As we continue along this timeline of the last days, I want to explain something to you. Many people wonder why I believe that the rapture is the next item on God’s prophetic timeline. They ask me why I believe that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ won’t be here for the Tribulation. My first reason is so simple that it may be offensive, but I believe that the rapture precedes the Tribulation because that’s the order Paul gives us in I Thessalonians. In I Th. 4, Paul talks about the rapture. In I Th. 5, he talks about the Day of the Lord, the Tribulation. That’s not the only reason. Jesus Himself says in Luke 21:36, “Watch and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” My friend, the Bible teaches us that when this Day of the Lord comes, no one on the face of the Earth will escape. But that’s not the only reason. Jesus again says in Re. 3:10, “Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” But that’s not the only reason, either. Paul says in II Th. 2:7, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” Who is the one that restrains? The Holy Spirit. Where does the Holy Spirit reside? In the lives of believers. When will He be taken out of the way? When the church is raptured. What’s going to happen when He is taken away? Literally, all hell is going to break loose. No restraints. The Light of the World is removed and darkness comes rushing in to fill the void – Seven Years of Tribulation.
Following the Rapture, as I wrote yesterday, the Antichrist will be revealed (see yesterday’s post for more information. The way that you will know that this man is the Antichrist is that following the rapture of the church, He will be the one who signs a Peace treaty with Israel, promising security for 7 years. Yes, the Muslims will bow to his will, and somehow he will keep them in check. Whether during this time or prior to this time, a new Jewish Temple will be built on the Temple mount in Jerusalem. Understand that the plans for a new temple are already in place. Many of the articles of furniture, altars, and even implements for sacrifice have already been created. Groups of men have been trained as priests, and for 3 ½ years, Israel will enjoy the protection of the Antichrist and worship in their temple. How do I know this? Dan. 9:27 and 2 Thess. 2:4 says that at the midpoint of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will set up his throne in the Temple and desecrate it once again. At that point Tribulation turns into the Great Tribulation.
Understand that the timing of these events is not exact. The Battle of Gog/Magog will occur, I believe, just prior to the signing of the peace treaty. Some say much later. I believe that it is most likely that the treaty will stem from the nations defeat at the hands of God. It has to happen at this point because Ezekiel 39:9 tells us that the weapons that fall on Israel will burn for 7 years. Understand that at this moment, 8 million Israelis are surrounded by Muslim nations calling for their death and destruction. Even though deal has been reached with Iran to slow down their push for nuclear weapons, very few people actually believe it will work. Most experts believe they may already be close enough to build one that it could happen at any moment. Other nations already have them. Terrorist groups have 40,000 rockets and more poised to unleash on Israel. Syria is in the midst of civil war but they still have stockpiles of chemical weapons that will probably fall into the hands of ISIS fighters. In Ezekiel 36-38, we see the story. A ruler called Gog, whether a person or a title doesn’t matter, will develop an evil plan. He is from the land of Magog. You will not find this on any map today. Josephus referred to the people of Magog as Scythians who migrated from the Middle East northward and settled in the area we know as Russia. Ezekiel tells us that Persia (aka Iran) will be Russia’s ally – which by the way, is already true. Cush (aka Ethiopia/Sudan), Put (aka Libya and Algeria) will also join. Gomer is the land we know as Turkey will become part of this coalition, and even though in the past, Turkey has been a friend of Israel, it is no longer the case. Add to that a group of people from across Central Asia, and you see a formidable force arrayed against tiny Israel. This conglomeration of forces will surround Israel, and no one will come to Israel’s defense. NO ONE! As the armies advance and it appears that there is no hope for Israel, God will intervene. An earthquake that shakes the entire world but focused in Israel will send the armies into chaos. They will turn on each other as God has caused them to do throughout Israel’s history and destroy themselves. Terrible diseases will break out in an instant and spread through the enemy forces. God will send a torrential rain, with hailstones, fire and brimstone, not just on the armies but on the countries from which these armies come. The devastation will be so horrific that it will take 7 months to bury the bodies, and it would take longer except the birds of the air and the beasts of the field will eat many of the bodies. God will annihilate this enemy for one reason. He gives it to us in Ez. 38:23. “I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 39:21 — “I will set My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed and My hand which I have laid on them.” Here’s the good news. God will do this to demonstrate His power to the entire world. All the nations will see it. And no doubt, many will come to faith in Jesus Christ because of this amazing event You see, even in judgment, God is calling the lost to come to Him.