How to Understand Bible Prophecies for Today

 

Almost one-third of the Bible is prophecy. According to one Bible teacher, from whom I received my first prophecy lessons, of that one-third, 90 percent pertains to our generation! But from what I have seen in my study of the Scriptures, the percentage is even more. It is more likely to be 98 or 99 percent, with one or two percent specifically referring to events that happened at the first coming of Christ or events that relate to some ancient nations which do not exist anymore.

The first truth you should know when reading the prophecies is that almost all the prophecies, except the one or two percent that I referred to above, have a dual fulfillment, and several have a threefold or more fulfillments. Let me give you a few examples.

There are about 350 Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah that were fulfilled by the life of Jesus Christ when he came in the flesh over 2000 years ago. But except for the very few that speak of events that relate to his birth, betrayal and crucifixion – which are fewer than 10 prophecies (his virgin birth, betrayal by Judas, physical abuse by his enemies, hanging on a cross, the piecing of his side, not a bone of his being broken) – all the other verses that were fulfilled at Christ’s first coming are going to be fulfilled in far greater scope when he comes again. Take this prophecy, for example:

‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.’ Gen 3:15

When Jesus died on the cross, he fulfilled the first phase of this prophecy.

‘Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil’   Heb 2:14

But this original, or archetypal, fulfillment foreshadows something far more universal and absolute in scope that will happen in the endtimes. Satan will once again bruise the heel of Christ’s body, the Church, with persecutions, but when the Lord returns with power, he is going to crush Satan’s head with a greater force and finality that the devil will never be able to raise his head again to bruise God’s people.

‘And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are [‘had been thrown’ – NIV], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.   Rev 20:10 KJV

Here’s another example:

‘The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts. Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him.’   Ps 72:10-11

‘Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.’   Mat 2:1,11

The wise men giving gold and other gifts to baby Jesus is only a miniature precursor of what is going to take place when the King of Kings rules in glory on his throne in Jerusalem.

‘Your God has commanded your strength; strengthen, O God, what You have done for us. Because of Your temple at Jerusalem, kings will bring presents to You.’   Ps 68:28-30

‘You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive; you have received gifts among men, even from the rebellious’   Ps 68:18

An example of a prophecy that has a threefold fulfillment relates to Elijah. There was the original Elijah of ancient Israel, and then there was John, the Elijah during Christ’s first coming, and then there will come yet another Elijah in the end times just before Christ’s second coming.

‘And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.’   Mat 17:11-13

Another prophecy with a threefold fulfillment is about ruler called the Beast.

‘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. 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.’   Dan 9:26-27  NIV

The archetypal fulfillment was when the Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the Second Temple and erected a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies.

But this prophecy mainly refers to the king who will come in the endtimes and defile the temple. Jesus’ prophecy was about the endtimes, in answer to the disciples’ question as to what are the signs of his coming and of the end of this age.

‘Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”…Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand) then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.’   Mat 24:3,15-16

Antiochus IV Epiphanes is the archetype of a king of similar character in the endtimes, called the ‘Beast’ in Revelation 11:7, and referred to by Paul as the ‘man of lawlessness’ whose coming will precede the return of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:2-4 NIV). But after this beast is destroyed, another world ruler, also called the Beast, will rise to oppress God’s people again, as described in Revelation chapter 13.

That’s the first principle you should remember in studying Bible prophecy. Every prophecy, except for the very few I mentioned earlier, has it greater fulfillment in the last days. The first fulfillment was only a foreshadowing, on a much smaller scale, of sooncoming world events, many, or most, of which will happen in our generation – the generation that is already witnessing several signs of the last days.


Almost all the prophecies have a dual fulfillment, and several have a threefold or more fulfillments.


The second truth is the cyclic rise and wane of nations and empires throughout history – from the rise of the first empire, Babylon, to the destruction of the Beast’s global realm at Christ’s return, and from the beginning of Israel as a nation in the land of Canaan to its final exile and restoration in the last days.

The first empire in history was that of the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar. It was, compared to the empires that would come after, a golden one in glory. When the golden empire waned, it was followed by a silver empire, then a third one like bronze, and finally an empire that’s as strong as iron. (Daniel 2:31-43)

A similar vision is given in Daniel chapter 7, which speaks of a succession of four empires – the first represented by a lion, the second by a bear, the third by a leopard, and the fourth by a dreadfully awesome beast. These two visions saw their first fulfillment in the Chaldean empire,  succeeded by the Medo-Persian, then the Greco-Macedonian Empire led by Alexander, and finally the mightiest of them all, the Roman empire.

