Watch and Pray
by Joseph Rector
The Bible urges Christians to watch for Christ’s coming, and that command seems utterly urgent to me as the world’s moral, economic, and political free-fall accelerates. Social acceptance of sin is rapidly increasing. At the same time, the world economy skitters through one crisis after another while ruthless terrorists gain control of expanding territories, and the world could be one large disaster away from a devastating socio-economic upheaval. And politicians and media serve their own interests while the world burns.
Fellow Christians, we must watch and pray, interceding for the salvation of all who will come to Christ. There may be very little time left.
The Bible and the Last Days
I believe that Christ will soon come to rapture His bride the church up to heaven for the wedding supper of the Lamb. While the church celebrates with Christ (Rev. 19), the Tribulation will engulf the earth. Evil forces will be released, and God’s judgments will fall upon a rebellious world.
During the Tribulation, God’s people will suffer intense persecution and, for many, cruel martyrdom. At this time, God will particularly turn His attention to the fulfillment of His covenant with Abraham. Based on His promises in scripture, a remnant of Jews will turn to Christ and be saved during this terrible time. The Antichrist, under the inspiration of Satan, will lead his armies against Jerusalem, seeking to wipe Israel from the earth (Eze. 38-39; Zech. 14). At this crucial time, Christ will return with His bride to save Jerusalem and the remnant of Jewish believers. He will crush the armies arrayed against the Holy City and set up His millennial kingdom in Jerusalem (Zech. 14; Rev. 19-20).
I recommend the following teachings to those who would like to study last-day events. The creators of these resources (and other resources presented later in this article) represent a variety of perspectives, so differences should be expected. In fact, some resources may disagree rather vigorously with others that I have listed. It is my goal to learn helpful ideas from a variety of perspectives. I agree with some ideas from each source listed below, but I do not agree with all the thoughts presented. However, these teachings have all made me think, and I hope they do the same for you if you choose to explore them.
Last Days Handbook, by Robert P. Lightner
It was very helpful to me to study an overview of the reputable prophetic schools of thought before deciding which made the most sense to me biblically. Dr. Lightner’s book has been a well-regarded prophetic resource for twenty-five years.
Revelation! – an inductive Bible study by Gary Inrig (former pastor of Trinity Church in Redlands, CA)
Mid-East Prophecy Updates, Pastor J. D. Farag (Calvary Chapel, Kaneohe, HI)
Pastor Farag posts a weekly prophecy update in which he discusses current events in light of prophecy. While we should never seek to discern prophecy through the lens of news reports, I believe current events are so dramatic that they should serve as a warning to anyone who has a solid understanding of prophecy.
Pastor Jimmy Evans’ "Tipping Point" prophecy series (Gateway Church, Dallas/Fort Worth)
Evans offers a broad and insightful overview of prophecy. If you think you disagree with him, keep studying!
Paul Beck’s YouTube channel has many great videos
David R. Regan’s Lamb & Lion Ministries Website
Dispensationalism, by Charles C. Ryrie
Dr. John MacArthur on Dispensationalism & Premillennialism
“Sovereign Election, Israel & Eschatology”
The fourth MacArthur resource argues that Dispensationalism is a logical application of Calvinism.
Every Prophecy of the Bible, by John F. Walvoord
Greatest sign of the end: The modern nation of Israel
The greatest sign that we are in the end-times is the utterly improbable restoration of the State of Israel in 1948. God unconditionally promised Abraham a specific land for Abraham’s descendants. According to Genesis 13:14-15,
“The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, ‘Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.’”
The Lord instructed Abraham to cut several animals in two, making a path between the carcasses. Generally, the inferior party in a covenant would walk between the dead animals to swear that he would perform the covenant faithfully. However, God put Abraham (Abram) to sleep, and God walked through alone, swearing unconditionally to give specific lands to the descendants of Abraham:
“As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him…. When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites’” (Gen. 15:12; 17-20).
For many years, the Jewish people were dispersed throughout the world, suffering a variety of persecutions culminating in the Holocaust. Through it all, God preserved the Jews as a people, in contrast to all other groups that have been similarly decimated and dispersed. But the Jews survived and were eventually restored as a nation in fulfillment of God’s promises:
“[A]nd I will bring my people Israel back from exile. ‘They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:14-15, NIV).
According to prophecy, Israel was to be restored as a nation in the land promised to Abraham, “never again to be uprooted.” This prophecy could not apply to the restoration from Babylonian captivity, as Israel was dramatically “uprooted” again—this time by the Romans.
“Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes. For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God’” (Eze. 36:22-28, NIV).
