The disciples asked Jesus about the signs of His second coming and also the end of the age. He replied, “There will be wars and rumors of wars with nations rising against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms and famines and earthquakes.”
But in the midst of His above words, Jesus said:
See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. (Matthew 24:6 ESV)
Since Cain killed Abel in Chapter 4 of Genesis, the world certainly has witnessed its share of wars and uprisings throughout the centuries. Yet, I don’t believe Jesus is talking about all of the historical wars here, but instead, I believe He is talking about a specific turbulent time period at the end of the age.
It’s my belief that the nations of the world, especially Israel, will be so fed up with war and the chaotic calamities happening during this turbulent time period that they will be willing to do anything to have peace. This will result in the signing of a peace treaty for a one-world government, which will usher in the Antichrist at its head. Just so you know, the Antichrist will not appear as the son of perdition (even though he is), but rather as an angel of light and a minister of righteousness. He might even be carrying a Bible and singing, “Power in the Blood,” when he takes his oath for office.
Okay, but why did Jesus say, “This must take place?”
Chapter 24 of Matthew is the best timeline for the end-times and the prophetic Book of Revelation. So, in order for all of the end-time prophecies to take place in the Father’s chosen time and season, some actions will have to kickstart those scenarios. These are a few of them.
Now we need to remember that some prophecies are placed in the Bible so we can pray the problems away, but others are there to forewarn us so we can prepare ourselves beforehand. Jesus’ words plainly tell us ahead of time not to waste our energy trying to pray these problems away, but rather, we need to prepare ourselves to go through these times of sorrows.
If you’re thinking the Lord wouldn’t allow His church to go through such suffering, let me ask a question: who sets the Antichrist and his killers loose to prey upon the earth?
Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals…When He opened the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh seals.. (Revelation 6:1 to Revelation 8:1)
The Lamb – our Lord Jesus Christ – is the only One who can open the seals for these seven seal judgments. He is also the One who releases Death and Hades to kill one fourth of the earth in the fourth seal judgment.
Each of us can study Revelation, Daniel, Zechariah, Matthew 24, and the other end-times’ scriptures to determine our own beliefs, but what does this have to do with an upcoming American Civil War?
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…(Matthew 24:7)
Most of us can see the possibilities of wars breaking out between the United States, Russia, China, Iran and countless other nations, but how many of us can see the possibility of a civil war breaking out in America?
Sadly, I firmly believe it will happen. Not only do I believe a civil war will soon take place, killing thousands of Americans, but I also believe we can’t pray it away.
Why would the Lord allow this to happen to America?
The prophet Jeremiah accurately spoke the Lord’s words to backslidden Judah for over forty years, from approximately 627 BC to 586 BC.
In one of the prophet’s most contentious confrontations, Jeremiah wore a wooden yoke around his neck to the court of King Zedekiah as a sign of being held in captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
The king’s court was filled with Judah’s leaders, temple priests, other prophets, various soothsayers and ambassadors from five neighboring nations. King Zedekiah and the ambassadors were setting up a military alliance to fight King Nebuchadnezzar at that precise moment.
Perfect timing, right?
Jeremiah stepped forward and said, “The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, has created all of the earth. Everything is in His hands and He gives control to whomever He decides should have it. Right now, He has given control to King Nebuchadnezzar. All of you need to summit yourselves under Nebuchadnezzar’s yoke. If you don’t submit yourselves to Nebuchadnezzar, God will punish you and your country. Don’t listen to any prophecies which disagree with these words because they are all lies.”
Heart beats probably sounded like base drums at that moment.
Then Jeremiah challenged them by adding, “Your prophets have prophesied that the vessels and articles taken from the Temple will soon be returned from Babylon. Well, if they are true prophets, let them make intercession to God to stop King Nebuchadnezzar from taking all of the rest of the vessels, articles and furniture hidden in the Temple and the King’s house to Babylon. God is giving all of these to Babylon and will restore them to Judah at a later time.”
A prophet named Hananiah stepped forward and prophesied, “The Lord will destroy Babylon’s stranglehold on Judah. All of the Temple’s precious treasures and all of the people, including Jehoiakim, our former king of Judah, will be returned within two years.”
Jeremiah may have shrugged his shoulders when he replied to Hananiah, “I hope you’re right, but you aren’t! My words agree with the prophets who spoke before me about wars and disasters befalling Judah. So, your words of peace will have to come to pass before we will know if God has sent you or not.”
