Signals pointing to fulfillment of Bible prophecy continue to mount. The signs are in every direction on the horizon of this generation. We are convinced we must, in obedience to the commission to be good watchmen of issues and events in light of God's prophetic Word, propose scripturally sound possibilities for this last time. We will delve into likely scenarios that might play out on the stage of human history from now until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Specifically, we will forecast the probabilities of things to come for the next four years.
This is not an endeavor to try to set dates. Our goal is to offer perspective, both different and superior, scripturally, and rationally, to the endless number of predictions, made through wild speculations, that have turned out to be false. We don't make any claims of supernatural knowledge or secret intelligence reports. We base our forecasting upon Jesus' words of condemnation to those of His time on earth who were willfully blind to the common signs signaling His first coming.
"Jesus answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" (Matt. 16:2-3)
If you were to look back into history 150 years, you would find that Bible prophecy follows a very steady rate of progress. Because man becomes bored with or desensitized to prophecy-related events, he fails to realize how simple the task of prophecy watching can be. No Christian who earnestly seeks to know what the Bible says about what will happen in the future will fail to discern the signals.
The European Union
The EU has evolved from its genesis as the Club of Rome in the mid-20th century to become the 25-nation geopolitical entity we believe will ultimately provide the power base for Antichrist (Rev. 17:12-13).
As it looks now, the European Union, while a growing behemoth, will likely remain in the shadow of the United States until some future dynamic changes the present circumstances.
Because the Bible predicts the revived Roman empire will initially be a weak government, the next four years will likely continue to see the EU struggle with internal strife. Despite the conflicts and setbacks, the pro-EU forces will ultimately end up on top of the climb toward global power. Watch for the EU to assert its strengthening economic and military power while the next four years unfold.
If the prophetic birth pangs are going to increase with greater frequency and intensity, it is logical to assume that terrorism, as part of the end-time mix, will increase from this point. The world has yet to experience a large-scale terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction. We believe it is only a matter of time before the world is brought to a new level of shock as WMDs kill large numbers of innocent people.
It is very possible the Antichrist will rise to power as a result of a climate of fear involving terrorism. The Word of God indicates we are headed towards a period so frightening that men will die prematurely from fear.
"Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken" (Lk. 21:26).
Watch for terrorism to rise to the level of catastrophic use of weapons of mass destruction. Terrorism will inevitably bring with the dangers involved, liberty-oppressing ramifications throughout the U.S., and the world.
In chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel, we are told that Russia and a host of Arab and other nations will attempt an invasion of Israel. Prophetic scholars have been puzzled by the "evil thought" that will cause Russia to come against the tiny nation of Israel.
"Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, [that] at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought" (Ezek. 38:10).
The Gog prophecies appeared to many to be tailor-made for the geographical area once within the Soviet Union. When the USSR fell and was replaced by a freely elected democratic government, most prophecy watchers were in a state of denial about the validity of the reforms. Now that Vladimir Putin is rapidly reversing Russia's experience with freedom, we're getting an indication that the geopolitical realities that will produce the prophesied leader, Gog, are in place today.
Watch for Russia to drift away from democratic ideals. As it does so, we expect to see that nation embark on a new drive toward militarism. At some point, Putin's desire for even more power will cause him to exert strong-arm influence on the weaker nations surrounding Russia. The test of how near we are to Russia's prophesied campaign against Israel depends on how the world community reacts to Putin's likely coming move.
Mark of the Beast - 666
Actually, very little advancement is required before we reach the point at which the world will utilize a centralize financial system to control all economic transactions. The technology now exists and is ready for full implementation around the globe. The changes we see in the next few years may be very subtle, but they will have a profound impact.
By 2006, most consumer products will become tagged with radio ID chips (RFID). Once all the items on our store shelves become tagged, the logical question will be asked: "Why aren't humans marked?" As the tags become more popular, watch and listen for more serious talk about a cashless society, then for dynamic movement to implement it.
"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Rev. 13:16-17).
The United States
Because prophecy does not specifically cite the United States as being a major player in the end times, one can assume with good reason that our nation will become a secondary player in the final days leading up to the tribulation.
It is possible a devastating event might remove the U.S. from the world stage. For example, with a total national debt of $7.4 trillion and a trade deficit of roughly $500 billion for 2004, the American economy could implode from its own excess.
