The Fulness of Time

A study of end time prophecy happening now

Part One: (ii) The Gathering Storm

Leagues and conflicts between the kings of the south and the north (Dan11:5-20)

Concerning the coming kings of the south and north the prophesies of Daniel 11 are most revealing. Many early commentators tried to make these prophesies shoehorn into the historic events that occurred at the time of the fall of the Greek Empire. However, Ellicott in his commentary addresses the problem which faces all who would attempt to understand the prophesies of Daniel where he writes concerning Dan.11:2 as follows: ‘The mere similarity which exists between certain things predicted here and what actually occurred in the times of the Ptolemies is not sufficient to limit the fulfilment of the prophecy to those times, still less to justify the assumption that the section before us is a history of what occurred from thedisruption of the Greek Empire to the death of Antiochus. “History repeats itself;” and just as Antiochus (Daniel 8:23-25) is a type of Antichrist (Daniel 7:21), so the events and political combinations which preceded Antiochus may be regarded as typical of what will occur before the coming of the Messiah and the general resurrection, with a prediction of which (Daniel 12:2-3) this revelation concludes’. In other words, these prophesies are still alive today, they have legs to run further! When the word of God is alive in this way then whatever it touches then it will stick, and at some point, when fully compete, it will become apparent to all, not just to those who would prefer it to either go away or to explain it in some other way.

 

In receipt of this prophesy, Daniel was strengthened by an angel who stood to confirm to him the message and told him ‘now I will shew you the truth’. The prophecy refers to four kings arising out of Persia, and though the prophecy might in part relate to the Greek Empire after the death of Alexander the Great it by no means fits all of those circumstances. Instead, the message is more likely given to Daniel to corelate with the later chapters received and written of the End Times. No clue is given to show over what nation(s) these kings reign and they might well refer to the four key building blocks or kingdom - empires past upon which sits the End Times and the Antichrist. These four key elements of Daniel’s prophesies are recorded elsewhere in the visions of Daniel; first in Daniel 2 -The Statue of the Man where the fifth part of that vision, representing the End Times show that the feet are made of iron and clay: this part represents the Antichrist and the ten nation alliance; and the second key vision of Daniel which also relates to four kingdom – empires followed by a fifth being in Daniel 7 where four beasts are followed in the End Times the ten horns. These ten horns are ten kings thar shall arise, and another being the little horn of the Antichrist (Dan 7:3;8:9) shall rise after them. He shall subdue three kings (Dan.7:24) and all ten then submit and give their power and strength to him, cross-referencing with Rev.17:12-13. All these things occur ‘at the time of the end’ (Dan.8:17,19)

In Dan.11:3 it reads ‘And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will’. Ellicott writes ‘Some autocrat may arise “in the latter times” to whom it will apply with greater force than it did to Alexander’ but his large empire comes to a sudden and unexpected end; the ruins of it are not to benefit his posterity.

 

This prophesy directly cross-refers to the great prophesy of Daniel 2 where in the second year of the reign of the heathen king Nebuchadnezzar the king ‘dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled’’ (Dan.2:1). Daniel was the only one who could interpret the dream and so was called in to the king. Daniel answered ‘But there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets, and makes known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that reveals secrets makes known to thee what shall come to pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou might know the thoughts of thy heart’. Daniel interprets the vision to Nebuchadnezzar and ends with: ‘And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure’. KJV

 

The heathen kings of Persia took notice when the prophesies were rightly divided and interpreted to them; Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Darius, Artaxerxes Longimanus, as did the Pharaohs of Egypt who had gone before, and Herod the Great of Palestine who followed. God can speak through the powerful, rich, and famous or through the lowly and poor... even through a donkey, if people will listen. Note the story of Balaam and his donkey, when the angel who stood in the road with a drawn sword in his hand then even the donkey spoke! Yet what followed from Balaam was a prophesy concerning the protection God put over the people of Jacob and Israel. God also told Balaam that his prophesies never fail for we read in Num.22,23 esp. 32:19 ‘God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act?’ BSB

 

Daniel knew that there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets, and he knew that if he wrote down the prophesies that he had received then one day, at the time of the end, then they will be made known to the people of those days to strengthen them for their trials which were to come, and for the hope of their promises too, for assuredly he knew that they would come to pass.

The final destruction of Antichrist’s kingdom

Dan.11:3 records that a ‘a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will’ yet Dan.11:4 reads that the Antichrists kingdom will only be for as short time ‘for his kingdom shall be plucked up’ and left with no descendants. So, in spite of all of Antichrist’s ambitions his kingdom and rule is prophesies as ending without a successor. Why, because this final reign ends with the coming of the Messiah. The shortness of his rule is cross-referred to by Jesus in in Matt.24:24:21,22 where He states ‘For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened’ KJV

‘The king's daughter of the south’ (Daniel 11:6)

It is at this time that there is specific reference to the king of the south who shall rule with great dominion (Dan.5:5) and to the king of the north (Dan.11:6) who between them make an agreement, but this shall be an unevenly matched agreement, in terms of the what is offered for it reads ‘And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king's daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times’. BSB So, it is clear that in the end times a kingdom to the south and a kingdom to the north of Israel will find some common ground to make an agreement, but that it will fail as ‘it shall not retain the power of the arm’ i.e., one party fails to match the power of the other and loses its advantage i.e., the marriage will not accomplish its intended purpose and the king of the south becomes independent of its northern rival. The play for power in the Middle East specifically between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Sunni Turkey as they vie for power and dominance is a reminder here of how nations with a common purpose can agree on one thing i.e., Sunni Islam, but not on another. For example, Turkey and Saudi Arabia vie to dominate each other to be the leading Sunni Islam nation in the Middle East, a role previously been played by Saudi Arabia, but now the claim is now being made more so by Turkey. Each are willing to support many Sunni militia groups in the region, yet there is also a fundamental divergence in the nations as one is Arab being Saudi Arabia and the other, Turkey, being non-Arab in its origins and governance. Indeed, apart from Israel, the only two non-Arab countries of the Middle East are Turkey and Iran, and as we reflect on the prophesy of Daniel it may be that this marriage, as between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, is between different nationalities and it may not succeed.

 

The daughter of the king of the south, ‘they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times’ may indeed be the doctrines of Islam for it is from Arabia that Islam was sourced and since has been offered to the world. It is Islam that strengthens these nations in the Middle East, in these times, and this may be the common ground for the agreement referred to in this prophesy of Daniel too.

‘Let the reader understand’ (Matt.24:15)

This event is one of many spoken of in the prophesies. The prophets found difficulty in determining exact timelines and describing what they saw yet they were faithful in writing down what they had received, and they did it as best they could in the language and imagery of their day. However, Daniel was told, and made it clear to us too that the prophesies which Nebuchadnezzar, he and others received were specifically for the times of the end. The God who sits outside time, had to reveal information which came from that transcended place in the heavenlies, yet had to be imparted to his people.

 

So it is that the time timeline might seem obscure to us, and the prophesies might repeat on the events disclosed, yet we are given enough information to understand them. If they are good enough for Jesus, to understand them, and for his disciples, then they are good enough for us too; for Matt.24:15 reads that this information is to hand and can be understood, one source being ‘described by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand)’.

 

One of the keys to understanding the prophecies of Daniel and John and others is that they were often replayed and repeated, each prophesy overlapping with, yet taking a different view of the same event. In this way some of their obscurity is dispelled. Therefore, we can confidently consider much of the End Times before-hand; we are not left guessing. Another key to understanding the prophesies in relation to present day events is to note that the motives of conquerors and conquests were based as much on the conflicts of different religions and their practices as upon military victories and land grabs. The domination of one religion over another was often seen as being central to the strategies of kings. This is clear in the prophesies of Daniel, John, Jesus, and others, where the conflicts were seen as being between evil empires and their rulers who conflicted with those who acquiesced to follow Yahweh. It is clear too when we consider the language used in these prophesies, with the emergence of the ‘beast’ to vividly describe the actions of nations. The importance of having the Arc of the Covenant with the nation at all times was seen to be paramount through the writings of Moses, David and the Old Testament scriptures, and this continued down through subsequent generations.

A collage of events

When we read Daniel 11, we realise that these prophesies are pieces of a picture which is formed by a collage of events, each will fit in with the whole to form the full picture Though each piece of the collage is cut from separate pictures, when glued onto the main picture it firms a separate, unique, yet cohesive part of the whole. The separate pieces are put from the pictures painted by all these prophets, and it only then that the main picture, which is the main event, begins to unfold. Another analogy would be the pieces of a jigsaw. Each piece is unique and only when it is fitted into the right place will the picture become clear. As they say, ‘if the cap fits, wear it’!

 

So it is with the words of prophesy, only when placed in its own unique setting does it illuminate the whole picture. When we get that assurance from the Spirit of the Father might we say assuredly that these are the words of the Son of God and they apply to us today. Like the centurion who witnessed the death of Jesus on the cross we might also witness that ‘truly this man was the Son of God’ (Mk.15:39). At that point he knew the truth, the penny had dropped, it all suddenly made sense.

 

As with the prophesies of the first coming , the dealings of Herod, the flight into Egypt of Joseph and his young family, out of old testament prophesies came a verse, even half a verse of prophesy, yet it was so profound when copied and pasted onto the events and world stage at that time as to speak of greater things, things that were from a time past yet it spoke of things present, and in the case of unfulfilled prophesy speaks of things to come.

‘Out of the branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate’

Dan.11:7 reads ‘But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail:’ There is commonality between Saudi Arabia and Turkey as they both subscribe to Sunni Islam. However, this verse is prophesy and refers to the southern kingdom and ‘her roots’ or as some commentators add concerning ‘her parents’ or ‘her family’, and it is notable that the estate or direct descendants of Mohammed the Prophet now inherit this land. These are the branches which have come from the roots and they are prophesied as coming to ‘stand up in his estate’ and to bring armies from the south and from the north against each other and in so doing entering into a ‘fortress’.

 

It is notable that both the heritage of Islam and the descendants of the founders of Islam come from the southern kingdom from which ‘shall one stand up in his estate’ who shall ‘come with an army to enter into the fortress of the king of the north to deal against them and shall prevail’. It is probable that the word ‘fortress’ is used collectively for fortified cities and so where is the fortress of the king of the north and who might it represent?

 

Daniel, a captive prince from Judah, was given visions and prophesies of the world’s kingdoms that would oppress Israel from his time through to ‘what shall come to pass hereafter’ (Dan.2:45), ‘the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be’ (Dan.8:19), ‘Now I come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days’ (Dan.10:14), ‘for the words are closed up and sealed till the end of time’ (Dan.12:9)... ‘but the wise shall understand’ (Dan.12:10)

 

So, the entire focus of all of God’s understanding with his people is focused upon ‘thy people in the latter days’ i.e., the Hebrew people and those Gentiles who, though Christ, become grafted to that vine and the land which he had given them through the Abrahamic Covenant for Genesis 17:7-8 reads ‘And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God’.

 

If God intended to show the destiny of other nations without reference to Israel, then the prophesies would become far too complex and unintelligible. The key must always be Israel, this is the only way that the prophesies come into focus.

The fortified city (Dan.11:7)

The prophesy of Dan.11:7 refers to armies entering a fortress, which is situated between and in the conflict zone of two competing kings. These two kings and the fortress where their armies meet is referred to as being on a south – north axis.

So, what and where is the ‘fortress’ referred to therein? What is meant by the ‘fortress’? Strong’s Concordance definition of the Greek word referred to here is: ‘a place or means of safety, protection’. In the writings of Moses, we read that the term ‘fortress’ implies a walled city as opposed to other type of fortifications or unprotected camps. In the writings of Moses, we read of Canaan as being a land where ‘the cities are fortified and very large' (Nu 13:28) and ‘great cities fortified to heaven’ (Dt 9:1). Both before and after the time of Daniel, Jerusalem certainly had defensive walls, and though pulled down and re-built many times (note for example their re-building at the time of Nehemiah 446-430BC), still retains them today.

The terminus of trade, and the envy of kings

At the time of Daniel’s writings (606 or 616to 536BC) the Assyrian Empire had fallen to a coalition led by Babylonians and Medes in 612 BC and, afterwards, Judah was attacked by the Babylonians who sacked their capital city of Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Further military incursions by the Babylonians between 589-582 BC destroyed the rest of the southern kingdom. However, Judah had been a nation, and though taken into captivity still had a capital city with walls.

 

The region of Israel as we know it today has always prospered through trade because of its location. It was the terminus, at Gaza, for the Incense Routes which wound up from the Kingdom of Saba in Arabia to then divide into diverse courses upwards throughout Mesopotamia and down through Egypt. It was also a nexus of trade between Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Libya.

 

The coincidence between history, current events and prophecy is far from establishing the truth of the explanation, but the prophesy does direct our attention to countries which could fulfil these roles.

 

If we consider present day alliances, then it is notable that in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has received considerable military hardware from both the US and the UK. It too shows that it is willing to engage in proxy conflicts, particularly in the Yemen, and would be able to ‘stand up in his estate’ should the nation decide to conflict with other nations that might rise to threaten it. Islam has seen great splits in its history, today the bitter divide between Sunni and Shia is prevalent, likewise Sunni nations too think they can dominate and prevail against each other.

 

Saudi Arabia and Turkey relationship have always fluctuated between cooperation and alliance to enmity and distrust. Since the 19th century, the two nations have always had a complicated relationship. While Turkey and Saudi Arabia are major economic partners, the two have a tense political relationship, deemed from the historic enmity. Differences in the practice of Islam between the two countries often cause frictions; despite both being Sunni countries, Saudi Arabia follows a strict, fundamentalist form of Islam called Wahhabism. Through the later part of the 20th and early 21st Century, Turkey followed the principles of a secular state when it worked to prevent the rise of Islamism in its government. However, it must be noted that since the 2016 attempted coup against President Erdogan, Turkey has pursued a much more open Islamist and nationalist agenda. It has also shown increasing violence and intolerance directed towards Christian minorities. The rise in persecution of the Christian community in that country is such that between 2020 and 2021 alone it rose 11 places to number 25 on the Open Doors World Watch List 2021. See https://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/world-watch-list/ . See Appendix 5.

 

The two countries could certainly fulfil the role of two competing factions, two members of one family with historic enmity. And between them is a ‘fortified city’ placed to the north of Saudi Arabia. Though a northern kingdom with an uneasy truce between them is certainly referred to, by the time the armies engage or meet then it seems that the conflict zone is at the place of a fortified and walled city for their ‘shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail’.

 

In the prophesies in Dan.11:5 onwards the vagueness of the language prevents us from asserting the exact reference to either the locations of these respective kings of the north and the south, or to the location where they meet, i.e., the fortress then occupied by the king of the north. So, it may be that from his country the king of the north proceeds to and occupies the fortress before himself being attacked by the armies of the southern king. So, the fortress becomes the place of conflict, as does the Valley of Megiddo in the End times, it is the place where the armies meet for the conflict.

 

In summary, the prophesies of Daniel and John include many separate references to armies coming against the land of present-day Israel and the directions from which they come; from the north, the south, the east as the beast arises out of the Mediterranean Sea (Rev.13:1), and from the west too. This would be an overwhelmingly difficult position from which to mount a defence, except of course unless there is the intervention of the King of kings who not only intervenes, but also comes to rule and to reign.

The epicentre of global persecution

The map of the Middle East shows a dramatic picture when seen in the light of the persecution of Christians in the 21st Century. This persecution is defined by Open Doors as being ‘any hostility experienced as a result of one's identification with Christ’. The history of Christianity shows that in many countries it has never been safe to follow Christ. The International Society for Human Rights has found that Christians are the victims of 80% of all acts of religious persecution.

The map showing the persecution of Christians shows Israel as being the epicentre of that persecution. The best representation of the geographic spread and the intensity of that persecution is seen by looking at the Open Doors World Watch List 2021. To the north, south, east, and west of Israel are belligerents who do not acknowledge the rights of Israel to exist as a nation state. From these countries it is notable that by the 21st Century the Jewish populations have long since fled.

Commentators such as Michael Horowitz (Senior Advisor for the Religious Action Centre of Reform Judaism) has argued that vulnerable Christians are like canaries in a coalmine, serving as an early warning of ‘whether freedom exists not only for them – but for all others in society’.

 

In 2019 the then UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, commissioned a Report on the international persecution of Christians. In response to this Report the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, said Jews had often been the targets of persecution and felt for Christians who were discriminated against on the basis of their faith. "Whether it is in authoritarian regimes, or bigotry masked in the mistaken guise of religion, reports like the one launched today remind us that there are many places in which Christians face appalling levels of violence, abuse and harassment," she said.

 

And French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsa made an urgent plea to Europe and the West to defend non-Muslims in the Middle East, whom he likened to Holocaust victims. "As our parents wore the yellow star, Christians are made to wear the scarlet letter of nun" Korsia said. The scarlet letter of nun being the derogatory sign used against Christians in the Levant when IS came into that land, giving the Christians there the stark choice to either ‘flee, convert (to Islam) or die’. The Arabic letter nun is the letter N, and it was used to mark out those who were ‘followers of the Nazarene’.

 

The World Watch List highlights the intensity of global persecution by ranking countries using benchmarks of the religious freedoms allowed to their citizens in the different aspects of their daily lives, e.g., access to education, family freedoms, national life and religious legislation which might target them.

 

The countries that surround Israel show the marked decline in the numbers of Christians and in their Christian Communities there. The reason for this decline is often being the threats of lethal persecution. The UK’s FCO Independent Review into the Persecution of Christians in 2019, chaired by the Bishop of Truro, the Rev. Philip Mounstephen, had two clear findings: 1) ‘Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution, but also its increasing severity’ and 2) ‘In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the International Definition of Genocide, according to that adopted by the UN’. This is particularly so when we consider the near collapse in the Christian communities in Iraq and Syria in the first two decades of the 21st Century.

Israel in the crosshairs

From a global perspective, Israel is not only at the epicentre of global conflict, but also from a religious point of view it is in the crosshairs of many different religions, three of which centre upon Jerusalem; Jewish, Christian and Islam. The global population by religion amounts to 7.167bn (2021); of which 2.4bn (33%) identify with Christianity, 1.8bn (24.1%) identify with Islam and 14.4m (0.20%) identify with Judaism (source: The Pew Research Study). Yet the effect of Judaism on global politics far outweighs the percentage of Jews on the planet. Israel truly is a vortex of faiths. Globally, 55.3% of faiths declare an interest in the land of Israel, and more particularly, Jerusalem. It has the potential to unite or to divide the nations. Yahweh God has foreseen both blessing and tragedy there Matt.23:37 reads ‘OJerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!’ KJV John sees the city as being a whore, an harlot to the nations Rev.17:1-5 esp. v.1b,2 and 5b ‘“Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. The kings of the earth were immoral with her, and those who dwell on the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her immorality.”... BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH’. BSB It is a place where the potent mix of faiths and political interests combine to make it a tinderbox, a barrel of gunpowder, which has the potential to implode, bringing in many world powers who would fight its cause and war to attain it.

 

The crosshairs of nations and the dominant cause of persecution against Christians and previously the Jews in those countries along the crosshairs emanating from the city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel is best summarised in the Open Doors World Watch List 2021 (WWL2021) See Appendix 5. This List best shows two things: 1) the south–north and east-west alignment of countries in relation to Israel 2) the significant and sometimes lethal opposition to Christians along these same axes. A third intriguing pattern emerges when the Open Doors World Watch List is superimposed upon the countries where there is the most rapid growth in the Christian church, and the two markedly equate i.e., where there is the most significant opposition to the Christian gospel then there is also a move to the Christian faith too. See https://operationworld.org/country-lists .

 

Jesus did not prophesy ease to those who followed him, but He did prophesy to be with them through the trials (Ps.23).

 

I name first the direction of the country in relation to the state of Israel, then its ranking on that List, the higher the number being the worse the persecution, then I include the percentage of Christians there, and then the dominant cause of oppression and persecution of the Christians there.

South of Israel

Saudi Arabia (14): Under 3.5% Christian. Islamic oppression (Sunni), Clan, and ethnic antagonism. Whether Saudi or expatriate, Christians living in Saudi Arabia – where the official religion and law is Islamic – can expect to encounter severe opposition to their faith. The few Saudi Christians from a Muslim background face enormous pressure, especially from families. Leaving Islam is one of the biggest sins a Muslim can commit. Men could face physical and emotional abuse, and public shaming. To get them to recant, material incentives are offered – but refusing could entail death. Meanwhile, women could face a range of consequences, including forced marriage, divorce, sexual abuse and house-arrest. The submissive position of women in Saudi society can make it treacherously difficult to escape. Whether male or female, it is little wonder many believers choose to keep their new faith secret.

 

Egypt (16): 15.8% Christian. Ethno-religious hostility, Islamic oppression (Sunni). Persecution against Christians happens mostly at the community level, especially in Upper Egypt where Salafist movements exert a strong influence on the rural communities due to high levels of illiteracy and poverty. Incidents include false accusations, community ostracism, mob violence, and the abduction of Christian women (causing many to feel unsafe leaving the house alone). Although Egypt’s government speaks positively about Egypt's Christian community, the lack of serious law enforcement and the unwillingness of local authorities to protect Christians leave them vulnerable to all kinds of attacks. Furthermore, in contrast to how mosques and Islamic organisations are dealt with, churches and Christian non-governmental organisations are restricted in their ability to build new churches or run social services. Opposition also arises through communal hostility and mob violence. Christians from a Muslim background often have great difficulty in living out their faith since they face enormous pressure from their families to return to Islam. The state also makes it impossible for them to get any official recognition of their conversion.

 

Libya (4): 0.5% Christian. Islamic oppression (Sunni), Clan oppression. There is no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, and no possibility of public church life in Libya. The tiny number of Libyan Christians from a Muslim background face violent and intense pressure from their family and the wider community to renounce their faith. They are also vulnerable to abduction, murder or sexual assault by Islamic militant groups and organised crime groups. Sharing your faith publicly is illegal in Libya, and those who try to share their Christian faith with others risk violent opposition and arrest. Without a central government, the country is effectively in a state of lawless anarchy. There is little chance of legal justice when Christians are attacked or killed. Christians migrating from sub-Saharan Africa arealso vulnerable to being held in detention centres or handed over to persecutors by those trafficking them. Believers are often then forced into intense labour or prostitution. There is no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, and no possibility of public church life in Libya. The tiny number of Libyan Christians from a Muslim background face violent and intense pressure from their family and the wider community to renounce their faith. They are also vulnerable to abduction, murder or sexual assault by Islamic militant groups and organised crime groups. Sharing your faith publicly is illegal in Libya, and those who try to share their Christian faith with others risk violent opposition and arrest. Without a central government, the country is effectively in a state of lawless anarchy. There is little chance of legal justice when Christians are attacked or killed. Christians migrating from sub-Saharan Africa are also vulnerable to being held in detention centres or handed over to persecutors by those trafficking them. Believers are often then forced into intense labour or prostitution.

North of Israel

Lebanon (not ranked in the top 50): Proportionally, Lebanon has the highest rate of Christians in the Middle East with estimates of 40% Christian and 60% Muslims (30% Sunni, 30% Shia). Christianity in Lebanon has a long and continuous history. Biblical Scriptures purport that Peter and Paul evangelized the Phoenicians, whom they affiliated to the ancient patriarchate of Antioch. The spread of Christianity in Lebanon was very slow where paganism persisted especially in the mountaintop strongholds of Mount Lebanon. A 2015 study estimates some 2,500 Lebanese Christians have Muslim ancestry, whereas the majority of Lebanese Christians are direct descendants of the original early Christians.

