|PROPHETIC INSIGHTS - JANUARY 2000|
"I am the Lord, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them." Isaiah 42:8 (NKJV)
The Revelation of Prophecy
God promises to reveal the things to come in His Word. However, God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, and part of understanding prophecy requires some foundational knowledge from which we may interpret it. Our understanding deepens based on several foundational elements in our lives. One is that we live a submitted life to God if we wish for Him to impart His deep truths to us. Note in the following Scripture that the "revelation" is to show not just anyone reading, but specifically "His servants." The word in Greek for "servant" here is "doulos," which means a bondservant, or someone completely under authority.
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants - things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John." Revelation 1:1 (NKJV)
Another foundational element is that we must look to the Holy Spirit, which requires prayer and praise, for we read:
"However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." John 16:13 (NKJV)
The last point is that we must involve ourselves in actual study, which is the object of this teaching. It is through studying that we learn of how God acted in the past, which is a key to understanding His direction in the future, for we read in Malachi 3:6: "I am the Lord, I do not change" and in 2nd Timothy 2:15, He tells us we are to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
The Seven Ruling Empires
The number seven is generally used to denote earthly completion (or perfection) in God’s Word. It is used about 600 times in the Bible, beginning with God creating the world in seven days. In the Book of Daniel, we have outlined for us the ruling empires which will or have controlled the whole earth, and they total seven.
The first empire that ruled the known world was the Assyrian. It was also the first to be used against Israel as punishment for their disobedience and idolatry. God’s patience with Israel and Judah, although exceedingly long, did have an end. When they refused to repent and come back to Him, He allowed the Assyrians to take Israel captive in 722 B.C., and take control of Judah as a vassal, making Judah’s king a puppet of Assyria.
This cycle repeated itself with the next ruling empire, Babylon, which took Israel captive for seventy years, as God ordained. The third empire was the Medean-Persian empire. Cyrus, who was named by God previously in Isaiah 44:28 as the one who would rebuild Jerusalem, allowed the Jews to return home and also supplied them with gold, silver, wood, and everything else they needed to rebuild the temple. It is certainly nothing less than remarkable that a bellicose and conquering country such as Persia would free the Jews and even rebuild their temple – however, the things that God has ordained will always come to pass.
The Grecian Empire was the fourth ruling empire of the world. Alexander the Great fell on his bed and wept because at age thirty-two he had no more kingdoms to conquer. The Roman Empire was the fifth kingdom, and it was the ruling kingdom when Jesus Christ entered history and changed the calendar forever. Daniel prophesied that the Roman Empire would not be overtaken, but would rather slowly lose its power. He further predicted that at the "time of the end," meaning near the ending of the world as we know it, the Roman Empire would be revived and become a world power again. That revived empire would be the sixth ruling kingdom, and it would be replaced by the seventh, which will be the return of Christ and His millennial reign.
Signs of the Sixth Kingdom
The number six is significant in that it is the number of man. Man was created on the sixth day, but since man disobeyed God and fell into sin, the number six has also become synonymous with sin and Satan. The number 666 is representative of the Antichrist, for he is a man who acts as if he is God, and the three sixes are a counterfeit of the Trinity. Because Satan will rule vicariously through the Antichrist, the sixth kingdom will be the most evil kingdom to ever rule the world.
The initial seeds of the fulfillment of the prophecy of a revived Roman Empire may be found in the establishment of the European Common Market, which began with the Treaty of Rome in 1957. A forty-year time period generally speaks to us of a time of testing, or a time period for some significant and major development. Interestingly, in 1997, forty years after the Treaty of Rome was signed, the agreement on the European Economic Community (EEC) was promulgated, along with the birth of a new common currency for Europe, the euro. If one understands the amount of squabbling and dissension which characterize the relationships among most of the European nations, it becomes quite obvious that for them to actually agree to a common currency is an improbable event.
