Are You Looking for the Christ or the Antichrist? (Part 2—Conclusion)

By Dr. Renald Showers – The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry – http://www.bibleprophecyblog.com/2012/09/are-you-looking-for-christ-or_17.html

The Beginning of the Day of the Lord’s Wrath

In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and 5:9 Paul indicated that Church saints will not experience the outpouring of God’s wrath during the future Day of the Lord, implying that the Church will be removed from the earth before that day—with its divine wrath—begins. In light of this implication, the question must be asked, When will the future Day of the Lord, with its outpouring of God’s wrath, begin? Several biblical facts provide the answer to this question.

First, the first four seals of Revelation 6 involve a great outpouring of God’s wrath upon the earth. Three things indicate that this is so: (1) Christ is the One who breaks these seals (vv. 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12; 8:1); thus, He is the source of the horrors unleashed through the opening of the first four seals. (2) God is the One who determines the extent and effects of the famine of the third seal (v. 6). (3) The first four seals involve death by the sword (war), famine, pestilence (plague) and wild beasts, and the Scriptures indicate that these four things are instruments of God’s wrath (Lev. 26:21–28; Dt. 28:20–26; 32:22–25; Jer. 15:1–9; 16:4, 10–11; 19:7–9, 15; 21:5–7; 44:8, 11–13; Ezek. 5:11–17; 6:3, 11:12; 7:3, 8, 14–15; 14:21; 33:27–29; 38:19–22; 39:4).

A comparison of the events following the opening of the first four seals with the beginning of birth pangs (Mt. 24:5–7) indicates that those events and the beginning of birth pangs are the same thing, and there are reasons for concluding that the beginning of birth pangs will take place during the first half of the 70th week of Daniel 9. One of those reasons is that the Bible describes both the time of Jacob’s trouble and the Great Tribulation as unprecedented times of trouble (cp. Jer. 30:6–7 with Dan. 12:1 and Mt. 24:21), thereby indicating that the time of Jacob’s Trouble and the Great Tribulation are the same thing since logically there can be only one such time without precedent. In addition, the Bible associates birth pangs with the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:6–7). Since the time of Jacob’s trouble and the Great Tribulation are the same thing and since birth pangs are associated with the time of Jacob’s trouble, then birth pangs must also be associated with the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation is the unprecedented time of trouble; therefore, the birth pangs associated with it must be the severe birth pangs of hard labor. They cannot be the less severe, beginning birth pangs which precede hard labor. In light of this, the beginning birth pangs of Matthew 24:5–7 must take place during the first half of the 70th week before the Great Tribulation of the second half of the 70th week begins.

The events of the first four seals and the beginning of birth pangs are the same thing and the beginning of birth pangs will take place during the first half of the 70th week; therefore, the first four seals must also take place during the first half of the 70th week. Those seals will involve a great future outpouring of God’s wrath upon the earth, and the Church will be removed from the earth before that outpouring of God’s wrath upon the earth. It must be concluded, therefore, that the Church will be removed from the earth before the first half of the 70th week.

Second, in 1 Thessalonians 5:2–3 Paul indicated that the coming of the future Day of the Lord will be similar to the coming of a thief in the night and the birth pangs of a woman with child. The similarity that Paul had in mind is that just as a thief in the night and a woman’s birth pangs come suddenly without warning so the future Day of the Lord will come suddenly without warning.

The birth pangs of a woman that come suddenly without warning are her beginning birth pangs, not her later, more severe birth pangs of hard labor. The later birth pangs do not come without warning for they are preceded by the beginning birth pangs. Thus, Paul was teaching that the beginning of the future Day of the Lord will be characterized by the beginning of birth pangs.

As noted earlier, the beginning of birth pangs (Mt. 24:5-7) will take place during the first half of the 70th week, and the beginning of the future Day of the Lord will be characterized by the beginning of birth pangs. It can be concluded therefore that the future Day of the Lord will include the first half of the 70th week of Daniel 9.

As noted earlier, the Church will be removed from the earth before the future Day of the Lord when his divine wrath begins, and the future Day of the Lord will include the first half of the 70th week; therefore, the Church must be removed from the earth before the first half of the 70th week.

Third, in 1 Thessalonians 5:2–3 Paul indicated that the future Day of the Lord will come suddenly with destruction when the unsaved feel that they have peace and safety in the world. In conjunction with this it is important to note that once the events of the first four seals begin, the world will not be characterized by peace and safety until after the 70th week ends. The rider of the second seal will be given authority to take “the peace” (literal translation) from the earth. The first four seals will bring death to the people of one-fourth of the earth through the sword (war), famine, pestilence, and wild beasts (Rev. 6:8). This is the opposite of peace and safety.

