Is This a Signal For a New Dispensation? :: by Gene Lawley

It was a strange question the disciples asked Jesus, just before He ascended into heaven—strange for its topic and strange for it being the very last question they had on their minds, even though Jesus had been with them for forty days following His resurrection. Luke records the question, and the Lord’s answer in Acts 1.6-9:

“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in Hisown authority.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”

Now, we know that God has restored the nation of Israel, as of May 14, 1948, and it appears to have introduced the countdown to a succeeding era that will be launched with the Rapture. I have seen prophecy watchers link that response of Jesus to, “No man can know the day or the hour of the coming of the Son of Man” but it is not related to the same question.

While their nationalistic fervor was strong, like the Tea Party patriots of today’s America, it was more so with the very present Roman occupation of their land. I submit that the question Jesus really answered was, “What is to come next, Lord?” For that is what He told them. And this was the introduction of a new dispensation, the era of grace and the “taking from the Gentiles a people for His name” (Acts 15:14).

One other time in the Bible is the phrase, the times and seasons, in the sense of a changing scenario of God’s plan for mankind. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in his first letter, describing the particulars of the coming Rapture of believers and follows that with this, in that same context: “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you” (1 Thessalonians 5:1, emphasis mine)  The next verse clearly  marks the end of an era—this present one!

Paul writes, in verse 2: “For you know perfectly that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night…” Silently, without announcement it will happen.  A thief does not appear on your block at midnight and yell, “Here I am, folks!”  The way it seems to read is that non-believers will not even know what is happening, except that some of their associates have suddenly disappeared, leaving their physical belongings intact, just like Jesus did in the tomb!

As a matter of fact, Jesus gives us the scenario in Luke 17:26-31:

“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man. They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, as it was also in the days of Lot. They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brim-stone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.”

Unexpectedly—while people are eating lunch or dinner; in the middle of a wedding ceremony.

Perhaps a car salesman is just closing a sale on a new model just out. Suddenly one member or more of the activity will disappear, and as the next verse, verse 3, says, “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.”

This “peace issue” has to do with Israel—watch Israel.

Some very timely and interesting headlines have appeared in Rapture Ready News over the past

few days:

Silvan Shalom: Peace talks to resume next week in Washington  (Week of July 29)

Majority of Israelis would back a peace deal, poll finds

Kerry says Israel, Palestinians laid groundwork for new peace talks

Kerry obtains Israeli, Palestinian consent to negotiate interim accord, without borders issue

U.S. Guarantees Israel’s Pre-1967 Borders Will Be Basis for Renewed Talks with Palestine, Officials Say

‘Secret Obama plan’ forfeits Temple Mount to Palestinians

Israel to free Palestinian prisoners over Kerry talks

EU officially publishes settlement guidelines despite Israeli objections

Obama Urges Netanyahu to Resume Peace Talks

These are hyper-linked to the main articles referenced in Rapture Ready News. You can check them out.  There are various dates from July 20 and forward, the latest one dated is July 25, which is listed first above because it sets the next week for peace talks to be renewed.  Note the subtle duplicity of intent evident even in the headlines.

For years we have had the idea impressed upon believers that as “Pre-Trib” adherents we would not see the Antichrist or know him.  It now comes to mind that the one who is to “confirm a covenant with many” will have to be on hand to do it. Who is now available and prepared to execute that document? Or, will the Rapture occur, sudden destruction disrupt worldwide activities, and one rises out of the rubble to take charge and establish the peace accord?  Or, will a confrontation between Israel and its regional enemies erupt and the providence of God for His people, the Israelites, brings victory for them, with the resulting cry, “Peace and safety,” that sets off the “sudden destruction” described in 1Thessalonians 5:3?

Converging events of end-time significance—political, social, financial, geophysical, religious and moral—are pointed to this peace process, as the headlines and related Scriptures indicate.  The strong admonition to be ready and watching for the Lord is very timely.