Middle East scenario: Heading for war or the coming of Messiah?
For this reason what happens in the Middle East is a constant subject of attention among those who believe we are living in the last days before the coming ‘Day of the Lord.’ Currently there are three items of interest relating to Israel which we will look at in this article.
- Netanyahu’s desire to annex territory in the West Bank.
- Iran’s ‘final solution.’
- Rabbis who say the Messiah is coming.
1. Netanyahu and annexation.
In April a coalition government was sworn in after three elections and over a year of political deadlock. Benjamin Netanyahu will now function as Prime Minister for 18 months after which his coalition partner Benny Gantz will take over for the next 18 months.
In his speech before the swearing-in ceremony, Netanyahu proposed extending Israeli law and moving towards annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and the Jordan Valley. Netanyahu said, ‘It’s time to apply the Israeli law and write another glorious chapter in the history of Zionism.’
Netanyahu is keen to get this plan moving so he can create ‘facts on the ground’ along the lines of Donald Trump’s ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan with Israel in control of the Jordan Valley, Jewish settlements in the West Bank (Judea – Samaria) including the area around Jerusalem. He may get support from the Trump administration in this, but not from a Democrat led administration, so he needs to act while Trump is still President.
Going ahead with this plan would cause a backlash against Israel from the Arab world. Jordan has threatened to abandon its peace treaty with Israel if this happens and King Abdullah of Jordan warned of possible conflict between Jordan and Israel. Palestinian Authority President Abbas has already voided all previous agreements with the United States and Israel. There is a danger of serious unrest in the West Bank if Netanyahu annexes these territories, which the PA wants for its proposed Palestinian State.
The Arab League described the plan as a ‘new war crime against the Palestinians.’ The EU has warned of sanctions against Israel if this happens. Russia, the EU and the UN are still insisting that the only solution is that Israel withdraws from all territories taken in the Six Day War (the West Bank / Judea Samaria) and sets up a Palestinian State on these territories with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The war threats may be just talk. King Abdullah of Jordan may make his public protest, but in reality he would be much more worried about the Palestinian Authority ruling the Jordan Valley next to his country than Israel annexing it. The same could be said of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand it could be the spark that sets off the next war as radical elements in the Palestinian Authority incite violence and Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran use it as an excuse to attack Israel. Or it could be that Netanyahu backs off and does not actually go ahead with the annexation.
Whatever happens this tiny piece of land will continue to be in the news. The prophet Zechariah writing around 2500 years ago foresaw a time when this area, which happens to be the heartland of biblical Israel, Judea – Samaria, would be the centre of world attention:
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.Zechariah 12.2-3.
Joel 3 says that the nations of the world will try to divide the land and this will lead to the last war before the Day of the Lord.
Zechariah 14 shows how the Lord will bring this to an end, when His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives to the east of Jerusalem (the place Jesus ascended into heaven from and to which He will return). He will bring an end to the war and establish the real peace for Israel and the whole world as He rules the world from a united Israel with restored Jerusalem as its capital (Zechariah 14, Isaiah 2).
2. Iran’s Final Solution.
Iran (Persia) is one of the countries listed in the coalition of countries listed in the War of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38-9. These countries will come against Israel in the latter days.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted online an anti-Semitic poster depicting a ‘free Palestine’ devoid of Jews in Jerusalem. The poster read: ‘Palestine will be free. The final solution.’ The final solution is the phrase used by Hitler for his demonic plan of annihilation of the Jewish people.
The poster shows a cartoon drawing of Palestinians and, what seem to be Iranian troops, waving Palestinian, Hezbollah and other Islamic related flags, in Jerusalem. The city appears empty of Jews, presumably killed or removed from the land. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini, denounced Israel as a ‘deadly, cancerous tumour’ which will be ‘uprooted and destroyed.’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded: ‘Khamenei’s threat to carry out ‘The Final Solution’ against Israel brings to mind the Nazi ‘Final Solution’ plan to annihilate the Jewish People.’ He warned that ‘any regime that threatens the destruction of the State of Israel faces a similar danger.’
Iran’s Islamic regime has frequently stated its desire to destroy Israel. Iran is a present danger to Israel, supplying its enemies with missiles, setting up bases in Syria from which to attack Israel and developing drones and other missiles capable of flying all the way from Iran into Israel. Recently Iran mounted a cyber attack on Israel, which threatened to poison its water supply. Thankfully it failed.
Despite its bravado, things are going badly for Iran. An Israeli security official said Iran has begun pulling troops out of Syria for the first time since its involvement in the civil war as Israel mounts successful raids on Iranian targets and Russia begins to see the Iranians as a liability rather than a help in their plans for Syria.
Iran has also suffered greatly from coronavirus. The Iranian regime is accused of mishandling and hiding the full scale of the Corona pandemic. It may be that as many as 50,000 have died there. Iran is accused of spreading the disease to other Middle East countries. Iran is also now affected by the locust plague, decimating crops in its south western region and threatening to put more pressure on the regime as it fails to provide the basics of life for so many of its citizens.
Large numbers of people now live below the poverty line and disillusion with the Islamic Regime is growing all the time. Many Iranians are disillusioned with Islam and some are turning to Christianity, despite suffering persecution if they do. Many Iranians want nothing to do with the regime’s Middle East wars and fight against Israel.
All this lessens the likelihood of an Iranian attack on Israel in the short term. The ayatollahs haven’t given up their ambitious plan to eliminate the Jewish state, but they are currently pre-occupied with far more pressing internal affairs.
In the Ezekiel prophecy Iran / Persia is a junior partner in the coalition, not its leader. Its leader is 'Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal’ (Ezekiel 38.2). Prophecy teachers generally assume this leader to be coming out of Russia, which is located to the far north of Israel as the prophecy says. Russia has recently involved itself in Middle Eastern wars in ways it has never done in the past, moving into Syria on Israel’s northern border, to help Assad stay in power there. Russia is also involved in the Libyan civil war now, backing General Haftar in his attempt to take power from the Libyan government in Tripoli. Libya also features in the line up of countries in the Gog and Magog war.
Nevertheless Russia may not be anxious to get involved in another Middle East war at present. President Putin has actually been friendly to Netanyahu and Israel, although he is critical of Israel’s move to annex the territories in Judea and Samaria. Russia has also been hit badly by the Coronavirus and by the slump in oil exports, which are its main source of income.
Some other prophecy teachers say that the leader of the Gog and Magog alliance has to be an Islamic leader coming against Israel and point to Turkey as the most likely candidate. Turkey today has an Islamic leader who has taken a very anti-Israel position, Erdogan, and whose supporters have called for a united Islamic army to come against Israel. He also has ambitions to revive the Ottoman Empire which ruled over Jerusalem from 1517 to 1917. Turkey is already involved in the Syrian conflict, supposedly helping Russia and Iran to sort out Syria, but at the same time supporting anti-Assad forces in Syria.
This nearly caused a conflict between Turkish forces and Syrian ones backed by Russia in Idlib at the end of last year. Turkey has intervened in support of Libyan government forces in Tripoli, on the opposite side to Russia. If you put all these factors together on a political level it makes a war against Israel led by Russia with Iran and Turkey on board as allies less likely in the immediate future.
Coming back to Iran, we are reminded that God told Abraham way back in Genesis ‘I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.’ Genesis 12.3. Iran’s current troubles are a sign of judgement coming on the nation if they persist in their hatred of Israel and persecution of Christians. This may make them less likely to want to attack Israel at present. Nevertheless a wounded beast can be dangerous. Whatever happens the leaders of Iran would be well advised to read Ezekiel 38-9 because it will tell them the fate of Gog and the army that invades Israel in the latter days:
I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all My mountains,” says the Lord God. “Every man’s sword will be against his brother. And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.”Ezekiel 38.21-23
3. Messiah coming?
In our last edition we put in an article about Rabbis saying the Messiah is coming. We quoted Rabbi Amar who said ‘All the great rabbis of this generation are saying that the Messiah is about to reveal himself. All the signs the prophets gave, all the signs predicted in the Gemara, the Mishnah, the Midrash, everything is taking place, one by one. All we need is to remain strong for a little bit longer.’
It seems quite a lot of rabbis in Israel are saying something like this. We agree that the Messiah is coming, but we add one little word which makes a huge amount of difference: The Messiah is coming back.
The Coronavirus was traumatic for Orthodox Jews, coming as it did shortly before Passover. Lockdown rules meant no synagogue meetings and no gatherings in homes outside of immediate family. At the time Israel’s health minister was Yakov Litzman who was also the head of the ultra Orthodox party in the coalition government. When asked in March about the chances of Israel continuing to be under complete shut-down until the Passover holiday, Litzman offered a rather unconventional response saying: ‘God forbid! We are praying and hoping that Moshiach (messiah) will arrive before Passover as it is a time of our redemption. I am sure that the Messiah will come by Passover and save us the same way God saved us during the Exodus and we were freed. The Moshiach will come and save us all.’ But the Messiah did not come and he caught the virus (and recovered).