According to the Bible, the sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts go together with lack of peace and are the result of God’s withdrawal of peace (Jer. 14:12–14; 16:4–5); but the absence of the sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts is characteristic of peace and safety (Lev. 26:56; Ezek. 34:23–30; Hos. 2:18).

The events of the first four seals will be characterized by the opposite of peace and safety, since once they begin the world will not be characterized by peace and safety until after the 70th week ends. Since the future Day of the Lord will come suddenly with destruction when the unsaved feel that they have peace and safety in the world, it can be concluded that the future Day of Lord cannot begin at any time after the events of the first four seals begin. Instead, the future Day of the Lord must include those events.

Since, as noted earlier, the first four seals will be opened during the first half of the 70th week, and the future Day of the Lord will include the opening of the first four seals, it can therefore be concluded that the future Day of the Lord will include the first half of the 70th week.

Because, as noted earlier, the Church will be removed from the earth before the future Day of the Lord when its
divine wrath begins, and the future Day of the Lord will include the first half of the 70th Week the Church must be removed from the earth before the first half of the 70th week of Daniel 9.

The Imminency of Christs Return

The expression the imminency of Christ’s return means that Christ could return at any moment. Nothing else has to happen before His return. Two significant things should be noted concerning the imminency of Christ’s return. First, the Bible teaches the imminency of His return in such passages as 1 Corinthians 1:7; 16:22 (“Maranatha” means Oh, Lord come!); Philippians 3:20; 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:12–13; James 5:7–9; Revelation 16:15; 22:7, 12, 20. Some of these passages declare that the Lord is near or at hand (even at the time the New Testament was written). Others indicate that the believers of the first century were eagerly waiting for Christ to return. All of them imply that He could return at any moment.

Second, throughout the history of the Church many of its leaders have recognized that the Bible teaches the imminency of the Lord’s return. Following are examples of such recognition:

•The First Epistle of Clement, 23 (written around 96 AD. by Clement, a prominent leader of the church at Rome who knew some of the apostles personally and probably is the one referred to in Phil. 4:3), “Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished, as the Scripture also bears witness, saying, ‘speedily will He come, and will not tarry.’”

•The Didache, chapter 16, section 1 (written as early as 70 to 90 A.D. or as late as 120 to 180 AD.), “‘Be vigilant’ over your life; ‘let your lamps’ not be extinguished, or your loins ungirded, but be prepared, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come.”

•John Calvin, the reformer at Geneva during the 1500s and founder of the Presbyterian Church, made the following statements in some of his commentaries on books of the Bible: “Be prepared to expect Him every day, or rather every moment.” “As He has promised that He will return to us, we ought to hold ourselves prepared, at every moment to receive Him.” “Today we must be alert to grasp the imminent return of Christ.” Commenting on 1 Thessalonians 4, the Rapture passage, Calvin said that Paul “means by this to arouse the Thessalonians to wait for it, nay more, to hold all believers in suspense, that they may not promise themselves some particular time … that believers might be prepared at all times.”

•The Westminster Confession, xxxiii, 3 (written by the Puritans of England during the 1600s), declared that men should “shake off all carnal security and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come.”

•J. Barton Payne, a 20th-century opponent of the pretribulation Rapture view, could not deny that the imminency of Christ’s return was taught in the Bible and was believed by Church leaders throughout the Church age. In his book The Imminent Appearing of Christ, after an entire section dealing with some of the Bible passages upon which the imminency of Christ’s return has been based historically, Payne made the following comment about the concept of Christ’s imminent return: “The preceding section has validated a considerable group of passages that do demonstrate its legitimacy. In fact, no natural reading of Scripture would produce any other conclusion.” Payne also stated, “Belief in the imminency of the return of Jesus was the uniform hope of the early church.” Concerning early Church believers, he said, “They were waiting, eagerly awaiting, His imminent appearing.”

The pretribulation Rapture view is the only view of the Rapture which comfortably fits the biblical teaching of the imminent return of Christ. It is the only view that can honestly say that Christ could return at any moment and that nothing else has to happen before His return. Since all the other views believe that the Church will go through at least part of the 70th week of Daniel 9 before Christ returns to rapture it, those views cannot honestly say that Christ could return at any moment. According to those views, at least some part of the 70th week of Daniel 9 has to transpire before Christ returns to rapture the Church.

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Categories: Bible Prophecy, Breaking News

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3 replies

  1. I just don’t see a mid-tribulation or post-tribulation return of Christ. I agree with the author that the rapture comes before these events, and it could come at any time. Great article, Lyn.

  2. Keep looking up, for that is the way He is coming.

    We are one day closer – and it might be today.

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