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New Wine for the End Times
Signs of the Times
Should we expect the return of Christ in our (baby-boom) generation? Scripture gives us signs for which we are to watch. There are a number of signs that could be attributed, in various degrees, to almost any generation of the past. These signs include false prophets, a falling away, and the love of the people growing cold. This present generation certainly has all of these signs. But there are four signs which I believe can only be attributed to this generation.
Every generation has been taught to expect Christ to return in their lifetimes. Some generations have had very specific reasons why Christ might have come in their generation. Some of these generations had specific date calculations based on a day being a year. For example, Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah Witnesses grew out of two such date calculations. Other generations have had "apocalyptic fever" because of their interpretation of Revelation, and how the events of that day were being seen in Revelation. For example, the generation of Martin Luther had lots of apocalyptic speculation based on the historic view of Revelation. And people from that time did a few day-as-a-year calculations as well.
Our generation, however, is the first generation since Christ’s that can point to very specific verses, whose natural interpretations point exclusively to our generation today. There are four very specific verses that can be applied only to our generation. They will be discussed below.
In addition to the four very specific verses, there are quite a few other sign-of-the-time verses, of a more general nature, that can arguably be applied to other generations as well as ours. These include wars, plagues, earthquakes, false christs, and a falling away from God (Matthew 24:6-7, 24, Revelation 6:8, Romans 1:26-27, 2 Timothy 3:1-9). All of these verses seem to be happening with great intensity in this generation. But since they can be argued to apply to other generations as well, our focus will be on the four verses that are specific only to our generation.
First, we will do a survey of these very specific verses, and then we will take a look at some prophecies in Revelation and Daniel that are easily interpreted as pointing to this generation. Here is the first verse that is unique to our generation:
Matthew 24:14 NKJV And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
This generation is the first generation since Christ’s generation that can see the possibly of this being fulfilled in our lifetimes. Depending on how you measure it, you could say that this has already been fulfilled in today’s generation. You could even argue that Mel Gibson’s film has preached the gospel to every nation. But even with a strict requirement of a church planted in every people-group of the world, we are very close to preaching the gospel to every nation. Here is the second verse:
Luke 21:24 They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
This is the first generation that has seen a reversal of what happened in 70 AD. Full preterists argue that everything in Scripture was fulfilled by 70 AD. But the fulfillment of this verse must take place after 70 AD, because it was in 70 AD that they were taken as prisoners to all the nations. The time of the Gentiles must be fulfilled after 70 AD.
Some have argued that today’s events in Jerusalem do not apply to this verse because the Jews today in Jerusalem are not Christian. However, they were not Christian in 70 AD either. The word Gentile has nothing to do with one’s status as being chosen of God. Gentiles were grafted into the vine of Israel. The word Gentile simply means non-Jewish. Likewise, this verse says nothing about the salvation status of the people in Jerusalem. It simply states that non-Jewish people (Gentiles) will control (trample on) Jerusalem until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
This baby-boom generation, born after World War II, is the first generation to see Jerusalem no longer being trampled on by Gentiles. When that generation became adult, in the 1967 Six Day War, we saw Old Jerusalem come under the control of Non-Gentiles for the first time since 70 AD. Here is the third verse that is unique to our baby-boom generation:
Daniel 12:4 ESV But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."
This baby-boom generation, since World War II, is the first generation in history that can be marked by such a huge explosion in knowledge and travel. Daniel is told to seal up the words of the scroll until the “time of the end” when there would be such a huge explosion of knowledge and travel. Daniel is also told in verse 13 that the time of the end would be when he would rise to receive his inheritance.
Full preterism is a relatively new movement which has gained noticeable strength during this generation. Preterism means past fulfillment. Full preterism states that every single prophecy in the Bible has already been fulfilled. This includes the return of Christ, the new heavens and the new earth, and the final great white throne judgment. Full preterists take the extreme position of believing that all these prophecies have already been fulfilled.
Futurist interpretations of these “signs of the times” verses make preterists a bit angry. In the past, dispensationalists such as Hal Lindsey have interpreted Bible prophecy in light of current events, which have turned out to be false. Some people over the years have gotten very frustrated with the ongoing spread of these interpretations. It has caused many people to shift from dispensationalism all the way to amillennialism. The hermeneutic shift that is necessary to make this change, however, is extreme. There has to be a lot of motivation to shift from one extreme to the other. In other words, many have been motivated by their distaste for people relating Bible prophecy to current events.
