Category: Eschatology

How to Discern the Signs of the Times

How to Discern the Signs of the Times

How important is it to discern the signs of the times? Many people today react negatively to any mention of the signs of the end times. They say it is foolish and unwarranted to look for or even talk about trends and developments that point toward the end times scenario portrayed in Scripture.

Is this negative outlook justified? In Matthew 16:1-3, Jesus sternly rebuked the religious leaders of His day for their blindness to the sign of the times of His first coming.

Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus demanding that He show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove His authority, He replied, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the time” (Matthew 16:1-3).

Biblical Signs of the End of Days

Signs of the times, or the end of days, are visible events, sometimes miraculous or otherwise unexplainable, that point to something beyond themselves. Many signs were predicted by Jesus and the prophets throughout Scripture.

Signs are important; they help us know what to look for and what to pay attention to. When we read Bible prophecy, we can look for these “signs of the times” that show us what to be on the lookout for, much like a road sign points to what’s coming.

Jesus used the term “signs of the times” to verify His first coming. He fulfilled Old Testament prophecies and performed the miracles of the Messiah right before the eyes of many people, yet they were blind to the clear confirmation of His identity.

Signs that we are living in the end times

Despite being shown signs to look for, the people didn’t pay attention. Jesus fulfilled 109 prophecies during His life on earth, and He indicted the Jewish leaders for missing these signs of His first coming.

Most people of that day missed the clear signs – Jesus’ visible miracles that confirmed the invisible truth that He was God. Those were the signs that verified His first coming, but what about the Second Coming? Have we been given any signs? What can we be looking for and paying attention to?

Signs for Jesus’ Second Coming

Luke recorded Jesus saying, “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea, and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25). Here, Jesus clearly referred to “signs” that will portend His second coming back to earth.

In Matthew 24:3, when Jesus’s disciples asked Him, “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t worry about the signs of the end of the age.” He didn’t also say, “I’m not going to tell you, it’s none of your business.”

Instead, Jesus outlined several general and specific signs of the end of the age (Matthew 24:4-31). Since Jesus gave us signs like these, we should be careful not to ignore them and scoff at them. We need to listen to what Jesus was saying.

After listing some of the main signs, Jesus concluded with the parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24:32-33. Many believe that the fig tree refers to the nation of Israel since fig trees represented Israel in the Old Testament. However, Jesus was probably using a natural illustration that anyone could relate to.

Just as the blossoming of the fig tree indicates that summer is near, so the fulfillment of the signs predicted in Matthew 24:4-31 will show that Jesus’ second coming is near. We do not scoff at the signs of spring but look for them with anticipation. It should be the same with Jesus’ return. We should look forward to it.

5 Signs of the End Times

Biblical prophecy doesn’t predict every insignificant ripple in our world today, but it does reveal the main currents and trends. Several key signs appear to be flashing in today’s headlines.

While many signs could be listed, here are five significant signs of the times that every believer should be aware of.

1. The Regathering of the Jewish People

The number one sign is the regathering of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland. The Bible predicts over and over again that the Jews must be back in their homeland for the events of the end times to unfold (Jeremiah 30:1-5; Ezekiel 34:11-24; Ezekiel 37:1-28; Zechariah 10:6-10).

It is the most prophesied event in the end-time passages in the Bible, and for that reason, it is often called the “super sign” of the end times. Almost all the key events of the end times hinge on the existence of the nation of Israel.

In 1948 when the nation of Israel was re-established, only 6 percent of the Jews in the world were in Israel. Today, the statistic stands at almost 40 percent. The Jews have returned and continue to come home to their land – just as the ancient prophets predicted.

By the year 2030, it is estimated that half of the Jews worldwide will live in the land. This sign should be like a flashing red light to all who know the prophetic Scriptures.


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2. Surging Apostasy

A second sign of the end times is surging apostasy, that is, a departure from the truth, both doctrinally and morally (1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-9, 13; Jude 1:1-16). This apostasy foreshadows the final falling away that will break out as the end times begin to unfold (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3).

This current age will climax with a monumental falling away, both doctrinally and morally. While the church today may not be experiencing a full-blown apostasy on 2 Thessalonians, many within the church appear to be on the leading edge of it.

The book of Jude, which describes and denounces apostasy, also describes our modern world to a tee. Jude is the final book before Revelation and some have called it the preface to the book of Revelation. It portrays the conditions that will prevail before the events of Revelation are unleashed.

Deepening apostasy is a sign of the end times.

3. The Coming Middle East Peace

The third sign is the worldwide clamoring for peace in the Middle East. The one huge issue in our world today that often overshadows all others is the ongoing hostilities in the Middle East.

The Middle East peace process is a key sign of the end times because the signing of a peace treaty between the Antichrist (the leader of the Western Confederacy) and the nation of Israel signals the beginning of the 7-year Tribulation (Daniel 9:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).

The current yearning for peace in the Middle East is setting the stage for the final covenant of peace between the Antichrist and Israel predicted in the Bible.

4. Reuniting of the Roman Empire

The fourth sign of the end times is the rebirth of the Roman Empire. As the end times begin to unfold, global alliances will emerge as nations scramble for political power and dwindling economic resources.

Out of this quickly shifting situation, a coalition of nations, headed by ten leaders, will emerge to protect the interests of the West. This alliance will reconstitute the Roman Empire. This “Group of Ten” I first mentioned in Daniel 2:41-44, where it is symbolized as ten toes on a great statue.

In Daniel 7:7 and Daniel 7:24 this same ruling oligarchy of ten leaders is symbolized by ten horns on a beast that represents the last world empire – the Roman Empire in its final form.

Its final leader, the Antichrist, will eventually be able to seize control of the ten leaders and consolidate power very much as the Roman Empire did in the past (Daniel 7:8).

5. Globalism

A fifth key sign of the times is globalism. Ever since Genesis 10–11 when Satan ruled the world through one man named Nimrod, Satan’s goal has been to get the world together again so he can rule it all.

World history bears out this pattern. It’s the record of one person after another trying to rule the world. Many of the power-hungry rulers who have cruelly subjugated nations under their feet have been energized by Satan to foster his goal of globalization.

For the first time in history since Genesis 11 and the tower of Babel, globalization is within man’s (and Satan’s) reach. It is most significant that in the twenty-first century, not only does a need for world government exists, but the technology for establishing such a government is now in our hands.

5 Signs of the End Times

Today the electronic media, especially the use of television via satellite, is a tremendous tool that allows instant communication around the world. Access to the internet and satellite cell phones reach around the globe. The capacity for missile warfare also makes world rule possible.

In terms of economics, the Bible predicts that the world ruler will have absolute control of the economy, and no one will be able to buy and sell without his permission (Revelation 13:17). Today, electronic fund transfers, electronic banking, and debit and credit cards make this literally possible for the first time in world history.

The necessary ingredients for a world government are present for the first time in the history of civilization. The time may not be far away when such a government – foretold in Scripture long before one was possible – will have its accurate and complete fulfillment.

The Final Act

Sometimes life feels like entering a dark theatre and realizing you are coming in near the end of a play with several acts. We didn’t write it. We didn’t ask to be thrust into the play. Yet we can be certain this drama is nearing the last and final act.

Even though we didn’t see the beginning of the play, we can look back and see and see its plot and direction. But even then, how can we be sure when the next act will start?

The biblical prophets talked a lot about the last act. What we can do is look for the events that set it up. If those events occur, we can be fairly certain the final act is just ahead. When the curtain comes down on the current scene, will the next act be the last?

But more importantly, will we be wise enough to see it coming? Will we be ready? The only way we can be ready is if we can discern the signs of the times and know something about the last and final act.


Note: This article is taken from Dr. Mark Hitchcock’s book “The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days.”

Recommended Resource: Bible Prophecy Answer Book: Everything You Need to Know About the End Times by Ron Rhodes

The 144,000 in Revelation 7

The 144,000 in Revelation 7

In the study of end times prophecy, there are several key players whose identities are critical to understanding what’s happening. God highlights these players and provides important information about them.

One set of key actors in the end times is a mysterious group of 144,000 people who faithfully serve the Lord. They are listed in Revelation 7:1-8 and discussed again in Revelation 14:1-5.

The 144,000 have been the subject of considerable speculation. Who is this congregation of God’s people?

Identity of the 144,000

The most common view is that the 144,000 in the book of Revelation represent the church of Jesus Christ, which is understood as the true, spiritual Israel. The problem with this view is that the word Israel is never used for the church in the New Testament.

Also, it is interesting that Jews and Gentiles are clearly distinguished from one another in Revelation 7. The 144,00 Jews are listed in Revelation 7:1-8 while Revelation 7:9-17 presents an innumerable host of “every nation and tribe and people and language. Merging these two groups does not do justice to the distinction that Revelation 7 makes.

Who, then, are these 144,000 servants of God?

The Identity of the 144,000 in Revelation

If the Scriptures are interpreted literally, then the 144,000 are a literal group of 144,000 Jewish men – 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel – raised up by God during the Tribulation to serve Him.

They are not spiritual Israel (the church), but actual Israel. As John F. Walvoord says, “Israel’s tribes are still in existence, and God certainly knows who they are.”

Characteristics of the 144,000

Revelation 7:1-8 and Revelation 14:1-5 highlight six main characteristics that provide insight into the identity and ministry of these 144,000 servants of God.

1. Purchased

The 144,000 “had been purchased from the earth” (Revelation 14:3, NASB). The word purchased means to “redeem or pay the price for something.” The precious blood of Christ redeemed or purchased these servants of God. They have been bought at a price and they belong to the Lord as His special possession.

2. Prepared

The 144,000 are prepared for God’s service by being given His seal (Revelation 7:3-4).

During the Tribulation, the followers of the Beast will bear his mark on their right hand or forehead (Revelation 13:16). During this same time, the Lord will identify His people by placing a seal of ownership on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1).

It is important to note that Revelation 7 and 13 use two different Greek words distinguishing these marks from each other. In Revelation 7, God seals the 144,000 on their foreheads. The word used there, sphragizo, symbolizes the spiritual sealing mentioned throughout the New Testament (John 3:33; 6:27; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).

But in Revelation 13 where followers of the Antichrist are given a mark, the word charagma is used, which refers to a literal brand, tattoo, or etching.

The seal of the 144,000 sets them apart and prepares them for God’s service.

3. Protected

God’s seal not only prepares the 144,000 for service, but it also protects them. The seal is God’s pledge of security. God seals the 144,000 before allowing the four angels to bring their judgment on the earth (Revelation 7:1-3). The 144,000 will be protected from the wrath of God and Satan during the Tribulation (Revelation 9:4).

In Revelation 14:1-5, John sees the 144,000 at the end of the Tribulation standing triumphantly on Mount Zion – the city of Jerusalem. Notice he doesn’t see 143,999. Rather, all 144,000 have been divinely preserved by the Lord. Not one has been overlooked.

God will preserve and protect His sealed servants for seven years through the horror of the Tribulation. His pledge of security will be fulfilled.


4. Pure

The 144,000 are pure virgins who have not defiled themselves with women (Revelation 14:4). Many interpret this figuratively – meaning they are spiritually undefiled and pure, separated from the corruption and pollution of false religion.

However, Scripture’s explicit statement that they are not defiled with women suggests that they are male, celibate servants of God. In light of the pressures of the Tribulation period, they are called by God to abstain from normal married life and devote themselves totally to the Lord’s service (1 Corinthians 7:29-35).

5. Persistent

The 144,000 persevere in their service for the Lord even under the direst circumstances.

During the terrible days of the Tribulation they constantly “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:4). Jesus is the Lamb, but He is also the Shepherd. He knows the way, and the 144,000 follow Him wherever He leads.

6. Preachers

These Jewish servants fearlessly proclaim the gospel of Christ during the Tribulation period. There appears to be a cause-and-effect relationship in Revelation 7 between the 144,000 in verses 1-8 and the innumerable crowd of Gentile believers in verses 9-17.

The ministry of the 144,000 brings about salvation for millions of people. They will be the greatest evangelists the world has ever seen. These sealed servants of God will fulfill Matthew 24:14. Revelation 7 provides a panorama of God’s saving work during the Tribulation.

The 144,000 reveal God’s passion to save people even in the middle of the unspeakable judgment of the Tribulation. To the very end, the Savior will graciously continue “to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10).

Why are the 144,000 Important?

The 144,000 are important for three reasons.

First, they reveal God’s faithfulness to His promises. God seals them in Revelation 7 and keeps them to the end of the Tribulation. They make it all the way through under God’s protecting hand. God keeps His promises.

Second, we learn that even in judgment, God is merciful. God will use the 144,000 as messengers of mercy during the Tribulation. Every judgment of God beginning with Noah all the way to the Tribulation, including the judgment of God’s own Son on the cross, reveals God’s mercy.

Third, these Jewish witnesses will help fulfill the prophecy Jesus gave in Matthew 24:14. The 144,000 will spread the good news all over the globe during the Tribulation, and the end won’t come until they’re finished.


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Reference Material: The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Dr. Mark Hitchcock

The End by Mark HitchcockThe end times have seen a great amount of interest within the last two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and eschatology for more than five decades. Mark Hitchcock’s book is a comprehensive resource for the twenty-first century.

The End will do for eschatology what Randy Alcorn’s Heaven did for people’s understanding of heaven. It will provide a solid biblical foundation for Christians to explore the essential truths around this topic―the end of the world.

Was Jesus the Predicted Messiah?

Was Jesus the Predicted Messiah?

Was Jesus the predicted Messiah? Although the Bible gives so many predictions about the coming Messiah that were fulfilled by our Lord Jesus, the Jews did not accept Him. As a matter of fact, they are still awaiting the coming of the Messiah.

Are there More than One Messiah?

When Diocletian was abdicated as emperor of Rome, a war of succession between Maxentius and Constantine became inevitable. Maxentius held possession of Rome, but Constantine invaded from Gaul in 312 AD.

In preparation for battle on the Tiber River, Maxentius consulted the Sibylline books for prophetic insight. The relevant oracle declared, “On that day the enemy of Rome will perish.”

Maxentius went into battle confident that Constantine’s doom was at hand. However, he perished in battle, thus identifying who “the enemy of Rome” was. The prophecy was going to be fulfilled one way or the other; its intentional vagueness guaranteed that.

Jesus Fulfilled Messianic Prophecies

Aren’t the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah equally general so that any number of Jewish males could claim to fulfill them after rising to prominence as a spiritual leader?

While that is true about many of the messianic prophecies taken in isolation, there are more than three hundred separate predictions about the messiah in the pages of the Old Testament. Taken together, they form an imposing barrier to accidental fulfillment or fulfillment-after-the-fact.

300 Prophecies, Only One Messiah

Think of each of the three hundred messianic prophecies as a filter that strains out everyone who does not meet its requirements and you will realize how unlikely it is that anyone but the actual Messiah would pass through all three hundred filters.

If you try to calculate the odds of someone accidentally satisfying three hundred separate personal descriptions, you end up with something like one out of a number with 125 zeros after it – an incomprehensibly unlikely eventuality.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.


The Messiah would descend from Eve (Genesis 3:16), Judah (Isaiah 46:10), and David (2 Samuel 7:14). He would be virgin-born (Isaiah 7:14) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). He would enter Jerusalem riding a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). He would be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9).

He would die with sinners but be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9, 12). None of His bones would be broken (Psalm 34:20) during a violent death in which His hands and feet were pierced (Psalm 22:16) so that He cried out to God (Psalm 22:1).

While He died, onlookers would divide His clothes (Psalm 22:18). He came to save Gentiles as well as Jews (Isaiah 49:6). He rose from the dead (Psalm 16:10).

Jesus, the Promised Messiah

Was Jesus the predicted Messiah? Yes! But the prophecies say more about Him than that. He shared the divine nature as God’s Son (Psalm 2:7) and human nature as the Son of Man (Genesis 3:16).

As God’s Suffering Servant, He fulfilled Israel’s destiny by keeping the righteous standards of the Law of Moses (Isaiah 49:1-3). He established God’s new covenant with humanity (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Matthew 26:28).

He is the destiny and focal point of history (Colossians 1:16). We wait for His return to establish justice and righteousness in the millennial kingdom (Malachi 4:1-3; Revelation 19:11–20:4).


Note: Excerpt taken from the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible under the section Evidences.

 

What is the Battle of Gog and Magog?

What is the Battle of Gog and Magog?

Since winning the Six-Day War in June 1967, the nation of Israel has grown into a world military power and has proven its ability to defend itself. But according to the Bible, the greatest threat to modern Israel’s continued existence has yet to happen.

This is when Israel will be attacked by a coalition of nations from every direction. The prophet Ezekiel describes this invasion, known as the Battle of Gog and Magog, in Ezekiel 38-39. This coalition of invading nations will be motivated by a seething desire to eradicate Israel, enrich themselves, and entangle Israel’s allies in the war.

Participants of the Ezekiel 38-39 War

The prophecy of the Battle of Gog and Magog begins with a list of ten proper names in Ezekiel 38:1-7.

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, 3
and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.’”

4 “I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. 5
Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; 6 Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops–many people are with you.”

7 “Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them.”

Note: Italics added for emphasis

Gog

While the other nine proper names in Ezekiel 38:1-7 are specific geographical locations, the name Gog, which occurs eleven times in Ezekiel 38-39, is clearly an individual who heads the coalition of invaders.  He is also directly addressed by God several times (Ezekiel 38:14; 39:1) and is called a prince (Ezekiel 38:2; 39:1).

Ezekiel may have used ancient names familiar to the people of his day and these names have changed many times throughout history, but the geographical territory remains the same. Regardless of what names they may carry at the time of this invasion, a literal interpretation holds that these specific geographical areas will be involved.

Let’s take a look at each of these ancient locations and examine them and then we will identify the modern counterpart.

Magog

The Jewish historian Josephus said the land of Magog was inhabited by ancient Scythians. The Scythians were northern nomadic tribes who inhabited the territory from Central Asia across the southern steppes of modern Russia.

Magog today probably represents nations from the former Soviet Union: Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. Afghanistan could also be part of this territory.

Rosh

Bible scholars have often identified Rosh with Russia. But this conclusion has not been unanimous.

The word rosh in Hebrew simply means “head, top, summit, or chief.” It is a very common word used in all Semitic languages. Although most Bible translations translate rosh as a common noun – “chief,” the Jerusalem Bible, New English Bible, and New American Standard Bible all translate Rosh as a proper name indicating a geographical location.

Several arguments support taking Rosh as a proper name but the most impressive evidence is simply that this translation in this context is the most natural. G. A. Cooke translates Ezekiel 38:2, “the chief of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.” He calls this “the most natural way” of rendering the Hebrews.

After establishing that Rosh should be translated as a proper name for a geographical area, the question now is where is Rosh? The great Hebrew scholar Wilhelm Gesenius noted that Rosh is “undoubtedly the Russians.”

Ezekiel 38-39 emphasizes repeatedly that at least part of this invading force will come from the “remote parts of the north” (Ezekiel 38:6, 15; 39:2). The Bible usually provides directions about Israel, which, on God’s compass, is the center of the earth (Ezekiel 38:12).

If you draw a line directly north from Israel, the land that is most remote or distant to the north is Russia.

Meshech and Tubal

Meshech and Tubal are normally mentioned together in Scripture. Aside from Ezekiel 38:2, Meshech and Tubal are mentioned two other times in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:13; 32:26).

In Ezekiel 27:13, they are mentioned as trading partners with ancient Tyre. It is highly unlikely that ancient Tyre (modern Lebanon) was trading with Moscow and the Siberian city of Tobolsk. The preferred identification is that Meshech and Tubal are the ancient Moschoi and Tibarenoi in Greek writings or Tabal and Musku in Assyrian inscriptions.

These ancient locations are in present-day Turkey.

What is the Battle of Gog and Magog
Photo Credits: Pinterest/Revelation Bible

Persia

 The words Persia, Persian, and Persians are found thirty-five times in the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 38:5, Persia is best understood as modern-day Iran. The land of Persia became the modern nation of Iran in March 1935, and then the name was changed to the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.

Libya (Put)

Some ancient sources indicate that Put or Phut was a North African nation. The New Living Translation documents this identification in footnotes for several passages, including Isaiah 66:19; Jeremiah 46:9; and Ezekiel 27:10; 38:5.

From the Babylonian Chronicles, tablets that recorded ancient Babylonian history, it appears that Put was the “distant” land to the west of Egypt, which would be modern-day Libya and could possibly include nations further west such as modern-day Algeria and Tunisia.

The Septuagint renders the word Put as Libues.

Ethiopia (Cush)

Modern versions often translate the Hebrew word Cush in Ezekiel 38:5 as “Ethiopia.” Ancient Cush was called Kusu by the Assyrians and Babylonians, Kos or Kas by the Egyptians, and Nubia by the Greeks.

Secular history locates Cush directly south of ancient Egypt, extending south past the modern city of Khartoum, which is the capital of modern Sudan. Thus, modern Sudan inhabits the ancient land of Cush.

Gomer

Gomer has often been identified by Bible teachers as Germany, or more particularly East Germany before the fall of Communism. This identification is superficial and not the literal meaning of the word in its cultural and historic context.

Gomer is probably a reference to the ancient Cimmerians or Kimmerioi. Ancient history identifies biblical Gomer with the Akkadian Gi-mir-ra-a and the Armenian Gamir. Beginning in the eighth century BC, the Cimmerians occupied territory is what is now modern Turkey.

Josephus noted that the Gomerites were identified with the Galatians who inhabited what today is central Turkey.

Beth-Togarmah

The Hebrew word beth means “house,” so Beth-Togarmah means the “house of Togarmah.” Ezekiel 27:14 mentions Togarmah as a nation that traded horses and mules with ancient Tyre.

Ezekiel 38:6 states that the armies of Beth-Togarmah will join in, too, from the distant north. Ancient Togarmah was also known as Til-garamu (Assyrian) or Tegarma (Hittite), and its territory is in modern Turkey, north of Israel.

Based on these identifications, Ezekiel 38-39 predicts an invasion of the land of Israel in the last days by a vast confederation of nations from north of the Black and Caspian Seas, extending to modern Iran in the east, as far as modern Libya to the west, and Sudan in the south.

Therefore, Russia will have at least five key allies: Turkey, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and the Central Asian nations of the former Soviet Union.

Timing of the Battle

The battle of Gog and Magog will occur in the future, in the end times, but when in the future? While there is a general agreement about many of the details in Ezekiel 38-39, the timing of battle is the most debated issue. Scholars have located the battle at almost every major point in the end times from the Rapture all the way to the end of the Millennium.

Some believe the battle will take place before the Rapture; others believe it will occur between the Rapture and the Tribulation; others believe it will take place in conjunction with the Battle of Armageddon at the end of the Great Tribulation. Some believe it occurs at the end of the Millennium since Revelation 20:8 refers to Gog and Magog. Others maintain that it will unfold in phases throughout the Tribulation.

Thankfully, we are not left to our own speculation in timing the events of Ezekiel 38-39. The passage gives us clues that suggest when this battle will take place. One of which is when Israel is at peace (Ezekiel 38:11).

Daniel 9:27 tells us that there’s coming a time when Israel will sign a peace treaty with the Antichrist, which will guarantee protection for the Jewish people and Israel will be able to relax. This is the first half of the Tribulation or what’s called Daniel’s seventieth week.

This peacetime moment in Israel’s history fits the prophetic scenario perfectly. With these guarantees of secure borders and international peace, Israel will turn her energies toward increasing wealth rather than defense. But the peace treaty will be shattered less than four years later.


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The Purpose of the Ezekiel 38-39 War

What is the purpose of this invasion? The passage gives both the human and the divine purposes for the invasion.

The invaders will have four main goals: the land, money, total destruction of Israel, and power. First, the invading forces will desire to acquire more territory (Ezekiel 38:8). Any military invasion of this magnitude and scope always includes land.

Then there’s money. The invaders will come to plunder Israel and amass wealth (Ezekiel 38:12). One might wonder, “What wealth does Israel have?” No one knows for sure what this will entail, but discoveries of vast gas reserves off the coast of Israel could be part of the equation as oil becomes more scarce in the future, triggering energy wars. Make no mistake – greed will be a key motive behind the Gog invasion.

The third is racism. The invading horde will come to destroy the people of Israel and wipe them off the face of the earth (Ezekiel 38:10, 16). This is in keeping with the hatred we see for the Jewish people in Israel’s neighbors today.

Fourth is power. These nations will use this attack to challenge the Antichrist, who will be Israel’s ally as a result of the peace treaty (Daniel 9:27). Their attack on Israel will also be an attack against the Western confederacy, attempting to draw it into an open confrontation.

Finally, while the invaders will have their evil intent, God will also have His own motivation. He says that through this attack He will be sanctified in the eyes of the nations: “You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes” (Ezekiel 38:16).

Result of the War

When the forces invade Israel, there will be no stopping them. They will be bent on war and destruction. The timing will seem perfect, and the invaders will not back down. It will look like the biggest mismatch in history. The Arab invasion of Israel in 1967 and 1973 will pale in comparison. The Jewish people will be unable to overcome their enemies by their own strength and ingenuity. Gog and his army will cover Israel like a cloud. It will look like Israel is finished.

However, God will come to the rescue of His people and will quickly annihilate the invaders by supernatural means (Ezekiel 38:18-22).

Ezekiel 38-39 describes what we might call “One-Day-War” or even the “One-Hour-War” or “When Gog Meets God.” God will mount up in His fury to destroy these godless invaders.

This coalition of nations will brashly swoop down on Israel to take her land, but the only piece of land they will claim in Israel will be their burial plots (Ezekiel 39:12). They will set out to bury Israel, but God will bury them.

The Prophetic Significance

Is the world stage being set for the fulfillment of this incredible prophecy? Many major developments point toward the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy, but three key elements stand out.

First, the Jewish people are back in their land, fulfilling the major pre-condition for this invasion. Second, the nations predicted in Ezekiel 38 all have the will and desire to wipe out the Jewish people and these nations are forming alliances with one another.

Third, according to Ezekiel 39:2, 4, Israel will possess the “mountains of Israel” when this invasion occurs. God tells the future invaders: “I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel.”

“You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.”

The famous Six-Day-War in Israel in 1967 helped set the stage to fulfill this prophecy. Before the Six-Day-war the mountains of Israel were in the hands of the Jordanian Arabs, except for a small strip of West Jerusalem.

Only since that war have the mountains of Israel been in Israel. Thus many pieces of the prophetic puzzle are already in place for the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Conclusion

Events in the Middle East today strikingly foreshadow this coming invasion. The continued unrest and smoldering hatred for Israel are necessary ingredients for what the Bible predicts.

Nations are rising and falling. The world is focused on the Middle East. Israel is in the crosshairs. No one knows when the Lord will come or how much time remains before the Battle of Gog and Magog plunges the Middle East into war.

There will undoubtedly be many twists and turns, some expected and others we could never imagine in today’s climate. But God’s Word is clear – when the world stage is set, this invasion will occur right on time in the unfolding of God’s end-times script.


Note: This article is taken from Dr. Mark Hitchcock’s book The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days.

Why I Believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture

Why I Believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture

The timing of the rapture is one of the most debated issues in eschatology. Most Christians agree that the rapture will occur, but the same is not true when it comes to when it will occur.

Will the rapture take place before the Tribulation (Pre-trib), in the middle (Mid-trib), or at the end of the Tribulation (Post-trib)? Whatever view one holds, one must acknowledge its drawbacks, for every view of the timing of the rapture has strengths and weaknesses.

However, it is in my opinion that a pre-tribulation rapture view has the best scriptural support and the fewest drawbacks.

