The coming Kingdom
We read in the Bible that God has created the world and He is in control of human affairs. He has brought this world to its current political state (Dan 4:17, 25, 32, Rom 13:1). The reason for this, is so that in contrast to the mess that man has made of things, God can found His own universal Kingdom on the earth (Dan 2:44, 7:14, Zech 14:9). Under God’s government, all nations will then be blessed (Gen 12:3, Psa 72:17-19, Gal 3:8).
The Bible tells us that the Jewish nation of Israel, established after a period of being scattered amongst the nations, will be this Kingdom (Exo 19:5-6, Mic 4:6-8, Ezek 37:21-28) and all other nations the “empire” attached to the Kingdom. The Kingdom will be ruled over by the Lord Jesus Christ who is to return to the earth to set it up (Acts 1:11, Luke 1:31-33).
The current way of life of the majority of today’s society will, in the days of the Kingdom, be considered as being ignorant - for in the age to come “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9).
The amazing blessings of being part of this coming Kingdom are detailed in what the Bible calls “the gospel”. “Gospel” simply means “good news”. Many times in the New Testament we read of Jesus and his early followers preaching the “gospel of
the kingdom” (Matt 4:23, 9:35, Mark 1:14, Acts 1:6, 8:12, 28:23+31). The Bible is full of things relating to this coming “golden age”, soon to be realised upon the earth.
In the gospel there is an invitation to all who believe what God has promised, to be part of and share in this Kingdom through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The invitation has certain conditions attached to it (1 Thess 2:12, 1 Cor 6:9-11, Mark 16:15-16, Col 1:21-23), namely faith in the things promised by God and in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ and also obedience to God.
The rulership of the nations during the Kingdom period will be in accordance with God’s, rather than man’s standards (Isa 2:3, Psa 72:1-8, Zec 14:16-21). There will be just laws and institutions with perfect and righteous people to administer them. The government of mankind at this time will be committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and to those who he accounts worthy to rule with him. We read in the Bible that the rulers of the world at this time will be immortal kings and priests (Rev 1:5-6, 2:26-27, 5:9-10). These kings and priests will be made up of “the called, and chosen, and faithful” (Rev 14:4, 17:14) followers of Christ. Some of which will have been raised from the dead (Dan 12:2, Isa 26:19, 1 Cor 15:16+52, 1 Thess 4:16) and others who are still living at the time of Christ’s return (1 Thess 4:17). The selection of who will have the privilege of being part of this group, takes place at the return of Christ to the earth when he will conduct a judgment (to determine which of his followers are worthy to receive the gift of eternal life and rule with him in his Kingdom).
The rulership of Christ will continue for a thousand years after which there will be a change (Rev 20: 6-7, 1 Cor 15:24-26). Sin and death will be fully abolished and the earth, at that point, will be inhabited only by immortal people for it is written: “the wicked shall not inhabit the earth” Proverbs 10:30.
The final state of the population upon our planet at the end of the thousand years will be a group of people who are all holy and immortal, having been redeemed from among the descendants of Adam and Eve, the first human pair, who sinned against God and brought death and mortality into the human race (Rom 5:12-17, Gen 3:17-19). They will have obtained this privilege through the principle of believing what God has promised and by doing what He commands. At the end of the thousand years, God’s purpose with His creation will be accomplished.
This is what we, the authors of the Bible in the news believe. As members of the Christadelphian community, we hold to these essential teachings of the gospel of the Bible. We believe that sadly, mainstream Christianity has moved far away from the saving truth revealed in the scriptures.
The nations of this world then, are all destined to be eventually brought under the control of the Lord Jesus Christ when he returns to this earth.
Long ago, the great prophet Ezekiel was compelled by God’s power (2 Pet 1:21, 2 Tim 3:16) to record the “latter day” prophecy of Ezekiel 38 which gives us further details of this great event. The prophecy is set at a time when the Jews have returned to their land after a period of dispersion. Within this prophecy, we find the names of ancient nations who will unite under a mysterious character called “Gog” to form an alliance. This attacking force will swoop down upon the nation of Israel in the time just before Christ manifests himself to the nations. Harmonising this chapter with other prophecies (such as Daniel 11, Joel 3, Revelation 16, Zechariah 12-14) we realise that Ezekiel 38 has been revealed by God to help us understand what to expect from the nations, just before the Lord Jesus Christ returns and sets up the Kingdom. It is a depiction of the events which lead up to the great battle of Armageddon described in Revelation 16:16.
