IS ARMAGEDDON NEAR ?
by Ed Stevens
The phrase "battle of Armageddon" is much used by the present day followers of "Pastor" Russell, the Watchtower Society and the "Bible Students Ecclesia", and with dire predictions of doom for all who disregard their teachings. People who flock to their banner know not that they neither "rightly divide the Word of truth" (II Tim. 2:16) nor rightly teach the true way of salvation in Christ, whose deity they steadfastly deny. Since many religious organizations are sadly mixed up regarding prophecy, a plain paper on rightly dividing prophecy is timely Chronology, or TIME, was measured from Adam to Josiah, king of Judah, by the life-span of the lineal human ancestors of Christ, the promised "Seed of the woman" (Gen. 3:15). In Josiah's reign and in the captivity of Judah which shortly followed, Jeremiah, by inspiration prophesied this captivity would last "seventy years". Jer. 25:12; 29:10-14. Then near the close of this 70 year period Daniel "understood" this prophecy and prayed for God's "great mercies" for Israel. Dan. 9:1-19. His prayer was interrupted by the angel Gabriel who revealed to Daniel that "Seventy weeks", or 490 years were further "determined" on God's time-clock of prophecy concerning Israel. Please note this important Bible truth—God measures TIME since Nehemiah's day in connection with ISRAEL, and Israel only. Quoting Dan. 9:24:
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy."
From Daniel 9:25-26 we see that 69 "weeks", or 483 years would end with the crucifixion of "Messiah", Christ. This leaves one more "week" (Dan. 9:27), or 7 years of time to run out before Christ returns to begin His reign of "everlasting righteousness" ("of His kingdom there shall be no end", Luke 1:33). Peter wrote:
"The prophets enquired .. . searching diligently what, or what manner of time (it's duration and characteristics) the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow." I Pet. 1:10-11. They could not know the "mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known", which was revealed through Paul, that after Christ's crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension God is building "the church which is Christ's body". Eph. 1:22, 23; 2:21, 22; 3:1-9. No prophetic time and no prophecy whatsoever is associated with this "mystery".
A NON-PROPHETIC PARENTHESIS
Only after the church will be "caught up to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thes. 4:14-17), will the remaining unfulfilled "week" or seven years of prophetic time run its course. This Bible truth nullifies all the dates set by the cults as though certain prophecies were fulfilled since the cross of Christ. Does it not also prove that their so-called visions, revelations, and studies are spurious, a "giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons"? I Tim. 4:1.
Since there is no TIME measurement in the present parenthesis in Bible prophecy (church gaps can be placed in many Old Testament passages of prophecy), Paul's prophecy about demon activity "in the latter times", and that "in the last days perilous times shall come" (II Tim. 3:1-5, 13), must refer to times immediately after the church is caught up. That we can see these things now in progress assures us that the rapture (seizing away) of the church is near!
Furthermore, the prophetic Word informs us that during Daniel's seventieth week, a part of Israel will be back in Palestine "dwelling safely in unwalled villages" when "Gog" and company march against her. Ezek. 38:8, 11. Israel, in part, has been returning to Palestine! It is now (1956) nearly forty years since the Balfour Declaration in November, 1917 restored Palestine as a national homeland for the Jews. This and present day significant events are not occurring in prophetic time, which is void today, as explained above, but do they not indicate that God's prophetic time-clock may soon run again?
The many who teach that Israel's regathering was all accomplished in the days of Ezra, and that God is "through with Israel" since the cross, should believe God's Word that, "The Lord shall set His hand the second time to recover the remnant of His people" from "among the heathen" (the nations) and will have "left none of them any more there"! Isa. 11:11; Ezek. 39:28. Scores of Bible prophecies speak of Israel's second regathering. Today God is permitting Israel to return in unbelief. At Christ's return, having purged "the rebels" (Ezek. 20:38; Zechar. 13:8, "He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His ELECT from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matt. 24:30, 31. As in Ezra's day, "fear was upon them because of the people of those countries", so today. Then, the temple was rebuilt, so it will again be rebuilt, to be desecrated (as the former was by Antiochus) by "another [the 'Beast', who shall come in his own name, him [they] will receive". John 5:43.
The present Jewish-settled Palestine, the strategic center of the earth, "set in the midst of the nations" (Ezek. 5:5), with its vast wealth of minerals in the Dead Sea and its other wealth, will be coveted "in the latter years" by "Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tuba", who will come from the north "and many peoples with thee". Ezek. 38:1-13. Joel 2:20 speaks of this "northern army". Jeremiah 4:6, 7 reads: " . . . I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction. The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles (nations) is on his way . . . ". This may have double fulfillment—Nebuchadnezzar and Gog. A double fulfillment of part of Ezek. 38 and 39 would explain the burning of wooden weapons after the defeat of "Gog and Magog" at the end of the Millennium. Rev. 20:8; Ezek. 39: 9, 10. Double fulfillment is true in numerous Bible prophecies, e.g., Dan. 8:9-12, 21-26 speaks both of Antiochus Epiphanes (168 B.C.) and the future Beast who is prophesied in Matt. 24:15, who will cause "the abomination of desolation" in the future rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. In II Thes. 2:3, 4 he is termed the miracle-working "man of sin" that "sitteth in the temple of God showing himself that he is God."
WORLD DICTATOR COMING
From the metal image vision of Daniel 2, concerning four God-appointed successive world powers, or "kingdoms", we can know with confidence that the fourth "iron" kingdom, the old Roman Empire, which was expanded eastward by Trajan to include in the Near East, Armenia, Syria and Mesopotamia, will retain its territorial boundaries, generally, until Christ returns, who will "break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms" (v. 44). Quoting J. B. Newton (1918), during. World War I:
"The sovereign controlling power of earth which was first vested in Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, next in Cyrus of Persia, afterwards in Alexander of Greece, descended at last to the emperors of Rome; and within the territory once ruled by them, that sovereign power resides, and there its home will be until the Gentile Image comes to an end and forgiven Jerusalem becomes the 'City of the Great King'. Accordingly, during all the rude shocks which the Roman Empire has received, the supreme determinating power of earth has never left its boundary."
Bible prophecy reveals, we may believe, that the old Roman territory will not be subdued by outside powers before Christ returns. According to Dan. 7 (see also Rev. 13 and 17) where four beasts represent the four great kingdoms, the old Roman Empire territory, which included a western portion of Germany (so divided today!), will be confederated in the end time under "ten kings", or leaders. It is interesting, indeed, that today an European union is forming and that the oil-rich eastern territory of the Roman Empire is coming to life politically and commercially. "Another shall arise after the ten kings; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three Icings", we read in Dan. 7:24. Here arises the coming world-monarch (Rev. 13:7), a "diverse" deceiving superman, "whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness"! II Thes. 2:9, 10.
According to Dan. 8:9, 21-26, the coming world dictator, called "the Beast" in Revelation, must arise somewhere in the territory of Alexander the Great. Bible maps of ancient lands show "Gomer", "Meshech and Tubal" of Ezekiel 38:2-6; 27:13 as situated above Phoenicia, north of Palestine. On what authority may they be made to designate Germany, Moscow and Tobolsk, as many have taught? Does not verse 17 suggest that "Gog, the chief prince of the beast, intent on Israel's destruction, in the words: Meshech and Tubal, may be the future tyrant-"king", "Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days for many years that I would bring thee against them?" "Gog" means "to cover", as an overlord, and Rev. 13:7 tells us the Beast will have power "over all kindred., and tongues, and nations"! He will be "the king of the north" (Dan. 11:36, 40),"the Assyrian". Isa. 10:24; 14:25; Micah 5:5, 6.
It is true that we can only conjecture concerning some unfulfilled prophecies. However, we can know the dictator —"Beast" (Rev. 13) will be in Palestine in "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7), or the "great tribulation" (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:19), and that then "all the kings of the earth and of the whole world" will be deceived and "gathered into a place called in the Hebrew tongue, ARMAGEDDON". Rev. 16:13-16. This valley of Megiddo in Palestine will be the scene of the battle of Armageddon, when the Lord Jesus shall appear with "the armies in heaven following Him", (Rev. 19: 11-14), to victoriously slay His enemies with the breath of His mouth. Please read here II Thes. 2:3-10; Rev. 19 and Jer. 25: 30-33! Then wars will end for one thousand years till the invasion of "Gog and Magog". Rev. 20: 7-9. The Beast and the False Prophet will be cast into the "lake of fire", where they are still found after 1,000 years, showing this doom is not annihilation! Rev. 20:10. That Ezekiel 38 refers to Armageddon as occurring at Christ's second coming is made certain, by verse 20, speaking of the "presence" of the Lord.
Reader, are you saved? Will you be caught away from the awful impending judgments described in John's "Revelation"? Rejecting Christ now, do you think you will have as much chance to be saved after the church is gone? That is extremely doubtful for. God says, then: "Because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved, God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." II Thes. 2:9-12. "Behold, NOW is the acceptable time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation." II Cor. 6:2. "He limiteth a certain time saying... TODAY if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts!" Heb. 4:7. Turn with penitent heart and "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ [as explained in I Cor. 15:1-51 and thou shalt be SAVED." Acts 16:31.
Armageddon and the Lord's coming IS NEAR!
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