Look among the nations!
God, between 650 B.C. and 330 B.C.
If I had not received a phone call from Constance Cumbey, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to write this book. She called me at work and identified herself as an attorney from Detroit, Michigan. Since I own an insurance agency, I often receive phone calls from attorneys. So naturally I assumed she was calling about business.
“So what do you know about Javier Solana?” she said.
The question shocked me. I had been investigating this new European Union leader and his possible connection to Bible prophecy. I had also written about Javier Solana in some of the weekly religion columns I write for several newspapers. After Constance asked the question, I suddenly recognized her name.
“You’re not Constance Cumbey the author, are you?” I asked.
“Yes,” she answered. “I wrote The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow.”
Needless to say, for a small-town insurance agent her call came as quite a surprise. I had read her book — a No. 1 bestseller about the New Age movement — and still used it as a reference. Her excellent research was credited by many for blowing the lid off the New Age movement and exposing its existence to the world. But why was she calling me?
Constance said she was surfing the Internet when she ran across one of my newspaper columns. She had also been investigating Javier Solana and shared some of my concerns. Now I knew I wasn’t alone. I finally knew someone other than myself who was arriving at some of the same conclusions about current events in Europe, and those specifically relating to Javier Solana.
So it was Constance’s call that gave me the courage to write this book. Seeing the end-times prophecies being fulfilled may frighten some people, but it shouldn’t. For believers, the fulfillment of these prophecies should bring great encouragement. For one thing, we already know how it all ends. For another, it assures us that the Bible is the Word of God and that our faith in Jesus has not been misplaced. But most importantly, it provides us with a way to reach the lost, unbelieving people all around us. At a time when science and philosophy have declared God dead, God is speaking to our skeptical world in a big way – by fulfilling His ancient prophecies.
This book is about events occurring in the Mediterranean and Europe that may indicate the end-times prophecies are soon to be fulfilled. One of these events occurred in Israel in 1992, and its significance has been overlooked. Now another major event may have occurred in Europe in 2000. And if these events are what I suspect – prophetic signs given as warnings to Israel – then the Antichrist is on his way and Christ’s return is near.
Yet apocalyptic thinking of this kind is not easily accepted today. Right away, our mind goes to the bearded man on the street carrying a sign proclaiming, “The end is near.” Many times people have predicted the end, and just as many times they've been wrong. This has left a bitter taste in people’s mouths when it comes to Bible prophecy.
So, many Christians today have misconceptions about prophecy. As a result, they have stopped watching for the signs of Christ’s return. Yet this was not the attitude of the early Christians. To these believers the Apostle Peter said, “And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shinning in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).
If the early Christians were advised to pay attention to the prophecies, then we should, all the more. The Lord’s return is much closer today than it was then. And when He appears, it may be on a day we least expect.
Misconception 1: Everyone Who Studies Prophecy is a Screwball
When I first started writing newspaper religion columns, I went to a friend – the founder of a well-known ministry – for advice.
“Whatever you do, stay away from prophecy,” he said. “You don’t want people to think you’re one of ‘them.’”
“Them,” of course, was a reference to all those people “we” don’t want to be – the doomsayers, the kooks, the people with end-times Web sites written with large red letters and flames of fire.
But there is a problem with this kind of thinking. For one thing, Jesus gave us end-times prophecies, and then He commanded us to keep watching for their fulfillment (Luke 21:34-36, Matthew 24:42-51).
And someday these prophecies will actually begin to occur. And when they do, there will be people who notice. And, according to Jesus, these people will be dismissed as screwballs, just like Noah before the flood (Matthew 24:37-39).
The fact is, the Apostle Peter said that, in the last days, people would be turned off to Bible prophecy. He said, “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation’” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
For there to be mockers, there first must be somebody to mock. And it appears to me that Peter is saying that the ones who will be mocked in the last days are the ones who are reading events in their time as possible fulfillments of prophecy.
Peter’s words also imply that these last-days mockers won’t only be non-believers. Mockers will rise up from among those who say they believe. Unfortunately, this is the way it is today. And it is in direct opposition to the Bible. The Psalmist says, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the council of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers” (Psalms 1:1).
