There are seven prophecies that could not have transpired until the last 58 years. They all must take place before Jesus Christ returns. Do you know what they are?
I Thessalonians 4, if you'd turn there just for a moment, beginning in verse 13, the Apostle Paul writes...in fact, in this passage in this epistle he mentions a number of times the resurrection from the dead, the hope of the resurrection because, at this particular time, the Thessalonians were going through a difficult period of persecution.
I Thessalonians 4:13-16
Vs. 13 —He writes, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep (those who have died), lest you sorrow, as others who have no hope."
Vs. 14 —"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus."
Vs. 15 —"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep."
Vs. 16 —"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."
Now, it's clear from this passage and also from the passage in I Corinthians 15, which is the resurrection chapter that the Apostle Paul thought, at this particular time, that Christ's return would be in his lifetime; but, of course, it didn't turn out to be that way.
When we understand the Bible, we understand that the central message of the Scriptures is that Christ is returning to establish the Kingdom of God. This was the gospel message that Jesus Christ brought to the earth: the good news of the coming Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, which is still ahead of us.
So, my question today is: What if this generation is the one that lives through to see the Kingdom of God? Logically, a generation sometime will fulfill the Apostle Paul's words, where Christ will return in the lifetime of some people and when He returns those who are already dead will be resurrected first before those who are alive are changed from physical beings into spirit beings. So, what if this generation is the one that lives to see the Kingdom?
I want to look at seven prophetic passages of Scripture that could not possibly have been fulfilled until my lifetime. This period of time since the end of World War II, that we heard about a little bit in Mr. McNeely's presentation, right up until today, the latter part of the 20 th Century, if you will, the last 50 or so years. There are seven passages of Scripture that really could not have been fulfilled until this time.
The first one is in Matthew 24. Let's turn there. These passages of Scripture help us to realize how much closer we are now to Christ's return, to the establishment of the Kingdom, than at any other time in history.
Vs. 3 — (This particular chapter is, of course, a prophetic chapter.) "And as he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?'"
Please note that it is the "end of the age" not the "end of the world." Quite often when I drive long distances, you know, as I'm trying to find something to listen to on the radio dial, I come across religious stations and yesterday I did; but, somebody was talking about the end of the world. I thought, you know, that phraseology is very, very negative and it's also misleading. It is not the end of the world, as we will see in the other verse that I want to look at here in verse 22.
Vs. 22 — Jesus said, "Unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened." In other words, Jesus Christ returns to stop man from destroying the earth. So, it's not the end of the world. "Unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened."
Man was not able to destroy this planet until my lifetime. You know, in 1945, two atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but those atomic bombs could not have destroyed the earth; we didn't have enough potential to do that at that particular time. It wasn't until the invention of the hydrogen bomb, a little bit later, and the acquisition of the hydrogen bomb by the Soviet Union...but, first of all, it was the U.S., then Britain, then the Soviet Union, all got the hydrogen bomb. By 1955 it was possible, if those nations went to war with each other, it was possible to destroy the planet and I believe that's the first time that the expression, mutually assured destruction, or MAD, was used, back in 1955 when I was just a little boy.
So, in my lifetime, it has become possible for mankind to destroy itself and, of course, it is also true that the more nations that have nuclear weapons the more likely it is that somebody is going to start the conflict, which would lead to Christ intervening in order to save the planet.
This, of course, is a great concern at the present time, because at the present time we have seven nuclear powers, the five original ones, the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union; then France came along later on, and then China, and that was...for a long time, they were the only five; then, of course, a few years ago, India and then Pakistan were added to that exclusive club. I think that everybody knows that Israel is already a member, but Israel never acknowledges it and keeps it all very secret, so let's say there are eight, or maybe seven and one-half nuclear powers.
But now, of course, we have the Iranians trying to get nuclear weapons and the North Koreans and the Iranians set off a few missiles just a couple of days ago to show their potential and their reach, the impact that they could have. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, the Egyptians, the Saudi Arabians, and the Turkish people are all likely to also want nuclear weapons, so a big arms race would begin in the Middle East.
Some of these nations are very volatile and I think, clearly, it would bring us much closer to these things being fulfilled, these events that are prophesied here. The more nuclear powers there are, the more likely it is that somebody is going to trigger off this nuclear conflict.
