Barry’s Beacon – Biblical Light on Global Events

This article was just written by my friend Barry Setterfield.  I thought you might enjoy reading.


A few years ago, I was in Germany for a special conference, held in a large facility that was hosting a variety of other conferences simultaneously. I came to lunch late after answering questions at one session, but there was no table space with my delegates. I went to look for a spare seat when a small group, involved in intense discussion, indicated I could join them. They were all German, but some spoke English and translated. Their conference was about an entirely different topic, as was mine, but these were a group of concerned Christians discussing world events, Israel and the Bible. After brief introductions and establishing that I, too, was a Christian, they asked me if I knew anything about Israel, and if I knew of any biblical reason for the many puzzling global events taking place. As Germans, they were also particularly concerned about matters pertaining to the Holocaust. They asked if I had any idea how that event, and all these other puzzling happenings fitted into God’s plan.

In response, I pointed out that, while I could not resolve national or individual problems about the holocaust, I could suggest that we might look at this and the other events from a different perspective. Standing back and viewing these events in a broad overview might, perhaps, avoid the difficulty of getting bogged down in the details seen close-up. I suggested we might start way back in the book of Exodus, where we find that, as the Lord was preparing to bring Israel out of Egyptian slavery and bondage and into the Promised Land, the powers of darkness attempted to thwart that process by inducing Pharaoh to kill all the male Israelite babies. This demonic plan failed, and Israel eventually settled in the Promised Land. Some considerable time later, as God was about to re-establish the Jews back in the land of Israel as a nation after the Babylonian Captivity, the Devil moved the Persian King through his chief advisor, Haman, to kill off all Jews in his kingdom – so the nation would never exist again. This move also failed, and Israel resettled in the land.

Then, as God was about to re-establish the Jews in their own land once again after 2000 years of global dispersion, the powers of darkness acted once more and induced Hitler to wipe-out everyone with Jewish ancestry to stop the rebirth of the nation of Israel being fulfilled. He failed, but the cost was 6 million Jewish lives. Yet even that disaster is not the end of the story. The Bible points out that just a few years before Messiah (Christ Jesus) is to return and reign over a united world from David’s Throne in Jerusalem (Luke 1:32) and bring in an Eon (Revelation 20:1-6) of peace, prosperity and fruitfulness (Isaiah 65:20-25, Amos 9:11-15), Satan personally empowers an individual who destroys the Jews (Daniel 8:23-25) and whose actions result in two-thirds of the nation of Israel being wiped out (Zechariah 13:8-9). It is at that point that Jesus returns with the saints; the powers of darkness are crushed (Daniel 7:13-14, 21-22; Revelation 19:20 & 20:2), and the Millennial Kingdom established (Zechariah 14:5c – 20).

This viewpoint immediately led to a related question. Because these Christians were from several different traditions, some had thought that the Church really had replaced Israel. However, the biblical outline I had just given seemed to suggest otherwise. After a discussion among themselves about this, they questioned if there were any biblical verses actually supporting the ongoing significance of Israel in God’s program. My response was that two immediately came to mind. The first would be the Apostle Paul’s answer in Romans 11:25-26a.

25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;

Paul’s words there surprised some of them. The second was interesting as it seems that a similar but reverse problem faced the early church. The resulting great Council in Jerusalem of Acts 15 seems to have covered our question in their discussion about the Gentiles (non-Jews) turning to God. The conclusion was given by James (Acts 15:14-21) which read in part “Simon (Peter) has declared how God has visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written “After this [that is, after I have visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for my name] I will return and build again the dynasty of David which has crumbled and I will set it up.” The conclusion from these two Bible passages is that the nation of Israel was going to be set aside but only until the “fullness of the Gentiles” had come in. The conclusion was that the “Times of the Gentiles’ or the Church Age would predominate for a specific season. After that season, Israel would begin to be restored in preparation for Messiah’s coming. I suggested to them that world events we are currently seeing, or that have recently occurred, may indicate we are living at that crucial point in time when God is about to take up His dealings with Israel again and that the Times of the Gentiles was closing.

In our discussion about this concept, several items from recent events were mentioned as evidence that this may be the case. One was the formation of the nation of Israel itself made possible by a single vote (the USA) in the United Nations on 29th November 1947. As a result, at midnight on the 13th May 1948, the British flag was lowered in the Mandate Territory, and the Flag of Israel was hoisted, and the Nation of Israel was “born in a day,” just as Isaiah 66:8-10 had prophesied 2700 years earlier. We discussed briefly how Israel took the deserts and swamps and barren land and changed them into a garden (Ezekiel 36) so they blossomed like the rose (Isaiah 35:1-2). By 2013, Israel was exporting 60 million roses, orchids and other flowers to the EU countries on Valentine’s Day alone. Recently Israel was declared to be the world’s 3rd largest exporter of fruit, in line with Isaiah 27:6. I had the opportunity to point out that in a number of places in the Old Testament, Israel was referred to as God’s Fig Tree, and Jesus said that when the fig tree puts out its new shoots after a long barren winter, we will know that the time for His coming is drawing near.

