What Are the Times of the Gentiles?

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What Are the Times of the Gentiles?

Once you know America and Britain’s biblical identity, you can grasp the significance of one of Christ’s major prophecies.
From the July 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

Jesus Christ prophesied of a time that would take place shortly before His return to Earth—a time of the greatest suffering in human history. He called it “the times of the Gentiles.”

Do you believe these words of Jesus?

“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. … For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:20, 22). The Bible is full of prophecies of this horrific time, and Christ said all of them will be fulfilled within a short span of time. If you follow the signs He gave us, you know that time is about here.

“And they 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” (verse 24).

These “times of the Gentiles” are yet to be fully realized. However, we are in the outer edges of this catastrophic storm. Events taking place in Ukraine with Russia, along with those in the Middle East and Iran, have everything to do with this prophecy.

This is part of the core of biblical prophecy—right out of your Bible! Yet, we don’t hear much about the times of the Gentiles today. Why not?

Who Are the Gentiles?

In this prophecy, Christ said Jerusalem will be surrounded by massive armies. These armies will be led by men who have wild and ferocious minds, like those of a beast.

This crisis is building around Jerusalem today. The Jews have many enemies—not only Iran, but many Gentile nations. Almost all Gentile nations are very hostile and hateful toward the Jews. However, they are hostile to more than just the Jews.

Israel is a lot more than the little nation in the Middle East. There are 12 nations of Israel on Earth. God is warning three in particular because they are the birthright nations and the scepter nation. Read our article “America’s Lost Identity” for an introduction on proving this important truth.

Once you understand who Israel is, then you can understand how the Gentiles—the non-Israelite peoples—have started to take charge of the world right now.

While there are many Gentile nations around today, when this prophecy is completely fulfilled there will be two major powers—one revolving around Russia and the other around Germany. Each will have strong allies, making the clash between these Gentiles the worst ever on Earth.

Some history will help you recognize how we are entering the times of the Gentiles today.

Successive Gentile Powers

The image of Daniel 2

Over 2,500 years ago, the powerful Babylonian Empire was ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar. This great Gentile king came into contact with the Prophet Daniel, who wrote the book of Daniel in the Bible.

Daniel gave Nebuchadnezzar a warning directly from God, but the king would not submit. Therefore God dethroned Nebuchadnezzar and sent him out to the field, making him eat grass like an animal. Seven years passed before Nebuchadnezzar finally acknowledged that God rules in the kingdom of men (Daniel 5:21). This is a lesson all mankind will learn one day soon.

Daniel 2 records how God revealed a powerful dream to Nebuchadnezzar. The great image featured in the dream prophesied of successive world-ruling powers. They were the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and, lastly, the Romans, an empire prophesied elsewhere to be resurrected 10 separate times. This one image provides an incredible overview of world history under these Gentile powers.

Daniel 7 is a companion prophecy. It describes these same four kingdoms—but pictures them as “four great beasts” (verse 3). And in these prophecies, the kingdom and the king are used interchangeably.

There is a reason God uses this terminology: Every leader of these Gentile kingdoms was under the sway of an evil spiritual influence—and came to have the mind of a wild, fierce beast! When such men attain power, they become cunning, ferocious beasts. Throughout history they have routinely thought like wild animals, wanting to conquer, pillage, burn and destroy.

As the U.S. falls in power, it will be replaced by leaders who act like wild, raging beasts!
God calls these leaders beasts for a reason! Yet people don’t believe God. Somehow, the leaders of Israel think our modern world has evolved to surpass that evil nature. In reality, we haven’t even seen the worst of these beasts. The worst time of the Gentiles is yet ahead of us!

Think about Adolf Hitler, one of those beast-like leaders. Before World War ii, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain tried to make peace with this man. His diplomacy almost caused Britain and Europe to lose World War ii. You cannot reason with a wild, ferocious beast! We keep thinking diplomacy will solve all our problems. However, diplomacy solves nothing if it isn’t backed up with real power.

Can a good diplomat win over the mind of a vicious, wild beast?

America’s Disappearing Will

The big reason these powers are rising today traces back to the power vacuum created by America’s weakness—and the disappearance of America’s will.

Gentiles have utter contempt for the weak.

In recent years, America has demonstrated its lack of will to use its power in several international arenas. Most recently, it has done nothing to prevent Russia from taking over Ukraine.

Recognizing that weakness, China is asserting its power in the South China Sea by making territorial claims on Okinawa, which belongs to Japan, and also areas around the Philippines. America’s broken will is motivating these actions.

Throughout history, China has often taken on an expansionist policy to conquer, destroy, subdue and enslave people. That same policy is starting to materialize again, yet the United States acts like China has changed from its historical nature.

China also recently gave mobile missile launchers to North Korea, which will upgrade its ability to attack the United States with nuclear weapons. If China were Washington’s friend and ally, would it do such things? Furthermore, if China still feared the United States, would it act so brazenly against American interests?

Read: America’s 4000-Year-Old History

China’s actions prove that Gentiles are rising to power before our eyes! And this is just one of many Gentile nations growing more aggressive on the world scene.

The U.S. is no longer asserting itself as it should, which is putting its allies on shaky ground. It is slashing defense spending and shrinking its nuclear arsenal—while many other nations race to build nuclear bombs! How will America protect itself?

While many will rejoice at the United States’ demise, this trend is building to catastrophe like never before seen! As the U.S. falls in power, it will be replaced by leaders who act like wild, raging beasts!

‘By His Servants’

Anciently, God sent Daniel to warn Nebuchadnezzar and his successors of what would befall their empires. God actually spoke through this man.

Notice this point from later in Daniel’s book: “Neither have we [Israel] obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets” (Daniel 9:10). Daniel discusses the voice of God. However, God didn’t speak in person; He worked through Daniel. Believe it or not, He works through one man today—a man who must follow Daniel’s example.

Daniel also wrote that God set His voice before His people “by his servants the prophets.” This shows there is to be a Daniel-type prophecy going out about the times of the Gentiles!

Who in this end time is telling us that we are facing the times of the Gentiles? That time is right before us!

“Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him” (verse 11). All the way back in the law of Moses—which is the first five books of the Bible—God prophesied what would happen to Israel in this end time. For example, in Leviticus 26:19, God said, I’m going to break the pride of your power. You’ll have lots of power but lack the courage to use it. This has happened to Israel—specifically to America and Britain.

Daniel wrote about “the curse” upon Israel. When you break God’s commands, He has no choice but to turn against you and punish you for your sins. That is the curse!

Daniel continued, “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth” (Daniel 9:13). Daniel is saying, We need to pray to God and turn from our evil ways. You must turn your life around if God is to help you.

He is talking to all Israel! You must know who Israel is in order to understand this!

“Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice” (verse 14). Do you believe in a God who brings destruction upon His own people because of their evil ways? That is what Scripture describes!

The Conclusion

God even brings destruction upon His own Church because of its sins! “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar [a symbol of the ministry], and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (Revelation 11:1-2).

It is given to the Gentiles, God says—another reference to the times of the Gentiles! In this end time, 95 percent of God’s own people will have to be plunged into the greatest suffering ever—in an effort to motivate them to repent!

This scripture also talks about the small portion of God’s people in the inner court who are faithful in proclaiming the message for God. The majority are in the outer court, where God does not dwell. God promises to take His inner court people to a place of protection shortly before the Second Coming (e.g. Revelation 12:14). But those outside will have to experience the wrath of these Gentile leaders who have minds like ferocious, wild, ravaging beasts! How much mercy are those leaders going to show?

God’s own people who have rebelled against Him will have to go through all this misery and suffering to save even half of them. The other half will lose their eternal lives! (e.g. Matthew 25:1-13; Jeremiah 24).

Look at history, and you see the savagery mankind is capable of. You also realize humanity is degenerating: The last empire described in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 is far more brutal, savage and uncivilized than the first. Man is not evolving and getting better and better—he is getting worse and worse. Look at the destruction mankind wreaked in World War ii—then think of the horrific destruction prophesied to come in the near future. This is the complete opposite of getting better and better.

This is terrifying news. Luke’s record of Christ’s prophecy says it will be a time of “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:26).

However, notice the very next verse! “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (verse 27). These times of the Gentiles lead directly to the return of Jesus Christ! He will finally put down the beast-like rulers so they are no longer able to tear apart mankind! Now that is good news!

