Is The End Near?

Many of us who were active in the Christadelphian community thirty years ago remember the sense of urgency with which our expectations for the future were held. We were convinced that within a few short years, our Lord would return to the earth and establish his Kingdom. Few expected we would be seeing the kingdoms of men continuing to hold sway over the earth this far into the twenty-first century.

While acknowledging that expectations were not met in the time-frame that many of us expected, it is possible to dwell overmuch on this disappointment and overlook the underlying progress of events. The purpose of this article is to appeal for a sense of perspective, especially among those who may be disillusioned on account of expectations that were not met time-wise, by looking at those developments which testify to the certainty of the things which we look for coming to pass in the earth.

It is recorded in the Scriptures that saints asked how long it would be until the end of the time God allotted to the kingdoms of men. Two of these questions are recorded in the prophecy of Daniel:

The first "how long" question: Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? (Daniel 8:13)

The second "how long" question: Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? (Daniel 12:5-6). In the context in which this question was asked, "these wonders" included the resurrection of the dead (Daniel 12:2).

The fact that these "how long" questions are asked and answered shows that God's plan has time spans allotted for the accomplishment of His purpose. When the apostle Peter described "those things which angels desire to look into," he referenced diligent searching by the prophets: Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow (1 Peter 1:10-11). There are two distinct things that were searched out. The first was (1) "what things" and the second was (2) "what manner of time" was signified in relation to both the sufferings of Christ at his first coming and the glory should that follow at his second coming. Our purpose in this writing is to consider what things in relation to the "how long" questions cited on p. 33 rather than what manner of time. There were specific end-post markers given as signs that enable us to determine that we live close to the end.

Aerial View of Temple Mount: The Al Aqsa Mosque is to the left, the Dome of Rock in the centre, and the Marawani Mosque where the "A" appears, under the plaza commonly known as Solomon's Stables. The entrance to this mosque is indicated by the "B" and debris dump piled up when excavations took place in 2000-2001 by the "C". The unwillingness of the government of Israel to intervene over the expansion of this third mosque indicates that Temple Mount continues to be trodden down in measure by the Gentiles.

The first question has specific reference to things concerning Jerusalem as it was the site of the Temple sanctuary where the daily sacrifice was offered. The reference to the host being “trodden under foot” establishes a direct link to the Olivet prophecy where our Lord also spoke about the end of the treading down of Jerusalem: And they [the Jewish inhabitants of the Roman province of Judea including Jerusalem] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:24). Change in the circumstances of Jerusalem was given as one great sign: the treading down of the city by Gentile powers would come to an end when the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled. Although the capacity of the Gentiles to tread down Jerusalem was reduced when Israel captured the eastern sector and reunited the entire city in 1967, the central core of the city still remains in the hands of the Gentiles and under their de facto control. At the direction of Moshe Dayan, Israel's Minister of Defense in 1967, the Wakf, the Islamic trust, was given the keys to Temple Mount and allowed to retain symbolic control over the Al Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine situated there. In the ninth of Daniel, the prophet is clear that the final end will not come until that Islamic domination of the core of the city ceases: and on the temple shall be the abomination of desolations; and at the end of the time an end shall be put to the desolation (Daniel 9:27, Prophetically, these Islamic monuments are referred to as "the abomination of desolations." Their identity is clearly established by their location on the site of the temple.

Under what circumstance the "abomination of desolations" in the heart of Jerusalem is brought to an end is not revealed in the Scriptures. There are hints that it is accomplished deliberately by human agency rather than as a result of a natural disaster like an earthquake (Deuteronomy 33:29; Ezekiel 11:18). Based on the "how long" question asked in Daniel 8 and the answer given there and in Daniel 9, we can state with confidence that the things concerning Jerusalem in general and the future of Temple Mount in particular are closely connected to events in the earth at the coming of the Lord. At this time in history, the destiny of Jerusalem continues to be a significant source of global controversy. Many nations are disposed to having the eastern sector of the city, now under Israeli sovereignty, as the capital of a Palestinian state. Most recently five Latin American countries - Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Ecuador - have indicated that if such an outcome cannot be negotiated by the Palestinians with Israel, they will support the unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, a step that would directly challenge Israel's claim to Jerusalem and the West Bank. Four of these five countries were among the thirty-three nations that comprised the majority vote for the UN Partition Plan in 1947 which enabled the declaration of Israel's independence the following year (the fifth, Argentina, abstained). Thus, the issue of Israeli versus Palestinian versus international control over the holy places in Jerusalem is destined to be a major issue on the agenda of the world in the time ahead.

The only Jewish community in the world that is growing is Israel, which is home to most of the world's Jewish children under the age of 15.


Another end-time marker is given in the answer to the second "how long" question. In the Septuagint translation, the answer includes the statement "when the dispersion [of the Jewish people] is ended they shall know all these things." The meaning of this testimony is that there will come a point in time when the scattering of the Jewish people will have run its course. How will this time be discernible? It will be known when the Jewish people have been restored as a nation to their own land. While there is still a sizable Diaspora global community of Jews, the number of Jews living in Israel now exceeds 5,726,000 and is closing in on representing the majority of the total world Jewish population. The majority of Jewish children in the world already live in Israel. Thus, the timing of the resurrection of the dead is associated with the restoration of Israel as a nation (Romans 11:15).

