Jesus said, about the End Times; “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Matthew 24:5)
Now what is His name? Jesus Christ. So what He is saying is that many will come in the name of Jesus Christ, as Christians, saying that Jesus is the Messiah, but they still will deceive many! They use their Christian testimony to gain credibility, and then they teach error about the End Times! This is exactly what we are seeing today!
What did he go on to say about these false teachers?
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
The first thing he mentions is “wars and rumours of wars”, and He tells us to “see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass”. What is the implication here? It is that many of these false teachers will be teaching that these wars and rumours of wars are a part of the Tribulation itself; that you are experiencing the Tribulation yourself!
What else will this mean? It would mean that the Rapture doesn’t happen until the end of the Tribulation, and those who taught a pre-Trib rapture were incorrect! The problem is that the bible actually does teach a pre-Trib rapture.
Notice though, that Jesus says “but the end is not yet” and “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” He is telling us that there will be signs that the Church will be here for, shortly before the Tribulation, and that these signs will include great wars. We could paraphrase His statement something like “for all these things must come to pass, but the end for you is not yet.” You will see wars, and rumours of wars, that look like the Tribulation, but are actually NOT a part of it!
He is telling us that if you see a time period that looks like the Tribulation, carefully examine the events of that time frame, by the Scriptures, and you will see that they are biblically prophesied wars, but NOT actually a part of the Tribulation!
So, Dispensationalists were incorrect to tell us that there would be no signs before the rapture. There have been, and will be more, signs before the Rapture of God’s people.
Geoffrey Grider has written a blog post for Now The End Begins blog, in which he claims that Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 are two different wars, separated by a thousand years.
I think he is mistaken.
At about the one-third point he claims that
“More than that, Ezekiel 39 ends with the full and final regathering of the Jewish people to Israel, and not the Great White Throne Judgment. This regathering of the Jews after Armageddon sets up the final battle of Gog and Magog 1,000 years later.”
While Grider is correct that Ezekiel 39 ends with the final regathering of the people of Israel, he ignores the clear statement regarding this regathering found in Zephaniah 2:1-2
1 Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; 2 Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD’S anger come upon you.
Israel will be gathered BEFORE the Tribulation, and since they are still being gathered AFTER the Gog/Magog war, this war can not be a Tribulation event!
Now, it cannot be said that Israel has been gathered today. It could be said that the people living in Israel have been gathered from the nations where they were scattered, but it cannot be said of the whole nation. There are many millions of Jews and Israelites living in many nations all over the world.
Many of the tribes of Israel live as Muslims in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. They will not escape the Tribulation, but will return to the God of their fathers (in name only), and the land of Israel, BEFORE the Tribulation begins!
Clearly this statement from Zephaniah indicates that all Israel will be gathered (past tense) BEFORE the Tribulation, the fierce anger of the Lord, comes upon them. Since they are being gathered after the war of Ezekiel 39 then this war must be a Church-Age war, and not a part of the Tribulation!
At the beginning of Ezekiel 38 we find that the armies of Gog come upon a people who are gathered from many nations, but this does not mean that all Israel has been gathered. The statement could apply to those living in Israel today, but not to the whole nation. Those of Israel who have been gathered are the ones living on the land, but there are still many who have not been gathered yet;
8 After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.
Grider states that chapter 38 actually takes place at the final Gog and Magog war, at the end of the Millennial reign of Christ. This statement, however, does not say that Israel has been brought back from all the nations where they were scattered, but only “many nations”.
The term “later years” is not a reference to the end of the Millennial reign of Christ, but to the later times of the Church-age. The situation will be a time of peace, which is not the situation today, but it is still not the millennial reign. This is a reference to the time after the Psalm 83 war, when the Arabs are subdued, and have made peace with Israel.
Zephaniah links the rapture with the final gathering of Israel in the very next verse;
3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.
Who are the meek of the earth? This is not Israel, but the body of true believers, scattered throughout the world. And, their place of hiding is not on the earth, but in their chambers in Heaven! It was to these chambers Jesus was referring to when he said
2 In my Father’s house are many mansions (chambers, dwelling places): if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:2
Isaiah 27 also links the return of the last Hebrews with a great war, and a great trumpet. I think this trumpet is the same one that calls the believers home. It signifies the end of the Church age, and the return to the age of Israel. Israel’s last seven years;
12 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel. 13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.
So a great trumpet is associated with the final gathering of the children of Israel, and Zephaniah declares that this gathering will occur BEFORE the Tribulation. Isaiah 27 also tells us that Israel will receive all of their land after this war.
It is the outcome of this war that brings Israel back. A great many descendants of Israel live outside of the land, and they will not go back if they think the Day of the Lord, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, is a yet future event. They know that Zechariah prophesies that 2/3 of Israel will die during the Tribulation, and they are anxious to avoid that!
This is why God has to “hiss” to bring them back. He has to let false teachers tell them that the Tribulation is over! People who teach that Israel will return AFTER the Tribulation are false teachers who are telling Israel what Satan wants them to hear!
I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased. Zechariah 10:8
Don’t read “saved” into the word “redeemed”. The word “redeemed” simply means “purchased”. Jesus purchased the world from His father, when he died on the cross. Even Israel. He only saves those who come to Him by faith, but he has redeemed (purchased) the whole human race. As long as Israel continues to teach the false doctrines of the Talmud, and their traditions, they are cut-off from the commonwealth of God!
His “hiss” is not friendly, but in exasperation He will use Satan, and false teachers, to bring Israel back to the land, after the Gog/Magog war, and then the Tribulation will begin! If Geoffrey Grider continues to teach that Israel is gathered “after” the Tribulation he is a false teacher, and will be used to bring Israel back for the time of Jacob’s Trouble!
Mr. Grider is not alone, unfortunately; a great many Christian, and even Jewish, scholars are today teaching that the Gog/Magog war is a part of the Tribulation! These are the ones Jesus was referring to as deceivers, in Matthew 24:5!