Today I want to conclude this series on the Signs of the Last Days. While I believe these verses are indicative of the last days approaching, they also refer to what is going to happen following the rapture of the church.
Christians, while we are going to escape the Seven Year Tribulation period, we will NOT escape the suffering. Last week, I said that there were three signs, but there are really four. Look at what Jesus says in vv. 9, 10 as He gives us the sign of persecution. You’ve heard me say again and again that there have been more martyrs for the Christian faith in the last 100 years than in the previous 1900 years. We sometimes miss that because it isn’t happening yet in America. But it’s coming. We’ve seen persecution come to life around the world. It’s always been there, getting progressively worse in places like Russian, China, and North Korea. Now the Middle East is exploding in Christian persecution due to the rise of ISIS. And what we are seeing now in Great Britain, Canada, and beginning in the U.S. because of the cry for political correctness and equal rights is that Christians are being harassed, spat on, beaten, fined, arrested, and jailed for speaking the truth about sin and sinful men. Look at how Jesus put it: “many will be offended….” Sound familiar? But again, we haven’t seen anything yet because this political correctness is going to take hold in the church — not among true believers because the Bible says that true believers are secure in Jesus Christ. But there will be nominal Christians — those who say Lord, Lord, but Jesus responds to them with “depart from me for I never knew you” — who will join in the cultural battle cry, who will betray those who stand of the truth of God’s Word. And the love of many will grow cold. Look with me at 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-3. Paul makes it clear. In the last days, there will be a great falling away. The word Paul used is apostasia, from which we get our word apostasy. And we often define that word as a falling away. We would use it to describe the trend that is taking place in our churches as evidenced by the research that is being done and by what is happening in the churches around us. But more than that, the word literally means “rebellion.” We are talking about an all out war on the Truth of God’s Word, a rejection of Christian principles we have held dear for generations. It’s bad now, but it’s getting worse.
After the rapture of the church, it will be even worse. Based on the book of Revelation during the first half of the Tribulation period as many as 3.65 billion people will die in the inescapable judgment of a Holy God. But Paul says in I Th. 5:9 that those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior are “not appointed to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” Those who have placed their faith and trust in Him will be spared from this terrible Day of the Lord. But those who have never accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior on that day will not be spared. And I believe that day is drawing near. No, the end is not yet, but it’s close. That’s why I believe it is imperative that we sound the alarm, that we spread the word, that we work, for the night is coming when men shall work no more. That’s why we must be about the Father’s business of reaching a lost world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Then Jesus gave us the third sign of His coming in vs 7: the sign of devastation. Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. War is often followed by famine. Such is the case in Yemen and South Sudan. In places like Zimbabwe and North Korea, it is just the result of their leaders’ greed and mismanagement. Russian researchers predict global famine in 40 years — if we have that long. Famines of the recent past in places like Somalia, Northern Kenya, the Niger Republic and Ethiopia come to mind, and the regional conflicts make the delivery of relief supplies difficult. How about North Korea, India, South Korea, and Pakistan? Drought in California, Oregon, and Nevada has the west coast of America reeling, but the real issue is that drought is raging on four continents. Add to the west coast issue Brazil, North Korea, and South Africa. Listen to me. I don’t believe in man-made global warming, but I’m telling you that I do believe in God-made global warming. But then, of course, scientists are predicting that in the next five years, the Earth could be plunged into a mini-ice age. Understand something here. God is up to something, and He is using that which He created to get our attention. According to Archer Daniel Midlands, every farmer today feeds 180 families. In a few years, they will have to feed over 200 families each. Weather patterns, over-development of the land. You can see how famines will multiply in the future.
What about the plague of AIDS that has devastated entire countries in Africa and affects every other country in the world. Tuberculosis is on the rise again and antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria have scientists and the medical community terrified. Since 2009 there have been pandemics of H1N1, bird flu, swine flu and ebola. Outbreaks of yellow fever, dengue fever, cholera, and polio. Scientists are telling us that the world is dangerously unprepared for future pandemics.