By tracing the ancient names of the peoples mentioned in Ezekiel 38 we realise that events in the world today are rapidly moving in the direction of the state of these nations prophesied by the prophet and give us an assurance that Jesus will soon return to this earth to establish God's Kingdom. Watching and looking at world events through the lens of Bible Prophecy is what the Bible in the News project is all about.
In Ezekiel 38 we read of ancient names of the peoples which will make up the invading force. They are, The Rus, Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer and the house of Togarmah. We identify these as being Russia, Iran, the Turkic Nations and Western and Eastern Europe as well as Libya, Ethiopia. The prophecy explains these will all form the invading force against Israel.
We read of another set of nations in verse 13. Tarshish and her young lions, Shebah and Dedan. This we identity with Britain, her allies and the Gulf States. These nations are busily trading together at the time of the invasion and seemingly can do nothing to stop the attack.
The most notable aspect of the prophecy though is that of the Jews. The prophecy explains that these events will take place when the Jews have returned to their land, become prosperous and are dwelling in relative safety (v12-13)
With this overview in mind then let us consider the events of this year.
Israel - God's people
It’s been another year with Israel dominating the headlines.
We began the year with the world still reeling from Donald Trump's announcement in Dec 2017 that the United States would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The USA officially realised this announcement on May 14, 2018, when they opened a new embassy, aligning with the 70th anniversary of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. They opened the embassy in Jerusalem. As we would expect, the UN voted resoundingly against this proposition.
The Israeli declaration of independence in 1948 was a significant sign to those who believe in Bible prophecy. The declaration of the Jewish state and the return of the Jews to their land is a fulfilment of prophecy. This occurred 70 years ago and we wonder how much more time will elapse before the events in Ezekiel 38 and the great event of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ will take place.
We witnessed escalating violence on the Gaza border in connection to the 70th anniversary of this event - but a planned "third intifada” never materialised.
There was continued international pressure on Israel about building in the West Bank area. This is highly significant from a prophetic point of view because the west bank is an area in the heart of Israel mountainous region. The prophecies specifically speak about these mountains being the area of conflict after the Jews have returned.
Tensions with Iran ("Persia" of Ezekiel 38) continue to grow. In April we saw Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, present over 100,000 documents detailing the extent of Iran’s nuclear programme and showing how the Iranian’s had been breaking their international agreement. This contributed to US President, Donald Trump, declaring the US would withdraw from the said agreement which they did and later in August reimposed sanctions on Iran.
Despite this, Israel has been recently left in a difficult and isolated position when in recent weeks Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of troops from Syria. The move leaves Israel alone with enemies on its doorstep. A news headline this week announced, “Trump’s Syria withdrawal hurts Netanyahu, US reputation, Israelis say (CNN Dec 20th 2018) and another "Trump: We give Israel billions, it can defend itself in Syria” (Times of Israel 27th Dec 2018).
Over the course of the year, the UN amazingly voted to adopt 21 condemnations of Israel, mainly in relation to the West Bank. There were only six other condemnations for other countries showing the biased nature and double standards of the world against the Jewish State.
It would appear that Israel and God’s people the Jews are becoming more and more isolated on the world stage as we would expect from Bible prophecy.
In terms of Israel's economy, the year ends with record unemployment figures and the economy has continued to grow. A “double A” credit rating was achieved for the first time this year. Again significant in relation to the prophecy of the regathered people prospering.
The year ends with a new Israeli election set for April 9th 2019 so we will watch this with interest.
Selected Bible in the news articles on the topic of Israel from 2018:
Russia & her allies
Russia has also not been far from the headlines in 2018. It is Russia, we believe, who are the primary leaders of the invasion into Israel in the latter days.
Earlier in the year, we saw Vladimir Putin be re-elected. Shortly afterwards we witnessed his shocking announcements of superweapons in his ominous ‘state of the nation’ speech. He unveiled 6 new superweapons in a fiery address. Some of these have been reported to be ‘invincible’ and ‘unstopperble’.
His threats continued throughout the year. Notably, in October he stated, “Aggressors will be annihilated”. Putin has threated to target any European nations who allow US missile defences into their territory.
In September the world stood in awe of the power of the largest Russian war games since the Cold War with more than 300,000 troops taking part. According to one report on Sky News, it was ‘horrifying and awe-inspiring’ as Russia flexed its military might.
The Russian war in Ukraine dragged on throughout the year. It escalated sharply when the Russian Navy attacked three Ukrainian ships in the sea of Azov. In response, Ukraine declared martial law.
They continue to be a strong ally of Assad in Syria and with Iran. Their presence in Syria has increased with an announcement in February of four new airbases being built and more troops being sent.