Another rabbi who has spoken about this is Rabbi Fish. He said the coronavirus crisis is the ‘first pangs of childbirth’ before the dawn of the Messianic era. The birth pangs is a common image used for the troubles that hit the world before the day of the Lord. He said this was coming because God wants to fix the divisions among the Jews and bring them all back to Israel to await the coming of the Messiah. He issued this warning to all Jews in the diaspora to return to Israel and prepare for this event. ‘This announcement must be spread to the entire world. This is an imminent emergency. All Jews in exile around the world must come to Israel immediately. They are all in grave danger.’
So do all Jewish people in the diaspora need to go to Israel to be safe? We agree that there is increasing anti-Semitism in the diaspora, although for the most part the Jewish community in the area where we are in London lives quite safely at the moment. However there are dangerous signs of instability in the USA and Europe. The extreme left and radical Muslims are joining up in hatred of Israel and Jewish people, as well as wanting to make a radical change in western society. If war were to break out and Israel killed a lot of Arabs this could lead to violence against Jews in the diaspora. Irrational hatred of Jews is surfacing with some even blaming them for the Coronavirus. Of course Israel is not exactly safe either. Therefore Christians need to pray for Israel and stand by the Jewish people.
The scriptures do imply that the coming of the Messiah will be associated with the gathering in of the Jewish people to Israel:
It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left … He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.Isaiah 11.11-12.
Israel’s present regathering is the beginning of this process and a sign that the day is not so far off that the Lord will bring it to completion. God’s purpose is not just to change where Jewish people are at physically, but where they are at spiritually in order to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah.
Rabbi Fish bases his teaching on Jewish mystical teaching concerning the Shekinah, the presence of God. He says the presence of the Shekinah is being withdrawn from the Jews in diaspora and now only protecting Jews in Israel. He says, ‘All the protection has moved to Israel to protect the Jewish people there. If the Jews do not return from exile now, all the gates will be closed to them.’
The word Shekinah (שכינה ) does not appear in the Bible, but it is considered to be the presence of God, place where God dwells, derived from the Hebrew word שכן
‘shachen’ = to dwell. In the Bible it applies particularly to the visible presence of the Lord in the midst of His people, the glory cloud that came into the tabernacle in Exodus 40 and into the Temple in 1 Kings 8.
The Hebrew word for tabernacle (משכן – mishchan) is also taken from the word ‘shachen’ to dwell. This means it is the dwelling place of God on earth. In Ezekiel 8-11 we read how the Shekinah, the glory, departed from the Temple before it was destroyed by the Babylonians. According to the Rabbis the Shekinah did not return to the Second Temple, despite the fact that Haggai prophesied concerning this Temple The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. Haggai 2.9.
The glory of God did come into the Second Temple in the person of the one who Jewish people need to turn to now to find protection, Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah. John wrote about Him saying:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1.1-3, 14.
John tells us that the one he calls the Word was there in the beginning with God and all things were made by Him, but He Himself was not made. The implication is that this One is a divine person Himself. He then says the Word became flesh (took on human form) and we beheld His glory. The word John uses in Greek for He ‘dwelt among us’ is an unusual word, skeeno, which means to pitch a tent or to dwell and may have a link to the Hebrew word shaken to dwell.
So God dwelt in the body of Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, and wherever He went He carried the Shekinah, the glory of God with Him. This was recognised by the elderly priest Simeon, even when Jesus was a tiny baby as Mary and Joseph brought Him into the Temple to be dedicated to the Lord:
Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.Luke 2.29-32.
This means that the Shekinah is in Yeshua and for the Jewish people to find a place of peace and safety as Rabbi Fish encourages them to do, they must come to Yeshua.
Rabbi Fish says the Jews need to regather in Israel to await the imminent arrival of Messiah:
‘It is certainly a mitzvah to anticipate the arrival of the Messiah, to believe with absolute certainty that the Messiah is right outside the door, and to act accordingly. Just a few years ago, these rabbis and mystics were not speaking about the final redemption and the arrival of the Messiah in these terms. But now they are. World events are also turning in a way never seen before.’
World events certainly are turning in a way they have never done before. The prophecies of the last days of this age are being fulfilled in a way that has never happened before. The time of trouble prophesied for the whole world will soon be upon us and before that time each one of us needs to find peace and safety in Yeshua before the door into His presence is closed.
The Bible tells us that He will return in person and His glory will fill the restored Temple in Messianic age (Ezekiel 43-4). Jewish people in Israel or in dispersion need now to come under protection of Yeshua before the last days’ conflict begins. Yeshua prophesied both the dispersion and the regathering of the Jewish people. He said Jerusalem will be trodden down of the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. Luke 21.24.
