Global Tensions in Light of Biblical Prophecy – Program 1
|By: Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, Dr. Elwood McQuaid, Dr. Renald Showers; ©1999|
|What is God doing in history? Where is history headed? Why is the existence nation of Israel so significant?|
The Big Picture of Biblical Prophecy – Part 1
Have you ever wondered where history is heading? Today we’re going to examine “Global Events in Light of Biblical Prophecy.” God, in the Bible, predicts that in the future specific nations will arise, form coalitions, and enter into certain events which God will bring about for His own purposes. The actions of the nations will cause future disruption and turmoil across the world and eventually lead to war in the Middle East. My guests are: Dr. Renald Showers, Professor of Biblical Prophecy, who has authored numerous books and articles on this topic; Dr. Elwood McQuaid, Director of Friends of Israel and an expert on the issues dividing Israel, Islam, and the Western World; and Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, international journalist presently living and reporting from Jerusalem, Israel, who told us:
- DeYoung: As we speak right now, the elite commando unit from the Syrian military might on the northern border of Israel is ready to come in. They have SCUD missiles with potential chemical warheads on them aimed at the city of Jerusalem.
- Is it true that the Bible says that someday Christians all over the world will instantaneously be snatched away from the earth to meet Jesus Christ in the air and only unbelievers will be left? Where in the Bible does it say that?
- Showers: John, there are three key passages in the New Testament that deal with this future event.
- McQuaid: We’re privileged to live in a day when we’re standing on the horizon of history and seeing, through the prism of the prophetic Word of God, all of these things come to the stage in its amazing era.
Stay tuned for this edition of The John Ankerberg Show.
- Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome! Welcome to our program. We’re here talking about “Global Events in Light of Biblical Prophecy.” We have three of the best biblical scholars on prophecy that are with us tonight. Jimmy DeYoung has flown in from Israel. We have Dr. Elwood McQuaid on our left and Dr. Renald Showers in the middle.
- Jimmy, I’m going to start with you. We’d like to paint the “big picture” for people who have tuned in tonight. What is God doing in history? Where is history headed? And so that folks that aren’t acquainted with the Bible, a lot of folks say, “Hey, there’s a lot of stuff going on in the Middle East. Doesn’t the Bible say something about that?” And I’d like for you to start with one of the key signs, if you will, one of the key signs of prophecy, and that is the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. What is going on? What does the Bible say and where is history headed?
- Dr. Jimmy DeYoung: John, you know, the Bible is probably one of the most contemporary books that there is available. Everybody says the Bible is old-fashioned, but if you go to the Word of God, you’re talking about history. God, in His knowledge of what would happen in the future, had men write down–pre-wrote the history of our world–and, in fact, 2,500 years ago, He came to an ancient Jewish prophet who wrote down that in the end times there would be an ingathering of Jewish people from all over the world. And that’s exactly what’s happened.
- In fact, since 1897, when the Zionist Movement of the world came into existence, Jews out of 108 nations of the world have been gathering back into Israel as God’s Word said they would do.
- I was in Jerusalem on May 24, 1991, when the Ethiopian Jews–15,000 of them–made their way in a 24 hour period in 28 aircraft. One 747 took out every seat, it normally carried about 500 people, put 1,087 people in the airplane and in fact, while the airplane was flying from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, there were seven babies that were born while the plane was in the air before it landed. As I was watching this unfold, tears came into my eyes and started trickling down my cheek. I thought about Zephaniah 3:10 where it says, “At the time of the end I’ll reach into Ethiopia.” When you put that together with Isaiah 66, He said, “I will bring my prize, my people, back into the land.”
- Since I have lived in Israel–it was 1991 when we moved there–we have seen 850,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union, most of them from Russia–make their way into Israel. If you go to the Book of Jeremiah chapter 16, chapter 23, chapter 31; Zechariah chapter 2, it says “at the time of the end, I’ll reach into the north and I will gather my people.” Now, 850,000 people! That’s a 27 percent increase in the population of one nation. In fact, that’s another sign that God’s Word is right on target for the end times.