 

Syria (8): In 1967, 30% of the population of Syria were Christian, which by the outbreak of the Civil War there in 2011 had fallen to 9%, however by 2021 this had fallen to just 3.6% of the population. Islamic oppression (74% Sunni, 10% Alawites i.e., non-Sunni, Shia 3%). The number of Christians in the country has dramatically decreased since the Civil War began in 2011 as many have fled conflict and persecution. Persecution remains extreme in public and private life for Christians there. Christians from a Muslim background are vulnerable to pressure from their family and communities, who perceive conversion from Islam as bringing dishonour. Sometimes these families even request that local officials covertly monitor Christian converts. In areas controlled by Islamic extremist groups, public expressions of Christianity are banned, and most churches have been seized or destroyed. In government- controlled areas, this threat is less – but there are still numerous abductions of church leaders, and Islamic dissidents are still active. Violent attacks continue, while Covid-19 has exacerbated many existing vulnerabilities in the past year.

 

Turkey (25): 0.2% Christian. Growing Islamic oppression (Sunni Islam), religious nationalism. It is becoming harder to be a Christian in Turkey. Turkey has jumped nine places since last year’s OD World Watch List, reflecting the increasing and stifling impact of religious nationalism on Christianity and a clear increase in reported violence. The repurposing of two historic churches from museums to mosques in the summer of 2020 – including the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul – reinforced growing nervousness among Christians over the Islamic and nationalistic direction in which the country is moving.

 

Russian Federation (46 on WWL2020): 82% Christian. Police State. The rise of persecution in many countries on the WWL means that on the WWL2021 it falls outside the top 50. However, 2021 sees a significant rise of authoritarian actions taken to oppress its population, and in effect it is run as a Police State. In Russian, Christians can be viewed as Western spies and, in the Caucasus region, converting to Christianity is considered a betrayal of national identity. Apart from the Russian Orthodox Church, the government have imposed greater restrictions against Christian denominations.

 

Historically the church in Russia has had little freedom. The idea of combining the social and political power of secular government with religious power, or of making secular authority superior to the spiritual authority of the Church; especially concerning the connection of the Church with government, known as Caesaropapism, has been most notorious in Russian history. An example being the Tsardom of Russia when Ivan IV the Terrible assumed the title Czar in 1547 and subordinated the Russian Orthodox Church to the state. This level of caesaropapism far exceeded that of the Byzantine Empire and was taken to a new level in 1721, when Peter the Great replaced the patriarchate with a Holy Synod, making the church a department of his government. The patriarchate was not restored until November 10 (October 28 O.S.), 1917, 3 days after the Bolshevik Revolution. What then followed throughout the history of the Soviet Union (1917–1991), were periods when Soviet authorities brutally suppressed and persecuted various forms of Christianity to different extents depending on State interests. Soviet Marxist-Leninist policy consistently advocated the control, suppression, and ultimately, the elimination of religious beliefs. The state advocated the destruction of religion, and to achieve this goal, it officially denounced religious beliefs as superstitious and backward. The Communist Party destroyed churches, synagogues, and mosques, ridiculed, harassed, incarcerated, and executed religious leaders, flooded the schools and media with anti-religious teachings, and it introduced a belief system called "scientific atheism," with its own rituals, promises and proselytizers. According to some sources, the total number of Christian victims under the Soviet regime has been estimated to range around 12 to 20 million. In present-day Russia, Christians can be viewed as Western spies, and in the Caucasus converting to Christianity is considered a betrayal of national identity.

East of Israel

Jordan (the ancient lands of Edom and Moab) (38): 1.8% Christian. Islamic oppression (95% Sunni). However, compared to Christians living in other Middle Eastern countries, most Christians in Jordan live a safe and stable life and enjoy a relatively high level of religious freedom. King Abdallah and his government appear to tolerate and, to a certain degree, support recognised churches, and Jordan fell five places to 38 on the WWL2021. The prophesies of Rev.12 and elsewhere refer to the Christ Church of the Middle East fleeing to the wilderness lands of Edom and Moab in the End Times.

 

Iraq (11): 0.4% Christian. Islamic oppression (65% Shia, 35% Sunni). Christians from a Muslim background often keep their faith secret, because of the pressure and threats they are likely to receive from extended family members, clan leaders and wider society. Christian converts risk losing inheritance rights or the right to marry – and they are not allowed to marry Christians, as the law still considers them Muslim. Islamic extremists remain active in Iraq, attacking and kidnapping Christians. So-called Islamic State (IS) are notorious for their appalling use of women, particularly the sexual enslavement of women from religious minorities. While IS no longer have a stranglehold over the country, the legacy of their attitudes lingers, and many women are traumatised from their experiences. The government also discriminates against Christians in various contexts, from the workplace to check points. Blasphemy laws can also be used against those who try to spread the gospel.

 

Iran (8): under 1%. Islamic oppression. It is notable that according to the 2011 Iranian census around 95% of Iranian Muslims identify themselves with Shia Islam, though a much smaller number of Iranians abroad are so identified (32% Shia, 5% Sunni, 3% Sufi). Despite the extreme levels of persecution brought to bear against Christians in Iran, as of 2021 the country has the fastest growing Christian church in world with some 800K members, a key factor being their house churches of which 55% of them are led by women. The Iranian government sees the conversion of Muslims to Christianity as an attempt by Western countries to undermine the Islamic rule of Iran. Christians from a Muslim background are persecuted the most, primarily by the government, but also by their families and communities. Secret churches are often raided, and their leaders and members have been arrested and given long prison sentences for ‘crimes against national security’.

 

Afghanistan (2): under1%. Islamic oppression (90% Sunni, 7% Shia, 3% Non- denominational Muslims). It is impossible to live openly as a Christian in Afghanistan. Leaving Islam is considered shameful, and Christian converts face dire consequences if their new faith is discovered. Either they have to flee the country, or they will be killed. If aChristian’s family discovers they have converted, their family, clan or tribe has to save its ‘honour’ by disowning the believer, or even killing them. Christians from a Muslim background can also be sectioned in a psychiatric hospital, because leaving Islam is considered a sign of insanity. 

 

Pakistan (5): 1.9%. Islamic oppression (80% Sunni, 20%Shia). Christians in Pakistan face extreme persecution in every area of their lives. Believers who have converted from Islam face the greatest levels of persecution, but all Christians are considered second-class citizens in this strongly Islamic country. Christians, particularly Christian men, are given jobs perceived as low, dirty and dishonourable, and can be victims of bonded labour. There are some Christians among the middle classes, but they are still considered inferior to their Muslim counterparts and often face severe workplace discrimination. Christian girls are at risk of abduction and rape and are often forced to marry their attackers and coerced into converting to Islam. Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws are used to target Christians, and Islamic extremist groups vehemently ‘defend’ these laws, including attacking or killing those believed to have contravened them. Often these are used to target Christians after a dispute relating to work or tenancy, rather than genuine cases. Christian churches do exist, but those that are active in outreach face severe persecution from society. 

 

China (17): 6.8%. Communist and post-Communist oppression. From the 1980’s through to 2021 the church in China has seen extraordinary growth of some 8%pa, yet life for Christians there is not straightforward, and recent years has seen a marked increase in persecution. To keep their identity, many Chinese Christians practice in informal networks and unregistered congregations, often described as house churches or underground churches, the proliferation of which began in the 1950s when many Chinese Protestants and Catholics began to reject state-controlled structures purported to represent them. Members of such groups are said to represent the "silent majority" of Chinese Christians and represent many diverse theological traditions. Antireligious campaigns in the People's Republic of China refer to the Chinese Communist Party's official promotion of state atheism, coupled with its persecution of people with spiritual or religious beliefs. During the Cultural Revolution 1966 to 1976, the expression of religious life in China was effectively banned, including even the Three-Self Church, and through this time Christians, along with many people groups, were persecuted, incarcerated, or killed. The Cultural Revolution damaged China's economy and traditional culture, and it resulted in an estimated death toll ranging up to 20 million. State campaigns against religion have escalated since Xi Jinping became General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012. For Christians, government decrees have mandated the destruction of houses of worship, such as Christian churches. The Communist Party looks with distrust on organizations with international ties; it tends to associate Christianity with it deems to be subversive Western values and has closed churches and schools. The policy of ‘sinicising’ the church (to make Chinese) is implemented across the country as the Communist Party relies strongly on Chinese cultural identity to stay in power, and limits whatever could threaten its control on society. New restrictions on the internet, social media, and non-governmental organisations – along with a revision of religious regulation in 2018 which was enhanced again last year – are strictly applied and seriously limit freedom. Churches are being monitored and closed, be they independent or affiliated to the state (e.g., Three-Self Patriotic Movement). On a more local level, converts from Islam or Buddhism whose new faith is discovered by family and the community are likely to face threats and physical harm to lure them back.


North Korea (1) 1.5%. Dictatorial paranoia. Being discovered as a Christian is a death sentence in North Korea. You will be taken to a labour camp as a political criminal, if you aren’t killed instantly. These inhumane prisons have horrific conditions, and few believers make it out alive. And everyone in your family will share the same punishment. Kim Jong-un is reported to have expanded the system of prison camps, in which an estimated 50-70,000 Christians are currently imprisoned. Many Christians are unable to meet with other believers and have to keep their faith entirely hidden. There are even stories of husbands and wives not knowing, for many years, that their spouse was also a Christian. Secret police carry out raids to identify Christians, and children are encouraged to tell their teachers about any sign of faith in their parents’ home. A Christian is never safe.

Israel

Israel is in the middle of the crosshairs of the telescopic sites of a gun. It is in the geo- political and religious epicentre of current and End Time events. The nearer to the epicentre, the more the persecution of Christians, who are identified as being subversive to the beliefs of Islam, or in the case of authoritarian states like China and North Korea, are identified as being subversive to the authority of the state. In addition, these countries show an abhorrence of the Jews and their claim to Statehood. The many proxy wars which occur both near to, and towards the outer edges of the epicentre, co-relate to the same fundamentals identified here. The prophet Simeon, upon seeing the baby Jesus declared to his mother ‘Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against’ Lu.2:34 KJV.

The Messiah, also called the Prince of Peace, is not the cause of this conflict, but the conflicting belief systems of humanity is the consequence of it, as each contend to explain faith-based dilemmas and to ‘square the circle’. This arrival of Light in dark places was always going to lead to enmity from those who consider their positions threatened by it. From Jewish writings we read of a prophesy in Psalm 2, part of which was later remembered and repeated by the early Christians in Acts 4:25,26. Ps.2 reads ‘Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him’. KJV Though the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take council together against the Lord and against his anointed, the Lord makes a tally and speaks to them in his sore displeasure, his wrath. He is angry, yet He sins not. Dan.9:16 reads ‘O Lord, in keeping with all Your righteous acts, I pray that Your anger and wrath may turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all around us’ BSB. He who speaks is the Word of God, the Messiah who is the One who is coming to rule and to reign.

 

The re-founding of the nation of Israel on 14 May 1948, after nearly 2,000 years of the Jewish people’s diaspora, followed on from the British Mandate of Palestine 1920-1948 and before that the Ottoman period 1516-1917. The prophet Isaiah forthtold of this event when he wrote in Is.66:8 ‘Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children’ KJV. Yet in the bringing forth, many eyes turned to the land and many countries re-considered their positions. A rival Arab nationalism also claimed rights over the former Ottoman territories and sought to prevent Jewish migration into Palestine. This led to growing Arab–Jewish tensions. Israeli independence in 1948 was also accompanied by an exodus of Arabs from Israel, the Arab–Israeli conflict and a subsequent Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries to Israel. About 43% of the world's Jews live in Israel today, the largest Jewish community in the world.

The gods of Egypt

Dan.11:7 speaks of Israel and its capital city being in the crosshairs of human history, and Dan.11:8 speaks of the continuance of alliances, and absence of hostilities for a number of years between the kings of the south and the north, and Egypt. The reference to their ‘gods’ is a reminder that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are all Sunni Islamic nation states.

 

Dan.11:9 speaks of the movements to and from the kingdom of the south. ‘So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land’. Then Dan.11:10 reads ‘But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress’. It is certainly true that Saudi Arabia can covet allies who have great forces. Indeed, in the First Gulf War 1990-91, coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States used the kingdom from which to ‘overflow and pass though’ as they invaded Kuwait and Iraq. The prophesy in this verse states that at the time of the northern and southern kings’ actions in the End Times, such a multitude will ‘certainly come’. Ellicott comments ‘The words “overflow,” “pass through” “return,” all refer to the ebbing and flowing of the tide of war’.

 

As the southern king can covet allies, so can the northern king too. Similarly, today Turkey is a member of NATO yet it also has both a sometimes-strained relationship with Russia, for example in 2019 it bought their ground to air missile defence system; and at the same time its air force is equipped with US fighter jets.

 

As we consider reading on from Daniel 11:11 (KJV) there is much ambiguity of language such that we do not clearly understand which king is referred to nor the multitude of forces at their disposal. For example in verse 11 ‘He’ may refer to either king for it reads ‘And the king of the south shall be moved with choler (rage), and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand’ And verse 12 reads ‘And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it’ which might mean, ‘And the multitude is lifted up—i.e., takes courage— and its heart is exalted,’ or, ‘when the multitude takes courage the king’s heart is exalted’ but the point is that the victory of the southern king after he has taken the "multitude" of the northern king has not proved so successful as he had hoped. His aim was to gain complete supremacy over his rival, but for reasons which are about to be stated he was unable to gain

his object.

The ebb and flow of the northern and southern armies is clear from v.13 ‘For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches’. The revenge of the northern army comes after it acquires significant extra resources.

 

Dan.11:14 reads ‘And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall’. Ellicott writes of this verse ‘It must be noticed that at this verse—the earliest in which there is any reference to Daniel’s people and to the vision (Daniel 10:1; Daniel 10:7-8)—we appear to be approaching the great crisis. We appear to be within “a very few days” (see Daniel 11:20) of the vile-person who corresponds to the little horn of the fourth beast. At this period the king of the south suffers from many hostile opponents, while certain others, more closely connected with the Jews, become prominent for a while, but then fail’. The ‘robbers of thy people... can only refer to certain Jews who committed various violent breaches of the Law, and on this occasion revolted against the king of the south... The significant part of the verse is the ‘falling’ of the robbers. It seems to mean that the conduct of these men shall bring them just the reverse of what they had expected’. So, it is apparent that the Jews, likely to be their lawgivers, do act to establish ‘their vision’, i.e., likely to be a covenant or agreement with the coming ‘vile one’, though they fail and are called robbers of the people. But it is too late, the agreement has been signed such that many are compromised and robbed of their rights.

 

Dan.11:15 reads of the continuing conflict between these two kings and the involvement of the fortified cities: ‘So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand’.

 

Dan.11:16 ‘But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed (literally: destruction being in his hand)’. Ellicott reads: ‘We now hear of further proceedings of the northern king. He follows up the vision mentioned in the last verse, enters the glorious land (i.e., Palestine), and commits great ravages in it. The king is described in language which reminds us of Daniel 11:3. He acts just as he pleases after his entrance to the southern kingdom’.

 

Dan.11:17 ‘He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him’.

 

The language remains ambiguous. Ellicott comments: ‘The northern king has further planned for subduing the dominions of the southern king. He brings together all the forces he can amass, and then attempts by means of a political marriage to establish peace; but this also proves a failure... The reference to the upright ones could refer to the Jews taking the part of the northern king in the contest’. The Turkey and Israel relationship is again to be considered here.

 

Dan.11:18 ‘After this shall he turn his face unto the isles (coast or region), and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn upon him’. The coast or region being Asia Minor. The verse states that in the first instance the northern king will be successful, but in the end the princes will repay him the reproach which he inflicted upon them.

 

Dan.11:19 ‘Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found’. Again, we read of the fort. The king of the north is forced to take refuge in his fortresses, and here meets with his end.

Dan.11:20 reads ‘Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle’. Ellicott writes of the raiser of taxes the word ‘exactor’, or ‘oppressor’ is better. The new king of the north causes or allows the ‘oppressor’ to pass through ‘the majesty of the kingdom’, or it could mean to pass through the richest part of his kingdom’. But as Ellicott writes ‘The effect of this policy was that the king fell a victim to a conspiracy in a few days.’ In the geo-politics of current events, its as though a strong oppressor with guile passes through Syria or maybe Turkey, though his passing through is not in anger or battle. The outcome though was that in a short time that nation falls victim to the conspiracy.

 

The writer has spent much time on Daniel 11:5-20 because within its grainy pithy contents are expressions which can lead us to understand a modern context. I quote in full from the commentator Ellicott and then add my final remarks below.

 

Ellicott writers: ‘With this verse the first part of the prophecy concludes. It is to be observed that thus far (1) notes of time are very scanty; we only meet with indefinite expressions, such as “in the end of years” (Daniel 11:6), “certain years” (Daniel 11:13), “within few days” (Daniel 11:20), and vague terms expressing sequence of time. (2) There is nothing in the text which implies any change of sovereigns, except in Daniel 11:7; Daniel 11:19. It follows from a careful study of these verses that according to their natural and literal sense they speak of only two southern kings and only one northern king. The southern king of whom we read most is apparently the offspring of the daughter of the first southern king, mentioned in Daniel 11:5, and it is he who engages in conflict with the first northern king, and with his sons (Daniel 11:10). The whole prophecy is eschatological, and refers to two opposing earthly powers which will affect the destiny of God’s people in the last times. It relates a series of wars and political intrigues between these two powers, all of which prove futile, and it concludes with the account of the death of the first northern king. Daniel 11:20 is a transition verse, in which another character is introduced, who will mark the approach of the end; while Daniel 11:21 introduces the most prominent object of the prophecy—a person who remains before the reader till the end of the chapter, while the southern king gradually disappears (Daniel 11:25; Daniel 11:27; Daniel 11:40), and what is apparently his country is mentioned without its sovereign in Daniel 11:43.

 

The key conclusions here are that the events do relate to the End Times and that the whole prophesy is eschatological. Furthermore, it does make sense if we superimpose the conflict and tension which is apparent in Sunni Islam between the nation states of Saudi Arabia, the first southern king, from which a daughter i.e. Sunni Islam i.e. the second southern king, is offered to the northern king and his sons i.e. Syria, a Syrian – Turkish Agreement, or Turkey. As Ellicott comments, ‘all of these conflicts prove futile’, but what it does is to allow the oppressor to come through the lands of the northern kingdom towards the ‘Beautiful Land’ to a city with fortified walls. Then we read of the demise of the northern king, or one of his sons, and this may indeed relate to the demise of Syria. Either way, it marks the introduction of another character who will mark the approach of the end.

 

The above events are key signs and that will take place before the arrival of the vile person (Dan.11:21), the Antichrist, a person who remains until the end of the chapter, while the southern kingdom gradually disappears. As Daniel says, and Jesus warns us ‘let the reader understand’.

The exploits of the ‘vile person’ (Da,11:21-29)

 

It is clear from Dan11:21 that the vile person shall not give honour to the kingdom i.e., the nation through which he passes. Instead with guile, intrigue, and conspiracy he will come; purporting to be a man of peace yet he will come with flatteries and with cunning hypocritical conduct will deceive the nation through which he passes. Dan.11:21 reads ‘And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries’.

 

The character of the Antichrist is described elsewhere in this study. He Daniel picks up on the same subject. Ellicott writes of ‘the vile person’ as follows: ‘The meaning of the language will be plainer after a reference to Psalm 119:141 (despised and contemptable); Jeremiah 22:28. The moral character of the man is especially described. The words that follow explain more fully that he was not worthy of receiving royal majesty.

 

Dan.11:22 reads ‘And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant’. Ellicott writes ‘the overwhelming forces of invading armies are swept away by the troops of this terrible king. But besides the enemy, the ‘prince of the covenant’ is to be destroyed also. This expression is most readily explained by observing that it stands in contrast with the hostile armies mentioned in the first clause. It is means... ‘those who were at peace with him’, with the word ‘prince’ being used as a collective noun’. So, the Antichrist breaks his agreement with other nations or sectarian groups.

 

Dan.11:23 reads ‘And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people’ of which Ellicott writes ‘this verse explains more fully the means by which the king succeeds in maintaining his influence. He has already destroyed those who are at peace with him. From the time that he first becomes their confederate, he works deceitfully, coming up with hostile intent, accompanied only by a few people, and in this way throwing off their guard those whom he would destroy’.

 

Dan.11:24 then reads ‘He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time’. This intruder ‘king’ comes with bribes and apparent friendship, but he is really planning attacks against the fortresses of the district, endeavouring to reduce them into his power. And when shall this be? Answer: ‘for a time’, that is, the end of the time decreed by God.

 

Dan.11:25 reads ‘And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him’. As Ellicott comments ‘for the first time in the second portion of the prophecy, mention is made of the southern king. It is highly probable that the deceit mentioned in the last three verses had this king and his provinces for its object.’ From v.21 onwards we specifically read of the actions of the Antichrist, and so know that he is moving towards a nationhood to his south, which is his object or goal.

 

Dan.11:26 reads ‘Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain’. As Ellicott writes: ‘The context points to treachery. The false companions of the southern king betray him to the enemy; he is broken, the hostile army pours in, and many are slain’. This so reminds the writer of the devastation caused in the nation of Syria since the civil war broke out there in 2011.

 

Dan.11:27 reads ‘And both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed’. Ellicott comments: ‘The two rival kings are here described as living upon terms of outward friendship, while each is inwardly trying to outwit the other’.

 

Crucially ‘for yet the end shall be at the time appointed’ i.e., these events occur specifically at the time appointed or as Ellicott comments ‘the end of each will come only at the time definitely ordained by God for the consummation of His kingdom (Daniel 11:35). Man cannot hasten the events decreed by God’s providence’.

 

Dan11:28 reads ‘Then shall he return into his land with great riches (Strong’s: ‘property, goods’); and his heart (‘inner man, mind’) shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land’. It is whilst exploits are being made that the Antichrist builds his strength which causes his inner motives to rise against the previously made agreement i.e., envy wealth and greed mixed with success in obtaining his desires emboldens him to rise against a previous agreement, now with the ambition in his heart of overcoming it to his own benefit.

 

Dan.11:29 reads ‘At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter’. All of the previous exploits of the kings of the north and south and the ‘vile man’ are in preparation for the following events. This time, the last time, i.e., at God’s appointed time the to-and-fro of the kings of the south and the north and the exploits of ‘the vile (despised) man’ are stopped. No such success attended him at the latter as at the former invasion.

Naval powers cause the Antichrist to turn his fury against the Holy Land (Da.11:30-35)

Dan.11:30 reads ‘For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved (shall loose heart), and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant’.

 

So, a new military force now intervenes, this time one with significant naval power, and this comes against the Antichrist. When this happens, the Antichrist becomes disheartened. This is the first time that opposition occurs such that he is stopped in his exploits. This is the turning point at which time the Antichrist returns to his original intent to claim his prize, to return his focus to, and indulge his anger against Palestine. The final exploit of the northern king appears to facilitate the entry of the Antichrist into Palestine, for at this point he is moving from north to south. The Antichrist appears to work with or through this land to the north of Palestine. Also at this point, alliances broken, and the timing of events is made clear.

 

It is upon the appearance of this naval force, described as the ships of Chittim, that determines the timing and the open appearance of the Antichrist in the holy place. This is when the covenant agreement with Palestine will be broken (see v.32) and this is what precipitates the timing and appearance of the ‘abomination of desolations’ i.e., the Antichrist, standing in the holy place.

 

So, what naval forces are situated in the Mediterranean Sea? The key naval power there is that of the United States, though further north in the Black Sea is stationed the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Though the Bosporus Straits significantly restrict its access into the Mediterranean Sea, it still has ambitions in that region.

