Why do we keep saying the Rapture is near?

Every generation since Paul and Timothy has thought that Christ would return in their time. The Corinthians had to be told outright (in “Second Corinthians”, which was apparently Paul’s fourth letter to the city of Corinth) to go back to work and not assume Jesus was returning in the next few weeks.

And Jesus famously told His followers in Matthew 24,

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of Heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” 

Many have used those verses and that paragraph to justify staying ignorant of the signs preceding the End of Days, ignoring the possibility entirely. But that’s a non-Biblical position to take: look at the very next sentence or two –

43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

How are we supposed to be ready if He will return when we don’t expect? In the intervening verses, He tells His listeners that “two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left,” in v. 40, and that we are to continue “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” as always (v. 38), because we won’t know the exact moment He will return. 

That doesn’t mean, however, that He doesn’t want us watching the signs to know the general time of His return. Look at the last part of the previous passage, the end of His discussion of the timing of the Rapture itself (Mt 24: 32-33):

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.”

Jesus gave information to His followers that He knew they’d need. Only ONCE did He specify that the generation which needed the information most was not sitting in front of Him, but existed far later in timeGuess when that was!

You’ve got it. Matthew 24, in this case verses 15-16:

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

There it is: “let the reader understand”. Not the apostles – even then, He knew it wouldn’t happen in their lifetime. But the other key is the place in Scripture where He told both US and THEM where to look for more details: “spoken of by the prophet Daniel”. Chapters 7-12 of the book of Daniel are all future prophecy

Where do we look for the timeline of the lead-up to the End Times? The three most obvious and effective answers are Matthew 24-25Daniel 7-12 (since He told us to look there in Matthew!), and Revelation 4-18, which John wrote out at the request of Christ to describe what would happen. These three books are not the only sources (Isaiah, Zechariah, and Ezekiel have some important keys) but you can get most of what you need from these three sources. 

And what do they say?

Well, you read 24:15-16 above. Here’s the Lord’s description of the Rapture in Matthew 24:29-31

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in Heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Here’s the passage in Daniel 11 that connects to Matthew 24:15-16 above, the immediate predecessor to the Rapture…

31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.”

Now, we don’t know exactly what that underlined phrase means, but it’s the thing that happens that (according to Jesus Christ Himself) immediately precedes our evacuation from planet Earth. In fact, it’s so immediate that we won’t have time to evaluate it – “Immediately after”, Jesus says in v. 29, and the verses preceding that mention all the “two men in the field, one taken and one left” stuff.

Now, looking for these details in Revelation, we find the key Matthew verses in Rev 6:12-13. See if these don’t look familiar…

12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.”

And immediately, in chapter 7 (after a brief interruption about the sealed Jewish converts), we find what without question must be the results of the Rapture…

9 “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 

13 “Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him. “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Okay, so we’ve established the general order of events that happen right before the Rapture. But none of that helps us predict when it’s going to happen…or does it?

Yes it does. Go back to Daniel 11.

Remember that we determined that the “abomination” in verse 31 is the key to “triggering” the Rapture? Well, the entire chapter 11 of Daniel is a chronology of events leading up to verse 31 (and beyond, into the events of the seven years following).

And, I mean, the whole build up to it tells you how important this information is! ALL of chapter 10 is about how the angel had spent 21 days fighting the demons to get here with this message to Daniel, and how Michael the head-archangel was engaged in battle on his behalf. So when the angel finally says, in Daniel 11:2“And now I will show you the truth,” you’re prepared for something really important.

(There’s another hint how important it is – after he finishes, at the top of chapter 12, there’s this little tease: 

4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

We’ll come back to that. But the importance of the angel’s information in Daniel couldn’t have been emphasized more than they did.)


Tracing the events of Daniel 11 is a lengthy process, and there are experts who do a more detailed job than I do who you could Google faster than I could type up the relevant information. But let’s cover a couple of obscuring details first, so you’ll understand why so many people failed to recognize how Scripture laid out every single landmark along the way for God’s children. 

  • Daniel 11, like all Biblical prophecy, is Israel-centric. When the chapter talks about the kings of the “north” and “south”, it’s speaking of north and south of Israel, not on the globe! Most of the time in this chapter, the “south” is Saudi Arabia. People miss that constantly. (This is also why folks think America’s got a much more significant role that it does.)
  • God did something amazingly clever with Daniel 11. It’s a double prophecy. Up through about verse 30-ish, it’s already been fulfilled once, by the conquests of Alexander the Great and his descendants in the century or two before Christ’s birth. While this left v. 36 on unexplained, many people just assumed there was a jump forward to the End Times, inexplicably, and went on to ignore the first 35 verses.

So, when the landmarks listed in Daniel 11 began to be fulfilled again, there weren’t very many folks who caught it. I didn’t until the last two years. There’s a gentleman who runs a site on line whose analysis of the Daniel 11 signs is unparalleled. He’s been on the case for two decades already. While I’m not sure if I agree with every single detail of his list of events to match the first two dozen signs Daniel was given (v. 23, for ex.), the accuracy of his list is undeniable and the overall picture must be right. Everything fits.

