The Rapture - (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18,1 Corinthians 15:51-54) The Bible teaches that at some point in history, prior to God judging a world in rebellion against Him, all born again believers in Jesus (the Church) will be removed from the Earth. Yes, you read that correctly... gone... vanished... disappeared. Some believe that this event will happen in conjunction with one of the Jewish fall feasts (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot). This year? It is possible but we will NOT make that prediction. Perhaps, it almost sounds comical... Christians disappear on a Jewish holiday. Based on the events that the Bible predicts will follow this unbelievable event, many are convinced we are very close to seeing the rapture happen. In response to the question, by His disciples, "Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign [will there be] when these things are about to take place?" (Luke 21:7) Jesus listed many signs that would precede His coming (Luke 21:8-28) and in conclusion He said, "Now when these things BEGIN to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."
Middle East War - (Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38, 39) – The exact sequence of events is not clear but it is believed that in close proximity to the rapture you will see two attacks on the nation of Israel. The first, predicted in Psalm 83, involves a coordinated simultaneous attack by Israel’s near neighbors (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza). This attack will likely be joined by ISIS from western Iraq and northern Saudi Arabia. Israel will be victorious and the Islamist forces will be decimated as they attempt to erase the name of Israel. It is possible that the city of Damascus will be destroyed in retaliation (Isaiah 17). Isaiah predicts that Damascus will be turned into rubble in one night. This could be the result of an Israeli nuclear strike in retaliation for the use of chemical or biological weapons by Syria. Israel's victory will potentially result in greatly expanded borders as it possesses much of the attackers' land. In light of current events, it is reasonable to think that the Psalm 83 war could be the direct result of a preemptive Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities (Jeremiah 49:35-39) combined with the “Arab Spring” and decades long intransigence in the Middle East peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. While the West hopes for a western style democracy to replace the dictatorships on Israel’s borders, it is much more likely that some form of Islamic government, hostile to Israel, will emerge. The “Arab Spring” is leading to an “Islamic Winter”. After the Psalm 83 attack, another coalition of nations is drawn to attack Israel. In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel (about 550 BC), it is predicted that Russia, Iran, Turkey, Ethiopia, and Libya (the geographical boundaries of the Old Testament nations are in most cases broader than their modern counterparts) will be drawn against Israel and be supernaturally defeated by God as He comes to Israel’s defense. Russia is allied with Iran and has already declared that they would consider an attack on Tehran the same as an attack on Moscow. Does anyone seriously question whether Israel will allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon after its repeated threats of annihilation? Russia is also backing the Assad regime in Syria. An Israeli attack on Damascus (Isaiah 17) could also draw Russia into the coming Middle-East conflagration. Having said this, Ezekiel is clear that ultimately Russia will be motivated to attack Israel by financial gain. In conclusion, it is a bit difficult and presumptuous to link current events to Biblical prophecy. These attacks on Israel will happen but we can’t be certain of the timing or the events that will precipitate the attacks.
Economic Collapse - There are two prophecies in the Book of Revelation that lead many to believe the current global financial system will collapse. The first is Revelation 6:5-6 and it declares, “When the Lamb broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, “Come!” I looked up and saw a black horse, and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice from among the four living beings say, “A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day’s pay. And don’t waste the olive oil and wine.” These verses predict that a single meal will cost a day’s pay. What is in view here is hyperinflation. In a hyper-inflationary monetary collapse the value of currency is dropping so dramatically that the cost of purchased goods will rise to unbelievable levels. The median income in the United States is about $52,000 per year. If the average person works five days a week for 52 weeks a year, then the average daily wage would be $200. Can you imagine ordering your quarter pounder, fries and a Coke and being told, “That will be $200. Please pull up to the first window.” What if your wife and three kids were in the car with you? It’s no coincidence that two verses later the Book of Revelation mentions famine. In 1971, the world left the gold standard and since then currencies have been backed by nothing of value. This has allowed the governments of the world to finance spending with debt and pay debt by printing more currency. We are about to witness the death of history’s largest Ponzi scheme. It’s a house of cards on a foundation of sand and its inevitable collapse is approaching. Later in the Book of Revelation, It is predicted that the world will transition to a single currency, most likely cashless. Revelation 13:16-17 says this, ”He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name.” This mark is likely some form of technology, perhaps an implantable chip or follow-on technology. With this development, the government will have the ability to block individuals from the economy, implying an electronic cashless system. This system will likely be imposed on the world after the collapse of the current fiat currency system.
Peace Agreement - The Bible predicts that some form of peace agreement lasting seven years will be signed involving Israel (Daniel 9:27). This may come out of the UN or through a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. At this point, the entire world is pushing for recognition of a Palestinian state with 1967 borders. The division of Israel is a Biblically significant event (Joel 3:2) and when it happens get ready for all hell to break loose on this planet. It is believed the Apostle Paul ties the timing of the rapture, Middle-East war, economic collapse and approaching peace agreement together in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4. After describing the rapture at the end of chapter four, he goes on to discuss its timing in chapter five. Here’s what he says, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this day should overtake you as a thief.” The pronouns are critical in these verses. There are two groups in view, you (the Church) and they (the unbelieving world). For the Church, these events will not be a surprise and the Church will not experience “sudden destruction”, because of the rapture. However, the unbelieving world will be caught completely by surprise and experience the “sudden destruction” as they are calling for “Peace and Safety”. For the Church it will be like watching a slow motion train wreck and, for the unbelieving world, it will be like a lightning strike or, as Paul puts it, a thief in the night. Paul doesn’t go into detail on the sudden destruction but some believe that at the time of the rapture the military tension in the Middle-East will be reaching a crescendo as the global economy is collapsing. This will set the stage for what the Bible calls the Tribulation Period.
Tribulation Period - These unprecedented events will set the scene for the final seven years of human government on Earth (corresponding to the seven year peace agreement). The period is predicted in Daniel chapter 9 and elaborated on in numerous other Bible books including the book of Revelation Chapters 6-19. Israel will be center stage for this period of time. The start of the period will be marked by the signing (or confirming) of the peace treaty and the seven years will culminate in the battle of Armageddon which will be interrupted by the second coming of Christ to reign on Earth for 1000 years. The world ruler who confirms (strengthens) the peace treaty is known as the Anti-Christ. Ultimately, he will head a “world dominating” 10 Nation coalition government. It will be the first “world dominating” government since the days of Rome and in some way it will be related to Rome, probably rising out of, or, including Europe or the Middle East. This government will set up a single monetary system (most likely cashless) used to ensure compliance with their policies by forcing everyone to take a mark on their right hand or forehead. Without the mark, a person will be unable to buy or sell anything. This system will likely be implemented after a coming global financial collapse. Half way through the seven-year period the people of the world will be forced to worship the Anti-Christ or die. Many will worship him and many will be put to death for their refusal to worship him. Everyone will be given a choice to worship the Anti-Christ or Jesus Christ. Speaking of those who refuse to worship the Anti-Christ, the Book of Revelation says, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." (Revelation 12:11) Here is a note of caution if you find yourself in this period. The Bible is clear about the destiny of those who worship the Anti-Christ or take his mark. Let the Book of Revelation speak for itself... Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives [his] mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." (Revelation 14:9-11) Enough said. The last half of the seven years will be marked by a series of catastrophic judgments on the Earth. Jesus said, “Unless the time was shortened, no flesh would survive”. In fact, the Book of Revelation predicts that about half of the Earth’s population will die. That is more than 3 billion people. Think about that...