 

The British Mediterranean Fleet ended in 1967 however the United States Sixth Fleet operates as part of United States Naval Forces Europe. The Sixth Fleet is headquartered at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy. The officially stated mission of the Sixth Fleet in 2011 is that it ‘conducts the full range of Maritime Operations and Theater Security Cooperation missions, in concert with coalition, joint, interagency, and other parties, in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa'. Its task forces integrate land sea and air assets.

 

Counterpoised to the American Fleet is the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The Russian seizure of Crimea in 2014 changed the situation and role of the Black Sea Fleet significantly. Russia's expanded military footprint in Crimea allows it to carry out a range of operations that it was not capable of prior to 2014. The Black Sea Fleet's capabilities continue to expand in the 2020s. In response, in the Black Sea the United States, the United Kingdom and Turkey have entered into contracts to supply new corvettes, missile-armed fast attack craft, patrol boats and unmanned air vehicles to the Ukrainian Navy.

 

So, what or whose are the ‘ships of Chittim’? Strong's Exhaustive Concordance reads

‘Chittim, Kittim: Or Kittiyiy {kit-tee-ee'}; patrial from an unused name denoting Cyprus (only in the plural); a Kittite or Cypriote; hence, an islander in general, i.e. The Greeks or Romans on the shores opposite Palestine -- Chittim, Kittim’. So, the American Fleet based in Italy is the only direct corelation to this description. Cyrus is an island just some 60 miles off the coast of Israel and has long standing ties with the British presence in the Mediterranean.

 

Dan.11:31-32a reads ‘And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries... ‘. So, it is apparent that the Antichrist and his followers use flatteries (smooth words and fine promises). The word corrupt literally means ‘make profane’ the people to become like the heathen i.e., they become godless. This is what happens when the Antichrist pollutes the ‘sanctuary of strength’ i.e., instead it becomes a place of abomination, a detestable place. The things of God have been corrupted with the intention of making them worthless and godless. The Antichrist at all times knows the self-generating power that comes from God and makes every attempt to neutralise it and remove its power. Satan stands before God to corrupt, condemn, and accuse the things and the people of God (Job1:6-7;2:1-2). Yet God, who is a jealous God, is jealous of this space, his sanctuary, for it is reflective of the eternal Sanctuary in heaven, and it will not go un-noticed. In prophesy it has already been marked by Him. His eyes are discerning of these events, and the abuse of the free-will He has imparted to mankind who follow good or evil.

 

This prophesy directly correlates to and identifies with the timing referred to by Jesus in Matt.24:15 ‘When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand)’ KJV. Ellicott comments that this verse refers to the arms being military assistance given to the aggressor whereas the next verse refers to the help given to the aggressor by apostates. Both aid the ‘abomination (outrage or disgrace) that makes desolate’ (see also Dan.8:13) in what should otherwise be the place of ‘sanctuary of strength’ for God’s people. The Hebrew word for Temple can also mean ‘a very powerful fortress’ so the spoiling of the sanctuary is akin to the occult practice of taking possession of the things of God and making them profane, and this is done in two ways, both through physical violence and spiritual deceit and the corruption and misuse of spiritual powers.

The place of the Sanctuary

The place of sanctuary to the people of God should be holy and separated from spiritual pollution, a holy place sanctified to and by Yahweh. The Temple of God was originally designed to be a dwelling place of God’s glory and power, a place of hearing and seeing Yahweh, a special place of his abode i.e., his tabernacle (Ex.40:34,35); covered by the cloud of God’s glory (Num.9:18,22); planned by God (Ex.25:9;26:30). In the time of the dedication of Solomon’s Temple it became a place where the glory of God came down for in 2Chr.7:1-3 we read ‘Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD'S house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever’ KJV.

 

However, upon the completion of the building of hen Solomon’s Temple, God gave a number of conditional promises and warnings to him and to the people (2Chr.7:11-19). God told him of that place I ‘have chosen this place to myself’ (v.12) and God’s covenant agreement will be actioned there... ‘If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land’ (v.13,14). God tells us that he is both attentive and jealous for us in that place for it reads in v.15,16 ‘Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually’ KJV. So, in that place God sees and the desires of His heart shall be longed for there perpetually. However, it is also a place of high stakes, for God also says in v.19-22 that he will if the people ‘turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations. And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house? And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them’.

 

God is perpetually jealous of that place and to those who contravene its original use and purpose do so at their peril, for there are consequences. God is particularly jealous of holiness in that place and he burns against spiritual pollution there. Jesus’ heart too caught the vision of God’s burning anger in that place when he saw it spiritually polluted, for we read in Matt.21:12 and then in Mk.11:15-18a ‘When they arrived in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began to drive out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. Then Jesus began to teach them, and He declared, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations’ (Is.56:7)? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers’ (Jer.7:11) When the chief priests and scribes heard this, they looked for a way to kill Him’ BSB. Jesus then foretold the Temple’s destruction in Mk.13:1-2 ‘As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, look at the magnificent stones and buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” Jesus replied. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down”’. An event which took place in 70AD during the Roman siege of Jerusalem.

 

The prophesies of old are unbroken. Moses prophesied of God being a jealous God, and His commandments have not changed. The character of God does not change for Exodus 34:14-20 reads ‘ For you must not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God’ BSB. In the End Times there are prophesies concerning those who play the spiritual harlot, whether kings or people, for they do so at their own peril. Moses prophesied in Deut.31:16-17 ‘Behold... this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods. Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant’. KJV. Deut.32:21a reads ‘They have moved me to jealousy with [that which is] not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities... ‘. It is the jealousy of God’s profound love that causes him to anger for Deut.32:22 reads ‘For a fire is kindled in mine anger... ‘. In the End Times we read of God’s anger against those who play the harlot, and against the woman who plays the harlot ‘MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH’.

 

We read that in the End Times there is gross spiritual pollution for we read in Rev.18:2,3

‘And he (an angel) cried out in a mighty voice: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a lair for demons and a haunt for every unclean spirit, every unclean bird, and every detestable beast. All the nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her immorality. The kings of the earth were immoral with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown wealthy from the extravagance of her luxury”’.

 

In the End Times God’s jealousy for his land and his people must not be under-estimated for Joel 2:18 reads ‘Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people’.

 

Psalm 82:1,8 reads ‘God presides in the divine assembly; He renders judgment among the gods... Arise, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are Your inheritance’. He will divide between peoples, nations, and their gods.

 

Today, upon the site of Solomon’s the Temple stand two Islamic shrines, one is the Al-Aqsa Mosque (dating from 705AD) and the other is the Dome on the Rock (dating from 691- 692AD). The mosques are near historical sites significant in Judaism and Christianity, most notably they are built on the site of the Second Temple, the holiest site in Judaism. As a result, the area is extremely sensitive, and has been a flashpoint in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

 

Both mosques have a religious significance in Islam. In Islam, the term "al-Aqsa Mosque" refers to the entire Noble Sanctuary. Islamic scripts as well as modern-day political tracts tend to classify al-Aqsa Mosque as the third holiest site in Islam, after Mecca and Medina. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation refers to the al-Aqsa Mosque as the third holiest site in Islam and calls for Arab sovereignty over it. There are different Islamic narrations concerning this Mosque, one of which refers to Mohammed in vision meeting what it terms as the prophets Abraham Moses and Jesus at this site.

 

On the walls of the Dome of the Rock is an inscription in a mosaic frieze that includes an explicit rejection of the divinity of Christ, from Quran (19:33–35). The formula la sharika lahu (‘God has no companion’) is repeated five times there, whilst the Qur'anic doctrine that Jesus was a true prophet is included there too. According to Goitein, the inscriptions decorating the interior of the Dome clearly display a spirit of rivalry against Christianity.

 

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, which regards it as the place where God's divine presence is manifested more than in any other place and is the place Jews turn towards during prayer. Due to its extreme sanctity, many Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally entering the area where the Holy of Holies stood, since according to Rabbinical law, some aspect of the divine presence is still present at the site.

 

In the light of the dual claims of both Judaism and Islam, it is one of the most contested religious sites in the world. Judeo-Christian traditions also maintain its significance. Since the Crusades, the Muslim community of Jerusalem has managed the site as a Waqf, which is an Islamic religious trust.

 

In an attempt to keep the status quo, the Israeli government enforces a controversial ban on prayer by non-Muslims.

The mystical significance of the Temple Mount causes consternation for many. It has been fought over many times and integrated into many belief systems, each claiming that its influence gains them power and control. Fourteen sieges of the site have been recorded throughout history dating between 701BC to 1948AD.

 

What is represented and contained there is a heady mix of truth and half-truth, of religions and their claims and counterclaims.

 

The kings of the earth too are intrigued by the place, and by what it represents, and they have fought many wars to gain control of it. Over 50% of the world’s population adhere to belief systems which find a focus on this place i.e., Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

 

In the End Times Rev.17:18 reads ‘And the woman whom thou sawest is (not “that,” but) the great city, which has a kingdom over the kings of the earth’. Rev.17:15 records that the woman sits ‘over peoples, and multitudes, and nations and tongues’. The woman is therefore supra-national, she represents something that crosses borders and nations, whereas the kings of the earth represent the nations themselves; so, the woman sits over them, or as related in John’s revelation, she sits on the back of an alliance of many kings or nations.

 

But the ten-king alliance referred to in Rev.17:16 hates the whore for it reads ‘And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire’ So in the days of the seventh head i.e., the first three and a half years of the Tribulation Period, the beast turns with the ten horns of his power upon the woman. They desert her, strip her of her adornments and consume the spoil. They no longer have use for her.

 

The kings of the earth do not care for truth, but only what its acquisition can do for them, does it allow them to maintain their power?

 

John 18:33-39 records the meeting between Jesus and Pilate, the Roman procurator of the province. He was the governor of the subject race of Jews.

He cared little for the subtleties and distinctions of Jewish law, only what it meant in relation to Rome.

 

John 18;37-38 reads ‘Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all’. KJV

 

The actions of Pilate show the action of a political leader who through expediency dispels with the problem at hand. To him the question of truth is wholly irrelevant to the question at issue. He appears to have neither time nor will deal with it, and at once goes from the palace again to the Jews who demand Jesus’ death. Pilate found no fault or ground for legal charge against Jesus. The opportunity arises again in John 19:4-5 to deal truthfully with his findings for it reads ‘Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!’ Instead, we read that in spite of his findings, he still hands Jesus over to be crucified for John 19:6 reads ‘When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him’. KJV

 

Like Pilate, the ten-king alliance of the End Times will not care for truth but will act with expediency to maintain their cause.

The spoiling of the Sanctuary

The place of the Sanctuary is intended by Yahweh to be a place of spiritual power, yet Satan corrupts those near to its centre and so weakens its purpose.

 

Jesus knew the importance of a clean and wholesome temple to His father for even at the age of 12 the boy Jesus was found at the Temple in Jerusalem for Luke 2:49 reads ‘’Why were you looking for Me?’’ He asked. ‘Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’ But they did not understand the statement He was making to them’ BSB

 

Then in Matt. 21:12-14 we read: ‘Then Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves. And He declared to them, ‘It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it ‘a den of robbers’’ The blind and the lame came to Him at the temple, and He healed them. But the chief priests and scribes were indignant when they saw the wonders He performed and the children shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’’ BSB

 

It was there that Judas went to betray the Christ for we read in Luke 22:2-4 reads ‘and the chief priests and scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death; for they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas Iscariot, who was one of the Twelve. And Judas went to discuss with the chief priests and temple officers how he might betray Jesus to them’ BSB.

 

It was in the courtyard of the high priest, a place which should have been a place of solace and strength, instead it became of place of loss for we read that it was here where Peter denied Jesus (Matt. 26:57-75).

 

As with Judas, it will be in the temple where again Satan will have entered the heart of the Antichrist to spoil and pollute that space with spiritual wickedness, Satan’s tactics are the same, first prior to trial and crucifixion of Christ of the cross and at the close of the age when his plan will be to claim the highest place of spiritual power in the land and that will be in the Temple in Jerusalem where he will again pollute the space to corrupt spiritual power and manifest evil intent.

 

However, Satan’s understanding in the spiritual realm is bounded and limited. Satan’s understanding does not reach into the highest of the heavenlies and it is from there that Jesus receives directly from the Father the knowledge of future events and so He informed his followers of them and they then recorded them to inform us of the last days. In this way we gain fore-knowledge of the exact timings of Matt. 24:15 which reads ‘So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination of desolation’ then those who are in Judea need to flee to the mountains’. This will be one of the key events in history, for it will signal the ending of the first three and a half years of Daniel’s prophesy, the time when the covenant between Antichrist and the nations is broken and the beginning of the last three and a half years of this age known as the ‘tribulation, the great one’ (Rev.7:14).

 

Yahweh is a jealous God and should not be tested when a sacred place is determined and then becomes spiritually tainted or polluted. If churches are built as earthly structures, then those who do so also need to maintain their sanctity. The presence of the Holy Spirit in such places is likened to a dove. It is hard to engender His presence, yet the dove quickly leaves when disturbed. 1 Kings 8:27-30 reads ‘But will God indeed dwell upon the earth? Even heaven, the highest heaven, cannot contain You, much less this temple I have built. Yet regard the prayer and plea of Your servant, O LORD my God, so that You may hear the cry and the prayer that Your servant is praying before You today. May Your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that You may hear the prayer that Your servant prays toward this place. Hear the plea of Your servant and of Your people Israel when they pray toward this place. May You hear from heaven, Your dwelling place. May You hear and forgive’ BSB.

 

‘But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits’ (Dan.11:32b)

While the large mass of people is deceived by and so become obedient to the persecutor, there is a party of true believers remaining, who are ‘strong’ or rather, confirm the covenant, and ‘do’ (or ‘make’) i.e., succeed in their exploits. In times of persecution there will be a remnant, though it may be small which will remain firm in their covenant with God. Today, the persecution of Christians occurs in many countries and for those who do not succumb to it then their faith grows strong (1Peter1:7) and they shall do exploits. This is a time when our God makes preparation to divide the nations (Matt.25:33).

 

It is at the time of the appearance of the ‘abomination of desolation; standing in the holy place’ that the two witnesses begin their ministry too. These Christians, and others too who know their God are the ones who are strong and do exploits for it reads in Rev.11:3-5 ‘’... And I will empower my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.’ These witnesses are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouths and devours their enemies. In this way, anyone who wants to harm them must be killed. These witnesses have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall during the days of their prophecy, and power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish’ BSB.

 

Zechariah had the same prophesy when he saw in vision the re-building of the Second Temple at the time of Zerubbabel in vision for Zech.4:1-14 reads: ‘Then the angel who was speaking with me returned and woke me, as a man is awakened from his sleep. ‘What do you see?’ he asked. ‘I see a solid gold lampstand,’ I replied, ‘with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven spouts to the lamps. There are also two olive trees beside it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left.’ ‘What are these, my lord?’ I asked the angel who was speaking with me. ‘Do you not know what they are?’ replied the angel. ‘No, my lord,’ I answered. So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of Hosts. 7What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain. Then he will bring forth the capstone accompanied by shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’’ Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will complete it. Then you will know that the LORD of Hosts has sent me to you. For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven eyes (facets, likely to mean angels) of the LORD, which scan the whole earth, will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.’ Then I asked the angel, ‘What are the two olive trees on the right and left of the lampstand?’ And I questioned him further, ‘What are the two olive branches beside the two gold pipes from which the golden oil (from which the gold) pours?’ ‘Do you not know what these are?’ he inquired. ‘No, my lord,’ I replied. So he said, ‘These are the two anointed ones (the two sons of new oil) who are standing beside the Lord of all the earth.’. BSB

 

These are those who know their God. They know Him through the prophetic Word written here and they also know Him through the Godly power (self-generated ‘dunamis’ power) that flows as golden oil from Him and through his Spirit anointed prophesy, and that this Word will never fail them during these times. For the Spirit of prophesy is the Spirit of Jesus - as we read in Rev.19:10 ‘For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’ and in John 3:33- 35a ‘Whoever accepts His testimony has certified that God is truthful. For the One whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in His hands... ‘ BSB. Jesus is coming soon, yet

ahead of that time He stands with them here to supply by His Spirit to Christians and the two witnesses.

 

The battle for truth

 

It is Jesus who certifies by His words that God is truthful. Much deceit in the End Times is caused by half-truths which perplex the peoples and the leaders of nations. When the disciples asked Jesus concerning the signs of the End Times, the first thing that Jesus spoke of was to beware of deceit caused by false prophets for in Matt.24:3a-5 it reads ‘and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many’ KJV.

 

Yet there will be those who do discern between good and evil for in Dan.11:33 it reads ‘And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days’. Jesus said: ‘let the reader (of these prophesies) understand’ (Mk.13:14; Matt.24:15; Lu.21:22). Here too in Daniel it reads that it is ‘They that understand’ who are addressed at this time. This is the name and title by which those are called who were also spoken of in the last verse as ‘knowing their God’. So, it is better to call these people by these titles i.e., ‘they that understand’ or ‘they who know their God’ rather than any broader religious label. The use of such language is important. It is likely that there will be those who align themselves with Christianity for example, yet they will not understand these events or be able to explain them in the broader context of prophecy or answer the question ‘why’.

 

It is a reminder too that in the 21st Century converts to Christ in many countries do not call themselves Christian for fear of being identified with Western countries and culture, instead they quietly carry another name such as ‘followers of the Nazarene’, ‘Muslim Background Believers’ (MBBs), ‘followers of Isa (Jesus in Arabic)’ etc.

 

This is the specific time in history when the powers of evil become open in their power and greed and also the time when the Antichrist is known and recognised openly to the world for this is the time when he stands in the holy place to make profane. It is the time when the conveyors of wickedness are no longer clandestine in their actions. Satan inspires then to think that they are invincible, to act like him and to stand against God.

 

The consequences of the breakout of evil at this point in time is mapped out elsewhere as too is the need for knowledge of the prophesies, and the true prophets who carry the message, for we read in Dan.12:10 ‘Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand’. Psalm 111:110 reads ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts gain rich understanding’.

It is specifically when the flatteries and deceit of the Antichrist takes place that the discerning ones who understand the truth and the prophesies will be able to ‘instruct many’. In times of persecution there is a great need to give answers to those who call ‘why, why, why’ and to show them answers.

This prophesy also refers to the martyrdom of ‘those who understand’ and ‘those who are instructed’ for ‘yet they shall fall’. These deaths are typical of the sufferings of the Church in the End Times. In 2020 some 4,750 Christians across the globe were recorded as being killed for the reason of their faith, though many more suffer discrimination and violence, and many incidents go unrecorded. This persecution takes place in families, in communities and at national levels. It is recorded that some 340 million Christians live in countries where there are high or extreme levels of persecution that takes place against them, that is an average of 1 in 8 of all Christians on the planet (source www.opendoorsuk.org).

 

Dan.11:34 reads ‘Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries (meaning ‘smoothness’, though sometimes interpreted as intrigue, slippery, slippery paths)’. Ellicott comments that those who suffer the persecution, irrespective of their nationality or place on the globe, ‘these will not be entirely without help, but there will be some small assistance given them. It will be small, either compared with their present needs, or contrasted with the great help which will be given them when the tribulation attains its greatest severity’. These people’s testimony ‘will cause some to declare themselves upon the side of ‘those that understand’. This is a feature which will be noticed in religious persecutions; according as one party or the other gains in power, as its prospects brighten, it gains fresh adherents’.

 

Dan.11:35 reads ‘Some of the wise will fall, so that they may be refined, purified, and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time’. The persecution continues and its open aggression causes some to follow Christ, whilst others who are called ‘flatterers’ become open apostates. This occurs at the ‘time of the end... the appointed time’.

The character of the Antichrist and the time of the impious tyranny

At the time of the end an impious tyranny is set up for it reads in Dan.11:36-39 ’Then the king will do as he pleases and will exalt and magnify himself above every god, and he will speak monstrous things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been decreed must be accomplished. He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers, nor for the one desired by women, nor for any other god, because he will magnify himself above them all. And in their place, he will honour a god of fortresses— a god his fathers did not know— with gold, silver, precious stones, and riches. He will attack the strongest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honour those who acknowledge him, making them rulers over many and distributing the land for aprice’.

 

War between the kings of the north and south

 

Dan.11:40 reads ‘And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over’ KJV

In the final conflict events will take place extremely fast, too fast for diplomacy or mediation, for the conflict will come like a ‘whirlwind’ (KJV) ‘like a flood’ (BSB). It will involve speed and armour and will involve many ships to overwhelm the ‘Beautiful Land’ for Dan.11:41-43 reads ‘He will also invade the Beautiful Land, and many countries will fall. But these will be delivered from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the leaders of the Ammonites. He will extend his power over many countries, and not even the land of Egypt will escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and over all the riches of Egypt, and the Libyans and Cushites will also submit to him’ BSB.

 

This land is either situated between the lands of the southern and northern kings or is a conflict between southern and northern kings which centres upon the ‘Beautiful Land’. The king of the north has much military hardware and has access to the land with ‘many ships’. This reference to many ships refers to super-powers who have a great military presence and as could be envisaged by the military intervention of Russia and the Russian Fleet based in the Crimea and the Black Sea. The possibility of this scenario is a consideration in this study.

 

This ‘Beautiful Land’ is also known as the ‘Rose of Sharon’ or as a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’ i.e., a place where, through technology and agriculture, the prophesy of Isaiah is coming true for Is.35:1-2 reads ‘the wilderness and the land will be glad; the desert will rejoice and blossom like a rose. It will bloom profusely and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the LORD, the splendour of our God’ i.e., the land of Israel.

Events that shall take place in the latter times (Dan.11:40-45)

Dan.11:41 specifically refers to the speed at which the king of the north storms south like a whirlwind, he and his armies sweep through many lands including the ‘Beautiful Land’. However, the Christian peoples there who are specifically targeted by the Dragon at this time flee to the land of Edom, Moab and the leaders of the Ammonites, where they are delivered from the conflict. These lands stretched from east of the River Jordan to the north east of present-day Israel to the areas to the east and south of the Dead Sea and includes the ancient city of Petra in the south. Today these lands are part of Jordan and south east Israel; see Appendix 2. This prophesy cross-references with the prophesy of Rev.12:14 where the Christians escape, specifically ‘were given two wings as of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent’. KJV

 

The king of the north has access to substantial sea powers i.e., ‘many ships’, as is clear from v.40. These can access the ‘Beautiful Land’ via the ‘Great Sea’ i.e., the Mediterranean Sea.

 

The intervention of the kings from the east just before the Second Coming of Christ

 

Dan11:44-45 reads ‘But news from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will go out with great fury to destroy many and devote them to destruction. He will pitch his royal tents between the sea and the beautiful holy mountain, but he will meet his end with no one to help him’.

 

At this point in the conflict, news from the east and the north shall trouble the king from the north - Dan. 11:44. This news is likely to include the news that vast armies have crossed the Euphrates from the east, see references to Euphrates in this study. The Antichrist works with the ten-king alliance who have given their power to the headship of the Antichrist, yet they too come in like a flood. The combined effect of these events and the opportunistic nature of the movement of these armies is of concern to the king of the north. In all events the lands of present-day Israel are overwhelmed from all sides. It is notable today that Israel has no settled peace with any of its neighbours; north, south, east, or west of it.

