Category: BIBLE PROPHECY


Those of you who hate politics, who hate a certain current president of the United States, who hate the idea of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and who recoil at the rantings of some obscure, half-mad Christian, be warned that you’ll probably hate this post too!

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Fifty years ago or so the “grandfather of Bible prophecy”, Hal Lindsey, wrote his book “The Late Great Planet Earth”, and became one of the men who led many millions of people to conclude that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ was just around the corner. I was one of them (though not fifty years past). The “stage was being set” for the grand finale of history, they said, and continue to say.

However, half a century later here we all are on the same old planet earth, and we may well ask ourselves if what some of us were led to believe either wasn’t true, or at best that it was rather premature. After all, it was many hundreds of years ago in northern Europe that people were saying, with the dark dawn of the Black Death, the threat of the Turks from the East, and the onslaught of the Pope’s church against non-conformist believers, that the end of the ages was surely upon them and the return of Christ could not be far off. They were longing for his appearing, but they were wrong about a few things. Are we similarly wrong?

Past prognosticators considered the people of ancient Israel to be guilty of murdering the Messiah, and believed that as judgment Israel had been judged and destroyed forever, in the first century destruction of Jerusalem and Israel by the Roman armies. Consequently they totally missed the fact that a literal nation of Israel must have a central role in last days events. Prophetic references to “Israel” and “Zion”, they were convinced, were addressing the Church. They didn’t understand that the nation had to be reborn and once again in possession-a very tentative and hotly contested possession-of the physical city of Jerusalem: present-day realities.

REMAINS OF THE SECOND JEWISH TEMPLE, WITH ISLAMIC DOME OF THE ROCK BEHIND IT

This leads me, indirectly, to our modern day political scene. I say “political scene”, but it really isn’t accurate to refer to it solely as a political scene: there’s an additional dimension to it all. What we see appears to be political, but what’s behind it, driving it all along, is spiritual.

There are some of us out here who were wondering during the last US administration’s two terms whether we would all be led within a year or so into that final showdown of the ages as spoken of in the Bible. Truth was being thrown to the ground; sacred institutions were being trashed, so that schools were being ordered to open restrooms to anyone deciding to belong to a different gender for the day; Israel was being shunned, shamed and threatened, and pressured into handing over Jerusalem. Power was being centralized, nationally and internationally, and we were being surreptitiously ushered into a global society.

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A certain religion wishing, one way or another, to convert the world, was being favored and facilitated, and the faith of our founding fathers was being muzzled and demoted. But with the coming of a new administration in recent months, has the West seen a reprieve, a turnaround and a backing away from the precipice and from the end of the world as we knew it?

I would love to say that yes, we in the West are returning to our right minds: we’ll be keeping our own identity, our own traditional understanding of faith, and our own God’s view of right and wrong. Perhaps we will hang onto it all, for a time-I hope so. I pray so. It may even be that the US will dissent from the foretold international assault on Israel, but scripture says that “all nations” will descend on Jerusalem.

“None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand” (Daniel 12:10).

However, we see daily in our “news” reports the desparate efforts going on to destroy or emasculate, in any way possible, the new administration, and most particularly, the new President. Even before he was elected; even when he’d barely started campaigning for nomination, his opponents the world over were accusing him of just about everything negative and hateful that they could cook up. What he didn’t say they attributed to his words and actions anyway, and what he did say was ignored, distorted or edited for the most damaging effect possible. Among the accusations was the idea that he would start a nuclear war as soon as he possibly could.

Don’t look now, but it hasn’t begun yet. They said the same about Reagan thirty years ago, because they hated him equally. I was one of those partially convinced at the time that Reagan was an evil, rich warmonger who was going to start a nuclear war against those poor peace-loving communists.

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Trump was being viciously attacked by media people, sports commentators, college professors, so-called “comedians” and pro-abortion advocates right out of the gate. He’s hated. And it’s not just he who’s hated, it’s all those who voted for him. There’s an inexplicably rabid, unreasonable and frantic movement against all that he stands for-even before his opponents know what it is he stands for. Why? What’s the goal? What will be the outcome?

And what, you may be wondering, does hatred for Trump have to do with last days things? To begin my answer, no I don’t think he’s going to start Armageddon, and no, I don’t think he’s the antichrist. What’s most telling is the vehement opposition to him and his supporters. Trump will not be around for long: hatred for what he stands for will. What will happen when they eventually-one way or another-get rid of Trump? I’ll tell you what I think.

