2. 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.
Last evening I spoke on the whole matter of being excited about the Lord’s return, the Rapture of the Church, and my concern that many have not heard about it. In fact, one person last night said he had never heard of the Rapture before. There are always some who have not heard. But, for those who have heard, my point was that they ought to be excited about it! And sometimes they are not. So I have asked myself, “why not?”
Well, I think there is another reason. A lot of people do not think the Rapture is going to occur soon. In other words, they have heard for years about all the things that are going to happen and they think the Rapture is going to be at the end of a parade. That is not the way it is. The Rapture begins the parade. While it is possible for us to have a sensitivity that the Rapture could be near, sensitivity is not enough.
You know through the history of the Church, there have been constant efforts to try to pinpoint the time of the coming of the Lord. There have been dates set again and again and again, all to be of no avail. Back in 1988, we had one of the most popular ones. He wrote a book called, “88 Reasons Why the Lord is coming is 88,” and he sold two million copies of his book. But, it didn’t happen because the Bible does not give that information. I cannot set any dates, but I do think today, right in 1995, there is some good, solid reasons for believing the Lord is coming soon. I would like to have you understand it. Now, the background is a little bit complicated but if you stay with me this week I think you will see the reason how it all hangs together.
Now, obviously, the Bible doesn’t give us any signs for the Rapture. You can read all the passages on the Rapture. It never tells you to look for something first. It always implies it could happen today and that is the way Paul presented it to the Thessalonians and they understood it that way. It is an imminent event. It has been that way ever since the first century.
One of my friends said, “Well, you have been saying for years the Lord could come at any time and He has not come. That proves you are wrong, doesn’t it?” No, in the nature of immanency you do not put a date on it; you just say it is possible for the Lord’s coming at any time.
There is a second question, “If it is imminent how do you know it is soon?” During the war with Kuwait in the Gulf, some commentator or reporter in Washington said I was the person to consult. The result was that I got a lot of national attention. About 50 church editors called me and wanted me to explain what I viewed on it. I had interviews with over 100 radio stations plus a whole bunch of television stations. I recall one person from a Florida station. He obviously did not agree with what I was saying. He said, “After all, the Lord has not come for 2000 years. How do you know He is not going to come for another 2000?” Well, that is putting it pretty bluntly, isn’t it? So how do you know? You see with the Lord 1,000 years is a day and a day is 1,000 years. What is seen as soon to the Lord is not necessarily soon to us. So, that is the question.
Now, I believe there are some good, sound reasons for believing the Lord is coming soon. In order to do that, we need to turn once more to the Bible and see what the Bible has to say about this. Did you know the Bible has something to say about this?
In I Thessalonians 4, He presented the truth that the Rapture could occur any time. It is supposed to be a comfort to them in the loss of their loved ones because if the Rapture occurred they would be reunited with their loved ones again forever.
Then in Chapter 5, (and you will understand there were no chapter divisions as Paul wrote this) he said,
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you for you, yourselves, know perfectly that the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.”
In other words, Paul is picking up this very question of “when.” He says the times—that is the particular time—and the seasons—the general time—he said I have already told you about when I was there. It does not answer the question “when” because this day is going to come like a thief in the night.
Now, obviously, in Dallas there is a lot of daytime robberies these days, but normally in the ancient times it would be at night that they would rob your house. But, they never sent their calling cards to say I am coming. It was always unexpected, there was no warning, no indication it is going to happen. So it is going to be like a thief in the night.
As far as signs are concerned, there are no signs for the Rapture. Well, if that is the case, how can we start talking about signs for the Rapture? Well, the answer is not as complicated as it seems. While the Bible does not give us anything about what is going to happen just before the Rapture as a sign, it tells us in very plain language what is going to happen after the Rapture. It details a series of world-shaking events that ultimately lead up to the Second Coming of Christ.
These events are very noticeable, very obvious. They are not just idle things that you might escape notice of if you were not studying the Bible. But, they are important things. Now, what I am finding today is in the last 50 years since World War II the world stage has changed dramatically. One by one the things you would expect to be there if the Rapture is going to occur any day have come into place.
Now, I want you to see that while this does not date the Rapture it does serve notice to us that God is getting the world ready for the tremendous events that follow the Rapture. If that is the case, then the Rapture could be very near.
I sometimes tell the story, you may have heard me, about the man who bought his Christmas presents early. He was walking down the street in November and one of his friends saw the Christmas present. He said, “My! Thanksgiving must be close.” What is the logic of that? Well, it is very simple, Thanksgiving is a month before Christmas. The person getting ready for Christmas thinks Thanksgiving must be close. If the world is getting ready for the events that follow the Rapture, and the Rapture is first, as I believe the Bible teaches, then the Rapture could be very, very near. So, it is not only “possibly could occur at any time,” but now there gets to be a probability that it is going to happen before long. That is what I want you to see.
Now, first of all in Chapter 5 you will notice it introduces a phrase called “the day of the Lord.” The day of the Lord is a well-worn scriptural term in the Old Testament. It applies to any period of time, not just a single day, but a period of time when God dealt in direct judgment on the world. You see, Israel would stray from God and God would bring in a catastrophe. They would have a drought, they would have a crop failure, they would have an invasion. These were called “The Day of the Lord,” a day when God intervened directly to the world.
Today we do not have a Day of the Lord. We have the day of Grace. God is not dealing with this world according to its sin. He is not trying to straighten out things. You see this world is operating today on the grace of God if He tries to call out from the world, the Church, the body of Christ, to salvation and prepare them for their heaven journey at the Rapture. That is what is going on now.
Once the Rapture, the day of grace ends, the Day of the Lord begins. The Bible is very plain this a time of terrible judgments on a wicked world which rejected Christ and was not ready for His coming when He came for his Church.
Now, “the Day of the Lord” is mentioned here. Well, how is it related to the Rapture? Very simply. When the Rapture occurs, the end of the day of grace and when the Day of the Lord begins, the day of judgment begins at the Rapture. One terminates, just like midnight. It terminates one day and it starts the next day.
The Day of the Lord, then, is something that is in contrast to the day of grace. As you read in this passage in Chapter 5, there is a contrast between the day which applies to the day of grace which believers have. We are in the daytime and the rest of the world in the Day of the Lord is in the night. They are subject to judgment. He contrasts these two time periods. As a matter of fact, we are in the day of grace now and that ends at the Rapture. The day of the terrible judgment, the Day of the Lord, the night, follows. That is what He is trying to teach us here. So, he tells them in Verse 3 “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.”
We are going to see that one of the elements of the end time is a peace treaty which leads up to the Second Coming. When the peace treaty is signed, they are going to say “peace and safety.” But, suddenly, that period ends and the Great Tribulation begins.
Sequence Of Events
In order to get this before us, I am going to have to sketch what I believe to be the sequence of events and I am not going to try to prove it all this morning, but throughout the week you will see why the Bible teaches this.
If the Rapture occurred today what would happen? One of the first things which would happen if it has not just happened before the Rapture is that the Roman Empire is going to be revived in the form of 10 nations. I am going to get at that a little bit later this morning. Ten nations are going to band together in a political union and Europe was the main country of the old Roman Empire. Of course they also had states in western Asia and Northern Africa. The Bible does not give us the names but presumably it is going to be largely a European alliance of some sort, a political alliance.
When this is formed, there are going to be ten nations, according to scripture. A dictator is going to arise out of one of these countries, apparently, who is going to gain control of three. How, the Bible does not say whether it is by treaty or by influence, but, anyway, they come under his power. Then, from there onward the scriptures regard all ten countries under his power. It does not explain why, but, nevertheless, he becomes the leader of this ten-nation group and, as such, is the most powerful political person in the Europe area.
When he gets to that position of power, he is going to try to attempt to solve the problem of Israel, which is a thorn in the side of the Muslim world. They are at odds with their neighbors and have been ever since Israel was formed in 1948. He is going to impose a seven-year peace treaty on the situation. It is not going to be negotiated like they are trying to negotiate today, and I do not think any of these peace treaties they are working on today are going to work out for very obvious reasons, but he is going to impose this on them for seven years. Israel is going to rely upon his protection and they are going to give up some of their military preparedness, apparently. They are going to depend on him to defend them and care for them. He is going to give them certain things.
I do not know all about it, but I think one of the things he is going to permit is the building of the temple which has not been built. Of course, they want to build it on the mountain, nearby in Jerusalem in the holy place and the Muslims think that it belongs to them and they will not permit it today. They had a riot, you remember, when they even suggested they might start the temple.
They are doing a lot of things on this according to the facts that come to me. They are training hundreds of young Jews to be priests and they are preparing the furniture of the temple, but they have not built it. Apparently, one of the things he is going to permit is for them to build this temple. Orthodox Jews will reactivate the sacrificial system under the Law of Moses. Now, they are not Christians, you understand, but they are going to try to reactivate that system. That is going to go on for three-and-a-half years.
Then, certain dramatic things are going to take place, one of them is a sneak attack upon Israel by six nations that are going to attack Israel from the north. One of them is going to be one of the states of the Soviet Union. We do not have the name of it in Scripture, except that it says it comes from the far north. Of course, Russia is the only country to the far north. Ezekiel 38 and 38 gives a graphic picture of how God intervenes and wipes out the invader and destroys their invasion. That is going to happen at a time of peace.
As he gets to the middle of that seven years, this ruler of the ten nations has become so powerful that overnight he proclaims himself dictator over the whole world. Nobody in the world is strong enough to stand against him. Revelation 13 asks the question “who can make war with the beast?” You see, he is a brilliant man but he is also aided by Satan and, apparently, he is dominated by Satan. So, for the next three-and-a-half years, the second half of that seven-years we have what is called by Daniel and by Christ and by Revelation “a great tribulation,” a time of unprecedented trouble.
This dictator is going to demand that everybody worship him as God. This involves the worship of Satan, as well, and thousands are going to be beheaded, apparently. Then, God begins to pour out the terrible, catastrophic judgments from the book of Revelation which wipe out most of the world’s population in that three-and-a-half years.
Finally, at the end the nations become discontent with the situation. They mass a mighty world war, with Israel as a battlefield, and that war is underway right up to the day of the Second Coming of Christ. In fact, Zechariah 14 says there will be house-to-house fighting in Jerusalem on the very day of Christ’s return. These armies which have come there to fight it out for power, apparently, when they see the glory of Christ in the heaven all unite to fight this army from heaven. That is why Satan has them there. Christ speaks the word and they all are instantly killed. Awful slaughter of millions of men and animals.
Then, he is going to take steps to introduce his millennial kingdom. That is a very dramatic series of events. Well, let me rehearse it. First of all, the Roman Empire revives, 10 nations, then a dictator rises who gets control of three then all ten. Then, a seven-year covenant and the first half of it is a time of peace, although there is an invasion from the north for Israel. The second half is a great tribulation of the world government, the world dictator, the antichrist and now it is going to climax in a world war and the Second Coming of Christ.
Now, our world is all set up for this. That is what I want you to see up until today and in the days which are ahead. It has not been set up before. Now, it could be set up after the Rapture to be sure but now we see this stage and it’s actors already somewhat in place. Chapter 5 goes on and talks about how there is going to be this terrible time of judgment, but he says to those of us who are saved:
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11
In other words, we face the facts that this Day of the Lord may come at any time the Rapture may occur. While we are waiting, we should be sober and carrying on our Christian life and testimony to the best of our ability and laboring for the Lord until He comes.
So, what is our world situation today? Well, we have been occupied in our 20th Century with two great world wars. The first one, of course, early in the century and the second one in the 40s. In each case, the major nations of Europe fought each other.
As history demonstrates they have been doing it for several hundred years. It seems that every time they had a war that when one side or the other would gain the victory. Then, as soon as the war was over, both sides would start arming for the next war. That went on with World War I. They fought and we helped them win the battle, you know, and they start arming for World War II. World War II came along and they fought it out and, again, with the help of the United States, Great Britain, France, and other nations won the victory and conquered the Germans and all the others who were against them.
Something happened though, since World War II, that had never happened before. Great Britain and France and Germany did not start to re-arm. Why? Well, you see out of World War II came the atomic bomb. It was obvious that if another war broke out that the nations on both sides would have the atomic weapons which would enable them to completely annihilate the other nations. That, of course, would not serve any useful purpose.
So, instead of arming they got together and what we call the Common Market, an economic union where instead of fighting each other they cooperated with each other. This has been a flourishing now with 10 to 12 nations involved. And with some abandoning of man-made borderline restrictions and movement of material and goods and workers we have this so-called Common Market. Now, the Common Market is not what the Bible talks about. In order words, the Bible is talking about a political union which we do not have now. It is rather interesting for many years now the secular press has had articles along the line of a coming United States of Europe. They visualize that sooner or later the nations of Europe will get together and form a united states, something like our states are formed in our own land.
Now, it is very interesting to me that for the first time in history the nations are friendly with each other. There is some war going on internally, some strife, as you know, but not the major nations. They are friendly. That is exactly the soil and the situation you would expect if those nations did suddenly get together voluntarily and form a United States of Europe. Now, there have been some obstacles. They are struggling with the currency problems and they have a common currency, but they have had a number of meetings where they have drawn up tentative plans for the ten-nation group and the ten-nation rules. So, I take it that it is somehow related to this period, but if it does not occur before Rapture I can see how after the Rapture very quickly this United States of Europe will be formed and then the scene will be set for the events that follow. Now, this is not something I have manufactured. This is found in the Old Testament in the prophecies of Daniel.
I would like to take just a moment to go through that because you see the book of Daniel is an amazing book because it does something that no other book in the Bible does. That is, it puts together God’s prophetic program for the nations of the Gentiles, as well as for Israel. Two major areas of prophecy. The third one, of course, is God’s prophecies about the Church since these are not found in the Old Testament but in the New Testament.
In the book of Daniel, Daniel had revealed to him first of all in Chapter 2 Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about the image. He pointed out how that image represented four empires. Then, many years later after Nebuchadnezzar had died and Daniel was left, he had a series of four visions himself. These four visions in Chapter 7 and following we have an amplification of God’s prophetic program for these four empires. Now, you will bear in mind that when Daniel came along, the first three empires had already come and gone. History had accurately, meticulously fulfilled exactly what is anticipated in those three empires. There was first of all, of course, the empire of Babylon and that is what Daniel is living in. Prior to that, there were two empires that could also be named – the empire of Greece and the empire of Assyria. They put it all together the four empires of Daniel and these two, Egypt and Assyria, and add to it the Millennial Kingdom which will come when Christ returns. You have seven major kingdoms revealed in the Old Testament. So, Daniel is in this Babylonian Empire and he predicts this course that will be succeeded by another empire. He lived long enough to see it. He saw the Medes and the Persians come in October 539 B.C. Archeology has pretty well pinpointed the time. Babylon conquered Jerusalem, and did other things in the various parts of the Babylonian Empire but the result was that Medes and Persians took over. For 200 years, they went on their way and fulfilled exactly what Daniel predicted in the book of Daniel. Then, when it had run its course for 200 years, the kingdom of Greece, Alexander the Great, and his lightning conquest came in and conquered the Medes and Persians around the year 230 B.C. and took over. Of course, he died as a young man from debauchery and drinking when he had the malaria and his empire was divided among his four generals. That went on until the Roman Empire came along, the fourth empire, and conquered what was left of the Grecian Empire.
Now, in Chapter 7 in Daniel you have these four empires portrayed as four beasts. Babylon is a lion, Medo-Persia is a bear. You know, some people think it refers to Russia, but it does not. The bear represents Medo-Persia and then the leopard represents the empire that followed that of Alexander the Great and the other things that related to his kingdom. Then, the fourth empire is described in Verse 7 and while it is not given a name, the other three are named so we do not have to guess at it, is the Roman Empire, the greatest empire of all time. This is what he writes down in Daniel 7:7.
“After this, I saw in the night visions and, behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceeding strong. It had huge iron teeth. It was devouring, breaking in pieces and trampling the residue with its teeth and it was different from all the beasts that were before it.”
That is a very accurate description of what happened to the Roman Empire. Daniel is writing this hundreds of years before, but it pictures well the Roman’s disciplined armies that move into a country and conquer it. They would carry off the able-bodied men as slaves. All the work of the Roman Empire was done by slaves. Then, they would leave a detachment of the soldiers to collect the taxes and they would move on to the next country. They literally did what this said. They devoured and broke in pieces and trampled these various countries with their military might.
Now, that is all history. It is very interesting, however, that in the last part of Verse 7 it adds this, “And, this beast had ten horns.” Sometimes prophecy is given in the word of various imagery. What are the ten horns? Well, it is true here as is very often in the Bible in the book of Revelation and the book of Daniel that if you read on you will find an explanation. The book of Daniel in verse 24 tells us that the ten horns are ten kings who shall arise to his kingdom. It then goes on to describe what is going to happen after that.
In other words, there is going to be a ten-nation group. Then, it moves on, of course, to the climax when Christ returns. What have you noticed about that? It just fits the present age. It acts as if the Roman Empire is still in power and, of course, it is not. It is dead today. Why is that? Well, it is a very interesting principle which scholars have been a little bit slow to catch on to. That is, the Old Testament in its fore view of prophecy would take you up in detail to the First Coming of Christ. Then, it would skip what we call the “Church Age” and more on to the events of the tribulation time and the Second Coming of Christ as if there were no gaps. In other words, you have to put the day before Pentecost and the day after Pentecost together and just ignore this present age of the Church age until the Rapture of the Church takes place and you divide it up and just ignore the present age.
So, as far as the Old Testament is concerned, the Roman Empire is going to be in power in the end times. But, here we have the explanation. It is going to be a ten-nation group, something that was never true in the history of the Roman Empire. As I pointed out, in Europe today for the first time we have a situation where such a ten-nation group could be formed voluntarily, not by an outside conqueror but by the consent of the various nations involved. That is exactly what is implied here that it is a self-propelled thing and that they are going to be formed as this political state. Of course, they are exactly in that situation.
When we study the passages of this period leading up to the Second Coming of Christ you will find that when the Rapture of the Church occurs that this ten-nation group would either be already there or is very shortly formed afterward because it is part of the picture. In other words, the fact that Europe today is at peace and ripe for such a situation is exactly what you would expect if the Rapture is going to occur today.
We have never had this before. This is a sign that Rapture could be very, very soon. I cannot predict times as God has a different plan than I do. Of course, He gives us an explanation why there seems to a delay. In II Peter 3 we are told that God is not willing that any should perish. He does not want anybody to die. He wants all to come to repentance and He is waiting for some to hear that have not heard the gospel. He is waiting for some to respond who have heard who have not responded and that is going to be the way it is until the Rapture occurs. Then, suddenly the day of opportunity ends.
I think there is a parallel with the time of Noah. You know Noah was told there is going to be a flood. He was warned over 100 years ahead of time. He was told to build this ark on dry land where there had never been a flood. He built this ark. It took him over 100 years and his neighbors thought he was crazy. He may have hired some of them to be carpenters, I do not know, but they built the ark. Then, finally, the ark was finished. Now, before the ark was finished there was no danger of a flood. They did not have to worry about it. Now, the ark was finished. This totally changed the situation. Then, as they watched they saw a very strange spectacle. They saw animals filing in two by two into the ark in a military precision. Animals do not do that. There they were going into the ark. They wondered what in the world is about to happen. Then, they saw Noah’s three sons go into the ark and their wives. Then, Noah and his wife went into the ark. Then, the door was shut. What happened? It started to rain. You see, it is an illustration of opportunity. Day-to-day, as far as we know, the “ark” is getting pretty close to being finished. God’s plan for this age, for the Church of Jesus Christ, the body of Christ, it may be a lot near completion than we realize. We do not know when it is going to be complete. Sooner or later, there is going to be the last person saved as a member of the Church and I believe the Rapture will take place immediately.
God’s plans for the ark was they would have a flood after it was finished. God’s plans for His Church is going to be complete and then the Rapture is going to take place. So, I believe on the basis of what we are seeing in Europe today, we are seeing a sign that God is about to do something because it is creating exactly the situation that would be true at the time of the Rapture of the Church.
Paul’s Teaching In Second Thessalonians
There is one other thing here I would like to have you see in II Thessalonians. You know wherever the truth is taught, there are also errors bringing up and so it was in Thessalonica. After Paul had left the Thessalonians and after he sent them this first epistle, some teachers got in who told them that Paul had sent them another manuscript that taught that they we are already in the Day of the Lord and that their sufferings (they were going through terrible persecutions) were part of the Day of the Lord. They were upset. Why? Because Paul had taught them the Rapture would occur first and that they were already in the Day of the Lord. The implication was they had missed the Rapture.
When Paul heard about that, he was very, very indignant and he wrote II Thessalonians. Particularly in chapter 2 he takes them to task about this. He says beginning in verse 1, “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him we ask you.” Now, remember what He is appealing to? He is talking about Christ coming to gather His Church. He said, “Do not be soon shaken in mind or trouble, either by spirit or by word of our letter as from us that the day of Christ (it should be the day of the Lord) has come.
You see, they had taught that a spirit had given this. Today we have this Korean, you know who says that a spirit told him that Christ was coming. He received thousands of people over there and it did not happen.
Or the Thessalonians had taught it by a letter. They claimed to have a letter. They did not have a letter from Paul though that taught this! So he said it was not true that the day of the Lord already came. (This was a mistranslation here to put “day of Christ” and the wrong text. It should the day of the Lord has come.) He said, “Let no one deceive you.” Now, why shouldn’t they be deceived? He goes on to tell them what is going to happen.
“That day will not come unless the falling away comes first and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself with all that is called God or worshiped, for he sits as God in the temple of God showing himself that he is God, do you not remember when I was still with you and I told you these things?”
What he is saying is the day of the Lord involves the emergence of the antichrist, the man of sin. He said that has not happened. You do not have any evidence that you are in the day of the Lord because this first major event is that the man of sin is going to be revealed. Now, this gets a little bit complicated but let’s take a look at it.
When is he going to be revealed? Well, you see, according to the sketch that I gave you that last seven years he reveals his true character in the middle of that last seven years when he portrays himself dictator over the whole world and claims to be God. It is very clear, then, that he has manifested at least three-and-a-half years before the Second Coming.
Then, back up a bit. Do you see any evidence earlier? Why, of course! When he conquered three of those ten countries. You might suspect immediately he is the person, or when he gains control of all ten. You see he is pictured that way all through the end times. Certainly, he is the person. Then, the third place he is seen when he makes that seven-year covenant found in Daniel 9:27. Thus it is absolutely certain that he is that person. It says he cannot be revealed to be that person until after the Rapture. The day of the Lord has as its first major feature the emergence of this man. In effect he is saying the Rapture has to occur first before this man can be revealed before the day of the Lord could take place.
Now, there is a second support here. He also says in verse 6 and following,
“Now, you know what is restrained that he may be revealed in his own time for the mystery of lawlessness has already worked. Only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then, the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and restore the brightness of His coming.”
Here, He tells us that the one who is restraining sin is going to be taken out of the way. Who is that? I think if you examine it carefully you will find the only one who is merely holding back the flood tides of sin is God Himself. More particularly, the indwelling Holy Spirit in the Church. While we may be a small remnant as far as the world is concerned, the fact that churches here are indwelt by the Holy Spirit has been a deterrent to evil in the world. We have had a tremendous influence on law and order and morals, even though some of that is dissipating in our country now.
In other words, it says he is going to be taken out of the way. Now, you cannot remove God, He is omnipresent. So, what it really means is He is lifting His restraints. You see, today, God is holding down the flood tides of evil to some extent. He is permitting the work of the Church to go on. He is allowing you and I to live and have a testimony for God. If Satan had his way, none of us would be here. He would kill us all. So, God is restraining sin to some extent.
Once this happens, the Rapture of the Church occurs. He has taken the lid off and is letting man be just as wicked as he wants to be and he certainly demonstrates that. The Great Tribulation is a great outcry against God and blasphemy against His name in a way that no preceding generation was able to do.
So, you have these two proofs: first of all, the restrainer has to be taken out of the way and he cannot be taken out of the way as long as the Church is here because He is indwelling the Church. That constitutes the restraints. You cannot change that without taking the Church out of the world until the Rapture has occurred.
The early reason in the chapter was that this man of sin, the antichrist, cannot be revealed until the Rapture takes place and, obviously, then it takes place more than seven years before the Second Coming and solves all this controversy as to when the Rapture is going to take place. So, if you just follow these two scriptures of I Thessalonians 4 and 5 and then II Thessalonians 2, you have God’s answer, you see. The Rapture is the next event and when it happens the other things will fall in good turn.
So, we are living in the very unusual day today. Tomorrow I want to take up another aspect of this. You know I mentioned there are three major areas of prophecy in the Bible: one is concerning the Church. We considered that last evening. The second is that what concerns the nations of the world. The reformation of the Roman Empire, the coming world rulers. That is the Gentile part. Then, there is a third line of prophecy concerning Israel and I want to see where that has brought us to this present hour and what the token and significance of what is happening in Israel is in relationship to the Rapture of the Church.
It seems to me that God is giving us a lot of evidence that He could be coming. Are you ready? Are you ready because you are saved? Are you ready because your life is in line with the Lord’s will for your life? Are you walking in fellowship? These are the critical questions.
That is the important part of prophecy, not the details, but are you ready for the Lord when He comes?
Shall we pray. Our Father, how grateful we are that we are the objects of your wonderful grace, saved by grace and kept by grace and have this marvelous future ahead that God is going to shower His grace upon us, not because we deserve it but because Christ died and paid the price for our blessings. So, help us, Lord, to understand these things. Help us to get alert and excited about the possibility that the Lord may be coming very soon. Then, getting our life in line and our faith and our activities in line. This ought to be true if we believe that Christ is coming soon. So, bless us and dismiss us for this day and guide us in the remaining activities of the day, for we ask in Christ’s name. Amen.