 

The prophesies of Daniel 11 give us insight as to the key traits which have been embedded in the governance of these north – south regional powers through history. From the prophesy of Daniel 11 there is reference to their kings acting deceitfully, alliances and agreements being made and broken, the extension of powers over many lands, of kings seeking wealth, of flattery being used to tempt leaders, of kings whose hearts are set against the holy covenants of God and of kings resorting to war to gain by plunder, looting and to plot against strongholds. This describes their line of weakness, the temptation which overcomes them.

 

It is therefore likely that the fallen angels that are specifically tasked in the kingdom of darkness to deceive the nations and to cover these kingdoms use deceit and intrigue to corrupt power and to cause the rise and fall of many. Such fallen angels are tasked to interfere with mankind (Dan.10:13; Eph.6:12) and in respect of the nations, target them with specific temptations; Luke 4:5-8 reads ‘Then the devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him [Jesus] in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. “I will give You authority over all these kingdoms and all their glory,” he said. “For it has been relinquished to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish. So if You worship me, it will all be Yours” But Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only’” BSB

 

The east-west axis countries from the focal point of Israel, particularly Iraq and Iran, have been dealt with elsewhere in this study so in respect of the prophesies of Daniel 11 we now turn to the north–south axis.

Present day south – north nations, alliances, and conflicts

As already noted, the prophesies are seen from the focal point of the Hebrew nation i.e., Israel and its capital Jerusalem. These prophesies point to both north – south aggressors and east – west aggressors.

 

The key divide between present day north – south and east west regional powers in the Middle East is the Sunni – Shia divide. See Appendix 3. The north – south axis is Sunni Islam, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to the south and Syria and Turkey to the north. The east - west axis is Shia Islam with Iraq and Iran being the key countries. The division between Sunnis and Shi'as is the largest and oldest in the history of Islam and goers back nearly 1,400 years. They both agree on the fundamentals of Islam and share the same Holy Book (The Qur'an) but there is a bitter split between them which is not resolved. This split primarily concerns their respective claims to the leadership of Islam and their sectarian divides has led to much conflict. Today this split is becoming worse as these regional powers gain more military might and attempt to extend their spheres of influence.

 

The key axis north – south of from the point of view of Israel are the Sunni dominated nations of Saudi Arabia and Egypt to the south and to the north, Syria and Turkey. It is notable that north of Turkey is Russia which though non-Muslim has increasingly involved itself in the regional affairs of the Middle East and all these powers are heavily implicated in the power struggles of that region.

 

They key axis east – west is the Shia dominated Islamic nations of Iraq and Iran and I have covered these countries and their alliances in more detail under the heading of the Euphrates in other parts of this study.

 

So, the key nations south to north are:

Saudi Arabia - The country’s main concerns in recent years have been relations with the US, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Iraq, the perceived threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the first Gulf War 1990 – 1991 the US deployed forces into Saudi Arabia to launch an attack on the Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait. However, during the Iraq War, also called the Second Persian Gulf War 2003 - 2011 there was no broad coalition and the US invasion of Iraq was seen by many as both anti-Arab and anti-Islam. In the past the kingdom has been heavily armed by the US and the UK though in recent years Saudi Arabia and China have become major allies. China is Saudi Arabia’s key trading partner and is signed up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. It is also a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Muslim World League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Islamic Development Bank—all of which are headquartered in Saudi. According to government-associated paper Ain Al- Yaqeen article in 2002, Saudi government-sponsored projects were active in many non- Muslim countries in Europe, North and South America, Africa, Australia and Asia. At that time, though the numbers have increased since, they encompassed 210 Islamic centres which were completely or partly funded by the Saudi kingdom, 1500 mosques, 202 colleges and almost 2000 schools. The House of Saud has inaugurated 1359 mosques in Europe.

 

Egypt - Egypt has generally followed a policy of non-alignment. The U.S. has generally funded Egypt's military efforts to date and it is considered to be an ally of the West as well as the Middle Eastern countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. It also considers its key allies to be Russia, China, Greece, Armenia, Serbia, Pakistan whilst is main enemies are Qatar, Turkey, Syria, Quds Force, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Isis, Al- Qaeda, and African Union. Qatar is an enemy of Egypt because of Qatar’s funding into the Muslim Brotherhood. Almost the entirety of Egypt's Muslims are Sunnis, with a small minority of Shia and Ahmadi Muslims. The latter, however, are not recognized by Egypt. Islam has been recognized as the state religion since 1980.

 

Libya – The current humanitarian crisis and political-military instability that occurs in Libya began with the Arab Spring protests of 2011. What followed was a civil war, foreign military intervention, and the ousting and death of Muammar Gaddafi. The civil war's aftermath and proliferation of armed groups led to violence and instability across the country, which erupted into renewed civil war in 2014. This has left an impoverished population and a collapse in much of its infra-structure and governance. Libyans adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam.

 

Israel – Israel has few alliances in the region. The Sunni and Shia dominated nations in the region are adversarial to Israel whom they see as a common enemy. The post-1979 Iranian authorities avoid referring to Israel by its name, and instead use the terms "the Zionist regime" or "occupied Palestine" and tensions between these countries has risen dramatically in the 21st Century. Iran, Iraq and many other Islamic nations do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Syria's relations with Israel are very poor, due to Syria's close ties with the anti-Israel militant group Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has taken a more benign viewpoint concerning the validity of negotiating with Israel though in the Arab-Israeli conflict it supports the full rights of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel. In the Lebanon there have been many wars with Hezbollah, and so in many respects Israel treats Lebanon as an enemy state. With regards to Turkey, the countries have in the past had military, strategic and diplomatic cooperation though these relations have been strained since the turn of the 21st century. The country has good relations with the US and EU though has a troubled relationship with Russia. Israel has become an advanced first world nation state and though it has a relatively small geographic area it has developed an advanced economy. It has developed its agriculture through the application of technology and in some respects could indeed be called the ‘Beautiful Land’. Christians find an identity in Israel whereas in countries where there is an Islamic majority, they are often considered to be agents of foreign Western powers. Political Islam identifies Islam with nationhood and that is one reason why minority groups in countries with an Islamic majority, such as Christians, are so often persecuted. Jews who previously lived in other nations in the Middle West have already fled from them, either back to Israel or have been dispersed to countries who were more accepting of them e.g., US, UK, EU, Russia. Israel found an ally in the Trump administration in the US though this will be under scrutiny under a Biden administration.

Syria – The nation of Syria is covered elsewhere in this study, in particular with regards to Iraq and Iran and the persecution and collapse of the Christian and other minority religious populations there. In summary, the Syrian civil war began in 2011 as part of the wider Arab Spring and this grew to become a significant regional war involving global super-powers. Initially, the Government opposition consisted of several splinter groups though out of this came the attacks of the Sunni backed militia group self-called Islam State (IS or ISIL) which has operated primarily in Syria and Iraq throughout this war. The war has resulted in hundreds of thousands non-Sunnis, Christians and Yazidis fleeing to Turkey and Europe. In the beginning of 2015, refugees began to cross the Greece–Turkey border, escaping to European countries in massive numbers. In total approximately 6.6 million refugees are seeking safety in neighbouring countries or in Europe. By 2021 it is estimated that the death toll in in the country to be between 387,000 and 593,000. Throughout the war more than half the country’s population has been forced to flee their homes, with 6.2 million people, including 2.65 million children displaced within Syria, the biggest internally displaced people in the world https://www.unhcr.org/sy/internally-displaced-people. This is an humanitarian crisis there. The implosion of the civil government caused by the war has created a vacuum of power in which there is opportunity for many internal and external militias and military interventions to take place, and the country is ripe for power-brokers to intervene. The overwhelming goal of the Syrian government is self-preservation at all costs. Its regime would likely have collapsed except for the aid and military intervention given to it from outside regional powers, Turkey and the Gulf regimes have armed rebel groups fighting against the Syrian regime whilst both Russia and Iran support the Syrian government. Many proxy wars are being played out there including those between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Sunni and Shia Islam, Russia and the United States, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Hezbollah supported by Iran and the Salafis, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis etc. In addition, the regional powers of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran are all hoping to leave their national imprint on the political Islamist movement in the region.

 

Lebanon – This country is not a major player in the region though strategically it is situated to the north of Israel. It has seen much political and military instability and conflict with a civil war 1975-90, then more recently regarding its border with Israel which led to the 2006 Lebanon War, also called the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War. The increasing involvement of Lebanon in the conflicts of other countries in the Middle East is also evident as the country has become destabilised because of the Syrian conflict. Many Sunni refugees have fled to Lebanon and this has disturbed the Shia population there. However, there is still a substantial minority Christian population there too and they have maintained a balance of power, though this is coming under increasing strain. Iran supports proxy militia groups in this country. Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East left with a significant minority of Christians. Israel notably is the only other country in the region to offer a safe haven for Christians at this time.

 

Turkey – The Ottoman Empire, centred on Turkey ran from the 14th to the early 20th Century. At the time of World War 1, the Ottoman government was accused of the mass slaughter and deportation of the Christians living in its territories, specifically referred to as the Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian genocides. The empire was defeated after WW1 when the Republic of Turkey took a more secular stance both internally and on the world stage. Turkey's economy has grown rapidly, and the country's influence has grown in the Middle East. In the West, there is a divide between those who are worried about Turkey's perceived movement away from the West toward a less democratic, more Islamic, or more pro-Russian and pro-Chinese orientation and those who do not see Turkey's changing political structure, growing regional power and relations with Russia as a threat. Turkey has increasingly followed a pro-Islam anti-Christian stance and has reached out to the two historic rivals of Russia and Iran to increase its power base.

 

The Turkish Occupation of Syria - Turkish armed forces and its ally the Syrian National Army have occupied areas of northern Syria since August 2016, with further interventions in 2018 and then on October 7, 2019 when the Trump administration in the United States ordered the withdrawal of US military troops stationed on the Syria–Turkey border altogether. The US president ordered the withdrawal of these troops under the premise that Turkey would not invade the region being held by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF); however, Turkey attacked the SDF within 24 hours of US military withdrawal from the region. The Kurds in that region had previously been allies of the US and the act was described as a serious betrayal of the Kurds. It was also seen as an opportunity for Sunni backed militias to reconstitute there. This one act alone is arguably one of the worst US foreign policy disasters since the Iraq War in 2003. The Turkish occupied areas of Syria nominally acknowledge a government affiliated with the Syrian opposition, though factually they constitute a separate proto state under the dual authority of decentralized native local councils and Turkish military administration. Turkish-controlled areas of Syria consists of a 8,835-square-kilometre (3,411-sq-mile) area which encompasses over 1000 settlements. These areas are referred to as ‘safe zones’ by Turkish authorities though in reality the Turkish-led forces have built military bases there and implemented a resettlement policy by moving their mostly Arab fighters and refugees from southern Syria into the empty homes that belonged to displaced local Kurds and Yazidis who were prevented from returning to their homes. It is reported that more than 200,000 people fled from Afrin District during the Turkish intervention by March 2018, while 458,000 displaced persons from other parts of Syria were settled in Afrin. The displaced people suffered human rights abuses including kidnapping and ethnic cleansing to discourage the return of Yazidi and Kurdish refugees as reported to the UN. The 2019 Turkish military operation in Syria which was stopped by Syrian and Russian forces after which a ceasefire was negotiated by the Russian government.

 

Turkey-Israel relations have soured in recent years though in 2021 there are reports of a new agreement being put in place between the two countries. Turkey and Russia have starkly divergent aims in Syria and this has led to them engaging in a strategic struggle and a proxy war there as each take advantage of the power vacuum there and back opposing sides e.g., Turkey backs the rebel Sunni militia forces in Syria whereas there is unwavering Russian support for both the Syrian Government and the armed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey has considerable influence in the eastern Mediterranean and has longstanding disputes with Greece and Cyprus. In recent years, the country has seen a marked shift away from secular Kemalist ideology and the corresponding rise of the Justice and Development Party (AK party) of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In 2020 Turkey has increasingly demonstrated its ambitions to show that it wishes to reclaim the leadership of Sunni Islam from Saudi Arabia.

 

Russia – Russia is a member of the Quartet on the Middle East which is a foursome of nations and international and supranational entities involved in mediating the Israeli– Palestinian peace process, the others being the UN, the US, and the EU. Russia has influence in Israel and for many years was a sanctuary for Russian Jews. Russian is the third most widely spoken first language in Israel after Hebrew and Arabic and has the third largest number of Russian speakers outside former Soviet countries, and the highest as a proportion of the total population. Russia's improvement of relations with Israel coincided at the same time with growing Russian and Israeli alliances with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, both have common opposition toward neo-Ottomanism initiated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, There have been proxy conflicts between Russia and Turkey though at the same time it tries to develop economic and political relations with both Turkey and Iran. The military incursion of the Turkish Armed forces into Syria in February and March 2020 was stopped when they met with Russian forces there. Russia continues to be sceptical about Israel's special relations with the United States. Russia sees itself as a power broker in the Middle East and continues to seek multilateral relations with both Israel's allies and rivals. Russia maintains a strong naval fleet in the Crimea on the Black Sea, and this gives it naval power to reach into the eastern Mediterranean Sea, it also has airbases in Syria.

 

The Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict

The Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict is sometimes also referred to as the Middle Eastern Cold War. This started with the Iranian Revolution, the deposing of the Shah and the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 11 February 1979 and has continued to date.

 

It is the ongoing struggle for influence in the Middle East and surrounding regions between Iran situate to the east of Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia situate to the south of Israel. This conflict is waged on multiple levels over geopolitical, economic, sectarian influence and religious differences in pursuit of regional hegemony i.e. political, economic, or military predominance, control or influence of one independently powerful state, over other neighbouring countries. These two countries provide varying degrees of support to opposing sides in nearby conflicts, including the civil wars in Syria and Yemen. The rivalry also extends to disputes in Bahrain, Lebanon, Qatar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Morocco, as well as broader competition in the Muslim areas of North and East Africa (mainly Nigeria), parts of South Asia, Central Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan), Southeast Asia, the Balkans and the Caucasus. See Appendix 4.

 

The two key belligerents are Iran with support from its allies Russia and China and Saudi Arabia with support from the United States though there are many proxies on both sides.

 

Although both Iran and Saudi Arabia signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1970 and 1988 respectively, a potential nuclear arms race has been a concern for years. Both governments claim that their programs are for peaceful purposes, but foreign governments and organizations have accused both of taking steps to obtain nuclear weapons capabilities.

 

Superimposed onto this conflict is the long-running Russia–Turkey proxy conflict. This was a strategic struggle between Turkey and initially the Syrian government though from 2015 turned more into a military conflict between Turkey and Russia. Increased Russian military aggression in Syria and hostile Turkish territorial responses have all contributed to increasing escalation. Turkey and Russia have accused each other of various violations such as maintaining illegal economic ties with terrorist groups and interventions in Syria and Libya. Turkey and Russia maintain an uneasy relationship, from open aggression to co- operation, recently pledging further military co-operation.

A Scenario?

If we consider possible scenarios of events, prophesy must drive our thoughts. The conundrum offered to us through these prophesies show a complex intertwining of events and circumstances. They are influenced by a religious divide, have catastrophic economic consequences, include the military presence of the global super-powers, with the description of the political and military makeup of the northern king’s powerbase as being like feet made up of iron and clay. Also, to include reference to the arrival of the kings from the east who are motivated by protection of their oil and trade assets. In these scenarios we centre upon Israel and in particular Jerusalem, and we finally consider the arrival of a powerbroker in the mix of these events.

 

So, let us consider each of these scenarios in turn, and list them as follows:

 

The religious divide

 

First let us consider the likeliest implications of the prophesy of Daniel 11 in terms of religious divides and superimpose them onto the present-day nations. In this respect we see what might be called stark and uncanny alignments, particularly when we superimpose the Sunni–Shia divide across the region. From the focal point of Israel this accurately follows a north-south, east-west alignment, see Appendix 3.

 

It is worthy of note that the prophesies point to an antichrist, indeed the archetypal Antichrist of the End times will come out of Syria. Out of the region of Syria will come two consecutive mountains or empires, these will be the seventh and eighth heads of the beast, or Antichrist. The first mountain to arise will form the seventh empire of the first three and a half years of the tribulation and this will be followed by the eight and last empire of the Antichrist, who is also called the man of lawlessness, and this will happen in the last three and a half years of this age, known as the Great Tribulation.

 

If we read the prophesies and the likely scenarios which might in the nations surrounding Israel today then initial aggressor(s) will come from the north i.e., present-day Syria or Turkey, maybe through Lebanon, and this conflict will be driven with speed to overwhelm the ‘Beautiful Land’. At that time, the king of the south, Saudi Arabia, receives the news from the north, likely Russia, and from the east, likely Iraq, Iran, and the armies of the east, and this troubles him. These are the armies prophesied in both Daniel 11 and Joel 2. Hitherto the king from the south has remained antagonistic to both Israel and the kings from the east, but now it seems that he decides to act.

 

This is one scenario, though there might be others, that would fit with the geo-political map and events of our age, and the proxy wars and regional hegemony of the key players north and south and east and east of present-day Israel. If this scenario, or similar events do occur, and they fulfil the prophesies of old then we could expect their coming to be more and more evident as the time approaches i.e., signs of the times to come, and we could then expect to follow the final and last days of this age and the Great Tribulation to follow too.

 

It is easy to see how these events might unfold as each major regional power i.e., Russia, Turkey, Iran, China, and Saudi Arabia look to promote their own interests. The catalyst for these events being the war in Syria and the pressures being brought to bear upon Israel to promote a peace or defence agreement, or non-aggression pact with one or more of the major regional powers e.g., Russia, historically Turkey, and more recently, China.

 

The US, UK, EU, and other western powers do not directly translate from these prophesies however, the US and the West do have alliances in the region, particularly NATO with Turkey, and the US with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. There appears to be no direct reference to their involvement in the above scenario. Each appear reticent to involve themselves in such complexity and because of this they tend to stay away.

 

And when might these events take place? When a covenant agreement or alliance is made, and it will include Israel. This is likely to be a peace or defence agreement and may be comprehensive enough to quell the troubles in the region. Yet it will deceive many people and will signal the opening of the first seal (Rev.5:1) and the beginning of the final seven- year period. After three and a half years the covenant will be broken and this heralds in the Great Tribulation i.e., the last three and a half years of the age. This is the time when the song in heaven is sung and when Jesus will set in motion the final events to claim those whom He has purchased from ‘every tribe and tongue and people and nation’.

 

Like the workings of an old-time clock at a certain point in time not only does the clock strike the hour but also the cuckoo comes out. Like the perfect storm, only at the confluence of many separate and distinct events will the tribulation, the Great One, occur. It is the law of unintended consequences. A butterfly spreads its wings in one State and a tornado occurs in another.

 

The Syrian conflict could not get any more complex, yet it is the clue to unravelling the signs of our times. You might ask, why are the prophesies so complex, so obtuse? The answer is simply that how else can God convey such complex and important End-time information and at the same time use prophets who spoke between 2,600 and 1,900 years ago? Each prophet saw in vision different aspects of what amounts to the same period at the end of the age. In this way the Lord God can communicate such events to us and the fact that many prophets received them over such long periods of time, through to today, means that we not only get insight but also have the confidence to know that they corroborate and verify each other’s prophesies. We do now see in part, yet as events unfold then we see more of the whole.

Economic consequences

In addition to the potent mix of religious divide in the lands in the Middle East we cannot ignore three further distinct elements in the conundrum leading up to the battle of Armageddon, all of which are inextricably intertwined in the picture painted by the prophets.

 

First is the economic devastation caused by the ensuing conflict, second is the motivation for the conflict and third is the size of the substantial armies that arrive from both the north and east of Israel and which take part in the final conflict.

 

Firstly let us consider the loss of economic wealth generated in that region and in particular, the wealth that is generated because of ‘the great city’ (Rev.18:19) for this is recorded as being devastated in the End Time; see Re,18:1-19:5. For ‘the merchants of the earth have grown wealthy from the extravagance of her luxury’ (Rev.18:3), ‘the kings of the earth who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her will weep and wail at the sight of the smoke rising from the fire that consumes her’ (Rev.18:9), ‘the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, because there is no one left to buy their cargo’ (Rev.18:11). ‘The merchants who sold these things and grew their wealth from her will stand at a distance, in fear of her torment. They will weep and mourn’(Rev.18:15). ‘Every shipmaster, passenger, and sailor, and all who make their living from the sea, will stand at a distance and cry out atthe sight of the smoke rising from the fire that consumes her. “What city was ever like this great city?” they will exclaim. Then they will throw dust on their heads as they weep and mourn and cry out‘ (Rev.18:17-19). ‘For your merchants were the great ones of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery’ (Rev.18:23).

 

This system, though initially it might have had good intentions, has become polluted and ‘immoral’ (Rev.18:3), spiritually unclean and ‘a lair for demons and a haunt for every unclean spirit, every unclean bird, and every detestable beast’ (Rev.18:2). Religion, when mixed with politics and economic gain becomes unstable. Its motives become tarnished and unclear, and it opens the door to ‘every unclean spirit’.

 

John saw in vision how judgement comes, for ‘with such violence the great city of Babylon will be cast down’ (Rev.18:21). In it ‘there was found in her the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who had been slain on the earth’ (Rev.18:24). This system of trade looks to have ‘glorified herself and lived in luxury’ (Rev.18:7) as might a ‘queen’ (Rev.18:7), yet it is unpinned with cruelty towards God’s people.

 

This judgement is swift ‘for in a single hour your judgment has come’ (Rev.18:9).

 

This mantle of this system of wealth is not covering the leader kings of the nations but they do rue its loss, for with its loss they lose their luxury lifestyles. As with all economic dearth, the poor and marginalised will most suffer the consequences and food shortages and famine are a likely result.

 

The demise of this economic wealth is preceded by, and precipitated by, the arrival of two distinct armies, one from the north and one from the east.

 

The arrival of military might from the north

In considering the military powers which lie to the north of Israel we might first consider Syria for we know that out of the demise of that land will come the Antichrist (Dan.2:1-45; Dan.7:1- 14,23-27; Rev.13:1-18;17:12-17). The prophesies stand foursquare as emanating from the seat of the ancient Assyrian Empire which stretches from the time of Daniel the prophet some 2,600 years ago through to today. The prophesy is re-enforced when we include the prophesies of John. From the kings of Assyria until now the sequence is as follows: the first kingdom, an organic unity; the second, divided into Median and Persian; the third branches off into four; the fourth, into ten. This is the interpretation of Daniel 2. Then from within the ten, one king, described as a little horn at first, arises to quell the others and dominate.

 

Prior to the civil war which began in 2011, Syria was certainly a nation state with considerable military presence. It also had the motive and means to inflict military defeats on its neighbouring states, including Israel. However, today it is a broken state and has five armies of occupation there. As of 2020 -2021, in addition to military formations within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Syrian government-backed points, there are Turkish, Russian, and American military forces in that country as well as many militias. So let us consider those who have a key military presence there today.

 

There are two leaders or kings of countries to the north of Israel who have significant military reach in Syria, that being both Turkey and Russia; though both are no doubt significant, the real super-power who might ultimately dominate the region and quell the others is likely to be Russia. The prophesies of Daniel 11 relate to a king from the north who rivals a king from the south, however a second more aggressive king from the north comes to control the events of the last days.

 

Turkey, along with Syria, are Islamic Nations, Russia is not. All three countries are ruled by autocratic leaders. The prophesies relate of how one king involves himself in the region first, and after meddling there is replaced by another, a crueller ruthless king who is described in scripture as the Antichrist (Dan.11:18-21).

