by Wendy Wippel
Peter wrote his second epistle in order to warn us that, ”scoffers” would come, ”saying, Where is the promise of His coming?” and denying the reality of the prophetic word. Check again, scoffers; God told us to watch, and He gave us chronological signposts. And according to them, we’re at the door.
This prophecy in and of itself gives me goosebumps, as the implication is that these scoffers will be believers. And we see that around us, as more and churches sweep the prophetic Scriptures (i.e. by far the majority of the Holy Book) under the rug as embarrassing (Brian McLaren), or distracting (Rick Warren), or of interest to only those with “fundamentalist tendencies”. (Roger Olson)
Or even dangerous. Tony Campolo says (of people who believe that God has prophesied Israel’s history in advance) that “Their doctrines” play a part in “American policies” and can “can only lead to war” (p. 215).
I’m not sure what version they’re using; mine makes it pretty clear that we’re supposed to be paying attention. And that from the mouth of Jesus Himself:
Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. (Luke 12:37 NKJV)
“When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. (Matthew 16:3)
And when Jesus, (having imparted a lot of prophecy to His disciples) was asked shortly before His crucifixion,
“Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
He didn’t tell His disciples to just concentrate on evangelism; He filled them in. He told them what to watch for.
The reality is that God expects us to watch, and to know how to forecast.
I had a doctor’s appointment last week and one of the Reader’s Digests I read cover to cover while I waited had a feature article entitled “What your Weatherman Won’t Tell You”. One was that anything past about a 3-day forecast was total fantasy. But I think we’ve all surmised that.
The other was that a “Watch” means there’s a possibility, quite possible remote, that something might happen in the near future. A warning is a virtual certainty.
And if you’re paying attention, I’m thinking we’re starting to leave “watch” in the dust. Why?
Because there are a whole lot of things predicted to exist at the time of Christ’s return that did not exist for very long before right now.
1) July 16, 1945: An ability for the whole human race to obliterate itself in a short amount of time. Matthew 24:22
In what I call our penchant for “twisted travel”, my family once visited the Trinity Test Site (open only 5 hours the first Saturdays of April and October, to avoid excessive radiation exposure to employees), the site where the first atom bomb was tested. When that bomb went off (turning a 100-foot tall steel tower into a piddly little puddle of metal on the Arizona desert), the capability of all of mankind being eradicated simultaneously had come to be. Robert Oppenheimer, project head, fittingly, quoted the Bhagavad Gita, saying, “I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds”. And it wasn’t long before frantic stockpiling of nuclear weapons caused;
1) scientists to create the doomsday clock, and 2) the world to hold its’ collective breath as avoidance of world annihilation depended on “mutually assured destruction”.
2) May 15, 1948: A Jewish homeland re-established in the Middle East.
All of the end-time Scriptures assume Israel, back in the land, and, in fact, united again (as it had not been since the days of Solomon), a reality today despite the fact that, given 2000 years of dispersion to every corner of the world, their existence back in the land is, to say the least, a statistical impossibility. Renowned Israeli physicist Leon Lederman (atheist), when asked by renowned Israeli physicist Leon Lederman (Orthodox) if there was anything in human existence that could legitimately be considered supernatural, Lederman grudgingly replied that the existence of Israel, as a nation and back in its own land after 2000 years of exile, was “kind of spooky”.
Spooky, but an absolute necessity for other prophecies to be fulfilled.
3) September 19, 1946-2014: A unification of Europe and Northern Africa, reconstructing the old Roman Empire.
The magnitude of desolation inflicted on Europe prompted Winston Churchill to contemplate ways to avoid ever having a third world war. What he finally hit on was conveyed to the battered survivors of WW2 at the University of Zurich on September 19, 1946:
“There is a remedy which … would in a few years make all Europe … free and … happy. It is to re-create the European family, or as much of it as we can, and to provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe.”
As of today, there are 28 member nations of the European Union.
But the original Roman Empire included parts of Arabia too.
Enter former President of France, Nicholas Sarkozy, who thought up the Union for the Mediterranean as a way of including the Arab nations into the happy EU family and thus foster world peace. Born July 13, 2008, the Union for the Mediterranean now includes 44 nations, and covers a land mass virtually identical to the total land holdings of the Roman Empire.
With one exception. So far, Iraq has declined to participate. But with ISIS in charge (as of June 2014)? The reunification of the Roman Empire prophesied would seem to be imminent.
4) May 1948-August 52014: The scattered Jews regather.
Thus says the Lord God: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 11:17)
With the new nation of Israel now a reality, persecution and economic opportunity brought her children streaming home. Jews fled neighboring Islamic countries (furious following the defeat of Arab forces in the Jewish War of Independence), in droves, with a total of over 700,000 repatriated almost immediately. Hundreds of thousands of Jews have dropped to five (before ISIS) in Iraq. Similar numbers in Iran, Morocco, Algeria, Yemen, and Lebanon. And one lonely Jew, Zevulon Simontov, runs a Kebab shop in Afghanistan, where he once had more than 100,000 brethren. Russian Jews, allowed to emigrate in the early 80s, have dropped from more than 500,000 to less than 200,000.
More incredibly, genetic tests now available have allowed scientists to identify the lost tribes, and whole populations of long-separated Judaism have (usually by airlift) come home. More than 23,000 Ethiopians (the Falasha, 1984-1992). Another 7300 from the Border of India and Burma (the Bnei Menashe). Others have returned from India, the US, China, South Africa (and everywhere else). Actually, the only place left outside Israel where any substantial Jewish population remains is the good ‘ol US of A.
5) 1948-2014 The ancient cities rebuilt and inhabited.
I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. (Ezekiel 36:10)
The number of Jews in Israel has increased from about 600,000 in 1948 to more than 6 million today, and increase of nearly 1000%. And many of the famous ancient cities, which lay in ruins (i.e., Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jericho, and Hebron) have been rebuilt and are inhabited.
6) 1959 The land brought back to fertility.
And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. (Ezekiel 36:30)
Thanks to the (largely Israeli) invention, in 1959, of drip irrigation, agricultural production in Israel has exploded. Agricultural exports, in fact, have increased 4000% since 1948, earning $33 billion in 2013 as compared to exactly zero in 1950. (Which explains why, when the world’s armies come against Israel in that last battle, they are described as coming into the “Garden of Eden” (Joel 2:3)
7) 1974-2014 Modern technological capacity.
Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15-16)
Ever wonder, in the context of the first century AD that it was written, how someone in Judea would see the abomination of desolation, real time, in Jerusalem? No problem now. Live streaming over the internet, of course. Predicted 2000 years before its inception.
8) 2014-? The world united against Israel.
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. (Zechariah 12:2-3)
Israel’s never been in the running for “most popular” in the global yearbook , but only today, really, do we see the entire world starting to come together against her, with her last solid ally (the USA) now controlled by an administration that professes undying love while kissing up to her enemies. And the recent skirmish with Hamas (and the world’s reaction to it) doesn’t make it too much of a stretch to see the inevitable moment coming when the whole world chooses up sides and unites to come against her.
The good news is that we don’t have to worry about Israel. God’s got her back.
Even better news, for us is that it only means we’re almost home:
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28)
Forecast? Faithfulness to His promises, (great weather, that never changes).
And His faithful, headed home.