by David A. Reed COMPLETE BOOK ONLINE
Several of my earlier books have dealt with prophetic failures. I have researched and written about the great “Disappointment of 1844," the dates set for Christ's return by various Adventist groups, attempts at prophecy by Mormonism's founder Joseph Smith, and the Jehovah's Witnesses' predictions for 1914, 1925, and 1975. This research has shown me the accuracy of the Bible's own predictions about Jerusalem, which have serious implications for our modern world.
Chapter 1 - Blue Helmets and Bible Prophecy
The Hebrew prophet Zechariah foretells a future time when the status of Jerusalem would become a problem for the whole world, and when all the nations of the world would be united in sending a military force to impose their solution for the city. Are today's events moving in that direction? Radical Islamic terrorists who cite the status of Jerusalem as a principal grievance have made their problem the world's problem, especially since the attack on America on September 11, 2001. The United Nations General Assembly has decreed that Jerusalem shall be an "international" city "administered by the United Nations." Now the Quartet made up of the European Union, Russia, the United States and the United Nations have pressured the Israelis and Palestinians into accepting a roadmap for peace. There are calls by world leaders for the U.N. to enforce its resolutions, and calls within Israel to reject an international solution.
Chapter 2 - Objections to Christianity
Rational minds demand reasons for faith, especially when Christianity is merely one of many competing religious philosophies. Moreover, the Christian church has lost credibility, even among believers, due to a long history of wars, sex scandals, political corruption, and other evidences of hypocrisy. In explaining his parable of 'the weeds and the wheat' Jesus foretold that the Church would be filled with counterfeit Christians who would act this way. He warned against the hypocritical 'leaven of the Pharisees' and the politically corrupt 'leaven of Herod.' He also told how to identify real Christians amidst the imitations. Rather than undermining the credibility of the Bible, the corruption in the Church today confirms Jesus' words. Later chapters will address the theory of evolution and concerns about hellfire teaching.
Chapter 3 - Jerusalem a problem for the whole world
Located at the intersection of three continents, Jerusalem often found itself in the path of conquering empires. The Crusades brought international armies to the city but did not fit the prophetic picture of the whole world uniting to impose a solution. International terrorists citing Jerusalem's status as their grievance have created a problem for the whole world. The first world body, the League of Nations, gave Britain an official Mandate to govern Palestine, shortly after the Balfour Declaration stated the British intention to establish a Jewish homeland there. In 1947 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 called for division of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, and the nations of Israel and Jordan were born the following year. Resolution 181 also called for Jerusalem to be separate from either state, under international control with a governor appointed by the United Nations. Israel has accepted U.N. peacekeeping forces brought in to monitor the border with Lebanon. The "roadmap" provided by the international community calls for settling the issue of Jerusalem in its final phase. Several proposed scenarios could lead to the deployment of blue helmets around the city.
Chapter 4 - Why Believe Bible Prophecy?
Rooted in the complexities of ancient history, the prophecies of the Bible can prove difficult to grasp. However, two significant predictions that are both simple and straightforward can be used to test and establish the Bible's prophetic track record. First, there is the prediction that the gods of the gentile nations -- Baal, Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Dagon, Artemis, Zeus and the rest -- would be abandoned and forgotten, while the God of Abraham would come to be worshiped world wide by people of all nations. The prediction seemed laughable when it was made, because those other gods were much more popular than the unseen God of the tiny Hebrew nation, but billions of Muslims, Christians and Jews today prove the prophecy was right on target. Second, there is the prediction found as far back as the books of Moses, that the Jewish people would be uprooted from the Promised Land and would be scattered throughout the world, only to be restored as a nation thousands of years later, just before the end of the world. Impossible as it may have seemed, the Roman empire carried out the scattering and the British empire facilitated the regathering. Fulfilled against overwhelming odds, these two prophecies establish a basis for believing that the remaining prophecies about Jerusalem will also come true.
Chapter 5 - Chosen People
Some people reject the notion that the Jews are the biblical Chosen People. Others who see the connection reject the Bible as a result. Misconceptions abound as to the actual meaning of the expression in Scripture. Condemnation of the Old Testament kings demonstrates it does not imply God's approval of the policies of the state of Israel. With each national group making idols to worship and dreaming up pantheons of gods and goddesses, mankind would have forgotten the Creator, had he not intervened to preserve true worship somewhere on earth. The Jews were chosen to preserve the only written record of the creation and of God's early dealings with the human race. Even the Christian New Testament was written entirely by Jewish followers of the Messiah, and the later Muslim Koran acknowledges the Jews as the "guardians" whose job was "to preserve the Book of Allah." The Jews were also chosen as the people to host the Messiah's birth and ministry, and to provide the setting for his promised return to Jerusalem.
