- IS IT TOO LATE?
- Peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians.
- Is Matthew 24.31 about the rapture of the church?
- Signs of the Times.
IS IT TOO LATE?
At the beginning of 2020 Prince William announced that we have just ten years left to save the world, a thought repeated by his father Prince Charles and many others concerned for the environment. Greta Thunberg told world leaders in industry, politics and economics at the World Economic Summit in Davos that we only have one year left. She said now is the time to stop emissions of fossil fuels to save the world.
A report by the network ‘Future Earth’, based on a survey of 222 leading scientists, claimed that humanity is under threat from perfect storm of crises which could cause the global system to collapse and threaten the existence of humans ((The Guardian 6/2/20).
The ‘Doomsday Clock’ is a device set up by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, measuring how near humanity is to self-destruction. This is symbolised by pushing the minute hand nearer or further away from midnight. On January 23rd it was moved to 100 seconds to midnight. Dr Rachel Bronson, the CEO of the Bulletin, said: ‘We are now expressing how close the world is to catastrophe in seconds – not hours, or even minutes. It is the closest to Doomsday we have ever been in the history of the Doomsday Clock.
What’s worrying all these people? Mainly climate change and the state of the environment, but that’s not the only problem threatening the world today. Since the start of 2020 one crisis after another has hit the world.
- The Coronavirus has spread disease and fear around the world, with its threat to our health and the power to shut down society and the world economy.
- There have been fires, storms and floods all over the world, a locust plague in Africa is devouring the crops, and earthquakes and volcanoes in various places.
- Multiple areas of conflict in the Middle East threaten more refugees, war and destruction.
This reminds us that there is another clock that is counting down to midnight, the countdown to the Second Coming of Jesus the Messiah.
When asked about the signs of His return Jesus said ‘For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.’ Matthew 24.7.
Let us look at these three items that have been in the news in the first few months of 2020.
This magazine cover is typical of the news stories that we hear every today now. Spreading out from China the virus has now virtually shut down Italy, caused mass casualties in Iran and fear and financial crisis across much of the western world. Now our government has announced the most extreme shutdown of our society in history, bringing massive disruption to people’s lives. The situation is changing rapidly and some of what I write here may well be out of date by the time you read it.
It all began in China, a country which has recently upped its war on believers in God with increased persecution of Christians In October 2019 Xu Xiaohong a Chinese official who heads state-sanctioned Christian churches in China vowed to eliminate Christianity in China. The Communist Party has been stepping up its persecution of Christianity by closing down unofficial churches, and controlling official churches by making them conform to Chinese Communist ideology. Pastors must submit their sermons to Party officials, there must be no teaching of children in church, evangelism outside the church and the distribution of Bibles and Christian literature are forbidden. Teachers are not allowed to be Christian and the elderly are warned they risk losing their pensions if they engage in Christian activity. There is even a move to make Christians rewrite the Bible to make it conform to Communist ideology. Adding to the Bible is not a good idea, as the last chapter of the Bible says, ‘For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to these things God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book.’ Revelation 22.18
Not long after the Chinese official announced his intention to wipe out Christianity, the virus / plague began in Wuhan, bringing devastation to the country.
Li Wenliang, the doctor who alerted the authorities about the disease in December 2019 was rewarded by being interrogated by the police and warned he would be arrested if he did not to keep quiet about this because he was ‘undermining public security’. Now he has died from the disease himself. This story has become widely known in China, making people angry with the cover up by the Party rulers. Since that time the government of China issued “harsh warnings to silence social media postings” threatening 3 year prison sentences to those who spread rumours ‘and thus disturb the social orders.’ Some of the people accused of spreading rumours were hospital workers who posted material showing how bad things were in Wuhan and suggesting the casualty figures were much higher than those given by the authorities.
According to official reports the source of disease was a market selling live animals, including snakes and bats for eating. The alternative explanation is that it came out of the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, the only one of its kind in China, designated for studying dangerous pathogens like SARS and Ebola. A respected epidemiologist, Dr Eric Ding, has analysed the unusual genome of the virus and said it is unlikely to have come about naturally. It looks like it was genetically engineered for the purposes of a bioweapon or as a vaccine that has gone wrong. At an emergency meeting in Beijing, Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke about the need to contain the virus and gave indications that the Chinese government knows that the bio lab in Wuhan was the source of the outbreak.
At its height 500 million people in China were placed on lockdown with travel restrictions enforced in nearly 50 cities and four provinces to contain the disease, the largest such quarantine in world history. In the most severe quarantine areas, the military surrounded cities, blocked all exit roads, with orders to shoot anyone trying to escape. Everyone in quarantined cities was ordered to stay in their house or dwelling, with only one family member allowed to go out and buy food every second day. All public meetings, including Christian services, are forbidden. There have been reports of mass cremations of dead bodies taking place with many more victims of the disease than the authorities reported.
At the time of writing the Chinese government is saying that the disease in China is slowing down and numbers of victims are falling. They are telling people to go back to work. Hopefully they are telling the truth.
Now the disease has spread around the world. On March 10 we were told that cases were spiralling by 2000 a day in Italy where the whole country has now been put on lockdown. Almost all travel and all public gatherings are banned, schools, universities, cinemas, theatres and churches closed, and sporting events suspended. The virus is spreading across Europe with Spain, France and Germany all severely affected and shutdowns happening there. In the UK the disease is spreading and the government is warning of mass infections and deaths. Now we are having to adjust to living under the most extreme lockdown in history.
Iran is particularly badly affected, with the highest death rate outside of China. Up to two million may be infected. The Islamic Regime is accused of mismanaging the crisis, which has spread to Teheran from the pilgrimage site of Qom. There are fears of the virus spreading through the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia has closed Mecca to Muslim pilgrims.
Scientists are warning that the worldwide peak of coronavirus will come next winter, and that any dip in the spring and summer should not be taken as an end to the outbreak. They suggest the virus could infect as many as 100 million people in total.
Hopefully this is an exaggeration but already we are seeing not only a health crisis, but also a financial one.
China is the second-largest economy in the world, and the largest manufacturing nation in the world. Virtually everything manufactured in the world today (cars, trucks, electronic equipment, computers, cell phones, and almost everything else) has parts made in China. With up to 75% of factories shut in large parts of China, this is bound to affect the global supply chain unless the factories are opened again and the people go back to work. China needs to get people back to work to avoid economic collapse.
The country’s small businesses, which employ 80% of China’s population, are expected to run out of cash within three months, if they do not start trading soon. Should this happen, China’s $40 trillion financial system will disintegrate, as it is suddenly flooded with trillions in bad loans. Given China’s massive investment in the world economy, the knock on effect will be horrendous for the rest of the world.
Around the world travel and tourism have virtually ceased, airlines are going bust and the demand for oil is falling, bad news for those economies that rely on oil exports, Russia in particular, but good news for those environmentalists who want us to stop burning fossil fuels. A combination of a global pandemic and the plunge in oil prices is creating fear of a global recession. All the major western economies, the USA, Britain, the Eurozone, were heavily indebted before the present crisis began, and this could tip them over the edge as stock markets lose trillions of dollars.
Some are speculating that the situation is being used to test how the world responds to such a crisis and to prepare the way for a global authority to control such crises. Another view is that it is part of a plot to reduce the earth’s population. Prophecy News Watch had an article ‘Globalists Look To Exploit Coronavirus In Push For Global Government’, written from an American point of view, but relevant to us here in Europe. Here are some excerpts from it:
‘Globalism has led to inter-dependent economies in which nation states have been forced to rely on production centres on the other side of the world for a vast majority of our goods. When China shuts down, the US economy loses almost 20% of its supply chain. Cut off the supply chain in Asia and retailers lose a vast array of goods to sell. The US economy eventually shuts down also, even if the virus never spreads here. Our economic system is so globalised that the fall of the Chinese dominoes will eventually knock down our own dominoes.
But when this disaster occurs and numerous national economies suffer from enforced globalist integration, guess what will happen next? The globalists will ride to our “rescue” with even greater centralisation. This was their agenda all along.
Many people in the liberty movement are now aware of the Event 201 simulation, a war game run by globalists in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum on a “theoretical” coronavirus pandemic that kills 65 million people. This simulation took place only a couple of months before the real thing exploded in China in December. The solution that was presented at the end of Event 201 was the creation of a centralised global financial body that would manage the international response to the outbreak.’
The article then says what it thinks is going to happen next:
‘Best case scenario is that the Western world is mostly unscathed by the virus itself but the economic supply chain suffers major setbacks. The global economy, which was already crashing over the past year due to historic levels of corporate and consumer debt, not to mention faltering exports and freight, is finally tipped over the edge.
The massive financial Bubble, fuelled by a decade of inflationary central bank stimulus, implodes. Governments respond with totalitarian measures in the name of “protecting the public”. Globalist institutions like the IMF step in and suggest that frail national monetary systems come under the management of their Special Drawing Rights basket in order to mitigate the debt crisis. Essentially, this is the first step to global governance.
Worst case scenario, the virus spreads throughout the US and Europe and governments respond the same way China’s government has; martial law and shutting down society. The establishment then suggests that paper money be removed from the system because it is a viral spreader. China is already pushing this solution now. Magically, we find ourselves in a cashless society in a matter of a year or two; which is what the globalists have been demanding for years. Everything goes digital, and thus even local economies become completely centralised as private trade dies.
Again, this might be an engineered event, or it might simply be that the globalists are exploiting a natural outbreak. Either way, they are not going to let a good crisis go to waste.’ https://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=3869
Interestingly here in the UK, Labour MP John McDonnell, former Shadow Chancellor, posted a tweet advocating a world leader to take over and save the economy: ‘To prevent a full blown global recession we need a leader capable of bringing together other world leaders to agree a coordinated economic plan to tackle the consequences of the Coronavirus outbreak.’
Hopefully the world will recover from this crisis without the bad scenarios listed above taking place. But maybe it won’t. Whatever happens this epidemic is another reminder of human frailty and the fragility of our world system. The fact that the modern world is so interconnected means that a crisis in one corner of the world can spread rapidly around the world causing disaster.
It is also a reminder that we are all only a heartbeat away from death and need to be ready to meet our Maker at any time.
A number of scriptures come to mind:
‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Behold, disaster shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the farthest parts of the earth.’ Jeremiah 24.31-32.
‘And in those times there was no peace to the one who went out, nor to the one who came in, but great turmoil was on all the inhabitants of the lands. 2 Chronicles 15.5.
‘For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.’ 1 Thessalonians 5.2-4.
According to the Bible this process will reach its climax in the time of Great Tribulation when the four horsemen of the Apocalypse ride out bringing war, famine, pestilence and death (Revelation 6) in line with Jesus words in Matthew 24.7-8 quoted at the beginning of this article. Out of this crisis will arise the Beast or Antichrist, promising to save the world, but actually leading it to its final disaster (Revelation 13-19). Wise people will trust in Jesus and build their lives on the rock of faith and obedience to God’s word (Matthew 7.24-27) and look for His soon coming as the one hope for deliverance from the calamities which are coming on the world today.
2. Extreme weather around the world.
Here in Britain we have seen two major storms, Ciara and Dennis, which caused widespread flooding and misery. Storm Dennis was the second strongest North Atlantic cyclone since records began more than 150 years ago, causing widespread severe flooding across parts of the country and record breaking rainfall for February. Storms have also hit much of Europe with heavy rain and flooding.
The USA has seen unprecedented flooding and landslides in Mississippi state and Tennessee. Australia has been hit by fires which burned 10 million hectares of land (equivalent of about 40% of the UK) and killed an estimate 1.2 billion animals. Then came storms and floods, which helped put out the fires, but added another environmental problem to the country. Around 100,000 people have been affected by flooding Jakarta, capital of Indonesia, a city of around 10 million people. This is an ongoing problem as the sea level is rising, the city sinking and large parts of it may have to be abandoned and the population relocated. There has been flooding in much of Africa, including Rwanda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Madagascar and Tanzania, also floods in Pakistan and northern India. South America too has been hit by floods in Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and southern Brazil which has recorded the heaviest rains since records began.
Extreme wet weather in east Africa has led to breeding of billions of locusts, eating everything in sight as ravenous swarms “the size of cities” consume crops at a staggering pace. The locusts are spreading across the south of the Arabian peninsula and further east towards Iran, Pakistan and India. If they are not contained, their appetites will trigger famine, destroy livelihoods for local farmers and undermine the food security of a group of countries with a combined population of nearly 2 billion.
There has also been extremely cold weather with heavy snow in areas where it does not usually happen, including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey. Piercing cold and ice storms have worsened the living conditions of thousands of Syrians sleeping in the open air after fleeing a government offensive in the country’s northern province of Idlib. Very cold and snowy weather has hit Saudi Arabia and Iraq with snow falling in Baghdad for the first time in a hundred years.
There has been a marked increase in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions taking place in different places. Between November and the end of January there were large earthquakes over 6 on the Richter scale in the far east of Russia, Mexico, Thailand, Albania, Philippines, Indonesia and two earthquakes around 5 on the Richter scale near the Busheir nuclear power station in Iran. In July 2019 there were two large earthquakes in California (6.4 + 7.1 on the Richter scale) and thousands of small ones. Many are expecting the big quake to hit the US west coast at any time. There have also been volcanic eruptions spewing large amounts of lava and ash into the atmosphere. In the last few months eruptions have taken place in New Zealand, the Philippines, Mexico, Alaska, Peru and the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia.
The abnormal weather patterns are affecting food production around the world. Australia, once an exporter of wheat, is now having to import wheat because of the crop failures due to drought and floods. Floods in the US Midwest have seriously affected farming in one of the world’s main food producing areas. The locust armies in Africa are destroying crops and African Swine Fever has killed off a quarter of domestic pigs around the world, around 200 million in China alone. There are more than 7 billion people living on the planet today and even during the best of years we struggle to feed them all. With all these simultaneous threats to global food production it is inevitable that food prices will rise and people in the poorest areas simply will not have enough food to feed their families.
Our planet is becoming increasing unstable, and what we have experienced so far is just the beginning. We are living in the time of the beginning of sorrows that Jesus spoke of, when there will be increase of earthquakes and famines as in Matthew 24 and natural disasters as in Revelation 8.7-12, which speaks of trees burning down, fish dying in the sea, fresh water polluted and the sun darkened in the sky.
Many of these things are beyond any human ability to solve or control and require our Creator to step in to the situation to save the planet from destruction. This is exactly what the Bible says will happen in the last days, when ‘there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21.25-28.
3. The Middle East.
2020 got off to a start with a bang as a US drone strike killed Iranian General Kassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), on January 3rd. He was the second most powerful man in Iran, who had spread the influence of the Iranian Islamic Revolution into the Arab Middle East. Under his influence Iran has set up proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen aimed to take control of those states. These have created conflicts across the region between Shiite and Sunni Muslims and between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The biggest danger is to Israel, which Iranian leaders have vowed to destroy. Iran’s proxies, especially Hezbollah in Lebanon, have been armed with thousands of Iranian missiles targeted at Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The assassination raised fears that the US was heading towards war with Iran. Such a war could have dragged in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Russia. It had the potential to shut down the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance of the Gulf, through which 30% of the world’s oil passes. IRGC Commander Abuhamzeh threatened revenge attacks on ships in the Gulf and spoke of ‘some 35 U.S. targets in the region as well as Tel Aviv that are within our reach.’ The US responded by saying it had 52 Iranian targets ready for attack if it was provoked.
In the event both sides calculated they had too much to lose in an all out war. Iran’s revenge was more muted, a missile attack on a US base in Iraq which did not kill any Americans and which Trump did not respond to.
However the danger remains. Israeli army generals are convinced they face war in the north this year. Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, is armed with 150,000 Iranian missiles aimed at Israel. Iran intends to set up a factory in Lebanon to add to these missiles a mechanism to make them very accurate and so threaten Israel further. Israel has said it will destroy these factories if they go operational. There is also danger of Iran breaking out of the nuclear deal, making uranium needed for nuclear weapon. Israel has threatened to attack Iranian nuclear facilities if they look like they are making a nuclear bomb, as has the United States.
Israel is also determined to stop the threat from Iranian bases in Syria. Iran is in Syria as part of the alliance led by Russia aimed at saving the Assad regime, but also for the purpose of threatening the Jewish state. On February 6, an Israeli attack on a target near Damascus killed 20 Syrian and Iranian military officials. It also caused Syrian air defences to inadvertently fire on an airplane carrying 172 passengers. The plane managed to safely land at a nearby airport. Israel Defence Minister Naftali Bennett later hinted that the attack was just another in a long series of Israeli strikes against Iranian assets that are in Syria for the purpose of threatening the Jewish state.
In an interview with Sputnik Arabic, Russian Ambassador Alexander Yefimov called the Israeli raids “provocative and very dangerous.” He further cautioned that “this increases the possibility of conflict over Syria.” Since Syria is already in conflict, his warning was taken to mean that the ongoing Israeli raids could eventually result in an armed clash between the Jewish state and Russian forces in the region.
Israel Today magazine commented: ‘Israeli political and military officials have never been shy about referencing the biblical “War of Gog and Magog.” It’s something they believe is going to happen. However, given the warm relations between Jerusalem and Moscow in recent years, many found it hard to believe the traditional interpretation that this great Gentile army would include Russia. But, Ambassador Yefimov is not wrong about the stage being set for the kind of incident, intentional or not, that could suddenly turn friends into foes. Israel is aware of this risk, but apparently deems the threat of Iranian hegemony to be greater than the possibility of accidentally sparking an apocalyptic showdown with Russia.’
The War of Gog and Magog is an event prophesied in the Bible’s book of Ezekiel 38-39, in which a great power to the north of Israel (Russia) leads an alliance of nations (including Persia / Iran) against restored Israel in the latter days of this age. In this event God intervenes to save Israel, with a devastating result on the enemies of Israel who come against it.
Another front in Syria has now opened up after the Assad regime has bombed the northern region of Idlib with support from its ally Russia. This has created a horrific situation on the ground, with war crimes committed against civilians and hospitals, causing around a million people to flee their homes. They are headed towards the border with Turkey.
Turkey’s President Erdogan has said he will not allow more refugees into Turkey and is passing existing refugees in Turkey on to Europe. There are now clashes on the border with Greece as police try to prevent them crossing its border illegally. Turkish Interior Minister Soylu stated that that the migrants who cross to Europe would go above one million, which would cause a crisis in Europe.
Turkey already has forces in the north of Syria in an area formerly held by the Kurds. It has moved some of its forces into neighbouring Idlib, including tanks, armoured personnel carriers and commandos. On 28 February reports came in of 48 pro-Damascus troops being killed by Turkish strikes after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed earlier in the week. The situation is now leading to the possibility of an open conflict between Turkey and the Assad regime, which could bring in Russia. Speaking in Istanbul, Erdogan said he had told Putin in a phone call to stand aside and let Turkey “to do what is necessary” with the Syrian government alone. He said Turkey does not intend to leave Syria right now.
This situation is a major headache for Russian President Putin, who has tried to bring together a coalition of Russia, Iran and Turkey to resolve the Syrian crisis. It is raising the possibility of a conflict between Turkey, a NATO member, and the Assad regime and its backer Russia. At the time of writing Russia and Turkey have agreed a truce, but it remains dangerous.
According to some Jewish sources, a conflict between Russia and Turkey is predicted to be the precursor to the pre-Messiah war of Gog and Magog. Some Christian interpretations, which see the antichrist coming out of Islam, believe that Turkey, not Russia, is the power to the north that will lead the way in the Gog and Magog war of Ezekiel 38-9. People close to Erdogan have called for Turkey to lead an Islamic army to come against Israel and reclaim Jerusalem for Islam.
