If I were to tell you that within four years, billions of people will die, how would you react? Concerned? Shocked? Or would you write me off as a crazed doomsday prophet before I finish the word “die”?
I know it sounds crazy, and I’m not even sure if I believe it or not… “Billions to Die!” It’s unimaginable.
Yet that is exactly the impression I’m getting lately. End times scholars, such as Irvin Baxter, have redoubled their efforts to warn the populace of the impending judgment day.
Baxter in particular has made it his ministry’s goal to reach every man, woman, and child on Earth with the Gospel message within 2008.
I am humbled by his ambition.[note]Indeed, any believer living in a town full of people they’ve yet to reach out to should be humbled by such lofty ambition. You don’t have to agree with Baxter’s end times related motivations, to be sure; you simply need to believe the gospel enough to get it out there![/note]
Billions. Dead. What do I do with a claim like that?
To be honest, I haven’t dismissed it entirely. I’m not claiming omniscience or any other kind of precognition of the future — truly, only the Father knows the timetables! — yet I cannot simply remain willfully ignorant of the things going on around me, things which seem to be reaching a fever pitch among some.
All of that said, anything which I add to the myriad voices would be mere speculation. Keep that in mind as you continue reading.
I first want to take you to the Book of Daniel; this passage is, if I may say, rather thick, but please stick with me.
My apologies to my Reformed covenant theology readers — this will probably get a bit too dispensational for your tastes. Continue reading at your own discretion.
The first thing to keep in mind is that in this passage, a “week” refers to what is sometimes called a “prophetic week,” that is, a seven year period. In other words, “seventy weeks” would be 490 years. In verse 26, we see the messiah being cut off after 435 years (about sixty-two weeks).
Want to see Bible prophecy in action? Daniel records that the Messiah would be cut off 483 years (seven weeks [v. 25] + sixty-two weeks [v. 26]) after the decree to restore Jerusalem. This decree to rebuild Jerusalem came sometime in 457 BCE by Artaxerxes I in the seventh year of his reign (Ezra 7:12–26). Now, 483 years after that would be 26 CE. A slight adjustment to that to take into account the Jewish use of a 360-day lunar year would instead place us in 27 CE. That is the year that Jesus Christ was very likely crucified. As prophesied in the Book of Daniel, the anointed one was cut off right on schedule.
Messiah being cut off fulfilled sixty-nine of Daniel’s seventy weeks. What about that last week?
In verse 26, still, we see that after the crucifixion, there is a “people of the prince that shall come” which will destroy Jerusalem. When was Jerusalem destroyed? That took place in 70 CE, after the messiah was cut off, just as prophesied. That siege took place under the command of Titus, a Roman emperor.
I do not believe Titus is the “prince who is to come” referred to in verse 26, and I’ll tell you why. In verse 27, there’s some business about a covenant which will be confirmed by a “he.” This “he” seems to refer back to verse 26’s “prince who is to come.”
As nearly as I can tell, Titus did not enter into a covenant relationship with the Jews.
I believe that this prince — the prince who ruled over the Romans even as they laid siege to Jerusalem — is still in the future even today.
Some people feel that the “he” who will form the covenant refers to the messiah; however, this covenant is very temporary — lasting only seven years — while the New Covenant is an everlasting covenant.
Now what will happen is that this prince — whoever he may be — will show up on the scene and make a covenant with the Jewish nation.
Daniel’s seventy weeks are not continuous! While the first period of seven weeks and the second period of sixty-two weeks followed one right after the other, there is an interval separating the sixty-ninth from the seventieth week. You can easily see this in that more than seven years passed between the cutting off of the Messiah and Jerusalem is destroyed. The gap is often called the “Church Age.” It is the period described in 2 Peter 3 as the period in which all of the elect are being saved. The Jews were given a very specific timetable of seventy weeks which many felt should have been completed by the time Peter wrote his epistles; many scoffers arose who mocked the Christians for believing in a future second advent of the messiah. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise (that “determined shall be poured upon the desolate” [Daniel 9:27]). But the fact of the matter is, we do not know how long it will take for all of the elect to come to repentance; our best guesses based upon current events are just that — guesses.
Tell me, what is it that’s going on in the world today? Take the Annapolis Conference as an example. Efforts are very much underway to bring peace between Israel and its most persistent enemies, and it’s entirely possible that by the end of this year, a peace agreement will be reached, settling the borders of Israel.
Is this the confirmation of the covenant mentioned in Daniel? It’s entirely possible; if the agreement reached has a seven-year timetable, then that possibility will be a whole lot more likely. If it is, we’re in for one wild wide.
What kind of a ride?
I’m not going to go into whether Christians will be present for these events or not; frankly, I do not know. Also, I won’t get into arguments with those who believe we should do everything in our power to stop these events from taking place; they are prophesied, and they will happen. You’re free to pursue whatever political interests you want — including advocating against unification of nations in a move toward global government — but don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re somehow stopping the apocalypse. If the apocalypse never happens, Jesus Christ will never return to this earth in glory — frankly, that is something I’d be more than willing to endure Daniel’s seventieth week to enjoy.
This list is based upon the one in the Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible[note]Think what you will about Tim LaHaye, I have found his study Bible to be fairly reliable and it contains a wealth of information on various topics related to the end times.[/note] called “Twenty Major Prophetic Events Yet to Be Fulfilled” (page 1,445).
- Antichrist, the “prince” who confirms the covenant in Daniel 9, sets up a one-world government (Revelation 6:2; 13:1–8). Efforts toward this have been taking place all around us, with the United Nations, European Union, and (possibly) impending North American Union as evidence. The passage in Daniel links the Antichrist with the people who destroyed Jerusalem, and we know that people to be the Romans. Antichrist’s kingdom will likely be a global revival of the Roman Empire.
- Antichrist establishes a seven-year covenant of peace with Israel (Isaiah 28:15; Daniel 9:24–27).
- A global church is established (Revelation 17:1–15) which is the ultimate culmination of thousands of years of idolatry on the part of Babylon. As Rome will hold political sway over the world, so will Babylon hold the world in a religious stranglehold. All interfaith and ecumenical movements seem to be working toward this, especially where cooperation between the Roman Catholics (Rome) and Muslims (Babylon/Iraq) is concerned.
- God’s first wave of judgments upon the world, known as the Seven Seals, results in a world war which kills twenty-five percent of the population, among other things. (Revelation 6:1–17) Assuming the population of the world has reached seven billion by then, 25% would be 1,750,000,000 people. The passage actually says “over a fourth of the earth.” Can you wrap your mind around that? I am thankful that I cannot.
- During the judgments of the seven trumpets, a third of the remaining unbelievers will die (Revelation 8–9), among other things.
- Halfway through the Antichrist’s covenant with Israel, he betrays the Jews, breaking the covenant and setting an image of himself up in the Jews’ temple, proclaiming himself to be god and demanding worship. (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–8). This event is known the abomination of desolations.Not only are plans moving forward to establish peace of Israel, but materials have already begun to be gathered for the rebuilding of the Jewish temple. The Temple Institute has already amassed a great many of the items needed for temple worship. End times events cannot move forward without the Jews’ temple. Prophecy is unfolding before our very eyes.
- A false prophet arises to direct worship of the Antichrist — some believe this could be a future papal father of the Roman Catholic Church — while in economics, the mark of the beast is established as a requirement in order to buy and sell. All who take the mark and worship the Antichrist in effect declare their antagonism toward Jesus Christ.Great strides are being taken in economic technology; the mark of the beast is becoming increasingly plausible in ways that it never before would have been. I still disbelieve that the mark will be anything more than an actual mark upon the head or the hand, but the more we move toward such control in economics is interesting indeed.
- The second half of the seventieth week is known as the great tribulation, and things get even more wild than during the first three and a half years.
- Armageddon. The world turns against Israel (Revelation 16:12–16).
- Despite all his power, ultimately the Antichrist’s political, economic, and religious systems are toppled.
- Jesus returns to this earth to establish his kingdom (Matthew 24:22–31; Revelation 19:11–21).
- Jesus reigns for 1,000 years while Satan is bound and all his pawns are cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:1–7).
- The new heavens and the new earth are created and the new Jerusalem comes into view. History has been consummated. Yahweh reigns forever. (Revelation 21–22).
I don’t know how soon those events are. We are told in the Scriptures to be awake, watchful of the events around us, prepared for the coming of the Lord (Revelation 16:15); yet we ought not to let anticipation of future events distract from the here and now.
The confirmation of the covenant with Israel may take place within a year; it may not. Interestingly enough, if the covenant is confirmed in the latter half of 2008, then Armageddon would take place in 2012 — a date somewhat notorious for its association with end of the world ideas, notably the end of time according to the ancient Mayan calendar.
We’re also amazingly close to my seventh-grade prediction of 2015.[note]OK, I admit that this prediction means nothing and is wholly whimsical. In my math class, the teacher gave “2015” as the answer to some math question, and for whatever reason, as he said it, my apparent cognition of the event slowed down, making it seem as if he spoke in exaggerated slow motion. Do you remember the “forever” scene from the movie Sandlot? It was like that.[/note] Indeed, if 2008 is the year of the covenant confirmation, then the return of Jesus Christ would be seven years later in 2015. Back then, I didn’t know a bit of biblical prophecy; not bad for an uneducated guess!
At the very least, the next few years will be interesting. Numerous “Really Big Things” are taking place in the world today, and seeing how it all plays out isn’t something you’re going to want to miss.