Chapter 6 - Promised Seed
The Genesis account of Adam and Eve's sin includes a cryptic promise of a coming "seed" of the woman who would eventually crush the serpent. The Bible concludes with the Revelation's identification of the devil as the original serpent and Christ as the son of man who crushes him. In between that introduction and conclusion, the Bible is full of lengthy genealogies that try the patience of many readers. But these complex lists of who begat whom are crucial to the story, because they trace the promised seed from Adam and Eve, down through Abraham and King David, to the promised Messiah himself.
Chapter 7 - Promised Land
From the town called Ur of the Chaldees, where Iraqi exiles met three thousand years later to discuss forming a new government after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Abraham moved with his family to Harran in what is now Turkey. God told him next to migrate south to the land of Canaan. The Canaanites were gross sinners and were slated for destruction. The slaughter would not be genocide, because it was decreed by the Judge of all the earth. God promised to give their land to Abraham and his descendants. Soon afterward God sent fire from heaven to wipe out the worst of them, the inhabitants of the district of Sodom and Gomorrah. The divine promise was repeated to Abraham's son Isaac, and to Isaac's son Jacob. After his name was changed to Israel, Jacob and his family moved to Egypt, where they survived a famine and grew, over the centuries, into a small national group. Moses led them out of slavery in Egypt to the border of the promised land, and then Joshua led their armies as the Israelites wiped out the Canaanites and took possession of their land.
Chapter 8 - Holy City
Recognized by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 as a city holy to "the three great monotheistic faiths throughout the world, Christian, Jewish and Moslem," Jerusalem is unique among holy cities. In the most ancient references Abraham paid tithes to Jerusalem's mysterious king Melchizedek, who was "priest of the most high God." Centuries later king David drove pagan Jebusites from the city and made it his capital. Solomon built God's temple there. After unfaithful Jews polluted it with idolatry, God allowed the neo-Babylonian empire to destroy the city, but later he moved the heart of Medo-Persian emperor Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple. After Israel rejected its Messiah, God had Roman legions destroy both the city and the temple again. With Jews in control of the area now since 1967, Islamic mosques sitting atop the Temple Mount, and U.N. resolutions calling for the Jews to vacate, Jerusalem has become "a heavy stone burdening the world" as Zechariah foretold. Soon to follow are the apocalyptic Battle of Armageddon, which will leave Messiah ruling the world from Jerusalem.
Chapter 9 - Promised Messiah
The first Israelite kings were anointed with holy perfumed oil poured ceremonially over their heads. This made them "anointed ones" or Messiahs in Hebrew. God promised that a future Messiah would come who would be anointed with the Holy Spirit instead of oil. He would wage war in righteousness, conquer the world, and rule for ever afterward in peace. Every sorrow would be erased, even sickness and death ceasing to plague mankind. Dozens of prophecies foretold the Messiah and the details of his life, death, resurrection and second coming. He would be born in Bethlehem, the child of a virgin, would preach in Galilee, would arrive in Jerusalem seated on a donkey, but would be rejected, beaten, stripped, and nailed up to die like a criminal. Jesus of Nazareth fit every detail of the prophetic description, but only a small minority of the Jewish people accepted him as their promised Messiah. Even his miraculous resurrection from the dead failed to convince the religious leaders. Nevertheless, the message spread throughout the Greek-speaking world as Gentiles embraced their "anointed one," or Christ.
Chapter 10 - False Alarms, False Prophets and the Antichrist
Anyone calling attention to prophecies about the return of Christ is in danger of being compared to the proverbial 'boy who cried wolf.' My earlier books dealt with many false alarms allegedly based on biblical passages: various groups pointed to 1874, 1914 or 1975 as the time Christ would return. Some people have been hurt by such failed predictions, but others have been moved to investigate further and have benefited as a result. The Apostle Paul wrote that there would be a falling away first, and the appearance of an antichrist. Watch out for speculative answers and for those who resort to the tyranny of authority or who claim to have special knowledge beyond what others can discern from reading the Bible. Scripture was written for ordinary folk, not for intellectuals. The basic signs and warnings in prophecy are straightforward and easy to understand.
Chapter 11 - Turned off by Hellfire?
Some people shy away from the Bible due to misrepresentations or distortions of what it says about life after death. While some teachers focus on certain verses, all must be examined to determine what the Bible actually teaches on this subject. That teaching is both reasonable and satisfying. While the Old Testament contains mere hints and glimpses of the afterlife, the teachings of Jesus and his apostles add a considerable amount of clarifying information. Hades was the destination of all who died before Christ's resurrection, but it was not at all the place depicted in Dante's Inferno. Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus sheds light on the truth about "hell." Punishment after death is meant to inspire healthy fear of God, not to depict the deity as a fiend who dreams up worse torments than human war criminals. Jesus was the kindest, most loving man ever to walk the earth, and this should inspire us to trust God to deal fairly. If our concept of the afterlife offends us, then perhaps it is our concept that is wrong, rather than some supposed injustice on God's part.
Chapter 12 - What about Darwin?