Whatever happens the conflict in the Middle East shows no signs of going away. Bible prophecy is clear that the Middle East is the epicentre of the end time conflict leading up to the return of the Messiah, with prophecies concerning nations of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran (Persia), Russia, Turkey to be found in such prophecies as Isaiah 17, 19, Jeremiah 49 and Ezekiel 38-9. They centre on Israel and Jerusalem, the place to which the Messiah Jesus will return to with all power of God at His disposal. He will stand on the Mount of Olives at the height of the last battle, bring an end to all war, and then sets up His Millennial kingdom, ruling from Jerusalem for 1000 years (Isaiah 2.1-4, Zechariah 14, Revelation 20).
Peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians.
US President Trump’s peace plan, put forward by his son in law Jared Kushner, was released at the end of January. It is entitled ‘Peace to Prosperity, a vision to improve the lives of Palestinian and Israeli people.’
Under the plan Jerusalem would remain the undivided capital of Israel, with the Palestinians setting up their capital around Abu Dis, a village on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem. Israel would have sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, an area considered vital for Israel’s security, and the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, home to around 600,000 Israelis. The Palestinians would have a state which would comprise of three regions, one north of Jerusalem (Samaria) and one south of Jerusalem (Judea) plus Gaza. There would be a tunnel from Gaza connecting it to the rest of the Palestinian state. Gaza should be demilitarised and Hamas should give up its rule separate from the Palestinian Authority. The plan envisages a huge input of money into the Palestinian area (around $50 billion), enough to raise the standard of living of the Palestinian Arabs and deal with the problems of unemployment in the region.
At the time it was released Israeli PM Netanyahu praised the plan and President Trump for doing ‘something extraordinary’. He said, ‘He has brought forward a peace plan that enables us to make the deal of the century. It gives Israel security. It gives the Palestinians dignity.’ From Israel’s point of view, it would guarantee that there be no division of Jerusalem and that the existing Jewish settlements would not be uprooted, but remain under Israeli control. He said the Palestinians should accept the plan because ‘there would be about $50 billion worth of investment over 10 years to create one million jobs.’
However Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, responded to it by saying: “We say 1,000 times: No, no and no to the deal of the century. I will not have it recorded in my history that I sold Jerusalem.” Hamas also rejected the deal and committed itself to ‘the popular fight continues to defend Jerusalem’s identity and future.’
Some moderate Arab leaders, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have called for continued dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians, although the plan falls far short of the minimum Arabs have considered acceptable. On 1st February the 22-nation Arab League, at an emergency meeting held in Cairo, rejected the plan, as did a meeting of the 57-nation strong Organisation of Islamic Cooperation held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which released a statement calling “on all member states not to engage with this plan or to cooperate with the US administration in implementing it in any form”.
The deal has also been rejected by the EU and Russia. “In line with international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the EU does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since 1967,” said EU foreign minister, Josep Borrell. He rejected any attempt to apply Israeli sovereignty over the settlements in the West Bank, releasing a statement: “Steps towards annexation, if implemented, could not pass unchallenged.”
The plan envisages a four year freeze on Israeli settlements during which time an agreement would be reached leading to a Palestinian State existing alongside the Jewish State of Israel. Mr Kushner has indicated that the final borders are yet to be decided and said that ‘the map attached to the plan is not a scientific map. If the Palestinians don’t like where the line is drawn, they should come and tell us where they want to draw it.’
The Palestinians are clear where they want the borders to be: the pre 1967 borders between Israel and the West Bank, in which case Israel would give up the Jordan Valley, the Jewish settlements and the whole of the eastern part of Jerusalem including the Old City. This is unacceptable to the Israelis, who want to retain their rights to historic Jewish areas, especially Jerusalem and want to keep hold of areas that are vital to their security.
Another major concern to Israel is the fact that back in 1974 the PLO made its 10 Points Phased Plan, by which they intended to make a deal with Israel that would give them land for peace. They would then use the land given to them as a base from which to destroy what remained of Israel (as Hamas has tried to do from Gaza). The ultimate goal would not be a Palestinian State alongside Israel but a Palestinian State instead of Israel, according to the slogan ‘From the River to the Sea Palestine will be free.’ In other words the borders of Palestine should be from the Jordan to the Mediterranean and Israel should cease to exist.
It looks at present as though this plan will follow all other peace proposals and get nowhere. Yochanan Visser commented in Israel Today magazine (4th February):
‘PA leader Abbas ruined the chance to achieve peace when he turned down the unprecedented offer made by former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert in 2007, and the proposal made by former US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013. Had the Palestinian Arabs truly been interested in improving their lot, they would have done so already in July 2000, when Yasser Arafat was offered an independent state by then-US President Bill Clinton and former Israeli PM Ehud Barak. The essence of the conflict is, however, the stubborn Palestinian refusal to finally come to terms with the existence of a Jewish state, and that explains why they also turned down this new American proposal. After all, this is what they have been doing since 1947, when the leadership of the Jewish community in what the British called “Palestine” accepted a state under UN resolution 181, and the Arabs rejected it out of hand and then started a war.’
Does the Bible prophecy a peace agreement?
The prophecies of the Bible indicate that in the last days of this age there will be a restoration of a Jewish state of Israel, following the return of Jewish people to the land of Israel (Ezekiel 36, Jeremiah 31). There will be a conflict with the surrounding nations (Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38-9, Zechariah 12-14) which will reach its climax in the return of the Messiah Jesus to Jerusalem. The central point of the current conflict is the status of Jerusalem. In Zechariah 12.2-3 we read that in the last days Jerusalem will be the ‘burdensome stone, burdening all nations’ (in other words, a cause of concern involving all the nations of the earth). In the end the nations will gather to battle against Jerusalem, causing the physical return of the Lord Jesus to the Mount of Olives, to the east of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14). When He returns He will bring the real peace and safety to Israel and the surrounding nations – see Isaiah 2.1-4, Isaiah 19.19-25, Zechariah 14, Revelation 20.
Before this happens there are scriptures which indicate that there will be some kind of peace plan for Israel, but it will turn out to be a false peace.
Daniel 9.27 describes this:
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.
The big question is ‘Who is he?’, who is the one who makes this covenant? Some say it is the Messiah who makes the new covenant bringing us salvation, but this does not fit in with the rest of the text which tells how this covenant leads to ‘abominations’ and ‘desolation’, not salvation. If we look back to verse 26 we find the last person mention is ‘the prince to come’:
And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.Daniel 9.26
In this case the ‘he’ of verse 27 is the ‘prince to come’ of verse 26. This one is connected in Daniel with the ‘little horn’ who ‘speaks pompous words against the Most High’ and ‘persecutes the saints of the Most High’ (Daniel 7). This is the antichrist, also described in Daniel as ‘the king having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes’ (Daniel 8.23) and ‘the king who does according to his own will’ and magnifies himself ‘above every god’ (Daniel 11.36-39). In each of these scriptures he exercises great power for evil in the last days before Messiah returns but comes to a miserable end, being ‘given to the burning flame’ (Daniel 7.11).