The middle ground between these two extremes would be along the lines of premillennialism with the post-tribulation rapture (historic premillennialism). But the middle ground requires the Church to go through a future great tribulation. And those who have hated the signs of the times have tended to hate a future interpretation of Revelation even more. They just don’t want to hear about the possibility of themselves going through great tribulation before Christ returns. It is distaste for watching the signs for Christ to return, such as the abomination of desolation, as is taught in Matthew 24.
Various aspects of traditional preterist views have been around for most of church history. Full-preterism, on the other hand, is really something that’s grown into more than just a few followers during in this generation. Full-preterism says that everything in the Bible was fulfilled by 70 AD. That includes the return of Christ, the great white throne of judgment, the literal new heavens and new earth, and the conquering of the last enemy, which is death, here on the earth. In other words, full preterists believe that this world of sin is the eternal state.
When God destroyed the world by water, he spared Noah, even though he knew that sin would continue and would eventually get as bad as it was before the flood. But God set forth a plan to rid his creation of sin. Full preterists basically want us to believe that God’s plan is finished, even though sin today is probably worse than it was before the great flood.
Full preterists do this by changing the definitions of a few terms and by taking historical preterism to its logical conclusion. The fact that the logical conclusion of historical preterism winds up being such an extreme is a strong indicator that the basic premises of historical preterism are incorrect. Full preterists are mostly true Christians. But any true Christian knows down deep that God’s plan, instigated at the great flood, was not to allow sin to remain in the world. God’s plan is not finished until the eternal state of a new heaven and a new earth, where sin and death have been completely overcome.
Full-preterism mostly originates with James Stuart Russell and his anonymous publication of ‘The Parousia’ in 1878. In 1887 he published a second edition under his own name. But it has not had a strong following until this generation. Because of this new demand, the 1887 edition was reprinted in 1983. No other generation in history has had a significant number of Christians who held anything like the full-preterist view, which denied the literal and visible second coming of Christ. With this in mind, here is a fourth verse. Here is the one last sign of the time that no other generation has had. This is the fourth verse that is unique to our baby-boom generation:
2 Peter 3:1-7 ESV This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, (2) that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, (3) knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. (4) They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." (5) For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, (6) and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. (7) But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
Full preterists are the scoffers of the end time generation. They not only say, “Where is the promise of his coming.” They deny that the coming will ever happen. To a small degree, there have been scoffers that are not in the Church. But they have been few. Most people outside the church pay little attention to the Hal Lindsey and others like him. The real scoffers are the full preterists within the Church of this generation.
Would people outside the church “deliberately overlook” doctrine? Or must it be believers who “deliberately overlook” doctrine?
As Peter prophesied, the full preterists of this generation “deliberately overlook” that the heavens and the earth is a term that’s defined in Genesis 1:1, and that the meaning of that term should remain consistent. They say the old heavens and earth are the old covenant, and that the new heavens and new earth are the new covenant.
They “deliberately overlook the fact” that when God gave the word for the destruction of his creation by water in Noah’s day, that this exact “same word” will destroy the creation “by fire.” The destruction by water was literal. But they say the literal creation of Genesis will never be literally destroyed by fire, even though it’s the exact same word.
The full preterists want everything to go on as it has since the beginning of creation. In other words, they say the Bible is completely fulfilled, so that nothing the Bible says will happen in the future. They deny the end of sin. They deny God’s plan at the flood. And they deny that the last enemy, which is death, will ever be conquered here on the created earth.
The full preterists are the scoffers of this baby-boom generation. The full preterists have become their own worst nightmare. They themselves have become a “sign of the times.”
Many people believe the scroll of Revelation 6 is about judgments, like the trumpets and the bowls. But would the souls under the altar, asking how long, be considered a judgment? This seal is much more like a sign of the time than a judgment. And the sixth seal is about signs in the heavens. So, the seals are not judgments. Instead, the seals are signs related to the opening of the scroll of Daniel 12. That scroll is all about the sealing of words written on the scroll until the time of the end. The scroll of both Daniel 12 and Revelation 6 is all about the signs of the end-time generation. The writing on the scroll show signs of the generation that will see the coming of Christ. To show this, consider the parallelism between the seals and the early signs of Matthew 24.
First seal - Revelation
Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you aren't troubled, for all this must happen, but the end is not yet.
Second seal - Revelation
Matthew 24:7a For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom
Third seal - Revelation
(No corresponding verse in Matthew 24)
Fourth seal - Revelation
Matthew 24:7b And there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places.
