PROPHECIES IN REAL TIME

 

Though few believe it, we are living in the precise times described by Jesus Christ in His famous “Olivet” prophecies, related in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13.

 

Any honest appraisal of current, ongoing world conditions reads like a paraphrase of Christ’s words. Jesus had said to His disciples, who had just marveled at the splendor of the Temple and all the surrounding buildings, “And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,

 

“As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Luke 21:5,6). Matthew’s account of the same event says, “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple.

 

“And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:1,2).

 

These were simple country folk; men from the hilly country of Galilee. Like a first-time visitor from Topeka, Kansas to New York City, they marveled at the fabulous size, scale, and magnificence of the Temple and surrounding buildings. Ironically, I had remarked, only a few weeks prior to September 11, 2001, “That would be like telling someone in New York that the time would come when the Twin Trade Towers would be lying on the ground.”

 

So startling were His words that His disciples immediately asked, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). The Greek word for “coming” is “parousia” which means “advent, often ‘return,’or, by implication, ‘aspect,’ coming, presence.” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).

 

The disciples knew nothing of His impending death, burial and resurrection; knew nothing of their own personal futures. They had not the slightest idea that two thousand long years would pass; their bones moldering in their graves, before Christ would return to this earth. No, they meant the sign of His ADVENT; His PRESENCE as the King of Israel; the time of His restoration of the greater Solomonic kingdom of centuries past.

 

Notice the proof: “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). These men were expecting Christ to set up His kingdom IN THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE. (If you have not yet read my booklet “The Young Revolutionaries,” you may find it on our web site, or call [903] 561-7070 for your free copy). These men did not ask “Is it time for you to set up your world-ruling kingdom?” They were referring only to the Mideast; to Israel’s borders under Solomon.

 

Also, they did not mean “the end of the planet earth,” or even “the end of civilization.” What they meant was the END OF AN AGE, or era, and the dawning of a NEW age; a new regime! The Greek word for “world” in that passage is “aion,” and means “an AGE.” Clearly, these men recognized that if Jesus Christ mounted a throne as King, it meant the end of the reign of the corrupt Herods, puppets of Imperial Rome. It would mean the end of Roman military occupation with all its abuses and evils.

 

Christ’s prophecies were DUAL! They had a “typical” or early application, and are to have a final literal application. The people living in Judaea then, especially the citizens of Jerusalem, lived to see the horrific slaughter carried out by the armies of Titus; the complete destruction of the Temple, and even the prying loose of MOST (but not all) of the stones of the outer walls. Josephus, the eminent Jewish historian, wrote of the brutal torture and death of thousands of Jews by Titus. The story of the Masada, and the mass suicide of those who were under siege by the Romans, is a heartbreaking chapter of that terrible time. 

 

Obviously, however, much of Matthew 24 and Luke 21 remains to be fulfilled in OUR TIME, NOW! For one thing, Christ has not yet returned, as he said He would, and none of the immediate heavenly signs have occurred, nor did they occur in 70 AD.

 

He answered their eager questions thusly: “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4,5). Copyists added the comma, which is misleading. Christ was saying many would admit that Jesus was the Christ, and even though appropriating His name, would nevertheless deceive MANY!

 

And today, the MANY are deceived! Even Muslims recognize that Jesus was a Prophet. While they do not believe He was as great a prophet as Muhammad, nor do they believe He was “The Messiah” (neither do the Jews of Judaism), they concede that he was a prophet.

 

Your Bible says ALL NATIONS are deceived! “...the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9).

 

Christ elaborated in this same discourse: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake."

 

“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

 

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

 

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:9-12).

 

Though the United States is only nominally “a Christian nation,” the US finds itself HATED by almost every nation on earth! We are HATED by Mexico, all of Central and South America, All Arab nations, all non-Arab Islamic countries, such as Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia and much of the Philippines. We are hated by the Chinese, who represent more than 1/4 of the population of the earth; by Russia, by India, which is the second largest nation, and, truth be told, by Japan, and much of Europe! The United States and Britain, two brother nations, tend to stick together in times of crisis. Britain is a staunch supporter (in terms of its current government only, of course) of President Bush’s war on terrorism, and his determination to bring about a regime change in Iraq. It is a fact of life today, that the United States of America is HATED by much of the world!