Hananiah boldly broke the wooden yoke off Jeremiah’s neck and proclaimed, “God will do the same for Judah within two years.”
Jeremiah meekly walked away from the court. Maybe the onlookers cheered and applauded Hananiah and his boldness to stand up to the old prophet.
But Jeremiah returned a short while later and said, “Yes, Hananiah, you broke a yoke of wood, but God will replace it with a yoke of iron on these nations. And because you – Hananiah – have convinced these people to believe lies and have taught rebellion against the Lord, you will die before this year is completed.
Hananiah died three months later.
What do we know about Hananiah? He was the son of a prophet named Azur and would have been trained in the proper ways of the Lord and on prophesying.
It’s my guess that Hananiah had a history of speaking accurate prophecies. Otherwise, why would anyone pay attention to his words?
First and foremost, everyone must remember Jesus Christ is a Jew and always will be one. His life, ministry, death, resurrection, burial and ascension were based on a Jewish calendar, not on an American one.
The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar based on moon phases, which occur generally in thirty-day cycles. America and most of the world follow the Gregorian calendar, which follows the earth’s movement around the sun. The main differences are the Gregorian calendar has very little seasonal drift, only a day or so from year to year, but the Jewish calendar can vary fifteen or twenty days from one year to the next. For instance, Easter is always celebrated just after Passover, but the dates may vary greatly from year to year on our Gregorian calendar.
On the Jewish religion’s calendar, there are seven major feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles. These feasts are the very heart of the Jewish religion.
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, fulfilled the first four feasts when He became the Passover Lamb for all of us, when He was buried without sin, when He rose from the grave and when He sent the Holy Spirit to His church on the first Pentecost.
Now, the last three Jewish feasts are fall feasts and take place in September and October. These have not been fulfilled by Jesus as yet, but must be. Why? Because Jesus is a Jew.
The Feast of Trumpets (also known as Rosh Hashanah) will be fulfilled when Jesus returns for His church. Then those believers who are alive and those who are in the grave will be caught up to meet Him in the sky.
The Feast of Atonement or Yom Kippur will be fulfilled when Jesus returns with all of the saints out of heaven.
Finally, the Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled when Jesus establishes His tabernacle with His church in Jerusalem.
This simple explanation should dispel the belief that Jesus can return at any time and will also help us to understand timelines.
A great conflict loomed on the national horizon in 1857 because of the unresolved slavery issue. Yet, unlike other times when America faced dangers, people did not flock to churches. God no longer seemed relevant to the nation, especially for businessmen who enjoyed great prosperity during this time period.
An unexplained financial panic then hit America. Banks closed. Railroads declared bankruptcy. Thousands of workers were laid off. Desperate families faced starvation.
But in the midst of financial despair, Jeremiah Lanphier, a middle-aged businessman, felt God wanted him to start a noontime weekly prayer meeting for businessmen in New York City. He printed a pamphlet, How Often Shall I Pray, and handed them out to local businessmen, inviting them to prayer meetings at the Old Dutch North Church.
The first meeting was held on September 23, 1857. Lanphier prayed alone for the first half hour, but six men joined him for the second thirty minutes. On the following Wednesday, twenty men showed up for prayer. Forty showed up the week following. By October 14, 1857, more than one hundred attended the meetings.
They soon decided that weekly assemblages were not enough. So, they met on a daily basis. Pastors whose spirits were inflamed by these gatherings opened their own churches for prayer times. Before long, meetings were overflowing with young, old, rich, and poor. Within six months, ten thousand businessmen attended over one hundred and fifty different prayer meetings in New York City on a daily basis.
The Spirit of Prayer then spread the fire across the nation tosuch cities as Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Louisville, Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, and countless other cities.
The prayer meetings were quite simple in structure. A leader would start the hour by announcing a hymn. All would stand and sing one or two verses. Then, the leader would say a brief prayer, and the service was turned over to the assembled members. Any person was free to speak or pray for no longer than five minutes. A bell rang if the man overextended his time so that another could take a turn.
Prayer requests were made for family members or others not present. Many stood asking prayer for themselves. Others exhorted the men to pray more fervently and to live holy lives. Over the weeks, testimonies were given on answered prayers and all praised the Lord for them. Promptly, at the end of one hour, the leader rose and ended the meeting with a closing prayer. The members filed quietly out of the buildings.
