Introduction to Prophecy - Church of God - NEO

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Introduction to Prophecy - Church of God - NEO

Introductionto ProphecyWhy look atprophecy today?Was it al/ writtencenturies ago, for apeople longvanished?Or werethese prophecieswritten for our time?But Prophecy Doesn'tMake Sense ••••••••• 2The Background ••••••• 4Unfinished Business... 10Jesus and Prophecy... 14A Voice Across Time.. 18So Now What? ••••• 20THIS BROCHURE IS NOT TO BE SOLD. It is a freeeducational service in the public interest, published bythe Worldwide Church of God.The scriptures quoted in this publication are from theNew King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980,1982 Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.Text by John A. Halford. © 1989 Worldwide Church ofGod. All Rights Reserved. Printed in U.S.A.ISBN 1-55825-275-4


ButProphecyDoesn'tMake Sense!2This booklet introduces you to an importantsubject-one that you maynever have thought was important. Thissubject is prophecy- the messages revealedto Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and theother prophets.Their writings make up a large part ofthe Bible. And they wrote long ago.What have they got to do with you­American, Canadian, English, French,German, Italian, Nigerian or whoeverlivingin the closing years of the 20thcentury?Prophecy seems old fashioned, obscure,and impossible to understand. "Itdoesn't make sense!" some will say. Wehope this booklet will change your view.What do you see when you think of aprophet? A rather odd man dressed in arobe, probably? He has long hair and aneven longer beard. One arm is stretchedout- in the other he holds a scroll. Hiseyes have a frenzied gleam. What is hesaying? "Doom! Woe! The end is nigh!Repent or perish! Prepare to meet thyGod!"-things like that. His audience iseither jeering at him, or covering theirears. No one is taking him seriously, buthe doesn't care. He is driven by his passions-a man obsessed with purpose. Hemust get his message across to wicked,sinful people.That is the traditional view, and frankly,it doesn't look like it has much to do withus today. The prophet seems to belong toanother age, when a stern and vengefulGod rained down fire and brimstone, orplagues and pestilence, on those whowould not obey.Today, people believe God is more tolerant.ow he pleads with a disinterestedworld to acknowledge him. He-and hisreligion-are rather like vitamin pills.You don't n eed them to survive, but younever know-they just may make you feelbetter. Doesn't that view of God fit ourneeds so much better in this sophisticatedage?Why Prophecy TodaySo why look at prophecy today? Because,as we will show you, understandingprophecy changes the way you look athistory and answers important questionsabout the present and the future.Especially the future. We are all concernedabout that. There never has beenanother age quite like ours. Whereasother times have been called "the age ofenlightenment" or the "age of progress,"ours may well be remembered as the "ageof anXiety."On the one hand, we have made incredibleprogress. Most of us (or at least,most of us who are able to read thisbooklet) live at a standard that our forefatherswould have considered the heightof luxury. The average North American,European, or Australian today enjoys alevel of comfort much greater than eventhe kings and emperors of 200 years ago.We take for granted running water, electriclight, education, adequate medicalcare, public and private transportation,books, magazines, radiO, television, thetelephone, clothing, food and fuel. Wehave, in the twentieth century, solvedmost of the problems that once madedaily living for the overwhelming majoritya backbreaking round of drudgery.On the other hand, we have givenourselves a set of problemsour forefathers neverhad to worry about-pollutionof the environment,decline and breakdownof the traditionalfamily and new, dreadfuldiseases. Will the economycollapse? Will therebe a third world war? Ourmodern world, for all itsprogress, is a fragile , uncertainplace.Some futurists tell usthe next century will be ahigh-technology wonder-If prophecyseemsold-fashionedand hard tounderstand, thismay changeyour view.•land where even more dramatic advancesmake life easier and easier for everyone.Biotechnology, they insist, will cure diseasesand lengthen lives. Computers androbots will do all the hard work. We'llabolish poverty. We 'll have universalpeace. We 'll colonize space! We'll ...Others aren't so sure. They see a worldwhere greed and shortsightedness havecaught up with us. The battered environ-


',e up the struggle. Agricul·collap e. The oceans will die.ill vanish. There will be too;>eople-and not enough of any·., e. Life may once again become aggle for survival-ifwe still ex·ist. The gloomiest of thedoomsayers think that wemay destroy ourselves be-oderno 09Y hasade thephets' wordsccessible toeveryone.fore we even make it tothe next century.Who's right? The opti·mist or the pessimist? Wehope it is the optimist be·cause most of us are atheart also optimists. But aquick glance through thedaily newspaper oftenswings the odds in favorof the pessimist. Doesanyone know for sure?The prophets of theBible did. They were a special breed ofoptimists-in spite of their rather grimreputation. But they were realistic opti·mists. They saw what was wrong-andthey saw how it could be put right. Mostof them wrote at a time when their nationswere floundering in moral and spiroitual darkness, and they tried to shine alight into that darkness.Preserved for TodayThe prophets knew they were inspiredby God, who had said, "There is nonelike Me, declaring the end from thebeginning, and from ancient timesthings that are not yet done .... "(Isaiah 46:9·10) .Their immediate concern was theirpresent-and the problems of their time.But they realized their message was big·ger than that-some of their wordsseemed to reach out across time-to gen·erations yet unborn. The prophets be·lieved passionately in their mission-andthat fervor kept them going in the face ofridicule, rejection, and martyrdom. Otherstreasured their words, lovingly preserving,stoutly defending, laboriouslycopying and recopying them by hand onfragile scrolls, or (in translation) in thegreat chained Bibles of the Middle Ages.Because of this labor of love and faith, westill have the words of the prophets today.Modern technology has now madethose words available-in millions ofBibles-in all the major and most of theminor languages of mankind. No longerare the words of Isaiah, Jeremiah andDaniel hidden away in desert caves ormonastery libraries.But they might as well be! Most of usknow very little about the prophets ortheir messages.Do you have a copy of the Bible handy?Take a look at it. The books of prophecymake up about 200 pages. Do they look asif they have been used much?But then, to behonest, do theylook very usable?Reading a book ofprophecy can be afrustrating, bewil·dering experience.It seems to be fullof strange antics,visions and confus·ing and convolutedlanguage. What is ittalking about? Youmean to say this isimportant to menow?Yes, that is whatwe are saying.We want to showwhy this apparentlyobscure subject isi m po rt a nt - t oyou- n o w. W ewant you to see thatit is not so obscure.Proph ecy ca n beunde rstood . Oh,you have to knowsome basics-it'srather like a foreignla n g u age . Wh e nyo u first see it, itseems a total mys·tery. But once youAs Yol BeginThis booklet is designed to be"user friendly"-to quote a mod·ern expression. We will need torefer to the Bible frequently-youcan't write about prophecy withoutdoing that. On first reading you maynot want to stop from time to time tofind the scripture in what may beunfamiliar parts of the Bible. So wewill print all essential scriptures infull, right in the text.Other less essential referenceswill be listed, but not quoted. It isnot necessary to check every one ofthese references as you first readthis brochure. We hope you will findthis brochure interesting, and willwant to go back and read some ofthe chapters again. That is the timeto look up these scriptures. By thenyou will have gained an overview,and you will be surprised to see howapparently obscure parts of theBible become full of meaning. Allscriptures quoted in this booklet arefrom the New King James Version ofthe Bible.have learned a few rules of grammar andsome vocabulary, you can begin to makesense of it. Prophecy is like that.So let's see if those bewildering wordsof Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and company,have anything to do with us today. Let'slook at them more closely. To do this, wemust make a quick survey of the "rags· toriches-to·ruin" story of ancient Israel.3


TheBackgroundWho were the prophets? When didthey live, and why did they do andsay what they did? They spoke long ago toa world that was very unlike ours, beforethe age of newspapers, radio, satellitesand around-the-clock news reports fromall corners of the earth. Their way of communicatinga message was very different.We need to see the prophets in the contextof their time.What motivated these men to preachtheir somber messages? To understand,we must go back to "Bible times," whenthe events recorded in the Scriptureswere actually happening.If you have a Bible handy, turn to thetable of contents at the front, where thebooks of the Old and New Testament areAncient Israel'shistory is aunique recordof a people'srelationshipwith God.JACOB BESTOWS BIRTHRIGHT4listed. This is the orderthat most of us are usedto. If you were to look ata Bible published forthose of the Jewish faith,you would see a differentorder and there would beno New Testament.This difference in orderis not really important forthe average non-Jewishreader, except for onevery important detail: thebooks are divided intocategories. Firstthere are the fivebooks of "thelaw." Next comesa section labeled"the prophets."The books of "thewritings" completethe order ofthe Hebrew Bible.The main differencebetween thisorder and the onein most other ver-sions is in theprophets. It includes the books of Joshua,Judges, First and Second Samuel, andFirst and Second Kings. Christians usuallythink of these as the historical books,because they tell the story of ancient Israelfrom the time they came out of thewilderness to about 850 years later whenthe historical record ends. But the Hebrewcanon of Scripture includes thesebooks in the prophets. They are oftencalled the "former prophets."Why "Former" Prophets?Why should these books be called the"former prophets"? The latter prophets,like Isaiah and Jeremiah, whose messagesare recorded in the Bible, did not comeon the scene until the history of ancientIsrael was nearly over. Yet, from the beginning,long before they wrote, God'shand determined the fortunes of this people.Ancient Israel was a "chosen people."They had entered into a very special relationshipwith God. He was their "head ofstate," and he gave them his laws to liveby. If they obeyed those laws, they wouldbe blessed above all people. However, ifthey disobeyed, God would withhold hisThe HoAccording to theHebrew Canon:THE LAW JeremiahGenesisEzekielPsalmsExodusThe Twelve ProverbsLeviticus Hosea JobNumbers Joel Song of SoDeuteronomy AmosRuthObadiah LamentationsTHE PROPHETS JonahEcclesiastesJoshuaMicahEstherJudgesNahum DanielI SamuelHabakkuk EzraII SamuelZephaniah NehemiahI KingsHaggai I ChroniclesII KingsZechariah II ChroniclesIsaiahMalachiblessing, and the nation would begin toexperience difficulties.Thus, Israel's history is a unique recordof a nation's ongoing relationship withGod. When things went wrong, other nationsmight say it was bad luck, or blamethe government, or the ebb and flow of


- - 0 .. In Israel, many knew better. They- ew. if their national affairs weren't goright,that they were not living up to- e tandard God expected. They alsonew what they must do to make thingsright. If they refused to do right, theycould expect God to continue to punishthem. In that sense, the course of theirhistory was predetermined-or prophesied-longbefore the "latter prophets"began their work. It is important to understandthis point if you are to see whatprophecy has to do with today.In the BeginningThe story of ancient Israel really beginseven before the "former prophets." In thefirst book of the Bible-Genesis-welearn that the ancestor of the Israeliteswas Abraham. He was an unusual man. Hewas not perfect, but he was strong incharacter and faithful in his devotion toGod at a time when most people werenot. God was looking for such a man.It had become quite obvious that theScriptures ...In Most English­Language Versions:Genesis II Chronicles DanielExodus Ezra HoseaLeviticus Nehemiah JoelNumbers Esther AmosDeuteronomy Job ObadiahJoshuaJudgesRuthI SamuelII SamuelI KingsII ngs. lesPsalmsProverbsEcclesiastesSong of SolomonIsaiahJeremiahLamentationsEzekielJonahMicahNahumHabakkukZephaniahHaggaiZechariahMalachihuman race did not know how to liveucce fully in prosperity and peace. Onlya way of life based on God's laws andtarute could ensure this. So God called_ raham and proposed a special agreement.If Abraham and his descendantswould liYe according to God's laws, Godwould bless them above all the people ofthe earth-as an example to others.They would become a role model forGod's way of life. He would settle them inthe Promised Land. There they wouldGod took apersonal handin the fortunesof the chosenpeople.show all nationsthat God's wayworked. As theyobeyed, the blessingswould increase.They wouldachieve international pres- .... _.tige. All nations would lookto them for leadership. Theywould occupy some of theTHE PHARAOH OF THEEXODUSmost abundant and strategic areas of theearth. Even the Messiah would come fromthem.Abraham agreed to God's proposal, anda partnership began (Genesis 12:1-3).God reconfirmed the promise with Abraham'sson Isaac, and later Isaac's son Jacob,whom God renamed Israel. Israelhad 12 sons, whose descendants eventuallybecame the 12 tribes of Israel (Genesis26 :3-5 ; 35:10-12, 23). Jacob eventuallypassed the name and birthright specifi·cally to two of his grandchildren, the twochildren of his favorite son Joseph. But allthe descendants of Jacob's sons were tobe collectively known as the children ofIsrael.You may already know the story of howJacob (Israel) made his favorite sonJoseph a coat of many colors, and howlater Joseph was sold into slavery by hisjealous brothers (Genesis 37).He was taken to Egypt, where, due tohis remarkable ability to interpret dreams,he eventually became the second mostpowerful man in the country. Later, hisbrothers and old father sought refuge inEgypt when a drought ravaged their land.Joseph forgave his brothers for thewrongs they had done to him and settledthem and their families in Egypt (Genesis39 through 47). At first the children of 5


Israel grew and prospered in their newhome. But a pharaoh who did not knowof Joseph's reputation came to power. Hefeared the growing numbers of Israelitesand enslaved them (Exodus 1:8-14). Itdid not seem then as if the children ofIsrael were "chosen"-rather, theyseemed to be a people without a future.But God knew what he was doing.To the Promised LandIf you have ever read the story of theExodus, or remember the epic film TheTen Commandments, you know how Godsent Moses to deliver the Israelites out ofbondage. With a series of miracles, Godled them out of Egypt and into thewilderness. There he gave them his lawsand promised to lead them to the land"flowing with milk and honey." The childrenof Israel were a stubborn race, andtheir persistent rebellion and lack of faithpostponed the fulfillmentof this promise.The Israelites wanderedDuring David's in the wilderness for 40years, but eventually40-year reign, stood at the gates of thepromised land. ThereIsrael was Moses handed over theestablished as leadership to his faithful• second in command,a malor power. Joshua (Deuteronomy34:9). That brings us tothe first of the "formerprophets." What happenednext shows howHEBRON, KING DAVID'S FIRST CAPITAL6the future of these people was predetermined-or"prophesied."Joshua's first task was to lead the childrenof Israel into the promised landOoshua 1:1-9) . God reminded the newleader of the very special relationshipthey had with God. If they obeyed God'slaws, they would be blessed in theirpromised land above all the people of theearth. If they disobeyed, they would suffercalamity after calamity until eventuallythey would be banished from their inheritance.Clearly, there was a great responsibilityin being the "role model" for God'sway of life.The book of Joshua recounts the battlesfought and the lessons learned as thepeople entered the promised land underhis leadership. At first they met with success.With God's miraculous intervention,the Israelites easily took the frontier cityof Jericho, as you can read in Joshua 6.Full of confidence, a small force marchedagainst the next objective-the muchsmaller city of Ai. They expected to takeit easily. Instead, they suffered a humiliatingdefeat Ooshua 7:2-9).What had gone wrong? Were Joshua'Stactics wrong? No-the Israelites shouldhave easily won, except that God was notwith them on this occasion (verse 1).ONE family, the family of Achan, hadlooted a statue from Jericho-somethingthat God had expressly forbidden. He hadto teach them a lesson-they must learnthat he meant what he said. Israel's experiencewas not to be like any other people's.Other nations might not have beenable to take the strongly fortified Jericho,but would have easily defeated Ai. Israelcould only expect success if God waswith them. If God was with them-as atJericho-no power on earth could withstandthem.Thus, in the first few days of enteringthe promised land, the "chosen people"learned an important lesson.God was taking a personal hand indeciding their history. It set the patternof what would happen over thesucceeding centuries. Obey and succeed.Disobey and fail utterly. Whathappened to ancient Israel at Jerichoand Ai is an important lesson inunderstanding prophecy. That iswhy it is recorded in the "formerprophets."The Time of the JudgesJoshua was a strong leader, andgenerally speaking, the people didobey during his lifetime, and also duringthe lifetime of the leaders he had trainedOoshua 24:31). But after they died, thingsbegan to go wrong.The second book of the formerprophets-Judges- tells us what happened.It records a series of events thatwas repeated several times in the next 300or so years.


