The Great Tribulation: What Happens First?

By COGwriter

With all that is going on in the world in the 21st century, people want to know about the Great Tribulation. They want to know when it is, what signs to look for, and how to be spared from it.

These general questions about the future and the coming hour of trial are not new to this century.

Notice the following related to Jesus and His disciples:

3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"

4 And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. (Matthew 24:3-5, NKJV throughout, unless otherwise specified)

Just like you, the disciples wanted to know. But also notice that Jesus said to be careful about being deceived, including by people who teach that Jesus is the Christ.

Many have been deceived about the Great Tribulation and its start.

It should be first pointed out that there have been false prophets which have claimed that it has already started or recently ended (e.g. Concerns About Ronald Weinland's Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God ) or that it happened close to 2000 years ago in 70 A.D. Those in that latter category are called preterists (see The Dangerous Rise of Preterists) and the group out of Denver calling itself Church of God, (Seventh Day) is basically a preterist group.

Yet, not only have we not seen all the preceding signs, many of what actually happens during the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord have never occurred (for some details, see The Dangerous Rise of Preterists), but the preterists are pointed out as they have turned some aside of paying attention to prophecy.

If most of the prophecies in Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13, and the Book of Revelation had already taken place, it makes little sense that the Apostle Paul would warn:

20 Do not despise prophecies. (1 Thessalonians 5:20)

Nor would there be a reason for the last Book of the Bible

10 ... Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10)

Additionally, Jesus would have no reason to warn people:

36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36)

The above applies to us now, not just to people in 70 A.D.

In this paper, we will look a little bit into some common misconceptions, but mainly focus events for a countdown to the start of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22).

Here is a link to a related sermon video: Counting Down to the Great Tribulation.

Israel and 'This Generation'

What about the formation of the Jewish nation called Israel?

Israel became an independent nation on May 14, 1948, and this was officially recognized May 1, 1949. This independence has affected the views of many Protestants related to prophecy (the CCOG is not Protestant--for details, check out the free online book: Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism). Many base a lot of their prophetic understandings on it.

Many Protestant prophecy watchers believe that the modern nation Israel, along with Jews scattered around the world, is ALL OF ISRAEL.

As shown by other scriptures (e.g. Genesis 48:11,15-16,19-20; cf. 1 Chronicles 5:1-2), the name Israel was to be placed on the descendants of Joseph–this made 13 tribes (see also Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel). Later, the Bible shows that God separated ten tribes of Israel (1 Kings 11:31) from those of Judah (1 Kings 12:20).

Yet, it was prophesied that most would call the Jews ‘Israel’:

1 Hear this, O house of Jacob, Who are called by the name of Israel, And have come forth from the wellsprings of Judah (Isaiah 48:1)

This has happened today.

However, because of not understanding other scriptures, many overlook the scriptures that teach that there are other tribes of Israel in other places. Notice the following from the New Testament:

1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. (James 1:1)

So, the idea that there were still other tribes that were not in the area of Judea/Palestine was still recognized in the New Testament.

What might any of this to do with the nation now called Israel?

Many Protestant prophecy watchers have pointed to the formation of the small nation of Israel as the fulfillment of many end time prophecies. And while the existence of the State of Israel is consistent with biblical prophecies, aspects of its relevane has frequently been overstated by them.

Many Protestant prophecy watchers consider that the final generation to see the great tribulation and Jesus' return started with 1948.

The Christian Research Journal published the following:

Many Christians in the United States believe that it is their biblical responsibility to support the contemporary Jewish State of Israel for specific theological reasons (as opposed to general political ones), a view known as Christian Zionism. The Pew Research Center put the figure at 63 percent for white evangelicals. This view holds that the regathering of Jewish people to Israel since 1948 is the miraculous fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham to establish Israel as a nation forever in Palestine. Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind novels, together with books written by Hal Lindsey, Pat Robertson, and many others, which propound this view, have sold well over 100 million copies.  …

A growing number of Christians, however, are left increasingly uneasy about the idea that God would bring the Jewish people back to Palestine while they are in unbelief, since that was why they were exiled from it in the first place. The methods Israel has used, moreover, to colonize the land and subjugate the Palestinians— many of whom are Christians—do not match the picture of a God‐fearing Israel that Christian Zionists find in their literal interpretation of the ancient prophecies.

(Christian Research Journal, volume 29, number 06, 2006 http://www.equip.org/article/modern-israel-in-bible-prophecy-promised-return-or-impending-exile/#christian-books-1 accessed 04/18/15)

Yes, many Protestants believe this even though Protestants writers have made claims that are not backed up by the literal interpretation of the prophecies in the Bible.

Many claim that the Jews returning to that land from around the world fulfills biblical prophecies. Here is one such claim:

What the scriptures say (just a few of them-more at the end):

Isaiah 43
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, `Give them up!’ and to the south, `Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth-

In Isaiah 43:5-6, the prophet said that the people of Israel would return to their homeland from the east, the west, the north and the south. Isaiah lived 2700 years ago. Beginning at that time, a succession of empires conquered the land of Israel and forced many into exile. This led to a worldwide scattering of Jews. But, during the past century, millions have returned to Israel.

Jeremiah 23:3-6
“I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord. “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.  (https://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/jewish-return-to-israel-in-end-times/ accessed 07/20/20)

But, people in the modern nation of Israel are afraid, David has not been raised up as king of Israel, and only a relatively small percentage of the total Israelite-descended population has ended up in the nation of Israel. The same source as the above had the following:

… 93.5% of Jews in the world will end up in Israel by 2012. I wonder how true this will turn out to be……..  (https://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/jewish-return-to-israel-in-end-times/ accessed 04/18/15)

That prediction, which I first saw in 2015, was in error. It is currently estimated that there are between about 14 to 18 million Jews (and I suspect much higher, along with at least hundreds of millions of descendants of Israel from the other tribes), with about 6 million living in the nation of Israel.

Even ignoring the other tribes of Israel, it is clear that since most Jews do not live in Israel, that the prophecies some interpret related to the Jews returning to Israel are in error. These particular prophecies are for a time after the Great Tribulation (see Will the Anglo-Saxon Nations be Divided and Have People Taken as Slaves?) and not prior to it as certain Protestants have claimed.

Notice also another claim from an article titled 10 Prophecies Fulfilled in 1948:

The people of Israel would return to “their own land”

Bible passage: Ezekiel 34:13
Written: between 593-571 BC
Fulfilled: after May 14, 1948

In Ezekiel 34:13, the prophet said that God would gather the people of Israel scattered throughout the world and bring them back to “their own land.” After many centuries of dispersion, hundreds of thousands of Jews returned to their ancient homeland beginning in the late 1800s. But, millions more returned after Israel declared independence in 1948. In other words, millions of exiles returned to their ancient homeland which was now truly “their own land” in the sense that it was now a sovereign Jewish state. (10 Prophecies Fulfilled in 1948 Last Updated: 07/31/2013 21:28  http://watchmanbiblestudy.com/articles/1948propheciesfulfilled.htm accessed 04/18/15)

But is what happened in Israel a possible fulfillment?

No.