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Considering the world’s obsession with reborn Israel’s possession of Jerusalem, and its determination to divide it as the Bible predicts, Bible prophecy must really be on the verge of fulfillment, be it a few years or decades. I don’t see how it can be coincidence. The world hasn’t changed its direction permanently with the election of Mr. Trump: some trends have just been slowed or postponed. As surely as the pendulum of politics swings, and as surely as Bible prophecy of the first coming of the Christ was fulfilled, so the march towards the world’s destiny will continue, and the second coming is certain. I’m no prophet, and I would never say “The Lord told me”, but I can still tell you what to expect…

The push for globalism and the end of the values of the West will return with a vengeance, with growing support among those who believe we should have no borders. The one-world crowd will almost get their way:

“All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast…” (Revelation 13:8).

The slide into moral lawlessness will surge:

“Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts” Revelation 9:21)

Anti-Christian sentiment, only being held in check now by the Holy Spirit and a few law-respecting leaders of the world, will vent itself freely:

He opened his mouth to blaspheme God ,and to slander his name…He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them (Revelation 9:6-7).

Pressure upon Israel to hand over Jerusalem to enemies of all that the West once stood for-at work today even in the West-will turn into action:

I will gather all nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured…Half of the city will go into exile…Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations…(Zechariah 14:2-3).

And in that last phrase is the good news: the good news that those who are intent on trashing all godly institutions, and all true faith, and all right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness will, just as they think they have won, be stopped in their tracks…dead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JERUSALEM’S FINAL STATUS

The final status of Jerusalem is certain. No “talks” are going to decide it. There will be no “agreement”. There will be no successful “peace” plan from President Obama, Secretary Kerry or anyone else, no matter how devious or sincere, and there will be no lasting solution presented by the United Nations…

THE WESTERN WALL

Oh, there will be plenty more talks, schemes, agreements and consultations, and there’ll be copious amounts of cajoling, pressure, persuasion, threats, rhetoric and argument. perhaps for years or decades more. There’s even going to be at least one more war. But all the promises, schemes, arguments and blood-letting will amount to nothing. No-one can change the ultimate outcome: the real final status of Jerusalem is fixed and unalterable.

THE TRAP IS SPRUNG

It’s fascinating to see an unbelieving world which sneers at the Bible, work so hard to fulfill Bible prophesies. Two and a half thousand years ago Zechariah, Joel and Ezekiel wrote that God would set a trap for the rebellious nature of man. It will cement the god-haters in their chosen destiny. Even Jesus referred to last-days events as a trap:

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth (Luke 21:34-35).

The trap specifically spoken of by the prophets would be the world’s own obsession with Jerusalem, and with a determination to wrest the city from its rightful tenants. Jerusalem would become an itch the world just couldn’t resist scratching. The nations now anxious to divide Jerusalem and Israel ostensibly in the name of “peace”-but really in a deep abiding hatred for the Jew-will eventually resort to force:

I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished. And half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city (Zechariah 14:2 KJ21).

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem (12:2).

THE WORLD’S OBSESSION WILL BE ITS DOWNFALL…

And in that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people. All who try to move it will injure themselves (12:3 NIV).

Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle (14:3).

On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem (12:9).

REMAINS OF THE SECOND JEWISH TEMPLE, WITH ISLAMIC DOME OF THE ROCK BEHIND IT

THE REAL FINAL STATUS

The final status of Jerusalem will begin to unfold when it’s re-claimed by the God who owns it, and who calls it “my land”. It belongs to Him: not to the UN, not to the Palestinians and not even to the Israelis:

In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land” (Joel 3:1-2).

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Ultimately, Jerusalem will be replaced and superseded by the new, eternal city:

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Revelation 21:2 NIV).

In the New Jerusalem, God will dwell with people from throughout history who’ve loved him, and who didn’t jump into his trap at the climax of history. If you want to be one of those people, and don’t know how to get to this celestial Jerusalem, please read my post, “WHAT IS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST?”

https://nickyfisher.com/2013/08/13/what-is-the-gospel-of-jesus-christ-2/

 

 

 

Greetings, truth-seekers! Here’s part six of my up-dated, re-written, re-edited study on the rapture of the Church: the result of years of soul-searching and truth-seeking of my own.

