Have you ever thought about the world ending? Have you ever imagined what it would be like if this earth no longer existed?? If you are a film goer, it is difficult, I would even state near impossible, not to think of the end times. In 2013 alone, the film industry released ten apocalyptic projects! The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of the adjective apocalyptic is “describing or prophesying the complete destruction of the world”. These films range from apocalyptic events involving aliens, robots, natural disasters, zombies, illness and others. Whether humorous, realistic or truly serious, this fact provides some insight that our society, inherently thinks on end times.
With this in mind, let’s delve into the message shared by Joel. In January of this year, Gravity Church launched into learning and discussing the end times. We specifically examined end times from the Biblical standpoint. We have discussed the Bible in previous Gravity Church teachings and we do believe that it is Truth and the foundation by which we build our lives. That being said, what does the Bible say about the end times? Does the Bible tell us anything about the end times? Yes! The Bible certainly tells us much regarding the end times. Let’s begin.
I have also previously posted the video link with the teaching. I have done my best to summarize and highlight as there is much information to digest and unpack! Enjoy.
In Christian terms there is talk of the rapture, an event that occurs at the end times. The word rapture itself is not in the Bible, however, it is derived from the Latin word “rapturo” and the concept of this word rings true throughout Scripture. This word “rapturo” is a translation of the Greek word meaning “caught up”.
Let’s look at Scripture. 1 Thessalonians 5 verses 16 to 18 state this,
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
We believe this to be true! This is the rapture and folks, it is coming to a city near you! When you talk with Christians of the end times, of Jesus returning to earth, there is a tendency to receive one of two main reactions. The first being an individual who will begin to excitedly tell of indicators and signs of Christ returning. The eminence of His return! Secondly, one may receive the reaction of a Christian stating that they have often heard this. This second response in and of itself is a sign of the end times. What?? How so?
Are there indicators in our generation of the last generation? Let’s look at 2 Peter 3 verses 3 and 4,“ Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
There are many questions and many directions that this teaching can take us. This is what questions we specifically entertained during this evening.
Let’s give an outline for you, the reader to follow.
- How it happens
- How long until it happens
- How should we respond?
How it happens
Again the Bible does not leave us hanging. Fair, we are not given an exact date or time, nor will this be stipulated in this teaching. However, God desires for His people to be prepared, to be mindful of His coming.
The Bible describes in 1 Thessalonians 5 verses 1 and 2,
“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night [italics added]”
A thief does not give forewarning. One does not contact the homeowner just to give them the heads up that they are coming to take their home entertainment system. A thief appears suddenly, in the night, in the darkness where one is not easily seen.
This is the HOW. As we continue in the teaching, we will examine prophecy. This is inevitable when studying and reading through Scripture. In fact, one third of the Bible is prophecy! We also study prophecy because present time and seasons point to the SUDDEN and SOON coming of Christ! [Yay!]. God wants this day to be unexpected, but He wants His people to be prepared for the unexpected.
How long until it happens
Look at verse 3 of 1 Thessalonians 5,
“While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
The picture of a pregnant woman experiencing labour pains provides us with the understanding that the pains experienced will increase in intensity and frequency before the “big event”. There is an increase before the birth of the child. This understanding will be utilized further on.
There appears to be this inherent need as humans to predict. We do this in many areas of life; we predict the weather, predict how financial markets will fluctuate, we predict the date of the birth of a new child and so forth. It is not to be misunderstood that we are not to predict anything. It is not wrong to inherently predict, however, this is not how Scripture works. Jewish prophecy does not follow this outline, it is patternistic. We will look at patterns that will indicate to us when the end times are on the way.
Let’s look at Biblical patterns regarding the end times in the Prophecy Puzzle
1. Isaiah 17
2. Psalm 83
3. Zechariah 12
4. Isaiah 19
5.Daniel 9 verse 27
6. Ezekial 38
We will spend the majority of this teaching in the first square of the six, in Isaiah 17. Let’s begin our campout.
- The first three verses of Isaiah 17 are this,
A prophecy against Damascus: “’See, Damascus will no longer be a city, but will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to flocks, which will lie down, with no one to make them afraid. The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and royal power from Damascus; the remnant of Aram will be like the glory of the Israelites’, declares the Lord Almighty.”
Damascus is the capital of Syria. Syria can be seen from Israel. Syria has been in the world news in the last few years. It is one of the top areas geopolitically. Syria is the only nation using seran gas on its’ own people. It is a nation among the top producers of chemical weapons, to the US, this is a game changer. Assad, the leader of Syria is utilizing this knowledge and capability.
Joel Rosenberg, an American author and evangelical Christian has recently written a book called The Damascus Countdown. In it, he examines current events in Syria and questions whether Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled and will be fulfilled in our lifetime?
Reread verse 1!
Syria is a city state; most of it’s’ people live in and around Damascus. This city has never been uninhabited, has never been destroyed. This prophecy has not happened yet. It is reserved as a sign of the end times.
Verse 14 states, “In the evening, sudden terror! Before the morning, they are gone! This is the portion of those who loot us, the lot of those who plunder us” describes the coming of the war that will hit Damascus and destroy Syria. When has a war ever occurred so quickly? When has sudden terror occurred in the evening and before morning rises, a nation is gone, destroyed? One must think of Hiroshima in Japan. Bomb dropped and obliteration. May this be a potential for Syria?
- And 6. The fulfillment of this prophecy can occur prior to our discussion of Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38 and be the reason why Syria is not in the coalition of Middle Eastern nations that come against Israel mentioned in Psalm 83 and Ezekial 38. It is also a known and understood fact that Syria is anti-Israel.
Read Amos 1 verses 1-5. Let’s highlight verse 3, “This is what the Lord says, ‘For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath….”
Look at the facts: Syria has engaged in war with Israel how many times?? Three times. 1948, 1967 and 1973. Could the fourth time bring about Syria’s downfall- complete destruction of the capital- Damascus?? Let’s keep laying forth and examining prophecy given to us.
2.and3. Psalm 83 and Zechariah 12 can very well happen in concert.
Psalm 83 v.4 gives us a prophecy about a response against Israel. A collection of nations that are to come against Israel.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”
Verses 5-8 provide us with a coalition of named nations and Aram [Damascus] is not included.
Let’s look at Zechariah 12 verses 1-3.
“This is the word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares, ‘I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.”
There is to be a stirring over Israel and Jerusalem, a desire to move the boundary stone. What is going to happen with Jerusalem? Three of the top world religions lay claim to Jerusalem; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In that day when they agree to move the boundary, ‘Let’s take Israel and move it out of the way’, that is the day of the Lord, sudden destruction to come- like pain in labour.
When one is in Israel, one can feel it, it is thick, spiritual, real when you are there.
The prophecies interconnect with each other. The surrounding nations around Israel have stated that they are against Israel.
Back to the labour pains. They increase in intensity. Ronald Reagan was president of the United States in 1981 to 1989. From this time, the United States have met with Israel on specific matters twenty times. In 2013 alone, John Kerry, the current Secretary of State, held meetings with Israel nine times. Nine out of the twenty in the past year! There is a need or a desire for a peace agreement, a peace accord outlining an elusive two state solution here in Israel.
4.Let’s turn our attention back to Isaiah. Chapter 19 verses 1 to 4 state this,
“An oracle concerning Egypt: See, the Lord rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before Him and the hearts of the Egyptians melt within them. ‘I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian- brother will fight against brother, neighbour against neighbour, city against city, kingdom against kingdom. The Egyptians will lost heart, and I will bring their plans to nothing; they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead, the mediums and the spiritists. I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them’, declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.”
Have we not seen this begin to unfold? The outbreak in 2011, is this the beginning of the fulfilment of this prophecy? Do not all of these, Isaiah 17, Psalm 83, Zechariah 12 and Isaiah 19 lead to the confirmation of a 7 year peace agreement. The worlds’ going to be saying what Thessalonians’ says, “Peace, Peace!”.
5.Daniel 9 verse 27 and Revelation 13
In Daniel 9, Gabriel has just finished describing in Daniel’s prayer, what is to happen in Israel and he zones in on the last week of the year which has yet to be fulfilled. This year is to be fulfilled in some distant future, which we call the 7 year tribulation. Then he talks about the antichrist who will rise up and this is what he says,
9 verse 27, “He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’. In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. An on a wing of the temple eh will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him”.
This verse is placed alongside Revelation 13 and the antichrist’s control of a global economy. One world, currency, economy, this will be an individual who is seen as restoring peace in the Middle East. In a sense, this gives him the free reign to control a global economy, which will lead to a global government and a global religion. This leads us into the battle of Gog described in Ezekiel 38.
6. Ezekiel 38 v.3-6 describes the Lord being against Gog,
“and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army- your horses, your horsemen fully armed and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its’ troops and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops- the many nations with you.’”
The list given here includes Russia and Iran, but no Egypt or Syria; perhaps they are at this point already gone? In verse 14, it is clear that something has allowed Israel to let her guard down, “when my people Israel are living in safety”. They are dwelling securely, they are able to rebuild the temple.
One does not need to have to look very far to realize that the one thing Israel wants and this is PEACE. It will be a false peace from the false Christ, the antichrist. Once permission to rebuild the temple is given, things are seemingly good and there is peace. But when they say “peace, peace” and security, then the sudden destruction comes!
Midway through the seven year tribulation- the abomination of desolation by the antichrist and it will be realized by the Jews that this person is not the true Messiah. Jews will then flee- believed to flee to Petra, in Jordan for the rest of the seven years and God will protect His remnant Israel there.
Zechariah 14- Jesus will touch down on the Mount of Olives and will destroy the antichrist with the breath from His mouth. The brightness of His coming!
Israel will look onto Him who they have pierced- prophecy!
How should I respond?
Wow! What a fascinating, fact filled and real teaching! Now you have read or listened to this, one must respond. What is your response? Let’s look to 1 Thessalonians again.
“But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
Live expectedly. Live in anticipation of the end times. How does that look? Being children of the light, encouraging, building, loving. We have the hope of salvation, as Christians and “whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him!”.
We can live with an eternal perspective, with an understanding that our works will be judged and our opportunities for service on earth will end.
Be encouraged, be light and as we look forward to next month, pray with us for those involved with Gravity Church and our city. May the Holy Spirit continue to work mightily and draw His Creation to Himself!