- Ankerberg: I can remember reading commentaries of people that were before the 1900s that used to talk about Israel becoming a nation and people used to laugh at some of those biblical commentators. They’re not laughing anymore.
- DeYoung: They’re certainly not laughing. God’s Word is actually unfolding right before our very eyes. Think about the city of Jerusalem. I live in Jerusalem. That’s the capital. It’s been the capital of the Jewish people now for some 3,002 years. King David established it as the religious center for the Jewish people. And then he also established it as the political center for the Jewish people. David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister, said that, “Indeed, Jerusalem has been chosen by God where He will take up residency among His people.” That’s exactly what God is going to do in the future. But God’s Word said that Jerusalem will be the center focus in the end days. I think it was Zechariah the prophet, chapter 12, says, “Jerusalem will be a cup of trembling.” It will be a burdensome stone. I can tell you, living in Jerusalem, it has become exactly that. Those who are controlling certain parts of the old city of Jerusalem, for example, the Temple Mount, they have become involved with becoming almost intoxicated with power. I think that’s what Zechariah in chapter 12 was referring to.
- But speaking of the temple and the Temple Mount, there’s another indicator that God’s Word is real and, in fact, I don’t know if you know this or not, but there are only four chapters in the Word of God that deal with the birth of Jesus Christ: Matthew 1 and 2, Luke 1 and 2. That’s 168 verses. In the Book of Ezekiel chapters 40 to 46, 202 verses of minute detailed information about a temple that will stand in the city of Jerusalem during the kingdom that will come. All the information needed for those to rebuild the temple on the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem. And the preparation going on now is unbelievable. I have met with every personality, have seen all the projects involved in preparation.
- I met with a rabbi, for example. He sat at his computer. I said, “Why the computer?”
- He said, “On this computer I have the name of every male virgin Jew that is qualified to be a priest. They have come into Israel, they’re studying the priestly duties.”
- I said, “Why?”
- He said, “Because we’re going to build a temple.”
- Ankerberg: Alright. We’ve got God calling the Jews out of the nations of the world. We’ve got Israel becoming a nation. We’ve got the Jewish people taking care of Jerusalem now. We’ve got plans for the rebuilding of the temple. In our next program we’re going to ask Rennie to explain what is the purpose of God in doing all of this, but right now we’re just saying it’s on the books and it’s happening in our lifetime.
- But Elwood, there are other nations that are mentioned in the Word of God. We can all remember back in class to the Roman Empire of the days of Jesus and the Caesars–the great geographical areas that empire encompassed. The Roman Empire. Bible students now are talking about reviving of the Roman Empire, of a power bloc, if you want, of nations that are going to come into existence. Talk to us about that.
- Dr. Elwood McQuaid: One of the most amazing things, certainly, is what’s happening in Western Europe because there has probably been no area over 50 or 100 years on the face of the planet more divided, more hostile toward one another than the nations of Europe–World War I with such devastation; World War II, such devastation. But the Scripture told us faithfully that in spite of all of that, one day those nations were going to come together and one day, out of that combine of nations would rise the infamous Antichrist, the epitome of everything that’s opposed to God and His plan.
- Over in the Book of Daniel, chapter 7, a couple of verses among many, many that we could mention that are fascinating beyond what we can imagine, knowing what we know today. In verse 25 of chapter 7 it says….let’s read verse 24: “And the ten horns out of this kingdom”–speaking about this end-time resurrected Roman Empire that will come together. And it said, “Ten kings shall rise and another shall rise after them and he shall be diverse from the first and he shall subdue three kings.” This is the emergence of the Antichrist out of that Western confederation of nations.
- Ankerberg: We have 18 countries that have actually formed what they call the European Union right now. We’re going to talk about it and devote a whole program to this that economists are saying will be the most powerful economic bloc in the world. It will actually usurp the United States in gross domestic product and so on.