- e people would drift away from God.orrecr them, God would allow them· 0 be oppressed by one of the nations. 0 lived around them and who also coveed the "promised land." In their affliction,the chosen people would cry out toGod , and he would send them a deliverer-oneof the judges. Directedby God, the judge would lead thepeople to victory. It was usually arelatively short-lived lesson, andsoon Israel would be sinningagain. This dreary cycle repeateditself many times.The book of Judges makessomber reading. It ends on this sadnote: " Everyone did what wasright in his own eyes" Oudges21 :25). It seemed that this peoplechosen by God tobe an example toall the other nationswould neverlive up to theirpart. Then whenthings looked attheir worst, Israel'sfortunes beganto take a turnfor the better.The next twobooks of the formerprophetscommonlycalledI and II Samuel-ASSYRI AN ARCHERSshow us what happened.At the beginning of the first book ofSamuel, Israel is ruled by Eli-a sincerebut ineffective ruler. Eli's sons were corrupt(I Samuel 2:12), using their father'soffice to enrich themselves. What wouldthey be like when they inherited theirfather's office? That is a situation thatmany other nations have had to face asthey groan under the burden of incompetentand corrupt leaders. But God wasin control of the destiny of Israel.Eli's sons were killed in battle beforeEli died (I Samuel 4: 11, 18), and hishonest and God-fearing assistant Samuelbecame the judge in Israel.Three KingsThings went well during Samuel's lifetime,but once again, his sons were not ofhis calibre (I Samuel 8:1-3). The peopleof Israel became concerned as Samuelgrew older. They no longer felt securewith their system of government. They-ed amuel to appoint them a king sothat the could be like the other nationsaround. Samuel was distraught-he feltthat the people had rejected him (verses5-7). God reassured him-they have notrejected Samuel, but rather they have rejectedGod and his rule over them. So beit-they will have their king, and Godwould use these circumstances to teachASSYRIAN BATTLE SCENE, 0 correct hischosen peopleGod wouldallow them tobe oppressedby othernations.some important lessons.Israel's king Saul was tall and handsome-the popular choice (I Samuel9:2).Saul, however, lacked the most importantcharacteristic of a leader-character.He may have been a physical giant, but hewas a moral midget. God informed Samuelthat Saul would have to be replaced(I Samuel 15:26-28) . God had chosen inhis stead a totally different kind of man.This was David, the youngest son of] essewho lived in Bethlehem. After Saul wasslain in battle, David came to the throne(I Samuel 16) . He was not perfect, he madesome tragic mistakes, but he always repenteddeeply and tried hard to be a righteousruler. Under his capable leadership,Israel prospered. During David's 40-yearreign, Israel was established as a majorpower in the ancient world.When he died, he was succeeded by hisson Solomon. The rest of the story isrecorded in the last books of the formerprophets-I and II Kings.Solomon reigned during the goldendays of ancient Israel (I Kings 1-11). Israel 7


8controlled the major trade routes and becamewealthy beyond measure. The greattemple that Solomon built inJ erusalem wasone of the wonders of the world.In the reign of King Solomon, Godfulfilled many (but not all-that is important,as we shall see) of his promises toAbraham and his descendants. They hadinherited the promised land, and hadpower, prestige, and prosperity. God wasready to give them even more if theywould obey. (I Kings 9:4-7).Solomon began well, but as his reignprogressed, he showed a serious characterflaw. He took as his wives manyforeign women, and much of the nation'sresources were consumed in maintainingthe army and the governmentstructure. Solomon, in all his glory, beganto forget God! It was a formula fordisaster.The last two books of the "formerprophets"-I and II Kings- record thefinal experiences of this "model nation."ISRAEL'S ROUTETO CAPTIVITYWhen Solomondied, his son Rehoboamcame to thethrone and immediatelymade a foolishmistake.The people cameto him, asking forsome relief from theheavy tax burdenHaber RiverARABIANSSamana •-•JUDAHEup/Yates Riverr9"~('Werthat Solomon had imposed on them(I Kings 12). The elders advised Rehoboamto make concessions. He choseinstead to listen to younger, inexperiencedmen. On their advice, and flushedwith self-confidence and power, Re ­hoboam told his people that far from gettingrelief, they could expect even morepressure from on high!That did it! The 10 northern tribesbroke away and formed their own nation,to be known as the House of Israel. Onlythe tribe of Judah, most of the priests(Levi) and the small tribe of Benjaminremained loyal to Rehoboam and becameknown as the kingdom of Judah (verses16-24).Now the story of the chosen peoplesplits into two. The northern kingdom ofIsrael under their leader, Jeroboam, beganto adopt customs of the neighboringCanaanite religions, which God had expresslyforbidden.The kingdom of Judah did not deteriorateas fast, although even it was not whatit should have been.As the decades went by, the House ofIsrael and eventually the House of Judahdrifted into idolatry. The rest of I Kingsand II Kings tell the dismal story. TheHouse of Israel never returned to its spiritualroots.Occasionally there is abrief upturn in Judah, asa righteous king tries tobring the nation to itssenses. The revival doesnot last long- his successorstake the peopleeven farther down thepath to spiritual ruin.God was patient andmerciful, but he couldnot forget the terms ofthe covenant. Israel wasan example-for betteror worse-for all people.They must reap whatthey sow.So begins a very significantchapter in thestory of these ancient peoples. Butfirst, God sends each of them awarning because, as the prophetAmos said, "Surely the Lord Goddoes nothing, unless He revealsHis secret to His servants theprophets" (Amos 3:7).Enter the ProphetsThere were many prophets.Some have only a brief mention.Others, like Elijah, we know of by theirdeeds, although they themselves left nowritten record.Then there are those we call the writtenprophets-men like Isaiah, Jeremiah,Ezekiel and the 12 "minor" (but by nomeans insignificant) prophets- whose


