the north [Daniel’s king of the North], you and many peoples with you [i.e. the European iron curtain countries], all of them riding on horses, a great host, and mighty army; you will come up against my people Israel, like a cloud covering the land. In the latter days, I will bring you against my land…” (Ezekiel 38:14-16).
As previously quoted the Russians will make both an amphibious and land invasion of Israel. The current build-up of Russian ships in the Mediterranean serves as another significant sign of the possible nearness of Armageddon. They now have more ships in the Mediterranean than the United States, according to several recent news releases. The amphibious landings will facilitate a rapid encirclement of the middle section of “the land bridge.”
The might of the Red Army is predicted. It will sweep over the Arab countries as well as Israel in a rapid assault over to Egypt to secure the entire land bridge. It is at this point that Russia double-crosses the United Arab Republic leader, Egypt. After sweeping over tens of thousands of people Daniel says of the Red Army: “He shall stretch out his hand against the countries [i.e., Arab countries of the Middle East], and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He [Russian leader] shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the precious things of Egypt; and the Libyans [African Arabs] and the Ethiopians [African blacks] shall follow in his train” (Daniel 11:42, 43).
As we saw in Chapters 5 and 6, this prediction indicates that the Russian block will double-cross the Arabs, Egyptians, and for a short while conquer the Middle East. At this time, with the main Russian force in Egypt, the commander will hear alarming news: “But rumors from the east [the Orient mobilizing] and from the north [the Western Europeans mobilizing] shall alarm and hasten him. And he shall go forth with great fury to destroy and utterly to sweep away many” (Daniel 11:44 Amplified).
As shown in Chart two, the Russian force will retrace its steps from Egypt to consolidate for a counter-attack in Israel. The Russians will be alarmed at the news of the Roman Dictator mobilizing forces around the world to put down this breach of peace. Apparently it will surprise the Russian leader who underestimated the revived Roman Empire’s will to fight.
It is conjecture on this writer’s part, but it appears that the Oriental powers, headed by Red China, will be permitted to mobilize its vast army by the Roman Dictator, thinking that they would be loyal to him against Russia. However, the Orientals will eventually double-cross him, and move a 200 million man army against the Antichrist, as we have seen in Chapter 7.
This Russian double-cross of the Arabs is predictable by any astute observer of the Middle East situation today. It is obvious that the Russians are playing games with the Arabs to accomplish the old Russian dream of year-round seaports and oil supplies. The Arab leaders think that they can accept Russian loans and supplies without strings, but there are steel cables of conditions behind every Russian ruble given in aid and they are used eventually to pull a country behind the iron curtain.
The Russian force will establish command headquarters on Mount Moriah or the temple area in Jerusalem. Daniel pointed this out when he said: “And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the seas [Dead Sea and Mediterranean Sea], and the glorious holy mount Zion; yet he shall come to his end with none to help him” (Daniel 11:45 Amplified).
As the Russian commander confidently prepares to meet the forces of the revived Roman Empire in Palestine, he seeks to utterly destroy the Jewish people. This is the apparent meaning of verses 44 and 45. Perhaps no other great army of history has ever been so totally destroyed as this one will be.
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The Russian Waterloo
Ezekiel sounded the fatal collapse of the Red Army centuries ago when inspired by the Spirit of the living God he said: “But on that day, when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, says the Lord God, my wrath will be roused. For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, and the beasts of the field, and all the creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground. I will summon every kind of terror against Gog, says the Lord God; every man’s sword will be against his brother. With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him; and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples that are with him, torrential rains and hailstones, fire and brimstone” (Ezekiel 38:18-22).
“…then I will strike your bow from your left hand, and will make your arrows drop out of your right hand. You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your hordes and the people that are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the wild beasts to be devoured. You shall fall in the open field; for I have spoken, says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 39:3-5).
The description of torrents of fire and brimstone raining down upon the Red Army, coupled with the unprecedented shaking of the land of Israel could well be describing the use of tactical nuclear weapons against them by the Romans. It explicitly says that this force would fall “in the open field,” so apparently this position enables the use of nuclear weapons.
God consigns this whole barbarous army, which will seek to annihilate the Jewish race, to utter and complete decimation. Ezekiel speaks of the Russians and “…all your hosts and the peoples who are with you…” being destroyed in Israel.
