There are few things more important than understanding the times you live in.
In the Old Testament men from the Tribe of Issachar were commended because they understood the times and knew what to do. They helped bring about the ascension of King David and the establishment of Christ’s lineage. On the other hand, the generation who rejected Christ was criticized for not knowing the signs of the times, and they destroyed their nation. So it can be seen that understanding the times is the key to destiny.
One of the reasons that Jesus was so critical of His generation was the book of Daniel. Daniel’s prophecies described the nations of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome which came into power over Israel. He described the desecration and rededication of the Temple. And, most importantly, His prophecy of the 70 7’s pinpoints the year when Jesus began His ministry and dated His atoning death 3 ½ years later. Daniel wrote the history of the nations, Israel, and the ministry of Jesus almost 600 years before it happened. The signs were there for anyone to see.
Our generation also has a prophetic book which records the history of the nations and Israel, and of the coming of Christ. Our book also tells of a new prophetic player, the Church. This book spans a period of almost 2000 years with amazingly detailed pictures of the nations, the church, Israel, and the second coming of Christ. We can look to the book of Revelation for the signs of our times.
Let us start with the nations, whose history is written in the vision of Babylon in the 17th chapter of Revelation. Here the book shows a seven headed beast which we are told represents seven great empires. Five, being Babylon, Egypt, Assyria/Babylon, Persia and Greece, had fallen when the book was written. The sixth was Rome, which ruled when the book was written. The seventh is believed to be the reformed Roman empire under the Popes. By now, of course, the sixth and seventh kingdoms are in the past along with the other five.
The vision next describes 10 Kings, which would be the European nations which formed after the Popes lost their power. These 10 nations became the great colonial empires and they, and their offspring, did in fact rule the world until the middle of the 20th century. Just look at a world map in 1914 to see the accuracy of the prophecy from Revelation.
But then two world wars broke out and led to the dissolution of the colonial empires. The 10 Kings are no longer in power, but they will make way for the 8th King, whom we call the Anti-Christ. So, in the history of the nations, we are at the twilight of the era of the 10 Kings and are awaiting the appearance of the 8th King, the Anti-Christ. He is not here yet, and we know he is coming, but this is no time to hide out in fear as some are suggesting. We are not yet in the time of the end.
The times of the Church can be understood from the vision of the Seven Seals, which are opened by Christ because He purchased the Church with His sacrifice. The first four seals, popularly known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, actually represent four false religious systems which have attacked the Church. The white horse represents persecution under pagan Rome, the red horse war with Islam, the black horse persecution by the Secularists, and the pale horse persecution by the emerging New Age movement. All of these are present in the world today, with the New Age movement making its national debut in Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
The fifth seal answers the question of when God will bring an end to the persecution of the Church. It will end, says He, when the number of the Church has been completed. In other words, God is holding back the end while He is building His Church. And, if you look around the world today, God is bulding His Church by millions and hundreds of millions. This is the Great Age of the Harvest, the most glorious and exciting time in the history of the Church. And we who understand the times must forget about hiding in the hills and instead partner with God in His Great Harvest as this Age is winding down.
Time is also winding down for Israel, and its history can be told from the vision of the Seven Trumpets. The first four trumpet visions describe the effect of the Church’s enemies on Israel. Thus, the Romans drove them out of the land, the Islamics took the blazing Temple Mount, the Secularists persecuted the Jews, and the New Age Nazis killed one third of the “Sun, Moon and Stars,” a prophetic description of the Jews. As with the Church, these four trumpet visions are now history.
The fifth trumpet vision describes a people who worship a meteorite, are told not to harm the trees or grass and who have the key to the Abyss. This is an amazing description of the Arabs , who are prophesied to wage a 150 year war on Israel. This war, which began with Israel’s nationhood in 1948, would last until 2098 if the 150 year prophecy is correctly understood. Thus, there will be no peace in the Middle East as the world marches on toward the end of time.
The Bible tells us that after our times the Anti-Christ will arise on the strength of a new religion similar to the New Age religion. He will start a world war and will be victorious, establishing a totalitarian state which persecutes Christians and Jews. The Church will be “raptured” to meet Jesus, but only after He has destroyed the Anti-Christ in the battle of Armageddon. The Church is instructed to have patience, endurance and faithfulness during this time.
So we, too, should have patience, endurance, and above all faithfulness as we understand our times. It is true that the dark times of the Anti-Christ are coming, and the world will be unstable because Israel will be at war with the Arabs until then. However, this is also the Golden Age of the Church and the greatest time ever to be alive for Christians.
Our calling, and our destiny, are to partner with God in His Great Harvest until the number of the Church is completed and Jesus comes to take us home.
It is our prayer that, like the men of Issachar, we will understand the times and know what to do.