Let's look at a second passage of Scripture that, again, could not have been fulfilled until this period of time in the last 50 or so years. Look at Zechariah 12. Now, the book of Zechariah is partly a millennial book and I want us to focus on that and see that this particular passage does apply to end-time events that take place immediately prior to the return of Jesus Christ.
Vs. 1 — It says, "The burden of the word of the Lord against Israel. Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within himself."
Vs. 2 — "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem."
Vs. 3 — "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."
Now, you know, Jerusalem has been fought over more than any other city on the face of the earth in the last few thousand years, so you could say, well, this could apply to any period. However, let us note that it does apply to the time when Christ is going to return. Let's look at verse 9.
Vs. 9 — "It shall be in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem."
Vs. 10 — "And I will pour on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication: then they will look on me whom they pierced, yes they will mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and grieves for him as one grieves for a firstborn." That hasn't happened yet! You know, that is still something in the future.
Chapter 14 helps us to see, very clearly, that it is still something in the future.
Vs. 1 — "Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst."
Vs. 2 — "For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished; half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city."
Vs. 3 — "But the Lord will go forth, and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle."
Vs. 4 — "And in that day his feet (Christ's feet), will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two (this has never happened before), from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north, and half of it toward the south."
So, these are events that are prophesied to take place around the time of the second coming of Jesus Christ, the events that lead up to the establishment of the Kingdom.
Go back to Chapter 12, you see in verse 2 how the prophecy says:
Vs. 2 — "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and against Jerusalem."
Judah, the nation of the Jews, did not exist until 1948 so, what, just 58 years ago, that's all. You know, the Jews originally lived in what we would call the Holy Land or the Promised Land, the area that is now Israel. Israel, of course, is not the correct name. Israel had 12 sons. The descendants of 10 of those sons broke away from the original Davidic kingdom and established their own kingdom. The Jews, then, had their own kingdom, which was Judah. The Jews are Judah and the correct name, the Biblical name, of the nation in the Middle East today should be Judah because there is more to Israel than the Jews and here is a prophecy that shows clearly that at the time of the end Judah would exist again.
Now, Judah was finally wiped out by Rome. The Romans conquered Judah around the time of Jesus Christ and after the time of Christ, in 66 A.D., the Jews rebelled against the Romans. Their rebellion lasted four years before it was crushed and then, again, they led another rebellion in 132 A.D., which was crushed in 135 A.D., and then the Jews were scattered everywhere. That's the period known as the Diaspora when the Jews were scattered throughout the Roman Empire and even beyond the Roman Empire and there was no Jewish nation in the Middle East again for over 1800 years, right up until 1948 when the Jewish nation was established again.
Nothing, since World War II, has changed the world more or made it more dangerous than the establishment of the Jewish nation in the Middle East. Many of the conflicts that exist in the world today, you know, are attributable to what's going on in that particular part of the world and the biggest single problem is the problem between the Jews and the Palestinians, so this had to happen before these prophecies could be fulfilled. So, again, another prophecy that could only have been fulfilled since World War II, since the establishment of the physical nation of Israel, which is really Judah.
Look at Luke 21. We see, in Christ's words that Jerusalem is to be the center of end-time events.
You know, Jerusalem was not the center of end-time events for hundreds of years. Throughout history it's been fought over more than anywhere else but, you know, from 1517 to 1917, a period of 400 years, almost twice as long as the United States has existed as a nation, Jerusalem was ruled by the Turks and was at peace. In fact, if you read accounts of the events in 1917, when the British arrived and took over Jerusalem from the Turks during World War I, the people there were living very, very peaceably. Nothing much was happening, nothing was taking place and they thought it would go on like that forever but, of course, the end of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish empire in that area, has led to all kinds of conflicts since then.
Vs. 20 — "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that it's desolation is near."
Vs. 21 — "Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let those who are in the midst of her depart; and let not those who are in the country enter her."
Vs. 22 — "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled."
So, all these prophecies, which are to be fulfilled in those final days prior to Christ's return, are centered upon Jerusalem.
Vs. 24 — "They will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."
So, remember, Jerusalem is very much a center of these end-time prophetic events.
Another thing I want to mention before I move to the third point is this: I think a big question is how long can the Jews hold on in the Middle East, for two reasons.
Firstly, their security depends on the United States. If the United States suffers some big setback in the Middle East, which looks increasingly likely, then you have to ask the question, can we secure the nation of Israel, the Jewish nation in the Middle East?