Nuclear Exchange Begins
A fearful thing is predicted as occurring at the time of the Red Army’s destruction. God says, “I will send fire on Magog and upon those who dwell securely [false hope] in the coastlands [various continents]...” (Ezekiel 39:6 Amplified). According to this, Russia, as well as many countries who thought they were secure under the Antichrist’s protection, will have fire fall upon them. Once again, this could be a direct judgment from God, or God could allow the various countries to launch a nuclear exchange of ballistic missiles upon each other.
What About the United States?
The United States may be aligned with the Western forces headed by the ten-nation Revived Roman Empire of Europe. It is clear that the U.S. cannot be the leader of the West in the future. It is quite possible that Ezekiel was referring to the U.S. when he said: “I will send fire—upon those who dwell securely in the coastlands...”
The word translated “coastlands” or “isle” in the Hebrew is ai. It was used by the ancients in the sense of “continents” today. It designated the great Gentile civilizations across the seas which were usually settled most densely along the coastlands. The idea here is that the Gentile nations on distant continents would all experience the impact of sudden torrents of fire raining down upon them. This can include prophetically the populated continents and islands of the Western hemisphere as well as the Far East. It pictures cataclysmic events which affect the whole inhabited earth.
The Greatest Battle of All Time
With the United Arab and African armies neutralized by the Russian invasion, and the consequent complete annihilation of the Russian forces and their homeland, we have only two great spheres of power left to fight the final climactic battle of Armageddon: the combined forces of the Western civilization united under the leadership of the Roman Dictator and the vast hordes of the Orient probably united under the Red Chinese war machine.
There may be a short lapse of hostility in the world after the destruction of Russia and allies while the armies mobilize. The apostle John predicts the mobilization of the Oriental power as mentioned in Chapter 7, “And the sixth angel poured out his bowl upon the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings from the east” (Revelation 16:12 NASB).
The Chinese, as previously discussed, will be the most logical leader of this great army. They will use the chaos caused by this conflict in the Middle East to march against the Roman Dictator in a challenge for world control.
As this incredible Oriental army of 200 million soldiers marches to the eastern banks of the Euphrates, the Roman Dictator will begin to prepare his armies to meet them for the showdown in the Middle East. The apostle John predicts the supernatural power that the Antichrist and the False Prophet will use to gather all remaining nations together to confront the Oriental armies: “And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon [Satan] and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for war of the great day of God, the Almighty. And they gathered them together to the place which, in Hebrew, is called Armageddon” (Revelation 16:13, 14, 16 NASB).
Several things must be noted from this passage. First, this whole sequence of events constitutes the final judgments of God against the Christ-rejecting world. They are called in the Book of Revelation the seven bowl or via judgments and they occur just before and during the visible return of Jesus Christ to the earth. Secondly, the passage shows that the Roman Dictator and his sensational religious cohort, the False Prophet, will speak a satanically originated message to the non-Oriental world—a message energized with great demonic power. They will persuade the nations of the whole world (i.e., not aligned with China) that they should send armies to the land of Palestine to destroy the last great warlike force on earth. They will probably promise an age of everlasting peace after the troublesome Communist forces of the Orient are destroyed. Thirdly, the passage indicates that “leaders of the whole world” will send armies to the Middle East under the Antichrist’s command against “the kings of the east.” Such countries as Western Europe, the United States, Canada, South America, and Australia undoubtedly will be represented.
Fourthly, these armies will be assembled and deployed for battle in the place called “Armageddon” or “Harmageddon.”
What and Where is Armageddon?
Armageddon is a byword used through the centuries to depict the horrors of war. Dr. Seiss sums up its true significance as follows: “Harmageddon (Armageddon) means the Mount of Megiddo, which has also given its name to the great plain of Jezreel which belts across the middle of the Holy Land, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. The name is from a Hebrew root which means to cut off, to slay; and a place of slaughter has Megiddo ever been.”
In Biblical history countless bloody battles were fought in this area. Napoleon is reported to have stood upon the hill of Megiddo and recalled this prophecy as he looked over the valley and said, “…all the armies of the world could maneuver for battle here.” In the Old Testament book of Joel this valley was called the “valley of Jehoshaphat.”
Today this valley’s entrance has the port of Haifa at its Western end. This is one of the most accessible areas in Palestine for amphibious landing of troops. It also affords a great area for troop assembly, equipment, and organization. Some troops will doubtlessly be airlifted in as well, and this large valley is suited for that, too.
The Valley of Decision
Some twenty-seven centuries ago the prophet Joel focused upon this same scene and said: “Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare war, stir up the mighty men. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, ‘I am a warrior.’ Hasten and come, all you nations round about, gather yourselves there. Bring down my warriors, O Lord. Let the nations bestir themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the nations round about. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:9-14).
