December 13, 2009
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
We have been looking at some things that many say are looming over the horizon of our future. As we stated last time, it seems everyone wants to know what the future holds, yet no one really does. We can’t look to the many voices that are vying for our attention today. The reason for this is that these voices do not have a reliable track record for accuracy.
It is only God, who is omniscient (He knows everything), who is omnipresent (He is in all places present), and is omnipotent (He is all-powerful); who can truly forecast the future. He would not have us look to the predictions of the Mayas, Nostradamus, abstract Bible codes, or any other source being promoted by the world today. Our God has given us His Word so that we can know what is coming in the days ahead. Someone has wisely said, “If you want to know what happened yesterday, read the newspaper; if you want to know what happened today, listen to the evening news; if you want to know what will happen tomorrow, read the Bible.”
I want to make it clear that while the Bible doesn’t tell us everything or answer all of our questions, it does provide us with the headlines, if you will, of the future. Let’s take a panoramic look at what the Bible reveals the future holds.
- THE CATCHING AWAY OR RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH:
According to the Bible, the next great event on God’s prophetic calendar could happen any day. The world will be traumatized by what theologians call the rapture of the Church. While the word “rapture” does not appear in the English translation of the Bible, it does describe a Bible experience. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 the phrase, “shall be caught up” is from the Greek harpadzo. This word could be translated, “to snatch, to seize, to pluck up, or to remove forcibly.” It describes what will happen when Jesus returns to receive us to Himself. Interestingly, in the 3rd and 4th centuries when Saint Jerome was translating the Greek New Testament into Latin, he used the Latin word, rapere to translate the Greek harpadzo. So, the word rapture is in reality a transliteration of the Latin word.
Even though the catching away is referred to multiple times in the New Testament, I will refer you to three main passages. These are, John 14:1 – 3; 1 Cor. 15:50 – 57; and 1 Thess. 4:13 – 18. I won’t take the time to include the full text of these scriptures due to lack of space. However, I would encourage you to read these verses of scripture. These scriptures will help you to get a basic overview of what the event referred to as the rapture is all about. When the rapture occurs, every living believer in Jesus Christ will be snatched off planet earth and whisked away to heaven in the amount of time it takes to blink your eye. It will be the most world-changing event since the flood that covered the earth in the days of Noah.
- THE SEVEN-YEAR TRIBULATION:
I want to make it clear that the Bible strictly forbids attempting to determine the specific date for end-time events. However, there is one prophecy in the Bible that mentions a specific time. It is found in Daniel 9:24 – 27, one of the most important prophetic sections in the Bible. It is the indispensable key to all prophecy. It has been referred to by many as the “Backbone of Bible Prophecy”, and “God’s Prophetic Time Clock.” This prophecy tells us that God has put Israel’s future on a time clock.
The setting for the prophecy is found in Daniel 9:1 – 23. This passage finds the prophet Daniel in Babylon, where the Jewish people have been in exile for almost 70 years. Daniel discovers through reading the prophecies of Jeremiah that the captivity will last only seventy years. In Daniel 9:1 – 23 Daniel confesses the sins of the Jewish people and prays about the restoration of the people from Babylon. He knows that the seventy years of captivity is over (Vv. 1, 2), so he begins to intercede for his people. While Daniel is praying, God sends an immediate answer by the angel Gabriel (9:21). Daniel 9:24 – 27 is God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer, and in this answer, God goes far beyond the restoration of the people from Babylon. He goes all the way to Israel’s ultimate restoration under Messiah. This has been referred to as “Daniel’s 70th week prophecy.” It reads,
24“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.
25“So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.
26“Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
27“And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” [Dan. 9:24 – 27 NASB]
I need to take a little time to carefully explain and examine this passage and its message. Bible scholars generally interpret each of these seventy weeks as a period of seven years because Daniel had already been thinking in terms of years in Daniel 9:1, 2. The entire period involved, therefore, is 490 years (70 sets of 7-year periods using a 360-day prophetic year.) The prophecy goes on to predict that 7 of these sevens (49 years) will pass while Jerusalem is rebuilt and 62 more sevens (433 years) will transpire until the Messiah comes as Israel’s prince. The total of the first 69 sevens is 483 years (49 + 434 is 483 years).
Using simple calculation, we can determine that the divine prophetic clock began ticking on March 5, 444 B.C., when the Persian king Artaxerxes issued a decree allowing the Jews to return under Nehemiah’s leadership to rebuild the city of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1). From the time the countdown began until the coming of Messiah (“the Anointed One”) will be 69 weeks (7 weeks + 62 weeks), or 483 years. This exact period of time, which is 173,880 days when using the Jewish calendar of 360 days for a year, is the precise number of days that elapsed from March 5, 444 B.C. until March 30, A.D. 33, the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem for the Triumphal entry. God predicted a period of 173,880 days to the exact day!
You may have noticed that this leaves one “seven” or “week” still left for the future. I submit to you that God’s prophetic clock for Israel stopped at the end of week 69. We are presently living in this period of unspecified duration between weeks 69 and 70, which is called the Church Age. The Church Age will end when Christ comes to rapture His bride, the Church, to heaven. At that time, the prophetic clock will begin to run again, after the Church has been raptured to Heaven, when the Antichrist comes onto the scene and makes a seven-year peace treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27). This is the final or seventieth “seven” that still remains to be fulfilled. Again, it is often referred to as the seventieth week of Daniel.
Daniel’s prophecy is a major key demonstrating that the end will not come on December 21, 2012. How so? We will leave the answer to that for next time.
The Weekly Word is found in Revelation 13:14 – 18. Here the Bible says,
14And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.
15And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
16And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,
17and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
18Here is wisdom Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. [Rev. 13:14 – 18 NASB]
Until Next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson