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Until the close of the 1800s it was not very easy to find signs that related to the coming of Jesus.� Of course, the rapture has always been an imminent event, yet back then it was difficult for Bible teachers to make definitive statements regarding world events associated with the second coming of Jesus.�
To keep things clear on this subject it must be emphasized that the rapture is not the second coming. The rapture is when Jesus will come in the air to receive His church from this world.� The Second Coming is when He, along with the church, will return to this earth for His millennial reign seven years later.� We can say without question the world events we see happening all around us point to the rapture, but only as the rapture relates in time to the Second Coming.
There were relatively few Bible scholars and teachers back then who placed significance on the rapture of the church because the Christian world had been led to believe there would be no Second Coming, therefore the rapture was an event no Christian could know anything about.� It was considered to be a gloomy and frightful day that most hoped would occur long after they died — people, in their ignorance, were afraid of the rapture as many still are afraid of it today.� As a result it had no practical relevance to everyday life.� Those who refused to acknowledge the rapture also ridiculed the idea that Israel would ever be a nation again.� It was over, they said.� Israel was dead as a nation and God was finished with the Jew.� Beginning with the Zionist Movement of the late 1800s, however, things began to change.
In 1894 Theodore Herzl covered the Alfred Dreyfuss trial in Paris where Dreyfuss , a French Army artillery officer who was a Jew, was wrongly accused of treason due to his accuser’s anti-Semitism.� Mobs on the streets of Paris were shouting “Death to the Jews” during the trial and Herzl, himself a Jew, had his eyes opened to the reality of the Jewish situation in Europe.� He knew Europe would once again become hostile to the Jews living there, and indications were it would not be very long.� Thus, he began calling for a homeland for the Jews, and modern Zionism was born.
This immediately captured the attention of those few Bible scholars and teachers who had always believed and taught that one day the Jews would go back to their ancient homeland and found a modern state of Israel .� From then on those teachers became acutely aware of signs that indicated God was beginning to move once again in the affairs of His ancient people.
The chief sign of the 20th Century was, of course, the reestablishment of Israel in their homeland.� The fulfillment of that prophecy in itself vindicated those teachers and their insistence on the literal interpretation of prophecy.� They had been ridiculed by almost all of Christianity for the stand they took, but in 1948 a lot of crow was eaten by a lot of biblical allegorists.� Yet, most Bible teachers even today still insist it was all a freak of political nature, and that the reestablishment of Israel means nothing as far as prophecy goes.
Further, what often escapes the attention of most Christians is the fact that prophetic signs pointing to the 2nd Coming will also be found during the tribulation period, that seven-year period of hell-on-earth that will follow the rapture.� The church, certainly, will not see the fulfillment of those post-rapture signs from an earthly perspective because she will be in heaven with her Lord.� There will, however, be a great multitude of those left behind after the rapture that will see them and know exactly what they mean.� Taking a stand on what they know will cost them their heads (Revelation 7: 9ff; 20:4).
Perhaps the first and foremost of those tribulation signs will be when Anti-Christ makes some sort of treaty with Israel as seen in Daniel 9:27 .� The signing of this treaty will do two things.� First it will positively identify the Anti-Christ.� So much speculation is going around today about the identity of this “man of lawlessness…son of destruction” and it is all hogwash!� Nobody knows who he is today, though I believe he is alive and well somewhere — waiting in the shadows for events to propel him into worldwide attention.� Second, it will signal a count-down, for in three and one-half years he will break the treaty (Daniel 9:27 ) and turn on the Jews with a hatred that will consume his every thought and action.
We might wonder at the reason for securing this treaty with Israel to begin with.� We can speculate about the details, but one thing is for certain — whatever the intricacies of the negotiations, his motive will be complete and absolute hatred for Jesus and His brethren-by-birth, the Jews.� He will do nothing that will not enhance his satanic scheme, and that is to secure this present earth and everything/everyone on it for Satan, his god.� The world and even the Jews will not have a clue as to what this treaty will mean, but many will know and they will shudder in fear at the thought of what is coming!
Another sign will be when the Jews rebuild their Temple (Matthew 24:15 ).� Presently Israel , the Moslems and the apostate church are in direct opposition to such an idea.� Israel is not interested because she is a secular state whose leadership and citizenry generally have no interest in biblical matters.� Their only goal is to try to get along with everybody and to simply survive the present struggle with the Moslems.� The Moslems hate the Jews and the State of Israel and would not even consider sharing the Temple Mount with a Jewish Temple.� And the apostate church sees anything having to do with Israel , especially in a religious context, as a threat to her own imperialism and control of the world’s religious masses.� Yet, the rebuilding of the Temple is a tribulation period sign that will point to the 2nd Coming.
There are several groups in Israel today that are working toward the goal of rebuilding the Temple.� Various Temple vessels have already been constructed for future use in the building and garments have been made which the priests will wear during their service in the Temple.� Two cornerstones have already been hewn that will be the first stones laid when the process begins.� I believe this will happen during the tribulation period because I believe the go-ahead for construction will be associated in some way with the destruction of the Russian/Arab coalition of Ezekiel 38 ,39 and/or the treaty mentioned above.
Another tribulation sign is the desecration of that same Temple by the anti-Christ.� This will happen at the mid-point of the seven-year period.� At that time most significant threats to his grab for world-wide power will be out of the way, at least in his mind, and he will see no need whatsoever for continuing his charade with the Jews any longer.� To feign friendship with the Jews will be almost insufferable for him, and by that time he will relish revealing his true character to them.� He will demand their worship in their own Temple and this, in turn, will be intolerable for them.
It is at this point all stops are pulled out and anti-Christ will fully unleash every tool of terror and evil against the Jews.� No holes will be barred and no punches will be pulled.� Jewish blood will flow everywhere.� Persecuted tribulation saints will not miss this sign, either.������
Another sign will be an event the world is somewhat familiar with, at least by name.� It will be the gathering of the armies of the world in a valley in northern Israel in order to stage, consolidate, supply and organize anti-Christ’s forces for the push toward Jerusalem.� That valley is called Armageddon and is mentioned in Revelation 16:12-16 .� Most of the world, and even most of the religious world, associates this last great battle with the valley of Armageddon , but in reality the real thrust of the battle will occur in and around Jerusalem.
Those tribulation saints still alive at this time will see this great gathering and will rejoice for they will know the end is near.� They will understand that Jesus’ return will happen when the total decimation of the Jews is imminent.� That is, when Jerusalem is in the throes of collapse and the remnant of Jews is at the precipice of annihilation.
The culmination of these, and other signs that will occur during the tribulation, will be the return of Jesus, a subject addressed in greater detail in a previous newsletter.
But, the interesting thing about these tribulation signs is to be found in a comparison between how they might be viewed by persecuted tribulation saints then and how most at-ease Christians view the signs of our day.� Could it be that persecution, torture and death will cause them to be more sensitive to what God has predicted than we are?� If so, why?
It might be that the rapture and succeeding events will do for post-rapture saints what all other signs since the late 1800s have been unable to do for most of the pre-rapture saints, i.e., the church.� That is, awaken them from the slumber Peter addresses in 2 Peter 3:3 ,4 .� Sadly, you see, any number of Christians are disinterested in prophetic signs because they have� become comfortable with their place in this world and feel put-upon by all those prophecy teachers and all their warnings.� That, it seems, will not be a problem in the tribulation for those who know the truth and choose to act on it.
One last thing must be clarified.� The term “tribulation saints” has been mentioned several times.� Some might conclude they can simply neglect salvation presently, live as they wish and be saved during the tribulation.� Sort of a second chance deal. � Make no mistake about it: there is no such thing as a second chance.� As long as a person is alive he has opportunity, but death immediately ends all chances for ever.�
Only a fool would think about taking such a risk.� For one thing a person’s next moment of life is not guaranteed, not in this dispensation nor in the tribulation.� Secondly, if a person refuses to choose Christ now when it costs nothing (at least in this country) what makes him so sure he will choose Christ when the choice will cost him his head?� Further, his attitude might put him in that post-rapture group Paul spoke about in 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 ; the group that chooses to believe the lie no matter the evidence.
The study of signs is important to an understanding of prophecy, but there is something more important.� We are at the point in the history of the world that we should not be looking for signs so much as looking for the event toward which the signs point!� The rapture of the church should not be a surprise event to any Christian.�� DLM
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