Although we do not know the exact day or hour Jesus will return, scripture does give us many signs that will indicate its nearness. There are Signs in the World, Signs in the Church, and Signs in the Nation Israel.
Interestingly enough, the book of Jeremiah calls the Tribulation Period – “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” As many of you know, it was Jacob of the Old Testament whose name was changed to ‘Israel’. Often we find the two names used interchangeably throughout scripture. But why would the Tribulation Period be called the time of Jacob’s trouble?’
In Daniel 9, we find some amazing prophecy concerning End Time Events. In his prophecy, Daniel speaks of “70 weeks”, or as some believe – “70 time periods of 7 years each” which have been ordained for the nation Israel. As you study Daniel 9, you see that 69 of the 70 weeks have already been fulfilled. Israel’s 70 weeks began with the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. Week 69 was completed with the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. (See Daniel 9:24-26) That being the case, we can discern that only 1 week of the 70 weeks is yet to be fulfilled. When will that final week take place? According to Daniel 9:26-27, the 70th and final week is a time period when a ruler will establish a 7-year peace treaty with the nation Israel; yet in the midst of the week, break the treaty and cause a time of great suffering and terrible deeds. Most Bible scholars agree that Daniel’s 70th week is what is otherwise known as the Tribulation Period and the ruler to come is the Anti-christ.
What is most amazing about all of this is the fact that until 1948, Daniel’s 70th week could not have taken place. Until 1948, there was no nation Israel.
In 70 AD, the Roman general, Titus, invaded Jerusalem and destroyed much of the city along with the Temple. Since that time period, the Jewish people have had no Temple in which to worship, nor priesthood to carry out their worship. In addition to that, shortly after Titus’ invasion, the Jews began to be heavily persecuted and scattered across the world. From 70 AD until 1948, there was officially no nation Israel. But in 1948, something significant happened.
WWII ended in 1945. One of the most notable events of that time period was the Jewish Holocaust. During the Holocaust, approximately 6 million Jews were slain. After WWII, many of the Jews who had been persecuted did not want to return to the countries they had previously been living. For the next two years, there was great controversy in the world as to what should happen to these Jewish immigrants. Finally, in 1947, under pressure from much of the world, the United Nations divided the country of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reports – “On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, announced the formation of the state of Israel, declaring, “The Nazi Holocaust, which engulfed millions of Jews in Europe, proved anew the urgency of the reestablishment of the Jewish State …”
Jewish leaders accepted the UN proposal while Arab leaders rejected it. After nearly a year of intense fighting between the two groups, the nation of Israel was finally established. As many of you may know, 2008 marks the 60th Anniversary of the Jewish State – Israel.
Although the Holocaust was one of the most horrible events that ever occurred in the history of mankind, it also caused Jews from Europe and around the world to fulfill divine prophecy by creating in them a desire to return back to their native homeland and to establish the nation of Israel. Some estimations are that today there are over 5 million Jewish people in the land of Israel. What is even more significant, in the years following the establishment of the nation Israel, there has been a growing movement among many Jews to return to many of their former ways of life and worship, otherwise known as “Zionism.” In regards to Jewish worship, according to a Jewish organization known as the Temple Institute, many of the garments necessary for a new priestly order along with with many of the pieces of furniture necessary for temple worship have, or are in the process of being made. Other resources report that material is being gathered and that priests are being trained.
Why is all of this important? For nearly 2,000 years the Jewish people were scattered across the world and there was little or no interest in reestablishing a nation or returning to former ways of worship. Yet in the last 60 years, events have unfolded that have caused many of the Jewish people to return to their homeland, establish a country and begin preparations for a new temple. As we will see in future studies, all of this will play a major role during the Tribulation Period.
Perhaps one of the greatest signs given, indicating that we are living in the last days, will be the regathering of the Jewish people to their homeland. In closing, consider Ezekiel’s prophecy regarding “The Valley of the Dry Bones.”
The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” “O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.” Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’” So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army. Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’” (Ezekiel 37:1-14)
For a full outline of End Times Events covered in this study, click END TIME EVENTS.