Dr. Jack Van Impe
For decades, certain Orthodox rabbis have maintained that the Messiah would come when three signs were in evidence at the same time.
First, there must be speeding chariots in the streets of Jerusalem, fulfilling Nahum 2:4: "The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall jostle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings."
This interesting verse once prompted Sir Isaac Newton to predict that men would someday travel as fast as forty miles per hour.
Voltaire, an enemy of Christianity in that era, scorned Newton's statement, saying, "See what a fool Christianity makes of an otherwise brilliant man, such as Sir Isaac Newton! Doesn't he know that if a man traveled forty miles an hour, he would suffocate and his heart would stop?"
But Newton was conservatively correct. And today, in Jerusalem, as in other major cities, speeding chariots (automobiles) jostle one against another in the broad ways. At night they seem like torches and they run like lightning.
The second sign, the rabbis said, would be the protection of Jerusalem by men flying as birds. "As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it" (Isa. 31:5).
No wonder Israelis are convinced they must retain air superiority in the Middle East. Already the accomplishments of their top-notch pilots are almost legendary. Jets over Jerusalem have more significance than in any other place on earth. And the sky over that city is seldom silent.
The third requirement of the rabbis was the blossoming of the desert. "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose" (Isa. 35:1).
Although the complete fulfillment of this promise is for a better day yet to come, the desert is blossoming in Israel. Near miracles have been performed in an area that once was barren and waste. The agricultural successes of the Jews in the final days are foretold in a number of prophetic Scriptures, some of which we will explore later.
The Messiah of Israel, the Savior of the world, has already come, but His return is signaled by numerous signs, including those proclaimed by the waiting rabbis.
Signs in the Heavens
"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" (Luke 21:25).
For all who have watched humans walking, driving, and planting a flag on the moon, this prophecy needs no explanation. Had someone predicted this at the turn of the century, he might have been placed under psychiatric treatment. But it has happened in our generation.
Christ also spoke of startling calamities in space. After discussing signs in the sun, moon, and stars, He said: "Men'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" (Luke 21:26).
Although he counts himself progressive and civilized, man still employs the best minds on earth to search constantly for more deadly weapons. After the bombing of Hiroshima, Charles Lindbergh lamented: "Hiroshima was as far from the intention of the pure scientist as the Inquisition was from the Sermon on the Mount."12 Nevertheless , the drive for more potent killers continues and their area of operation has now reached the heavens, another indication that closing time is near.
The World Stage
Perhaps most interesting in the study of future things is the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the movements of nations in the end time. On the world stage, closing scenes are being enacted.
The European Union, or Revived Roman Empire is growing in size and global reach. For generations, Bible scholars have been awaiting this international coalition, from which they expect a leader to rise who will guarantee peace in the Middle East, especially to Israel.
China is able to field an army of two hundred million men. Napoleon said of China, "There lies a sleeping giant. If he ever wakes he will shake the world. Let him sleep." But the giant is awake! Will Napoleon's prediction come true?
Finally, Israel is back in her land. This is the keystone of all Bible prophecy concerning the end time. All other factors of the prophetic picture would be meaningless had not the Jews returned to the land of their fathers.
Although the history of her people is a story of incredible difficulties, Israel's most trying times are ahead. We will review those awful sufferings of the past and preview the unparalleled trials that await Israel in the future.
The world scene all of history has been moving toward is upon us. We are not confronted with a few facts manipulated by a self-seeking prophet in an effort to gain followers. Instead, we are witnessing an unfolding of divinely designed circumstances that encompass the entire earth and its inhabitants.
The stage is set for closing time, and all the world is the stage.
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