The prophecies written in the books of Daniel and Revelation describe a sequence of events spanning a period of 3,500 years. Since the prophecies began during the fifth century B.C., we have been able to observe prophetic fulfillment unfold over the past 2,600 years. More than two-thirds of this prophetic time line has expired. In fact, it is the precise fulfillment of apocalyptic prophecy during the past 2,600 years that provides a high level of certainty that future elements will come to pass as specified. Because the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation observe a well defined architecture, we can determine our location within the chronological order of events they predict. In other words, we can verify what has happened in the past and we can determine the next prophetic event.
The world stands on the doorstep of a great transition. Earth's civilizations as we currently know them, are about to undergo a radical rebirth. I am not describing another world order based on the political realignment of the kingdoms of men. That type of realignment has been going on ever since nations came to be. Instead, I am describing A New-World order, which God will soon establish. The Bible is the only source of truth on this subject. The Bible is the only book that contains a comprehensive road-map of soon-coming events and the Bible is the only authority that speaks for God on this matter. For these reasons, people should carefully consider the contents of the Bible. The people of Earth need to fully prepare for what God is about to do.
If life continues on its present path, planet Earth faces a cataclysmic destiny. We can already see the birth pains. Tensions between nations continues to mount. But, consider the impact that God is soon to have upon the world. God is going to abruptly startle the six billion inhabitants of the world with a great show of divine authority. In the coming confusion, mayhem and suffering that is just around the bend, a trustworthy road-map on the forthcoming actions of God will be of enormous value. Even though the road-map of Bible prophecy does not reveal a pretty picture, it does offer a ray of hope shining from the end of a short, but very dark tunnel. For this reason alone, the Bible should receive a much higher level of respect and consideration. After investigating the subject of Bible prophecy for many years, I am convinced that whether we believe or disbelieve, agree or disagree with Bible prophecy, man's opinions about God do not change Him or His actions. Whether we believe Bible prophecy or not, all that God has promised, He will do. All that He has predicted will come to pass.
What do we face?
What follows is a partial summary of coming events that will affect the entire planet. The book of Revelation predicts four global earthquakes. These earthquakes will increase in severity as they occur. They will sever bridges, break up hydroelectric dams, tear train tracks apart, collapse metropolitan freeway overpasses and kill many people. Obviously, many tall buildings will collapse. The world's economy, communication and manufacturing infrastructures will come to a screeching halt. Prior to 1994, scientists had claimed that a "global" earthquake was physically impossible. However, last year an earthquake in South America, with an epicenter 400 miles below the surface, proved that tectonic plates exist much deeper than ever thought possible. This earthquake not only shook the western hemisphere, it also proved that a global earthquake is a distinct possibility.
In addition to four global earthquakes, Revelation also predicts a meteoric shower of burning hail that will ignite unquenchable forest fires all over the world. This cataclysmic event will burn millions of acres of trees and more importantly, food crops.
Until the 1980's, scientists scoffed at the notion that this planet had ever been impacted by a civilization-threatening asteroid. However, in the past decade, new technology has helped scientists to identify more than 120 impact craters on Earth. A few of the craters are more than 150 miles in diameter. Now that powerful telescopes have vividly recorded Shoemaker-Levy 9's impact with Jupiter, no one is laughing at the possibility that a massive asteroid could hit Earth again . In fact, the book of Revelation predicts two asteroid impacts. One asteroid will impact an ocean and the resulting tsunami will wash away coastal cities with the same ease that high tide removes footprints from the sand of a beach. Then, a second asteroid impact will obliterate much of a continent. Many, perhaps millions of people who survive the initial impact will eventually perish from drinking contaminated water. (Ground waves from a massive asteroid impact will sheer both man-made and natural geological structures allowing deadly bacteria to enter underground aquifers.) The Bible does not say which ocean or which continent will be impacted, but we can be sure that when it happens, it will not come as a random event, for God maintains a deliberate and specific purpose in all that He does.