But, secondly, there is another factor, when it comes to the future of Israel. A few months ago, The Atlantic Monthly magazine had a cover story, the title of which was "Will Israel Live To 100?" And Israel, by now, is 58 years old and they looked to demographic trends, and I think this was written by an Israeli, but certainly written by a Jew, but he looked to demographic trends in Israel, which is an increasing concern for the Israeli government.
Their birthrate is very similar to the birthrate in the West. It is very, very low. Something like 1.5 per couple or something, which is not enough even to keep your numbers steady, whereas the Islamic birthrate all around them is very, very high, like 8.2 or something, I've forgotten the exact figures, but really high. So, every 20 years the populations of the Arab peoples around them, including the Palestinians, are doubled, whereas their population stays pretty much the same, although they do get some immigrants, so it goes up a little bit. But, you see, because of those demographic trends, it's a serious question. How long can Israel survive?
Let's move to the third prophecy, again which could not have been fulfilled until recent times, and that's in Daniel 11. It is the prophecy about the king of the north and the king of the south, which in verse 40 suddenly jumps to the end time.
Vs. 40 — "At the time of the end (it says) the king of the south shall attack him: the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, with horsemen, and many ships; and he shall enter the countries and overwhelm them and pass through."
Now this is a prophecy about, you know, what appears to be a major clash between the king of the north and the king of the south, and it leads into end-time events again. A clash of civilizations is certainly possible within this framework, a clash between Europe, if you like, and the Islamic world, as the south.
What is interesting in Chapter 11 is, Chapter 11 is a prophetic account written in the 6th Century B.C., when Daniel was alive, about events that mainly took place in the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd Centuries B.C., from the time of Alexander the Great towards the end of the 4th Century, up until the time of Antiochus Epiphanes in the first part of the 2nd Century B.C. So, over a 200-year period, you have the fulfillment of many of the prophecies in this chapter.
Now, you know, understand the impact of this because when we talk about history, often it goes over our heads, and we think of 400 years and we don't really think too much about exactly what it is. This is as if the first people who arrived in Jamestown, the first English-speaking people who came to what became the United States in 1607, 400 years ago next year, the first people who came from England had written a detailed account of exactly what was to happen in the United States in relation to Iraq and Afghanistan, etc., and it had been written back in 1607. Okay, let's realize that's what we're talking about here. It is one of the great proofs of Bible prophecy.
Daniel wrote this in the 6th Century B.C. and much of it was fulfilled by the 2nd Century B.C. and, basically, it is about two nations that came out of the empire of Alexander the Great, two dynasties that came out of the empire.
When Alexander died, his four generals eventually divided the empire up amongst themselves and two became very significant: Seleucus who founded the Seleucid dynasty to the north of Judah, based in Antioch and Syria and extended right across to India; then, you have the southern dynasty, founded by Ptolemy in Alexandria in Egypt. The Ptolemies continued for 11 generations. The last monarch was Cleopatra and, you know, she died at the time the Romans were getting involved in that particular area. So, it's a very detailed prophecy.
These two kings and their successors kept on falling out with each other and every time one attacked the other the Jews were trampled on, because the Jews were right in the middle. You look at the map. They were right in the middle.
Then, suddenly, this prophecy stops and then picks up again in verse 40 at the time of the end. Why? Again, it comes back to the fact Judah did not exist from the time of the Romans until 1948. And so, you know, there was no Judah to be writing about here; but, now, Judah exists again and has existed throughout the lifetimes of most of us in this room. There are some people in this room who remember when the Jews did not have their own homeland, when the Jews were actually agitating for their own homeland, but didn't have one. There was no guarantee that they would ever get one. In fact at first, when they started asking for one, the British offered them Uganda, and Stalin wanted to put the Jews somewhere in Siberia. There was no guarantee they would ever have the land, which they finally did have and which they have today and which, of course, has led to many, many conflicts and continues to do so.
But here, again, is a prophecy that could not have been fulfilled until the establishment of the Jewish nation of Israel.
Now, let's look at another prophecy that could not have been fulfilled until today. In fact, this prophecy could not have been fulfilled until after September 11 th, that's how close we are getting to some of these prophecies in the Bible here.