So, I believe signs may have occurred in the Mediterranean and Europe that indicate the beast of Revelation will soon be rising from the sea, but no one has noticed. This beast, of course, is the Antichrist and his kingdom.
But wait a minute. Before you think I’m just another screwball who is labeling some poor soul the Antichrist, you must realize this is not my intention. From the start, I want to make it clear: I do not claim to know who the Antichrist is. Instead, my book is about recent events that may indicate that the end-times prophecies will be soon fulfilled. I believe these events could be warning signs that the Antichrist is on his way.
Misconception 2: It’s Always Wrong to Read Current Events into Prophecy
Christian history is filled with people who mistakenly interpreted events in their lifetime as fulfillments of the end-times Bible prophecies. In fact, many of the modern day Christian sects actually started around interpretations of prophecy that failed to come true. The truth is, much of the theology that now sets certain sects apart from the mainstream came about because of their leaders' need to explain why their predictions failed.
Some modern scholars actually suggest that this is the reason the New Testament book of Revelation was written. They believe the Apostle John wrote Revelation to explain why Jesus failed to return when expected by first-century believers. They point to the words of the Apostle Peter which seem to suggest he believed the end would come during the lifetime of first-century believers. He said, “The end of all things is at hand: therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer (1 Peter 4:7).
Soon afterwards, “the end of all things,” as Peter knew it, did come. The city of Jerusalem was destroyed, the Jewish nation ceased to exist, and the Jewish people were scattered among the nations. Jesus, however, didn't return.
From the time of the Apostles to the present day, people’s interest in prophecy has had its highs and lows. When times were difficult and uncertain, interest in prophecy was high. And in good times, interest in prophecy was often low.
The rebirth of Israel in 1948 brought renewed interest in Bible prophecy in America. In 1970, a book on prophecy actually made the New York best-seller list and was named the No. 1 selling book of the decade. It was Hal Lindsey’s, The Late Great Planet Earth. The Christian world once again got ready for Christ’s glorious return to earth. Yet, like all those times before, Jesus didn’t show up.
All through Christian history, we find similar stories of failed prophetic predictions. Many of them are tragic. And each time this story is repeated, another group of God’s people experience great disillusionment and confusion.
It’s no wonder we’ve arrived at a time in Christian history when – instead of flames revival – the subject of Bible prophecy can spark suspicion and skepticism. Yet this is not the first time many of God’s people have had this attitude and have stopped watching for current events that could fulfill prophecy.
This was the same attitude many of Israel’s spiritual leaders had when Jesus began his earthly ministry. Certainly this man was not the one the prophecies had foretold, they reasoned. After all, so many others had come before Him claiming to be Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. In other words, Jesus came to Israel at a time when they least expected it.
Misconception 3: When it Happens, Our Christian Leaders Will Warn Us
As God has ordained signs to be associated with the change of seasons, He also has ordained signs to be associated with certain times prearranged in history. I’m reminded of what Jesus said to a group of religious leaders when they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:1-3).
Evidently, just as God has given us signs for the changing seasons, He has also provided us with “signs of the times.” No doubt, as Jesus spoke to these religious leaders He was thinking about the many prophecies in the Scriptures that referred to Him. In fact, the prophet Daniel actually predicted the number of years that would pass until the coming of the Messiah (Daniel 9:25-26). Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem on that predetermined day.2
One wonders how the devout leadership of Israel could have missed these clear signs. Yet they did. It wasn’t that they weren’t watching for the signs; they were just looking for the wrong kind – something sensational. They asked Jesus to show them a sign from heaven when, in fact, He already was. He was fulfilling all the prophecies written about Him in the Old Testament before their eyes, in real time. In other words, the religious leaders in Jesus’ day were looking for signs, but in the wrong places.
It’s my fear that this may be happening today. Once again our world may be experiencing “signs of the times” — prophetic road signs warning about the return of Christ. And, once again, many of our spiritual leaders may be looking in the wrong places.
Misconception 4: When It Happens, We’ll All Know
Have you ever started on a venture with a group of enthusiastic and like-minded people, only to be deserted by everyone before you finish? This describes the way I have come to feel about my quest into Bible prophecy. In the 1970s and 1980s, many Christians were very interested in Bible prophecy. For the most part, that interest was sparked by Hal Lindsey’s bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth, first published in May 1970. Having survived the chaos and disillusionment of the 1960s, many in my generation began looking once again for something solid to believe in.
It was during this time of confusion that Hal Lindsey wrote his book. When I opened its cover, I found a quote taken from a documentary Lindsay had made. He said:
this generation is overlooking the most authentic voice of all, and
When I read those words, Bible prophecy became more to me than just a casual interest — it became my salvation. You see, without Bible prophecy I would not have accepted the Bible as the Word of God. My logic was simple. If the prophecies in the Bible were true, then it was probable that the rest of the Bible was true. And the more I looked into the matter, the more I became convinced that the prophecies in the Bible were true.
Many in my generation came to the same conclusion. Books on prophecy began flooding Christian bookstores. The Late Great Planet Earth was made into a movie, and we all began looking for the “precise pattern of events” to occur in the Middle East and Europe that Hal Lindsey’s book predicted.
But many years have passed since that time and, unfortunately, things have changed. Not many people are watching anymore. Why not?
I believe it’s because many people misunderstood Hal Lindsey’s purpose and became disillusioned when certain things didn’t happen that he said might. What they didn’t realize was that he was not attempting to predict the future; he was only suggesting possible future fulfillments that seemed to make sense. For example, when the European Common Market failed to become the foretold 10 kings of prophecy – as some understood Lindsey’s book to suggest – many people lost interest in the subject.3 The problem was that too many of us were focused on well-intended speculations and not on the Scriptures themselves. Then, when a 10-nation alliance actually appeared in Europe in 1995, no one noticed. (I will tell you more about this alliance later in this book.)
But for whatever reason, people turned off to Bible prophecy. They comforted themselves with the idea that, when these end-times signs occurred, they would know it. Why waste time watching?
But there is a problem with this reasoning. As I said, the Bible seems to indicate that the final events of history will actually occur at the very time when many have stopped watching. Referring to the second coming of Christ, the Apostle Paul says, “Let no one in anyway deceive you, for it (Christ’s return) will not come unless the apostasy (falling away) comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
Some believe these signs — including the apostasy and the revealing of the Antichrist — are only for Israel to see. They say these events will occur after the church has been raptured. Yet here the Apostle Paul wasn’t writing to believers in Israel — he was writing to a new church in Europe (made up mostly of former pagans). For Paul to have assured this church that Christ would not return until after certain events, then he must have thought it was possible the church may witness them in some way — at least their beginning.
Besides, the Apostle Paul said the apostasy (or a falling away from the true faith) would come first. In other words, the apostasy would be on the scene before the Antichrist, not the other way around. This being the case, why should we think the church won’t witness this falling away from the faith – at least its beginning?
Actually, as I said in Misconception No. 1, many Christians being turned off to Bible prophecy may be an indication that the great apostasy has already begun. The Apostle Peter said, “in the last days mockers will come with their mocking” (2 Peter 3:3). In other words, one indication that the end-times apostasy has begun is when those who believe in prophecy are mocked. And this is how it is today.
Some may argue that disinterest in Bible prophecy is not the same as falling away from the faith. I agree. But, when the watchman is not watching, the enemy will come. I believe this is why Jesus warned, “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” (Matthew 24:42-44).
Misconception 5: Studying Prophecy Does More Harm than Good
We all like a good mystery. Perhaps this helps explain my interest in prophecy. Scattered between the pages of that old Book we find pieces of information about future events that have been left there by the Holy Spirit.
But the purpose of prophecy is not so God’s people can predict the future. Its purpose is to strengthen their faith. To His disciples Jesus once said, “And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that when it comes to pass, you may believe” (John 14:29).
Yet, as I said before, some believe that studying prophecy is a waste of time. They even think it may be dangerous. These people point to the mistakes past Bible students have made when they tried to link current events with Scriptures. In their opinion, when these students of prophecy make a mistake, it does more harm than good.
So, in many evangelical circles today, the popular mood is that we need to spend more time winning the lost than speculating on prophecies. It’s not that they don’t believe in Bible prophecy; they just feel safer placing their attention on those things in Scripture where they believe they have a clearer understanding.
Actually, I can’t argue with their logic. After all, we Christians are not here to bless the world by our charming presence, but to go out and declare the Gospel message of Jesus Christ everywhere we can. Yet here is where Bible prophecy can help. You see, if it weren’t for Bible prophecy, I don’t believe I would have ever accepted the Bible as the Word of God. And if the Bible is not the Word of God, then there is no good reason for anyone to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Of course there are other reasons people have for believing the Bible is the Word of God. I have reasons other than prophecy now myself. But my point is that God gave us prophecy for a purpose. It is a powerful offensive weapon in our war against Satan’s strongholds of darkness. Many people today are like I once was. Their minds have unknowingly been taken captive by the “Prince of the Power of the Air,” and they’ve been imprisoned behind great walls of skepticism. Sometimes Bible prophecy is the only weapon that can breach those walls and set them free.
For example, I’m
not qualified to stand up to a scientist and intelligently argue about
evolution. I can, however, open my Bible to a passage of prophecy and point
to its actual fulfillment in real-time history. In other words, if the
Jewish prophets accurately predicted events thousands of years before they
occurred, then I can argue that their message about the coming Messiah
should also be considered.
Misconception 6: Christians Won’t Be Here to See the Antichrist Anyway
This brings us to another common misconception. Many of today’s prophecy students don’t believe Christians will be around to see the rise of the Antichrist. This is mainly because they believe the rapture has to occur first. They say the Antichrist can’t rise to power until after the restraining effect of the church has been removed. So, there’s no point in Christians looking for signs they won’t be here to see.
Although it may be true that we won’t see the Antichrist’s global power, we very well could be here to see his regional power. These students don’t realize that the world’s stage must first be set before the end-times actors can appear on the scene. And the world stage will take some time to be set. It is a common view that the tribulation period — the final seven-year period that precedes Christ’s return to earth — will begin when the Antichrist signs a security agreement with Israel.4 Many students don’t stop to consider that — for the Antichrist to sign an agreement with Israel – the Antichrist and his kingdom must, to some degree, already be in place.
To set the world’s stage for the end-times events, Israel must first return as a nation. Of course, this already happened. Then, after Israel has appeared, 10 nations in the geographic area of the old Roman Empire must unite in some kind of confederacy. After these nations have united, the Antichrist will come up from among them (Daniel 7:24). He will rise to rule over a revived form of the Roman Empire through deceit and false programs of peace. All these political events will take time to happen. And after these events have all happened, then the Antichrist will go and make his seven-year agreement with Israel (Daniel 9:27). In time, his kingdom will become global.
In other words, there’s no good reason to think that Christians won’t at least see the beginning of the rise of the Antichrist and his kingdom. We’ll just need to know where to look. And the Bible points to the Mediterranean region.
It is commonly believed that the Antichrist will come from the Mediterranean area. Tim Lahaye, a Bible-prophecy scholar and co-author of the popular Left Behind series said, “One of the most frequently asked questions about the Antichrist concerns his nationality. Revelation 13:1 indicates that he ‘rises up out of the sea, ‘ meaning the sea of people around the Mediterranean.”5
Jesus provided us with a few more details about the conditions that would spawn the Antichrist. He said:
there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth
So, the Antichrist will rise from the restless sea of people surrounding the Mediterranean. This chaotic and stormy condition in Europe and the Mediterranean area will set the stage for the rise of the Antichrist. He will suddenly break on the scene with his ingenious solutions. Through deceit and false programs of peace, he will take power before the people who could stop him notice (Daniel 8:25).
And this, believe it or not, is the actual picture I’ve been watching.
Chapter 1 Notes
1. Habakkuk 1:5