The year 2020 will go down as one of the most difficult years in modern history. Just focusing on American history I won't pretend to suggest it was worse than the early years of World War II, or that it was worse than the Spanish Flu years from 1918-1920, or that it was worse than any of the years during the American Civil War from 1861 - 1865. Outside the US, many countries have had far worse years, think Rwanda and other locations where genocide has devastated the country. However, what I will suggest is that everyone on earth has been negatively affected by at least one of the major 2020 issues; global pandemics, global depressions, hurricanes, political elections, censorship, persecution, and the emerging visibility of the ugly side of humanity. No person anywhere, Christian or not, has been completely shielded from the struggle and the wreckage of 2020. So, what's next for Christians to prepare for, experience, and endure?
First, we know that when the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation finally arrive, those seven years will be exponentially worse than what we have experienced in 2020 or any other year in recorded human history. Think about that for a moment. As bad as 2020 was, the Tribulation and Great Tribulation years will be exponentially worse. Hard to imagine, isn't it? Most people will never believe it until they see it themselves. I'm pretty sure that even if I showed people infallible evidence that the tribulation years would literally be "hell on earth", many (if not most) people would refuse to believe it. Many others would be terrified, some to the point of inaction. However, a certain number of people would heed the warning and prepare. What if I told you I did have that evidence? What would you do?
The good news is I do have the evidence, and so do you. The Bible is our infallible evidence that at some point in what appears to be the very near future, the world will be flipped upsidedown by some unknown event or catastrophe and the Tribulation will begin shortly thereafter. The Tribulation, which will include the coming of the Antichrist, a one-world government, a one-world religion, a one-world currency, plagues, famines, the mark of the beast, death, and destruction will eventually begin. There's nothing that can stop it, and when it does begin, our world will be transformed into something totally unrecognizable compared to what we see today. Do you think COVID-19 has already made our world unrecognizable? Compared to what's coming, let me suggest that we ain't seen nothin' yet.
I don't say this lightly and I don't say it spread fear and collect "clicks" on this website. I say it because that's what the Bible tells us. Prophecy shows us the roadmap to redeeming the world and that roadmap includes the unleashing of Satan for seven years. It's not my plan, it's God's plan. To be honest, I wish there was an easier, less destructive way to redeem the world. That being said...not my will but yours, Lord!
The challenge is, we don't know when the Tribulation will begin. Jesus was very clear when he said that no one knows the day or hour the Rapture will occur. However, he also implied that we should recognize the season when it is close. Along with many others, I firmly believe that we are in that season. As I suggested in a previous article, the Beginning of Sorrows has already begun. With the beginning of sorrows underway, Christians inevitably are led to the question, "What do I personally need to physically/mentally/spiritually prepare for whatever is next?"
Let me suggest three, high-level directions that each of us should consider when getting ready for whatever is next:
That would be the Rapture of the Church, survival in a post-apocalyptic kind of world where food, water, and public services are no longer available, or the persecution of Christians. We know that Christians will be persecuted during end-times and we know the rapture will occur. We don't know how likely it is that survival scenarios will come into play, but there's a good chance they will. Ideally, we would prepare for all three, but if you had to prioritize and you could only prepare for one, which would it be? Spoiler alert. I'm not sure what my answer will be as I write this article. Hopefully, by the time I finish writing this article, I will have a better understanding of my priority!
In order to get there, let's start by considering the sign of the time.
Do you Recognize the Signs of the Times?
There's a very comprehensive article by Britt Gillette on RaptureReady.com about the sign of the times. In it, Britt gives numerous examples showing how we can recognize that now is the time Jesus told us about in Matthew 24:8. The article was published in June 2020, but it is still very relevant today. I'll encourage you to read the article (after you finish this one!) if you want to know more about the signs that have been happening. However, for this article, I want to focus on the passage in Matthew 16 where Jesus strongly implied that they should have recognized him.
