Signs of Our Times
First: Joel 2:30-31 states, "And I will show wonders in the heavens, and in the earth blood and fire and pillars of smoke. And the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and terrible Day of the Lord comes.” The great & terrible Day of the Lord is also known as the “Great Tribulation” in the New Testament. This is a period of 7 years just prior Christ’s Millennial reign.
Pillars of smoke? The Hebrew word translated "pillars" is "timmorah." It is used 21 times in the Old Testament. Only twice is the word translated as "pillars." The other 19 times it is translated as "palm tree." So there is to be "blood and fire and palm-trees of smoke." That is a very accurate picturing of the hydrogen bomb. The atomic bomb (on the left, below) is referred to as a mushroom cloud, not a pillar. But look at the hydrogen bomb, on the right below.
Second and Third: Daniel 12:1 & 4 in context of the Tribulation & Christ’s Return to Reign -- "And there will be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation unto that same time (the Great Tribulation) …But seal up your book until the time of the end when many will travel to and fro and knowledge will be increased.”
"Knowledge will be increased" -- Science has made giant strides since the beginning of the 20th century. With the advent of the internet and search engines, that knowledge is available to millions and not just a select few.
"Many will travel" -- before the 20th century, international travel was rare. With the advent of passenger jets, international travel is common. Before the automobile, a journey of thirty miles was a major undertaking. Now it can be done in half an hour.
Nahum 2:3-4 reads:“Chariots of flashing steel will rage in the streets. They will jostle one against another in the broad roads; they will run like the lightning; they will move with blazing torches… In the day of His preparation to Come.”
How else could cars and trucks have been described at that time?
In the middle of describing the Lord’s Return, the prophet Isaiah (60:8) stops and asks: “Who are these that fly like a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?”
Fourth: Prophecies in Amos 9:2 and Obadiah 4 may imply space-craft just prior to the Tribulation.
Amos 9:2 -- "Though you climb up to the heavens, from there I will bring you down … says the Lord God, who touches the earth and it melts (in the Tribulation)."
Obadiah 4 -- "Though you exalt yourself and … set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down (in the Tribulation), says the LORD."
The International Space Station, where astronauts spend months to years as inhabitants
Isaiah 19 concerns prophecies about Egypt. They are not in chronological order as the first verse talks about the Lord's coming on a swift cloud -- the Shekinah Glory Cloud. This does not happen until Armageddon. But if we look at the other prophecies in this chapter, we will see things that have already happened.
In verse 17, we have the first sign: "And the land of Judah [Israel today] will bring terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom Judah is mentioned will be terrified." Why? For over 3000 years, Egypt was a major power in the Middle East. Even after Israel was formed in 1948, Egypt was a formidable enemy of theirs. However, in 1967, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon decided that Israel must be "pushed into the sea" and destroyed. Israel was Jewish in a Muslim area of the world. The five nations surrounded Israel and attacked. Israel exploded out. In six days they defeated all five nations. Not only that, they gained Jerusalem back for the first time in 2000 years. The nations who had ganged up against Israel were shocked. Israel had become a terror. Egypt no longer was as secure as before. Israel had swept across the Sinai Peninsula, destroying all Egyptian facilities and was at the Suez canal and the door to Cairo. Israel chose to stop at that point, and Egypt was stunned.
1967, The Jewish people finally have access to the Western Wall of the ancient Temple
“No words can describe the distress of Egyptians…together with a sense of humiliation at the defeat.” Al Ahram Weekly," 1967.
Israel, in fulfillment of prophecy, has remained a terror in the Middle East, the excuse for wars and massive armament buildups.
Verses 5-10 in Isaiah 19, describe the second sign, something that happened nine years later:
All through history, until 1976, the Nile was a nourishing river. It flooded every year on schedule, leaving fresh deposits of soil on the nearby lands and refreshing both the Delta and hundreds of miles of the Mediterranean. This gave the Egyptians good farming and fishing as well as providing them with the reeds and other plants that not only harbored life, but could be harvested and used themselves. But in 1976, Egypt completed the Aswan High Dam where the First Cataract used to be. The Nile no longer flooded yearly. Enormous problems have resulted:
The Aswan High Dam
As if that weren't enough, Egypt and Ethiopia, in March 2015, finally agreed to a dam on the Blue Nile. The Blue Nile lies far south of the Nile and, with the White Nile, produce the waters that feed into the Nile itself. By damming the Blue Nile, the river beds and streams will indeed become wasted, dried up, and foul with the smell of rotting fish and plants. This is not only ecological insanity, but the exact fulfillment of prophecies given thousands of years ago when such a thing as the Nile drying up was inconceivable.
