By Nathan Jones
Q) Are we getting really close to Jesus' return?
To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former "Bible Answer Man," he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.
I think that we are.
Let's recognize the key foundational prophecy for this conclusion — Israel has become a nation again and the Jews are streaming back into the Holy Land. It's interesting that back in the 1800's a couple of prophecy experts were writing about the eventual rebirth of the nation of Israel. Everybody was saying, "No, it will never happen. That's just an impossibility." But, then in 1948 it really did happen. It's an amazing unfolding of events!
I think Israel's return sets the stage for everything else to happen. If that one thing had not happened, I have a problem in all other end time prophecies because that fulfillment really is the foundation on which to build from.
Beyond Israel's return, we've got all kinds of other evidences that we are living in the season of the Lord's return. For example, we've got a movement today towards the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. Money is being raised, blueprints have been drawn, and people are gathering the paraphernalia. People are working on interacting with the Jewish people over there to give them the dream and the vision and so forth to rebuild.
Beyond that, the alignment of nations that will one day form a coalition against Israel exists. That coalition would include Russia and Iran and the Sudan and Libya and Turkey. All those nations are even now forming alliances with each other. The European Union I believe sort of sets the stage for the return of the Roman Empire.
The way I like to look at it is this: If you can imagine a bunch of lines intersecting each other at some point in the near future, one of these lines is the Jewish Temple, another of these lines is the rebirth of Israel, all these different prophecies are coming true, apparently intersecting at some point in the near future. And so, it's the accumulative weight of all of those evidences that leads me to believe that indeed we are living in the very end times.
If Jesus is returning soon, as Dr. Rhodes shows the evidences clearly indicate, then what will His return look like for you?
If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, then the Bible says Jesus will take from the world you and those others who have accepted Him as Savior up to Him in an event called the Rapture (John 14:1-14; 1 Corinthians 15:51-59; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
But, if you have yet to receive Jesus' lifeline of salvation, then there will be seven more years for you until Jesus returns, assuming you don't die first. These are the events that will lead up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
These next events could happen before the Rapture, but most likely will occur after. They center around the nation of Israel as it grows in size to defeat it's hostile neighbors. Russia, Iran, Turkey and a host of Islamic nations will form an alliance to destroy Israel, but they will be soundly defeated supernaturally by weather and in-fighting. Damascus will be destroyed in one day (Isaiah 17; Jeremiah 49). The result will be that the world will recognize God was certainly involved in Israel's victory (see Ezekiel 38-39).
The following events are sure to happen after the Rapture. A one world leader whom the Bible calls "Antichrist" will rise to world power (Daniel 9:26-27; Revelation 6:1-2). He will desecrate the newly rebuilt Jewish Temple after 3 1/2 years and his promoter called the False Prophet will force the world to worship the Antichrist (Revelation 13).
Seven years of Tribulation will ravage the world through war, famine, economic collapse and environmental devastation (Revelation 6; 8; 9; 12; 16).
God's purpose for this terrible Tribulation is to pour out His wrath on humanity for thousands of years of rebellion (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 15:1). But, it is also to bring people to make a choice — to choose God or not. The choice will be made plain.
God's efforts to rescue people from their sins will not cease during the Tribulation. In Jerusalem, two men will appear and preach there for 3 1/2 years that Jesus is the Messiah the Jews have been looking for (Revelation 11:3). 144,000 Jews will call Jesus their Messiah and also preach about Him throughout the whole world. Millions will accept Jesus as their Savior, and die for their faith.
At the end of the 7-year Tribulation, the Antichrist will lead a great army into the Valley of Jezreel (Armageddon) for a final battle against Israel. This is the event that marks Jesus' Second Coming (Zechariah 14:1-21; Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27; Revelation 19:11-21). The believers in Christ who were raptured years earlier and God's angelic forces will follow Jesus the King of Kings into His Second Coming to the earth to meet in battle, but only Jesus Himself will engage the Antichrist's armies. With mere words, Jesus defeats the nations in siege against Jerusalem (Revelation 19).
The survivors of the Tribulation are gathered by the angels and judged before Christ. Those who have accepted Jesus live on into Jesus' 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom. Those who had rejected Christ are sent to punishment in Hades awaiting the Great White Throne Judgment held at the end of the Millennium which results in them being thrown into the Lake of Fire, also called Hell (Matthew 13:36-43; 49-50; 25). Jesus' 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom will be a time of peace, righteousness and justice, and after the final judgment eternity will be even better (Ezekiel 40-48; Revelation 20:1-6).
Where do you stand on God today? Have you accepted His Son Jesus Christ's death on your behalf (John 3:16, 36; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; 10:9-10)? Have you asked Jesus to be your Savior and rescue you from eternal death and the terrible events that are coming? Do you want to meet Christ in joy in the Rapture, or in dread at the end of the seven years of Tribulation, should you survive somehow? The choice is yours.