God’s promise of restoration and genuine religious revival was given unconditionally to a people who, as God predicted, would profane His name in all the world. Therefore, the promise was not given on condition of obedience. It was given solely on the basis of God’s holy name, with repeated emphasis upon the divine “I will.” God’s promise of return to the land was fulfilled in 1948. Can His promise of spiritual cleansing for Israel be far from fruition?
I believe that the restoration of the nation of Israel in 1948 was the last prophecy to be fulfilled before Christ returns. We are living in the last days, and should expect and be ready for Christ to come at any moment.
The following teachings on Israel have helped me understand the continuing importance of God’s covenant with Israel:
Caryl Matrisciana’s DVD Exposing Christian Palestinianism reveals the error of turning against Israel in these last days.
“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3).
Other signs: Social approval of sin and rise of satanic activity
Human depravity and increasing satanic activity should be seen as signs that the end could be very near. Society has come to a point at which the articulation of Christian beliefs and morality is considered offensive and hateful by the world—where tolerance is defined as nothing short of wholehearted agreement with activities that are in conflict with the Bible.
Satan is the cause of our social unraveling. Know Your Enemy, by the FUEL Project, is a chilling overview of how Satan has merged ancient paganism into the church, popular culture, and governmental systems through occult influences and secret societies
Satan is very active in the church today, which should not surprise us, given that scripture teaches that there will be a great falling away at the end (II Thess. 2:3 & I Tim. 4:1).
In a DVD series entitled Wide is the Gate (3 volumes), Caryl Matrisciana traces the demonic influence of Hinduism and other eastern religions on the Christian Church. Many of Caryl’s videos and teachings can be accessed on YouTube.
The Submerging Church DVD, by Joe Schimmell of Good Fight Ministries, exposes the seductive attraction of the emerging church for many would-be Christians. Some clips from The Submerging Church are available on YouTube.
The DVD Hell’s Bells 2: The Power and Spirit of Popular Music, by Eric Holmberg of the Apologetics Group, takes a thoroughly Christian look at Satanism and the out-of-control sexuality in rock music. Hell’s Bells 2 is also available on YouTube.
Despite the fact that Satan is incredibly active in our world, Christians should rejoice, for our “redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). No matter what Satan does or attempts to do, he has lost. Therefore, signs of increasing demonic desperation should be viewed in terms of the nearness of our deliverance.
Rise of Islam
Many Christians believe that the Antichrist will come from the European Union, and that he will control a global new world order. But what if the Antichrist isn’t European? What if the Antichrist is Islamic? Of great interest to me is the description in Revelation of the martyrs being beheaded (see Rev. 20:4). Beheading is the manner in which Islamic fundamentalists create Christian martyrs (in addition to killing a great number of other individuals in this manner).
The European Antichrist theory posits a new world order in which secularists, the new age, and the occult unite to worship the Antichrist. This scenario could happen. Absolutely. But what if Antichrist doesn’t have complete control of the world? What if two satanic forces—Islam and secularism—battle for control of the world, with neither side prevailing?
The Bible indicate that the Antichrist will be a man of war, and that he will face military challenges from the south, the north, and the east:
“At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushites in submission. But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many” (Dan. 11:40-44, NIV).
It doesn’t sound like the Antichrist is in control of a global new world order. Rather, he faces constant threats from leaders powerful enough to alarm him. The text specifically says that Edom, Moab, and Ammon will be delivered from the Antichrist, meaning that he will not gain control of these territories. Therefore, the Islamic Antichrist theory could have merit—IF one understands that the Antichrist is just one of the deceptions Satan will use in the end times.
The following resources may be helpful for studying the rise and possible role of Islam in end-time events:
Franklin Graham on the question “Is Christian Persecution Reaching Biblical Proportions?”
Resources from Joel Richardson:
“Will the Biblical Antichrist be a Muslim?”
Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist
End Times Eyewitness: Israel, Islam and the Unfolding Signs of Messiah's Return documentary film
John MacArthur on the Jesus of Islam
Short video by The Voice of the Martyrs, "Liena's Prayer"
Time to get serious about salvation
If you are not saved, please listen to Pastor Francis Chan speak about the two most-destructive lies that keep millions from turning to God.
Please accept Jesus Christ as your Savior—your Substitute. He finished your salvation for you, and He offers it as a free gift if you will accept. The gift of salvation is offered by grace alone through faith alone. If you ask, God will give you the faith you need for salvation. Then, you will be ready whenever Christ comes!
“Even So Come,” by Tommee Profitt & Brooke Griffith
“Forever,” by Kari Jobe
~ July 26, 2015