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1) Israel claims her land.

The return of the Jewish people to Israel is the "super-sign" of prophecy. The Bible predicts over and over again that the Jews must be back in their homeland in order for the events of the end times to unfold (see Jeremiah 30:1-3; Ezekiel 34:11-24; Zechariah 10:6-10).

In 2003 ˇV a year of failed peace plans, rising Israeli-Palestinian tensions, and continued terrorist activity ˇV Israel began construction of a 320-mile barrier. The structure, now 25-percent complete, is made up of a complex network of fences, trenches, walls, and security roads. Palestinians say the barrier is a landgrab by Israel; Israel claims it is a necessary tool in its war against terrorism; prophecy experts view the barrier as a potential sign of things to come.

2) Saddamˇ¦s removal clears way for rebuilding Babylon.

The city of Babylon, located on the Euphrates River in modern Iraq, is mentioned almost 300 times in the Bible. It is consistently portrayed as a place of rebellion and pride. Scripture informs us that in the end times, Babylon will be rebuilt into a great city that will serve as a commercial and religious capital for the Antichrist.

The ousting of Saddam from power has resulted in a lifting of sanctions and limitations on Iraqi oil sales. As the ˇ§nation-buildingˇ¨ continues, billions of dollars will begin to flood into Iraq, making the rebuilding of Babylon as a major economic center for the Middle East (and the rest of the world) a real possibility.

3) A power struggle emerges in Europe.

This summer, a draft constitution for Europe amazingly included a reference in its preamble to a "reunited Europe.ˇ¨ This constitution could very well be the glue for the reunited Roman Empire predicted in the Bible during the end times.

According to the prophet Daniel, the second phase of the Roman Empire will take the form of a coalition of 10 nations. The EU, in its current form, has 15 members.

Recently, the summit on a proposed constitution for a united Europe collapsed after leaders failed to reach an agreement on the sharing of power. The fight revealed an unusual level of public animosity among the EU nations. Warning that an expanded EU could force Europe to "march to the slowest step," French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac suggested a "pioneer group" of nations should move forward alone. Perhaps this new coalition will develop in the shape of a 10-kingdom form as revealed by Daniel.

4) Religious leaders debate authority of Scripture.

The Bible uses the word apostasy to describe opposition from within. It refers to people who profess to believe ˇV who call themselves believers ˇV but who believe and teach false doctrine and practice ungodly behavior. There are a handful of New Testament passages that tell us that apostasy will be a defining characteristic of the last days.

At the 2003 annual convention for the Episcopal Church, the issue of the authority of Scripture was so divisive that leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion were forced to call an emergency session of religious leadership in London in order to prevent the splintering of the church. As debate heightened, an opposition movement in the Southern Hemisphere, where beliefs are more orthodox and growth is strong, grew more powerful.

5) Democracy falters in Russia.

Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel was given a detailed prophecy foretelling that Russia would become a dominant player on the world scene in the last days (Ezekiel 38-39). However, following the breakup of the Soviet Union, it became increasingly difficult to believe that Russia was going to be the major power that Ezekiel described.

Then, in a recent parliamentary election that Europe's leading democracy watchdog group called "overwhelmingly distorted," Vladimir Putinˇ¦s party won a landslide victory. Manipulating state media to boost his campaign, Putinˇ¦s victory is widely considered unfair. Critics fear the death of democracy after Russiaˇ¦s liberal parties were all but wiped out. Putin's supporters claim the pro-Kremlin majority will hand the ex-KGB spy more powers to fight corruption. Prophecy experts view the development as just one more reason for believing Christ could come in our time.

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