Countdown To The Rapture

The worldwide events all point to the return of Jesus Christ in the Second Coming, but before that Jesus will return briefly for His Church in an event called the Rapture.

According to the common dispensational prophetic interpretation, the ‘end of the age’ and ‘the end of the world’ are separated in time by some 1,000 years. We are currently nearing the end of approximately 6,000 years of human government and the start of 1,000 years of peace on the earth – the Millennial Age when Christ rules the earth. It is only after this glorious age on earth that the ‘end of the world’, the physical destruction of the present earth, occurs. The ‘last days’ is often taken to span from the time of the apostles (the gifting of the Holy Spirit) to the Second Coming of Christ. Here we outline ‘the last’ of the ‘last days’.

1. Increase in Knowledge and Travel — There will be rapid increase in knowledge and travel. In just 100 years man has advanced rapidly in science, medicine, communications, astronomy and travel. We now understand how the trillions of cells in our bodies are controlled by a beautiful double helix molecule called DNA. And we can now hop on one of the 100,000 commercial flights each day and travel round the world in 24 hours! Tourism is the world’s largest industry: annual revenue of $500 billion, and is one of the major sources of foreign exchange in 83% of countries.

2. World-wide Gospel Proclamation — The Christian gospel message – reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ – will be preached worldwide just before the end of the age. This is happening now! The Bible is available in whole or in part to some 98% of the world’s population in a language in which they are fluent, and modern communications enables this message to be heard by over 99% of the world’s 7.7 billion people [2018] if they have the technology.

3. Apostasy and Spiritual Darkness — Although the gospel is preached worldwide, there will be a general falling away from biblical truth, a falling from the light of the gospel into deep spiritual darkness. The world will be deceived by the rise of a powerful false church that heads this end-time spiritual darkness. Some claim that this end-time worldwide church will be headed by the Vatican. There will also be false prophets and cults that deceive people.

4. Lawlessness — There will be increasing lawlessness. This reflects a lack of love between people and spans from local disputes, to political corruption, to greedy bankers, to religious persecution, to international terrorism. It will culminate in the brief reign of the end time ‘lawless one’ (2 Thessalonians 2.8), a world dictator. Love between people will grow cold as they depart from the spiritual laws of life as revealed in the Bible.

5. Severe Weather Events —  There will be extreme weather events (Luke 21.25) such as severe heat and drought, severe storms, torrential rain, large hail and heavy snow. Drought is one of the consequences of disobedience to God, as is extreme heat – heat severe enough to kill people. Reuters and large insurance companies confirm that such extreme weather events are increasing globally. These, together with cosmic disturbances (Luke 21.11, Revelation 6.12) and possible asteroid impact (Revelation 8.8) are part of God’s judgement on the rebellious nations.

6. Famines and plagues —  In Luke 21:9-11, Jesus explains that before the end of time, we will see escalations in all types of calamities in our world, including plagues: "When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately." Then He continued by saying to them, "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven." Our world has certainly experienced all of those things in some measure, and they seem to be escalating, from tsunamis to massive earthquakes, from wars to global Islamic terrorism, from plagues of locusts and disease to blood moons and other signs in the heavens, it's all been happening around us in recent history.

7. Increasing Persecution of Christians and Jews —  There will be increasing persecution of those who choose to follow Christ. We see this today in subtle form from western governments, but especially from those who mistakenly think they are doing God’s will (John 16.2) – as in Islamic persecution of Christians in the 10/40 window. Christianity is now the world’s most persecuted faith. Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and has the goal of destroying the State of Israel through Jihad. At the very end of the age, the world dictator will sign a seven-year peace treaty with Israel. This is the last time the nations seek a ‘roadmap to peace’ in the Middle East. But midway through this treaty he will break it and start severe persecution of the Jewish people (Jacob’s trouble). It will be terminated by the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the age.

8. Return of Israel to their Land —  God’s chose the nation Israel to be His servant and witness in the world. At the end of the age they will be drawn back to the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. This in-gathering or ‘aliyah’ has been underway since the late 1800’s and the population of Israel has grown from 0.5m in 1900 to 8.7m in 2017. After years of being scattered amongst the nations, national Israel will become prosperous as God once more blesses His people and makes them a key witness of Himself amongst the nations. But Israel will become the vortex of world attention and activity as nations rage against her.

9. Rebirth of Israel as a Nation — Israel has been in continuous conflict with the surrounding Arab nations since the birth of the State of Israel in 1948, and the so-called Palestinian problem is continually in the media.

10. Apostate Church — A false, apostate church will remain in a spiritually dark world. This will probably happen just before the worst seven years the world has ever known. Paul supplies us with some strong clues as to why the end times Church will be weak, vacillating, and full of apostasy. One of those clues can be found in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 which says that “the time will come when they [Christians] will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.”   — Apostate Leaders John Spong, Episcopal Bishop of New Jersey, has written books in which he denies the virgin birth, denies the miracles of Jesus, denies the resurrection, denies the Second Coming, and argues that Paul and Timothy were homosexual lovers. Bishop Spong has become so enamored with other religions that he has announced he will no longer witness to those caught up in the spiritual darkness of pagan faiths!1 Similar apostate thoughts were mouthed by Norman Vincent Peale in 1984 on the Phil Donahue program. Peale announced, “It’s not necessary to be born-again. You have your way to God; I have mine. I found eternal peace in a Shinto shrine… I’ve been to Shinto shrines, and God is everywhere.” Phil Donahue was so shocked that he actually came to the defense of Christianity. “But you’re a Christian minister,” he retorted, “and you’re suppose to tell me that Christ is the way and the truth and the life, aren’t you?” Peale replied, “Christ is one of the ways. God is everywhere.”2 Look again at Peale’s incredible statement: “It’s not necessary to be born-again.” What did Jesus say? “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born-again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Who are we to believe?  The big move at the grass roots level these days is interfaith worship services. I’m not talking about inter-denominational — rather, the emphasis is on inter-faith. Christians are inviting Muslims, Jews, Hindus, American Indian practitioners of “native religion,” and others to join in worshiping “the one true god, regardless of the name you may give to him or her.” Pope John Paul II got caught up in this inter-faith fad in 1986 when he invited the leaders of the world’s religions to come to Assisi, Italy to join him in praying for world peace.21 One hundred sixty representatives came, including the Dali Lama (who considers himself to be a god). Each representative prayed to his own god at the Pope’s request! Did the Pope believe their gods were real? Or did he believe that they were all praying to the same god, but under different names?

11. Rapture of Church — The true end-time church will be miraculously removed from the earth to meet Christ ‘in the air’ (1 Thessalonians 4.17). Believers past and present will be raised with immortal bodies to be with God forever, whilst the false, apostate church will remain in a spiritually dark world. This will probably happen just before the worst seven years the world has ever known.

12. Godless Ruthless World Government — Many world leaders have called for a ‘New World Order’ (NWO) or World Government, and this is currently being formed through organizations like the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, the Club of Rome, the Illuminati, NATO and the World Council of Churches (WCC). Bible prophecy suggests that this ruthless world government will be a form of revived Roman Empire based in Europe and headed by a world dictator (Revelation 13.1) and the Antichrist (Revelation 13.11).

13. Godless Pompous Lawless World Dictator — Not Arrived Yet — At the very end of the age, the world dictator will emerge to lead all of the nations of the world as referenced in (Daniel 7.19-21).

14. A Seven Year Peace Treaty With Israel — Not Arrived Yet — At the very end of the age, the world dictator will sign a seven-year peace treaty with Israel. This is the last time the nations seek a ‘roadmap to peace’ in the Middle East. But midway through this treaty he will break it and start severe persecution of the Jewish people (Jacob’s trouble). It will be terminated by the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the age.

15. A Cashless Trading System with an ID on Individuals — Not Arrived Yet - but getting closer — Individuals will be increasingly controlled by governments, particularly in developed nations. This will be via electronic ID and cashless trading. Extensive computer networks and large databases make it easy for governments to monitor and control individuals. Today, companies across the world have begun micro-chipping their employees. There is now just a short technological step to the ultimate electronic ID and it’s forced imposition upon all individuals.

16. A Global Financial Crash — As part of God’s judgement of the nations there will be a sudden global financial crash and collapse of the world trading system. The world economy is based upon highly-interconnected global supply chains which are vulnerable to even a single major shock – such as a major bank failure or a cyber attack. Contagion could then spread rapidly through the tightly-linked global financial network. Collapse seems certain since global government debt is rapidly increasing.

17. Islamic Invasion of Israel — The Arab-Israeli tension will soon erupt into another middle east war, probably involving mainly Islamic nations. According to prophecy, the attacking nations will be defeated by the God of Israel. Eventually, at the very end of this age, all nations will come up against Israel in a place called Armageddon (Revelation 16.16), but again they will be defeated.

18. The End of the Age — There are some 1500 Bible references to the return of Jesus Christ at the very end of the present age. Contrast this with some 300 Old Testament prophecies that relate to Christ’s first coming, all of which were fulfilled. So Christ’s return is certain. In fact, it is Christ Himself who closes the age upon His return. He will destroy the final form of corrupt world government (Daniel 2.35) and usher in a peaceful age, the Millennium. He will reign from Jerusalem as ‘King over all the earth’ (Zechariah 14.9).

19. The End of the World — After some 1,000 years, at the end of the Millennial reign of Christ, the earth and the biblical ‘heavens’ will be physically destroyed by extreme heat (2 Peter 3.7,10). This is the literal ‘end of the world’. Some scientists expect that, at some point in the future, the sun will expand to become a red giant and burn up the solar system, including earth.

Many good people disagree today about the details of prophetic fulfillment.

Some take the position of "a pan-millennialist: it’ll all pan out in the end."

Some view things in a different context.

Although it’s true that we need to maintain a healthy humility about the details of the end times, it is most certainly not true that we should just ignore the whole question.

We are told to "occupy till [He] come[s]" (Luke 19:13), but we’re also told to observe the times (Matthew 16:3) and to be alert for the end (1 Thessalonians. 5:1–10).

In interpreting the headlines, then, we can set down some broad strokes. If you take a premillennialist position or perspective, you’ll note that during the Tribulation Israel will exist as a nation, and there will be a temple (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

So it makes sense that premillennialists would get excited about Israel’s return to the land in 1948 and about activists in Israel today who want to rebuild the Temple. And there is much thought about a Rapture will be within the neighborhood of time preceding the Temple construction.

We can put the ever–changing headlines into perspective for as we study the Bible by emphasizing a few unchanging truths from Scripture:

* God is in charge. He rules in the affairs of men, and His will will be done (Daniel 2:28; 4:17; Matthew 6:10).

* Christ is coming again (Acts 1:11).

* God is not bound by time. What appears as delay should not be taken as a sign of weakness (Matthew 24:48–51; 2 Peter 3:3–14).

* We must not try to second–guess God on the timing of Christ’s return (Mark 13:32).

* We must maintain a balance between watchful expectation—what the Scripture calls "hope" (1 Thessalonians 5:1–10)—and diligent labor in the meantime (Matthew 25:14–30).

* Among many other things, this diligent labor must include

    * the evangelization and disciplining of the lost (Matthew 28:19–20)

    * the edification of God’s people (Ephesians 4:11–16)

    * the care of our families (1 Timothy 5:8)

    * personal pursuit of Christ–likeness (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18)

    * the glorification of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)

So are you inclined to live your life around the ever–changing headlines? There is a better and more stable way.

Occupy.

Till He comes.

Maranatha!