Tag Archives: last days

Signs of the Times: What the End Times Will Look Like

This post is the conclusion to a series I’ve done on the end times over the previous 7 posts.  To read the entire series, please go to “Home” above and then scroll down to see Parts 1-7.

Washington in Great TribulationAs I said previously in this series, I believe Jesus’ words on the end times, found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 17 & 21, are the key to understanding what the Bible teaches about the last days.  I believe the Old Testament prophecies on the end times, such as those found in Ezekiel and Daniel, as well as the New Testament book of Revelation and the apostle Paul’s teaching on the last days, should all be interpreted in light of Jesus’ own words in the Gospel passages mentioned above.

As I explained in Part 1, I do not hold to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view, which has been the most popular view among evangelical Christians in modern times.  Instead, I take a Post-Tribulation view of the end times, for reasons explained in Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.  (A more complete summary and explanation of the Post-Tribulationist viewpoint, as well as a list of known pastors and scholars who hold this view, can be found here.)  What I want to do in this post is bring everything together and make some very general predictions about what I think the last days will entail

As I said in Part 1, taken at face value, Matthew 24 gives a pretty clear description of events prior to the rapture and the return of Christ.  Those events can be summarized as follows (the following list is taken directly from Part 1 of this series; verse references are to Matthew 24):

  1. First, there will be many false teachers who will claim to come in Jesus’ name or to be Jesus, but they will not really be from him, and will lead many astray (verses 4-5)
  2. Wars, ethnic tensions, and natural disasters will increase; yet this is only the beginning of the end (v. 6-8)
  3. Persecution of Christians will increase (v. 9)
  4. Many who have espoused the Christian faith will fall away (v. 10).
  5. False teachers will continue to increase (v. 11)
  6. Wickedness will be multiplied, causing the love of many to grow cold (v. 12)
  7. Other Christians will remain faithful to Christ and endure to the end, and through them the gospel will be preached throughout the entire world (v. 13-14)
  8. Once the gospel has been preached to all nations, the end will come, which will bring about a time of tribulation worse than the world has ever known (v. 14, 21)
  9. The tribulation will be sparked by a terrible abomination, the nature of which is not entirely explained, rather it seems to be referred to almost in code, the answer to which is contained in the Old Testament book of Daniel.  The time surrounding the abomination will be so severe that it will require people to drop whatever they’re doing and flee to the mountains and presumably to remote places where they will have to hide out wherever they can find (v. 15-22).  (Many believe the temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt and that the abomination will take place there; however, I’m not sure a literal temple is necessary for this to take place.)
  10. Meanwhile the false teachers, false Christs, and false prophets will continue to proliferate, deceiving everyone but the elect–that is, the chosen followers of Christ. The deception will even be bolstered by great signs and wonders performed by these false teachers.  There will be rumors flying that Jesus has returned, but we are warned not to listen to them, because Jesus’ return will be so obvious that rumors won’t be necessary (v. 23-28)
  11. [It’s worth mentioning here that 2 Thessalonians 2:3 warns against a great false prophet who will arise known as “the man of sin” or “man of lawlessness,” traditionally referred to as the Antichrist.  More on this below.]
  12. At the end of the tribulation, signs will appear in the heavens as follows: “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn….” (v. 29-30)
  13. Then “they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (v. 30-31).  This is the rapture, and as we see, it comes at the very end of the tribulation, at the time of Christ’s return, and not before.

Now, to the idea that we can use this passage to discern end times events, the objection is often raised that wars, ethnic tensions, and natural disasters have always been a part of human experience, so how is this description unique to the end times?  Likewise, they say, false teachers, persecutions, and Christians leaving the faith have always been a part of the church’s experience as well.

However, what we need to understand here is the magnitude of what is being described.  This passage describes wars, ethnic clashes, natural disasters, the arising of false teachers, persecutions, and falling away from the faith on an unprecedented scale the world has never seen before.  The thing that will be different about the end times is that all these tragedies will be “on steroids,” so to speak, at a level of intensity and frequency the world has never known.

To get an idea of what this might be like, consider recent events.  In the last few years we’ve seen unrest in the Arab world as never seen before, with the so-called “Arab Spring.”  This has resulted in great instability in Egypt, and in the ongoing civil war in Syria, which has now spread to northern Iraq as ISIS militants are trying to take over large swaths of land in both countries.  ISIS is persecuting Christians and other minorities in truly gruesome and hideous ways.  Their desire is to set up an “Islamic State” in the region which would be run based on an extremely strict interpretation of the Quran and which would seek to exterminate all non-Muslims.  At the time of this writing, large sections of Iraq have fallen to these extremists, so that now they are on the very outskirts of Baghdad.

Likewise Nigeria has seen the proliferation of Muslim extremism in the growth of a militant group called Boko Haram (which means “Western education is forbidden”).  This group has been carrying out terrorist attacks in the northern and central areas of country.  They are purported to have killed more than 5000 civilians since 2009–2000 of those in 2014 alone.  In April they kidnapped over 200 students from a state run girls school.  The girls were forced to convert to Islam and to marry members of Boko Haram.  The whereabouts of many of the girls is still not known.  This is but one in a long string of incidents perpetrated by this extremist group. (1) (2) (3)

In the Congo region of Africa, a warlord by the name of Joseph Kony leads a militant group that works under the chilling and terribly ironic name of “The Lord’s Resistance Army.” Kony and his followers travel the countryside conscripting children into their army by capturing families and then forcing the children to kill their parents.  Women in these families are routinely gang-raped by Kony’s forces.

Meanwhile, conflict continues to escalate in Israel between Palestinians in Gaza and the nation of Israel.  Russia invaded Crimea earlier this year, and has now moved into parts of Ukraine and is eyeing the rest of Ukraine as well as other areas which were once part of the Soviet empire.  It is said that Vladimir Putin wants to rebuild the Soviet Union again.

In western Africa there has been another outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, which kills well over half its victims. This strain of the virus appears to be more virulent than any before.  Previous outbreaks affected a few hundred people and then were contained, and were usually confined to a single locale or region.  The 2014 outbreak, though, has infected thousands (current estimates are over 8000 so far, with over 4000 deaths), and has spread to four African countries. There is no sign of the outbreak subsiding yet.  Just recently the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in the United States.  This patient has since died, and now one of his caregivers has been diagnosed with the virus, becoming the first recorded case of Ebola transmission in the U.S.

Also on American soil is the ongoing turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri after a white police officer shot and killed a black man on August 9.  This sparked outrage on the part of blacks not only in Ferguson, but throughout the nation. Initially there were riots in Ferguson, but unrest between protesters and police continues to this day, almost 2 months later. (The collection of events mentioned in the above section on current events was suggested by this blog post.)

I’m sure I’m forgetting some crises as well.  There is a lot of stuff going on in the world right now.

Now, (if you can) imagine the above sorts of events multiplied 10 times or 50 times or 100 times in the same span of time. Imagine more wars, more terrorism, more racism, more riots, more crime, more moral decay, more deadly diseases, more persecution and hostility toward Christianity and Judaism.  Imagine one natural disaster after another. And imagine all these things happening all at the same time.  Then you might begin to have an idea of how dire the events will be when the end times are finally here, when the birth pangs give way to the great tribulation.  It will be on a scale the world has never seen.

Second Thessalonians 2 describes a “man of sin” who will arise during that time, too.  Traditionally the man of sin has been equated with the Antichrist, and with the beast(s) mentioned in Revelation 12 & 13.  The Antichrist is believed to be a political leader who will become a world ruler that will bring great evil during the tribulation.

2 Thessalonians 2:4, 9-12 has this to say about the man of sin:

4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God….

9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

So we see that the Antichrist will be a leader who opposes all true worship of God, and instead insists on being worshiped himself, much like the Roman emperors of old.  The Antichrist will even be spiritually empowered by Satan to do all kinds of miracles, signs, and wonders, but these will be counterfeit miracles in that they won’t come from the true source of power and life, God himself.  Instead, they will be rooted in evil and their goal will be to deceive the lost.  Many people will follow this man because of the deceptive miracles he will perform, or claim to perform.

How might such a world ruler come to power?  Imagine the world plunged into chaos as described above.  In such a dire situation, the world would be very hungry for a leader strong enough to manage the situation.  Imagine that all of a sudden in the midst of the chaos a ruler appears promising to restore order–in exchange for your total, unquestioning allegiance.  In a time of great trial and terror, many people will be only too willing to do anything to have the world return to “normal” again.  The above is what we should be on the lookout for with regards to the rise of the Antichrist.

Revelation 13:5-18 says this about the Antichrist:

5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. 6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast — all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

9 He who has an ear, let him hear.
10 If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity he will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
with the sword he will be killed.

This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.

11 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

18 This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.

This passage talks about two beasts.  There are a lot of theories about that.  The challenging thing in interpreting Revelation is knowing what is meant to be taken literally, and what is meant to be taken figuratively.

Verses 5-8 sound similar to what we just read from 2 Thessalonians 4.  The beast is very proud, and he blasphemes and slanders God and all that is holy, and demands to be worshiped.  He persecutes Christians and the whole earth worships him–everyone except the elect (Christians).  The implication is that believers will have the insight to see through this man and recognize who he really is and avoid worshiping him, but unbelievers will be captured under his spell and will be completely deceived into worshiping him instead of God.