The fourth and final empire is itself prophesied to have 10 revivals (Daniel 7:24). In its first reign, Rome took the Jews captive and dispersed them among the nations, until God brought them back as a nation again in 1948 in the modern state of Israel. The Roman empire waxed and waned through the centuries. One of its revivals was under Napoleon, who tried to conquer Britain but was thwarted by the intervention of God.

Napoleon Bonaparte

After Napoleon’s reign ended, there was a period of dormancy for the Roman empire. In the early 20th century, it briefly revived again as the ‘Deutsches Reich’, that is, German Empire, which ended with its defeat at World War 1. It did not rear its iron head for about 20 years, after which it rose again, this time as the ‘Third Reich’ under Adolf Hitler, with the same mission of destroying the chosen people of God. It succeeded in destroying 6 million Jews – about two-thirds of the total Jewish population in Europe, and about one-third worldwide – who had been living peacefully as citizens in Germany and the nearby countries that Germany annexed. When Germany with its ally Japan,  tried to destroy the rest of the chosen nations by attacking Britain and US, God rose again and caused both the German and Japanese empires to be annihilated from the face of the earth, just as they had intended to destroy God’s people.

But the Bible prophesies yet one more revival of the Roman Empire, before it is eternally destroyed by God. The next revival has already begun with the emergence of Germany as the greatest economic force in the European Union, and with Japan, its future ally again, as the greatest in the East. Soon both Germany and Japan will turn their attention to becoming the greatest military forces in the world. And then, the endtime events relating to God’s modern chosen nations will happen in quick succession.

A deep study of the similarities of the nations and the individuals involved in the cyclic world events will reveal some astonishing facts. Just to ignite your own interest in researching prophecy, consider these similarities between the two kings of the revived Roman Empire.

Napoleon Bonaparte sent millions of men to their death without any remorse, in an age where one million people hardly ever lived in a single city, and European countries were composed of only a few million people. Adolf Hitler slaughtered far more millions of people. They both thought and felt alike:

Napoleon: “I shall bury the world beneath my ruin”
Hitler: “We may be destroyed, but, if we are, we’ll drag the world down with us, a world in flames.”

Napoleon: “A man like me cares little about losing the lives of a million men.”
Hitler: “I can send the flower of German youth into the hell of war without the slightest pity.”

In reference to Europe,

Napoleon: “A rotten old whore whom I shall treat as I please”
Hitler: “I had to rape it in order to possess it.”

Adolf Hitler

Also, consider this incredible timing of events in their lives:

Napoleon was born in 1760. Hitler was born in 1889 – 129 years difference.
Napoleon was elected in 1804. Hitler was elected in 1933 – 129 years.

Napoleon captured Vienna in 1809. Hitler captured Vienna in 1938 – 129 years.
Napoleon attacked USSR in 1812. Hitler attacked USSR in 1941- 129 years.

Napoleon was defeated in 1816.
Hitler was defeated in 1945 – 129 years

Both came to power, when they were 44.
Both attacked Russia, when they were 52.
Both lost the war, when they were 56 years old.

Information about the similarities has have been collected from various sources, including ‘Napoleon and Hitler’ by Desmond Seward; ‘Mein Kampf’ by Adolf Hitler; ‘Age of Napoleon’ by J. Christopher Herold.

I don’t know yet the significance of the 129 years difference. It is a number divisible by 7, if that means anything. But the similarities are certainly not coincidental.

Now consider the cyclic rise and fall of another nation, different from all other nations in history.

Israel is delivered from slavery in Egypt, and settled in the Promised Land. After some years of obedience, they forget their covenant with their God, and their hearts turn to other gods.  God removes his protection from them and they are attacked by enemies. They repent, and God sends them judges to deliver them. These happens repeatedly (read Judges) until they start committing wickedness on such national scale and of such depravity, which includes burning their infants alive to appease their new gods, that God completely withdraws from this nation. Israel is taken as slaves by the Assyrians, and eventually they become ‘lost’ among the nations, and come to be known as the ‘Lost Sheep of Israel’.

The tribe of Judah, known as the Jews, however, continues to exist as a nation for some more time. When their sin becomes great, they are conquered by Nebuchadnezzar and taken captives to Babylon. The first temple at Jerusalem is also destroyed. After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, the nation repents and God allows them to return to Jerusalem. They build the second temple and submit to their God for a while. Then it happens again, they sin terribly, and the nation, along with the temple, is destroyed by the Romans. In 1948, Jews are again able to return to their homeland Judah, although the country is now officially known as Israel.

As for the lost tribes of Israel, there are churches that believe that the modern day descendants of ancient Israel can be historically traced. According to their view – a view which I personally strongly endorse – the lost tribes of Israel who had been taken captive by the Assyrians, continued to live among the nations until around the fifth century, when they began to flourish in Europe, and especially, in the British Isles. They were mainly known as the Angles and Saxons.

It is beyond the scope of this message to give you historical proofs that the Anglo-Saxons, along with the Celts, Danes, and some other races, are the descendants of ancient Israel. Some evidence is available with a few churches that believe this, and you may search them online. Presently, I will base my evidence on what happened to the Anglo-Saxons in the light of Bible prophecies.

Let me caution you at the outset that if you are going to base your beliefs about the identity of the descendants of ancient Israel purely on historical records, you may be getting into a lot of controversial theories and counter theories. I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt – my conviction being based on the prophetic events being fulfilled today among these peoples –  that the nations I mentioned above, who are settled in UK, US, Canada, France, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Australia, and a few other nations, today are the descendants of the 12 tribes of ancient Israel. That is, just as God’s prophecies were fulfilled by what happened to ancient Israel, they are fulfilled in what has happened, what is happening, and what will soon happen to these modern nations.

For your enlightenment consider these parallels between ancient Israel and the modern nations I mentioned.

First, consider the calling of the nations. God called out a slave people from Egypt and made them his own nation. He went before their armies and miraculously delivered them from their enemies. Above all, he gave them the way of life which would ensure their continued blessings. This way is based on The 10 Commandments which God gave to Israel through Moses. As long as they submitted to Yahweh and his commandments and acknowledged him as their only Lord and God, they fared well. When they forsook God to indulge in harlotry with the idols of other nations, they began to wane, until, when their sin reached incorrigible proportions, they ceased to exist as a nation. The became lost among the other nations.

Then, around the 6th century, a people began to rise in Britain. They quickly advanced in their civilization like no other nation since ancient Israel. They became the world’s greatest empire ever, stretching from one end of the earth to the other. Even as this empire was expanding, another people from within the British empire, left homeland and settled in anther continent. This nation soon became an even greater world power than Great Britain. This new world power comprised a multitude or union of peoples, and came to be known as the United States of America, with a population presently about three times larger than that of Britain.

‘his [Ephraim’s] descendants shall become a multitude of nations’.   Gen 48:19

‘They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.’   Deut 33:17

These two nations were given the very choicest of lands to settle in. From Britain, France, and Scandinavia to America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. A land flowing with milk and honey, and abundance of oil and metals, and every other resource they need so they dont have to depend on imports from any pagan nations.

Strangely, for reasons not explained by any mainstream Christian churches, these very nations also had the same holy Scriptures that ancient Israel had, and they also acknowledged the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The British and US constitutions are based on the same Scriptures that ancient Israel was governed by.

The founding fathers trusted God to protect their nations, and therefore Britain and the US were always protected from their enemies, including their attackers in the two world wars. Here is just one example of how God protected his people by repressing the enemy’s attempts and assisting his people’s efforts in war.

In 1939, during the early stages of World War II, a large contingent of British soldiers where trapped in Dunkirk, a town on the coast of France adjacent to the English Channel. They possessed no means of crossing the Channel, and the Germans pursued close behind. If caught, the soldiers would be forced to surrender, and England and the allies would lose hundreds of thousands of valuable troops. As news reached Britain, a plan was formulated to evacuate the British soldiers back to England. Hundreds of ships, including many small boats, crossed the channel to do their part and help the men of England. Miraculously, while the men were being evacuated from May 25 to June 3, foggy weather inhibited the efforts of the German Luftwaffe. However, in the channel, which normally had notoriously bad weather, the waters were calm, allowing for quick evacuation. By June 3rd, 338,226 men were evacuated from Dunkirk. Without the men saved at Dunkirk, World War II might have had a very different outcome.

God always went before his nations’ armies.

But again, as in ancient Israel, these chosen nations began to be so surfeited in their abundance of blessings, that, like overfed stallions and bull elephants on heat, they began to lust after their neighbors’ wives. The nation became guilty of harlotry against their God, more than her pagan neighbors. They descended so low that their sin was greater than that of Sodom and Gomorrah.

These chosen nations began to legalize homosexuality. Some of the churches that claim the God of the Bible as their Lord, even began to ordain gay priests. Their lives became so decadent that God again withdrew in disgust from a nation that did not want him in their lives anyway.

Beginning with the Vietnam war, God stopped going out with modern Israel’s armies. Even US’s so-called victory over an impoverished second-rate military power like Iraq, has ended in ignominy, with her own people condemning the war and calling it a great mistake.

Since the dawn of the 21st century, the pagan nations began to acquire the wealth and power that once belonged to Britain and America (please see my message ‘The “Times of the Gentiles” Has Begun’).

