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Are These the Last Days?
By Dr. William L. Sonny Payne

prophet ezekial

God's Word makes one thing absolutely clear. Jesus Christ is going to return to this earth and set up His earthly kingdom in Jerusalem, Israel. There are 1,845 references to His return in the Bible, with 1,527 of those being in the Tanach (Old Testament) and 318 in the New Testament. For every reference to His atonement, there are two references to His Second Coming.

If we knew that the Messiah was coming tomorrow, wouldn't we be living our lives differently today?

What are we living for? Is this life all there is? Would not our goals and dreams be different if we knew that Messiah was coming tomorrow, next week, next month, or within a year? In asking ourselves these questions, we need to take a close look at our contemporary history and see if we can find any event, or events, from which we can draw to compare with what the Bible has to say regarding our living in the last days before Jesus Christ, the Messiah, returns. To do this, I want us to ask ourselves three questions that David Dolan asks in his book Israel In Crisis -- questions, that if they can be answered, can show us unequivocally that we are the last generation to be living before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

Question One. Is Israel's restoration as a nation related to end-time prophecy in God's Word, or is it just the efforts of man?

To answer this most important question let's go to Ezekiel, chapter 36. In verses 17 through 28 God, through the Jewish prophet Ezekiel, describes the rebellion of the Jewish people against Him, of His scattering them throughout the earth, of their profaning His holy name, and then of His regathering them to the land of Israel (today known as Palestine), and then pouring His Spirit out upon them and cleansing them from their sins.

Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman. Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it. And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, these are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land. But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD;...I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen...when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause yo to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

In reviewing the above scriptures we find that the founding of Israel as a nation again in our days, after almost 2,000 years of exile, is not due only to the work of man, or Zionism, although both have played their part, but it is a sovereign act of God. It is God who has brought the Jewish people back to their own land after being scattered into every corner of the earth. We ask ourselves the question "How can it be the work of God that Israel is a nation again when the Jewish people, for the most part, do not serve Him, much less believe in Him?" The answer is simple. The Lord tells us in Ezekiel 36:24-28

He will bring them back to the land of Israel in unbelief, then He will pour out His Spirit upon them. We have seen the fulfillment of their return and it will not be long before we will see, and be a part of, their spiritual rebirth. Therefore, we should understand that Israel's present state of unbelief is a result of God's prophetic word being fulfilled.

Question Two. Is Israel's reappearance as a nation a sign we are living in the last days before Jesus Christ returns?

In order to answer this question we must begin by looking at the biblical text in Isaiah, chapter 11. Beginning with verse 11 which says

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah form the four corners of the earth.

Some scholars refer to the above verses as the third ingathering of Israel, using the Egyptian and Babylonian captivities as the first two; however, we must remember that Jacob (Israel) went down to Egypt of his own accord. He was not forced to do so, but went there looking for food. In doing so he found that Joseph, the son he thought was dead, was the second highest ranking official in Egypt. Israel's Exodus from Egypt was not with a remnant of Jews, plus, there were many other tribes of people living in Canaan before Joshua conquered it.

When God says He will "set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people," He is referring to the Babylonian captivity as the first regathering and the Diaspora as the second. This is profound because it tells us that when this second ingathering of the Jewish people happens, it will usher in the coming of the Lord. In the previous verses of Isaiah 11, verses 6-9, it tells us that the wolf will dwell with the lamb, etc. This is referring to the millennial reign of Christ.

Therefore, in reading Isaiah 11 rightly, we find that in the above stated verse 11 "in that day" refers to the time period immediately preceding Christ's return to earth. We are that generation and Israel's appearance as a nation again in our day, after 2,000 years of exile, is truly a sign that we are living in the last days.

There is another question that we must ask and answer to solidify even more the fact that we are the generation that will see the coming of the Lord.

Question Three. What is the catalyst that caused Israel to become a nation again in 1948?

One of the most traumatic, and sadistic events in human history was the Holocaust of World War II when six million Jewish people were killed by Adolph Hitler and his Nazi regime. The nations were stunned when they learned of this atrocity, and sympathy went out to the Jewish people worldwide. Hitler's ultimate objective had been to eradicate the Jewish population from off the face of the earth, but he did not succeed. The question we must ask ourselves concerning the Holocaust is this. Was the Jewish Holocaust an event that just happened because of the hatred of one man, or was it preordained by the Sovereign God of the universe as the catalyst that He would use in the last days to bring His people, the Jews, back to the land of Israel and make them a nation again? In order to answer this most important question let us go to God's Word and Psalm 102, which I believe depicts the Jewish Holocaust of World War II.

In verses one and two it says "Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee. Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily." This is the cry of a desperate person, in a horrible situation, asking for God's help immediately. Verse three says "For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth." The words "like smoke" is the Hebrew word "asham" which means "in smoke." I believe this verse is talking about the incinerators that the Germans used in the concentration camps to burn up hundreds of thousands of Jewish prisoners. Verse four says "My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread." Can you imagine the fear that would grip your heart, and take away your appetite, if you knew you were going to be killed and thrown into a fiery furnace to be burned to ashes? This is what the person in this psalm is experiencing. They are literally overcome with terror due to what is about to happen to them.

Verse five says "By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin." This is nothing more than starvation. Many of us have probably seen the horrible pictures of hundreds of Jewish prisoners after their release from the concentration camps. They were no more than skin and bones. It seems impossible to think that another human being could treat his fellow man that way. But that is exactly what happened. Verse eight says "Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me." Hitler and his Nazi regime actually took an oath to (they covenanted) wipe out the Jewish people. The pathos, and the parodox, was that Germany was one of the most Christianized nations on earth, yet they were trying to eliminate the race from which their Savior, Jesus Christ, came. They made the Jewish people wear yellow arm bands with the name "Jude" written on them. Jude was taken from the ancient Hebrew name Judah, or Yehuda, which was the tribe of Jesus' earthly lineage.

What is even more inexplicable is that most of the church leaders of Germany stood by and did nothing. Some even united with Hitler's cause. Their reasoning was, since God was finished with the Jewish people, and the church was now Israel, what difference did it make if the Jews were eliminated. The spirit of antisemitism was very prevalent within the church, as it had been for hundreds of years. What is even more amazing is that this antisemitic spirit still dominates much of the church today.

Verse nine is even more vivid in regard to the Holocaust victims. "For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping." There were many days when the ashes of the Jewish people, which were coming out of the chimneys of the incinerators, would fall from the sky into the food that was being eaten by the prisoners. They would actually be eating the ashes of their fellow Jews and loved ones. How horrible can that be? But why was all of this happening? There has to be an answer, and we find it in verse ten. "Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down." God is saying that it was His hand of judgment because of the rebellion of the Jewish people against Him over the centuries because they had violated His covenants. There were those who loved and served God who would be put to death as well, but their consolation was that when they died they would enter the eternal heavenly realm and live forever.

In this great Holocaust atrocity God has promised His Chosen People a bright future that would not be denied. This is where Psalm 102 really gets interesting and exciting for those who are looking for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not have time or space to go into all of the historical details as we cover the next few verses, but we will hit the highlights and give you an overview of what has been happening since the Holocaust of World War II.

Verses thirteen and fourteen say "Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof." God is saying that after the Holocaust and World War II He will again turn His favor to the Jewish people, begin to bring them back home to Israel, and allow them to rebuild their land and cities. This, along with the continued archaeological excavations, have literally fulfilled verse fourteen.

The words "set time" means a specific time period in history. In 1948, only three years after World War II, Israel became a nation again after over twenty-five hundred years, with their own government, military, social, and economic systems. It was a modern day miracle, and God was watching over His Word to perform it.

Now the plot thickens, because these next verses are going to tell us just how close we are to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let's look at verses 16-22.

When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. This shall be written for the generation to come and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD. For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death; to declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem; when the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.

There are three most important elements in the above scriptures that we must address. First, it says "When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory." In other words, when we see the land of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem back in the hands of the Jewish people, then we can look for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. But verse eighteen pinpoints His coming even more. Let's read.

"This shall be written for the generation to come, and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD." In the Hebrew, the words "generation to come" actually means "the last generation" (l'dor acharon). In other words, the generation of Jewish people who suffer and come through the Holocaust of World War II will be the generation that see the coming of the Lord. We are in that generation now.

The last part of verse eighteen says" ... and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD." The words "shall be created" in the Hebrew is "bara", which means "a new creation." It is the same word used in Genesis 1:1 when God "created" the heavens and the earth. What God is saying is that these Jewish people have become "new creations." They have been born-again. Saved, through the blood of Jesus Christ their Messiah.

As we said in answering question one, that God would bring His people back to the land of Israel in the last days, in unbelief, then He would pour out His Spirit upon them. The Jewish people living in Israel today, and coming form every corner of the earth, did not all go through the Holocaust, but they are part of that generation that did, and they are truly a prophetic people, and the time clock for Christ's return. We are most certainly living in the last of the last days, and I believe, that as we look closely at the answers to the above three questions, that we can say that we are the last generation and will soon see His glorious appearing.


In ending this teaching, I would like to add a few personal thoughts and desires.

First, I want to thank you for taking the time to come to our web site and read what we are about, as well as this teaching. I pray that it has blessed you and that you have learned something that you can take and share with others.

In Christ Jesus,

W. L. "Sonny" Payne
Founder and President

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