The thing we want to watch out for is this: If (when) the world plunges into utter chaos, be on the lookout for a political leader who promises to restore a sense of normalcy, performing mighty–even seemingly miraculous–works, and demanding total allegiance. He will force Christians, and perhaps people of all religions, to choose between their faith and following him.  Those who refuse to worship him, those who disobey him, those who question him, those who refuse to renounce their faith for him, will be killed.  It will be a choice between life and death.

Revelation 13 also talks about the mark of the beast.  There has been a lot of speculation about what form the mark will take. Many believe it will be literal, such as a tattoo of some sort on the forehead or hand signifying total allegiance to the beast and allowing for commerce.  Some have speculated that it will be a microchip implanted in the hand or elsewhere in a person’s body that will take the place of money and will allow the government of the Antichrist to track people at all times.

Others think the mark of the beast may symbolize a cultural mindset that will be utterly opposed to the worship of Christ, such that Christians will be forced to choose between their faith and their physical life.  Whatever it is, though, it’s clear that the mark of the beast will require Christians to choose between total devotion to Christ or total devotion to the Antichrist.  There will be no neutral ground, and no escape.

So the question is: How will we know when these events have come to pass?  Well, I believe we won’t have to wonder, we will know.  The events described in Matthew 24 and its parallel passages in Mark and Luke will be of such magnitude and severity that it will be plain to everyone that the times described there have come.  So if you look around at world events and you have to wonder whether it’s the end times yet or not, then probably the answer is no, not yet.  For the times foretold in Matthew 24 will be so severe and of such intensity that everyone will wonder what hit them.

People sometimes say “If things keep getting worse in America then God is going to have to apologize to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.”  And I just laugh when they say that.  Go read Genesis 19 again and then tell me things in our day are worse than they were back then.  Not even close.  When the day comes that mobs are going door to door throughout our cities gang-raping everyone in sight, then maybe we can talk about it, but until then, we have a very long way to go before our situation will come anywhere close to the days of Sodom.  Things can and will get much worse before the end comes.

Now Jesus was clear that no one knows the day or the hour of his return.  But he did instruct us to watch for his return (Matt. 24:42), and to observe the signs of the times (Matt. 24:33).  He said we’ll know it’s coming because the signs he described will be taking place.  Remember, again, the key is the horrific scale on which everything will be happening.

One thing that’s noteworthy about the times we live in is that for the first time in history the technology is available to make possible a totalitarian one-world government.  Imagine, for example, what horrors would be possible if GPS technology was employed by a totalitarian power on its citizens.  Imagine if all the capabilities of the US military were at the disposal of an evil power.  This is all you have to think about to envision how bad things could get, and how possible it would be for an Antichrist figure to rule the world with an iron fist, and to strike terror in the world’s population, and to command total allegiance.

What will life be like for God’s people in these times?  I think on the one hand we will experience uncommon power and grace. God will empower us to do the things we need to do, to fight the spiritual battles we need to fight.  God will protect his children from many things.  But also we’ve already seen that there will come a time when Christians will have to run for their lives, when–if we remain true to God and refuse to take the mark–we will no longer be able to buy the things we need like our basic necessities–food, gasoline, utilities, paying the rent, etc.  Times when we will be hunted and murdered for our faith, unless the grace of God intervenes.  This is why Revelation says this of believers in the end times:

11 They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.  (Revelation 12:11)

This will require supernatural courage, but saints throughout history have been given that courage when their lives were in danger, and history is filled with the stories of courageous martyrs who found God’s presence and peace in the face of death.

Let me conclude by saying, I wouldn’t mind being wrong. I wouldn’t mind at all if the pre-tribulationists turn out to be right, and we are all raptured out before things get really bad.  But I don’t believe that will happen.  I don’t believe God wants His children to have an escapist mentality in the world’s darkest hour.  The Bible says we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  Don’t you think God would want us to be those things even in the end of days, as He has throughout history?  Isaiah 60:1-3 says

60 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

I believe these verses apply to the end times more than any other.  It will get dark, but as the dark gets darker, the light of God’s people will shine brighter.

I also wouldn’t mind if I’m wrong and things don’t get as bad as I think they’re going to.  I wouldn’t mind if the preterists turn out to be right in their claim that the worst time the world has ever seen already happened back in the first century.  Although they are rather vague about what the future does hold in store.  But I won’t mind if things don’t get as bad before the end as I think they’re going to.  I won’t mind being wrong.

But I think it’s going to get bad, and I feel compelled to warn people of what’s coming.

So what do you think about the scenario I’ve described?  Do you agree or disagree?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.

I believe this is an important and timely message, because I believe the times I described here may be upon us soon.  So I want to get the word out.  If you agree, will you share this message using the social media sharing buttons below?  Thank you!

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Signs of the Times – Thoughts on the End Times, Part 5

Part 5: Why Some Believe the Earth Will Be
Renewed Instead of Destroyed

Click these links for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

(Happy thoughts, these, about the world being destroyed, eh?  O:-) )

In my last post I gave Scriptural reasons why I believe the Bible teaches that this world as we know it will eventually end and be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth (for my previous post, click on “Part 4” above).

Today I want to examine two alternative points of view to the one I proposed in my last post, not so much to refute them, as to share them and acknowledge that these other views could have some validity.  However, I will go on to point out some of the problems with these views and how I feel from a biblical standpoint the burden of proof is on those who hold them to demonstrate why they are viable possibilities.

Literal Or Symbolic?

In my last post I shared a number of Scripture texts which, if taken literally, I believe show conclusively that the Bible foretells the eventual end of our world.  I won’t repeat all these passages here, but will just share a couple of them, as examples.  (For those who read the last post, I know this is a bit of repetition, but please bear with me, for I’m going somewhere with this.)

Matt 24:29-31

29 “Immediately after the distress of those days

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

2 Peter 3:3-13

3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

Notice the qualifier I gave above: I said, if these passages are taken literally, I believe they show conclusively that the Bible foretells the end of the world.  And there’s the rub.  For there are some Bible interpreters–perhaps many–who believe these passages should be understood symbolically rather than literally.

As far as I can understand it, the reasoning for this point of view goes that this imagery of the world ending in the New Testament is also found in the Old Testament.  Those who hold this view claim that the Old Testament passages about the world ending were never intended to be taken literally but instead refer to the collapse of earthly kingdoms.

For example, some who hold to this view believe Matthew 24 was largely fulfilled when the Roman empire besieged Jerusalem in 67 AD and destroyed the temple in 70 AD.  They interpret Matthew 24:29 as symbolic of the fall of Jerusalem rather than as intended to be a literal collapse of the heavenly bodies.  (I will address the view that Matthew 24 has already been fulfilled in a coming post.)

Those who interpret Matthew 24 in this way believe the passage from 2 Peter 3 should be understood symbolically as well.  They believe it refers to the fall of earthly powers, rather than the literal destruction of heaven and earth.

One of the things I learned in seminary was that often when people interpret the Bible, they find in the Bible what they started out expecting to see when they began.  For example, those who don’t believe in miracles usually approach the text with a bias against the miraculous.  Since they don’t believe in miracles, they conclude that anything in the Bible which claims to be miraculous needs to be explained another way, since they’ve already made up their mind that miracles are impossible.

Likewise, those who can’t abide the Bible’s prohibitions against homosexual activity look at the passages which speak against homosexuality and search for any reasons they can find to render those passages null and void.  If they can’t find a legitimate reason to do so, then they manufacture reasons, which is essentially what the pro-gay factions have done.  But I digress.

These are just a couple examples of how, if we’re not careful, what we want to find, or expect to find, in the Bible can dictate what we allow ourselves to see or accept in the text.

When we read the passages in the Bible that describe the end of the physical world as we know it, we have an interpretive decision to make: Will we accept what we find there at face value, or will we look for another way to interpret them?  My belief is the burden of proof is on those who choose not to interpret these passages literally.  Why shouldn’t we take them literally?  Whatever the answer is, it shouldn’t be because the idea of the world ending is distasteful or unlikely.  Neither of these considerations has any actual bearing on the truthfulness of the prediction.

Basically those who interpret these passages symbolically begin with an assumption that they are symbolic.  They assume the Old Testament passages were symbolic, and then move to the conclusion that therefore the New Testament passages are symbolic as well.  But it is equally likely (and I would say more so) that the Old Testament passages are describing a literal event which hasn’t happened yet.  There are quite a few Old Testament prophecies which remain unfulfilled, and these passages are among them.  I believe the simplest answer is that the Old Testament passages are describing the same events described in the New Testament, all of which still waits to be fulfilled.

The Restoration of All Things

There are a couple of New Testament passages which deal with future things, though, which I haven’t addressed yet, and these deserve to be mentioned.  The passages I have in mind would seem, at least on casual consideration, to contradict the ones I’ve already mentioned that talk about the end of the world.

The first of these is found in Acts 3:17-22

17 “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you — even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets” (emphasis added).

The second passage is Romans 8:18-25

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently (emphasis added).

Based on these passages there are some who believe that rather than the world ending, our present world will be restored and renewed, that it will become the “new earth.”  In particular this belief is becoming more prominent in charismatic circles, for whom the Romans passages holds special meaning.  (I will explore current charismatic beliefs about the end times in another post.)

I can understand why they see that in these passages.  Acts 3:21 implies that when Christ returns, he will “restore everything.”  Likewise, Romans 8:19-21 says that when the “sons of God” are finally “revealed,” creation “will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”  That certainly sounds like restoration and renewal, rather than destruction.

