Description: “How Soon?”
Viewer Screen: “How Soon?”
Our pattern in this series has been to do a segment on “What in the World Is God Doing?”, citing articles current issues or events showing how God is at work to fulfill His prophetic word, followed by “What in the Word is God Saying?”, presenting teaching from God’s word on Bible prophecy, followed by our third segment, answering questions from viewers. But this episode is different. Since it is the final broadcast of this series, we wanted to use this episode to consider how close we may be to the impending rapture of the Church and the Tribulation period. Because of three things, we feel we need to use all of our time in this broadcast to make our presentation.
1) This is a critically important subject;
2) The time is close at hand;
3) There is significant evidence that our “redemption draws near.”
So, let’s get right to the question at hand: “How Soon?”
Some Christians do not believe we can know if the rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation period are near. Jesus seemed to support that view when He made this proclamation about the timing of the rapture in Mark 13:32:
Viewer Screen: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mk 13:32).
When Jesus gave that proclamation, even He did not know when the rapture would occur. However, some things have changed since that announcement.
Viewer Screen: Jesus is now at the right hand of God, “with authorities and powers having been made subject to Him” (1 Pet 3:22).
Instead of playing the role of the meek Lamb of God, Jesus currently fulfills a very different role, one as our High Priest.
Viewer Screen: As our High Priest, Jesus has intimate knowledge of the specific struggles of all believers (Heb 4:14-15).
While serving on the earth in the role He then carried out, His knowledge was limited. However, His exaltation into heaven brought him expanded knowledge to go with his new, exalted role. Does Jesus not now know when He will come in the air for us? Might the Father have revealed His plan to His Son since Jesus’ exaltation? It seems likely.
If so, what Jesus proclaimed in Mk 13:32 was true when He proclaimed it, but things have changed with His new role and His current understanding.
Viewer Screen: If any part of Mark 13:32 has changed in its relationship to what is currently true, then its entirety may also be relegated to a past application that may no longer be the situation today.
This would mean that believers could gain a clearer understanding of the timing of the rapture and tribulation period as we draw closer to it. In other words, Christians living near the end of the Church age, who have their eyes wide open to what God is doing in the world through the fulfillment of His prophetic word, could know that they are very close to the occurrence of the rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation. In fact, the apostle Paul announced this possibility to Christian readers in 1 Thess 5:4 when he wrote this:
Viewer Screen: “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thess 5:4).
“This Day” refers to the Day of the Lord (1 Thess 5:2), the Tribulation period. Paul announced two verses earlier that, to the world:
Viewer Screen: “. . . the Day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thess 5:2).
But Paul clearly stated in verse 4 that it should not overtake believers in this way.
Viewer Screen: “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thess 5:4).
Thus, non-Christians will be caught by surprise by this period of time, but Christians should see it coming.
Of course, as we have seen, Christians living on this side of the rapture will be removed from the world on the day it begins. But the emphasis indicated by the analogy of a thief in the night is that of surprise. Therefore, Christians who are spiritually alert should not be surprised by the timing of the rapture and Tribulation. The implication is that those believers who are living just prior to that era should foresee its approach.
If that is true, then might we be close to the rapture of the Church and the beginning of Tribulation? And if so, how close?
One important indicator of the nearness of the rapture and Tribulation period is Israel’s possession of Jerusalem. When God put Jerusalem back into the hands of Israel in 1967, it fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy of Luke 21:24:
Viewer Screen: “ ‘And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled’ ” (Lk 21:24).
Here Jesus announced that the Jewish capital would be under Gentile control “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Since the times of the Gentiles refers to God’s focus upon Gentiles for salvation, Israel’s current possession of Jerusalem signals that God has begun to turn His attention toward Israel for salvation. Since that salvation will occur during the tribulation period, that seven-year period cannot be far away.
Israel’s possession of Jerusalem is also necessary for the rebuilding of the temple, which will occur during the first half of the tribulation period, as per the treaty of Daniel 9:27. This is one more factor indicating we may be close to the fulfillment of that period. In addition:
Viewer Screen: There is a growing movement in Israel looking for the arrival of the Messiah.
While most of those Jews are not believers, still, this seems significant as it seems to indicate God’s preparation of the Jews for the time of their salvation.
