The reason why God warns us of impending disaster is that we as well as children after us may be diligent to observe to keep His word by doing righteousness and justice. Before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, He informed His servant Abraham of the impending destruction.
“And the LORD said, shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him , that he will command his children after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him”(Gen.18:17-19).
When God gives us a warning of an impending destruction as He gave to Abraham concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, it is not for us alone, but for our generation and the subsequent ones. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was used as an example to warn us of the the terrible Day Of The LORD’s wrath in order that we and our children may keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice. For this same reason, we are cautioned over and over again to live godly lives, looking for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ our Lord(Titus 2:12,13).
” Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, To whom be glory both now and for ever. Amen”( 2 Pet.3:11-14,17,18).
All believers are to be steadfast, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord(Rom.12:11), looking and waiting for the Day Of The Lord. We are to be holy in conduct and godliness, diligent, spotless and blameless. We are to be on our guard, growing in grace, and the knowledge of the Lord(2 Pet.3:18). These admonitions are not limited to any generation, but to all generations of believers, because any generation of believers could be called upon to enter the 70th week, and face the horrors of the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist. To what extent therefore any believer falls short of these admonitions, he shall be unprepared for the Day Of The Lord.
In the Olivet Discourse, our Lord Jesus the Christ gives the admonition to His disciples to watch for the sign of His coming in order not to be unprepared for the Day Of The Lord. ” Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When the branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors”(Matt.24:32,33). The fig tree is a sign of approximation. It is the commonest tree in Israel, and also a symbol of the nation. His disciples could well relate to it. Our Lord Jesus being the good teacher that He is uses simple and common things with which the people are familiar to illustrate His teachings. The reference to the fig tree in this parable does not relate to its symbolism of the nation of Israel but to its commonality. It grows in the wild, but it is also cultivated. In the Lukan account, it says “all the trees.”(Lukk.21:29). All the trees could not be the symbol of the nation of Israel. Our Lord Jesus was referring to a natural seasonal observation. In the land of Israel, after the Winter, in the Spring, the fig tree and all the others trees begin to bud having been denuded of leaves in the Autumn or Fall which signals the nearness of Summer. In like manner, when we see the events enumerated by our Lord Jesus the Christ in the Olivet Discourse begin to unfold, we know that the Day Of The Lord is at hand. “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled”(Matt.24:34). The generation that shall witness the unfolding of these events shall not pass before the Day Of The Lord comes. This statement is predicated upon the faithfulness of the Lord. ” Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away”(Matt.24:35). Heaven and Earth may pass away, God’s word remains eternally true.
Therefore we should be watchful and prayerful in order that these things do not come upon us unawares, and that we may be counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand blameless before the Son Of Man(Luk.21:36).
Because of the confusion arising from the divergent views on the rapture, some believers have adopted a nonchalant attitude towards any teachings on the end times. They call themselves pantribulationists; it will all pan out in the end. They say it does not matter whether we go through the Great Tribulation or not, all we need do is to get ready. How in the world will anyone get ready if the one is not sure whether one goes through the Great Tribulation or not? How well prepared would a student be for an examination when he is not sure he would sit for the examination? Or how well prepared would a soldier be for a battle he is not sure he would fight? Or an athlete if he is not sure he will compete? Those who hold this view are deceived already because they are unprepared for the hard times ahead. This kind of attitude fosters ignorance. When I dialogue with these brethren I find out that they have no knowledge of the sequence of events of the end times. Am yet to find anyone of them who is knowledgeable in eschatology.
There is another segment of believers who believe that they should not bother about the end times, because our God is so loving He would take care of them whether they are prepared or not. This view is slightly different from the first, but the end result is the same. These believers are deceived already and are unprepared for the hard times ahead. They live under the self-deluding notion that God because of the immensity of His love for us, His children, He[God] will do everything for us even that which falls within the domain of human responsibility. They are ignorant of the fact that divine sovereignty does not preclude human responsibility. They forget that we are in partnership with God. There are things which God only can and must do, and there things which man only can and must do.
God is not going to do our studies for us. He can and will guide and help us in our studies. Nevertheless, to study is our responsibility. We are to study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God(2 Tim.2:15). A believer who neglects the word of God will be spiritually stunted in growth. As new born babes, we must desire the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby(2 Pet.2:2). God said that His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Spiritual malnutrition kills as much or perhaps even more than does physical malnutrition. God told the Levites, because you have rejected knowledge, I also have rejected you from being preists(Hos.4:6). We reign by faith through knowledge. Faith is a function of knowledge. Faith begins where the will of God is known. Faith is the word of God that controls us. If we do not know God’s will, then there is no faith. And God’s will is God’s word. And the word masters and dominates us to the extent that we master it.