 

In the End Time, the prophesies speak of the demise of one king from the north which is soon followed by another more terrible king. The first king is spoken of in Daniel 11 as having an alliance with a king from the south. Dan.11:6 reads ‘After some years they will form an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North to seal the agreement. But his daughter will not retain her position of power, nor will his strength endure’. It might be that the daughter of the king of the south has a religious significance in which case it might draw together Turkey and / or Syria with Saudi Arabia, for these are Sunni Islam nations. Islam grew out of Saudi Arabia and has since embedded itself as a heritage in rival countries such as Turkey and Syria.

 

Alternatively, it could be that before the final conflict an army from the north meets with armies from who come from the south, who come into the region to defend the ‘Beautiful Land’ of Israel (Dan.11:41).

 

If the nations of Turkey and / or Syria are embroiled in this conflict then from the reading of Dan.11:18-21 they will be replaced by a ‘tax collector’ who within a few days will fall, and on the back of this arrives ‘the despicable person’ the Antichrist, who comes with deceit and intrigue, offering a false peace before arriving with a final flood of military force.

 

The full text from Daniel 11:18-21 reads: ‘Then he will turn his face to the coastlands and capture many of them. But a commander will put an end to his reproach and will turn it back upon him. After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own land, but he will stumble and fall and be no more. In his place one will arise who will send out a tax collector for the glory of the kingdom; but within a few days he will be destroyed, though not in anger or in battle. In his place a despicable person will arise; royal honours will not be given to him, but he will come in a time of peace and seize the kingdom by intrigue. Then a flood of forces will be swept away before him and destroyed, along with a prince of the covenant’ BSB.

 

The arrival of this second army from the north causes great devastation for Daniel 11:29-31 reads: ‘At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time will not be like the first. Ships of Kittim will come against him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and rage against the holy covenant and do damage. So he will return and show favour to those who forsake the holy covenant. His forces will rise up and desecrate the temple fortress. They will abolish the daily sacrifice and set up the abomination of desolation’ BSB

 

This king of the North now reveals his true character and strength, yet he is perturbed by the arrival of a naval presence which emanates from off the coast of the eastern Mediterranean which causes him to both loose heart and at the same time propel him to devastate the place of the holy covenant and temple fortress, likely to be Israel and more specifically Jerusalem and towards a long low-lying valley of Megiddo, a place ideal for tank warfare. This is situated inland from the coastal region of northern Israel.

 

It is likely that this military presence in the form of a naval blockade is there because of an invitation from Israel for military assistance. This military presence from the west causes the Antichrist to lose heart with his original plans of regional domination instead causes him to turn in a rage against the people of the holy covenant and to move easterly towards Jerusalem, where he inflicts damage and desolation.

 

Many of the regional powers surrounding the Mediterranean Sea have a naval presence in there. In addition, at least ten other countries including Russia, the US, Italy, and the UK also have a naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

The likeliest source of a strong naval presence off the coast of Israel which is sufficient to counter or at least perturb a super-power that might be operating in the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean would be that offered by the United States Sixth Fleet which is headquartered at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy. The officially stated mission of the Sixth Fleet in 2011 is that it ‘conducts the full range of Maritime Operations and Theater Security Cooperation missions, in concert with coalition, joint, interagency, and other parties’.

 

The appearance of the Antichrist in the End Time is first recorded half-way through the tribulation period and triggers the beginning of the last three and a half years, known as the Great Tribulation. This is the time ‘when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination of desolation,’ described by the prophet Daniel’ (Dan.9:27; Matt.24:15-25; Mark13:14-23; Luke21:20-24).

 

Throughout the Great Tribulation the actions of the Antichrist, and their consequences, are recorded in detail as we read of the opening of the seals, vials, and trumpets in the book of Revelation.

 

In the unfolding nature of the End Time, the Antichrist who is the ultimate and final conqueror before the coming of the Messiah, will undoubtably have exceptional military reach and military power.

 

When we consider the nations to the north of Israel, we might consider Syria, though this nation is now militarily shattered. Then we might consider the nations Turkey and Russia; though both are no doubt significant, the real super-power who might ultimately dominate the region and quell the other is likely to be Russia.

 

Indeed, in the unfolding prophesies one of the ten toes emerging from the feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue ultimately quells two others. This is clear in the prophesy of Daniel 7:1-8 whereby a military force arises out of Syria for it describes the empires who have conquered and ruled that land as four beasts, the first like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard and the fourth with iron teeth that devoured and broke into pieces.

 

The arrival of this last beast is like the arrival of a little horn and though it was in allegiance with the other powers around it in its motivation its arrival, though seemingly relatively insignificant at first, grows to dominate the region. Furthermore, it is clear from prophesy that the leader of this horn is the Antichrist whose soul is barren of normal human emotion. It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul, yet this leader has eyes like, though not the same as normal men, and whose mouth speaks ‘great things’, these are things which he speaks with deception and wonders which flatter and trick the nations around him. Jamison, Fawcett and Brown comment ‘eyes express intelligence (Eze 1:18); so (Ge 3:5) the serpent's promise was, man's ‘eyes should be opened,’ if he would but rebel against God’... The ‘mouth’ and ‘eyes’ are those of a man, while the symbol is otherwise brutish, that is, it will assume man's true dignity, namely, wear the guise of the kingdom of God (which comes as the ‘Son of man’ from above), while it is really bestial, namely, severed from God. Antichrist promises the same things as Christ, but in an opposite way: a caricature of Christ, offering a regenerated world without the cross’.

 

The full text of Dan.7:7-8 reads ‘After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things’ KJV

 

Dan.7:23-28 reads: ‘Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart’ KJV.

 

Rev.13:1-16 esp.1-7 reads: ‘And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations’ KJV.

 

Rev.17:12-18 reads: ‘And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth’ KJV.

 

Dan.8:9-12 reads: ‘From one of these horns a little horn emerged and grew extensively toward the south and the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew as high as the host of heaven, and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the earth, and trampled them. It magnified itself, even to the Prince of the host; it removed His daily sacrifice and overthrew the place of His sanctuary. And in the rebellion,a the host and the daily sacrifice were given over to the horn, and it flung truth to the ground and prospered in whatever it did’ KJV.

 

When does this ‘little horn’ appear? It is the view of several commentators (see Tregelles and others on Dan.7:7) that this occurs upon the rising of the Antichrist, an event which they refer to takes place three and a half years before Christ's second advent, having first overthrown three of the ten contemporaneous kingdoms. If this is so then it corresponds to the time ‘when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination of desolation,’ described by the prophet Daniel’ (Dan.9:27; Matt.24:15-25; Mark13:14-23; Luke21:20-24).

 

It is this little horn, whose arrival was tentative, yet ultimately comes to dominate the region by both stealth and force and this force is backed by overwhelming military superiority. This army is led my greed and avarice and its leader is motivated by the need to dominate other nations and lands.

 

To dominate whole regions and many nations then we need to turn to and consider the super-powers who are active in the region of the Middle East and who have both the methods and the motives to fulfil this role.

 

In consideration of global and military super-powers, the United States ranks first and second ranks the Russian Armed Forces (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Armed_Forces and see the source material there-in). Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world. The military budget of the Russian Federation was $65.1 billion in 2019, the fifth highest in the world. It possesses the second-largest fleet of ballistic missile submarines and is one of the only three nations operating strategic bombers, with the world's most numerous tank force, the second-most numerous air force and the third-most numerous naval fleet.

‘His feet part of iron and part of clay’ (Dan. 2:33 KJV)

However, it is Russia under Vladimir Putin that has filled the vacuum in the power struggle in Syria and firmly placed its feet with ten toes there. In this respect ‘his feet part of iron and part of clay’ (Dan.2:33) comprise of the iron of Russian military strength compared with the clay of the broken nation of Syria. The ten toes alliance is likely to soon follow, being the ending of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision. Russia, as with other super-powers and their alliances, constantly looks to counter the NATO alliance, the G7 nations and their guest nations (excluding Russia and China), and other alliances, with their own. This has happened before under the guise of the USSR when it formed the Soviet Bloc and when the time is judged to be right then the Supreme Ruler of Russia, currently Vladimir Putin, will make no doubt be the one to the make the announcement of this alliance.

 

This is the time when Daniel saw in vision the coming of the King whose kingdom would destroy the alliances of nations and filled the whole earth for Dan.2:31-35 reads: ‘Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth’ KJV.

 

The UK and the US failed to impose either a no-fly zone or implement humanitarian protection over the state of Syria in 2011 and this has led to the Russian Federation taking an irreversible step into the politics of the region from that time on. It is unlikely that Russia will wish to see its goal of domination in the region diminish and should China rival it in terms of political, economic, and military gain there then it is unlikely to stand idly by.

 

In addition, Israel, and particularly Jerusalem, is seen by its surrounding nations as both a prize and a goal for along with its developed wealth comes the never-ending festering wound of the Palestine-Israeli conflict and a genuine hated of their religion and their God.

Russia would see an alliance with Israel to be of strategic importance. However, Iran and its strategic supporter China, would wish to see its destruction. As a scenario it is feasible that should China make its military presence known in the region that Russian would not stand idly by.

 

Nor is Russia likely to stand by should the western super-powers of the US and the EU become involved. The prophesies of old add one significant point in this respect. Before the final military conflict their arrives a fleet of ships off the Western Mediterranean coast. In the consideration of possible scenarios, let us consider this option too for the US has a significant naval presence in terms of sea power there, and the US has maintained a long- standing commitment to protect and support Israel with economic, strategic, and military hardware.

 

The arrival of armies from the east

 

In addition to the arrival of the king of the north, prophesy describes the arrival of other kings onto the scene of End Time events. These kings are leaders of nations, those who rule with the powers of a king. These prophesies describe another army arriving from the east for we also have distinct references to the kings of the east who approach the ‘beautiful land’, having first crossed the river and regions of the Euphrates. This army comes with overwhelming military might and is drawn to the region to protect its interests there.

 

‘Hurt not the oil (energy supplies) and the wine (trade)’ (Rev.6:6 KJV)

The comprehensive oil for trade agreement signed 27 March 2021 between Iran and China exchanges a steady supply of oil to fuel China’s growing

economy in return for a sweeping economic and security agreement whereby China in effect offers protection to its interests in Iran and the regime there. The deal is seen as part of the ‘new world order’ being forged by China in the third decade of the C21. Inclusive in the reach of China are aspirations to meddle and tamper with the balance of power in the Middle East, even to the ‘resolution’ of the Palestine-Israeli conflict, if that too would serve its purpose. Yet China has no religious agenda in resolving this dispute, but rather see it as a furtherance of its global power in the region of the Middle East. In this respect it has an un-easy relationship with Iran which is ruled by Islamic ideology, yet it has common ground in terms of its trade there.

 

And indeed, the scriptures make clear the importance of such alliances in the build up to the last seven years of this age, though instead of leading to the cry of peace leads to awful conflict and to the coming of the Great Tribulation. The furtherance of such deliberations leads to conflict, for as spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah with regard to Jerusalem’s final warning see Jer. 6:13-15 which reads: ‘For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD’ KJV.

 

The key verse regarding the protection of the oil and trade deal by military means is found at the time of the opening of the third seal. This is recorded in Rev.6:5-6 which reads ‘And when the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come!’ Then I looked and saw a black horse, and its rider held in his hand a pair of scales. And I heard what sounded like a voice from among the four living creatures, saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine’’ BSB

 

For a clearer understanding of the importance of oil and trade in the Middle East see Appendix 8.

 

It is notable that China has initially intruded into the politics in the Middle East through trade and this has allowed it to develop a foreign policy which quells dissent through economic muscle power. As an example, note its dealings with Turkey which has silenced its dissent over China’s dealings of the Uigur people. President Ergodan of Turkey initially called this treatment ‘genocide’ yet that changed when China signed lucrative trade deals with that country.

 

Iran’s ambitions may be oil and trade to boost its infra-structure, but China has no ambitions to invest in a country and then to back off when their interests are threatened. The global reach of China and its military and economic goals are becoming clearer as the pace of change now rapidly increases. The events of the past have been termed a Cold War, whereby nations have been fixed in their strategic alliances and the balance of power has been counter-manded. Yet that is described by commentators as the old-world order, and a new world order is emerging. The old-world order has served as a balance for peace and arose after the Second World War as nation states aligned themselves, with democracy being the overarching principle. The formation of the United Nations being an example in this respect. Yet a new world-order is now coming to the for. It is being offered by countries such as China which operate a system of political rule based on State control and autocratic rule.

 

So, the axis is changing as we see the ‘kings of the east’ arise. Before the coming of that great Day of his return we read of the sixth angel pouring out the sixth bowl of wrath in the region of the Euphrates. Rev.16:12 reads ‘And the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings of the East’ BSB.

 

The times of preparation for this event is now at hand, the events are forth told for our warning, and as a watchman who is placed on the walls of the city is tasked to blow the trumpet as warning sign when trouble approaches, so too these signs give us time to blow the trumpet on the walls of the city so that others can prepare for the events to come. Is.62:6 reads: ‘I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence’ KJV. The command to us is to watch Jerusalem in these days for from it will come the clues to and the fulfilment of the End Time prophesies.

 

The times of the Gentiles is soon to be fulfilled. As it reads in Luke 21:24 ‘And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into

all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled’ KJV. Who are these Gentiles, and from where do they come? Who are these kings who are so determined to lead by the edge of the sword and tread down Jerusalem?

‘And the number of mounted troops was two hundred million; I heard their number’ (Rev.9:16 BSB)

Let us further consider the ‘kings of the east. China is more than capable of securing its trade deals with strategic and military alliances. This accomplished by the flexing of China’s military might.

 

Reference is made in scripture regarding the size of the army which crosses the Euphrates in an east to west direction. Who might this army be and at what time does it emerge?

 

The army comes into the Middle East heading towards Jerusalem at the time of the sixth trumpet for Rev.9:13-20 reads ‘Then the sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God saying to the sixth angel with the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ So the four angels who had been prepared for this hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. And the number of mounted troops was two hundred million; I heard their number. Now the horses and riders in my vision looked like this: The riders had breastplates the colours of fire, sapphire, and sulphur. The heads of the horses were like the heads of lions, and out of their mouths proceeded fire, smoke, and sulphur. A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke, and sulphur that proceeded from their mouths. For the power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; indeed, their tails were like snakes, having heads with which to inflict harm. Now the rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the works of their hands. They did not stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. Furthermore, they did not repent of their murder, sorcery, sexual immorality, and theft’ BSB.

 

It is pertinent to understanding this prophecy that in the vision John clearly heard the number of ‘mounted troops’ in the army as being 200 million. Which country has this size of military personnel?

 

The numbers below are from the International Institute for Strategic Studies in their 2019 report which records that the Chinese People's Liberation Army Is currently the largest standing army in the world and is one of the best trained. The latest estimates about the size of this army shows it to be at 2,035,000 personnel. Is this mere co-incidence or is it relevant to the End-time prophesies?

 

The above conflict is so central to the End Times that John precedes the vision of the army in action, which he describes as the second woe, with a description of its gathering and menace which he describes as the first woe.

 

He begins by describing the evil that drove it and describes the source of the evil as coming from ‘the pit of the Abyss’. He describes their overwhelming numbers as being like ‘locusts descending on the earth, and they were given power like that of the scorpions of the earth’. He goes on to describe ‘the locusts looked like horses prepared for battle’ with ‘breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the roar of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails with stingers like scorpions, which had the power to injure people’. John was living in the age of few iron implements or weapons, yet he was determined to relate to us every detail as he saw it. John’s prophesy, though received by him 2000 years ago, best describes modern armed warfare. He described what he saw and related it in the language of his time as riders with ‘breastplates’ and heads like ‘lions’ with ‘fire, smoke and sulphur proceeding from their mouths’. This best describes modern military combat involving tanks and missiles. He then goes on to describe again the source of this woe for ‘They were ruled by a king, the angel of the Abyss. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek it is Apollyon’.

 

The full text from Rev.9:1-11 is as follows: ‘Then the fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth, and it was given the key to the pit of the Abyss. The star opened the pit of the Abyss, and smoke rose out of it like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke from the pit. And out of the smoke, locusts descended on the earth, and they were given power like that of the scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. The locusts were not given power to kill them, but only to torment them for five months, and their torment was like the stinging of a scorpion. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, but death will escape them. And the locusts looked like horses prepared for battle, with something like crowns of gold on their heads, and faces like the faces of men. They had hair like that of women, and teeth like those of lions. They also had thoraxes like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the roar of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails with stingers like scorpions, which had the power to injure people for five months. They were ruled by a king, the angel of the Abyss. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek it is Apollyon. The first woe has passed. Behold, two woes are still to follow’ BSB.

 

The overwhelming numbers of this army are described as being like locusts and they are seen by an earlier prophet too. Joel, writing some 2,800 years ago writes this in Joel 2:1-11 where he specifically refers to the arrival of this army close to and just before the time when ‘the Day of The Lord is coming’ (v.1).

 

The full text of Joel 2 reads ‘Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for [it is] nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, [even] to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land [is] as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them [is] as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and [when] they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp [is] very great: for [he is] strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD [is] great and very terrible; and who can abide it?’ KJV.

 

Locusts, aptly describe the major movements of vast armies as they prepare to devastate all before them. locusts, locust. For a very full and condensed statement of the devastations caused by locusts, and their peculiarities, in which some of the features here detailed appear, see Pusey on Joel 2. The significance of the individual features is briefly interpreted by Luthardt who writes: ‘At the basis of the description, there lies, for the most part, reality; but it is increased to what is monstrous and terrible. ‘On their heads, as it were crowns of gold;’ i.e., they are mighty powers. ‘Their faces were as the faces of men;’ i.e., they are intellectual beings, intelligences. ‘They had hair as the hair of women;’ i.e., they areseductive powers. ‘Their teeth were as the teeth of lions;’ i.e., back of their seductive appearance is inevitable destruction. Cf. Joel 1:6. ‘They had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron;’ i.e., they are unassailable. ‘The sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle;’ i.e., they rush like military squadrons irresistibly. Cf. Joel 2:5. ‘Tails like unto scorpions;’ i.e., malicious force inflicting injury backwards’.

 

So, the arrival of a vast army, which is well equipped with military might and supplied by oil and dependent upon trade is clearly forth told. This army is fuelled by evil from the Abyss.

 

The battle of Armageddon is fought between two vast armies and has over-whelming consequences in terms of the dead, for scriptures record that it takes five months to bury the dead after the battle.

 

The Messiah’s arrival is not on the day of the battle but three and a half days later (source video ‘Teaching on the Book of Revelation’ by Bill Turner). Antichrist i.e., the king of the north, wins the battle, but has no time to consolidate his victory, and three and a half days later the Messiah comes in judgement and glory, and the Day of the Lord will have finally arrived.

The powerbroker and a Comprehensive Agreement?

 

The war in Syria and the humanitarian crisis there has created a scenario which is ripe for the intervention of a powerbroker, someone who might laud themselves as a saviour to quell the problems there. Few would take on this challenge, especially whilst each faction might still see advantage in military action there. However, Syria has become a significant mountain from which might emerge a guardian, overseer or powerbroker purporting to rule with a benign interest.

 

The western powers generally see the problems there as too complex and have withdrawn from rather than engage there. Instead, Russia increasingly positions itself to include within its spere of influence Syria and the region generally and with the increasing reluctance of the US post 2016, the UK post 2011, and the EU with its divided loyalties, to act there, then in that vacuum of power Russia sees itself as increasingly fulfilling the role of powerbroker. It continues to balance the power of the Assad Regime against its opponents and has shown itself as a mediator in the Turkish Occupation of Northern Syria. In the wings remain other superpowers with increasingly vested interests there too, particularly Iran backed by China.

 

It is notable too that Iran and Russia are strategic allies and form an axis in the Caucasus alongside Armenia. Iran and Russia are also military allies in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq and partners in Afghanistan and post-Soviet Central Asia. In turn, Iran has helped Russia with its drone technology and other military technology.

 

So, Russia has already brokered deals with both the Sunni and the Shia Islamic nations in the region.

 

In the US in 2021 the Biden Administration stated its wish to re-engage with previous international alliances; one of the most pressing of these being the Iran Nuclear Deal. However, Israel sees the move with a great deal of consternation. Iran for its part is entrenched in a Cold War with Saudi Arabia and continues to sponsor militia groups in proxy conflicts. It also maintains axis links with both China and North Korea.

 

Simon Sebag Montefiore, in his book ‘Jerusalem – The Biography’ written in 2011 (Orion Books), after an excellent treatise on the history of the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel writes of the real challenges facing any agreement on the Palestine – Israel issue. On page 620 he writes that finance and land deals alone will not resolve the problem as only an agreement on the Old City itself will do that... and in so doing to somehow distinguish between sovereignty and religion. He further writes: ’The Arabs might not accept America, the Israelis distrust the UN and the EU, so perhaps the job could be done by NATO with Russia, which is once again keen to play a role in Jerusalem’ and then adds the footnote: ‘The Russian reverence for Jerusalem has been modernised to suit the authoritariannationalism fostered by Vladimir Putin who in 2007 oversaw the reunion of the Soviet Moscow Patriarchate and the White Russian Orthodox Church’. On pages 621,622 he writes: ‘For 1,000 years, Jerusalem was exclusively Jewish; for about 400 years, Christian; for 1,300 years, Islamic; and not one of the three faiths ever gained Jerusalem without the sword, the mangonel or the howitzer. Their nationalistic histories tell a rigid story of inevitable progressions to heroic triumphs and abrupt disasters, but in this history I have tried to show that nothing was inevitable, there were always choices’. We stand by and ponder as these decisions are made and their consequences follow.

 

Unfortunately, because of the complex nature of the prophesies and indeed the complexity of the events in the Middle East, then Christians, like the western powers generally, tend to stay away from involvement in these events. In the US, the Biden administration have stepped back from involvement and as happened in Syria it is likely that less benign players will take centre stage there.

 

Christians too have tended to step back from the End Time prophesies and their interpretation, many taking either a ‘we’ll be out of here any time soon ‘attitude or ‘it’s too complex to understand the prophesies, anyway, it will happen when it will happen’ mentality. This too is an abdication of responsibilities, for the world longs for direction and guidance in these perilous times.

 

The key player on the stage backing Israel is the US, who provided 3.8bn dollars in 2020 in Foreign Aid to that country. The single key financial backer of Palestinians is the EU, though they are reluctant participants in the conflict. For the Europeans, the events of WW2 have cast a long shadow. Yet money is not enough, the US, the EU, as well as Christians, are urged to engage, for according to prophesy, we are in the perilous last days of this age.

 

In May 2021 military conflict has broken out in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. The appearance of a powerbroker in the region draws close. I quote:

The Times, May 13, 2021, p.27 ‘America and its allies seek coexistence between a sovereign Palestine and a secure Israel’, p.28 ‘The Russian foreign ministry reported that Hamas officials had approached it, offering a ceasefire’.

 

The New York Post May 12, 2021, 7:01pm reports ‘Russia pushes for international effort to diffuse Israel-Hamas Gaza’ and goes on to report ‘Russian officials on Wednesday called for ‘a quartet’ of international mediators to intervene and diffuse escalating fighting between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militants. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking after meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the meeting is ‘the most acute task now’ to resolve the growing conflict that has killed dozens over the past three days, according to reports. The four mediators consist of Russia, the US, the European Union and the United Nations’. A joint statement issued by Russian and UN officials reads

 

‘Today I think we have reached the common denominator that the most pressing issue is to convene the international mediators’ quartet... at the earliest opportunity’. ‘Today I think we have reached the common denominator that the most pressing issue is to convene the international mediators’ quartet... at the earliest opportunity,’ Lavrov said in a joint statement with Guterres’ (Antonio Guterres is the 9th Secretary-General of the UN, 2017 to date).

