On his second missionary journey, the Apostle Paul received a vision from the Holy Spirit to go to Macedonia (Greece, Bulgaria, part of Yugoslavia), rather than to Asia. He and Silas boarded a ship and crossed the Aegean Sea to Philippi, a major city and Roman colony.
Paul started a church in Philippi and stayed there until he cast a spirit of divination out of a slave girl. This upset the girl’s masters who profited from her fortune-telling. A riot broke out, ending up with Paul and Silas being thrown into a Roman prison and beaten.
After their release, Paul and Silas traveled to Thessalonica. There he preached in the Jewish synagogue for three consecutive Sabbaths. Some Jews were converted, along with many God-fearing Greeks and prominent women. A church was planted in the city.
Another riot forced Paul and Silas to leave Thessalonica and travel to Berea.
The above is the background for the founding of the Thessalonian Church and Paul’s two letters to them.
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2)
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition…Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:3,5)
The Apostle Paul taught the the Thessalonians for just a few months. Now, during this same time period, Paul also labored night and day to provide for his own needs so he wouldn’t be a burden for the new church in Thessalonica.
Thus, it wasn’t like he taught every day or every night. Maybe just on the Sabbath and another evening or two during the week.
Yet, Paul’s message included meaty teachings on the end-times and the Day of Christ’s return because in his followup letters to the Thessalonians he wrote that “he didn’t have to write about times and seasons, Day of the Lord, falling away or the man of sin (Antichrist). Why? Because he had already taught them on this subject.
If the Apostle Paul thought the end-times were important enough to take up his valuable time teaching new converts, shouldn’t we also place an emphasis on them?
Do you realize Jesus also placed an importance on end-times teaching?
So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand) (Matthew 24:15 ESV)
See you next time when we will begin digging into the end-times.
The Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation sometime around 90 AD. He would have been in his mid-70s at the time, being the youngest of the twelve original apostles who walked with Jesus. All of the others were martyred by then.
The Temple had already been destroyed (70 AD), Jerusalem was almost totally destroyed by the Romans (70 AD) and there was no nation of Israel when John received his vision from Jesus. We can only wonder what was going through his mind at the time.
You see, for the prophetic words in the Book of Revelation to be fulfilled there has to be three entities set in place:
- The Temple
- The city of Jerusalem
- The nation of Israel
If any of these three entities are missing, then the prophetic words can’t be fulfilled.
For nineteen hundred years, nothing happened. Many Bible scholars even debated whether the Book of Revelation was an allegory, rather than a prophetic book based on truth. The odds looked so impossible for any of the three entities to ever be restored.
Then, two thirds of the world’s Jewish population were killed in the Holocaust. Two thirds! Skeptics wondered if the Jews could ever bounce back from such devastation.
Yet, out of the ashes, the nation of Israel was born in 1948. Only West Jerusalem was returned to Israel at the time. Another nineteen years passed before Israel annexed the rest of Jerusalem in the Six Days War of 1967.
So, since 1967, only the Temple is needed to begin the time-clock for the fulfillment of the Book of Revelation, but of course, there are a few obstacles to overcome before this happens.
The Temple Mount is revered by both Islam and Judaism. The Muslims built the Dome of the Rock there and consider it the third most holy site for their religion. And the Jews believe the Temple has to be built on the Temple Mount.
How can this be resolved? Can you have both the Temple and a Mosque on the Temple Mount at the same time? Is this possible? I have no clue, but I also have no doubts that God has plans to make the Temple happen.
When will this take place? Soon…
When we study the End-Times, we have to stay focused on the main story line, which is Israel, Jerusalem, the Jews and their Jewish King. Yes, you and I have been written into the story with our salvations because we have been grafted into the natural olive tree – Israel. But we ourselves are not the main story line, okay?
With that in mind, let’s look at the Jewish calendar and some important dates and feasts:
Nisan 1 or Rosh Chodashim (during our March or April): This is New Year’s Day for Israel because it is the day when Israel was delivered out of Egypt. Talmud tradition states that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob each died on Nisan 1.
