[Revised September 16, 2017]
Tim Lahaye’s Left Behind book series (1995–2007) took the world by storm. Mr. Lahaye gave a biblically-informed, fictional narrative of the Apocalyptic timeline in novel form. After the final release, one of my relatives bought and devoured all the books in nearly one sitting each. People want to know what the Bible has to say about the future.
Like Mr. Lahaye, I see the Bible teaches that the Redeemed of the Lord will be removed physically from planet earth before the Apocalypse begins. [By the way, it will begin with 3.5 years of peace before all Hell literally breaks loose for the next 3.5 years.] But, this is not to say genuine Christians will suffer nothing at the hands of persecutors before the Rapture. The Apostles taught “we must suffer many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Moreover, Peter writes: [1 Peter 4:12-19]
12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of gloryb and of God rests upon you. 15But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?18And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”19Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Specifically, believers will see quite a lot of Bible prophecy unfold before their eyes before the Rapture. The book of Daniel predicts Anti-Christ will present an agreement to Israel, which marks the beginning of Jacob’s Trouble, a.k.a. the Great Tribulation Period, The Apocalypse. All events after that agreement are considered within the “Period of Divine Wrath.” But, God has not appointed believers to suffer wrath, but to obtain deliverance (1 Thessalonians 5:9). That means believers will physically witness all the prophecies which precede the agreement. Our lives will be—rather, are currently being—affected by what Jesus labeled “these things” and “Birth Pangs” and “Beginning of Sorrows,” (Luke 21, Matthew 24).
As Christian’s we are looking for more than a couple of pre-tribulation events… none of which will take long to take place.
A. Psalms 83. The nation’s around Israel attacking and getting destroyed with some type of Nuclear exchange, leveling Damascus (Isaiah 12), Amman called Rabbah in Jeremiah 49.
B. We look for a collapse of the the world economy necessitating a ten part empire with the one world emperor leading the ten and making an agreement with Israel.
C. A global (false) religious system, supported by a political, military & monetary global empire. (Zechariah 5, Daniel 7, Revelation 13, 17-18).
- Will believers see the Battle of Armageddon (Joel 3) or the War of Gog and Magog as described in Isaiah 17, Jeremiah 49, Ezekiel 38, Revelation 20 and Daniel 8? No, because these great end-times wars sandwich the 1,000 years rule of Jesus like book ends (Revelation 20). The rapture and the Great Tribulation precede the Battle of Armageddon, which precedes the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus, which ends with the War of Gog & Magog.
- Will believers see an event called “THE Apostasy” (a.k.a. the rebellion), when the entire globe, including ‘name only’ Christians, will suddenly and vehemently reject the notion of a monotheistic Creator God? Yes. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 It must occur before Anti-Christ can be unveiled. Please consider what kind of event this must be to precipitate such a global falling away. Certainly, this is a strong delusion (2 Thessalonians 2:11)—some worldview shattering phenomenon—sent by God upon those who disobey the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I, like many others, believe this will be nothing other than fallen angels masquerading as aliens in order to fulfill the prophecies of Peter and Paul, which state mankind will go after myths (2 Tim. 4:4)—the gods (from the stars) of the ancient myths (Babylonian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Persian, Hindu, Greek and Roman). In fact, Luke 21:26 states people will literally faint due to the fear and foreboding of what is coming UPON (as in ‘down upon from above’) the earth. These things will mark the beginning of the Tribulation period.. St. Peter states in contrast (1 Peter 1:16), “We do not follow after cunningly devised fables” (lit. myths).
- Will believers see the unveiling of the Man of Lawlessness, the Son of Perdition, the Anti-Christ himself? Yes. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
- Will believers see the expansion of Israel’s borders? Maybe. If the expansion is due to the agreement made between Anti-Christ and Israel, then perhaps not… because, again, everything after the agreement is the period of divine wrath.
- Will believers see the construction of the 3rd Jewish Temple? Maybe. Many Bible students believe the Anti-Christ will be the one to direct the construction of the 3rd Temple of the Jews only to desecrate it (Abomination of Desolation, Matthew 24:15-16). Whether or not he/Israel will build before or after an agreement is highly debated.