3. The Rapture
Article contributed by www.walvoord.comRelated Media
Editor’s Note: This is a lightly edited transcription of the audio message. Thanks goes to Marilyn Fine for the transcription work.
In the sessions that I have been speaking to you, I have been trying to demonstrate that our hope for the Lord’s return is not some distant event, but it could occur very soon. Of course, I have been talking about the Rapture of the Church and our gathering together unto Him. The Rapture, as you know from scripture, is a movement from earth to Heaven. God takes out of the world those who are His and takes them home to Heaven before the tremendous events that follow take place.
In the earlier hour of teaching Dr. VanGorder made very clear that Matthew 13 is talking about the Second Coming of Christ. Matthew never mentions the Rapture and the Second Coming is just the opposite to the rapture. The person who is taken out is taken in judgment and the person who is left is left to enter the Millennial Kingdom. The two situations are exactly the opposite and you cannot put the two together.
Now, I have been trying to point out that while the Rapture has no signs given as preceding it, what we are seeing in the world is preparation for the events that will follow the Rapture. Logically, if the world is getting in order to fulfill the events that follow the Rapture and the Rapture is first, then the Rapture could be very near.
Yesterday, we saw how the changes in Europe that have taken place since World War II are exactly what we would expect if the Roman Empire is going to be revived as Daniel and other passages teach us. A ten-nation group is being formed and today the situation in Europe is exactly ripe for that. If the Rapture occurred, we believe that ten-nation group would be formed almost immediately—because all the end time prophecies that talk about the end time picture, talk about that ten-nation group as being in the center of the activity and their ruler as the ultimate world ruler.
There are a number of prophesy magazines being published and they sort of specialize in having a prophesy answered every week. I think that is a little bit extreme. I prefer to stay with the main line—the major things that cannot be argued about that are obviously true and pointing all in the same direction that the Lord is coming.
Of course, what we saw first was the Rapture of the Church itself. It is always pictured as an imminent event with no preceding signs. Then yesterday we saw the formation in Europe that makes it plain that we are about to see the revival of the Roman Empire and then with that the Rapture of the Church would take place. It is possible to go off on the wrong foot here. I saw a statement to the effect that the vultures were increasing in Israel and that proves that Armageddon was about here. Well, that sounded very interesting. One man who advanced this went all the way to Israel to find out if it were true. Of course, the vultures are increasing in Israel, but the simple reason is that there is a lot more vegetation now than there used to be with all the irrigation that Israel has brought in. They have more to eat so they naturally are increasing. Whether it has prophetic significance I sort of question. In other words, we have to be careful about realizing that every wind that blows does not fulfill prophecy. There are plenty of things which are plain, obvious and clear.
One of these areas is what God is doing with the nation Israel. Every time you see a Jew you are seeing a miracle. Here is a people who were first predicted to Abraham 4,000 years ago. Much of their existence, especially since Christ, they have been scattered all over the world. Any other people would have been absorbed and disappeared. Today, there are still millions of Israelites that know that they are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and that they belong to one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Well, that’s a miracle. You see a Jew? It is a miracle because Jeremiah said that they would continue as a nation as long as the sun and moon endure. When you see the sun, and you see an Israelite, you are seeing fulfilled prophecy.
Now, some strange things have happened to Israel in my lifetime and in the lifetime of many of you and these things are tremendously important from a prophetic standpoint. The subject of Israel and prophesy is not a small subject. One time I spent a whole week just on Israel’s prophesies and spoke twice a day. It’s worthy of a large book. I have a smaller book that is incorporated in the volume The Nations, Israel, and the Church In Prophecy, but there is so much in the Old Testament about Israel. One of the tragic things in the history of the Church is how the Church has just bypassed this and ignored it as if it were not there. They are so interested in the Church that they do not want Israel to have a place. In fact, they try to interpret the scriptures that Israel is all through.
There are many avenues of study on this topic and it is such a temptation for me because there is so much here that you could be burdened with a lot of things that you do not need to really know. However I would like to point out two things that the Bible makes plain about Israel. One is that they are going to inherit the land, the Promised Land, and second that they are going to be restored as a people. Both of these things are contradicted, probably by the majority of the Church today. They say Israel is all through. They will never be an inheritor of the Promised Land and so they try to explain away what the Bible teaches. Let me go through this rather rapidly because that is what we are going to have to do this morning.