Another interesting development is the takeover of the American company Bankers Trust by the German Bundesbank, occurring almost simultaneously with the German takeover of Chrysler by Daimler Benz. The Chrysler takeover was at first characterized as a merger, but the Germans soon took complete control and dismissed many top Chrysler executives who had opinions that differed with theirs. Another alliance occurred around 1989 between Daimler Benz and the Japanese company Mitsubishi to make airplanes. This alliance is a bit ironic, since a previous alliance occurred between these two companies during World War Two, to build a fighter plane called the Zero. The Zero was used in many kamikaze raids, as well as in the blitzkrieg (lightning war). Under the new agreement, jets are being constructed.
The euro, at the time of this writing, has not done well on the international scene. However, it is now being used on paper only, because the actual currency is not yet in circulation. The fortunes of the euro may change when it is actually coined and distributed on January 1, 2002. Two months after that its use will become mandatory. When this happens, the economic power of Germany will be boosted considerably. And has not history demonstrated that economic power is soon followed by political power? We can only wonder how Germany’s leaders will respond to their new role as the leader of the European federation. Hopefully it will not be in the same manner as they acted in the last two world wars.
It is also interesting to note that when a survey was conducted in Japan in which Japanese people were asked who they were the most likely to go to war with, they overwhelmingly answered the United States. Much of the economic prosperity that the United States enjoys comes from the fact that the richest nations in the world have invested in our bond market. The dollar is currently the world’s "reserve currency." Should the euro prove to be as safe as the dollar, it may replace it as the premier reserve currency, resulting in withdrawals from our bond market, not to mention other investments. And, although there is much official talk about our government getting out of debt, much of what is owed is officially "off the books." If the truth were known, accounting methods are being used to disguise irresponsible deficit spending. In fact, we are heavily dependent on foreign investment to perpetuate our debt binge. Moreover, through bonds, we have become the largest debtor nation in the world, undoubtedly correlated to the promised curse in Deuteronomy 28:
"The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail. Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you." Deuteronomy 28:43-45 (NKJV)
Repeating Mistakes From the Great Depression
The Glass-Steagal Act is being repealed. This act was passed during the Great Depression, and its intent was to keep banks from investing in securities. During the Great Depression, banks purchased newly issued stocks and bonds from corporations and governments. The banks then resold them to individual investors in smaller quantities, a practice known as "investment banking." Money was made by selling them at a higher price than the banks paid for them.
However, if a bank overestimated the demand for securities, or if values fell after the transaction, the bank could lose large sums of money and quickly become insolvent. This happened during the Depression, so Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933 to prevent it from ever happening again. One provision of the act prohibited an institution that accepted deposits and made loans from reselling securities. Is it simply coincidental that this law is being repealed when the stock market is the highest it has ever been in history?
In 1987 the stock market suffered a huge loss, but another depression did not result, because most of the investors were institutional. However, since that time, partially due to the advent of certain retirement programs which allow tax exemptions or deferrals, droves of individuals have been lured to the stock market. These tax incentives have resulted in large sums of money chasing fewer investments. Partially for this reason, stocks are selling at such high multiples of what the companies actually earn, that they no longer bear any relationship to responsible investing. We may think the economy is good because of this, but it is quite the opposite – whenever there is over-investing, and a commodity is trading at much more than it is worth, a bubble is being created that can suddenly burst and have a deleterious effect on the economy.
For instance, when real estate begins to sell for much more than it can rent for, the difference becomes a speculative value. As prices rise without a linear, or parallel, rise in inherent value, the speculative aspect of the increase eventually becomes somewhat like a pyramid scheme – money will be made as long as others keep pouring theirs in. However, when the well runs dry, and there is no more to invest, or when many market participants are frightened by some event and leave the market, the bubble bursts.
Consequently a good market is a stable market that is not inflated. An over-inflated market is a dangerous market, and this is the type of stock market we are currently experiencing. Yes, a lot of money can be made in a market like this, but the risks are also great. The old expression, "the taller they are, the harder they fall," comes to mind when considering the stock market. Nevertheless, we know the One who is ultimately in control of our economy, spoken of by the Prophet Daniel:
"And He changes the times and the seasons; he removes kings and raises up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding." Daniel 2:21 (NKJV)
When Will the Judgment of America Come?