This move of the Holy Spirit was known as the Businessman’s Prayer Revival, Laymen’s Prayer Revival, or the Prayer Revival of 1857. Powerful preaching was not involved like most of the other awakenings in America, but rather, it was filled with earnest, forceful prayer. Dwight L. Moody, the noted evangelist, and Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn composer, were numbered among the Revival’s converts. George Duffield wrote the hymn, Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus, to encourage businessmen.
The revival did not diminish with the beginning of the Civil War. Instead, it broke out in both armies, but in particular, the Confederate forces. It began for the Southerners in the hospitals among the wounded and was spread into the camps when they returned to their units. Prayer meetings were organized and hundreds joined the gatherings on the frontlines.
The great evangelist, Charles Finney, summed up the prayer revival: “The general impression seems to be that we have had instruction until we are hardened; it is time to pray.”
It was estimated that over 150,000 soldiers in the Southern armies were converted and overall, nearly 6.6 per cent of the entire United States became Christians in this prayer revival.
For those who think a Holy Spirit revival would stop a civil war from happening here in America today, the Businessman’s Prayer Revival of 1857 doesn’t offer us much hope. The Civil War broke out four years later, killing over 620,000 people dead – more than all of America’s other wars combined.
Most Christians fall into the Pre-Tribulation or Post-Tribulation theological camps for the end-times. Just so you know: there are other end-times viewpoints for believers, such as the Amillennial and Preterist point of views, but both of these require believers to read the Book of Revelation, Daniel and Matthew 24 through fogged-up glasses.
The Pre-Tribulation viewpoint is held by approximately 90% of American believers. This viewpoint believes the Body of Christ will be raptured and taken to heaven at any time before the Seven Years of the Great Tribulation (Daniel 7and Revelation 13) takes place. Then, the church will return with Jesus at His second coming to set up His thousand-year reign on earth.
The Post-Tribulation viewpoint believes the Body of Christ will go through a major part of the Great Tribulation, will be raptured and taken up to heaven at the Seventh Trumpet Judgment, just before the disastrous Seven Bowl Judgments. The Post-Tribs agree with the Pre-Tribs on the church returning with Jesus at His second coming. About 90% of the Chinese, North Korean and Asian believers believe in the Post-Tribulation viewpoint.
But there are a some scriptures most Pre-Trib and Post-Trib believers seldom think about —
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. 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 24:5-8)
The “beginning of sorrows” will be one tough time-period for us believers to endure. We will be arrested, persecuted and killed. The whole world will hate us, just because we follow Jesus. Many believers will turn away from following the Lord, betraying and hating other believers. There will be many false prophets who will deceive many believers. Sin will be rampant and everywhere, with the love of many believers growing cold.
Now, maybe, we have our fingers crossed, hoping we will be raptured into heaven before these terrible things happen.
“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)
Who preaches the gospel? Believers do.
Therefore, it makes no difference whether Jesus returns for us before the Great Tribulation takes place or near the end of it because we have to remain on earth and endure the “beginning of sorrows,” so we can preach the gospel to all nations (or people groups).
Almost thirty years ago, I worked as a maintenance man at a motel in Ames, Iowa, near the campus of Iowa State University. The motel hired track athletes to help them set up for banquets in its ballrooms. Many of those track athletes were runners from Africa. One of them was from Kenya, who I spoke to in casual conversations from time to time.
One day, while I was talking to him, I had a quick vision. In it, I saw his parents holding hands and praying for him. They prayed, “Lord, we put our son into Your hands and ask You to do whatever You have to do so he will walk in his calling as a preacher here in Kenya.”
I looked at the young man. “You’re a Christian, right?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied with a smile, “how’d you know?”
“I just had a quick vision of your parents praying for you to walk in your calling in Kenya.”
He laughed. “That’s not happening!” he proclaimed. “I am the number-three ranked triple jumper in the world and ranked in the top five or six in the four-hundred meter dash. I will earn $75,000 this summer running in events in Europe and next year after graduation with my degree in international finance, I’ll earn hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t do that if I were you —”
“Don’t worry! I’ll be okay.”
A couple of months later on a cold December morning, I walked into the motel’s kitchen to begin my work day. There sitting on a chair with his pant-leg rolled up and blood dripping from his knee was my Kenyan friend.
