Natural Disasters and
Ted Montgomery | Monday, March 1, 2009
For millennia, people have considered what events might transpire at the “end of the age.” The ancient prophet Isaiah predicted, very explicitly, events at the end of human history, as we know it, when he wrote Isaiah 24:1-23. Most of that passage speaks of the eventual laying waste and devastation of the earth. God will not do this because He is cruel, ruthless, or evil. Rather, He will do this because of the following:
The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant (Isaiah 24:5).
Thus, at some point in time, it is inevitable for the world to see unprecedented destruction and desolation, unparalleled in human history. Jesus described that period of time this way:
For then there will be great distress [or great tribulation], unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (Matthew 24:21).
The ancient prophet Daniel, uncannily precise in his prophecies, depicted that future time similarly:
There will be a time of distress [or tribulation] such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then (Daniel 12:1).
A common question, for untold centuries, has been this: Can we know when this period in history is about to take place? I believe that the answer is, absolutely and emphatically, YES! Unquestionably, there have been very trying times in human history, in various parts of the world. At those times, there have been many people who were convinced that the dreadful and horrifying end-time events, described in the Bible (such as in the Book of Revelation), were imminent.
However, there always was one essential ingredient missing: a seven-year agreement, involving Israel. Encompassed within the final seven years of this age, also known as the 70th Week, will be the events that will alter human history as we know it. The prophecy, making a reference to this unique period—a “week” of seven years—was given by the angel Gabriel to the Israeli prophet Daniel:
He will confirm a covenant with many for one “seven.” In the middle of the “seven” he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him (Daniel 9:27).
It is assumed by most Bible scholars, including myself, that the “he” in the prophecy is the infamous Antichrist. The prophecy was directed toward Daniel’s people, Israel, and his holy city, Jerusalem (Daniel 9:24). Simply speaking, it prophesied that the Antichrist would be a primary supporter and advocate of a seven-year agreement, involving Israel, which would confirm or strengthen a prior “covenant” or accord.
Never before, in history, has Israel engaged in a seven-year agreement with anyone, much less one that reinforced a previous accord—that is, until the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was established and funded in October 2006. Not only is the ENP scheduled to run specifically for seven years (2007 through 2013), but it confirms and strengthens a prior accord: the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EuroMed) of 1995, of which Israel also is a member.
Furthermore, included in the collection of ENP documents, involving Israel, is the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument: Israel. This document contains language affirming a goal, by the European Union (EU), to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians:
Relations between the EU and Israel are also part of the Union’s wider efforts to contribute to a resolution of the Middle East conflict. The achievement of lasting peace in the Middle East is a central aim of the EU, whose main objective is a two-State solution leading to a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on implementation of the Road Map, with Israel and a democratic, viable, peaceful and sovereign Palestinian State living side-by-side in peace within secure and recognised borders and enjoying normal relations with their neighbours. (European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument: Israel)
During the times that malevolent leaders—such as Alexander the Great, Nero, Caligula, Napoleon, Hitler, and Pol Pot—were in power, many believed that each of these men could have been the Antichrist. But could any of them have been this prophesied “man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)? NO! The reason is that not one of them had any connection to a seven-year agreement involving Israel.
Now, if the ENP is the prophesied seven-year agreement, we would expect to see an increase in instability around the globe, not only in nature, but also socio-economically as well, during the first half of the seven years. Jesus referred to this time as the “beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:8).
Indeed, such things have been occurring, especially during 2008 and 2009. Besides record-breaking floods, droughts, and tornadoes in the USA, as well as a marked escalation in the frequency of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, famines, and plagues worldwide, there also has been a severe financial breakdown globally.
Today (March 1, 2009), the stock market dropped 299.64 points; it is down to a 12-year low of 6,763.29. There may be some short-term improvement; but, in the long run, there probably is no bottom in sight. As such, I look forward to the return of the Lord Jesus, at the end of the 70th Week, to rule and reign. Jesus, alone, is the “light at the end of the dark tunnel.”
So what is next? Well, according to the Daniel 9:27 prophecy, in the middle of the seven-year period, an end will be put to sacrifice and offering, and the abomination that causes desolation will be set up in the “holy place” (Matthew 24:15) in Jerusalem. On my proposed time scale, sacrifice and offering should cease during the first week of April 2010, which happens to be Passover Week 2010.