And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. Matthew 16:1-3 ESV (emphasis added)
The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the most educated of the day. That's particularly true of the Pharisees who were extremely well versed in the Old Testament scriptures. They were the forerunners of the Rabbinical Judaism that that would emerge in synagogues around the world after the diaspora, the time when the Jews fled Israel to avoid Roman persecution and spread out all over the world. If anyone should have understood who Jesus was, what he was there to accomplish, and that he was the suffering servant described in Isaiah 53 it should have been the Pharisees. Neither the Pharisees nor the Sadducees recognized Jesus for who he was, the Son of God. In fact, there is no direct evidence that there were any Jews of the time who understood that according to prophecy, the Messiah would be a suffering servant.
I only bring this up as a point of reference to remind each of us to stay humble in our interpretations of future biblical prophecy. While it is easy (if you take the time to look) to see how God has directed our steps in the past, it is very difficult (dare I say impossible) to see how he will direct our steps in the future. At best we are given a high-level perspective. For example, we know that God will restore all things at the end of time. The Bible is very direct in stating that He will create a new heaven and a new earth in Revelation 21-22.
We think we know the general steps between now and the second coming of Jesus, but I for one wouldn't say we have it all correct. We know that God works in mysterious ways and his ways are higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9) Therefore, I strongly suggest that any prophecy interpretations (regardless of who offers them) should be taken with at least a little grain of salt. We need to leave room in our interpretation for God to work in His mysterious ways. After all, the Pharisees didn't do that and they missed the most important event in the history of the world to that point, Jesus' first coming.
Where Are We Prophetically Today?
Before we consider the options, let's look at where we are as of this moment compared to key elements of the Tribulation. By that, I mean those elements of the tribulation that have a predecessor that has not yet occurred. For example, something that is either blocking it from happening today or it is a technology that needs to be developed before it can happen. Specifically, let's look at these six elements;
- Gog and Magog War
- One World Government
- One World Religion
- One World Currency
- Antichrist Revealed
- Mark of the Beast
This article is part 1 of a 3 part series (Part 2 and Part 3 are here) looking at each of the items in the list above. Here's the structure for how we will review the current status of these elements as of the time of the writing of this article.
- What does the Bible say about this element?
- What is the current status of this element, does it appear imminent?
- What are the likely predecessors for this element?
Given the amount of space I've already used to get to this point, I'll only address one of these events in part 1. I'll address two or three in each of the other two articles in the series. So let's get started!
Gog and Magog War
The Gog and Magog War is a major, end-times event that is prophesized in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel in chapters 38 - 39. It is a dramatic example of God supernaturally intervening in human events.
What does the Bible say?
To quickly summarize the prophecy, the war occurs at a time when Israel is experiencing unprecedented "peace and security". While they are experiencing this peace and security, a coalition of countries that do not have a shared border becomes jealous or envious (my words) of Israel's riches. I'm speculation Israel becomes ridiculously wealthy or gains access to significant natural resources during this time of peace and security. Instead of seeking to cooperate with Israel, the coalition of countries decides they will militarily obliterate Israel and take what they want. The coalition of countries initiates a surprise attack against Israel with overwhelming military force. Even with the remarkable capabilities of the Israeli Defense Forces, it is certain they will be defeated due to the sheer volume of attackers. However, God has other ideas and He supernaturally intervenes to thoroughly repel the attacking force with little to no destruction in Israel itself. The coalition forces are so large and the destruction by God is so complete that it will take Israel seven months to clean it all up. Ezekiel 39:12. In addition, Israel will have enough recovered material from the destruction to fuel fires for seven years.
What is the current status?
While there is some debate about the exact makeup of the Gog and Magog nations, the generally accepted modern-day countries for the countries listed in Ezekiel 38 are; Russia, Turkey, Iran, Sudan, Libya, and some or all of the "Stan" nations. The Stan nations are Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. As you can see in the image that I have borrowed from the Prophecy Watchers website, none of these countries are geographically adjacent to Israel, meaning it's unlikely they have been militarily threatened by Israel. Therefore the most likely triggers for initiating the war are the usual reasons; power and greed. Although it's probably safe to say that revenge will be included as a justification, whether that's true or fake news.
