The next prophetic event that concerns the church, true followers of Jesus Christ, is known as the rapture. One day soon, Jesus will appear in the clouds and call us up to be with Him. He is currently preparing a place for us, and that place will soon be ready (John 14:2-3)! Is this a “could-be-any-second-now” event?
The Bible is fascinating in that it applies to every believer in every generation. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). This is the mystery and the wonder in the Word of God as the Holy Spirit leads us into truth. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-14). This is how Bible prophecy works as well. Each generation can see it as applying to their time, to give them faith, hope, and courage. In hindsight, we can see details that weren’t perceived by those who came before us. This is by miraculous design. Truly the Word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12)!
Now, what about OUR time, is the rapture imminent for US? Is the day and hour fully concealed?
First of all, we know from scripture that the rapture will occur when:
- The Fullness of the Gentiles is Complete (Romans 11:25). This is when all people predestined to be a part of the body of Christ (the church) have come to saving faith. Of course, we have no way of knowing how many people this includes. We also know that God has complete control over this number and its’ timing, since He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). (Note that this is separate from the “Times of the Gentiles”, which doesn’t end until the Second Coming of Christ.)
Ok, so let’s examine, will the rapture be in OUR time? Is it currently imminent? From a straightforward, literal reading of scripture, we have previously established that the “end times” or “latter days” will be marked by:
- The rebirth of Israel as a nation. Israel must be re-established as a nation before the “latter days” can occur. We know this because all the end-time prophecies in the Old Testament, Sermon on the Mount, and Revelation speak directly of the tribes of Israel, Jerusalem, the Temple, and Temple worship.
- There will be a specific generation that will see both the rebirth of Israel and the Second Coming of Christ. The clock on that generation started ticking in 1948. How long will a generation live? Scripture suggests 70-80 years, or 120 years at the utmost.
- Israel will restore Old Testament sacrificial worship of God in the Temple. There must be a third Temple, or at least the altar and surrounding area, with sacrifices occurring before the mid-point of the “tribulation” (70th Week of Daniel). We know this because at the midpoint of a covenant with Israel, the “antichrist” will cause sacrifices to cease and will set himself up in the Temple and place an abomination on God’s altar. The third Temple has not yet been started, because there is Islamic resistance at the proposed location. However, Levitical priests have already been trained and all the Temple accessories have already been made.
- Jesus told the disciples that the gospel must be preached to all nations, and then the end will come. The Joshua Project tracks the spread of the gospel, and we have successfully reached all nations. There are still unreached people groups; however, the gospel will continue to be preached throughout the “tribulation” before the END comes.
- There will be similarities between the “Days of Noah”, the “Days of Lot”, and the rapture / end times. While different interpretations exist, everyone agrees that Noah and Lot were spared in the nick of time while the rest perished. So we have to examine, are our days like the days of Noah and Lot? In Noah’s day there was genetic tinkering via the Sons of God reproducing with human women to tamper with the future Messiah’s bloodline. In our day there is genetic tinkering with plant, animal, and quite likely (but covertly) human DNA. There is certainly tinkering with life (assisted reproduction) and death (assisted suicide). In Lot’s day, the main sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexuality (where we get the term sodomy from). In our day, there is “gay pride” and gay marriage has been legalized. In our day, the rainbow of promise God gave Noah is used as a symbol of the sin of Sodom. In both Noah’s and Lot’s days, violence and evil (opposing God) prevailed. In our day, violence and evil prevail.
- There are prophesied wars that are yet to occur (the Destruction of Damascus, the Arab-Israeli Promised Land War, the Gog-Magog war). We can see the nations aligning and posturing such that these could be a reality in the foreseeable future.
- There will be a one world government (under the future “antichrist”), so this must at least be possible. In our day, globalization is a reality. There is global trading, communication, and travel regularly. The United Nations forms a nice precursor to a global government.
- There will be a “mark of the beast” economic system at some point in the last half of Daniel’s 70th week. What this will be is highly debatable, but the Bible tells us it will be on the right hand or forehead and will be used for economic transactions. Technology for such an economic system must be in existence. While I’m not convinced that the mark system will involve these, chip cards, RFID chips, and microchips are all in widespread use.
So we have established that the rapture couldn’t really have been imminent for much of the church age (although the revelatory nature of prophecy would have made it appear that it could have been), but it certainly seems to be imminent now. There is nothing that would impede the progression of our world into Daniel’s 70th Week and the Day of the Lord except for the Restrainer himself (the Holy Spirit in the temple of the body of Christ).
What about the Day and Hour? Is that fully concealed? Let’s examine the verses pertaining to this, paying attention to the bolded sections:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:36-44
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9
When Jesus stated that no one knows the day or the hour, He was incarnate as a man and had laid aside His omniscience. I have no doubt that upon His ascension He retained full omniscience and full knowledge of the day and the hour. However, it is clear that none of the angels do, and neither will we. I want to be clear, though, that not knowing the hour or the day is not the same as not knowing the season or a span of a few days. For this, we turn to:
- The Fig Tree sign – when we see the fig tree leaf out (rebirth of Israel), we will know the “summer is near”. This puts us in the season.
- The fig tree sign gives us the start point of the generation that will not pass away – which also is the season.
- The fig tree leafed out in 1948, and I would propose that we have been going through the summer. I believe that the summer has almost ended and that the next season will be fall…tying in to the next 3 Feasts of God which remain to be fulfilled. If you are unaware of the Feasts of God, you should be! The 3 Spring Feasts were fulfilled by Jesus in his death and resurrection. The Summer Feast was fulfilled by the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The 3 Fall Feasts will be fulfilled in the “end times”. Scottie Clarke points out that the phrase Jesus used, “about that day or hour no one knows”, exactly describes the Feast of Trumpets. This feast is the only one which literally did not have a predetermined day – it was determined by the first visual sighting of the moon by 2 witnesses (following the lunar calendar). We can predict this with Stellarium and other software, but the true day depends on human witnesses and human eyes (which may or may not agree with software). It is the only feast that the meaning was unclear to the Israelites. And most remarkably, it was a day of trumpet blowing. 100 trumpet blasts occur on this day, and the last blast is the Tekiah Gedolah. (give it a listen and see if THAT doesn’t give you goose bumps!) The Feast of Trumpets seems to give us a day range (of approximately 2 days), but not the year. For Scottie’s video on this, see – No Man Knows the Day or Hour, Oh Really?
- A possible sign has been written in the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. It narrows down specific years as potential contenders for Jesus to appear. Interestingly, both 2017 and 2028 are in the list (could those be the years of the Rapture and Second Coming)?
- Once we are in the season, we are to watch for signs of the beginning of birth pains. The beginning of birth pains, as defined by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, start with a collection of signs involving the opening of Seals 1-6 (wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, fearful events and great signs from heaven). The beginning of birth pains is the beginning of the Day of the Lord. Immediately as these birth pains begin we are to look up, for our redemption is near – imminent (Luke 21:28). The beginning of signs gives us the specific DAY, but won’t be revealed until we are ON that Day, IN that hour. So it seems that ON THE DAY, IN THE HOUR, we may know – if we are watching. Literally, looking up. I personally believe the sign that we may sense is global earthquakes
- I find Jesus’ statement to specifically look up when all these things begin very interesting. In Luke 21, the beginning of the signs includes “great signs from heaven“. Revelation 12 describes a “great sign appearing in heaven“. Revelation 12 also describes the rapture of the church – which is our redemption. The Revelation 12 sign has a very strong connection to the rapture of the church. It *may* give us the year, but not the day. The sign itself occurs on September 23, 2017 and is unique (it has never occurred before in human history and won’t occur again in the next several thousand years). However, Jupiter does seem to possibly leave the sign early. I believe the sign is authentic, but I don’t believe it gives us a day or an hour. It again points to a season (or possible days range).
- An important point here where people stumble is if the Revelation 12 Sign destroys imminence. Greg at “A Little Strength” has written an article on this – The Exit Sign. The language is a little strong sometimes but I think he makes a good point. Imminence means that we are to live in a state of expectation – watching. Being awake. Being ready. It means that the rapture could happen at any time. Greg makes the interesting observation that:
It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that some of the early dispensational Bible scholars began to identify the signs in Revelation 12:1–5 as including a depiction of the pre-tribulation Rapture; but even then, men like John Nelson Darby, William Kelly, William Blackstone, and Henry A. Ironside didn’t have the faintest idea exactly how or when the two great signs of Revelation 12:1–5 would actually be fulfilled.
These men obviously didn’t enjoy the luxury of having personal computers and sophisticated software programs like Stellarium that could do in seconds what would have taken them months of laborious effort. They succeeded in ferreting out the proper eschatological interpretation of this passage, but could go no further. Although they made progress by laying the groundwork, the actual fulfillment of the REV12 sign remained hidden.
In perfect harmony with the scriptural teaching that the Rapture is imminent, God, in His infinite wisdom, simply didn’t reveal the fulfillment of the REV12 sign. Imminence requires an absence of known signs—or perhaps I should say revealed signs. And for the last two thousand years, there were no revealed signs pertaining to the Rapture. For nearly two millennia the Church didn’t have the revelation knowledge to see any signs pertaining to the Rapture, let alone the capacity to see their fulfillment. My point is this:
The Rapture hasn’t been a signless event for
nearly two millennia because there is no sign.
It’s been a signless event for nearly two millennia
because God wisely chose not to reveal any signs.
But just a few years ago, God began to do just that.
We cannot know with 100% confidence the day or hour, or even year, of the rapture. This is by design. However, it seems we have been given many clues as to possible days (the Feast of Trumpets – which by definition cannot be predetermined to be on a specific day) and possible years (Revelation 12 sign, Great Pyramid sign). Putting these together we get a range of days this September (possibly the 9th, or between the 20-23), that stand out very prominently. We would be wise to heed these warning signals that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.
I will leave you with one final point to ponder. When Jesus stated that no one would know “about that day or hour”, note the pattern:
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:36)
No One Human Knows – Not Angels – Not Son – Only Father
The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:1-2)
Father Gives – To Son – Who Sends Angel – To John for All His Servants
Regardless of dates and times, I strongly believe that we should be watchful and ready at all moments, actively engaged in Kingdom Work.
The Bible is infallible. I am not. Be a Berean – examine the scriptures for yourself to see if these things are so!