Popular acceptance of the theory of evolution causes many to doubt the truthfulness of the Bible. Discovery of the genetic blueprints contained in DNA points to the existence of an intelligent designer of all living things. The genetic code shares many similarities with computer code, which should make us realize that mutations are destructive, not creative. Mutations can add diseases to the genome, but can not add improved new features, just as damage to a computer disk can corrupt the code and make it malfunction but cannot cause Windows 98 to evolve into Windows XP. Scientists associated with the "intelligent design movement" have demonstrated that irreducibly complex structures in living things could not have evolved through a series of mutations producing component parts that depend on other components in order to function. The musical talent of Mozart and the self-sacrificing altruism of Ghandi and Schweitzer can not be explained by 'natural selection' though 'survival of the fittest.' On the other hand, the Bible's explanation of man's origin fits the facts of history and of science and adequately accounts for the world as we see it today.
Chapter 13 - How to be Saved
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God announced that his law covenant with Israel would eventually be replaced by a new covenant based on grace. Open to all mankind, instead of to Jews only, it would bring believers into a personal relationship with God and would free them from the burden of sin. Jesus inaugurated the new covenant and bridged the gap between God and man. By trusting Jesus as their Savior and submitting to him as their Lord, believers now can be 'born again' as adopted children of God. As such, they receive the Holy Spirit to live in their hearts, which results in an intimate closeness to God. He takes an active part in directing the lives of his children and brings them into fellowship with others in the Church. Believers enjoy, not only the sure hope of surviving the coming world catastrophe, but also peace and joy in their lives right now.
Chapter 14 - What Happens Next
The Bible's end time prophecies go into considerable detail concerning the events that will take place. Zechariah devotes two chapters to what will happen when God "will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it." Daniel offers prophetic visions of the rise and fall of beast-like world powers, culminating in the triumph of the Messiah. The apostle John refers to a seven-headed beast-like world government that would finally fall under the assault of heavenly armies. The Hebrew prophet Joel speaks of all the Gentile nations coming together for war, only to encounter God's voice roaring from Jerusalem. Isaiah similarly speaks of God gathering "all nations and tongues" to "execute judgment upon all men." The apostle Peter cautions that, although the foretold judgment may seem to be delayed, it is coming nonetheless. There are different schools of thought regarding whether God will rescue believers before the final troubles break out, or during the tribulation, but the signs Jesus said to watch for include mention of "Jerusalem surrounded by armies."
Chapter 15 - America's Role
Although there are no clear references in the Bible to the United States of America, it should not be surprising to see the world's sole superpower play a prominent role in regard to Israel. After all, Egypt served as a cradle for the Jewish people to grow into a populous national group, albeit in slavery. The neo-Babylonian empire destroyed Jerusalem, and then the Medo-Persian empire conquered Babylon and restored both the Holy City and its temple. So, it is certainly consistent with history for both Britain and America to figure prominently in the final chapters written, so far, only in prophecy.
Chapter 16 - Why Now? Precedents
The history of divine intervention in ages past also helps identify the types of situations that provoke God to act. The flood of Noah's day was sent to cleanse a planet that had become full of sexual immorality and violence, much like today's world. God sent fire and brimstone to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, so the open gay pride movement today must not be acceptable to him. He intervened when the builders of the Tower of Babel built an urban society capable of accomplishing the impossible, so what about today's scientific breakthroughs in a similar setting? The Jews have restored the state of Israel, and the Information Age lets the whole world now view Jerusalem as their problem demanding an international solution.
Chapter 17 - Nations United and Resolved
Zechariah's prophecy of the world's nations uniting for the final attack on Jerusalem parallels similar predictions Joel, Isaiah and the apostle John. Although its founders, no doubt, had other things in mind, the League of Nations made Britain's Palestine Mandate one of its first official acts, and the U.N., likewise, passed a resolution demanding international control over Jerusalem as far back as 1947, soon after that body's formation. Since then, there have been more United Nations resolutions on Israel and Palestine than on any other region of the world. These have consistently called for the Jews to vacate all or part of the city, for Israel not to claim Jerusalem as its capital, or for the city to be internationalized under a governor appointed by the United Nations. The Quartet's roadmap has United Nations backing. The nations have spent decades "uniting" for the attack and drawing up resolutions, and now all that remains is the enforcement.
Chapter 18 - Are you ready?
What response should these events evoke from individuals who discern that Jerusalem has become a problem for the whole world, as prophesied, and that the nations have united for a final foretold attack? Should we weigh in on the political issues involved and push for events to move in one direction or the other? The most important response for each one of us is to look at our personal relationship with the Creator, the God who is about to engage the nations in the final war of Armageddon. His victory is certain. Ours can be, too, if we trust and obey.
About the Author
To address the legitimate question of credibility I will say more about myself here than in the typical about-the-author blurb. No, I was not raised as an unquestioning member of a Christian fundamentalist community. Skepticism prevailed, both in my family and in my adolescent plunge into Darwinian evolution, humanistic existentialism and well-argued atheism. My major in political science at Harvard also removed any my-country-right-or-wrong idealism. The evidence that convinced a skeptic like me is presented in this book, out of respect for other inquiring minds.