The language in the Romans passage is end-times language.  It speaks of the sons of God being revealed, the creation finally being liberated from its bondage to decay, “our adoption as sons,” and the “redemption of our bodies.”  This is all eschatological language–that is, the kind of language the Bible uses when it speaks of heaven and the return of Christ.  These are things we expect to happen when Christ appears, when we are in his presence eternally.  So we can safely assume that Romans 8:18-25 is referring to events that will take place at the return of Christ.

So How Do We Reconcile This?

Now, the question is, how do we reconcile these passages which speak of the restoration and renewal of the present creation with those that speak of its destruction?

We can go one of two ways: Either we can assume that Acts and Paul give us the true picture of what will happen, and Matthew and Peter (along with several passages from the Old Testament) need to be harmonized with them in some way; or else we can take the other approach, that Matthew and Peter and the Old Testament passages give us the most accurate picture, and Acts and Romans are to be interpreted in light of these.

If we assume Acts and Paul, with their picture of the restoration and renewal of the present world, show us the true picture of what’s going to happen when Christ returns, then we have to make sense of the all the passages which seem to say clearly that the stars will fall from the sky and the heavens and the earth will be destroyed by fire when Jesus comes back.

Now, in 2 Peter 3 it is clear that the fire of destruction is for the wicked (see verses 7, 9).  The implication is that the righteous will be preserved and taken to the new heaven and the new earth (see verse 13).  The words “destroyed” and “destruction” appear four times in verses 3-13.  However, in verse 6, Peter speaks of the earth having been “destroyed” by the flood of Noah’s day.  We know the world wasn’t literally destroyed at the time of the flood; only humanity and civilization were destroyed, so clearly Peter was using hyperbole.  Therefore it’s possible he is also exaggerating in the rest of the passage when he speaks of the world being destroyed by fire.

It’s clear that the fire of destruction he mentions is intended only for the wicked, and so it is a fire of judgment; the righteous (those who know Christ) will be preserved from it.

So if we follow the restoration theme in Acts 3 and Romans 8, then we would have to interpret 2 Peter 3 as being more of a fire of purification in which the world is purged of evil and sin, but not destroyed.  However, the language in 2 Peter 3:10 pretty clearly speaks of annihilation: we’re told “the heavens will disappear,” “the elements will be destroyed,” and the earth will be “laid bare” (emphasis added).  So if we say the world is simply going to be renewed, then 2 Peter 3:10 has to be taken symbolically and not literally.

Yet Revelation 21:1 speaks of the present heavens and the earth having passed away and being replaced with a new heaven and a new earth.  This, along with multiple passages in the Old Testament (see Part 4 of this series for these) as well as the passages in Matthew 24 and their parallels, and 2 Peter 3, all seem to point to the world ending and being replaced by a new heaven and a new earth.

In that case then we would interpret the language in Acts 3:21 and Romans 8:21-22 about creation being restored as something that will happen through the destruction of the present world and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth.  In other words, it is through the destruction of the present world and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth that God restores everything and sets the creation free from its bondage to decay.

I Wouldn’t Mind Being Wrong

I wouldn’t mind being wrong about the destruction of the present world; though unless it is something that happens in my lifetime, it won’t affect me personally either way.  But I wouldn’t mind being wrong.  I wouldn’t mind it if God chooses to renew and restore the present world rather than remove it.

However, I think those who hold the restoration viewpoint are faced with some questions that must be answered.  The current world is fallen, under sin, and–as Romans 8:21 says–in bondage to decay.  If the world is going to be restored, how does the process of deterioration get reversed?  How does this present world in which death and decay are an everyday reality get transformed into an eternal paradise where there is no longer any decay and the righteous live forever?

Moreover, the Bible seems to speak of our eternal future with God as a spiritual reality.  Yes, it says one day our bodies will be resurrected, but in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul says our resurrected body will be a “spiritual” body (see 1 Corinthians 15:44 and the following verses).  Revelation 21-22 describes the new Jerusalem in physical terms, but if we’re going to have spiritual bodies, then the reality John describes in Revelation 21-22 may well be a spiritual reality as well (though a substantial one), just described in physical terms.  If that’s the case, how does our present material world get transformed into the kind of spiritual reality that will be the New Jerusalem?

If the present creation is transformed and “liberated from its bondage to decay” (Romans 8:21) then Romans 8 makes it pretty clear this only happens at the return of Christ, and not before.  Yet there are some who seem to believe that this transformation will be brought about by Christians before Christ returns, or even in order that Christ may return.  However, I don’t think that is what we see in Romans 8 (we’ll look at that view, and the problems with it, in a future post).