In Genesis 12, do you remember God called Abram from the Ur of Chaldees, a place near Babylon, which archeologists have located, and told him to go to a land He would show him? Genesis records how he went somewhat hesitantly, but he finally arrived in the Promised Land. When he got there, we have the record of what God told him in the first few verses of Genesis 12. These are dynamic, important passages. Listen.
“Get out of your country from your family, from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who curses you and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Do you realize that this promise has been largely literally fulfilled? You know this idea that prophecy is interpreted non-literally, or is fulfilled non-literally is wrong. It is just as wrong as it can be. Prophesy is just as factual and just as certain and just as literal as history and the Bible demonstrates that again and again. As I pointed out, hundreds of prophesies have been fulfilled.
It says Abram would be a great man. We are discussing him 4,000 years after he lived. I think I was in Miami someplace and saw a Chevrolet sign on a car, “Abraham’s son, Chevrolet.” Who would have thought that 4,000 years ago. You see, Abram is still a prominent figure not only in Israel and Judaism but all over the Muslim faith he is regarded as a prophet.
Then, he tells him he is going to be a great nation and, of course, Israel has become a great nation. In fact, other nations have descended from Abram, as well.
He said, “I will bless those who bless you and curse who curses you.” History fulfills that to the letter. The nations that have hurt Israel and penalized them and persecuted them have paid an awful price. Just go back in history—Egypt, Assyria, Babylon. Now, Medo-Persia was not too bad and God blessed them. The Grecian Empire and then finally Rome. Now, more recently we have had Spain and Germany and Russia and other nations which have persecuted Israel. They have paid a price for that.
On the other hand, God has blessed the nations which have been kind to Israel. While there are a lot of things wrong in America, generally speaking we have been kind to the Jew. He has had opportunity educationally, in the business world, science and so on, and he has made his contribution to our country. God has blessed America because of it. It is one of the reasons why we are blessed in spite of all our sins.
Then, it says in you, all the families of the earth be blessed. Do you know that you have a blessing which comes all the way from Abram? You are part of that “all the families of the earth” if you are saved. The New Testament in Galatians 3 tells us that we are the spiritual children of Abram, not the literal children, but the spiritual children. Like Abram we believe in God and He counts it to us for righteousness. You have been blessed because of that.
If you look at these promises, you will find they fall into three major divisions: blessings on Abram, blessings on the nation, and blessings on the world. We get in on the world one. But, the Israelites, according to this passage, are going to become a great nation and they are going to inherit what? The land. When we read on here, verse 7, the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants, I will give this land.” What did He mean? You know, people say prophecy is too obscure, so hard to understand. Is that hard to understand? Abram had left the Ur of Chaldees and gone to a land. When he got there, God says I am going to give this land to your descendants forever. Is that plain? Do you know the majority of the Church says it does not mean that? It says the land does not mean literal land. It means Heaven.
We have all sorts of hymns, and I like to sing them, too, about standing on the Jordan River, you know, and looking over into the Promised Land, which they say is Heaven. It is the wrong use of topology. The Jordan River is not a type of the death of a believer. It is the type of the death of Christ. Through the death of Christ we enter into the Promised Land and the Promised Land is not Heaven. Now, for Israel it is a literal land. For us, it is the area of faith and conquest, just as Israel possessed the land by putting their foot on it so you and I have a life of faith. But it is not a perfect life. There is death, there is sin, there are difficulties still in our present existence. We are not in Heaven, but we are in the Promised Land of faith as far as the topology is concerned. So, hymns are wrong. God forgave them when they went to Heaven and they discovered, “there goes the hymns, wrong!” So you just have to cross your fingers if you get to the wrong hymns saying, “Now I know that it is not quite right.” There is not any river that you cross to go to Heaven. There is not any sea that you go across. You go to Heaven directly: “To be absent from the body to be present with the Lord.” So, that is our future.
Now, about the land. Why do they say you can’t take it literally? It is because they do not want to take it literally. They have never offered an argument yet to prove that the land is not the land. I went through the Old Testament and looked up every reference to the word “land.” Every one of them is a literal relationship to land, real estate, not Heaven. When God promised to give them the land forever He meant exactly that.