Notice what the verse mentioned above says as well as some that follow it:

13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. 16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”

17 ‘And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats. 18 Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture — and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet? 19 And as for My flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet, and they drink what you have fouled with your feet.”

20 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. 21 Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, 22 therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them — My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.

25 “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. 27 Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid. 29 I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore. 30 Thus they shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord God.’” (Ezekiel 34:13-30)

The tiny nation of Israel since 1948 has NEVER truly dwelled safely. Furthermore, Israel is regularly ‘shamed’ by Gentiles via United Nations’ resolutions, mistakes, terrorism, and various international statements and actions.

But most importantly, overwhelmingly number of Jews in Israel do not know the true God now as God. This has NOT yet been fulfilled, but will be later (see also Will the Anglo-Saxon Nations be Divided and Have People Taken as Slaves?).

What about the nation of Israel supposedly fulfilling the prophecies claimed to be related to Jesus’ parable of the fig tree?

Notice the following from Protestant Pastor Harry Walther:

NOW FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY WE CAN HAVE THE MOST ACCURATE VIEW OF HOW MUCH TIME IS LEFT FOR THE BIBLICAL APOCALYPSE TO BEGIN.

NOTE: WHEN WE INTERPRET THE "PARABLE OF THE FIG TREE" AS A TRUE TIMELINE, THERE IS A "DOOMSDAY CLOCK" HIDDEN WITHIN THE BIBLE THAT WAS ACTIVATED ON 14 MAY, 1948 AD AND ENDS ON 14 MAY 2021 AD. IF YOU INTERPRET MATT:24:32 AS AN OPEN-ENDED PARABLE, THE WORLD CANNOT GO MUCH PAST MAY 2021 AS IT IS OVERCOME WITH FEAR, HATRED AND REBELLION AGAINST GOD.

AS YOU WILL SEE, THE DOOMSDAY CODE IS AS FOLLOWS:

1988 + 40 = 2028 - 7 = 2021 AD

"THE "DOOMSDAY" CLOCK WAS ACTIVATED ON MAY 14 1948 (WHEN ISRAEL WAS REBORN AS A NATION) AND ENDS ON MAY 14 2021... WITH THE START OF APOCALYPSE- UNLESS UNDERWAY SOONER. (http://www.satansrapture.org/doomsdayclock.htm)

That is wrong, and other scriptures in this article prove it now--and time will prove it once we are past May 14, 2021.

Here are some comments from three other Protestant/Baptist prophecy interpreters:

Prophecy, … why is the subject so popular today? One word: Israel.

You see, none of the prophecies concerning the end times were relevant — much less understood — until Israel became a nation again in 1948.

In His parable concerning the fig tree, Jesus told His disciples that when it begins to put forth leaves, they would know that summer is near. In the same way, He said that the generation that saw all of the signs He listed occurring within the same time span, and increasing in frequency and intensity, should recognize that His coming is near.

Many of those “signs” involved the nation of Israel. But before there actually existed a nation of Israel, none of them made sense. (Lindsey H. The Hal Lindsey Report. 11-01-2013. http://www.hallindsey.com/the-hal-lindsey-report-11012013/)

And there is one main event in bible prophecy that had to happen to usher in the time that the bible calls the “Last Days”, or the “time of Jacob’s trouble”, and that event happened on May 14, 1948 … ”Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer [is] nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, [even] at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”

Matthew 24:32-34

This is what’s known as the Fig Tree Prophecy.  (The Fig Tree Prophecy of Matthew 24: How The Rebirth of Israel Signals The Last Days. http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/pages/the_fig_tree_prophecy.htm viewed 05/06/14)

Israel the fig tree has put forth its leaves and been reborn as a nation therefore the coming of Christ draws near. Luke 21:32 also states that a generation would not pass. A generation is between 70-100 years, Israel was established again on May 15, 1948. Jews are still immigrating back to Israel from nations far and wide, just like the Bible said they would. https://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/jewish-return-to-israel-in-end-times/ accessed 04/18/15

Here is one of the passages of scripture that certain ones believe relate to the 1948 formation of the State of Israel:

2 One basket had very good figs, like the figs that are first ripe; and the other basket had very bad figs which could not be eaten, they were so bad. 3 Then the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

And I said, “Figs, the good figs, very good; and the bad, very bad, which cannot be eaten, they are so bad.”

4 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans.  (Jeremiah 24:2-5)

Notice that the above ties Israel with figs, but only claims to bring the good figs back.  Although I have seen the above shown as scriptural evidence that Jesus’ parable of the fig tree relates to the modern nation of Israel (https://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/jewish-return-to-israel-in-end-times/ accessed 04/18/15), that makes little sense as the modern Jews do not seem to be any closer to God than those in Jeremiah’s time. Furthermore, look at the other passages that follow:

6 For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. 7 Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart. (Jeremiah 24:6-7)

The above clearly has not happened. Not only has the nation of Israel NOT returned to God with their whole heart, that nation has also lost some of the land that it had in various ‘peace’ negotiations. Jewish settlers have been plucked up. Hence it is not appropriate to tie Jeremiah 24:2-7 to the modern nation of Israel.

Now why would anyone try? Well they do to attempt to prove that the nation of Israel is the fig tree that Jesus referred to in the gospels. Here is what Jesus said:

32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near — at the doors!  34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Matthew 24:32-35)

28 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near — at the doors! 30 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. (Mark 13:28-30)

29 Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. (Luke 21:29-32)

We will get to what the “all things” Jesus referred to were.  Before going there directly, perhaps it should be mentioned that although he believed that the 1948 recognition by the UN was a prophesied prophetic event, the late Protestant/Baptist scholar Dr. Walvoord wrote:

Matthew 24:32-35; Mark 13:28-21; Luke 21:29-33 … A common interpretation has been to interpret the fig tree as a type of Israel and the revival of Israel as the budding of the fig tree … there is no scriptural basis (Walvoord JF. Prophecy Handbook. Victor Books, 1990, pp. 390-391)

Not only was Dr. Walvoord correct that there is no scriptural basis, I will take it a step further. Unless a generation is over 70 years, it is NOT POSSIBLE THAT THE FORMATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL IN 1948 FULFILLED THE PARABLE OF THE FIG TREE IN MATTHEW, MARK, OR LUKE.

Well, now, because we are past that point.

But when we were not to it then, I gave reasons why.

Jesus noted that the events in Matthew 24. Mark 13, and Luke 21 would all happen within the same generation. Biblically, a generation was normally considered only 30 or 40 years according to what seems to be Smith’s Bible Dictionary’s understanding of Job 42:16 (Smith W. Smith’s Bible Dictionary. Originally written 1863, Hendrickson Publishers, p.  211).  Here is that scripture:

16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. (Job 42:16)

Essentially, 140 years divided by four generations equals what may be considered 35 years per generation, with 40 years more probable as that would make the grandchild of the last generation 20 years of age. 30 or 40 years from 2009, certainly seems to fit.

