Although Scripture has foretold of the times we live in, you could say that the time from the Rapture until the start of the 70th Week is intentionally unscripted. In other words, the outline is there, but the details are still somewhat a mystery to us. Keep in mind, they might be a mystery to us, but they are not a mystery to God. Nevertheless, I thought I should ask the question as to why they are a mystery at all.
“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.’ Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne” (Revelation 4:1-2). (emphasis mine)
“After these things” is a three-word phrase that is just jam-packed with underlying meaning. Comparatively, it is just as pregnant with context as is the passage in Galatians 4:4, which states… “But when the fullness of the time had come.” The passage Paul wrote to the Galatians is referring to all the geopolitical and prophetic events that had to have taken place for Christ to come the first time as a man to the earth through the virgin Mary.
It meant all of what was given to the Prophet Daniel had to have taken place. Included but not limited: the rise and fall of three kingdoms (Babylon, Persia, and Greece), the rise of the fourth (Rome), the regathering of the Jews back in their homeland, and the rebuilding of the second Jewish Temple (since the Babylonians had destroyed Solomon’s Temple).
However, to have a rebuilt Jewish temple meant the Jews would have had to be securely back in their land. Thus, we see the first repatriation under the Medo-Persian King Cyrus, and later, under the Persian King Artaxerxes II. From a military, economic, and political standpoint, that was a considerable list of things to occur in just five short centuries.
So, what is this “after these things” referring to, you might be asking? Revelation chapters 1-3 is all about John’s vision, i.e., the glorified Christ’s revelation to him and Jesus’ seven letters to the seven churches. Jesus tells John that he was chosen to be the messenger to all he was about to witness and that he would be tasked with ensuring its distribution to all the churches (i.e., the chain of custody).
Now we get back to the crux of the issue. The last letter of the seven Jesus spoke to was to the Church at Laodicea. Jesus stated they were lukewarm and offensive to Him, even though they believed they were wealthy and in need of nothing. Jesus offers nothing positive to say to this church, only condemnation. He concludes with His cursory remarks about “he that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Then immediately (remember there weren’t chapter or verse breaks in the original text), we jump to the scene where John sees a door standing open in heaven, and then hears a voice like a trumpet, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
Since there were hundreds to thousands of churches existing in 95AD as well as larger and more predominant congregations, the seven churches were chosen to convey the totality of churches for all time. The number seven represents the concept of completeness throughout Scripture.
Furthermore, the order in which these seven churches are arranged also speaks to the sequential nature of how the church would progress through time.
Paul also wrote to seven churches (Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Romans), and Jesus had the seven kingdom parables in Matthew 13. Interestingly, all three (Seven Letters, Paul’s Letters, and Kingdom Parables) perfectly overlay each other in a complementary fashion. Thus, let us conclude with confidence that the “after these things” is referring to what John saw (resurrected and glorified Christ) and to the totality of the church age.
Although there is not a perceived gap of time in the text between Jesus’ scathing letter to the Laodiceans and the time John is caught up into Heaven, there are two things to consider. First, when John is raptured into heaven, he went from existing in the temporal, physical realm, which is bound by time, to the eternal realm (not bound by time).
Secondly, the next two chapters (4-5) are devoted entirely to the throne- room scene in Heaven. However, by referring back to the passage in Galatians (and many other places), a passage of time not explicitly laid out is not a denial or negation that one has occurred. The passing of time could then be either implied or, at least, assumed. Therefore, let us categorize the major highlights for this seemingly unscripted time we live in into sections: The things which are, the things which must take place, and here, the things which take place between the Rapture and the start of the 70th Week (i.e., the Tribulation).
The Rise of Antichrist
The end of Revelation chapter 5 and the beginning of chapter 6 directs John’s attention (and ours) back to earth to see what the ramifications are for Jesus opening the First Seal, the unleashing of the Antichrist. According to the 70 Weeks Prophecy given to Daniel by the Angel Gabriel, the 70th Week (the Tribulation) would begin with a treaty that is enforced between Israel and the many. The one who enforces the Treaty is none other than the Antichrist.
Something to consider is that the Apostle John had penned the Gospel of John, as well as three Epistles before being given the book of Revelation. In his first epistle, John already discusses something intriguing.
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).
How did John know about the Antichrist (he is the only one who calls him this) before he was given the Revelation? First, because John understood and took literally the Old Testament prophets speaking about this man. He had Jesus’ own words in the Olivet Discourse. He also had the writings by Paul. Lastly, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This is how he knew there was one final man of sin coming. He also understood that the spirit of antichrist was already at work in the world. This spirit of antichrist would spawn numerous others who would precede the final one coming. The missing piece was how he would come. The final Antichrist cannot come to the earth until Jesus opens the First Seal Judgment.
This is called a pre-condition, which requires something to happen before the Tribulation officially begins. The Man of Sin, the Lawless One, the Son of Perdition, and the Antichrist (all the same man) must first be allowed to come by Jesus. Even though this man wreaks great havoc upon the earth on those saints living on the earth at that time, he cannot come to the earth to do Satan’s bidding until Jesus allows it. This point, while not directly connected to the issue at hand, soundly refutes Pre-Wrath and other erroneous eschatological positions, which somehow try to conflagrate and confuse the concept of wrath and when it begins. (See 1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9.)
Paul also confirms and provides a different perspective to this ‘coming of the lawless one’ by adding that he cannot come UNTIL the restrainer is removed. So who is the Restrainer? Who is it that restrains evil across the world for the past two thousand years? Well, we know who it cannot be. It cannot be the Archangel Michael because Michael is a singular being (not omnipresent); thus, he could not physically constrain evil all over the world at the same time.
The restrainer is also not Satan because he would not restrain evil, being the very embodiment of it. The restrainer is not the government, although governments were designed to curb man’s lawless intentions; however, there are plenty of examples of evil governments. The only Being it could be, who is both omnipresent and capable of restraining evil, is the Holy Spirit.
During the Last Supper, Jesus tells His disciples that it is beneficial that He leave because another would come and be with them. He referred to God the Holy Spirit as both the Helper and the Comforter, thus descriptive names as to the nature of the role of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, He states,
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me” (John 16:7-9). (emphasis mine)
Jesus, while in His physical, earthly body, was not omnipresent. He was confined (as a man) to the geographical locations of where He was at any given moment. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, can be everywhere at the same time with the same omnipotence as the other two members of the Triune Godhead. Paul reveals later that the Holy Spirit seals the believer at the very moment of salvation and that they are sealed until the day of redemption (2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:13-14).
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:7-8).
Although this brief is titled “Unscripted,” concerning where we are in time, the truth is (as Amos 3:7 plainly states) God has foretold us what will happen before it happens so that we can have confidence in God’s sovereignty. We may not know all the details, but at the least, we have the outline. The world at large refuses to accept the divine outline. The divine outline (at least as far as we here in the 21st-century are concerned) is this:
“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this” (Revelation 1:19).
Because the book of Revelation deals with everything post-Calvary, understanding the basic outline in Revelation will prevent a lot of confusion before it even begins. Still, if John’s catching up is a foreshadowing of the Rapture, which dissects the world before (the Church Age) with what comes after (the Tribulation, the Millennial Kingdom, and Eternity Future), what has to happen between the two?
My theory is the two chapters (heavenly throne-room scene) are given precious and exclusive real estate in this final book of the Bible to show (without showing) a gap in time between the Rapture and the official start of the 70th Week. Remember, the Rapture does not begin the Tribulation, but it does lay the necessary foundation for it to begin.
Likely events that take place: the collapse of the world’s former superpower, the United States; the divinely spectacular defeat of Gog and Magog; the arrival of the Two Witnesses; the rebuilding of the Third Jewish Temple; and the rise of a new but different last days empire.
Now, what we know about the world today — roughly 192 countries — is that they are highly segregated into sovereign nations. Each nation (more or less) always acts on its own behalf. Also true is that if the Rapture occurred today, some nations would be impacted more than others would. For example, the Rapture would have a far greater impact on the United States than, say, Uzbekistan or Saudi Arabia. However, for the sake of global reorganization, let us focus on the United States.
The collapse of the United States (for any reason) would seriously upend the global pecking order. Aside from the obvious disturbances (vehicular crashes, riots, and general lawlessness), the US economy would collapse, thus bringing the entire world down with it. If that happens, it would take some time to both strip the United States resources from her and reallocate them back to the Old World.
While Satan is not omnipotent, he has (presumably) read the book of Revelation. He understands that a third of the earth will be burnt up, as well as a third of the oceans and freshwaters in the Trumpet Judgments alone. The Americas (North, Central, and South) make up a third of the world’s trees, fresh waters, and oceans (those territorial to our coastlines). It does not take a rocket scientist to see that Satan’s footprint is being reduced and channelized so that he and his forces are being increasingly confined to those lands near Israel.
This may also speak to why Satan is so intently bent on destroying the United States. It is not simply to corrupt us just for the sake of it; he has a much more pragmatic need to do so. He needs our military aircraft, weapons, technology, gold, soldiers, etc., back over to Europe to outfit and finance his final world empire. He also needs to destroy our currency so that the global economy does collapse, and then he can introduce (through his human agents) the digital currency necessary for the implementation of the mark of the beast system.
Therefore, while things appear to be “unscripted” and “unknowable,” we should take comfort in the reality that God has this all under control. As Jan Markell is fond of saying, Things are not falling apart but are falling into place. What we are witnessing today is not merely random acts of violence and chaos but an orchestrated maneuvering by Satan to ready his beast government with an imminent rapture hanging overhead. Satan (like us) knows it is going to happen; he (we) just does not know when. For us, the Rapture will happen, and we will forever be with God in eternal glory.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).