(Please note that I do not have an a-millennial view of prophecy…)

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DO THE “GATES OF HELL” PROVE A PRE-TRIB RAPTURE?

I’ve heard one popular minister draw attention to the fact that according to Jesus, the “gates of hell” would not prevail against the Church, and then claim that as Antichrist will prevail against the saints during the tribulation (Daniel 8:12; Revelation 13:7) the saints of Revelation cannot be the Church: the Church will be gone before the Tribulation.

What will happen to the saints in Revelation? They will be persecuted and killed. So what’s new? Thousands or even millions of Christians have been persecuted and killed for their faith over the centuries since the time of Jesus, and are being killed today. So either Jesus was wrong to make this statement that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, or the martyrdom of saints is not the gates of hell prevailing against the Church! The Church will remain no matter how successful Antichrist will appear to be for a time.

REMAINING TRUE TO THE END

We see in the “Olivet Discourse” in Matthew 24 that Jesus spoke to his disciples as though they would witness the events of the Tribulation (see verses 15-27). He warned that at that time the love of most would grow cold, “but he that remains true to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Why would they have to remain true to the end if they were already in heaven?

FIRSTFRUITS

In Revelation 14, in the midst of talk of the beast and his mark (chapters 13 and 14), we read about 144,000 people standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb (14:1). Why are they called ‘first-fruits’ (verse 4), if they had already been beaten into heaven and the presence of the Lamb, by the rapture of the Church?

NOAH AND LOT

Jesus’ mention of Noah’s escape from the Flood in his “Olivet Discourse” is seen by pre-Trib. teachers as type of a pre-tribulation rapture (Matthew 24: 36-39).

However, Noah by choice and purpose entered the ark which he had built at the command of God. He knew that the Flood was coming, and he knew exactly when it was coming seven days before it came (Genesis 7:4). So Jesus did not intend to use the example of Noah’s escape to be an example of a surprise rapture! It was the unbelieving world which was not ready for the Flood:

“…and they knew nothing about what would happen until the Flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (verse 39).

Similarly, the example of Lot’s escape from the destruction of Sodom in Luke chapter 17, is used to support a pre-trib. rapture. However, Lot left Sodom on foot, knowing that it was going to be judged that very day. The ungodly were living out their usual daily lives when destruction from the Lord took them by surprise (verses 28-29). They were appointed to wrath instead of salvation (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

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It’s significant that Noah entered the ark on the same day that the Flood came (Genesis 7:11-13), and not days or years before, and he was not taken into heaven. Similarly, Lot escaped from Sodom on the same day its judgment came without going to heaven. Do we really want to take these events as templates for the rapture? If so we would have to take the “mid-Tribulation” position, because Jesus said that the “time of trouble” (equivalent to the Flood and the destruction of Sodom) will begin when the antichrist enters the temple (Matthew 24:17 and 21). This will be three and a half years before Christ’s visible return, not seven or eight or ten years before it. Even in the words of pre-trib. “experts” the first half of the “seven years” will be a time of apparent peace and prosperity for the world: not the day of judgment, wrath and trouble. Antichrist’s power lasts only for forty-two months (Revelation 13:5).

Noah’s deliverance does not work as a model for a rapture years before the time of trouble. It’s intended to demonstrate that the unbelieving world will not be ready for the Day of the Lord while true believers will. Paul put it this way:

…for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly…But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief…” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).

ONE TAKEN, THE OTHER LEFT

It’s a common view, as it was mine once, that when Jesus said ‘one will be taken, the other will be left’ (Matthew 24:40-41), he was speaking of a surprise rapture at some time before the Tribulation. Please refer to the above point, because Jesus had given the example of Noah and the Flood to show that it was necessary for his followers to be ready for his coming (verses 38-42).

Jesus linked his “one will be taken” phrases to the example of the Flood taking unbelievers away, when he said “one will be taken, the other left”. This is the time of judgment-not a years before the event rapture.