Now, even if a generation is biblically longer, it would not seem to be over 70 years or maybe 80:

10 The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. (Psalm 90:10)

70 years would seem to be the maximum length of a biblical generation. Since the Great Tribulation cannot possibly start prior to 2024 and Jesus cannot return until 3 1/2 years later, if Jesus reference to “this generation” meant 75 years or less, then it is not possible that the view that the formation of the State of Israel was the first sign to count the fulfillment of much of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 could be biblically possible.

Sorrows Happen First

Getting back to Jesus’ statements about the parable of the fig tree, in the gospel account He specifically says that you need to look at the signs He listed earlier.

So, let’s look at the account in Matthew 24:

4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. (Matthew 24:4-6a)

These sorrows Jesus mentioned tie in with the opening of two of the seals of the Revelation 6:1-4.

Presuming that these seals are open a while before the start of the Great Tribulation (which does not get mentioned until much later in the sequence in Matthew 24, it appears that the first of these seals may have been opened in 2009, as the ecumenical and interfaith movements have been galloping ahead since then.

We live in a world that more and more speech restrictions are being put into place. Restrictions that will help reduce objections when the final Beast and Antichrist rise up.

Notice some of what in 1973, the old Worldwide Church of God, taught will happen after the first horseman:

As the first horsemen rides forth “conquering and to conquer” in the name of his false religion, the second horseman—war—is quick on his heels as that instrument of conquest. (Alexander G, pp. 23-24)

It should be pointed out that although the old WCG tended to see all the horsemen coming rapidly after each other, the following statements by Jesus suggest a time gap:

8 And He said: "Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time has drawn near.' Therefore do not go after them. 9 But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately." (Luke 21:8-9)

How long the time gap between the horsemen is not specified, but the above suggests a significant gap.

Barnes Notes on the Bible states related to the red horse rider:

The power given to him that sat on the horse: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another. This would seem to indicate that the condition immediately preceding this was a condition of tranquility, and that this was now disturbed by some cause producing discord and bloodshed. This idea is confirmed by the original words - τὴν εἰρήνην tēn eirēnēn - "the peace"; that is, the previously existing peace. When peace in general is referred to, the word is used without the article: Matthew 10:34, "Think not that I am come to send peace - βαλεῖν εἰρήνην balein eirēnēn - upon the earth."

Consider that this taking peace or prosperity by the rider of the red horse does NOT preclude the peace deal Daniel 9:27. Nor does it prevent Mystery Babylon the Great from having a time of prosperity (actually according to Daniel 11:39-43, war will bring wealth and prosperity to the King of the North. It is NOT constant physical warfare everywhere, though physical warfare (consisent with Jesus' words in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 are also consistent with that).

This second seal, associated with "taking peace from the earth" as well as wars and rumors of war, may have opened in the Fall of 2019 or perhaps sometime in 2020. In a very real way, COVID-19 related matters have taken away peace from the earth. And then there are wars and rumors of war.

Notice a list from a Jewish source, along with my comments:

Breaking Israel News (BIN) posted the following:

Analysis: 10 Realistic Ways the War of Gog and Magog can Ignite Tomorrow

July 8, 2020The war of Gog and Magog, is a final battle prophesied in the Book of Ezekiel which consists of a type of ‘End of Days’ World War that ushers in the final redemption. But could a third world war really be on the horizon? When looking at the in rise international hostilities taking place worldwide between nations, the notion of such an apocalyptic battle seems to be an extremely realistic scenario. The following is a list of international hostilities that if erupt simultaneously, can spiral into a Third World War. https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/154428/analysis-10-realistic-ways-the-war-of-gog-and-magog-can-ignite-tomorrow/

No, “the War of Gog and Magog” cannot possibly start tomorrow, nor is it World War III. The “War of Gog and Magog” does not start until well after Jesus returns. For details and scriptures, check out the article: Ezekiel 38: For Russia & Iran in Our Day? BIN is basically a Jewish news source. Partially because of that, it tends to overlook most New Testament prophecies which provide clarification on many points, as well as overlooking prophecies in the Old Testament.

With that in mind, let us briefly look at each of the “Ten Realistic Ways” BIN seems to think that WWIII can start tomorrow.

1. China vs America

While there are problems between China and the USA, the Bible does not predict this as what we would call WWIII, as for example, it is not the King of the North that is prophesied to take over the USA (cf. Daniel 11:39).

That being said, China could actually assist the coming European King of the North in this, and may very well be granted some or all of American allies Australia and/or New Zealand (watch Are Chinese threats against Australia for real? and/or see Australia and New Zealand in Prophecy). China has been displeased with Australia, not only in the past, but this year as well (see Another of the ‘Five Eyes’ backing USA position? UK reverses course on Huawei  and Australia Warns Citizens They Risk Arbitrary Detention While Traveling Through China).

2. China vs India

While China and India have border and other tensions (see India and China clash: Start of WWIII?), this is not going to lead to WWIII. India and China are basically “kings of the east” (cf. Revelation 16:12-16). And because of prophecies related to a coming 200 million man army (Revelation 9:13-18), ultimately, China and India will be on the same side of a coming massive war.

3. North Korea vs South Korea

Yes, there are tensions between the two. However, because they are both “kings of the east” (cf. Revelation 16:12-16), they ultimately will be together (see Korea in Prophecy, Any Witness? ). Any conflict between them is NOT WWIII.

4. Egypt vs Turkey

Although the Bible does show a separation coming between Egypt and Turkey, it also shows that they will align together for a time (cf. Daniel 11:40-43) under the direction of one called the King of the South. So, no, any conflict between them before that is not related to WWIII.

5. Turkey vs Greece

While there has been conflict between Turkey and Greece for centuries, no, their conflict is NOT about to lead to WWIII. When Turkey separates from Egypt as is shown in Daniel 11 (see also Turkey in Prophecy), Turkey will temporarily be aligned with Greece.

6. Egypt vs Ethiopia

While Ethiopia is having internal unrest with hundreds killed and thousands arrested in the past week (see https://apnews.com/761ba72fed4ba76cabbcbfadebced6bd), the conflicts between it and Egypt are not the cause and the two are not about to start WWIII. Though with the rise (Daniel 11:40) and demise (Daniel 11:40-43; Ezekiel 30:1-8) of the King of the South there could be further conflict.  

7. Russia vs Ukraine

Despite international pressures, because of prophecies related to the Medes (Jeremiah 51:11; Isaiah 13:1, 17-19), the Bible points to at least parts of Ukraine ultimately aligning with Russia, at least for a time. See also Russia and Ukraine: Their Origins and Prophesied Future.

8. Lebanon vs Israel

The immediate situation between Lebanon and Israel is not WWIII. However, Lebanon would be expected to be part of the confederacy of Psalm 83:4-8 which will be against Israel (Judea, Ephraim, and Manasseh). The Psalm 83 confederacy, with a mention on “Gebal” representing Lebanon, is discussed in the article: Is the Future King of the South Rising Up?

9. Hamas vs Israel

The immediate situation between Hamas and Israel is not WWIII. That being said, the Bible points to lands that Israel now controls ending up with those of Gaza and/or other Palestinians (cf. Jeremiah 25:17-29; see also Gaza and the Palestinians in Bible Prophecy). Hamas is also expected to be part of the confederacy of Psalm 83:4-8.