The third sign from Egypt that Christ's coming is close is given in Isaiah 19: 2-3, where it says that Egyptians will fight against each other. The events of the past few years bring this into focus. It is happening now.
There were riots in Egypt after an Army coup ousted elected Islamist Prime Minister Morsi on July 3, 2013. Egypt split: half the population wanted Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood; half wanted freedom from the Islamic restrictions that the Muslim Brotherhood had set up. So the Army intervened. A new constitution was drawn up by the new President the Army had put in control, Al Sisi. As of this writing (May, 2015), although Morsi has been sentenced to death, both the United States and Turkey want Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood back in control. Since the time of President Clinton in the United States, almost all NATO members have had members of the Muslim Brotherhood in advisory capacities in their governments.
Isaiah 19:2 -- “I will set Egyptians against Egyptians; everyone will fight against his brother, and everyone against his neighbor, City against city … the spirit of Egypt will fail in its midst.” As of May, 2015, Morsi has been sentenced to death in Egypt. Although, through the millennia, Egypt has had a history of deposing leaders, and of one area pitted against another, this is the first time in its history all these signs have occurred together, and certainly the first time ever the Nile has been threatened with not just one, but two dams.
Two of the three key signs in Israel that the Lord's coming is close are given in Luke 21:22-24 -- For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. The "times of the Gentiles" is a reference to the Church Age. In 70 AD, Titus marched into Jerusalem and sacked the city, taking the Jews captive. They were dispersed around the Roman Empire. Jerusalem was not only trampled down and the Temple destroyed utterly, but the city grounds were plowed through with twelve inches of salt to prevent the city from ever rising again. However, in 1948, Israel was founded again and in 1967, they took back the city of Jerusalem. This marked the end of the times of the Gentiles. We are literally living on borrowed time. Our generation will see the conclusion of these matters.
As mentioned above, in June of 1967, five Arab nations gathered to attack Israel from all sides in what came to be known as the Six Day War. Israel literally exploded with armed resistance and in six days had defeated them all.
This is the right timing Scripturally. Hosea 5:15 - 6:3 -- (God Speaking) “I will go and return to my place (Christ’s Ascension) until they (the Jews) acknowledge their offence (the Crucifixion). In their affliction, they will seek me earnestly.”
(Jewish Response) “Come! Let us return to the Lord; He has smitten, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us, and on the third day He will raise us up and we will live in His sight. … For His coming forth will be as the morning, with the former and the latter rain.”
View that in context of 2 Peter 3:8 -- “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing. With the Lord, one (prophetic) day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day.” Hosea is speaking prophetically. Two days are 2000 years, after which Israel would be revived. The third day is the Millennium of 1000 years with Christ reigning from Israel in Jerusalem. This shows we are living at the end of 2nd Day. So Christ’s Coming to reign (3rd Day) is very close.
If the restoration of Jerusalem to Jewish control ended the Times of the Gentiles, how soon is Christ’s Return? First clue is in Psalm 102:13-22:
Jerusalem was recaptured by Israel in 1967. By 1977, it was the largest city in Israel and was declared the capital city in 1980. International negotiations will go on over Judea, Samaria, and the status of Jerusalem, in line with Zechariah 12:2-3. In 2015, the city boundaries have extended beyond those Jeremiah 31:38-40 says exist when the Messiah comes. Jerusalem/Zion has definitely been built up.
Did Jesus have this in mind Lu. 21:29-32? “Look at the Fig-Tree [Israel – Joel 1:7]… when they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. Likewise, when you see this happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near.” Israel put out her new shoots in 1948 with the first signs of life after a winter of 2000 years.
Isaiah 66:7-8 -- “Before she travailed, she gave birth; before her pain came, she delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she gave birth to her children.”
Israel was born in one day, May 14, 1948.
As soon as Israel was born, an Arab confederacy attacked. In what can only be a miracle from God, Israel won. What happened was almost funny. The Israelis had a large cannon on the Egyptian front. At the same time the cannon was fired, there was an enormous clap of thunder. To the Egyptians, the full sound was coming from the cannon and they ran. They then warned other nations around Israel about this incredible cannon Israel had. It was with the help of God that Israel was able to survive its birth. On March 8, 1949, Israel's first government was initiated. On July 5, 1950, the Law of Return for all Jews was passed. This law allowed Jews from anywhere in the world to immigrate to Israel and know they would be accepted.
Thus, God's fig tree -- Israel -- had put out her new shoots. Jesus went on to give a time-line: "…Assuredly I say unto you, this generation (which saw Israel return and Jerusalem restored) will not pass away until all be fulfilled." (Lu.21:32) We are living in that generation: both events happened in our lifetime – most will not die (pass away) until He comes.
The nation of Israel has been in the land since 1948, and Jerusalem has been under Jewish control since 1967. These are the 2 of the 3 Key Signs in Israel that we are living in the last generation.
Exactly when will He come? We do NOT know exactly! We DO know it is in the lifetime of those who saw those events. The earliest event was 1948, when Israel was formed. Jerusalem was taken back in 1967. Psalm 90:10 states a lifetime is seventy to eighty years, with a maximum given by God in Genesis 6:3 of 120 years. But seventy to eighty years from 1948 brings us to the period between 2018 and 2028. Maybe tomorrow; probably within the next decade.
The third key sign regarding Israel may have to do with a very rare series of astronomical events. When the moon is entirely eclipsed by the sun, its 'form' often shows red in the sky. The term "blood moon" has been picked up to mean this event, but the term was first used historically a little over two thousand years ago with the death of Herod the Great. He was a murdering monster, killing anyone who he thought might have any claim to his throne, including his children, wife, and other members of his family. Shortly before his death, there was a full lunar eclipse. Just before that event he had ordered the slaughter of a number of Jewish rabbis. Hebrew history records the full lunar eclipse which happened the same night they were burned alive, but which was before Herod's death as a "moon red with the blood of the murdered rabbis." Because of this, the term "blood moon" came to be associated with the Jewish people historically.
Four lunar eclipses within a short time is not all that rare. Not common, but not terribly rare. What is rare is for no partial eclipses to occur between four full eclipses. What is even more rare is for the four eclipses to occur on Jewish feast days. This Lunar tetrad event on Jewish feast days will only occur once in this century, in 2014-2015. The tetrad event only occurred twice in the last century: in 1949 & 1950, then in 1967 & 1968. In each case, the 4 total Lunar eclipses occurred in succession on the Feasts of Passover and Tabernacles two years in a row. The dates were 13th April & 7th October, 1949 and 2nd April and 26th September 1950. The second tetrad occurred on 24th April & 18th October, 1967; then 13th April & 6th October, 1968. It is interesting that the first tetrad of Lunar eclipses in the 20th century occurred immediately after Israel became a nation on 14th May, 1948, and the second tetrad surrounded the return of the Old City of Jerusalem to Jewish control on 7th June 1967.
The tetrad occurring in this century begins on Passover April 15th 2014, followed by Tabernacles October 8th 2014; then Passover April 4th 2015 and finally on Tabernacles 28th September 2015. The first Solar eclipse occurs on 1st Nisan (March 20th) 2015, and is total. The second is on Rosh Hashana (September 14th) 2015, and is partial. So there is a culmination of significant astronomical events in September 2015 with a partial Solar eclipse for Rosh Hashana just a few days before the key day of Atonement September 23rd, and followed a few days after by a total Lunar eclipse on the Feast Of Tabernacles.
We do not know the meaning for sure, but we do know there is no such thing as coincidence. There have been a number of "interpretations" of this series of events by different Christian leaders. They include:
Whatever it is, we are at that moment in history now. There is another possibility regarding the meaning or import of this tetrad of blood moons. A third key event is happening right now:
Since 25th Feb. 2015 note these headlines:
About 4000 years ago, when prophecies about Israel's future were being made, we read this in Numbers 23:9 -- "Israel will stand alone among the nations." Who would have thought this possible after the Holocaust and the world's support of the Jewish people in obtaining a land of their own? But it is happening now. This process, according to the Bible, will not end until the battle of Armageddon.
As a result of the 2015 Israeli election which USA cash failed to influence...
Max Boot in the Wall Street Journal of March 25, 2015 noted that
Thus, for the first time in its 67 year life, the nation of Israel will not have the backing of a major world power. She is on her own, standing alone.
The prophetic implications of these actions:
Genesis 12:3 -- “I will bless those that bless you (Israel) and curse those that curse you; in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” God is speaking to Abraham regarding future generations that will come from him.
In Numbers 23, we read where Balaam is asked to curse the Israelites. Part of his answer is in verses 8-9 -"How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations."
