Understanding the Times of the Signs – Part Two
Vol: 89 Issue: 24 Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The last time I visited Israel was just before the signing of the Oslo Agreement in 1993. At the time I was there, both the West Bank and Gaza were part of Israel.
We travelled freely north and south along the Jordanian border, past Jewish settlements then-extending throughout the West Bank. I recall at one point being struck by the contrasts between the opposite sides of the same road.
To the east was the border with Jordan: razor wire fencing, a buffer strip laced with mines, another razor wire fence and beyond that, an endless expanse of nothing.
Not five hundred yards to the west were neatly planted rows of orange and other fruit trees. The orchard stretched on for miles. It was as endlessly green on the Israeli side as it was dry and brown on Jordan’s.
There wasn’t a half-mile between them, but they might as well have been on opposite sides of the earth. It had once all been as barren as a moonscape. But when the Jews moved in, the land responded to their touch, just as Scripture prophesied.
Everything that they had touched had prospered. (That which was turned over to Palestinians since has withered and died.)
A Judgment AND a Prophecy
As two nations, Arabs and Jews share a common ancestry going back to Abraham, his sons Isaac and Ishmael, and grandsons Jacob and Esau.
“And he [Ishmael] will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” (Genesis 16:12)
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” Genesis 17:20
“And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23)
Understanding that the Arab-Israeli conflict is rooted in Bible prophecy is key to understanding the times that fit the signs for the last days.
It is a conflict that began more than four thousand years ago following the death of Joshua.
The Israelites disobeyed God and entered into peace agreements with the Jebusites of Jerusalem, the Canaanites that inhabited areas of the West Bank, and the Amorites who inhabited what is modern Jordan.
“And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed My voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.”
It was both a judgment and a prophecy. Today, both sides continue to negotiate despite knowing that neither side can prevail in the debate over ownership of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
For one side to prevail, the other side’s god has to lose — a snare from which there is no discernible way out.
The Times of The Signs
Just as the Mahdi is central to Islamic eschatology, [study of the last days] the coming of the Jewish Moshiac [Messiah] is central to Jewish eschatology.
The Jews of Israel reject the notion that their Messiah has already come. The messiah they are waiting for is a political figure. The Jews are not expecting a Messiah/ God.
They are expecting a political deliverer with a direct line to God, more along the lines of Moses. They look for someone who will bring peace and deliverance to Israel.
The Sanhedrin (97b) delineates ten specific signs that will accompany the advent of the Jewish Messiah.
1.) The world will either be all righteous or all guilty.
2.) Truth will be in short supply.
3) Inflation will soar.
4)Israel will be restored and repopulated.
5) Wise people will be scarce.
6) Jews will despair of their redemption.
7) The young will despise the old.
8) Scholarship will be rejected.
9) Piety will be held in disgust.
10) Jews will turn against Jews.
Admittedly it could be argued that most of these signs are pretty general and could have applied to any generation in history. Except for the restoration of Israel — without which, none of the other signs are relevant. And all ten signs must accompany the messiah.
It is much easier to argue the world is all guilty than it would be to try and pinpoint some examples of righteous worldly behavior. And to say truth is in short supply is the understatement of the 21st century. And so it goes, down the list.
Suffice to say that based on the Jewish signs of the times, the coming of the Jewish Mosiach is not merely imminent, but overdue.
When the Messiah came the first time, He lamented: “I am come in My Father’s Name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” (John 5:43)
This time the Jews are ready for their messiah. So ready that, at first, they will embrace an impostor, says the Apostle Paul.
“Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:4)
This is uniquely Jewish and uniquely for the last days. When the antichrist enters the restored Temple and takes his seat on the Mercy Seat of the Ark, that is the ‘abomination of desolation’ referred to by Jesus as the event that kicks off the last half of the Tribulation Period.
“Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains . . . But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matthew 24:16,20-21)
As we examine and compare the various eschatological views, what I want you to keep in mind is that they are unchanged over the centuries. For the most part, they’ve existed down through the ages without modification.
Much of what Islamic eschatology predicted for the last days fits with this generation. That doesn’t mean that I believe that Islamic prophecy or the Koran are divinely inspired.
Things that are different are not the same. The Koran contradicts the Bible. I believe the Bible was inspired by God. God doesn’t contradict His own Word.
But as we saw in yesterday’s brief, Islamic prophecy is loosely based on Jewish and Christian teaching – it draws on Divine inspiration given elsewhere. Consequently, Islam has its own antichrist, [al-Dajill] its own messiah [the Mahdi] and its own religious beast [Isa].
Note that the physical existence of Israel in the last days is central to all three eschatological schemes.
In Judaism and Christianity, Israel’s eternal salvation is at the heart and soul of all end times prophecy and Israel’s redemption is the central purpose of the last days.
In Islamic eschatology, Israel is the enemy of the Muslim Umma and will be eternally destroyed by Allah in the last days.
The point is that all three religious systems point to the same generation as the generation of the end. The generation that witnessed the restoration of Israel.
That doesn’t mean, as I said earlier, that Islam is divinely inspired — quite the opposite. If anything it proves that the Enemy also believes this is the generation that will see the return of Christ and the fulfillment of all things.
And so part of what we are witnessing is the Enemy getting his ducks in a row.
“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” (Revelation 12:12)
“So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. ” (Matthew 24:33-34)
And we have front row seats.