Bible Prophecy - You may be questioning why anyone would believe predictions made thousands of years ago will come to pass. Let’s take a look. Many Biblical prophecies have already been fulfilled. By studying these predictions and their subsequent fulfillment we can see the 100% accuracy with which Bible prophecies are fulfilled. Let’s use messianic prophesies as an example. The Old Testament makes more than 300 predictions about a coming messiah. These predictions can be analyzed statistically to determine the accuracy of the Biblical prophecy and the identity of the messiah. For example, if one said the messiah would be a man, then roughly half of the population could fit this prediction. The probability that any individual would randomly meet this prediction is about 1 in 2. If added that he would be born in Bethlehem then the probabilities that someone would randomly fulfill the predictions are significantly reduced. With every additional prediction or prophecy the probabilities are decreased. For example, if only eight prophecies are made then the odds of any one person meeting the predictions by random chance are exceedingly low. It would be statistically equivalent to covering the state of Texas two feet deep with half dollars, painting one red, and having a blindfolded man select the red half dollar with one attempt. If those are the odds with only eight predictions then can you imagine the probabilities of one individual fulfilling more than 300 prophecies by chance? Statistically speaking, it is so unlikely that you could say there is no chance. The study of fulfilled Biblical prophecy should lead us to two conclusions. First, Jesus is the predicted messiah. And second, the events that are predicted by the Bible will be fulfilled with 100% accuracy.
Salvation - After this somewhat grim prediction about the future, let’s now take this opportunity to look at the good news. None of us have to go through this terrible time. The way out is by believing the Gospel, meaning “good news” and joining the Church in the rapture. This is critical to understand. God has set the standard for human behavior. If you want to go to heaven you must be sinless for your entire life. Sin is simply breaking God’s rules. He then condemns us ALL with the statement that “ALL have sinned”. Not surprising. Additionally, He pronounced a death penalty for sin. We are all in the same predicament. We are all sinners, under a death sentence. People commonly believe as long as their “good” outweighs their “bad” then God will let them into heaven. God doesn’t use scales to determine if we get into heaven. God will not allow sin in His presence. This is where God’s perfect love for people and His perfect justice collide. He loves each of us and wants to spend eternity with each of us but He must also judge every sin. The solution... The cross. It is how God’s love triumphed over God’s justice without compromising either. God sent His Son - Jesus, who lived a sinless life and took our death penalty on Himself. Our sin was placed on Him 2000 years ago on the cross. He died the death we deserve. You can think of it as a deal God makes with each of us. Jesus takes our sin and we are given His sinless perfection in God’s sight. This is how God extends His salvation to us all. In order to receive this “gift” we must repent and believe. The word repentance means "to change your mind". It comes from a Greek military term that means “about face”. It simply means to turn around. In turning to God, we must turn away from sin. If we repent and believe that Jesus was who He claimed to be (The Son of God) who died in our place for the forgiveness of sins and was resurrected from the dead then we will be saved and spend eternity with God. It is by faith that we accept His “gift”. The Bible teaches that when we trust in Jesus for salvation, God’s Holy Spirit will enter us to lead and teach us. Please understand this. Anytime the Bible seeks to demonstrate the love of God, it points to the cross. In essence, God is saying to each of us, "I love you enough to allow My only Son to take your death sentence." Let that sink in. Would any human parent ever consider the same offer? In His love, mercy and grace, God will forgive anything we have done as long as we come on His terms. His terms require us to come through His Son – Jesus.
Conclusion - If this is all true then what should we do? That depends on your relationship to Jesus. If you have trusted in Christ for salvation then you should make sure that you are walking closely to Him and looking for His soon return. Jesus said, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36) If you have not trusted in Jesus, then it is our sincere hope that you would make that choice now and avoid the time of trouble that is coming. On the other hand, if you choose not to accept God’s offer at this point then please remember this one thing - while you are alive, God’s offer stands. You can always turn to Him, even in the tribulation period. A note of caution to those of you who are considering the “wait and see” approach to Bible prophecy. First, in taking that position, you are rejecting God's offer of salvation today and none of us have a guarantee that we'll be here tomorrow. Second, the Bible teaches that there will be a compelling lie during the Tribulation that will deceive many. Here is Paul's warning, "The coming of the [lawless one] is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12) In conclusion, here is the bottom line. Eternity is a long time to be wrong so we hope that you will consider the salvation that Jesus offers to each of us.
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