 

Russia has previously offered to mediate in the Palestinian, Hamas, Fatah- Israeli conflict. This happened in 2018, 2019, 020, and in May 2021, as hostilities continue between Israel and the factions in Palestine.

 

Hamas is sponsored by Iran, who provides them with military technology and rockets. It is thought that they have up to 30,000 rockets in Gaza alone. In the May 2021 conflict, up to 16 May, some 1,500 have been fired on Israel, with their ‘Iron Dome’ technology intercepting 90% of them.

 

In the May 2021 conflict, the warring parties turned again to the US, Egypt and Qatar (this country is a sponsor of Hamas), to mediate and broker a ceasefire.

 

The BBC’s Middle East Correspondent, Jeremy Bowen said that there have been ‘four wars 2008 to May 2021 between Israel and Hamas, unless things change, there will be another one’ (BBC 10.00pm news 20.5.21 ceasefire 21.5.21).

 

The elusive peace has never been found, and there is overwhelming global pressure for a peace agreement. Any overarching agreement is most likely to be mediated through the super-powers, the ‘quartet’ as referred to by the Russian Foreign Ministry, or by Russia itself. Russia prides itself as being allies with both sides in the conflict, whereas the US is seen as a sponsor of one side only, that being Israel. So, the US is unlikely to be the ultimate powerbroker, instead, as of May 2021, the ultimate powerbroker is more likely to be Russia. Any agreement at this time is pure conjecture, yet the scriptures do refer to a forth coming agreement, an agreement which will be dupe many nations and people.

 

Today, the kings of the north speak to each other in this way: They plot and position themselves for their place on the final stage. The New York Times May 13, 2021, 1:21 pm reported under the heading: ‘Turkey’s Erdogan tells Putin Israel needs to be taught ‘deterrent lesson’’ as follows: ‘The Turkish strongman told Russian President Vladimir Putinthat he wanted ‘the international community to give Israel a strong and deterrent lesson,’ adding that the UN Security Council should intervene with ‘determined and clear messages’ to Israel’.

 

Christians, Jews, and others may ask why the prophesies of old refer to Jerusalem being judged at the last, double for her sins? Isaiah 40:2 reads: ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins’ (KJV). The answer is because it signs a treaty with the Antichrist. The message to the Christians, as the day approaches, is to speak the love and comfort of God, and to seek clarity on these matters, for if the prophesies are true then a dark shadow is soon to fall over the land of Israel, and this will impact all the nations of the earth.

 

The hatred of the Jews and its occupation of the land of Israel is irrational, yet credible whenever there is Satanic input, for from the Jews has come a Saviour who has usurped Satan and stripped him of his authority to rule the nations.

 

Tim Marshall, in his book ‘Prisoners of Geography’ (2016, Elliot and Thompson, ISBN 978-1- 78396-243-3) in his chapter on the Middle East page 181 says:

 

‘The routine expression of hatred for others is so common in the Arab world that it barely draws comment other than from the region’s often Western-educated liberal minority who have limited access to the platform of mass media. Anti-Semitic cartoons which echo the Nazi ‘Der Sturmer’ propaganda newspaper are common. Week in, week out, shock-jock imams are given prime-time TV shows.

 

Western apologists for this sort of behaviour are sometimes hamstrung by fear of being described as one of Edward Said’s ‘Orientalists’. They betray their own liberal values by denying their universality. Others, in their naivety, say that these incitements to murder are not widespread and must be seen in the context of the Arab language, which can be given to flights of rhetoric. This signals their lack of understanding of the ‘Arab street’, the role of the mainstream Arab media and a refusal to understand that when people are full of hatred say something, they mean it’.

 

Anti-Semitism has led to much violence and inhuman acts. Adolf Hitler use the phrase in his rally’s ‘Die Juden sind unser Ungluck’ meaning ‘The Jews are our misfortune’. Today, the slogan is still alive in the lands of those who hate Israel.

The time of the End

The time of the conflicts which engulf Israel both from east and west and north and south is also the time when the Christ-Church or Jewish-Christian Church flee from the wrath of the Dragon Antichrist (Rev.12:6). This happens at the beginning of the Great Tribulation (last three and a half years), when they flee from the Beautiful Land to find a place of refuge in ‘Edom and Moab and the chief of the children of Ammon’ (Dan.11:41) which is part of present-day Jordan. This is a cross reference to Rev. 12:1-5,13-17 when armies are sent like a flood or like a river against the followers of Christ and they are told to flee. The analogy of a river in the prophesy of Rev,12 also describes how fast this event will take place and the need for speed to avoid certain death at this time.

 

From the very beginning of the Great Tribulation Jesus’ prophecy is also clear on the need for his followers not only to flee but to do it with utmost speed; see Matt.24:15-18 ‘So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination of desolation,’ described by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop come down to retrieve anything from his house. And let no one in the field return for his cloak’. No-one on earth will know exactly when the armies will come but when they do they come with speed. However, the military build-up in the Middle East continues apace and this, along with the alliances forming there emboldens the kings of the earth to act accordingly. The signs of the times are pregnant before us, and as if about to give birth.

 

Only the risen Lord knows of these times, for it is He who opens the seals of the last seven years of this age. Rev.5:1-5 reads ‘Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the One seated on the throne. It had writing on both sides and was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look inside it. And I began to weep bitterly, because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or look inside it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed to open the scroll and its seven seals”’. BSB

 

Jesus also knows when this imminent return shall be and of the events leading up to it and He was us to take some comfort in knowing His mind and fore thought in our preparation for these events.

 

When they occur then Christians are told by Jesus to be most watchful. It is the time just before the battle of Armageddon (Rev.16:16), a time when the enemy will come so fast that he will comes like as thief in the night (1Thes.5:2-4). It is the time directly before the Seventh Vial of Rev 16v17-21. This vial occurs at the same time as the sixth and seventh seal and the seventh trumpet. It is the time immediately before the coming of the Lord.

 

Peter prophesies of this time and the speed of their occurrence when he says that when the Lord comes, ‘as a thief’, the heavens will pass away with a great noise, the elements will melt with fervent heat, and the earth and its works will be burnt up i.e., this is certainly not a secret rapture or prequel to the main event. 2Peter 3:10 reads ‘But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and its works will be laid bare’. See also Luke 12:39; Rom.13:11-14; 1Cor.3:15; 2Cor.7:1, Eph4:20-24; 6:10-20; Col.3:8-14, James 1:27, 1Peter 1:13, 1John 2:28, Jude v23, Rev.3:3-5, 7:14, 19:7,8. See www.truthforthelastdays.com The Visions of Daniel P.53.

 

Likewise, so will be the coming of the son of man, Matt.24:30-31reads ‘At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other’. This is the time of the seventh trumpet spoken of in Rev. 16:17-21.

The seventh trumpet occurs on the last day, when there shall be no more delay. Then the kingdom of God will be set up, and the prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus, and the establishing of His kingdom are fulfilled. At this time, we read of ‘voices’, Rev.11:19;4:5; 10:3,4; and ‘thunders’ Rev 4:5, 8:5, 11:19, 14:2, 7:10, 19:6; and ‘lightnings’ Rev 4:5, 8:5, 11:19. There must be great storms and tremendous winds to keep hailstones in the air which are a talent in weight, i.e., from 45 to 130 pounds in weight, it is no wonder that God says in Rev.11:19 that the plague is exceeding great.

 

The coming wrath of God

 

This is the time of the judgement of God upon the wicked. Rev. 6:12,16-17 reads ‘12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; [...] 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath [Gr. ‘orge’] is come; and who shall be able to stand?’ KJV

 

And Rev.11:15,18 reads ‘15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. [...] 18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath [Gr. ‘orge’] 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’. KJV

 

It is important to note that the Greek word for ‘wrath’ in these verses is ‘orge’ meaning God’s longstanding wrath against the wicked, who He will punish with lasting consequences. This final judgement upon the earth comes only after the seven years of destruction by the Red Dragon, Satan, through the Antichrist and his followers. It is only at this time that we finally see God’s anger ripe and his indignation full. The Vials are poured out because they are full,not empty. They are full of the judgement in direct proportion to the wickedness which it deals with, so each Vial is specific to counter and overcome the wickedness of mankind. It is as though God has restrained Himself for so long, hoping that the morality of man would in itself counter-mand the evil one, but self-will prevails and dark intentions of the wicked over- rule through the powers conferred upon them such that iniquity increases across the whole earth. This was the case before the coming of the flood of Noah, and will come again (Matt.24: ). The nature of this wrath is different from elsewhere in the scriptures where the Greek word ‘thumos’ is used. Thayer’s Commentary defines ‘thumos’ as ‘passion, angry heat, [...] anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again’ and ‘orge’ as “indignationwhich has arisen gradually and become more settled...’

 

This wrath is great in its coming, it is as though the Vials have increasingly become fuller such that at a certain time they will finally boil over. God’s love has continually been slow to anger and quick to bless but man’s iniquity has ever increased such that God has marked time and weighed mankind in the balance. Yet these Vials inevitably become fuller to the point of overflowing. Each Vial is poured in turn, yet none cause the Antichrist and his followers to change their minds or hearts. God’s forgiveness is always there yet is not asked for by the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity that we see in these last days. After the six Vials there could still be repentance, but none recorded, none sought. Then, by the time of Seventh Vial there begins the final judgement. This is the exact time when the Vial is full and ready to overflow, to burst out. The event is so pregnant with God’s wrath that both mankind and nature are affected.

 

There are examples of the effects of this wrath overflowing affecting nature for at the time of the Sixth Seal Rev. 6:12,16-17 reads ‘12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood’. Also, the seven vials that are carried by the seven angels particularly affect nature (Rev. 16:1-20) for ‘Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out on the earth the seven bowls of God’s wrath’; vial one – sores upon the followers of the beast , vial two – sea, vial three - rivers and springs, vial four - sun, vial five - darkness, vial six – the river Euphrates, vial seven – air, earthquake, islands, mountains.

 

At the time of the Seventh Vial. This is the time of God’s final judgement ‘Gr. orge’ and it begins with the fulfilment of Joel’s prophesy which tells us that the sun and the moon’s appearance will change just before the coming of the Day of the Lord: ‘The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come’ (Joel 2:30). Then Christ and Revelation describe the appearance of these signs. Christ tells us that these signs will appear after the end of the great tribulation: ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken’ (Matthew 24:29).

 

These all speak of the point of overspill or overflow, the vials being full, and the overwhelming consequences to follow. It is the time when God pulls back the garment, the shroud or covering, and we see both the loathsomeness and carnage brought about by mankind, God’s judgement, and the glorious coming of the Messiah.

 

It might be asked, are the Christians at that time also subject to this wrath? The word ‘orge’ also appears in 1Thes.5:9-10, Rom.5:8-10, and 1Thes.1:9-10, yet in each case it refers to the type of wrath which those whose hearts are to love God are not subject to, as this wrath is specifically God’s deliberate, long-standing wrath against the wicked. A further study of the Greek words for wrath are covered elsewhere in this study.

 

This is the time when Satan will have taught his followers well. Irrespective of God’s overwhelming love for the people, hatred and hardness of heart will ever grow stronger; the judgements do not result in repentance but instead men curse God, they are trucebreakers and false accusers, and like Jannes and Jambres, where the traditions are that they through occultic powers wished death upon the Hebrew children in Egypt at the time of Moses, they have corrupted minds and are reprobate concerning the truth. It will be no use trying to convert these people with the gospel message, for neither God’s love nor his judgements will bring repentance to Antichrist and his followers. 2 Tim.3:1-9 reads ‘This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was’. KJV

 

The vials of wrath will be filling up quickly during these last and perilous days.

 

This will be the time of His return. Jesus came as a lamb to be slain, as the Messiah who broke the gates of hell in his death and reaped a harvest in his resurrection, yet on his return he will come with fire in his eyes (Rev.5:6). This is when he sees the fulness of iniquity and acts to open the seven seals (Rev.5; Dan.12:4,9).

 

It is the level of iniquity and injustice that finally causes the triumph of his return. As happened when Jesus saw the iniquity in the temple of God prior to his death and resurrection, so he will act on his return. Matt.21:12-17; Mk.11:15-19; Lu.19:45-48; John 2:12-25 all record Jesus entering the temple courts to drive out the abomination there. ‘He declared to them, “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” BSB

 

Again, it will be the actions that take place in the temple that will mark his acts. At his first coming the Temple incident marked the final chapter before his death and resurrection, the second time it will mark his judgements for it is at the appearance of the ‘abomination of desolation’ standing in the holy place (Matt.24:15) that he will act against the wicked one. It is at this time that Jesus sees the fullness of the abuse of spiritual power that has cascaded to the earth when Satan, the ‘great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads’, as described in Rev.12:1-6, is cast out of the heavenlies along with the fallen one third of the angels whom he drags from there to follow him onto the earth. Rev.12:4 reads ‘And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did castthem to the earth’. Their arrival on the earth puts great pressure upon the peoples and nations, an anguish not seen across the globe ever before. This conflict, which began in the heavenlies, marks the final dispelling of Satan and his angels from the heavenlies, following which he and his followers have the one intent to corrupt the nations and to bring apocalypse onto the earth. Satan knows his time is short before he is incarcerated, and he intends to take as many of his followers, both angelic and human, with him.

 

The corruption of spiritual power leads to the abuse of authority on a global scale. This is the direct cause of ‘the tribulation, the great one' (Rev.7:14). Those who see it will need to decide whether to follow the Antichrist or not, and to accept the mark of this corruption or to refuse it. This open display of the Antichrist will starkly define between good and evil and allow people to choose between them. ‘Ultimate power corrupts ultimately' and this is what now takes place as the Antichrist begins his career of destruction.

The dragon gives the beast his power and his throne and great authority (Dan.7:6)

In the End Times it is Satan the dragon who is able to dispense Satanic power to the Antichrist and the beast(s) i.e., global power-blocks, also called empires. The high ideals of human endeavour become corrupted by Satanic means and the abuse of spiritual power and spiritual authority which then embeds itself into the powers and authorities of human leaders and their governments. The books of Daniel and John both refer to these abuses and its impact on the nations, who in turn rule like wild beasts.

 

In the book of Daniel, we read Dan.7:3 ‘Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. ... each different from the other. when suddenly four powerful beasts came out of the sea. Each ...’ Dan.7:6 ‘... I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. ... animal also had four heads. It was given power to rule’ Dan.7:7 ‘Then ... was a fourth beast- terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth’ Dan.7:17 ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. ‘These four ... great animals are four kings who will rise to power from the earth. These large beasts, ...’ Dan.7:23 ‘This fourth beast is the fourth world power that will rule the earth.’ Dan.8:4 ‘No beast could stand before him, and there was ... against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became ...’

 

In the book of John, we read in Rev.13:2-18 of the abuse of power and authority as follows: Rev.13:2 ‘The beast I saw was like a leopard, with the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority’, Rev.13:12 ‘It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf’, Rev.13:4 ‘They worshiped the dragon who had given authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can wage war against it?”’ Rev.13:14,15 ‘Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast’ ... ‘’The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast’. And in Rev.17:13 the corruption of power is again referred to, this time it is the kings of the earth who ‘have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast’.

 

Satan’s vasal is the Antichrist who operates by dark means and deceit. In this way the Antichrist is given power from the spirit realm, yet on the earth he is given power by nation states too and because these powers are so heavily armed then he can operate with brutal force and cunning. The two beasts of Rev.13:1-2 and Rev.13:11-12 are each propelled by Satanic power and each harness substantial world powers that operate at the bidding of Satan and through his vasal. Each of these two beasts represent separate world power- blocks, the one is distinguished by more brutal, the other by more subtle power, each rise at the bidding of the dragon to carry out his plan of war. The wild beast is always the figure of the kingdoms of this world—i.e., the kingdoms which are founded on fear, self-wilfulness, and selfishness. (Ellicott’s Commentary). In these prophesies, each world power-block, structure, or empire has the aim of ruling by threats and subrogation, and each can only carry out rampant destruction because they have the military means of war and operate cohesion by the subrogation of rights from the constituent parts of its kingdom. The heads of the beast(s) carry the names of blasphemy and this is transposed onto the heads and body of world systems. In this way the evil spirit of corruption which emanated from the kingdom of darkness is transferred into the earthly realms of mankind. This is an abuse of world- power as God intended it to be and is likened to the prostitution of power. In the End Times political power is corrupted, but so too is spiritual power.

‘MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH’ (Rev.17:5)

See Rev.17:1-7,18 v.2-5 which reads ‘“Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of [b]her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH’ and v.18 ‘And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth’. Who is that woman of Rev.17? She oppresses or rides upon the peoples of the region who are controlled and dominated by the Antichrist. She does not sit upon the heads of the ten-king alliance but on the rump and back of the people. She too dominates but not with military strength, instead with intrigue and seduction. These religious systems flatter, pollute and excuse the actions of the Antichrist.

 

The Antichrist wields power and control through an alliance of kings or nations, and the religious system embodied in the Great Harlot is likewise a religious system which is supra- national. This system of world government is a great attraction to the Antichrist who aligns with it to further his ambitions.

 

Dakes Commentary p.309 records 13 proofs the whore referred to Rev.17:1-7 is a religious system. The language used in the book of Revelation is symbolic of religious uncleanness which causes many nations to indulge in her religious practices. She is not one of the ‘kings of the earth’, she does not lead a nation, but instead sits over many nations and upon many waters or peoples to pollute them with her ‘mysteries’. The harlot refers to many branches of her religion that are produced by her apostacy. Her religion is the result of idolatry. It is akin to paganism and this is seen and recorded in prophesy as being an abomination in the sight of God. Its doctrine includes that of lethal intent against Christians, her ‘drunkenness’ being drunken of the martyrs of Jesus.

 

The angelic explanation of the great whore proves her to be a religious system reigning over kings spiritually. The Greek reads ‘And the woman whom thou sawest is the city the great, which has a kingdom over the kings of the earth’ (Rev.17:18). She has a kingdom within the kingdoms and over them. Dake gores on to say she is a religious system, one that has headquarters in a great city; and one that has a religious kingdom or reign over the kings of the earth. The great whore holds power over her loyal subjects, not through superior military forces, but by deceptions of her spiritual harlotry and abominations.

 

However, the prophesies record too the hatred and destruction of the great whore by ten kings for the great whore’s religious system dominates over them until they tire if of her at which time, if not before, they give their power to the Antichrist instead. At this time the ten kings turn on the great whore and destroy her (Rev.17:12-17).

 

In the Middle East in the 21st Century when the choice has to be made then the real power in these lands is the military. An example of this was in 2011 when Hosni Mubarak was ousted as president of Egypt. People power toppled him because of their hatred of his cronyism, his corrupt leadership and his security forces’ cruel treatment of the Egyptian populace which galvanised a generation ( https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/25/hosni-mubarak-egyptian-president-ousted- during-arab-spring-dies-at-91), but behind the scenes the military had been waiting for years to be rid of him. However, when the Muslim Brotherhood called its supporters out then it was a straight contest between Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, the military, and the Brotherhood. Initially the latter two destroyed the former but when the Brotherhood won an election and began to turn Egypt into an Islamic state then it paid the price and was overthrown by the real power in the land – the military. The reign of the Brotherhood and its leader Mohammed Morsi was short and in July 2013 Egypt’s current leader, the former general Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, came to power. However, the Islamists remain the second power in the country, albeit now underground. In his book Prisoners of Geography published in 2016 Tim Marshall further makes the point (P.182) that in impoverished societies with few accountable institutions, where bread and security is offered to the people, then power rests with ‘gangs’ disguised a ‘militia’ and ‘political parties’. In this respect he cites the countries of Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and possibly others too, for years to come.

The great city

It is asked of many who and where is the great city which reigns over the people groups of the earth? Where is the city from which she, the great whore, ‘mystery Babylon’ emanates? That city, when considered along with all aspects of the prophesies can only be Jerusalem, the city from which emanates all of the prophesies of the Great Tribulation, like the spokes of a wheel, they all point to that one place (Rev.17;17:18).

 

Gal.4:24-26 reads ‘These things serve as illustrations (or as we read in the KJV: ‘’Which things are an allegory’), for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present-day Jerusalem, because she is in slavery(the KJV reads ‘bondage’) with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother’ BSB. The prophesy here in Paul’s epistle relates to a system of religion which is a corruption of God’s intended. Such religion(s) bring people into It brings people into spiritual slavery to a system, and not to freedom and promise (Gal.4:28). Gal.4:29 goes on to read ‘At that time, however, the son born by the flesh persecuted the son born by the Spirit. It is the same now’ BSB. The conflict spoken of her by Paul is a conflict between these two systems of religion which emanate from Jerusalem. This conflict causes ‘the son born by the flesh persecuted the son born by the Spirit. It is the same now... however, the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son’ (Gal.4:28-29).

 

Paul’s prophesy recorded in Galatians also gives hope and promise for it includes the prophesy from Isaiah which records that the children of faith are those who look to the heavenly city of Jerusalem for their inheritance and they will outnumber the children of bondage. It reads in Is.54:1 ‘For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband’ KJV. In the first instance this prophesy has reference to the restoration of the exiled Jews to Jerusalem at the time of Zerubbabel, and to the coming greatness of the newly-settled city. However, Paul, in taking the prophesy of Isaiah, goes further by speaking of a type of the final theocratic reign of the Messiah which is likened to a marriage with the heavenly bridegroom who is the coming King. The form of religion which had emanated from Jerusalem before the coming of the Messiah Jesus had proved to be desolate, and for a long time no children had been born. Indeed, when through Christ people were again being born into the kingdom of God then they were despised and persecuted by the traditional religious system seated in Jerusalem. However, the message of the Messiah at both His first and second comings will cause people to ‘break forth’ into praise and singing. The application of this prophesy, as with many, has a layer yet to come. In the typical application, Sarah, who had long been barren is compared with Hagar, whose marriage had been fruitful; in the anti-typical application, the new dispensation, Sarah’s children are children of faith i.e., Christianity, which from small beginnings propagates the most fruitful harvest of souls, and this compares with the children of Hagar who represent an incompatible system of religion which cannot and will not inherit by faith an eternal possession. Instead, it relies on a flawed dispensation, with its material possessions and privileges, restraints and restrictions. Instead of being tied and wedded to such an ‘husband’ we are to ‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage’ (Gal.5:1). It is vital as we approach the End Times for Christians to not be entangled with religious compromises which rob us of the inheritance which has been promised us. These compromises are typified in Jerusalem in the times of Zerubbabel, Paul and the Early Church, and today.

 

Gal.4:26 reads ‘But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all’. KJV Of this verse Ellicott writes: ‘The ideal or heavenly Jerusalem. (Comp. Hebrews 12:22, ‘Ye are come to . . . the heavenly Jerusalem;’ Revelation 21:2, ‘the holy city, new Jerusalem’. This ‘new’ or ‘heavenly’ Jerusalem is (or is to be) the seat or centre of the glorified Messianic kingdom, just as the old Jerusalem had been the centre of the earthly theocracy’.

 

It is from Jerusalem that the great whore, also known as the scarlet woman, emanates for she has influence over many peoples and sits or rides on the on the seventh mountain, also referred to the seven headed beast. These seven heads represent the seven kingdoms ruling over her and hence supporting her – Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Eqypt, Syria, Rome, and finally Antichrist.

 

The prophesies relate to her as ‘I sit a queen’ (Rev.18:7) and the ‘scarlet woman (Rev.17:3- 6) and in Rev.11:8 the prophesy describes the place where the two witnesses are killed for we read: ‘Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city—figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where their Lord was also crucified’ BSB. So, these events take place in Jerusalem.

 

Jerusalem is that city for throughout its history we read of it being synonymous with a mix of religious practices. The scriptures refer to this heady mix of truth and falsehood, like smoke in clean air, as a harlot which deceives many; and this brings many people into ‘bondage’ (KJV) or ‘slavery’ (BSB). The key to understanding much of scriptural prophesy is the need to discern between truth and falsehood, and only the mind and character of God can and must be our judge and guide on these matters.

 

Simon Sebag Montefiore, in his book ‘Jerusalem – The Biography’ makes it clear that the Old City of Jerusalem creates an eternal problem for the nations of the region who are captivated by its lure. They desire the city only because of its religion. Where other wars are started over oil, agriculture, resources, and political grievances, the next war is likely to be justified by religion and Jerusalem will be at its centre. Om reading this book it is clear that from ancient times it has seen a mix of religious practices there: the pagan rites of the Philistine tribes, the call of Yahweh to the Hebrews, the gods of the Roman Empire, the Christ who fulfilled prophesy there, and the night journey of Mohammed all centre on the city. Today three major religions focus on it: Jewish, Christian and Islam. The population of the planet in 2021 is 7.8bn of which 2.3bn are from countries who are identified with Christianity, 1.8bn from countries that identify themselves with Islam. The only nation to identify with Judaism is Israel with a population of just 8.6m. Islam is most prevalent in countries where there is a higher birth rate which at its current rate of growth is expected to increase to 2.3bn by 2050. Together these religions represent some 53% of the peoples on the planet. If a conflict ensues which is fuelled by religion, then the consequences could be catastrophic. In the book referred to above Simon Sebag Montefiore writes (pages 621,622): ‘For 1,000 years, Jerusalem was exclusively Jewish; for about 400 years, Christian; for 1,300 years, Islamic; and not one of the three faiths ever gained Jerusalem without the sword, the mangonel or the howitzer. Their nationalistic histories tell a rigid story of inevitable progressions to heroic triumphs and abrupt disasters’. These religions are not easy bedfellows; each consider their god to be right and that he will defend them. Each are also expectant of a coming Messiah and each expect him to come to the city, which is why the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim graves are so close to the mount, each want to be there when he comes. The call to the Jews is best referred to in the Pentateuch, and other Jewish holy writings, the Christian call is embedded in the New Testament of the Bible, and for Islam it is the El Aqsa Mosque (situate next to the Dome on the Rock, both are built on the old Temple mount of Solomon’s Temple); this mosque is the third most holy site in Islam after Mecca and Medina. The conflict between these religions is unreconcilable because each attach their religion to the ownership and control of their respective religious sites.

 

In Genesis 16:11,12 we read of the angel of the Lord who told Hagar “Behold, you have conceived and will bear a son. And you shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard your cry of affliction. He will be a wild donkey of a man, and his hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him; he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”

 

We then read from the apostle Paul in Galatians 4:21-31 where he writes of Jerusalem as being a place of heavy religious practices and in so doing writes in allegorical terms of the story of Hagar the bondwoman, her son the wild man Ishmael, and their descendants who will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him; and who will live in hostility toward all his brothers. He then compares Hagar and his descendants to the children of the free woman; the free woman being the children of faith.

 

Gal.4:21-31 reads ‘Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are (the) two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labour! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.” Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free’ BSB.

 

Christians tend to consider this passage only in relation to the law of Moses which emanated from the tablets given to him at Mt. Sinai and compare this to the age of grace which emanated from Christ Jesus. However, it is also prophetic concerning the city of Jerusalem because it states that there is influence upon it from Arabia. Furthermore, it states that the children of the free woman, those not bound by the traditions of religion, will outnumber those of a religion which is bondage to them. The heavenly Jerusalem, also referred to as the New Jerusalem in the New Testament, is free from the pollution of man’s religious practices, and in this state we as Christians find that perfect liberty so often referred to in the writings of grace being the Words of the Risen Christ. This prophesy of Paul clearly marks the conflict between two covenants and the persecution brought upon the children of the free woman from the children of the bond woman. The persecution of the Christians who are receptacles of the Light, is of major concern as we consider the genocidal intent of religious nationalism in many countries today.

 

The marks of the woman in Rev.17 are that she is a ‘mystery’ i.e., based on a knowledge of spiritual matters; she is ‘Babylon the Great’ i.e., the mother of a system of many religions; an ‘harlot’ i.e., the systems of religion have been used and abused by many world leaders to justify their actions, this is especially so as we approach the End Times when and where there are many references to false prophets; an ‘abomination’ i.e., the justification for personal gain by reference to that religion; and to include ‘the earth’ i.e., it is not just personal gain but it involves nation states too. In each case the people groups who are attracted to the seduction, flattery, dress, and jewels of the ‘Scarlet Woman’ of Rev.17 compromise themselves for they covenant themselves to her through her ideologies and belief systems. This is what pollutes them. The alternative call to the Christians is that they are the clean, pure bride of Christ who is coming for them very soon. He calls them to his marriage supper. 2Cor.6:17 reads ‘“Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” BSB. On the matter of the persecution of the Christians by other religious groups or through religious nationalism see other parts of this study.

 

It is when these earthly power structures who justify their actions with religious intent become apparent and of full strength that Jesus marks the Antichrist’s career with its final chapter, the final 3.5years of the Great Tribulation.

 

It is specifically the ultimate spiritual abuse of power and authority of the Antichrist who is seen ‘standing in the holy place ‘the abomination of desolation,’ described by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand)’ (Matt.24:15), that triggers the final End Times events. This action occurs in God’s most holy place, it is if this is ‘the last straw’. i.e., the final act of iniquity that fills the vials of judgement to follow. It is the tipping point that triggers these judgements.

 

For the first 3.5 years of the covenant set up by Antichrist has been marked by the false peace, the rule of an autocratic and evil dictator. This is the time which began when the first seal was opened, followed by seals two and three (Rev.6:1-6).

 

However, now, halfway through the 70th week of Daniel’s prophesy, the covenant is suddenly broken. It is of this time that Jesus spoke the prophesy of Matt. 24:15-23. It is at this time when the people of Judea should without hesitation flee to the mountains, any delay would risk their lives, for they are being pursued by the armies of the Antichrist. This also marks the time of the coming of God’s judgements upon the wicked, and with each judgement comes yet more vehement persecution of the Christians and the onset of the Great Tribulation (Dan.12:2; Jer.30:7; Rev.7:14; Matt.24:15,29). This is exactly the time which marks the opening of the following sets of judgements upon the wicked ones: the opening of the fourth Seal, the first of seven Trumpets, the first of seven Vials. It is also the time which marks the fleeing of the Christians (Rev.12:1-17), the beginning of the ministries of the two witnesses (Rev.11:1-14). For this is the time of the open anarchic reign of the Antichrist and the False Prophet (Rev.13:1-18) and we see the scarlet woman, and the abuse of Jerusalem by the Antichrist and his followers (Rev.17:1-18-18:24). See Appendix 1 for details.

 

It is at this time that Jesus will with forethought deal with the abusers and murderers of those whom he loves. This is the time of his controlled wrath upon the earth, a judgement upon the wicked which is directly proportional to their acts. This will be his execution of justice prior to his appearance on the earth.

 

Jesus keeps the book of life (Rev.20:15) and also a dossier of the evils committed and he maintains the cause so that when the time is ripe, then he will act.

The coming Messiah

After the rise and fall of the alliances of the Middle East and the conflagration that ensues, the prophesies turn to the coming of the Messiah. This is referred to by Daniel as the ‘appointed time’.

 

The final conflagration will encompass many for it reads in Isaiah 63:1-6 ‘Who [is] this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this [that is] glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore [art thou] red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people [there was] none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance [is] in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and [there was] none to help; and I wondered that [there was] none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth’ KJV.

 

We read in Isaiah 5 that the winepress should have produced good wine but many of the peoples of earth have gone bad and soured the wine.

 

Yet even this prophesy of the final conflict and God’s vengeance upon the nations is tempered by God recalling his everlasting mercies for it will be at this time that many will question and remember his love for them and his deliverance of old for Is.62:11-13 reads ‘Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, [and] his people, [saying], Where [is] he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where [is] he that put his holy Spirit within him? That led [them] by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name? That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, [that] they should not stumble?

 

To Edom the people flee from the Antichrist, and from Edom He will come in vengeance against the Antichrist.

 

Mark 16:19-20 refers to the ascension but does not refer to the exact place, whereas Luke 24:50-53 refers to the ascension of Christ taking place at Bethany which is situated near to the mount of Olives. Acts 1:6-11 reads ‘When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven’ KJV.

 

The disciples were told of the nature of Jesus’ return but would not ‘know’ the times and seasons of His return. Strong’s Concordance comments on the Greek the word for ‘know’ as ‘ginosko’ which means ‘properly, to know, especially through personal experience i.e., by first-hand acquaintance, or to ‘experientially know’. Jesus told the disciples that they would not experientially know His return in their days, but they were to experientially know the presence and teaching of the Holy Spirit on these and other matters and He tells them that their first mission was to wait for the ‘enduement from on high’ (Acts 2:1-4).

 

In these same verses Jesus states that His return is not random, instead the Father has determined the times and seasons by his own authority. The resurrected Christ certainly knows the times and seasons and it is He who has clearly spoken through the Old and New Testament prophets of these events. At the time of Jesus’ ascension, the disciples had the expectation of Jesus’ return and that the Holy Spirit would give revelation to them when needed.

 

‘Before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come’ Joel 2:31

 

Tradition has it that Christ will return upon the Mount of Olives, near to Bethany where He ascended. Yet the prophesy given by the angels in Acts 2 describes the manner of his return, though not necessarily the place.

 

The prophesy of Isaiah 63:1-6 has the Deliverer coming from Edom. The prophesy of Rev 12:1-6 especially v.5 refers to the man-child which is the Christ Church being hid in the wilderness of Edom and Moab, away from the persecutions of the Antichrist for the last 3.5yrs of the Great Tribulation. At times of deliverance scripture records how the Lord is manifest to lead the people. For example, in the time of deliverance of the Hebrew people Exodus 12:21 reads ‘And the LORD went before them in a pillar of cloud to guide their way by day, and in a pillar of fire to give them light by night, so that they could travel by day or night’ BSB. The arrival of the Deliverer from Edom (Is.63:1-6) is also the time of Joel 2:18-20 and the final defeat of the armies of the north (Dan.11).

 

This time of restoration is promised, and it shall not fail. Joel 2:18-20 reads ‘Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people... I will remove far off from you the northern [army], and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things... ‘

 

Joel 2:28-32 reads ‘And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things’. KJV

 

The prophesy of Joel makes it clear how crucial it will be for the people of God to be fully endowed with the promise and power of the Holy Spirit at these End Times.

 

This is the time of great expectation. The psalmists often received prophesy concerning the coming kingdom, the Millennium, for example Psalm 24:8 reads ‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah’.

 

Then comes ‘the day of the Lord’, the final moment, not a moment later or sooner, Christ will come with great noise, with fire and glory. Every eye shall see His return. This is not a silent or secret event, nor is it a secret rapture of Christians before the tribulation, the great one. It is the closure of the End Time and the last day of the Age of Grace, and the beginning of the Millennium.

 

Luke 21:26-28 reads: ‘And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh’ KJV.

 

For an in-depth study of the Day of the Coming King, go to https://prophetbillturner.com/ Eschatology / Study 38 / N.B. 3&4. In summary, many events occur on the last day of this age. It shall be a time of great joy and gladness for the people of God, though a time of great change too. It will be the last day of five things: 1. The Mystery of God 2. The Mystery of Satan 3. The Times of the Gentiles 4. The Fullness of the Gentiles 5. The Age of Grace

 

It will also be the day of the last trumpet (1Cor.15:32) and it will be the day of the resurrection of the Christians and will occur just before the Saints begin to reign: John.6:39,40,44,54;11:24;12:48.

 

This is the day of the first resurrection, and it is certainly not a secret resurrection.

 

Three key signs are recorded on the earth on this day:

 

1. It will be accompanied with tremendous noise: 1Thes.4:13-18; Is.27:13; Mt.24:31; Rev.19:6. 11:15.

 

2. It will be accompanied with tremendous glory and a blaze of light: Mt.24:27; Lk.17:24; Is.24:23; Rev.19:11-16.

 

3. It will be accompanied by a rocking heaven and earth. There will be great earthquakes: Is.24:18-20; Joel.2:30-32; Zech.14 all; Mt.24:29; 2Pet.3:10-13; Rev.6:12-17; 11:13,19; 16:18,20,21.

 

As Bill Turner records in his Preface ‘A secret rapture? Never! Never! Never!’.

 

Signs and wonders done by those Christians who are ‘her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus’ Rev. 12:17

 

At the time of the prophesy referred to in Rev. 12 there are other prophesies such as in Joel 2 that speak of many signs and wonders being done by the Christians of these times. The Christian Church will be of full stature in terms of the operation of spiritual gifts and this will be why the numbers of Christians in that region will markedly increase; such that the present-day number to Jewish Christians in Israel could very quickly increase.

 

The strength of the Christians through the darkness of those days will be their supply of oil. Oil is a figurative word to mean ‘indwelt by the Holy Spirit (the fulfilment/antitype of oil in Scripture) an olive tree (collectively, the Mount of Olives); (figuratively) the people of God’ to quote Strong’s Concordance on Rev.11:4. The full passage of Rev 11:1-14 describes the time before the seventh and last trumpet of the Tribulation when these two witnesses operate for 1,260 days i.e., 12months or 3.5yrs. All Christians who operate with this anointing will be able to see them through to the midnight hour of his coming, note the parable of the ten virgins in Matt. 25:1-13; having this oil in their lamps has the figurative meaning of a supply of the uncreated power of God the Holy Spirit to propel and empower them; Greek: ‘dunamis’. This oil is empowering the two witnesses to prophesy; Rev 11:3-6 ‘... And I will empower my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” These witnesses are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouths and devours their enemies. In this way, anyone who wants to harm them must be killed. These witnesses have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall during the days of their prophecy, and power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish’ BSB. This is the type of anointing that we read of at the time of Elijah and Elisha the prophets in the books of 1 & 2 Kings. Note Elijah’s prayer on mount Carmel; 1Kings 18:36-39 reads ‘At the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet approached the altar and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and have done all these things at Your command. 37Answer me, O LORD! Answer me, so that this people will know that You, the LORD, are God, and that You have turned their hearts back again.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and it licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell facedown and said, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!”’ BSB

 

These witnesses testified and prophesied against the Antichrist for we read in Rev. 11:7

‘then the two witnesses have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will wage war with them, and will overpower and kill them’ where the Antichrist and his followers gloats over them. ‘But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered the two witnesses, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell upon those who saw them. And the witnesses heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud as their enemies watched them’. (Rev.11:11-12 BSB)

 

God, through his unbounded love has offered the anointing of His Holy Spirit to all who call upon Him and this can be to such a degree that many will see God’s signs, wonders and miracles working through them. This is what is prophesied in Rev.11:1-14 where these two witnesses who are part of the Christian people at that time; they operate in the knowledge of both the Old and New Testament truths as per the vision of the woman in Rev.12:1 and they apprehend the significance and need for an anointing and supply of power from God’s Holy Spirit to see them through those dark days.

The prophesies of the Revelation 12 are still to come but will come at the fulness of time and will come at the appointed time when the signs will not only be self-apparent to those knowledgeable of the prophesies but will be clear in terms of the revelation of heavenly truth and manifest to all in those days.

Prophesy is alive

Prophecy is alive in its meanings as it is imparted from the Father and spoken by Jesus the Word of God. As such it can often be relevant and applicable to different circumstances. For example, Psalm 23 is prophetic as it is relevant to the shepherds of old, telling them to rely on Father God as they rely on their staff, also to remember that when bereavement comes then he is always with us, like a faithful shepherd to see us through a dark valley, and it alsoforthtells the day when we shall meet him at his ‘banqueting table’. In this was the prophesies are set down in layers, as we might read sedimentary rocks. We see through a glass darkly 1Cor.13:12, but in due course, after the fulfilment of the prophesy it because plain. Such insight through the prophetic word is a privilege which we cannot fully comprehend. It is as if we look through different layers of glass, some of the layers are coloured different and sometimes beautiful colours, sometimes they are clear layers of glass, sometimes they show darker colours, but they can be seen and are there. However, it is paramount that we have the eyes of faith to see them. They are there to speak to and equip many generations and many peoples.

The prophets recorded in the scriptures, as do prophets today, forthtold as they received the divine revelations. To our C21 mind we might expect to read of such events in history and those to come as a timeline, however we often read of events as they were revealed to the prophets in an order of magnitude and importance as seen in the realm of heaven rather than as a timeline or a linear event. In this way the prophet Isaiah and others often forthtold of events as if they were viewing a different mountain ranges set one behind others; it is difficult to see which mountain range is set before another, so the scene is often described in a two-dimensional format. Similarly, it is not easy for people to comprehend every aspect of the heavenly realm and this is certainly the case in prophesy. Jesus did receive revelations from the Father on matters of time, sometimes it was clear, sometimes veiled. Upon receiving prophesy, some of the prophets did enquire of God concerning the times and seasons of that prophesy. For example the prophet Daniel who was told to ‘shut up these words and seal the book until the time of the end’ Dan. 12:3,4, and this is why Jesus was so careful explain the prophesies and the signs that will accompany the times of the end (Mt. 24). God loves intimacy and friendship in his relationship with us, he wants to be our partner so that we might understand his words to us and help others understand too. If it is possible then the Father will give up the knowledge of these times, though on occasions he will veil it from us. Mark 13:28-32 (also see Mt. 24:32-51; Luke 12:29-48) reads ‘Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branches become tender and sprout leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things happening, know that He is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on your guard and stay alert! For you do not know when the appointed time will come.’ During his earthly ministry the Son of Man was not told concerning the ‘day or the hour’ of his coming, yet he was certainly told the times and seasons that would be present to the generation that would see these signs. As the risen exalted Son of God Jesus would certainly be aware of the ‘day and the hour’ of His Coming.

 

However, on some occasions during His earthly ministry Jesus was told times, specific even to the hour and moment. John 12:23 reads ‘But Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.’ Jesus knew the very hour he should die; the moment had been set in the prophetic calendar. It was to fulfil prophecy to the letter. He died at the time of the evening sacrifice, 483 years after the going forth of the command to re-build Jerusalem. See further reference to this prophesy below. This and many other prophesies were fulfilled by Jesus the hour when the son of man was glorified.

 

On other occasions Jesus held back prophetic information concerning future events from his disciples until her knew they could bear it. In this way Jesus tempered his overwhelming manifest love for the people with guardianship. Jesus knew that in the earlier part of his ministry that his testimony would be rejected by many. John 3:23 reads ‘He (Jesus) testifies to what He has seen and heard, yet no one accepts His testimony’ and that it would bring hardship and persecution to his followers. John 16:1-4 reads ‘“I have told you these things so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do these things because they have not known the Father or Me. But I have told you these things so that when their hour comes, you will remember that I told you about them. I did not tell you these things from the beginning, because I was with you.’ BSB Jesus knew that only mature Christians, those fully equipped with an understanding of the events, and full of the Holy Spirit would stand in the times of persecution. Acts 7:54-57 reads ‘On hearing this, the members of the Sanhedrin were enraged, and they gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked intently into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears, cried out in a loud voice, and rushed together at him. They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.’ BSB

 

On yet other occasions Jesus told them in advance to comfort, inform and strengthen his followers. John 14:2 reads ‘“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in Me as well. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”’. BSB

 

The foretelling of prophesy is sometimes clear, sometimes veiled. If, after asking of the times and seasons we are still not told then they are veiled by the Father for a reason so that our eyes of faith are exercised. This is how He engages with us today regarding the second coming of Jesus; it is always to attract our character to grow in grace and faith. When veiled these truths are hidden in a certain type of mystery which is illogical to the kingdom of darkness; yet it gives strength to the Christian who is then able to draw upon the hidden mysteries of God and so deal in the currencies of heaven. In this way Mt. 6:10 ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.’ From His bountiful resource we then know that He alone is our strength.

 

It is a mystery not because it is unknown but because it is hidden from the common view, its currency is the currency of faith and so we can view these mysteries, but only with the eyes of faith in and through Jesus. Such mysteries confound Satanic powers. In the same way the gift of tongues as recorded in the New Testament is given to Christians to confound the powers of darkness and to wreak havoc as we engage in spiritual warfare against the kingdom of darkness. Equipped with His graces and His anointing then we can be mighty for God, 2Cor. 10:4 reads ‘For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds’.

 

It is notable that the translators of scripture remark when Christ spoke a language which addressed and broke dark powers. Mark 5:41 reads ‘Taking her by the hand, Jesus said, ‘Talitha koum!’ which means, Little girl, I say to you, get up!’’ Matt.27:46,47 reads ‘About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ When some of those standing there heard this, they said, ‘He is calling Elijah’’ (BSB). Jesus spoke a different language on the cross and likewise will speak so when giving commands from heaven, yet through vision and dreams and the prophetic word He tenderly leads us, He does not confuse us and because of His quiet promptings we can know His heart and follow His leadings.

 

It is said by scientists that time is just an inconvenience to stop everything happening all at once, and similarly it seems so when we try to comprehend our Father God and his dealings with us. Sometimes, it seems that the prophets did not get the timeframe of events simply because they did not ask for it in order of time, at other times God’s currency of developing our faith through these difficulties is of more paramount importance. If prophesies spoke of only of dates and times, then they would lead to much laziness and spiritual apathy in the people and churches who would simply sleep to the midnight hour when the bridegroom came or slumber unto beyond the third watch when the thief came see reference to these respective parables referred to below. Instead of apathy and laziness the prophesies should engender prayer and yearning, a seeking of the believer to find the truths contained therein. In this way we can be prepared so that each generation and / or the generation(s) to follow are prepared and ready through each event in history. Without this preparation, as with any war then lives can be needlessly wasted and lost. Our enemy is both deceptive and aggressive in pursuing our demise, how important it is to be fully prepared and armed Eph. 6:10-20

 

Dates and times may be unclear to us, and we might see much in vision and prophesy which can be a puzzle to us.1 Cor. 13:12 ‘For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known’ KJV

 

We read in Matt. 24:2 that Jesus prophesied concerning the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem ‘And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’ Jesus knew that in this time to come would be perilous for the early Christians and that it would occur in their lifetimes, yet Jesus did not give the date or time of these events the disciples. However, this warning given by Jesus was remembered by both Peter and the later apostle Paul as it gave strength and meaning to them during the persecution that came upon them. In fact, both of these men and many other men, women and children who had faith in and identified with Christ lost their lives at this forthtold time of the Romano-Jewish wars 66- 70AD.

 

Jesus therefore does not lead us to stray nor allow us to be un-prepared. Times and dates and their accuracy in the order of events are not random, they occur with pinpoint accuracy. Jesus fulfilled to the letter the prophesies concerning the Suffering Messiah. An example being the time ‘from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks’ Dan 9:25 was exactly 483 years. From the moment the command to restore Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus to Nehemiah to go to Jesusalem to re-build the walls and restore the city, to the moment of Jesus’s death on the cross at 3.00pm on the day of preparation for ‘an high day’, a special sabbath of the feast, not the ordinary weekly sabbath, which was two days later (John 19:30-31; Lev. 23:6-11). This event took place 483 years after the setting in motion of the great prophesy of Daniel when the heathen king gave command to Nehemiah to go and re-build the walls of Jerusalem. The death of Jesus occurred not a moment more nor a moment less than at the time forth told in this prophesy. See below for further reference to Bill Turner, Alister Hamilton and others who have done this study.