are recorded in the Bible.The e prophets spoke out, first to theHou e of Israel, then to Judah. They werenot appreciated. They were treatedlike .. . well, like we would probably treatthem today. They were rejected, resisted,ridiculed, thrown in jail and sometimesput to death.Their writings are a record of a hard andthankless task. Few took them seriously.Usually, not the king. Nor the priests. Northe people. They were superb patriotsbutthey were regarded as troublemakersand traitors. "Can't you see whatis happening?" they wouldwarn. "Unless we, God's chosenpeople, change our ways and returnto him, national disasterwill overtake us. Can't you seethat even now the forces aregathering against us? Don't yourealize why things are goingwrong for us? We have droughtand crop failure ... . We're losingbattles .... Our societies arefalling apart. Can't you see thatthese things are happening towarn us and wake us up? Putaway those idols. Stop your lying,cheating and adultery. It isnot too late to change. People ofIsrael andJudah, can't you see?!"No-they could not see .They wanted their own way.They rejected the warnings ofthe prophets, and reaped the consequences.Israel went first. In the latter half of theeighth century B.C., the northern kingdomsuffered a devastating series of invasionsby the Assyrian Empire. Finally, they weretaken into captivity and their land wasresettled by others. The Israelites lost everything-theirhomes, their liberty, theirland and eventually even their identity.The Bible record seems to close aroundthem with these sad words: "For so itwas that the children of Israel hadsinned against the Lord theirGod, ... and they had feared othergods, ... Yet the Lord testified againstIsrael and against Judah, by all of Hisprophets, ... saying, 'Turn from yourevil ways, and keep My commandmentsand My statutes, according toall the law which I commanded yourfathers, and which I sent to you byMy servants the prophets.' Neverthelessthey would not hear, but stiffenedtheir necks .... until the Lord removedIsrael out of His sight, as Hehad said by all His servants theprophets. So Israel was carried awayfrom their own land to Assyria, as itis to this day" (II Kings 17:7, 13, 14, 23) .The kingdom of Judah limped on forabout another 120 years. God sent moreprophets but their pleading fell on deafears. There was a brief revival under KingJosiah, but after his death the people ofJudah continued their moral slide.Inevitably, they, too, paid the penalty.This time it was at the hand of the BabylonianEmpire (II Kings 25:7-11), whichhad replaced the Assyrians as the majorLAST KING OF ISRAEL VANQUISHEDIt seemedas if thestory of thechosen peoplewas over.power in the Middle East. Jerusalem wasbesieged, the last king was taken captive,and the temple was destroyed. Like thehouse of Israel before them, the people ofJudah were led off to captivity.It seemed as if the story of the chosenpeople was over. God had kept his part ofthe covenant, but neither Israel nor Judahwould remain faithful. They wanted theirown way. They took God's blessings forgranted and mistook his patience andmercy as a sign of weakness.The lesson of the six books of the "formerprophets" is clear. A chosen peoplewho persistently fail to keep their part ofan agreement with God must reap theconsequences.If that were the end of the story, wecould leave it there. The writings of theprophets could be included in therecords of ancient Israel. Certainly, theywould make interesting and instructivereading, as do the annals of other ancientpeople, if it were the end of the story.But it was not the end. Israel and Judahwere taken into exile, but the propheciescontinued to come. 9


BABYLONIAN GATEUnfinishedBusinessWe cannot wrap up the lessons ofprophecy with the story of ancientIsrael and Judah. Their prophets had spokenmany words of warning. The peopleignored them and reaped the consequences.But not everything that hadbeen prophesied had been fulfilled. Theprophets' stern warnings were filledwith hope. God was angry, but hewould not be angry forever.The prophets looked through thebleakness of their present to a much,much better time when Israel and Judahwould be once more at peace,dwelling together and sharing blessingseven greater than before. Godwould send them a great deliverer- orMessiah-who would lead them into aglorious future (Isaiah 11 :2 -4).Jerusalem would become the worldcapital, and all nations would go therefor direction and leadership. Theprophecies looked forward to a timewhen there would be no more war orsuffering. Israel's enemies would beallied with her. Even wild beasts wouldlose their animosity toward men, and allmen everywhere would worship the onetrue God. The Messiah- Israel's longawaitedDeliverer-would be King overGod hadpromisedmany things,but muchremained to befulfilled.10all the earth. All this and more God hadpromised, but it had not yet been fulfilled.So what did it all mean? This is whatmakes prophecy so intriguing-and yet sofrustrating. The record of ancient Israeldoesn't seem to be the whole story.Certainly, much of what the prophetssaid can be easily and directly applied totheir situation, but not everything. Thereis a lot of unfinished business.For instance, Ezekiel continued prophesyingto the House of Israel after theyhad been taken captive by the Assyrians(Ezekiel 2:3). Jeremiahshowed that Judah andIsrael would be restoredOeremiah 30). Almost inthe same breath, he announcedthat they wouldsuffer the worst time oftrouble any nation hasever had, but they wouldbe saved, and the longdeadKing David wouldbe restored to them.Obviously, not all theseprophecies were fulfilledby the experiences recordedin the Old Testament.Often the prophetsreferred to events of thefuture- including a timesome of them called "thelatter days."Prophetic DualityAt the time they wrotethey did not have a clearunderstanding of whenthis would be. They wererather like men looking ata distant mountain range.Some features could onlybe described in broadoutline, and it was difficultto judge distance andestablish perspective.God was tellingthem there wouldbe a yet future Israeland a Judah,and a propheticmessage wouldagain need to besent to them.There is an important principleof prophecy known as duality. Anevent ("type") would be the fore ­runner of a similar event ("anti­DANIEL'S DREAMDETAIL FROM GATE type") that would occur in the fu ­ture. In other words, prophecy,like history, sometimes repeats itself. Youwill find this often as you study prophecy.Something that occurred in the distant pastwill be seen as a prototype of a later fulfillment.The duality of the prophetic messagesis an important key in understandingGod's hand in history-and, what is for useven more important-the present.


- . a ain t the backdrop of the troubleseir time, the prophets revealed deofthings to come in the future. But. en? And how? God did not choose tomake the picture crystal clear at that time.As Isaiah said, his words were " here alittle, there a little" (Isaiah 28:10).What was needed was a framework, intowhich the many components of prophecycould be fitted logically.A few years after Judah was taken intocaptivity, a young man named Daniel waspuzzling over this question. He hadfound favor in captivity, and had risen toa very influential position in the Babyloniangovernment. Through it all, he remaineda faithful, God-fearing man. Heknew what the prophets had said, and hewanted to understand more.Daniel and the FutureWhat Daniel wanted most was the answerto prophecy's big question: Whenwould the Messiah come?He knew this would be the turningpoint of all history-not only for Israeland Judah but the entire world.Daniel loved his people, and he wasdeeply concerned with the condition theyhad been brought to. They had oncemarched so triumphantly out of Egyptianslavery. Now they were captives again. Hehad realized, from Jeremiah's prophecy,that jerusalem's desolation would last for70 years. In which case, the time of liberationand restoration could notbe far off. Could it be that thegolden age of Israel's fortuneswas just around the corner?Daniel asked God for the answer.God began to reveal some vitaldetails that helped Danielandus-to more completely understandprophecy. He showedthat although the time for Judahto return home was near, thecoming of the Messiah was stilla long way off. Many thingswould have to happen first. TheBabylonians who were holdingthe Jews captive were only thefirst of four great empires thatwould rise and fall before theMessiah would establish hiskingdom and restore Israel's fortunes.Daniel lived to see the Baby­lonian Empire fall-in the autumnof539B.c.-atthe hands ofthe Medes and Persians. He found favorwith the new rulers, and continued to holdPERSIAN ARCHERpositions of influence. But the coming ofthe Messiah and the restoration of his peoplecontinued to preoccupy him, and henever ceased ~o ask God DECREE FREEING JEWSfor understandmg.Eventually, God revealedthe longest continuousprophecy in theBible. You will find itrecorded in Daniel, chapters11 and 12. A remarkableseries of events ispredicted-the waxingand waning of great empires,an ongoing strugglefor power between kings,political intrigues, invasionsand counter-invasions,with times of greatpersecutions for thosewho remain faithful toGod. It is a soberingchronicle, but with ahappy ending. Those whomaintain their faith inGod emerge victorious.At the end, the details ofthis prophecy become veryspeCific-even indicatinga sequence of events interms of days. Once more,Daniel asks, when willthese things happen? ButGod had revealed enoughfor that time. He tellsDaniel, " Thewords areclosed up andsealed till thet i me o f t heend" (Daniel12:9).Daniel neverdid get his bigquestion an­The prophecieshave a specialrelevanceto the moderndescendants ofAncient Israel.swered, but his propheciesadded important perspective toour understanding. We seefrom Daniel's writings thatprophetic events are not to bethought of only in the contextof ancient times. Nor wouldthey only affect the people ofancient Israel and Judah. Theywere the "type." In the latterdays, their descendants wouldbe the "anti-type."The Latter DaysThe Persian emperor Cyruseventually allowed some Jewish exiles toreturn to their homeland (Ezra 1: 1-4) , to 11