Joel reveals that it is in this very place that the Messiah will destroy the armies of the world and establish His kingdom of true peace and everlasting happiness. He also confirms the world-wide assemblage of armies there.
It is extremely important to note the accuracy of Bible prophecy in relation to this last conflict. In this day of H-bombs and super weapons, it seems incredible that there could ever be another great land war fought by basically conventional weapons, yet the Chinese believe that with a vastly superior numerical force, they can absorb devastating losses and still win a war. They also believe that all war is still determined on the ground by land forces.
Another interesting fact is that a force of 200 million soldiers could not be transported by China and its foreseeable allies by air or sea. They do not possess the industry to produce a transportation system for such an army. This necessitates the movement of troops across the land as is indicated in Revelation 16:12.
India has revealed recently an important development. It is reported that 12,000 Chinese soldiers are at work inside Pakistan-held Kashmir on the road which would give Chinese troops in Tibet a shortcut to the subcontinent. India calls the Chinese road-building activities a “threat to peace in Asia.” It was said that “a flurry of road-building throughout the Himalayas is taking on increasing strategic importance.”
When this road is completed, it will make possible the rapid movement of millions of Chinese troops into the Middle East. It will literally pave the way for John’s prophecy to be fulfilled: “...unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved…” (Matthew 24:22 NASB)
So here it is—the last great conflict. After the Antichrist assembles the forces of the rest of the whole world together, they meet the onrushing charge of the kings of the East in a battle line which will extend throughout Israel with the vortex centered at the Valley of Meggido.
According to Zechariah, terrible fighting will center around the city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2, 3; 14:1, 2).
Isaiah speaks of frightful carnage taking place south of the Dead Sea in ancient Edom (Isaiah 63:1-4).
The apostle John predicts that so many people will be slaughtered in the conflict that blood will stand to the horses’ bridles for a total distance of 200 miles northward and southward (Revelation 14:20).
It seems incredible! The human mind cannot conceive of such inhumanity of man to man, yet God will allow man’s nature to fully display itself in that day. No wonder Jesus said: “...for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall” (Matthew 24:21 NASB).
The conflict will not be limited to the Middle East. The apostle John warns that when these two great forces meet in battle the greatest shock wave ever to hit the earth will occur. Whether by natural force of an earthquake or by some super weapon isn’t clear. John says that all the cities of the nations will be destroyed (Revelation 16:19).
Imagine, cities like London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago—obliterated! John says that the Eastern force alone will wipe out a third of the earth’s population (Revelation 9:15-1 .
He also predicts that entire islands and mountains would be blown off the map. It seems to indicate an all-out attack of ballistic missiles upon the great metropolitan areas of the world.
Prophecy indicates that U.S.A Representative John Rhodes was right when he said concerning the danger of Red China and nuclear weapons, “…anyone who expects restraint from Red China ignores history and imperils future generations of Americans.”
Isaiah predicts in Chapter 24 concerning this time: “Behold, the Lord will lay waste the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.”
“The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants.” (Perhaps this refers in part to water and air pollution.)
“Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched [burned], and few men are left” (verses 1, 5, 6).
In the same chapter Isaiah says: “The earth is utterly broken, the earth is rent asunder, the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunken man, it sways like a hut…” (verses 19, 20).
All of these verses seem to indicate the unleashing of incredible weapons the world over.
A Bright Spot in the Gloom
As Armageddon begins with the invasion of Israel by the Arabs and the Russian confederacy, and their consequent swift destruction, the greatest period of Jewish conversion to their true Messiah will begin. Ezekiel predicts that the destruction of the great Russian invading force will have a supernatural element which will cause great numbers of Jews to see the hand of the Lord in it. Through the miraculous sign of the destruction of this enemy who sought to destroy all Jews they come to see the name of their one true God and Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Ezekiel quotes God as saying: “I will send fire on Magog and on those who dwell securely in the coastlands; and they shall know that I am the Lord. And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let my holy name be profaned any more; and the nations shall known that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. Behold, it is coming and it will be brought about, says the Lord God. That is the day of which I have spoken” [i.e., in the prophecies] (Ezekiel 39:6- .
Zechariah predicts that one-third of the Jews alive during this period will be converted to Christ and miraculously preserved.
“In the whole land, says the Lord, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive. And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God’” (Zechariah 13:8, 9)
The Greatest Moment
As the battle of Armageddon reaches its awful climax and it appears that all life will be destroyed on earth—in this very moment Jesus Christ will return and save man from self-extinction.