10. Iran/Turkey vs Israel

A lot of conflict has been taking place between Israel and Iran (e.g. ‘Yet Another Explosion at Iranian Nuclear Site’).

Iran, along with Syria, looks prophesied to damage Israel (Isaiah 22:6-8)–but that is not WWIII. Turkey is expected to be part of the confederacy of Psalm 83:4-8, which will help lead to WWIII. But that is not yet.

Jesus said with wars and rumors of war, "the end is not yet," but that the situation would later worsen, but we are not to be troubled:

6 ... See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:6b-8)

Notice again that the END is not yet, but that other sorrows will happen.

Consider that since most end time Christians are NOT Philadelphian, that the open of the seals and aspects of their rides will NOT be accepted by most Christians until AFTER the start of the Great Tribulation.

If most Christians did recognize the four seals, they would be more willing to 'gather together' (Zephaniah 2:1-3) and flee when they should. But most will not--but instead have to deal with the wrath of Satan (Revelation 12:14-17).

Consider also that food inflation is associated with the ride of the third horse, the black horse. And while that is commonly called the black horse of famine, the word famine is not in Revelation 6:5-6. That does NOT mean that there will not be any famines--for there will be--but food inflation will be considered as caused by government overprinting of money, crop matters, trade issues, etc. and most will NOT attribute it to the ride of the third horseman or the opening of the third seal. Agricultural practices, such as the heavy reliance on genetically-modified crops is helping set the stage for possibly massive crop failures in countries like the USA (see also GMOs and Bible Prophecy; there is a related YouTube video GMO Risks and the Bible).

The fourth horseman of death’s ride (the opening of the fourth seal) also begins prior to the start of the Great Tribulation, it is likely that the USA and at least some of its Anglo-Saxon dominated allies would be affected–which are end time descendants of Israel, and also sometimes prophetically referred to as Israel (cf. Genesis 48; see also Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel). The results will mean many will die as "power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth" (Revelation 6:7-8).

Many will also be affected by the four horsemen AFTER the start of the Great Tribulation.

Four of the sorrows tie in with the opening of the four seals and the ride of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

A "Prince" Comes First, Then He's a King

We now need to look at something mentioned in the Book of Daniel.

There is something that takes place 3 1/2 years before the Great Tribulation. The Bible shows there is an individual who initially appears to be referred to as a "prince" in Daniel 9:26-27 (one is normally a "prince", or rising leader, before one becomes a "king").

Since this deal has still not been made, let alone confirmed, this would suggest that contrary to claims of various false prophets (Ronald Weinland of CGPFK and Harold Camping come to mind) the Great Tribulation has not already began.

Notice that in the book of Daniel there is a prophecy related to the end times that states:

26 And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate (Daniel 9:26-27).

The ‘one week’ has generally been understood by prophecy watchers to mean a seven year deal, that is broken in the middle of it (after 3 1/2 years). It has long been my view that Israel will not agree to the type of seven-year covenant what the Bible mentions in Daniel 9:27 without pressure and that the Europeans will be involved.

For more details on this deal and why it would involve a European, please check out the article: The 'Peace Deal' of Daniel 9:27.

This deal confirmation will begin a countdown to the Great Tribulation--but it is likely that very few will accept that the countdown has started. This is a reason that church governance is important as those who refuse to truly accept it (The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government), will not understand various prophetic events.

Since this Middle East peace deal has not been completed (at least not publicly), then if one adds 3 1/2 years to now, the earliest this could be would be the year 2024. We are simply not yet to the part that a "prince of the north" has come on the scene in that major way.

This "prince" is one who later will be called the King of the North.

Which of course means that there still is no final King of the North--though he is alive now, but not yet in that role.

Daniel 11:27 itself requires two kings, which suggests that the future "prince" will gain more and more importance after the deal in Daniel 9:27 (for more information on the sequence of Daniel 11, please see the article the King of the North). It may take a regional or other war in the Middle East to trigger a peace deal. And if Isaiah 17:1 concerning the destruction of Damascus is to be fulfilled prior to the start of the Great Tribulation, the destruction of Damascus in Syria should be a clear sign to those who discount biblical prophecy that Bible prophecy will come to pass.  Damascus has claimed to the longest continuously inhabited city on the earth and its destruction would be unprecedented. But with all the news about Syria, it is certainly possibly that the destruction of Damascus can come soon (for some details, please watch Damascus and Syria in Prophecy).

Before going further, it should be pointed out that during the Great Tribulation the European Beast power will be wealthy and control much of the world's trade per Revelation 18. Currently, we are seeing the Europeans making trade deals around the globe and attempting to set international standards for products and trade (see also WTO/TTIP and the Babylonian Beast). Some of this gain in trade is coming at the expense of the USA and its British-descended allies. And trade wars look to be a factor in the European Beast power attacking the at the start of the Great Tribulation (Daniel 11:39).

It should also be mentioned that Europe is in the process of moving more towards a digital currency (e.g. ‘French Central Bank Picks Accenture, HSBC and Others for Digital Euro Pilot ‘ 666 Move?) as well as an enforcer for 666 (buying and selling; watch EU Setting Up 666 Enforcer?) consistent with Revelation 13:16-18. We simply did not have the technology for that when John was inspired to write about it over 1900 years ago.

King of the South, Isaiah 22, and US Debt

Jesus did not mention all the prophetic events that will proceed the Great Tribulation.

But, the Old Testament has other details.

As far as the King of the South goes although one is prophesied, there simply is not a confederation of Islamic nations that work close enough together yet in order to be led by the King of the South.

Yet, we have seen various ones work towards this.

Breaking Israel News (BIN) reported the following:

July 12, 2020

On Friday, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 ruling that turned the Hagia Sophia into a museum, effectively paving the way for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to fulfill his promise to turn the formerly Christian site into a mosque. …

“Turkey’s president linked the decision to reviving Islam from Bukhara in Uzbekistan to Andalusia in Spain.” https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/154593/after-turning-iconic-church-mosque-erdogan-says-temple-mount-next/

As far as Turkish President Erdogan's statement from Uzbekistan (which is in Central Asia) to Spain goes, that is similar to the stated goal of a group called the Muslim Brotherhood.

Notice something from its website:

What is the Muslim Brotherhood?
The world’s largest and most influential Islamist movement. Founded in Egypt in 1928, the group was originally focused on ridding the country of corrupting secular influences brought by British colonial rule. Over the years, it established branches and affiliates in many countries to promote traditional Sunni Islamic morals, social justice, and the eradication of poverty and corruption. “The Islamic nation,” its charter states, “must be fully prepared to fight the tyrants and the enemies of Allah as a prelude to establishing an Islamic state”—ideally a re-established caliphate, stretching from Spain across the Middle East and Central Asia to Indonesia, to be governed according to Islamic sharia law. (Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood. February 14, 2011. © The Muslim Brotherhood. http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=28019 viewed 07/12/2020)

The Muslim Brotherhood wants a pan-national Islamic caliphate ruled by an Imam. It will not end up with Spain, if I understand certain aspects of Bible prophecy correctly, but the confederation of the final King of the South may go from around Western Sahara and/or Mauritania and/or Morocco to Oman (with possible involvement and/or coordination with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan and/or Indonesia).