This, effectively, means all the nations on earth will pay for our abandonment of Israel. Zechariah 12:3 reads, “I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all people. All who want to dispose of it will be cut in pieces.” The fact that Israel now stands alone is the third sign that the Tribulation is close.
On March 30, 2015, White House Correspondent Bill Koenig wrote: "The more the US Administration's actions affect or jeopardize Israel's security, the stronger the response will be from the God of Israel as evidenced in Scripture. This will have enormous implications for the USA."
1st Sign: The rise of Islamic terror; Christian martyrs and beheading are all prophesied
2nd Sign is explained by Joel C. Rosenberg, one-time advisor to Israeli PM Netanyahu. At the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, Feb 26, 2015, he stated,“The biggest threat now is not Radical Islam. It is ‘Apocalyptic Islam.’ Let me explain.” He went on to elaborate the following points:
That many Muslims hold these beliefs is emphasized by Turkish media icon Adnan Oktar, pictured below: Turkish TV host, with an audience of millions in Europe, Asia, Mid-East, and Russia.
This Turkish intellectual is teaching a media audience of millions that a great leader, the Mahdi, will emerge in Turkey who, with the help of mysterious Islamic spirit beings (djinn), will convince the world's Christians to become Muslim. He states that Islam also expects the return of Jesus, who they call "Isa." The Muslim Jesus will tell the world that he is not the son of God, nor was he crucified and resurrected from the dead. He returns to tell everyone that he does exist and he is, indeed, a Muslim. Oktar goes on to explain that the Mahdi will rule for seven years with the help of ‘Jesus’ & the djinn. He expresses the Islamic belief that the Mahdi and Jesus are likely already walking the earth. "We believe that the Mahdi has already appeared in Istanbul.” Oktar, a Sunni Muslim, said even prominent Shiite leaders in Iran have said they expect the Mahdi to appear in Istanbul (Turkey). Oktar claims a close relationship with Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. If that is true, then Oktar is guiding Erdoğan, one of Turkey's most powerful rulers in decades.
3rd Sign: the Mark of Beast -- our understanding, finally, of what it means. If we read Revelation 13:18 in original Greek, 666 is Chi Xi Zeta written Χξζ. Unlike English, this involves three separate signs, not a repeitition of a number three times. Walid Shoebat points out: when taken into Arabic, those 3 letters become the word “Bismillah” or “In the name of Allah.” In Arabic, the symbol for Allah is the Greek Xi (left) while Moslem art incorporates Bismillah in it (right).
This suggests the Muslim Mahdi might be Antichrist; the Muslim Jesus may turn out to be false prophet; the djinn helping them may be Satanic demons; and the Mark of the Beast may be an Islamic symbol. If that is anywhere near correct, then the Tribulation must be close. Other signs tend to support this. But if that is so, the “Rapture” or catching away of true Believers (the ‘Translation’ of the Church) should happen even sooner. God seems to have promised that we’ll avoid the Tribulation.
This is hinted at in Zephaniah 2:1-315:51
“Gather yourselves together, yes! gather together O nation not desired (Israel re-gathered from worldwide dispersion). Before the day pass like chaff & before Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you (the Tribulation), Seek the Lord, all you meek of earth, who uphold His ways. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger. (Kept safe from the Tribulation).”
How does this occur? Paul describes the Rapture in 1 Cor. 15; 1 Thess. 4 -- here are the two quotes put together:
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 -- Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed -- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 -- For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Jesus' promise to us:
Luke 21:36 -- “Watch, therefore, and pray always, that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass (Tribulation) and stand before the Son of Man…”
Revelation 3:10 – “Because you have kept the word of my patience, I will keep you out away from the hour of trial (Ex Tes Horas) that will try them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.”
So we are kept ‘out away from’ the Tribulation not "in" or "through" the Tribulation. The use of the word "ex" means "out." If Christians were to be kept in or through the Tribulation, the word would not be "ex" but "en." Noah was kept IN the hour, and we are to be kept OUT of it.