As history races toward this moment, are you afraid or looking with hope for your deliverance? The answer should reveal to you your spiritual condition.
One way or another history continues in a certain acceleration toward the return of Christ. Are you ready? (Chapter 12: “World War III,” The Late Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey, © 1970)
SEQUENCE OF WORLD WAR III
In my book, The Late Great Planet Earth, I documented very carefully how the various political powers named here are found in the prophecies of the Bible, so because of limited space I won't repeat the documentation here. But I do want to show the four stages involved in the military maneuvers of the four great political empires who will be involved in the last military conflict of the world, of which the Battle of Armageddon is the very last battle.
In order to help keep all of this in order in our minds, I'll refer to all of the battles fought during the major part of this military conflict as the War of Armageddon. But when I speak of the final conflict of this war, I'll call it the Battle of Armageddon. The entire campaign covers three and one-half years, the last half of the Tribulation. This part is usually referred to as the “Great Tribulation.”
ARAB CONFEDERACY STRIKES
The first stage of this war begins when the Arab-African Confederacy (called "the king of the South" in Daniel 11:40) launches a massive attack against Israel. The second stage is an immediate full-scale invasion against Israel and the Middle East by Russia (called "the king of the North" in Daniel 11:40-45) and her satellites. (See also Ezekiel 38:14-17 and Joel 2:1-10, 20.)
The first two stages of the War of Armageddon commence with the opening of the second seal (Revelation 6:3,4) when the red apocalyptic horseman goes forth and takes peace from the earth. According to the Hebrew prophet, Daniel, the Russians will sweep down to join the Arabs in an attack on Israel and take it over. Apparently they come into the conflict originally as allies of the Arabs but end up double-crossing them.
RUMORS FROM THE EAST
While the Russian commander is in Egypt preparing to attack and consolidate the African continent under his control, "rumors from the East and the North will disturb him..." (Daniel 11:44). As the commander looks eastward from Egypt he hears of the Oriental army beginning to mobilize its troops. This was disclosed in the sixth trumpet judgment which tells us about the four vicious angels bound at the Euphrates River but now loosed to kill one-third of mankind (Revelation 9:13-16).
As the Russian leader looks northward from Egypt, he hears that the Revived Roman Empire is preparing to enter the war. The Roman Antichrist will rush to Israel's defense after she is attacked by the Arabs and Russians, since the False Prophet and Israel have signed a defense pact with the Antichrist which commits him to protect Israel (Daniel 9:27).
The third stage of the war begins when the Russians quickly return from Egypt to regroup their forces in Israel. Their command post will be set up in the Jerusalem area (Daniel 11:44b, 45).
THE GRAND RED ARMY THAT WAS
The fourth stage of the campaign finds the Russian army completely annihilated in Israel and its environs by the European forces of the Roman Antichrist (Daniel 11:45b, Ezekiel 38:18-39:5). Zechariah 14:12 predicts the plague that will afflict the soldiers who attack Jerusalem. He predicts that "their flesh will be consumed from their bones, their eyes burned out of their sockets, and their tongues consumed out of their mouths while they stand upon their feet.”
For hundreds of years students of Bible prophecy have wondered what kind of plague could produce such instant ravaging of humans while still on their feet. Until the advent of the atomic bomb such a thing was not humanly possible. But now everything Zechariah predicted could come true instantly in a thermonuclear exchange!
Nuclear weapons will surely be used in any warfare in the future. The major powers of the world aren't stockpiling nuclear weapons for nothing, and even an effective arms control agreement between nations wouldn’t do away with existing weapons.
Ezekiel the prophet adds a further descriptive note to this martial exchange between Russia and the Revived Roman Empire in his prediction of "a torrential rain of hailstones, fire, and brimstone” (Ezekiel 38:22).
Part of the consequences of this confrontation will be the devastation of the USSR and many of her satellites. Israel will also suffer greatly from the bombings. Ezekiel 39:5-8 predicts this and adds that "fire" will fall upon many of the great population centers of the world, described as "those who inhabit the coastlands in safety." "Coastlands" was a term used for the great Gentile civilizations of Ezekiel’s time.
A recent article which described Red China's nuclear strength revealed that China now has missiles capable of hitting most of the population centers of Russia and Asia. In all probability China will unleash some of her nuclear weapons on Russia at this time. The Roman Antichrist will also use tactical weapons against this great Northern Confederacy.
