Building a house of worship

It may not seem like it to many of us, but these are exceptionally exciting days for Bible Believing Christians.  For a while we have been watching the news as things shape up and begin to set the stage for the final act of this age. The age of the Church, the bride of Christ.

Today, I’m going to take some time to explain how I see things laying out before us. There are many scholars with different views, but I’m presenting this one as a starting point for your research, and our discussion should you wish to talk further.

I am also going to take a ‘conservative approach’ to detailing these things. I will do this partly because there are many who go ‘over the top’ in predictions that are not all that helpful. And secondly because what is happening is so sensational that even ‘a conservative approach’ is enough. I believe that it shows us very clearly that this particular age in human history is very quickly coming to a climax, and its conclusion.

This age is ending soon

I will be drawing some diagrams to help those of us who are visual thinkers and I hope this will help. But to begin with, I suspect that some of you are already asking, “what do you mean by ‘this age?’ And how many ages are there to still to come?” The short answer is two more (at least). I say, at least, because I would never want to limit God. From the Bible we know there are multiple ages to come. Ephesians 2:7 makes that clear:

(God) raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6-7)

What does the end of this age look like?

I mentioned there are a number of different views on how the future will play out. I will be focusing on the one that I believe contains the greatest Biblical evidence. It is fair to say that I have a great deal of confidence that this is correct.

In the view I’m presenting, the next event on the calendar always has the potential to be the return of Jesus for His bride. Another description of this is the rapture of the church. ‘Rapture’ is a Latin word that is found in 1 Thessalonians 4 which is translated in the English to be ‘Caught up.’ 

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

You may hear some people say that you don’t find ‘rapture’ in the Bible so there is no such thing.  Actually, it is in the Bible, and the Rapture is a Biblical certainty. The only question that remains is around the timing of the Rapture.  It is an event of which no person can know the day or the hour, but it is possible to know the season and read the signs of its nearness, which is all we are doing today.

The doctrine of immanence teaches that it can happen at any moment, nothing needs to proceed it. Those who hold to a pre-tribulation rapture (i.e. before the Great Tribulation, also known as the 70th week of Daniel spoken of in Daniel 9), believe it must happen sometime prior to that ‘70th week’ beginning.  That period of time is spoken of in many places throughout the Bible, and is begun when ‘the Antichrist’ confirms a covenant between Israel and ‘the many.’ This is most probably a reference many nations.

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; (Daniel 9:27)

So how do we know that this age is ending?

The purpose of this article is not to be caught up in questions over when the Rapture happens, but to show some current signs that are evidence that this age will soon be over.  There are a couple of events, spoken of in the Bible, that happen either just before the ‘confirming of the covenant, or immediately following. One of the key events is referred to as the battle of Gog and Magog.  There are some who believe that this battle makes up part of the war at the end of the 70th week, which would only make this presentation more urgent, but lets take a conservative approach for now.

The battle of Gog and Magog is described for us in Ezekiel chapters 38 & 39.  No battle like this one matches any in history, for one reason because it mentions weapons used only in modern warfare.  Interestingly chapter 37 describes the ‘rebirth’ of the Nation of Israel that occurred during the middle of the 20th Century.  Ezekiel 38 & 39 describes a remarkable war that takes place between specific nations (all named by their ancestral names).

These nations have been moving into an alliance with one another for some time now, and their common target is Israel. These nations include Iran, Russia, Turkey, Libya, Sudan and areas encompassing nations like Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan etc.

What has often interested Biblical Scholars is the absence of some of the other nations who have been hostile to Israel. Nations like Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the gulf states, along with those residing in Gaza and the region known as the West Bank.  They are described as watching on, but not engaged in the battle.

What has changed that is so critical?

What happened last week to immediately make us sit up and pay attention was that the United Arab Emirates and Israel are to sign a Treaty. That agreement has been brokered by the Trump Administration. On top of this, it appears that other states of sympathetic nature, such as the Saudi’s are ready to sign on also.