In Revelation 13 he is known as the beast. Along with the false prophet, he has power over the nations in the last seven year period before Jesus returns. Revelation 19 tells us that at the coming again of the Lord Jesus the beast and the false prophet will be ‘cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone’ (hell).
In Daniel 9.26 we read about ‘the people of the prince to come’ who destroyed the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (The Temple). These people were the Romans who crushed Jewish revolt against their rule in 70AD. Forty years earlier, around 30-31 AD, the Messiah (Yeshua / Jesus) was cut off, dying a violent death for the sins of others.
This means that the ‘prince to come’ has some connection to the Roman Empire. There are a number of possibilities of how this connection could take place in a future antichrist. The first is that he arises out of the western half of the Roman Empire, the EU, which is a revived Roman Empire in Europe. The second possibility is that he arises out of the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which at one time had a capital in Constantinople, now Istanbul. In this case he arises out of an Islamic confederation, led by Turkey. A third possibility is that he is the leader of the UN which could be seen as the ultimate world empire in the latter days. A fourth (less likely) possibility is that he comes out of the USA, the current chief mover in seeking a peace settlement in the Middle East. The USA became a nation led by European settlers migrating there and creating a European kind of government, so it may just be possible that a US leader could qualify as coming out of the Roman Empire.
According to my understanding of Daniel 9 there is a long period of time between the fulfilment of verse 26 and verse 27, into which time comes the present church age, starting with the Day of Pentecost and ending with the rapture of the church. See this diagram:
We have a more detailed analysis of Daniel 9.24-27 in our Winter 2011 edition available on request.
After the rapture of the church, the covenant of Daniel 9.27 then sets off the events of the final seven year period before the return of Jesus Christ. Revelation 6-19 describes what happens in this seven year period.
The covenant of Daniel 9.27 breaks down midway through the seven year period ‘on the wing of abominations’ and ‘one who makes desolate.’ Jesus refers to this in Matthew 24.15:
Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand)
The abomination of desolation is also referred to in Daniel 11.31 and 12.11. It appears that some kind of Temple has been allowed to be built in the agreement made with the Antichrist, but he then uses this to place his image in the holy place, connecting this to the event described in Revelation 13.11-18 where the image of the beast is worshipped and the 666 system set up.
At this point the Jewish people realise they have been deceived by the Antichrist and flee from Jerusalem (Matthew 24.15-20). The time of Jacob’s trouble described in Jeremiah 30.6-11, Daniel 12.1-4 and Matthew 24.21-22 takes place. Israel will be saved out of this by the revelation of Yeshua / Jesus as the Messiah and His physical return to the earth (Zechariah 12.10, 13.1, 14.1-9). At this time the ‘consummation’ takes place when the antichrist comes to his appointed end at the return of Jesus and he is thrown into the lake of fire (hell). See Daniel 7.11, Revelation 19.20.
Isaiah 28.14-22 is another passage which deals with this covenant, which it describes as ‘a covenant with death’ made by Jerusalem’s rulers. They are described as being scornful men (unbelievers in God and His covenant) and hope this deal will save them from an enemy invasion described as ‘the overflowing scourge’: They say “We have made a covenant with death, and with hell we are in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.”
The deal turns out to be based on lies and falsehood and leads to just such an invasion. It begins with the false peace covenant with Israel and ends with the final war, compared in verse 21 to Mount Perazim, where David defeated the Philistines in 2 Samuel 5 and Gibeon where Joshua defeated the Canaanite tribes in Joshua 10. Both of these events were wars marked by a supernatural intervention of the Lord fighting for Israel. The same thing will happen at the last battle described in Joel 3, Zechariah 14 and Revelation 19. Only the Lord’s intervention will save Israel at this point, a time at which verse 21-22 says He will also do His ‘strange work’ of bringing a ‘destruction upon the whole earth’ (the last judgement).
Both passages in Daniel 9 and Isaiah 28 speak of a false peace brought in by the antichrist, which breaks down and leads to the last war before the return of the Messiah. Interestingly both passages also have references to the true Messiah who will bring real peace.
Daniel speaks directly of Mashiach / Messiah as one who would be ‘cut off but not for himself’. This means He dies a violent death but not as a punishment for his sins, but rather as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of others. There is a much longer passage about this in Isaiah 53 which prophesies about the Suffering Servant Messiah: ‘
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’Isaiah 53
Applying this verse to Jesus, Peter writes the
He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.1 Peter 2.24-25
In Isaiah 28 in the midst of the passage about the trouble which results from the ‘covenant with death’ and the deception involved with it, we read a verse which says
Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.Isaiah 28.16.
What or Whom do they believe? The Messiah, the one who is the foundation stone for the kingdom of God and the corner stone who holds it all together. Revelation 7.1-8 shows that at the beginning of the seven year tribulation period a large number (144,000) of Jewish people will have the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah and spread His message during the tribulation period. These people who believe in Jesus will not act hastily or rashly, and will reject the false peace plan. They will tell others about the true Messiah who will bring real peace, Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah of Israel and Saviour of the world. They will have God’s guidance, protection and wisdom to help them through these troubled days. Out of their witness will come a great multitude who turn to Messiah in the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7.9-14)
The idea of the chief cornerstone being connected to the Messiah is also found in Psalm 118: ‘I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation (Yeshua / Jesus). The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. ]This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvellous in our eyes.’
The rejected stone and its elevation to be the chief corner stone, holding the building together, is fulfilled in Yeshua the Messiah. This verse is quoted five times in the New Testament, each time applying to Jesus as the Saviour (Matthew 21.42, Mark 12.10, Luke 20.17, Acts 4.11, 1 Peter 2.6). The New Testament shows how Jesus would be rejected by the religious leaders of Israel, be put to death by crucifixion, be buried then rise from the dead on the third day. After appearing for 40 days to His disciples He then ascended to the right hand of God from where He will come again to judge the world in righteousness. He will be elevated to the highest place by many Jewish people in the final period of history, after so long being despised and rejected. Zechariah 12.10 describes this happening: “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
In 1 Peter 2.4-9 we are told to come to Him ‘as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua ha Mashiach / Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.’
Those who do believe in Jesus will not act rashly or hastily as Isaiah 28.16 tells us but will have a solid foundation for their lives and be kept in the troubled time which is coming in the days before His return.
When He returns He will bring the real peace not just to Jerusalem, Israel and the Middle East, but to the whole world, as Isaiah prophesied: ‘He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.’ Isaiah 2.3-4.
Meanwhile we can find personal peace with God through faith in Jesus the Messiah. Speaking to Jews and Gentiles Paul writes:
For He Himself (Jesus) is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.’Ephesians 2.13-15.