They agreed that these events may indicate that God is taking up His dealings with Israel again. However, they wanted to know if the other half of the proposition was being fulfilled; specifically, if there were any biblical passages that indicated the Church Age or Times of the Gentiles might be closing. I suggested that a key marker in the Lord’s program may be the status of the old city of Jerusalem. In Luke 21:24, Jesus implies that a long time will pass between the destruction of Jerusalem (plus its accompanying Jewish dispersion) after 70 AD, until their eventual regathering, much, much later. As for Jerusalem itself, it was not under Jewish control for 2000 years. Even after the formation of Israel in 1948, the city was under Jordanian control until the 6-Day war of June 1967 when Israel finally won Jerusalem back after 2 millennia. I remembered the occasion well, as did some of the discussion group. The Jordanian radio studio in Jerusalem was reporting their supposed progress in the conflict when all their audience were startled to hear a different voice come on saying “This is Kol Israel – the Voice of Israel – bringing you the latest news…” Why is this important? At his first coming, Jesus stated that this event would be a marker that the Times of the Gentiles, the Church Age was closing (Luke 21:24).

However, even the Old Testament picks up this theme. Psalm 102:16 says that when Jerusalem is “built up,” the Lord will appear “in His glory.” After its restoration to Israeli control in June 1967, Jerusalem was declared to be the indivisible capital of, and largest city in, Israel in June 1980. Jerusalem has thus been “built-up.” The literal Hebrew of Psalm 102:18 reads “You will arise and have mercy on Zion [the city of Jerusalem]; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time has come…For when the LORD has built up Zion, He will appear in His glory…This has been written for the Last Generation … when those appointed to death will be loosed … when all the peoples are gathered and the kingdoms will serve the LORD.” The flip side of all this is mentioned in Zechariah 12:1-3, which states that the status of Jerusalem will then be an ongoing source of contention between all nations and Israel right up until Messiah returns to rule the earth. That describes the current situation well. We seem to be living in that generation.

In relation to the last part of the group’s discussion, namely the current chaotic condition of the world, Jesus in Luke 21:25-27 says that, following the restoration of Jerusalem to Jewish control, there will be “distress of nations with perplexity.” There is some amplification of what that may involve throughout many passages in both Old and New Testaments – wars, famines, plagues, great earthquakes, tsunamis, and a hotter sun. However, I tried to encourage this group not to be dismayed, confused, upset or distressed because of these accelerating events. Instead, strangely enough, Jesus actually tells us to rejoice. Hear His logic in Luke 21:28, 31, 36 “Now when you see these things BEGIN to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption [Christ’s coming for the Christians] draws near … Assuredly, I say to you, this generation [which saw Israel gain control of Jerusalem verse 24] will by no means pass away until all these things are fulfilled… Watch, therefore, and pray always that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and stand [instead] before the Son of Man.” The event which makes that possible is detailed in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 18.

It was about that time that the bells sounded, telling us that our 90-minute lunch break was over and the afternoon conference sessions would shortly begin. A couple stayed long enough to thank me for helping them connect the dots of world events and the Bible; another thanked the Lord for sending me all the way to Germany so they could have this discussion. I thanked them for the welcome they had given me, but pointed out that I was simply the message boy who happened to be available at the right time. If it wasn’t me, the Lord would have sent someone else.

NOTE: The position presented here is just one of several which are theologically acceptable. Some of the group in the above discussion had one or other of the alternate views and we didn’t have time to discuss them in that session. Furthermore, it is true that a theoretical or traditional approach to scripture is intellectually acceptable. However, we are told that God’s future actions have already been revealed to the prophets and given to us in advance (Amos 3:7). Therefore, when world events start happening in a way which seems to confirm a straightforward reading of the Word of God, my personal preference is to take that route. In this way, we are using the Word of God to cast light upon global events to help and advise others, just as the men of Issachar helped and advised David because “they had a knowledge of the times” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

Barry Setterfield

This article is from New Life…an Australia Magazine.  Link:

BARRY SETTERFIELD: Is the Speed of Light Slowing? Does it affect the apparent age of the cosmos?


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