Times, Epochs and the Taking of the Church :: by Don McGee

The world is becoming more dangerous, and the U.S. is becoming more divided. Most people would agree to that and would attribute these things to the ebb and flow of 21st century life. But to Christians mindful of how these times fit into Bible prophecy they are much more than that.

As the sound of rushing water filling a container increases in pitch, so the events contributing to the growing dysfunction of humanity surely indicate that the world is getting full. And the closer it gets to the overflow point the more specific they become.

This can be illustrated by Luke 21. The events of verses 20-24 happened in A.D. 70, but the verses surrounding that text are still prophetic. Take verses 25ff, for example. When Jerusalem was taken by the Romans in A.D. 70 the nations were not in dismay, no one was perplexed, men didn’t faint from fear, etc.

In fact no one outside of Judea cared a hoot about what was happening to the Jews. But when these things happen during the Tribulation the specifics will be felt by the entire world; dismay, perplexity, fear, etc.

Now consider another text relative to the global situation just prior to the Rapture. The first part of 1 Thessalonians is taken up with various matters that Paul wanted to mention to the church in Thessalonica. But in verses 4:13 – 5:11, he concentrates upon the return of Jesus for His Church and what that event will mean for those Christians who have died, and for those Christians still alive at that moment. But he also mentions a specific false belief concerning expectations for peace and safety that will be prevalent in those days.

Another thing should be understood about the text, and about the entire book for that matter, that might give us a better perspective. This letter was written after Paul had visited the Thessalonians, thus we cannot know what he and they talked about when he was there in person.

Because of this he did not feel it necessary to repeat everything in his letter. But we are not left in the dark by this, for he did repeat himself to some degree, and one of the matters he repeated was the teaching regarding the rapture of the church. But more to the point, he warned of the world’s specific, but false, belief that peace and safety would be near at hand.

There are several conclusions that can be made so far. First, the context from chapter 4:13-5:11 is the rapture of the church and the resurrection. Second, it means that the world will be talking “peace and safety” in the days prior to the Rapture, for they certainly won’t be talking peace and safety just prior to the Second Coming.

And third is the fact that what really is coming is not peace and safety, but sudden destruction. Jesus gave us a fairly detailed view of the destruction that would quickly come upon the world in Revelation chapters 6-19. This will be suffering and carnage at a level that has never been seen before, and man won’t be able to stop it.

Further, the word “time” in 5:1 means time as defined in general English: that is, “continuing duration.” But the word “epoch” is a little different. It means a period of time characterized by the events that happen in it. Put another way, this epoch is a space of time within the end time wherein certain things will happen.

When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he well knew about the end time and about the conditions that would exist in those days. But, he did not know how the specifics of those days, the epochs, would play out 2000 years from his day. But today, when we take the biblical template of all end time prophecies and place it over today’s events, we get a good idea about some of the things that will characterize this epoch.

Consider some events that make up this epoch (Ezekiel 37, Zechariah 12-14, 1 Timothy 4, 2 Timothy 3, 2 Peter 2, etc.) and see how the events characterizing the last few decades (even the last decade) are biblically relevant to the return of Jesus.

From the birth of Israel in 1948, to the rise of ISIS, to the burgeoning coalition between Russia and Iran, to the impact of that coalition on the Middle East, to the estrangement between the world and Israel, to the escalating chaos in nations—it is all directly relevant. It is becoming very clear that the ominous things the prophets said would be present in the time just preceding the Rapture are upon this generation, and that humanity is in fearful anticipation about something they can’t understand or even identify.

American Christians are very concerned about what is happening around the world. We have a heartfelt compassion for the lost and for Christians who are being persecuted and even martyred by Muslims, Communists and others. But we are also very concerned by what is happening in our own country, so it is from this perspective that this epoch is directly related to us.

Think, for a moment, about how it is in today’s America.

The political and social correctness of the last few years have been very costly and very divisive. And not only that, but so-called “liberation theology” has gotten involved from some pulpits and this has legitimized hate, bigotry and division.

There are many examples of this, but just consider the brazenness of race related crime along with its blatant and overt justification by discreditable politicians, bureaucrats and religious leaders who relish being called “reverend.”

What is immediately called a hate crime in one case is not even considered as a hate crime in another case solely because of the race of the perpetrator and victim. And the stone-faced religious purveyors of hatred don’t even blink in the face of such obvious hypocrisy (2 Timothy 4:3).

Further, though the Bible clearly says that if a man will not work he is not to eat (2 Thess. 3:10), the bestowment of unearned entitlements upon sluggards is the law of this land. Marriage is no longer held in honor, and the taxpayer subsidizing of immorality and illegitimacy have also become the law of this land.

Tax-paid public education is a miserable joke in most places, and when motivated teachers look to parents for support regarding their child’s indiscipline and irresponsibility—they are most often vilified by those same parents, the legal system and even the school system. And, in most cases there is just one parent involved in the situation.

Something else must be noted, and its presence in America is both divisive and ominous. Anarchists are dispatched to political rallies in order to instigate violence and silence candidates. Does this not remind us of what has happened before among civilized people?

Do we not remember the Nazi Storm Troopers in Germany who went to opposition rallies in order to silence speakers? They literally busted the heads of all who opposed their National Socialism party. Violence and intimidation worked for Hitler in the 1930s, and this tactic is still in the playbook of those who hate God-given liberty and its inherent blessings and responsibilities.

In reaction to the anarchists, a growing number of people are very angry, frustrated and even fearful of losing their liberty. Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Neither does Satan.

At the end of the day Satan does not want a solution to these problems. Much like political anarchists he desires to exploit every crisis to his end. Anarchists are working to impose their own disastrous way of life upon others, and Satan is waiting to impose his own human leader upon a world that is so disturbed that it makes reckless choices. Frustration, anger and fear contribute greatly to the framework of that scenario.

Consider a statement made on March 12 by Dan Bongino, former NYPD officer and Secret Service agent, in a TV interview on Fox News. He sees something dramatic on the near horizon as a result of this anger and frustration.

He believes it does not originate with a particular political party, but believes it stems from patriotic people who are collectively “fed up” with those who are violently shutting down and shutting out conservative principles.

He did not say specifically what will be the breaking point or what will be the result, but most people watching the interview might have had their own idea as to what he was talking about.

Never before have so many people been so livid and exasperated that they are preparing to such a degree for some kind of ultimate political calamity, or even a confrontation. They don’t know what it might be, or who might be involved but they are making preparations by hording items for direct use or for bartering. But the important thing is this is not paranoia based upon unrealistic, emotion-based fear. People are expecting something to happen, and if 1930s Germany is any example their fears are rational.

The real point that must not be missed goes beyond politics and chaos. These things are part of that final epoch in end-time events making them specific to a certain event—Jesus’ removal of the Church.

The world is technologically small which means that a particular event does not have to be dramatic in order to have national and international impact. Though it is true that the world has always been on a decline toward self-destruction, the difference of late is that what happens in one place has inclusive ripple effects. Look for a growing number of ripples to morph into a very large and global tsunami.

How, we might ask, can anyone think that all this desperation and fear could suddenly change into an expectation of peace and safety? The answer is hiding in plain sight: deception. And it could come from any direction.

In 1914 France had been at peace for several decades and people had forgotten much of the hardship of war. As the clouds of war gathered many had glorious visions of marching infantry and dazzling cavalry all in impressive uniforms. They celebrated at the train stations as the men marched off to war. Many farmers who left in July thought they would be home for the fall harvest.

They were deceived. Likewise, many Americans expected that the long-sought utopia had at last arrived with all the “hope and change” promised in 2008. They, too, were horribly deceived. Does anyone really have to ask how this could happen again?

The danger of not seeing the epochs of this age through the lens of Scripture, and of putting faith in humanity is that people set themselves up for being deceived. And the greater the frustration the faster it happens.

From the Christian perspective, people should do whatever they think they should do to protect and provide for their families and whoever else is dependent upon them. To do nothing in the face of danger is similar to the person who will not work, but demands food from those who do. But we should never be driven to reckless decisions by undue fear of what we see going on around us. The antidote is to know what God has said.

Remember that God’s presence before Elijah on Mt. Horeb was in the form of a great wind, an earthquake and a fire (1 Kings 19). But at that point Elijah did not need God’s personal intervention in his fight with Jezebel. Rather, he needed to hear His voice. Interestingly, though God’s presence was dramatic, His voice was found only in the quiet breeze outside the cave.

During this end-time with all its chaos and with the characteristics of this epoch being obvious at every hand, we would be wise to pull away from the crowd and listen to what God is saying. His personal intervention by His removal of His church is imminent, but until that moment it is important that we listen to Him. Do not forget that these perilous times should not surprise us, for they are merely end-time events that are to be in place when Jesus returns for His Church. The darker the sky, the brighter the hope.

One More Thought:

For those who would take some time to objectively look at the world they would quickly see that it is quite virtually coming apart at its seams. The pressure that is upon civilized nations to keep a lid on anarchism is greater today than ever before. Those who see the importance of the rule of law and order are no longer able to corral those whose sole purpose in life is to tear apart the very fabric of stable social structure.

Anarchists have no real system to offer in its place. They simply want to live without constraint as to their conduct and to face no penalty for their behavior. They ignore the fact that destruction is the result of what they want because they do not care. They want to enjoy the ride until the very end, and when it is over they think they will impose their will on the survivors, scavenging the remains like hyenas. They do not care that this will bring civilization back to the Dark Ages, and that life will have lost its sanctity. Like mongrel dogs they rip and tear with no thought of tomorrow.

The words of Jesus are made so stark against such a backdrop of darkness. He said, regarding the post-Rapture Tribulation, that if He would not intervene no life would be saved (Matthew 24:22). It cannot be said too often or too strongly that the world is in the run-up to this. The Middle East is a boiling caldron of not just anti-Israel hatred, but hatred among Muslims for each other.

Europe is fracturing with riotous Muslim refugees who are running amuck with wild abandon burning, attacking and raping at will. The stunned politically correct leadership of Europe is having trouble admitting to the problem, all while innocents are dying in the violence. And America is now on the victims list, all while its leadership is obsessed with not offending the anarchists, some of whom are saying publicly that if a certain candidate wins the presidential election they will incite Black Lives Matter riots everywhere they can.

This is unadulterated idiocy. Not only are most elected leaders allowing themselves to be held hostage by this, the sad thing is that any number of Christians, especially the young, cannot see through it. These like to speak of the milk of human kindness lurking somewhere in the poor, oppressed hearts of the anarchists, but they do not realize that without Jesus Christ the human heart is not only inclined toward rebellion, but is severely limited in its capacity for real kindness of any kind.

This is not about liberty and equality in the U.S or anywhere else for that matter. Whatever plays to the anarchist’s corrupt and vile nature is what is sought, and the hesitancy of global officialdom to do something about it is like blood in the water. It is no wonder that when Satan offers his antichrist the world will hail his arrival like that of a messiah. Of course things will become even worse, but at the time he will not only be accepted, but he will be worshipped (Revelation 13).