Earthquakes continue to increase in frequency and in power. Of some 68 major earthquakes recorded in history, 46 have occurred in the 21st century. In the last decade there have been 10 to 20 major quakes each year. Oklahoma has reported an ever increasing number of quakes. In an article in last week’s New Yorker, the headline read, “There’s a Mad Rush to Buy Earthquake Survival Kits in Seattle.” Listen to the words of the story: “And the people felt the ground shaking and saw the water rising. Or at least, they heard the cries of the New Yorker saying so. And when the people knew that the Big One was coming, they trembled with fear. Well, some of them did. The Biblical tone is appropriate. There really is a 9.0 earthquake/skyscraper-sized tsunami predicted to unmoor coastal life as we know it in the Pacific Northwest—quite possibly within the next 50 years.” Last month there was a “swarm of earthquakes” in Greene County Alabama. There have been at least five in that area since last November. Talk about earthquakes in various places. And according to Jesus, these problems will continue to escalate dramatically.
In fact, to paraphrase what Jesus says about it, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Look at vv. 6 and 8. Don’t be troubled; all this must come to pass, but the end is not yet. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Jesus could not have used a more graphic word than sorrows. Literally, the word means birth pangs. But these are only the Braxton-Hicks contractions, also known as false labor, letting you know the time is getting close. And the closer the time comes, the worse things will be. These pains start suddenly — unexpectedly — and they grow more and more intense as time for true labor pains draws closer. Paul used this same analogy in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 when he wrote that at a time of peace and safety, sudden destruction would come.
Please hear me, this morning. God’s judgment is coming to planet Earth. I am as confident of that statement as any other statement I could make this morning. Just as sure as the sun rose this morning. Just as sure as I know that God loves me. I know His judgment is coming. When we even have to have a debate in our congress over whether to defund Planned Parenthood after it is proven that they are selling pieces of aborted babies trying to make a profit, God’s judgment is surely coming. When the Supreme Court announces that marriage is no longer between a man and a woman, God’s judgment is coming. When nation after nation shakes their fists in God’s face and declares that He is no longer in control, God’s judgment is coming, and my friends, that’s what we have done, time and time again.
The second sign that Jesus shares in vv. 6-7 is the sign of destruction. Wars and rumors of wars. Nations will rise against nation. There have been very few days in the history of the world that there have not been wars going on somewhere. It seems that men thrive on conflict. Why is that? I cannot begin to comprehend. When conflict arises, my heart beats harder, my blood pressure goes up, I feel like I cannot breathe. It isn’t a good feeling, but when I know that I am in the right, God takes over, calms my spirit, and gives me the strength to say and do what I need to do. But it seems that some people love a good fight. They enjoy the conflict. I think it is because they have the spirit of Cain on their lives. Things don’t go my way, I can fix that. You don’t like what I have to offer, I can fix that. Violence becomes a way of life — whether it is physical violence, verbal assaults, or sneaky little gossip sessions, it becomes ingrained in their psyche and their second nature.
Just about my entire life I have listened to pastors preaching about wars and rumors of wars, telling stories about how there have been more wars in their lifetimes than ever before. And it’s true. WWI was supposed to be the war than ended all wars, but it seems only to have whet the appetites of those with the spirit of Cain on their lives. WWII and the dropping of the atomic bomb should have scared some sense into the world, but all it did is make us more afraid of each other and hungry to have the weapons of mass destruction. And today, we see wars and rumors of wars everywhere.
Even Russia has begun to send its nuclear bombers flying towards America testing the limits of territorial boundaries. Iran agrees to a nuclear deal one day and then the next day threatens death and destruction to the USA and Israel. And our Secretary of State warns our closest ally, Israel, that to attack Iran would be a mistake. My point in saying all of this today is simply this: war has always been part of mankind’s history and until Jesus returns, it will be so. And as every sinful action and attitude has done through the generations, it grows worse and worse as human beings find more evil ways to do more evil things to people. Case in point: ISIS executing Christians because they refuse to convert to Islam — burning them to death in cages, drowning, beheading, shooting. Giving guns and knives to children and making them do the dirty work. See what I mean? And all of this is recorded to be watched by hundreds of millions of viewers daily on YouTube and the network news websites. Talk about depravity. The wickedness of men never ceases to amaze.
