Has the “Beginning of Sorrows” Arrived?
Are those dark clouds on the horizon the Four Horsemen thundering into view?
In my analysis of Bible prophecy the most critical keys to unlocking the timeline of the last days are 1) the Old Testament duet of Leviticus 25 and 25 (which explain God’s timekeeping system), and Our Lord’s chronology of last days events called the Olivet Discourse. I have addressed these in Chapter One of my book The Prodigal Son Prophecy. The OT Key is the source of the seven year tribulation framework in the Book of Daniel (which has spawned so many erroneous theories on the meaning of “Daniel’s 70th Week” by those who don’t have a firm grasp on the Hebrew cultural perspective of prophecy).
The Olivet Discourse is the Master Key that explains the sequence of events during that seven year “Shemitah” or Sabbath cycle. There are four versions of the Olivet Discourse. Three closely matched versions in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and a dramatically expanded and augmented version called the Book of Revelations (from Jesus to John, who also wrote the 4th Gospel). The “Decoder Ring” by which all Bible prophecy can be properly aligned is found between Matthew 24:3 and Matthew 26:1, because it contains the full set of the 70th Week’s 15 events: twelve events leading to the resurrection and rapture in Matthew 24, and the three post-rapture events of the Ten Days of Awe leading to the start of the Millennial Kingdom.
All of Revelation smoothly aligns with the Matthew timeline with the help of a Third Key that divides Revelation passages according to their perspective (from inside or outside of time-bound earth). I have identified 25 distinct passages and shown how they help solve the mystery of the Revelation timeline by allowing the student to align the symbols and OT prophecy references of the two versions (such as the obvious connection of the first four Seals of Revelation with the Four Horsemen of Matthew – and the less obvious connection to the Book of Zechariah). All of that is detailed in my book, supplemented with charts.
In the Lesson of the Fig Tree (Matthew 24:32-34), Jesus told us that the countdown to the final Shemitah of the Age of the Gentiles (Daniel’s 70th Week) would begin with the budding of the Fig Tree. The Fig Tree is the Biblical symbol of the House of Judah (the proof-text for which is Jeremiah’s prophetic vision in Jeremiah 24). The House of Judah is, to simplify the matter, the “House of Judaism” which currently has possession of a substantial portion of the Holy Land, including Jerusalem, in fulfillment of a plethora of OT prophecies. Jesus further explained that all of the events of Matthew 24-25 would occur in the lifetime of the generation in which the budding began. That generation is obviously our own, and thus all these things must happen within in the lifespan of the last person alive at the time of the budding – or perhaps a Biblical term of years representative of a lifespan, such as 120 years (per Genesis 6:3).
There are three plausible dates we can consider as the start.
1) December, 1917, when the British military wrested control of the Holy Land from the Ottoman Turks and invited the Jews to resettle the land – for the first time since their expulsion by the Romans in 135 AD (when the Romans renamed it Syriac Palestine to sever the association of the land with the Jews).
2) May, 1948 when the State of Israel was formally established at the end of the British Mandate.
3) June, 1967, when Israel took full possession of the all-important City of Jerusalem.
The sudden establishment of Israel in 1948 seems obviously a fulfillment of Isaiah 66:7-8 “Before she was in labor, she gave birth; before she was in pain, she delivered a boy. Who has heard of such as this? Who has seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be delivered in an instant? Yet as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children.”
But I think there is a stronger case for 1917 that puts 1948 in a larger context and brings in another critical line of prophecies related to God’s 50-year Jubilee cycles. Serious Bible students will recall that Jesus began his earthly ministry with a reading from and commentary on Isaiah 61:1-2a in which He both identified Himself as Messiah, and identified that year as a Jubilee year. Importantly, He did not read or comment on 61:2b which is Isaiah’s prophecy of the second coming, defined by the phrase “the Day of Our God’s vengeance.”
The theme of Jubilee is liberation. The Holy Land and half of Jerusalem was liberated in 1917. Jerusalem was fully liberated exactly fifty years later in 1967.
If these two dates set the pattern, the next Jubilee cycle would have begin in 2017. But to fit the time limit of the Fig Tree prophecy (if it started in 1917) this Jubilee would need to set the stage for the Antichrist Kingdom that precedes the Day of God’s vengeance. In other words, the final liberation would not occur, as normal, on Yom Kippur 2017, but be delayed due to the rise of a false Messiah – something like the delay described in Daniel 10:12-14.
If we assume for the sake of argument this Jubilee cycle’s first seven-year Shemitah were Daniel’s 70th Week, the all-important half-way point (3 ½ years) would be roughly Passover (March 27-April 4) – NOW. It would begin with the unleashing of the Four Horsemen – the “beginning of sorrows” (i.e. the first contractions of the birth process) accompanied or followed rapidly by the unveiling of the Antichrist.
How would we recognize these horsemen? The first would be the Antichrist himself (the White Horse), posing as the Messiah in ways the mimic the true Messiah of Revelation 19. And in my view, that would likely involve the proclamation of a counterfeit Jubilee.
I’m not saying this is a sure thing: there are still too many variables that require assumptions. And prophecy fulfillment is organic: it does not usually unfold with machine precision. But if in the next few days or weeks we see a global economic collapse to justify the “Great Reset,” attended by dramatically escalating war drums, disease and famine, I’d say start praying the pre-tribbers are right, while setting your timer for a return of Christ at the end of this Shemitah if they’re wrong. And if this scenario does not occur, we can scratch another set of false guesses off our list.