- But we’re going to take a break and what we’ve got on the board so far is, we’ve got Israel back in the land. We have what God says is the revival of the Roman Empire in the sense of a power bloc that is going to come into existence. Possibly we’re see that happen right now. The Bible also talks about something that most non-Christians don’t know about. They know that Jesus walked on this planet 1,900 years ago and they heard that He said and did a few things there but very few of them heard that He ever said that He was coming back to this planet. Further, a lot of them have never heard the biblical teaching that sometime in the future Jesus was going to come back and He was going to snatch, He was going to take off of planet Earth every Christian living in the world at that moment. They would be gone and only unbelievers would be left. And we’re going to ask Dr. Showers to explain what that’s all about when we come right back. So I hope you’ll stay with us.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back and we’re talking about “Global Events in Light of Biblical Prophecy.” We’re trying to paint the “big picture.” Where does God’s Word, where does biblical prophecy say that history is headed? And one of the things, Dr. Showers, that many people have heard about is the Rapture, which is actually the instantaneous taking away of all of the Christians worldwide from the earth to meet Christ in the air. Some people say, “I’ve never heard of that. Where does the Bible teach that?” Talk to us.
- Dr. Renald Showers: Three passages, John, in the New Testament relate this future event. The first one is in the Gospel of John, chapter 14, verses 2 and 3, where Jesus indicated that after He would return to the Father’s house in heaven and prepare dwelling places to which He could bring us believers later on, then He said, “But I promise I will come again and receive you unto Myself so that where I am, there you may be also.” He was indicating that in this future event He will come out of Heaven, He will snatch His believers up from the earth to meet Him while He’s on His way down, and then He will return with them from above the earth back to the Father’s house in Heaven where they will dwell in the dwelling places that He is preparing for Christians right now.
- The second key passage is in 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 51 through 53, where Paul expresses the amazing truth that not every Christian will experience physical death. There will be an entire generation of believers who will escape physical death altogether because they will be the people who will be living at the time of the Rapture. And the main thing that Paul emphasizes in that passage is that those Christians who are alive on the earth at the time of this future Rapture will experience their bodies being transformed instantaneously from a mortal body, such as we have now which is subject to death, to an immortal type body which will never die.
- The third key passage and by far the largest of the three is in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, verses 13 through 18 where Paul indicates that the time is coming when Jesus will come out of the Father’s house in Heaven down toward the earth but not the whole way down. He will stop in the air above the earth. But He will bring with Him the souls of those Christians who have already died. When they died, their souls were separated from their bodies; their bodies were buried in the graves here on earth, but their souls were taken instantly into the presence of the Lord in Heaven and that’s where the souls of these believers exist–in Heaven in a conscious state from the time of their death until the time of the Rapture. But at the Rapture, Paul says Christ will bring with Him the souls of those Christians who have already died, bring them down toward the earth. Then he indicates that as their souls are descending toward the earth, the Lord will resurrect their physical bodies from the grave here on planet Earth and reunite their returning souls with their resurrection bodies. And then the bodies of the Christians who are alive at that time will be transformed into an immortal body in light of what we saw from 1 Corinthians 15. And then Paul says that together these resurrected Christians, these living transformed Christians, will be caught up from the earth to meet the Lord Jesus in the air. And there’s the idea of “Rapture.”
- Now, we don’t have the term “Rapture” in the Bible, but the concept is there. And we get the term from the Latin verb rapto which means “to seize or snatch.” And so He’s going to snatch the believers up from the earth. Theologians have taken the Latin verb and made a technical term of Rapture. And then, when we meet Christ in the air, He will return with us from above the earth back to the Father’s house in Heaven.
- Paul, at the end of 1 Thessalonians 4:17, after having talked about being caught up to meet the Lord in the air, makes this significant statement: “And so shall we ever be with the Lord.” That means, once we meet Him in the air at the Rapture, we shall never be separated from the Lord Jesus again. From that time on, wherever He goes, we go with Him.
- Ankerberg: It’s wonderful, wonderful. The fact is, we’ve got Israel on the board. We’ve got the city of Jerusalem in the future. We’ve got the rebuilding of the temple. We’ve got this European bloc that’s growing–the revived Roman Empire. But we’ve also got other nations in the world. Jimmy, does the Bible talk about any of modern-day nations playing a part in this thing in history coming up?
