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The End is Closer than You Think



There are three main theories regarding the end times. 

Dispensationalism

Also known as "Futurism."
The most popular theory is Dispensationalism (i.e. The Left Behind Series). This theory assumes most biblical prophesies have not been fulfilled yet. 

Generally speaking they believe Israel will be restored to its previous place with God, there will be a tribulation and the rapture will take the righteous and leave everyone else (before, during, or after the Tribulation, depending on the particular flavor of the theory). Then a 1000 year reign on this earth with Jesus, a big battle, and the end of time.

Historical

The second most popular theory is the Historical view. It is the one held by most of the Historical churches (Lutherans, Methodists, etc). 

They believe that most of the prophecies have been fulfilled over the course of the last 2500 years (the Catholic Church is “The Beast,”) with only the ones directly relating to the return of Christ left.

Prederest

 The third (and and fastest growing) theory is the Prederest teaching which says that (in its most extreme form) all prophecy has been fulfilled by AD 70 (including the second coming of Christ). There are less extreme forms that believe all but the return of Christ and the end of time have been fulfilled in AD70.


The Covenant

In Galatians 3:16 Paul says,

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, “And to seeds,” as of many; but as of one, “And to thy seed,” which is Christ.

The promise of eternal covenant is to Abraham and Christ, not some ethnic group.

The Israelites were chosen to be the linage to Christ and the bearers of The Law. They were never saved just because of their Jewish-ness.They had to obey The Law in order to be saved.

The Bible has many examples of people that believed God and were evidently saved even though they were not Israelites, (Nebuchadnezzar, Moses Father-in-Law Jethro, Abimelech in Abraham’s time) though most of those following God were Israelites.

The nation Israel was split into two kingdoms, but does God see them as two?

Isaiah and Jeremiah (plus many others) prophesied that the Israelites (Northern Kingdom) would be taken captive, followed by Judah (Southern Kingdom) being taken and that Solomon's temple would be destroyed. Most of the scriptures that are obviously talking about Jerusalem, capital city of Judah, refer to its inhabitants as Israelites. God obviously sees both nations as one, really.

In fact, in the 37th chapter of Ezekiel, God tells Ezekiel that He will make Israel and Judah into one nation again. I believe this happened at the return from the Babylonian captivity. At that time there was no more mention of two separate nations in the Bible or history, though members of each of the twelve tribes were mentioned in both.

Also, the historian Josephus tells us that during the second century BC (about 200 years after Daniel and Ezekiel lived) Egypt hired scribes to bring the Law and transcribe it into Greek. They wanted six from each tribe. History records they played host to seventy-two men- six from each of the twelve tribes. Obviously all the tribes returned to Judah after the Babylonian captivity.


“And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.” Jeremiah 25:11-13

“For thus saith the LORD, ‘That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place’.” Jeremiah 29:10


Seventy years after Judah was conquered by Babylon, a man named Cyrus would give the command for all Israelites (decedents of Jacob) to return to Jerusalem.

Isaiah prophesied around 675BC, Jeremiah around 535BC. Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon in 459BC.

“That saith of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure:’ even saying to Jerusalem, ‘Thou shalt be built;’ and to the temple, ‘Thy foundation shall be laid.’ ” Isaiah 44:28

“Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, ‘To Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates and the gates shall not be shut.’” Isaiah 45:1


Babylon could not be sieged because the Euphrates River flowed through the town under two gates that did not allow anyone through. They had all the food and water they would need to outlast anyone. 

The night the Medes and Persians under Cyrus the Great took over, someone left the gates open!


“I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.” Isaiah 45:2

“I have raised up one from the north
(Cyrus' Persia is north-east of Babylon), and he shall come: from the rising of the sun shall he call upon My Name: and he shall come upon princes as upon mortar, and as the potter treadeth clay.” Isaiah 41:25(Remember Isaiah is telling us about this more than 100 years before these events happened.)


Shortly after these prophesies, (and many others from most of the prophets listed in the second half of the Old Testament,) Israel was captured by the Assyrians.

Judah was captured a few years later by the Babylonians (526BC), led by Nebuchadnezzar. He destroyed Solomon's temple. More than 100 years after Isiah's prophecy, a man named Cyrus was born in Persia. He grew up and became king of the Mede-Persian Empire and conquered Babylonia. He gave the command for anyone who wanted to, to go to Jerusalem (In 458BC) and rebuild the city.

Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, says that the Jews in Babylonian captivity (possibly Daniel) showed Cyrus the prophecies of the Old Testament which contain his name. It was this prophecy that motivated the ruler to issue his edict permitting Israel's return to her homeland.

Historical confirmation of this account was found on a cylinder discovered at the excavations in ancient Babylon in 1879-82.

Cyrus was the son of the Persian king, Cambyses I, and a Median princess. He married his Median cousin, daughter of Darius the Mede and inherited the throne upon his Uncle Father-in-Law's death, unifying the two kingdoms.

2 Chronicles 36:22,23 and the book of Ezra tell us of the fulfillment of the prophesies in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. 

But what about the prophecies of Jesus in Matthew 24?