There is a subset of believers who believe that the events outlined by our Lord Jesus the Christ in the Olivet Discourse are real and will be literally fulfilled, only it all concerns unrepentant Israel not the Church. By this wave of the hand they relegate the Olivet Discourse and the whole Gospel of Matthew to the Jewish waste paper basket. This is theological skullduggery and should not be allowed to stand. These men are intellectually dishonest. They do not hesitate to appropriate to themselves the good things in the Gospel of Matthew.
There is yet another segment of believers who allegorize, spiritualized, rationalize, customize, personalize, and culturalize everything in the Scriptures concerning the end times until its intended meaning is lost. By this they strip the Scripture of its normative reading, understanding, authority, and applicability to the people of God.
We must understand that the degree to which we are prepared, to that extent we shall have the protection of God during the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist. To that extent also we may or may not feel the fury of the wrath of Satan in his persecution of the children of God. The wrath of Satan is against the saints of the Most High. Believers who are unprepared, who have not heeded Christ instructions concerning perseverance(Rev.3:10) shall face the full brunt of the persecution by the antiMessiah; for he shall attempt to kill all who do not bow to his image, nor take the mark of allegiance to him. Anyone who does not get branded as a loyal citizen of his Satanic kingdom is earmarked for liquidation. A believer’s theological view on the end times is therefore of paramount importance, especially for those of us who live at the edge of history.
We can indeed be prepared. God has given us His word to prepare us ahead of time. He has called us to understand, persevere, look forward to and to hasten the coming of the Day Of The Lord. He has called us to godly living and righteous prayer, both of which are at the edge of the kingdom.
We affirm in the strongest terms the following biblical principles in relation to the end times:
(1) The last days are marked by a 7-year period, the 70th week. It is the last of the 70 sevens of years(70 x 7=490) spoken of by the prophet Daniel(Dan.9:24-27). The starting point of this 7-year period is the signing of the 7-year peace treaty by the antiChrist with the many from within Israel(Dan.9:27). We are now in the gap of time between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy.
(2) Three major events will occur within this period, the emergence of the antiChrist as a prominent world ruler(Rev.6:1,2), the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist(Dan.12:1; Matt.24:21,29; Mk.13:19; Rev.6:7,8), and the commencement of the Day of the Lord wrath(Rev.6:15-17). This time period is called the 70th week, never the Tribulation Period.
(3) The 70th week of Daniel is divided into two equal halves of three and one-half years each. The first three and one-half years is called the beginning of sorrows or the beginning birth pangs(Matt.24:8). The second three and one-half years is divided into two unequal halves, the Great Tribulation, and the commencement of the Day Of The LORD.
(4) The Scriptures teach that there are three major sections to the 70th week: the beginning of sorrows or the beginning birth pangs(Matt.24:8), the Great Tribulation(Matt.24:21), and the Day of the LORD(Matt.24:29-31).
(5) The Day Of The LORD or simply the End(of the ages) is the point of transition between the present age, olam haze, and the age to come, olam haba. Within this period in the eschatological timeline, the wrath of God is poured out on the living wicked earth-dwellers who worship the Beast or his image.
(6) The Day Of The LORD begins at the breaking of the seventh seal, at the last trump(1 Cor.15:51,52; Rev.8:1-6), and ends with the defeat of the armies of the Gentile nations gathered against Christ at Armageddon, 30 days after the end of the 70th week of Daniel(Dan.12:11; Rev.19:11-21).
(7) The end of the 70th week is marked by the death of the two witnesses whose ministry lasts precisely three and one-half years(Rev.11:3-14).
(8) The ministry of the two witnesses occurs within the second half of the 70th week, and lasts throughout its entire length(Rev.11:3).
(9) The Scriptures teach that the Great Tribulation or better still the Tribulation the Great begins precisely at the midpoint of the 70th week, but does not run to its end. The Great Tribulation is cut short or better still amputated by the cosmic and celestial disturbances(Matt.24:22; Mk.13:24,25; Luk.21:11b, 25,26).
(10) If the Great Tribulation lasts the entire length of the second half of the 70th, we can calculate the Day of the Lord’s Coming by reckoning from either the signing of the covenant with death with the many from within Israel at the beginning of the 70th week, or from the abomination of desolation that occurs precisely at the midpoint of the 70th week, thus invalidating the words of our Lord Jesus the Christ which states that no man, nor the angels in heaven, neither the Son knows the Day and the Hour of His Coming, but My Father only(Matt.24:36; Mk.13:32). This feat is unachievable even by flights of higher mathematics.
(11) On the other hand, if the 70th week is cut short, instead of the Great Tribulation as some pretribulationists teach, then, the 70th week will no longer be seven years in duration, thusly, invalidating the 70 sevens of years of Daniel’s prophecy which was affirmed by our Lord Jesus the Christ(Dan. 9:24-27; Matt.24:15).
