When it comes to the Rapture debate, too often the Old Testament is neglected. On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus had just given his Disciples a New Covenant that resembled a Jewish betrothal contract between a husband and wife. Naturally, Jesus then gave them and us some very important information about his return.
In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. (John 14:2-4 NIV)
Jesus’ promise is that though he is departing, one day he will return to gather his followers to be with him in heaven. Jesus is referring to the fact that he will come and retrieve his followers to protect them from the wrath to come.
But your dead will live; their bodies will rise.
You who dwell in the dust,
wake up and shout for joy.
Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.
Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you;
Hide yourselves for a little while
until his wrath has passed by.
See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling
to punish the people of the earth for their sins.
The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.
(Isaiah 26:19-21 NIV)
Altogether, it could not be made clearer that the resurrection of the dead and living in Christ will be taken to heaven prior to the Day of the Lord. This is the foundation upon which the Apostle Paul writes the following:
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)
Therefore, Paul confirms the Old Testament and Jesus’ own words that those in Christ are resurrected to safety before the Day of the Lord. Paul continues in 1 Thessalonians 5 that the coming Day of the Lord should only surprise “like a thief in the night” those who are in darkness. Those who are in Christ will have no worries for they will be gathered by the Lord before that day to be protected in the rooms the Lord has prepared for them
The prophet Zephaniah also speaks of the same thing:
Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, Before the decree is issued, Or the day passes like chaff, Before the Lord ’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the Day of the Lord ’s anger comes upon you! Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the Day of the Lord ’s anger. (Zephaniah 2:1- 3 NKJV)
This is a warning to Israel to wake up before the Day of the Lord comes. The reality again is that to believe in the Messiah will result in avoiding the Day of the Lord. One will be hidden in the rooms. Jesus also speaks to this in Luke.
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, 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.” (Luke 21:34-36 NKJV)
This teaching is then reiterated in the last book of the Bible concerning the Church. The only way the Church is preserved is to remove it safely from the earth. To the Church of Philadelphia, Jesus says the following:
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 earth. (Revelation 3:10)
The first event of utmost concern is the taking of those in Christ to be with Christ to avoid the Day of the Lord. Now the concern is that there is still time to ensure one will be among “the hidden ones” delivered from the wrath of the Lord. This is the purpose of the Rapture, which is derived from the Latin rapiere meaning "to seize". It appears to be slated for the Feast of Pentecost 2018, the day of the harvest. A day Jesus left ten days before to show he must come back to fulfill it.
There is one Scripture that has drawn more attention lately and that is Psalm 83. Keeping in mind the previous Scriptures, it can be seen how it ties into the next event after the Rapture.
Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: (Psalms 83:1-5)
In this Psalm there are two distinct people groups of the Lord's, they are Israel and those who have been hidden before the Day of the Lord. As we have seen, “the hidden ones” are the ones the Lord has taken to safety in heaven. The scenario is that the enemies of God have hated those in Christ who are now gone, but the enemy’s hatred is still directed at the nation of Israel. Even though Israel is not saved at this time, they are still God's people of promise through the Abrahamic Covenant.
The problem is these enemies of God want to eliminate the name of Israel. If the promises of God for Israel are made null then all is lost, even the inheritance for the hidden ones. This is the diabolical goal. These enemies are now the surrounding Islamic nations of Israel. With the true friends of Israel hidden in heaven via the Rapture, these enemies will sense the opportunity. But how far after the Feast of Pentecost does this war occur?
It is here that many in this study may diverge in their conclusions. The difficulty is whether to combine the various end-time wars into one Armageddon campaign or whether to separate the wars into different times. The main issue is where to place the war found in Ezekiel 38-39. Is it at the start of the seven years, is it near the middle, or is it at the end being harmonious with Armageddon? Then there is Psalm 83. Bill Salus has popularized the view in Israelistine where this war comes sometime prior to Ezekiel 38-39 to create a larger nation of Israel at peace ready for the war found in Ezekiel. However, Joel Richardson believes that Ezekiel 38-39 is synonymous with Armageddon, which would then result in the Antichrist likely coming from an Islamic background as the Assyrian. The prominent view of recent is that Ezekiel 38-39 is somewhere near the beginning of the 70th Week of Daniel. This seems to be the correct view.
Considering further the question of Psalm 83’s placement after the Rapture, the solution is found in the war of Ezekiel 38-39. Here the same timing comes up in destroying Israel. Israel has been gathered out of the nations back to their land and is dwelling “safely” or “over confidently” in the land. This cannot be after the middle of the 70th Week when the Antichrist commits the Abomination of Desolation and Israel largely flees to the wilderness. Therefore, this war must come earlier than the middle of the Tribulation and with Psalm 83 coming after the hidden ones are taken, it seems best to conclude that both wars are the same war. It may be that Psalm 83 is the proxy war that quickly draws in the further out nations described in Ezekiel, but now Russia, Iran, and Turkey are in Syria setting the stage. However, not all the variables are known, but as we get closer the picture comes into view. This war will demonstrate that God has turned his attention back to the Nation of Israel and has answered the request of the Psalmist to destroy Israel’s enemies. After the end of the war, Israel will then spend seven years burning the weapons, which would then parallel the seven years of the 70th Week of Daniel. Therefore, Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39 combined would place the war after the Rapture and at the beginning of the seven years.
To reiterate, the seven years of weapons burning will most likely occur in parallel to the 70th Week of Daniel for the following reasons. This war occurs when Israel is dwelling “safely” or “over confidently” in the land. This period does not describe the last half of the 70th Week when much of Israel is hiding in the wilderness from the Antichrist. The invasion by Magog must therefore come before that time and the seven years of burning the weapons would fit the only other seven- year period of the end time—the 70th Week of Daniel.
Often Ezekiel’s war is viewed as different from the Psalm 83 war since the players in the war are somewhat different. In Psalm 83 it involves Israel’s more immediate neighbors where in Ezekiel, Israel’s enemies overlap those and go further. However, since we can see the stage being set for this war since Israel is indeed back in the land, it is the likely scenario that all these nations will be involved to wipe Israel off of the map in one campaign. It must also be remembered that Ezekiel’s list of nations includes many others not mentioned, which are probably the nations of Psalm 83. It seems feasible that both Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39 are the same war due to many of these factors plus the fact that these wars must come after the Rapture and allow for seven years of weapons burning.
This war to wipe Israel off the map once and for all comes after the Lord has taken the hidden ones and at the transition of waking up the nation of Israel at the start of the 70th Week of Daniel. In Ezekiel this briefness is even addressed. This miraculous defeat will be the turning point for Israel. God clearly saves them from certain death. Even the nations get the point.
The parallels of these Scriptures are many. They are both large confederacies aimed to destroy Israel, but in the end the attackers are destroyed by the judgment of God through fire. Psalm 83 places this war after God has hid the believers and Ezekiel places the war after Israel has been gathered out of the nations and dwelling in confidence. In the end, God will be “seen” and Israel will restart where it left off when Daniel’s 69 Weeks ended in AD 32. Islam will also suffer a mammoth defeat.
The question of where the United States is in prophecy is a pervasive one. It would seem that the Bible has forgotten the New World. However, the mention of “Tarshish and her lions” as the protesters in Ezekiel is likely a reference to Britain and the countries that came from it. Before the Roman Empire, bronze was in demand and its elements came from a shipping route long forgotten by the Romans. An archaeologist by the name of Barry Fell has demonstrated that the tin was mined in Britain (Tarshish means mines of tin) and copper was mined in North America. The important fact is that Tarshish is Britain, so the lions that came out of it would be the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
However, there is defeat to those who protest the war. Those who dwell carelessly in the coastlands will also receive the judgement of fire. If Tarshish and her lions (the nations that came from her) are Britain and the far-off coastlands (United States, Canada, and Australia), then this power sphere will also be broken. This is the only hint of America in prophecy and is probably the reason why America is not heard of again as a significant player in the final seven years. Apparently, these protesters are judged from their failure to act. Once the Rapture occurs, again the United States especially will be thrown into chaos with a change of leadership.
There are also different views concerning Russia's role in this war. The newest trend is to say that Russia is not involved and that what is attributed to Russia is located within the modern nation of Turkey. However, Josephus refers to Magog as the Scythians, as does Herodotus, who was closer to the time of Ezekiel. At that time this was considered the area of the Caucuses, Georgia, and the area of the Black Sea. Scythian is a derivative of Ashkenaz, which later became the Khazar Empire north of the Black and Caspian Seas. The evidence is strongest for Russia as the leader because these people are said to be from the far north in Ezekiel 39:2 and the ones who logically lead the invaders since they have been the suppliers of the weapons. Grant Jeffrey pointed out that the Arabic for the Great Wall of China is called the "Wall of Al-Magog". The overall best conclusion is that Russia is indeed the leader in this war.
The motivation of Gog is to go and plunder the land of Israel that has been revived by the returning Israelis. This is an interesting contrast to Psalm 83 where the motivation is to just to get rid of Israel. These separate motivations can be seen today, and the confederacy grows stronger under the changes caused by the “Arab Spring” and Turkey’s slide away from the West. All that will soon remain is the opportunity.
Therefore, as the Rapture approaches, this coming war may manifest itself in preparations, but the ultimate fulfillment will occur after the Rapture. This war will end, obliterating the power sphere of the Mid-East Islamic nations, the English speaking nations, and specifically the Russian bloc. This will be the power vacuum for what will soon become the New Empire from the land of the Roman Empire. The only real power sphere left after Europe would be “the Kings of the East”.
Understanding this scenario, one will realize that the beginning of the seven years starts just before this war and then God confirms His promise to the nation of Israel by defeating her enemies. According to most who hold a pre-tribulation rapture view, it will be the Antichrist who makes or confirms a peace treaty with Israel that starts the seven years. This would mean that the Antichrist would have to be revealed and in power almost immediately. However, the Antichrist must wait first until the ten kingdoms are established in the new empire and first he must also wait for the removal of the restraint of the Church—the Rapture.
It would also be strange for Israel, who has just been saved by God from this war and acknowledges it to then commit their safety to a newcomer or someone outside the direction of God. Israel is waking up at this point in history and they are not going further into darkness as exemplified by the 144,000 Israeli witnesses. Israel is beginning the 70th Week as God’s vehicle to witness to the world in the final days of judgment. Does Israel really make such a fatal mistake at this time during the seven years?
It would also seem odd for the Antichrist to be a part of such a covenant. Why would the Antichrist confirm a covenant for seven years and no more? The problem is further expanded when it is realized that the definite article used in Daniel 9:27 renders it as; “he shall confirm the covenant with many”. Is the covenant a peace treaty, or is it better understood as The Covenant, as in the Abrahamic Covenant, with Israel? But why would the Antichrist confirm or strengthen something he hates? And would that even be possible?
The soundest interpretation is that the covenant in view is God’s covenant with Israel. Is it an accident that 2,520 Days after Pentecost 2018 on May 20th is Passover 2025? It was on Passover that Abraham received the Covenant and on Passover 430 years later that Israel made their exodus from Egypt. As the Septuagint translation suggests, one week shall confirm the covenant. After the dust has cleared from the Tribulation, Passover 2025 would be the first Passover of the Millennium.
“And one week shall establish the covenant with many: and in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drink-offering shall be taken away: and on the temple shall be the abomination of desolations; and at the end of time an end shall be put to the desolation.”
(Daniel 9:27 LXX Interlinear Translation, Samuel Bagster and Sons, London, 1792)
The result of this scenario is that it will allow sufficient time for the establishment of the ten kingdoms and then the ascension of the Antichrist. It also means that Israel seeing the work of God in destroying her neighbors is not then making a “deal with the Devil” in some peace treaty. On the contrary, we know that Israel will be a source of light in the time of the 70th Week. It also makes sense with Daniel 11 and the fact that the Antichrist is at war with the King of the South just prior to the Abomination of Desolation. It is at the Abomination of Desolation that the Antichrist establishes his iron rule and persecutes for three and a half years.
The beginning will see the removal of the Church to heaven to be safe with Christ. This will then bring the opportunity for Israel’s enemies to make their attempt to destroy her. Instead, God then begins to work through Israel for seven more years to fulfill the purpose of Daniel’s 70 Weeks. At the onset of the 70th Week there will then be a political power vacuum to be filled by the rise of a new empire from the former area of the Roman Empire. This will be formed out of 10 Kingdoms. It is then after all of this that the Antichrist will begin his course of action that will lead to his rise and the middle of the Tribulation.
The middle of the 70th Week of Daniel is the major turning point of the Tribulation. At this time the Antichrist will cause the Abomination of Desolation. This is the event to start counting the days from as 1,260 days later the Tribulation will come to an end. This count of 1260 days is the sure-fire way to determine one’s place in the Tribulation and why Jesus specifically mentions it.
In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus warned about the Antichrist and the time of the Abomination of Desolation. He did not warn about a peace treaty with the Antichrist at the beginning of the 70th Week. Jesus’ warning, however, seems more appropriate under the understanding that the beginning of the 70th Week is not associated with any part of the Antichrist. This understanding also greatly changes the perspective of the first half of the 70th Week.
The primary change in understanding is that Israel is not aligned with the Antichrist under some peace treaty. Israel has just had the aggression of Russia and the Islamic countries defeated by God. Israel will be cleaning up the mess for seven months and then rebuilding the Temple on the Mount. The Temple must be built prior to the time the Antichrist defiles it. But as the Jews make their preparations, so must the Revived Empire from Rome ascend to power, first with ten kingdoms and then a takeover from within by the Antichrist.
The middle of the 70th Week is the event of the Abomination of Desolation. The Antichrist at that time will demand to be worshipped as God. The daily sacrifices will cease, and the city will be trampled under the foot of the Gentiles for another 42 months. Another event will also occur near this time and that is the murder of God’s two witnesses. There is debate on what half of the seven years they witness, but it should be mostly the first half since Elijah comes before the Day of the Lord and the world must be in the condition for people to exchange gifts in celebrating the witnesses’ death—and perhaps this is a reference to Christmas (July 14, 2018 is 1260 days to Christmas 2021). Truly that is not at the end of the 70th Week. The events of the Abomination of Desolation now seem to occur and then a few months later the witnesses are killed by the Antichrist, if the 1260 days of the witnesses overlap the 1260 days of the Great Tribulation. When Israel sees the Abomination, they should heed the words of Christ and flee to the wilderness as fast as possible. How the two witnesses would die after that event in Jerusalem is not really known, but it flows with the passage:
When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth." (Revelation 11:7-10)
From the evidence attained so far in this work, The Day of Atonement 2024 on October 12—a Sabbath—looks to be the end of the 1260 days from the Abomination. Those days back come to May 2, 2021. May 2, 2021 corresponds to Iyar 20 in the current Hebrew Calendar. Iyar 20 is the anniversary day of Israel leaving Mt. Sinai and going into the wilderness. This would seem appropriate, for if Israel incurs the Abomination of Desolation on this date; they will likewise go into the wilderness. However, this may also not be the correct calendar day.
In 2021 the Hebrew year beginning on Nisan 1 will correspond to March 14th. March 14th is a week before spring and there may be a problem with this early start. If the leap month were applied to the Hebrew year ending in 2021, then the Calendar would shift ahead one month. Therefore, May 2, 2021 would instead be Nisan 20 and then be the Feast of Firstfruits. This was Messiah’s resurrection day. Some have speculated that the Antichrist is also “resurrected” this day after receiving the deadly head wound becoming possessed by Satan himself. Next would come the Abomination of Desolation. Firstfruits or Resurrection Sunday is always on the day after the Sabbath. Therefore, the Hebrews flight to the wilderness would not be on the Sabbath or in the winter at this time. The most important thing to understand for those in Israel is to flee to the wilderness as soon as possible. After that day there will be no security in Israel.
“Therefore, when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matthew 24:15-21)
This will begin the worst period of human history. For those who thought the events of any war prior to this time were bad, this will be on another level. Only three people groups in the world will escape the rule of the Antichrist and that is where present day Jordan now exists. It is to this wilderness where Israel flees and exactly why it will be safe with the protection of God, just like the Exodus.
Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days." (Revelation 12:6)
The rest of the world will then be extremely unsafe, especially since no one will be able to buy or sell unless they have taken the Mark of the Beast. With modern technology, it will be difficult to hide.
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:16, 17)
There will then be another event towards the middle of the 70th Week. According to Daniel 8 the “little horn”, who is the Antichrist also casts down the Temple in addition to committing the Abomination of Desolation. From the Abomination it is 1,260 days until the Day of Atonement, but from Daniel 8 it speaks of 2,300 evenings and mornings, which converts to 1,150 days. This makes a difference of 110 days from the 1,260. One hundred and ten days after Nisan 20, 2021 will come to Av 11. If Av 11 begins the 1,150-day count until the Day of Atonement 2024, then the two days prior are Av 9th and 10th. On these days both Temples were destroyed by the Babylonians (587 BC) and the Romans (AD 70). This would seem to indicate that the Little Horn or the Antichrist does the same for the third and final time.
He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. (Daniel 8:11)
This war of evil will escalate as Satan tries to defeat God. Is it possible for him to win? It is not, but he thinks if the Israelis are extinguished, God’s promises to them will then become lies, and therefore God becomes a failure. Satan’s last hope is to make God a liar. This is why anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head in times past, but this time will be the worst, because Satan’s days are numbered. Human choices, with the help of Satan, will demonstrate the result of wickedness, which is utter ruin. However, God in His timing will save the world like in the days of Noah, but it comes at a price since there will be no more time left for the unbelievers to repent.
Jesus will then come back to annihilate the armies who are assembled to attack Israel at a place called the plains of Meggido, which is known as Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). When Christ descends with the saints, the war briefly turns toward Jesus. But Christ will cause the blood of the enemies to flow to the height of a horse’s bridle for about two hundred miles (Revelation 14:20). It will be the Day of Atonement. In 2024 this day will be on the Sabbath and on October 12th. October 12th is regarded at the day Babylon fell after the handwriting was seen on the wall. Christ will then descend onto the Mount of Olives and begin his earthly reign on Earth for a thousand years. Jesus Christ will again “tabernacle” among us and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16).
Those who have not come to a saving faith since the Rapture will find out that they cannot enter this New Kingdom. It’s the time of the judgment of the sheep and goats, and only the sheep will live another thousand years on a restored planet Earth (Matthew 25). The resurrected saints, who will return with Christ, will rule with Christ during the Millennium. So, it is not the end of the world, but a new beginning with the real Prince of Peace. If Christ had not returned, humanity with the help of Satan would have destroyed the planet. The end is a new beginning.
The prophecies of this New World exist throughout the Bible and speak of a glorious time. The environment of the world will be restored to its former glory and the nations will war no more for a thousand years (Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-7). However, there is one minor problem. Sin will continue on with those mortals who go into the Millennium, although everything else is perfect. What will be proven is that perfect conditions cannot reform the soul of the mortal man. Eventually, an organized rebellion will again rear its ugly head in their descendants a thousand years later (Revelation 20:7-10). There is also a hint of rebellion in the fact that those nations who do not celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles during the Millennium will be judged by not receiving rain for their crops.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. (Zechariah 14:16, 17)
This time of the Millennium will be glorious and what every man, woman, or child longs for and has dreamed about. In fact, all of Creation hopes for that day (Romans 8:19-23 and Psalm 96). Not only will there be peace, but also perfect environment. Deserts will bloom and even children will play with bears or lions (Isaiah 11:6-9). A person who dies at one hundred years will be considered a child, relatively speaking. It will be unbelievable to those of us who have seen the world under the full sway of the curse. Leadership by the Lord Jesus Christ will also bring about prosperity only now found in the imagination.
For those of us who are now saved, we will be raptured, later returning with Christ to help rule in the Millennium. After the Rapture, and until the end of the 70th Week, those who believe in Christ and are killed will also be resurrected and live and reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4). The believers that physically survive the Tribulation will enter the Millennium and repopulate the Earth. To be in any of these groups will result in great blessing. But it is prudent and better to believe now and be part of the bride of Christ—the Church.
However, those who don’t believe in Christ will enjoy none of these things. Those who are preoccupied with creation and who do not acknowledge what the Creator has done, or what He will do, are extremely short sighted. If one could see the true result of the world through understanding the Bible, to remain in unbelief is utter foolishness. Not only is there the Millennium, but ultimately there is the restored New Earth after the Millennium ends (Revelation 21-22). Whoever sold us on the idea of eternal clouds and harp playing has not read the Bible. After the Millennium there is eternal life on Earth and in the universe. It will be an Earth that is familiar, but better and without corruption. It will be a place we can call home and do what we could not accomplish in this present life.