2 Thessalonians 2 also contains quite a bit of information here. Unfortunately, there is a traditional translation which is at odds with what the original Greek actually says. Here are the first four verses of that chapter:
Paul states the context of his message first: the coming of the Lord AND our gathering together to Him. That is the Rapture. Paul is stating that no, it has not already happened. You were not 'left behind' as you might be fearing. He then goes on to state what will happen. He says that day will not come unless.....and here is the problem. The word in the Greek is apostasia. That word is used fifteen times in the New Testament and thirteen of those times it is translated as "departure." So is Paul talking about a departure from true faith or a departure to be with the Lord? The definite article "the" precedes it, so we need to look for a referent. What would "THE departure" refer to? Paul has already stated what he is talking about -- the coming of the Lord and our gathering together to Him. That is referent Paul is using. And he is stating specifically that the Antichrist, or the "man of sin" will not be revealed until, as he goes on to state in verse 7, "the one who now holds it [the secret power of lawlessness] back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way." There is only ONE who can hold back evil, and that is God Himself. Paul did not say "THOSE who hold back the power of lawlessness," which might refer to leaders or police or even Christians, but "the one." Again, the definite article "the." In John 14, Jesus promises His followers that He will not leave them as orphans. In Romans 8 Paul tells us that all who belong to Christ are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. When He is taken out of the way so that the Antichrist can wreak havoc on the earth, we will not be left as orphans -- we will go also. That is what the Rapture is -- THE departure.
The Holy Spirit is the Restrainer. He came at Pentecost in a special way to start the Church Age. When He leaves, the true Christians go out with Him. And the fact is, there is nothing left to be fulfilled, biblically, before the Rapture. It could happen very soon. If it does not, what other events may we expect to occur?
Three wars that might happen before the Rapture. Biblically, 3 wars involving Israel occur in the Last Days before Armageddon. The first has already happened. The second and third may be two stages of one larger war.
1. The Psalm 83 war: Israel wins against Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq. Although many feel this may be the next big war in the Middle East, we think it has already happened. The six day war in 1967 was against those five nations, and Israel defeated them.
The Egyptian involvement shows when Psalm 83 War occurred. Because of the 1967 defeat, Egypt made peace with Israel. Israel then gave back Sinai. Egypt's current President, Gen. Al Sisi, is keeping the treaty. In June and July of 2014, Egypt assisted Israel in the 50 day war against Hamas in Gaza. Egypt has affirmed continued cooperation with Israel. The conclusion is that Egypt will not attack Israel any time soon. But she did attack Israel in 1967, in accordance with Psalm 83. The current peace treaty between Egypt and Israel shows the Psalm 83 war cannot occur now. The prophecy was fulfilled in 1967.
Numbers 2 and 3 have not happened yet. They may occur separately or they may be part of the same war in two phases, or stages. Many in Israel feel this last war will be the one in which God's miracle saves Israel and the world will know God has acted.
2. The Isaiah 17 war, which wipes out Syria's capital, Damascus.
3. The Ezekiel 38 war of Gog, Magog, and Iran
The next war may well be the one in Isaiah 17 and the associated passages in Zechariah 9-11, Amos 1, Zephaniah 2, Obadiah.
This war, that is prophesied in so many places, appears to have two stages.
Stage 1: In those passages quoted above, the Syrian capital of Damascus is wiped out. Syria is ruined, the east bank of the Jordan decimated and southern Lebanon conquered up to the Zahrani River. The Palestinian leadership in Gaza is destroyed. The reading of those passages indicates that Israel fights against the forces located in those areas. Both ISIS & Iran have forces there. This battle has not happened yet: Damascus will be wiped out, never to be inhabited again. Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.
Israel seems left alone to deal with the threat (USA inaction?) Isaiah 17 says Israel wins out against the insurgents, but at a frightful cost. Israel comes back in twos and threes. It is "a harvest of grief and desperate sorrow." (Isaiah 17:6 & 11).
But that is not the end of Isaiah 17: There is a Stage 2 to the battle. After Israel’s initial “victory”, (Stage 1) she is at weakest moment militarily. A group of nations then attack Israel in reprisal (Stage 2). Isaiah 17:12-14, say that this international group comes "like a rolling thing before the whirlwind" to wipe out the Israeli remnant forever (Stage 2). But there is a miraculous intervention of God: "Behold, at evening tide there is trouble, but before the morning he is not. This is the lot of those that rob us and those that spoil us."
Zechariah 9:14 and Zephaniah 2:9 (in the ancient Alexandrian LXX ) both say of that event that the Lord appears over them and blows the trumpet. In both books, this happens in the context of the wipeout of Damascus. Since the only time in the New Testament we find God blowing the Trumpet (not the angels as in Revelation) is for the Rapture, this event might then be associated with this battle (the second stage of the war, if not a second war).
