Why We NEED To Know What We Don t WANT To Know
Vol: 115 Issue: 1 Friday, April 1, 2011
From time to time it becomes necessary to revisit the central purpose of Bible prophecy for the last days insofar as it impacts the Church. It is to give the warning that time is running out. Not for the Church. But for those who will be left behind.
The destiny of the Church is to participate in the Blessed Hope articulated by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians:
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. . . For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
The Rapture of the Church signals the conclusion of the Age of Grace in the same manner in which it began. The Lord explained the equation to the Apostles before His crucifixion.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” (John 16:7)
It isn’t too difficult to follow – it doesn’t need much interpretation. If the Lord does not “go away” then the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) will not come (indwell) them. Still, the Apostles didn’t get it. Right up to the moment of His Ascension, they were still expecting Him to usher in the Millennial Kingdom. (Acts 1:6)
They wouldn’t get — until the Holy Spirit clued them in. But to this point, the Lord was still among them, and so the indwelling Holy Spirit was not. So there they stood, clueless and afraid, while the Lord explained the Holy Ghost would soon empower them for the Great Commission.
“And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9)
If they were clueless and afraid while the risen Lord Jesus was standing there talking to them, one can only imagine how clueless and afraid they were as they stood there, staring into the clouds hoping for one last glimpse of the Master.
“And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel. Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”
There it is. Do you see the chronological order? The Holy Spirit will not indwell men until after Jesus is “taken away” at the Ascension. How is He taken away? That is extremely important to this study. Look again.
He is raised up from the earth alive, in His Resurrected and transformed Body, and taken up until He vanishes in the clouds. That is how He is taken away – and the Promise given is that is how He will return.
Now fast forward from the event that kicked off the Church Age to the event that signals its conclusion.
The Apostle Paul described it in detail to the Thessalonians in his first letter. He returns in reverse order to His departure. The Lord Himself will descend from Heaven, where He will resurrect the dead in Christ and then those living will be ‘caught up’ into heaven at the Rapture.
But the Apostle Paul evidently left out a few details that caused the Thessalonians some confusion. Apparently, it left them confused enough that he felt it necessary to write them again to straighten things out.
There was a heresy in circulation that said that Nero was really the antichrist, and the Thessalonians were afraid they had been left behind.
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”
No, no, Paul says. “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” he asks, before filling in the missing blank spot in the equation.
Remember, the issue under discussion here was a rebuttal of the false doctrine claiming that Nero was the antichrist. Nero can’t be the antichrist, Paul says, and here’s why.
“And now ye know what withholdeth that he [the real antichrist] might be revealed in his time.”
Let’s go back and quickly review what we’ve covered about the beginning of the Church Age.
- Jesus is bodily taken out of the way by rising from the earth and ascending into heaven
- The two witnesses in white reveal that Jesus will return in the same manner in which they watched Him go.
- The Holy Spirit comes upon and indwells the Church.
Here is what the Apostle Paul says will signal the end of the Church Age. It ends in reverse order to the way it began.
- The Lord Himself will descend from heaven into the air in like manner as He left,
- The restraining Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way, together with the vessels He indwells.
- The antichrist is revealed and the Tribulation Period begins.
First the Holy Spirit must go away, then Jesus will come. In like manner as we saw Him go.
There is but one purpose for the indwelt Church of Jesus Christ to be on the lookout for signs of the antichrist. For the same reason that meteorologists look for signs of bad weather – to give the warning.
But in order to obtain an accurate forecast, it is necessary to look at all the signs in their totality – we can’t just pay attention to the ones that make us feel good about ourselves.
It is a good news-bad news situation, which makes it a difficult balance. The Bible is the epitome of good news – the very word “Gospel” means good news. Bible prophecy is also a message of good news – but from a somewhat more limited perspective.
The good news is that the Bible predicted all the bad things that we are seeing unfold upon the earth, because it means that God still has everything under control. The bad news is that all the bad things the Bible predicted would unfold upon the earth is, well, unfolding upon the earth.
There are no signs to signal the Rapture. There is nothing to look out for. There isn’t even a perspective that anyone can hang their hat on. The Rapture is ‘the vanishing’ – but we only vanish from the perspective of those left behind.
We can’t look at signs like earthquakes, famines and wars and conclude anything about the Rapture. Those signs aren’t of the Rapture. They are signs of impending Tribulation. They are only important because the Rapture comes first.
So as much as we really WANT to be looking for the approaching Christ, the only tangible thing we can nail our hopes to, weirdly enough, is the signs of the coming antichrist. If we can discern the approach of the antichrist, then it means that the Rapture is just that much closer.
There are many well-meaning Christians that believe that pre-tribbers do the Church a great disservice because the pre-trib doctrine doesn’t prepare Christians for what to do about the Mark of the Beast. To my way of thinking, this is one of the more baffling arguments, but it must gain traction somewhere because I hear it so often.
Here is my rebuttal to that argument.
In the event that a world leader demands to be worshipped as a god as a condition of economic participation and requires you to accept a mark in your right hand or forehead as a token of worship, don’t do it.
Now, to justify the title of today’s OL – why we need to know what we don’t necessarily want to know.
Since there are no signs preceding the Rapture, the only benchmark measurements available to us are the signs that precede the antichrist, of which there are many.
The antichrist is a politician. He carries a bow, but no arrows, because his principle weapon is politics.
By all accounts, the antichrist does not seize power, he achieves it by universal acclamation – “Who is like unto the beast? And who is able to make war with him?”
The antichrist of whom the Bible speaks does not arrive in secret – he explodes onto the world stage at a time when the world is looking for answers from anyone but Jesus. He is not one of many choices – he is the ONLY choice available.
He is a liar whose rise to power is accompanied by many lying signs and wonders – but he is thrust into power by the people – if we are right on the timing, by people that are alive right now.
So it is extremely illuminative of the lateness of the hour when a charismatic politician rides into power on the back of lies and disinformation, shows total disregard for Congress, or any law, buys off the money trust, starts wars in the name of peace and reverses sixty years of friendship with Israel as part of his commitment to globalism.
It isn’t that Obama is the antichrist – I expect the antichrist will be far more competent. But before Obama, it was a lot harder to imagine how the antichrist would be able to accomplish all that the Bible sets before him in just seven years.
Until you look at what Obama has accomplished in less than three.
I am as sick of the Obamanation as you are. And there are a lot of things I am learning that I really, really would rather not know.
But it isn’t possible to understand unfolding Bible prophecy without an understanding of the political machinations that bring the antichrist to power or enable him to accomplish his mission.
It isn’t possible to explain how he will use the economy to enforce his edicts without understanding how it works. I don’t believe that the Lord provided us with such a clear and unambiguous model if we weren’t to learn from it.
The three main pillars of government during the Tribulation Period are the antichrist’s control of a global economy, religion and government.
If we are to be watchmen on the wall prepared to give the warning, we need to know what we are warning of. The antichrist isn’t a cartoon character wearing a red union suit and carrying a pitchfork.
Neither is he an amateur buffoon with no concept of how to lead or any clue of the Law of Unintended Consequences. (That’s how we know it isn’t Obama.)
In any case, he won’t be wearing a name-tag.
Since there are no signs preceding the Rapture, the only signs we have are those that warn of the Tribulation. But they are not there to prepare the Church to endure it.
“Hey, bad things are coming. Nothing you can do about it, though. If you manage to avoid the Mark of the Beast, you’ll die a horrible death. If not, you’ll spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. Being saved has nothing to do with it. So suck it up, buttercup!”
What kind of warning is that?