The prophetic Book of Habakkuk provides a record of the prophet questioning how God could allow Israel to continue in such overt sin without judgment. God tells him that judgment is coming from the Assyrians. Habakkuk then complains that the Assyrians are so corrupt that they should not be used against Israel. God answers that they will receive their punishment after Israel is judged.
Habakkuk was indignant over the sin that had permeated Israeli society. But God was waiting, in His mercy, for the results of that sin to register in the people’s minds. He wanted them to realize how society had been ruined by their turning from His commandments, so that they might repent and be delivered. Essentially, this is the pattern that is established throughout the Bible – God waits until the cup of iniquity is full before He judges.
In the same way, God is waiting for the cup of iniquity to be full in the United States, and for us to discern how full it is, we may look at the parallels offered to us in Bible history. When fire fell in Sodom and Gomorrah, it was at a time when homosexual gangs caroused the streets, seeking whom they might rape. Evidently either there was no law against their activity, or there was no law enforcement, because sin had abounded to the extent that anarchy had begun. Whatever the reason, America is already on the first leg of this perverse journey by legitimizing homosexuality. What is at first proffered to be "civil rights" will find its extremity in roving gangs. And when those gangs appear, this may be evidence that the cup is reaching fullness. Nevertheless, our battle is not against flesh and blood – those same homosexuals are people that Christ died for and people we should pray for.
It appears that economic problems will also occur as a warning. The Depression was preceded by the Roaring Twenties, which was a time of unprecedented evil in this country, although it seems tame compared to today’s degeneracy. What followed in the Thirties was obviously God’s judgment, because simultaneous with the economic collapse, America experienced the dustbowl. Topsoil was blown from the land and countless farms were ruined, sending farmers into the cities to seek work they never found. One bright aspect of all this was that the churches were full. It will be God’s mercy if He warns America with financial and agricultural woes, before we are humbled militarily.
Is There Hope for America?
In searching for historical precedents, we find that there most definitely is. On an individual basis, we find that the repentance of Manasseh, the worst king Judah ever had, reveals the depth of God’s mercy. Manasseh set up idols in the Lord’s temple, and he sacrificed his own children to Molech. His sin was even more serious because he did not do it in ignorance – he must have been taught about God from his father, Hezekiah, one of Judah’s most godly kings. Nevertheless, we read of God’s reaction to him when he was imprisoned:
"Therefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God." 2Chronicles 33:11-13 (NKJV)
The significance to us today of Manasseh being reinstated as king, is that we may again be "kings and priests" before him if we repent and turn from our own sin.
On a corporate level, we also find evidence of God’s munificent grace. We noted earlier that the first empire to rule the known world was that of the Assyrians. God used them to punish Israel, but many years before, they experienced an encounter with the Holy One of Israel. The Assyrians were brutal and disgusting, as revealed by numerous archaeological discoveries. They gloried in their physical might and decorated their walls with scenes depicting the torture of their defeated enemies. They were drunken brawlers, and alcohol abuse was a severe social problem. Prostitution was not only legal, sex was practiced openly in the streets and parks of their cities, particularly in their principal city, Nineveh. Deep sins that will not be catalogued here were prolific in their society. It is no wonder then that Jonah did not want to warn them of their impending judgment, and ran from the call of God to preach to them, because he considered them unworthy of God’s grace. Nevertheless, God would not allow Jonah to escape preaching His warning. And when the Assyrians heard Jonah, they listened, for we read:
"And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day's walk. Then he cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them." "Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it." Jonah 3:3-10 (NKJV)
God does not seek America’s destruction, but its repentance. Most Americans living today have never seen hardship in this country, and when they do, it may be that the fear of God will lead them to repentance. The time that is coming is not the Great Tribulation, but the humbling of America, and Christians will be here. As we see Bible prophecy landmarks spoken of thousands of years ago come to pass before our very eyes, such as the predicted resurgence of the Roman Empire, let us not be deceived into thinking that the world is not changing dramatically, for it unquestionably is. Nevertheless, the question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are "changing" into His likeness in preparation for these future events.