In September the Syrians accidentally downed a Russian plane after a strike on a Syrian target thought to be connected with Iran. This led to Russia challenging Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights, upgrading Syrian air defence and deploying troops on the Golan Heights. One report by Arutz Sheva stated, ”Russia’s latest moves in Syria reveal it as an enemy”.
The increase in momentum in Syria is most significant as this month Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria - leaving Syria to the power of Russia and her allies. The New York Times ran an article on this entitled "Syria Pullout by U.S. Tilts Mideast Toward Iran and Russia, Isolating Israel” (Dec. 20, 2018). This is worthy of note from a prophetic point of view. We would expect from Ezekiel 38 that Russia and not the US will dominate the Middle East. It's especially interesting to see the Iranians (Persians) and Russians (the Rus) allied together as the prophecy declares they would be.
This year the Russians have also been busy in North Africa. In March Russia announced intergovernmental agreements on military cooperation with Ethiopia. New bases have been built and expanded in Eastern Libya by Russa. Again this is highly significant from the perspective of the outline of the nations in Ezekiel 38.
Selected Bible in the news articles on the topic of Russia from 2018:
EuropeThe prophecy does indicate an alignment in military and political policies between Russia (the Rus) and Europe (Gomer and Magog). This is yet to be in place but could come into play swiftly.
Eastern European countries are scared of the Russia threat on their doorsteps. The Swedish government were reported to of written to millions of their citizens with advice e on how to prepare for a Russian attack.
Despite all of this, we’ve seen many headlines and events which show closer ties are being formed between European countries and Russia. In October we witnessed the holding of hands between the Russian, French and German leaders when they met in Turkey to discuss the Syrian conflict. Also in October, it was reported that any new sanctions that might be proposed against Russia would be vetoed by Italy.
We’ve seen further movement for more integration and calls for a European army. Notably, in November, Emmanuel Macron of France and Angela Merkel of Germany both publicly announced support for the idea. This and other statements by the political illite of Europe show signs that cracks are appearing in the NATO agreement. Trump has suggested the USA will pull out. In July he publicly spoke out against the NATO agreement and displayed open contempt for Germany and other NATO members.
Perhaps with the signing of the strength and influence of America and the rising of the power of Russia, we will soon see a realignment of the powers of Europe as they bend to Russian aggression.e
At the backend of the year, we have seen the riots by the thousands of demonstrators known as "Yellow Jackets” in France. Protesting about tax increases and a political elite which is forgetting its people, the revolutionary spirit is alive and well it seems. Another indication of the work of the Frog-like spirits of Revelation 16.
This year has also seen an increase in European anti-semitism. Again this is interesting in the light of Bible prophecy and the predicted invasion of the Jews in Israel.
Selected Bible in the news articles on the topic of Europe from 2018:
The UK has had some major international events affecting it this year.
Back in there was an attempt to kill a former Russian agent and his daughter through the use of the Novichok nerve This sparked outrage between Britain and Russia - an interesting the distance between the two powers as we would expect from Bible prophecy.
Brexit has been the dominant the year for British politics. Protests have taken place on either side of the debate. As we end 2018 Brexit is set to occur in March 2019. Teresa May has obtained a deal with the EU but the UK are not in support of it. This has led to her trying to get further assurances from the EU. If she cannot obtain these or get a deal for Brexit it may lead to a second or Britain leaving with no deal.
This year we have seen Canada, Australia, the USA and the Gulf states seek to secure trade deals with the UK after Brexit. the Queen and Teresa May welcomed the crown prince of Saudi Arabia to the UK in March. This is all with the of Ezekiel 38 which declares that Britain (Tarshish) and her young lions (independent ) will be trading in the area od the Gulf (Shebah and Dedan) in the latter days. We are therefore witnessing the detachment of Tarshish from the Gogian powers of Europe. There may be more twists and turns before she does so but the prophets have declared the destiny of Britain and it lies outside of the ties of the EU.
Selected Bible in the news articles on the topic of Brexit from 2018:
So there ends our brief review of 2018. The nations of the world are indeed being unwittingly being brought into their places just as the prophets of old have.
The signs of the times have intensified. Will next year see the return of the Lord Jesus Christ? It could well do.
"For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Habbukuk 2:3
How we long for the of the and for peace to be in and the establishment of the Kingdom. For the time when: “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” Isaiah 11:9
This has been Matt Davies joining you. Come back again next year, God Willing, as we seek to watch the Bible in the News and the events which the return of Israel’s king