- DeYoung: It certainly does. You go to the Book of Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51. It talks about Babylon–that’s biblical Babylon–which was located in what we know as modern-day Iraq. Now, the mad bully from Baghdad, Saddam Hussein, who has played such an interesting role in worldwide politics, brought us to the edge of world war a couple of times. Iraq, whether Saddam Hussein is there or not as a personality and a leader, is going to be one of those nations that is going to come against Israel and ultimately will be totally destroyed.
- The Book of Daniel, chapter 11. He talks about–and Elwood mentioned it a moment ago–the king of the north and the king of the south. That’s talking about modern-day Syria in the north of Israel and in the south, modern-day Egypt. When you talk about Egypt, you’re talking about the largest populated Arab country in the world–over 60 million people. When you talk about Syria, you’re talking about the most powerful military might in the Arab world. They have the fifth largest army in the world. And both of these countries perched on the borders of Israel. As we speak right now, the elite commando unit from the Syrian military might on the northern border of Israel ready to come in. They have SCUD missiles with potential chemical warheads on them aimed at the city of Jerusalem. And recently, the Minister of Defense for Egypt in the Sinai Desert, when they were training–having a training exercise for the military–said that “we are at the point and ready in preparation to go to war with Israel.”
- And then, of course, Ezekiel chapter 38 talks about a coalition of nations. You have Russia out of the north. You have out of the east, Iran. You have Libya out of the west. You have out of the south Sudan and Ethiopia. You have Turkey in the middle of all of that. As you look at the Scripture and understand the biblical geography, you see that these nations are forming the coalition. And in fact, all you have to do is pick up the newspaper and realize what Russia has been doing in their collaboration with Iraq and Iran and in all of the countries, in fact. They’re making preparations to come against Israel, which is what God’s Word said will happen. And I guarantee you, the events we see unfolding today, Israeli intelligence say that’s about to happen.
- Ankerberg: Elwood, in just a moment that we have left, there are people that are watching that would like to know, what’s the best advice, then, in light of these events that God says are coming about down the pike here in history? What would God’s Word advise people who are not believers and people that are believers?
- McQuaid: I think it boils down to just two words, really. The one is “salvation.” For those people today who are living in a little sphere where they are center and circumference of everything, and yet there is a void in their soul that they feel very deeply as we have this confusion and chaos developing around us, there is only one answer for them as there is really only one answer to peace in the Middle East–and that is the personal intervention of Jesus Christ in the case of an individual life to bring that peace that passes understanding. There’s a very simple verse in the Word of God that says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house.” And then, for those of us who know the Lord, John, the great impetus today should be the obsession to do in these last days what God says we should be doing. Essentially two things: the Church is caught up with many distractions today but God said you have basically two things to do: Number one, to make Him known. The Lord gave us that in the Commission. Make Him known. Make Him known. Make Him known that all people to the ends of the earth might hear the Gospel and the Good News of Jesus Christ. Then, secondly, look for Him. Look for Him. Get occupied with what God is occupied with. Let your heart get where God’s heart is and let your life be speaking as God wants to speak to a lost world.
- Ankerberg: Alright. Next week we’re going to talk about, what does God’s Word say about the Battle of Armageddon? And, secondly, we’re going to talk about the rise of this very explosive political leader the Bible calls the Antichrist. And then, finally, we’re going to talk about, why is God doing all of this? What’s going on behind the scenes? What is His purpose in these events? I hope that you’ll join us.
- DeYoung: John, that’s as easy as ABC. Admit that you’re a sinner. I had to one day when I was eleven years old. I admitted that I needed Christ. Then I believed in His death, burial and resurrection and the statement that He made, “I will save you if you will call upon me.” And that’s the third thing I had to do: Call upon Jesus Christ to come into my heart and life. You can do it. It’s as simple as A – admitting that you need Christ; B – believing that He can save you; and C – calling upon Him to do that. And once you know Him, we need to tell the rest of the world before it’s eternally too late for them.