Was I a perceptive child? Probably not. But I think I learned about logic and reasoning at a very young age. I learned what if/then hypotheses were. I knew that if the Bible said Elijah had to come before the Messiah came and Elijah wasn't here, then the Messiah wasn't going to come back that very second! Of course, whenever I would ask, "Did Elijah come?" I would get a blank look. There were times when I simply thought no one else really read the Bible. Understand that back then, I took scripture quite literally....and I still do.
Where did the idea come from that Christ could return at any moment? Is it an attempt to appease us, make us believe that we will escape any future suffering? That we will be raptured out before the end times start? What a great way to get you to stop studying. Just believe that you don't have to live through it, so why bother studying about it! Now, don't stop reading yet, I'll talk more about the "rapture" later on.
I have also come to understand how important it is to study Greek and Hebrew words. I remember how I hated conjugating verbs in grade school. It was just so boring. But how terribly important that I did learn what each tense of a verb means. And if it is important in the English language to understand tenses....to know what we mean, then how much more important is it to understand tenses in Greek and Hebrew?
And the other thing is that I need to understand when scripture is literal and when it is figurative. I think that's more important than most preachers let on. It seems that everyone wants to take every little verse and apply it to some personal aspect of their life. But I'm not sure that's the intent at all. I'd more nearly think that we apply it solely in the context that it was written understanding specifically who it was written to and understanding history of the era when it was written. Probably really important.
The Bible is about 80% prophecy. And in order to know what prophecy has been fulfilled, you have to know history. You have to be able to look at history and understand what has happened over the last 6000 years and to know how it ties in with Bible prophecy.
And you have to watch world news today in order to see what prophecy is currently being fulfilled. I certainly wouldn't leave that task up to someone else, knowing that they probably don't view scripture the way that I do.
Mark 13:32: But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Most people understand this verse to say that no one can know the day or hour of the Lord's return. They often add that you can only know the approximate time.
But what if that verse is only addressing the specific people that it was written to. That "those" people could not know the day or hour.....but the rest of us could? And it might make sense that Jesus, as a man on earth, could not know. But when he joined the Father, he did know. I feel pretty certain that He knows now.
And consider that the Thessalonians knew. I Thes 5:1-4. Paul did not have to write to them on this subject. They already knew. What did they know? And if they knew, can we? I think that with the study of scripture, being acutely aware of the meaning of words and the tenses of verbs, we can know. But a knowledge of past and current history is necessary as well.
So, consider history: Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70AD. The Jews were sent into worldwide dispersion. The seasons of gentile rule began:
1. Season of Rome 130 - 615 AD
2. Season of Persia 615-619 AD
3. Season of the Eastern Empire 629-637AD
4. Season of the Saracen Empire 637-1099 AD
5. Season of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem 1099-1187 AD
6. Season of Egypt 1187 - 1229 AD
7. Season of Germany 1229 - 1243 AD
8. Season of Korasmians 1243 AD
9. Season of Turkish Empire 1244 - 1917 AD
10 Season of Great Britain 1917 - 1948 AD
11 Season of Jordan 1948 - 1967 AD
June 7, 1967, Jerusalem is returned to Israel and the "seasons" of Jerusalem's administration by Gentile nations was fulfilled per Luke 21:24. Jerusalem had to be returned to the Jews before the Messiah could return.
So Jesus could not have returned before this happened. I can write off all those preachers who were claiming an immediate rapture at any moment in my entire childhood!!
What if the tribulation of the Jews started in 70 AD with the destruction of the Temple? They were sent into dispersion throughout the world. They have been killed, persecuted, tossed out of the lands they were on, forced into captivity......certainly has been a 2000 year tribulation for them. So what if the tribulation has been going on for the last 2000 years?
Some of the things that have happened and are according to prophecy include....
1. Apostasy in the organized church 2 Thes 2:3. Began about 1900 AD.
a. Rejection of the Word of God in "Christian" Schools...seeing that today
b. Laodicean Church age- we're living in it right now
2. Regathering of Israel - happening now
3. Evolution gets a foothold (1859) 2 Peter 3:3-5
a. prior to 1859, there was only the creation theory
4. World nations come on the scene in line with Bible prophecy
a. Greece 1830
b. Syria 1920
c. Egypt 1922
d. Iraq 1932
e. Italy 1861
f. where is Assyria?
5. State of Israel, May 14-16, 1948 (a land born in a day)
6. Seasons for Gentile Nations to hold Jerusalem ended June 6, 1967.
7. Russian Revolution 1917 begins preparation for Russian invasion of Middle East (Ezk 38:39)
8. Turning of world nations against Israel. happening now from 1967 to the present. Prepares for God's wrath in the Day of Jehovah (Joel 3:1-3)
9. Recognition of Red China by US 1978 launches China into lead position in Far east in preparation of "kings of the east" (Rev 16:12)
10. Changes in Iran (Persia) 1978 - 1979, starts Moslem rise toward antichrist power.
11. Communism as against God, and Muslims opposed to idols, prepare religion of Antichrist (Dan 11:37, 2 Thes 2:4)
What still needs to happen? (according to prophecy)
12. Russian invasion of Middle East will force Israel to rely on God (Ezk 39:7)
13. Israel to build the Temple (Joel 1:13, Ezk 40-48)
14. Man of Sin is revealed (2 Thes 2:3) (he sits in the temple, so temple must be built first)
15. Elijah returns (Malachi 4:5) - not John the Baptist, but Elijah himself.
16. World nations arrive at false peace (1Thes 5:30z)
17. Cosmic disturbances start (Joel 2:11, 31)
The modern approach to lift Christians into bliss in the heavens via a rapture before the tribulation, has done a great deal to stifle Bible study rather than to encourage it.
What if, the presence of Christ in glory is on Jerusalem, but the gross darkness is on the peoples. Isaiah 60 hasn't happened yet. When the Temple is rebuilt, the nations will still exist. In Isaiah 62:7, it says Jerusalem will be a praise in the earth. Not heaven. Has this happened? Not yet.
It is only as history fulfils prophecy that we can be absolutely certain of what the chronology is. The foundation in chronology depends on the Jew.
1. The Jew still exists in spite of all of Satan's forces.
2. The Jew has been scattered for 1900 years
3. The Jew is being regathered.
4. The Jew is hated by all nations.
5. Jerusalem has been taken from the Gentiles and restored to the Jew.
6. The land of Israel is being turned from desolation to a fertile land
7. The Jew still keeps circumcision.
8. The Jew still keeps the Sabbath.
9. God is giving the land to the Jew little by little.
These are just a few historic facts.
Keep your eyes on Israel!
1. Some sort of peace with the Jew under Gentile dominion 2 Thes 2:3-4,
antichrist sitting in the temple, Rev 13: 4-7, 16-18,
authority to continue for 42 months, authority over every nation (may not use it).
The mark of the beast will be the cross. Rev 11, 1-4. 2
witnesses will prophesy for 1260 days. One will be Elijah. Will the other be Moses?
354 days in a normal Jewish year. Passover to the Feast of Tabernacles (last day) is 175 days. + 3 years (1062 days) = 1237 days + 29 Days for Adar 11, = 1256 days + 7 days of feast = about 1260 days
2. International revolt Rev 16:12-16, Zech 14:1-2, Matt 24:32-34.
Kings of the east come under leadership of China and fight against Jerusalem.
3. Jehovah comes (figurative) to fight. Zech 14: 3-4, 2 Thes 2:8
all nations against Jerusalem
a Jewish flight through the split mountains
4. Tribulation of those days.
sun dark, moon not give light, all tribes of earth shall morn
sound of trumpet
5. Day of Jehovah Sets in. Matt 24:29-31, Rev 1:14-15, Rev 2:18, Rev 10: 1
6. We meet up with the Messiah to escort HIM to Jerusalem. Where His kingdom will be.
If you want to continue to use "rapture", then be sure to explain that you are making a u-turn and just going over to Jerusalem to live there with Him. 1 Thes 4:15-17. 2 Thes 2:1 (ah! remember, the Thessalonians already knew about the Messiah's return, so Paul did not have to explain it to them!)
Understand what the verb means in the Greek. It doesn't say we will stay in the air. The verb means to meet and return.
This then would be the beginning of the Messianic age. Here on earth. We're not going with Him to "heaven" because He is coming here. Think about it.
Besides, all you need to do is google origins of the term rapture and you will learn that it is a fairly new term, originating in England in the early 1800s. Prior to that, no one believed in the rapture. So what changed? Surely not scripture. Again - I think it's just a way to get you to not study what's going to happen if you think you are going to be raptured out of it!
The Greek word for "mansion" is abode. He is preparing a place for us to abode with Him. Our bodies are Tabernacles. He is preparing a place for our Tabernacles to abode with him. See how important it is to know what the actual Greek word means? Not mansions on streets of gold. But a place for us to tabernacle with Him. These are English words that a translator used in order to appease a King of England in order to keep from being beheaded! Reason enough to study the meaning of each and every word.
The generation that sees these things shall not pass away until all these things are accomplished. Matt 24:33-34
1900 (?) to 2000, 100 years, this generation? Or is a generation 70 years? Israel formed in 1948. The generation born starting in 1948? Turns 70 in 2018. Or the generation that "sees" these things, so those who were perhaps age 13 and older in 1948? As a whole, this generation will not pass away. We are going to live through it.
The return is not imminent. But perhaps within sight. The Messiah is not going to come today as the things scripture says has to happen have not happened yet. Keep your eyes on Israel. Pay close attention to world events. We may not know to the minute when the Messiah will return. But we can certainly know what has and hasn't happened, and that is what will allow us to know when to expect Him.
For many reasons, I am convinced that He will come during Sukkot, the feast of Tabernacles.
Chronology 1 from Mount Bible Trust is a great place to start your study of things to come.
If YOU think the Bible is not clear on this, then try the Greek and Hebrew as they seem to be extremely clear!
What if you are not going to be raptured out of it, don't you want to know what to expect?