As we approach the end of the age, many self-appointed ministers, prophets and apostles are making wild and competing assertions. Claims range from announcing that they are one of the end-time "Two Witnesses" to predicting the date for Christ's return; from wrongly identifying the future King of the North, King of the South, or the Kings from the East; to declaring that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse have already been released! What is the truth? Who can you believe? How can you test the prophets?
Scripture warns that in the latter times false prophets will abound! Scripture calls them hypocrites and liars, influenced by demons and deceiving spirits (1 Timothy 4:1–2).
As we approach the end of the age, many self-appointed ministers, prophets and apostles are making wild and competing assertions. Claims range from announcing that they are one of the end-time "Two Witnesses" to predicting the date for Christ's return; from wrongly identifying the future King of the North, King of the South, or the Kings from the East; to declaring that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse have already been released!
What is the truth? Who can you believe? How can you test the prophets?
The Red Horse
Prophecy is indeed moving rapidly forward. Terrible earthquakes, storms and other natural disasters abound. Religious strife, economic calamity, famine and immorality are spreading. Nuclear weapons proliferation and terrorism thrive. War rhetoric continues to escalate. The United States is increasingly seeing nations such as China, Venezuela, Russia, and North Korea as potential adversaries.
Briefly consider Iran. Apparently determined to develop nuclear weapons and continuing to threaten not only Israel and America, but also Europe, President Ahmadinejad is calling the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon "a big lie" and a pretext for the war on terror (Associated Press, "Iran's Ahmadinejad: Sept. 11 attacks a 'big lie'," March 6, 2010).
Iran's belligerent stance has caused German Chancellor Angela Merkel to demand "tough sanctions" and to say that "the European Union would take action by itself if UN sanctions did not get passed" ("Merkel Calls on Russia and China to Support Tougher Sanctions", Der Spiegel, February 25, 2010). Likewise, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has for months been calling for increased pressure on Iran and has said that Egypt rejects Iran's actions ("Mubarak: Iran nuke program must be treated like Israel," Jerusalem Post, January 27, 2010).
God's true Church understands the prophetic implications of representatives of the coming European King of the North, and the Arab King of the South galvanizing against Iran—which is modern Persia, is east of Jerusalem, and is not the King of the South.
It could seem that the second seal; the red horse of war, in Revelation 6 has been opened. Many claim it has. Has it? Will you use Scripture to "test the spirits, whether they are of God" (1 John 4:1)?
Jesus Christ is the Revelator (Revelation 1:1). And Scripture records Christ at the Mount of Olives revealing detailed information about events that will immediately precede His Second Coming. Jesus' Olivet Prophecy, recorded in Matthew 24, reveals the same sequence of events as found in Revelation:
After these four seals is the fifth seal—the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). Then the sixth seal—the "Heavenly Signs" (v. 29). This is followed by the Day of the Lord and Christ's triumphant return (vv. 30–31).
There have always been harbingers of the four horsemen. But, the end-time seals are opened in a specific order within a timeframe of just over 3½ years. And, there are very specific events associated with each seal. The first five seals of Revelation, outlined in Revelation 6, cover just over 21⁄2 years. The sixth seal then introduces the year-long prophetic period known as the Day of the Lord.
While end-time conditions are now rapidly coalescing, it is important to understand prophecy accurately. Many people understand some prophecy and mix that with much error. But 2 Peter 1:19 demands that a scripturally accurate understanding of prophecy is one sign of God's true Church!
The first seal releases intensified religious deception and a militant false religious movement. The "mother of harlots" (Revelation 17) will lead this movement and she will persecute the saints (v. 6). But first, the "mother church" must gather her wayward daughters (Isaiah 47:8).
Recent decrees such as Anglicanorum Coetibus are long-prophesied and tremendously important movements designed to bring Anglicans, Orthodox and Protestants back under Roman Catholic supremacy (Catholic News Agency, February 1, 2010). Scripture reveals that after this brief reconciliation, this system's destruction will come suddenly (Isaiah 47:9).
Additionally, at the time of the first seal, a brazen and satanically powerful false religious leader will arise (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This man will have supernatural power to deceive. He will have the ability to perform great miracles such as causing fire to come down out of the sky (Revelation 13:13–14)! He will present himself as the leader of the entire Christian church, and even go on to demand to be worshiped as God!
For a brief time near the end of this age, as God's true Church has long understood, this great "mother church" will temporarily manipulate ("ride") the end-time European Beast power (Revelation 13:4–7; 17:1–7) which will crush the modern Israelitish countries immediately before Christ's return. A ten-nation (or ten-kingdom) "United States of Europe"—essentially within the bounds of the old Roman Empire—will be under the sway of the Roman Church as it carries out its prophesied end-time activities.
Yes, it is clear that events are rapidly accelerating to usher in the end of this age and Christ's return. But, it is also clear that the final false prophet has not yet been revealed. This is one of many reasons we know that, at this time, neither the first nor second seals have yet been opened.
Many people need to test the spirits, "because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Others, who became afflicted with "itching ears" need to return to the sound doctrine they once knew and stop listening to pompous deceivers masquerading as ministers of Christ (2 Timothy 4:3–4)!
Each of us must prove all these things (1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV) well before the seals are opened! We must turn away from self-appointed prophets and false ministers and prove from our Bibles who is faithfully teaching the Truth in power while that faithful Church may still be found (Amos 8:11)!
God has preserved a faithful Church that perseveres in keeping His commandments (Revelation 3:10), is zealously doing a worldwide Work (Mark 16:15), and has "a more sure word of prophecy" (2 Peter 1:19, KJV)! Have you proven where that Church is? Have you "crucified" your carnal will to Christ (Galatians 2:20) to now live by faith within the body of Christ where there is no schism (1 Corinthians 12:25)?