THE UNFOLDING OF THE AGES FROM THE BIRTH OF CHRIST TO ETERNITY
Having in the preceding chapters determined, by the help of the Lord, the most probable time when the prediction of Ezekiel 38:1-39:16 will be fulfilled--before the Tribulation Period--we shall do well if we relate this momentous event in our thinking to other events of the end time. An accurate idea of the sequence of events of the last days of this age throws a most luminous light upon the times in which we are living.
On opposite page the reader will find a chart entitled, "The unfolding of the Ages from the Birth of Christ to Eternity," which diagram will enable him to see the probable order of events of the end time. Of course, in this short discussion only a few points can be mentioned.
The reader should notice that on the chart there are seven arrows which precede the beginning of the Tribulation Period. [Editor's note: an additional arrow has been added indicating the transforming event of the establishment of the commonwealth of Israel.] Each of these is bent. Upon the horizontal portion of each is given the designation of the event indicated by the arrow. The reader should always bear in mind that I am not dogmatic in thus presenting this sequence of events-although I have arrived at this conclusion after years of hard study and research.
Prior to the first World War, I realized that the event was coming because it was foretold in Matthew 24 and parallel passages. During that conflict I was confident that it would stop, and that it would be followed by a period of peace. Of course I did not know anything as to its length. Yet I knew that there would inevitably be another world war.
If the reader will look at the horizontal portion of the third arrow, he will see these words, "possible period of peace." The sign to the left of this phrase indicates that this period of peace is tentatively located. Since it is bound up with the invasion of Palestine mentioned by Ezekiel in 38 and 39, I will for the moment pass over a discussion of this point to the next one. There we see the prediction of an invasion of Palestine by the forces of Gog and those allied with him. We have already learned in the preceding chapters that this aggressive action, taken by the Powers designated as the Great Northern Confederacy, is, from all the facts of the case, found to occur before the Tribulation. Since it is preceded by a period of peace as indicated in Ezekiel 38--Israel will be dwelling in her own land in unwalled cities and villages securely--it is most likely that at the conclusion of this war there will be a short period of peace. If Satan cannot stir up one nation to cause trouble, he will use another. He will bring forth his man and his associates at the proper time as set forth in the Scriptures. When Palestine is thus invaded and seized, the Lord will destroy all those forces and will at the same time rain down fire upon all them that dwell securely in the isles (nations of earth). With the annihilation of the forces of the Great Northeastern Confederacy and with the general judgments of God raining down upon earth on all of them that dwell securely in the isles of the seas, there can be but one result, universal chaos, not only in the material physical realm, but also in the political sphere. There will be a collapse, in all probability, of practically all civil power and authority at that time.
Such universal wreckage and disorder will pave the way for Satan to bring forth his man and to establish a world kingdom upon the ruins of the former nations. This must be, because men of God have said that it would be. Thus the probability is that there will emerge out of the chaos of the world at this future time a world empire. It will appear very suddenly and will disappear about as quickly, collapsing and falling into ten separate divisions, over each of which there will arise a king who will seize authority and establish his government therein. The rise of this universal empire upon the ruins of the wrecked world is indicated by the fifth arrow of the series. Its collapse and division into ten kingdoms is likewise shown by the sixth arrow.
According to the inspired Apostle Paul there will be a period of peace in which men will be lulled to sleep with a false security. This era of a fool's paradise will doubtless be a result of the assurance which the man of sin, the Antichrist, will give to the world when he arises after the coming up of the ten kings. According to the Scriptures these kings will yield to him complete authority and power. The Antichrist will be of such a character that he will convince the world that he alone can establish a permanent peace and mete out justice to all. His words will appear so very plausible and appealing that his promises will not be questioned for one second. The world will therefore be talking about "peace and safety." At that time, according to I Thessalonians 5:1-11, the Tribulation, will burst forth upon an unsuspecting world. In this passage it is called the "day of the Lord"--an Old Testament name for it.
When the Antichrist thus arises and makes his covenant with the apostate remnant of Israel in Palestine, according to Daniel 9:27, the Tribulation will begin and will continue for seven years. The Lord has seen fit to give us full details concerning it; although we Christians who are now living will not enter it, because the Lord has promised to save us out of it. God has not appointed us unto it, but promises that we shall be saved from it (I Thess. 5:9).
Evidently the Lord wanted us to know about this period of judgment, for He has devoted Revelation 6-19 to a detailed description of it. It behooves the faithful Christian to study carefully and prayerfully the entire Book of Revelation. Time devoted to a perusal of this portion of the Word is by no means spent in vain.
During the first half of the Tribulation, as we have already seen in the preceding chapter, the world's greatest revival will take place. The evangelists will be the 144,000 men--Jews--to whom we are now giving the Gospel but who do not accept Christ upon receiving it. They will, however, embrace the truth and receive Christ after the church is removed from the world and the judgments of God begin to fall upon the earth. These witnesses who will have been given the truth by those now interested in the Jewish people will step forward and will proclaim the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ throughout the world. They will thus bring about the mightiest of all revivals (Rev. 7).
At the end of the Tribulation the remnant surviving to that time will be evangelized and will accept Jesus as Lord and Messiah. When they do that and plead for His return, He will do so. When this occurs, He will introduce His reign of righteousness upon the earth.
As indicated on the chart, when Jesus comes, there will be many mighty and far-reaching events taking place. These are listed on the arrow which points to the second coming of Christ. All of these events will be world transforming. Christ will, having mounted His throne in Jerusalem, reign upon the earth for a thousand years. This will be the reign of which the prophets and the psalmists sang constantly.
At the end of the Millennial Age Satan will be unloosed from his imprisonment in the pit. At that time he will stir up people in the four corners of the earth who will go up against the Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem in an attempt to intimidate Him. When they do this, fire will come down out of heaven and consume them.
Following this event will be the judgment of the great white throne before which all the lost appear--those who have never accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and been regenerated. They will be consigned to their place of everlasting punishment. (For a discussion of everlasting punishment, see the study, "Eternity or the Plan of the Ages," in The World's Greatest Library Graphically Illustrated.)
At the judgment of the great white throne the present material universe will pass out of existence in fulfillment of our Lord's prediction found in Matthew 24:35 and John's statement in Revelation 20:11.
The Lord will then create the eternal heavens and the eternal earth which will be the fulfillment of the prediction found in Revelation 21 and 22.
Thus with this little pictorial representation, we can see the place where the invasion of Palestine by the forces of Gog and his associates comes--before the Tribulation.