Dreaming? Knowing things? Speak.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to God must believe that God, The Creator exists and that His Essence rewards those who earnestly seek ALL that God is, Amen.
We are living in perilous times. Stories of war, terrorism, economic turmoil, political revolution, disease, earthquakes, and other natural disasters top the news headlines every minute of every day. And now, add to the list of categorical calamities the deadly pathogen known as COVID-19 or the Coronavirus.
All of it and more stokes fear and unrest in our hearts. Like every generation, ours wonders if these are the last days of planet earth and if the return of Jesus Christ is imminent. This is a good time to remember that hope is the hallmark of the Christian life. Faith not fear. Peace, too. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27; Philippians 4:6-7).
Late 1700s–1930s (pre-WWII era)Edit
During this pre-WWII era, there are three big trends that operate separately, but sometimes affect each other in development and outcomes.
First, a trend of urbanization (fueled by the Industrial Revolution) as well as greater global trade and migration leads to new challenges, including those in urban sanitation and infectious diseases/pandemics. Six global cholera pandemics happen in this period because of increased commerce and migration.:125
Second, there is a lot of development on the underlying theory of disease, advancements in vaccine and antibiotic development, and a variety of experimental large-scale eradication and control programs. One big example: the germ theory of diseases begins to become accepted and popularized starting around 1850. Another big example is the development of the smallpox vaccine by Edward Jenner in 1796. Systematic eradication and control efforts include the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission and efforts to eradicate smallpox.Antitoxins and vaccines for numerous diseases including cholera and tuberculosis are developed during this period, building on a trend of greater understanding of and control over microorganisms.
A third theme during this era is the formation of various preliminary international alliances and conferences, including the International Sanitary Conferences, Pan American Health Organization, Office International d’Hygiène Publique, and the League of Nations Health Committee. This is closely intertwined with the other two trends. For instance, the cholera pandemics mentioned above, as well as the growing scientific understanding of the germ theory of disease, are both key impetuses for the International Sanitary Conferences.:125
1940s–early 1960s (post-WWII era)Edit
Following the end of World War II, the first batch of big organizations, both international and national (with international cooperation), including the United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO), form. Beginning with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration for relief of victims of war in 1943, there is a big push to begin creating large scale health initiatives, non-governmental organizations, and worldwide global health programs by the United Nations to improve quality of life around the world. UNICEF, the World Health Organization, as well as the UNRRA are all part of United Nations efforts to benefit global health beginning with developing countries. These various programs aim to aid in economic endeavors by providing loans, direct disease prevention programs, health education, etc.
After wrapping up complications caused by the end of the war, there is an international energy put in into eradication, beginning with the complete smallpox eradication in 1979. There is greater dissatisfaction with WHO for its focus on disease/infection control at the expense of trying to improve general living conditions, as well as disappointment at its low budget and staffing. This atmosphere spurs other organizations to provide their own forms of aid.:6:126 The Alma Ata Declaration and selective primary healthcare are created to express urgent action by all governments and citizens to protect and promote the health of all people equally. More organizations form following these new active attitudes toward global health, including the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Doctors Without Borders organization. Publications like the WHO Model List of Essential Medicineshighlight basic medicines required by most adults and children to survive, and set priorities for healthcare fund allocation in developing countries.Generally, there is more buy-in for the idea that direct, targeted efforts to address healthcare could be worthwhile and benefit many countries.
Certain specific efforts increase in efficiency and productivity, including improvement in maternal and child health and a focus on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria (the ‘Big Three’) in developing countries. During this time period, the child survival revolution(CSR), which helps reduce child mortality in the developing world, and GOBI-FFF are both advocated by James P. Grant. The World Summit for Childrenalso takes place, becoming one of the largest ever gathering of heads of states and government to commit a set of goals to improve the well-being of children. Finally, HIV/AIDS becomes the focus of many governmental and non-governmental organizations, leading to the formation of the Global Programme on AIDS (GPA) by efforts of the World Health Organization.:6 However, these health organizations also make significant advancements to tuberculosis treatments, including the DOTS strategy and the formation of the Stop TB Partnership.
2000s and beyondEdit
UN’s Millennium Development Goals establishes health care as an important goal (not just combating infectious diseases).:7 Later in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals build on the MDGs to outline the objectives that will transform our world by ending poverty, helping the environment, and improving health and education. More specific disease-targeting organizations are created primarily to fund healthcare plans in developing countries, including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. These organizations (especially the WHO) adopt new strategies and initiatives, including the 3 by 5 Initiative to widen the access to antiretroviral treatment, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, etc.Private large donors such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation begin to play an important role in shaping the funding landscape and direction of efforts in global health.
But the question remains: are we living in the last days of planet earth? The Bible’s answer is yes, but not for the reasons you might think. All of the New Testament writers agree that the “last days” or the last chapter of world history began with the arrival of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, into the world.
Where/When are we?
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Romans 14:8
But the Lord is the true God;
He is the living God and the everlasting King.
At His wrath the Earth quakes,
And the nations cannot endure His indignation. Philippians 1:21
for if we live, we live for The Lord, or if we die, we die for The Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are The Lord’s. Colossians 3:3
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Jeremiah 10:10
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. John 1:4
the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked, Amen. 1 John 2:6
For example, the writer of Hebrews begins, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (1:1-2). The apostle Peter adds, “Christ was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you (1 Peter 1:20).
So, we are living in the last days and we have been since Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. Whether we are in the final days of the last days is another question altogether.
The New Testament makes at least nine specific references to the “last days,” the “later times,” and the “last hour.” “The day of the Lord” is also an important prophetic term used throughout Scripture to describe the final consummation of history. New Testament references to the last days can be grouped into the following categories.
- Rapid moral decline (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
- Supernatural and celestial wonders (Acts 2:16-21)
- Emerging apostasy (1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:3)
- Growing skepticism (2 Peter 3:3-4; Jude 1:18)
- Anti-Christian sentiment (1 John 2:18)
However, more to the point of today’s global concern:
Is the Coronavirus another sign that we are nearing the end of the age?
When asked by His disciples about the end of the age and the signs to look for when it was near, Jesus mentioned “pestilences.” Within a larger list of general signs that includes “wars and rumors of wars,” He said, “There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11).
For sure, the Coronavirus and much more happening in the world today points to the fact that we are living in the last days. Regarding pestilences and the larger list of general signs, Jesus said, “But all these are merely the beginning of birth pangs” (Matthew 24:8 NAS). In other words, as we grow closer to the end of the age, these signs would increase in frequency and intensity. Does anyone doubt that this is happening right before our eyes?
With brutality, deadly pandemics have visited recent generations. Estimates vary, but some believe as many as one third of the world’s population became infected with the Spanish Flu of 1918. Nearly 50 million people died, making it the deadliest pandemic in modern history. Others since the beginning of the twentieth century include Cholera (800,000 deaths), Asian Flu (2 million deaths), Hong Kong Flu (1 million deaths), and HIV/AIDS (36 million deaths). In just the last few years, we have endured, like birth pangs, many more dangerous pathogens including SARS, Swine Flu, Ebola, Avian Flu, MERS, West Nile virus, and now the Coronavirus.
By the way, during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, where were the public demands for citizens of the world to practice social distancing? All we heard then, from some, was “wear a condom” and “practice safe sex.” Instead, marriage between one man and one woman for one lifetime is still God’s plan for the kind of social distancing that protects us from HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
On a lighter note, Robert Fulghum was an American minister who published a series of short essays. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten became a bestseller. During the Coronavirus crisis, perhaps we should heed his kind advice and return to our preschool days by practicing personal hygiene and social distancing. In other words, wash your hands and keep your hands to yourself. Even more important and in light of the signs of the times, Jesus said, “Straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing nigh” (Luke 21:28 ESV).
The book of Daniel provides an overview of world events from the days of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon all the way to Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and subsequent millennial reign. Daniel forms the framework for the book of Revelation and for the understanding of biblical prophecy.
Daniel’s 70 “sevens” prophecy encompasses the chronological framework for the history of the Jews from now until eternity. Again, the book of Revelation fits into this framework. It’s really impossible to understand what’s going on in Revelation without understanding the book of Daniel.
Daniel’s generalized overview occurs in Daniel chapter 9. Daniel was reading the book of Jeremiah when he realized that the 70 years of Jewish Babylonian captivity was coming to an end. Daniel wondered what would happen next–exactly what many Christians today are also wondering about our own times. Understanding these prophecies can help us understand what God has revealed to us about His plan for the End of the Age.
Along with asking God to tell him what came next for Israel, Daniel spent time in prayer, confessing the sins of Israel and pleading God’s forgiveness for those sins.
Daniel’s overview begins with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream-vision in Daniel 2.
Prophecy 1 – Nebuchadnezzer’s dream
Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a huge multi-metallic man with a golden head, chest and arms of bronze, belly and thighs of brass, and feet and toes made out of iron mixed with clay. He then saw a mountain coming out of the sky which hit the man on the toes and feet. The mountain crushed the man into powder, and the mountain grew to fill the earth.
Daniel explained to Nebuchadnezzar that the different metals represented different kingdoms. Babylon was gold; Media-Persia was silver; Greece was bronze; and Rome was iron. The iron mixed with clay represented a future conglomeration of loosely federated governments united around one man whom Daniel identifies as the antichrist. The nations were in chronological order from top to bottom. We see here the devolution of human governments. The value of these kingdoms begins with gold and ends with iron. Also,notice that the nations increase in power over time. Babylon was a terrible foe; however, its wickedness and power were nothing to match the wickedness, strength,and power of the Roman Empire.
I suppose that the lesson here is that all governments degenerate over time and that God is ultimately in control of each of them.
As explained in the book of Revelation, the 10 toes represent 10 nations, occupying the area of the old Roman Empire. These nations will come together in the last days in an attempt to destroy Israel and take over the world. The nations don’t get along very well just as iron doesn’t mix well with clay. Revelation describes these nations, along with several others, that will all be led in a loose coalition by the antichrist.
The mountain which destroyed the multi-metallic man is a picture of the resurrected Jesus Christ at His Second Coming destroying the wickedness of the Gentile nations on earth. The mountain which grew to fill the earth is a picture of the millennial reign of Christ on earth.
Prophecy 2 – 490 Years and the Reign of Jesus (Messianic Kingdom)
God sent the angel Gabriel to give Daniel an answer to his prayer concerning what God had planned for Israel.
Gabriel shared that God had another program for Israel when the 70 years were concluded. This plan was for 490 years. As you read the verses below you will see how the book of Revelation fits into this passage.
Daniel 9:24 is the overview: Seventy “sevens” are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.”
Daniel 9:25 -27 gives the details: “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven. In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
Remarkably, this passage looks 560 years into the future to predict the very day when Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, April 6, 30 A.D.
In Daniel 9:24 we learn three facts regarding God’s plan for Israel.
- First, God’s program for Israel extends for 70 “Sevens” (70 x 7 = 490 Sevens). “Seven” is the Hebrew word “Heptad.” This is a generic word which can mean seven of anything. It is similar to our word, “Dozen” which can mean twelve of virtually anything: twelve bananas, twelve pencils, twelve years. The context of this passage helps us to determine that here the word “Heptad” is referring to seven years. One “Seven” equals 7 years. (70 X 7 years = 490 years.)
- Second, this program applies to Israel. “Your people and your holy city.”
- Third, this program will continue until Christ establishes His Messianic Kingdom.
Gabriel shared six characteristics of the Messianic Kingdom of Christ’s l000-year reign on earth.
- To finish transgression: refers to Israel’s national transgression of rejecting the Messiah. At the Second Coming, transgression will be ended because they will accept Him as Savior.
- To put an end to sin: the national sin of Israel will end.
- To atone for wickedness: refers to the reconciliation for all in the Cross of Christ. At the Second Coming Jew and Gentile alike will recognize and believe in the atoning work of Christ.
- To bring in everlasting righteousness: Christ’s Kingdom is set up on earth for a millennium.
- To seal up vision and prophecy: After 70th week all prophetic announcement and visions will be confirmed and fulfilled.
- To anoint the Most Holy: refers to the Millennial Temple which will function during that time.
God reassured Daniel that He still has a plan for Israel. After 490 years Israel will be restored to their land and will prosper in a glorious future.
The first sixty-nine “sevens” (483 years) (Daniel 9:25) began at the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. This decree is described in Nehemiah 1:1 and 2:5-8. Historically, the “20th year of Artaxerxes” was 444 B.C. Using the Jewish calendar of 360 days per year and the fact that the prophecies began on the first day of the month, we know for certain that this period began on March 4, 444 B.C.
Prophecy 3 – Birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ
The 69 “sevens” are broken down into two phases: One seven and sixty-two “sevens.”
- Seven “sevens” tells of the time during which the temple was rebuilt. It took 49 years. Ezra and Nehemiah both helped in the rebuilding and spoke often of the troubled times occurring during this process.
- The 69 “sevens” concludes when the Anointed One, the Ruler comes.” From 444 B.C. until the coming of Christ on Palm Sunday is 483 years or 69 “sevens.”
483 prophetic years (360 days adjusted to 365.25 days =5.25 days difference between the Jewish calendar and our present-day calendar. 483 X 5.25 = 2535.75 days or about 6 years and 11 months. Subtract adjustment… and…483 Jewish years from March 4, 444 B.C. to Palm Sunday is April 6, 30 A.D. (see Robert Anderson’s book, The Coming Prince).
This is one way that Anna and Simeon knew that it was about time for the Messiah to be born so that they could carry out their planned worship of Jesus as a baby.
To a believer in Christ, Daniel’s 490 year prophecy is a tremendous confirmation of the Word of God!
We live in a day in which the Word of God is under attack on every hand. Many mock it, and thousands ignore it; yet, here is a tremendous confirmation for all of us to see this prophecy fulfilled in absolute detail to the very day.
Of course, most of Israel was blinded to it all, as many are blinded to how God is working today as well.
Several things occur between the end of the 69th seven at the beginning of the 70th (Daniel 9:26).null
Prophecy 4 – Death of Jesus Christ
First, “the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing.”
This is one of the prophecies in the Bible of the death of Jesus Christ.
One of Holman Hunt’s most famous paintings of Jesus hangs in the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery, and is called “The Shadow of Death.” Christ is pictured as a young man in Joseph’s workshop. The sun is setting. Christ stretches out his hands after a hard day’s work. At that moment, the artist catches Jesus’ image. The shadow on the wall shows a man with arms outstretched like He’s dying on a cross.
Jesus Christ lived his entire life in the Shadow of the Cross. He came to die on that cross for the sins of Israel and for the sins of the entire world.
After 69 “sevens” – 483 years, Jesus was “cut off”.
Prophecies 5, 6, 7 – Jerusalem Destroyed, Antichrist, Church Age “Gap”
“The People of the Ruler who will come” refers to the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D.
More than three million Jews were killed. Masada occurred. When you are in Rome be sure to see the huge arch of Titus standing at the entrance to the Roman forum which commemorates Titus’ his victory over Israel. Seeing the coming Holocaust, Jesus wept for Jerusalem as described in Matthew 23.
“The Ruler who is to come” is the Antichrist. He’s the little horn of Daniel 7:8 and the Beast of Revelation l3.
A time gap occurs after the end of the sixty-ninth “seven” and before the beginning of the seventieth “seven”.
At the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, 30 A.D., God’s prophetic time clock stopped. The hands stand poised at 69, indicating that there is still one seven-year period left.
We have no indication giving insight into how long until the 70th “seven” commences. After all, long gaps of forty years occurred between the crucifixion and the destruction. Today we are in the gap, waiting for the last seven years to commence, but in His Word, God has revealed much information concerning his plan for this “seven,” so that we can understand the times in which we live.
Prophecy 8 – Antichrist Rules
The Seventieth “Seven” (Daniel 9:27) begins when the antichrist makes a peace treaty with the nation of Israel for seven years.
“He” is “The Ruler of People Who Will Come”. The Romans came in 70 A.D. The antichrist will be descended from them. “Many” refers to the Jews and the nation of Israel.
Daniel sketches the outline of 70th seven; Jesus roughs in the picture with the Olivet Discourse; John fills in details with the Book of Revelation.
This is why we don’t have to be baffled or surprised by what we see in Europe and the Middle East. I believe that God is preparing to restart the clock. The teams are lined up and the ball is about to be
Amazingly, Israel has never been assimilated into another nation. In 1948 Jews came home from all over the world. Sociologically,this has never happened with any people. When’s the last time you saw a Babylonian walking around? They’re all gone. But not the Jews.
We’re told elsewhere that the Jews will accept the Peace Treaty with the Antichrist who rules Europe because they are fearful of the threat of the “King of the North.”
When a Bible student sees Israel aligned with the West, and not the North or South or East, he or she is not surprised! This is simply a sign of the times. The teams are lining up. We may one day witness the Antichrist taking control of a ten-nation confederacy in Europe by subduing three nations.
Incidentally, the Jews will mistake the Antichrist for their coming Messiah and the beginning of peace for the initiation of the Millennium.
Notice that the Rapture does not restart God’s prophetic clock. No one knows exactly when the Rapture may occur. It could come at any moment.
Prophecy 9 – Antichrist Led by Satan – Abomination of Desolation
In the middle of the 70th “seven” (3 l/2 years, 42 months, l260 days) Satan falls from Heaven and indwells the Antichrist (Revelation 12:912; 13:4).
Then, the Antichrist breaks the peace treaty and does two things:
- He forbids the offering of sacrifices in the Temple (Daniel 9:27). This indicates that Israel will have a Temple during this time.
- He sets up the Abomination of Desolation on the altar in the Holy Place in the Temple.
The Abomination of Desolation is mentioned by Christ in Matthew 24:15-16. The Abomination of Desolation as described in the Old Testament refers to anything which desecrates the Temple of God. The Abomination of Desolation is a resurrected image of the Antichrist that the Antichrist forces people to worship as God or face death (Revelation13).null
Prophecy 10 – Great Tribulation
Jesus said that this is a sign for the godly to flee. The Antichrist will then launch the greatest wave of Anti-Semitism that the world has ever seen.
Three and a half years of Great Tribulation will then begin as the Antichrist tries to wipe the Jews off of the face of the earth. As the time of great tribulation comes to an end, Jesus returns with the Armies of Heaven and defeats the Antichrist (Revelation 19).
Prophecy 11 – Second Coming of Jesus
The Messianic Kingdom begins and the six characteristics of Daniel 9:24 will occur.
Baffled? Never, thanks to Daniel 9.
Today, we see the rise of Israel as a state, its alignment with the West, its possession of Jerusalem, its plans to rebuild the Temple,soon to be deployed Iranian nuclear missiles, and the beginnings of worldwide anti-Semitism: all of which are preparing the way for the Beast. Watch closely the rise of the European Union.
Here is a good way to think about the Second Coming: “We plan as though Jesus isn’t coming for 1,000 years, but we live as if He is coming in the next 10 minutes.” Israel’s immediate future is desperate, but she will repent and turn to God, trust in the blood of Christ, and have a glorious future with the Lord. By the way, the same future is available to all who apply the blood of Christ to themselves. null
Susanna, I know that I answered a lot more than you asked, but hopefully this overview will help you to make sense of Bible prophecy and how it applies to what is going on in the world today, as well as to remind you that God is in control of our future, and has been since the beginning of time.
Editor’s Note: Pastor Roger Barrier’s “Ask Roger” column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at email@example.com.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.null