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Israel Is Israel—Right?

From the July 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

Who are the modern descendants of ancient Israel? The Jewish nation in the Middle East, right?

Yes—and no.

The Jews, of course, descended from Abraham. Abraham’s son was Isaac, and Isaac’s son was Jacob, whose name God later changed to Israel. The Jews descended from this lineage. So Jews are Israelites. But not all Israelites are Jews.

Israel had 12 sons, one of whom was Judah. Judah grew into a great tribe, whose people came to be known as Jews. But there were 11 other tribes. And since God specially blessed the tribe of Joseph and Joseph’s two sons, there were actually 12 tribes besides Judah.

Under King David and King Solomon, all the tribes of Israel were united in one kingdom. But then the kingdom split. Ten tribes rebelled and formed their own kingdom to the north in the land called Samaria. Judah, along with the tribes of Benjamin and Levi, stayed under the rule of David’s descendants, who ruled from Jerusalem.

The history of those in the kingdom of Judah, known as the Jews, is well known. But what about the 10 tribes in the northern kingdom of Israel?

The Assyrian empire conquered these tribes. The Bible records what happened next.

“[T]here was none left but the tribe of Judah only,” Scripture says, because “the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof” (2 Kings 17:18, 24). So Assyria imported non-Israelites into Samaria, and removed the Israelite captives. The Israelites and Assyrians migrated northwest. During this period, these tribes lost their identity.

But God had made a promise to Abraham—that his descendants would develop huge populations, would become wealthy, would project power over other nations, would spread worldwide, would control crucial sea gates, would become a nation and a company of nations. The Jews have never fulfilled these promises. In fact, they have often been dispersed throughout history with no nation of their own at all.

God actually specified that He would fulfill these promises of national greatness not through Judah and not through all 12 tribes in general, but through Joseph and his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. God recorded that Manasseh would become a great nation, and that his brother, Ephraim, would become “a multitude of nations.”

When you look at history to see whether God kept His promises, look beyond the State of Israel. Look for those peoples with ancient connections to Judah that became a powerful nation and a powerful empire.

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America’s Lost Identity

Trumpet/Gary Dorning

America’s Lost Identity

If you want to understand the dramatic and dangerous changes taking place in the United States today, you need some vital history.
From the July 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

America is declining—culturally, economically and militarily. The world’s only superpower is fading, qualitatively, quantifiably and undeniably. Now other powers are rising to take its place.

America has withdrawn from Iraq, drawn down in Afghanistan, backed away from Arabia, backtracked on Syria, detached from Eastern Europe, and given ground to Russia, China, Iran and the European Union.

A lot of people recognize this historic decline. But few can answer the most urgent question: Why is this happening?

To understand why America is declining, you have to understand who America is.

Only once you know the historic identity of the American people can you grasp the reality of America’s current situation and where it’s heading.

Yes, the Americans trace back to the British Empire. But their roots go much further than that.

The Trumpet’s news analysis and forecasts revolve around this forgotten truth: The American people descended from Abraham and the ancient Israelites! That fact has tremendous bearing on current events—and you can prove it for yourself.

Extraordinary Promises

To start at the beginning, go to the Bible, a religious book that heavily impacted the founding and history of the United States.

The Bible’s first book, Genesis, records the story of a man who believed and obeyed God: Abraham. “Get thee out of your country, and from your kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee,” God told him, “And I will make of thee a great nation …” (Genesis 12:1-2).

Abraham obeyed God’s command and believed His promise. God continued to work in Abraham’s life and the lives of his sons and grandsons. The Bible records that God expanded His promise, saying that Abraham’s descendants would become powerful and wealthy and would spread around the entire world. You can track more details of God’s promises regarding Abraham’s heirs throughout Genesis:

  • Genesis 17:1-6 | God promised that Abraham would be a father of many nations, not just one.
  • Genesis 22:16-18 | God promised that those nations descended from Abraham would possess the gates (access points vital for trade, commerce and military purposes) of their enemies.
  • Genesis 26:3-5 | God promised that the populations of those nations would multiply to become as numerous “as the stars of heaven.”
  • Genesis 27:26-29 | God promised that those nations would become wealthy and would rule over other nations.
  • Genesis 28:13-14 | God promised that those nations would spread in all directions worldwide.
  • Genesis 35:10-11 | God promised specifically that these descendants would become “a nation and a company of nations.”
  • Take an objective look at these promises in the Bible. If you believe that God exists, the Bible is His Word, and that He keeps His promises, you should look for Abraham’s descendants to appear prominently in history. You should be able to see them take shape at some point as a single wealthy, powerful nation and as a group of nations—a superpower and a commonwealth, you might say.

    Has there ever been a people that grew into a nation that developed an extremely wealthy economy, spread around the world, fielded a super-powerful military, exerted influence over its enemies and controlled the choke points of the world?

    Free e-book: America’s 4000-Year-Old History

    What nation fits all these descriptions and at the same time is related to a commonwealth or “company of nations”?

    There is only one: the United States of America. America has been the world’s greatest superpower, and it came directly from the world’s greatest empire: Britain. Great Britain and then the United States projected their power all around the world, and controlled almost every last important sea gate in the world.

    No other nation and empire fulfills those promises so specifically and so fully. This is proof that among the modern nations descended from Abraham, most prominent are America and Britain.

    Modern Israel

    Follow the biblical narrative, and Abraham’s children flourished into the 10-tribed nation of Israel. Proof is abundant that America fulfills what God prophesied about the tribe of Manasseh, and Britain fulfills what God prophesied about the tribe descended from Manasseh’s brother, Ephraim. In Genesis 48, Abraham’s grandson Jacob—whom God had renamed Israel—specifically put the name Israel on those two (verse 16), one of whom would become a “great” people, and the other “a multitude of nations” (verse 19).

    If America and the British peoples aren’t the modern-day Israelites, no one else has fulfilled or is fulfilling those promises God made. And if those promises have failed, then the Bible cannot be trusted, and its hundreds of prophecies that revolve around modern Israel are pointless.

    But if God’s biblical promises are true, those hundreds of prophecies apply right now.

    This still leaves a lot of questions: How did the Israelites migrate from the Middle East to the British Isles and North America? How did they lose their identity? Why did it take so long for God to fulfill those promises? Could those promises and prophecies about Israel still be for some time in the future? These are great questions, and they deserve great answers and further proof.

    Whether you realize it or not, the answers to those questions link directly with the questions regarding America’s present-day decline! Knowing America’s biblical identity unlocks countless biblical passages that explain exactly why the nation is experiencing such a dramatic fall—and gives you the story of where you can expect this trend to lead in the years ahead.

    We can help you seek out these answers in your own Bible. You can start right now with our free e-book, America’s 4,000-Year-Old History. If there is a God, and if the Bible is His Word, then America must be modern-day Israel. It is the only nation that fits God’s detailed prophecies. But you have to prove the truth for yourself.

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    Blood Moons—Do They Fulfill Bible Prophecy?

    NASA

    Blood Moons—Do They Fulfill Bible Prophecy?

    They have seized the public’s attention. What does the Bible really say? The answer may surprise you.
    From the July 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

    In case you have not yet heard about blood moons, here is what’s going on.

    This past April 15, the first of four unusual lunar eclipses began. They will occur at approximately six-month intervals—the next being October 8, then April 4 and September 28 of next year—and will be visible across North America. Astronomers call this a lunar eclipse tetrad. The last tetrad occurred over 2003 and 2004. Eight more such tetrads will occur before the year 2100.

    Scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (nasa) consider the most notable thing about the current tetrad is the fact that all four eclipses will be visible to most Americans, assuming the weather cooperates.

    However, a large portion of the American public is keenly interested in the tetrad for more than the artistry created by night sky astral body dancing.

    Two bestselling, prophecy-leaning authors believe the tetrad is directly related to a prophecy found in Joel 2:31: “The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes” (English Standard Version). These two men and their books—Blood Moons by Mark Biltz, and Four Blood Moons by John Hagee—have received widespread media attention because of the fervor and alarm they have created among religious-minded people.

    Is it possible this astronomical event has something to do with dramatic end-time prophetic events? The answer may surprise you.

    Why Blood Moons

    Science-oriented Internet sites were inundated with questions about prophecy related to blood moons. “We’re not experts on prophecy of any kind,” wrote EarthSky in April. “But we’ll tell you what we know about the new definition for blood moon that has raised so many questions recently” (April 24). It explained that John Hagee and Mark Biltz apply the term blood moons to the 2014-2015 tetrad, and credited Hagee for popularizing the term in Four Blood Moons. “This book, published in 2013, is apparently what launched all the questions to our astronomy website about blood moons,” EarthSky wrote. “We confess. We haven’t read it.”

    Why do both men call such a lunar eclipse a “blood moon”? Astronomers don’t tend to use the term. Neither does it appear in the Bible.

    This could be the final curtain call before the Great Tribulation mentioned in the Bible.
    Mark Biltz, founder of El Shaddai Ministries
    Hagee and Biltz most likely use it because a total lunar eclipse makes the moon appear a shade of red, ranging from a dusty brown to an orange or coppery color.

    The phenomenon is a natural occurrence caused when the sun, Earth and moon line up in space. Science explains why. “The reason stems from the air we breathe. During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth lies directly between the sun and the moon, causing the Earth to cast its shadow on the moon. If Earth didn’t have an atmosphere, then, when the moon was entirely within Earth’s shadow, the moon would appear black and invisible,” says EarthSky. “Thanks to Earth’s atmosphere, what actually happens is much more subtle and beautiful. … As sunlight passes through our atmosphere, the green to violet portion of the light spectrum is, essentially, filtered out. … Meanwhile, the reddish portion of the spectrum is least affected.

    “What’s more, when this reddish light first entered the atmosphere, it was bent (refracted) toward the Earth’s surface. It’s bent again when it exits on the other side of Earth. This double bending sends the reddish light onto the moon during a total lunar eclipse.”

    “On rare occasions, the light reaching the moon is exactly the color of blood, but there is no way of predicting this in advance,” Space.com adds. “So there are no grounds to call any particular lunar eclipse a blood moon until it actually shows its color.”

    Solar and lunar eclipses, including the tetrad, are produced by the regular movements of the sun, Earth and moon and are completely predictable. Although a tetrad is rare, one happened just a decade ago, and another is expected in 18 years.

    So can we consider this a sign that an earthshaking prophetic event is looming on the horizon? Biltz and Hagee seem to think so. Here is why.

    Why All the Hubbub Over Moons

    Mark Biltz is founder of El Shaddai Ministries located in Bonney Lake, Washington. John Hagee is founder of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. Both organizations are non-denominational. The two men have met and agree that the tetrad is a warning from God. They see a prophetic correlation between the tetrad and two of God’s festivals outlined in Leviticus 23—the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles.

    In his book Blood Moons, Mark Biltz writes: “In March of [2008], I saw on the Internet an incredible total lunar eclipse over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. I had read all the Bible verses in Isaiah, Joel, the Gospels and Revelation where the text talks about the moon turning to blood and the sun to sackcloth. I began to ponder the possibilities of tying the eclipses mentioned in the Bible to the possible coming of the Messiah.

    “Because I love science and astronomy, I decided to look into the future occurrences of eclipses. … I remembered that nasa has a list of eclipses that covers 5,000 years …. I noticed that there were four total lunar eclipses in a row for 2014 and 2015. … One morning, as I was praying, a thought popped into my head: Why don’t I compare the dates of the eclipses on the nasa website to the dates on the biblical calendar? When I did, I was shocked to find that all four eclipses—over both years—fell on the biblical holidays of Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. I just about jumped out of my skin.” While researching the connection between tetrads and significant events in Jewish history, he discovered that there had been a tetrad right after Israel became a nation in 1948, and again when “Israel retook Jerusalem in 1967.”

    “To me, all these signs, coming together at one time, are potentially the culminating signals that God is closing this chapter of human history,” Biltz writes in the concluding chapter of his book. “This could be the final curtain call before the Great Tribulation mentioned in the Bible.”

    Similar Story—Different Book

    Hagee’s story is nearly a mirror image of Biltz’s. “Though I had applied the study of the stars relative to the creation and the birth of Christ, I had yet to discover the connection that Pastor Mark had asked me to make: How were the sun, moon and stars linked to the study of prophecy?” Hagee writes in Four Blood Moons.

    Prophecy Time Line

    “I searched the Scriptures for a new revelation with that specific question in mind and came to two verses that shouted out to me!” Hagee continues. He then quotes Joel 2:31 and Acts 2:20 (which is the Apostle Peter’s quote of Joel 2:31). Explains Hagee, “The sun, moon and stars are unmistakably connected to Israel and biblical prophecy—and that connection inspired this book. God will use them to light up the heavens with an urgent, top-priority message for all mankind.”

    “The history of the world is about to change forever,” John Hagee tells us with confidence, “and God is sending us messages on His high-definition billboard by speaking to us in the heavens—using the four blood moons; the question is … are we listening?”

    Although the two men leave themselves an out—using the words could and possibly—when reading their books and surfing their websites, it is clear that both are convinced they are on to something big prophetically.

    While one might applaud their interest in Bible prophecy, can you prove the truth about what they are saying and publishing? History is chock full of people’s prognostications that proved to be profitless.

    Is this tetrad the heavenly sign spoken of in Joel 2:31? You can know the correct answer. In fact, the great God that created the heavens, including the stars, sun, moon and Earth, wants you to know the truth about Joel 2:31 and all other earthshaking prophecies. However, to come to the correct answer, there are several things you must do.

    Time Line of Prophecy

    Prophecy is a significant part of the Bible. Did you realize that approximately one third of the Bible is devoted to it? The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 2:20 that the very Church of Jesus Christ is built on the foundation of the prophets and their prophetic writings!

    The Bible’s most important prophetic book is Revelation. This book actually unlocks large portions of the Bible’s other prophecies, including the one used by Biltz and Hagee regarding “blood moons.”

    While the book of Revelation thoroughly stumps most Bible readers, you can understand this mysterious book. After all, God the Father and Jesus Christ revealed it to be understood by His servants (Revelation 1:1).

    In 1972, in his booklet The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last! Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “While the book of Revelation, itself, is a vital key to a large portion of the other prophecies, there are certain keys which open up this book to understanding. One important key is that in Revelation is a story-flow, relating one future event to another in time order—with occasional insets injected into the continuous story-thread.” This is a pivotal point to understanding Revelation. And this story-thread, or time line of end-time prophecy, reveals the timing of the heavenly signs discussed in Joel 2:31.

    The book of Revelation reveals major prophetic events in time sequence using seven seals—discussed in Revelation 6, 8, 9 and 11. In Revelation 1:1, God the Father is revealed as the originator of the prophecies locked within the seven seals, and in Revelation 5, Jesus Christ is shown to be the only one who can unlock the meaning of the seals.

    In chapter 6, Jesus Christ begins stripping off the seals—literally opening up to human understanding the sequence of world-shaking events for this end time. Yet the events are given to us in mysterious symbols. For example, the first seal shows a rider on a white horse with a bow and a crown (verse 2). What does this symbol mean?

    Symbols are open to all sorts of interpretations—and for generations, people have forced their own human interpretations on them. That is the grave danger for all who desire to teach prophecy. The Bible interprets its own symbols—usually in a location different than the chapter you may be reading.

    You should read through chapters 6, 8, 9 and 11 at this point to familiarize yourself with these seals. They tell you what will happen on the Earth and in the heavens right up until the time of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. However, the symbols do not make the events plain! Don’t give up and don’t despair—there is another important key you must use.

    A Symbol Is Like a Parable

    Free e-book: You Can Understand Prophecy

    Mr. Armstrong explained, “And now I want you to realize a most important fact, bearing on our problem, which most of you never realized before. Haven’t you supposed, along with nearly everyone else, that Jesus spoke in parables in order to make His meaning clearer—as a sort of illustration, so that people would better understand His meaning? Well, you have supposed wrong! On the contrary, believe it or not, Jesus spoke in parables to cover up, to hide the true meaning from the crowds that constantly followed Him! This knowledge puts in our hands the key that will unlock these symbols of the book of Revelation” (ibid). Study Matthew 13:1-13 to prove what Mr. Armstrong teaches here. Pay particular attention to verse 11.