Fifth seal - Revelation
Matthew 24:8-9 But all these things are the beginning of birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to oppression, and will kill you. You will be hated by all of the nations for my name's sake.
Sixth seal - Revelation
Matthew 24:29 NKJV Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Therefore, the seals are not judgments. They are similar to Matthew 24. They are signs of the beginning of the birth pains. They are signs of the “generation [that] will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34 NKJV). The seals are about the signs of end-time generation that will witness the rapid increase in travel and knowledge (Daniel 12:4) and the gospel preached to every nation (Matthew 24:14).
The next section begins my interpretation of the six seals. Many people have other interpretations. But one should consider how much an interpretation relies on Old Testament symbols. Does the interpretation find that symbol in the Old Testament, and then bring its meaning from the Old Testament to show the meaning? Or does the interpretation only look at the symbol itself? Also, many people get uneasy in relating Bible prophecy to recent history. But consider the fact that doing so is only in agreement with the four very clear verses of Scripture, which say this is the end-time generation. This is the generation that will not pass away before “all these things” take place.
In Scripture, four is the number of the heavens and the earth. The heavens and the earth were created in the first four days. There are four corners of the earth (Revelation 7:1, 20:8). There are four quarters of the earth (Isaiah 11:12). There are four quarters of the heavens (Jeremiah 49:36). The four winds are about all the heavens and the earth (Jeremiah 49:36, Ezekiel 37:9, Daniel 7:2, 8:8, 11:4, Zechariah 2:6, Matthew 24:31, Mark 13:27, Revelation 7:1). So, the four horses should also be about the whole world.
The four horses of white, red, black, and pale (Revelation 6:1-8) can be found in Zechariah 1:8-11, 6:1-8. In Revelation they are single horses with a rider. In Zechariah they are chariots of horses. The chariots of horses go out in the four directions: west, east, north, and south (Zechariah 6:1-8). All go out all at the same time, to see the state of the world. In other words, what are the signs of the world that are observed by these four horses?
The white horse goes west. The red horse goes east. The black horse goes north. And the pale horse goes south. Directions are given relative to Jerusalem.
Zech. 6:6, Rev. 6:1-7
Signs of the generation after World War II
Superpowers of the world after World War II
Conqueror bent on conquest
United States (The West)
Power to take peace from the earth
Peoples Republic of China
Holding a pair of scales in his hands
Bad Economy in the USSR, and later the world
Death and Hades. Kills by sword, famine, plague, and wild beasts
Wars, famine, AIDS, wild beasts
Right after World War II, the world changed. The United Nations was formed. Israel became a nation in 1948. The United States (West) became a world superpower. The People's Republic of China (East) came into power in October of 1949, right after World War II. The USSR also became a world superpower right after World War II. Russia is directly north of Jerusalem.
At the end of World War II, these three nations developed the atomic bomb. This is the “conqueror bent on conquest” (Revelation 6:2 - white horse) in the West, and the “power to take peace from the earth” (Revelation 6:4 - red horse) in the East. For the first time in history, our knowledge has reached the point where we can destroy the entire world.
To the North was the USSR. The Soviet Union is known for failing because of its poor communist economy. Poor economy is described in association with the black horse (Revelation 6:5-6). The pair of scales, associated with the third horse, indicates trade (economy). A quart of wheat for a day’s wages and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages is extremely poor economy. Oil and wine were the cash crops in Biblical times. I expect this bad economy to become world-wide as the world turns to a one-world government.
The direction of the fourth horse is south. To the south of Jerusalem is Egypt. This rider is on a pale horse. South in the Bible is Egypt, which is symbolic of the world, and Pharaoh is symbolic of the antichrist. This does not mean the antichrist will come from Egypt.
The fourth horse is the kingdom of the antichrist. "Death; and Hades [are] following with him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:8). What better description is there of Africa? There are constant wars in Africa. Africa has been known for people dying in famine during this generation. AIDS originated in Africa and is now epidemic in Africa. And Africa is known for wild beasts. These four plagues, especially including AIDS, could easily wind up taking a fourth of the world’s population.
This United Nations government rules all the nations of the world, but does not have its own geographical boundaries. The UN is a government, but it has not yet had the military power needed to enforce its "resolutions." More and more, however, that is changing. The militaries of the world are shifting to the UN. The UN was formed right after World War II. We have been under a one-world government for the entire baby-boom generation. But its power has been only slowly increasing, like the slow boiling of water with a frog in the pot.