220 Jews from Paris emigrating to Israel in 2006

Among many global circumstances that have changed over the past thirty years, there is one that particularly stands out: the antagonism of many peoples of the earth towards Israel is much more pronounced. The intelligentsia of the western The intelligentsia of the western world, represented by media, governments and movements on many university campuses, unite in their vociferous condemnation of the actions of Israel. Two books read by this writer, published this year, document the extent to which this great shift in the rise of anti-Israel prejudice has occurred, particularly in Europe: (1) The Lethal Obsession by Professor Robert Wistrich, Professor of modern European history at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and head of its Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism and (2) The World Turned Upside Down by Melanie Phillips, an award-winning journalist in the UK. One of the paradoxes which the latter book seeks to explain is how Muslims holding radical Islamic "jihad" ideology make for strange bedfellows with liberal humanists who reject the God of the Bible. The author makes a strong case for her conclusion:

What (western progressives and Islamists) also have in common is hostility to Judaism, Israel and the Jewish people. The genocidal hatred of Israel and the Jews that drives the Islamic jihad against the West is not acknowledged or countered by the West because its most high-minded citizens share at least some of that prejudice. Both Western liberals and Islamists believe in utopias to which the Jews are an obstacle. Israel is an obstacle to both the rule of Islam over the earth and a world where there are no divisions based on religion or creed...Both the liberal utopias of a world without prejudice, divisions or war and the Islamist utopia of a world without unbelievers are universalist ideologies. The people who are always in the way of universalizing utopias are the Jews. [Melanie Phillips, The World Turned Upside Down, (New York, 2010), p. 406-407].

What Melanie Phillips is saying is that what unites western liberal thinkers and Islamists in their mutual hatred of Israel is their sense that Israel blocks the attainment of the alternative visions for the world to which they aspire. The rise of this hateful and irrational global opposition to Israel's very existence was a necessary development before the Lord's second coming.

At his son's birth, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied about the work of the coming Messiah of Israel:

Simultaneous demonstrations against Israel occur in major cities of the world on six continents when Israel defends itself

And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life(Luke 1:67-75).

After noting that he was speaking of things that were the burden of God's holy prophets since the beginning of the world, Zacharias prophesied about Messiah's work in saving his people "from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us." He then repeats again that Messiah would deliver Israel "out of the hand of our enemies." This prophecy was not fulfilled at the first coming of the Lord. Therefore, it remains to be fulfilled at his second coming. In order for this prophecy to be fulfilled, it is necessary that Israel be in desperate need of deliverance and salvation from the hand of enemies that hate them. It is strongly implied that there is no other source of deliverance and salvation in the earth available to Israel when Messiah comes to his people (Isaiah 63:5).

The past decade has seen a new alignment of formidable enemies that hate Israel. Iran has pledged itself to the annihilation of Israel and is suspected of working on a nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile delivery system to be able to destroy Israel. Israel is the only UN member state that is threatened with annihilation by another member state. Turkey has shifted from being a cooperative ally to a bellicose adversary. Even those Arab countries with which Israel is officially at peace are uncertain friends: in late 2010, Jordan is accepting overtures from Iran and Egypt is publicly accusing the Mossad of spying against Egypt's interests. The United States has taken a much more equivocal position as the President reaches out to the Muslim world and seeks better relations with its member nations. Hostility towards Israel breaks out in open expression of hatred particularly when Israel takes measures to defend itself. It is this hatred towards Israel, in which the nation is the object of protests and denunciation in cities across the world, that provides compelling evidence for our conviction that the coming of the Messiah of Israel is drawing close. If Melanie Phillips is correct in her assessment, there is no reason to expect that the wave of hatred directed against Israel will turn back: it can only intensify in the time ahead.

Identifying Israel with Nazism is common among those who vent their hatred of Israel - The Star of David on Israel's flag has been replaced by these protesters with the Nazi swastika

It is possible to view the ebb and flow of events concerning Israel and Jerusalem with a certain amount of skepticism arising out of the seemingly endless pattern of futile negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and the government of Israel: "Oh, here we go again." The familiarity and persistence of these things may have contributed to their losing their impact as a witness. Nevertheless, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that at a future point, there will be a resolution: things are moving forward on a collision course. There are political and military forces gaining ascendancy in the world that are committed to at least bringing about Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank and the eastern sector of Jerusalem, if not Israel's dismantling altogether as a Jewish state. Because our Lord referred to his coming as a snare to all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth (Luke 21:35), it is unlikely that coming divine intervention to bring permanent resolution will break upon the world with any significant prior warning. There will be no time then to put our houses in order. God has provided abundant witness to this generation of what He intends to accomplish in the earth. It is our choice now whether to believe and prepare for it or not.

James Farrar, Grimsby, ON