He came the first time as the suffering servant Messiah of Isaiah 53, who bore the sin of the world upon Himself:
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.… For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. … He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Selections from Isaiah 53, fulfilled by Yeshua.
This same Messiah is coming again with all power at His disposal to judge the world in righteousness and to bring in the Messianic kingdom, reigning in power from Jerusalem from the restored Temple as we see in Isaiah 2.1-4 and Ezekiel 40-48 and Zechariah 14.
The purpose of the last days’ programme will be to bring Israel to recognise Yeshua as the Messiah. Zechariah 12-14 shows that the time of war and desolation for Jerusalem will come to an end when Yeshua is recognised as Messiah as they ‘look on Me whom they have pierced and mourn for Him as for an only Son.’ Zechariah 12.10. He will then return to take up His place as King of Israel and the world in the Millennium (Zechariah 14). Jeremiah 30-31 shows that God will correct Jewish people in the coming time of tribulation and they will enter into the new covenant through faith in Yeshua and know sin forgiven and peace with God.
Jesus said to Jerusalem You will not see Me again until you say ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord – Baruch ha ba be shem Adonai, the traditional greeting for the coming of the Messiah. Matthew 23.39.
He is calling all now, Jew and Gentile to repent and believe the Besorah, the Good News, before the day of trouble begins. In Him we have safety wherever we are, and He will save Israel and the Jewish people in the last day. Baruch ha ba be shem Adonai.
Lessons of the Lockdown.
‘The Coronavirus crisis is the greatest public health crisis in a hundred years, a global pandemic that is going to be with us for many months to come, even years.’ On 27 May WHO head Tedros Adhanom backed this up in a briefing in Geneva when he said there are more than 5 million confirmed cases around the world and more than 300,000 people have died and it is far from over: ‘We still have a long way to go in this pandemic. In the last 24 hours, there have been 106,000 cases reported to WHO – the most in a single day since the outbreak began.’
Because of this many medical officials are advising that we should be very cautious about opening up society, despite decreasing numbers of deaths, because it could all flare up again and we will have to go into an even deeper lockdown to save ourselves from thousands of people dying. Any easing of the lockdown must be accompanied by increased testing and ‘track and trace’ systems until we have an effective vaccine to be given to everyone.
Clearly the Coronavirus pandemic has had an enormous effect on the world and the effects of the last few months will be with us for years to come. But many people are raising questions about what has happened and suggesting the measures taken by the government are not all for our welfare.
Some questions being asked are these: Is the lockdown being used as an experiment in social control? Will ‘track and trace’ systems open up the potential for state intrusion into our privacy? Does the government really have the right to tell us who we can meet, where we can go, who can come to our homes? Is the whole concept of social distancing a way of changing the way people relate to each other, increasing fear of the other, separating us from family and friends, and shutting down places where people meet, especially churches and religious meetings? Should they have closed down businesses, making thousands dependent on the state for their money and now likely to be unemployed for some time to come? Are there people out there want to use the crisis to bring a radical change to how the world is run and bring it under their control?
Here is a view by Yinnon Weiss: ‘How Fear, Groupthink Drove Unnecessary Global Lockdowns’. ‘In the face of a virus threat, China clamped down on its citizens with the first lockdowns. Then as the virus spread around the world academics used faulty information to build faulty models. Leaders relied on these faulty models. Dissenting views were suppressed. The media flamed fears and the world panicked. That is the story of what may eventually be known as one of the biggest medical and economic blunders of all time. The collective failure of every Western nation, except one, to question groupthink will surely be studied by economists, doctors, and psychologists for decades to come. We put millions of young healthy people under house arrest, stopped cancer screenings and treatment for other serious diseases, and sunk ourselves into the worst level of unemployment since the Great Depression. This from a virus that bears a survival rate of 99.99% if you are a healthy individual under 50 years old.’
A film entitled ‘Plandemic’, distributed on www.globalwatchweekly.com features the work of Dr Judy Mikovits, a doctor with years of experience in the field of epidemiology. She says coronavirus is not a naturally occurring virus picked up from the market in Wuhan, but was manufactured artificially in the Virology laboratory in Wuhan, China, with some connection to a laboratory in North Carolina, USA. She has become an outspoken critic of the medical establishment and the big pharmaceutical companies and has written a book entitled ‘Plague of Corruption – Restoring faith in the promise of science.’ Her basic theme is that ‘the science’ we are all told to follow is flawed and driven by the political goal to control the population and big pharmaceutical companies who stand to make billions from a vaccine.