Thus, the four horses are symbolic of the three superpowers, and the UN, which rule the world during the end-time generation. They show a view of the entire world, as the four chariots of horses go out in four different directions. They show a time when knowledge reaches the point of mankind being able to destroy the world. So, the knowledge and fear of weapons of mass destruction are forcing us into a one-world government under the rule of the antichrist. The knowledge increases since World War II have been unbelievable. And it is at time when the global economy has brought the world together, and vastly increased travel.
The four beasts of Daniel 7 are covered here because of how they relate to the four horses. Both tell us about kingdoms of this end-time generation. Also, the symbolism of the four beasts continues in Revelation 13:2. It’s important to understand these four beasts to help us understand the beast of Revelation.
Traditionally, the four beasts are identified as Babylon, Medes-Persia, Alexander the Great, and Rome. The fourth beast is seen as Rome, so many argue that Revelation must be about the old Roman Empire. But Daniel 7:17 says, “The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth.” At the time of this vision, Babylon was only a couple of years away from being conquered by the Medes and the Persians. Babylon and the Medes-Persians had long since risen from the earth. Also, Daniel 7:11-12 tells us that when the fourth beast is destroyed, the other three will be stripped of their authority but will be allowed to live for a period of time. This verse rules out ancient kingdoms, which will have been long dead, when the fourth beast is destroyed.
So, these four beasts cannot be the traditional four ancient empires. And Daniel 7:18, the very next verse, puts the context of the whole vision in the end times. Daniel 7:2-3 speaks of the four winds. As shown in the previous section, four is the number of the heavens and the earth. The four winds are about the entire world. So, the four beasts are like the four horses. Like the four horses, they represent kingdoms that exist in the end times.
However, the four beasts do not represent exactly the same kingdoms as do the four horses. The beasts are kingdoms that directly control Israel, and the trampling of Jerusalem, during the end-time generation. On the other hand, the horses are the superpowers of the end time generation. The fourth beast and the fourth horse is the same. It’s the one-world government that comes out of the three. So the four beasts and the four horses are similar, but do not represent the exact same set of kingdoms.
The Lion (Daniel 7:4) is England and the United States. The Lion has wings of an eagle. The wings are torn off. It stands up on two feet like a man. It is given the heart of a man. The symbol of England is the Lion, standing up like a man. The eagle wings represent the United States, torn off from England at the US Revolutionary War.
Lion with wings of an eagle. The wings are torn off. It stood on two feet like a man. Heart of a man.
England and the United States
Three ribs in its mouth. It’s told to eat its fill of flesh.
Four wings like bird on its back. Four heads.
Terrifying and frightening and very powerful. Large iron teeth. Crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. Different from the other beasts. It has ten horns.
The Bear (Daniel 7:5) is Russia. The Bear has three ribs in its mouth. The three ribs are the Baltic States which were absorbed into the USSR. (Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia) These states were absorbed into the USSR unlike any of the other states of the old Soviet Union. The Bear is told to eat its fill of flesh. Joseph Stalin executed 1 million political offenders, 14.5 million needlessly starved to death. 9.5 million people were deported, exiled, or imprisoned in work camps. An estimated 5 million were sent to ‘Gulag Archipelago’ never to return alive.
The Leopard (Daniel 7:6) is the European Union. It has four wings like a bird on its back. It has four heads and is given authority to rule. The EU was originally a series of economic treaties that over time are turning into a federation of states similar to the United States. The EU began with the Treaty of Rome in 1957. These were the four states of France, West Germany, Italy, and Benelux. (Benelux is Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxemburg.) The four wings, and possibly the four heads, are these four original states. The spots of the leopard probably represent the many different languages and cultures in the EU.
The fourth beast (Daniel 7:7) is the United Nations. The fourth beast is like no other beast. It's different from the former three. The fourth beast is terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It has large iron teeth. It will crush and devour its victims and trample underfoot whatever is left. The fourth beast is different from the other beasts. This beast has the ten horns. This beast is the kingdom of the antichrist.
The UN is a government, but it has not had the military power needed to enforce its "resolutions." In other words, it does not yet have its teeth. However, the fourth beast will have large iron teeth that will crush and devour its victims.
The first three horses are the superpowers of the end time generation. The first three beasts, on the other hand, represent nations which directly influence and control Israel. And the fourth beast is the same as the fourth horse. It’s the United Nations.
