To initiate a chronology focusing on the last days, a second timeline is illustrated that highlights primarily the events related to Israel, which are predicted to happen just before Jesus returns. Since the land of Israel and the Jewish people are the main topics of the end, recent Israeli history can be seen to reflect Biblical prophecies made thousands of years ago, which amazingly are coming true in our time. Thus, by magnifying the first chart (see The Sign Posts of History) and expanding the period preceding the Second Coming, we can begin to outline a chronology of Israel in the last days by filling in the key prophetic events revealed in God’s Word predicted for this period. This allows us to piece together those events prophesied in the Bible that fit perfectly into a map of where we are heading in these final years. Some of these events include fulfillments of prophesies that have already occurred from our perspective, and these certainly become clear signals of the nearness of the Lord’s return. Amazingly, the time period when these prophecies began to be fulfilled extends from the period of the early Twentieth Century to our current day, and these fulfillments will continue to progress until Christ returns and the Kingdom of Heaven is set up for the 1000-year reign of Christ.
One of the most important early events of this period was the rebirth of Israel on May 14, 1948. As the sections on Israel more fully discuss, this seminal event was the main sign leading to the end of the age. For the first time in thousands of years the Jews again had a homeland that they controlled and it occurred not as a result of protracted military campaigns, but in a single day just as the prophets predicted (Isaiah 66:7-8). This event is the most important signal of the last days, as most of the remaining prophecies concerning this period involve the nation of Israel and the Jewish people in their land.
The events on the chart leading up to the rebirth of Israel include many periods of intense persecution against the Jews. Often these times included violent Pogroms, which are mob attacks against Jews and Jewish property. These occurred in Russia and in many European countries as well as some nations throughout the Middle East. The persecutions against the Jews began to rip them away from the nations to which they had been scattered and many migrated back to Palestine in hopes of escaping. This uprooting culminated in the horrendous persecutions at the hands of the Nazis during World War II, which resulted in the deaths of millions of Jews.
As incredible as it may sound these violent persecutions of the Jews throughout the world and their migration back to the land of Israel occurred exactly as predicted by the prophets. The top half of the chronology of Israel in the last days includes a quote from Ezekiel 20:33-34, which states that God would rip them out of the nations with “fury poured out” and bring them back to their land. All of these persecutions, therefore, led to the historic founding of Israel in 1948 and the most exciting fulfillment of prophecy since the first coming of Christ.
Some have said that predictions of the soon return of Christ have been made in every generation and that none have them have ever come true; so what makes this generation and time any different? Primarily it is because of the rebirth of Israel that we can know for certain that the end of days is at hand. This event therefore is the primary sign on our chronology and the one that should grab our attention and wake us up from any doubt that the Return of Christ is drawing near.
The time period after Israel became a nation also is accurately predicted in the Bible. As the chronology chart shows, it is marked by repeated wars with their neighbors and decades of building tension. Both the prophet Jeremiah and Jesus himself predicted that before the end there would be a time of “wars and rumors of wars” and fear and trembling would characterize the nation of Israel, not peace. Although the Bible clearly predicts a time when Israel would be reborn and live in peace forever, the last days are distinct from that period, because Israel now is heading toward a day of judgment by the Lord, which will culminate in their true rebirth in salvation and faith.
There are many end times prophecies in the Bible that are important to comprehend, but for a full understanding of how they will fit into the chronology of the last days sometimes it is not completely clear until they actually occur. The rebirth of Israel is one such prophecy. The Lord plainly predicted that they would be reborn in a single day and become a nation in a state of unbelief leading to Armageddon (see for instance Jeremiah 30:3-7). However, God did not provide the details of how many wars they would have to fight before the end, nor did he tell us that they would finally capture Jerusalem only after winning a series of battles in a spectacular 6-day war. By living through this time period when the events actually happened, we now can understand how Israel’s days of trouble are unfolding. Decades of wars and turmoil have been building up to a point where Israel’s enemies are becoming too strong to fully restrain them by military strength alone. Pakistan has developed nuclear weapons and Iran is nearing completion of a nuclear program and missile development that will seriously threaten Israel’s security. Egypt and Syria are becoming more radicalized and are again calling for the destruction of Israel. The Iranian leaders have stated their goal of destroying the Jewish state in a nuclear holocaust. At the same time, terrorist groups in Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria have gathered thousands of short range missiles capable of striking within Israel. Meanwhile, the struggle between the Jews and Palestinians over Jerusalem is building to a crescendo that is being debated on a global level just as the prophets predicted (Zech. 12:2).
Aspects of these events have been added to the end times chart in ways that combine Biblical prophecy with actual news events. The two most important sign posts are the rebirth of Israel as a nation and their subsequent capture of Jerusalem in 1967. In addition, the period of wars and the constant fear that the Jewish nation has had to live through also are key parts of the predictions that have found fulfillment during this time. The Lord said that he would rip them out of the nations to which they had been scattered with “fury poured out” (Ezekiel 20:33-34). The prophets also predicted that after Israel became a nation that there would be a time of intense fear (Jer. 30:5). Jesus too predicted that there would be “wars and rumors of wars” in this time period, which would lead to the most severe period of trouble the world had ever seen (Matt. 24:6 and Matt. 24:21).
However, the one thing that was not completely clear in Biblical prophecy is how the rebirth of Israel and the subsequent years of tension would ultimately lead to the start of the last seven years of this age. This final 7-year segment is commonly called Daniel’s 70th Week. Daniel predicted that there would be a concluding 7-year period that would finish God’s dealings with Israel and ultimately result in their salvation right at the end of this age (see the sections on Israel and Daniel 9:24-27).
But how would the prophecies of Israel’s rebirth relate to the start of this final period? The Bible was not completely clear on this point. This is where a bit of hindsight from our current vantage point in history can help tremendously. The relationship between the timing of the rebirth of Israel and the start of the final seven years (Daniel’s 70th Week) could not be completely understood before our generation. Even though the prophecies definitely stated that Israel would be reborn in the last days, they did not provide enough information to say if the event would occur before the rise of the Antichrist, concurrent with his rise, or after he was already on the scene. Only by actually experiencing the fulfillment of some of these prophecies are we now able to place the events in their proper chronological order. In the case of Israel, it is apparent today that their rebirth happened long before the revealing of the Antichrist and that in the intervening years the world has been moving only slowly (from our perspective) in preparation for the rise of the final empire. Thus, from our current point of view in the early part of the Twenty-First Century, recent historical knowledge works to our advantage and helps us establish the end times chronology better than any other generation in the past could have done.
The specific prophecies dealing with Daniel’s 70th Week, however, are clearly explained in the Bible as to their chronological timing. For instance, it is well established that the final seven-year segment will occur immediately before the Return of Christ, and that the Lord himself will bring the entire period to a close. Indeed, it is in this one segment of the last days—containing by far the greatest number of prophecies dealing with the end-times—that the overall timing of events is best understood and defined.
From the new information on the second chronology chart, we can see that Daniel’s 70th Week is marked by two equal divisions. The initial half, or first 3-1/2 years, is primarily characterized by the empire of the Beast, while the latter half is labeled the “Great Tribulation” from Christ’s description of the horrible conditions predicted for that time. From our previous study of this period (see the sections on the New World Order) it is obvious that these two titles are perfectly adequate as general descriptions of what will happen during the final 7 years before Jesus returns.
Next: The Events Leading to the End (coming soon)