The chosen nations’ first major devastation by their enemies was the fall of the Twin Towers, which symbolized US dominance over the world’s markets. Far greater catastrophes have been prophesied for the coming years, and I urge you in the Lord’s name to be daily aware of the latest happenings in America and her kin nations in the West. Watch the world news channels. For a Biblical perspective on world happenings, read my other messages in this section.

World Trade Center on 9/11 shortly after the second tower had collapsed.   Courtesy: Wally Gobetz (flickr.com/photos/wallyg/159454993/)

Finally, to understand Bible prophecy, you should understand which are the nations God refers to today when he uses the names of ancient nations and cities in his prophecies for the endtimes.

Jacob – Refers to all the 12 tribes descended from Jacob, which today are found in Europe, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and other Bible-holding nations of the West (though they may not acknowledge it as their spiritual authority anymore), and a few Catholic nations, especially France.

‘For You have forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled with eastern ways; they are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they are pleased with the children of foreigners.’   Is 2:6

Israel, depending on the context of the Scripture, may refer to the 12 tribes, or the 10 tribes (without Judah and Benjamin).

‘For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers will be joined with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob.’   Is 14:1

More specifically, Israel refers to the descendants of Joseph – Manasseh and Ephraim – who are the English speaking nations today: UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Jacob, whose name was also Israel, when blessing the sons of Joseph, declared that these two tribes will be known by his own name.

‘Bless the lads [the sons of Joseph]; Let my name be named upon them’   Gen 48:16

The British and US constitutions are based on the same Scriptures that ancient Israel was governed by.

Great Britain and the former British Commonwealth, which included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, where the Queen is or was the official head of state, inherited the blessings of Manasseh. The US became modern Ephraim, even greater than Britain.

‘His glory is like a firstborn bull, and his horns like the horns of the wild ox; together with them he shall push the peoples to the ends of the earth; they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.’   Deut 33:17

‘He [Manasseh] also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother [Ephraim] shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations…And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.’   Gen 48:19-20

France is Reuben. This nation has always tried to be a world power, but could never excel over Britain or US or match their political stability because the eldest son of Jacob deprived himself of this honor by defiling his father’s bed.

‘Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, you shall not excel, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it’   Gen 49:3-4

Judah and Benjamin, along with a good percentage of Simeon, are the tribes that are now settled in modern Israel.

The endtime characteristics of the other chosen nations are given in Genesis 49. Apart from the few nations I have identified, I am not venturing in this message to identify the other nations. But it is the descendants of the nations that I have identified – the English-speaking nations, France, and modern Israel – that will play the key roles in the prophecies relating to the God’s chosen nations in the end times. All the tribes of Israel will be caught up in what happens to these leading nations.

‘And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the LAST DAYS’   Gen 49:1 Emphasis mine

Assyria is Germany. Gog and Magog are the nations of the former Soviet Union, China Mongolia, and, possibly, Korea. Moab and Ammon are the peoples in Iraq, Palestine and Jordan. Kedar refers to the Bedouin Arabs in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. Kush is Sudan, and, possibly, India.

Many nations still retain their Biblical names, such as Egypt, Libya, Syria, Ethiopia, Persia (which is also referred to as Elam).

Now to the spiritual identifies of some nations today.

‘Babylon’ refers today to the system by which governments run their societies, especially the commercial aspect.

‘Egypt’ in a spiritual sense refers to the governments themselves. Egypt is the government that gives power to Babylon to run society, including powers to regulate religious freedom. In the last days, just before Christ comes, this relationship between Egypt and Babylon will see its greatest fulfillment in the relationship between the two ‘beasts’.

‘Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast’   Rev 13:11-12

Israel refers, in the New Covenant, to all the people called to Christ from every nation. Those who are not Israel are the Gentiles.

Samaria refers to the leadership of Israel, the shepherds who are responsible for the nation’s actions.

Jerusalem refers to the shepherds, that is, the priests, the pastors and other leaders over God’s flock, the Christians.

Zion refers to the bornagain believers in God’s church.

Jews, in the New Covenant, refer to Christians born again in Christ.

‘For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.’   Rm 2:28-29

‘I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.’   Rev 2:9

Many of the identities of the present-day nations will become increasingly evident as the prophecies relating to them begin to unfold. Many have been revealed by God, many are yet to be revealed. Continue to watch world events regularly, and seek to understand them in the light of Bible prophecies. To the extent you earnestly desire it in your heart, God will make plan to you what’s happening today, and you can understand prophecies more clearly than the great theologians and preachers in Christianity who believe the ancient prophecies have little relevance for today.

God bless your study of the prophecies in the Bible so you can be better prepared for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!

 

Pappa Joseph

 

 

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