Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Perhaps the most horrifying words in all of Scripture: “Depart from me”.
The setting here is the Great White Throne Judgement of God. The judgement of the lost – those that did not receive Christ as their Savior.
The judge is Jesus Christ and He will judge the lost from the Lamb’s Book of Life. Only those who have put their faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone will find their names contained in this Book.
The subjects here are the lost from all time. From history past, from today, from the Tribulation period and from the Millennial Kingdom. One final judgement of the lost. (Revelation 20)
The verdict is eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire.
However – there is Hope! Our hope is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Belief and acceptance in the free gift of salvation. Notice what the lost in Matthew 7:22 put their faith in: Have WE not prophesied, have WE not cast out devils, have WE not done many wonderful works? Their faith was in their WORKS – However their fate was determined NOT by their works but by the Lambs’s Book of Life – in Christ alone!
The seven year Tribulation period is a prophetically declared time of God’s final work on the Nation of Israel. In Daniel 9 the archangel Gabriel reveals God’s timeline for the Nation of Israel from Daniel’s time within the Empire of the Medes and Persians until the end of times. This schedule has been routinely referred to as Daniel’s Seventy Weeks. Each “week” on this schedule is a period of 70 years – so this prophecy is God’s schedule of significant events for the Nation of Israel within a 490 year period. This period begins with the declaration to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem (we see this in Nehemiah 2) and the 483 year ends with the “cutting off of Messiah” – the crucifixion. The prophecy clearly sets aside a break or pause after the 483 year (69th week) in Daniel 9:25-26.
Jesus told his followers and the multitudes that God was moving His program away from the Nation of Israel and moving His program to a new organization – the Church (The Parable of the Vineyard in Matthew 21). Pentecost and the beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ began just weeks after the crucifixion. Therefore – there are 7 years of prophecy that are still to be fulfilled concerning the Nation of Israel. This seven year period is the Tribulation period. The Church age will come to a dramatic close (the taking away or Rapture of the Church) and the Tribulation period will begin thus fulfilling these last 7 years of prophecy from Daniel 9.
It is during these 7 years that a number of key events happen concerning Israel:
The eyes of Israel are opened concerning Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
Two of their former prophets are brought back. These are commonly believed to be Elijah and Moses though some believe they are Elijah and Enoch. (Note that it was Elijah and Moses with Jesus at the Transfiguration) Revelation 11:3
There are 144,000 Jewish missionaries that go forth (12,000 from each tribe) Revelation 7:4-8
Many, many Israelites accept Jesus as Savior.
The Anti-christ commits the “defamation of desolation” on the altar in the new temple at the halfway point of the Tribulation. This leads many Israelites to see the prophecy fulfilled and turn towards Jesus Christ. Revelation 11:2
The nations of the world converge upon Israel at the end of this seven year period (Armageddon) and are stopped by Jesus Christ Himself who establishes His kingdom.
The seven year Tribulation Period is a time when Satan uses the Anti-christ to move forward his agenda. The Tribulation Period is a time when God brings His judgement upon the earth. It is a time when the Church has been removed and sin reigns. But most importantly and often overlooked is that the Tribulation Period is a fulfillment of Daniel 9 and God’s prophecy towards the Nation of Israel.
Here is Bob Shelton’s chart on Daniel’s Seventy Weeks:
For over 2000 years Christians have been expecting Jesus Christ to come back in the clouds and call His Church home to Heaven. We call this sudden removal from planet earth – the Rapture. It is not a Bible word but rather a word we have used to describe this sudden and immediate removal of Believers from earth and to Heaven.
There is, unfortunately, a large movement afoot today in which the Rapture is being redefined or outright denied. We will look at this problem in our next post.
I believe He is coming again and coming very, very soon because:
1. He told us He was coming again. We are to be expecting Him and looking for Him. In fact, we were often warned in scripture that many would be caught unawares at His sudden return. We are to be expecting Him.
2. There is nothing in prophecy holding the Rapture back. There has never been a time in our history in which things seem more “ready” than ever for His return. It may very well get worse yet before Jesus comes back, but we are already at a point where the stage is set for the end of the church age and the ushering in of the Anti-Christ.
3. There is massive revival and evangelism taking place in so many closed door countries. Today we find great multitudes of people accepting Christ as Savior in countries such as China, Mongolia, Vietnam, and others. Some of the most difficult places in which to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ are now on fire with the Gospel.
4. Globally we see cultures embracing immorality and calling it good. We also see global cultures worshiping the creature over the Creator. These Biblical prophecies have reached epidemics in our society and around the globe.
5. We see a global economic weakness that is susceptible to collapse and fraud like never before. This is paving the way for the globalization of currency in the end times (ie. the Mark of the Beast).
** Jesus is coming again and He is coming very soon!
One of the most important passages in understanding coming events and the clarification of ‘Last Things’ is found in Daniel 9:21-25. A couple important points:
1) The ‘weeks’ determined here in Daniel 9 are periods of 7 years.
2) Much of this prophecy has been fulfilled already in great detail. In fact we find that 69 of the 70 ‘weeks’ (or 483 of the 490 years) have been fulfilled already.
3) The tribulation period of 7 years is the fulfillment of this last period or week of prophecy towards the nation of Israel. God will be dealing directly with the nation of Israel during this period of 7 years.
4) The Church has been raptured/removed before this period. The Church age has ended and the final 7 years of God’s dealings with the Nation of Israel have begun with the removal of the Church. This is the pre-tribulation position and has the strongest Biblical support.
Why I believe that the Rapture will come before the Great Tribulation:
1) This follows a literal, chronological order to the Word of God.
2) The Bible speaks of the churches being saved from “the wrath to come”
* I Thessalonians 1:10, 5:9, Revelation 3:10
* Note that there is no mention of the church from Revelation chapter 4 until chapter 19.
3) The Anti-Christ will come on the scene at the beginning of the Tribulation
* Holy Spirit’s presence will be greatly removed due to the rapture (II Thes. 2:7,8)
* The rapture will probably be the one great global event to unite the world behind a world leader.
4) There are many obvious distinctions between God’s dealing with Israel and with the Church (to be discussed in great detail on a later post). The seven year Tribulation is God’s direct dealing with Israel and has nothing to do with the Church.
5) The Rapture will be a surprise “in the twinkling of an eye”.
6) The seven year period in Heaven is the period of time that the Church will be at the Judgement seat of Christ and The marriage of the Bride (church) to Christ.
7) There is no mention of the Tribulation period in the Epistles. If we (the Church) were to go through it, it would make sense for us to have instruction to endure it.
Pastor of Cedar Hill Baptist Church in Dillsburg PA