We believe America's position as the number-one global economic power will continue to diminish while the EU's economic fortune rises. U.S. resources are massive, but not without limits. The constant drain on them from expansive policing responsibilities around the world may trigger a breakpoint. Dependence upon fossil fuel to power both the engines of its vehicles and the engine of its commerce add to the strain on the U.S. economy. Watch for the spiritual and political division at the nation's core to worsen if Christians continue to make material matters their priority.
The Israeli-Arab Conflict
In the near future Israel and her Arab neighbors may experience a new level of hostility that will grab the world's attention like never before. Because Antichrist is predicted to be the guarantor of peace for Israel and its enemy neighbors, there must be a conflict of considerable magnitude for him to resolve. With Syria and Iran possessing weapons of mass destruction, that level of conflict could come when Israel tries to preemptively disarm one or both of these nations. Watch for such action, if it occurs, to thrust Israel toward isolation foretold in the following prophecy:
"And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it" (Zech. 12:3).
The Bible tells us that someday a huge military alliance will invade the Middle East with an army of 200 million soldiers. Because China is about the only nation with the ability to man and effectively outfit an army of such massive size, prophecy watchers have looked for it to fulfill the role of the kings of the east found in the following prophecy:
"And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared" (Rev. 16:12 ).
"Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them" (Rev. 9:16 ).
Watch for China's economic might to continue to grow. We expect that its need for natural resources will cause the Communist state to become more determined to project its influence on a global scale. We also think that China's relationship with the U.S. will become strained by the need to compete for those dwindling resources.
The decline in morality has been one of the easiest end-time signs to project. Over the past decade, the filth spewing from the media has steadily increased, its society-infecting contents flushing the nation and the world ever lower toward the cesspool of cultural depravity. Many short-lived attempts at reversing the trend have been made, but all have failed. It is likely that over the next four years, profanity and nudity will descend to new lows.
The growing availability of satellite and internet outlets that are beyond the reach of federal regulators will almost certainly speed the decline. "Shock jock" Howard Stern has already realized he can escape the wrath of the FCC by moving his radio program to the Sirus satellite network. Watch for entertainment media to severely test the broadcast and cable morality monitors at every turn. Since the regulators themselves approach life from a sin-fallen perspective, things will go from bad to worse.
One of the best ways to measure levels of apostasy is to track the activity of popular Christian leaders who are heavily involved in heretical doctrine. For a number of years, Rapture Ready has reported on the activity of leading figures in the word of faith movement. Until now, their errors have mostly been confined to teaching that corrupts the Gospel message.
Because there is no such thing as stagnant apostasy, in the next four years, we expect to experience examples of Christian leaders adopting doctrines that conflict directly with the heart of Christianity. Watch for some of the key indicators of apostasy to proliferate greatly. Some of these are: bold statements that reject Jesus as the only way of salvation; the acceptance of homosexual lifestyle; and hate-filled words and actions against true believers.
Man has just about discovered all the major oil fields on the planet that are going to be found, according to some experts. In fact, the rate of discovery of worldwide oil reserves, after declining for 40 years, is reported to have nosed dived in recent years. In 2000, there were 16 large discoveries of oil, eight in 2001, three in 2002, and none in 2003, notes James Meyer, director of the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre in London.
While more and more nations become industrialized, the focus on oil supplies is going to force the world's attention even more dramatically in the direction of the Middle East. Watch for the rise in the value of oil over the coming four years. That will in all likelihood lead to stronger military ties, as oil wealth is exchanged for armaments.
The Harlot Church
Bible prophecy forewarns that during the end times, a demonic spiritual movement will use love and understanding to create a global pantheon of religions. The result will be an organization that promotes the false belief that all roads lead to the Creator. Because Jesus Christ said that He is the only way to God, anyone who holds to this truth will be labeled intolerant.
In the next few years anyone who disagrees with that developing religious system of "tolerance" will not be tolerated. In the name of tolerance, Christians will be pushed to the margins of what is considered "tolerant" society. Already, our culture has reached the point that it is a hate crime for someone to declare the supremacy of Jesus Christ. Scripture foretells the result of the trends in this direction:
"And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration" (Rev. 17:4-6)
Watch for increasingly stringent legislative proposals, and, particularly, for more court actions and edicts aimed at putting a clamp on Christians expressing godly values in most every area of life in America.
People of the United states and the world are entering a time rife with probabilities that will present great danger to personal liberty. The next four years will, at the same time, offer possibilities full of great opportunity to live victoriously through Christ.