Adding to this coming global misery, Revelation also predicts that darkess will cover the Earth for a number of months. This darkness could be caused by a series of volcanic eruptions that occur shortly after the asteroid impacts. Consider this scenario: No sun, no crops. No crops, no more food. A world-wide famine is coming. As bad as this description seems, the most frightening part of Revelation's story is not the global disasters, but the response of desperate men and women trying to survive the judgments of God. The Bible predicts that political and religious leaders will hastily create a world-wide organization to appease the wrath of an angry God. And the Bible predicts this organization will have global authority and power almost instantly!
This is no fairy tale. This is not a reality check. These events are imminent and you need to know what is in our path. Why is God going to send these disastrous signs? He is going to get the full attention of every living person on Earth-all six billion of us. He is about to disrupt the affairs of man suddenly and during a short period of 1,335 days, He will sort through the people of Earth. He will separate the good from the bad, the sheep from the goats. During this time, God will present the terms and conditions of salvation to every member of the human race, and He will see to it that every person hears His offer of salvation. God has predetermined that every human being shall seriously consider His coming kingdom. The good news is that everyone will be invited to be a part of God's New-World order, even the most vile person on Earth can be part of the new kingdom (if he repents and turns from sin and rebellion). The flip side of the coin is that God intends to destroy the kingdoms of men. This includes everyone opposed to His government and authority, even "self-righteous church-going saints" unless they also repent and turn from their sins. Keep in mind, God is impartial. He loves everyone equally. But, the human race has gone too far. Corporately speaking, the actions and attitudes of Earth's inhabitants are too violent, decadent and beyond repair. Sin brings decadence and decadence has filled the world's cup of iniquity. As a result, time has almost come for God to visit Earth.
How soon is the end?
The Bible speaks of Earth's final events as "The End of the Age" or "The Time of the End." Several Bible authors write about this period of time because the end of the age is marked by a complete spiritual and physical reconfiguration of planet Earth. In a small way, signs of this coming planetary transformation are visible today. For example, geo-physical events include weather systems that are producing more droughts and a higher frequency of violent storms. This past fall, the number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean affecting North America set a new record. Seismic activity is also increasing on a logarithmic scale. It is astounding to realize that more earthquakes measuring 6.0 and above on the richter scale have been recorded this decade (and this is only 1995) than have been recorded during the past 90 years! Volcano activity is also on the increase. Our planet now has more than 400 active volcanos. Are these physical changes an omen or sign of what is to come? Yes. Consider the financial impact from nature's violence on the financial institutions of the world. Many insurance companies are in deep trouble as a result of previous natural disasters. The repair bill for Hurricane Andrew alone depleted insurance companies of more than 13 billion dollars. How many storms will occur before the giants of the world's economy are blown away?
What about the spiritual condition of man? Have you noticed the fracturing (breakup) of society. Have you observed the rising concerns about the issue of ethnic origin? In Bosnia, the primacy of ethnic origin has literally torn a nation apart. Can peace be found between the Croats, Muslims and Serbs? What about the Middle East? Can peace be attained between Jews and Arabs? What about Rwanda? Is peace possible between the Hutus and the Tutsis? Is peace a reality between the blacks and whites in South Africa? What about Iraq, Iran and Kuwait? Will these Moslem brothers find a lasting peace? What about the former Soviet Union? Will the leaders in Moscow be able to gain control over the ethnic diversities that spans eight time-zones? What about the United States of America? Can peace and good faith be established between Afro-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native-Americans and White-Americans? Looking at the future of our planet in general, everything seems to indicate increased tension over ethnic origins. On a global scale, what will be the state of race relations in ten years? What will the current increase in ethnic allegiance bring to those nations which are composed of many ethnic groups? As the global population continues to dramatically increase (a net gain of 9 million per month), another world war seems inevitable. Since many nations now have nuclear capability, what will the planet look like after World War III? It is time to wake up! Planetary resources are too few for so many people and this will bring, in due time, a global revolution. The world's political leaders can see the problems and they wrestle with their complexity. But men cannot solve the developing crisis. World leaders are groping for answers and in this setting of uncertainty, fear rises and anger builds. Consequently, people are studying ways to protect themselves from each other. Is this the next wave? Can we really save ourselves?
