2015 and early 2016 – A DRAMATIC TIME FOR STUDENTS OF BIBLE PROPHECY
For many years the Christadelphian community has watched for significant signs of fulfilling Bible prophecy and they have come regularly, but were often spread over decades. The last 18 months has seen a flood of highly significant events that have come almost too quickly to be fully absorbed by the community. Could this be God’s final gift and warning to the last generation of believers? How much more do we need to see to be convinced that the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is at hand? Is it not time to set our house in order in preparation to meet our Bridegroom?
Students of Scripture who accurately interpret prophecy find that the framework of Bible prophecy laid out by our Pioneers is being vindicated almost every day. Our brethren of past generations were excited at the slightest indication of the fulfillment of their expectations. If they were alive today they would doubtless be astonished at how numerous the signs are we are privileged to see and their significance and portent. Do we feel a similar excitement?
The following is a list of some of the significant events that have occurred during 2015 and the first quarter of 2016 and their Scriptural significance
Summary of significant events in 2015 fulfilling Bible prophecy
Russia continued to destabilise Ukraine by supporting rebels and chasing debt for past supplies of oil and gas.
Significance – Ukraine is the heartland of the original nation of the Rus who established Kiev as their first capital in 882 AD. Vladimir Putin is a student of history and is determined to return Russia to its former greatness.
He made his intentions with Ukraine clear in 2004 by attempting to install his protégé Viktor Yanukovych as President, but was thwarted by the Orange Revolution. He finally succeeded in installing Yanukovych using blackmail in 2006 by shutting off gas supplies in a bitterly cold winter. However, Putin was again thwarted by Yanukovych’s overthrow in 2014. It is clear Putin aims to control the Ukraine and make it an essential part of his empire. Gog is “of the land of Magog” (Ezek. 38:2 Roth.) and Ukraine is part of historical Magog.
The world’s oil producers, including Russia, were severely hit by a plunging oil price during 2015.
In December, OPEC maintained production levels despite losses because sanctions on the sale of Iranian oil were lifted by the P5+1 nations and Iran is a deadly enemy of Saudi Arabia. Some recent OPEC flexibility has seen the oil price rise to around $40 but this is still having a dramatic effect on oil producing nations’ GDP. Significance – Russia depends on oil and gas income to finance its budget and acknowledges that its treasury will be drained by the end of 2016.
Bro. Thomas wrote in Elpis Israel page 367 – “Let the Russian treasury be as empty as it is said to be, and its expenditure exceed its revenue by double the alleged deficit, it will only operate as a pressure from within, causing her Autocrat to ‘enter into the countries, and to overflow and pass over,’ and to 2 enrich himself with the spoil of those he is destined to subdue.” Prophecy requires Russia to seize control of the old Seleucid Kingdom from Syria to Pakistan before the invasion described in Ezek. 38:8-16.
Like Hitler who rebuilt bankrupt Germany’s armed forces by progressively seizing control of neighbouring European countries and draining their treasuries, so the latter day dictator of Hab. 2 is described as taking one nation after another under his control by violence and blackmail – “lading himself with thick clay”, i.e. forced pledges of allegiance (Hab. 2:5-12). During 2015 there was a continuing crisis in Syria and Iraq as ISIS took control of strategic cities and towns expelling minorities and killing thousands. Russia sent planes and troops to Syria to support a tottering Assad regime and confront ISIS in September.
Russian planes indiscriminately bombed all opposition to Assad, including rebels backed by western powers seeking Assad’s overthrow. Significance – ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is a catalyst to lure Russia into the Middle East. ISIS personally threatened Vladimir Putin in September 2014 for his support of Bashar Assad of Syria and said they would ultimately release the Chechens from Russian control and capture Moscow. This ensured Putin would come after them which he did in September 2015. In November 2015 Putin vowed to eliminate ISIS after they allegedly brought down a Russian aircraft over Sinai. Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict seems almost certain to lead to the fulfillment of three prophecies requiring Gog to control the region from Syria to the Indus River – Ezek. 38:5; Dan. 7:7; 11:40. Gog must first become “the king of the north” before becoming “the little horn of the goat” and then the northern invader of Israel and Egypt. Dan. 7:7 requires that a revived 4th beast fulfill a prophecy never fulfilled in the former history of the Roman Empire.
