The Rapture: The Signs of His Coming, Part One - 7 signs (Daniel 9, Matthew 24)Related Media
This article is a lightly edited transcript of Dr. McRae’s audio message on the Rapture. Appreciation for the transcription work goes to Marilyn Fine.
This morning we continue our study on the Rapture of the Church. This is lesson number three in our four-lesson series and we are beginning to study this morning the signs of His coming. We shall continue that next week, as well, and that will conclude our study on the Rapture of the Church.
From the earliest days, earnest Christians have diligently sought to know when their Lord was going to return. It seems our Lord has directly answered that question in many respects when He spoke and said, “No man knoweth the day nor the hour.” He further elucidated upon the subject when He said that “in such an hour as you think not, then I shall come.” His coming shall be as a thief in the night. Now, we do not have any difficulty understanding why our Lord has kept the date of His return for the Church a secret. All we need to do is examine our own hearts and we see ample evidence for His wisdom in keeping that date a secret. He, obviously, has wanted, during the duration of the history of the Church, for believers (generation after generation) to be waiting patiently, watching expectantly, and just standing firmly anticipating His return.
Although we do not know the exact time of our Lord’s return, I think it is significant that when the apostle Paul writes to the Thessalonians he says, “We are not in the darkness that it should overtake us as a thief.” There is no doubt that the Rapture of the Church is going to be sudden and shall take the unbeliever by surprise. But to the believer, to the Christian, certain signs have been given that indicate the arrival of the Lord and the knowledge of those signs bring that believer from out of the darkness into the light so that he will not be overtaken by surprise and the Rapture will not surprise him.
I think that a believer who knows his Bible is very much like a person who is sitting down and just enjoying Handel’s Messiah with the musical score on his lap. After a couple of hours of delightful music, his companion sitting beside, leans over (having enjoyed what has been going on) saying, “how much longer do you think this shall go on?” The person says “about five more minutes.” “Five minutes, is that all? Why it has been going on full speed now for two hours and it just seems like it is going to go on forever. How much longer? Why do you say only five minutes?” The man, of course, would say, “because I have the score in my hands. Do you remember the solo just a few moments ago? Do you remember that last chorus? Well, I know that it is only going to last just a few more minutes now because, you see, here is the music score and it tells me that the very chorus they are singing now is the last chorus and I know it is just about over.”
The believer, you see, has a music score. He has the Word of God. He has the scriptures and it is through the scriptures that the indications are given whereby I believe a Christian can know that the coming of the Lord is very, very near. They are indications, finger boards, sign posts along the way that indicate the coming of the Lord.
Now, the question, of course, is how soon? What we would like to do this morning is to look at the score and just see what the indications are concerning the coming again of our Lord. I believe, friends, that we shall be able to demonstrate from our study of the scriptures this morning, as well as next week, that you and I are standing on the very threshold of the Rapture of the Church. He is at the door. I believe with all my heart that the coming of our Lord is very, very near. Let me see if I can demonstrate to you the basis for that belief.
First Sign: Israel
Turn in your Bible, will you please, for the most significant indication in our generation that the coming of the Lord is very near. Daniel 9 will be the passage from which this first and most significant sign emerges. Daniel 9 records the very important prophetic announcement, through the prophet Daniel, of the seventy weeks or the seven-year periods. That is altogether a program of 490 years. You will notice in Daniel 9:24 that we read about “seventy weeks” The Hebrew word here suggests a bunch of seven. Because of the historical fulfillment, we do know that it is weeks or groups of seven years.
Seventy groups of seven years, 490 years, “are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city” for several things. At the end of the 69 weeks, and that will bring us down to Daniel 9:26, “after seven and three score and two weeks,” that is after 69 weeks, “shall Messiah be cut off but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city” (Jerusalem) “and the sanctuary;” (the temple) “and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” Sixty-nine weeks, 483 years, from the beginning of this period of time to the cutting off of the Messiah have been fulfilled. This leaves one seven-year period remaining. That one seven-year period, the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy, still lies in the future. Our Lord describes it as time of great tribulation such as the world has never seen nor ever shall see.
That great Tribulation period, that 70th week is presented to us in Daniel 9:27 where we read, “And he” (that is the prince of the Roman Empire; this will be the revived Roman Empire) “shall confirm” (or the Hebrew “shall strengthen”) “the covenant with many for one week.” This indicates that the beginning of the Tribulation period, the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel, will come with the confirming of a covenant by the leader of the revived Roman Empire (the anti-Christ, the world’s dictator, the one who is at the head of the western alliance of nations). He shall confirm a covenant with the nation of Israel. It is a divided Israel that is suggested in the phrase “with many.” He shall confirm that covenant for one week.
Verse 27 presents to us the basic concept of the Tribulation period and the 70th week in Daniel’s prophecy. We are not expounding this passage, obviously, and it has been expounded here in the Chapel recently on two different occasions. So, we are not going through Daniel 9 to expound the seventy weeks. What we are trying to find out at this point is this— that the Tribulation period begins with the establishment with the confirming of a covenant which is already being established between the prince of the revived Roman Empire and the many, the divided Israel who are in their land, and upon whom the 70th week, as well as the 483 years, those seven years are determined. If that is so, then Daniel 9:27 and the Tribulation period presupposes some very important things. My basic thesis this morning is that what is presupposed, what is demanded, is essentially a reality today. That is, what is presupposed for the beginning of the 70th week, what is demanded for the Tribulation period to begin, essentially already now within our generation has become a reality. Notice some of the points.
The first thing in this is that we have the statehood of Israel. Such a covenant could not be confirmed prior to Israel beginning a state. For 1,900 long years, Israel was never listed among the nations of the world. On May 14, 1948, by right of the UN Charter, the statehood of Israel comes into a reality. Today, we have the nation of Israel and that is presupposed. It is basic. The Tribulation period is dependent upon that.
The second thing that this supposes is that they will be in the land. That is precisely where they are today. Just after the turn of our century, there were some 41,000 Jews in the land. Today, there are over 3,000,000 Jews that have returned to the land of Israel. They are in the land. The land has become the focal point of international affairs. It is the crossroad of the world. The deserts of the land have begun to blossom. The situation is being prepared as far as Israel is concerned.
Thirdly, it is very obvious from our passage here that Israel will be aligned with the western allies. It is the prince of the revived Roman Empire. It is the head of that European confederacy of nations that will confirm the covenant. So, the alliance obviously will be between Israel and the western allies. That is precisely the way the situation is structured today in our present time. It is certainly going to be obvious that that the nation of Israel will be subjected to tremendous persecutions. That will be the background for the confirming of the covenant.
I suspect, as Dr. Waltke suggested and other Bible teachers have taught, that the covenant that will be confirmed will be the covenant that was made by the United Nations on May 14, 1948, which gave to Israel their right to statehood. I suspect this because of all of the threats against Israel’s very existence—Egypt just within the last two weeks has announced that the only solution is to wipe Israel out. In the place of all the persecutions, there is going to come a time when the dictator, the leader of the revived Roman Empire, is going to confirm the covenant that was made by the United Nations guaranteeing Israel its statehood. So, to support the right to independent existence, there will be all of the military powers of the western alliances behind the existence of the Nation of Israel. The background of this is, I suspect that we should expect Israel to be under intense persecution. That is precisely the situation as all of us know right at this very moment.
A fourth thing that is going to be demanded, or needed for the fulfillment of this, as well as other prophecies in relation of Israel, will be the building of their temple. Now, note that temple is not demanded until the middle of the Tribulation period. That is, after three-and-a-half years of the Tribulation period the beast, the anti-Christ, is going to set up his image in the temple. By the mid point of Tribulation period, Israel will have their temple. One of the most significant things that is happening today in Israel is their plan for building a temple. They now have the site. They did not have that site until just three years ago. Now they have the site for the building of the temple. They have the plans for the building of that temple. One of the greatest aspirations of Israel is the erection of their temple and the very scene seems to be set.
Another point in relation to the nation of Israel is that they will become a very mighty military power. We do not need to expand upon that because that is obvious to us at the very present time. Another point in relation to this situation and Israel in the scriptures during the Tribulation period is that they will become the world evangelists. Revelation pictures the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel who will be the world evangelists who carry the gospel to the corners of the earth. It is a striking to realize that within Israel today there is an unusual revival of interest in the scriptures. Every Jew in a state school takes six hours of Bible study every week in his school. That is more than most Americans have. There is a tremendous revival in the study of the scriptures and we are going to be talking on that a little more next week when we talk about the great sign, the second greatest of all signs, the apostasy of our present time. The great revival in the scriptures in Israel seems almost to be preparing the way for their moving into their strategic role of evangelism in the Tribulation period. Orthodoxy is the viable situation today in Israel. Only six reformed synagogues exist in all the land and reformed Judaism is no longer a viable option as far as Israelites in the land is concerned. There is in the dictionary of Judaism today a term called “a Messianic Jew.” A Messianic Jew is a person, by their definition, who nationally is a Jew but religiously is a Christian. There is a band of Messianic Jews who move through the land with two basic goals: to share their personal faith in Jesus Christ with their fellow Jews and to flood the land with Bibles.
What I am simply suggesting is that this could very well be the backdrop against which the movement shall come in the Tribulation period when the Jewish people shall be the world evangelists as they carry the gospel to the corners of the earth.
What I am then proposing to you this morning, my friends, is that the first, the greatest and the most significant sign that the coming of Jesus Christ is very near and that the Rapture of the Church is upon us— is the rise of the nation Israel. Because we read it every day in our newspapers, because we have become so well acquainted with it, we have lost the impact of it. That it was not 25 years ago that the nation did not exist! It is within our generation that they have come into existence, they have possessed their land, they have the site for the temple, they have a commitment to the scriptures and a study of the scriptures, they have the alignment with the western allies, and the pieces are all fit together for the beginning of the Tribulation period. Prior to the confirming of that covenant, the trumpet shall sound and the Church shall be raptured. I believe with all my heart that as we scan the world’s international horizons this morning through the telescope of the sure word of prophecy, that we can say with great assurance that the coming of the Lord draws very, very near.
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There are many other signs though, so will you go in your Bibles, please, to Matthew 24 where we find a significant list of signs given to us by our Lord Himself. These signs are primarily given to the tribulation saints and they are primarily in relation to the revelation, the second aspect of the Second Coming when He shall come with his Church to the earth to establish His kingdom. But, I would like you to notice that these signs in the Tribulation period become universal in their intensity and unprecedented in their proportions. These signs at this very present time are moving in this direction. I suspect that every one of the signs that we are going to point out now has existed from time in memorial. We can go back in history and find that they have always existed. The point that our Lord makes is that in the Tribulation period these signs will become universal and will reach unprecedented proportions and intensity. My basic proposal to you from these signs is that we are seeing that happen at this very present time. Notice, for example, one of the signs as we come to it in Matthew 24: 6-7. He says,
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that ye be not troubled for all these things must come to past, but the end of not yet. For nations shall rise against nations and kingdom against kingdom.”
Second Sign: Profusion of War
The second great sign I would like to present to you this morning then is the profusion of wars. Of course, from the very beginning of time from Cain’s murder of Abel, war has existed. I suspect that we are not surprised at this as a particular sign. The Geneva Tribune sometime ago reported that the society of international law in its surveys concluded that in the last 3,400 years there has been only 268 years of peace. There have been over 8,000 peace treaties signed and everyone of them signed for eternity, but the average duration of the treaties has been less than 10 years. What should we say of the twentieth century in which we live? In this century, 71 years old, there have been over 100 million lives snuffed out by war. It is our century and our generation that has seen two wars that can rightly be called world wars. During the last 30 years, we have not been able to pick up our newspaper without reading on the front page an account of a major war some place on the face of the earth. What we have seen then is the movement of something that has existed from time immemorial into an unprecedented state of universality and intensity. It is the buildup for the great world war that is presented to us in the scriptures. It is referred to in Revelation 16 as the battle of Armageddon. It is going to be the culmination of what started with Cain which today has moved into a worldwide confrontation. In the Tribulation period it shall become the third, perhaps the fourth, but certainly at least the third great world war.
The striking thing is that in the preparation for that third world war we are seeing the scene set in our very day. The place where it is going to take place has already become the focal point of international affairs. Armageddon is the hill of Megiddo, which is in the northern part of the land of Israel. Joel tells us that it is going to take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which is a large valley to the east of Jerusalem. That is in the southern part of the land. Isaiah tells us that it is going to extend right down into Edom. It is Ezekiel the prophet who tells us that when they moved into the land they are going to cover the entire land. If you put together all of the Old Testament prophesies, the conclusion is that the place where this last great world war will take place is in Israel in the land previously known as Palestine and it shall stretch from the north through the south right down into the land of Edom. Israel is exactly in that position today. It is the focal point of international affairs. All of the nations of the earth have their guns set toward the Middle East and even during the crises in southeast Asia, we have been warned by the leaders of the United States that the real hot spot, the real problem area is the Middle East. We have never lost sight of the fact that that is the focal point of attention. We are seeing already in our generation the focal point of that great war in the Tribulation period now coming into focus.