Is Matthew 24.31 about the rapture of the church?
And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
One of our readers wrote in to say that this verse is about the rapture of the church and therefore proves that the rapture comes after the tribulation, because verse 29 of Matthew 24 says that this event happens ‘after the tribulation of those days’. Therefore the teaching that the rapture comes before the tribulation is false.
A valid question, so we will look at it here.
According to the prophecies of the end times, two major events are still to come before the Lord Jesus returns to the earth. One is known as the rapture of the church, described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4: ‘For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words’ (1 Thessalonians 4.15-18).
The other is the great tribulation, described by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24.21-22: ‘For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.’ This time of unique trouble on earth is also described in Revelation 6-19, and several passages in the Hebrew prophets, like Isaiah 24, Jeremiah 30 and Daniel 12.
The question is which order do they come in? The rapture before the tribulation or the tribulation before the rapture?
In Matthew 24.29-31 Jesus says: ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear 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. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.’ Matthew 24.29-31.
If this passage is about the rapture, then the timing of this event must come at the end of the tribulation, because Matthew 24.29-30 says very clearly that this event happens ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days.’ If these two verses are describing the same event then its timing is absolutely certain. It will be after the tribulation and at the same time as the coming of Christ to the earth.
At this time there will be a supernatural darkness over the whole earth, with no light from the sun, moon or stars. This darkness is described in other passages of the Bible associated with the day of the Lord (Isaiah 13.9-11, Joel 2.31, 3.15, Revelation 6.12-13). The darkness will be pierced by the ‘sign of the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.’ This will be light of the Shekinah glory of God which will accompany the Lord Jesus at His second coming. At His Second Coming Jesus will fulfil the prophecy of Daniel 7.13-14 and take control of the earth:
“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.’
The only possible time for this event is the very end of the great tribulation period. The sequence of events in Matthew 24.29-31 is clear: the end of the great tribulation period, the darkness of the sun, moon and stars, the sign of the Son of Man appearing in the heavens and the visible return of the Lord Jesus in power and glory.
So if this is a description of the rapture of the church as described in 1 Thessalonians 4, then the only time this can happen is ‘after the tribulation’. This rules out not only the pre-tribulation rapture, but also the mid-tribulation rapture and the pre-wrath position and the ‘intra-seal’ position which places the rapture about three quarters of the way through the tribulation. There can be no argument about this. If Matthew 24.31 = 1 Thessalonians 4.15-18, the rapture is post tribulation.
But is it the same event? The main point of similarity between Matthew 24.31 and 1 Thessalonians 4 is the sound of the trumpet and the gathering of the people. There are however some significant differences between the two events.
Firstly in the Thessalonians passage it is the Lord Himself who gathers together the people, as He descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God. In Matthew 24 The Lord sends the angels with a sound of the trumpet and they will gather together His elect.’
Secondly there is the element of surprise and unexpectedness in relation to the 1 Thessalonians event, which is absent from the Matthew 24.31 event. It is compared to the coming of ‘a thief in the night’: ‘For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.’ 1 Thessalonians 5.2. The thief comes by surprise, unexpectedly without a prior announcement of his coming.
This idea of an event which takes place unexpectedly, as a thief in the night, at an unknown date is found in verses which follow Matthew 24.29-31 in Matthew 24.36-44: ‘But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.’ This section of Matthew 24 begins with the Greek phrase ‘peri de’, translated ‘but of’ here. This phrase is used in the New Testament to describe a change of subject, suggesting that the verses to follow are about a different subject than the verses which precede it.
Jesus goes on to say ‘But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’
This passage in Matthew 24.36-44 speaks of one being taken and one being left and this happening at an unexpected time when the Lord comes ‘like a thief in the night.’ Comparing this passage in Matthew 24, and the parallel passage in Luke 17.26-37, we see that this event takes place at a time when life is going on as normal, with people doing everyday activities, eating and drinking, buying and selling, building and planting, marrying and ‘giving in marriage’ (see Luke 17.27-8). They are going about everyday activities, outside (in the field) or inside (in the mill) or sleeping in bed (Luke 17.34).
Normal life is going on all over the earth, which in any 24 hour period will be partly in daytime and partly in night time, so we have daytime activities (working inside or outside) and night time activity (sleeping) mentioned. Then suddenly one is taken and one is left. The Lord tells us to be ever ready for this event which will come ‘at an hour you do not expect.’ This coming is unannounced, can happen at any time and is compared to the coming of a ‘thief in the night’, connecting it to the event known as the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4.13-5.11.
Now if this is the same event as the coming of the Lord to the earth described in Matthew 24.29-31 we have a problem. By the time we reach the end of the great tribulation period life is not going on as normal. The world will have endured seven years of tribulation, with the last three and a half years being great tribulation unlike any before experienced on earth. The beast will bring in a monetary system which will restrict the ability of people to buy and sell. Great disasters will strike the earth, vast numbers of people will be killed and the armies of the world will gather at Armageddon. Then there will be a supernatural darkness in which neither the sun, the moon or the stars will give light on earth. If we believe such passages as Matthew 24.15-31 and Revelation 6-19 give a literal prophecy of the events of this time it will end with a situation which will not be life going on as normal.
If people have managed to survive this time and all the lights in the sky go out and the piercing light of the Shekinah glory of God appears, are they going to be surprised if the next thing that happens is that the Lord Jesus returns in person to the earth? Revelation 6.12-17 tells us that when these things happen, even the unbelievers will know what it means: ‘And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’
This description of what is happening here does not fit in at all with the idea of an unexpected coming, when life is going on as normal, which we have in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and in Matthew 24.36-51. It appears that the rapture event happens at a time when life is going on as normal, before the onset of the seven year tribulation period. Therefore it could happen at any time, now.
On the other hand the event of Matthew 24.29-31 cannot happen until the covenant of Daniel 9.27 has been made (see our previous article), the Antichrist has come to power and set up the Mark of the Beast system, followed by the armies gathering for Armageddon and the supernatural darkness of the sun, moon and stars not giving their light. In this case the Lord’s word to ‘Watch for you do not know when your Lord is coming’ does not make much sense. The coming of the Lord cannot be imminent, but can only happen after all these things have taken place and the great darkness has come on the earth. If on the other hand the rapture could happen at any time before the seven year tribulation begins, the Lord’s word to watch for His coming at an unknown time makes perfect sense.
Thirdly there is the question of who is taken, where are they taken from and where are they taken to?
In 1 Thessalonians 4: ‘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.’ Earlier in the passage Paul describes those who participate in this event as ‘we who believe that Jesus died and rose again.’ In other words it is those who have a saving faith in Jesus Christ by believing the Gospel that ‘Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that He was buried and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.’ (1 Corinthians 15.3-4).