The words “and stamped the residue with the feet of it” were never fulfilled. The Roman Empire never took possession of the territories of Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. Bro. Morrie Stewart in his notes ‘The Prophecy of Daniel’ – August 1973 makes this point – “Let us emphasize, here is an important statement that has not as yet been fulfilled. Rome has never trampled the residue of Persia underfoot, it has never occupied all this territory. A power must yet arise which will occupy the territories of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, to be afterwards subjected to a higher power, namely Jesus Christ. Russia will do this. Thus, like the image of Daniel chapter 2, whose metals will have to be confederated together, before they can be broken to pieces TOGETHER (2:35), so also this terrible fourth beast vision has a latterday application.” Dan. 11:40 also requires that a power called “the king of the north” will invade Turkey (the ‘him’ of the verse – see verses 36 to 39) and plunge down through Lebanon and Israel into Egypt (Dan. 11:40-43). This is clearly the Gogian confederacy of Ezek. 38. However, before Russia can invade Turkey they must take possession of the territory from Syria to Pakistan (the ancient Seleucid Kingdom). “The king of north” is a title that can only be applied to a foreign occupying power of the territory ruled by Seleucis (one of Alexander’s generals) and his successors for hundreds of years.
Pope Francis continued to mingle iron (Catholicism) with clay (democratic Humanism) to form the feet of the image by suggesting relaxation of Catholic dogma.
The following snippet from the Time Magazine web site in 2014 illustrates his remarkable ability as a Jesuit (unbending iron) to achieve what his predecessors could not – (Quote) John Paul II 3 and Benedict XVI were professors of theology. Francis is a former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher. And behind his self-effacing facade, he is a very canny operator. He makes masterly use of 21st century tools to perform his 1st century office.
But what makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all. He is quoted saying of women who consider abortion because of poverty or rape, “Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?” Of gay people: “If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge.” To divorced and remarried Catholics who are, by rule, forbidden from taking Communion, he says that this crucial rite “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” Significance – Daniel 2:41-43 requires that iron mingle itself with clay to form the feet of the image. This is now happening.
Historically the clay (Barbarian invaders) mingled themselves with the iron of the Roman Empire. This prophecy requires the iron (Catholicism is the only remnant of the iron empire) to take the initiative to mingle itself with the clay (the democratic nations of Europe).
Bro. Sulley wrote about this on page 105 of The Temple of Ezekiel’s Prophecy – “In the second chapter of Daniel the kingdoms of men are represented by a composite image, consisting of four principal elements: first, gold; second, silver; third, brass; and fourth, iron; each element representing some phase of the kingdoms of men. The fourth element in its latter day phase assumes the aspect of clay and iron mixed; i.e., republicanism and autocracy, shown, perhaps, in one of its most subtle aspects, in the silent capture of democracy by autocratic ecclesiasticism, enabling the latter to ride into power thereby.”
Britain edged closer to EU withdrawal with 2015 polls showing 70% of the population wanting to exit the EU.
With the approaching referendum on 23 June 2016 the polls now say around 43% want to exit. If it is God’s will that Britain leave the EU soon it may require further angelic intervention to increase the negative sentiment. Significance – Ezek. 38:13 requires Britain (Tarshish) to be part of an anti-Gog confederacy at the time of Armageddon. This is a significant development which will inevitably lead to Britain’s departure from Europe and the rebuilding of commercial and political ties with its former colonies – the young lions of Ezek. 38:13 – Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand. All have a British form of government and three have the Queen as titular head of state (America has neither).
From 10-16 April 2016 a royal visit to India by heir to the throne William and his wife Kate has been described as an attempt by Britain to rebuild its relationship with its former colony. In these developments Christadelphian teaching from its earliest days is being vindicated. Bro. Thomas believed America played no significant role in latter day prophecy. In response to a question from a sister in 1860 he wrote in the Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come pages 107-111 the following under the heading: THE DESTINY OF THE UNITED STATES – “By ‘America,’ in the inquiry, we presume is meant the United States. In reply, we remark, that this confederacy is not represented by any prophetic symbols, nor are there any verbal predictions concerning it after the manner of those concerning: Babylon, Persia, Macedonia, Rome, the Ten Kingdoms, Russia, and so forth.” The idea that America is a ‘young lion’ arose in the 1950’s.
It has no basis in Scripture or in history. America does not appear on the British World War 1 poster which names Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand and says of them “Helped by the Young Lions, the Old Lion defies his foes.” 4 6 nations lifted sanctions on Iran at the expense of Israel’s security. In the annex to the agreement, its sponsors, including the US, secretly pledge to defend Iran against attack by Israel. Iran then published a book declaring they will destroy Israel within 25 years. Netanyahu challenged the international communities’ silence about Iran’s intentions with a 45 second silence of his own during a UN speech in September. Significance – Jer. 30:13-14 requires Israel’s former ‘lovers’ to forget her in the final days leading to “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7).
Benjamin Netanyahu was the first world leader to fly to Moscow to meet Vladimir Putin on the installation of Russian planes and troops in Syria in September 2015.