There is a long history to this, however. You know Abram, first of all, had trouble in not having an heir. There is a long story about that, but finally Isaac was born. God said to Isaac, not to Ishmael (whom he had by Hagar earlier) you are going to inherit the land. In Genesis 26 when Isaac was feeling his oats and he wanted to go down to see Egypt (you know, like young people want to explore the world) God said, “Stay in the land. I am going to give your posterity to the land.”
Later, when Jacob was fleeing Esau for fear he would kill him, (you remember when he would flee into the desert with a stone for a pillow—not exactly a Holiday Inn) God spoke to him in a dream and He said, “Your posterity is going to get this land.” It is Abram, Isaac, Jacob and the 12 sons of Jacob.
Now, the Moslem world rejects that. They say that Ishmael has inherited the land, but there is not a scrap of evidence in any manuscript that says that. After all, Moses wrote the Pentateuch somewhere about 1,500 years before Christ. Mohammed did not come on the scene until 600 years after Christ. 2,000 years later and he comes and says “Now the Bible is wrong. It should have said Ishmael inherits the land.” It is just ridiculous, but that is what they believe because the Koran says it and that is why there is such a tenacious hold on the land.
Nevertheless, the Palestinians, who claim to be descendants of Abram (there is a question whether some of them are) were going to try to hang on to this land. All this peace talk is useless. They are not going to be satisfied until they have the land and Jerusalem and the temple site and the whole business. They are never going to really settle for anything less. Of course, in the Great Tribulation they are going to get it. Israel is going to be run out, once more, and they are going to have the dominant scene until Christ actually comes back.
So, we have this promise about the land. Now, Abram never went out of the land, but under Jacob, you remember, Joseph went down to Egypt first. Then, later the whole family transferred to Egypt in order to get away from the famine. The people of Israel, the people of Jacob’s household, numbered about 70. In several hundred years in Egypt under favorable government and rulers, they prospered and developed into a nation of perhaps two million. Then, there was a change in dynasty and the new dynasty did not like Israel and made them slaves. We have the sad record of how they labored making bricks and so on until God finally redeemed them.
God raised up Moses and led the children out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Now, He had promised Abram that a long time ago. You see, he told Abram in chapter 15 that they were going to a strange land but that they would come back to the Promised Land. So they came back. In other words, there has been the literal transfer: out of Israel to Egypt and then back from Egypt to the Promised Land, exactly as God had predicted in Genesis 15.
Now, if there is any question about what the land is we have that settled in Chapter 15. Chapter 13 first of all when Lot left and do you remember God said to him, look and see what you’ve got here! So it says that God said to Abram in verse 14, “Lift up your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward and westward, for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.”
What did He see? He did not see Heaven. Now, it is true that in Hebrews it says he looked for a city whose foundation whose maker was God. That is true. He looked for the eternal state but long before the eternal state and the New Heaven and the New Earth are created, he is going to see the promise of the land fulfilled! The land will be inherited by Israel. So, that is Chapter 13.
Then, in Chapter 15, when Abram was having a problem about this because he did not have any children and he wanted to appoint one of his servant’s children as his own, God said no. Then, He reiterated His promise with a sacred rite of shedding blood. Then, in the last part of Chapter 15, He enumerates what He means by the land. “To your descendants have I given this land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.” Then, it mentions the people who live in it—the Kenites, the Kenizzities, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaims, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.
I talked to one of my friend who is an amillennialist (you know, they do not believe that Israel is ever going to inherit the land). I said now, what about this? Well, he said it is just heaven. I said it does not sound like heaven to me. All these tribes, wicked tribes it says are in the land. Well, he said it is just Heaven. You see it is an arbitrary, unsupported statement that is absolutely wrong. Israel is going to inherit the land, before they came back to the land.
Out Of The Land
Well, when they came back to the land, (remember in Deuteronomy, Moses was given his “second law,” as it were, [that is what Deuteronomy means]) and he warned the children of Israel that if they did not keep the law they would be driven out of the land, the Promised Land. So, we have this sad record here in Deuteronomy, Chapter 28, how the land is going to go to someone else. They are going to be driven out of it.