It sound like the Turkish President and the Muslim Brotherhood want many lands united that will ultimately align with prophecies in Daniel 11 related to the coming King of the South. Notice:

40 “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. 41 He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. 42 He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels. (Daniel 11:40-43)

The late WCG evangelist Raymond McNair (who was also once part of GCG) wrote about this and the modern identities of these people:

Daniel 11 also mentions some of the Mideast peoples who will be involved in that struggle among the nations at the close of this age. The belligerents will include the “King of the North,” the leader of the European Union (or its final outgrowth, called the “Beast”). The “King of the South” (an Islamic leader—apparently from Egypt {or} some other Muslim state) is also referred to. The following lands/peoples are specifically mentioned: Egypt, the Holy Land (Israel/Palestine), the Ethiopians (modern Cushites, south of Egypt), Libya, Edom, Moab and Ammon. Many descendants of the ancient peoples known as Edomites or Idumeans now live in the West Bank, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Arabia, Yemen, the Persian Gulf states, etc. (McNair R. Solving the Arab-Israeli Impasse! Copyright Raymond F. McNair 2005, Church of God—21st Century).

Notice that Raymond McNair realized that Egypt or some other Muslim country is where the king of the South will come from and that the term translated as Ethiopians really means the Cushite peoples who live in southern Egypt as well as elsewhere (others have said that the Cushites basically mean dark-skinned people, hence this could include peoples from Sudan, Somalia (sometimes called Eastern Cushites), and many of the other Islam-dominated nations in Africa).

Anyway other than Turkey, the lands the Bible shows are to be dominated by the coming King of the South are basically all part of a confederation known as the Arab League.

Historically, however, many of those lands were once dominated by the Ottoman Turkish Empire.

Turkey, will, for time, be aligned with the coming King of the South--but looks to be a nation to betray the King of the South (see Daniel 11:26; Turkey in Prophecy).

This King of the South looks to have to be formed BEFORE the start of the Great Tribulation. But, it is possible, it will mainly be a loose confederation at first, hence difficult for many to identify.

It also should be pointed out that American and European leaders have long called for some type of Islamic confederation in the Middle East and North Africa covering territories that are prophesied to be under the influence of the King of the South.

Now consideer, that apparently during the ride of the red horseman, an Iranian-Syria force will damage Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. Isaiah was inspired to write:

6 Elam bore the quiver With chariots of men and horsemen, And Kir uncovered the shield. 7 It shall come to pass that your choicest valleys Shall be full of chariots, And the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.

8 He removed the protection of Judah. You looked in that day to the armor of the House of the Forest; 9 You also saw the damage to the city of David, That it was great; And you gathered together the waters of the lower pool. 10 You numbered the houses of Jerusalem, And the houses you broke down To fortify the wall. 11 You also made a reservoir between the two walls For the water of the old pool. But you did not look to its Maker, Nor did you have respect for Him who fashioned it long ago.

12 And in that day the Lord God of hosts Called for weeping and for mourning,For baldness and for girding with sackcloth. 13 But instead, joy and gladness, Slaying oxen and killing sheep, Eating meat and drinking wine: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

14 Then it was revealed in my hearing by the Lord of hosts,”Surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you, Even to your death,” says the Lord God of hosts.  (Isaiah 22:6-14 NKJV)

Elam seems to be a reference to at least some in Iran. The old Worldwide Church of God published the following:

Iranians com-prise nearly 70 percent of the country. Iranians, though Is-lamic, are totally distinct from the neighboring Arab peoples of the Middle East. They are a mixed people of the remnants of Media and Elam and other ancestors of Semitic and Hamitic stock. (Stump K. South Asia in Prophecy. Plain Truth, July/August 1986, p. 5) 

Kir is of interest as it has several possibilities. One is that the Bible tells that after Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria took over Damascus, he moved Syrians to Kir. While this does not mean that Kir must (or must only) be a reference to Syria, the fact that Syria is an ally of Iran is interesting. Some believe Kir is an area in the south of Iran, while others suggest closer to the Black Sea. The Bible tells of a time when Kir will be destroyed (Isaiah 15:1b) and also says that Syria's capital Damascus will be destroyed (Isaiah 17:1).

Damascus has not become a "ruinous heap" since Isaiah wrote that and it looks like this destruction is likely to happen prior to the start of the Great Tribulation. One reason to conclude that is to point out what a later verse says.

1The burden against Damascus.

"Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city,
And it will be a ruinous heap. ...

3 The fortress also will cease from Ephraim,
The kingdom from Damascus ... (Isaiah 17:1,3)

The time for the fortress to cease from Ephraim (the UK) is the start of the Great Tribulation.

In Isaiah 22: 8, "Judah" is a reference to those in the land commonly called Israel--God will allow Israel to be attacked! In Isaiah 22:9, consider that "the damage to the city of David" is a reference to at least part of Jerusalem--and notice that the damage will be great.

This might be a major factor in triggering the formation of the prophesied King of the South.

Now, notice another event.

2600 years ago, God inspired Habakkuk to write the following:

6 "Will not all these take up a proverb against him,
And a taunting riddle against him, and say,
'Woe to him who increases
What is not his — how long?
And to him who loads himself with many pledges'?
7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly?
Will they not awaken who oppress you?
And you will become their booty.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
All the remnant of the people shall plunder you (Habakkuk 2:6-8)

This is not a prophecy for the nation commonly called Israel. It simply does not have a lot of debt that prophesied enemies will take it over for. In the 21st century the most indebted nation is the USA. Actually, the USA is the most indebted nation of all time.

In 2020, not only did it continue to increase its debt, it accellerated that increase. This will end with the start of the Great Tribulation, when the USA itself will be attacked and taken over.

This will be by the one called the King of the North, who is the "He" below:

39 Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain (Daniel 11:39)

The USA is the nation with the "strongest fortresses" in the 21st century. Thus, for the European King of the North to do this, we would expect to see Europe developing a strong military--which is something that the Europeans have been working on.

For the Europeans to do this, they will have to be alienated from the USA. But that has been happening. Notice a couple of items from July 2020:

Berlin is pushing the EU to adopt a document on fundamental military policy. Its core: Intelligence services’ threat assessment.

