What Time Is It? :: by Terry James

Scarcely a day goes by as of late that I don’t get at least one or two email messages predicting a particular date the rapture will occur. These are sometimes based upon personal heads-up the emailer claims the Lord gave to him or her. Sometimes these are predictions passed on to me by someone whose been sent a  newsletter that gives the date the Lord gave the newsletter’s sender. The rapture, if not predicted as to the precise hour, day, week, or month, is put within a time frame based upon convoluted massaging of special holy days involving Israel. Passover, Hanukkah, Yom Kippur, feasts of various sorts, etc., are manipulated to make them the likely rapture date.

Most recently, the date June 8 has been number crunched and calculated as being the time of Pentecost, and the focus of the predicted time of the rapture for some. Another date the rapture would supposedly occur was given as June 12 by a cult leader in Texas.

If you are reading this and millions of people haven’t just vanished, you know the predicted dates of June 8 and June 12, 2008 (calculated by some as the dates surrounding the anniversary of Pentecost this year) were not the time of Christ’s calling Church Age believers to be with Him as given in John 14:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

The most recent proof of the grievously flawed rapture prediction process is, as pointed out above, the failure of the June 8, 2008 “Pentecost” date.

How does one explain without profound embarrassment at the very least, after claiming the Lord gave him or her such a date, that the millions of Christians never vanished? Did God change His omniscient mind? Or, could the date be the product of human error, whether deliberate misinformation or because of genuine but overzealous desire to see the event take us all home?

No matter how sincerely believed by the would-be prophets, their predictions were–are—wrong. They are “false prophecies.” They failed to come true, and this does disservice to the God of heaven, the One who, in many cases, was said by the ones doing the predicting to have given them the precise time of rapture.

Time to recalibrate, reconfigure, withdraw and think again, for those who feel for some reason they must try to tell us the precise time of the stupendous event that we have come to call the rapture of the Church. Better yet, I would gently, kindly, in Christian love, suggest that you just don’t do that anymore. Such prognostications are always wrong. If one of these predictions were correct  as to the precise day, hour, etc., Jesus himself would be made a liar. He said: “But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36).

The Lord went on to reinforce the truth that man is not privileged to know the exact time: “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:44).

Such a declaration that we can’t know the exact day and hour will, I’m certain, bring protest that we are instructed to know the times and seasons that His return is near. No, I must disagree. Here’s what the Scriptures say about that often-misused claim: “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Act 1:7). And again: “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).

These Scriptures tell us that we will not know the exact time Jesus comes in the rapture. It will happen like a sudden, unannounced break-in on unaware earth-dwellers.

It is true that Christians shouldn’t be surprised, thus the rapture of the Church shouldn’t overtake the believer. But the event will nonetheless be as dramatic and as unanticipated as a thief breaking into a home. Jesus said that a good husband and father would not allow his home to be broken into because he would be ready. He would be ready because he would be watchful for signals that the break-in could happen at any moment.

Thus, the Lord said the following to each Christian of the Church Age (Age of Grace): “What I say unto one, I say unto all, watch” (Mark 13:37).

It is absolutely true that Church Age believers are expected to be ready–be expectant for Christ’s any-moment return for them. This is entirely different than in the case of tribulation saints who can know the time of His return at the conclusion of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11).  Being “ready, for in an hour ye think not the son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:44) is a far cry from trying to name the exact day and hour, or even time-frame based upon Jewish holy days or other past biblically reported event. These have always been wrong. Still, the date-setters insist on pinning down the exact time the Lord has determined to say “Come up hither!”

God’s Barometer
While we are not to know the exact time or season of Christ’s coming in the rapture,we are indeed commanded to be aware of the approach of His second coming back to earth. Jesus chided the pious Judaizers for wanting a precise sign rather than being spiritually attuned to conditions around them that proved the Messiah’s coming among them.

“The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.

And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matt. 16:1-3).

God’s great eschatological clock is really more like a supernatural barometer that gives prophetic weather reports. Like in the case of the earthly barometers forewarning the approach of a massive hurricane by presenting predictive atmospheric pressures, God’s prophetic barometer presents the end-times issues and events that are the signs of the times for this late Church Age era. We know the birth pang-like times by the prophesied signs that press upon this generation. We know the rapture is near because the Great Tribulation storm approaches, and Christ will call His Church to be with Him before that storm begins (John 14:1-3; Rev. 4:1).

So, What Time Is It?
The signs of the times presented at this present hour are unmistakable to the Christian who is truly faithful to the Lord’s command, “What I say unto one, I say unto all, watch” (Mark 13:37). “When you see all these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your head, for your redemption draweth near” (Lk. 21:28).

We who feel it our commission to study God’s prophetic Word as our life’s work, as well as Bible prophecy students in general who study from a premillennial, pretribulation rapture position, are constantly amazed at the issues and events that are gushing upon our world today. Such a flood of turbulence was prophesied by Daniel the prophet: ”And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined” (Dan. 9:26).

What a flood we are in these days!

Seas and Waves Roaring
No matter what network or channels we look to for weather, the meteorologists and news pundits time and time again use words like “worst ever,” “record-breaking,” “unprecedented,” “unbelievable,” and other phraseology to express astonishment at the weather-related matters they report.

Record numbers of tornadoes, floods, droughts, and fires have happened in record-breaking fury. They continue to occur simultaneously in America and around the world.

Nations in Distress with Perplexities
The economies of America and the world are in disarray while petroleum in the Middle East seems to be the catalyst pushing mankind toward the prophesied showdown at Armageddon. Meanwhile, prices per gallon for gasoline and the spin-off stresses that incubate conflicts within and between nations at every level continue to rise, and appear unstoppable.

Earthquakes, Famines, Pestilence
Most every day, earthquakes of increasing magnitudes are reported from all over the globe. The U.S. is suffering temblors from every section of the nation. Loss of life in the world’s major population centers mounts quickly with each new quake and aftershocks.

The United Nations has issued reports that project food shortages on a worldwide scale. That organization calls for immediate action that, if it does not come, might mean the death of entire nations for the most destitute peoples on the planet.

Plague-like diseases threaten to inundate these most afflicted regions because of lack of nutrition and safe water sources. It’s almost as if the third rider of the apocalypse is already galloping across earth’s surface upon his black horse.

God’s Timepiece
The hour of this Age of Grace is late. The child of God spiritually attuned to Christ’s exhortation to be watchful has a sure sign in these troubling though exciting times.

Israel is that supernatural timepiece by which we can know just what time it is on God’s prophetic timeline.

The tiny Jewish state has already become the “cup of trembling,” and the “burdensome stone” predicted by Zechariah 12:1-3. Most nations of the U.N. always look to blame Israel rather than its angry, blood-vowed enemy neighbors, whose concentric religion is Islam.

The analogy has been made that Israel is God’s prophetic clock, and Jerusalem is the minute hand.It is not much of a stretch to believe that the second hand of that prophetic clock might be the current Mid-East peace process.

Daniel’s end-of-days foretelling about a peace covenant that will be confirmed by the world’s last and most wicked tyrant, Antichrist, might well now be in view. The “Prince that shall come” who will confirm the seven-year peace covenant will set in motion the last seven years of human history immediately preceding the second advent of Jesus Christ. (Read Daniel 9:26-27.) Jesus said the following about that time: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21).

The “Roadmap to Peace” is on the table in the Middle East process of searching for how to avoid nuclear Armageddon. Few, even among Christianity, understand the profound importance of  this fact. The second hand of God’s prophetic clock is ticking.

What Time Is It?
It looks to be the closing seconds of this Church Age. The rapture can strike like a thief in the night with the next click of that second hand.