RED CHINA AND COMPANY
The fifth stage of the war is when the 200 million-man army from the Orient reaches the Euphrates and prepares to attack the Antichrist, who will be in Israel at that time (Revelation 16:12).
The sixth stage is the mobilization of all the rest of the world's armies to fight under the command of the Antichrist against the "kings of the East" (Revelation 16:12). At this point the armies move into the Middle East and spread out along the entire length and breadth of Israel, with the greatest concentration poised for the fiercest and final battle on the Plains of Armageddon (Revelation 16:13, 14).
THE FINAL HOUR
It's almost impossible for us to imagine the magnitude of what is predicted here. Just imagine--at least 300 million soldiers strung out across the entire Middle East and poised for the final mad act in man's most finely-developed art--war! The human waves of the East are pitted against the superior weaponry of the West.
Then it happens--the final battle begins! The horrible carnage of the Valley of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16)...the indescribable clashes around Jerusalem and Judea (Zechariah 14:1-15). No wonder John predicts that blood will stand to the horses' bridles for two hundred miles in the Jordan Valley! (See Revelation 14:20.)
15 ON THE RICHTER SCALE
(17) The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and there came a great voice out of the Temple of Heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done." (1 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. (19) And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell; and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give to her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. (20) And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. (21) And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone weighing about one hundred pounds, and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague was exceedingly great. REVELATION 16:17-21.
While this great battle is raging, every city in the world is going to be leveled. This will take place by what is called an "earthquake" (Greek seismos), but that's not the only meaning. The world itself simply means "a great shaking of the earth." The earth could be shaken either by a literal earthquake or by a full-scale nuclear exchange of all remaining missiles. I lean toward the nuclear conflict; I believe that when these powers lock forces here, there will be a full-scale exchange of nuclear weapons, and it's at this time that "the cities of the nations fall." Just think of the great cities of the world—London, Rome, Paris, Berlin, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Tokyo—all of these great cities are going to be judged at that time!
WHAT ABOUT THE UNITED STATES?
Many people have wondered what the United States will be doing during this conflict. We've already seen that the U.S. is destined to lose its role as the leader of the West. This leadership will instead fall to the European confederacy which the Antichrist will rule.
There's no Scriptural indication that the United States will have been wiped out before this time, so we can only deduce that she will be part of the Western Confederacy which unifies nations against the great Asian power. However, in the last outpouring of judgment no nation will escape--every city in the world is going to be leveled.
Apparently the devastation will be so tremendous that not only will all the cities be destroyed, but the land itself will be ripped apart. The coastlines and continents will be changed, and all the mountains will be shifted in elevation.
"And there was an incredible hailstorm from heaven; hailstones weighing one hundred pounds fell from the sky onto the people below, and they cursed God because of the terrible hail." (Revelation 16:21, TLB) I've been in West Texas when hailstones as big as golf balls fell, and let me tell you they really tear things up! But no one has ever laid eyes on hundred-pound hailstones, except the Apostle John. Wow! That will level what’s left of any building still standing!
This chapter closes with multiplied millions of soldiers slaughtering each other in and around Israel. In the process, the cities of the world will have been reduced to rubble. The world will look just as you'd expect “the end of the world” to look.
With all of this, you would expect some people to consider the possibility that the things the martyrs had declared about God and His offer of forgiveness through Jesus might be true. You'd expect many people to cry out for mercy and forgiveness. But look at what they will do instead: "Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail…”
Though all this may sound like the end of global life, we'll see in Chapter 19 that the personal return of Jesus Christ will halt man from destroying all life on the planet and will bring a new world. (pp. 210-216, Chapter 16: "The Seven Vials of Armageddon," There's a New World Coming, by Hal Lindsey, 1973)
A WORD FOR GOD
We should note carefully at this point that the majority of these catastrophes are inflicted by man against man. To be sure, God is the ultimate source of the judgments, but He has a willing ally in the fallen natures of man. Ecologists tell us that man's selfishness threatens to pollute him off the planet, so God can't take all the blame when man finally succeeds in doing the job! (p. 119, Chapter 8: "The Death of World Ecology," ibid)
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 3: “PANORAMA OF CHURCH HISTORY—II," THERE'S A NEW WORLD COMING, by Hal Lindsey (1973)
Laodicea: Compromise and Apostasy
(14) And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, “These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the Creation of God 15) I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot, I wish you were either cold or hot.
(16) “So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth. (17) Because you say, ‘I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing,’ and do not realize that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, (1 I counsel you to buy gold from Me that has been tried in the fire that you may be rich, and white raiment that you may be clothed and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear. And anoint your eyes with salve that you may see.
(19) “As many as I love I rebuke and discipline. Be zealous therefore and repent. (20) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will fellowship with him and he with Me. (21) To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, even as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
(22) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. REVELATION 3:14-22
Laodicea was an extremely wealthy banking center about forty miles east of Ephesus. It had a medical school which was noted for a healing eye ointment.
The city was very pleasure-conscious, with a huge race track and three lavish theaters, one of which was half again as large as a football field.
Description of Christ
Jesus first reveals Himself to this church as the “Amen,” which means “I believe,” and is usually spoken in response to some truth or promise of God. This affirmation was sadly lacking in this church, and Jesus emphasizes His own belief in the Father. This was meant to convict and rebuke the people into sounding their “Amens” to God.
As the “Faithful and True Witness” of God’s truth, Jesus wanted these indifferent church members to also look at Him in a different light. Evidently they held Christ in low esteem and gave only casual consideration to His words.
Jesus uses a name for Himself here that appears nowhere else in Scripture: “The Beginning of the Creation of God.” This church had become so satiated and smug with all its worldly possessions that it had forgotten its reason for existence was to proclaim the message that “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son...”
There’s not one word of commendation for this compromising, ingrown, unbelieving church. You’d think Jesus could come up with something to commend, but He hates compromise and spiritual indifference so intensely that He will not encourage them in any way. I feel sure this church was grinding away at doing their thing, oblivious to the fact that Christ had no part in their pitiful performance.
Most of this letter is divine denunciation. The Lord first rebukes the Laodiceans for being neither apathetic nor fervent. As witnesses for God, they were absolutely neutralized by their adoption of the world’s views. (How painfully this reminds me of the double-talk of neo-orthodoxy today, which takes the Biblical terms of our historic faith and subtly redefines them to cloak unbelief!)
Jesus says that this kind of church nauseates Him and He will vomit this sham of a church out of His mouth.
Next Christ rebukes the church for its focus on material wealth as the criterion for success. They had accumulated properties, buildings, and opulent appointments, thinking they were doing God a favor to call themselves His children!
However, Jesus’ estimation of their true condition was much different than theirs: “You are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” What a contrast to Jesus’ appraisal of the church at Smyrna, the church that was materially poverty-stricken by spiritually rich!
I’m sure it’s not too hard to see the lesson for churches today!
Christ’s exhortation is aimed more to individuals than to the church as a whole. Apparently the church was almost past reforming. Every now and then I talk to believers who are members of large, spiritually dying churches. Though they know the church isn’t giving them spiritual nourishment, they sometimes feel they should stay on and try to change the church. But I think Jesus is saying here that there is little hope for a church when the leadership lacks spiritual life or concern for God’s primary business of winning souls and building them in the faith.
Jesus exhorts these Laodicean church members to “buy from Him gold that’s been tried in the fire” of testing. Peter explains what this testing is designed to do: “These trials are not only to test your faith, but to see whether it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold (1 Peter 1:7, TLB)
It appears that Jesus is urging these lukewarm, professing believers to pray for a little persecution in order to help them get their spiritual priorities in order. When fire is put to gold to refine it, the impurities rise to the top and can be skimmed off. This is what Jesus has in mind for this church!
The Lord urges them to “buy white raiment to cover their spiritual nakedness.” This always reminds me of the fable of the emperor’s new clothes. You remember how he was hoodwinked into buying some beautiful and costly clothes that were reputedly invisible to fools and incompetents. He paraded down the streets of his city for everyone to see how regal he looked in his new wardrobe—but he was naked!
This was really the case with the Laodicean church. They needed the covering of Christ’s white robes of righteousness which He freely gives to each person who receives Him as Savior from sin.
Jesus further counseled these misguided religionists to “anoint their eyes with salve so they could see.” These people were familiar with the healing aspects of eye-salve since it was produced in their own city. Jesus used this as a symbol of healing their spiritually blind hearts. This can only occur by being born again through the Holy Spirit’s power. Jesus said, “Unless a man is born again, he can’t even see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
This letter to Laodicea also contains an exhortation to the real believers. They’re challenged to respond to God’s love as He expresses it in His discipline. They should have been grateful to receive God’s discipline because God chastens only His own children, as revealed in Hebrews 12:5-8.
This is what the writer of Hebrews meant when he said, “My son, do not despise the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are corrected by Him, for whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and chastens every son whom He receives. But if you are without discipline, of which all God’s children are partakers, then you are b_______ and not God’s sons” (Hebrews 12: 5, 6, .