 

But more than this political and ethnic hatred from abroad, America is hated by millions WITHIN its own borders! As a CURSE from God for breaking His Ten Commandments, and descending into a spiritual and moral cesspool of sex, drugs, crime and violence, God said, “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low” (Deuteronomy 28:43). While millions of both legal and illegal immigrants pour into the US to GET WHAT WE HAVE in terms of jobs, money, and material things, they nevertheless HATE OUR GOVERNMENT, hate our laws, and the vast majority of non-whites HATE WHITES!

 

Even more than this kind of hatred, Jesus Christ specifically meant the time would come when HATRED would reign in human hearts to the extent that formerly beloved brethren would BETRAY one another; would hate one another! That HAS HAPPENED in God’s church since 1978! Hatred is alive and well within the hearts of MANY who claim they are members of God’s church today! Some speak or write of “love” yet their words are merely veneer for their deep-seated HATRED beneath! God says, “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool” (Proverb 10:18). Many say to each other, “I love you, “ or proclaim “love” out of their pulpits, while hiding hatred in their HEARTS! But it is not fair words and speeches which shall judge them, but their innermost HEART.

 

Today, Britain and America have “mixed themselves among the nations.” We have become a melting pot of pagan, heathen foreigners, who do not even recognize the NOMINAL Christian religion, which is itself a deception, but bring into our country Islam, Hinduism, Animism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and the demonic religions of the backwaters of Jamaica and Central America, where ancient tribal customs, such as voodoo and witchcraft are still practiced! Satanism, witchcraft and demonism; the occult, are openly and capriciously practiced! Every daily newspaper has its “astrology” column. Hallowe’en, a known Satanic custom, is gleefully and riotously celebrated by the vast majority, including the churches! Witchcraft and sorcery are made “cute” and “compelling” in the best-selling books about “Harry Potter.” Another movie was being hailed as another blockbuster at the theaters; “stars” were being photographed at celebrations in London. God CONDEMNS witchcraft and sorcery. But this world makes it “cute,” and pretends it is harmless.

 

In whole sections of major cities, one may see women parading by in strange, Islamic or Hindu dress; see mosques, temples, and social centers dedicated to foreigners among us. Strangely, the leaders of the “Nation of Islam,” a black American religious organization, preach HATRED of whites and Jews; of America itself, laying the blame for slavery on PRESENT-DAY white America, and demanding reparations, as if present-day descendants of the slave owners of the days prior to the Civil War should PAY MONEY to present-day blacks! This, of course, is one of the most outlandish and silly suggestions one has ever heard! It is certainly another example of HATRED OF America, even from within our own borders!

 

Of Ephraim (Britain), God says, “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned" [Britain was mixing itself with foreigners even before the US was a nation],

 

“Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.

 

“And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.

 

“Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria" [modern-day Germany]. [Read my book, “Europe and America in Prophecy"].

 

“When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.” (Hosea 7:8-12). And the ONLY place their congregation has heard of their impending national calamities is the work my father before me and I have been doing, shouting and publishing a witness and warning to Britain, Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand for DECADES!

 

There is simply no doubt that we are living in the time prophesied by Jesus Christ!   

 

Immediately following His warning about false prophets and deception, Christ said, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:5). Today, America is AT WAR in a very real sense! Huge expenditures are in the works to fund the military. Thus, more billions of dollars the government DOES NOT HAVE — deficit “spending” of borrowed money — is being funneled to the major defense contractors to build the ships, planes and guns necessary to wage war.

 

WAR could break out in the Middle east at any time, spilling over into Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan, as well as the possibility of involving Turkey and other countries in the region. Truly, we are living in a time of “wars and rumors of wars!” This is a major headline every day on “World Net Daily” news, a major Internet news service!

 

Every day, your news is filled with concerns over “homeland security” and warnings issued by the CIA, FBI and other agencies, anxious to cover themselves IN CASE a “dirty bomb” is detonated in America! Warnings that our water supply, our food supply, our trains and airplanes, our sporting events, even our schools and hospitals are targets of terrorists are issued on a weekly basis! Today, I watched as a man hawked his wares on Fox News — his wares consisted of all kinds of methods and equipment necessary to survive a chemical, biological or nuclear attack; how to seal off one’s special “safe room” with plastic and duct tape; how to bathe with special soap to remove chemical or biological residue! It was reminiscent of the back yard fall-out shelters built by frightened Americans during the Cuban missile crisis.

 

Did Jesus Christ accurately predict our times? On our web site at “garnertedarmstrong.org/” you can read much about the “end times,” and about the Middle East in prophecy!

 

Next, Christ said, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:7). As I write, word comes of an earthquake IN KANSAS, of all places! The day before, a MASSIVE earthquake over 7 on the Richter scale struck in an uninhabited part of Alaska. Just prior to that, an earthquake in Italy, probably related to the huge eruption of Mount Etna, collapsed a school building in San Giuliano di Pugia, killing 26 precious little children in a town of only 1,200 population. The long funeral procession leading to a mass funeral was heartbreaking to watch. Truly, EARTHQUAKES are striking in greater frequency, and in “diverse” and sometimes unusual places!

 

But Jesus Christ told His own disciples, “But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by” (Luke 21:9). Yet, those who DO NOT KNOW the prophecies of Christ are living IN TERROR much of the time! The snipers of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., kept several million people in TERROR much of the time! Countless millions were lost by restaurants, shopping centers and gas companies. Schools were closed. Government workers were snarled in massive traffic jams as police searched in vain for the wrong kind of vehicles.   

 

Stupidly, Fox news had as its question of the day whether similar sniper incidents could be carried out by “sleeper” cells of Al Quaida operatives here in the U.S., as if giving the terrorists a virtual blueprint for action! They pointed out on the news “how cheaply” all this could be done! This was worse than irresponsible. It was downright criminal.

 

As Christ said, these things will happen SUDDENLY, when we least expect them! “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."

 

 “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

 

“And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

 

“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

 

“Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

 

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:37-42).

 

What happened over a year ago, on 9/11, was like a microcosm of what WILL happen when a nuclear device is suddenly unleashed, or when a chemical or biological attack occurs! Millions of us were going about our daily business — the farthest thing from anyone’s mind as passengers boarded all those flights was a brutal hijacking, and turning a peaceful, pleasant flight into a deadly flying missile! The farthest thing from the top brains in the CIA, FBI, or even the White House was that horrendous attack!

 

Do you know WHICH major prophecy among all of Christ’s Olivet prophecies is predicted to be ongoing NOW? Here it is: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). Yes, the GREAT, GOOD NEWS that Christ will soon INTERVENE in world affairs IS BEING PREACHED! But that Good News of the coming world-ruling Government of God MUST BE PREACHED IN GREATER POWER AND SCOPE!

 

Do you believe — can you accept — the VAST SCALE of the personal involvement of those who are commissioned to do the work of God on this earth? When one thinks of the terrible hostage situation in Moscow, and so many gassed to death; of the many terrorist bombs and suicide attacks in Israel; of the terrible things being planned in the hate-filled, vicious minds of cowardly killers right this moment, it is obvious that this world is in the beginning throes of a time of GREAT TROUBLE!

 

God says the whole of creation “groans in pain” WAITING FOR THE REVELATION OF THE SONS OF GOD! “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

 

“And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:22,23). Yes, from Maryland to Moscow, and from Bali to Brisbane; from Italy to Israel, grief-stricken human beings GROAN IN PAIN, yearning, without realizing it, for a time of WORLD PEACE and an end to war!

 

              Meanwhile, there is a great WORK to be done!

 

Today, we are reaching only a fraction of the United States, Canada and Australia! While I know there are MILLIONS of people all over the world who WILL REMEMBER when the great WARS of the tribulation occur still living in England, Europe, and many other countries, I also know that the AVERAGE man and woman on the street remains WOEFULLY IGNORANT of the meaning of world events!

 

It is our job to dispel that ignorance; to push back the veil of darkness, and to let the glorious light of Christ’s great good news shine into the minds and hearts of the millions who are devoid of hope! No wonder the first request in our prayers should be “Thy Kingdom come!”

 

Garner Ted Armstrong

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