BERLIN (Own report) – The German government seeks to have a common “Strategic Compass” adopted, to orient the EU’s military policy. The planned strategy paper is aimed at providing the Union’s current militarization projects – such as PESCO and the EU Battlegroups – a consistent thrust and to enhance the EU’s military response capacity. It is also aimed at aligning the EU member states’ national armaments projects with the Union’s overall strategic needs. During its EU Council presidency, Berlin seeks to lay the foundations for a new EU common threat assessment, as the core element of the “Strategic Compass.” …

“One of the Most Important Projects”

Last year, the German government presented its plan to create a “Strategic Compass” for the EU. Since then, all EU states have supported the initiative and even consider it to be “one of the most important projects in the near future,” according to Detlef Wächter, Political Director of the German Ministry of Defense. …

Without Democratic Control

The key element of the “strategic compass” will be the establishment of a common “threat assessment,” binding for all EU member countries – a historical precedent for the EU. This should be completed by the end of the year, meaning still within the German EU Council presidency. As Wächter notes, the threat assessment is conceived as a “document of the intelligence services,” not as a “political paper.” It will be compiled by the Union’s relevant administration, the EU IntCen (European Union Intelligence and Situation Center),[2] on the basis of the information submitted by the member countries’ intelligence services. There will be no final approval by member countries. Thus, the core element of the fundamental document determining the EU’s future foreign and military policies will be without any democratic control. …

Objective: “Greater Operability”

Once it is established in the first semester of 2022, the “strategic compass” – which is supposed to disclose common military objectives based on a common threat assessment – will focus the EU’s relevant activities. 07/22/20 https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/8344/

Europe must take on its own defense responsibilities

As they look at the state of their coronavirus-hit economies and U.S. President Donald Trump’s poor standing in opinion polls, many European leaders may be tempted to put on hold any plans to meet NATO’s target of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense. But Europeans need to wake up. Trump is not a reliable ally, and the damage he has done to the trans-Atlantic partnership is likely to linger. … During his presidency, Barack Obama also accused Europe of being “complacent” about its own defense — though he was rather more diplomatic. …

Europe’s ability to counter threats will depend on making its money go further by spending it efficiently, both nationally and multilaterally. The commission should do more to ensure that more defense procurement involves competitive tendering, rather than member states awarding contracts to national champions. …

Even if they would rather pretend that nothing is changing, the EU and as many non-EU, Europe-based NATO members as are willing to do so need to pay attention to Trump’s message. And they need to start thinking about how to defend Europe and deter potential adversaries with reduced U.S. help. https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/commentary/2020/07/03/europe-must-take-on-its-own-defense-responsibilities/

Within the first year of Donald Trump becoming US President, the Europeans put together something called PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation). PESCO is intended to give the Europeans a strong military and to be independent of the USA.

Various European leaders, like German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron, have called for Europe to be a military power of its own capable of not needing the USA.

While Europe still needs the USA from a carnal defensive perspective, the Europeans are working to be able to break that need.

Most will not believe that Europe will do this and will marvel after the USA and its British-descended allies are taken over consistent with Revelation 13:4.

The Bible teaches:

2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4)

About 3 1/4 years after the peace deal (Daniel 9:27) is confirmed, the European King of the North will to proclaim peace and safety (1 Thessalonians 5:3) to throw people off (cf. Daniel 11:24) for his invasion plans. Most will be caught off guard--including most Christians.

Persecution

Now, if the sorrows Jesus spoke of do not seem to be enough, notice what else happens:

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:9-13)

During this time, which is PRIOR to the start of the Great Tribulation, some of God's faithful will be witnesses.

The above persecuting time ties in with the following:

33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. 34 Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. 35 And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time. (Daniel 11:31-35).

The above persecution will mainly be directed towards Philadelphian Christians as they will be the main ones explaining what the King of the North is about to do. While other Christians are likely to be affected (Satan does not care for them either), this may cause a greater distancing between Philadelphian and non-Philadelphian Christians. More on persecution can be found in the article: Persecutions by Church and State. Anyway, most of the non-Philadelphians will NOT think it is the end and will not take appropriate steps.

Daniel also discusses the coming King of the North:

23 And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. (Daniel 11:23)

The Book of Revelation tells of a reorganization in the top levels for Europe:

12 "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. (Revelation 17:12-13)

Once this reorganization takes place, this will set off a series of prophetic events.

Various Christian groups do not understand the reorganization now and will NOT understand it once it happens (see Must the Ten Kings of Revelation 17:12 Rule over Ten Currently Existing Nations?).

But we are seeing some of the preliminary steps towards European reorganization now.

The Bible says that this leader will have a "great army" (Daniel 11:25) and "many ships" (Daniel 11:40). With the development of PESCO we are seeing Europe move towards having its own "great army" (watch PESCO and a Great European Army).

As far as the EU navy goes, the combined component strength of the naval forces of member states is some 513 commissioned warships (Common Security and Defence Policy. Wikipedia, accessed 07/22/20).

The Gospel of the Kingdom

Sometime after the deal in Daniel 9:27 is confirmed, people like me and other Philadelphia remnant Church of God leaders will proclaim it as well as the gospel message. Matthew 24:14 will be fulfilled and the identification of the "prince" will likely enrage him enough to get him to try to stop the work, and through government pressure he may get internet and other media suspended for us (see Who is the King of the North?).

Tying in with the persecution of the faithful in Matthew 24, notice what Jesus says happens next:

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

A point that few seem to recognize is that Matthew 24:14 still needs to be properly fulfilled. Nor are enough portions of the Final Phase of the Work over. 

Although God did use Herbert W. Armstrong as a witness in the 20th century, the 21st century world as a whole has not had an adequate witness for the end to yet come (see also Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work? and The Final Phase of the Work).

I strongly believe that God will more powerfully use part of the most faithful part the surviving remnant of the Philadelphia era of the Church of God, currently the Continuing Church of God (CCOG), to lead the final phase of the work and proclaim the good news of the The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

The "short work" of Romans 9:28 will still happen--but CCOG will not be able to complete this work, that part of the final phase of the work, before 2024.

Related to the "short work," the late evangelist John Ogwyn wrote:

God states clearly: “He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness” (Romans 9:28). Who will He use to do it? According to Daniel 11:32 it is “the people who know their God [that] shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (Ogwyn J. God’s Church Through the Ages, p. 58)

And of course, since the 6000 years of God's plan apparently has several years left (see Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?) combined with the fact that all the other signs mentioned in this update are not ready yet (though events seem to be working towards that objective), the Great Tribulation simply cannot begin in 2020, nor has the final portion of the short work began.

We have our booklet, The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, available in 100 languages online, and links to those can be found at www.ccog.org

The Abomination

Now, back to Jesus in Matthew 24:

15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), (Matthew 24:15)

Some have apparently concluded that the State of Israel needed to form for the event in verse 15 to occur. And while that may well be, that was not the first of the items to be fulfilled in "this generation." The generation either starts with the start of the “beginning of sorrows” or verse 9. And because Jesus said, "this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place" (Matthew 24:34), and those things included the sorrows, this really does not point the formation of the nation of Israel as the starting point.

The old Worldwide Church of God published the following:

Jesus spoke of the vital necessity of understanding this "abomination" in the parenthetical phrase, "whoso readeth, let him understand" (verse 15). It appears to involve a great religious leader who would make his world headquarters in the Holy Land. This event's great import lies in the fact that it is a sign signaling the beginning of the great tribulation. (Schoeder JR. Christ The Revelator. Ambassador College publications, 1975)

Jesus specifically referred to an event in the writings from the Prophet Daniel as the SIGN to know when to flee--a fleeing that takes place BEFORE the Great Tribulation begins (Matthew 24:21). The sign Jesus referred to had to do with actions of a prince (Daniel 9:27) who will become the King of the North (Daniel 11).