7 Reasons for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture

So, what is the Scriptural evidence for the pre-trib position? Is it the most popular simply because it’s more appealing than the other views? After all, being caught up to heaven before the terror of the Tribulation doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

In this article, I will present the seven most compelling biblical arguments for the pre-trib position. These seven points are arranged into a handy acronym that spells out the word PRE-TRIB.

Defending Pre-Trib Rapture

Place of the Church in Revelation

If the church will experience any or all of the Tribulation, then one would expect that Revelation chapters 4 to 18, the most detailed description of the Tribulation, would include an account of the church’s role during that time period. But remarkably, Revelation 4-18 is silent about the church on earth.

The Greek word for church is ekklesia and this word occurs 20 times in the book of Revelation. Revelation 1-3 specifically mentions the church 19 times. The glorified Lord addresses 7 letters to 7 specific churches in Asia Minor. In them, the Lord instructs and admonishes each church.

But suddenly, beginning in Revelation 4, the word ekklesia disappears. From chapters 4 to 18 (that’s fifteen chapters of the book of Revelation), not once does the word church appear.

In Revelation 4:1 the apostle John is lifted up to heaven and transported into the future, where he sees visions of the end of days. He is carried forward in a kind of divine time machine.

In the subsequent chapters, from Revelation 4 through Revelation 18, John watches and describes the events of the Tribulation as they unfold on earth. But the church is absent from any of these events.

The church doesn’t appear again until chapter 19, where she is pictured as a bride returning to earth with her glorious bridegroom. This returning from heaven to earth with Christ indicates that the Bride has already been in heaven for some time since she has “prepared herself” (Revelation 19:7). Revelation 22:16 refers to the church again for the final time, specifically using the word ekklesia.

The absence of the church from Revelation 4-18 is convincing evidence that the church will not be present on earth during the Tribulation and the outpouring of God’s wrath.

Objections to this Argument

Post-tribbers argue that the word saints (holy ones) occurs several times in Revelation 4-18, which describes the church as present on earth during the Tribulation (Revelation 13:7, 10; 16:6; 17:6; 18:24). But pre-tribbers counter that these “saints” are not church-age believers but “Tribulation saints.”

Let us not forget that there are 3 distinct groups of believers: Old Testament saints, church-age saints, and Tribulation saints.

The fact that Revelation chapters 4 to 18 mention saints indicate that there will be believers on earth during the Tribulation, but it doesn’t prove that they are church-age believers. Again, the key to determining this is the context of the passage.

Another argument from post-tribbers is this: “What evidence is there in Revelation that the church is in heaven during the Tribulation?”

Pre-tribbers believe the “twenty-four elders” represent the church throughout Revelation 4-19 (Revelation 4:4, 10; 5:5-6, 8, 11, 14; 7:11, 13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4). The elders appear twelve times in these chapters and in each instance, they are in heaven worshiping Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb. From their first mention in Revelation 4:4, the 24 elders are pictured in heaven, judged, rewarded, and enthroned.

Revelation 4-19 consistently pictures the church in heaven, representing it by the 24 elders enthroned and crowned, dressed in white, and worshiping the Lamb.

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Rapture versus Return

The New Testament describes two facets of Christ’s second coming: (1) He will come FOR His church to escort her to His Father’s house (John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16), and (2) He will come WITH His saints when He descends from heaven to judge His enemies and establish His glorious 1 thousand-year Kingdom on earth (Zechariah 14:4-5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13).

How can these facets both be true of Christ’s second coming? These seemingly contradictory events are best resolved by the pre-trib rapture view.

The first facet is the RAPTURE of the church, wherein the Lord takes believers from earth to His Father’s house (John 14:3). The second facet is commonly called the SECOND COMING of Christ wherein believers return with Christ from heaven to the earth (Matthew 24:30).

Both describe the Lord’s coming, but their difference indicates that they are two unique stages occurring at two separate times. Between these two stages, the Tribulation happens. The first stage – the Rapture – is imminent and signless and could occur at any moment (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

The Second Coming, on the other hand, will be preceded by all kinds of signs (Matthew 24:1-29). The same event cannot be both signless and yet preceded by numerous signs. This is patently contradictory.

It is difficult for other views to make sense of the passages that describe these two stages differently. But by calling them two stages of the same event, the pre-trib view successfully harmonizes these two descriptions of Christ’s coming.

Exemption from Divine Wrath

It’s common to hear people say that pre-tribbers are just escapists. We just want a view that removes us from all the world’s troubles. Post-tribbers argue that it’s arrogant for believers today to think that of all the generation of believers who have lived, we are somehow so special that we will be exempt from the coming Tribulation if the Rapture occurs in our lifetime.

Pre-tribbers are not saying that Christians are spared from the troubles and trials of this life. Jesus Himself said that in this world His followers will face trials and tribulations (John 16:33). Believers in every generation have faced their share of trouble (James 1:2-4; Acts 14:22). True believers will face the common trials of life (sickness, marital and family problems, physical and emotional stress, discouragement and depression, persecution for their faith, loss of their jobs, and die).

Why? It’s because we live in a fallen world!

But the troubles of this life that we all face are vastly different from the wrath of God poured out on a sinful planet during the future Tribulation. All Christians will face tribulation in a general sense today. But the wrath during the 7-year Tribulation is wrath in a specific sense.

Today, people endure the wrath and persecution from men and the wrath and persecution from Satan. While the wrath of man and Satan will still be around during the Tribulation, the Tribulation will be more defined by the wrath of God than anything else.

Why I believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture

It doesn’t make sense, though, for God’s people to endure God’s wrath. Part of what salvation in Christ means is that God saves us from the wrath we deserve (Ephesians 2:2-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:9).

It has always been God’s pattern not to judge the righteous with the wicked. Lot and his family were rescued from Sodom when God poured out His wrath on the cities of the plain (Genesis 18 – 19). Enoch was raptured to heaven before the flood (Genesis 5:23-24).

The Bible promises that church-age believers will be exempt from the coming wrath of God during the Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 5:9; Revelation 3:10).

The wrath of God commences with the first seal (Revelation 6:1) and continues until the Second Coming (Revelation 19:11-21). The whole Tribulation is period is the outpouring of God’s wrath; this requires that Christ’s bride be exempt from this entire time of trouble, not just some part of it.

Why would God leave the bride of Christ (church) to endure His wrath?

Time Gap Between the Rapture and the Second Coming

Sure, there are obvious similarities between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus. In both cases, Jesus descends from heaven. But there are also some differences.

Post-tribbers insist that the rapture and the second coming are just one event. However, there are biblical prophecies indicating that these events cannot be simultaneous, that there must be an interval of time between them.

There are four end time events that will take place in between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ.

1. The Judgment Seat of Christ

The New Testament clearly states that all church-age believers must appear before the judgment seat of Christ in heaven. Interestingly, in the detailed accounts of the second coming of Christ, the judgment seat of Christ is never mentioned (Revelation 19:11-21).

Assuming this judgment would require some passage of time, the pre-trib gap of 7 years between the Rapture and the Second Coming would accommodate such a requirement.

2. The Preparation of Christ’s Bride

In Luke 12:36, the Word says that when Christ returns, He will be returning from a wedding. At the rapture, Jesus is married to His bride, the church. After the wedding, He will return to earth with His bride.

Revelation 19:7-10 pictures the church as a bride who has been made ready for marriage to her groom.

3. Life in the Millennial Kingdom

A third event that requires some gap of time between the Rapture and the Second Coming is the presence of believers in mortal, physical bodies during the 1-thousand-year reign of Christ on earth.

Isaiah 65:20-25 (which talks about the Millennial Kingdom) seems to suggest that, during the Millennium, people will carry on ordinary occupations (farming, planting vineyards, and building houses) and they will bear children, populating the messianic kingdom.

Revelation 20:1-6 says that, when Christ returns to earth, He will establish His kingdom that will last for 1 thousand years. Old Testament saints, church-age believers, and believers who died during the Tribulation will all enter the millennial kingdom in their glorified bodies, having been resurrected at various points before the Millennium.


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Meanwhile, those believers who come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation and survive until the Second Advent will enter the millennial kingdom of Christ in their natural, human bodies.

Here’s the problem for the post-trib view. If all saints were caught up in a post-Tribulation rapture prior to the Millennium, there would be no people in natural bodies to repopulate the Kingdom. In a post-trib rapture, all believers would already have a glorified body.

4. Separation of the Sheep and the Goats

Matthew 25:31-46 depicts God’s judgment of Gentiles. This judgment will occur after the Second Coming and at the beginning of the Millennium. The people gathered at this judgment will be survivors of the Great Tribulation. Jesus will divide the Gentiles into 2 groups, believers and unbelievers (the sheep and the goats).

This dividing up indicates that both believers and unbelievers will be alive on the earth at Jesus’ second coming. Why is this noteworthy?

If the Rapture and the Second Coming are the same event and will occur together, as post-tribbers claim, and all living believers are caught up to meet Jesus and escort Him back to earth, then there won’t be any sheep left on earth when Jesus arrives. All that would be left are goats.

In a pre-trib rapture, many people would come to know the Lord during the Tribulation and before the Second Coming, and these Tribulation saints would account for the “sheep” in Matthew 25:31-46. Once again, a time gap between the Rapture and Second Coming is the best way to account for this passage.

Removal of the Restrainer

2 Thessalonians 2:1, 3-8 describe the revelation of the “man of sin” or the “man of lawlessness.” This is the Antichrist whose identity remains hidden according to Paul and that the lawlessness continues in secret until he is revealed. And then Paul continues to say that something or someone is holding him back from being revealed – the restrainer.