Although the Bible does not precisely state when the end of the age will occur, it does offer enough data to determine a "window of time" during which the end of the age happens. For example, if a person totals all the prophetic time-periods in Daniel and Revelation, the genealogical records of Genesis and Exodus, and the years from the Exodus to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., the Bible only refers to 7,000 years (plus or minus 70 years). We know that the 1,000 years of Revelation 20 occurs after The Great Tribulation. This suggests that on or about the 6,000 year-mark, life as we now know it will come to an end. According to my calculations, The Great Tribulation could begin any time. Maybe the end of the age will occur sometime between 1998 and 2002-but the passage of time will have to reveal the actual date. This much is certain, all of the world will notice the commencement of The Great Tribulation for it is marked with one of four global earthquakes and other celestial signs. (See Revelation 8:5.)
There is a plan
God is sovereign. God has a plan for Earth. He has a purpose for each individual. To understand God's purpose and plan takes some effort and personal desire. The Bible reveals everything we need to know, and we need to know all that we can know. The end-time story in Revelation is not based on a continual decline into global, moral bankruptcy. No, the end-time story, like an ellipse, focuses on two points. The first point is time, the second is degeneration. In other words, if degeneration is given enough time, it overcomes man. If history reveals anything, it clearly shows that civilizations come and go. The length of time a civilization enjoys prosperity is directly proportional to God's favor. Notice this response of the prophet Daniel to King Nebuchadnezzar:"He [the God of Heaven] changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning."(Daniel 2:21) Each time we have a political election in the United States, I reflect on this text. How does God set up kings (or leaders) and depose of them when they are elected to office by popular vote (or lack thereof)? I have found a rather simple answer: God is able to bring about circumstances that propel people in various directions. One clear example of this is found in the story about the Tower of Babel. God altered the common language of man by creating many languages and this simple event brought about the dispersion of nations. (See Genesis 11:1-9.) Back to Daniel for one more point, notice Daniel's statement to Nebuchadnezzar about the quality of men God places in leadership:"The decision [to punish you for unbridled vanity, oh king] is announced by messengers, the holy ones [angels] declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men."(Daniel 4:17)
Here is a profound point: When a nation turns its back on principles of righteousness, when individuals turn away from right doing, God deals with that nation and its citizens accordingly. The prophet Daniel understood why he was in Babylon as a captive. Notice his confession:"All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. "Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you."(See Daniel 9:11 and Ezekiel 14:12-22.)
These principles are timeless because God is eternal. However, few people step back and study the larger picture. The big picture reveals a global civilization that has reached its end. The world is too small and its resources too few. The cancer of sin has become pandemic. Selfish ambitions and the love of money have bought out every enterprise. Affections for each other are too cold and ethnicity too important. All of these things serve to alienate us from one another. So, what must God do with this wayward planet? He must act. He will act.
Remember any serious attempt to save ourselves or protect ourselves from the coming tribulation is a lot like arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. What difference does it ultimately make where the chairs are placed on a ship headed for the bottom of the ocean? This is why the next global drama is in God's court. He sees the enormous mess we are in. Just like Humpty Dumpty (world civilization), all the king's horses and all the king's men (the efforts of man), cannot put it together again. In the language of Monday night football, we have reached fourth and goal, 5 seconds remain on the clock, and it is God's turn to make the last call. His game-plan can be found in the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation.