Today, these four beasts which influence and control Israel, can be seen in the organization of nations called the Middle East Quartet. This organization was established in 2002 by Spanish Prime Minister Aznar. The Middle East Quartet consists of the same four powers: The United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations. On June 27, 2007, Tony Blair was appointed as special envoy to the Quartet. This was the same day that he resigned as Prime Minister of England.
UN — Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry
European Union — High Representative Baroness Ashton of Upholland
Russian Federation — Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
United States of America — Secretary of State John F. Kerry
Special Envoy — Tony Blair
The total purpose of the Quartet is to solve the Middle East problems of Israel and the Palestinians. The Quartet is the author of the Road Map for Peace. Also, the peace treaty process should be watched that began in Annapolis, MD in November of 2007. This could turn into a seven-year treaty similar to the Oslo Accords which was signed in September of 1993. The Oslo Accords treaty deliberately left out critical issues such as the refugees, Jewish settlements, borders, and most importantly, the issue of Jerusalem.
This next treaty is expected to cover all the issues, and will probably be more of a unilateral agreement that is enforced by the Middle East Quartet. In other words, Israel is being pressured by the four beasts into signing this peace treaty. As we will see, the four beasts of Daniel 7 are very much related to the seventy weeks of Daniel 9. Both the seventy weeks and the Middle East Quartet are about the Gentile control of Old Jerusalem.
In 70 AD, Jerusalem was destroyed. The Jews lost any remaining control of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem was made desolate.
Luke 21:20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is at hand .
Note Christ’s careful choice of words here. Jerusalem was made desolate. As we will see, this connects the event directly to the seventy weeks of Daniel 9.
A few verses down, we read about Jerusalem being trampled upon by the Gentiles. Remember our four verses, showing signs of the end times, which are uniquely fulfilled in this baby-boom generation? The second of these four is Luke 21:24. This verse begins the desolation of Jerusalem.
Luke 21:24 They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled .
The adult generation, to which Jesus spoke, saw the desolation of Jerusalem. Luke 21 is about that generation. Jesus said, “This generation will not pass away until all has taken place” (ESV Luke 21:32).
Likewise, the adult baby-boom generation that saw the birth of Israel also saw the fulfillment of the time of the Gentiles. After the Six Day War of 1967, when the baby-boom generation had become adult, Jerusalem was no longer being trampled upon by the Gentiles. This marked the fulfillment of this verse.
Matthew 24 is all about the end-time generation that will see the abomination of desolation and the resurrection 1290 days later (Daniel 12:11). Matthew 24:34 (ESV) also says, “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” Thus, Jesus was talking about two different generations that would not pass away before all these things take place. One generation sees the desolation of Jerusalem. The other generation sees the restoration of Jerusalem, and later the abomination of desolation, followed by the resurrection 1290 days later.
The time between the two generations is called the time of the Gentiles. It’s all about the control of Jerusalem. The time of the Gentiles probably also extends back to soon after the death of Herod the Great. Jerusalem was not desolate between Herod’s death and 70 AD. However, Jerusalem was being trampled upon by Rome. Gentile control (or desolation) vs. Jewish control (or restoration) of Jerusalem is the subject of the seventy-week timeline given in Daniel 9.
We have covered the first four seals. Then we took a little detour to the four beasts and the seventy weeks. Now, it’s time to return back to the seals. Remember that the seals are signs being revealed during the baby-boom end-time generation, which began right after World War II.
The fifth seal is all about martyrs and modern-day missions. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14). Can the great commission be achieved during our baby-boom generation? People who study the various people-groups believe that it can be done. Mission activity and its success during this baby-boom generation have been like no other generation in history.
I believe that the success of missions work will climax during the time of the trumpets. Has the gospel already been preached in every nation? By some measures it has already happened. But during the time of the trumpets we will see people from every “nation, tribe, people, and language” (Revelation 7:9) completely overcoming sin so that they will be ready for Christ's return. The wise, who will be the Bride of Christ, must be completely sanctified by the time of the resurrection and the rapture.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (24) He who calls you is faithful, who will also do it.
In Revelation 7:9-17, John sees a "a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands." These are wise, who will have completely overcome sin before the resurrection and the rapture. These are represented by the five wise virgins who will have enough oil in their lamps and will be able to enter the wedding banquet.
In other words, the good news (gospel) about the salvation of Jesus Christ has been preached to every nation. But this "gospel of the kingdom" has not yet been preached. This "gospel of the kingdom" is about inheriting the kingdom. The good news is that we can be a part of the Bride of Christ to reign with Christ during the millennium. God will be faithful to bring about complete sanctification for those he calls.