Last week we looked at several things that chronologically need to happen before the Tribulation can begin. Those events were: World War coupled with earthquakes and famine (fulfilled in World Wars 1 & 2 along with the famines & earthquakes that took place then and continue), the re-establishment of Israel as a nation (fulfilled in 1948), Jerusalem coming under Jewish control (fulfilled in 1967), and lastly, the battle of Gog & Magog which has not yet happened. I am going with Fruchtenbaum, Tsarfati, Ice and LaHaye on the chronological placement of Gog & Magog. Truly, we don’t know for sure when it will take place, but given the specific time frames of a 7 month burial period and a 7 year burning of weapons for fuel, the only logical placement would be before the Tribulation. It may or may not precede the Rapture. I believe there is a possibility we could see the beginning of Gog & Magog, but many commentators including LaHaye believe we will probably be raptured before it starts. Either way you look at it, we are living in amazing times and need to be alert, watchful and ready because the Rapture is imminent.
This week we’re taking a look at the One World Government, the Ten Kingdoms, and the rise of the Antichrist. Fruchtenbaum believes the One World Government and Ten Kingdoms are in place BEFORE the Tribulation starts. His view stems from the timeline given in Daniel 7:23-24 which says, “Thus he said: ‘the fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings'” (NASB1995). This timeline states that the fourth kingdom devours the whole earth (One World Government). THEN, out of this fourth kingdom (or One World Government), ten horns (Ten Kingdoms) will arise. It is then that the Antichrist (the little horn, or “another king” who arise out of the ten kings, subduing three kings) comes on the scene.
“In light of Ezekiel 38:1-39:16, the eastern balance of power will collapse with the fall of Russian forces and her Moslem allies in Israel and the destruction of Russia itself. With the eastern power destroyed, this will open the way for a one world government” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 126). The One World Government will be diverse, and different from all the other kingdoms of the world. Fruchtenbaum suggests it will be imperialistic in nature (p. 126). Imperialism can be defined as “the extension of a nation’s authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political dominance over other nations” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language). Once God destroys Russia in His victory over Gog, you can see how quickly a One World Government could emerge, especially if the Rapture has taken place at that point. That is only speculation on my part, but it’s an interesting thought given what we learned last week in Ezekiel 38-39!
Once the One World Government is in place, Daniel 7:24 tells us that it will essentially be split into ten kingdoms. A common interpretation of this verse focuses on Europe and the European Union. But this is where we need to be careful and not impose current events into the text. Fruchtenbaum calls this “newspaper exegesis” (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 126). I believe these kingdoms are not limited to Europe but expand to the whole world. A good friend of ours has done some in depth studying on this and suggests that the Ten Kingdoms represent “Kingdoms of Function” instead of actual nations. The Ten Kings would be in essence rulers over each”function” such as Finance, Information, Education, Security, Technology, Health, Transportation, Trade, Agriculture, and Religion (Emray Goossen, 10 Kings of the Final Kingdom of Man). I think this is a fascinating viewpoint and worth looking into. Whether or not these Ten Kingdoms are nations or functions, we know they will be diverse and different from normal kingdoms because they arise out of the diverse and different One World Government.
When the Ten Kingdoms are in place solidifying the One World Government, the Antichrist will arise. It’s interesting to note that 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 says his identity will be revealed before the Tribulation, “Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered [a reference to the Rapture] to meet Him. Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord [the Tribulation] has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day [the Tribulation] will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed – the one who brings destruction” (NLT).
We don’t know exactly how he’ll be revealed, but we know he WILL be revealed. His rise to power may be inconspicuous until the moment he’s revealed. “The Antichrist’s rise to power before the Tribulation, is a biblical necessity. Since the Tribulation begins with the signing of the seven-year covenant between Israel and the Antichrist, it is necessary for the Antichrist to be in sufficient political power to sign such a covenant” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 127). We’ll get into more details regarding the Antichrist later on in our study.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 says, “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord [the Tribulation] will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape” (NASB1995). The “day of the Lord” is a reference to the Tribulation. Fruchtenbaum says, “At a time when men are saying, ‘peace and safety,’ the destruction of the Tribulation suddenly hits with devastating force. This fact will require this period to come just before the act that initiates the Tribulation itself” [the signing of the covenant] (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 128). As Jesus stated in Matthew 24:38-39, “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” This is a reference to the Day of the Lord which will take people completely by surprise.
The last chronological event to take place before the Tribulation is the signing of the seven-year covenant. Fruchtenbaum again emphasizes, “it is not the Rapture that begins the Tribulation, but the signing of the seven-year covenant. Keeping this in mind will prevent many misunderstandings concerning the belief in the imminency of the Rapture. It is not the Rapture but the seven-year covenant that will begin the Tribulation” (The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 128). There are several other birth pangs which are not chronological. We will study those next week. Until then, “be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42 NASB1995).
Week Five: Homework Reflections
Day One: One World Government
- Read Daniel 7:23-24. In your journal, draw a diagram that shows the Fourth Kingdom, the Ten Kings, and the Antichrist (the horn that arises after the Ten Kings).
- Read Daniel 7:7-8. How does this passage compare with Daniel 7:23-24?
- Read Isaiah 9:6-7. List everything you learn about King Jesus and what HIS government will look like one day. We saw in Daniel 2 that His kingdom will crush the One World Government.
Day Two: The Ten Kingdoms
- How does Daniel 7:24 specifically describe the Ten Kings?
- Read Revelation 13:1. Record the details of the Ten Horns given in this verse.
- Read Revelation 17:12-13. What do you learn from these verses re. the Ten Kings?
Day Three: The Rise of the Antichrist
- What is the Antichrist called in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3?
- How does Daniel 7:20 & 24 describe the Antichrist?
- How does Daniel 11:36 describe the Antichrist? (we will study this in more depth later. I just want you to get a taste of it right now).
Day Four: Peace & Safety
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3. How does this compare with Matthew 24:38-39?
- Read Matthew 24:40-41 and list the “normal” activities that will be going on when the Rapture takes place?
- How does Luke 17:26-30 compare to Matthew 24:40-41?
Day Five: The Seven-Year Covenant
- Read Daniel 9:27. The “he” in this verse is referring to the Antichrist. The phrase “one week” is referring to a seven year period of time.
- What does the Antichrist do in the “middle of the week?” What specific things does he stop?
- Read Jeremiah 31. I find it amazing that Israel makes a covenant with the Antichrist who in turn breaks the covenant. But God! He is a Covenant keeping God! What encouragement do you see for Israel in Jeremiah 31 that encourages your own heart today?