Noah knew which day the Flood was coming, (Genesis 7:4) and he purposely entered the ark on his own two legs, on the very day that judgment fell (Genesis 7:11-13; Matthew 24:38). Interestingly, Jesus said that believers in Jerusalem and Judea (called the ‘West Bank’ today) are to look for Antichrist to make his move, then get away from the area as quickly as possible (Matthew 24:15-21). If anything, we could take this passage as an evidence for the mid-Tribulation position. The warning that ‘one will be taken and the other left’, can still speak of imminence. Though believers will know that the signs Jesus foretold are being fulfilled, they will literally not know ‘the day or the hour’ that these events will begin, or when the rapture will come.

Here’s the fifth installment of my up-dated study on the rapture of the Church, intended to help you decide where you should stand on the issue…

I was once a “pre-trib.” believer for many years: I see things rather differently now. Please note that I am not an Amillennialist…

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ARE PRE-TRIBULATION SAINTS THE “HOLY ONES” WHO RETURN TO THE EARTH WITH CHRIST?

Pre-Tribulation believers say that those who come from heaven with Christ at the end of the Tribulation, described in Revelation chapter 19:11-16, are the Church. They’re dressed in fine linen, just as the Bride of Christ is given to wear earlier in the chapter, and so the assumption is made that the Church must have been in heaven during the entire Tribulation. Chapter 17 verse 14 says that when Christ overcomes the Beast, ‘with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers’. It may seem to be a reasonable assumption that this is the Church riding from heaven to the earth with Christ. However, there are a few “wait a minute” observations to be made.

First, when the text says that the Lamb’s followers will be “with him” (17:14) it doesn’t have to mean that they will be a part of the Armageddon attack force: it may just mean that his victory is their victory; they’re going to be “with him” for eternity as his bride; his followers are faithful to him in the world. They’re living in the same earthly world as the ten kings who side with the beast (verses 12 and 13).

Secondly, even if the Church is to be part of the Armageddon attack force the time at which Jesus’ called, chosen and faithful followers are seen to be with him (17:14) the attack happens  when the beast and the ten kings are making war against him. This  event is not pre-trib., and it’s not even before the mid-point of the “seven year tribulation”: it’s during or at the end of the last three and a half years. That’s the maximum time the beast will have to mount his rebellion (Revelation 13:5). There is therefore no clear reason to assume that the Church has already been in heaven for seven years.

Third, angels also wear clean linen:

“Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen” (15:6).

Fourth, when Christ leaves heaven with ‘the armies of heaven’, the words “Church” and “Bride” are not used to describe them (19:14). Paul describes Christ’s coming in vengeance, not ‘with us’, but ‘with his powerful angels’ (2 Thessalonians 1:7), or ‘mighty angels’ (KJV). In fact, Paul said that those who were being persecuted in his time would be given relief, not “before the tribulation”, but:

“…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” (2 Thessalonians 1:7).

Jesus said that when He comes in power and great glory, it is the ‘angels’ who will come with him (Matthew 25: 31). He did not say “you” or “the Church”, coming with him to make war. He will send angels to gather His elect (Matthew 24:30-31; 13:40-43). Perhaps the Bride has made herself ready for the Wedding of the Lamb, (Revelation 19:7-9), but not to fight the battle of Armageddon!

The KJV speaks of the ‘saints’ coming with Christ (Zechariah 14:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Jude 5:8). The word translated ‘saints’ can also be translated ‘holy’ ones, or ‘morally blameless’, so they are not necessarily humans: they could be angels who did not fall with Lucifer. Even with the word ‘saints’ translated as “believers” the Pre-Trib. position gains nothing, because ’saints’ are seen to be persecuted throughout the Tribulation (Revelation 13:7-10).

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PAUL’S STATEMENT DEMANDS TWO DIFFERENT SETS OF FOLLOWERS, THE FIGHTERS AND THE RESCUED:

Paul seems to have made pretty clear that the “Holy ones” who would come with Christ to bring the vengence of God are not Church age believers, because he speaks of believers as being separate from the holy ones who come with him to wage war-they are two different groups:

“…so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father… when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thessalonians 3: 13).

There is no statement or indication that the Bride has been in heaven for the entire Tribulation. We do find believers in heaven, in chapter 7, who “came out of great tribulation”, in other words, they were martyred (verses 9-17), but this is between the 6th and 7th seals (6:12; 8:1). It is after a great earthquake (6:9-11), after the sun turning black, after the moon turning red, and after stars ‘falling from the sky’ (6:12-14). In the previous chapter, with the 5th seal we see the souls of some who had been martyred. They are given white robes to wear (6:9-11). Are they martyred saints from the “Church age” and before, or are they those “out of great Tribulation” (7:14)? There is another reference to the souls of believers in Jesus who have been martyred, in chapter 20, who are raised to life after the return of Christ (verse 4). There was a promise given to those who were to be martyred, at the time of the Antichrist’s ascendancy to power, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on…” (14:13), and warning in verse 12 tells believers not to take the mark of the beast:

“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus”.

