Saturday, January 10, 2009

Whats next? Reflections on birth pains

We have a vast array of signs that would indicate that we're living in the last generation. We are seeing them all occuring; not only that, we're seeing them happpening in the exact patterns that Jesus described. People who are watching these prophetic signs are continually amazed at the specificity of prophecy and the rapid rate at which events seem to be occurring. To recap some of these signs - all of which had to be taking place as this last generation comes to a close:

- Israel miraculously regathered as a nation, after almost 2,000 years of exile (Ezekiel 36-39).
- Israel surrounded by her enemies (Zechariah 12,14).
- Russia and Iran having formed a military alliance against Israel (Ezekiel 37-38).
- Israel/Jerusalem as the focus of the world's atttention (Zechariah 12:2).
- Earthquakes increasing in number and severity, in a cyclic pattern (Matthew 24:7).
- Pandemics/Epidemics appearing in cyclic patterns (Luke 21:11).
- Famine (Matthew 24:7).
- War and Rumors of War (Matthew 24:6-7).
- The ancient Roman Empire (aka EU expansion) regathered in the form of "Iron and Clay":a mixture difficult to unite (Dan 2).
- A "cashless" monetary system which will be global in nature (Rev. 13:16-17).
- A time of noteworthy increased capability of the ability to "travel" (Daniel 12).
- A time of noteworthy ability to increase and expand knowledge (Daniel 12).
- A time of persecution (Matthew 24:9).
- A time of false teachings and false prophets (Matthew 24:10-11).

There has never been a generation in which all of these signs were present. There have been sporatic eras in which one, maybe two signs have been present, but never an era in which all such signs were present at the same time. We're quite clearly living in this last generation. Additionally, we have seen the above signs appearing throughout most of the last century, (in fact many of these signs actually DEFINED the 20th century) indicating that we must be approaching the very final stages of the generation.

So the obvious question becomes - what happens next?

One interesting point comes into play here: Skeptics of the fact that we are living in the last generation (which is incredible to me, given the overwhelming weight of evidence) often state "Throughout the bible, people have thought that Christ would appear in their generation, and they were wrong, so I refuse to get excited about this possibility."

Why is this flawed logic?

This "logic" indicates confusion over what the scriptures are actually saying. Biblical characters in the past were CORRECT in looking for the "imminent" appearance of Christ. We are directed to do so many times (1 Cor. 1:7, 1 Cor. 16:22, Philippians 3:20, 4:5, 1 Thess. 1:10, 4:15-18, 5:6, 1 Timothy 6:15, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 9:28, James 5:7-9, 1 Peter 1:13, Jude 21, Rev. 3:11, Mark 13:32, etc., etc.).

Were these biblical characters, who were looking for Christ's return, wrong to have been watching for this event? Did they misinterpret the signs, as skeptics attempt to point out? Clearly not.

The "imminent" return of Christ can only refer to the Rapture ("catching up") of the Church for one simple reason. The Second Coming of Christ Jesus is NOT an "imminent event". The english word for "imminent" comes from the latin verb "immineo" which means to "overhang" or something "hanging over one's head, ready to befall" - always close at hand - at any moment. Thus, an imminent event could happen at any moment. Importantly, nothing has to happen BEFORE an imminent event, otherwise the event wouldn't be "imminent". If something has to take place before an imminent event, then the event is no longer "imminent".

The Bible is clear that the Second Coming is NOT an imminent event. The Second Coming only occurs after the Tribulation has proceeded for its 7 year period. Jesus made that quite clear in Matthew 24, and the book of Revelation confirms this fact. Therefore, the Second Coming of Christ is not an imminent event.

The scriptures relating to the "imminent" return of Christ can therefore only serve as a reference to the "gathering up", or the "catching up" of the Church, - or, what we now refer to as the Rapture of the Church. It was correct for the early church to have been watching for this event, because technically, the Rapture could have occurred at any point over the last 2,000 years. There are no "signs" relating to the Rapture of the Church. They weren't misunderstanding the signs, as critics mistakenly point out, they were watching (correctly) for the rapture!

We also know, from many scriptures, that the Rapture of the Church will occur before the Tribulation begins its 7 year period.

So, back to the original question: What happens next?

As stated, the Rapture can occur at any moment. It will occur before the Tribulation. We are RAPIDLY approaching what appears to be the beginning of the Tribulation, therefore, the Rapture cannot be far off.