Mystery of the Lost Tribes of IsraelIn 721 B.C. the peopleof the northern kingdomof Israel weretaken into captivity bySargon's soldiers. Welast hear of them whenthey are resettled inthe Assyrian Empire"in Halah and by theHabor .. . in the citiesof the Medes" (IIKings 17:6). The terri·tory of Israel was settledby gentile peoplewho became known asSamaritans.When the Assyrian Empire collapsedabout 100 years later, theIsraelite tribes migrated to the northeast,into the region of the CaucasusMountains.Eventually they forgot their languageand even their name. Thismay sound unlikely, but it need nottake long for an exiled or immigrantpeople to forget the past, as historyshows.The prophet Amos said Godwould " sift the house of Israelamong all nations, as grain issifted in a sieve" (Amos 9:9). Andthey soon lost their identity. Thatmight have been the end of the mat-ter, except for the rest of this verse,"yet not the smallest grain shallfall to the ground."Amos, and many of the otherprophets, tell of Israel playing a keyrole in the "latter days"-the time atthe end of the ages when most ofprophecy's " unfinished business"would be settled. These propheciesrequire that the people of Israelwould exist as a nation or nations inthe "end time."We know the subsequent historyof the tribe of Judah-right down totoday and the modern state of Israel.The story of Judah is important, butit does not answer all the questionsof Bible prophecy. If prophecy is toMIGRATIONSof theISRAELITEShave any validity 10-day, the ten " losttribes " of Israel needto be identified.There have beenmany attempts. Somehave tried to tracethem to the Pathantribes of Afghanistan,to Central America,even the borders ofChina. The fact remainsthe historicalrecord is at bestsketchy and inconclu­sive. But the tribes can be locatedifwe use the clues and signposts ofthe Bible itself. The identity of themodern descendants of the ancientHouse of Israel is one of the significant,and little understood aspectsof history. It is vital to know who theyare, if you want to make sense of theprophecies of the " latter days."There is some fragmentary evidencein history, but the proof is inprophecy. We have available for theasking a free booklet that explainswho the modern descendants of Israelare. Its title is (and a clue towhet your appetite is right there) TheUnited States and Britain inProphecy. It is fascinating reading.12become a vassal state of his empire. Whathappened to these people and their descendantshas been well-documented. Weknow the often-tragic history of the Jewishpeople-their struggle to reestablishthemselves, under the Persians, in theirhomeland, their ill-fated rebellion againstthe Romans that ended in A.D. 70, thediaspora and pogroms of later times,Hitler's holocaust, and the problems facingthe state of Israel today. But the modernJewish state represents only one partof the descendants of Judah, and doesn'teven include the House of Israel.What about the others-the northerntribes of the House of Israel that hadearlier been taken into exile by the Assyrians?History has no record of their everbeing restored. They have become thelegendary "lost tribes." Yet, manyprophecies make it clear that the Houseof Israel would exist in the "latter days,"and there are still many prophecies concerningthem that have not as yet beenfulfilled.So what we have learned is this: Theprophecies of the Bible pertain to thedescendants of ancient Israel and Judahwho are living in the "latter days," whowill be making the same kinds of mistakestheir forefathers did.God does not change his mind easilyand he is not a respecter of persons. Hedoesn't forget his promises, and hedoesn't alter his standards or values. He ismerciful and long suffering, but he willnot tolerate any people ignoring his lawsforever-especially a chosen people. Hehas never forgotten they are his "chosenpeople"-and he has not yet finished


with them.Remember the principle we mentionedearlier: God does not do anything withoutfirst revealing it through his servants theprophets. He knows what he has said. Heknows what must be done for it all to befulfilled.Prophecy was preserved, not because itis the interesting annals of an ancientpeople, but because its message is asvalid today as when it was first uttered.Whoever the modern descendants ofthe twelve tribes of Israel are, the wordsof the prophets have a very special relevanceto them.We have come a long way in our understandingof prophecy. Can we knowmore?Daniel added many details, but therewere still some important pieces of thepuzzle missing.Many of these pieces were added duringthe life of the greatest prophet ofall-Jesus Christ.Amos 9: 14 "I will bring back the captives of Mypeople Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabitthem; they shall plant vineyards and drink winefrom them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruitfrom them."Zechariah 8:3-5 "Thus says the Lord : 'I will returnto Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalemshall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lordof hosts, the Holy Mountain.'"Thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Old men and oldwomen shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, eachone with his staff in his hand because of great age. ''The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girlsplaying in its streets.' "Zechariah 8:22 "Yes, many peoples and strongnations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts inJerusalem, and to pray before the Lord ."Jeremiah 31 :33 " But this is the covenant that I willmake with the house of Israel: After those days, says theLord, I will put My law in their minds, and write it on theirhearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be Mypeople."Ezekiel 36:26-27 " I will give you a new heart andput a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stoneout of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh ." I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walkin My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and dothem. "Isaiah 2:4 "They shall beat their swords into plowshares,and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shallnot lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learnwar anymore."Isaiah 11 :6-9 "The wolf also shall dwell with thelamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, thecalf and the young lion and the fatling together; and alittle child shall lead them.''The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shalllie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox."The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, andthe weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den."They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of theLord as the waters cover the sea. "Isaiah 19:24-25 "In that day Israel will be one ofthree with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in themidst of the land , whom the Lord of hosts shall bless,saying, 'Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria thework of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.'Isaiah 35:5-7 "Then the eyes of the blind shall beopened , and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped."Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongueof the dumb sing . For waters shall burst forth in thewilderness, and streams in the desert."The parched ground shall become a pool, and thethirsty land springs of water .... "Micah 4: 1-2 " Now it shall come to pass in the latterdays that the mountain of the Lord 's house shall beestablished on the top of the mountains, and shall beexalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it." Many nations shall come and say, 'Come, and let usgo up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of theGod of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shallwalk in His paths .' For out of Zion the law shall go forth,and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. "Joel 2:27 "Then you shall know that I am in the midstof Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there isno other. My people shall never be put to shame."Zephaniah 3:20 " 'At that time I will bring you back,even at the time I gather you; for I will give you fame andpraise among all the peoples of the earth, when I returnyour captives before your eyes: says the Lord. "Hosea 1: 1 0-11 "Yet the number of the children ofIsrael shall be as the sand of the sea ... And it shallcome to pass in the place where it was said to them,'You are not My people: there it shall be said to them,'You are the sons of the living God .'''Then the children of Judah and the children of Israelshall be gathered together, and appoint for themselvesone head; and they shall come up out of the land, forgreat will be the day of Jezreel!"Prophecy's Unfinished Business


