Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (2 Peter 3:3-4)
At breakfast with some friends (“brothers”) recently, the conversation turned to current world events and the rapid moral decline of our nation and the world in general. I suggested that this should not come as a surprise to us Christians because the Lord told us to expect these things in the “last days.”
One of my brothers quickly spoke up and said that we have always had these things: wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, natural disasters, etc. Things have always been this way since the beginning of history. I had to agree. These things have always been a part of history, and there has always been someone trying to conquer and rule the world. Indeed, there is nothing new about this. However, things are not exactly the same, and Israel is the key.
Jesus’ disciples “came unto him privately, saying, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). These men were Jews, and at that time, they had no idea about the Church that was to come. It was still a mystery to them. They probably did not even understand that Jesus must go to the cross. They believed in Jesus as the Messiah that was to come, but they still had the idea that He would establish an earthly kingdom that would throw off the yoke of the Roman empire. Their hopes would soon be dashed when the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus. All the disciples ran away in fear.
In their minds, the disciples probably assumed that Jesus would set up His kingdom very soon followed by the end of the “world.” The word in Greek, aiōn, is better translated as “age.” Also, the Greek definite article, to, can also be translated as “this.” So, the question can be rendered, “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of this age?” They were looking and hoping for His kingdom now, and the end of this age now. Jesus’ response in the verses that follow focused on Jews and the nation of Israel. Jesus’ message followed the teachings of the Old Testament prophets, which maintained the end-times focus on Israel. The prophecies given to Daniel were intended for Israel. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24, emphasis mine). Daniel also wanted to know when these things would come to pass, but those details were denied to him. “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4, emphasis mine).
Even though end-times prophecy focuses on Israel, it carries worldwide implications. The events Jesus and the prophets described will affect the entire world, but the intent is “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24). The greatest “transgression” for Israel was the rejection of their Messiah – bad for them, good for us Gentiles. The “end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness” comes when “the most Holy” (i.e., Jesus) is anointed as King of kings and Lord of lords. That happens at the “end of this age,” and at the beginning of the Millennium.
Going back to my brother’s scoff that, “things have always been this way,” unless one is just not paying attention, things in this world have deteriorated exponentially in just the last 10-20 years. Even non-believers can see it. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has plans for a one-world government, and they proudly publish their plans for all to see. Wars and rumors of wars abound with Russia threatening nuclear war, North Korea exercising its ballistic missiles over the sovereign country of Japan, China flexing its military muscles against the tiny, island country of Taiwan, Iran building up its nuclear arsenal as it continues to spew out threats against Israel and the United States, etc. Meanwhile, Israel seeks peace with Lebanon (Hezbollah, a proxy of Iran) by giving up its claim to its Mediterranean gas fields in exchange for peace.
While all of this is going on, economies are collapsing all over the world. Europe lost its gas supply line from Russia just as winter begins to set in. Many lives will be lost because people cannot heat their homes. The loss of gas may put a greater demand on Europe’s electrical grid, which could create other problems with food storage or food preparation. Speaking of food, droughts all over the world threaten the food supply and raise the specter of famine and starvation. All of this is of little concern to the WEF because they plan to reduce the world population to save the planet (for themselves).
The moral decline in the world presents itself in all kinds of sexual perversion, the slaughter of unborn babies, and senseless violence. As Jesus put it, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). We are seeing all of these things coming together, and in deference to my brother, it has never been like this before.
The existence of the nation of Israel makes the key difference in the way things have always been and what is happening today. When Israel rejected and crucified their Messiah, God ended His dealings with them (temporarily) in 70 A.D. when the Romans leveled the Temple in Jerusalem and razed the city. Jews scattered to the four corners of the globe and never returned to their land. In their diaspora, they maintained their national and ethnic identity and all of their Jewish customs and traditions. That cannot be said of any other people groups having been expatriated from their native land. In addition, even though it was not practiced, they managed to keep their native language alive. Then, after almost 2000 years, God called them back to their promised land just as foretold by the prophets, and they continue to come from all corners of the world. The rebirth of Israel on May 14, 1948, was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:8).
None of the end-times prophecies in the Old Testament can come to pass without Israel being in place. Even Jesus, referring to Daniel’s prophecy, said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16, emphasis mine). The “abomination of desolation” cannot take place without a Jewish Temple, and there can be no Temple without the nation of Israel. Everything for the Temple to be built is ready. All that is needed now is for the world (especially the Arab world) to give the Okay for its construction on the Temple Mount.
Things have always been this way, except that now, all these things are increasing (as labor pains) with more frequency and intensity. However, the key to it all, which has not always been this way, is that Israel is in place, ready for the remaining prophecies to fall into place.
Jesus directed His Olivet Discourse to the Jews. All end-times prophecies have to do with Israel. Of course, they have worldwide implications. What happens to Christians in the end-times? We will not be here. Daniel’s prophecy calls for 70 x 7 or 490 years “determined upon thy people [i.e., Israel] and upon thy holy city [i.e., Jerusalem]” (Daniel 9:24). From the time that Cyrus gave permission to rebuild the Second Temple to the day that Jesus was crucified, 483 of those years were fulfilled to the day. Seven years remain, which is the Tribulation, aka “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” That is the time described by Jesus in His Olivet Discourse and in most of the book of Revelation. That is a time for God’s wrath upon a sinful, unrepentant world, and a time to redeem Israel. Christians are promised to be kept from the “wrath of God”
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:6, emphasis mine)
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: (Colossians 3:5-6, emphasis mine)
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10, emphasis mine)
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:9, emphasis mine)
Before going to the cross, Jesus promised to return for His own to take them to be with Him in His Father’s house. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). Jesus will come to take His children and keep them from the “wrath” to come. “For the Lord himself shall 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” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, emphasis mine).
All the things we see taking place tell us that Jesus’ Second Coming is very close. And if His coming is close, the time to call His children out of this world and escape the “wrath to come” is even closer. Are you ready? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”
 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:27, emphasis mine)