The precedent for that war has already been set. Revelation 16 pictures it as the kings of the earth and the whole world, says the prophet. The kings of the earth and the whole world shall converge upon that spot. The precedent for a worldwide war has already been set. I think the most significant thing is that the participants in that great confrontation are already taking their place on the stage of history. We cannot take time to read it, but if you have not read, then you must read Daniel 11:36 through the end of the chapter where you have the details of that third great world war given to us. If you read it carefully, you will discover that there are five alignments or individual nations that are presented.
The first, of course, will be Israel. That is where the battle shall take place. They shall be in the glorious land. There they are in their land. Israel will be the center of attraction. In Daniel 11:36, Israel is aligned with the prince of the revived Roman Empire and that will be the first alignment of nations. It is the western alliance. We know from Daniel 2, Daniel 7 and several passages in the book of Revelation that that western alliance will be composed of 10 nations— pictured in the vision that Daniel has as the 10 toes or as the 10 crowns. There will be 10 nations that will comprise that confederacy. Since men have been expounding on prophesy, they had been predicting a United States of Europe, a confederacy of 10 nations that shall find their headquarters in the leader of the revived Roman Empire. Currently, the most common way of viewing this will be the fruition of the European Common Market. I think we are seeing significant things happen there. Until just two months ago, they European Common Market was composed of six nations. Within two months, four new nations were recommended for acceptance into the European Common Market. If those four nations accept, Britain among them, we shall soon have a United States of Europe comprised of 10 nations. Now in the future, those 10 nations may change. But what we are certainly seeing at this very present time is the emergence of a European confederacy of 10 nations that has their headquarters in the very place where the revived Roman Empire found its rooting. That is going to be one of the great alignment of nations.
If you move down through Daniel 11, you will come into verse 40 and find that there is going to be a northern alliance and a southern alliance. The striking thing about these two alliances as they are related to Israel in the center is that they shall be aligned with each other and both against Israel and the western alliance. One does not need to know much about contemporary scenes in our international alignments to realize that that is exactly what we have today. We have the Russian alliance to the north. We have the United Arab Republic alignment to the south. They are, to some degree, aligned with each other against Israel and against the western alliance. When you come further down through Daniel 11 to verse 44, you read of the kings of the east. That takes in all the oriental powers over to the east of Israel. The striking thing that Daniel 11 presents is that in the Tribulation period Israel, a mighty military power, will be the focal point around which there will be an alignment of nations. There will be a western alliance, a northern alliance, a southern alliance and an eastern alliance. My friends, we have it today. That very situation is in existence. The participants in that great world war that shall take place toward the end of the Tribulation, the participants are already taking their place on the stage of history. I proposed to you again then that as we scan the world’s political horizons through the telescope of the sure word of prophesy, we can say with certainty that the coming of the Lord draws very, very near.
Third Sign: Famine
If you come to the end of Matthew 24:7, you will come to a third sign that needs to be noted. The third sign of this. “And there shall be famines.” The third sign that I would like to present to you then is the threat of famine. It is obvious, I think, from the passage that the famines will be closely connected with the wars that are presented in Matthew 24:6-7. That does not surprise us because famines have always followed in the wake of war. In 1921, the famine in Russia took 30,000 lives every day. It came in the wake of war. The official estimate for the great famine in Greece in 1942 was between 150,000 and 200,000 deaths and it came in the wake of war. We read our newspapers and listen to the situation in Pakistan, in Nigeria, in Biafra, and we realize that it is war that precipitates famines. What the scriptures teach is this that as the wars shall expand and become more intense and more universal that famine shall follow in its wake. We are seeing in this very present time through the profusion of war the threat for famine in an unprecedented level in our world.
There are two other factors which are very much involved in the coming of a famine. The first factor-- population. We do not pick up many magazines today without reading something of the danger of the population explosion. The question of anthropologist and sociologists is how shall we ever feed them in 1980 or by 2000 AD. Population explosion. The second and great issue involved in famines is the ecology crisis and that is something that confronts us. It is a global problem as well as a national problem. It was President Nixon in his State of the Union address in 1970 who said “in the coming decade we must make peace with nature.” Albert Schweitzer some years ago wrote, “Man has lost his capacity to foresee and forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.” Arnold Toynbee, the great eminent British historian, writes, “The human race’s prospects of survival were considerably better when we were defenseless against tigers than they are today when we have become defenseless against ourselves.” He says it in relation to the pollution problem in the world.
Revelation 8:10-11 predict a worldwide pollution during the Tribulation period.
“The third trumpet will bring down bitterness into the waters of the earth so that one-third of the waters of the earth shall be so polluted that many, many, many shall die.”
Now, what I am suggesting then is that the three great factors that are involved in famine today are the primary issues in our contemporary world: The profusion of war, the population explosion and the ecology crisis. We have seen these things come to the headlines and move to the surface in our present day. So, when I read about famines, I do not quickly pass it over. I do not say, well, we have always had famines. I recognize that in the Tribulation period famine shall follow in the wake of war and they shall become so universal and so intense that they will reach unprecedented proportions. We have at our disposal and at our fingertips today the mechanism to make that happen. With a population explosion, with the ecology crisis, and with the profusion of war, we have the wherewithal that this can become a reality today on a universal scale in the Tribulation period.
So, once again, I believe as we scan the world’s “economic and physical horizons” through the telescope of the sure word of prophesy we are constrained to say that the coming of the Lord is very, very near.
Fourth Sign: Earthquakes
Do you notice the next phrase in Daniel 24:7? Pestilence probably ought not to be in our text at this point, although it is certainly in the text in Luke’s account, but the next phrase in the most ancient manuscripts is, “and earthquakes in various places.” We look at that and I suspect that we are inclined to quickly bypass that and say, “have there not always been earthquakes?” I am not sure whether we can really say that or not because it is within recent technological era that seismology has become a science and that we have been able to register and to date our earthquakes. Perhaps they always have existed, but it is within our generation and in our century that they are reaching proportions that are astounding to us. The frightful earthquake that shook the city of Quetta in India just not too long ago took 60,000 lives plus many millions of dollars worth of property. That reminds us that within our century, within the twentieth century, there have been 250,000 lives snuffed out through earthquakes upon the face of the earth.
Scientists who study the earth’s crust and record the seismic disturbances tell us that earthquakes felt simultaneously in many places, particularly around the Mediterranean and Great Britain, are forerunners of a great, far greater, earthquake which might be also universal. Now, the Bible predicts such a universal earthquake. Revelation 16:18 says, “And there was a great earthquake such as was not since upon the earth so mighty an earthquake and so great.” Again, in Zachariah 14, the prophet Zachariah predicts that at the coming of our Lord there will be an earthquake that is going to shatter the Mount of Olives so that it will splinter in half and provide a valley for the escape of Jews who are besieged in the city of Jerusalem. We know today that there is a massive fault line that goes right through the midst of the Mount of Olives and that is the preparation for a universal earthquake that is going to rock the face of the earth during the Tribulatin period. I am rather inclined to feel, although I am sure we have had earthquakes all along, that the suggestions of the scientists that what we are seeing now with simultaneous earthquakes in parts of the world may be a forerunner of a universal earthquake of unprecedented proportions. I am rather inclined to believe that this could be tied in with our Lord’s prediction.
One of the most striking things that I read in preparing for our message this morning is that that recently earthquakes in the area of Jerusalem and in the area of the Mount of Olives have caused severe damage to the buildings upon the Mount of Olives. I think that is very significant. That is, as one moves into this area and sees the buildings on the Mount of Olives bearing the marks of earthquakes, I believe that God is giving us again an indication that we are having the scene set for what is going to take place in the Tribulation period. Make no mistake about it, prior to that moment the Lord is going to return and He is going to rapture the Church. So, once again, I propose to you that as we scan the world’s scientific horizons through the telescope of the sure word of prophecy we are constrained to say that the coming of the Lord draws very, very near.
Fifth Sign: Iniquity
Come with me further down through our passage and notice what it says, please, in verse 12. And it says,
“And because iniquities shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold, but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
The word for “iniquity” here is the word for “lawlessness.” It is the opposite to righteousness. The Lord predicts that iniquity or lawlessness will abound. It will increase. It will grow. It will increase in grow to such proportions that He says the love of many shall grow cold. He is here dealing with the professing Church. The love of the professing Church shall be literally blowing cold by the spreading of lawlessness and the spreading of iniquity. The growth of coldness, the drawing away from the faith and from the things of God by the professing Church will be the demonstration that they are only a professing Church. The great test of genuine faith is given to us in verse 13. It is continuance. It is perseverance, “but he that shall endure unto the end the same shall be saved.” Those who do not endure, those who do not continue, those who do not persevere given testimony to the fact that all it was, was profession.
What our Lord is saying here is that iniquity shall sweep the professing Church off their feet into a state of coldness and apostasy and a state of turning away from God. We know, Paul says to the Thessalonians, that this principle of iniquity does already work, but he tells us in II Thessalonians 2 that there is someone who is hindering it. There are many different interpretations, perhaps the most common is that it is the Church indwelled by the Holy Spirit that has its hands up and it is hindering the full impact of this principle of lawlessness and iniquity. There is coming a day, says our Lord through Paul, that the hinderer is going to be removed. That is the Rapture. At the removal of the hinderer, the Holy Spirit in the Church, then iniquity shall sweep across the face of the earth in a universal, intensified, unprecedented proportion. I believe, friends, that we are seeing that very movement today. I think we are seeing iniquity, lawlessness move in that unprecedented proportion before us at the very present time.
What shall we say about moral iniquity or lawlessness? From this Greek word we get our word “antinomian,” which means “against laws.” The greatest philosophy that exists on college campuses and in our secular society is the philosophy of antinomianism. That is that there are no absolutes. It is the Playboy philosophy in relation to sex. It is a policy that rejects all absolutes and makes everything liberal, everything relative. That is lawlessness and we are seeing it move and sweep across the face of the earth. It is sweeping professing churches off their feet so that there is a growing coldness and a blowing away of any profession of their faith and their commitment to the scriptures.
In a magazine entitled, “The Church and Society,” published by two of our major United States denominations, a prominent woman employee of the church wrote this article just recently, “Female and Single, What Then?” In this magazine, she advocates that the Church encourage lonely, retired persons to live together unmarried to provide loving companionship and sexual enjoyment. She also suggests that single women should be permitted to establish sustained relationships with married men and that the Church should be open to such arrangements. Finally, the author derides fidelity to the marriage vows and urges the Church to consider establishment of communes patterned after those in Scandinavia and these communes men and women form families without marriage. Now, that is a Church magazine published by two of our major denominations in the United States. What we are seeing is the professing Church being swept off its feet by the tide of iniquity that is moving across the face of the earth.
Not only is their moral iniquity, but what shall we say of civil iniquity, civil lawlessness? In the last month, US News and World Report has featured two articles: “Crime in the Colleges” and “Crime on the Streets of the World’s Cities.” We are seeing as we read in our magazines that this is a tide that is sweeping across the face of the earth. I think that as we look at the whole civil, social, and religious contexts through the telescope of the sure word of prophesy that we are constrained to say, friends, that the coming of the Lord is very, very near.
Sixth Sign: Gospel Spread
There is still a further sign and let me mention it rather quickly, please, in verse 14. In verse 14 we read, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to all the world for a witness unto all nations.” This sixth sign which I have given is the spread of the gospel. It is obvious from our passages that in the Tribulation period the gospel shall be spread universally around the face of this earth. What I am suggesting and bringing to your attention this morning is this. For the first time in all of history, that now is possible. Now this very situation is possible. We have 53 Christian radio stations scattered around the earth. Theodore Epps’ Bible to the Bible broadcast is available to 90% of the world’s population. Dr. Peters, our missions professor, at the seminary estimates that more people have heard the gospel in the last 30 years than they have in the previous 900 years. In the days of Luther, the Bible was translated in four languages. Today we have it in 1,200 languages. The great motivation behind Campus Crusade’s “Explo ‘72” is evangelize the world in our generation. That is the vision of Bill Bright. It is possible today. That is what we are saying. Now, it is possible, but in the Tribulation period, it shall be a reality. I do not believe for a moment that the gospel must be preached to all the world before the Rapture will take place. It is before Christ returns to the earth, that that must take place. However, what a thing to see a man with a vision to evangelize the world. We have the means today for the first time in history for that type of thing to take place. His vision is by 1980 that become a reality. By 1980, the Tribulation could be over and it will be a reality. But, the vision is absolutely spectacular as I look at the world’s evangelism horizons through the telescope of the sure word of prophesy. My friend, I am constrained to say that the coming of the Lord must be very, very near.
Seventh Sign: Economy
One last one comes from the book of Revelation where we read in Chapter 13, in relation to the economy of the world, that there will be a very strictly controlled economy. Revelation 13:16-17 tell us that during the Tribulation period men will be able to neither buy nor sell without the mark of the beast. That suggests the most stringent controls on world economy that the world has ever seen. In our prophetic conference down at Pine Cove, Dr. Johnson stated and commented that we are now entering into a stage of international controlled economics. We have a world bank. We look for a worldwide currency. We have the computers now that soon will eliminate the need for money and for currency.
One of the men in the audience who is involved with the telephone company tells me that the telephone company has come out with devices whereby soon we will be able to go into a store and buy something with our little ticket. It will be inserted into a telephone that will go directly to our bank. Then it will confirm whether the money is in our bank account. Finally, it will be deducted from the bank account at that moment. So, there will be no currency. What he is simply saying is that if you do not have that card you could not buy or sell. What the scripture says is that you will not be given such a card unless you will bow down and worship the image of the beast. There is a stringent control on economics that will certainly become a worldwide reality in the Tribulation period and we have the mechanism today in our generation for that to become a reality.
As I look at the fingerposts and I see the signs, as we look at what is happening about us today, one is constrained to say that the coming of the Lord must be very, very near. Men have always expected His coming and other men have believed that they are living in the last days. But, will you come with me just for a moment and take a good look at the rise of the nation of Israel. Take a look at the profusion of wars. Take a look at the threat of famines. Take a look at the spread of the gospel. Take a look at the presence of earthquakes. Take a look at the growth in iniquity. Take a look at the control in economy. I believe, friend, that you will join with me and you will say that every indication is that the Rapture of the church must be very, very near. If so, then what manner of persons ought we to be? What manner of persons ought we to be? If it is so, if the coming of the Lord is very near, then, my friend, how does that affect your life this week? More than anything else, God wants us to live expecting His return so that this week in the decisions that we make, the priorities that we establish, the values that we esteem, we shall do it in the light of the fact that the coming of the Lord is very, very near.
Horatius Bonar used to arise in the morning and raise his blind and look and say, “Perhaps today, Lord?” The last thing he did before he went to bed as he pulled his blind down was look heavenward and say, “Perhaps tonight, Lord?” That is living expectantly. May God help us to live that kind of life this week.
But, my friend, perhaps the greatest thing that you need to realize this morning is this. That the coming of Jesus Christ for His Church, the Rapture of the Church will seal off forever your eternal destiny if you have not received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. I believe with all of my heart that the Rapture of the Church is very, very near and I believe just as strongly that if you do not receive Jesus Christ prior to that moment that you shall never have such an opportunity during the Tribulation period. You will, in the world of II Thessalonians 2 be compelled to believe a lie, the lie, the lie of the anti-Christ. If the coming of the Lord draws very near, my friend, I ask you are you ready for it? If it should be today, would you go to be with Him? Only if you have recognized before Him that you are a guilty sinner and that you have realized that when He died upon the cross He died for you. Only if you have simply received Him personally as your Savior and you are depending upon His work upon the cross alone for the salvation of your soul. Is that where you stand this morning? If so, you are ready for the coming of the Lord. If not, we invite you this very morning to receive Him personally as your Savior so that when the trumpet sounds, when the shout is heard you, too, will be caught up together to be with Him and to be like Him forever and ever.
Let’s bow, shall we in closing prayer. Father, we do pray that You will illuminate our hearts, that You will take from us the dross that so often moves into our lives as we are involved in living busy lives and help us to look upon this world in which we live and to realize that the coming of the Lord draws very near. God, grant that we may have the grace and the wisdom this week to live in the light of the fact that He shall soon return and our lives shall be evaluated by Him. For we ask it in His name, amen.