The earth and its inhabitants are busy. They are busy staying preoccupied with anything and everything they can, so long as it distracts them from that gnawing feeling in the pit of their soul asking "What happens to me after I die?” In the meantime, they settle for distractions. They will settle for anything that keeps them focused on the immediacy of the now, over the lateness of the hour. Politics. Pop culture. Sports. Work. News.
The reality is, this world and this universe are winding down, and as it does, is beginning to spin wildly out of control. The more out of control it becomes, the more Satan wants you staring at the tree, and not at the coming wildfire that is burning down the forest.
The end is coming a lot sooner than most people think. Since most of the world is not watching, the suddenness of the great disappearance will catch them off guard; And then, sudden destruction will come upon them. In fact, they will not know what is happening until it’s already done.
Knowing vs. Seeing
There has been a lot of discussion over the past century on whether or not we can know when the Rapture happens. And if we remove all the crazy date setters and wild-eyed speculators out there from the equation, what remains are essentially two camps of watchers- those who think we can’t know, and those who think we can. Let us see what the Bible says on the subject?
…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25
According to the writer of Hebrews, watching believers should be able to see the Day approaching. But what does that mean exactly? If the Rapture is a signless event (it is), then how can we see it approaching? How does Matthew 24:36 factor into it?
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
At this point, we have a verse saying we will see (with our own eyes) that Day approaching, and we have another verse stating we can’t know exactly when Christ will return. If Matthew 24:36 were Christ’s final or only words on the subject, I would tend to agree that we can’t know. However, these are not Christ’s final or only words on the subject of His return. Nearly sixty years later, Christ tells the Apostle John on the island of Patmos to address seven letters to seven churches. Of note, here is a portion of Christ's words to the church at Sardis. In it He says:
Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. Revelation 3:3
So now, Christ adds both the seeing (watching) and connects it with the knowing. If taken through its logical conclusions, if we will not watch, then we will not know what hour He comes upon us. Conversely, if we will watch, then we should know what hour He will come. This seems to correspond more with the passage in Hebrews 10 as being able to see that Day approaching than it does with the Matthew 24:36 passage.
It was to the Apostle Paul who was given the task of explaining the mystery of the Rapture to a growing Gentile church. In fact, Paul writes more about the Rapture of the Church than any other writer in Scripture. Paul clarifies this line of thinking regarding knowing vs. not knowing when he writes these verses to a small church in Thessalonika:
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 so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 1 Thess. 5:1-4
Being in darkness is a colloquialism for being blind (or not being able to see). Here, Paul links those who are not in Christ and are of the world, as being in darkness. He also links those who are in Christ and are watching, as being 'sons of the day.' Paul links being able to see (being of the day) with knowing perfectly when the Day of the Lord is at hand.
As I have written in previous articles, there are two different usages of the phrase the Day of the Lord (DoTL) used in Scripture. There is a general usage of this term DoTL all throughout the New and Old Testament that speaks to the whole seven years. There are also numerous passages that speak to specific usage of this term, speaking directly to the Second Coming itself. However, I believe Paul is addressing the general usage of the DoTL phrase here in 1 Thessalonians 5.
In conclusion, we who are watching will be able to know that Day is approaching, because we are seeing the things (geopolitical, technological, financial, religious, etc.) come to pass that are necessary for the 70th Week of Daniel to happen. Like how we know Thanksgiving is near when we see the decorations for Christmas going up, we also know the Rapture is near when we see the things 70th Week going up. Although we cannot know the specific day or hour (or the exact moment) of the Rapture, we can know the season.
Harvests, Feasts, and Seasons
“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22
Speaking of times and seasons, Jesus often referred to parables when speaking of His return. In His most famous parable on the subject, He links His return to a specific time of year. While we cannot be dogmatic about it, clearly, Jesus knew every word He spoke and was recorded in Scripture would be scrutinized to the nth degree. Therefore, it is my opinion He used this example very strategically.
Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. Luke 21:29-33
Although most of us are not farmers, we know that the Israelites were given instructions in the Old Testament on how and when to harvest their crops. First, they were to gather the “first fruits” as an offering to the Lord. Secondly, they would then conduct the main harvest (minus the corners of the field). Depending on the crop, there would be an early and late harvest. Lastly, the poor could be allowed to come in once the main harvest was complete, and would be allowed to go through the gleanings of the field (Lev. 19:9-10). Perhaps one of the greatest examples of this is found in the story of Ruth (a gentile bride), which is celebrated during the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot or Pentecost), which puts it in late spring, early summer.
The times and seasons also corresponded with the Feasts of the Lord. There were four Feasts in the spring, then a long summer break, and then three Feasts in the fall. We know in the life of Christ, He fulfilled the first three with His death, burial, and resurrection. We also know that the church was conceived at Pentecost some fifty days later. What remains is the fall feasts, and we believe that these will also be fulfilled literally during the 70th Week of Daniel. The question remains, where does the Rapture of the Church fall into this pattern (if at all)?
Feasts of the Lord
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. Leviticus 23:1-2
1. Feast of Passover (Fulfilled)
(24 hours later)
2. Feast of Unleavened Bread (Fulfilled)
(2-6 days later)
3. Feast of First Fruits (Fulfilled)
(50 days later)
4. Feast of Weeks (Shavuot/Pentecost) (Fulfilled)
(135 days later)
5. Feast of Trumpets
(10 days later)
6. Feast of Atonement
(5 days later)
7. Feast of Tabernacles
(73 days later)
[Dates courtesy of Robert Breaker’s White Board!]
Now, the Church was conceived (not born) at Pentecost, and what we have been waiting for these past two thousand years during our gestation period (i.e., the Church age) is the Rapture (our birth). This is the long-awaited birth of all the singularly corporate, body of believers from that first Pentecost until the Rapture (Romans 8:18-25). Every born-again believer of both the living and the dead will meet Christ in the air for the greatest reunion the world has ever seen. What we can’t know is whether or not this reunion and transformation (from mortality to immortality) happens as part of the Feasts of the Lord, or is a completely unconnected event. It would seem though, that given our conception being originally connected with Pentecost, must in some way, find its birth also with Pentecost (to close the loop so to speak).
Now, some have pointed out that the last trump must be connected with the Feast of Trumpets, but I do not think this is the case. As I have pointed out on numerous prior occasions, if there is a last trumpet, there must also be a first trumpet. The first trumpet blast gathered the nation of Israel together for the first time at the foot of Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19). It only makes sense that the last trumpet gathers all of the church together in the air at the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18, 1 Cor. 15:51-56). Thus, this explains the significance of the ‘last trump’ as being connected with the gathering of a body of believers, rather than a feast.
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; Genesis 1:14
The Bible is replete with references to the heavens, and we know historically, the Mazzeroth held significance to earlier Bible people. Correspondingly, many in our own day have pointed to various astronomical events such as the Blood Moon Tetrads or the Revelation 12 sign as having prophetic significance. Whether they are significant or not, I cannot say with authority. We know two millennia ago, God used the “Star of Bethlehem” as a sign for the Gentile Wise Men to follow and worship the child, Jesus. We also know inside of the 70th Week of Daniel (the seven-year Tribulation) that there will also be major astronomical signs in the sun, moon, and stars (Acts. 2:19-20) that herald the Day of the Lord. However, we cannot say with any specificity whether or not the things we are seeing now in the heavens, point to anything specific.
If we are in the dispensation of the Church (I believe we are), then we do not derive our authority from the signs and wonders that accompanied the Old Testament times and/or will find fulfillment inside the Tribulation. Rather, we preach Christ crucified, which is a stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks (1 Cor. 1:23). Therefore, anything we see today is either not for the Church to apply to our own deliverance, or serves as a sign to point Israel to the lateness of the hour since they have rejected the message of Christ crucified.
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 1 Cor. 1:21-22
As I've said on numerous occasions, I don't dismiss out of hand things like the Rev 12 sign or other events, I just don't think we can pin any of our specific hopes on them. The proof of this is that they have happened, and we are still here, so whatever they meant, is beyond us. What we can know though, is that creation is moaning and groaning, and we are seeing our universe becoming increasingly hostile to the burden of sin placed upon it. This means an uptick in both natural calamities, such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, and hurricanes, as well as cosmic disturbances. If there are any signs we as the Church can see and point to as the lateness of the hour, it is the birth pangs. The fact we are seeing such a dramatic increase in both the frequency and intensity of the natural and cosmic disturbances is a testament to the lateness of the hour.
But it is not just the universe winding down that points to our end coming soon. There are many other signs which are happening simultaneously that are also heralding the end of our age. These are the growing apostate nature of Christendom (not the true Church), the geopolitical alignment of nations against Israel (e.g., Gog-Magog), the revival of the old Roman Empire, technological advancements in military weaponry, genetics, artificial intelligence, information processing, and the implementation of these things into the human body. The old order of geopolitics is falling apart and the new world order is rising. Across the board, evil is being called good, and good, evil. Because of this, we are feeling the effects of the wrath of abandonment in this once blessed nation. Violence and wickedness are on the rise everywhere. Lastly, we are seeing the nations of the world setting the stage for the coming ten-nation confederacy by using 'governance-by crisis' as test-runs with global mandates and lockdowns.
People have been saying for many years now that Christ's coming must be soon because of this sign or that. Some pointed to the rise of Hitler or the year 2000 as proof. To be fair, what are a few decades in light of eternity? So "soon" or "at hand" are relatively subjective terms. So in light of what we have discussed already, and instead of saying that Christ is coming soon (this term is rather vague), let us consider a few key points as we close out this study by looking at things in reverse order.
We know Christ's Second coming will be tied to a specific time, rather than some random moment. We know this because Christ's First coming was tied to something known as the 'fullness of times' (Gal. 4:4-5). Presumably, this meant all the conditions necessary for the Messiah to come the first time had been met. So whatever the conditions necessary for Christ's Second coming, must also be met in order for us to know when that might occur.
We know at the Second Coming, Christ triumphant return in the air with the armies of heaven in tow, meet the Antichrist and his global forces in Israel at Armageddon. We know this Antichrist will have recently recaptured Jerusalem from the Jews, and desecrated their temple. In order for this to have happened, the Jews must be living back in Israel and their third temple must be standing.
We know that the Antichrist will need to have the technology available to control all buying and selling in the world. He will need the technology to control all the governments in the world, as well as their armies.
We know that Russia, Turkey, Iran, and the 'many other nations' will align themselves to come against Israel. In their overtly divine destruction, Israel decides it's time to rebuild their third temple.
We know the world is united behind a false religion known as "the whore." We know this new religion will masquerade as Christianity but will promote all the blasphemous things God hates.
We know the world will be forced to unite over a major global crisis we assume to be the Rapture of the Church, which will decimate the United States and realign the global power structure.
We know the world is quickly approaching the two-thousandth anniversary of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (2032). We know that the 70th Week of Daniel last approximately seven years. We know that to God, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. We also know that God promised Israel to raise them up on the third day (Hosea 6:2).
I guess at this point, you just need to ask yourself if you can see anything on this shortlist as already existing? Is it already in play? Is it already being implemented? What's left to happen? If you can see it, then as 'sons of the light' and 'sons of the day, you should know that our salvation (deliverance) is at hand.
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. Luke 21:28