Question: How can Stage 2 happen so fast? Ezekiel 38 may provide the answer. This appears to be the same battle:
The main people involved in the Ezekiel 38 battle are “Rosh, prince of Meshech and Tubal.” (v. 1-3). Analysis shows that "Rosh" is the nation of the Russians. The tribal name of Tubal was the Toboloi. This is kept in the old eastern Russian capital of Tobolsk. Similarely, the tribal name Meshech is preserved in the name of the city Moscow, Russian's capital.
The other countries listed with Russia by Ezekiel are Iran (Persia), Put – ancient Persian tribe Phut, Ethiopia (Eastern) - Afghanistan, Pakistan, Togarmah – Turkomen tribes, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Khazakstan ("Stans” generally), and Gomer – Georgia and Abkhazia. Not involved: “Merchants of Chalcedon” who quizzed Russia why they came (Eze. 38:13 LXX). Chalcedon = old name for Istanbul, Turkey.
Ezekiel may be describing stage 2 of this coming war.
Let's look at Russia now.
Why would Russia become involved? Iran & Syria have long-standing military agreements with Russia. On March 6th, 2015, news casts said an Iranian General and 10,000 Iranian troops were massed in Syria just 6 miles from Israeli border. If Syrian & Iranian troops were wiped out by Israel, Russia would attack Israel. It is therefore likely Ezekiel 38 may find its fulfillment in the battle that occurs in the second half of Isaiah 17 after the Israeli victory against Syria (& Iran).
The miraculous intervention of God in both Ezekiel 38 and Isaiah 17, and the appearance of God over the forces in Ezekiel 38 and His blowing the Trumpet over the forces in Zephaniah and Zechariah, all seem to point to this being the same event. If so, that is about the last moment the Rapture could occur.
What about the United States? Here is Isaiah 18:
There are many who consider Isaiah 18 as referring to the United States of America, and it might well be. Rivers do divide it; until recently the majority of people were of northern European extraction, being tall and light-skinned. The Hebrew word translated "terrible" here primarily means "to fear, to revere, to frighten, to make afraid, to be dreaded, to be beheld in reverence." Once the United States gained independence from Great Britain, its power did increase rapidly and it won every war fought until after World War II. When the USA has entered a battle or a war, the world has certainly taken note.
But the United States has only been a nation for a little over 200 years -- not much time historically. So the references to this people being cut off before the harvest, "when the bud is perfect and the sour grape is ripening in the flower" might well be appropriate to it.
The prophecy about this people is that they will be destroyed as a nation. "They will be left together for the mountain birds of prey and for the beasts of the earth." However, there will be enough people there left after all is said and done to send a gift to the Lord when He reigns from Jerusalem.
If Isaiah 18 does refer to the United States of America, and if it is essentially destroyed as the Tribulation begins, then the USA cannot be "Babylon the Great" as some are fond of claiming.
There is something important to take note of: Turkey is not affected by the ISIS/ISIL problem. In fact, Turkey appears to be supporting them. Turkey is also absent from the lineup of those countries joining the Russian advance of Ezekiel 38. In that part of the war, the Russian and Iranian armies are destroyed. As we can see from Isaiah 18, the USA may also suffer greatly. If these players are eliminated, that leaves Muslim Turkey as the main Middle East and NATO power. Right now, Turkey has the second largest army in NATO, behind the USA.
If Turkey is the only one left, the Antichrist will come from there and the seven year covenant will be signed between Turkey and Israel. The Rapture will happen before that event.
Remember, Jesus said that these and similar events will herald His Coming at the Rapture. He likened it to a woman about to give birth. That means there will be pain and struggling. All the signs are there that the birth (the Rapture) is about to happen, but the exact moment of delivery, although expected, will come as a surprise to all.
What about those left behind at the Rapture? They will go into the Great Tribulation, but the fact of the Rapture will serve as an enormous witness to all and many will repent and choose Christ. The Two Witnessess of Revelation will also be giving a powerful testimony that will cause many to turn to God. The effectiveness of these things, as well as, possibly the existence of the 144,000 Jewish people who are saved through the Tribulation, result in what is recorded in Revelation 7:9 -- “I saw a great multitude which no one could number of all nations which come out of the Great Tribulation and are washed in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation tells us these will all have been martyred, however.
The Tribulation will only be seven years, but that will seem like eternity itself to those who have to endure it. At the end, however, comes the Battle of Armageddon when Christ Himself comes down to defeat all who are against Him. And that will begin the glorious thousand year reign on Earth, in this creation, of Jesus Christ.