Where are we right now on our voyage to verse 31?

Every sign before it has already been fulfilled. The NEXT thing to happen will be the Abomination and the Rapture.

There are other signs, of course, but they’ve all been fulfilled as well. Remember in Matthew 24, Jesus shares this little tidbit, which for our generation may need explaining:

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” 

Okay, let’s unpack this. The “fig tree” was the universal symbol of Israel. When Israel’s branches become tender and put out leaves, then we’re close. Israel is definitely has it better than ever: they became a nation in 1948, and are economically solvent (and verdant: there are verses in Ezekiel about it being an exporter of produce, which for the first time ever it now is.), so the “fig tree” is in summer. Thus, we know that we, seeing “all these things”, are the generation that “will not pass away” until every sign is fulfilled. Now, one of those signs is the reformation of Israel “in a day”, from Isaiah 66:8 ⇒

8 Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?
For as soon as Zion was in labor
she brought forth her children.

And that’s the kicker: if Israel became a nation in one moment, that moment was May 14, 1948. 70 years ago next month. We’re running out of time for “this generation”. 

So there’s an expiration date looming as well as having all the other signs fulfilled.

Here’s another detail that makes many of us believe we’re about to see God’s Work first hand: He’s notoriously anniversary-Minded

When the Lord arranges momentous events, He likes to put them on the anniversary of other momentous events. Famously, the 17th of Tammuz (corresponds to June 30 this year) has been the occasion of several famous tragic events in Jewish history, including the first idol places in the Temple, the Roman smashing of the walls of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and so on.

On top of being date specific, God is very “seventy-specific”. Many anniversaries fall on 70s. Daniel 9 lays out the 70 “sevens” that lead to the End, an entire topic in itself. There’s far too much to this one to lay out here, but remember what happened on May 14th seventy years ago? Personally, I think the Israel anniversary is a big deal, and why I’m currently centering my bets around the middle of May.

Here’s another reason to look at the middle of May: when did Jesus ascend the first time He was here? Do the math: 40 days after Easter. When did the Holy Spirit arrive? On “Pentecost”, which literally means 50 days after Passover (when Jesus was crucified, in this case). That 40-50 day range falls on May 10-20, smack dab on top of the Israeli anniversary.

Daniel11truth has a ton of logical reasons to consider, and Googling anything like “Rapture 2018” would probably give you many more – some legitimate, some ludicrous. (The one I’m still debating is the quartet of blood moons we had in 2014-15, which should somehow place the end in October 2018. I’m not sure how important that was, especially if two of them weren’t visible in Israel…) 


SLIGHT change of focus: should we even be trying to predict a date? Didn’t Christ say don’t worry about the date and hour, just be ready at ALL times? 

Yes, and that’s a great point. If the Lord had told us,“Hey, everyone, Tuesday, April 10th. 3 pm Jerusalem time.”, then we would simply have kept sinning for the last however many decades until it got close, and then ask forgiveness and catch the first flight to Heaven. (No, the second flight. Dead folks are on the first. 1st Corinthians 15.)

As it is, we have to wait patiently as five of the ten virgins did in Matthew 25:1-13. If you’re reading it on BibleHub with this link, you see that the thing five lack is the oil in their lamps – that’s a metaphor for the Holy Spirit. (I think He ‘lights the flame within you’, hence the analogy.) So what Christ is saying here is “keep the Holy Spirit alive within you at all times, for you don’t know when I shall return.”

But should we know? I argue YES, we must be paying attention to the signs, and here’s my big argument:

The Great Commission.

Christ wanted us to save as many as possible – in fact, reading Matthew 24 up in verse 14, you’ll see that this very thing is the final sign:

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

So, our job is to have a broad idea when the Last Train is coming, and aim to get as many of our friends and family on that Train as possible. Billy Graham was once asked, if he knew that the Rapture was exactly three years away, how would he spend that time? His answer amazed me: “I would spend the first two and a half years studying the Word of God, and the last six months preaching to the world non-stop.”

Why? Because it’s more important to have them saved when the Rapture comes. People have notoriously short memories. (A polite way of calling humans stupid.) Once they are given that spark, who knows how long they can hang on to it? True salvation sticks…but if we could get it to stick for a little while? I’ve written a piece on here before about this very topic.

Go out and save as many people as you can right away! And tell them if they’re willing to try it for the rest of 2018, they won’t regret it!


 

Postscript: By the way, what will I do if the rapture doesn’t happen this year? Keep waiting. Remember, nowhere has God promised that it was this year. He merely made it apparent that the likelihood is that we should expect it very soon.

God is perfect. Me? Not so much. 

If it’s not in 2018, then it’s me who made the error, not Him. No big deal. I’ll still expect it relatively soon, although I’ll have to see how the signs are pointing at that juncture, too.

And I’ll keep posting until either I can’t, or I’m dead, or I’m taken up. (Sorry – I doubt I’ll be able to leave a message behind to tell you which one happened…)

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