The Tribulation begins when the Antichrist signs a peace treaty with Israel, guaranteeing its security (Dan. 9:27). Nearly all Bible prophecy centers on Israel, including the prophecies dealing with the Tribulation.
Today the Middle East is a primary focus in international affairs.Bible scholars view the reestablishment of the nation of Israel as the most important sign of the end times, because so much of Bible prophecy centers on Israel.
More on the start of the Tribulation, excerpt from my book The Seat of the Antichrist: Bible Prophecy and the European Union
One-third of the Bible’s message is prophetic. History records the fulfillment of all prophecies except those pertaining to the Tribulation. The “Great Tribulation” occurs within a seven-year time frame (Dan. 9:25-27). It culminates at the battle of Armageddon, in which the world’s armies fight at Jerusalem. Daniel 8:23 confirms that the Tribulation begins when society degenerates to such a great degree that God judges the earth. God’s purpose in so doing is to end sin, fulfill prophecy, and create a new world ruled by Christ. The book of Daniel announces 70 weeks of specific prophetic events. A Biblical week equals seven secular years. Seventy Biblical weeks total 490 years, which encompass three decrees affecting Jerusalem. Two of these have already happened: from the edict to rebuild Jerusalem under Cyrus, down to the cutting off of the Messiah, was 483 years. The remaining seven years await fulfillment (Dan. 9:24).
During Jesus’s ministry, people questioned him about the end of the world. Christ exhorted believers to “watch” for the signs of the times (Mark 13:37). Jesus compared the events leading to His second coming to the labor pains of childbirth (Matt. 24:8, Mark 13:8). These occur closer together, increasing in severity, until the moment of birth. Events on the international scene, and the escalating rates of violence and natural disasters, happen today at an ever-quickening pace. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes break records in their frequency, and strike localities once untouched by the forces of nature.
In 1989, the Berlin Wall collapsed, marking the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the New World Order and this has now been replaced by the Age of Empires.
The rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the Middle East conflict presented the superpowers with a new focus. In the same period, major American cities experienced in one year’s time a doubling of their murder rates. City streets turned into battlefields. Worldwide crime statistics mounted. National and ethnic conflicts took place in so many nations that civil wars and border disputes became a trend in the Empire age. Today’s events occur just as the Scriptures predicted several thousand years ago, whether we look to the international or social scene.
Christ, commenting on the end times, foretold in Matthew 24:12: “lawlessness will abound.” In two of the Gospels, He compares the days before His coming to the era of Noah and Lot (Matt. 24:37, Luke 17:26). As in the days of Noah, violence becomes an epidemic (Gen. 6:11-12). Wickedness permeates society, and yet people live life as usual. This describes our generation. With prisons filled to capacity, city streets likened to battle grounds, and killings occurring at a record pace, violence has become a social crisis. As a result of the crimes committed by teenagers and grade school children, inner city schools conduct “bullet drills,” use metal detectors to scan for weapons, and hire armed security guards. The Economist commented that “It is not condoms that
they should be giving out in New York City schools; it is bullet proof vests.”William F. Buckley remarked that the largest standing army in the world is likely to be New York City school children.”Children kill their parents, murder each other, and are basically out of control.
In civil wars, the acts committed on civilian populations by militants surpass the realm of brutality and are nothing short of savage. This last century has recorded more mass murder than any other time in history. This does not even include abortions, which, when totaled worldwide in the last two decades, exceed the present U.S. population in number.Yet, violence and lawlessness are only part of the social picture described by Christ in the last days that will lead up to the start of the Tribulation.