A LATE SUPPER

Fifth, it seems that the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, which some claim happens in heaven at the beginning of the Tribulation or before, actually happens in chapter 19 (see verses 7 to 9), just before the visible return of Christ, and at some time after the destruction of the ‘great prostitute’, or false religion (verse 2). Since it is the Antichrist and his ten henchmen who destroy the prostitute (17:16), then logically the Wedding supper will be after the mid-Tribulation point which is when they gain power (13:5 with 17:12).

THE RAPTURE OF THE LIVING WILL BE AFTER THE RESURRECTION

Paul said that, “the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds…” (1 Thessalonians 14:16-17). If the Pre-Tribulational view is correct the resurrection would have to be before the Tribulation. Daniel seems to indicate that the resurrection will come after the events of the Tribulation, or possibly during them. He describes key events, including actions of the Antichrist, then the involvement of the archangel Michael to defend Israel, and then the resurrection (Daniel 11:40 to 12:4). In Revelation 20, after the return of Christ to the earth, we read about those believers who had been martyred by the Antichrist being raised to life. This is called the ‘first resurrection’ (20:4-6). Pre Trib. adherents must make the claim that the ‘first resurrection’ is in stages, otherwise there would be several ‘first’ resurrections.

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WHICH LAST TRUMP IS THE LAST LAST TRUMP?

Paul, when telling the Corinthians that ‘we will all be changed’(1 Corinthians 15:51), said that ‘the trumpet will sound’ (verse 52). When writing to the Thessalonians he mentioned the trumpet again (1 Thessalonians 4:13-19, esp. verse 16). Jesus, when speaking of his physical and visible return to the earth, said that he would send his angels ‘with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds’ (Matthew 24:30-31), but pre-Tribulationists claim that this is a different set of trumpet blasts entirely. Do they know that to be so, or do they impose that idea in order to preserve their own theory? Most interestingly, Paul said that the rapture would happen at “the last trumpet’ (1 Corinthians 15:52).

Questions need to be asked here. If, as Paul said, the ‘last trumpet’ is to announce the rapture, and the Rapture is before the Tribulation, when did the other trumpets come, and what events did they announce? If the rapture is ‘imminent’, and there is nothing to occur before it in terms of last days events, then what were the previous trumpets for?

THE SEVENTH TRUMPET AND THE MYSTERY OF GOD

It may not be just coincidence that there is a series of seven trumpet blasts in the book of Revelation. These trumpets herald some of the final devastating judgments upon the earth. In chapter 10 verse 7 we read that when the seventh trumpet sounds, ‘the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets’. It may or may not also be a coincidence that the word used here which is translated ‘mystery’ is the same word used by Paul when he wrote about the rapture:

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51).

This is not to say that Revelation 10:7 is entirely concerning the rapture, but it is worth considering the rapture to be a part of that ‘mystery of God’. When the seventh trumpet is sounded, (11:15), there is no devastating plague hurled to the earth. Instead a declaration is made that ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of the Lord and of his Christ’. Other relevant declarations are made, such as, ‘The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints, and those who reverence your name’ (verse 18). Does this not sound like a resurrection – something which occurs before the Rapture of the living?

FALL AWAY FROM WHAT?

Paul said that there will be a “falling away”, or a “rebellion” from the true faith as a preliminary sign that the Day of the Lord had come (2 Thessalonians 2:3). It seems to me that if the true Church and the Holy Spirit is already gone, there’s nothing to fall away from. Surley there has to be a Church – a faith – to fall away from?

THANKS FOR READING!

 

Here’s the next installment of my up-dated study on the rapture of the church, in which I hope to give a little illumination to someone who is genuinely trying to understand where he or she should stand on the issue.

