Have you ever noticed how so many Churches avoid biblical End Times prophecy? When I was young in the 70s and 80s, we heard preachers speak about the Rapture and the Great Tribulation quite frequently. It was like, if they were preaching through 1 Corinthians and got to chapter 15, they would just continue and talk about the Rapture, because that was a part of the text. Or, if they were preaching through 2 Peter, they would talk about the second coming of Christ, because it is a part of the text.
It seems like today, many preachers select their text in order to avoid talking about the Return of Christ, the Rapture, or the Tribulation period. And this seems very strange since we are so close to these events!
Most Christians are aware that between 1/4 and 1/3 of Scripture was prophetic when it was written. If we were to follow the divine guidelines, we would hear prophecy being spoken of at least once in every 4 sermons! It does not mean that the entirety of every fourth sermon would be about prophecy, but if it is in the text it should not be avoided!
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: II Timothy 3:16
Even the teaching of prophecy should motivate us to holy living!
Jesus establishes His own credentials on the fulfillment of prophecy!
Over and over again, we read words like “that the words of the prophet_____ might be fulfilled…”, or “it is written…”
The prophecies of the first coming of Christ begin in Genesis 3 and go right through to the end of the Old Testament. They are very important! Without these prophecies we would NOT KNOW who the Messiah is, or what He did for us!
“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,…”Matthew 21:4
“And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” Luke 24:44
“That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake…” John 12:38
But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Acts 3:18
Here’s an amazing thing; Those who do not believe the prophecies of the bible are the very people who end up fulfilling these same prophecies! Not only is this true of the generation that crucified Christ, but those who don’t read and believe the End Times prophecies will also vote for, and promote the Antichrist!
For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. Acts 13:27
Paul referred to this very thing in I Thessalonians 5:3
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
You see, the people he is referring to here will see an End Times event and, because they did not study this event previously, they will misinterpret it to be something it is not! I am referring to the Gog and Magog war, of Ezekiel 38-39, of course.
Some of the preachers I heard as a youth, taught that this event is actually an early Tribulation event, and thus “we won’t be here for it”. This is incorrect, of course, but at least they preached about it!
It was not until the early 1990s that I heard Grant Jeffery show that there are some statements in Ezekiel 38-39 that indicate it will occur at some time before the 7 year Tribulation period begins.
For instance, the fact that Israel will burn the weapons left behind by the invading forces, for seven years is strong internal evidence that this event will occur at some time before The Time of Jacob’s Trouble begins; at the 3 1/2 year point of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will stop the sacrifices and oblations in the Temple in Jerusalem, and all Hell will break loose! At this point all normal business will stop and a great war will be triggered! The believers of Israel will flee to the wilderness, and many of the unbelievers will pick-up weapons to fight the Antichrist and his armies!
Mr. Jeffery was absolutely correct on this point, but there is more evidence that this war is a Church-Age war; Zephaniah 2:1-3 makes some very important statements regarding this time period, statements that amount to a rule for interpreting Scripture!
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,
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. Zeph. 2:1-3
Who is the “nation not desired”?
This is Israel, of course, but there is something else we need to consider when looking at this passage; context. The context is End Times, and in fact Church-age. What does the bible say about the believers of Israel during the Church Age?
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
So the “nation not desired” can only be the unbelievers of Israel! Look at verse 2; “before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you”. You need to realize that the Lord is NOT ANGRY with the Jews who believe in Jesus, or Yeshua! They are NOT in view in Zephaniah 2:1-2, because they are a part of the Church of Jesus Christ!
They are mentioned in verse 3, but I’ll get to that shortly…
What “day” is he talking about in verse 2 “before the day pass as the chaff”? This is the second day of the Church-age, spoken of by Hosea the prophet;
5:15 I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. 6:1 Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
The “affliction” is the Wrath of God. They will come to Him early in the Tribulation period, once they realize that they have been left behind as He has taken the Church to Heaven!
Peter was referring to these days in 2 Peter 3:
2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Peter was referring to Psalm 90, the psalm of Moses, and his reference to a “thousand years as a day” as being the outline of the time the Lord will leave and return. When did the Lord leave Israel? It was 40 (24 hour) days after the resurrection, so His physical return is tied to this date. No one knows the exact date He left, so the closest we can come is somewhere between AD28-33, so His return will be about 2,000 years from that date, or somewhere around AD2028-2033. Of course Hosea say that it will be AFTER the anniversary of His leaving, it will NOT be before that date!
So the “day” that Israel will return to the land is the second day of the Church-Age. It started in the late 1,800s and will continue until all of Jacob’s unbelieving descendants are in the land.
The believers of Israel, and the believers of the Gentiles are both mentioned in Zephaniah 2:3 as “the meek of the earth”, and the place they are hidden in is the “mansions” in Heaven which Jesus mentioned in John 14:2, and the bridal chambers Isaiah spoke of in 26:20! Same place! (Some modern translations render Eretz as land, but this is incorrect in this context; it can only be “meek of the earth” since the “nation not desired” can only be unbelievers, thus verse 3 is a different subject than 1-2)
So the rule we can take from Zephaniah 2 could be summarized as “When you find a passage in the Scriptures which speaks of Israel returning to the land, you are in a passage that must be timed to be a part of the Church-Age”!
So now go and read Ezekiel 39:25-29.
Notice that now, after the Gog and Magog is over, God will bring back the last members of Israel to the Land, and He will not leave any of them among the Gentiles at this point! This tells us that this war is the last major event of the Church-Age! Note also that if it is still the Church-Age, then the Christians will still be here on the earth!
Look at verse 28;
Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.
Now go and read the last 2 verses of Isaiah 27;
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.
Again, we see the last remnants of Israel being gathered at the time that God beats-off Israel’s enemies from the Euphrates to the Nile in Egypt. The phrase “one by one” is an indication that there are not a lot of them left before this event, but now even these last stragglers will be brought back to the land. This is the last great sign of imminent Rapture!
Many Jews do not wish to return to the land of Israel, today. I am convinced that they do not want to be there for The Time of Jacob’s Trouble. So the Lord will allow them to incorrectly interpret the Gog/Magog war as being this time period. This explains why they will only return after this war is over. So they will return after Gog/Magog, only to find themselves face-to-face with the Antichrist, the little horn!
Notice the “great trumpet” in verse 13. I am convinced that this is the “last trump” Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 15:52. This trumpet does “dual duty”, calling the last remnants of Israel home to the land, and calling the Church to meet the Lord in the air!
It is either this Trumpet, or another one later! I say it must be this one, because there can not be more than one “the great trumpet”!
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. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
Now, there is something else you need to take note of; I have not given you a day nor an hour! When you see the events of Ezekiel 39, you will still not know the day nor the hour of the Rapture! You will only know that the Rapture is close! You will see that it is very close, but you still won’t know the exact timing. You won’t know it until your feet leave this earth and you meet the Lord in the Air!
So now, set aside your sin, and get ready, we don’t have much time left!
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!