Ponder this long-winded riddle and see if you know the answer: What has record-breaking wildfires; division about as deep as the American Civil War; riots like the 1960’s but worse; an economy with Great Depression-like long-term metrics; a deceptively overblown reaction to a new virus; locust swarms of biblical proportions on several continents, an axis of evil military powers flexing their muscles around the globe, a pending Mideast peace agreement that seems to lay the foundation for Daniel 9:27; the multilayered merge of dystopian biological and technological “vaccine” inventions; and a pending, sure-to-be-unstable US election?
If you guessed, “The Year 2020” you solved the riddle!
Prophetic developments have accelerated to a new level this year. There is much more I could have added to the list above! Literally, every single condition mentioned by the Old Testament prophets – John in the Book of Revelation, Paul in his epistles, and Jesus himself in the Olivet Discourse, is in place or forming before our eyes at this very moment in history. Even secondary or subtle details of prophecies (particularly the setup for Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38) are lining up exactly as foretold 2,600 years ago.
While everything I mentioned above is—through our natural eyes—scary and foreboding, when we realize this is exactly what we were told it would look like just before the rapture of the Church and the future 7-year tribulation period, we see it through a different lens.
Along with the sobering realization of what the world is soon to go through, we should also be encouraged and excited. Titus 3:5 calls the rapture our “blessed hope.” In the context of the rapture, Paul also shared 2 very important (and often overlooked) things: that we are not appointed to suffer wrath, and that the promised snatching away of the Church should greatly encourage us!
In 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11, we read the following, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
So, let’s follow the chronology. In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul shares the primary teaching about the rapture of the Church, demonstrating how the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive will be caught up (harpazō—suddenly, forcefully snatched away) to meet the Lord in the air. Then he goes on in the very next chapter (continuing the same teaching/line of thought) to inform us that #1—we will not be here to experience his time of wrath, and #2—that we should encourage one another with this fact. How much clearer could Paul have been?
So, although we see this truly unprecedented convergence of scary events happening before our eyes—we can still encourage one another with the teaching of the pre-tribulational rapture! While things have become lawless and dangerous to an extent, we are also told that this spirit of lawlessness can’t fully take over until the restrainer (the Holy Spirit-indwelled Church) is taken out of the way via the rapture (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
While we continue to experience a year that seems like the climactic sequel of a multi-movie franchise—in which key events are repeated with new apocalyptic twists—we need to remember a couple of important facts. First, we are called to put our hope and trust in the Lord, not world events, politics, economies, or comfort. Second, God always keeps his promises; and although, from our perspective, he seems to delay—he in fact has a specific appointed time. As we watch and wait, we must do so with a gritty, step-by-step faith. He never promised us ease, he just promised us it would all be more than worth it!
Romans 8:18— “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
1 Corinthians 2:9— “However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ — the things God has prepared for those who love him.’”
Encourage one another with these things!
(Note: if you are reading this and have not yet received Christ as your personal Savior, please contact me. I’d love to share more. I know the prospect of a rapture sounds crazy to our modern humanistic culture, but hundreds of undeniable fulfilled prophecies prove that the Bible can be trusted. God is a loving God who warns and who has literally done everything possible to reconcile us back to Him. We need to use our gift of free will to choose to receive his gift. He died to give it to us!)