In fact, Jewish groups in Israel have come together to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. Because of this:
Viewer Screen: The focus on rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem has heightened significantly.
Most religious Jews in Israel believe the temple must be rebuilt in order to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. This is compelling, since the temple will be rebuilt on the Temple Mount as a result of the peace treaty between ten nations and Israel. According to Daniel 9:27, “sacrifice and offering” are part of the treaty (for when the treaty is broken, sacrifice and offering cease), and since Jews cannot provide sacrifice and offering without a temple, rebuilding the temple will be part of the treaty.
In preparation for the rebuilding of the temple:
Viewer Screen: The Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement in Jerusalem, a group seeking to rebuild the temple in preparation of the coming of the Messiah, has already hand-hewed the cornerstone for the temple.
Viewer Screen: The Temple Institute has already created what is needed for temple service and sacrifices, such as the utensils used in temple service and the garments of the high priest.
As mentioned, the temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem within the first half of the Tribulation.
Viewer Screen: The temple will definitely be rebuilt by the middle of the Tribulation period (Dan 9:27; Mt 24:15; 2 Thess 2:3-4).
In fact, it will likely be rebuilt well before that three-and-a-half-year mid-point. Because of modern construction abilities, etc., the temple could be rebuilt in six months, or so.
Up till recently, it was difficult to see how the temple could be rebuilt at all, but with the changing relationships between Middle East nations and Israel (note the four recent treaties President Trump brokered between Arab nations and Israel), things appear to be changing. An article entitled “Trouble in the Holy Land” reveals that a highly influential Muslim scholar and best-selling author (with 67 million copies of his books in circulation!) named Adnan Oktar (who uses the pen name of Harun Yahya) is working with the reestablished Jewish Sanhedrin to try to accomplish this very thing!
Viewer Screen: “The temple of Solomon will be rebuilt and all believers will worship there in tranquility.” — Adman Oktar
Furthermore, in an article written by Aviel Schneider, and recently appearing in Israel Today (Islamic Cleric: “The Quran proves that Eretz Israel belongs to the Jews” | Israel Today), a leading member of Pakistan’s National Assembly, Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani stated:
Viewer Screen: “The house of God was built for the children of Israel and not for the Palestinians.” — Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani
The Muslim cleric also states: “Muslim scholars should read the Quran, where Muhammad says to Moses, ‘We gave the land in your name and we gave the land to your people.’ ”
Viewer Screen: “The Quran and history prove to us that Eretz [“the land of”] Israel belongs to the Jews. King David built the House [temple] of God in Jerusalem for the Israelis and not for the Palestinians.” — Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani
This leading Islamic cleric is proclaiming that Israel and Jerusalem belong to the Jews. This is significant as it appears to prepare for the rebuilding of the temple in Eastern Jerusalem.
Viewer Screen: A recent survey of Jews in Israel found that 65 percent of them want the temple to be rebuilt.
This is a staggering figure, since it seems that not long ago, Israel was primarily a secular state. The tide is changing, preparing for the rebuilding of the temple in the possible near future.
Viewer Screen: In October of 2004, the Sanhedrin was reestablished.
“The Sanhedrin is the name given in the mishna to the council of seventy-one Jewish sages who constituted the supreme court and legislative body in Judea during the Roman period. . . . The Jewish Sanhedrin is a governmental body that resembles aspects of both the U.S. Senate and the Supreme Court.”
Viewer Screen: A major role of the ancient Sanhedrin (during the times of Jesus and the apostles) was to legislate and judge the observance of the Mosaic law.
Since the Tribulation will begin with the reestablishment of a strong focus on the Mosaic law in the land of Israel, God’s reestablishment of the Sanhedrin appears to be a preparation for the soon arrival of the Tribulation. The timing of this, along with the recent formation of the two Jewish groups cited above, seems to be beyond a coincidence. It is as if God is preparing the Jews in Israel for salvation in all possible ways.
Another indicator we could be drawing close to the rapture and the inauguration of the Tribulation period is:
Viewer Screen: The World’s Focus on “Peace and Security” (1 Thess 5:3)
This focus seems to have been generated by 09/11. One year following the attack upon the United States on 9/11, President Bush used the phrase “peace and security” three times in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 12, 2002. In his first public address after being elected president, Barack Obama used the same phrase, “peace and security,” when he announced: “To those who seek peace and security: We support you.” In an address to the UN General Assembly Interfaith Conference on November 12, 2008, former Prime Minister, and current Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of Israel, Shimon Peres addressed the need for peace and security in the Middle East and called for help from the UN to achieve it. On June 4, 2009, the Israeli Foreign Ministry Department published this official response to President Obama’s Cairo speech:
Viewer Screen: “We share President Obama’s hope that the American effort heralds the beginning of a new era that will bring about an end to the conflict and lead to Arab recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, living in peace and security in the Middle East.” — Official Israeli Foreign Ministry Department publication, June 4, 2009
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for world efforts “to achieve the implementation of the concept of the two states, Palestine and Israel, living in peace and security.” Shortly, thereafter, the UN Security Council reiterated its call for renewed efforts to achieve peace and security between Israel and the Palestinians.
We could go on and on. “Peace and security” will be the proclamation of the world just prior to the rapture of the Church (1 Thess 5:3). This could indicate a building toward the crescendo of “peace and security” between Israel and ten national leaders. It certainly appears that the end-times clock is ticking.
Viewer Screen: The World’s Focus on Achieving a Middle East Treaty with Israel
Another indicator of the closeness of the rapture and the tribulation period is the strong focus by the world on achieving a Middle East peace treaty with Israel. There are many global leaders that believe the achievement of this treaty will solve the major problems of the world.
Recently, there has been a shift from a focus on a two-party peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians to a regional peace plan with Israel. It has become increasingly apparent that in order to accomplish a true Middle East peace treaty with guaranteed terms, other nations would need to guarantee the terms of the treaty, which falls more in line with the treaty predicted in the book of Daniel, where ten national leaders will ratify the treaty with Israel. Ironically, Iran is being used by God to move the peace process in a more biblical direction.
Iran’s race toward nuclear capability has made its Arab neighbors very nervous; as a result, they are pulling for Israel to attack the Persian country. This strong Arab support of Israel—which is a first—appears to be creating the kind of good to allow for five of these leaders to be guarantors of a treaty with Israel.
One more factor that could indicate the nearness of the rapture and the Tribulation is connected to:
Viewer Screen: The Removal of Saddam Hussein as Leader of Iraq
This was a necessary preparation to pave the way for the rise of the king of the North. Since Hussein’s removal, persecution from Muslims against the Assyrian population—the group from which the king of the North will arise—has become rampant. In fact:
Viewer Screen: Since Hussein’s removal, more than half of all Iraqi Assyrians have fled the country.
Under Hussein, the Assyrians were protected, enjoying life as the educated class (the doctors, attorneys, teachers, etc.). However, once he was removed from office, Assyrians—who consider themselves Christians—have been severely persecuted by the Muslim majority and have fled for their lives. At this rate of flight from the country, it will not be long until there are no Assyrians left in Iraq. There is no sign that the persecution of Assyrians will let up any time soon, so something will need to occur soon to fulfill prophecy regarding the king of the North.
Since government intervention on behalf of Assyrians will probably not occur, the survival of the Assyrians seems to depend on their self-defense, which has already begun to take shape. According to one UPI article:
Viewer Screen: Iraqi Assyrians have formed militias in northern Iraq for self-preservation as a possible preparation for the rise of the King of the North and his military machine.
For these militias to be effective against the intense and organized attacks of fanatical Muslims, they will need to rally around an effective and charismatic leader to arise soon—and they will, forming the beginning of the military machine that will conquer the Middle East.
The severe persecution of the Assyrians will likely provide motivation for the king of the North to arise from within that group in order to defend them from extinction in Iraq. Since the persecution from the radical Muslim element will undoubtedly not let up, this Assyrian leader will need to aggressively conquer those who seek the elimination of his people.
Viewer Screen: Because the King of the North will begin his rise to power following the rapture of the Church, the removal of Saddam Hussein, along with persecution and flight of the Assyrians, may indicate the nearness of the rapture and Tribulation.
Possibly one of the most effective arguments for the soon approach of the rapture and the inception of the Tribulation is:
Viewer Screen: The Ineffectiveness of the Church to Reach a Growing World Population with the Gospel of Christ.
It appears that the gap is quickly widening between the amount of people receiving eternal life and the number of individuals dying and entering into eternity separated from God.
Viewer Screen: Jesus gave the Church the responsibility of reaching the nations for Christ.
Thus, it would seem that this growing gap is due to ineffectiveness on the part of the church. It could be argued that this ineffectiveness is a result of the Church’s increasing lukewarmness and complacency, as well as its movement away from the clear and biblical gospel.
Viewer Screen: Since God desires all men to be saved, how long can He sit by and watch a growing number of people on their way to hell?
Knowing God’s heart from the pages of Scripture, it seems that it cannot be long before He takes the church out of the world in order to initiate a more effective outreach to the world. When He does, He will begin again with the two prophets of Revelation 11, who will clearly and effectively proclaim the biblical gospel of Christ to Israel, who will, in turn, take the gospel to the nations. This cannot be far away.
Another indicator that we may be close to the rapture of the church is an argument based on where we may be in church history. This argument begins with the seven churches of Revelation.
|Church||Characterized by||Representation||Approx. Representative Dates|
|Ephesus||Zeal||Apostolic Church||AD 33 – 100 [67 yrs]|
|Smyrna||Persecution||Persecuted Church||AD 100 – 311 [211 yrs]|
|Pergamos||Compromising||State Church||AD 311 – 590 [279 yrs]|
|Thyatira||Corruption||Papal (Pagan) Church||AD 590 – 1517 [927 yrs]|
|Sardis||Deadness||Reformed Church||AD 1517 – 1730 [213 yrs]|
|Philadelphia||Faithfulness||Missionary Church||AD 1730 – 1900 [170 yrs]|
|Laodicea||Lukewarm||Apostate Church||AD 1900 – Rapture [110 + yrs]|
A number of scholars believe that these churches represent both historical (first-century) churches as well as various historical eras of the universal church. In other words, these seven churches represent seven ages of the church age. According to these same scholars, we are currently in the age of Laodicea, the final stage of the church age. Take note of the pattern of the approximate representative periods shown in the chart before you.
Based on this chart, the age of Laodicea should be close to completion. We arrive at this understanding based on the pattern of their chronological lengths. These eras increase in time, beginning at sixty-seven years and climbing to a peak of nine hundred twenty-seven years during the era in the middle of these representative ages. These periods of time then descend to the final era, which is already more than 120 years in length.
We could focus on other observations, such as:
Viewer Screen: The Global Push toward a One-World Economy and Currency
Of course, a world bank already exists. This push aligns with Rev 13:16-18 which shows a global economy and currency controlled by the Beast and his False Prophet by means of the mark of the Beast. We could also cite:
Viewer Screen: The Wave of Jews Flooding into Israel which, then, Nearing Zero Growth in Immigration
From the end of the 19th century till the 21st century, Jews flooded into Israel as a fulfillment of Ezekiel 37. But, then, this flood began to approach zero growth in immigration, citing some to wonder if this might be an indicator that Israel is nearing the number of Jews God has appointed to be in the land when the Tribulation begins. There is also:
If the rapture is near, it is critically important that we be prepared for it. We begin that preparation with this question:
Viewer Screen: Have you believed in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life (life with God forever)?
If you have, then you possess the certainty of escaping the seven-year era of horror called the Tribulation period.
However, it is also vitally important that we prepare beyond that.
Viewer Screen: The Bible relays to us very clearly that eternal reward—the quality of our eternal experience in God’s kingdom—is dependent on finishing our lives faithfully for Christ.
So, what are you doing to enable yourself to finish faithfully?
Viewer Screen: Are you spending time in God’s word—the Bible—on a daily basis?
Viewer Screen: Are you setting aside time for prayer to God each day?
Viewer Screen: Are you involved in a good, Bible-teaching church?
Viewer Screen: Are you connected with other Christians who desire to finish their lives faithfully?
Viewer Screen: Are you openly identifying with Jesus?
These are crucial ingredients in the life of a faithful believer.
May the Lord find each of us ready when He comes. Keeping in mind that He could come for us very soon can keep us on the track of faithfulness for Christ. So, keep looking up!