I feel that at the midpoint of the 70th Week, the Fourth Seal (Revelation 6:7,8) of the heavenly scroll will be opened. This will commence the darkest period of human history up to that point, the Great Tribulation, described by Jesus in
Matthew 24:21. (In Jesus’ narrative, some Bible versions use the phrase “great distress”; other versions read “great tribulation.”)
This is how John described the events to take place at that time:
When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth (Revelation 6:7,8).
The events associated with any seal are not specified to last for any given length of time, although I tend to believe that the events of the Fourth and Fifth Seals will last for 2½ years (until the Sixth Seal is opened and the Pre-Wrath Rapture takes place). Then the Trumpet Judgments of the Seventh Seal will last for one year: the Seventh Year.
As such, if my time frame is correct, I anticipate the following things to take place after Passover Week of 2010:
Apparently, death will affect “a fourth of the earth” (Revelation 6:8). Whether this means that a quarter of world’s population will die, or whether the deadly events will affect only a quarter of the geographical surface of the earth, is unknown. In any case, it seems as though a great many people, perhaps a billion or more, will be affected.
- wars breaking out, and/or terrorist attacks, in various places;
- an increase in famines worldwide;
- an increase in plagues and pestilences worldwide;
- an increase in attacks by wild animals worldwide;
- an increase in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions worldwide;
- socio-economic and financial collapse worldwide.
To make things worse, I predict that there will be huge power outages, phone and internet service interruptions, food riots, bridge and building collapses, escalating unemployment and homelessness, bankruptcies, foreclosures, drug abuse, crime, murders, widespread civil unrest and revolts, declaration of martial law, and other related occurrences. The widespread denial that any of this is going to happen will make it be a great deal worse when it actually does happen.
Aside from an increase in catastrophic natural events, causing a great deal of death on the earth, there will be a global socio-economic and financial collapse, not to mention horrendous tax increases and skyrocketing hyperinflation. It may be that once the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” fails (see my Feb. 17, 2009 entry), President Obama will be forced to tell the American public that their problems, economic and otherwise, are insurmountable.
Possibly the North American Union (Canada, USA, Mexico) will be formed, with the Amero, worth a small fraction of the dollar, as the common currency. The NAU will be immersed in a much greater global crisis, and this will require global solutions—by a global leader. As such, it may be that Obama, identifying this leader as the only one who can help us, will become the False Prophet: the second beast of Revelation 13:11-17 (see Barack Obama: False Prophet?).
Whoever the False Prophet turns out to be, he must be very well-known and have great charisma and influence around the world. He will point to one man as being the only one who can “save” the world; subsequently, this man’s “true colors” of lawlessness will be revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Not only will the False Prophet cause the people of the world to give allegiance and worship to the Antichrist, but he also will perform great (satanic) miracles and signs, as well as force most of the world’s population to receive a mark, without which they cannot buy or sell (Revelation 13:12,13,16,17). However, it will be a colossal blunder to accept the mark.
After entering the “holy place” in Jerusalem, and setting up the abomination that causes desolation inside, the first beast or Antichrist will set himself up in the temple, “proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He also will “exercise his authority for 42 months [3½ years]” and “blaspheme [the true] God” (Revelation 13:5,6). Many people will be taken into captivity, and many will be killed (13:10). I also believe that during the final half (3½ years) of the seven years, there will be escalating conflicts between the Antichrist and Gog (see Gog vs. Antichrist).
Once the Seventh Seal is opened, the earth and much of the life on it will be utterly devastated by the supernatural Trumpet Judgments—the initial wave of God’s wrath being “blown out” upon the earth. It is at this time that most of Isaiah 24:1-23 will come to pass. I place the opening of the Seventh Seal, most likely, in September 2012. (See an email question and response, If we have entered the 70th Week, do you see any special significance to the year 2012?)
With all of this great tribulation, suffering, and tremendous devastation of the earth to take place within less than a handful of years, what can people do to prepare for, or perhaps to avoid, most or even all of it? I am convinced that it is imperative to develop an intensely close and strong relationship with our Sovereign Lord and Master, Jehovah-Adonai. This is done mainly through prayer and obedience.
Learning as much as possible about God and Jesus (see Who Is God?, Was Jesus God?, and My Beliefs and Faith) will be critically important. For those who have not read the Bible from cover to cover, this would be a good time to do it, to understand whom God truly is and how He works (see Chronological Reading of the Bible in One Year). God does not change (Malachi 3:6). Just as He protected and delivered the ancient Israelites who loved and obeyed Him, He also will protect and deliver those believers, during the worst of times, who do the same.