All this answers the question as to why those nations are not a part of the alliance that attacks Israel. However they are in the story. They comment from the sidelines towards their Islamic neighbours who have engaged in the battle:

‘Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?’ Ezekiel 38:13

They will not engage in the battle, because they have agreed to an alliance with Israel. What is the result of the battle of Gog and Magog? If you read the end of the story, you discover that it doesn’t end well for the nations who attack Israel. God Himself steps in, in a battle that is clear will involve weapons of mass destruction.  (Ezekiel 39:14-15)

What concerns me in all this exchange is that I believe that Trump has made a grave mistake. Maybe, and I would only say maybe, the death of his younger brother is a sign or a result of what has taken place. Any efforts to divide Israel is declared to be an act against God. Joel chapter 3:2 says:

I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgement with them there, on account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.

This event is understood to be the final battle of the Great Tribulation. It occurs immediately before the return of Christ who will reign on earth for 1,000 years.  That time is described in verse 18-21, but I’ll let you read that for yourself.

What does all this mean?

The nations are in place to come against Israel as described in Ezekiel’s prophesy. The reason for them to do so is also clear. Turkey is becoming exceptionally bold, Russia is becoming desperate, and Iran have always had the motive, Libya and Sudan and the smaller nations will be easily caught up in this as their allegiances have already been drawn with this larger more powerful nations.

Those nations who are on the sidelines now also have the mechanics by which they are not actively involved.  Add to that, the powerful nations of the world are intent of dividing Israel to obtain peace. All that needs to happen now is for the Church is removed from the world. That would have a crippling effect on nations where Christian morals and leadership still exert some level of influence. Without doubt the scene is fully set for the whistle to blow, or more accurately, for the trumpet to sound.

The icing on the cake

There is one final thing that I need to add. The events around the Covid 19 pandemic only add to the readiness for a world leader (Described in Daniel 9:27) to step into the arena and unite the nations.  The call for a global vaccine is loud and clear.  What is less known is the plan to add the ability to trace every individual so as to restrict who can buy goods, engage in trade or even work. Even to track everyone’s movements. (Revelation 13:17) Reports suggest that it has been developed and is ready to be included when the vaccine is found.  Long before we had even heard of Covid 19, these plans were being developed. 

Add to that the very questionable nature of the world response to this pandemic. How easily have we allow ourselves to be isolated, stop working, live under a curfew? If you think about it, a curfew would only make matters worse). We are ready to follow instructions without engaging in debate as to whether the outcome will be worse or better.

The world now tolerates riots, destruction, mass gatherings in the name of a ‘worthy cause.’ At the same time we forbid people from meeting for worship, or even to debate and remain accountable at a government level as is necessary in a healthy democracy.  We pay no attention when pharmaceutical companies and health agencies declare that a drug (that has been safely used and readily dispensed for over 60 years) is now declared to be dangerous to your health. All because some doctors have found that it is effective in treating and curing patients with Covid 19. 

There is no question in my mind ‘that the masses’ are ready to believe and follow anyone and do anything in order for their lives to ‘go back to normal.’ The stage is set, of that I am certain.

What now for Christians?

Is there more ahead for us?  Possibly, but not necessarily?  Is there anything to fear?  Not from man there isn’t.

“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! Luke 12:4-5

What is ahead for us? Firstly, at any given moment we may be instantly transformed and meet our Lord and our beloved family and friends in Christ in the air. This gives us all reason for great joy and wonderful anticipation. These are not dark times for believers, but days of great hope. But ahead of that, every moment is precious. We don’t know how long the Lord may tarry, it is unlikely to be long, but only the Father knows the exact moment of our Lord’s appearing.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

If the only thing that Jesus is holding out for is that others should get on the ark before the storm hits, then surely that must be our focus too.  Let us devote ourselves to prayer for the lost, waiting on the Lord to provide opportunity to throw out a lifeline and to reach out in love and participate in the rescue of those who otherwise are perishing.

And let us encourage our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We should lift our hearts and voices in worship throughout the day, every day, as we look forward to the moment when we will worship face to face.