14JesusandProphecyYOU probably knew that Jesus wasborn about 2,000 years ago, in Bethlehem,that he was born of a virgin, camefrom the tribe of Judah and was a descendantof King David. It may surprise you toknow that some people knew it even beforehe was born.How could this be? Because many detailsabout Jesus Christ had been prophesiedcenturies before his birth, by theprophets of the Old Testament. If Jesushad not been born when he was, wherehe was, and if he had not done the thingshe did, we could dismiss those prophetsas frauds. Well-meaning, God-fearingfrauds perhaps, but frauds nevertheless.At the time Jesus was born, thepeople of his nation Judah wereexpecting a deliverer-whomthey called the Messiah. Judahhad fallen on hard times again.They had a few centuries of semi- ------- ­independence after the PersianKing Cyrus permitted the exilesto go home. The temple inJerusalem was rebuilt. But almost60 years before Jesus was born,Judah was again conquered, andhad become a province of the RomanEmpire. Roman rule hadbrought certain benefits, but likesubject people, anytime, everywhere,the Jews wanted to befree. God, through the prophets,had promised a Messiah whowould lead them not only to freedom,but to power and prosperity.The prophecies about the Messiah werevery specific- even down to minute details.A prophecy in the book of Danielhad even foretold, hundreds of years inadvance, the exact year that Christ wouldbegin his ministry. Others showed wherehe would be born, details of his childhood,how and where he would teach, hisdeath, burial and resurrection. The oddsagainst someone deliberately choosing toBETHLEHEMfulfill these prophecies are astronomical.So at the time Jesus was born, those whounderstood the scriptures knew somethingimportant was about to happen.They were people like the old manSimeon, who immediately recognizedwho Jesus was when Mary and Josephbrought him to the temple (Luke 2:25-35) .Then there was Anna, who had prayedall her life to see the Messiah (verses36-38) . Even the wily King Herod wasaware the Messiah was due. His advisorscould pinpoint from prophecy the exacttown where Christ would be born-Bethlehem(Matthew 2:3 -6) . When Herod hadthe male infants of Bethlehem slaughtered,he unwittingly fulfilled yet anotherprophecy (verses 16-18) ."Jesus Will Save Us"As Jesus began his ministry, manyother people began to see that he mightbe the long-promised Messiah. He didmiracles. He said he was born to be aking. It began to sound like he had beensent to lead them to freedom. Some peopleexpected him to begin a popular uprisingagainst the Romans. They saw Jesusas a revolutionary leader of a liberationmovement, and they were in at theground floor. They surely would receiveinfluential positions in his governmentonce he had led them to victory. Thequestion was, when would he make hismove?Then one day, just before the Passover,Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey,just as the prophet Zechariah had proph-


esied the Messiah would (Zechariah 9:9) .Now there was no question. This wassurely it. Big things were about to happen.What did happen took them all by surprise.Just a few days after his triumphalentry, Jesus was arrested, condemned todeath and then crucified. His supportershad not expected that.They should have. Jesus had warnedthem often enough that it would happen,and it was prophesied, right down to thedetails. The Messiah would be rejected byhis friends and abused and humiliatedbefore being executed with commoncriminals. This, however, was an aspect ofprophecy his followers did not understand,and it certainly did not fit in withthe popular idea of a Messiah. What kindof a deliverer was this?Even the closest disciples of Jesus wereleft bewildered and confused. What hadgone wrong? Hadn't Isaiah proclaimed soconfidently that when the Messiah came,"the government will be upon Hisshoulder. . .. Of the increase of Hisgovernment and peace there will beno end" (Isaiah 9:6-7)?They were greatly encouraged whenthree days later theirfallen leader was resurrected.His followers nowthought that surely hewould lead them to victory."Will You at thistime restore the kingdomto Israel?" theyasked (Acts 1 :6) . His answerwas interesting. "Itis not for you to knowtimes or seasons whichthe Father has put inHis own authority"( verse 7). In otherwords-no, not yet. It wasnot the time.Jesus knew that his missionon earth had notbeen a failure. He had accomplishedall that hehad been prophesied todo-so far-and he knew something hisdisciples had overlooked. There weremany, many prophecies about the Messiahthat still had to be fulfilled.Many peoplebegan to seethat Jesusmight be thelong promisedMessiah.All According to PlanJesus' birth, life, death and resurrectionwere the beginning of a new phase. Hehad been born and lived life as a humanbeing, and had shed his blood for the sinsof mankind. The rest of the plan couldnow begin to unfold.Plan? What plan? Because we have notacquired our religiOUS beliefs in a systematicway, many of us do not realize thatGod has a plan. That plan is to savemankind from the penalty of sin-whichis death-and give them eternal life (Romans6:23). Most people know this in aThe disciplesexpectedJesus to leada revolt againstthe Romans.It didn't happenlike that.SACKING OF TEMPLEROMANS DESTROY JERUSALEMvague sort of way-but don't really understandhow it will happen. It seems to bea rather haphazard process.Have you been taught that God ispleading with sinful mankind to acceptJesus so that they can be saved before itis too late? If that is true, it is not a veryeffective plan. Most people today have notaccepted Christ. Millions have never evenheard of him. It seems that, if God's planis to get people to accept Christ now, itisn't working very well. However, to thinkthis way is to misunderstand the real messageof the Bible and the full lesson ofprophecy. Prophecy explains God's plan,and shows how he will save the worldfrom the consequences of sin.Jesus coming to earth, and therebyfounding his Church, dying for the sins ofmankind, and returning to heaven wereall very significant events, and they wereall revealed in advance through the 15