Whether the present earth is restored or destroyed and replaced with a new earth, either way the most important part of the message is that those who don’t know and follow Jesus Christ will experience the wrath of God, while those who know Christ will be saved from His wrath.  God Himself has provided an escape from the judgment that is coming on the world because of its sin and evil.  That way of escape is by receiving His Son Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and trusting in him for forgiveness, salvation, and life.  If you have never trusted in Christ as your Lord and Savior, I implore you to do so, for the Bible is clear that all who do not turn to Christ will not spend eternity with Him.

Thank you for reading my blog!  If you find these posts meaningful, please share them via the Share buttons below, or feel free to click “Like” or post a comment.

Up next: A response to the idea that Matthew 24 and its parallel passages in Mark and Luke have already been fulfilled.  Stay tuned!

Signs of the Times – Thoughts on the End Times, Part 3

Part 3 – Final Thoughts on Why I Don’t Believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture

Click these links for Part 1 and Part 2

In the first two parts of this series I’ve explained in detail from Scripture why I don’t believe the rapture will occur before the tribulation.  There’s so much material to cover I’ve had to break it up into three posts. Even so they’re long posts.

Today I want to conclude my thoughts on the rapture and then in future installments I’ll move on to consider other aspects and views of the end times.

Slim Support From Scripture

There’s only one verse of Scripture I’ve ever heard quoted specifically to support the idea of a pre-tribulation rapture.  There may be others, but I’m not aware of them, and would be happy for someone to bring them to my attention.  The only verse I’ve ever heard used to buttress to the idea is Revelation 3:10 ~

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

Pre-tribulationists interpret the words “the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth” as referring to the great tribulation, and they see this verse as a promise that the modern church will be kept from having to endure it.  However, when we look at the context of this verse, we find several problems with interpreting it as support for a pre-tribulation rapture.  Let’s consider that context.

Seven-Churches-of-RevelationChapters 2 and 3 of Revelation contain letters Jesus instructs John to write to seven churches in the region of Asia Minor, as pictured at left (this is modern Turkey).  Revelation 3:10 is part of a letter to the church at Philadelphia (not to be confused with the American city by that name 🙂 ).  The entire passage pertaining to this letter reads as follows (with verse 10 highlighted):

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars — I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. – Revelation 3:7-13

As I said above, Jesus told John to write letters to seven churches.  In most of these letters Jesus has a word of commendation as well as a warning word of rebuke.  The letter to the church at Laodicea contains no commendation.  The letter to Philadelphia is the only one without a rebuke.

Note that the promise in Revelation 3:10 is only for the church at Philadelphia, and not for any of the other seven churches.  Jesus is promising to keep that one church from the hour of trial.  He doesn’t make this promise to any of the others.

Do you see where I’m going with this?  If the promise in Revelation 3:10 was only given to one of seven churches, then logically, that promise would only apply to one seventh of Christians today.  So at best this would mean only a small portion of today’s church would be raptured out, not the church as a whole.  Those who believe in a pre-trib rapture have taken Jesus’s words to one church in the ancient world and have applied them to the entire church in the modern world.

Revelation 3:10 says Jesus gave this promise to the church at Philadelphia because they endured patiently.  We might do well to ask what they endured? Most likely persecution and trial.  So even the promise doesn’t mean they won’t suffer.  It sounds as if Jesus gave it to them because he felt they had suffered enough already.

The fact that Jesus had a rebuke for each of the other six churches implies they had not endured to the same extent as the church at Philadelphia.  To these other churches Jesus basically says “You better shape up or else you’re going to come under judgment.”

So it is with the modern church. If there was a pre-trib rapture, Jesus words to the modern-day church would no doubt be the same: Unless you repent, you will face the tribulation.

Another question to consider about Rev. 3:10 is exactly what Jesus means when he says “I will also keep you from the hour of trial.”  Does keeping them from the hour of trial automatically equate to a rapture?  If that were the case we might expect to see the word “deliver” instead of “keep”–“I will deliver you from the hour of trial.”  But instead he says “keep.” This could mean “preserve” or “protect” rather than deliver.  Some today believe that rather than taking Christians out of the tribulation, God will protect and preserve them in the midst of it.  This is very likely what Jesus means for the Philadelphians in Revelation 3:10.

Another Passage of Scripture

Now let’s consider a second passage of Scripture.  In response to my first post in this series someone quoted 1 Corinthians 15:51-56 as if it were proof of a pre-trib rapture.  The passage does mention the rapture, but once more there’s nothing in it that says the rapture will happen before the tribulation:

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The key verses pertaining to the rapture are 51-52: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

This language is reminiscent of that in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, which we looked at in my last post:

16 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. 17 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.

Both passages describe a trumpet blowing followed by the raising of the dead.  They appear to be describing the same event, and they are.

Now, there’s nothing in either of these passages to signify exactly when they will occur, except we can presume at the end of the age because they refer to the resurrection.  Yet as I noted in my last post, this event is the same one as described in Matthew 24:30-31, which we know it occurs after the tribulation.

