Dr. David Jeremiah Presents
Living inthe Ageof Signs
Living in the Age of Signs
Every time I visit the Holy Land, I marvel at the miracle of the reestablishment of the nation of Israel. I can walk where Abraham walked, stroll through fields where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and sail across the Sea of Galilee where our Lord stilled the storm. The birth of the modern state of Israel, which I believe paves the way for the End Times, is a fascinating story; but its survival as a nation is equally remarkable.
One of Israel's greatest heroes was an informant named Eli Cohen. He was born in Egypt in 1924. Starting in high school he secretly did whatever he could to advance a pro-Israeli agenda within Egypt. In 1960, he was recruited by the Israeli Secret Service and given a false identity as a wealthy Arab merchant who had immigrated to Argentina and was returning to his homeland of Syria. Elaborate stories and documents were produced, and the Syrians were completely fooled.
For the next several years, Cohen lived in Damascus where he was known as Kamel Amin Tsa'abet. He became friends with Syrian leaders. As he learned strategic secrets, he passed them to the Israelis via radio signal. He even visited Syrian military installations in the Golan Heights, and he was able to send photographs and sketches of the entire Syrian front lines back to his handlers in Jerusalem.
This information enabled Israel to win the Six-Day War. Information Cohen collected even enabled Israeli agents to deter the aerial bombing of Tel Aviv.
At the beginning of 1965, Soviet agents captured Cohen as he was sending a radio message. He was placed on trial, charged with espionage and hanged. But to this day, he is known as one of history's greatest informants whose intelligence helped preserve the young nation of Israel at a moment of great peril.
The history of the world has frequently been altered by the flow of secret intelligence and vital information. Informants have played a crucial role in the destinies of nations, including Israel.
Two Ancient Informants
Now, I would like to introduce you to two other informants. These men appear in the Bible, and they are vital to our understanding of the Lord's return. Though they lived 600 years apart, Daniel and John comprise a two-man team dedicated to giving us critical surveillance about the Last Days.
Both of them began their walk with the Lord at a young age and lived to be very old men with a lifetime of wisdom and godliness to inspire us. Both of them experienced miracles and received visions. Both wrote books that are strikingly similar, full of apocalyptic visions that provide layer upon layer of insight into the events preceding, during, and after the Great Tribulation.
In many Bible colleges and seminaries, there are courses called "Daniel and Revelation," because it is commonly accepted that a thorough knowledge of the book of Daniel is critical to rightly understanding John's book of Revelation.
In his classic Explore the Book, Dr. Sidlow Baxter wrote, "This book of Daniel… is full of supernatural marvel, both in the events which it records and in the visions which it describes. But its interest is eclipsed by its importance; for it preserves to us not only unique links in the chain of history but also vital keys to the interpretation of prophecy."
The first chapter of Daniel introduces us to the young man himself, a Jewish captive in Babylon who bravely resisted foreign brainwashing. Though he mastered the culture and education of Babylon, he and his three friends resolved not to be defiled by their ungodly environment. Whenever I read the first chapter of this book, it makes me want to sing that old song, "Dare to be a Daniel."
In the second chapter, Daniel tells us of a time when he and all the Babylonian Magi were nearly killed, because King Nebuchadnezzar was furious at their inability to reveal and interpret his dream. After earnest prayer, Daniel was given the interpretation of the king's dream. He described a giant statue that, in reality, provides a definitive outline for the rest of biblical prophecy and human history. It is arguably the Bible's foundational outline for the unfolding of the ages.
Later, in chapter 7, Daniel had a vivid dream in which he saw four beasts rising from the ocean. The fourth beast was exceedingly strong, and it had ten horns. The latter part of the chapter provides the interpretation of the beasts. By careful study, we can see that the vision of the four beasts is an amplification of the earlier vision of the great statue.
Among the thrilling words of Daniel 7 are these about the glorious return of our Lord Jesus: "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away" (verses 13-14).
Perhaps the key to Daniel is in chapter 9 with its vision of the seventy weeks—a passage that provides the chronological framework for the coming of Christ, the appearance of the Antichrist, and the final seven years preceding the Glorious Appearing of the Son of Man.
I never tire of reading and studying Daniel, and I find that every word of Daniel prepares me to read and appreciate the writings of his fellow informant, John.
There are two things to bear in mind about John's book of Revelation. First, it is not incomprehensible. The very name of the book is Revelation, as in "reveal." John is revealing for us vital information about the future, and there is a specific blessing promised if we study this book (Revelation 1:3). While Revelation may seem puzzling at first, its purpose isn't to obscure information but to reveal it; and that means the earnest child of God who prayerfully studies this book will come away enlightened and strengthened.
Yes, you can understand Revelation!
Second, while some of the symbols in Revelation may seem perplexing, the broad outline of the book is simple and clear. Chapter 1 is an introduction that helps us appreciate this book and its great theme of the matchless sovereignty of the One who is the Alpha and Omega of history. Chapters 2 and 3 are mini-epistles and personal messages to the seven churches to whom this letter was originally addressed. Chapters 4 and 5 take us to heaven and show us the great scenes unfolding around the Throne as final preparations are made for the return of Christ.
Then we come to the largest chunk of the book—chapters 6 through 18—that describe the terrible events of the Great Tribulation. A series of seven seals are opened, spelling out the doom of the planet. A series of seven trumpets sound the alarm. A series of seven bowls of wrath are poured upon the earth. In the midst of all these catastrophes, the Antichrist and his ilk are described in vivid and brutal terms.
Then suddenly, it's all over. Christ returns in chapter 19, and this is one of the most thrilling scenes in all the Bible: "And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thundering saying, 'Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!' " (Revelation 19:6)
Chapter 20 describes the thousand-year reign of Christ and the subsequent Great White Throne Judgment. And the Bible ends with two glorious chapters giving us a guided tour of the New Jerusalem, our eternal home.
I want to encourage you with all my heart to read and study the book of Revelation. The first time I preached through this book, I didn't understand it as well as I would have wished. But the next time I studied it, it became clearer. Now every time I read through Revelation I understand it a little better, and I've found that we learn best as Isaiah prescribed: "Precept upon precept… line upon line; here a little, and there a little" (Isaiah 28:10, KJV).
Think of Daniel and Revelation as God's surveillance agents, sent to inform us of the future. The Coming Christ has given us these two great books to show His servants the things that must shortly take place (Revelation 22:6).
Don't shy away from them.
Let's read them prayerfully, study them expectantly, and preach them joyfully.