Jerusalem on a Donkey. 0 daughter of Zion! Shout, 0 daughterBehold, your King is coming to you; He isnang salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey,foal of a donkey" (Zechariah 9:9).. cted by His Own 'eopleHe is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrowsand acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, ourfaces from Him; He was despised, and we did notesteem Him" (Isaiah 53:3).Crucified with Robbers"He was numbered with the transgressors, and He borethe sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors"(Isaiah 53:12).Resurrected"For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will Youallow Your Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10).Ascended to Heaven" You have ascended on high, You have led captivitycaptive; You have received gifts among men, evenamong the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwellthere" (Psalm 68:18).come discouraged and disillusioned, andhe certainly did not want them to thinkhe had let them down.Many people today also have some falseexpectations ofJesus Christ. They don't, ofcourse, look to him to lead a popular revolution.But apart from that they are ratherlike the people of the first century B.C. Theybelieve Jesus is trying to save the world,and they want to help him. They, ever sosincerely, believe that a Christian is involvedin a desperate race against time tosave as many as possible before it is too late.Tragically such people are in for some shatteringdisappointments in the years ahead.Jesus is not trying to save the world-atleast, not yet. What he was telling thedisciples, and what he wants you to understand,is that this is what he will doafter his second coming. That's when theaction really begins. That's when he willset his hand to begin saving mankind,after he has established the kingdom ofGod. When he does, it will be the mostdramatic, spectacular moment in history,and the turning point of all mankind'sfortunes. You would expect God to haverevealed that through his servants theprophets, and of course he has.The Kingdom of God• e e ents leading up to the secondof Jesus Christ are the centraltheme of all prophecy. It preoccupiedIsaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and theother prophets. At first glance their writingsmay seem like pronouncements ofdoom and gloom. But when you reallyunderstand, you will see how they lookedthrough the troubles of their time to aworld of peace and happiness. Theylooked forward to utopia, the millennium,the kingdom of God on earth, but theydid not live to see it. Jesus reinforcedtheir message, and told his disciples thatthey should prepare for it; yet they didnot live to see it either. It is not here yet.In view of this, it is not surprising thenthat many students of the Bible have wonderedif perhaps Jesus did not reallymean what he seemed to have said. Perhaps,they argue, he meant that he wouldcome again and establish a spiritual kingdomin our hearts. Othershave looked for the kingdomof God in history.Could it have been theChurch, or the Holy RomanEmpire perhaps, oreven the British Empire?But the words of Jesus,taken at face value, arequite clear. He wouldcome again, at a time hecalled the end of the age.He would put down allopposition and establishthe kingdom of God onearth. Mankind would en-Jesus' missionto earth wasnot a failure.He hadaccomplishedall he came todo-so far.ter into a time of peace and prosperity.Then, and only then, would God beginthe work of saving the majority ofmankind. That was- and is- the gospelof the kingdom of God.When would that time come? Jesuswarned that, for those who were not awakeand aware, it would come like a snare-un·expectedly (Luke 21:35). Many sincerepeople would be caught unawares, but itdidn't have to be that way. His true followerswould know when the time was close,and they would be ready (Matthew 24:36-44) . But how could they know?The prophetic record was nearly complete,but something more was needed.The prophecy still needed a keystonesomethingthat would lock them all inplace, and give a sense of timing andperspective.Some years after Jesus Christ had returnedto heaven, he revealed the final,vital pieces of information. They arerecorded in the last book of the Biblethesurprising and to some enigmaticbook of Revelation. 17


CHARLEMAGNE CROWNED18A VoiceAcrossTimeBefore we look at the Apocalypse orbook of Revelation, let's understandtwo important things. Some older versionsof the Bible title this book the "Revelationof St. John." It isn't, and this hasbeen corrected in most modern translations.It is the revelation of Jesus Christ.The revelation, not the obscuring. Thisbook has a reputation for having some ofthe most difficult areas of the Scripturesto understand. Yet, Jesus Christ gave it toprovide answers, not to hide the truth.The book is not difficult to understandwhen you know what has come before,and what questions still need to be addressedfor God's prophetic revelation tobe complete.Christ revealed it initially to John, thelast survivor of the 12 original apostles.About A.D. 90 John recorded a series ofprophecies revealed to him in a vision.His experience was somewhat similar toDaniel's, but by John's time the sequenceof prophetic events hadadvanced conSiderably.The Four KingdomsYou remember fromchapter three that Godhad shown Daniel fourgreat empires that woulddominate the world beforethe kingdom of Godis established.The Babylonian Em ­pire, as we saw, was replacedin Daniel's lifetimeby that of the Medesand the Persians. The Persiansdominated untilthey were deCisively defeatedby the Greeks in333 B.C. Then the Greekswere masters of the worldfor about 300 years. By the time the Apocalypseor book of Revelation was written,the Greek Empire had been supplantedby the Romans, and the fourth and last ofthe four empires of Daniel's prophecieshad arrived on the scene. How longwould it last?It is tempting to begin to take you rightnow through these exciting prophecies ofRevelation, but that would turn this bookletinto a book. This is only intended tobe a brief introduction to the subject ofprophecy. We will have to be contentwith a summary.Whereas the previous empires had lasteda relatively short time, the prophecies ofRevelation show us that the Roman Empirewould continue for a long time. It wouldhave several significant phases, or resurrections.Their progression is a yardstick bywhich we can measure the sequence ofprophesied events thatlead up to the return ofChrist.The Empire SurvivesRome was overrun bybarbarian hordes aroundthe middle of the fifthcentury A.D., and at thetime it might haveseemed that the Romanswould go the way of allother empire builders.But the Roman systemproved to be a remarkablydurable institution.Justinian restored theempire in the WesternMediterranean in A.D. 554,and it continued in oneform or another for manycenturies. In the MiddleAges, many of the rulersof Central Europe patternedtheir governmentsafter Rome. Charlemagnewas crowned in A.D. 800 asa worthy successor of theRoman caesars.JUSTINIANThe Romansystem wasto live ondown to ourday.Later, the German ­speaking states of Europe formed theHoly Roman Empire. Leadership eventuallypassed to the Austrian Habsburgs untilthey were defeated by the emperorNapoleon, another European ruler whowas greatly impressed with the Romansystem.Even Benito Mussolini, who dominatedItaly between 1923 and 1944, consideredhis regime to be a new Roman Empire.Mussolini's dictatorship-which came tobe completely overshadowed by Hitler'sNazi Germany-was only the most recentand perhaps most ruthless resurrection ofthe Roman system.When we look back at the pictures of


CHARLES V- :- -ci [ regimes, we can see howeaders were influenced by the- -? and pageantry of ancient Rome.- nere have been to date numerouse urrections" of the Roman Empire.They have all risenaround the heartland ofEurope, and with varyingdegrees of success, havetried to conquer everythingwithin reach.The prophecies ofDaniel and Revelationhave proven to be a remarkablyaccurate fore ­cast of the mainstream ofWestern civilization duringthe last 2,500 years .These prophecies showthat there will be onefinal resurrection of theRoman system. It will bethe most formidable economic,military, political and religiouspower the world has ever seen. It will riseup dramatically and unexpectedly. All nationswill be influenced by its power. Itwill suppress everything and anyone whostands in its way. This ruthless system,which the Bible calls "the beast," is to bebased in the territory of theold Roman Empire-the NAPOLEONcontinent of Europe where12 nations are now trying toform a peaceful economicunion. Could that effort bean experiment that willbackfire?The Final ShowdownThe prophecies of Revelationshow that the beastdominates the world for severalyears. Eventually, it attacksthe only other superpowerleft on earth at thattime, the teeming inhabitants of MarxistEurasia.In a dramatic vision, John saw this futurewar. It was unlike anything he hadever seen-waged with weapons very differentfrom the swords, spears and batteringrams of his time. Today we mightrecognize these strange weapons as attackhelicopters, cruise missiles, bombers andtanks. John described them the best hecould in the language of the first century.(Revelation 9:3, 7-10) .When John saw this vision, its fulfillmentwas yet far in the future. It has to doirn the time just before Jesus Christ, the_ e iah, returns to earth to set up hisworld-ruling kingdom.. The words of Isaiah will be fulfilled.The government will be upon the Messiah'sshoulders, and of the increase ofhis government and peace there will beno end. The Apocalypse or book of Revelationshows that Christ will rule for 1,000years. This will be the long-awaited kingdomof God.This is the time the prophets dreamedof- hoped for. It didn't come in theirlifetime. Jesus' apostles and the earlyChurch expected it to happen in theirday. But there would be many morecenturies of waiting. Jesus told his fol-Revelationdescribes thefull fury ofmodernwarfare.ADOLPH HITLERlowers to stay faithful, andto endure patiently to theend.Thro ugh the MiddleAges, the Renaissance, theAge of Enlightenment andthe Industrial Revolution,they waited, as the resurrectionsof the Roman Empirerose and fell.There would eventuallycome a time when therewould be just one more resurrection.It would rise up ina time very different from the world theprophets knew.If Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Johnwere to come back today, what wouldthey make of our world with its technologicalmarvels, its incredible advancesin nearly every field? There would benew languages, new nations, differentpolitics and peculiar customs. Butsomething about this world would seemfamiliar to them.When they compared the conditionstoday with the prophecies they had sofaithfully recorded long ago, theywould realize that the end time hadcome! 19


