Connecting the Prophetic Dots - By Todd Hampson -
I'm a child of the 70's and it was definitely a different era. Video games were just entering the scene and we didn't have cell phones, so we had other activities to keep us busy. Most of them were outdoor activities, so we wouldn't break the house or drive our parents crazy, but there were a few indoor activities that were popular in my generation as well. Two that come to mind are: Connect the Dots, and Paint By Numbers.
I loved Connect the Dots because at first it just looked like a bunch of random dots on a page. But as we drew lines from each numbered dot to the next one, a picture would begin to emerge. What at first seemed like unconnected and completely random dots formed into a very clear picture right before our eyes.
Paint By Numbers, on the other hand, was less appealing to me. You could already make out the picture, and the only goal was to mind-numbingly paint all of the 1's blue, all of the 2's red, all of the 3's white. You get the picture (pun intended). By the time you finished, you felt like Rembrandt; but all you were doing was filling in the colors like a drone. Sorry to anyone who loves doing Paint By Numbers. Stick with me here. I promise it will be worth the time.
When it comes to Bible prophecy-or any area of complex theology for that matter-we often prefer a Paint-By-Numbers approach. We want it all spelled out neatly for us without having to do too much work or think too deeply about what we believe and why we believe it. I'm all for simple childlike faith, but as we grow in our walk with the Lord, we should begin to crave meat instead of milk. This does not make God love us more or put a "Super Christian" emblem on our chests, but it helps us to be grounded more deeply in God's word, and it helps us better understand the times in which we live.
As Bible prophecy students, we must take the Connect-the-Dots approach. We have to put in the hard work of studying scripture-particularly the Old Testament prophets (major and minor), the Olivet Discourse, epistles such as 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, and the book of Revelation. Then we must apply that to what we see today. That means we need to view the daily news cycle in light of Scripture.
If God is sovereign, nothing is random. Nothing. He sees all of history simultaneously. For us, our present intersects with eternity one moment at a time. He knows the end from the beginning as if it has already happened. He paints a very clear picture of what the end-times will look like; and my friends-when I connect the dots I see today, I am convinced that a very clear picture is emerging before our eyes.
A couple times a year I try to do a post where I provide a snapshot of the prophetic landscape as I see it. I'd like to Connect the Dots of a few prophetic end-time sign categories to see what picture is emerging. Space does not allow for me to cite all relevant verses for each category, but this is where I would encourage readers to roll their sleeves up and do some dot-connecting of their own.
Things are happening so fast and in such detail that I've shifted from citing a bunch of supporting Bible verses to encouraging readers to be skeptics and try to disprove the dots I'm connecting. I don't do this for debate or ego purposes. My goal is to force people (if they really want to know the truth about the times in which we live) to study the details themselves. I have found that this moves people from having a general knowledge to forming strong convictions-and it provides a clear view of the signs of the times. When you have to wrestle with concepts, you form convictions as you study the details. As you do, the Holy Spirit reveals things that are hidden in plain sight.
With all of that as a backdrop, here are a few major clusters of dots that have so clearly connected in our day that these signs seriously cannot be understated. One caveat. I know I'm missing some signs here. There are simply too many to cover, and they are developing too quickly to cover accurately in a single post. It's enough to make your head spin.
The unprecedented series of events leading to two forced elections in close proximity have served to kick the Deal-of-the-Century can further down the road. Everything surrounding this deal makes it the perfect candidate for the covenant the Antichrist will strengthen and push over the finish line sometime after the rapture occurs. The Deal of the Century could very well be the core framework for the end-time covenant spoken of in Daniel chapter 9.
I can't stress this enough, but every single detail related to Israel's rebirth as a nation has been fulfilled exactly as foretold in Scripture. Specific prophecies about the land, the people, the wars, the economy, the military, Jerusalem, the events leading up to (and following) her rebirth, the global rise in antisemitism (just ask The Squad), and so much more-have all occurred precisely as predicted in the Bible. This dense cluster of dots has connected to form a very clear and compelling end-time mega-sign.
The visions of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation are full of technological details that must be in place in order for various events to occur during the 7-year tribulation period. There are monetary, military, DNA, AI, communication, data-mining, biologically integrated, and other technological developments occurring in our day (at exponential, breakneck speed) that make the foretold events possible. The more technology advances, the more it lines up with the events of the tribulation period. Cashless systems, autonomous weapons, chip and neurological implants, DNA manipulation, the internet, satellite communication, nuclear weaponry, the surveillance state, and many other current and emerging technologies are all related to end-time Bible prophecies.
The geopolitical landscape could not be more ripe for end-time events. The players and details of Ezekiel 38 continue to fall in place like a movie script. Again, there are so many details in place and casting shadows that we could detail them in a series of blog posts like this one. You simply can't study the details of Ezekiel 38-39 (or expand that out to 36-39 if you have time) and not have your mind blown at how spot-on the prophecy is. And it is forming right before our eyes-if you have eyes to see!
In addition to Ezekiel 38, we also see the extreme instability of nations. There are truly wars and rumors of war increasing like birth pains, just as described by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse. Part of that prophecy included division within countries, not just animosity between countries. We see this on the daily news. The US has (in my opinion) never been more divided-with the exception of the civil war which was (again, in my opinion) God's judgment for the sin of slavery. But even in that case, our country was divided in two. Today it seems it is divided into 50. There is no human solution to our perplexing problems.
Aside from the struggles in the US, there are internal divisions in Iran, China, Syria, Nigeria, South Africa, Venezuela, Italy, England, Spain, France, Germany, and others countries. Divisions between globalism and nationalists, the clash of cultures from the influx of refugees, races, tribes, "isms," and many other factors make the global landscape more volatile than ever before.
Couple this with the ongoing conflicts and ever-declining relationships between superpowers like the US, Russia, and China who increasingly find themselves with military assets in the same theaters. Let that sink in for a moment.
The tension between Nationalism and Globalism has been brought to light the past few years like never before. Brexit and Trump have been lightning rods to highlight the demarcation lines. What used to be considered conspiracy theory is now known fact. The gloves are off; and though key globalist figures remain hidden behind the scenes, their end-time agenda (knowingly or not) lines up perfectly with the prophecies of Daniel and John.
Even with the booming economy of the US (though economic manipulators are attempting to scare the markets and effect the next election by using the R-word-recession), the national debt is 22.5 trillion dollars. This number is so big we can't grasp it. It is-in my humble non-mathematician opinion-too big to pay back. At some point, events will converge, causing it to collapse. I believe (based on Matthew 24:37-39) that it will collapse as a result of the rapture and related events. Right now, the only thing holding it together is a bit of supernatural crazy glue. When the US economy collapses, the financial tsunami will circle the globe. This will help provide the perfect scenario for the antichrist to emerge and bring order out of chaos.
The Brexit-can has also been kicked down the road, but is about to come to an end. No one knows exactly what economic ripple effects this will have in the EU this fall. Stay tuned!
There is a connection between this sign category and the next. Spiritual factors naturally bleed into cultural trends. One of the recent mass-shooters was (based on scores of handwritten notebooks found at his house) a Satanist. Much of what our society calls "mental health" is really spiritual warfare-demonic influence that has invaded the hearts and minds of people as we continue to kick God out.
Some high-profile figures have recently turned from their faith. Author Joshua Harris and Hillsong singer and songwriter Marty Sampson both recently made comments about no longer believing in Christianity. There are people claiming to be Christian witches, Christian mediums, and other self-contradictory and wholly unbiblical combinations.