Many models used to predict the spread of the virus were way off course, like the one that was a major influence on the UK and US government by Imperial College epidemiologist Neil Ferguson who predicted 500,000 in the UK would die of Covid 19. In 2009 he predicted that 65,000 people could die in the UK from the swine flu (392 did). On his advice millions of healthy cows were unnecessarily killed in the foot and mouth epidemic in 2002. A number of doctors have shown that the projected death count from Covid 19 was wildly inflated, with projections of 4% deaths being reduced to as little as 0.02% when all factors are considered. That is about twice the number of deaths from regular flu.
The lockdowns have caused an increase of social problems, loneliness, boredom, domestic abuse, children suffering neglect, lack of education and not able to socialise with their friends. These social problems could lead to long term bad effects, mental illness, depression, violence and even suicide. Medical treatment for other diseases including cancer have been put off to deal with Covid 19. This will lead to many more people dying.
In poorer countries of the world there are millions of people on day wages, which means they only get paid on the days they work. These people are not able to work because of lockdown and have no safety net of benefits. No work means no money and so no food. One man in Kenya wrote to me, ‘If this carries on many people here will starve to death.’ There is now a crisis in poverty and hunger as a result of CV 19 lockdowns across Africa, India, Pakistan and South America.
In the richer countries, economies are now being run on massive debts that will never be repaid and threaten financial ruin. A number of companies have closed down already and many more will fold up on present form leaving their staff with no jobs.
So far the global cost of the lockdowns is about $4 trillion. In addition the banks have created money to meet the needs – about $1.6 trillion. This is so called helicopter money which has no value to back it and is likely to lead to money losing its value and inflation, destroying the value of people’s savings and pensions.
Economist Kenneth Rogoff warns of ‘a short term collapse in global output likely to rival any recession of the last 150 years.’ The New York Times said, ‘This is how the Cornavirus will destroy the economy. This once in a century crisis is hitting a world economy saddled with record levels of debt.’ The Daily Mail’s Dominic Sandbrook wrote ‘Wake up Britain! If we don’t rouse from our lockdown torpor soon, we face an economic apocalypse.’
When the full impact hits home we can expect poverty, unemployment and social unrest, like the riots we are already seeing in America. If this is the shape of things to come, it could leave governments with two options – watch the collapse of society or bring in an authoritarian police state to control the people.
According to the Bible, the world is going to be hit by an increasing number of disasters in the last days of this age.
Behold, disaster shall go forth, from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the farthest parts of the earth.Jeremiah 25.32.
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.Luke 21.10-11, 25-28
Out of this global crisis will come the seven year period before the return of Jesus Christ which is known as the Great Tribulation. Details of this time are found in Matthew 24.15-31 and Revelation 6-19. During this time the world will come under the power of one known as the Beast or the Antichrist. He will offer a solution to the global problem, offering peace and safety but actually bringing in the most catastrophic time in human history.
Midway through this time, the beast and the false prophet under the power of the devil will set up the Mark of the Beast system. This will lead to a control system whereby people must submit to the beast or be denied the ability to buy and sell (meaning they will be outcasts from society):
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.Apocalipsis 13.16-18
It looks like the Covid 19 crisis is taking us another step along the way to the fulfilment of this prophecy. Whatever happens, lessons will have been learned by those who want to bring the world into submission to a ‘new global paradigm’. It will be used as a reason to bring in new technologies designed to administer this system, which will unfortunately turn into a new control system or dictatorship.
Here are some examples of this. Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, one of the richest men on earth, is working on ID2020, a global digital infrastructure system, which aims to give every human on the planet a biometric verification because ‘to prove who you are is a fundamental and universal human right.’ He is also involved in a plan to survey the whole earth from space via satellites.
The information provided can then be linked in to a vaccine programme to counter the Covid 19 pandemic or anything which may come after it. This can be tracked via the global ID certification so that there can be a check on those who have been tested and who have had the vaccine.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated more than $21 million towards developing a vaccine technology that uses a tattoo-like mechanism which injects invisible quantum dot nanoparticles under the skin that is now being tested in a vaccine against the virus that causes Covid 19. This new vaccine delivery technology, can best be described as a mark that is implanted in the human body and is capable of data storage. The human implantable mark when injected emits a glowing, red X pattern as it delivers the vaccine. What is left behind is capable of data storage and retrieval for years afterwards. The mark will distinguish those who have the vaccine from those who don’t.
Bill Gates has said that ‘Normalcy only returns when we vaccinate the entire global population.’ He would like everyone to receive a tattoo, a mark to show proof of vaccination before they return to work, attend public meetings and go on public transport. Put all this together and you have the formula for something similar to the 666 system.
The fact that the virus originated in China is significant. I have already written about China’s social credit system and its potential to create a kind of 666 system in China (more information available on request). This rewards people who are loyal to the Chinese Communist Party rulers and obey their rules and punishes those who don’t by restricting their ability to buy and sell. It is monitored by a very sophisticated technical system combining mobile phones, biometric ID and powerful cameras linked in to the central control system. These watch over people wherever they go and are able to pick out an individual in a crowd. Orwell’s 1984 ‘Big Brother is watching you’ is already in place in China.
China is now introducing a new dimension to this system. It has said that using paper money is harmful as this can pass on the virus. It is now developing a state sponsored cryptocurrency known as DCEP (Digital Currency Electronic Payment). The aim is to eliminate paper currency and replace it with the new Chinese cryptocurrency. This will give the government a record of every financial transaction made, who is buying and selling what and where they are and so on. It wants to extend this to a ‘super sovereignty currency system’ to replace the current US dollar based financial system. It may be that the coming economic crisis resulting from the lockdowns will be the way to bring this in.
China is not alone in working on this. Here too we see a movement in this direction. Shops are now saying ‘no cash payments’ because of fear that paper money may pass on the virus and demanding card payments only. Bill Gates is working on his own cryptocurrency programme, under Microsoft Patent 060606. The aim of the patent is to create a way for the transmission of information from a human body via some kind of biometric ID which can then be used to make digital payments via cryptocurrency processes. Some kind of ID mark will be put on the person’s body, which can be used to buy and sell with cryptocurrency. All transactions will then be logged on the database and able to be viewed by bank or government. The question has to be asked, ‘Why has the patent been given the code number 060606?’ Is it a coincidence or the deliberate choice of the number of the beast, 666, referred to in the Book of Revelation 13?
In the meantime Covid 19 has accomplished something that neither Stalin nor Hitler managed to do, the shutdown of church services around the world, denying Christians the right to meet together as Jesus told us to do.
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. .Matthew 18.20
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.Hebrews 10.24-25.
Looking at some of the regulations coming out about social distancing in public places, it looks like we will not be able to go back to how things were before the lockdowns. Numbers attending meetings may be restricted, evangelistic activity curtailed and close fellowship a thing of the past. The British government is saying we should not sing, because that may transfer the virus. A church service with no praise or worship? We may also have problems with people opposed to the Gospel snooping on church activity to report any supposed wrong actions to the authorities.
Biblical Christianity and the message of the Gospel have already been more or less banned from mainstream media. When TV programmes and newspapers offering advice on how to cope with contemporary problems they offer nothing but humanistic psychobabble, sometimes with a bit of yoga and New Age ideas thrown in. When religious figures do appear on the mainstream media in Britain they are either Muslims or liberal Church of England bishops. The bishops toe the politically correct line and generally join in with left wing attacks on the government, but have nothing to say about calling people to prayer in Jesus’ name, or even any kind of prayer to God. They never mention the Gospel, or righteousness and judgement and the need for repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus, as we see the signs of His coming getting near. In fact most churches never mention the second coming either.
In most of the church it has to be said that the blind are leading the blind into a ditch. Those who have eyes to see, know that Saviour has come in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the one mediator between man and God who is calling us to repent of our sins and believe the Gospel. They know that these things happening mean that Jesus is coming to take His true church to Himself (1 Thessalonians 4-5) and then to return with the saints to set up His Messianic kingdom on earth, the prelude to our eternal state in the new heavens and new earth.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.Titus 2.11-14.
The thief in the night.
This is one of the most well known phrases connected to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus, found in scriptures like these:
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.Matthew 24.42-44. See also Luke 12.38-40.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.1 Thessalonians 4.16-5.5.
So why does the Bible use this image? A thief is a bad person who is breaking the eighth commandment, You shall not steal. Jesus contrasts himself with thief in John 10.10: The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Yet the Second Coming of Jesus is compared to a thief coming. What is the point? There are actually three points of interest about the comparison of the Lord coming as the thief coming to take the goods from a house.
- Thief comes at an unknown time.
- A thief is selective in what he takes.
- The thief causes a change in the ownership of possessions.
We will look at these three issues, with most attention on number three in this list.