So those who interpret 1 Corinthians 15:51-56 as referring to a pre-trib rapture are viewing it out of their pre-trib grid.  There is nothing in the passage itself that calls for a pre-trib rapture.  They are reading the passage through the lens of their theology.

Jesus Returns Twice??

The pre-tribulation view of the rapture requires Jesus to come back twice: first, secretly, before the tribulation to rapture out the Christians, and then again openly at the end of the tribulation to establish his millennial kingdom on earth.  This idea of Jesus coming back twice is not based on sound biblical interpretation.  It wrongly assumes that 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and Matthew 24:30-31 are separate events, with no scriptural basis for separating the two.

Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theology is a Recent Invention

The pre-trib view of the end times is a relatively recent development in church history.  While there is some evidence that this view may have had a few adherents in the early church, it was not generally accepted.  In fact, it didn’t come to prominence until the 19th century.  John Nelson Darby, a leader in the Plymouth Brethren movement, is considered the father of Dispensational theology and also the idea of the pre-tribulation rapture, which he began to teach around 1830.  This view became very popular both in Great Britain and also in America and was disseminated widely in the succeeding decades. It contributed greatly to British Zionism which was very influential in the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.  Dispensationalists in particular believe Israel becoming a nation again is significant in hastening the last days and the return of Christ.

The pre-tribulation view of the end times was very popular among a lot of evangelical and pentecostal groups back in the 1970s and ’80s but seems to be giving way to some other views nowadays.  In future posts we’ll look at some of these other views that are growing in popularity.

In my next post, however, we’ll examine a question that’s important for understanding God’s purposes in the last days: Is the world coming to and end, or will it be renewed?  Stay tuned.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the end times and the rapture by adding a comment of your own.

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Signs of the Times – Thoughts on the End Times, Part 1

Part 1 – Will the Rapture Come Before the Tribulation?

I’ve never been one to think a lot about the end times.  My grandfather, on the other hand–his thoughts on Christianity all seemed to focus on the last days, or what is often called “Bible prophecy.”  To hear him talk, the Bible only consisted of three books: Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation.  These were just about the only Bible books I ever heard him mention, and he was constantly watching TV shows and reading books to try and decipher the Bible’s apocalyptic passages.

I’ve never been like that.  For most of my life I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking or worrying about the end times.

However, the way the world has gone the last several years has gotten me to thinking more about it than I used to.  Our times make me think maybe we’re getting closer to the end.  And I’ve been thinking about the different views I hear about the last days.  The study of the end times is sometimes called eschatology, from the Greek words “eschaton,” which means “end,” and “logos” which means “word.”

I grew up in a denomination that didn’t talk much about Jesus coming back.  Honestly, I’m not sure whether they really believed it or not, even though every Sunday we said: “…From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead” when we recited the Apostle’s Creed–yet a lot of people may not even know what that means, since the language is archaic.  In modern speech it would read “…from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.”  That’s a reference to the second coming of Christ, talking about how he will come from heaven to judge the living and the dead.

But that’s about all that was ever said about it in the denomination I grew up in.  Outside of church you rarely heard anyone mention a belief in the second coming, much less discuss it.

I heard about it from other places, though–through the contemporary Christian music I listened to as a teenager, as well as from my friends in our Bible Belt city who attended more conservative churches.  And from Granddaddy.  The view of eschatology I almost universally heard from all those sources was a premillennial, pre-tribulation-rapture view popularized in 1970s movies like “Thief In the Night,” books like Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth,” and songs like Larry Norman’s “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” which included these lyrics:

A man and wife asleep in bed
She hears a noise and turns her head he’s gone
I wish we’d all been ready
Two men walking up a hill
One disappears and one’s left standing still
I wish we’d all been ready

There’s no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind

This is the view I’ve heard most commonly throughout my life from those who cared about such matters at all.  The premillennial, pre-tribulation rapture view of the end times can be summarized as follows:

In the last days a time of severe Tribulation will come on the earth, as told in Matthew 24:21-22 “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”  However, pre-tribulation rapturists believe Jesus will come back before the Tribulation to take Christians away and spare them the suffering of those days.  They believe the mention of the “elect” in Matthew 24:22 refers to believing Jews who will turn to Christ after they realize that all the Christians have been taken out of the world, proving Jesus is the Messiah after all.  These Jewish believers then become the “tribulation saints” who are martyred for the cause of Christ as described in Revelation chapters 6 and 7.  So according to this view, Jesus returns briefly just before the tribulation to whisk his people out of harm’s way, and then again for good at the end of the tribulation to set up his millennial kingdom, a 1000 year reign of peace.