“What happened?” I asked, rushing to him.
“I was late. So, I ran across the parking lot and slipped on some ice. My knee is ruined,” he said with tears rolling down his cheek.
“Ah, you’ll be okay,” I said.
“No, world-class runners never come back from knee injuries like this. The half-second they lose puts them in the losers’ bracket forever. I’m done.”
I stayed with him until the ambulance arrived.
If you’re thinking God wouldn’t do something like this to bring a man into His kingdom purposes, you need to reread the book of Jonah. God is a loving Father who will do whatever He has to do to fulfill His purposes, especially in answer to prayers.
Okay, maybe God will do something like this in answer to the prayers of parents for their son, but will the Father do this in answer to prayers for a region or state or nation?
The four Gospels contain eighty-nine chapters, which reveal the heart and power of Jesus during His first coming on earth. But there are more than one hundred and fifty chapters in the Bible which are focused – at least 51% – on Jesus’ second coming.
Yet, most Christians have no clue about the End-times because they haven’t studied or thought about it much — if at all. This seems ridiculous, especially when you consider there is only one book of the Bible which promises readers a blessing just for reading it: the Book of Revelation. This book details the apocalyptic revelation given to the Apostle John for the End-times.
What’s the problem?
The problem is that the Book of Revelation contains – according to Chuck Missler – four hundred and four chapters with over eight hundred references to the Old Testament. That’s almost two references per chapter.
These Old Testament references require us to read and have an understanding of the Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Malachi and other books.
And we need to have insight into the meanings of the many Jewish idioms used throughout the New Testament. For instance:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mark 13:32)
If we read the above verse with our Gentile minds, we assume that no one knows ahead of time when Jesus will return for His bride. But the Apostle Paul commended the Thessalonians for having an understanding of the times and seasons. They understood because they were sons of light and not of darkness. They knew the idiom referred to the Feast of Trumpets which occurs on the first or second day of Tishrei, which is during our months of either September or October.
You see, the Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the first day of Tishrei in Israel, but is celebrated as a two-day feast on the first and second days of Tishrei by Jews outside of Israel. The reasoning behind the two-day celebration is that this is a holy day and they want to make sure that there is a new moon.
Thus, these Jews do not know the exact day or hour, but they know it’s in the Fall and what feast will be celebrated at the time.
So, if we want to have an understanding of the End-times, we’re going to have to be like little children and learn about our Hebrew roots. We must remember that we Gentiles are grafted into a Jewish olive tree…and not the other way around.
Wait a second! What does this have to do with a possible civil war in America?
But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, He began to weep. “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.” (Luke 19:41-44 NLT)
Jesus spoke the above prophecy on Palm Sunday, just days before He was crucified. His prophetic words were fulfilled nearly forty years later when General Titus and his Roman army destroyed the Temple and burned Jerusalem in 70 AD. Over a million Jews –men, women and children – were slaughtered by the Romans.
Now, the Jews heard Jesus’ words on that Palm Sunday and most certainly talked about them, but they hung onto their traditions and just wanted to preserve their way of life.
The Christians on the other hand, remembered Jesus’ prophecy so that when a believer prophesied around 67 AD about the soon coming devastation of Jerusalem, they heeded his words. They fled Jerusalem and relocated to Pella and other TransJordan cities, sixty miles away.
Even though the believer’s prophecy was specifically spoken to Christians, believers certainly would have explained to their neighbors why they were leaving. They would have mentioned both prophecies, attempting to convince their Jewish neighbors to flee, too. The neighbors would have repeated the conversations to others. On and on it would have continued until the whole city knew the reason for the Christian exodus: the soon coming destruction of Jerusalem.
Yet, the Jews ignored the Christians warnings and were slaughtered by the Romans.
Could God have stopped this slaughter from happening?
God’s foreknowledge doesn’t always mean He can change the hearts of people fast enough to prevent calamities because He will not tamper with people’s free will. God is not a cruel dictator but a King who woos us with His love. It’s always a heart to heart deal between God and us.
If you look at the above prophecy by Jesus, you will notice that Jesus said, “But now, it is too late…”
Our Father loves His creation and usually gives us warnings far in advance to prepare us for calamities. Then, He will follow up with later warnings.
So, what should we do about my prophetic words about the inevitability of a civil war breaking out in America?
(Continued in Part 9)