1. Thief comes at an unknown time.
If we have the misfortune to be the victim of a burglary, we can be sure that the burglar did not contact us beforehand to say, ‘I am coming to your house at 11 o’clock on Monday evening. Please be ready with some nice things for me to take away.’ The thief comes unannounced at a time we are not expecting him in order to steal our goods. Therefore we do what we can to protect ourselves from him, like making sure the door is locked when we are away and the downstairs windows are shut. Sensible people are ready all the time for the possibility that they may be victims of crime and as far as possible take precautions against this.
Jesus is coming ‘as a thief’ to take His people out of the wicked world which is about to experience His judgement. He tells us we don’t know the day or the hour of His coming so we should be ready all the time for His return. We should also be ready for the moment of our death which we do not know the day or hour of either.
In the passage in Matthew 24 we have referred to, life appears to be going on as normal when this happens. People will be doing everyday things, eating and drinking, buying and selling and so on and then suddenly one will be taken and one will be left. In the passage from Thessalonians, the world will be saying ‘peace and safety’, then sudden destruction will fall upon them. At this point when the Lord comes as a ‘thief in the night’ the one who has faith that Jesus died and rose again from the dead will be supernaturally caught up to meet the Lord in the air, together with those who have died in Christ previously. From then on we will always be with the Lord.
This favours the pre-tribulation view, because at the end of the tribulation, when Jesus returns with the saints to the earth as in Matthew 24.29-31, there will be no peace and safety and life will not be going on as normal by the time we reach the end of the seven year tribulation period. I have written more on this in our April 2020 edition available on request.
Because this event could happen at any time it is an incentive to us to purify ourselves so we are at all times ready for His return:
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming … Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.1 John 2.28-3.3.
2. A thief is selective in what he takes.
If thief does break into your house he will not take everything he can see. Suppose he sees a table with yesterday’s newspaper and a new lap top computer on it. Which will he take? The thing which has value to him, the computer. So Jesus takes what has value to Himself, those He has redeemed by His blood. Peter tells believing Christians:
You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.1 Peter 1.18-20.
These ones are not destined for wrath but for salvation.
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.1 Thessalonians 5.9.
So Jesus comes and takes those He has redeemed who are precious in His sight to Himself before the time of wrath comes upon the earth. Those who do not have salvation in Jesus are left behind for the great tribulation period in which God’s judgment will come upon the earth.
3. The thief causes a change in the ownership of possessions.
If someone comes into my house and steals my property, they cause a transfer of ownership. What legally belonged to me now belongs to the thief. This is a bad thing to do. Jesus is coming as a good thief to cause a change in ownership from one who has it illegitimately (Satan) to one who rightfully owns it (God). Jesus will take what belongs to God out of the domain of Satan who has usurped the rule of this present world darkness. According to 1 John 5.19 ‘the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one’. Jesus is coming to take what rightfully belongs to Him by taking the world back from Satan’s control and restoring it to God.
Let’s look at another scenario of the thief coming to transfer ownership and control. Suppose you or I are taken hostage by a terrorist. We are under his control and cannot escape him by our own power. Then SAS commandos come, overpower the terrorist and set us free. In a sense they are coming as a good thief to transfer us from a bad place under the power of the bad person (the terrorist) into a good place of freedom.
Jesus actually uses this image of His work of delivering people from demonic captivity in Matthew 12.28-29:
But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. Jesus binds the strong man (Satan) and sets his prisoner free by His power which is greater than Satan’s power.Matthew 12.28-29
In 1 John we read For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil … He who is in you (Jesus) is greater than he who is in the world (Satan). 1 John 3.8, 4.4.
If we see Satan as the terrorist and Jesus as the liberator then we see the analogy of what he is doing in rescuing us from Satan’s control. In the case of the SAS they have to be stronger than the terrorist and able to overpower them in order to release the captive from their control. So Jesus binds the strong man / Satan and plunders his house. To do this He has to be stronger than Satan to set us free.
The Matthew 12 incident relates to what Jesus did at His first coming. So how does this relate to the second coming and the concept of the Day of the Lord? At his first coming Jesus died at the cross and rose from the dead to deliver us from the power of sin and death and the devil. Ephesians 2 tells us that we were once dead in trespasses and sins, under the power of the prince of the power of the air (Satan) and by nature children of wrath:
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.Ephesians 2.5-7.
There is a transfer of ownership of everyone who accepts Jesus as Saviour and Lord, by repenting of sin and believing the Gospel. But although Jesus has redeemed us as long as we are alive we are in a world which is still under the power of Satan.
At the temptation in the wilderness the devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and said:
All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours. Luke 4.6-7.
Jesus did not actually dispute him on the point that the devil has authority over the kingdoms of this world for the moment. He did refuse to worship him and said Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.
