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Chronology of the End Times

 by Steve Ashburn


Many people wonder what the term “end times” means. Indeed, a proper understanding of this term is crucial to understanding Bible prophecy, properly interpreted and in context.  

Fortunately the Bible provides a definition of this very important term, as well as a sequence of events contained in this time period. These events are scattered throughout the Bible in sort of a jigsaw puzzle, which must be analyzed carefully and in context, but once put together, yield a brilliant picture of things to come. So let’s spend some time putting together this jigsaw puzzle. I have discussed all this in my book, The Next Nuclear War: Are We on the Edge of the End Times? (Deep River Books, 2014); in this article I provide a concise summary of my findings. 

We begin with Ezekiel 29, which provides a handy definition of the end times: 

Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia. No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years. And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries. (Ezekiel 29:10–12)

The “tower of Syene” probably refers to the Aswan Dam, located near the ancient town of Syene; such a tower did not exist in Ezekiel’s time. This hydroelectric project was only completed in 1967, thereby allowing Bible prophecy to be fulfilled. Ezekiel 29-30, 32 apparently describes the destruction of this dam along with the troops massed nearby to invade Israel, and flooding of the Nile River to the mountains on either side: 

I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the rivers shall be full of thee.  And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. (Ezekiel 32:6-7) 

Since the Aswan Dam is so massive, it would take a nuclear weapon to destroy it. Our Scripture passages suggest just this event, with troops drowned by flooding of the Nile River far across the banks on either side, with thick clouds of radioactive fallout (“I will cover the sun with a cloud”) destroying not only Egypt, but other countries in the area (“the countries that are desolate”). Ezekiel 30:5 lists the nations that will be allied with Egypt in this war: “Ethiopia, and Libya, and Lydia, and all the mingled people, and Chub…” It is these nations and peoples, which are Libya (“Put,” eastern coastal region), Ethiopia (Sudan), Lydia (western Libya), and “all the mingled people” (all Arabs), and Chub (remainder of Libya), and enemies within Israel (“and the men of the land that is in league”) that the Bible predicts will be destroyed. 

Who would launch such a nuclear attack on Egypt? Although Ezekiel doesn’t say specifically, it is most likely Israel, in a desperate attempt to prevent a blitzkrieg invasion by the Arab nations which surround her. She apparently will have no other choice, being faced with annihilation. Psalm 83 provides a general description of this war, while other chapters in the Old Testament provide the details of the destruction of specific Middle East nations. The instigator of this war apparently is Iraq, which results in a third US-led coalition invasion and obliteration of Iraq as a nation. This is described in detail in Isaiah 13 and also in the parallel passage in Jeremiah 50-51. The context is absolutely fascinating, and describes the US as “sanctified ones… even them that rejoice in my highness” (Isaiah 13:3). The 1991 Gulf war and 2003 Iraqi invasion are described as “rumour[s]” in Jeremiah 51:46. I go into all this in detail in my book.

The parallel passage in Isaiah 19 provides more illumination as to the specifics of the attack on Egypt: “The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it” (Isaiah 19:1). In context this probably refers to an Israeli nuclear missile(s) with a contrail behind it, heading for Egypt at supersonic speeds. This explains the description of a “swift cloud” which the Lord “rides upon” to execute his judgment upon Egypt, which witnesses are encouraged to look up and “Behold.” Verse 1 then describes what will happen after that: “the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence [thermonuclear detonations], and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it [nuclear fireballs turning sand into melted glass].”  

After this, Egypt will be scattered “among the nations.” Then, after forty years, they will be regathered as a nation: 

Yet thus saith the Lord God; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered: And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom. It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations. (Ezekiel 29:13–15)

The context of this passage indicates that after forty years, Egypt will be reestablished as a nation, during the millennial reign of Christ. This regathering of Egypt will occur at the end of the tribulation, which apparently comprises the last seven years of the end times period.  

So there you have it! The Bible has given us a definition of the end times period (forty years) and a description of the nuclear war against Egypt which begins it in Ezekiel 29, 30-32.  

Another clue that the end times will be forty years long is found in Micah 7. Israel previously was described as a “terror” to Egypt in Isaiah 19 because of “the counsel of the Lord of hosts”; Micah 7 now extends that fear to all other nations involved in the conspiracy to invade her, as well as the nations in general which are watching the conflict from the sidelines. 

Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things. The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf. They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of thee. (Micah 7:14–17)

The timeline here is when Israel will be restored as a nation (“as in the days of old”); and for forty years (“According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt”) God will deal with them “marvelously.” This forty-year period probably is the same as that of the dispersion of Egypt, which ends with the second coming of Christ: “neither shall it be inhabited forty years. . . . At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered” (Ezekiel 29:11, 13). During these forty years God will defeat Israel’s enemies (Ezekiel 28:26); restore them to their ancient land of Canaan with its original boundaries (Obadiah 1:19–20); pour out blessings so that Israel will overflow with wheat, oil, and wine (Joel 2:23) and fill the world with fruit (Isaiah 27:6); call his church to himself and leave Israel to wonder what happened (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17); defeat Russia and her hordes in a display of entirely miraculous power (Ezekiel 38–39); shepherd and protect Israel miraculously from the Antichrist and his forces (Revelation 12); and return as King of kings and Lord of lords, at which point Israel finally will recognize him as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10).  

That’s a lot to happen in forty years! I explore each of these events in detail in my book, as well as provide a timeline of end-times events. 

Also during this time, Israel will be so impressive that “The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might,” and their enemies “shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth.” This refers in particular to the defeat of the nations surrounding Israel who try to invade her at the beginning of the end-times period. After this war, God will bless Israel greatly; it will blossom like a rose and become like “the garden of Eden,” overflowing with agricultural produce and livestock (Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 36:35; Joel 2:23–24). 

Zechariah 12 also describes Israel as being indomitable during this period, because the Lord will defend them: 

In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem. . . .  In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. (Zechariah 12:6, 8)

The timeline here is “in that day” when “Jerusalem shall be inhabited again,” referring to modern Israeli history and in particular the end-times war in which Israel destroys the nations surrounding her (“and they shall devour all the people round about”). The weakest of the Israelis “shall be as David” and Israel “shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them,” indicating that it is the Lord who divinely protects them. The word “governors” in verse 6 is a translation of the Hebrew eluf, meaning “brigadier.” In modern Israel, this term denotes a brigadier general in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Thus it is my belief that our Scripture passage relates to modern Israel and in particular to the IDF, which will be so powerful that they will sweep through their enemies like fire among wood. There have been many stories from the 1973 Yom Kippur War about amazing military victories by Israel against overwhelming odds; the Bible indicates that this will happen again in the next war. 

Finally, our Lord Jesus Christ himself commented on the length of the end times in the Olivet Discourse. After describing the signs of this time period, including those which would accompany the rapture and tribulation, our Lord then said in Matthew 24:34: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Our Lord did not specify how long this generation would be, but in the context of Ezekiel 29 and Micah 7, the length of time he was referring to probably was forty years. 

When will the end times begin? The Moslem Brotherhood took over Egypt and Libya in 2012 and is well on its way to taking over Syria. It’s unclear at this time how the recent civil war in Egypt will turn out, but Isaiah indicates that eventually radical Islamists will take power and will launch an attack against Israel, in conjunction with other Arab nations. Perhaps a worldwide economic depression—already happening in many parts of the world—will tend to radicalize Egyptian society to the point where they actually attempt an invasion of their neighbor. It seems Israel rapidly is being surrounded by radical Islamist nations committed to her destruction. Perhaps the moment when all these nations will attack her is only a few years away.


[This article was published on Jan. 16, 2017]


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