On the bright side, there is a great awakening among Muslims in Iran, Indonesia and other places, as well as an exploding underground church in China. The gospel has gone full circle around the globe, and perhaps this is part of a last ingathering before the rapture can occur. The times of the Gentiles is almost up!
I remember when Columbine was a big deal. It was unprecedented. Now it's expected. Sadly, we're just waiting for the next mass shooting to occur-and they do, regularly. So much so, that most of them are not reported in the national news. Over 40 people were shot in one weekend recently. Unless you live near Chicago, you probably never heard about that.
Just 20 or so years ago, pro-abortion folks said they wanted abortions to be "safe, legal, and rare." Now many of those same people are proposing legislation that allows abortions to be administered by health technicians instead of "real" doctors (What doctor really goes to medical school with plans to become an abortionist?). They also encourage cross-border, secret (i.e. Illegal) abortion access, and states such as New York have passed legislation that allows babies to be killed at the moment of birth. There is an actual movement (complete with a book and website) called "Shout Your Abortion." What could possibly be holding back the judgment of God except for his foreordained timing?
There is no respect for the innocence of children. They are exposed to immorality almost everywhere they turn. Libraries around the country regularly have "Drag Queen Story Time." Come on. That is wrong on so many levels that there shouldn't even be a debate about it.
Here's a snapshot of what I'm talking about. Last weekend, a movie called Good Boys released. It stars three young boys and is rated R for all of the reasons you would expect a movie to be so rated. The purpose of the movie is to juxtapose the innocence of children with the most vulgar of adult vices and ungodly behavior-in the name of "comedy." Innocence lost.
We tend to focus on the US when it comes to these signs. The news is dominated by non-stop political spin. But, just recently there have been several devastating convulsions of nature around the world that we've not even heard about. There have been devastating floods and landslides across parts of South Asia from heavy monsoon rains.
Right now, there are record-breaking heat waves and droughts, and several major wildfires. Russia, for example, is on track to have its worst year ever recorded for wildfires. There are also major wildfires in Alaska, Greenland, Paraguay, and other places-including areas of the Amazon rainforest. And don't forget, 2018 saw America's most destructive wildfire season ever.
Just within the past month, there have been 646 earthquakes with 9 of them registering 6.0 or higher (and several more that registered 5.9). The two major earthquakes that hit California this summer triggered 16,000 smaller earthquakes. So, between July 4th when the 6.4 quake hit (possibly a prophetically significant day, I might add) and July 19th or so when the aftershocks died down, there were 16,000 earthquakes-an average of 1,066 earthquakes per day. That is significant. The one-two punch of the 6.4 and 7.1 quakes in just a few days definitely got the country's attention.
The two mega-signs are Israel and convergence. They are like bookends of the categories and serve to show us how late the hour may be. Prophetic details are converging in our time unlike any other time in history. This is one of those statements I don't want you to take my word for. Please pray for eyes to see as you study these things for yourself and see if they are not true.
I know this can seem crazy to the world, but let's be crazy for Christ's sake. In the words of the Apostle Paul from 2 Corinthians 5:13, "If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God."
As we connect the dots of the day-let's be sure to pay attention to the picture that emerges before our eyes. Lord, give us eyes to see!
By Todd Hampson | ToddHampson.com
Time of the Signs - By Terry James -
This generation of passengers on Planet Earth is passing through a corridor John the apostle and prophet called "the last time" (1 John 2:18). More to the point, we are somewhere near the very end of that corridor, and signs the size of billboards are on either side of the broad way that leads the world's inhabitants toward Armageddon. The only way to miss those gargantuan signs, for the true child of God, is to deliberately ignore them, choosing instead to focus on things of this world that perspective hides in the distant blackness.
We are, as my good friend Chuck Missler says, in the time of the signs. They are signs so dramatic, so blatant, that the whinnying and violent snorting of the four horses of the apocalypse can almost be heard as they angrily paw the earth with rage, straining to burst to full gallop, determined to carry their death-dealing riders on their missions of globe-shattering devastation.
Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things and the One who holds all of creation together (Colossians 1:16-17), gave the signs that would be most prevalent at the time just before His return to earth. These primary signals are found in three of the Gospels: Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. We will first look at the Matthew account of the signs He gave for the final generation of human history, just before His second advent.
Sign 1: Deceivers who Claim Christ
Jesus was directly asked by His disciples: 1) When would the things Jesus prophesied be? 2) What would be the signs of His second coming? and 3) When would be the end of the world?
He gave the following answer: "...Take heed that no man deceive you, For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matt. 24:4-5).
Jesus gave "deception" as the first major sign that will alert the spiritually attuned believer that His second coming is near. Jesus, as recorded a few verses later, amplified His words on "deception" that would be manifest at the very end of the age:
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many" (Matt. 24:11).
The Lord begins by saying that Many will come in His name. This means, I think, that these end-times deceivers will claim to come as true believers in Jesus Christ. They will use His holy name to convince the undiscerning that the individuals making the claim are of the Church, the body of Christ.
These are those who will be among the individuals Jesus condemned, as recorded in the following Scripture: "But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all [ye] workers of iniquity" (Lk. 13:27).
However, this prophecy that Jesus gave as the first sign of the very end of the age goes, I'm convinced, much deeper. These deceivers will be declaring that they, themselves, will be Christ-like, not in the sense of being a true Christian who is a Spirit-filled follower of Jesus Christ, but in the sense that they have powers and abilities like Jesus himself. They will claim to be the special conduit from God, used by the Almighty to read minds, receive special telepathic words from Him upon command, and even to raise the dead.
But, it will all be smoke and mirrors. There will not be a single validated case of any of these supposed miraculous activities direct from the portals of heaven to the mortals of Planet Earth.
The question to ask, then, while considering the time of the signs and whether we are indeed at the very end of the age as predicted by Jesus is: Do we see today any sign, any indicator, that there are such "deceivers" among us?
There have always been deceivers and those specifically claiming to be Jesus Christ. Some have been certifiable lunatics, some have been proven charlatans, and have faded into the darkness of the exposed and deposed. Today, it seems, to me at least, they are announcing their Christ-like powers from the very billboards mentioned earlier-the ones lining either side of that broad way that leads to destruction during these troubling days.
We see many of them as glitzy, projected TV images calling the gullible to give their money to special programs they proclaim God has told them about, which can make the members of their audiences healthy, wealthy, and wise beyond their wildest imaginations.
These promote the outward-turning message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ only in a minimal way, their messages designed to turn thoughts inward to the feel-good message that God wants them to materially prosper. Viewers are deceived because they can see through glazed, mesmerized eyes that the wealth message certainly works for the rich and famous purveyors of the prosperity gospel. Their desire to obligate the God of heaven to provide overflowing wealth and health, based upon the TV magicians' special formulas for success, make the deluded open their wallets with glee.
Paul the apostle's prophetic words ring true for our time: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
Others, appearing more sophisticated and high-minded, claim to have Christ within their pontificating, but are turned far from truth found in God's Word. These ecclesiastical elitists fit the mold of false prophets/teachers found in forewarnings of Paul and Peter:
List of 2 items:
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come...For men shall...[have] a form of godliness, but [deny] the power thereof..." (2 Tim. 3:1, 5).
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Pet. 2:1
These, though under the guise of Christian clergy, join the ecumenists who proclaim that there are many ways to God and heaven. By this heresy, they deny the Lord Jesus, who said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the father, but by me" (Jn. 14:6).
Sign 2: Wars and Rumors of Wars
The second sign of the very end of the age given by Jesus is in His declaration: "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet" (Matt. 24:6).
"What is so different about hearing of wars and rumors of war?" one might ask. Such has been part of the human condition since history first began to be recorded. The key to what makes this profoundly different is found in Jesus' words in Matthew 24:21: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
The Lord himself said that the time of the end will be worse than any in history. This declaration, by its very nature, makes the "wars and rumors of wars" He predicts well beyond the norm. We see just how far beyond the norm they will be, as recorded in His next statement: "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matt. 24:22).
Christ's words indicate something of humankind-ending power. This statement follows His warning of wars and rumors of wars for the very end of the human history timeline that immediately precedes His second advent. All flesh will die if Jesus doesn't return upon His divinely scheduled appointment time!
The question naturally emerges: Do we see any such power upon the world scene today? I, perhaps, don't even need to go into answering that-at least not very deeply. That power to destroy all flesh has been on the scene as a major sign of where we are on God's prophetic timeline since 1945. The first atomic bomb test at Alamogordo, New Mexico, flashed that sign across the night desert sky in a stupefying instant. Soon "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" incinerated and blew apart almost 200,000 Japanese citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The hydrogen bomb tests, coupled with intercontinental ballistic missile developments, made the whole world aware that the planet's inhabitants could well be living on borrowed time. These weapons, yielding unfathomable power to destroy, continue to scream from the billboard of forewarning while this generation nears the denouement of the age. Weapons of such horrific magnitude must certainly be the subject of and reason for Jesus' "wars and rumors of wars" sign being issued for the terminal generation. And this prophetic sign must, it follows, because of that world-destroying weaponry being ubiquitous today, refer to our present generation of earth dwellers.
Third-World powers and terrorist organizations lust after weapons of mass destruction. Potential for developing atomic weaponry is on the agenda of governments. North Korea, Iran and other nation-states race forward with nuclear programs, defying the international community as the G-8 and others try to prevent World War III.
Sign 3: Nations and Kingdoms in Distress
The most obvious category given by Jesus that we are in the time of the signs is that involving the geopolitical disposition of nations. No observer of the world scene today who believes that God has told the end from the beginning can look at the way countries are prophetically juxtaposed and not see the end times are upon this generation. Let's look more closely at this third end-times prophecy Jesus put forth while on top of the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Jerusalem of His time while still in His flesh body: "Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (Lk. 21:10).
The Lord forewarned tremendous ethnic upheaval at the time just before His second advent. We've looked many times at the Greek term used here, translated into the KJV as "nation." The Greek term is ethnos, meaning "ethnic" in English. Jesus said that the end times would be marked by ethnic hatred and strife.
"Kingdom" against "kingdom" can be interpreted nation-state entities or countries will be at war or about to go to war. These wars and rumors of war will present unprecedented levels of danger to the peoples that inhabit the "kingdoms," is the implication. We have looked at why this is so. The nuclear and other threats from weaponry of mass destructive capability brings our time to this level of concern.
Jesus, when considering the Luke account of His Olivet Discourse, goes on to express this fact in expanding upon the time of the signs: "And there shall be...upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity..." (Lk. 21:25b).
Threat of calamitous destruction, should there be all-out nuclear war, is obvious. Worry about such potential catastrophe certainly fits Jesus' prediction of end-times perplexity and distress among the nations. The causes of this Armageddon-like potentiality, however, seem to be now coming into focus.
During the Cold War, there seemed little rhyme or reason why kingdom should rise against kingdom and want to destroy each other and the rest of the world with thermonuclear warfare. The unofficial doctrine termed "Mutually Assured Destruction" (MAD), in fact, kept the superpowers, with their potentially world-ending nuclear stockpiles, from doing the unthinkable-attacking each other just for the sake of empire building or stopping empire building. Again, there was no rhyme or reason-at least not enough-that convinced the leaderships of the superpowers to pull the nuclear trigger. Warfare on such a horrific scale was absolutely a no-win scenario for all concerned.
Now, in this, our generation's time of the signs, a reason to go to Armageddon-like war might just be in view. The catalyst that just might be a large part of galvanizing the nations of the world into a collective mindset that throws MAD out the window of sanity, thus bringing all into the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2), isn't so far-fetched to contemplate.
The thirst, thus the lust, for petroleum looks more and more like a potential reason to cause all to gather at Megiddo on the plain of Jezreel. The nations in distress, with perplexity, exactly describes the industrialized nation-states of Planet Earth while they scramble to secure for themselves the black liquid gold that can fire their engines of wealth production.
While there is talk of alternative fuels, none of practical development and implementation looks to be in view for decades ahead. The oil-rich Middle East is the logical place to look first in the attempt to secure energy-producing fuels. Oil in the region surrounding God's chosen nation, Israel, is the quickest, most accessible such arena of supply.
The Nations in this Time of the Signs
The alignment of the nations pertinent to Bible prophecy, as they are presently positioned and are dynamically rearranging, are eerily similar to the configuration Jesus and the Bible prophets forecast for the time just before Christ's return to put a stop to Armageddon, and to prevent the end of all flesh on Planet Earth.
Rosh (Russia) sits due north of Jerusalem. The nation who will produce the evil leader called "Gog," those of us who hold to pre-trib rapture eschatology believe, struggles internally and externally to become again a superpower to rival the United States. To do this, that prophetic nation will need energy to fire the engines of its industrial base.
Iran, the area where ancient Persia largely sat, is in the throes of international turmoil while it seems inalterably determined to produce nuclear weapons. At the same time, it is allying in many ways with Russia, in keeping with the Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophecy that foretells its joining forces with Gog to attack over the mountains toward Israel. All the while, its leader declares his desire is to erase all Jews from the Middle East.
Nations of the area of the ancient Roman Empire have put aside centuries of disputes and warring to form a reviving Roman Empire. The EU looks more and more to fit the prophetic Daniel 9:26-27 template in a way that can be denied only by those who refuse to acknowledge that Bible prophecy is to be interpreted as literal.
The great dragon nation, China, is perhaps the oil-thirstiest of all of the industrial giants. The prophetic scenario is not difficult to embrace that this behemoth, which by itself could field the astonishing, prophetically stipulated 200-million-troop force, will move toward the Middle East at some point yet future.
Despite recent attempts to slow the use of petroleum a degree, this emerging industrial titan, with its one-and-a-half-billion people, looks to be developing into becoming the king of the kings of the East of Revelation 9 and 16.
Modern Israel, the greatest sign in this time of signs, is positioned almost precisely where the prophet Zechariah foretold, as recorded in Zechariah 12:1-3. Most all of the distressed, perplexed nations of the world seem focused on God's chosen people as the key to war and peace in the Middle East, thus the key to world peace. Again, modern Israel sits at the center of the region where the planet's greatest pools of petroleum reside beneath what the world calls the Holy Land. It is a land destined for man's most destructive war, then to become the heart of Christ's glorious 1,000-year kingdom.
The Rapture Will Occur Before The Tribulation - By Daniel Payne - https://www.raptureready.com/2019/08/11/rapture-will-occur-tribulation-daniel-payne/
For generations, true believers-born-again of the Spirit-have been waiting for their Savior to suddenly appear in the clouds above them, and deliver them from their earthly trials.
Many of these watchful believers have been mocked and scorned for their patience and hope in the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ. False teachers, who either do not understand or deny God's Word, have led the charge against the hope of the Rapture occurring before the Tribulation.
How can anyone - after actually reading and believing God's Word - conclude that the Rapture happens after the wrath and horrors of the Tribulation and not before?
God's Word lists the order of events as plain as day:
"Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Then-just two verses later...
"For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape" (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).
Rapture: (1 Thess. 4:17) before Tribulation: (1 Thess. 5:2-3).
Again, first "we shall be caught up together...in the clouds". "Then sudden destruction comes upon them"-not us.
The Apostle Paul had just revealed the Rapture to the Thessalonians in chapter four. Then, literally just two verses later, he answered the obvious question as to when the Rapture would take place:
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you" (1 Thessalonians 5:1).
It's obvious that the Rapture is to take place before all of the destruction of the Tribulation (Day of the Lord), otherwise Paul wouldn't have focused on the fact that the Day of the Lord will arrive as a thief in the night.
Paul was associating the timing of the Rapture with the arrival of the Day of the Lord.
What difference would the sudden arrival of the Day of the Lord make if the Rapture was to take place at the end of it? Remember, Paul was still on the subject of the Rapture when he said that the Day of the Lord arrives suddenly and unexpectedly, as a thief in the night to those who are not ready.
If the Rapture was to take place at the end of the Tribulation, then Paul would have talked about the events that will take place at that time (cosmic signs, etc.).
He said that those who are ready and watching-the true believers-have no need to be concerned about the arrival of the destruction of the Day of the Lord. We need not concern ourselves with the judgment of the Tribulation because we will not be here.
If Paul was teaching that the Rapture is to take place at the end of the Tribulation, then 1 Thessalonians 5:2 should say something like:
"For you yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord lasts seven years, so..." or "the time of wrath during the Day of the Lord lasts seven years, as spoken of by Daniel...."
However, Paul did not speak of any of the events that are to occur during the Tribulation or how long they will last; Paul only spoke of the arrival of the Day of the Lord. It's obvious then that the Rapture has no part during the Tribulation, let alone after:
"For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2).
We are commanded to watch and be ready for the Rapture, when we will meet our Savior face to face and when:
"We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).
"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief... Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober... For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:4, 6, 9).
Now, concerning Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians.
Apparently, false teachers had used Paul's teaching of the Rapture from his first letter, and its associated timing with the arrival of the Day of the Lord, as a pretext to trouble them into a cold-hearted deception.
They were tricked into believing that the persecution they were currently enduring was in fact the actual Tribulation, i.e. the wrath of the Day of the Lord. They were frightened into believing that the Tribulation had already begun.
(Side Note: This cruel tactic is vulgarly similar to that used today by those who seem to enjoy ridiculing those of us who believe in the doctrine of the Pre-Trib Rapture. Just as the false teachers in Thessalonica knew full well that the Thessalonians were taught that the Rapture will occur before the arrival of the Day of the Lord, so also do the false teachers of today know that we're also taught that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation.
Both sets of cruel-hearted false teachers try to deceive those who long for the return of their Savior into believing that they will miss a gathering to meet the Lord in the air before the Tribulation. Consequently, we will then have to endure the trauma and pain of God's Tribulation judgment on the world that currently rejects His salvation and the legitimacy of His nation Israel.
They love to mock us as if it's some sort of satisfaction for them that we'll be suckered into having to endure the wrath of the Tribulation, exactly like the false teachers did way back in Thessalonica).
How was it that the Thessalonians could be so easily deceived by the false teachers? Because they were already enduring persecutions and tribulations that they were no doubt told by the false teachers were signs that the Tribulation had already begun.
"So that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure" (2 Thessalonians 1:4).
Paul began his letter of comfort to them-2 Thessalonians-by commending them for their "patience and faith" in all their "persecutions and tribulations."
Paul then went on to speak of the rest that the faithful Thessalonians would have during the time "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those" who are persecuting them (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).
In order to make sense of exactly what Paul was teaching the Thessalonians in reference to the Day of the Lord-whether or not he taught them that they would have to endure through it or be raptured before it-let's make all of the Thessalonians part of either group 1, or all part of group 2 below:
Post-Trib Rapture Gathering: The Thessalonians were taught by Paul and believed that they would somehow have to endure through the entire Tribulation (Day of Christ, Day of the Lord), survive (to be alive for the gathering in the air) and not take the Mark of the Beast. They would have to wait to be gathered together to meet the Lord in the air until after the Tribulation ends.
Pre-Trib Rapture Gathering: The Thessalonians were taught by Paul that they would be gathered together in the air to be with the Lord forever before the Tribulation (Day of Christ, Day of the Lord) begins.
Again, we know from Paul's letter that the Thessalonians actually believed that they were already in the Tribulation. If they were all part of group one from above-and since they believed that the Tribulation had already begun-why then would they be upset (before Paul's second letter arrived) that Christ was absolutely about to return within seven years or less and end their Tribulation suffering?
You might say that they would be upset that they would still have yet to endure the remainder of the Tribulation woes, and that is why they were so troubled. That makes perfect sense except for one thing...
(Please keep in mind that we're still talking about Group 1 from above here.)
Why then would it be a comfort and a relief to them if the Tribulation time clock had not already begun counting down to the return of their Savior? How could the fact that the Tribulation hadn't yet begun-as Paul is telling them in this his second letter-and that now the return of the Lord would even be farther away, be of any immediate comfort to them? Especially when the true horrors of the Day of the Lord could still arrive at any time?
How is it such a great comfort to know that the Day of the Lord has not yet begun even though you're still going to have to be present on earth throughout the destruction once it does finally begin? That just doesn't make any sense.
It's far more likely that they belonged to Group 2, and they were upset that Christ had already returned and they missed the "gathering together to Him," and that He left them behind to endure the Tribulation.
The great comfort to them would then not be that the Tribulation has not yet begun and could still arrive at any time, but that the Lord Jesus had not yet arrived and the Rapture can still occur at any time.
In keeping with his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul associated the timing of the Rapture (2 Thessalonians 2:1) with the arrival of the Day of the Lord:
"Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
Paul told the Thessalonians that the Antichrist will "be revealed in his own time" (2 Thessalonians 2:6). Paul is still associating the Tribulation with a time ("his own time") after the Rapture. He was telling the Thessalonians that they could know that the Rapture (2:1) had not yet taken place because the apostasy and the revealing of the Antichrist had not yet taken place.
The Antichrist will be revealed-to those who read or have read a Bible-the moment he confirms the peace treaty with Israel. Many false candidates have come over the generations, but only one will be revealed by exactly matching the biblical description.
Paul's primary focus was not on the Thessalonians having to watch for the events that would occur during the Tribulation; his primary focus was on them being aware of the details that would happen before the Tribulation (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 5-7).
Then he explained what would happen after the Rapture, beginning in verse 8:
"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. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming" (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
Then, after Paul explained some of the events that would take place during the Tribulation, he reminded the Thessalonians that they would not have to endure such events:
"But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
Interestingly, in the verse above, the Greek word used for "salvation" is "soteria." Its precise meaning is determined by the surrounding context.
The same word "soteria" is found in Philippians 1:19:
"For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ."
Paul was assuring the Philippians that their prayers were powerful enough to affect his escape from a Roman prison.
Paul never spoke of any major celestial events that would immediately precede the Lord's return for His saints at the Rapture (in 1 Thessalonians chapter four). However, when the Lord returns with His saints, there will be great cosmic signs and wonders:
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:29-30).
"Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, 'Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all...'" (Jude 1:14-15a).
In closing, God's Word explicitly lays out the timing of the Rapture as occurring before the arrival of the judgment of the Tribulation.
Jesus and His apostles warned us to specifically watch for only Jesus Christ Himself, not the many events that will take place during the Tribulation.
We were also exhorted by Jesus and His apostles that while we are watching for His return, we should not give ourselves up to the errors of the false teachers who increasingly say He is not coming.
"This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles" (2 Peter 3:1-2).
What "commandment of the Lord" is Peter referring to?
"Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will" (Matthew 24:42-44).
The Lord Jesus exhorts us again in Revelation to persevere and continue to watch for His return:
"Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth" (Revelation 3:10).
Jesus commends us for our perseverance in holding to the traditions of our hope in His imminent return. Then He tells us of a crown we will receive if we continue to love, hope in, and watch for His soon return:
"I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown" (Revelation 3:11).
Paul describes this same crown:
"In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8).
Paul tells us again to stand firm in his teachings of our hope of the Rapture:
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us" (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
Peter also tells us to stay focused on the return of Jesus and not be deceived by the false teachings of unprincipled men:
"Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation'" (2 Peter 3:3-4).
"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).
"You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness" (2 Peter 3:17).
We cannot let the evil that is rapidly closing in around us cause us to lose our hope in the Rapture by being deceived by false teachers. We must continue to persevere, no matter how much longer we have to wait, while continuing in our hope and love of the imminent return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
"He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming quickly.' Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20).
A Kingdom without End - By Pete Garcia -
Originally published at the Omega Letter, Wednesday, July 31, 2013
"Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us." Psalm 2:1-3
It has not been lost on me, that the United States is/was the greatest nation on the face of the planet and in the history of the world. Not even at the height of Rome's imperial power, could she match the dedication to keeping a republic governed by laws, a guarantor of personal liberties and to the standard of living we have achieved.
As a nation of immigrants, we attracted the best and brightest this world had to offer, and in so doing, we became the unparalleled leader in education, technology, innovation, and the arts.
So, are we to believe that a nation who split the atom and broke the sound barrier, sent a man to the moon and created the internet, cannot solve the issues that are seemingly unfixable today?
Solving illegal immigration is a bridge too far?
Balancing the budget now is the equivalent to putting a man on Jupiter?
I know we know how to fix the problems. It's just that those who have the ability to fix it aren't brave enough to do it. Just look at President Trump. The entire swampy-establishment and the media have risen up against him at every turn.
We KNOW what to do to fix the problems, we just refuse to do it. As I have said before, these problems aren't by chance; these problems were purposely designed to put us in unwinnable situations. They (those who militantly support globalism) need us to fall as a the lone super power, so they can dismantle the US and turn us into a subservient regional power. As a wise man once said, either you're eating at the buffet, or you are the buffet.
Welcome to buffet Americana.
Is it a small world after all?
"Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce." - James A. Garfield President of the United States
Imagine that you think that all empires are intrinsically bad, and the only way to fix starvation, pestilence, wars, and other global problems facing our planet, is to first rid the world of competing interests, which all nations and empires have.
Every nation wants to be on top, and that is the problem. Now, theoretically, if you had just one system, then you would remove nationalism, and by default, remove wars and other afflictions that competing empires have. That is the rub with globalists; they really believe that what they are doing, is for the betterment of all mankind.
That is to say, I don't think they are sitting behind closed doors, smoking cigars, twiddling their fingers while devilishly laughing and trying to figure out how they can dominate the huddled masses...well, perhaps the George Soros-types are. But for the rest of them, I think they have good intentions. Well, we all know what lines the path to hell.
Our national enemies know that they can't go toe to toe with us militarily, so they have had to look for soft spots in our national armor. Going back as far as the middle of the 18th century, they (globalists) have sought out ways to make us more European (i.e. socialist). One way to do that is with a Central bank.
One after the other, attempts were made by these globalist to make these United States dependent upon a European-styled Central bank. Presidents' Andrew Jackson through William McKinley was able to keep the globalist hounds at bay. However, when Woodrow Wilson (Democrat) was elected president in 1912, they knew they had their man. The 1913 Federal Reserve Act, which was subversively passed in Congress on Christmas Eve, had just enough members present to make a quorum to pass it and which President Wilson quickly signed into law. In fact, it happened so quickly, that most of Congress didn't know what happened until well after the fact. Thus began the long, sordid history of our nation's economic demise. To date, the Federal Reserve has never been audited.
European globalists have been seeking our demise ever since we became a nation in 1776. They hate our Constitution because first and foremost, we recognized that our rights didn't come from men, but from God. They hate our Constitution because it brilliantly defeated their attempts at bringing us back under the thumb of the European powers from whence our forefathers had come.
The founders knew first hand, what tyranny looked like. They knew because they had grown up under it. Their parents and grandparents grew up under it. They knew history, and they knew that one tyranny after another had reared its ugly head in Europe which is why they were able to specifically pinpoint and articulate the powers our government could and could not have.
This is why a frontal assault would never prevail against us. European globalists, and later American globalists, had to feverishly work to redefine and reshape men's understandings not just about political liberty, but religious and economic liberty as well. With naked fascism and communism rearing its ugly head again in Europe, these globalist socialists knew the American people then would never support it. Their 'ace in the hole' if you will, was the backdoor. They made inroads into the education and entertainment industries by way of progressive-liberalism
They knew that the US Constitution was too powerful an intellectual argument to overcome by force, so they sought a backdoor to make inroads into the hearts and minds of Americans. Their liberalistic ideations came over the Atlantic to our universities and seminaries and began spreading like the ideological black plague in our most prestigious educational institutions. (Harvard, Yale, Columbia)
Since the founders were largely Christians, the Constitution was based both on the concept of Western (Greek-Roman) styled government, with Judeo-Christian values. This is what the globalists had to destroy first, and they did so by relentlessly pursuing three key agendas:
Attack the validity of the Bible. Promote ecumenicalism through existentialism, neo-orthodoxy, and the social gospel.
Replace Judeo-Christian philosophy with secular humanism and moral relativism, Biblical Creation with Darwinian Evolution, and corrupt Capitalism with the extremes of unchecked greed and Marxist-Socialism.
Control "the progressive message" through media, academia, pulpits, and politics. Intimidate by political correctness, judicial legislation, ridicule, and lastly violence.
Liberal leaders that would later come made economic entanglements that would prove disastrous to our national defense. (Ex., OPEC vs. Israel).
We are at such a compromised state today, in so many ways and on so many levels (I.e., the swamp), there no longer remains a viable option for us as a nation to ever lead effectively. Which is why as of late, Presidents largely have to operate in a perpetual state of gridlock. With the exception of Trump, the last four presidents insisted on 'coalitions' and 'leading from behind' to cast off any sort of political responsibility that might be laid at their feet.
To be blunt, we have too many competing interests to be able to see clearly anymore. If there is a cause out there, believe me, there is a thousand lobbyists for them. The removal of absolute truth, common morality, and a clear American agenda meant this nation was ripe for the introduction of political correctness, which is choking the life out of our national sanity.
Welcome to 1984
If we actually followed the laws that are already in place, we wouldn't have half the problems we currently have. In today's America, you need a draconian intelligence apparatus (think Patriot Act) and a militarized police force, in order to combat the increasingly violent and disturbing crimes that are occurring with increasing frequency across the nation.
But the increasing violence due to drug cartels, gang activities, lone gunmen, and organized crime serves a crucial, yet purposeful role in the diminishing of freedoms we currently enjoy by those politicians who disable the existing laws that would have curtailed such illegal activities in the first place. So the need for militarization of police and federal agencies become a 'necessary evil'.
That is why we have become an ever-expanding surveillance state because we have been sold on the notion that it is for our own good. That message is then sold to the American public as trying to combat global terrorism, global poverty, global warming, financial sabotage, political subterfuge, etc. At least, that is how it is being packaged for the average "low-information voter" thru the 24/7 media. In the end, they are counting on the dumbed down, average American to feel good about trading their freedom for security.
Hegelian Dialect anyone?
That is why our borders will never be secured. That is why our 'war on drugs' (depending on the state) will be just enough to warrant funding, but never enough to actually stomp out the problem. That is why government spending will remain unchecked and our debt will continue to skyrocket. They need our economy and our currency to crash, so they can introduce their own new, digital currency, which will forever wipe away the average person's anonymity.
The first groups of people who always get threatened first, when pay cuts are put on the table are: Police/firemen, teachers, and the military. Never is wasteful government programs like these brought up. Never are politicians themselves willing to take pay cuts, or retirement/pension reductions. Prisons remain overcrowded with an increasingly violent population that can never be allowed back into a population...until the budget is on the line.
You see, these things are created to invoke fear into the public's mind, for the sole purpose of using that fear against the public at a later point.
Do you remember the anger at France at the beginning of the Iraq War for not supporting our efforts? I mean, we threatened to rename French fries with Freedom fries!
Just think back for a moment, on how the government effectively (through the media) directs our national anger over the last 30 years. In the late 70's-early 80's it was Ayatollah Khomeini. In the 1980's it was Libya's, Moammar Qaddafi. In the 90's it was Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il. After 9/11, it was Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. We definitely love to hate someone out there. Granted, these are all evil and wicked despots and deserve our anger, however, as long as we got an enemy number one, the government has someone they can redirect our national anger towards.
It is by treachery that the US has ultimately fallen into permanent intentional disarray. Satan is, after all, the architect behind men's scheming for millennia. He needs the US to decrease so that the EU can increase. He cannot have his global one world order if the US remains on top, and still married to her Constitution. So, if he can't destroy the US outright, he will corrupt it from within. And having witnessed all the mighty empires who have come before us, either toppled militarily or crumble from within, Satan's plan for total global domination will answer both. He will have all the nations under one system.
Furthermore, he has his man, the Antichrist will remove any disloyalty or infidelity to the Beast by instituting a permanent "mark." This mark dooms someone in this life for refusing it but damns them in the next for taking it. Whatever the 'mark of the beast' ends up being, it will be the ultimate mark of loyalty that can never be undone.
Despite what it appears, the Revived Roman Empire is on the rise. Economic turmoil has produced an incredibly high unemployment rate in Europe, particularly amongst the youth. We have seen historically that when nations are at this point, they get desperate. In their desperation, they will turn to a man who usually ends up having ulterior motives. There is a wandering generation alive today, who are now ripe pickings for either draft into compulsory military service, or who through the promise of a steady paycheck, will fill the ranks of this man's future beast's army.
The structure and leadership are in place already courtesy of 60 plus years in NATO, and more recently, the EUROGENDFOR. What's lacking now is the proper motivation. Europeans largely feel unthreatened at the moment and know that the US would never allow Islamic, Russian or Chinese forces to attack or invade without coming to the EU's aid.
But what if the US could not come? What if something happened to the US that removed us overnight from being the global protectorate of law and order on the planet? How quickly would the EU move to bolster its military ranks in order to fill the vacuum that was suddenly presented at our departure from the world's stage?
A day is coming when both through the removal of His Bride, the Church, and His passing of the tribulum over Israel and the earth, that He will institute His own kingdom here on planet earth. Of this kingdom, Jesus Christ will reign (along with His bride) with an iron scepter. Justice will reign perfectly perfect, and nature will be restored to what it once was at the Garden of Eden. Those who make it into the Millennial Kingdom will enjoy long lives under the rule of a perfect King in a perfect environment. (Isaiah 65:17-25).
Man has long sought to create their own godless utopia here on earth, but it has failed time and time again. When God removes His Bride, mankind's first real chance to do as they please will get immediately hijacked by Satan and will turn those last seven years into a hell on earth. It will become so terrible, that if Christ did not personally intervene and cut it short, no flesh would survive (Matt. 24:22).
"And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." Daniel 2:44
8 Fake News Stories...About Heaven - By Jonathan Brentner -
If you are like me, your first tendency is not to believe what you read or hear on the news these days unless it's from a source you trust. Even then, I have initially believed some stories that I later discovered lacked credibility.
Unfortunately, we also hear fake stories about heaven. With the wide variety of false images about our life in eternity circulating about us, it's no surprise that few believers feel excited about heaven.
Randy Alcorn, in his book Heaven, wrote, "As long as the resurrected universe remains either undesirable or unimaginable, Satan succeeds in sabotaging our love for Heaven."
What are some popular stories about heaven that the enemy of our souls uses to sabotage our desire for the home Jesus is preparing for us?
1. Heaven is Not Real
In late 1971, the song "Imagine," written and performed by John Lennon, started its climb to the top of the charts. The lyrics ask the listener to imagine that heaven and hell do not exist. Today, this still represents the top fake news story about eternity: the denial of heaven and hell's existence.
The Bible, our infallible source of truth, verifies that both heaven and hell do indeed exist. Jesus repeatedly promised eternal life to those who believe in Him, and many times warned about the awful fate of hell for all those who reject Him. You cannot deny the existence of heaven or, for that matter, hell and still maintain Jesus' greatness as a teacher; He taught that both exist.
I recently heard a pastor say that the New Jerusalem was an allegory of God's presence on the new earth. His words shocked me. Those who falsely make the new earth the totality of our eternal hope deny a key aspect of biblical teaching about heaven and open the door to additional false teaching.
Do not fall for the lies that maintain heaven does not exist or that it does not include a glorious city. The New Jerusalem that the apostle John described in detail is not a symbol; it is a real physical city of immense proportions (Rev. 21-22).
2. Heaven Consists of Just the New Jerusalem
For many years I thought heaven consisted only of the New Jerusalem. While I still believe the saints of all the ages will dwell in glorious homes in the New Jerusalem, we will also enjoy the wonders of the new earth (Rev. 21:1). The fact that the apostle describes it as the "new earth" indicates a similarity to the present one, only without the effects of sin and the curse.
There will be a visible continuity with our current world.
My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Estes Park, Colorado. I wish I could go hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park at least once a month; I loved gazing at the mountains and could sit for hours next to the mountain streams.
I also loved watching and listening to the waves of Lake Michigan crash against the shores of Michigan. The scenic vistas of the Blue Ridge Parkway remain in my mind, and I long to go back to the Blue Ridge Mountains and hike in the Smoky Mountain National Park.
I have only seen a tiny part of the stunning and unforgettable scenes of this present earth, but I will have all eternity to explore the wonders of the new earth where I will see similar and still greater wonders.
3. Heaven will be Boring
Perhaps the most widely held fallacy regarding heaven is that it will be boring. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Randy Alcorn, in his book Heaven, addresses this popular delusion:
"Our belief that Heaven will be boring betrays a heresy-that God is boring. There's no greater nonsense. Our desire for pleasure and the experience of joy come directly from God's hand. He made our taste buds, adrenaline, sex drives, and the nerve endings that convey pleasure to our brains. Likewise, our imaginations and our capacity for joy and exhilaration were made by the very God we accuse of being boring. Are we so arrogant as to imagine that human beings came up with the idea of having fun?"
Don't let the devil deceive you into thinking you will be bored in heaven. In Psalm 16:11 David says, "In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Does this not sound much different than sitting on clouds with harps?
We will be in the Lord's presence from the rapture forward to all of eternity (see 1 Thess. 4:17) where we will find "fullness of joy" and "pleasures forevermore." This totally negates the lie that heaven will be boring.
4. We will be Solitary Saints Playing Harps Seated on Clouds
The media loves to portray heaven as solitary saints sitting on clouds and playing harps. Nothing dampens enthusiasm for eternity as does this fake image, and understandably so.
Scripture never paints such a lonely and dull picture of our future paradise. The Lord promises that we will live forever with immortal bodies, enjoying the beauty of the new earth while we live in the most beautiful city imaginable, the New Jerusalem. Our lives in eternity will be an unending exiting and joyous adventure.
5. Heaven will be an Endless Worship Service
The images of worship in Revelation 4 and 5 cause many to assume heaven will consist of a long, unending worship service.
Of course we will praise the Lord with voice and instruments throughout eternity. When we see Jesus in all His glory and fully realize the price He paid for our salvation, thanksgiving and worship will pour from us as an unstoppable response. We will never cease praising the Lord in eternity.
The Bible, however, tells us the Lord has much more in mind for us. We will reign with Jesus after His return to earth (Rev. 5:9-10), which implies the Lord will assign a variety of activities during His thousand-year reign on earth and then in the eternal state.
Yes, we will always praise our Savior as we do now, but we will also be part of a never-ending and exhilarating adventure as we reign with Jesus and explore the wonders of the new earth.
6. We will be Angels Seeking Wings
I love the movie It's a Wonderful Life, but someday we will be far more than aspiring angels jumping into icy waters to earn our wings. Unfortunately, many Christians today assume we become angels when we go to heaven. When Jesus said we would be "like angels in heaven" (Matt. 22:30), He made the comparison in terms of marriage. He never said we would become angels.
The apostle Paul later said that we will "judge angels" someday (1 Cor. 6:3). I am not sure of all that implies, but it certainly distinguishes us from them. Many other passages also clarify that angels and believers are differing in many ways.
7. Our Dreams Die When this Life Ends
The millennium and eternal state (heaven) will be the wondrous time of renewal and restoration that Jesus promises us in Matthew 19:27-29. The dreams and aspirations Jesus puts on our hearts in this life do not fade away when we die or are caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
For lives cut short due to tragedy and illness, the millennium will be a time to again use God-given gifts and talents. As for the desires the Lord places in our hearts that do not reach fulfillment in this life, this will be a time when those aspirations come to full fruition. For dreams cut short by the evil actions of others, our reign with Christ will be a wondrous time of restoration beyond our fondest dreams (read Matt. 19:27-29 again).
I like what Randy Alcorn said - something similar - in his book Heaven:
"Without an eternal perspective, without understanding the reality that the best is yet to come, we assume that people who die young, who are handicapped, who aren't healthy, who don't get married, or who don't _________ [fill in the blank] will inevitably miss out on the best life has to offer. But the theology underlying those assumptions is fatally flawed. We're presuming our present Earth, bodies, culture, relationships, and lives are superior to those of the New Earth.
"What are we thinking?"
Regardless of our circumstances, for those in Christ, the best is yet to come; and it will be far better than anything this life has to offer.
8. Peter Allows Entrance into Heaven Based Upon Good Works
Perhaps the most fatal of all fake news stories regarding eternity pictures a lonely person straggling up to Peter at the gates of heaven to plead why his or her life merits entry into the glorious city. This picture contradicts the clear teaching of the New Testament.
Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Jesus is our path to heaven. The apostle John later wrote this, "And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12).
We receive eternal life solely on account of God's love and mercy based upon the blood Jesus shed on the cross. Even our faith comes from above: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).
Jesus is the door to heaven. If we have Him living inside us through the Holy Spirit, we already possess eternal life. It's His righteousness alone, applied to us, that saves us. If we depend on our goodness to gain entrance to heaven, we will fall far short.
Yes, heaven exists; and once there, the Lord will forever shower us with the kindness of His grace (Eph. 2:7). This life is just the warmup for what lies ahead. Today we experience disappointment, rejection, and pain; the tears flow at many times in our lives.
But a much, much better day is just ahead. Jesus is coming soon for His church to take us to the place He is preparing for us. All sorrows, tears, frustrations, and death will forever end in eternity (Rev. 21:4).
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Is the US in Bible Prophecy? - By Pete Garcia -
Originally written on October 28th, 2017. Updated for you here in 2019
There has been much discussion as of late on whether or not the United States is found in Bible prophecy. How does the world's most powerful, Christian, and Israel-friendly nation not warrant a mention as a key player in the last days? If the US is in Bible prophecy, what role does she play? If she is not, then why not? What happens to her vast natural resources, advanced technology, military arsenal, and able-bodied citizens? Considering these questions, there are biblically sound, and astute teachers on both sides of the issue who either believe that the US is Mystery Babylon, or that we are not in the picture at all.
Those who are in the camp of us being Babylon (mystery or otherwise), seem to make good points for that case (see here). Probably the strongest reason why we could be is that the Jew's are told to come out of her. As of 2017, the largest concentration of Jewish people outside of Israel is in the United States. While at the same time, there are practically no Jews in what was traditional Babylon (Iraq) thanks to the likes of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other militant Islamic groups. So how could they come out of her (Babylon), if they are not in there to begin with?
Those in the camp who believe we are not in the prophetic picture at all (see here) also believe so for a variety of well-thought-out reasons. The most obvious reason for saying the US is not in Bible prophecy is that there is no explicit mention of any nation (in the geopolitical sense) that matches our description in the prophetic texts concerning the last days.
While a number of doomsday scenarios could pose an existential threat to the United States, none (in my opinion) threaten to so suddenly upend the traditional global order as would the Rapture of the Church. This particular threat to our current world order has been gravely underestimated in books like the "Left Behind" series and other popular eschatological material. Underestimated not because of the percentage of how many American's are raptured up, but by what immediately follows.
Also keep in mind that it is not just the total number of Christian's caught up in the United States that threatens her national sovereignty, but that we have Christian's sprinkled throughout our social strata. For example, Egypt may see a decent percentage of its Coptic-Christian population raptured up, but they are sitting at the bottom of their social strata. Same with Russia and China. So while we may never truly know whether President Trump is a Christian or not, there is no doubt with Vice President Pence. The second most powerful man in the US would suddenly be removed in a blink of an eye.
And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. Luke 17:26-30
Speculation abounds as to what the percentage will be for those believers who are actually caught up. Some think as low as one percent while others think as high as twenty-five percent. The percentage then has become a sort of a measuring stick by which we could determine whether or not the US survives the Rapture event and goes on to play a major role in the 70th Week of Daniel. I tend to think around ten percent of the US population will be raptured, but even then that means around thirty million Americans (by current population standards) would instantaneously disappear. But regardless, the how is less important than the why in regards to our potential role in the Tribulation.
What is of utmost importance is realizing that once the Rapture does occur, the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit is also removed (2 Thess. 2:6-8).
This does not mean that the Holy Spirit disappears from the earth altogether. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent and cannot, not be everywhere. The Holy Spirit was on the earth prior to the day of Pentecost and He will be here after the Rapture event. What it means is that the mystery of iniquity (or lawlessness) that is active in the world today, is at the same time actively being hindered by God's power through His people. We are salt and light to a world that will quickly be engulfed in darkness once the Rapture occurs. But after the Rapture, lawlessness will no longer be hindered. Lawlessness will go unchecked and the world will quickly move in one accord under the direction of Satan who will rapidly form that final world system.
Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours." Luke 4:5-7
The idea that the world first experiences the Rapture then sees the unleashing of the four horsemen matches perfectly with what Paul is shown concerning the order of events. The man of sin cannot be revealed until we (the body of Christ) are removed. This is why we see John record the Revelation in the manner which he does (Rev. 1:19):
Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, "Come and see." And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. Revelation 6:1-2
The first horse out of the gate is the man of sin riding the white horse. He seemingly takes advantage of a crisis already in progress. How long the crisis lasts between the Rapture and his arrival is unknown. We know that the actual 70th Week does not start at the Rapture, but with a covenant that is signed between Israel and the nations (Dan. 9:27) which he will ultimately violate halfway through. As Bill Salus has already articulately alluded too, the removal of the restraint of lawlessness will seemingly force Israel's hand into some type of peace/security treaty with the 10-nation/region confederacy (the revived Roman Empire). That treaty will be for seven-years, which at the midpoint, the rider on the white horse (the Antichrist) will violate. The man of sin will then become the son of perdition once Satan physically possesses him at the midway point.
At present, it is impossible for us to know who this man will be. We only know what the Bible says about him. However, his arrival likely comes at a point of great turmoil. So if the world's agenda is currently being hindered by God the Holy Spirit through the body of Christ on the earth, what does our removal then signify?
A total lack of restraint.
Unchecked restraint will result in violence, bloodshed, crime, turmoil, and conflict, unlike anything the world has ever seen.
It will mean that the floodgates of hell are opened and there will be a short, super intense period of chaos immediately following the removal of the body of Christ (the Church) from the earth. This will force the power structures of the former world-order (pre-rapture) to realign themselves to a new post-rapture reality. The old saying is that nature abhors a vacuum, and will fill itself with anything to avoid a vacuum. If the church's removal provides this vacuum, you can guarantee that something will fill that void. This is where I believe the spirit of antichrist becomes the strong delusion that sweeps over the world.
Logically what comes with turmoil and change, is conflict. If we look back at World War 1 or World War 2, we see that the geopolitical realities changed significantly before and after each of those events. After the Rapture will be no different. The world will be forced to realign itself. IF the US is not impacted at all by the Rapture, then the current power structure (or the world order) will not need to change. But we do see great change coming because the next horse unleashed is the rider on the red horse.
When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come and see." Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword. Rev. 6:3-4
As I've stated in a previous brief's, any belief system outside of true, orthodox Christianity, is from Satan. While the varying religions and worldviews may have different angles, forms of worship, terminology, agendas, etc., they are all varying corruptions of the truth. The reality then is that there is only one God, who is expressed in three Persons, who are all of the same divine essence, and being, co-equal in power, and willingly submitting to each other to eternally be in one accord, according to Scripture. Anything that deviates from that is from Satan.
In other words, Satan could have just as easily used Hinduism or Shintoism to violently rampage across the Middle East and Europe as he has with Islam. Any view that is not true biblical Christianity, is fiercely (when confronted) opposed to the truth because of what it reveals about its corrupted nature. Without the Holy Spirit to keep the world at bay, the world will tear itself apart trying to establish a new dominant religious position.
When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come and see." So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine. Rev. 6:5-6
When peace is taken from the earth, what naturally follows is economic disparity and starvation. Global war will violently disrupt the world's economic structures and systems. Amazon will not be shipping. Air and sea travel will stop. The oil will not be shipped. The US dollar will crash, and it will drag all the rest of the world's currencies down with it. However, the rich and powerful will still have the means to keep their wealth and sustenance, while the majority of the world's populations will not. Following massive worldwide starvation, comes death and pestilence. Imagine Venezuela, globally.
When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, "Come and see." So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth. Rev. 6:7-8
The world population is currently at 7.5 billion people. While we can't know the percentage of those taken up at the Rapture of the Church, we can know (roughly) how many perish during the first four Seal judgments. A fourth of that is around 1.875B people. This is an unprecedented number and aside from the Noahic flood, we really don't have anything else that can really compare to the number that large perishing in such a short period of time. That number alone will force major geopolitical alignments that will bring about the final world system headed by the Antichrist.
I think that the biblically, reasonable answer to the question of whether the United States is in Bible prophecy is that we are, but not in the way we hoped or expected. Although I believe we are not Mystery Babylon, we will be essential to its creation.
Every gentile power that has ever risen to global prominence, has ultimately befriended and then betrayed the nation of Israel and/or the Jewish people. [The nations will have to answer for this as well (Matt. 25:31-46)]. So it stands to reason, that after the Rapture, the US will cease to look or be anything of like what it is today. I expect the US to become exceedingly hostile toward the Jews and Israel, much the same way Europe rapidly became in the early 20th century.
The Jews will have to flee the United States back to Israel just as they did Europe between WWI and WWII. This is because the antichrist spirit will feed that supernatural hatred to a people who have been given over to a strong delusion. Satan's plan is to gather all the Jews into one place so to set a snare for destruction (Matt. 24:15-21, 2 Thess. 2:3-4). If Satan can destroy Israel and kill all the Jews, then God's prophetic word would fail, thus nullifying God's plan for Satan's eternal damnation.
Likewise, if the US ceases to be the world superpower, some other nation(s) will have to rise up to fill void such as the revived Roman Empire. What's left of the US will be incorporated into that final world system. Without the constraints of the Judeo-Christian constitution, the US will dissolve relatively quickly. Imagine all the left-wing democrat radicals running the show, and it's not hard to see how quickly they will turn on Israel.
Side note: This leads me to believe that the Gog and Magog invasion (Ezekiel 38-39), will be after the Rapture. I cannot imagine any scenario where our current leadership abandons a close ally in her greatest time of need. However, after the Rapture, the US will not be in any position to come to anyone's aid.
The antichrist and the false prophet simply do not have enough time left to build the world forces it needs to dominate the planet in only seven years. They will have to rely on taking from what's already in existence (from the major world powers). This may be from the creation of some new AI architecture (think Skynet) or through the supernatural, as Satan's forces will be unrestrained at that point. The antichrist will use either (or both) to impose his iron-fisted will over the entire planet. Granted, even that time will be very brief as the forces from the east will eventually rise up to challenge his (antichrist's) authority (Rev. 16:12).
Unfortunately, the US will be amongst the nations who finally assemble at the Valley of Megiddo and try to challenge the physical return of Jesus to the earth (Zech. 12:3). The nation's armies are quickly and effortlessly destroyed as Jesus brings His armies from heaven to watch Him single-handedly destroy the world's system (Dan. 2:44-45). Unlike earthly empires and kingdoms, Jesus does not have any weaknesses. He is the infinite source of all wealth, all power, and does not rely on consensus to conduct His will, because He and the Father, and the Spirit are One in purpose. To this, Revelation 19:15-16 states-
Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.
Even so, Maranatha!