Over the last weeks, Iran and the US have been inching towards a tit-for-tat war with the shooting down of drones, the bombing of ships, sanctions and much muscle-flexing in the Strait of Hormuz near Iran. Russia is now taking steps to back Iran with closer army cooperation and joint war games in the area.
Another prophecy that is coming to pass is Daniel 11:40. There the king of the north is contending with the king of the south.
Daniel 11:40 KJV “40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.”
Daniel 11:40 ASV “40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south contend with him; and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass through.”
As we expect the English speaking world to take on the role of the king of the south at the time of the end, the contention between Russia and the US all over the world is significant. Europe is drifting more and more toward the Russian position and Britain seems to be siding with the Americans, as we would expect.
The implication of the "him" in the context of Dan. 11:40 is the king of the north coming against the king of the south. The trigger seems to be this contending, goring or pushing. The word is in the Hithpael form of the verb which gives it the sense of the repeated or continual action. This is a hostility that exists for some period of time. It is a continual pushing. See more on this here.
A website called Rapture Forums has an article that the following quote is from:
“This coalition is stopped in the mountains of Israel by none other than God himself. With his classic weapons of fire, brimstone, and hailstones the invading forces will meet their defeat. Israel will be saved for the day and their eyes will once again be opened to God. The Ezekiel 38-39 war is a pre-tribulation event and means that currently mostly secular Israel will return to the God of their fathers once again. It will not be until the Second Coming that Israel as a whole will recognize their Messiah in Jesus Christ.”
So some see this Ezekiel 38 alliance, as coming directly before "the rapture". In the video version, there is a video that I play an excerpt from that explains the traditional view of the rapture. He quotes 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15, as proof. He states that the rapture takes Christians out of the world to escape the tribulation that is for the Jews. The Christians, he says, enjoy the marriage supper in heaven while the Jews suffer on earth under Antichrist. So this would place Ezekiel 38-39 occurring right before "the rapture," supposedly.
Some common non-Biblical misconceptions about the rapture are:
1. There is a great tribulation coming on the Jews and that Christians will enjoy the “wedding supper” in heaven while Jews suffer under antichrist.
2. Christ is coming to take people to heaven for a short time before returning to set up the kingdom.
3. The 70 weeks prophecy has a gap in the middle.
4. Antichrist is coming to the future temple in Jerusalem we NEED to accurately identify WHO is the Antichrist. We won’t do that in this week’s edition, but we have done that in the past.
So first of all, let’s look at the first one, are we raptured away to escape judgment on Jews?
If tribulation was going to convert the Jews, why did it not work in the Holocaust or any of their other harsh sufferings down the ages? Is tribulation of this sort after their return really prophesied? How does the Bible say they will be converted?
Jeremiah 3:14-15 “14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
This verse tells us that Israel is sent teachers from God to feed them with knowledge and understanding.
Malachi 4:5,6 “5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
Malachi says that Elijah will be sent to them to turn their hearts.
Jeremiah 31:10-12 “10 Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. 11 For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. 12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.”
This part of Jeremiah 31 tells us that God will gather them and then keep them as a shepherd does his flock. An example of a Godly shepherd is David, who slew the Lion and the Bear when they came to take a lamb from the flock. We learn that God will act similarly when the Russian bear with his fellow beasts come against God’s sheep he has gathered in Israel. Other verses tell us how the time of the return is a time of mercy, as well. The primary tribulation upon the Jews was in 70 AD (Mat. 24)
If this time hadn’t been shortened no flesh of Israel should have been saved. 2/3 of the nation were wiped out, and the rest dispersed.
Romans 11 is also used in reference to the rapture. Let's look at the context. Paul turned to the Gentiles after they rejected Christ. Now is soon to be the time of Israel’s receiving back again.
Romans 11:11-15 “11* I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12* Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? 13* For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14* If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.15* For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
The receiving of them is linked to the resurrection. We are not raised and the separated from them for a period of tribulation. The two events are linked together. In fact, it is worded to the effect that it is the reconciling of them that brings life from the dead for the rest who are raised.
Next, let's consider the concept of being raptured away to heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:51-55 is used as a rapture passage. What do we see there?
1 Corinthians 15 “51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
This comment is made in another part of the video: “...this shows that the rapture is to give Christians a glorified body”
Things we see in the passage: sleep, change, resurrection, trumpet, immortality. We don’t see a rapture and it doesn’t speak of going anywhere.
2 Thessalonians 2:1 has a nice concise summary of events when the Lord comes:
“1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”
Two things to happen: the Lord comes + we are gathered to him, we are not gathered to him before he comes. 1 Thessalonians 4, the classic rapture passage actually has a similar message. It says in verse 15 that it is about the coming of the lord, not our going to heaven.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 “15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
He is talking about the coming of the Lord
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Notice, step 1: the Lord returns and step 2: the dead in Christ rise.
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
The Lord has returned and is on earth, the dead have been raised, and then, we together with them meet the Lord. Where? It says in the air. The question is, what is meant by that? Is “air” heaven?
The word for “air” here is very important to take note of.
109. aÓh/r; aeœr, aeros ho (aeœmi, aoœ (cf. anemos, at the beginning)), the air (particularly the lower and denser, as distinguished from the higher and rarer ho aitheœr, cf. Homer, Iliad 14, 288), the atmospheric region: Acts 22:23; 1 Thess. 4:17; Rev. 9:2; 16:17...
Note, there are two words for “air”, one for low, dense air, and one for higher, rarer air.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 uses the word for low, dense air.
Verse 16 uses the usual word for heaven, highlighting the difference in the direct context. If God through Paul wanted us to understand heaven by this, surely he would have used that word.
There are a couple of other things about the translation that makes us feel like this is people shooting off into heaven. It is the words “caught up”. The Berean Literal Bible words it this way: “Then we, the living remaining, will be caught away together with them in the clouds for the meeting of the Lord in the air; and so we will be always with the Lord.” Notice how it drops up from and instead says “caught away”. Young's Literal Translation similarly translates the verse like this: “then we who are living, who are remaining over, together with them shall be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in air, and so always with the Lord we shall be;” Another literal translation, Rotherham has: “After that, we, the living who are left, together with them, shall be caught away, in clouds, to meet the Lord in the air:—and, thus, evermore, with the Lord, shall we be!” This is accurate to the Greek text. The word has no reference to direction. Two other places where this is used help us to understand how it is used a little better.
Matthew 11:12 “12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” “Take it by force” is the same word in the original Greek. Here you see the violent aspect of the word. It is like a snatching away. More relevant to our Thessalonians passage, though, is the story in Acts 8 with Philip and the eunuch.
Acts 8:38-40 “ 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.” He was caught or snatched away. In Philip’s case, to another place on earth. He didn’t go up anywhere, in fact, it seems like he likely went down because he was on the road from Jerusalem down to Gaza, and was taken to the coastal town of Azotus.
So far we have seen that we are snatched away into somewhere in the lower atmosphere. It doesn’t specify where but "air" isn’t an appropriate word for heaven.
That brings us to the clouds. What kind of clouds are in the lower atmosphere? Fog? What does this mean? First, you may have noticed that many of the literal versions drop “the”. The definite article is not there. We are caught away in clouds. Hebrews 12:1 uses similar language. The faithful of Hebrews 11 are described as a great cloud of witnesses.
Hebrews 12:1 “1 Therefore, we also having so great a cloud of witnesses set around us, every weight having put off, and the closely besetting sin, through endurance may we run the contest that is set before us,”
The actual group of people is described as a cloud. Removing the article in Thessalonians does the same thing. It makes the people the cloud. So I would say it's telling us that we will be gathered into a large multitude of people somewhere on earth, in the lower atmosphere.
One last thing we would like to consider is the 70 weeks prophecy. This is another one that is key. The reason it is key is because a gap is in inserted into the 70 weeks and the last week is separated from the rest a placed in the future, bringing another desolation of Israel and a parallel tribulation passage. (see the chart)
The imagined gap in 70-week Prophecy
A problem with these futurist interpretations, in general, is that you end up with a large gap of prophetic darkness because the same thing is done with Revelation and others. God has promised not to do that, however:
Amos 3:7 “7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
If we follow this, and the other gap theories offered by futurists, we end up with prophetic darkness for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
So let's look at what the text actually says:
Daniel 9:24 “24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”
No gap is required in the 70-week prophecy. The fulfillment is amazing and accurate.
Note, there is zero hint at or time for any gap. The prophecy is clear that the total span of time is 70 weeks. The following verses fill in the detail about what happens during those 70 weeks.
Daniel 9:25-27 “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
Again, no hint at, or time for any gap and no switch to Antichrist indicated. Not only that but without any gaps, the times fit very well with history. See the second chart above, of the 70 weeks without a gap.
Lastly, it is important to correctly identify the antichrist. This was discussed in Bible in the News on March 4th. It being correctly identified as the Catholic Church saves us all from misidentifying Christ as the antichrist, when he comes and sets up the Temple and Kingdom in Jerusalem.
"And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:
Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." Zechariah 6:12-13
Let us lift up our eyes and pray for that day to soon come, the true resolution of all conflict.
– Tim Billington