The absence of any incident between Russian and Israeli planes over Syria where both are operating indicates some kind of understanding was reached to ensure Israel did not invoke the wrath of Putin as the Turks did on 24 November 2015 by shooting down a Russian bomber. The Prime Minister of Israel said at the time – “Israel is aware of the fact that it has a Russian border now. Israel is a small, strong country, and it needs to make sure it doesn’t enter any unnecessary conflicts.” Netanyahu has since returned to Moscow and is responding to Putin’s demands for dialogue. In February 2016 Netanyahu cancelled a visit to Australia by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin because he had received a demand from Putin to send a senior diplomat to Moscow for high level talks. This did not go down well in Australian government circles. Some questioned who Israel’s friends really were.
What Israel’s ‘friends’ are missing is that the 1.5 million Russian Jews living in Israel have strong links to Russia. These included in May 2013 10,000 Jewish Red Army veterans from World War 2 still alive at the time who were invited aboard a Russian warship anchored in Haifa harbor to celebrate victory over Nazi Germany. Significance – The pattern for Israel’s latter day behavior is set in the books of Isaiah and Micah. Like Ahaz of old, modern Israel will make an alliance with the latter day Assyrian (Russia) to deal with threats to its northern and north eastern borders.
This alliance will secure temporary peace for Israel prior to Armageddon but will be matched by the treachery Hitler used towards Russia in World War 2 when he broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and attacked Soviet Russia in June 1941. Likewise, Gog will think an evil thought (Ezek. 38:10-12) and break the covenant with Israel by invading completely unexpectedly. Turkey shot down a Russian bomber on 24 November 2015 and was hit by economic reprisals and threats from Putin who pledged “Turkey will pay twice for this.” Significance – Constantinople (modern Istanbul) is the base of the eastern leg of Nebuchadnezzar’s image.
It is from there that Gog will launch his invasion of Israel and Egypt (Ezek. 38; Dan. 11:40-45). The current Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill, said on his elevation he would make it “a Putin church”. A few days after the downing of their plane the Kremlin demanded return of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to the Russian Orthodox Church. Putin and Kirill are working together to fulfill the dream of past Russian Tsars; the restoration of Constantinople to the eastern Orthodox Church. Russia recently accused Turkey of supplying ISIS with weapons and equipment. Turkey and Russia have fought 12 major wars between 1568 and 1918 over such ‘religious’ issues. Another decisive one is near.
In late December 2015 Russia cemented ties with Sudan.
On 22 December 2015 in Khartoum, Sudan and Russia signed 14 cooperation agreements in different domains, 5 including oil, minerals and banks. Sudan is increasingly dependent on Russian support. Significance – Putin is making sure Sudan (the Biblical “Ethiopia” of Ezek. 38:5) will be part of Gog’s confederacy at the time of Armageddon.
Summary of significant events to April 2016 fulfilling Bible prophecy
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States (collectively the Biblical Dedan)…
are involved in a military campaign to restore the government of Yemen (the Biblical Sheba) and form a political partnership in readiness for Ezek. 38:13.
Britain announced a referendum on 23 June 2016 on continued membership of the EU – a vote that may result in Britain exiting the EU.
See comments above.
The Pope and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church met in Cuba to discuss ending the 1,054 year rift between the eastern and western churches.
Significance – This will lead to cooperation of the two legs of Nebuchadnezzar’s image under one mind.
The Pope declared that Vladimir Putin is the only world leader that can protect Middle East Christians from their persecutors.
Significance – Nebuchadnezzar’s image has a Babylonian (i.e. Roman Catholic) head (mind) and belly and thighs of brass. The brazen element in the latter days is Russia as the sponsor and protector of the Orthodox Church (Greek and Russian) based ultimately in Constantinople.
Russia and Israel grow closer together as Israel looks for support in the wake of US policies.
US State Department policy towards Israel is being informed by a July 2015 study titled “US preparing for a post-Israel Middle East” which asserts that Israel is the greatest problem that the US has at present. The study said while the US maintains bilateral relations with Israel it is impossible to have normal relations with Muslim countries and the wider international community. Significance – The movements of Assyria in the times of Ahaz and Hezekiah are used in the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah as a pattern for latter day events. Faithless Ahaz who refused a sign from Yahweh (Isa. 7) sought help from Assyria against his enemies to the north and north east. Latter day faithless Israel will do the same. There are multiple signs that this process is already well advanced.
During February 2016 Saudi Arabia led 20 Middle East nations in an 18 day war exercise in north eastern Saudi Arabia involving 350,000 troops and countless modern weapons.
Observers feared this force might intervene in Syria to prevent the fall of Aleppo to Syrian government forces. Significance – The Biblical Dedan is emerging to strongly oppose the alliance between Russia, Syria and Iran. This political stance matches the requirement of Ezek. 38:13.
Russia reportedly built up forces along the Kurdish strip of the Turkish border while Turkey responded by a similar build up of forces along the same border.
Observers feared this may lead to a conflict between Russia and its allies with Turkey. Significance – Any such conflict could lead to restitution of the confiscated territory of the Armenians stolen from them between 1915 and 1922 when 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered in a Turkish genocide. If that were to be the outcome, the Biblical ‘Togarmah’ would reappear as part of a Gogian confederacy (Ezek. 38:6). Biblical commentators Keil and Delitzsch say Togarmah is the name of the Armenians, who are still called the house of Thorgom or Torkomatsi.
ISIS has recently gained a foothold along the coast of Libya.
Both Russia and the US have said they will deal with the problem. Trends suggest that only Russia is likely to intervene. Significance – The outcome of any Russian intervention will see Libya put in debt to Russia (Hab. 2:6 – a dictator “multiplying to himself heavy pledges” – Young’s Literal) and will inevitably become part of the Gogian confederacy (Ezek. 38:5).
During 2015 and early 2016 the world moved inexorably towards a massive financial and economic collapse.
A history making Depression looms.
The predictions of imminent collapse are so numerous that it is difficult to select one that stands out, but here is a recent piece from Jeremiah Johnson on 22 January 2016 with the headline – Forced Economic Free Fall the Precursor to Collapse. The tenor of the article is encapsulated in the following extract – “Almost every society that has collapsed has seen such a fall heralded by severe economic turmoil. We are seeing such turmoil in the freefall of the U.S. economy and, from a bigger picture, the world economy.
The world is about to enter into a period of global depression unlike anything seen before, and the necessary element to cement such a depression will soon be present: the element of war.” Significance – Christ warned that his return to the earth to raise the dead and gather the responsible living would be in times of general prosperity and on the eve of a huge economic collapse. Consider the following:
Dan. 12:1-2 – The “time of trouble such as never was” is concomitant with the resurrection of the responsible dead (note the repetition of the phrase “and at that time” in V.1).
This is consistent with Christ’s message in Luke 17:26-30 where he makes it clear that his return will be in a time of general prosperity, like that of the days of Noah and Lot when the saints are in danger of repeating the failure of Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32). See also Rev. 3:14-22 where in Christ’s letter to the Laodicean Ecclesia he uses for the only time in the 7 letters the words, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” This letter equates prophetically with the period of his second advent and the problem again is prosperity.
Luke 17:26-30 unmistakably hints at a huge collapse of the world’s prosperity after the pattern of the days of Noah and Lot.
Within a week of Noah and his family being locked away in the ark (type of the security of the place of judgement) the prosperity of his time disappeared, and the same day Lot and his family were removed from Sodom the prosperity of the cities of the plain came to an end. The resultant chaos and dislocation of society will mean that the saints will not be missed from homes and places of employment and worship. The results of the greatest Depression in human history will be numerous. Among these will be:
Collapse of the EU in its present form and the reforming of the old Roman Empire incorporating the ‘bankrupt’ nations south of the Rhine and the Danube and the consequent revival of Papal power in southern Europe.
There will finally be 10 nations in the territory of the old Roman Empire in Europe matching the 10 toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image and the 10 horns of the fourth beast of Daniel 7 and the 10 kings of Rev. 17:12. 7
The side-lining of the US which will be hardest hit by the coming Depression.
Britain’s exit from the EU and American weakness will see a renewed trading and political alliance of Britain (Tarshish) and its young lions – Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand (Ezek. 38:13). The pattern was set in both world wars of the 20th century when the US did not get involved in either World War until later in the conflict. The Great Depression of the 1930’s created a very strong anti-war sentiment in America and this spirit is already evident in the lead up to the Presidential election in 2016.
Another significant outcome will be the descent of peace on the Middle East as Israel’s detractors are forced to cease funding Hamas, Hezbollah, and other enemies of Israel.
This factor combined with Israel’s ‘covenant with the Assyrians’ (Hosea 12:1) will finally bring peace to Israel allowing annexation of the West Bank (required by Ezek. 38:8 – 90% of “the mountains of Israel” are in the West Bank) and the taking down of “walls”, “bars” and “gates” required by Ezek. 38:11.
Finally, “anger” is everywhere evident in the world.
Many Americans are so angry they are voting in large numbers for Donald Trump (a billionaire showman and deal maker) and Bernie Sanders a Jewish big-spending Socialist. This has confounded observers and establishment operatives as it is unlike anything ever seen in the past.
Many in Britain are angry at the consequences of membership of the EU. Anger is spreading across Europe as bankruptcy approaches and refugees squeeze resources and patience. Terrorists intensify that anger by indiscriminate attacks in major cities. Anger in the Middle East began the Arab Spring and continues to drive events there. Are we at the time foreshadowed by Rev. 11:18? – “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
The Greek word for “destroy” in this passage is significant. It is the word and signifies “to rot thoroughly, i.e. to ruin.” How truly this applies to what mankind has done to Divine principles and morality as well as to the physical environment around them. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Bro Jim Cowie ( reproduced by kind permission)
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