Friday, August 26, 2016
This year we see rapidly occurring signs of the end-times. Earthquakes increase; horrid wild fires consume thousands of homes and destroy forests; floods ravage entire towns and leave death and disease in their wake, as town-leveling tornadoes destroy. All these warn of the end-times and God wants all of our attention, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13).
In love, mercy and grace, God gave His saints clear signs of the times that we are not deceived like those who do not believe His Word. The truth is that devastating weather events, terrorism, wars, pestilences, the transhumanism of Noah’s day, and the transgenderism of Lot’s day, will increase globally from now until the end of this age. Yet, this important question remains.
How can we know the seven-year tribulation has begun?
Pre-trib rapture adherents have no motivation to even ask such a question as their deceptive ministers have for many decades preached the falsehood, that, “If you live to see the Antichrist, then you’ve missed the rapture!” Yet it was Christ who taught, “when you see the abomination of desolation…standing in the holy place…understand” (Matt. 24:15)!
Here’s the problem: the same fear and unbelief exercised by ancient Israel at Numbers 13 and 14, for which five-sixth of the entire house of Israel perished outside their otherwise intended inheritance, also motivates the pre-trib rapture adherents’ end-time unbelief of what God said.
I have exercised the Acts 17:11 Berean heart, mind and spirit in my studies of the end-times and am thus compelled to believe God and not the traditions of man. I believe the testimony of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit regarding the end-times, for they agree perfectly one with another.
And unless our life ends before Jesus returns, we will all, “see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (Matt. 24:15), which occurs at the middle of the tribulation when Antichrist breaks the Dan. 9:27 covenant he makes with Israel, and then stands in the third Temple in Jerusalem proclaiming himself to be God.
But until that time, however, Antichrist’s deceptive identity may well be kept covert. And God rebukes His people for not discerning the signs of the times. But for the pre-trib rapture believer, there are absolutely no signs for which he or she watches as they’ve been taught to believe in an imminent rapture event, but imminent redemption defies the very nature and character of God.
The belief that God’s redemptive nature is imminent, sudden, or without notice, wholly disagrees with God’s Word. Consider the non-imminent redemption of: Noah’s flood, Abraham’s exodus from Ur of the Chaldeans, Joseph’s seven-year famine, the first Passover, Israel’s exodus from Egypt, the wilderness Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, and the first advent of Messiah.
Two thousand years ago, “wise men from the East” (Matt. 2:1) knew Messiah was to come, and watched for signs God gave them as it was written. Watchful, they endured and found Messiah. So too today, God gave His wise, watchful servant’s signs of the times for the second advent of Messiah, and in faith following those signs they too shall endure to the end and find Messiah!
Christ wants you to be equipped to identify when the tribulation begins lest you be offended by the words of false ministers yet ringing in your ears that, “If you live to see the Antichrist, then you’ve missed the rapture”. Those false ministers themselves will be right here on the earth for the entire tribulation. But how can we know the tribulation has begun?
First, the signing of the Dan. 9:27 covenant between Antichrist (the pope of Rome) and Israel will be the most broadly recognized sign. But suppose that event is not readily knowable, after all, Antichrist personifies deception, “with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9). Therefore, it would be his nature to keep his identity and this event as covert as possible.
And speaking of the pope of Rome, no one in the world until Pope Francis has conquered by unity such diverse faith systems as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and others. Pope Francis is the most esteemed and worshiped, all-inclusive global religious leader since Christ. Many spiritually blind evangelical leaders have trekked to Rome to give Pope Francis their support and admiration, and thus ensnare their equally blind followers and congregations.
True Christians do not support Pope Francis’ false unity movement. Salvation in Christ Jesus is highly exclusive. It excludes on the basis that, “he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). Judaism and Islam both denounce Jesus Christ as the Son of God. And any pastor who will not defend these truths is a false witness.
The spirit of Antichrist is creating a One World religion calling for unity between Christianity, Judaism, Islam and all others as one, under a false banner of love. Pope Francis has created and continues to lead that effort. Woe to the blind guides who lead people into unity and common ground with Pope Francis. Such are without discernment and partake of his evils.
I further believe that Pope Francis is the rider on the white horse who already, “went out conquering and to conquer” (Rev. 6:2). He has united the religious world. He also signed an Agreement with Palestine in 2015 for statehood within the land of Israel, which angered Israel. But he will heal Israel’s anger by an even better seven-year “covenant” allowing the anxiously waiting orthodox Jews to build their third Temple and return to the Torah’s sacrificial worship.
This September or October, expect the unthinkable from Pope Francis. Two years ago he said he was prepared to baptize aliens into the Catholic Church. I will not be surprised when he does, for aliens are real demons. There will also be an interfaith meeting in the Old City of Jerusalem from September 4–23, 2016. Will the first of seven Revelation trumpets sound during this time?
Secondly, we will know the tribulation has begun when the, “two witnesses [begin to] prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth” (Rev. 11:3). This begins after he, Antichrist, “shall confirm a covenant with many” (Dan. 9:27). Then Rev. 11:1 shows the Temple and its Jewish worshipers being measured, judging its dimensions and the people’s authenticity.
Note that the ministry duration of these two witnesses is 1,260 days in the first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation and will be reminiscent of the ancient prophet Elijah’s 1 Kings 17 and 18 ministry as he proclaimed a 3 1/2 year drought and killed false prophets. At the start of the second 1,260 days of tribulation, Antichrist breaks his covenant and, “the daily sacrifice is taken away” (Dan. 12:11) and, “he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:4).
Here’s why it’s important to watch for these signs. With the unfolding of end-time events, media coverage of them will likely go dark. The elite will want to keep this quiet. President Obama has already given away control of the internet to global powers which takes effect in October 2016. The deceptions of those days and the absence of truth will be remarkable.
In this regard I believe every Christian household should have printed off a seven-year calendar by which to track and record the passing number of days from the beginning of these events. We live by the Gregorian calendar, but God uses the 360 day per year Jewish calendar. At Revelation 11:3 God tells us that the number of days of the first half of the tribulation will be 1,260.
God also provides us the number of days of the second half of the tribulation. “Then the woman [that is, the freewoman of Gal. 4:21–31] 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” (Rev. 12:6). In the event of media or electrical power blackout, unless one has been tracking the number of days himself, one will not know when the time has come to flee to the safety and provision of God.
Christ descends for His elect sometime during the seventy-five day period, “Immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29–31), and confirmed at Dan. 12:11–12. In knowing God, we must know that imminence is not His redemptive character or nature; it’s simply not found in the Scripture. Yet, most of the church falsely teaches that the rapture is an imminent event.
Thirdly, we will know the tribulation has begun when, at the first of seven trumpets, “hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up” (Rev. 8:7). What a wake-up call to truth. And incidentally, the first resurrection and rapture occurs at the “last”, the Seventh Trumpet!
Of course, science will have a perfectly timed and ready answer for why this first trumpet event will have occurred, the likelihood of which will be assigned to global warming, the depletion of the ozone and greenhouse gases. But we who are in Christ will know exactly what happened; that is, provided we actually believe the end-time Word of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, the First Trumpet judgment of Rev. 8:7 will be reminiscent of the Exodus 9:23–24 seventh plague of hail and fire on ancient Egypt when Pharaoh would not let God’s people go to the wilderness to worship the Lord as He commanded. “So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt” (Ex. 9:24). Ancient Egypt corresponds metaphorically to the entire unbelieving world of this present age.
The Son of God said, “everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40). That’s the truth of the rapture. Thus, “the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:4–6), occurs, “at the last day”, “at the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:51–52). Have you prepared yourself and your loved ones to endure to that end as taught by Christ?
Marlin J. Yoder