At the first coming He made the way for individuals who turn to God in repentance and faith to find salvation in Jesus. But He did not take us out of Satan’s domain as long as we are in this body. Peter writes:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.1 Peter 5.8-9.
Obviously he is writing this after the death and resurrection of the Lord, and he is saying that the devil is still active and must be resisted by the believer in Jesus. Also that the devil may cause you suffering because you are a believer in Jesus. Now nearly 2000 years later we see abundant evidence of the devil’s activity with the increasing influence of evil in our world the nearer we get to the Second Coming.
So has something gone wrong with God’s plan? Or is it still on track? The purpose of the Second Coming is to complete the process of wrestling back control of God’s world from Satan’s power and transfer it to God’s power. At the point of Jesus’ return to the earth: The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever! Revelation 11.15.
This transfer of power is what takes place during what the Bible calls the ‘Day of the Lord.’ There are frequent references to this ‘day’ in both the Old and New Testament. When we look at all the references it is clear that the Day of the Lord is not a single day, but the whole process by which the Lord takes back control of the world which God created, from Satan who has usurped power through Adam’s sin. The phrase is used of the rapture event in 1 Thessalonians 5 and of the final event of the end of this world:
'But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up2 Peter 3.10.
According to pre-tribulation and pre-millennial view these events are at least 1007 years apart (7 years of tribulation, followed by 1000 years of the Millennium), but they are part of the Day of the Lord, in which Jesus is coming as the good thief to restore what Satan, the bad thief has previously stolen from God.
During the time of the great tribulation the Lord is bringing judgement on Satan and his kingdom. At the present time Satan has authority over the unbelieving world as prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience Ephesians 2.2.
Midway through the tribulation he is cast out of this position: And war broke out in heaven:
Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. … Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.Revelation 12.7-9, 12.
Satan has great wrath at this time because he has been cast out of his position in the heavenly realms and he knows that he has only a short time before losing his power on earth when Jesus returns, three and a half years after this event. The final event of the seven year tribulation period will be the gathering of the armies of the world for Armageddon:
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. ‘Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.’ And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.Revelation 16.13-16.
The purpose of this gathering is not a war against Israel but to fight against the Lord Jesus when He returns as King of kings and Lord of lords riding on a white horse with the armies of the redeemed following Him:
And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.Revelation 19.19.
What is slightly puzzling is that the verse about Jesus coming as a thief is repeated here. Some use this as a proof text that the rapture actually occurs at Armageddon, in other words at the end of the tribulation.
One answer to this is that Jesus is coming as a thief at Armageddon in the sense we have looked at in this section of this article. He is coming to complete the next stage of being the good thief to take back control from Satan over the earth. The great tribulation period and Armageddon will be the climax of Satan’s rebellion against our Creator and also the climax of God’s response in bringing judgement on Satan and all those who are on his side. At the last battle Jesus will overcome all the forces of evil and take over the rule of the earth. Then Satan will be bound in the abyss, unable to influence the nations:
And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.Revelation 19.19-20.3.
At this time all power on earth will be transferred to the Lord Jesus:
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’ And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshipped God, saying: ‘We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.Revelation 11.15-18.
Jesus then reigns on the earth for 1000 years fulfilling Revelation 20 and a number of prophecies of the Reigning King Messiah from the Hebrew Prophets (Isaiah 2, 11, 35, 65, Jeremiah 25, Ezekiel 40-48, Joel 3, Zechariah 14 to name some of them). At this point ‘the government shall be upon His shoulder and of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.’ Isaiah 9.6.
Jesus will complete the Messianic programme as the ‘thief’ to take back control from Satan who has usurped control through human disobedience. Those who have chosen to follow Jesus in this age will be part of this glorious time when the Lord reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords, also as King of Israel, restoring Jerusalem, the Temple and the land of Israel at the centre of the restored earth. The thief in the night programme will be complete.
Or will it? There is just one aspect still to be completed, as indicated by Revelation 20.3 which tells us that at the end of the 1000 years Satan will be released again for a little while, before ending up in his final abode, the lake of fire. This article is already long enough so I will leave the reason for this till next time. Meanwhile we look forward to the Millennial kingdom, when the Lord Jesus will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords over this earth. And this will be followed by even greater glory when the Lord creates the new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells and where all the redeemed will live forever.
There are talks on this subject on Light for the Last Days website www.lightforthelastdays.co.uk under ‘Tony’s talks’, also at www.bridgelane.org.uk You tube channel for 10 and 17 May. You can also order a CD on the ‘Thief in the Night’ and on Revelation 20 ‘The Millennial Reign of the Messiah’ for £3 each including postage.