History, as we know it today, will end where it basically began – not on the battlefields of the United States or Asia or Europe, but in Israel. The final battle that will be fought between the nations of the world will take place in Israel. This battle will rage around one city, where more wars have been fought than any other on earth: Jerusalem. Its very name, ironically, means “city of peace.”
Known as the Battle of Armageddon, it will bring to a conclusion the horrible time known as the Great Tribulation period. And it’s all going to come down in the Middle East. During the Gulf War, I happened to be teaching through the book of Revelation at the church where I pastor. This fascinated a few members of the media, who came to the church to do stories about it. The question I was asked repeatedly was, “Is this Armageddon?”
I told them, “No, but it could be a dress rehearsal.” Watching how quickly the events unfolded in the Middle East shows us how quickly the last days events God describes actually will begin to happen.
In my understanding of Bible prophecy, the next event on the prophetic calendar is the rapture of the church, that time when the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, and Christians will be caught up to be with him in the air. Then the Antichrist will come onto the scene.
Initially, the Antichrist will be a great man of peace. Not only will he bring a peaceful solution to the constantly troubled Middle East, but he also will bring global peace. And what is the cry we hear from the nations of the world today? It is a cry for peace. We want wars to stop.
The Antichrist will do what no one else has ever been able to do: he will endear himself to do the Jewish people by helping them rebuild their long-awaited temple. He will be so popular that some even will hail him as the very messiah.
He also will introduce a system of buying and selling, no doubt through digital technology. Revelation 13, speaking of this cashless society the Antichrist will inaugurate, says, “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (verses 16–17 NKJV).
People once mocked the Bible because of that statement, downplaying it as futuristic nonsense. They would say, “How could anyone possibly function in a cashless society? How could anyone keep track of everyone else?” Well, they aren’t mocking anymore.
The Antichrist will utilize this technology for his own gain. No one will be able to buy or sell without his mark. But the problem is he will be more than a bad man; he will be Satan’s man. If the devil ever had a son, this will be him.
The Bible also tells us that in the last days “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4 NKJV). People are constantly busy and moving around so quickly today. You can cross the Atlantic Ocean in a matter of hours. You can solve complex mathematical equations in milliseconds. You can send messages around the world at the speed of light.
Imagine just 100 years ago how far-fetched it would have seemed if you had said, “Within 60 years, man will walk on the moon.” But in 1969, that’s what Neil Armstrong did. Now it’s old news. Knowledge has increased, we are running “to and fro” like never before, and we continue making leaps in this technology.
But in case you have been hoping for a wonderful utopia that mankind will build, I have some bad news for you. The Bible also says, “Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand” (Daniel 12:10 NKJV). It seems as though we go from bad to worse. It was always the hope that we would do away with wars and have global peace, but we haven’t come any closer to world peace. In fact, we’re farther from it.
In a 1948 Armistice Day address, Gen. Omar Bradley said, “We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. … Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.”
If that was true in 1948, then how much truer is it today? With all of our sophistication, with all of our knowledge, we have only become more base, more perverse and more wicked.
Jesus said, “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day” (Luke 17:26 NLT). One of the prominent sins of Noah’s time, according to Genesis 6:11, was that the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and full of violence.
That is a description of our times. We are a violent culture, and it just gets worse. But the good news is that God will still be at work, and “many shall be purified” (Daniel 12:10 NKJV). The same passage in Daniel also says, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt” (verse 2).
There is a final judgment that is coming to every person. Yet it breaks the heart of God to have to say to someone, “Depart from me, I never knew you. …” The Bible says that God has “no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33:11 NKJV).
This is why he took such radical measures in sending his own Son to come to this earth, be nailed to a Roman cross, and have all of my sins and your sins placed upon him. He bore that horrible agony for us so we wouldn’t have to face this punishment. That is what God did for us.
Everyone will face death sooner or later. The statistics on death are really quite impressive: one out every one person dies. We will all face it, no matter who we are.
It doesn’t matter how famous you are or how wealthy you are. You leave it all behind. And then you stand before God.