 

Three of the gospel writers were specific about the time of Jesus’ death; Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-49 and Matt. 27:45-54 where we read ‘Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard [that], said, This [man] calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled [it] with vinegar, and put [it] on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.’

 

Jesus died on the day of preparation before a special sabbath of the feast. This was the day of butchering of the lambs. Ex. 12:5 reads ‘Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening’. KJV

This day of preparation was Tuesday sunset to Wednesday sunset for John 19:31 records that the next day was ‘an high day’, a special sabbath of the feast, not the ordinary weekly sabbath, which was two days later (Lev. 23:6-11)..

 

It is specifically recorded that Jesus died at the nineth hour. The nineth hour is 3.00pm when the Passover lambs and other sacrifices were offered (see Dake’s Commentary on Mk. 15:34 (b): Matt. 12:40 (r): Matt. 27:50 (s) and John 19:31 (p)). Jesus died after being on the cross six hours. At the last ‘Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost’ (Matt. 27:50) which indicates that he had normal strength until the end and that He volunteered the time of His death (John 10:18). Jesus ‘gave up the ghost’, he knew when his time was complete and this is when he voluntarily cried out with a loud voice ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ and died.

 

Bodies were not to hang all night (Dt. 21:22-23) and it was for this reason that the Jews wanted the bodies on the crosses removed before the next day, which was a sabbath day.

 

It was un-usual for those crucified to die so soon as it is recorded that the Jews wanted the bodies removed that day, so when the command went out to break the legs of those crucified it is recorded as being unusual to find that Jesus had already died.

 

John 19:30-36 reads: ‘When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished.” And bowing His head, He yielded up His spirit. It was the day of Preparation, and the next day was a High Sabbath. In order that the bodies would not remain on the cross during the Sabbath, the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies removed. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. The one who saw it has testified to this, and his testimony is true. He knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. Now these things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of His bones will be broken.” And, as another Scripture says: “They will look on the One they have pierced.”’ (see Zechariah 12:10–14).

 

Jesus knew the prophesies and knew the times. Luke 9:22 records Jesus ‘Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day’ and Matt. 12:40 reads ‘For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’. KJV

 

So, Jesus was put in the grave just before sunset on that Wednesday and as He was dead for three full days and three full nights then it would follow on that He was resurrected just before sunset on Saturday. There is no reference to Jesus dying on a Friday and rising on a Sunday. Our Good Friday should be changed to Good Wednesday.

 

If prophesy is so specific in respect of time, then there is no reason to discount the notion that the command of Artaxerxes might have been given at this time too i.e., the time of the evening sacrifice. It is interesting to note that it was also at the time of the evening sacrifice when Daniel received the prophesy of the Seventy Weeks for we read in Dan.9:21 ‘while I was still praying, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice’.

 

The visions and prophesies of the Old Testament forth told of the death of Jesus on the cross and looked forward to the time of the Messiah’s coming again and the following Millennium. The great prophesies that we find in the books of Isaiah, Psalms and elsewhere are exacting in their detail.

 

The following two studies provide much needed insight into these prophesies. Each study includes an excellent summary and diagrammatic understanding of the relation of these prophesies to the fulfilment of time when Jesus died on the cross follow on with the prophesies which relate to times yet to come. See www.prophetbillturner.com Study #23 P.99 Appendix 3 and www.truthforthelastdays.com ‘The Visions of Daniel’ pages 5-9. Appendix 1 of this study includes a chart which is extracted from each of the above studies and is entitled ‘Daniel’s 70 Weeks of Years’.

 

In the visions of Daniel, Jesus impresses upon Daniel the importance of ‘the appointed time of the end’. This is made clear in Dan 8:19 ‘and said, “Behold, I will make known to you what will happen in the latter time of wrath, because it concerns the appointed time of the end.’ Dan. 11:27 ‘And the two kings (of the south and the north), with their hearts bent on evil, will speak lies at the same table, but to no avail, for still the end will come at the appointed time’ Dan. 11:29 ‘At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time will not be like the first.’ Dan. 11:35 ‘Some of the wise will fall, so that they may be refined, purified, and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.’ BSB

 

So it is that ‘at the appointed time he shall come’. Jesus will come to defeat the Antichrist who will ‘come in peaceably and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant. And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully’ Dan 11:21-22 KJV.

 

God’s timing is not random or arbitrary, it is perfect! Jesus died exactly at the right time, to the hour, for it reads in John 17:1 ‘When Jesus had spoken these things, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You’ and in Matt. 26:45 ‘Then He returned to the disciples and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.’ BSB. Other references to the hour being at hand are found in Mk. 14:41; Lk. 22:14; Jn. 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23,27; 13:1.

Satan tried to kill Jesus before His time had come. Several times we read of these events from infancy and the slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem through to His rejection at Nazareth and through to the cross. If Satan had done so, then he would have defeated God’s plan for redemption, however through all of those earlier times in His ministry Jesus was kept, garrisoned and guarded by God and His angels. Jesus had to get to the cross to spoil Satanic powers and triumphed over them and this was to occur at a pre-determined set time. The prophesies were clear, and Jesus fulfilled His ministry and the prophesies even to this very moment in time.

 

Likewise, we can expect pinpoint accuracy regarding the fulfilment of the last seven years of the prophesies and the fulfilling of this age.

 

This great prophesy of Daniel was received from Jesus via the messenger angel Gabriel and specified the timeframe in terms of what is referred to as ‘weeks’. The complex set of events contained in this prophesy are revealed in these terms to Daniel so that he can articulate them sufficiently well for its reading in the ensuing generations. The book of Daniel was written from Babylon and Shushan about 606 or 616 to 536BC i.e., some 2,600years before the events of our time. Dan. 12:4 reads ‘But you, Daniel, shut up these words and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will roam to and fro, and knowledge will increase.”’ BSB

 

It is amazing to know that prophesy can ark across manty generations and still be active and alive today. Heb. 4:12-13 reads ‘For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account’. BSB

 

The full text reads in Daniel 25-27 ‘Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and thatdetermined shall be poured upon the desolate.’ KJV

 

For a much fuller understanding of this great prophesy go to www.thesecretofeternallife.com by Bill Turner and www.truth forthelastdays.com by Bill Turner, Alister Hamilton and others.

 

These scriptures are also reference to the determined time span apparent at the of the end of the age for ‘he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.’ This is a specific number of days and is recorded as such in the Book of Revelation. It is not more nor less than those days. Mark 13:20, Matt. 24:21-22 reads ‘For at that time there will be great tribulation, unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again. If those days had not been cut short, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short.’ So, with pinpoint accuracy these days are specifically measured and set in accordance with the Father’s will; See Matt. 6:10 and Luke 11:2 which reads ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth’.

 

The fulfilling of the prophesies of the 70th week is evidenced by numerous forthtold sign as referred to later. For example, one key event appears to be a full ‘banqueting house’ Matt. 22:11-14 and Luke 14:15-24 esp. v. 22,23 which read ‘And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my house may be filled’ At which time we are bidden to ‘sup with him and he with us’ for it is the time to ‘to taste of my supper’ Luke 14:24, It is the time of the great banquet. Rev. 3:20 reads ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me.’ Ps. 23:6b ‘... and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever’The parable of the banqueting house is referred to later in this study as it helps us to understand the signs and seasons prior to the end of the age and is referred to again later in this study. Other parables and teachings of Jesus also give us insight into the times and seasons of the last days of this age and told his disciples to watch for them.

 

Mark 13:28, Luke 21:29-33 and Matt. 24:32-35 all record how we are to understand the specific time and season to which he refers to prior to his appearing; ‘Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branches become tender and sprout leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you will know that He is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.’

 

Jesus makes it clear that his coming again will be ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days’ i.e., after the signs forthtold which will occur prior to those specific days. Matt. 24:27, 29-31 reads ‘... ‘For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man’ ... ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days: ‘The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’ At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end ofthe heavens to the other.’

 

He is not coming with a secret ‘rapture’, this is a word not found in the scriptures, but as the lightening ‘lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west’ when... ‘all the tribes of the earth will mourn’ all peoples and nations groups will see him. He is coming with ‘a loud trumpet’, and ‘They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory’, This is the fanfare at the arrival of the bridegroom as referred to in other scriptures too.

To whom is the call made?

All are called to understand the prophesies. They are not to be hidden or denied. The common people understood the messages of Jesus.

 

The prophets of old held many different professions. They were not necessarily the theologians of their day, but they saw in vision and faithfully recorded the words of truth which they received from God. Abraham. Isaac and Jacob were farmers, Moses was a shepherd as were Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king etc. Neither were Jesus’s disciples’ theologians nor were they trained at the school of the rabbis. Instead, Jesus knew that God wished to use new wineskins for what was to come was the new wine of the Spirit baptism. (Luke 5:38, Acts 2:1-4).

 

The times of waiting are times of preparing, not times of slackness and rest

 

When Jesus was born, few knew the signs and those who did were the least to expect it. Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah were surprised at his coming, there was no prior knowledge of the events to follow. However, Simeon and Anna who were acknowledged as prophets and who spent time in the temple were waiting for his coming. There is no reference in the scriptures to them having been theologians or rabbis, yet like the prophets of old who were often farmers or tradesmen, God used them. The name Simeon means ‘God receiver’ and this is what he did.

 

The shepherds and the Magi had received an invitation to the birth and responded, but it seems that the religious leaders of that day made no effort to follow up on the news or grasp its significance. They should have known and been extremely glad of the news and its overwhelming significance for them and their people.

 

Instead, we read that when Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem and Herod received their news, it was he who took the news seriously. He believed their report. He knew who would have and where he could find the repositories of the prophesies of old as we read that he enquired of his chief religious advisers, likely from the Temple elite of his day. Herod commanded them to study the scriptures concerning a king to be born and they not only found that information but because of the news received through the king and the Magi would have known that it was contemporary with their circumstances.

 

The prophesy which they found is profound as it relates to both the first and second coming of the Messiah. Micah:5:1-6 reads ‘Now, O daughter of troops, mobilize your troops; for a siege is laid against us! With a rod they will strike the cheek of the judge of Israel. But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come forth for Me One to be ruler over Israel — One whose origins are of old, from the days of eternity. Therefore Israel will be abandoned until she who is in labour has given birth; then the rest of His brothers will return to the children of Israel.He will stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of the LORD His God. And they will dwell securely, for then His greatness will extend to the ends of the earth. And He will be our peace when Assyria invades our land and tramples our citadels. We will raise against it seven shepherds, even eight leaders of men. And they will rule the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod with the blade drawn. So He will deliver us when Assyria invades our land and marches into our borders’.

 

It is worth noting the strategic importance of this prophesy. From the birth of the coming King in Bethlehem to the tenderness of a Shepherd, to King Messiah who is the Man of Peace, to the Deliverer of the peoples from the Assyrian who will come into their land with the sword and treads within their borders. The second part of the prophesy is still to come. It cross- references to the seven headed beast followed by the eighth and last head which is the rule of the Antichrist, referred to in Micah as the Assyrian, it is he who invades Israel. This refers to the future time written of in Rev.13:1-10 where v.4b reads ‘“Who is like the beast, and who can wage war against it?”’ BSB. Only Jesus is able to wage this war.

 

The prophesy in Micah 5:1-6 is referred to in Matt.2:4-6 which reads ‘And when he had assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of My people Israel.’” BSB.

 

The advisers who told Herod would also be the priests and scribes to the people, yet we read nothing more about the news being passed to the people. There is no reference to them preparing for the glorious arrival of the King. For 30 years they could have prepared the people for the days to come. Instead, we read that later the Pharisees and Scribes, in the main, rejected the ministry of Jesus.

 

Yet Herod was someone who took the prophesies seriously. He was cunning because he knew the importance of keeping the Jews on side, also that if he could uncover these prophesies and the chief priests and scribes would divulge them then he would act on them accordingly. He understood not only the smallness of the child but also the greatness of his destiny as a Ruler in Israel. He realised the significance of the prophesy and its threat to him, so he enquired when the star had first appeared. This had devastating consequences for it is recorded that later that when filed with rage at having been deceived by the Magi, Herod had killed all the boys of Bethlehem who were two years old and under. In this cruel event, though it is unlikely that he enquired of others on the matter, he had fulfilled the prophesy of Jeremiah 31:1-25 especially v.15 which reads ‘This is what the LORD says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”’ BSB This prophesy is cited in Matt.2:18 and it is likely that after the event in Bethlehem the same religious leaders who had told Herod of the prophesy of Micah 5:1-6 also dug to find the prophesy in Jeremiah, which they would have been cognisant of so that it became part of the oral tradition at that time. However, by the beginning of Jesus’ ministry some 30 years later there may have been a different set of ruling Pharisees as they did not recognise the ministry of Jesus as being the fulfilment of so many prophesies. However, Jesus taught his followers well so that by the time Matthew wrote his gospel in Judea traditionally around 37AD, he had been taught how to discern the prophesies of old. Though knowledgeable of them, the religious leaders often failed to realise their significance. It was only the application of the Holy Spirit to the words of old that brought them to life and much of this illumination came to Matthew and his contemporaries after the fire and anointing came upon them, first through the ministry of Jesus but then too in his stead when the Holy Spirit came upon them on the Day of Pentecost. Luke 24:48,49 reads ‘And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.’ KJV Those whose hearts were open, dug deep, found the answers, and realised their significance.

 

History records that Herod was known to contact the Temple elite on matters of destiny. Simon Sebag Montefiore in his book ‘Jerusalem, The Biography’ gives an excellent historical account of the man. The scriptures record that prophecy is for the unbeliever as well as believers. Paul records in 1Cor.14:24-25 ‘But if an unbeliever or uninstructed person comes in while everyone is prophesying, he will be convicted and called to account by all, and the secrets of his heart will be made known. So he will fall facedown and worship God, proclaiming, “God is truly among you!”’. BSB

 

Like Herod the people also took the news of the prophets seriously, they recognised John the Baptist as a prophet and Jesus as the Messiah, and it was the common people who were both Jews and Gentiles who knew and understood him for in John 4:1-26 we read ‘The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When He comes, He will explain everything to us.” Jesus answered, “I who speak to you am He.”’ And in John 7:42 we read ‘“Hath not the Scripture said that Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?”’ KJV

 

Yet in the case of Herod, as with Pharaoh, his heart had become so callous and hardened that he put in place a defence against the overrule of Yahweh God and His plans. He was corrupted in his vision and thought that he could overrule in the affairs of men. This was a seed of Satan which took root in his heart. However, God overrules in the affairs of both men and fallen angels and though there may be delay there is never denial in his ways and works.

Now is the time to seek to know the prophesies of old

Now is surely the right season to re-visit the prophesies of His coming. 2 Kings 23:2 reads

‘And he went up to the house of the LORD with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as well as the priests and the prophets--all the people small and great--and in their hearing he read all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.’ As shared by prophets today, we stand on the shoulders of giants to know of those who have gone before, to proclaim the hidden truths of old for our hearing and to be heeded as a warning and for encouragement too as we face these distressing and uncertain times.

 

As an example, the writer is blessed to have known Bill Turner www.prophetbillturner.com who was both humble and gracious enough to have served fellow Christians by retrieving from the depths of the ocean of Father’s heart hidden treasures and prophesies which have been there all along but now come alive under the anointing of His Spirit for us today.

 

1 Cor 14:1-4 Prophecy and Tongues ‘1Earnestly pursue love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. 2For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3But he who prophesies speaks to men for their edification, encouragement, and comfort. 4The one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.’ BSB

 

2 Peter 1:19-21 ‘We also have the word of the prophets as confirmed beyond doubt. And you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation. For no such prophecy was ever brought forth by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the HolySpirit.’ BSB

 

The prophets keep on asking of Messiah’s coming

Isaiah 63:1 Who is this? v.2 Wherefore art thou? v.11 Where is he? v. 17 Why hast thou?

 

Bill Turner’s talk on ‘Puzzles’ notes the parables and dark sayings e.g., of Daniel, Revelation as key to equipping the saints and foiling the enemy who cannot comprehend the truth. This is one reason why the gift of tongues is so important to equip the saints in the last days, the mind may often be unfruitful, but the bastion of prayer is very great in the spirit realm in tongues and it batters the kingdom of darkness, who cannot comprehend either the depth and knowledge of tongues nor the dark sayings and puzzles of Jesus, but we His prophets know our God and his truth shines from above to overwhelm the enemy of souls.

 

In this way too prophets and saints are able to discern 'the signs of the times'

 

Prophesies simply frame the landscape. At one National Trust site is placed a frame but no picture, instead the frame overlooks a valley and by looking at the frame you see beyond it the valley and landscape which it frames.

 

I have seen many rainbows, many signs of promise and prophesies fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled.

 

The time is now at hand, nearby....

 

Whilst Jesus was with the people. He was able to work, Luke 13:12, Luke 24:29

 

John 9:4,5: ‘While it is daytime, we must do the works of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”’

 

1 Peter 4:7 ‘The end of all things is near. Therefore, be clear-minded and sober, so that you can pray'

 

Today the bridegroom is waiting, our hope is to come, we are to ‘leave father and mother’ and gain much more and understanding of the kingdom to come. We are to move on from the milk of the word to the meat. 1 Corinthians 3:1–9

 

Hebrews 5:11 – 6:11... ‘We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain, because you are dull of hearing. Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to reteach you the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food!

 

For everyone who lives on milk is still an infant, inexperienced in the message of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained their senses to distinguish good from evil.

 

Therefore, let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits.’

 

John 7:37-39, Hebrews 6:7-9,12 ‘For land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is tended receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless, and its curse is imminent. In the end it will be burned. Even though we speak like this, beloved, we are convinced of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation... imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.’

 

Persecution has dramatically increased against Christians in C21

 

There is empirical evidence to show that persecution has dramatically increased against Christians, particularly since 2021.

 

The Open Doors World Watch List shows a marked increase in persecution 2014-2019/20 such that countries now need 21% more points to be included in the top 50 countries on the list and there are now 11 countries in the Extreme Levels of Perception Category compared with just one in 2014. Furthermore, globally, three key areas are identified as sources of that persecution 1) Atheistic States e.g., North Korea, China, Vietnam 2) Religious Nationalism e.g., Islam in Iran, Pakistan; Hinduism in India 3) Extreme Islamic ideology.

 

The theologian and academic Ron Boyd-MacMillan has studied these trends for many years and comments that the level of persecution against Christians tended to stabilise in the late 20C through to 2012, though from that time on has dramatically increased year on year. Two events occurred at that time that may significant tailback consequences, though there are many more that have compounded since. The first of note is that the civil war in Syria began in 2011. This war built on the de-stabilisation that took place in the neighbouring country of Iraq following the Iraq War there in 2003-2008. This has released a significant new threat of Islamic Extremism against Christians. The second is the rise of autocratic ruler who operate under the guise of secular nationalism, examples being North Korea and China. It is notable that in China Xi Jin-Ping came to lead the Chinese Communist Party in 2012 and in many ways has turned the clock back 50 years to the time of Chairman Mao Zedong in terms of religious freedoms offered to Christians. He has continually increased his hold on political power and removed time limits on his term limits for the leadership of the CCP. Russia has also seen the rise of government by autocracy when on 06 April 2021 legislation there was passed allowing him to hold office for two additional six-year terms, opening the possibility for him to stay in power until 2036. The 68-year-old Russian leader, who has already been in power for more than two decades. As well as the rise of state nationalism there has been a rise of religious nationalism as seen in Turkey under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan who came to power in 2014, and in India since the BJP party came to power in 2014.

 

Many other factors hold sway in the mix of potency brought against Christians and as we approach the End-times, like the weather-vain siting on the top of a house, the wind changes and all things suddenly point in a different direction. The other key factor which we see as the End-times approaching is in respect of the litmus paper of global events and that is with regards to the nation and state of Israel. As Bill Turner relates in his video ‘Teaching on the Book of Revelation’ (Edited).divx, as the End-times approach then Biblical prophesies relate to the coming together, the re-connecting of Christian teaching and purpose with the nation of Israel and its part in those prophesies. The two are inter-twinned, in-separable to the to the picture as we see the whole.

 

Note Satan’s third temptation of Jesus was the temptation of national dominance, Luke 4:5-8

‘Then the devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. “I will give You authority over all these kingdoms and all their glory,” he said. “For it has been relinquished to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish. So if You worship me, it will all be Yours.” But Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” Instead of compromise with the nations, Jesus is the One who brings judgement upon them. Satan knew that the Messiah would bring judgement on the nations, not compromise; hence this severe temptation for Jesus to succeed without going to the Cross or fulfilling the prophesies. However, Jesus knew the prophesies and this bread from the Father sustained him against the Slanderer’s temptations.

 

God is speaking today through the mouths of the prophets (Acts 3:18)

 

The Coming of the Messiah was the key-note speech, the main-focus, the point of reference for all of the prophets See Acts 3:21 ‘Heaven must take Him in until the time comes for the restoration of all things, which God announced long ago through His holy prophets.’ BSB

 

Patriarchs foretold his coming:

Jacob prophesied Jesus Gen 49:10 ‘The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.’

 

Prophets spoke the signs Isaiah 7:14 ‘Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and she will call Him Immanuel.’

 

Angels came as messengers with the news Luke 1:30-32 ‘30So the angel (Gabriel) told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David...’ BSB

 

Their accuracy is beyond human reasoning; even the advisers of Herod knew of the power of prophesy, they reasoned from the ancient scriptures that the Messiah king had been foretold and was to be born in Bethlehem

 

Men and women were foretold: Joseph: ‘And having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

 

Matthew wrote: ‘17In all, then, there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.’ Matt 1:17 BSB His timing is perfect.

 

Crowds of people knew: Matt 21:11: ‘The crowds replied, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."’

 

We stand on the shoulders of giants; as did Peter, in his address to the crowds in Acts 2:14-36 where referred to the patriarch David (Psalm 16:1-11), the prophesies of Joel before declaring in v.36 ‘Therefore let all Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ!”

 

As of old, men and angels declare. Daniel sought God as a follow on from reading of the book of Jeremiah to know when the 70 years had passed for the release of the people from Babylon; and in seeking to know, received the revelation of a much more over-arching time frame, the coming of the Messiah, Him being ‘cut off’ and Him coming again at the end of the age. Yet another prophet, Nehemiah, became the mouthpiece through which the time clock of His coming was to come to pass. Note Gabriel's Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks:

 

Daniel 9:24-26

 

...24Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city to stop their transgression, to put an end to sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. 25Know and understand this: From the issuance of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the Messiah, the Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of distress.26Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and will have nothing. Then the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood, and until the end there will be war; desolations have been decreed....

 

It is as though the prophets of old engaged in an amazing ‘dance’ with the Spirit of the living God so that all kept in tune rhythm and motion. Together the true prophets added each to the whole. We too are invited in to join in this corporate dance 1 Cor 14:1-4. As with the maypole dance each prophet's ribbon adds to the beauty of the pattern down the pole. Together a story is told. Let us join in the maypole dance, he is glad to offer us a ribbon, we dance with our ribbon under and over the other ribbons to create together the patterns for today. The tight patterns on the maypole represent the overlapping prophesies ‘... so that you might understand that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.’ Deut. 8:2, Matt 4:4, Lu 4:4.

 

We too can engage with the Spirit of the living God. We too can find the answers to these puzzles and ‘dark sayings’ for our day. John 1:5 ‘And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.’ No word shall ever fail. Neither shall his word fail for this age.

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PART TWO: THE FULNESS OF TIME

PART THREE: KEY DETERMINATES OF 'THE APPOINTED TIME'

APPENDIX