Here is what Luke's account states from Jesus:

20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. (Luke 21:20)

So, we see armies associated with the coming desolation.

Here is that sign that comes AFTER the deal in Daniel 11:27--this is essentially the sign Jesus said to look for:

31 And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. (Daniel 11:31)

The “him” is the final King of the North--the Great Tribulation takes place AFTER that event (cf. Matthew 24:15; Matthew 24:21).

Not only will the Great Tribulation not start before there is an actual King of the South and an actual final King of the North, a prince who will later become that King of the North will first confirm a deal (probably a peace deal) with Israel (probably somewhat including the United States and some Arab lands as part of the "many" in Daniel 9:27).

Remember, the Bible warns:

11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. (Amos 8:11-12, KJV)

With all the limits on so-called "hate speech," which in more and more Western lands includes quoting the Bible and/or teaching against sin, we are getting close to that time.

Now, the final time Jesus referred to as “the beginning of sorrows” technically may not be considered officially to have begun until the first of the seven seals is opened. While it seems likely that this has occurred (as the False Prophet is undoubtedly alive now), it may not actually officially begin until the False Prophet gets more prominence (cf. Alexander G. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. WCG booklet, 1973, p. 17)--but is not certain.

But it makes more sense that the beginning of sorrows and that final generation began in the 21st century as opposed to the first half of the 20th century.

As far as the "Holy Place" goes, this is not totally clear yet. Although Paul was a prophet, he wrote:

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. ... 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, (1 Corinthians 13:9, 12a)

From scripture, we see that Jerusalem is called "the holy city" (Matthew 4:5) and it continued to be after Jesus' resurrection (Matthew 27:53).

From this we can glean that there will be a holy location in Jerusalem.

There are three possibilities that come to mind:

  1. Somewhere on the area called the Temple Mount (or possibly a different spot if the old temple was not on the Temple Mount).
  2. A building that contained some parts of the old temple.
  3. A place where real Christians may meet in the 21st century.

What does not come to mind is a brand new massive Jewish temple--which is not biblically-required (see Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?)--unless it happens to be on a spot that God considers to be holy (cf. Exodus 3:5). Only God can make something holy, and since Jesus' sacrifice eliminated the need for animal sacrifices, the Jews cannot make anything of themselves holy.

Notice the following:

17 ... For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1 Corinthians 3:17)

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Christians are the temple of God in the church age. No new Jewish building would be so.

That being said, the building the was the temple was considered to be holy in the New Testament even after Jesus was resurrected (cf. Hebrews 9:25). Hence, materials part of that building may still be considered to be holy by God.

If so, there is one building that is believed to be built on the foundation stones of the last holy temple. It is known as the Church of God on Jerusalem's Western Hill. Whether or not God still considers any old parts of it holy is not clear from scripture.

The other possibility would be if we were to get a CCOG congregation in Jerusalem. Where two or more are gathered in His name, Jesus is there (Matthew 18:20). While we do not currently have a congregation in Jerusalem, it is possible that we may. Furthermore, since Jesus later discusses those in Judea fleeing, at minimum it would seem that some would be there just before the Beast takes over. And he may well go to where true Christians met.

In the end times, Christians are the temple of God! The Bible also tells of a leader (the Beast) who one day "sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4; see also Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2?).

As far as the sacrifices go, the Jews must start them before they stop. Groups like the Temple Institute and reconstituted Sanhedrin have been preparing for this and have done some sacrifices (see Nascent Sanhedrin and Prophecy). They would prefer to have a red heifer first (which they may now have, see The Red Heifer, Jewish Beliefs, and the End of the World), but can sacrifice without that or a temple (Ezra 3:4; see also Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?).

Here is some of what the late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about the sacrifices, temples, the abomination, and a countdown timing:

Daniel 12 ... verse 11, from the time the daily sacrifice shall be taken away. Consider this a moment. This does NOT imply a material temple to be built in our time in Jerusalem. It does seem to imply the Israelis may restore the daily (twice daily) sacrifice — possibly at the Wailing Wall. The indication is the armies of the "beast" of Revelation 17, entering Jerusalem (Dan. 11:41, Zech. 14:2) will stop this daily sacrifice. "And the abomination that maketh desolate set up."

What is this abomination?

This refers to Daniel 11:31 and Matthew 24:15. In Daniel 11:31, the armies of Antiochus Epiphanes were at Jerusalem, and some commentators have interpreted it as Antiochus placing a statue of Jupiter in the Holy of Holies in the temple. Not only does Matthew 24:15 also refer to this. But in a parallel New Testament Luke 21:20 speaks of the same thing as "Jerusalem compassed with armies." This is the correct meaning of this "abomination." It is the armies — not a statue — that made Jerusalem desolate.

From this time (Dan. 12:11) to Christ's coming will be 1,290 days. Now, verse 12, "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the" 1,335 days. Never before have we understood these periods of 1,260 days, 1,290 and 1,335 days. But it seems evident, now, a blessing is pronounced on us — GODS CHURCH — who Wait and endure until the 1,335 days — approximately 1,335 days prior to Christ's coming. But since no one can know the day or the hour of His coming, we probably shall not be able to know the exact day that this 1,335 days begins. But apparently that is the time when OUR WORK SHALL END. That will be a time when the UNITED EUROPE shall appear-the revival of the medieval "Holy Roman Empire." We shall then be warned, and readied to be taken to a place of refuge and safety from the great tribulation. Forty-five days later "the beast's" armies will surround Jerusalem. Thirty days later the great tribulation will ... start ... (Armstrong HW. The Time We Are In, Now. Good News, January 1980)

The Bible teaches that the coming King of the North (Daniel 11:39-43) Beast will be a successful warring leader (Revelation 13:4) and will also sit in the "temple of God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Thus, the abomination may well be the leader of the armies. It may be or include the actual armies as well.

As far as when, the old Radio Church of God put out the following:

Speaking in modern language, then, when YOU, yes YOU, YOURSELF, SEE a revived, remilitarized Germany, at the head of a UNITED STATES OF EUROPE the coming third power bloc of the world in central Europe — MARCHING INTO PALESTINE — then you had better realize THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION IS BEGINNING!

"When you see the Abomination of Desolation... stand in the HOLY PLACE... then... FLEE..." (Matt. 24). ...

The great pagan religions of the world, nearly always stemming from EGYPT and BABYLON, have always had one major thing in common — IDOLATRY! It seems each major babylonish system in its turn has had a single GREAT STATUE to which it looked — a chief idol — whether of an actual "deity" or supposed replica of its "founder." Don't forget this remarkable prophecy has had a previous, TYPICAL fulfillment! While the REALLY IMPORTANT fulfillment is to take place in our time — there has been a forerunner of this prophecy. But NOT JUST AN IDOL is to become an abomination in the very Holy Place — but a living human being! (Armstrong GT. And when you see the ABOMINATION...Plain Truth, July 1963)

It is expected that see this abomination will lead to the decree being issued that is mentioned by Zephaniah:

1 Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together,
O undesirable nation,
2 Before the decree is issued,
Or the day passes like chaff,
Before the Lord's fierce anger comes upon you,
Before the day of the Lord's anger comes upon you!
3 Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth,
Who have upheld His justice.
Seek righteousness, seek humility.
It may be that you will be hidden
In the day of the Lord's anger. (Zephaniah 2:1-3)

While many independents trust in themselves that they will know when to flee, notice that it is those that gather together BEFORE the decree is issued (watch also Zephaniah's 'Gather Together' Prophecy).