So, he tells them here in Deuteronomy 28, that “The Lord is going to bring upon you and your descendants (verse 59) extraordinary plagues. He is going to bring you back all the diseases of Egypt (verse 60). Every sickness and every plague is going to be yours. You shall be left few in numbers, whereas you were as the stars of Heaven and all the multitude because you would not obey the voice of the Lord, your God. So, be that just as the Lord rejoiced over you do you good and multiple you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring to nothing. You shall be plucked from off the land where you go to possess it and the Lord will scatter you among all people from one end of the earth to the other and there you shall serve other gods which neither you nor your father’s have known, wood and stone, and among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your feet have a resting place and there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. Your life will hang in doubt before you. You shall fear day and night and have no assurance of life. In the morning, you shall say, oh, that it were evening, and evening you shall say, oh, that that it were morning because the fear which terrifies your heart because of the sight which your eyes see.”
In other words, Israel is going to suffer and be driven out of the land. That was tragically fulfilled, of course. First of all, in the year 722 the Assyrian armies came in and carried off the ten tribes. Jerusalem and the two tribes there under Hezekiah were spared. But, then in 605 BC, Babylon came in and they conquered the city of Jerusalem and carried off the able-bodied people as slaves. Again they came, and took many of them to Babylon, especially in the years that followed in 596 and 597. Finally, Jerusalem itself was completely destroyed with its magnificent temple in 586.
So, once again, Israel was driven out of the land. A second time, as it were, they have “gone down to Egypt.” Now, they were driven out a second time and they were suffering. But, in the midst of all that, it is amazing the grace of God. Israel did not deserve this, but God said to them, “After 70 years, you are going to come back to the land.” Now, this is a good illustration of how God, when He says something, means it literally. In other words, He told them it would be 70 years and that is exactly what it was.
Back To The Land
Let me read the verse for you in Jeremiah 29. We have the record of what God promised. Jeremiah 29:10,
“For thus saith the Lord, after 70 years are completed in Babylon, I will visit you and perform a good word toward you and cause you to return to this place.”
Now, does God mean what He says? Is it literally true? Of course it is literally true! God does not play games with us. When He promises something, it is going to be fulfilled. You know what happened? Well, Daniel as a lad, a teenager, was carried off to Babylon where he became the right-hand man of Nebuchadnezzar for 40 years during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Then, a series of other rulers came and went. Finally, the Meads and the Persians took over in the year 539 BC and conquered Babylon.
About that time, Daniel somehow secured the book of Jeremiah. It must have been the original. They did not have Xerox copies in those days. He read this and he came to Jeremiah 29 and he was excited! You should be excited about prophesy! Daniel saw how God was going restore His city and restore His temple and restore His people. Daniel admitted, as we have it in Daniel 9, how the people did not deserve it. It was of the grace of God that they went back, but God had promised and Daniel claimed the promise for the glory of God.
So, the book of Ezra records the promise. The whole book records the fulfillment. The whole book telling us about how they went back and reclaimed the city and eventually built the temple and the people of Israel restored the city of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah. Thus when Christ was born, He was born in Bethlehem, not in Babylon, as Micah the prophet had predicted He would be. So, we have the wonderful facts that God keeps His word.
Now, Nehemiah came along, you remember, and he was concerned about the city of Jerusalem. It had been in ruins for 90 years and they said for 90 years we cannot do anything about it. Nehemiah organized them and worked it out so that each family would build a section of the wall. They built the wall. What they said could not be built for 90 years they built in 52 days.
How does the work of the Lord get done? By one person – no! By everyone doing his part. That is the way they built the wall. Then, they passed a law in Israel that one out of every ten had to build a house in Jerusalem. In those days, they did not haul off the debris. They just leveled it off, as Jerusalem had been destroyed so many times, and built on top of it. That is why we sing that song, “I walk today where Jesus walked.” When you get over there, you discover you are about ten feet higher than when Jesus was there because of all the debris. Well, they built the city and the city was a thriving city by the time Christ was born.
Out Of The Land, Again
Then, Israel began to depart from God. As a nation they rejected Christ—although individuals accepted Him. You remember Christ was predicting His coming and the tragic days ahead. The disciples thought he was a little bit too melancholy and they showed him the beautiful temple, in Matthew 24 The temple had been in rebuilding for 40 years already. It was being replaced. It was a 500-year temple that they had built when the pilgrims went back from Babylon. Now it needed replacements and it was magnificent.
It was being built out of huge stones that were quarried in Jerusalem there— sometimes to ten, 15, 20, even 30 tons, we are told. They would take hundreds of people and put these huge blocks of stone on rollers and roll them up to the temple site. They would built earth ramps and just take it right up and drop it in place. It didn’t need any mortar. It was cut precisely to fit that place. That is the way the temple was being built. I think they had a right somewhat to be proud about it.
You know what Christ said though? “Not one stone will be left upon another.” Now, stones that weigh ten, 15, 20 or 30 tons do not just get up and move off. The great pyramids in Europe, in Egypt rather, were built about 3,000 BC and they are still there. Those stones are mostly around two tons, as I understand it. The big stones that form the structure of it. So, if the temple had not been tampered with, it would still be there, but He said “not one stone will be on another.” Of course, that tragically happened while some of the disciples were still alive.
In 70 AD, the Roman soldiers threw them down in Jerusalem. Because Israel and Jerusalem had a record of rebellion, they broke the walls and came in and slaughtered the people. Some think as many as half a million Jews were packed in the city in the Time of the Feast, and they destroyed the city and burned the temple. They pried the stones out one by one.
Now, they are digging up some of these stones outside Jerusalem that were thrown down the hill at the time the temple was destroyed. Now, there is a wall there and people say well that does not prove Jesus’ prophecy being fulfilled, because that wall is still there. The wall was not part of the temple. It was the retaining wall because the properties are up and down there (hilly) and they built this retaining wall in order to level the surface on the top. So, that wall is still there, but it was not there when Christ was there. It came many years later. So, that Wailing Wall is still there (as a retaining wall underneath the temple walls, which themselves are no longer there).
You see the prophecies were literally fulfilled. After 70 AD, the children of Israel were literally driven out of the land. The Roman soldiers came in. They burned down their houses. They filled their wells with stones. They cut down their trees. They made the land as uninhabitable as they could. They claim only about 15,000 Jews remained. Some were scattered through the land. All the rest were sent all over the world just as Moses predicted 3,500 years ago.
You see, when God says something is going to happen, it is going to happen. That is true about the Rapture; it is true about the Second Coming; it is true about the Millennium; it is true about Heaven; it is true about Hell. God predicts with absolute accuracy in His Word. So, that is where we are now.
Prophecies And The Future
Now, at the time of Nehemiah, it was a new beginning with Jerusalem being rebuilt. Daniel had the amazing faculty of summing up two great prophetic programs – one was for the Gentiles. We saw that yesterday: the four great empires that followed Egypt and Assyria and the Babylon Empire, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome were the great empires and then we saw how the Roman Empire is going to be revived at the end times. That is all part of the Gentile scene.
But, Daniel also predicted the future of Israel. In Daniel 9: 24-27, he predicts that it will be covered in a period of 70 weeks. The word “week” is not in the Hebrew; it is the word “seven” and practically all expositors recognize that what it is talking about is 70 times seven, which is 490 years. Now, this is not an easy passage to understand. I remember when I was a seminary student our prof lectured on it for two weeks. When he got through, I did not know any more than when he started. It was pretty difficult for me to understand. But, it does say that there is going to be the beginning with a decree to rebuild Jerusalem.
Now, scholars wrestle with that because there are other dates suggested, but I take it as the year 444-445. They wrangle about that, too, because it is the last day….last month of 445 or the first month of 444. I will let you guess, but from that point on, it is going to be 490 years. Without getting into all the complications of it, first of all there is seven times seven or 49 years in which the city is rebuilt. Of course, that is what happened after the wall was built. That has been fulfilled.
Then, there is 62 times seven, 434 years that immediately followed. That takes us up to Messiah, the Prince, Christ. It says at the end of those 62 sevens times seven more, which 49 or 483 years that the Messiah would be cut off. It says in verse 26 that after the 62 weeks are full, and you add the two together and it becomes the 483 years, “The Messiah shall be cut off and not for Himself. The people of the Prince who has come, shall destroy the city and the sanctuary and the end shall be a flood until the end of the war desolations are determined.”
Now, this is something strange. You see, from Nehemiah’s time to Christ, there is a solid 483 years. But, now some things are predicted that could not be fulfilled in those last seven years. Jerusalem is going to be destroyed. When was that? Well, that was more than 35 years after Christ died. So, it could not be in that last seven years. So, what it is telling us is that the last seven years are postponed. That there is a time gap between the 483 years and the last seven years of Israel’s program. We are living in that time gap. That explains a lot of things. I explained earlier in this series the Old Testament vision just jumps to the present age. It views it as it comes to the person and the work of Christ and then right to the end time. That is the way it is pictured.
So, it does not really picture a gap such as we have for now almost 2,000 years. But, that is the way it is. The Bible anticipates that there will be that final period leading up to the Second Coming and as far as Israel is concerned, it is comprised in seven years. That is what it tells us. Verse 27: “He,” (referring to this future world leader—I think it is the antichrist) shall confirm a covenant with many for one week or for one seven and in the middle of the week, he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offerings.”
It goes on to say he is going to bring an abomination. Now what happens? Well, according to Daniel 9:27, when the Roman empire is revived and this ruler conquers three and then all ten countries, his first step in his place of power is to impose the seven-year covenant on Israel. The first half it is going to be observed. That is, it is going to be a time of peace as far as he is concerned, even though there is this invasion from the north from some state of Russia and other countries mentioned in Ezekiel 38 and 39. God is going to interfere and stop it.
When you gets to the middle of the last seven years, suddenly a change takes place. This ruler of the ten countries has received such power politically that he proclaims himself ruler over all the entire earth and, apparently, nobody is strong enough to stand against him. It may be that is because he controls the oil in the Middle East. I do not know. The Bible does not explain it, but the whole world accepts him.
At the same time, he breaks his covenant with Israel and becomes their persecutor. He claims to be God and he aligns himself with Satan and demands that everybody worships him and worships Satan. Those who do not are beheaded. They are put to death. So, it is a terrible time that Christ calls the Great Tribulation. That is what Daniel calls it. Christ said it was so awful that if he did not stop that three-and-a-half-year period by His Second Coming there would not be anybody left alive in the world. Of course, that is not God’s purpose to destroy the human race. He has in mind the Millennial Kingdom to follow. So, that is not His purpose, but it is going to be stopped by Christ’s Second Coming and so this awful period begins.
God is going to pour out the terrible judgment described in the book of Revelation in Chapter 6 through Chapter 18. One devastating judgment after the other that decimates the earth and kills probably 80-90% of the human population and destroys the cities of the world in a great earthquake at the end. So, there is going to be a terrible time of trouble ahead, according to the Bible, in that last three-and-a-half years – the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ will occur.
Where Are We Now?
Now, where are we in all this? Well, 483 years of Israel’s history have been completed, but we are waiting for that last seven years. That seven-year period is going to be introduced by the antichrist and we learned yesterday that he cannot appear until after the Church is raptured. In other words, the day of the Lord cannot begin until the Church is gone because the day of the Lord is the marking. It is the midnight between the two days. We learned he could not be here yet, so he is going to be identified, I believe, when he conquers three of those ten countries. Then, all ten, if there is any question about it, he is identified seven years before the Second Coming of Christ, you see. Now, if the Rapture has to occur first, where does that put the Rapture? It puts it more than seven years before the Second Coming. It wipes out the so-called “post-Tribulational” view that he is going to come at the Second Coming for which there is not a scrap of scripture proof. Then, some want to put it in the middle of the seven years. That is just as wrong and now here it is demonstrating more than seven years before.
So, where are we? Well, according to God’s Word, we are on the verge of completing that last seven years. What has happened to Israel? You see, they were scattered all over the world and now what does God’s Word say about it? He says they are going to be restored to their land. Here again, let’s turn to a few scriptures. I do not like you to listen to me and just believe what I have to say.
In Jeremiah 23, it describes how they are going to come back to the land. Verses 5 and 6 and the verses that follow, as well, this is what I read,
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, (Jeremiah 23:5) that I will raise to David a branch of righteousness, a king shall reign and prosper and execute judgement and righteousness in the earth.”
Now, who is that? That is Jesus Christ. That is in His Second Coming to the earth; in His days at the Second Coming, Judah will be saved. Israel will dwell safely.
Now, this is His name by which you will be called, the Lord, our righteousness. Therefore, behold the days are coming, says the Lord, that they shall no longer say as the Lord lives, who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt. But, as the Lord lives who brought us and led the descendants of the House of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I have driven them and they shall dwell in their own land.”
Amillennialists, please take note. The Bible says Israel is going to possess the land in the Millennial Kingdom. Well, that is not the only passage. There are many others. It describes in detail. The book of Amos, for instance, talks about how God is going to resume it. I like this one as one of the best passages. It is found in Ezekiel 39. You remember this is a passage that talks about the war that is going to occur in the first half of the seven years. But, now it describes how it is going to climax in the Second Coming. In Ezekiel 39, beginning in verse 25, this is what I read,
“Therefore, thus says the Lord God, I will bring back the captives of Jacob and have mercy upon the whole House is Israel. I will be jealous for my Holy Name after they have borne their shame and all their unfaithfulness in which they have been unfaithful to me. When they shall dwell safely in their own land and no one makes them afraid. When I have brought them back from the peoples, gathered them out of the enemies’ land, I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations. Then, shall they know that I am the Lord their God who sent them into captivity among the nations but now also brought them back to their land”….listen to this…. “have left none of them captive any longer.”
What does that say? It says that at the Second Coming of Christ, Christ is going to gather all Israel from all over the world and bring them back to the Promised Land.
Now, it also makes clear that rebels are going to be purged out. Only the saved of Israel are going to be brought back, but those that are saved, those that have trusted Christ in that awful time of trouble are going to be brought back to the Promised Land. Ezekiel, as he closes later on, talks about their being apportioned out. He says the land is going to be divided into 12 sections, each section for a tribe of Israel. He names the tribes. They are not lost as far as God is concerned and they are going to inherit that land for the Millennial Kingdom, for the thousand years of Jesus’ reign.
Now, today what has happened? Well, the facts are that Israel has gone through some tremendous changes in the last 50 years, haven’t they? Many of them were killed, of course, in Germany. Then, afterward by acts of the League of Nations they were given a portion of the Promised Land. Later in war, they conquered portions more. Today there are four million Jews already in the Land. That is the biggest movement of Israel since the time of Moses. Do you realize that? That is happening while we are still here. Now, this is not the fulfillment of the promise that He is going to gather them all, but you see it is the forerunner because all the prophesies dealing with the end times picture Israel in the land. That is where they are going to be persecuted. We have Israel in the land today, but the problem is practically all of them are unbelievers as far as Jesus Christ is concerned. The Bible is very clear that only believers in Christ will inherit the land. That is how we understand it will happen because when the Great Tribulation breaks out, as Christ told them in Matthew 25, they are going to have to flee. Leave Jerusalem. Go to the mountains. Get away because they are going to be driven out of their land once again. Then, when Christ comes back the rebels will be purged out to be sure, but the righteous Israel is going to be re-gathered and installed in their Promised Land.
The fact that in our twentieth century after 1,900 years of being scattered all over the world Israel is back in their land. This is another token that we are in the end-times, that Christ could come any day and these great promises should be fulfilled.
So, we look at what the Bible says about the Church. The Rapture is imminent. Look what the Bible says about the nations. Europe is ripe for the renewal of the Roman Empire. You look at Israel. Israel is already in the land ready for its role in the end times. What is God trying to tell us? He is telling us that Christ could come very soon. It is not 2,000 years away. It could be in your lifetime. In fact, it could be today. To me, that is an exciting expectation for which I should prepare by examining my own personal salvation, my commitment to Christ and my living for Him for the things that count for eternity. That is what this conference, as far as I am concerned, is all about.
Now, tomorrow we are going to continue in our study of this. We want to see some of the other questions answered that people raise about this when they question whether Christ is coming. I hope you can leave this conference excited by the fact that Christ is coming and He could be coming soon. There is good, solid biblical facts to support those conclusions.
Shall we pray.
Our Father, once again, we pray for any who may not be saved if there are any here that they may come to know Christ before it is too late and before they are left behind. How wonderful that Christ died for us and by His grace we can be saved by simple faith in Christ. If we are not saved, it is because we have not come because Christ said “he that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.” So, we pray that they will come. Then, Father, most of us here are Christians. The issue is not our personal salvation but our commitment to you and our living for things that count for eternity. So, speak to our hearts and undertake for us, we pray, and bless abundantly as we seek to serve you effectively, for we ask in Christ’s precious name, amen.