Since I grew up in a church that never discussed the last days, the pre-tribulation rapture view was totally unfamiliar to me.  When I began hearing about it from my grandfather, the Christian music I listened to, and from my friends who went to more conservative churches, it all sounded very foreign.  I began reading the Bible for myself as a teenager, and I never found anything in it that seemed to support this view.  So I was puzzled about it.

What I did find in the Bible, though, was Matthew chapter 24 and its parallel passages in Mark and Luke.  The events described in these passages are sometimes referred to as Jesus’ “little apocalypse,” or more commonly as his “Mount of Olives discourse.”  At any rate, they are Jesus’ own words about the end times, and to me they seem pretty straightforward:

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.”

3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Take heed that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: 8 all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs.

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.

15 “So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; 17 let him who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house; 18 and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. 19 And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 Then if any one says to you, ‘Lo, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Lo, I have told you beforehand.26 So, if they say to you, ‘Lo, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; if they say, ‘Lo, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man. 28 Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; 30 then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; 31 and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, 51 and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth (Matthew 24:1-51).

In these verses Jesus gives a pretty clear description of what the last days will be like.  They consist of a fairly straightforward sequence of events, which can be summarized as follows (with verse references in parentheses):

  1. First, there will be many false teachers who will claim to come in Jesus name or to be Jesus, but they will not really be from him, and will lead many astray (v. 4-5)
  2. Wars, ethnic tensions, and natural disasters will increase; yet this is only the beginning of the end (v. 6-8)
  3. Persecution of Christians will increase (v. 9)
  4. Many who have espoused the Christian faith will fall away (v. 10).
  5. False teachers will continue to increase (v. 11)
  6. Wickedness will be multiplied, causing the love of many to grow cold (v. 12)
  7. Other Christians will remain faithful to Christ and endure to the end, and through them the gospel will be preached throughout the entire world (v. 13-14)
  8. Once the gospel has been preached to all nations, the end will come, which will bring about a time of tribulation worse than the world has ever known (v. 14, 21)
  9. The tribulation will be sparked by a terrible abomination, the nature of which is not entirely explained, rather it seems to be referred to almost in code, the answer to which is contained in the Old Testament book of Daniel.  The time surrounding the abomination will be so severe that it will require people to drop whatever they’re doing and flee to the mountains and presumably to remote places where they will have to hide out wherever they can find (v. 15-22)
  10. Meanwhile the false teachers, false Christs, and false prophets will continue to proliferate, deceiving everyone but the elect, the chosen followers of Christ. The deception will even be bolstered by great signs and wonders performed by these false teachers.  There will be rumors flying that Jesus has returned, but we are warned not to listen to them, because Jesus’ return will be so obvious that rumors won’t be necessary (v. 23-28)
  11. [It’s worth mentioning here that 2 Thessalonians 2:3 warns against a great false prophet who will arise known as “the man of sin” or “man of lawlessness,” traditionally referred to as the Antichrist. More on this in an upcoming post.]
  12. At the end of the tribulation, signs will appear in the heavens as follows: “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn….” (v. 29-30)
  13. Then “they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (v. 30-31).  This is the rapture, and as we see, it comes at the very end of the tribulation, not before.

(Note: In the passages from Mark and Luke which parallel this one, the order of some of the events is different, but all the same ingredients are there.)

This is why I don’t subscribe to the pre-tribulation rapture view.  After studying the Bible for years, I’ve concluded that Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 and the parallel passages in Mark and Luke are our template for understanding the end times.  Sound principles of Scriptural interpretation say that scripture interprets scripture, and that we should rely on the clearer passages to help us understand the more difficult ones.  Jesus’ words on the last days are some of the clearest statements we have, along with the teachings of Paul, and so these can serve as our guide.  All the other material in the Bible that pertains to the end times, such as Revelation and the books of Ezekiel and Daniel, should be understood through the lens of Jesus’ words, and not the other way around.  Jesus’ words are the key.

And there is nothing in Jesus’ words, or anywhere else in the Bible for that matter, that shows a pre-trib rapture.  The pre-tribulation rapture teaching is an invention of men.  It didn’t come into existence until the 19th century and is a product of a Western mindset that wants to avoid pain and suffering.  The reality is, as a friend of mine once pointed out, there has been more persecution of Christians in the last century than in all of prior church history combined.  It would seem the tribulation has already begun for Christians in some parts of the world.

Those who believe in a pre-trib rapture claim that the word “elect” in Matthew 24:22 refers only to Jews who become Christians after the tribulation begins.  Yet every other use of the word “elect” in the New Testament refers merely to Christians in general.  There is nothing in the context of this verse that implies it should mean anything other than Christians as well.

The view I espouse is called a post-tribulation rapture view, and it seems to be gaining ground.

In my next post I’ll look at some key passages in Paul’s letters that also speak of the end times, to see how they fit in, and what they teach us about the last days.

What’s your view of the rapture and the tribulation?  Do you think we’re in the last days?