(12) The Bible teaches that Elijah or more appropriately another with the spirit and the anointing of Elijah must first appear before the commencement of the Day Of The LORD(Matt.17:10, ; Mk.9:11). If the Day Of The Lord begins at the commencement of the 70th week, it therefore follows that Elijah must appear before the commencement of the 70th week. If Elijah appears before the commencement of the 70th week, the pretribulational doctrine of imminence is invalidated. If he appears after the commencement of the 70th week, the Day Of The LORD cannot commence at the beginning of the 70th week as the pretribulation rapture position teaches.
(13) The Scriptures teach that the apostasy and the revealing of the man of sin must occur before the Day Of The LORD(2 Thess.2:1-4). Both of these two events, the apostasy and the revelation of the man of sin occur within the 70th week of Daniel. It therefore follows that the Day Of The LORD cannot start at the beginning of the 70th week, before the first five seals are broken.
(14) The Scriptures teach that cosmic and celestial disturbances must occur before or precede the Day Of The LORD(Joel 2:31; Matt.24:29-31; Rev.6:12-14). The cosmic disturbances are associated with the breaking of the sixth seal. The breaking of the sixth seal which amputates the Great Tribulation occurs sometime within the second half of the 70th week.
(15) The Bible teaches that when the Day Of The LORD begins, it will be obvious to everyone; there will be no guesswork. All the inhabitants of the Earth shall know that God has come down to punish the wicked earth-dwellers for their evils(Rev.6:15-17).
(16) The saints shall be rescued before the wrath of God begins; and the saints are exempt from the wrath of God(1 Thess.1:10,5:9). The fact that the saints are rescued implies danger before rescue. The Bible teaches that the rapture is concurrent, coincident, and simultaneous with commencement of the wrath of God. The very same day the rapture occurs, the wrath of God begins(Luk.17:26-30). The very same day that Noah entered the Ark, the rains deluged the heavens and the Earth was submerged in the waters(Gen.7:13-24). The very same day that Lot and his family left Sodom and Gomorrah, the heavens rained fire and sulphur upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain, Zeboim and Adammah(Gen.19:23-25). Therefore to preach Rapture before the consummate battle of the ages for the saints, the Great Tribulation, is to court disaster, and to sell the saints short to the antiChrist, the Chief eschatological antagonist who is destined to make war with the saints and to overcome them. “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”(Rev.13:7).
(17) The Bible teaches that the believers are exempt from the wrath of God(1 Thess.1:10, 5:9). However, there is no biblical evidence that the Church shall be exempt from the wrath of Satan(Rev.12:12). Rather there is overwhelming evidence the church will witness the wrath of Satan.
(18) The Bible distinguishes between the wrath of God and the wrath of Satan(Rom.2:5; Rev.6:17, 12:12). The wrath of Satan is administered by the antiChrist against the believers and all others who repudiate the authority of the antiChrist during the Great Tribulation. The wrath of God is administered by God Himself against the living wicked earth-dwellers who remain after the rapture of the Church during the Day Of The LORD judgment(Rev.14:9-12).
(19) The Scriptures teach that the Day Of The LORD will be a time of unprecedented judgment of the wicked inhabitants of the Earth who remain after the translation of the saints. It shall also be a time for purifying Israel.
(20) The Scriptures also affirm that there is one second coming of the Lord, not one for the Rapture of the Church at the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel, and another seven years later at its end as the pretribulation rapture position affirms.
(21) The Scriptures affirm that the second coming of Christ, the parousia means arrival and continuous presence in order to accomplish certain divine purposes. It will begin with the appearance of the Son of Man in the heavens, the Shekinah(Matt.24:30; Mk.13:26 ;Rev.1:7), the sealing of the 144,000, the rapture of the Church(Matt.24:31; Mk13:27), the multitude which no man could number(Rev.7:1-17), and followed by the Day Of The LORD wrath on the wicked who remain(Rev.6:15-17), and the Lord’s literal return to the Earth.
(21) The Bible teaches that the rapture occurs at the end or end of the ages. ” I am with you unto the end of the ages”(Matt.28:20). The end of the ages is the time of the final harvest, and the reapers are the angels(Matt.13:39). The final harvest is the time of separation of the righteousness, the wheat, from the unrighteous, the tares, weeds or better still wild wheat(darnel).
(22) The Scriptures affirm that the Church will remain on Earth until the end of the ages which is the time of the final harvest( Matt.13:39,40, 28:20). The end of the ages occurs inside the second half of the 70th week not prior to its commencement.
(24) The Scriptures teach that the end begins with the breaking of the seventh seal. The righteousness, the wheat are raptured(harvested into God’s barn), and the unrighteous(tares, weeds, wild wheat) are harvested to be burned(judged) during the Day Of The LORD, concluding with Christ physical return to the Earth
(25) The Bible teaches that at Christ’s return the surviving remnant of Israel shall be saved, and the final ingathering of Jews from all over the globe effected. This shall be the literal fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob(Rom.11:25,26).
(26) The Scriptures teach that at Christ’s return, all nations shall be gathered to Jerusalem in the Sheep and Goat Judgment. The goats shall be condemned and executed, but the sheep shall be justified to enter into the Kingdom of God during the millennial reign of Christ(Matt.25:31-46).
Our world is old, decrepit, dilapidated, and antiquated, reeling to and fro under the weight of sin. It is in grave danger. It wobbles on collision course with its Maker. ” For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now”(Rom.8:22). Through sin, disobedience and utter disregard to his creator, man has pressed the self-destruct button. With an alarming rate, the foundations of godliness are crumbling; things once sacred and sacrosanct have become unzipped, and are treated with disgusting commonality and levity. In our world today, men call good, evil, evil good(Is.5:20). Black is no longer black but white, and white is no longer white but black. Such is the depth of moral decay in our world today. It has become fashionable to live in sin. Those who strive to live right are ridiculed, and their lives endangered. So much of the world has been imported into the Church, so much so that the Church which is called to be a royal priesthood, a peculiar people, a holy nation, and to display the excellencies of His Divine Majesty, is neither royal nor peculiar, nor is it different from the rest of the world, neither does it display the excellencies of the God of Israel.
Except for a few lone voices here and there, the light has almost but gone out. The Church has stooped to commonality with the rest of the world, and in lifestyle to similarity with the unregenerate in the midst of whom we live. By the virtue of his calling, the voice of the pastor ought to be heard, but instead many pulpits are weak and vacillating. Even amongst conservative evangelicals and Pentecostals, some urge us to return to the Romish Church and tell, the Pope: ” the children have come to roost”. How strong and effective will the witness of a local assembly of believers be if the pastor is not sure Jesus is the only way to God(Acts 4:12)? ” Thus saith the Lord which ought to be a thundering voice is reduced to almost an inaudible whisper. More often than not, it is the politician, the philosopher, the scientist, the celebrity, and the social activist that is heard instead of the voice of those with divine mandate. How can our voice be heard when we are not divided from what is commonplace and ordinary. The Church ought to stand out through her holiness, righteousness, miracles, signs, and wonders(Rom.8:19), rather what we see is opulence, blatant display of flamboyance, Pentecostal showmanship and jingoism, and worldliness. Where are the dead raised, the blind see, the deaf hear, the maimed made whole? They line the avenues into our opulent auditoria, and beg, but remain much the same.
There is a lot of stealing going on in the Church. Brethren lie to one another in their business dealings. Some have become utterly serpentine, crafty, sleek, and greasy in their dealings with fellow believers. There is hardly anyone that consistently tells the truth. Lost of believers are utterly unreliable, and inconsistent, untrustworthy, and vain and banal. A lot of our motivations are driven by monetary gains. It has become extremely dangerous to trust anyone. Often we betray one another. As for immorality, it is drunken like water. Will a church like this be raptured? I trow not.
To many church goers, the Church provides entertainment not worship. To many church goers, the Church is a club where they go to recreate themselves, to meet business partners, find new ones and get connected. Some go to Church solely to steal, and to find new sex partners. Some are there to find wives or husbands. That, of course is more honorable. There are some in the Church who are messed up with one another in all kinds of sexual immoralities. There are single ladies in the Church who practise lesbianism. They comfort themselves by the fact that they do not become pregnant and abort. They are homosexuals in the Church also. And the pulpit is silent because it has to be politically correct. Some see the Church as a business institution; and they are there to market their products, and nothing else. Should the Church provide a hedged-in, antiseptic, club-like atmosphere, and not a ” Go ye out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in”(Luk.14:23)?
At the present moment, the Church is splintered, polarized, canal, materialistic, humanistic in her philosophy, and impotent. We are fiddling, and the world is burning. There is no other institution that can stem the tide of evil other than the Church. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do”(Ps.11:3)?
If the Church continues with business as usual, and enters the 70th week of Daniel, it will be catastrophic. There is need for right teaching and correct theology on the end times in order to correct the wrong thinking in the Church today. The Prewrath Rapture position is a catalyst for holy living(Marvin. J. Rosenthal). The Church must understand that any generation of believers could be called upon by heaven to enter into the 70th week of Daniel, experience the horrors of the Great Tribulation by the antiChrist, and be raptured after the cosmic disturbances associated with the breaking of the sixth seal, before God pours out His wrath on the living wicked earth-dwellers, adorers, and worshippers of the antiMessiah, in The Day Of The LORD judgment, at the breaking of the seventh seal.