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Dispensationalist prophecies and End Times

Dispensationalist prophecies

 
Dispensationalist prophecies

The reestablishment of Israel in 1948 provided a major impetus to the dispensationalist belief system. Israel's history of wars after 1948 with its Arab neighbors provided further research as was seen in at least one book by John F. Walvoord. After the Six Day War in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, it seemed plausible to many Fundamentalist Christians in the 1970s that Middle East turmoil may well be leading up to the fulfillment of various Bible prophecies and to the Battle of Armageddon.

Leaders of the dispensationalist movement such as Hal Lindsey, J. Dwight Pentecost, John Walvoord, all of whom have Dallas Theological Seminary backgrounds, and some other writers, claimed further that the European Economic Community founded on the Treaty of Rome was a revived Roman Empire, and would become the kingdom of the coming Antichrist and the Beast.

A revived Roman Empire also figured into the New Testament writers' vision of the future. The fact that in the early 1970s, there were (erroneously thought to be) seven nations in the European Economic Community was held to be significant; this aligned the Community with a seven headed beast mentioned in Revelation. This specific prophecy has required revision, but the idea of a revived Roman Empire remains. It is thought that it would be formed when the European Union becomes a single nation and emerges as a superpower. Under this thinking, the Antichrist will probably either be the President of the European Union or the president of its successor, probably a united Europe.

On 1 June 2000, Israel became an Associate Member of the European Union. This agreement was negotiated in 1995. This associate membership allows Israel to cooperate with Europe in industry, trade, transportation, communication, and energy usage. Israel is now officially linked to the so-called Revived Roman Empire. It is claimed that this associate membership of Israel with Europe establishes the relationship that Israel will have with the Antichrist.

The Beast (Antichrist) is believed to be the dictatorial leader of a "one world government." He would promise peace to the world while leading the world's population into apostasy, and impose a "one world money system" based on the number 666.

To quote Revelation 13, verses 16-18 (NIV):

"He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666."

Thus, with this understanding, it was and is believed that everyone, in order to enter into this economic system, had to have the Number of the Beast some kind of mark branded on them. This created speculation as to the nature of the mark. One theory has a computer chip such as an integrated circuit being inserted or injected via hypodermic needle under the skin, perhaps a transponder, see also Microchip implant (human). As with the Roman emperors of ancient times, he would impose martyrdoms on those refusing to take this mark. At some point after his appearance, a large number of Jews would convert to Christianity and preach the gospel after the Christians had been removed by the Rapture.

Some believers in this theory began reading the newspaper headlines, concerned that some world leader might have the prophesied characteristics to be the Antichrist, and wondering whether the continuing Mid-East violence might be a sign of impending Armageddon. They were also concerned with such things as Social Security numbers and UPC barcodes, concerned that these tax identification numbers may be precursors to the Number of the Beast. The acceptance of this mark would mean that one's soul would receive judgment by damnation.

The Antichrist, (it is believed), will take center-attention on the 'world-stage' initially as a global peacemaker which Daniel mentions in Daniel 9:27. He will say 'feed the poor' and 'shelter the homeless' and he will hold up the banner of justice but for all the wrong reasons.

Not everyone who says 'peace and justice' is a Christian. These two things are wanted by everyone. This coming prince will enter into a covenant or treaty with Israel for a period of seven years. Perhaps using global disarmament, he will promise to ensure peace in the world after a particularly destructive future war (this future war being a belief of post-tribulationists; not of Dispensationalists).

His ally in world leadership will be the Whore of Babylon who is seen in vision by John, recorded in Revelation 17. John saw this mysterious harlot actually riding the beast and exerting some sort of control over it for a period of time. This mother-harlot entity heads up an apostate church or global system of false religion, which seeks religious tolerance and a unification of all religions. It will be the world's greatest humanitarianism movement. This religious/economic movement will have its 'capital'in the city of Babylon, which will (according to the Bible) be rebuilt to its former glory. It will serve as a symbol of the New Iran

At the midpoint of the final seven years, a world ravaged by plague and turmoil turns to the Antichrist to lead it. Their hope is that a world dictator will promise "peace and safety" and he will usher in a new age. The Antichrist, however, is possessed directly by Satan and will eventually display his true intentions. Again, in Daniel 9:27, the prophet states that at this time this "prince" will stop the daily sacrifices, (which had been resumed again on the Temple Mount).

He then commits an appalling sacrilege not unlike the outrages of the Greek Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Now fully revealed as the Beast, the Antichrist assumes global dictatorial rule and establishes his economic system based upon the mark of '666'. His persecutions of newly-converted Christians, as well as Jewish people at that time will be unprecedented. This three and a half year period of intense tribulation was referred to by the prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Joel, Daniel and other biblical prophets throughout the Old and New Testament writings.

It was also spoken of by Jesus Christ in the Olivet Discourse and The Sheep and the Goats. In Revelation 13, the Apostle John sets the duration of this 'time of trouble' to 42 biblical months, or three and one-half years. This period is referred to by Biblical eschatologists as the "Great Tribulation". The period also coincides with the time of "Jacob's trouble" mentioned in the book of Jeremiah, and the trampling down of Jerusalem is referred to by John in Revelation Chapter 11.

Matthew 24:21-22 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

Eventually, the Antichrist, under the threat of approaching 'kings of the east', commands his armies to attack this Asian threat. This campaign takes place in the valley of Megiddo, which according to the book of Revelation is the place known for the approaching Battle of Armageddon. The valley of Megiddo is situated as a great plain located northwest of Israel. At the climax of the story, Jesus returns in the Second Coming. He destroys the armies gathering for the campaign against Jerusalem. To quote the NIV version of Revelation 19:19-21:

"Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh."

The separate destinies of the Church and Israel, a belief which is inherent in dispensationalism is a particular concern to some Jews and to some evangelical Christians. Evangelicals who reject dispensationalism, such as those who hold to a Post Tribulation Rapture, (or more accurately a Post Tribulation Resurrection-Rapture), see both the Church and Israel entering the crucible of the End Time together.

These Traditional Pre-Millennialists, as they are called, reject dispensationalism and its end time eschatology as setting forth a dubious eschatology of an "apartheid of the Elect". They consider the dispensationalist doctrine of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture to be self-serving and highly unlikely to be the true last days policy of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Traditional Pre-Millennialists see all the covenant people of the God of Israel being refined together in the crucible of the end time. They also see the "royal priesthood and holy nation" referred to by Moses and by the Apostle Peter being unveiled in the Apocalypse as a single remnant Elect drawn out from Israel and from the wider Church in the nations.

Dispensationalism, in contrast to the Millerite Adventist movement, had its beginning in the 19th century, when John Nelson Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren religious denomination, incorporated into his system of Biblical interpretation a system of organizing Biblical time into a number of discrete dispensations, each of which marks a separate covenant with God. Darby's beliefs were widely publicized in Cyrus I. Scofield's Scofield Reference Bible, an annotated Bible that became popular in the United States of America.

Since the majority of the Biblical prophets were writing at a time when [Israel] was mostly Jewish, and the Temple in Jerusalem was still functioning, they wrote as if those institutions would still be in operation during the prophesied events. According to Preterism this was the very fulfillment of the prophecies. However, according to Futurists their destruction in AD 70 put the prophetic timetable, if there is one, on hold. Many such believers therefore anticipated the return of Jews to Israel and the reconstruction of the Temple before the Second Coming could occur. (See Christian Zionism)

 
 

 

 

 
 
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