Who is the restrainer? Who is holding back the Antichrist from being revealed?

Down through the centuries many candidates have been suggested: The Roman Empire, the Jewish State, The Apostle Paul, The Preaching of the Gospel, Satan, Human Government, An Unknown Heavenly Being, Michael the Archangel, the Holy Spirit, and the Church.

The great Bible teacher and expositor Donald Grey Barnhouse summarized this view.

“Well, what is keeping the Antichrist from putting in his appearance on the world stage? You are! You and every other member of the body of Christ on earth. The presence of the church of Jesus Christ is the restraining force that refuses to allow the man of lawlessness to be revealed.

True, it is the Holy Spirit who is the real restrainer. But as both 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19 teach, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer. The believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit of God. Put all believers together then, with the Holy Spirit indwelling each of us, and you have a formidable restraining force.”

When the rapture occurs, the Spirit-indwelt church and its restraining influence will be removed. That will release the world to sin as it never has before.

Imminency

The doctrine of imminency is the view that Christ could return at any moment. The strongest evidence in the Bible of a pre-trib rapture is the prophesied element of surprise.

The Lord Jesus taught that “no man knows the time of His return.” The most important characteristic of Christ’s return is that it could happen without warning, suddenly catching us off guard if we’re not faithfully serving our Master (Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40; Mark 13:32-37).

The Lord told us to watch because He might come back at any time, suddenly. So there’s no way that the rapture could happen after the Tribulation. Anything other than a pre-trib rapture totally removes this biblical element of surprise.

The imminency of the rapture should fill us with hope, anticipation, and motivation to godly living. If we believe that our Lord could come back at any moment; that He may come back today, we will be motivated to live in anticipation of that return.

Maranatha – Lord, come! (1 Corinthians 16:22 and Revelation 22:20)

Blessed Hope

The rapture is intended to comfort and bless the Lord’s people. The New Testament consistently presents it as a sure hope that God’s people are to anxiously anticipate (John 14:1-3 & Titus 2:13).

After describing the rapture, Paul concludes with this gentle reminder: “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

If God’s people would have to endure 3 ½ years, 5 ½ years, or all of the 7 years of the Tribulation before He comes, how much of a comfort would the rapture be? That would be the “blasted hope” not the “blessed hope.” Could you honestly get excited about the Rapture if you knew that you had to endure a time on earth when all the 19 judgments of Revelation 6 to 16 were being poured out?

The reality is, Paul uses the Rapture to encourage the Thessalonians to have hope. It’s the same thing with us today. The hope of the rapture is an uplifting encouragement for troubled hearts. It’s a blessing and consolation for the Lord’s people.

We are looking for the return of Christ, our blessed hope; we are not looking for the Antichrist!

Conclusion

If the rapture occurs in your lifetime, your future will be very different depending on which view is correct. Will you be here to see the Antichrist? Will you be forced to choose whether to take his mark? Will you witness the carnage of God’s wrath poured out on the whole world?

Or will you be in heaven during this time, experiencing a glorious fellowship and intimacy with the Lamb and His sheep? Will you and I be here for none, half, or all of the Tribulation?

We have looked at numerous passages that describe a lot of the details about the end times and a pre-tribulation rapture makes the best sense of these details. While there are other strong arguments in favor of the pre-trib view, I believe these seven are the strongest.


Reference: The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Dr. Mark Hitchcock

The Rapture and Everyday Life

The Rapture and Everyday Life

The Rapture is said to be the greatest end-time event that Christians all around the world are eagerly waiting to take place. This is when the Lord Jesus will come in the clouds to receive every church age believer, dead or alive, and take them to heaven as He promised in John 14:1-3.

Theologians also refer to the Rapture as the blessed hope of the believers (Titus 2:13). But do you know that the Rapture can have a meaning for our everyday life? Every key New Testament passage on the Rapture contains a practical application that is closely associated with it.

The message is crystal clear – anticipating the Rapture should change the way we live. According to the Bible, understanding the Rapture should have at least six life-changing influences on our hearts.

The Rapture and the Church

Converting Influence on Seeking Hearts

With life’s brevity in mind, the most important question for every individual to face is whether he or she has a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior. Salvation through Jesus is a message that contains both bad news and good news.

The bad news is that the Bible declares that all people, including you and me, are sinful, and therefore separated from the holy God of the universe (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23).

God is holy and cannot simply overlook sin. A just payment for the debt must be made. But we are spiritually bankrupt and have no resources within ourselves to pay the huge debt we owe.

The Good News, or Gospel, is that Jesus Christ has come and satisfied our sin debt. He bore our judgment and paid the price for our sins. He died on the cross for our sins and was raised to life on the third day to complete the work of salvation. See Colossians 2:14 and 1 Peter 3:18.

The salvation that Christ accomplished is offered to all of us through faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation from sin is a free gift that God offers to sinful people who deserve judgment.

If you have not received that gift yet, I invite you to do it right now. Place your faith and trust in Christ and in Him alone, for your eternal salvation. The Rapture could happen anytime and those who fail to trust Christ will be left behind to endure the Tribulation.

Accept Christ personally by calling upon Him to save you from your sins (Romans 10:9-10, 13). Make sure you are Rapture ready!

Caring Influence on Soul-Winning Hearts

No believer can study Bible prophecy without being gripped by the awesome power of God and the wrath of God. Just a simple reading of Revelation 6 –18 reminds us of what is in store for this earth after the Rapture.

Scripture also describes the eternal horrors that await those who die without trusting Christ. The Bible brings us face-to-face with what is at stake for those who don’t know Christ as their Savior.

2 Corinthians 5:20 reminds us of our calling during this present age: “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”

Those who have already responded to the message of God’s grace and forgiveness through Christ know the world’s future, and we are Christ’s ambassadors, representing Him and His heart to a perishing world. We should care deeply about those who are still lost, willingly give of our material resources to help spread the gospel message, and regularly ask the Lord for opportunities ad boldness to share the Good news of Christ.

A clear understanding of the Rapture should exert a strong influence on every believer to care about the lost before time runs out.

Cleansing Influence on Sinning Hearts

A proper understanding of the Rapture should produce a life of holiness and purity. Focusing the mind and heart on Christ’s coming can powerfully motivate our efforts toward living a pure life.

Note the certainty: “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). Here is a perfect prescription for living a life of holiness – focusing on the Rapture.

How can we be riveted by the Rapture and live an impure life at the same time? 1 John 3:3 says it can’t happen. Fixing our hope on Christ and His coming is a purifying hope.

We are to live as if Christ could come at any time, and if this becomes real to us it will transform our lives. The Bible declares that we are to always be looking for Christ’s coming (Titus 2:12-13).

Prophecy and purity are mentioned in Romans 13:11-14 and 2 Peter 3:10-14 presents the practical, cleansing effect of prophecy.

So, when anyone says that studying Bible prophecy is impractical or irrelevant to everyday life, they reveal that they don’t understand what the Bible says about the personal impact of prophecy.


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Calming Influence on Stirring Hearts

Another practical effect of the Rapture is that it calms us down when our hearts are troubled and stirred up. In John 14:1-3, Jesus tells His disciples (and every believer today) to “not let our hearts be troubled.”

The word troubled means “to be stirred up, disturbed, unsettled, or thrown into confusion.” There are many things in our world today to disturb and unsettle us: moral decay, crime, economic uncertainty, terrorism, fear of pandemics, social unrest, and others.

Added to these problems are the personal trials and difficulties we all face in our daily lives. Trouble is the common denominator of all humankind (Job 5:7). Often these troubles and difficulties can leave us distraught, distracted, and disturbed.

However, Jesus emphasizes three things in John 14:1-3 that can calm our troubled hearts: a person, a place, and a promise. The person is our Lord, the place is the heavenly city (new Jerusalem), and the promise is that He will come again to take us to be with Him forever.

One of the great comforts in times like This is to remember that our Lord will someday return to take us to be with Himself.

Comforting Influence on Sorrowing Hearts

Every person has faced or will face the grief of losing a close friend or loved one in death. When death strikes, pious platitudes do little to bring lasting comfort to friends and family. The only real, lasting comfort is the hope that we will see that person again in heaven.

God’s Word tells us with certainty that we are not to sorrow as people who have no hope because we will be reunited with our saved loved ones and friends at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Rapture and Resurrection should transform the way we view death. Death has lost its sting. God has promised that death will ultimately be abolished and that life will reign.

Grief is still appropriate when our friends or loved ones die. Didn’t Jesus weep at the death of His good friend Lazarus (John 11:35)? Stephen’s friends also wept loudly over his battered body (Acts 8:2).

We miss our loved ones when they die. However, the Bible declares that our weeping is not the weeping of despair. There is deep solace, hope, and comfort for our sorrowing hearts in the truth of God’s Word about the future for His children.

Controlling Influence on Serving Hearts

So many today are unstable and unsettled in Christian work. They are constantly vacillating. Knowing about Christ’s coming and future events should cure the problem of instability and inconsistency in Christian labor.

After presenting the truth of the Rapture and the Resurrection, Paul concludes with a strong admonition: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Paul is saying since you know that Christ will someday come to receive you to Himself, let nothing move you, and be strong and steady in your Christian service. Realizing that Christ could return at any time is to make us energetic and excited about serving the Lord.

If the Rapture is a reality to us, it will motivate us to work faithfully for the Lord. The Lord intends for our knowledge of Bible prophecy to translate into devotes service for those around us as we await His return.

The principle in the Bible is clear: waiters are workers. When Christ comes we are to be “dressed for service and keep our lamps burning” (Luke 12:35 NASB).

Final Thoughts

Warren Wiersbe tells a story of when he was a young man preaching on the last days with all the events of prophecy clearly laid out and perfectly planned. At the end of the service, an older gentleman came up to him and whispered in his ear, “I used to have the Lord’s return planned out to the last detail, but years ago I moved from the planning committee to the welcoming committee.”

Certainly, we want to study Bible prophecy and know about God’s plan for the future. But we must be careful not to get too caught up in the planning and forget the welcoming.

Are you on the welcoming committee for the Lord’s coming? Are you living each day to please the Master?

May God help our knowledge of the Rapture to transform our lives as we eagerly await the coming of our Lord and Savior.


Note: This article is an excerpt from Dr. Mark Hitchcock’s book “The End, A complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days.”

What is the Day of the Lord?

What is the Day of the Lord?

When talking about the last days and end times, one eschatological term that cannot be ignored is the “Day of the Lord,” which is mentioned at least 19 times in the Old Testament and 4 times in the New Testament. What is the “Day of the Lord?”

In order to have a clear and concise understanding of the expression the “Day of the Lord,” we must first define what is meant by “day.”

The Word “Day” in the Bible

The word day is used in the Bible in three main ways and all three uses are illustrated in the first two chapters of Genesis.

First, sometimes it is used to refer to daylight; for instance, the hours between dawn and sunset (Genesis 1:5). Second, it is also used to refer to a twenty-four-hour day (Genesis 1:5). The Jewish day began at sunset and continued to the next day at sunset. Third, the word day is used in the Bible as a period of time (Genesis 2:4) just as we use it in English.

Understanding the Day of the Lord

We speak of the day of our youth. Are we saying that we were young only one day? No. Rather, we are referring to the extended period of time in which we were young. The Day of the Lord falls into this final category. It is an extended period of time, not just a twelve-hour or twenty-four-hour period.

The Day of the Lord in the New Testament

In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4, the Day of the Lord refers to an extended period of time but is given characteristics like a twenty-four-hour day. It is a day that begins at midnight or in the darkness, advancing to dawn and then to daylight.

It will close again with another period of darkness after daylight has passed. Apparently, that is the symbolism involved in the Day of the Lord.

Besides, 1 Peter 3:10-13 indicates that the Day of the Lord will include the destruction of the present heavens and earth and the creation of the new heavens and new earth.

The Day of the Lord in the Old Testament

A few sample passages in the Old Testament give a general overview of the Day of the Lord.

Isaiah 13:9-11 describes a dramatic judgment manifest in the physical world, which will interfere with the light of the sun, moon, and stars. God will put down the proud and deal with sinners in judgment.

Zephaniah 1:14-16 continues in the same strain. According to the Old Testament, the “Day of the Lord” is a time of God’s judgment and a time of God’s dealing with the world in its sin.

However, the Bible also portrays the Day of the Lord as a time of deliverance and blessing for Israel. The Day of the Lord includes the Millennium – the whole kingdom reign of Christ on earth – in which Christ personally directs the government of the world.

Zephaniah 3:14-17 pictures Israel’s blessings on that day, obviously following the time of judgment. This passage prophesies the praising and rejoicing of Israel during the Millennium on earth. Joel 3:14-18 shed additional light on the blessing phase of the Day of the Lord.

A Time of Judgment and Blessing

Putting all the above-mentioned passages, the Day of the Lord is any time God intervenes directly and dramatically in history to either judge or to bless. God has intervened in this way in the past, and He will do so again in the future.

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There have been specific, past “days of the Lord” when God intervened dramatically to judge. For instance, the destruction of Egypt was called the “Day of the Lord” (Ezekiel 30:1-4). The locust plague in Joel 1 was a day of the Lord when God intervened directly to judge Israel (Joel 1:15).

Yet it is important to remember that all these past, historical days of the Lord prefigure the final, future day of the Lord.

The Future Day of the Lord

As revealed in Scripture, the future day of the Lord is a period of time that will begin with the 7-year Tribulation (the judgment phase) and will continue throughout the entire one-thousand-year reign of Christ, and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth (the blessing phase).

The future Day of the Lord will stretch from the Rapture to the creation of the new heavens and new earth. It will commence with a time of wrath and judgment upon a wicked and Christ-rejecting world and will culminate in a time of peace and prosperity; Christ will be in the midst of the earth, will rule over the earth, and will bless the nation of Israel

Much like a 24-hour day, the Day of the Lord will begin with the dark night of the Tribulation, continuing with the dawn bursting forth when Christ returns, and then the world will bask in the full sun of daylight during the Kingdom of Christ.

Living in the Day of Grace

Our present time, this current church age is often referred to as the day of grace. This is not to say that God never displayed grace in the previous dispensations. Many of God’s dealings with mankind from the Garden of Eden to the present day have manifested His grace.

People have always been saved by God’s grace through faith. The salvation of every person, no matter when he or she lived, is a work of God’s sovereign grace. But God, during this present age, has uniquely displayed His grace, highlighting it as the basis for salvation and our Christian life.

Another feature of this day of grace is that for the most part, God is not dealing openly and directly with human sin. He may impose a swift judgment in some cases, but evil people often flourish, enjoy health and wealth, and succeed in their endeavors, even though they are not Christians and do not honor the Lord.

God has given us grace in Christ Jesus

A person today may even arrogantly blaspheme God, angrily declare to be an atheist, or openly denounce God and teach destructive ideas. Yet, God seems to do nothing about it. The Lord is not attempting to straighten that out in this day of grace.

The overriding purpose of God in this age is to proclaim His grace so that people may be saved by trusting in Christ and receiving God’s gift of grace. However, after this day of grace has run its course and the church has been “caught up” to be with Christ (an event known as the rapture), the Day of the Lord will begin when God will punish human sin directly in wrath and judgment.

Conclusion

Scripture clearly portrays the Day of the Lord as a day of divine judgment upon the world followed by a time of unparalleled blessing.

In the Day of the Lord, Christ will rule with a rod of iron over the entire earth (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27). He will administer absolute justice (Isaiah 11:1-9). On that day Israel will also be regathered (Isaiah 11:10-12) and brought into the perfect peace of the millennial kingdom (Zephaniah 3:14-20) and on to the creation of the new heaven and new earth.


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Recommended Resource: The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy: Over 150 Topics from the World’s Foremost Prophecy Experts 

Edited by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson

Popular Encyclopedia of Bible ProphecyMore than one-fourth of the Bible was prophetic in nature at the time it was written, and Christ’s second coming is mentioned more than 300 times in Scripture. Clearly, God wants you to anticipate the last days—but Bible prophecy can seem vague and mysterious.

Find the clarity and answers you need in this comprehensive resource filled with thousands of facts about Christ’s return and the end times. Prophecy teachers Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson combine knowledge from an outstanding team of more than 40 experts to bring you…

  • detailed definitions of prophecy-related terms
  • helpful timetables of last-days’ events, including the rapture and the glorious appearing
  • thorough summaries of all the major prophetic viewpoints
  • vital understanding of the key players, such as the Antichrist and the False Prophet

Gain wisdom and insight as you repeatedly reach for this A-to-Z encyclopedia to find biblical answers to your toughest prophecy questions.

Can One Be Saved After Death?

Can One Be Saved After Death?

The belief that God will give the lost a second chance to believe after death has been held by many. They argue that those who have died without believing in Christ will have an opportunity to do so in the afterlife. Is there any scriptural support for this claim? Can one be saved after death?

Two days ago, my colleague asked me this question, which did not come as a surprise at all. Her mother passed away almost a year ago, barely three months after being diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer. It all happened so quickly that she was not prepared to lose her in such a short time.

She misses her every day but she is holding on to the thought that someday they would see each other again in heaven.

Let me just say this, I do not know her standing in the Lord, nor was her mom’s. As Roman Catholics they believe that Jesus is God; I’m just not sure if they have confessed Him as their Lord and Savior. But every opportunity I get to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with her and God’s gift of salvation through faith in Christ, I make sure to get the message across to her loud and clear.

Can One Be Saved After They Die

Judgment Comes After Death

When my colleague asked me if a person can be saved after they die, I said, “No. There isn’t any scriptural evidence to support the claim that God will give anyone a second chance to believe in Christ once this life is over.”

First of all, the Bible says that after death comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). There is not some type of probation for those who did not believe in this life. The New Living Translation translates the verse this way:

“And just as it is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 NLT).

It is consistently taught throughout the Scripture that judgment comes after death and there’s not a chance to believe in Jesus Christ.

Eternal Life is Determined in this Life Alone

The Bible is clear that our ultimate destiny is dependent upon what we do in this life and this life alone.

Jesus said this when He spoke to the religious leaders of His day, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).

These religious leaders were no different from any other human being. Jesus never gave any indication that they or anyone else can have some type of chance to believe in the afterlife. That being said, each and every person who dies without placing their faith in Christ is forever lost.

Not only is eternal life determined in this life, but also that the state of the dead is forever fixed. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus that Jesus gave, the great gulf between the believing and the unbelieving dead is permanently put in place so that no one from either side could cross over.

“And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us” (Luke 16:26).

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The Day of Salvation is Now

The Bible urges people to believe in God’s promises because the day of God’s salvation is now; not tomorrow or sometime after this life is over. Paul wrote:

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV).

Salvation is today; right now. It should never be put off until later and certainly not until someone gets to the next life.

If you haven’t made a decision yet to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to do it right now. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow and there is no guarantee that you will still be alive by then. Most people are afraid to die but if we are in a right relationship with God, we do not have to fear death.

God Determines What is Fair

It needs to be emphasized that it is not a sinful human being who decides what is fair and what is not but the God of the Bible. God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11), thus it is wrong to accuse Him of unfairness because of what we think He should do.

The following says this about God’s character in Isaiah 40:13-14 (NIV):

“Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as His counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge, or showed Him the path of understanding?”

The answer to the question, of course, is nobody. Nobody tells God what to do; nobody directs Him. God alone makes all the decisions and He does exactly what He wants to do.

Paul made this clear when he wrote to the Romans, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this’” (Romans 9:20 ESV)?

Who are we to question God? He formed us and He knows what’s best for us. Therefore, we need to trust Him in all decisions.

When we die we don't cease to exist; we just change location

God is a Righteous Judge

Another point that needed to be made is that the Lord eventually judges the world and He will do it righteously or fairly. God is the righteous Judge of all the earth and we can be confident that everyone will be treated and judged righteously.

“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

We may not know exactly how God will judge but we can conclude from the totality of the evidence in the Bible that God does not give people a chance to be saved after they have died. As far as determining our ultimate destiny, this life is all that there is.

Bottom Line

While many hold to the view that the Lord will be gracious enough to allow people to trust Christ sometime after their death, this is certainly not supported by the Bible. On the contrary, the Scripture emphasizes that now is the day of salvation because there is no chance after death.

What about the millions of people how have died without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ? Again, we need to remember that God determines what is fair and there is no injustice in Him. We need to trust the Lord that whatever way He will judge each and every human being, it will be done fairly and righteously.


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A Bible Study on the Rapture

A Bible Study on the Rapture

The Rapture which is the next great event on God’s prophetic calendar is undeniably one of the most debated issues in Christian theology. Although every Christian denomination affirms its belief in the eventual return of Christ, there exists a wide variety of opinions concerning when and how Christ will return.

In this article, we will examine the biblical doctrine of the rapture.

The Meaning of Rapture in the Bible

Those who object to the rapture are quick to point out that the word rapture is not in the Bible. I must say that’s a fair concern. However, the word Trinity is not in the Bible either, or even the word Bible for that matter. Yet we believe that these things are very real.

So, where does the concept of the rapture come from?

The term rapture comes from the words “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17: “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

Is the Word Rapture in the Bible

Our English word rapture is from the Latin word rapio or raptus, meaning “to snatch up, to seize, or to carry off by force.” When the great scholar Jerome translated the Greek NT into Latin in the 4th century, he translated the Greek word harpazo in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 into the Latin word raeptius. This word was eventually brought into the English as Rapture.

So, while it’s true that the word rapture does not occur in most English translations, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 clearly contain the concept of a catching away of living believers to meet the Lord.

The rapture could just be well called the “catching away of the church,” “the snatching away of the church,” “the translation of the church,” or “the harpazo of the church.” But “Rapture of the church” is an excellent description and has become the most common title for this event.

Where is Rapture in the Bible?

The rapture of believers is an important biblical concept that appears in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The idea of believers being “caught up” by God is not limited to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. There are several places throughout the Bible where people were “snatched up” from earth to heaven – providing insight regarding aspects of our future rapture.

There are seven raptures of specific people clearly described in Scripture. These involve Enoch, Elijah, Jesus, Philip, Paul, and the two witnesses. It’s possible that John was raptured as well, which would give us eight.

In light of these raptures, any serious theological understanding of biblical eschatology must include the idea of believers being “caught up” into heaven. Christians may differ on their understanding of the timing of the rapture to come, but not the reality that it will take place.

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Interestingly, some critics argue there is no rapture at all for the church. Yet we see the word we refer to as the rapture used 14 times in the New Testament: Matthew 11:12; 12:29; 13:19; John 6:15; 10:12, 28, 29; Acts 8:39; 23:10; 2 Corinthians 12:2; 4; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Jude 23; Revelation 12:5.

Of these 14 uses of harpazo, four refer to an actual rapture by God. In addition to believers, both dead and living (1 Thessalonians 4:17), these include Philip (Acts 8:39), Paul (2 Corinthians 2:2-3), and the male child (Revelation 12:5).

In addition, several raptures have already taken place in Scripture or are specifically mentioned in the future.

Raptures in the Old Testament

In addition to references to the word translated “rapture” in the New Testament, the Old Testament reveals two occasions on which the Lord “snatched up” a person into heaven. On both occasions, the person was taken alive directly to heaven with the Lord. Thus, the idea of a miraculous rapture of God’s people has precedence in the Old Testament.

Enoch

The first record of such an event has to do with Enoch. He is an intriguing character in Scripture mentioned six times in Genesis, once in a genealogy in 1 Chronicles 1:3, and three times in the New Testament (Luke 3:37; Hebrews 11:5; Jude 14).

Enoch was the son of Jared (Genesis 5:18) and became the father of Methuselah at the age of 65, and later he had other sons and daughters (Genesis 5:21-22). Living in the time of the early patriarchs, he lived to the age of 365. Scripture then notes, “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).

Where is the Word Rapture Mentioned in the Bible

Elijah

The second Old Testament person taken alive directly into heaven was the prophet Elijah. Elijah, meaning, “my God is Yahweh,” was a 9th century BC prophet from Tishbe, in Gilead, on the east bank of the northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 17:7). Elijah’s early ministry involved several confrontations with the idolatrous Ahab and Jezebel, the king and queen of Israel. This reached a climax at Mt. Carmel, where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to call down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:19-39).

Despite God’s miraculous intervention, Jezebel was determined to have Elijah killed, so he fled to the desert and hid in a cave (1 Kings 19:1-9). There, God called Elijah to anoint Elisha as his successor (1 Kings 19:15). Leaving the cave, he found Elisha and “threw his mantle on him” (1 Kings 19:19). For about the next ten years they ministered together, training “sons of the prophets” (disciples) in the various cities of Israel and Judah (2 Kings 2:3).

Second Kings 2 begins, “And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal” (2 Kings 2:1). His servant Elisha refused to leave his side, staying with Elijah as they walked to Bethel, Jericho, and across the Jordan River after Elijah parted the water by striking it with his cloak (1 Kings 2:8).

2 Kings 2:11-12 report, “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!’ So he saw him no more.”

Raptures in the New Testament

Seven raptures are recorded in the New Testament. These include the ascension of Jesus (Greek, harpasthê) in Revelation 12:50, the temporary raptures of Philip and Paul, the calling up (Greek, anaba) of John, the resurrection and rapture of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:12, and the rapture of all believers in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Jesus

First, Jesus ascended to heaven following His resurrection. This event known as the ascension is described in Acts 1:9-11. It is also mentioned in Luke 24:51.

What is intriguing about this rapture of Jesus is that the angels reported Jesus will return “in just the same way” as the disciples had watched Him go into heaven. What way was this? Jesus left by being “lifted up” (Greek, epêrthê) and received (Greek, hupelaben) by a cloud.

Jesus’ ascension was physical, personal, visible, and glorious. Jesus promised to one day return in the same way at the second coming (Matthew 24:30; Daniel 7:13) as well as to the same place, the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).

Philip

The second rapture noted in the New Testament is also recorded in the book of Acts (Acts 8:25-40). In this passage, Philip is led by an angel to meet with an Ethiopian Eunuch. A Hellenistic Jew, Philip was one of the seven original deacons appointed by the church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-7).

After Philip successfully evangelized Samaria (Acts 8:1-8), he was led by an angel to head south toward Gaza, on the edge of the Sinai desert. There, Philip encountered an Ethiopian of African descent who was reading from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Philip shared the good news of Jesus with the eunuch, speaking from Isaiah 53 in response to the eunuch’s question; “Of whom does the prophet say this” (Acts 8:34)?

“Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized’” (Acts 8:36)? This powerful account chronicles Philip baptizing the first known convert from Ethiopia. But the eunuch’s baptism was not the end of God’s power in this account.

After the baptism, Philip’s rapture occurs (Acts 8:39-40). John R. W. Stott observes, in this case, Philip was “removed with miraculous velocity … as at the rapture.” He was “snatched away” and reappeared at Azotus (Ashdod) some twenty miles away.

Though Philip was only temporarily raptured to another location, this event highlights an important aspect of the future rapture of the church: Those who remain on the earth will no longer see those who were raptured.

Where is Rapture in the Bible

Paul

The third rapture recorded in the New Testament involves the apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, Paul refers to “a man” who was caught up to heaven. Though he does not directly identify himself in this passage, from the context it is clear that he is speaking of himself.

Though reluctant to speak about his experience, Paul notes several details referring to his being “caught up” to the “third heaven.” The third heaven refers to the place where God lives – beyond the first heaven, or the sky, and the second heaven, or outer space.

First, Paul was raptured “into Paradise.” It was common to speak of heaven as “Paradise” (Luke 23:43; Revelation 2:7). Following his rapture, Paul was in the presence of the Lord immediately. Similarly, 1 Corinthians 15:52 reveals the rapture of believers will take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”

Second, this rapture occurred to “a man in Christ.” John Drane sees this concept as the heart of Paul’s theology. He writes, “The supreme fact for Paul was that he was ‘a man in Christ.’ It was by being ‘in Christ’ that a person could be justified before God, and share in the new life Jesus had come to bring.”

Third, Paul “heard inexpressible words.” One of the beautiful aspects believers can anticipate about being in the presence of Christ is the supernatural fellowship that will occur from being with the Lord.

Paul could not even speak of what took place during his experience. Imagine how much greater of an experience it will be when we live in Christ’s presence forever.

John

The fourth possible rapture recorded in the New Testament is found in Revelation. Due to the anti-Christian persecution that took place under the Roman emperor Domitian, the apostle John was banished to the island of Patmos. While there, he continued to worship the Lord and wrote the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:9-11).

In Revelation 4:1-2, John refers back to this vision and says, “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.”

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John Walvoord observes that while the invitation to John to “come up here” (Greek anaba hòde) is similar to that which the church anticipates at the rapture, “it is clear from the context that this is not an explicit reference to the rapture of the church, as John was not actually translated; in fact, he was still in his natural body on the island of Patmos.”

Nevertheless, the idea of his being transported, even in a vision, shows a pattern of a believer being taken to heaven to gain a new perspective on events that would transpire on earth.

Future Raptures

In addition to the raptures that have already taken place throughout Scripture, two future raptures are noted.

The Rapture of Living Believers

While several passages describe the rapture, the three most direct passages that describe this event include John 14:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Note: The focus of this write-up is on the pre-tribulation view of the rapture of all believers in Christ.

In John 14:1-3, Jesus personally describes some aspects of the rapture. First, He explains that one reason for leaving earth is so He can personally prepare a place for us in heaven. This amazing detail reveals Jesus is actively involved in preparing our future heavenly home.

Second, Jesus teaches in John 14:3 that He will come again and receive us to Himself. The order of events is clear. Jesus will leave (the ascension), He will prepare a place for us in heaven, He will come again, He will take us to be with Him (the rapture), and we will be in heaven with Him.

A Bible Study on the Rapture

The Rapture of the Two Witnesses

We read about the rapture of the two witnesses sent by God to testify to the world on His behalf in Revelation 11:3-12. God will grant these two Jewish men authority to witness and prophesy for 42 months, or 1,260 days – this comprises the first 3 ½ years of the seven-year tribulation that will follow the rapture (Revelation 11:2-3).

These two men will minister outside of the rebuilt Jerusalem temple and have the ability to destroy their enemies (Revelation 11:5). At the midpoint of the tribulation, the beast (Antichrist) will kill these two witnesses and leave their bodies in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 ½ days (Revelation 11:7-8).

The people of the world will celebrate their death (Revelation 11:10). Yet these two witnesses will return to life after 3 ½ days, causing great fear among the people (Revelation 11:11). They will then follow the Lord’s command to “come up here,” and they will be raptured to heaven (Revelation 11:12).

While the term harpazo is not used to describe the rapture of the two witnesses, the fact of their physical resurrection and rapture is clearly indicated. A voice from heaven called them to “come up here” and they “went up.”

The Rapture is the Blessed Hope

A careful study of the Greek term harpazo and these examples of biblical raptures make it clear that the idea of a future rapture of all believers is certainly biblical. The only real debate is over the matter of the timing of the rapture, not the fact that there will be such an event.

Therefore, any serious discussion about the nature, timing, and significance of the rapture ought to be carried out with the utmost respect for this biblical concept.

If the first Christians viewed the rapture as the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), then so should we, regardless of our opinions concerning its timing.

Closing Words

The rapture or the catching away of living believers to heaven is a biblical doctrine. Scripture clearly teaches that at some point in the future, Jesus will come, and every believer in Christ who is alive on earth will be caught up to heaven to meet Him in the air.

One important thing to note: Jesus is not coming for moral people, for people who faithfully attend church, or for people who observe religious rituals, as good as those things maybe. He’s coming for those who are “in Christ” through faith in His atoning death and resurrection.

Are you ready to meet Him?


References:

The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Mark Hitchcock

Can We Still Believe in the Rapture? by Ed Hindson and Mark Hitchcock

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Did God Create Evil (Isaiah 45:7)?

Did God Create Evil (Isaiah 45:7)?

The problem of evil is one of the arguments commonly brought up when talking about the existence of God. Atheists often ask, “If a morally upright God exists, why doesn’t he stop all bad things from happening?” Often people claim that God Himself created evil.

And you know what? They even use the Scriptures, particularly Isaiah 45:7 (KJV) to support this claim. What? No way! Does this verse really teach that God created evil?

In this post, we will look at this verse more closely and figure out how to properly respond to this question.

Is God the Creator of Evil?

One passage of Scripture that seems to teach that God did indeed create evil is Isaiah 45:7. The King James Version of the Bible says this, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”

But does this mean that God is the creator of evil? If so, then He isn’t a good God after all. So, how do we explain the following verse in Genesis?

Does the Bible Teach that God Created Evil

If everything God created was “very good” then how can He be the creator of evil? Is evil something very good? How are we supposed to explain these seemingly contradicting statements?

Making Sense of Difficult Passages

Christian apologist, speaker, author, and pastor of Calvary Chapel Signal Hill Don Stewart, gives us three possible ways in which Bible-believing Christians should address this passage.

Incorrect Translation of the Hebrew Word

It is important to note that only the King James Bible uses the word evil and in this case, some people feel that the Hebrew word was incorrectly translated based on the context of the passage. The word translated “evil” is the Hebrew word ra, which also means calamity, disaster, sorrow, afflictions, and adversity.

Modern Bible translations have translated the passage with a different English word. For example, the New International Version reads:

“I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7 NIV).

Here we have the word translated “disaster.”

Interestingly, the New King James Version uses the word “calamity. It says, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

Therefore, the Scriptures do not teach that God was the originator of evil. Rather, what this passage is saying is that on occasion God brings calamity or disaster to the world but that He did not create evil itself.

 

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God Created the Conditions for Evil

Although others believe that the Hebrew word does not actually mean that God creates evil, they usually understand it in the sense that God creates the conditions for people to commit acts of evil. In other words, God creates circumstances where people have the choice to either do good or evil and that people sometimes make the choice to do the latter.

So, in a sense, God creates conditions that people can do evil but these conditions also allow people to do what is good. In other words, it is not that God created something evil but rather that He created the conditions for evil to become a possibility.

By giving human beings a choice, God opened up the possibility that humans would choose evil. Adam and Eve did exactly that. They chose to rebel against God and brought sin into our world. Therefore, in one sense, God did create evil by allowing the conditions for evil to originate.

But at the same time, God did not force Adam and Eve to choose evil. To do evil was something they chose to do.

God Allows Evil to Exist for His Own Purposes

Scriptures tell us that God is good, all-powerful, and sovereign. This is why we must recognize that no circumstance escapes His watchful eyes. In other words, God allows things to happen; He permitted evil to infest His creation.

Now, why is that? How could God just sit there and watch evil destroy His creation? When it comes to the problem of evil, the Bible leaves some things unanswered. But one thing it does tell us: God uses evil for His own purposes.

God uses everything for His purpose

We see this in the story of Joseph and his brothers. What Joseph’s brothers did to him was evil. Yet, God used their evil for good – to preserve the lives not only of their family but of the nation of Israel. You can read more about it in this article.

Another example is the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, in several instances such as that in Exodus 7:3 by God, and other instances (Exodus 8:32) by Pharaoh himself. God said this happened not only so that He might show His power in Pharaoh but also for His name to be declared in all the earth (Romans 9:17).

And let us not forget the evilest event that God allowed to happen – the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son (Acts 2:23). All the evil things that the participants in the crucifixion did have been ordained beforehand by God. And yet, the moral blame rested on the people who crucified Christ.

Indeed, God did not create evil. But He uses evil to accomplish His purposes for His own glory and for our good.

Bottom Line

Sure, the Bible recognizes that evil exists. But God did not create evil. We must reiterate that Isaiah 45:7 does not teach God created evil. God is not the originator of evil. The origin of evil lies with humanity. When God created man, i.e., human beings, He gave them free will – the choice to obey or disobey.

Evil came as a result of humanity’s choice. We must recognize that much of the evil in the universe is due to the direct or indirect choice of individuals. Lying, stealing, murder, and the likes cannot be blamed upon God. Each person is given a choice to do good or evil. And when they choose evil, they must be held accountable.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: Why Does God Allow Evil?: Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions by Clay Jones

“If you are looking for one book to make sense of the problem of evil, this book is for you.” – Sean McDowell

Grasping This Truth Will Change Your View of God Forever

Why Does God Allow Evil?: Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions by Clay JonesIf God is good and all-powerful, why doesn’t He put a stop to the evil in this world? Christians and non-Christians alike struggle with the concept of a loving God who allows widespread suffering in this life and never-ending punishment in hell. We wrestle with questions such as…

  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Why should we have to pay for Adam’s sin?
  • How can an eternal judgment be fair?

But what if the real problem doesn’t start with God…but with us?

Clay Jones, an associate professor of Christian apologetics at Biola University, examines what Scripture truly says about the nature of evil and why God allows it. Along the way, he’ll help you discover the contrasting abundance of God’s grace, the overwhelming joy of heaven, and the extraordinary destiny of believers.