We may see fulfillment of the battle of "Gog-MaGog" (Ezekiel 38-39) before the Rapture, as it is very difficult to determine when this will occur (I don't believe we will see this, for a variety of reasons). We may see more conflict in the Middle-East before the rapture. We may see even more general signs increasing in frequency/intensity before the rapture. We may not.

There is one central, clearly defining point which marks the beginning of the Tribulation:

"He {the Anti-christ} will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven'" (Daniel 9:27). In other words, the anti-christ will confirm a peace covenant between Israel, and the "many" {referring to the many countries surrounding Israel who historically desired to destroy all of Israel}. A peace-plan which has been sought after since 1948, when Israel was re-established as a nation.

I believe we should watch for the EU/Mediterranean Union to propose a peace-plan in the Middle-East. The anti-christ will usher in a period of seeming peace in the region. The only way to "confirm" a "covenant" in this modern-day era, is to send in peace-keeping forces to the region. Therefore, I am looking for news which relate to the EU offering to send troops into Israel, to "confirm" their "peace-plan". Such proposals have been discussed, yet, at this point none have been formally agreed upon. Ultimately, a single individual will emerge, who will have the "perfect plan".

I believe the Rapture will occur prior to this "confirming" of any peace deal. We MAY be here to see discussions of the agreement, and we may even be here to see the signing of such an agreement - but the Bible clearly indicates that we won't be here to see the last stage of the agreements, aka the "confirming" of the agreement (ie, sending in troops to "confirm").

Current conflicts in the region only serve to increase the pressure for a peace-plan to be enacted. The international pressure on Israel and the "palestineans" is enormous right now, and increasing daily. The anti-christ will usher in a brief period of peace, when he confirms this final "peace-plan" but it won't last long:

"When people are saying 'Peace and safety' {a reference to the Anti-christ's peace plan} destruction will come on them suddenly" (1 Thess. 5). This "destruction" is a reference to the Tribulation and the subsequent 21 judgments imposed upon the world. The anti-christ will appear to create peace in the region, and for a brief period, it will appear so. But such "peace" will be short-lived, as described.

So whats next on the prophetic horizen?

We may see more conflict in the Middle-East. We will probably see serious discussions of how peace can be achieved in the Middle-East. We may also see a central character emerge in that region - a powerful, charasmatic, compelling figure emerge. A leader who will seemingly have a clear vision for peace in and around Israel. The world will embrace him and his plan.
We may see more of the overall signs given above - repeating in a cyclic "birth pains" manner.

Or, we may not.

The signs have been increasing in intensity and frequency now for almost 100 years. According to Arnold Fruchtenbaum's deep analysis of prophecy, in his landmark book "Footsteps of the Messiah", the generational signs probably began around the WWI era, which was somewhere around the 1914-1920 period. That was the first "birth pain", as all signs given by Jesus appeared in a dramatic way - suddenly and unexpectedly. To bolster that view, it is quite easy to review that all of the general signs given - occured throughout the 20th century, and increased throughout this entire period of time.

A generation presently, is in the neighborhood of 100-110 years, as life expectancy for many people reaches these numbers. If Fruchtenbaum is correct, and I believe he is, we are reaching the very last days of the generation.

The push for peace in the Middle-East is now a world-wide concern, and the focus of most of today's world leaders. The world is awaiting someone - anyone - who can make this happen. With every passing day, the international calls for a peace-plan in the region increase. Its hard to watch the news for more than a few minutes, without seeing discussions regarding the necessity for peace in the region. Its only a matter of time before a charasmatic figure arises and confirms the long-awaited peace plan.

Meanwhile, the Church awaits its prophetic fate. A fate which is different from the world which will enter the Tribulation, and given in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 4:16-18, 5:9, 1 Corinthians 15:50-52, and Rev. 3:10, just to name a few.

Jesus was crystal clear in his last words to the apostle John:

"I will keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world. I am coming soon." (Rev 3:10).

The apostle Paul echoed these words, as he directed us to wait for Jesus:

"Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath" (1 Thess. 1:10). and

"For God did not appoint us to suffer the wrath" (1 Thess. 5:9)

We don't have long. This generation is coming to a close. The peace-plan for Israel cannot be far off, therefore the beginning of the Tribulation cannot be far off. That can only lead to one conclusion:

Jesus will come for His beloved Church, and this epic event is imminent.

Maranatha! Come quickly Lord.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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