One of the greatest symbolisms of Christianity is found in Christ’s exhortation to these dead, apostate church members. He addresses the church at large and the individual members specifically when He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and fellowship with him and he with Me.”
The application usually made form this statement of Christ is that He’s waiting at the door of each human heart, seeking to be admitted to the life of each person who senses his spiritual emptiness and invites Jesus to enter and fill the void. This is a perfectly valid application, as the essence of being a Christian is having “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
Jesus speaks again about the glory in store for the overcomers in this church. They had to overcome a lot to be true believers in the midst of that carnal, sterile indifference to God. Yet they overcame by inviting Jesus into their lives.
He says that these overcomers will one day sit on His throne with Him and rule with Him through eternity. No higher privilege will ever be granted to humans—and we’ll read more about its wonders in Chapter 21.
Prophetic Application: A.D. 1900—Tribulation
Near the turn of this century the scholars at many theological seminaries, particularly in Europe, began to introduce what they called “higher criticism” of the Scriptures. They were eager to examine the historicity and accuracy of the Biblical documents by using research methods developed in secular education.
Many of the leading critics possessed, at best, a lukewarm relationship with Christ, and this was reflected in their hazy views of Scripture. The more open skeptics began to deny outright the supernatural aspects of the Biblical faith—all in the name of scholarship—and before long they had “demythologized” Jesus into a mere man.
This Satanic infection spread like wildfire through the seminaries in Europe and the U.S., and by the 1920s it was echoing from the pulpits of American churches. The Western world was caught up in scientific and philosophical rationalism and the church got sucked into the vortex because so many of its leaders had never experienced a deep faith in Jesus.
The sad truth is that thousands of churches around the world today call themselves Christian but Christ is nowhere to be found in them. Tragically, most of the unbelieving world look at them—and want no part of their sham. And I don’t either!
Although this Laodicean lukewarmness is the predominant characteristic of the church age today, there are signs that the Philadelphian evangelistic fervor is reviving in these closing days of human history. That’s consistent with God’s pattern of always showering down grace before hurling blasts of judgment.
The unbelievers of this era will find themselves enmeshed in the judgments of God during the Great Tribulation which is soon coming upon the earth. But everyone within this church age who is a true believer in Jesus will be taken out of the world before the judgment, and will be rewarded for his faith by spending eternity with Jesus. (pp. 49-54, Chapter 3: “Panorama of Church History—II,” There’s a New World Coming, by Hal Lindsey, © 1973)
In light of what's happening in the Middle East, I think now is a good time to bump this thread back up.
Thanks Kathy for bumping this again.... I pretty much read all of it this morning. I want to print it off to leave in case there's no access to computers, which I really believe will happen eventually.
At least this gives a good overall picture of what has happened and what will happen.... to help those left behind understand better what the Bible is trying to warn them of.
I absolutely love and respect Hal Lindsey so much and have alot of his books, but not all of them. This will be a book in itself if I get it all printed! lol.
Thanks again for bumping.... explains it all in a nutshell.
I hope we go home SOON!
YSIChrist - Shirley
I agree, Shirley. I have a great respect for Hal Lindsey, and he has made some very good points for why he believes the way he does. I can only concur with what you have said. And I hope we go Home soon, too!
R.J., You're right about one thing: the seals will be broken open during the Tribulation. None of the seals have been opened yet, and they won't be until the Church is gone from this planet (and the Restrainer along with it). So I concur with you on that point. However, I don't see how anyone can say that the seals are not judgments. I read the passages below, and the seals scream judgment to me. And don't forget that Jesus is the one who will open every seal. I'm copying and pasting the passages below.
I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.
When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”
When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:1-17, NIV)
How anyone can say that what's going to happen in these horrific catastrophies are not God's judgments on a world that has rejected Him is belong me. The people will even recognize the 6th seal judgment as being Jesus' wrath. The first seal judgment will be primarily a spiritual judgment, but the rest of the seal judgments will all be physical judgments, as will the trumpet and bowl judgments that will follow. Many, many people will die as a result of these horrific judgments.
Well, I find it pretty hard not to read "judgment" in the descriptions of the seals being opened, as I read the Bible passage pasted above.
What is the rider on the white horse.. When I was a kid people thought that was Jesus, today most agree that the rider is the false messiah to arise, NOT THE AC yet, not revealed til the temple in mid-part..
Now what is this white horse.. It is the revived Roman Empire or the EU today.. Daniel shows the last kingdom is from the two legs of the old Roman Empire. The Western and the Eastern Islamic branches..
The 10 toes comes from those 2 legs.. EU and the Islamics.. MIXED .. so like clay.. Not agreeing.
See isn't this clear as mud....
NOW HERE's where people HAS to keep in Context..
If the white horse is a nation or nations then the red horse is a nation also..
Read the describtion.. The red horse by the "calf beast" has to be Israel because Israel takes peace from the earth and has a "GET THIS"... A GREAT SWORD.. What did the rider on white horse have.. A bow.. so these are different nations..
The black horse being introduced by the "Face of man" beast is Russia.. which will bring the Eze.38 war in verse 16.. Russia will be starving during this first part of the seven years.. They go into Israel to take the food and most likely the oil..
The pale horse is the USA introduced by the eagle beast.. Read this carefully also.. Most teach that 1/4 of the earth is destroyed.. This is NOT what it is stating.. The USA controls 1/4th of the earth and has the power to kill and starve people (sanctions).
Seal five just shows that even more christians will be killed just like they are today around the world in two bit Islamic controlled areas.. I'm thinking it will also come to America after the Church is gone.
These six seals are revealing the first 3-1/2 years.
READ THE last phrase in verse 16 and then a repeat once again from Christ to slow learners - verse 17..
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, the Greek is "one sitting" not diety, as some teach that this is Christ.. It is not.. and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
God's wrath is come, not past.. It will start when SEAL SEVEN starts in Rev.8:1... Middle of the seven years here at SEAL SIX..
Seal six ends the mid-part of DANIEL's prophecy where the Mahadi goes into the temple declaring himself as god.
Then "AFTER THIS" chapter 7 shows God sealing 144,000 Israeli.. I do not see anywhere what these 144,000 are to do.. I have heard man's traditions, but if you have scripture as to what these will do I'd like to read it..
Then Rev.7:9 the 2nd rapture of Christians bought by the shed blood of Christ... GRACE...
Rev.7:13 ¶ And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, (THIS IS ONLY THE FIRST 3-1/2 YEARS) and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. <-- Saved by GRACE not martyr..
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. We see that this group will NOT come back down to earth or the sun would be shining on them.. So they won't be ruling as priests and kings as the first group does.
17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Here's the martyrs section in the wrath part:
Rev. 14 shows this on the martyrs..
13 ¶ And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
Notice that there's a certain time stamp for this to kick in.. And this group then will be resurrected and they will RULE with Christ those 1000 years on earth.
Rev.20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Given the way things are coming to a head, I think that now would be a good time to bump this thread back up.
In light of the latest prophetic developments, I think I'll bump this thread up again.
I didn't include this disclaimer when I first started this thread, but I will now.
FAIR USE FOR INFORMATION AND DISCUSSION PURPOSES
"FAIR USE FOR INFORMATION AND DISCUSSION PURPOSES"
THE QUADRILLION MEGATON EXPLOSION
The new heaven and earth is made possible by the complete disintegration of the old ones. Peter predicts how God will accomplish this incredible future judgment: "But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are stored with fire, reserved for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men" (2 Peter 3:7).
What Peter was unknowingly saying is that God has stored within the earth itself the mechanism that will turn it into a gigantic ball of fire!
Men could not understand this verse until the advent of nuclear science. But we know now that the building blocks of our universe are atoms. The force that holds the protons and neutrons together in the nucleus of the atom is so great that when neutrons are released in a chain reaction we have an almost-incomprehensible explosion.
Just think what will happen to this old ball of terra firma when God releases all the atoms in our earth and its surrounding universe! Peter describes this as follows: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be disintegrated with intense heat; the earth also, and all its works shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). (pp. 270-71, Chapter 21: "The Coming New World," There's a New World Coming: Updated Edition, by Hal Lindsey, copyright 1984)
Bump for the newcomers.
It occurs to me that, given the prophetic developments that have been taking place as of late, now would be a good time to bump this old thread back up.
I don't know how I missed this thread before. I really enjoyed reading it in chronological order. It just made me sad for all the people who will perish and who will refuse to repent.
No kidding! The good news is, a numberless worldwide multitude will come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation.
Bump for the year, 2015.
Bump back up to coincide with Ron Reese's latest email, which Valerie has posted. (Thanks for making it a sticky, Valerie!)
Bump in time for the Rapture!
I've decided to bump this again.
I'm bumping this back up.
A good time to bump this thread back up, I'm thinking!