Look at Hosea 5. Turn to Hosea 5. Hosea is a prophecy regarding Ephraim. There's not much left of Ephraim today. Ephraim was the British Empire, the multitude of nations. Today there's not much left of Ephraim, the British, the Canadians, the Australians, New Zealanders, and that's about it. It used to be 60-plus nations but, now, very much declined. In Hosea 5 we read this interesting prophecy, beginning in verse 5.
Vs. 5 — It says, "And the pride of Israel testifies to his face: therefore Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also stumbles with them." Israel, Ephraim and Judah. We'll come back to that.
Vs. 6 — "With their flocks and herds they shall go to see the Lord; but they shall not find him; he has withdrawn himself from them."
Vs. 7 — "They have dealt treacherously with the Lord: for they have begotten pagan children: now a new moon shall devour them and their heritage."
This prophecy has never been fulfilled and yet, clearly, it must be fulfilled before Jesus Christ returns. What it is saying is that Israel, Ephraim and Judah are all going to be devoured, with their heritage, within a 30-day period, period of a new moon. Just a 30-day period, that's all; that's quite a powerful prophecy, but what is particularly interesting is that Israel, Ephraim and Judah all fall at the same time.
Now, in the ancient world that was not the case. The Jews had their own kingdom, the kingdom of Judah. The other ten tribes had their own kingdom, Israel. Israel was taken into captivity towards the end of the 8 th Century B.C. The Assyrians took the Israelites into captivity. Judah fell over a 100 years later to the Babylonians, so certainly not in a 30-day period.
Also, here we see Israel and Ephraim mentioned separately. Israel and Ephraim.
Now, we don't have time to look there, but in Genesis 48 you will see that when Joseph's sons were blessed Joseph's father Israel, or Jacob, said, "Let my name be named on them." So, the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, are the ones who carry the name of Israel today.
The fact that the Jewish nation in the Middle East has the name "Israel" is because the Jews don't understand about the ten lost tribes who formed the kingdom of Israel. You know, they think they just disappeared or they returned to the Promised Land with the Jews after the Babylonian captivity but, you know, really they got lost. Clearly they have a roll to play at the time of the end and, here, what we see is that Israel, Ephraim, and Judah all fall at the same time.
Now, Ephraim is the multitude of nations, what's left of the old British Empire, the British, the Canadians, the Australians, and New Zealanders.
Who is the Israel here? Well, as Israel said to Joseph's sons, "Let my name be named on them." The only other son is Manasseh, Israel and, of course, Manasseh, the United States, the great single nation that is the dominant nation of Israel in the world today, so I believe this must be talking about the United States, those British countries and, also, the Jewish nation.
It's only since September 11 th that they've been on the same side. Back in 1956, the British supported Israel during the Suez crisis, so the British and the French and the Israelis were on the same side in a battle. The U.S. was opposed at that time. Then, later on, the U.S. became the major backer of Israel and has been ever since, but the British have not been supporters of Israel, but in the last two or three years since the war on terrorism began, it's changed. As a result of that, you see these three nations now cooperating much more together. So, it's an interesting development. It's a prophecy that could not have been fulfilled until very recently.
Here's another one that could not have been fulfilled until about 1980: the book of Revelation, Chapter 17. Revelation 17: A prophecy that could not have been fulfilled until very, very recently. It can be now.
Vs. 12 — "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have received no kingdom as yet: but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast."
Vs. 13 — "These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast."
Vs. 14 — "These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings."
So, again, this is an end-time prophecy because it leads right into Christ's return and these nations, this beast power, actually turn against Jesus Christ.
Now, when you look at Revelation 17 and Revelation 13 and Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 and so on, you see that there's been a theme running through history for 2,600 years, ever since the time of Daniel. The world has been under the domination of one Gentile power after another. First of all, it was the Babylonian Empire, then you had the Persian, then you had the Greek Empire, then, of course, the Roman Empire.
Throughout the last 1,500 years, since the fall of the Roman Empire, you've had various attempts to resurrect the Roman Empire and often, in those attempts to resurrect the Roman Empire, the Church has been involved, the Church which really came out of the Roman Empire. Those two together have worked together and Revelation 17 is about that in prophecy and shows that that is going to happen again prior to Jesus Christ's return.