At the outset I need to make one thing very clear, and should have done so at the start of my series: I am not an amillennialist…

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WHAT PAUL AND JESUS DID NOT SAY

Sometimes facts can be clear or implied by what isn’t said, and I believe that’s the case with the rapture. Yes, Paul called the rapture a “mystery” (1 Corinthians 15:21), and his designation is used today to bolster the idea that Jesus will come like a thief in the night for his Church (see the previous part of my series).  But Paul wasn’t secretive about what he knew about the rapture: he went on to describe it (verses 51-55). 

Paul warned the Thessalonians not to be easily led into the notion that the ‘day of the Lord’ had already arrived. Evidently some such deception was going around at that time. According to Peter, the “day of the Lord” includes the destruction of this present earth (2 Peter 3:10-13), and according to Paul it will include sudden destruction falling on an ungodly world of people (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4). So the ‘day of the Lord’ includes the Tribulation and following events. Paul told the Thessalonians what to look out for as signs that the day of the Lord had really begun. He said:

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV).

Please notice what Paul did not say. He didn’t say anything like this:

 “That day will not come before we’re all taken into heaven, so don’t worry about it”.

This to me is very telling. It seems like a serious omission, if he really knew and was preaching, as some claim, that there was a rapture coming before Antichrist is revealed. The first sign, said Paul, was a falling away and the man of perdition: not rapture. This fact is compounded when we see that Jesus identified the very same event, which he called ‘the abomination of desolation’, as a clear sign that the Tribulation was about to begin. It has to be significant that Jesus said nothing about any rapture coming before the “abomination” (Matthew 24:15-22). He wrote about the rapture in Matthew chapter 24: why didn’t he say that it would occur first as a deliverance from what was to come? Instead, he said “..but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (verse 14). The first clear event, according to Jesus, was the abomination.  He also spoke to his disciples as though they would see that sign.

WHEN WILL THE END OF THE CHURCH AGE BE?

The beginning of Daniel’s seven-year period has been assigned by “prophecy experts” as the end of the Church age, since it marks the continuation of God’s dealings with Israel. They presume that it is therefore the end of God’s dealings with the Church on the earth, and as such, the Church is no longer required to be on the earth. But are there any clearer indicators of the end of the Church age?

THE FULNESS OF THE GENTILES

Paul said that “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). So a very pertinent question here would be, “when does the hardening of Israel end, according to Bible prophecy?”. This will mark the end of the ‘full number of Gentiles’ being saved. And this in turn would, surely, mark the end of the “Church Age”.

If we look into some of the Old Testament Prophecies, we find that the Jews will come to realize who their Messiah is when he appears physically over Jerusalem, at the end of the Tribulation (Zechariah chapter 12, especially verse 10). Even then, considering that salvation will still be by faith in Jesus, is it right to see an end of the Church Age at any other time than his visible return to the earth? The gospel will still be preached during the Tribulation (Revelation 14:6), so how can we arbitrarily put an end to the Church age before it?

DO THE 24 ELDERS REPRESENT THE ALREADY RAPTURED CHURCH?

Some Pre-Trib. teachers refer to the twenty four elders who John sees on thrones, initially observed in Revelation chapters 4 and 5, situated around the throne of God. The elders sing of redemption (5:9-10), and the NIV translates certain words in their song to ‘they’ and ‘them’, suggesting the elders are referring to the redemption of others who are still on the earth. Pre-Trib. teachers say that the words should be translated ‘we’ and ‘us’, as they are in the KJV. In other words, the redemption the elders are singing of is their own, and they are actually representatives of the Church, and possibly Old Testament saints also. This, say the experts, signifies that the Church will be in heaven before the Tribulation.

I don’t know enough about Greek to comment on whether these words should be translated to refer to the elders around the throne, or to humans still on the earth. I can only make a couple of observations here. One is that when John is taken on his trip to heaven, which Pre-Tribulationists say is a type of the rapture, the elders are already there and settled in: they didn’t arrive with John in his ‘rapture’ (chapter 4 verses 4, and 9-11). Instead they already know everything about what’s going on and proceed to tell John (5:5; 7:13-21). This seems strange since John was an original member of the Church. More that that, since John was the disciple who was especially close to Jesus, it seems odd that if at least twelve of the elders in heaven are representatives of the Church, he wasn’t even invited to “take his place” with them. Also, there are still followers of Jesus on the earth, as I have already pointed out. Are these believers, who “hold to the testimony of Jesus Christ”, and who willingly give their lives for him, not to be represented in heaven?

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