Question: What changes have to happen in Israel before the Lord returns? Has this been made clear in the Scriptures, and if yes, is it happening?
Answer: This is a very good question in light of what is happening in the news everyday concerning Israel. Actually there is nothing that has to happen in prophecy before Christ comes back for His Church. We believe that Christ’s return is immanent, in other words, it could happen anytime.
The reason we believe this, is because of what the Holy Spirit says to the Church through St. Paul. “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep [die physically]*, 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 Corinthians 15:50-51) *Comment by G.T. Panell, and not part of Scripture
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 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 form 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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
What we see happening in Israel and surrounding nations right now, and in the whole world for that matter, is the setting of the stage for final last days events. If we turn to Ezekiel 38, what was prophesied hundreds of years ago, is exactly what we see happening today. And just like Jesus came the first time to this earth, fulfilling many prophecies, so too, it will be in fulfillment of many more prophecies as He comes again. This is called the “Second Coming,” and we believe it happens after the Rapture of the Church, so there is nothing that has to happen before the Church is taken out, as Scripture says in the above passages in 1 Corinthians and in 1 Thessalonians. There are other references also, but since this is only a summary I won’t go into them now. In fact, if you would like to look at an overview of last day’s prophecy timetable, go to our article: Summary of Prophecy.
As we look at Ezekiel 38 it shows us how it will all happen as far as Israel and the surrounding nations are concerned. I have included the modern day names of countries, which if you study you will find much agreement among Bible scholars on these names. This is now a quote from Ezekiel 38:
Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against Gog [Russia], of the land of Magog [Russia], the prince of Rosh [Russia], Meshech [Turkey] and Tubal [Turkey], and prophesy against him, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against you, O Gog [Russia] the prince of Rosh [Russia], Mesheck [Turkey], and Tubal [Turkey].
“I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia [Iran], Ethiopia [Sudan], and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet.
“Gomer [Germany or Turkey] and all its troops; the house of Togarmah [Eastern Asia Minor] from the far north and all its troops-many people are with you. Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them.
“After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely. *[Possibly after the world leader makes peace with Israel for seven years. There is a movement right now to do this, but the world leader does not seem to be on the seen at this writing.] Comments by G. Panell, not Scripture
“You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you. ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan:
“You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’– [This is probably at the mid point of the seven year peace treaty, three and one-half years into it.]*My own comments G. T. Panell, not Scripture
“to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land,
“Sheba, Dedan [Southwest part of the Arabian Peninsula, possibly Saudi Arabia * My comments, not Scripture], the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions *[Maybe Europe and the United States] will say to you, ‘Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and good, to take great plunder?'”
You may want to study out further what happens in the last three and one half years of the Tribulation time, and you can find this in our Summary of Prophecy. See also Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future by Joel C. Rosenberg-Author of the New Your Times best seller The Last Jihad-published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Thanks for the question,
Gary T. Panell
For more information email me at firstname.lastname@example.org