After we see the abomination, which the decree would be expected to confirm, Jesus said to flee:

16 "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. (Matthew 24:16-18)

This points to the position that some true believers will be in Judea prior to the time to flee. These could be CCOG members who live in Judea and/or those who may have fled from persecution in places like Europe, South America, or elsewhere because of the rising up of a supposedly Roman Catholic leaders (the beasts of the sea and land of Revelation 13)--that would be consistent with Daniel 11:30-35. It also could include perhaps Christians who otherwise come into the land of Israel just before it is time to flee.

As far as where to possibly flee, check out the article: There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Near Petra.

Birth Control and Sabbath Keeping

Jesus next says:

19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! (Matthew 24:19)

It is possible that Jesus was, to a degree, encouraging the idea of birth control by telling His followers that they may not wish to become pregnant just before the great tribulation. And if that is so, then birth control of some type may be advisable for married people where the wife is fertile when it is getting closer to the time to flee. This also would be similar to Paul's comments about remaining single during a persecution he referred to as "this present distress" (1 Corinthians 7:26-27).

Jesus then says:

20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. (Matthew 24:20)

There would be no reason to pray this if the Sabbath was not going to be in existence. Jesus was not talking about His time, but what happens just before the start of the Great Tribulation. Hence, Jesus clearly expected Sabbath-keeping to continue throughout the entire church age.

Jesus spoke what He did because He knew that His true followers would always keep the seventh-day Sabbath.

For more on the Sabbath, check out the article: The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad.

Now, related the fleeing, this would be for the Philadelphian Christians (There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Near Petra). They are the group of Christians Jesus promises to keep " from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth" (Revelation 3:10).

Because most end time Christians will not accept that God has provided the last days signs of Acts 2:17-18 (see Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?), they will rely on misunderstandings of prophecy and misinformation and not accept the decree that will be issued.

A Great Tribulation Sequence

Anyway, after all the events mentioned in the verses 4 through 20 take place and/or at least begin, Jesus says:

21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:21)

Now let's summarize the basic sequence

One is that certain sorrows and troubles will continue and others will start.

All four seals, related to the four horsemen will be opened: two may have already been opened or at least the seeds of such openings look to be taken place (watch Sorrows and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse).

There are also other events that will build to fulfill many scriptures. For example, some nation will become highly indebted before the Great Tribulation (Habakkuk 2:6-8)--this is happening to the USA.

Damascus will be destroyed (Isaiah 17:1), and great military damage will hit Jerusalem (Isaiah 22:8-9). The timing of these two events possibly occur before a prophesied peace deal.

One of the most important events to watch for is when the 'peace' deal of Daniel 9:27 is confirmed. Deals have been proposed, but the biblical one has not yet been made nor confirmed. This will be a countdown to the start of the great tribulation that most Christians will miss.

King of the North (who was the 'prince' in Daniel 9:27) and a King of the South (Daniel 11:27) will arise and make a lying deal (Daniel 11:27). Europe will get a "great army" (Daniel 11:25). We are seeing the foundations for this now.

Animal sacrifices will begin (cf. Daniel 9:27). (Note: It is possible that the King of the South could rise up prior to Daniel 9:27 or even after the sacrifices resume as could the King of the North--and his army will be greater years after the deal of Daniel 9:27 is confirmed.)

The gospel then will have been preached enough to the world as a witness for the end to come (Matthew 24:14)--steps related to this are in process (see also The Final Phase of the Work). This seems to be related to the ‘short work’ of Romans 9:28--preparations for this are also occurring (see also Preparing for the 'Short Work' and The Famine of the Word).

Jewish sacrifices will be stopped (Daniel 9:27, 11:31). Some Jews would like to start the sacrifices now (and did perform a trial event on December 10, 2018; and something else in April 2019, see Sanhedrin has ‘Passover’ sacrifice in Jerusalem), but the Israeli government will not currently allow the daily sacrifices that groups like the Temple Institute and Sanhedrin want.

Europe will reorganize into ten 'kingdoms' (not necessarily ten currently existing nations as some have improperly insisted upon and give power the Beast; see Must the Ten Kings of Revelation 17:12 Rule over Ten Currently Existing Nations?)--some of this could happen earlier--and reorganization has been proposed.

The abomination of desolation will then be set up (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14) because of actions of the King of the North (Daniel 9:27; 11:31). The most faithful expect to continue to tell what is happening until they are somehow stopped (cf. Amos 8:11-12; see also Preparing for the 'Short Work' and The Famine of the Word).

A decree is to be issued (Zephaniah 2:1-3) and then the most faithful Philadelphians will 'fly' to the wilderness (Revelation 12:14-16) and those in Judea should flee per Jesus' statements in Matthew 24:15-19 and Mark 13:15-18 (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra). Prior to the time the Great Tribulation starts, the two witnesses will support the work, and several days before its start, they will get power to do their job (Revelation 11:3-15; see also Who Are The Two Witnesses?).

Bolstered by the Antichrist, then the Great Tribulation will begin (Matthew 24:21-22; Mark 13:19-20; Daniel 11:39, 12:1b; cf. Habakkuk 2:7-8). This will eliminate the USA and its Anglo-Saxon descended allies as nations (Daniel 11:39; Jeremiah 30:7; Habakkuk 2:7-8; see also USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses).

The Great Tribulation should begin about 3 1/2 years after the peace deal (Daniel 9:27) is confirmed, and shortly after the King of the North tries to proclaim peace and safety (1 Thessalonians 5:3) to throw people off (cf. Daniel 11:24) for his invasion plans.

Herbert W. Armstrong explained how it thought it would begin:

the great tribulation will probably start with a nuclear attack on London and Britain — and possibly the same day or immediately after, on United States and Canadian cities. The GREAT TRIBULATION, we shall then fully realize, is the time of "Jacob's trouble," spoken of in Jeremiah 30:7. And Jacob's name was named on Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. 48:16). At that time a third of the people in our nations will die, or shall have died, by famine and disease epidemics. Another third will die of the war — our cities being destroyed (Ezek. 6:6), and the remaining third will be carried to the land of our enemies as slaves (Ezek. 5:12). (Armstrong HW. The Time We Are In, Now. Good News, January 1980)

It should be noted that Australia and New Zealand are also descended from Ephraim and are expected to taken over shortly thereafter, probably involving Asians (see also Australia and New Zealand in Prophecy).

Do not believe that the Great Tribulation will not come or that it already has happened. More on what happens during it is included in the article: When Will the Great Tribulation Begin?

While the Great Tribulation has not yet started, events towards its countdown have begun.

Here is a link to a related sermon video: Counting Down to the Great Tribulation.

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Thiel B. The Great Tribulation: What Happens First? COGwriter (c) 2020 0725 https://www.cogwriter.com/great-tribulation.htm