God is at work
The Bible indicates that God will accomplish a number of important matters during the Great Tribulation. First, He will awaken every person on Earth to the fact that Jesus, the Judge of all mankind, is about to appear and require an account of each person's behavior. Second, God is about to expose the properties of sin to the human race because few people recognize or understand sin's powerful effects. Third, God is going to expose the contents of every human heart by placing a comprehensive test of faith before each of us. Finally, God will silence the blasphemous claims of the world's religious systems. He will demonstrate that we cannot obtain salvation through membership in any religious system. God is about to inform the world that salvation only comes through total commitment and submission to Jesus Christ.
Most of the prophetic interpretations we hear on radio and TV are misleading. Do not misunderstand. People can believe anything they choose to believe about the future, but what effect does belief or denial have on coming events? Almost everyone in Noah's day refused to believe a flood was coming. What effect did their denial have on the promised event? My point is that millions of people have been led to anticipate things that will never happen and when the predicted events of Revelation begin, everything that can be shaken, will be shaken. On that day many people will abandon their faith in God because they placed their faith in their religious leaders instead of studying God's word for themselves. Even worse, many religious leaders have not spiritually prepared their flocks (their parishioners) for the trying circumstances they are about to face. What is more bitter than the experience of misplaced trust? I mention this matter because most religious leaders, either do not know about the coming events or they deny the seriousness of the 14 events that are just before us.
So, a very serious problem exists. Few people have been spiritually prepared for the trying experiences ahead. What many people have been led to believe about God is not true. In the coming hour of tribulation, many unprepared people will become bitter. In their anger, frustration and fear, many people will grow to hate God. Of course, such hatred will be misdirected. However, since most Christians have a Bible, whom should God hold responsible for having faulty knowledge?
God is largely misunderstood today
The character of God is poorly understood even in America. Most men and women diminish His authority, glory and power, because He has not recently revealed Himself in the affairs of man. The prophet, Isaiah is a good example, however, of a human response when witnessing God's great power. Falling on his face, Isaiah cried out,"Woe is me."Conversely, Isaiah was also amazed at God's reluctance to show Himself as the Almighty. Isaiah wrote,"Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel."(Isaiah 45:15)
God's apparent silence comes as a consequence of sin. Just as offenses physically separate friends or family members, the offensiveness of sin separates us from God's physical presence. As generations come and go, knowledge of God dims. The reality of God becomes faint, and the longer we go without renewed evidence of God's authority and glory, the more silent He appears to be. In the vacuum of this silence, sin becomes more attractive and less offensive. Sinners become bold and defiant in transgression. Sin metastasizes. Violence, sorrow and suffering spring up like dandelions after a spring rain. Every night, the evening news confirms our accelerating slide into depravity. Degenerate, even hideous sins are either justified or glamorized on TV. Sin has a strange effect on human beings it causes sinners to minimize the effects or the guilt of their wrong actions. Think about this for a full five seconds: Sin causes human beings to deny the significance of personal wrong doing! (How many people in prison falsely maintain innocence?)
The Bible reveals that God breaks His silence from time to time. He uses four judgments to limit the growth of sin. (Ezekiel 14:21) These four judgments are sword, famine, plague and wild beasts. In His infinite wisdom, God allows nations to rule until they fill up their cup of iniquity, and when they do, the Bible says that He removes them from power. (See Daniel 2:21; 4:16, Leviticus 18:24-27.) What makes this process so remarkable is that God, even within the chaos of sin, completely accomplishes His plans and purposes on this Earth! We may try to explain the outcome of Earthly events by analyzing the actions of the players, but this is only a limited view. Do not be naive and think that things happen by the prowess of man. Nothing happens in the universe without God's knowledge and permission. Even though we are unable to see God on His throne, we can know that He reigns over the kingdoms of man. God is sovereign. We may not see all that He is doing, but the evidence is right before our eyes. The Bible is clear God is in control. How He maintains control over Earth is a mystery. That He does it without showing Himself, I call His silence.
God's silence is not too hard to penetrate, if you really want to see and hear Him. The evidences of His handiwork are all around us if we want to acknowledge Him. However, if we do not want to give Him respect, we can easily ignore Him and deny Him the recognition He is due. Thus, His silence compliments our power of choice. God can either be the greatest and most wonderful being in the universe, or if we choose, we can deny His existence. What a God! Perhaps the least understood element within God's character is His reluctance to awe His creatures with His powers and presence. His silence will be a topic of eternal discovery!
A very important point
When God breaks His silence by raining down His judgments upon Earth, the events will be understood even though God will be grossly misunderstood. To appease God and stay His awful judgments, the world's religious and political systems will enact laws "honoring God" that will be contrary to what He actually wants! What God seeks from man is a repentant heart and a willing attitude. He calls men and women to live a life free of the damning power of sin. Even more, He grants men and women who put their faith in Him, the power to achieve victory over sin. Unfortunately, Revelation predicts that most men and women will reject God's gracious offer of grace, the power over sin and resulting salvation. The hearts of many people have become hardened in rebellion because of their love for sin. But, this is not the end of the story. Revelation also predicts that the wicked will be marked by a spirit of intolerance when confronted with the Holy Spirit's authority within God's messengers. A day is soon coming when evil men will punish and torture those who obey the living God of Heaven. The persecutors will think, like Pilate, that they can wash their hands from their guilt. But, God never ignores evil even though He may allow it to flourish for a season. God will avenge every evil deed and be sure justice is equitably administered for all the pain inflicted upon His children. (See Revelation 18:6 and Obadiah 1:15.)
In the context of His coming judgments, God's character and His behavior will be misrepresented and misinterpreted. This is the heart of Revelation's story. It is a story of a loving God visiting a planet in trouble. It is a story of a just God rendering justice and a merciful God extending mercy. What does it say about the human race when God is left with no other alternative than deadly judgments to gain man's full attention?
Revelation is a story about rebellious people and a world gone astray. Most people, when put to the coming test of faith in God, will openly and conscientiously reject the clearest evidences of God's truth. They will unite themselves in rebellion against the Ten Commandments of the Most High God by obeying the laws of the coming Antichrist the devil himself. God is going to allow Satan to physically appear at an appointed time. This is one of the most deadly deceptions to occur during The Great Tribulation. You need to understand that God allows the devil to appear and personate Christ before Christ returns. Many people will receive this deception as a true manifestation of Christ because"they refused to love the truth and so be saved."(2 Thessalonians 2:10) This imposter will claim to be God and will lead the people of Earth to believe that he has come to establish a thousand years of peace. But, his claims are lies. Why will the majority of the world be duped by this coming imposter? Jesus said,"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."(John 3:19-20)
Keep in mind that the Bible underscores a glorious but sublime truth. God does not condemn a person for believing a lie. Rather, He condemns only the people who willfully refuse to believe the truth! Think of it this way. If God places the clearest evidence of truth before His creatures and they refuse to agree with His principles of righteousness and His sovereign authority, what more can be done? Is life whose source is God a privilege or a right? From God's perspective, are rebellious creatures just as deserving of eternal life as submissive creatures? Where in this universe can a rebellious creature live in peace, if God is omnipresent throughout His realm? These are thoughtful questions that we must address. The eternal kingdom of God has a set of issues and parameters that go far beyond our brief life span of 70 years and the limits of travel we have today. Shouldn't we think about the issues of His kingdom, if we plan to be a part of it.
It is time to end this essay. If my conclusions are right, God is about to break His silence. On that dreadful day, everyone will know that God's patience with sin and sinners has reached its limit. On that day, mortals living on a tiny speck of a planet called Earth will know that Almighty God, Owner of the Universe, has summoned man to appear before His everlasting throne of righteousness. Is there anything we can do about these coming events? Yes. We can prepare to be a part of God's new creation. How does one get prepared? By first understanding the issues involved and the process that God is going to follow to resolve the problems of Earth. These matters are only explained in one place-The Bible. So, get ready, for ready or not, the kingdom of God is at hand!