Those who have this faith are taken from the earth to be with the Lord ‘in the air’ from which point onwards they will always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4.17). The passage does not define where ‘the air’ is, but it clearly means being taken out of this earth into another realm. John 14.1-3 implies that at His coming the Lord will take those who believe in Him ‘to My Father’s house … I will come again and receive you to Myself that where I am there you may be.’
The only realm where we can survive in our present bodies is this earth, so it will be necessary for a change to take place in our bodies for this to happen. Paul describes such a change in a parallel passage in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57: ‘Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’
Paul describes this as the ‘first resurrection’, the moment at which the saved Christian puts off the shackles of mortality (death) and corruption (sin, the aging process, sickness, decay of the body) and puts on the resurrection body, in which he or she will live for ever, without sin, decay or death. In this new body the believer is able to live wherever the Lord is, in heaven and returning to earth with Him in an immortal body during the time of His Millennial reign on earth, as prophesied in Jude 14 ‘Behold the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints.’ See also in Zechariah 14.5 and Revelation 19.14.’
Those who die in faith before the rapture experience this change in their bodies at the moment of their death. But there will be one generation still alive at the time of the rapture who will not experience death but will be supernaturally taken from the earth into the presence of the Lord at the moment of the rapture.
Those taken in the rapture event of 1 Thessalonians 4 are born again Christians who believe that Jesus is the Messiah who died for our sins and rose again from the dead. What about ‘the elect’ who are described as being gathered together by the angels in Matthew 24.31? Arnold Fruchtenbaum in his article on the Olivet Discourse, relates Matthew 24.31 to the final regathering of Israel. He writes:
‘Since the Jewish prophets had predicted in great detail the world-wide regathering of Israel, Jesus did not spend much time with this, but only specified that it will occur after His Second Coming. This regathering is found in Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27.
The Matthew account reads: ‘And he shall send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.’ The Mark passage reads: ‘And then shall he send forth the angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.’ Following the Second Coming, the Messiah will send his angels all over the world to regather every saved Jew and bring them back into their Land. The background to the Matthew passage is Isaiah 27:12-13, which prophesied that the final restoration of Israel will be signalled by the sound of a great trumpet: ‘So it shall be in that day: The great trumpet will be blown; They will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, and they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.’
The background to the Mark passage is Deuteronomy 30:4, ‘If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.’
This also emphasises that the final restoration will come from two localities: earth and Heaven. Those who are gathered from the uttermost parts of the earth will be living Israel, the one-third Remnant that survives the Tribulation. Those who are gathered from the uttermost part of heaven will be the resurrected Old Testament saints. This part of the Olivet Discourse summarises many Old Testament prophecies, specifying that the final world-wide restoration will come only after the Second Coming, not before (Isaiah 11:11-12:6; 43:5-7; Jeremiah 23:5-8; 31:7-14; Ezekiel 11:16-21; 20:40-42; 36:22-31).’
Those gathered will include the Gentiles who have turned to Christ during the tribulation period and showed kindness to the Jews suffering persecution at the hands of the antichrist. Revelation 7.14 describes the great multitude that ‘come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ Revelation 7.14.
According to Matthew 25, the ‘sheep’ and the ‘goats’ will be gathered to appear before the Lord at the sheep and goats judgement of Matthew 25.31-46. In this passage Jesus describes what will happen immediately after His return to earth: ‘When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.’ The sheep will be gathered into the Millennial kingdom, where they will live in renewed bodies and repopulate the earth after the tribulation, while the goats will be cast off the earth and face everlasting punishment.
Ezekiel 20.34-44 describes a similar event which will take place for surviving Jewish people from the tribulation period. The Lord will gather them and bring them into ‘the wilderness of the peoples.’ He will make them ‘pass under the rod’ at which time He will ‘purge the rebels from among you’ and they shall not enter the land of Israel. ‘Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ Prophecy indicates that a great many Jewish people will turn to the Lord during the tribulation period (See Revelation 7, Revelation 11 and Zechariah 12.10). Those who accept the Lord will enter into the land, and the saved Jewish survivors of the tribulation will repopulate the land of Israel and serve the Lord in the Millennial kingdom. At this point ‘all Israel will be saved’ because only believing Jews will be allowed into the Messianic Kingdom. (Romans 11.26-27).
My conclusion from this is that the gathering of the elect in Matthew 24.31 is a separate event from the rapture of the church. The gathering of the elect takes place after the tribulation, but the rapture of the church happens unannounced ‘as a thief in the night’ and is imminent. By imminent I mean it could happen at any time and we should be ready now for it to happen. Likewise we do not know the hour of our death, so we should also be ready at all times to meet the Lord after death.
Since we do not know the day or the hour, we must be ready all the time. Jesus speaks of the wise householder who is always ready for a thief to come to his house and takes precautions to make his property safe (Matthew 24.43). In the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25.1-13), the wise virgins are in a state of continuous readiness for the coming of the bridegroom (who represents the coming Lord Jesus) by having their lamps full of oil (which represents the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer). The unwise are not ready, having no oil in their lamps (no presence of the Lord by the Holy Spirit in their lives). They ask the wise to give them the oil (the Holy Spirit), but they cannot because no saved believer can give the Holy Spirit to an unsaved person. We can only point them to the Lord who is able to give them salvation as they call upon His name. In the case of this parable it is too late for the foolish virgins and they find the door into the wedding celebration shut to them. The Lord concludes the parable with the words: ‘Watch therefore for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.’ Matthew 25.10-13.
Let us be amongst those who are watching a waiting for the Lord’s return, ready to be taken to be with Him at any time. The way to be ready for the coming of the Lord is very simple – repent and believe the Gospel:
‘The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel.’ Mark 1.15.
‘For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Gospel, and that He was buried and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.’ 1 Corinthians 15.3-4.
‘Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ Romans 10.13.
Signs of the Times.
The church apologises.
The House of Bishops of the Church of England issued a pastoral statement saying that sex belongs only within heterosexual marriage. The statement said: “For Christians, marriage – that is, the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity.” The guidance said “sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purpose for human beings”, and that people in gay or straight civil partnerships should be sexually abstinent.
Very good. The bishops of the Church of England uphold biblical teaching on sexual relations and marriage.
The archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentanu, then made this apology over this statement: “We as archbishops, alongside the bishops of the Church of England, apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement last week which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.”
You really couldn’t make it up. The supposedly evangelical archbishops have to apologise when for once in a while the Church of England makes a statement which lines up with biblical teaching.
They went on to say that the Church is engaged in a process “intended to help us all to build bridges that will enable the difficult conversations that are necessary as, together, we discern the way forward for the Church of England.” The bridges they are being asked to build are towards those like Jayne Ozanne, the campaigner for LGBT homosexual rights who wants a ‘new radical Christian inclusion’ in the Church.
This means the inclusion of practicing homosexuals inside the Anglican communion and clergy and the acceptance of homosexual marriage by the church. The church should change biblical teaching that marriage is solely a relationship between a man and a woman, and remove passages that define homosexual practice as sinful like Romans 1.24-27 and Leviticus 18.22: ‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination’. Another verse which has to change is Genesis 1.27: ‘So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.’ This must be deleted because it offends transgenders because it means that the difference between men and women is part of God’s order in creation and cannot be changed. So we must rewrite the Bible to please the homosexual lobby and submit to its agenda.
Homosexual and transgender propagandists want to control what is said and taught at every level of our society, including the church. Many of the high Anglican clergy, in particular the new designated Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, are willing to submit to their demands. He believes biblical teaching on sexuality should come second to 21st century Western cultural beliefs in order for the church to avoid being ‘homophobic’.
Speaking of Bishop Cottrell’s appointment to be Archbishop of York, the second highest position in the Church of England, Andrea Williams of Christian Concern for our nation said:
“Promoting Stephen Cottrell to Archbishop of York makes clear the direction of travel of the C of E. This is a Bishop who endorses gender transition in primary school children. Stephen Cottrell has told multiple clergy on multiple occasions that if they don’t like the approach of the diocese on human sexuality they can leave the C of E. Stephen Cottrell has attempted to deny this, but there are more than thirty clergy who know what they heard him say on multiple occasions.
Stephen Cottrell has held out the prospect of the C of E doctrine of marriage changing. This is not a Bishop who respects Biblical truth when it comes to human sexuality or marriage. Several clergy in Stephen Cottrell’s diocese are out of communion with him because of his stance on human sexuality. One resigned over this. For him now to be appointed as Archbishop of York is a final insult to those who want to hold onto Biblical teaching in the C of E. It is now clearer than ever that the C of E is determined to act in total disregard of those who hold the basic truths that God created us male and female and that sexual expression is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman.”
Coming back to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has also said that he is “ashamed” of his “white advantage, educational advantage, straight advantage and male advantage.”
So apparently those of us who are Christian, white, male, and heterosexual have to be ashamed of this fact, because we are unfairly advantaged. The thing the Archbishop should really be ashamed of is his failure to stand up for biblical morality and the Gospel. He should pay heed to the last words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy:
‘I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead [at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.’ 2 Timothy 4.1-5.
Implantable digital ID vaccination system in development.
An article on Tropical Thunder website, says Microsoft is spearheading an initiative called “ID2020,” a programme aimed at giving every human on the planet a digital ID, like a fingerprint, in order to keep everyone connected.
‘The ID2020 Alliance is an initiative set up by Bill Gates and aimed at “getting Digital IDs right” in order to make it accessible to everyone. The idea behind some of ID2020’s more controversial technologies is a digital ID that can be implanted into someone in chip form. Ostensibly, this is to help homeless people or people in developing countries by giving them access to blockchain-powered identification. The practice would have people receiving free vaccinations through the Bill Gates foundation if they have an ID chip implant. In turn, these implants would carry encrypted, blockchain-backed data that allow for easy access to services you can’t normally get without an ID. It could also help social workers and researchers keep up with who is up-to-date on their vaccinations.
Some people are concerned that Bill Gates, one of the richest people on the planet, is working with a private Alliance of companies to create a digital ID standard. Between the power he wields financially through Microsoft and politically via his charitable organisation, it is a bit unnerving to think of him microchipping every citizen.
However, it seems the program isn’t as nefarious as it sounds at first. A blockchain ID aimed at empowering the most impoverished and the homeless doesn’t sound like a bad thing at all to us! That said, others are concerned about the idea of being tracked in general. Is this something you’d ever agree to have done?’
The answer to their question is ‘No.’ The idea of microchipping every citizen on earth should send shivers down the spine of any person who knows the Bible and the prophecy of Revelation 13: ‘He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.’ (Revelation 13.16-18).
The fact that this is connected with vaccinations and the Bill Gates foundation gives us another possible angle on the coronavirus story in this magazine. Could it be that they will propose an answer to the global spread of the virus which is a worldwide plan to vaccinate everybody on earth and give them some kind of microchip to monitor who is vaccinated?
Top Rabbis: Look at the Signs, Messiah is Coming!
Israel’s former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said that current events herald the coming of the Messiah. Earlier in February he said this list of significant signs over the past year simply cannot be ignored.
- Israel seems unable to elect a government;
- US President Trump, the most powerful leader in the world, has, like King Cyrus, endorsed Jewish sovereignty in the Promised Land;
- The kings of the world came up to Jerusalem last month to honour the Jewish people.
“These are things we never dreamed of!” exclaimed Rabbi Amar. “How can these things be if not as preparation for the coming of the Messiah?”
Rabbi Amar recounted a recent encounter with the rabbi who was his spiritual adviser 51 years earlier at yeshiva. That rabbi is still closely connected with Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, who attended the same yeshiva and is today considered one of the leading Torah scholars in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish world. According to Amar’s former spiritual adviser, he was just about to leave for a trip abroad recently when Rabbi Kanievsky stopped him, saying, “You are going abroad? You don’t know that the Messiah is standing at the door?”
Rabbi Amar went on to say: “All the great rabbis of this generation are saying that the Messiah is about to reveal himself. All the signs the prophets gave, all the signs predicted in the Gemara, the Mishnah, the Midrash, everything is taking place, one by one. All we need is to remain strong for a little bit longer.”
He then urged Jews everywhere to commit themselves to Torah observance, in particular keeping the Shabbat. Orthodox Judaism has long taught that Messiah will only come once all Jews are sanctifying the Shabbat.
Rabbi Amar’s exhortation to be ready because ‘Messiah is standing at the door’ reminds us of the words of Yeshua (Jesus): “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. …You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40)
Unfortunately the rabbis are not telling people to be ready for Jesus coming. Their expectation of the Messiah is that he is a great man who sorts out the problems of the world, not a divine person coming with the power of God to do so. The rabbis are actually setting people up for disappointment. There is no Messiah coming to bring peace and safety before Jesus returns, rather the anti-messiah is coming with a false peace, leading to trouble and war. Then the true Messiah Jesus will return and bring true peace to those who receive Him.
Nevertheless scripture shows us that in the last days many Jewish people will come to the true revelation of Messiah, that He is Yeshua / Jesus who came the first time to suffer and die as a sacrifice for the sin of the world (Isaiah 53), after which He rose from the dead, appeared to the disciples for 40 days and ascended into heaven (Acts 1). From there He will return as King of kings and Lord of lords to judge the world in righteousness and set up His Messianic kingdom and fulfil Isaiah 2.1-4 and Revelation 20.
I have done a talk on this subject available as a CD or at