But more importantly, I believe (along with Jonathan Cahn and others) that this is the date when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. There are lots of reasons behind my thinking, but most of it links to the Jewish calendar and God’s order of events. Interestingly enough, our modern calendars begin with the year of Christ’s birth. Thus, why shouldn’t the Jewish calendar begin with the month of Christ’s birth?
Feast of Passover or Pesach (Nisan 14-15, during our March or April): Passover is the feast of salvation which celebrates the blood of a lamb delivering Jews out of Egyptian slavery. Jesus fulfilled this feast by becoming our Lamb of God, dying on the cross and applying His blood to our sins and lives.
Feast of Unleavened Bread or Chag HaMotzi (Nisan 15-22, during our March or April): This feast celebrates the removal of sin (yeast) from people’s lives. Jesus fulfilled this at the cross by being broken for us and becoming our Bread of Life.
Feast of First Fruits or Reshit Katzir (Nisan 17, during our March or April): This feast celebrates the fertility of the land. Jesus fulfilled this feast when He rose from the grave and became our First Fruit.
Feast of Pentecost or Shavu’ot (Sivan 6, during our May or June): This feast celebrates the summer harvest. This was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit fell on believers fifty days after Jesus rose from the grave.
I wrote the above to show that all of the Jewish spring feasts have been fulfilled and fulfilled in order. That leaves us the fall feasts to be fulfilled sometime in the future.
For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2)
Over and over, we’ve heard that nobody knows the day or hour when Jesus will return, right? They even say, “He will return like a thief in the night.”
But because our Bibles are written in English, and not in Hebrew or Greek, we miss the idioms the Bible author meant when he wrote his letters. These idioms were common knowledge back in the apostles’ days, but have been lost to most of us today.
The phrase “thief in the night” refers to the fall Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashana. The Torah commanded that no one was to work on this day. But because the Sanhedrin had to first see the new moon before they blew a trumpet (or shofar), the day was made into a long day of 48 hours. Thus, the moon showed up like a “thief in the night” during that time period.
Also, the “thief in the night” refers to when the bridegroom returned for his bride, according to his father’s instructions. No one knew the day or hour when the bridegroom would show up.
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:4
We seldom hear that Paul clarified his earlier words about the “thief in the night,” but he did. He knew his readers would understand that the idiom referred to Feast of Trumpets.
And guess what?
The next feast on the Jewish Calendar, which needs to be fulfilled, is Feast of Trumpets.
We will develop this more in future articles.
Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory states that Christians will not go through the seven years of tribulation as described in the Book of Revelation and mentioned in Daniel 9:25. It also believes the Church can be raptured at any time. Maybe even before you’re done reading this article.
The pre-trib view is held by almost 90% of American pastors, most American ministry heads and most American Christians who attend traditional churches. I specify Americans mainly hold this view because Chinese, North Korean, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Sudanese and countless other Christians in various countries reject this view as an outright lie. These believers live in persecution now and have no worries about End-Times’ persecution. They trust their God, even in the midst of fiery furnaces of persecution.
Okay, my number one argument against the pre-tribulation rapture theory are the words of Jesus in Matthew 24, which is one of the keystone chapters in End-Times Bible studies.
Chapter 24 begins with Jesus prophesying about the total destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. (This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the temple and killed a million Jews.)
Jesus spent the rest of Chapter 24 talking about the End-Times, specifically the seven years of Tribulation and His second coming at the end of the seven years of tribulation.
Stop and think for a moment: who is Jesus talking to in Chapter 24? He is talking to His disciples who are believers, like us.
So, when Jesus used the word “you” in verses 3, 6, 9, 15, 23, 25, 26, 33, 34, 42, 44 and 47, He is telling this to His disciples and to believers like us today. (Check out these verses and note how they refer to persecution and tribulation.)
Plus Jesus also used the words “His elect” in verse 31, which talks about Him rapturing His church from the four ends of the earth. But when does this take place?
Immediately after the tribulation of those days…(Matthew 24:29)
It’s hard to argue with Jesus, or that’s my viewpoint.
Now, to be honest, I believe most pastors and believers hold the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory because it’s the easiest out for them. They can just mark an X in the box next to the theory and forget about praying, fasting and searching Scripture like the Bereans did, especially the 150 chapters that refer to the End-Times throughout the Bible.
Is this really important?
For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.25 See, I have told you beforehand. (Matthew 24:24-25)
Jesus believed it was important enough to warn us ahead of time. Shouldn’t we follow His advice?
If you’re going to write about the End-Times, you eventually must mention the Antichrist. So, why wait? Let’s talk about him today.
Is Barack Obama the Antichrist? Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, the Antichrist? Is George Soros the Antichrist? Is Donald Trump? Is the Pope? Who?
The term Antichrist is only used four times in the Bible. All of them appear in John’s first and second letters to the churches in Asia Minor.
Yet, the Antichrist appears all through the Bible, but with different names. He’s known as the Assyrian, man of sin, son of perdition, the lawless one, the beast, the adversary, the little horn and the king who shall do according to his own will.
The Antichrist must for sure come out of the territory in the old Roman Empire and most likely out of territory in the old Assyrian Empire (northern Iran, northern Iraq, northern Syria and southeastern Turkey).
The Antichrist will be pompous, boastful, an aggressive warmonger, a sinister schemer, a cunning trickster, a liar, a deceitful murderer, prosperous, a blasphemer against God, shall not regard the god of his fathers, have fierce features, have no desire for women, but have a regard for the god of fortresses. (These descriptions are from Daniel 7, 9, 11.)
As you can guess, Obama, AOC, Soros, Trump and the Pope can not be the Antichrist because they do not fit the biblical guidelines.
Thus, how can we be sure who is the Antichrist?
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day [of the Lord] will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.(2 Thessalonians 2:3)
The Apostle Paul stated that we would know who the Antichrist is for sure when the Antichrist sits in the Temple of God in Jerusalem, exalting himself as God and showing himself to be God.
There are a couple of other ways, but we will talk about them in the future.
Sometimes our prophecies and our teachings are wrong. Hey, this happens! But usually it’s not because of any sinister reasons on our parts, it’s just because we didn’t have enough light at the time. When it happens, we need to humble ourselves and say, “Forgive me. I blew it.”
Now, let’s look at the parable of the fig tree prophecy.
Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Matthew 24:32-35)
The prophecy concerning the above verses in Matthew 24 as proposed by Chuck Smith, Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe, Tim LaHaye and many others in their popular books stated that the fig tree represented Israel. And that when Israel became a nation in 1948, the countdown began for that generation. So that some of those living in that generation would see the rapture of the Church by Jesus within forty years after 1948. (All presumed a generation was forty years.)
Thus, when 1988 arrived and left, what did most of these men do? Almost everyone said that their mistake was not in the fig tree representing Israel, or the year 1948, but rather, they misinterpreted the length of a generation. It should have been seventy to eighty years and not forty years.
Okay, 2018 has passed. The next date in which this prophecy can be confirmed as a true prophecy will be 2028.
Hello! Don’t hold your breath. This prophecy is wrong!
I don’t have any idea what revelations and insights Smith, Lindsey, Van Impe, LaHaye and the others had in mind when they pronounced their “parable of the fig tree prophecies.” These are good men, but somehow they missed it.
Maybe each overlooked Luke 21:29-33, where Luke states: “Look at the fig trees, and all trees.”
Or maybe their inner alarms were ringing so loud about us living in the last days that they ignored other Bible passages. This happens, you know!
Yet, it doesn’t matter because when the rapture didn’t occur in 1988, each should have stepped forward and said, “Forgive me. I blew it!” But none did!
Of course, that’s easy for me, an obscure nobody on the backside of the desert, to say. I don’t have millions of copies of books sold and millions of believers looking up at me, thinking, “I’m a somebody.” I don’t have that type of pressure laying on my shoulders.
Hal Lindsey was once asked, “But what if you’re wrong” by a professor. His answer was perfect:
Well, there’s just a split second’s difference between a hero and a bum. I didn’t ask to be a hero, but I guess I have become one in the Christian community. So I accept it. But if I’m wrong about this, I guess I’ll be a bum. (See here)
The parable of the fig tree prophecy is wrong. So, let’s move on, okay?
(Continued in Part 6)