A Rapture is an event in which believers (in Jesus/Yeshua as Lord and Messiah) will be caught up and away from the earth, prior to the worst destruction and desolation that is to take place. Most likely, there will be multiple Raptures events (see secondary rapture events), removing true believers, at successive times, who have developed a real and intimate relationship with God. However, those who have allowed themselves to embrace the notion of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, to take place prior to the beginning of the 70th Week, have set themselves up for a gigantic disillusionment. This view of the Rapture is a bogus, pie-in-the-sky fantasy, with no valid basis in Scripture.
Potentially, Matthew 25:1-13 could be indicative of a Mid-Tribulation Rapture, to occur midway through the final seven years, since the Bridegroom (Jesus) is seen to come at midnight (25:6) for half of the waiting “virgins” (Perhaps these are the believers who will have acquired their “oil” by properly utilizing, rather than wasting, the gifts of the Holy Spirit that God has provided them.) On my proposed time scale, this would be during the first week of April 2010. Interestingly, the exact midpoint is April 4, 2010, which just happens to be Resurrection Day (Easter). I believe it is possible that as many as half of believers could be caught up and away at that time.
If so, the majority of remaining believers would have to wait for the Pre-Wrath Rapture event to take place, soon after the opening of the Sixth Seal, but prior to the opening of the Seventh Seal (initiating God’s wrath). In any case, anyone who is present on the earth during the Great Tribulation period might wish to read repentance, endurance, and overcoming in my Chronology of Revelation commentary.
I also recommend that, besides becoming spiritually prepared for the “dark tunnel” ahead, people also should become psychologically and emotionally prepared as well. The world, as we know it, is going to change radically and drastically. Many of our “comforts” of daily life, and many of the things that we take for granted, will be compromised, or even eliminated altogether. Prices of common necessities, such as food and gasoline, will skyrocket, due to scarcity and hyperinflation. Sadly, multitudes of people will not be able to cope; unfortunately, the rates of insanity and suicide will soar.
It is advisable to stock up on items on my Adversity Supplies Basic Check List. This will provide at least some buffer when massive shortages (scarcity) and enormous price increases (hyperinflation) occur. It also is a good idea to recommend to friends, neighbors, and other family members that they do the same. Otherwise, when shortages occur, these people may come to you for help, and you will not be able to supply everybody that you know.
Know always that the Lord God is in charge. Nothing is too difficult for God. He provided, miraculously, for the ancient Israelites, drifting through the desert for forty years. Likewise, He can provide for those who acknowledge Him as Lord and God and follow His commandments.
Those who take the “mark of the beast” (Revelation 13:16-18) will be forever sorry that they have done so (14:9-11, 16:2). At the same time that satanic miracles will be abounding, to deceive those who are lost (2 Thessalonians 2:9), Jehovah-Jireh will be performing miracles of provision and deliverance for those who have refused the mark and who willingly and faithfully pledge their allegiance and devotion to Him. And those believers who die during this horrific time in history will have the blessed assurance and comfort that they will be with their God for eternity.
So if my seven-year hypothesis is correct, here is a summary of the things that can be expected to take place, beginning a few months into 2010:
- the abolishment of sacrifice and offering, followed by the setting up of the abomination that causes desolation in the “holy place” (Matthew 24:15), during Passover Week 2010;
- the opening of the Fourth Seal, commencing the Great Tribulation period: the most fearsome and traumatic period in human history, up to that time, involving widespread death due to the “sword” (perhaps war and/or terrorism), famine, plague/pandemic, and wild animals (Revelation 6:7,8);
- perhaps the occurrence of a Mid-Tribulation Rapture of as many as half of believers;
- after about 2½ years, the opening of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12-17), initiated by a very great earthquake (probably shaking the entire earth—6:14) and the appearance of frightening cosmic disturbances in the sky: sun turning dark, moon turning red, stars appearing to fall from the sky.
- the appearance of Jesus on His throne in the air (Revelation 6:16), followed by the Pre-Wrath Rapture and the appearance of multitudes of believers in heaven (7:9,10); and
- the opening of the Seventh Seal, inaugurating the terrifying and dreadful “day of vengeance,” the initial phase of the Day of the Lord, during which Isaiah 24:1-23 will take place.
- the second advent (bodily descent) of Jesus back to earth, as the Rider on a white horse, to rule and reign for 1,000 years: the Millennium.