    Did Christ reveal the literal meaning of these strange symbols from Revelation elsewhere in the New Testament? “He did!” Mr. Armstrong answered. “When His disciples came to Him on Mt. Olivet—when they to whom He revealed His parables—they to whom it was given to know these mysteries—came to Him privately, and asked Him: ‘Tell us, when shall these things be and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world?’ Jesus gave in plain language, a startling prophecy of these very world conditions of today, and our immediate future!” (ibid).

    In the astounding Olivet prophecy recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, Christ outlined in plain language the seven seals of the book of Revelation. See the accompanying chart for the seven seals and the story flow of the book of Revelation. The Olivet prophecy highlights a summary of world events from a.d. 31 until the return of Jesus Christ. You should read all of Matthew 24:1-31 before continuing this article.

    The Great Tribulation Next

    While you keep in mind what you just read in Matthew 24, there is another key you must understand to truly grasp what Jesus Christ is telling us in these verses and in the book of Revelation.

    “I want you to notice a consistent principle in the prophecy of Matthew 24 and of the sixth chapter of Revelation,” Mr. Armstrong explained. “Seven successive things, or events, are to occur. As an example: The very first condition Jesus foretells is that of false preachers, misleading and deceiving, not the few, but the many!

    “That condition set in almost immediately. The Apostle Paul wrote of it, and said this spirit of iniquity was already working, even as he wrote! And it has never relaxed or ceased, but rather has developed in intensity, until the whole world, as distinctly prophesied, has become deceived and misled as to these Bible truths of God!” (ibid). Mr. Armstrong was referring to the prophecy in Matthew 24:4-5 and Revelation 12:9. Christ’s prophecy to His disciples is the explanation of the seven seals of Revelation! The first seal is this plague of false teachers and prophets.

    The second event or condition to set in is war climaxing in intensity today in world war. We are now in the lull between World Wars ii and iii (Matthew 24:7). The third and fourth seals—famine and pestilence—are also included at the end of this verse.

    “There is Christ’s own explanation of the four horsemen! But this brings us to the fearful present,” Mr. Armstrong wrote (ibid). What is the next major prophetic event that will rock this world to its foundations?

    In verses 21-22, Jesus discussed the fifth seal, or the Great Tribulation.

    Dozens of prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments describe this horrific event. To fully explain the Great Tribulation would take more than one article. However, you can know that religious teachers purporting to understand it are woefully ignorant about what this fifth seal truly means.

    Here is a short description: The modern nations of Israel—primarily the United States, Britain and the tiny nation called Israel in the Middle East—along with the sinning saints of God, will suffer great evils during a horrifying 2½-year period—even being conquered by foreign invasion and brought into captivity (Revelation 6:9-11). You can read more about this in our article on page 22.

    The Tribulation has not yet occurred. However, current world events show that it is at our doorstep!

    Only after that modern holocaust occurs will we arrive at the next major prophetic event described in Revelation.

    The Heavenly Signs

    Jesus Christ discussed the sixth seal, or the heavenly signs, in Matthew 24:29. This is the same event the Prophet Joel spoke about in his prophecy (Joel 2:31).

    For all those willing to listen, here is the Bible answer to the question: Is this current tetrad the heavenly signs discussed in Joel 2:31? Jesus Christ tells you, No!

    Take the time to carefully study verse 29 with Revelation 6:12-17. The heavenly signs—where the sun grows dark and the moon becomes as blood—do not take place until after the Great Tribulation.

    This event introduces the time period known as the Day of the Lord, which is the seventh seal. This is a separate event from the Great Tribulation. During this one-year period, God unleashes His wrath on a sinful world in the form of the seven trumpet plagues discussed in Revelation 8, 9 and 11. It is His way of showing all mankind left living that they need to repent of their wicked ways and turn to Him.

    Understand that God has a great purpose behind the heavenly signs discussed in Joel 2:31, Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6. Mr. Armstrong explained, “God has warned the world through all His prophets—through His Son Jesus Christ—He is warning the world right now through this very Work [conducted now through the Philadelphia Church of God]. But God is a God of mercy and compassion. He will yet warn this world once again—by supernatural signs,in the sun, the moon and the stars. God will leave men no excuse” (ibid).

    Notice, the signs in the sun and the moon will be supernatural signs, meaning they will be outside the natural order of things. The current tetrad is a natural event occurring because of the natural, organized movement of the Earth, moon and sun.

    Notice also: The tetrad will be seen mainly in the United States. Revelation 6 shows that all men on Earth will be able to see the dramatic heavenly signs that God will display (verses 15-17). So don’t be buffaloed by all this talk about blood moons.

    However, work hard to understand what the Bible truly says about prophetic events that will dramatically affect your life. You can put your full trust in what the Bible records about the soon-coming climactic world events. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts,” encourages the Apostle Peter (2 Peter 1:19). How wonderful that the Old Testament prophets and Christ’s apostles recorded all we need to know about prophecy.

    This world is growing darker each day. Evils are increasing at lightning speed. At the same time, many are growing more confused by what is happening in our world, what it all means and where it is leading. Yet you don’t have to be confused.

    You can know what is happening—and why. Even more, you can know that a new and wonderful day is about to dawn for all mankind!

    Yet, you must be extremely cautious of whom you listen to.

    God Wants You to Understand Prophecy

    It is a historical fact that God has always worked through a human being to tell people what He was going to do on Earth. God is faithful to reveal His secrets to those people truly serving Him (Amos 3:7). He then requires those people to share that message with anyone willing to listen (verse 8).

    Judging by the Old and New Testaments, it would be strange if God didn’t have someone delivering His prophetic message today (Acts 3:24). It would also be strange not to have a multitude of false prophets around.

    The major sects of organized Christianity cannot help you understand prophecy. Most of today’s so-called Christian leaders reject Bible history and prophecy as an exercise in futility. Few even believe in the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age. That is the main reason you will not hear sermons on prophecy in the great cathedrals and churches of the Western world.

    Those scattered voices that do focus on prophecy do not agree on what specific prophecies mean. And as we can see, they rely on their own reasoning rather than on Jesus Christ and the Bible to interpret God’s prophecies.

    Yet, just as He always has, Christ is delivering God’s prophetic message through His true Church today—the Church He founded and promised would never die (Matthew 16:18). He challenges you to find out whom He is using—who is interpreting the prophecies of the Bible using the Bible.

    “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation,” warned Peter (verse 20). Be careful what you read prophetically. Believe God and His Word, rather than giving heed to some man who thinks he knows. Then you will be able to follow Jesus Christ’s admonition with absolute confidence, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

    Free e-book: You Can Understand Prophecy

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    What to do if you’re victimized

    From the July 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

    Act immediately

    Time is crucial when you are trying to stop a thief before he does more damage.

    Tell the credit agencies

    Contact the fraud department of one of the three main credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Confirm that the agency will notify the other two of abnormal activity on your account. Place a fraud alert and credit freeze on your credit report. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or that you did not open.

    File a police report

    The police will create an identity theft report. Get a copy of the police report, and hang on to it forever. You will need this to refute future claims against you by creditors.

    Do not pay

    You are the victim here. You are not responsible for any fraudulent charges. If an institution was tricked into lending money to a thief, the fault lies with the thief and then with the institution, not with you. Do not pay, even if debt collectors are harassing you.

    Seek counsel

    Visit reputable information sites like the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Education websites for more comprehensive guidelines on dealing with identity theft. These sites also provide good information on handling debt collectors, stopping businesses from selling the fraudulent debt, and cleaning up the mess.

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    Three steps to protect yourself

    From the July 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

    Avoid giving out personal info

    Don’t divulge personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call. If someone calls you, or even if you call them using a number they provided, you can’t know whether the person you are talking to is not a thief. Information once given out, whether for a valid reason or not, may circulate for years and put you that much more at risk.

    Check your credit report 

    In the U.S., you are legally entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit rating agencies (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) per year. Check your credit rating at least twice per year for any unauthorized changes or errors. Consider paying for a credit monitoring service, especially one that helps you clean up any mess if you become a victim.

    Clean out your wallet 

    Never carry your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport with you in your wallet or purse. With this information, a thief could find out anything he or she could ever want to know about you. Protect these critical documents.

    For more ways to help guard yourself from thieves, go online and read “Nine Steps to Protect Against Identity Theft.”