As an earlier article indicated, there are four phases of God’s revelation of Himself to the world. The first one was by verbal declarations directly and through His prophets; the second was by the written Word of Law given to Moses and related to the children of Israel; the third was, and is, the direct entry into human history when Christ, the living Word, became flesh and dwelt among us; the fourth will be when Christ returns to the earth and takes up the restored throne of David in Jerusalem and rules the world as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It will be a government by theocracy.
This present age of grace began with the entry of Jesus Christ into the world to give up His life as the Son of Man as payment for the sins of all mankind, that whosoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). This era has now spanned over 2,000 years, and still counting. It is the age of grace, that unmerited favor of God whose arm is not shortened that He cannot save. What then is yet to happen before this age comes to an end?
Daniel 9:26-27 foretells of a coming person of Roman heritage, that ancient Roman regime which destroyed the city of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 A.D. This person apparently will be one of international authority or recognition, for he will confirm a covenant with others, a covenant that will give Israel seven years of peace. He will be someone who has far-reaching authority in the world, for he will stop the new Jewish temple worship activities and declare himself the God to be worshipped. Look at Daniel 9:26-27:
“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself, and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war, desolations are determined.
“Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”
Jesus said, in Matthew 24:15, that this event is still future, being an indication of the impending last days: “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” This occurs, apparently, when the Antichrist assumes the position of the eighth head of the Beast (Revelation 17:10-11) and confirms a covenant with “many.” It was with many nations that the United Nations established Israel as a new nation in 1948. No doubt, it will take such authority to establish a peace covenant between Israel and the Palestinians, most likely one that is imposed upon them.
This person’s authority extends into the seven years of tribulation, for he has power to shut down the worship of the Jews in their new temple. He will even declare himself God and demand all to worship him as God. This is confirmed in 2 Thessalonians 2:4: “… who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” He will continue on to ride out on that white horse (Revelation 6), “conquering and to conquer” during that seven years, ending with his being cast alive into the lake of fire.
At the moment of that covenant’s confirmation, according to 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, this follows: “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.”
No doubt, but the “they” in that passage is Israel, for who else has desired peace and safety since its founding in 1948? Also, this seven years is identified in Jeremiah 30:7 as “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” using “Jacob” instead of “Israel” to indicate a judgment against the sinfulness of those people of Jacob’s heritage. (Israel was God’s new name for the man who had wrestled with the Angel of God and prevailed.)
At the moment of this “sudden destruction,” another activity ends and a massive change in the earth’s population occurs. Look at 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and 6-7: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first… and now you know what is restraining, that he [the deceiver] may be revealed in his own time, for the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”
The only one capable of restraining evil has always been the Spirit of God, and He indwells the lives of mortal believers on earth. Therefore, when the One who restrains is taken away, that body of believers in Christ is gone also. It is the Rapture, and with it, the Day of the Lord, like a thief in the night, comes bringing sudden destruction upon the whole world. (Yes, the Holy Spirit fills all things and will remain in the world, but the Spirit-filled believers will not be here, and those are the ones who live among the evildoers where their presence provides a restraining force against them.) The world is experiencing a massive push to embrace evil instead of righteousness.
The so-called “Progressives” in tandem with the sexual revolution, identifying as the acronym LBGTQI+ (and I would add “P” for “perversion”) have pushed the nations into a corner that has no pleasant answer. Will it continue until the nations are permeated with immoral degeneration, as was Sodom in Lot’s day, or will God bring judgment at a sooner time?
Finally, it strongly appears that the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets among the seven festivals of the Lord that He had Moses schedule every year is the Rapture of believers. (See Leviticus 23.) No other explanation fits that annual festival. All the other six have clear purposes to celebrate, and four of them have already been fulfilled—Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost.
Then, the economic and social conditions when that event comes to pass are certainly relevant. In Luke 17:26-30, we see that economic and social conditions are flourishing abundantly when the Lord is revealed. Contrary to many prophecy watchers, this cannot be the case at the end of the seven years of tribulation when the Second Coming of Christ is scheduled. Then there will be famine, warfare, death—all depicted by the four horses of Revelation 6, plus the mark of the beast, limiting buying and selling to only those who have taken that mark. Even so, it will not be anything like what is described in Luke 17:26-30.
What happens after the Rapture for those who are taken out of the judgments of God? There are four major events that Scriptures indicate the risen saints will be doing, plus other services to the Lord. In Revelation 4 we see, with John, the first of the four—the judgment seat of Christ. There, the saints will be judged according to their obedience during their lives on earth after being saved. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 tells of this:
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
In that scene of the twenty-four elders, having crowns on their heads, we see them bowing before Christ on His throne of judgment. Then we see them casting their crowns at His feet.
After that, the saints will be taken to places the Lord has prepared for them in His Father’s house, as John 14:1-3 tells us:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, THAT WHERE I AM, THERE YOU MAY BE ALSO.” (Capitalization used for emphasis—see Luke 17:37b in NKJV.)
The third of the four events is the marriage supper of the Lamb, the coming together of the Bride and the Bridegroom, depicting Christ and His body of believers in unity, as reported in Revelation 19:7-9:
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.'”
The final event involving the saints will be when they join with Christ at his Second Coming. It is recorded chronologically at Revelation 19:11 and following, but Jesus foretells it also in Matthew 24:29-31, telling of angels being sent to gather God’s elect from the four corners of heaven [not the earth] to go with Christ at His return: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
So it is written. So it is prophesied. So it will come to pass. “If we believe not, yet He abides faithful; He cannot deny Himself. Of these things put them in remembrance…” (2 Timothy 2:13-14a).
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