But wars and rumors of wars have always been with us, and like no other time in history, mankind has the capability to destroy everything. Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Cyber warfare – every day you hear about someone hacking into the computer systems of some government agency. But don’t misunderstand. They aren’t just trying to get your personal information so that they can steal your identity. They are looking for our weaknesses, trying to find a way to crash our systems. Do you realize that if they could find just the right switch, just the right program, just the right file, they could plunge our electrical grid into complete chaos. Can you imagine what it would be like if there was no electricity in this nation for weeks? or months? Electromagnetic Pulses are capable of frying every electronic circuit within hundreds of miles from the blast. And while our nation has supposedly sought to get out of the wars we have been fighting, all around the world, the wars continue to rage. We try to come to an agreement with Iran, and North Korea decides to act up. Unrest in the Middle East between the Palestinians and Israel, unrest in Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Syria, Turkey. And while war has always been a part of mankind’s existence, never before has there been the potential for total destruction like today. And Jesus says, disputes between nations will escalate dramatically.
So how are we supposed to know the difference between the everyday ordinary wars that happen all the time and those wars that signify the last days? I think I can help you with that question. Understand that Jesus is talking to His Jewish disciples in Jerusalem. And everyone of the prophetic wars yet to occur center around Israel. The War of Gog and Magog that I talked about two weeks ago will center around Israel. The destruction of Damascus in Isaiah 17 has to do with Israel. The War of Psalm 83 that we heard about last Sunday night has to do with Israel. Is.19 describes a time in the last days when Egypt faces a time of difficulty, violence, and economic disaster. Egyptians will fight against Egyptians. They will be demoralized and will resort to occult practices. They will be delivered into the hands of a cruel taskmaster. The Nile will dry up, industries ruined, living conditions will deteriorate, and their senior leadership will become stupid (vv. 11, 13). But then God will sweep in and Revival will break out. The Lord will strike Egypt to heal it. Is that part of what is happening now? I don’t know, but there is an enormous spiritual awakening coming to their land. Do you start to see the pattern? The wars and rumors of wars that Jesus was talking about are focused on Israel and the countries of the Middle East in the last days.
So, Jesus is coming again soon. People have been preaching this all of my life. Even Paul and the early church believed Jesus would return in their lifetimes. And He didn’t. Why? Because it wasn’t time. But never before in history has the stage been completely set – everything is in place. Israel is a nation. Her enemies are aligning against her in the patterns described in the prophecies. And then there are the signs that Jesus gave us. Let’s look at these.
First, in Matthew 24:4 & 5, Jesus speaks of the sign of deception. “Do not be swayed or seduced by false messiahs and antichrists.” He said, “Many will come in my name, claiming to be me or claiming to have the answers.” Read this carefully this morning. As the end draws near, deception will be the ultimate tool of Satan, and even though the lies will be obvious, many will believe and like sheep, will dumbly follow the deceiver. Be honest. Have you ever known a time when people were more willing to believe a lie and follow a liar than today? It’s almost as if people have become so hungry for a juicy bit of gossip that they take it all in and cannot get enough. And it’s getting worse. The spirit of antichrist is rampant in our world today, and the closer we come to that time, the deceptions will multiply, and the world will not care. The apostle Paul tells us that it will even infiltrate the church. How can that happen? First, because Satan is a deceiver.
Read 1 Timothy 4:1, 2. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron….” Look at 2 Tim. 4:3-4 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound teaching but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.” That’s why many of the churches with their signs and wonders are busting at the seams. How can it happen? Because Society is Desperate. Prosperity gospels are popular in our day. There is an emphasis on emotionalism that is leading millions astray. People want to believe in something – anything that will provide a quick fix to what ails them right now. And the only antidote for these claims is the truth of the Holy Scripture. The good news is that Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice and follow me.” The true children of God are not deceived by these false prophets. But we must know the Bible well enough to spot counterfeits when they show up. Do you know how a bank trains its tellers to spot counterfeits? Not by showing them samples of counterfeit but by making them handle the real thing. The truth is that when you know the real thing, the counterfeit is easily spotted. Ultimately, one man is going to emerge who will be the real Antichrist. He will promise peace, and the world will gladly follow him. Why is that? Because a vast majority of the world’s population is looking for the coming of a Messiah.
Consider the three major religions in the world today. All are looking for the imminent coming of the Messiah. Christians are looking for the return of Jesus Christ, first to call His people out of this world and second to return 7 years later in power and glory. Second, the Jews are anxiously awaiting the coming of the Messiah. You see, they don’t know He’s already come once, but there is a group of Jewish rabbis and scholars who have written articles recently detailing how all of the things happening in the world today are signs that the coming of the Messiah is imminent. They believe we are living in the last days. Third, the Muslims are waiting for the coming of their messiah. They call him al Mahdi or the 12th Imam. In fact, many of the radical “Twelvers,” as they are called, have proclaimed that al Mahdi is already in the world, and he alone is responsible for the unrest taking place in the Middle East today. He is stirring the world into chaos because chaos is needed to usher in the end times.
Now let me share a little insight with you about this al Mahdi. Listen carefully – you might want to print this out and read it again and again. The Bible says that the Antichrist will kill both Christians and Jews during a 7 year period called the Tribulation during which he will reign supremely over all the Earth. He will establish a 7 year peace treaty with Israel and then break that treaty after 3.5 years. He will set up his global seat of power on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He will kill non-believers in him by beheading them. He will require that his followers take a mark on their forehead or hand in order to do any kind of business, buying or selling in the land. At the end of the 7 years, Jesus will return in power and glory to bring judgment on the Antichrist. Do you have all that? Because listen to this. According to the Muslim Haddith, the words of the prophet Muhammed, the 12th Imam or al Mahdi will kill both Christians and Jews during a 7 year period during which he will reign supremely over all the Earth. He will establish a 7 year peace treaty with Israel and then break that treaty after 3.5 years. He will set up his global seat of power on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He will kill non-believers in him by beheading them. He will place a mark on the forehead of all true Muslims – a mark they will proudly wear. At the end of the 7 years, Jesus will return to earth, but not in power and glory to bring judgment but to tell Christians that we have it all wrong, the Bible is corrupt, He never claimed to be the Son of God, never died on the cross, that Islam is the true religion, and that all should follow al Mahdi. What in the world is going on? God’s Word is being fulfilled before our very eyes. What in the world is going on? God is bringing to pass that which He said He would.
I have to admit to you this morning, as I have contemplated the Bible’s prophecies of the last days that I am scared to death. I am literally terrified. Not for me, mind you, or my family. I praise God that our eternal destiny is signed, sealed, and according to the apostle Paul, we have already been delivered where we are seated in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. No, I am terrified for some of you who will hear this message this morning, either in this room or over the Internet, and will leave unchanged. I am terrified that when the rapture takes place, you are going to be left behind to endure the horrors that I outlined for you last week. My prayer is that one second after you realize that the rapture has taken place and you have been left behind that you will remember these messages, find them online, and listen to them again. And here is why I want you to do that: because even then there will be hope. Even though the judgment of God has begun to fall on planet earth, as long as you have life, you have the opportunity to confess to God that you have sinned, repent of those sins, and commit your life to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You will still live through the horrors of the Tribulation, and you may even die for your faith, but through it all, God will give you supernatural grace to endure, and He will show you that He is a God who loves you.
Would you take the time to read a few verses of Scripture this morning? In Matthew 24:1-9, Jesus doesn’t refer to the rapture of the church. That wasn’t His purpose. Instead, He was answering a series of three questions posed by His disciples. Picture the story. Jesus had just concluded His teachings in the Temple. Remember, Jesus has just come out of the Temple where He really gave it to the Pharisees condemning them for their hypocrisy. Telling the people not to be like these blind leaders of the blind who would make them twice the sons of hell as they are. He had talked about His death and His Second Coming, and He told them that God had sent them prophets and wise men to call them to repentance because He longed to gather His people together like a bird gathers its young under its wings, but they had refused. They had rejected God’s grace, and now judgment was going to fall. They had played church long enough, and now they were going to suffer the consequences. I sort of imagine that the disciples were so overwhelmed that they said the first thing that came to mind. “Wow, Jesus, look at this Temple!” As they walked outside the Temple, the disciples were bragging on the beauty of the structure, and it was beautiful. It was one of the most awesome buildings in the world of their day. It was built of massive stones, some measuring 40’x12’x12′. No mortar was used. Instead, the rocks were expertly cut so that they fit perfectly together. The buildings were made of gleaming white marble and the entire eastern wall of the main structure was covered with gold plates so that it would brilliantly reflect the rising sun. It was one of the most spectacular, breathtaking structures imaginable. And Jesus said, “Boys, it’s coming down. There is coming a day when not one stone will be left upon another.” And listen to me. He was talking about what would happen in A.D. 70 when the Romans came to town. And the disciples wanted Jesus to tell them when that would happen, but He didn’t. Then they asked Him the right question: What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? And that is the question we are going to talk about over the next several days.
Imagine the horror of the disciples. This beautiful Temple, once again destroyed. Certainly that must happen only at the end of the age. So they asked Jesus three questions: “When will these things be?” “What will be the sign of your coming?” and “What will be the signs of the end of the age?” Even though Jesus never indicated the destruction of the Temple was to be associated with His coming or the end of the age, they did. In their minds the Temple was necessary for Jesus to set up His kingdom on Earth which according to Luke 19, they thought would happen immediately. You see, still they were listening to Jesus with their preconceived theology which did not fit with what Jesus was teaching.
But in A.D. 70, the Temple was destroyed by a Roman general named Titus whose soldiers burned the stones until they crumbled, sifted through the rubble to remove the gold, literally turning every stone over, and then pushed all that remained into the Kidron Valley. Do you know what I think Jesus was saying to the disciples? No temple built by the hands of men would either hasten or delay His coming again. Then in vv. 4-8, Jesus began the answer to their questions by giving them three signs of His coming to watch for. More on that tomorrow.
We come to the end of our Timeline today – actually, while it may be the end of the timeline for planet Earth, it will be just the beginning of our eternity. Following the horrors of the Great Tribulation and God’s judgment on the wicked, we see the Glorious Appearing/Second Coming of Christ.
Return of Christ/Battle of Armageddon – And the kingdom of the Antichrist collapses. The kings of the earth will cry over the loss of the kingdom. The merchants will mourn because there is no one left to buy their goods. In one last desperate attempt, the Antichrist will gather the armies of the world to fight as Jesus returns, not as the Lamb of Calvary who went silently to the slaughter but as the Conquering King, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the one called Faithful and True. He comes now not riding on the back of a donkey but on the back of a white stallion, His eyes will be like a flame of fire and on His head will sit many crowns. He wears a robe dipped in blood because He is the Word of God made flesh. And the armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, will follow him on white horses. And out of His mouth will come a sharp sword, and with a word He will strike the nations.
Antichrist and False Prophet cast into Lake of Fire/ The armies of Antichrist will be destroyed, and the Antichrist and his false prophet will be captured and cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Satan will be bound and cast into the bottomless pit for 1000 years. And Jesus will establish His throne in Jerusalem for the same 1000 years.
Millennial Kingdom. Those who gave their lives for the cause of Christ, the martyrs of all time, will live and reign with Him for a thousand years. There will be men and women who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior who will be alive on planet earth when Jesus returns in power and glory. They will enter the Millennial Kingdom in human bodies, but since all will be made perfect, they will live possibly for 1000 years. During that thousand year period, they will have children, and their children will have children. There could be as many as 50 to 100 generations born during that time. These children will be given a choice to trust in Jesus as their Messiah or not. Most, I believe, will accept Him. Some will not. Isaiah prophesies of this in Is. 65. Those that trust Jesus will live until the end of the Millennial Kingdom. Those that do not will die at the age of 100 and go to hell. But by the time this 1000 year period is over, there will be a great multitude in this final generation who will reject Jesus. Satan will be loosed to give them their final choice. He will deceive them and gather them together, a multitude like the sands of the sea, to do battle once again against the Lamb of God. But once again, God will destroy the armies of Satan and the devil will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone for the rest of eternity.
The Bible says in Heb. 9:27 that it is appointed unto man once to die; and after this the judgment comes. The lost die once but are judged twice. Upon their death, their souls go into eternal torment in hell. But after Satan is finally and ultimately defeated, their souls will be resurrected to stand before God at the Great White Throne Judgment. They will stand before God and be judged according to their works – every evil deed, every wicked thought, every sinful attitude will be made known. And then they will be returned to the flames of hell for eternity.
My friends, listen to me. As sure as I am writing this today, everything I have said is going to happen. I might not have the order of things exactly right, I will admit that, but it will happen. When is it going to happen? I believe it will happen soon. It could happen at any moment – even before you finish reading this today because according to the prophetic timeline, there is nothing left to happen before the Rapture of the church. But even if it doesn’t happen for a thousand years, you and I are going to die. Some of us are going to die soon. Stroke. Heart attack. Automobile accident. Or a million other ways we could die. Others may live another 50 years and die of old age. The problem is that all we know is that we are appointed to die – and we have no idea when that will happen. At the moment of your death, your judgment is sealed. There is no purgatory. There is no hoping your loved ones will pray you out of hell. Your eternal destiny will be set in stone at that moment. Or you can set your eternal destiny in stone right now. All you have to do is to trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior today.
The first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation will be bad, but those who suffer through it need to know that it is only going to get worse. Half of the world’s population – 3.65 billion people will already be dead, but many more will die. It is at this point that the Antichrist will reveal his true nature.
As we continue to look at the timeline for the last days, remember that some of these events will happen concurrently and some consecutively. The order is a little subjective and may or may not be completely accurate, but every one of these events has been prophesied and have not been completely fulfilled. That means they WILL happen. I believe that the War of Gog and Magog will take place either just prior to the Tribulation described below or at the very beginning. Most likely, it will be the conflict that allows the Antichrist to step in and form the 7-year peace treaty with Israel. What follows are words that cannot begin to adequately describe the horrors that will take place. God’s wrath will be poured out on the world, but always remember, His purpose is to draw Israel back to Himself.
Tribulation – 7 years of horrible judgments that punish unbelievers and draws Israel back to God. Those seven years will be a time, according to Ze. 13:8-9, of testing and refining of the nation of Israel to prepare her for her Messiah, but it will also be a time when the wrath of God is poured out in judgment on sin. The Scripture gives more space to describing the coming Tribulation period than to any other prophetic event. It is mentioned 39 times in the Old Testament. It is the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7), tribulation or distress (Dan. 4:30). It is called the Day of the Lord, the wrath of God, and the wrath of the Lamb. And for 7 years, the world will experience first-hand the wrath of God. Even though the Antichrist promises peace, there will be war. The first four seal judgments described in Rev. 6 show us this. The four horsemen of the apocalypse.
These four judgments result in the deaths of 25% of the earth’s population. Estimates of today’s population are 7.3 billion people. If these judgments happened right now, that number would be 1.85 billion people dead in a short period of time.
The final series of these initial judgments will be so severe that before the final seal is broken, all of heaven grows quiet for 30 minutes. For when the seventh seal is broken,
And all of this will happen in 3 ½ years. Half of the world’s population – 3.65 billion people will be dead. And then the Antichrist will reveal his true nature.
As we continue along this timeline of the last days, I want to explain something to you. Many people wonder why I believe that the rapture is the next item on God’s prophetic timeline. They ask me why I believe that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ won’t be here for the Tribulation. My first reason is so simple that it may be offensive, but I believe that the rapture precedes the Tribulation because that’s the order Paul gives us in I Thessalonians. In I Th. 4, Paul talks about the rapture. In I Th. 5, he talks about the Day of the Lord, the Tribulation. That’s not the only reason. Jesus Himself says in Luke 21:36, “Watch and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” My friend, the Bible teaches us that when this Day of the Lord comes, no one on the face of the Earth will escape. But that’s not the only reason. Jesus again says in Re. 3:10, “Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” But that’s not the only reason, either. Paul says in II Th. 2:7, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” Who is the one that restrains? The Holy Spirit. Where does the Holy Spirit reside? In the lives of believers. When will He be taken out of the way? When the church is raptured. What’s going to happen when He is taken away? Literally, all hell is going to break loose. No restraints. The Light of the World is removed and darkness comes rushing in to fill the void – Seven Years of Tribulation.
Following the Rapture, as I wrote yesterday, the Antichrist will be revealed (see yesterday’s post for more information. The way that you will know that this man is the Antichrist is that following the rapture of the church, He will be the one who signs a Peace treaty with Israel, promising security for 7 years. Yes, the Muslims will bow to his will, and somehow he will keep them in check. Whether during this time or prior to this time, a new Jewish Temple will be built on the Temple mount in Jerusalem. Understand that the plans for a new temple are already in place. Many of the articles of furniture, altars, and even implements for sacrifice have already been created. Groups of men have been trained as priests, and for 3 ½ years, Israel will enjoy the protection of the Antichrist and worship in their temple. How do I know this? Dan. 9:27 and 2 Thess. 2:4 says that at the midpoint of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will set up his throne in the Temple and desecrate it once again. At that point Tribulation turns into the Great Tribulation.
Understand that the timing of these events is not exact. The Battle of Gog/Magog will occur, I believe, just prior to the signing of the peace treaty. Some say much later. I believe that it is most likely that the treaty will stem from the nations defeat at the hands of God. It has to happen at this point because Ezekiel 39:9 tells us that the weapons that fall on Israel will burn for 7 years. Understand that at this moment, 8 million Israelis are surrounded by Muslim nations calling for their death and destruction. Even though deal has been reached with Iran to slow down their push for nuclear weapons, very few people actually believe it will work. Most experts believe they may already be close enough to build one that it could happen at any moment. Other nations already have them. Terrorist groups have 40,000 rockets and more poised to unleash on Israel. Syria is in the midst of civil war but they still have stockpiles of chemical weapons that will probably fall into the hands of ISIS fighters. In Ezekiel 36-38, we see the story. A ruler called Gog, whether a person or a title doesn’t matter, will develop an evil plan. He is from the land of Magog. You will not find this on any map today. Josephus referred to the people of Magog as Scythians who migrated from the Middle East northward and settled in the area we know as Russia. Ezekiel tells us that Persia (aka Iran) will be Russia’s ally – which by the way, is already true. Cush (aka Ethiopia/Sudan), Put (aka Libya and Algeria) will also join. Gomer is the land we know as Turkey will become part of this coalition, and even though in the past, Turkey has been a friend of Israel, it is no longer the case. Add to that a group of people from across Central Asia, and you see a formidable force arrayed against tiny Israel. This conglomeration of forces will surround Israel, and no one will come to Israel’s defense. NO ONE! As the armies advance and it appears that there is no hope for Israel, God will intervene. An earthquake that shakes the entire world but focused in Israel will send the armies into chaos. They will turn on each other as God has caused them to do throughout Israel’s history and destroy themselves. Terrible diseases will break out in an instant and spread through the enemy forces. God will send a torrential rain, with hailstones, fire and brimstone, not just on the armies but on the countries from which these armies come. The devastation will be so horrific that it will take 7 months to bury the bodies, and it would take longer except the birds of the air and the beasts of the field will eat many of the bodies. God will annihilate this enemy for one reason. He gives it to us in Ez. 38:23. “I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 39:21 — “I will set My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed and My hand which I have laid on them.” Here’s the good news. God will do this to demonstrate His power to the entire world. All the nations will see it. And no doubt, many will come to faith in Jesus Christ because of this amazing event You see, even in judgment, God is calling the lost to come to Him.
To my readers — especially those of you who attend Southside — the next few days on this blog will be focused on what I believe is coming soon. These words come from sermons I have preached over the last several weeks based on my studies of the Bible for a lot of years. Please feel free to share this information and to ask me any questions you may have.
Imagine running for your life to get away from a lion. You run fast and hard, dodging boulders, jumping ditches. Just when you have escaped the lion and he is nowhere to be seen, you meet a bear — an angry, ravenous bear who immediately gives chase. But finally you make it to your house, exhausted, breathing heavily. You slam the door and give out a chuckle because you have just faced death twice and won. You lean against the wall, trying to relax and suddenly a snake bites you and you die. Now folks, understand, that’s a bad day. But that’s what God said He would bring upon the nation of Israel and the rest of the world at the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. The final judgment of God on sinful mankind, the worst hour on Planet Earth. It is the promised Great Tribulation that concludes with the Battle of Armageddon.
Many pastors, preachers and Bible teachers have said that the rapture of the church, the Great Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ — these are not topics for the 21st century pulpit. It’s too irrelevant for modern day audiences with their modern day problems. But in Luke 12:56, Jesus rebuked people for not knowing about the future. Listen. One of the ways that you know something is important in the Bible is the number of times it is mentioned. Considering the fact that writing material was expensive, and the task was not easy, wordiness was avoided and brevity was valued. But the truth is that in 17 Old Testament books there are 1,845 references to the last days. In fact, for every one time the first coming of Messiah is mentioned in the Old Testament, there are 8 mentions of the Second Coming. In the 216 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the last days. It’s mentioned in 23 of the 27 New Testament books. So how could anyone say that a topic that is mentioned in 1 out of every 37 verses in the Bible is irrelevant? Dr. David Jeremiah once commented, they may think it’s irrelevant now, but one minute after the Rapture of the church takes place, the subject won’t be irrelevant at all.
With that in mind, let me give you a brief summary of the end times. A timeline for the events leading up to the last days. A Preview of the Future, so to speak. Next on God’s prophetic timeline is the: