By Nathan Jones
How far will God go to bring people to salvation?
I was recently interviewed by Vic Batista, senior pastor of the Miami-based Calvary Chapel Aventura on his radio program "The Truth Will Set You Free" via TWave Radio. "Pastor Vic" (as he likes to be called) was born in the Dominican Republic and is as active in planting churches and helping orphans there as he is in southern Florida, reaching out with the Good News of Jesus Christ to both the English and Spanish speaking audiences.
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" episode, we'll marvel at how Israel being a nation again fulfills one of the most prolific prophecies in all of the Old Testament.
Salvation During the Tribulation
Vic: There's another great end times event besides the regathering of Israel coming. We're likely to live to see this other event. It's called the Rapture. This event could happen at any moment, right, Nathan? But, after the Rapture, those left behind live into the Tribulation, and God continues to do His saving work with the people.
Nathan: Yes, once the Jews are all back in their land, the Tribulation starts with the Antichrist — the one-world ruler who'll rise out of Europe — will make a seven years long peace treaty with Israel. Daniel 9:26 -27 tells us that event marks the very beginning of the Tribulation.
Israel, after all the prophetic wars with Russia and Iran attacking them and seeing those nations being defeated supernaturally, will look desperately for a time of peace. During for first 3.5 years of the seven-year treaty, Israel will not be attacked. They'll be under the protection of not only God, but also the Antichrist. Basically, the treaty I'd imagine goes like, "I won't mess with you, and you don't mess with me." Feeling safe from the Defender of Israel, the Antichrist goes out to conquer the rest of the world.
When the Antichrist's done and almost all the world has been subjugated, then he turns his attention back to Israel. Half-way through seven years, the Antichrist marches into Israel, he breaks his treaty with them, he goes into the newly rebuilt Jewish Temple, and he declares himself to be God. He wants the world to worship him. Remember that Satan's possessing the Antichrist. Satan has always wanted the world to worship him.
The result of the abomination the Antichrist sets up in the Third Temple causes many of the Jews to flee from Jerusalem. Their will be a mass exodus of Jews. It's believed they'll flee to southern Jordan, which then they must control by then, and they flee down into the wilderness of southern Jordan. Once there, God supernaturally protects the Children of Israel. The Antichrist can't kill them due to God's protection.
There will be some Jews who still remain behind in Jerusalem, because we know the Antichrist attacks Jerusalem all the way up until the end at Armageddon. The Jewish people will suffer tremendously under the Antichrist. Two-thirds of them will be killed during that time period, and that's about eight million people today. Another holocaust is coming. I hate to say it, but it's what the Bible says will happen.
It takes the kind of pressure that is Satan's and the world's anger to get the Jewish people to turn their hearts back to God and finally accept Jesus Christ. Sometimes in our lives we too need a terrible kind of disaster to shake us out of our spiritual lethargy and turn our hearts back to Jesus Christ.
Responding to the Signs
Vic: God has poured out His grace upon us. Hopefully people who don't have a relationship with the Lord or some Christians who are like straddling the fence will accept God's grace. What would you say to them?
Nathan: I say that the signs of the times are out there, if you know what you're looking for. To basically know what the signs of the times are, go to Luke 21. Read through Luke 21. It's just one chapter, but that provides ten signs right there that declares the era when Jesus Christ is coming back soon. He's coming back as a wrathful lion, so to speak. In other words, He's coming back to judge the world for its sins.
The world's in terrible shape right now, and it's getting worse every day. But, God's not going to let that stand. He has to finally deal with sin. He promised He will judge the world for its sins one day. So, when Jesus does return, how will He find you? Will He find you rebelling against Him, holding your fist saying, "I don't want you in my life." Or, will Jesus find you've surrendered your life to Him. You've given your life to Him. You've accepted His free gift of salvation. That's the most important decision you will ever make in your entire life.
Vic: We want to find ourselves on the right side of this spiritual war, and that's walking with God. Nathan, another lesson I find very important is that of living a pure life, right, Nathan? It's so important that we live righteously in these last days.
Nathan: Knowing that Jesus is returning should affect how you live as well. Think of yourself as a little kid and you've got your hand in the cookie jar. You're thinking, "Naw, my parents aren't going to show up." Then, all of the sudden, there's Mom, and she's standing over you. You whip around and look up at her with the guiltiest of looks on your face. Is that how you want to be when Jesus returns?
Jesus Christ could come back at any moment. The Bible says that people will just be living their daily lives, eating and marrying and working, and they won't even expect it. Then, bang! He's there. Jesus will take everyone who's accepted Him as Savior up to heaven in the Rapture, leaving all the rest of the people left behind to have to deal with the Tribulation.
Even if we know we are saved and we know we'll be raptured, still, how will the Lord find us as believers in Him when He returns? Are we doing the work of Jesus Christ? Are we living holy lives, or are we trying to sneak in as much sin as we can get and just wasting our time by just watching TV and not doing anything to share the Gospel. How will the Lord find you? Ask yourself that.
Vic: The Bible says in Titus 2:11-13, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ"
That's why we want to encourage individuals that as we see the nation of Israel regathered — this miracle that has happened during our time — that individually we should live soberly. We should take our relationship with God a little more seriously.
Nathan: Exactly. These are definitely trying times. I would hope as the world seems to be getting more dangerous and more wars start and crazy weather and even the United States falling apart both in power and morality, which Jesus said would happen the closer we got to His return, that it would make us consider where our heart is. Where is your relationship with Jesus Christ? Because, the only way to weather a storm is when you're on Jesus' boat, so to speak. You need Jesus Christ to survive this world, to survive the afterlife, and to have eternal life with Him.
Vic: Yes. Excellent point. Nathan, I was going to ask you as we get ready to close if maybe you would throw up a brief prayer for the nation of Israel?
Nathan: I'd be happy to. Lord Jesus, we know that you have great plans for Israel. The purpose of those plans is to share the gospel with the world and set up your kingdom. Lord, you've passed that responsibility of sharing the Gospel on to the Church, but your plans aren't done with Israel. As you've said, you've promised to save a remnant of those left behind after the Rapture, both Jew and Gentile. They'll live on into you thousand-year Millennial Kingdom. They will be a priestly group for the planet. We pray, Lord, that your will be done. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and that even now, many Jews will come to know you as Savior. Bless them, Lord, and bless all those who call you Lord and Savior. Amen!