So NowWhat?Prophecy is not given just to provideus with intellectual stimulation-asort of inspired crossword puzzle. It is amessage from God.The more you learn, the more you beginto gain a new perspective about thepast, the present, and the future. You understandthat the great events are beingguided along a predetermined path by aGod who is concerned about the destinyof all nations and individuals. What mayonce have seemed like isolated episodesof history are now understood to be stagesof the plan. God really has known "theend from the beginning, and declaredfrom ancient times things that are notyet done," as Isaiah said (Isaiah 46:10).When we take a look at our modernworld in the light of prophecy, we mustseriously consider if we are approachingthe "end of the age." The key players forthe final act may not be on stage yet, butare they waiting in the wings? Is the curtainabout to go up on the last terribleresurrection of the Roman Empire, withall that that implies?When we look.at our world inthe light ofprophecy-wemust ask 1115this the end ofthe age?"20If so, then we havereached a critical point inworld history.God sent his prophets toancient nations to draw attentionto their sins. Godsaw the injustice, lying,cheating, brutality, greed,licentiousness and religioushypocrisy of thoseancient societies. Hewarned them that he wasabout to do somethingabout it, unless theyheeded the words of hisprophets and changedtheir ways. But what about us?Do we think God has not noticed theway we live today? Do we think that he isgoing to put up with it forever? Whywould he intervene in the affairs of ancientIsrael and Judah and not do anythingabout today? Our societies are makingthe same kind of mistakes they made.If we won't learn the lessons of prophecy,why should we not reap the consequencesas they did?It doesn't have to be this way. Prophecyis conditional. God told Jeremiah, "Theinstant I speak concerning a nationand concerning a kingdom, to pluckup, to pull down, and to destroy it, ifthat nation against whom I have spokenturns from its evil, I willrelent of the disaster that Ithought to bring upon it ....Return now everyone fromhis evil way, and make yourways and your doings good"Qeremiah 18:7-8, 11) .Learning the Lessonnforrunately, very few peopletake this seriously. One nationdid-the people of Nineveh, capitalof ancient Assyria. After Godhad ent a prophet to warn them,they temp orarily turned fromtheir wrongdoings and averted anational calamity. You can readthat tory in the book of Jonah. Itshow u that a prophecy doesn'thave to be fulfi lled- but the overallIe on of history is that it almostcertainly will be. Most peopledo not rum at God's reproof ... eventhose who claim to know him best. AsIsaiah wrote. "These people draw nearto Me with their mouths and honorMe with their lips but have removedtheir hearts far from Me .... I willagain do a marvelous work amongthis people' (I aiah 29:13-14).Jesus i ued the ame challenge to peoplewho claimed to be hi followers butdid not obey him: 'Why do you call Me'Lord, Lord' and do not do the thingswhich I say?' (Luke 6:-!6) . Tho e whothink of them eh-e as Chri tian houldthink vel) eriou ly about thi .On the day the _-ew Te tament Churchbegan, the a'po tIe Peter preached a stirringsermon in Jeru alem. Many of thosewho heard him had been among the mobwho had urged Pontius Pilate to crucifyJesus Chri t. Peter showed them, from theprophecies, that the one they had so cruellyexecuted was their long-awaited Messiah.The people were struck with fear andremorse, as they understood these scripturesfor the first time. They asked,"What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). This isthe question all people should ask whenthey begin to understand the implicationsof prophecy. Peter gave the answer inverse 38, "Repent," and in verse 40, "besaved from this perverse generation."You, too, must consider this as you be-


gin to understand the words of theprophets. God expects some action-ithould be more than just an interestingintellectual exercise. Repentmay seem likea threatening, religious-sounding word,the sort of thing you would expect from aPETER PREACHING ON DAY OF PENTECOSTprophet. But it is just another way of saying,"Stop doing the things that God says arewrong, and start doing what is right."That is how you show God that youhave learned the lesson of prophecy. Orof course, you can close the book nowand do nothing.Where Are We Now in Prophecy?ing shape in the news today. Our days areas much "Bible times" as the days ofIsaiah, Daniel, and the apostle John.Many of us alive now will live to see theclimactic events of the end of the age.There has never been a time when it is soimportant to understandworld events in the lightof Bible prophecy.The prophecieswill befulfilledwhetherweheed themor not.You can't do it all byyourself.One Final LessonAbout nineteen and ahalf centuries ago, a highofficial of the Ethiopiangovernment was taking abreak while returninghome from an official visitThe prophecies will be fulfilled sooneror later whether we heed them or not.Probably sooner. Not every detail is infocus yet, but they are becoming clearer,and as we approach the time of fulfillment,they will become clearer still.Have you ever gotten up early in anunfamiliar place to watch the sunrise?While it is still dark all you can see arevague shadows and shapes. As the skybegins to lighten, the details becomeclearer until what before was an indistinctshadowy scene becomes vivid reality.Prophecy is like that. Daniel, lookingacross the ages, began to grasp the broadoutline, but it became much clearer as thetime of fulfillment approached.After it has happened, ourun derstanding ofprophecy is like20-20 vision-buttoo late.Much of whatDaniel foresaw is already history. We areseeing other long-prophesied events taktoJerusalem. He sat in hischariot and began readingthe prophecies of Isaiah.He was looking at one ofthe famous propheciesabout the Messiah, but hedidn't understand it (Acts8:26-35) . God saw he was asincere man and sent Philipto help."Do you understand what you arereading?" Philip asked the puzzled man(verse 30). "How can I, unless someoneguides me?" he replied (verse 31) .You, too, need someone to help you understand.That is why we published thisbooklet, and it is why we have availableseveral other free booklets on prophecy.Like all the publications of the WorldwideChurch of God, these booklets will be sentto you free of charge, and we will neverpressure you to do anything, or join anything.That is a personal matter betweenyou and God.We have appreciatedthis opportunityto "sit in your chariot"and share what weknow. We hope thisbooklet has helpedyou see that an understandingof Bibleprophecy will becomemore and moresignificant as the events of the nextfew years unfold. As the prophecies arefulfilled, you will be faced with some importantdecisions.May God guide you to make the rightones. 21


e'seeeHere are several other eye-openingbooklets about biblical prop6ecies:The Middle East in ProphecyThis well illustrated booklet gives a detailedaccount of this volatile region-past, present,and future-in the context of prophecy.The History of Europeand the ChurchThis is a thorough investigation of theprophecies concerning the "ten resurrections ofthe Roman Empire." The booklet traces thehistory of Europe from the early days of Rome tothe present day-and the immediate future.I The' ~ddJe,mr ~tf!!vPh~yEnd-lillief FocllSo{ -EventsrThe United Statesand Britain in ProphecyThe Bible does not mention the United States,Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, SouthAfrica, or other major nations by name. This bookletthoroughly explains the identity of these modernnations, and explains their role in prophecy.An eye-opening and important booklet.The Four Horsemenof the ApocalypseWho are the mysterious "four horsemen of theApocalypse"? What do they represent? When dothey ride? You will find the answers to these andother questions in this revealing booklet.To request this free literature,see inside front cover for our address nearest you.IP 366129/8907/1

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