Now, it was not possible for ten nations in Europe to come together like this until the European Union was formed. You know, nations do not normally give up any of their sovereignty and yet here are ten kings, ten leaders, ten nations, willing to give up their sovereignty, to give up their independence to the beast, to bring all ten together, so that they become much more powerful as a result of a union between them. I don't know of any other nations in the world that are doing this. Sometimes people come up to me, and say, well, how do you know it's Europe because, can't it be the United Nations or can't it be the Southeast Asian countries or South America, or whatever? But, there is nowhere else in the world where nations are coming together and slowly but surely giving up sovereignty.
The Europeans, of course, made a major step forward in this respect a few years ago when they decided to get rid of their own national currencies and have one currency, for almost all of them, and that is the Euro.
You know, that is a major step. Imagine if the United States got together with all the countries in the Americas, including Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, etc., and we agreed to have one currency for all of us and then we put the Central Bank in Caracas. Can you imagine the U.S. doing that? I don't think so, okay? The British didn't go along with it either, by the way, but most of the Europeans agreed. They've given up their sovereignty, their sovereign right to have their own currency, which means also controlling interest rates, controlling the growth of the economy, unemployment, all of those things are tied in with that. These nations have given up more and more of their sovereignty and here we see these ten nations finally come together.
Now, right now, there are 25 nations in the European Union. When I was at school there were six. It started in 1957 and there were six. In 1973, that increased to nine and then in 1980 I think it was ten, so, at that point, when ten nations had come together, I guess you could say from that point on this prophecy could have been fulfilled. Now there is 25, in two months' time there'll 27, because Bulgaria and Romania are joining in two months. But, ultimately, out of this you're going to have ten nations come together as one superpower, a military power as well as a political entity system. How it's going to happen, exactly, and what's going to provoke it, I don't know, but certainly we see this is going to take place. Again, it was not possible until there were at least ten nations in this system.
Now, again demographics is interesting here, just as it is with Israel or with Judah in the Middle East, because the Europeans have a low birthrate. They've got more and more Muslims moving in from the Mediterranean area and in another 50 or 60 years some of those countries in Western Europe will have a majority Muslim population. So, again, I think we have to say that this prophecy must be fulfilled in the short term. I'm not saying in the next five years necessarily but, you know, it can't be that long away because of these developments that are taking place in Europe. A reaction must come in Europe at some point. A reaction must come and I'll talk about that a little bit this afternoon.
I'll move on to the next thing that could not have been fulfilled until fairly recently and that is Matthew:24:14: Point #6 in Matthew 24, again, this end-time chapter.
Vs. 14 — In verse 14, it says, "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come." Well, this Gospel of the kingdom could not be preached into all the world until after World War II.
You know, it's interesting when you look at the history of the Bible and you look at the history of the preaching of the Bible around the world and, of course, every church has its own interpretation of the Bible, the preaching of the Bible around the world.
It was the King James translation of the Bible that was first published in 1611, interestingly, just after that first settlement in Jamestown; but, when the translation of the Bible was first published in 1611, it was spread throughout the world. The British just took it to all of their future colonies so, you know, the Bible was introduced in nations all over the world; but, it wasn't until after World War II with radio and with television and with American money that the Gospel, as we know and understand it, could be preached to the whole world, and that really didn't come until the 1950's. I think 1953 was when the Church started doing this. So, again, another prophecy that was not fulfilled earlier. The Gospel of the Kingdom was not preached until that particular time.
And then, Point #7: a seventh prophecy, which again is about God's disciples at this time in history. Revelation 11. Another passage that, again, could not be fulfilled until this present time, the prophecy regarding the two witnesses.
Vs. 3 — "I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."
Vs. 4 — "These are the two olive trees, and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth."
Vs. 5 — "And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth, and devours their enemies: and if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner."
Vs. 6 — "These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy: and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire."
Vs. 7 — "When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit, so this is that same beast power that is prophesied in Revelation 17, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit, so it comes from nowhere, will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them."
Vs. 8 — "And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified," so, Jerusalem.
Vs. 9 — "Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues and nations will see their dead bodies three and one-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves."
Now, how does the whole world see their dead bodies: the peoples, tribes, tongues and nations? You know, this was not possible until satellite television, which has really changed the world radically. I think far more than we realize in the United States because most of our television in the U.S. is still American content, but satellite television has significantly changed parts of the world that I go to.
For example: Ghana. We used to live in Ghana in West Africa and I still go there regularly for the Church and look after the operations of the Church in that particular country. When we lived in Ghana, it had just one t.v. channel, it was black and white, it came on for five hours every night and its programming included two and one-half discussions on yam production in the upper region and equally exciting material from other parts of the country. When I went back in 2001, after an absence of ten years, they had satellite t.v., and you could watch all the latest shows from the United States, and what a difference that has made to the country! Before 1990 when we lived there, you didn't have problems like anorexia, for example, in Ghana. The bigger you are, the better, as far as the Ghanians were concerned but, once they got shows like Bay Watch, suddenly you've got all these young girls suffering from anorexia.
See, t.v.'s changed everything. I really picked up on this once when somebody said to me, I asked a person why Osama Bin Laden's picture was for sale on the side of the road, because Ghana is predominantly a Christian nation, mainstream Christian, only 14 ½ percent of the people are Muslims and in the capitol of Accra, which is at the southern end of the country, there were very few Muslims. But, his picture was for sale everywhere, so I asked this man, I said, you know, why is his picture for sale everywhere? He said, because people believe that America is trying to take over the world and Osama Bin Laden will stop them.
I thought about that and I thought why do people believe that? It is the influence of television, you see, because it's changing the culture. The majority of programs, now, come from the U.S. and it's changing the culture of the country and people resent this.
The parents resent this. The most common question I get asked in Ghana, I kid you not, is why do Americans allow their children to answer them back? See, they see that on t.v. shows and, in their culture, children are never allowed to answer their parents back or to question their parents about anything. So, they notice this and they feel threatened by it so, you can see this rising tide of, you know, anti-American thinking around the world, directly as a result of satellite t.v. shows that people are seeing.
But, of course, satellite television also brings the news in to different areas of the world. It has been said about Al Jazeera, which is going to be available in the U.S., by the way, on the 15 th of this month in English, Al Jazeera has changed the thinking right across the Middle East because now Al Jazeera, every hour, shows atrocities, it shows all the war and things that are being done by Coalition forces, supposedly, against the people in that area.
It doesn't show the other side, of course, it doesn't show that insurgents are blowing up people and the Palestinians are bombing Israelis, it doesn't show those things. It just shows the things that are done by the Western forces and by the Israelis; so, there is this never ending propaganda and anybody watching t.v., and most people leave their televisions on all the time in that part of the world, you know, it's on 18 hours of the day, 18 times a day people will see these images. So, it's natural that the hatred and the animosity are building up all the time.
But you see, also, how the whole world will see the dead bodies of the two witnesses lying in the streets and, before, that was not possible.
So: seven things which are possible today, but which were not possible in the past.
Another thing to consider, we don't have time to look at it, but in Hebrews 4, in the book of Hebrews, Chapter 4, you see how the Sabbath pictures the Millennium. You know, God created the earth in six days and the seventh day was the day of rest. Man has had 6,000 years of rule on this planet and the seventh day pictures the 7,000 -year rest, which is the Millennium.
II Peter 3:8 says that to God a thousand years is as a day and, again, we are at that period now, you know, at the end of the 6,000 years and we have the 7,000-year period of rest to look forward to.
Well, with all this in mind, how should we proceed? Matthew 24. We'll finish there.
Verses 21 and 22, again, remind us that Christ returns at the time of the end to save the elect.
Vs. 42 — In verse 42 it says, "Watch therefore: for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming."
Vs. 43 — "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."
Vs. 44 — "Therefore you also be ready: for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect."
We don't know exactly when Jesus Christ is returning. It could still be quite some time off; but, of course, for any one of us, it could be today because any one of us leaving here tonight could have an accident and that's it. Our lives are over. So, I think when we look at the Bible and then we look at Bible prophecy, the sensible approach for us all to take is this: we should be prepared spiritually for Christ's return today or tomorrow.
So be prepared at all times spiritually, but, physically, we should plan on retiring or living until age 85 or 95, whatever. Plan your full life as if you're going to live a full physical life, because we don't know exactly when Jesus Christ is returning.
But, when we look at some of these prophecies, we realize that, at the very least, nations today are certainly lining up in such a way that they will be in a position for the fulfillment of these end-time prophecies.
So, the time of Christ's return could be very near, but at the same time, we need to plan as if we're going to live a long time and that's the only way to approach this, just as the people had to 2,000 years ago and the people have had to throughout history.