It is unclear from the Bible when the Gog & Magog war happens. Many scholars place it before the tribulation, others place it during the tribulation, and another collection suggests that it is the same war as the War of Armageddon when Jesus returns again in his Second Coming at the end of Revelation. I don't know. So in summary I'll simply say the Gog and Magog war does not appear imminent based on the information publically available at the time this article was published. I think that's especially true considering the Abrahamic Accords that have been brokered by the U.S. beginning in 2020. It is clear that something dramatic will need to happen before the world is primed for this event.
What are the likely predecessors?
When we look at where the world is today, there are two specific predecessors that must happen before the war occurs. First, it's possible that Israel will do something that so enrages the coalition countries that they lose their temper and launch an attack to obliterate Isreal. More likely, the coalition countries will either be financially harmed by or flat-out jealous of something Israel possesses and they decide they can no longer allow Israel to wield the power associated with this possession. My speculation is that Israel's offshore natural gas reserves may be the thing that ignites the flame. The untapped potential for natural gas in Israel's territorial claim is enough to make the country energy independent while also making them a natural gas superpower, despite the protests from Turkey.
The second predecessor is the collapse of the U.S.-Israel military alliance. How often do you think Iran considers launching an all-out attack against Israel? Judging by the bad blood between the two countries my speculation is destroying Israel is constantly on their mind. However, with the U.S. backing Israel, the potential cost for Iran (or any other nation) is too high. Every terrorist nation knows that should they attempt to wipe out Israel, the U.S. will intervene and respond by counter-attacking their nation with exponentially more force. It's just not a good idea for any country with the goal of maintaining its sovereignty.
What could possibly happen that would collapse the U.S-Israel military alliance? Simple, either the U.S. becomes unwilling to intervene or the U.S. becomes incapable of intervening. Should the U.S. government swing away from supporting Israel and perhaps dramatically towards supporting the Palestinians, it's conceivable that the U.S government could break the military alliance. It seems unlikely, but you never know in 2021! The more likely scenario in my mind is the U.S. becomes incapable of responding due to an ongoing, hot civil war, or the U.S is incapacitated by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bomb exploded at high altitude over all or part of the country. An EMP attack by countries such as China, North Korea, Russia, or Iran has the potential to devastate the entire country by destroying everything that uses or makes electricity. What would happen to the U.S. if we didn't have electricity for 5 - 10 years? An EMP attack could be that bad or worse. The reason I say the "more likely" scenario is the U.S. is not obviously present in the end-times prophecy in the Bible. While there are some suggestions of scripture that might refer to the U.S., none of it represents a clear description of the country. Therefore, my speculation is that if the U.S. is not included in the end-times prophecy it is because the U.S. either no longer exists or it is merely a shadow of its former superpower self.
Oh, there is one other thing that would cut the U.S. off at the knees, the Rapture of the Church... I'm sure the rapture of 10M - 100M+ Christians (just guessing at numbers) would severely impact the ability of the U.S. to respond militarily to anything domestic or international.
More to Come!
Be sure to check back again soon to see part 2 in the series or simply signup for email notifications you will get notified as soon as it is available. In the next article, we'll look at the three "One World" events that will happen.
- One World Government
- One World Religion
- One World Currency
After looking at one of the upcoming events, I'm not sure which I would prioritize preparing for first; Rapture, Survival, or Persecution. Still thinking. However, I know that if we are living a Christian life in the way Jesus calls us to love and serve him, we are always preparing for the rapture and persecution without even thinking about it. But still, I'm working through this mental and spiritual exercise to see what it produces. What do you think? Add your comments below.
Thanks for reading and God Bless!!!
Update, continue reading Part 2 here: