Where We Are in Prophecy--Part 1
Mar 13, 2008
Those who do not know anything about biblical timing are greatly limited in their perspective on where their generation is in prophecy (that is, the progression of the Kingdom). They are limited to Jesus' general statements in Matthew 24 about "wars and rumors of wars," along with "famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places" (24:6, 7).
The problem with those descriptions of the "end times" is that these things have happened in virtually every year since He made those statements. But, you say, we have MORE of them today than before. Well, perhaps, but keep in mind that we now have more extensive news coverage than in earlier centuries. There is no way to tell if wars and famines occurred in other parts of the world that had no office for the BBC.
I don't mean to criticize Jesus' words, but to be realistic about what these descriptions tell us. People have thought in every generation that Christ would surely come before they died, and they usually pointed to Matthew 24 as proof of it.
Back in 1844 the Millerites thought that Christ would come in 1844. The Civil War in the 1860's convinced many that the world was about to end. The same with World War I and World War II. Others saw 1914-1917 as being 2,520 years after the rise of Babylon and their subsequent conquest of Jerusalem (607-604 B.C.), and interpreted this to mean that Christ would come at that time. When the resurrection of the dead did not occur as expected, they spiritualized the event, rather than admit their error.
Various world leaders became the "Antichrist," such as Mussolini, Hitler, and then Stalin. In more recent years it was Henry Kissinger, followed by Gorbachev. Past "Antichrists" lived and died, books were written "proving" they were the Antichrist, and then they were forgotten as new "Antichrists" arose.
In the late 1980's, a man set forth 88 reasons why Christ would have to come in 1988. Many of his facts were correct in themselves, but these were obviously not reasons why Christ had to return at that time. Just because 1988 was 40 years after 1948 did not mean that Christ had to return in 1988.
Most of these failures discouraged people from attempting to understand anything about biblical timing in prophecy. There is nothing like a good failure to make people jumpy about such things. "No man knows the day nor the hour," they said, quoting Jesus in Matt. 24:36. In trying to date the time of Christ's second coming, these men discouraged others from seeing the timing of hundreds of OTHER worthwhile events. The effect was that people no longer knew how to be WATCHFUL.
Let me say up front that I do not focus upon the timing of Christ's second coming as such. That event, of course, will always be there to form the context of all timing, but God has not chosen to reveal this secret to anyone--or at least, not to me. Even so, He has certainly revealed much over the years, which gives us some idea of where we are in the prophetic history of the world in the plan of God.
In my book, Secrets of Time, I show how God has established appointed times for all things. He has done this to prove His sovereignty in history. Men do things according to that plan, whether they are aware of it or not. Nearly always, they are unaware of the providence of God moving them anonymously.
For example, Jeremiah prophesied that Jerusalem would be in captivity for 70 years (Jer. 25:11) because they owed God 70 rest years and Jubilees which they had never kept (2 Chron. 36:21). At the end of 70 years, Daniel became aware of Jeremiah's prophecy and repented on behalf of the people (Dan. 9:2). He was then given the revelation of what would come next. Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians precisely 70 years after it had established itself as an empire in 607 B.C. Darius the Mede reorganized the empire for the next three years. King Cyrus of Persia then freed the Judahites 70 years after Babylon had conquered Jerusalem in 604 B.C.
Darius and Cyrus were ignorant of biblical prophecy, and thought that the conquest of Babylon was their own idea. Little did they know that they were following a prophetic script, and God was leading them all along to fulfill His Word at the appointed times. In fact, Isaiah had prophesied centuries earlier that a king called Cyrus would unknowingly do everything that God told him to do (Is. 45:13). This was proof of God's sovereignty.
Daniel 9 prophesied of a period of "seventy weeks" (that is, 70 rest-year cycles, or 490 years) that would lead to the Messiah. Although this passage is usually misunderstood, it established the timing of Christ's baptism and His death on the cross in 33 A.D., because this event occurred precisely 490 years after the Edict of Artaxerxes in 458 B.C. This Edict was issued in the 7th year of King Artaxerxes of Persia (Ezra 7:8). It is the event which started the countdown toward the first work of Christ. It had been revealed to Daniel close to 80 years earlier.
When Daniel's prophecy was completed, John was given the next set of revelation that would sustain us for the next 2,000 years during the Age of Pentecost leading to the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles. John's revelation was a prophetic history of the Roman world in which the Church lived (primarily). Those who put the book of Revelation into the future have missed all of the remarkable fulfillments of these progressive events. We have now come to the end of Revelation and are watching for the fall of Mystery Babylon.
For a full study on Revelation, see my FFI series which I did a few years ago. The whole series is posted online, beginning with issue #169 or 170.
John's revelation is a continuation and enlargement of Daniel's revelation about the four beast-empires (Dan. 7). These beast-empires were given dominion until the time came for the saints to be given jurisdiction (Dan. 7:22). The saints are given jurisdiction in the end after the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6). So it is plain that these four beast-empires would rule until the first resurrection, though no doubt their rule could be eroded by the time that event takes place.
Daniel speaks of the fourth beast (Rome) and the "little horn" (Roman Church) that comes from that fourth beast. That "little horn" is the subject of Rev. 13, and its time of absolute rule is given as 1,260 "days." Most assume that these are literal days, when in fact history shows us that it was 1,260 YEARS (529-1789 A.D.). It began to end with the French Revolution, when the Roman Church suffered its first great loss, and more than 30,000 priests were killed, with many more fleeing to other places like England and French Canada.
Of course, 1,260 is half of 2,520. Daniel's prophecy focuses on the first 1,260 years, while John's revelation focuses upon the final 1,260 years. The details of this are written in my FFI series.
Many biblical events had end-points 2,520 years later. In studying these end-points, we can see a remarkable pattern emerge that ties our modern era with that of biblical history. I wrote of this in my book, The Prophetic History of the United States. These 2,520-year cycles really began to be fulfilled in 1776, when America was founded 2,520 years after Israel began to be deported to Assyria in 745 B.C.
In fact, America's capital city, Washington D.C., was completed in 1800, which was 2,520 years after Israel's capital, Samaria, was destroyed in 721 B.C.
Later, we see the rise of Economic Babylon when the Federal Reserve Act was signed into law in 1914. That occurred 2,520 years after the original Babylon had become an empire in 607 B.C.
Jerusalem fell in 604 B.C., and 2,520 years later (1917) Jerusalem was liberated by General Allenby toward the end of World War I. (to be continued)
This is the first part of a series titled "Where We Are in Prophecy." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones