What Unparalled Global Events Does the Bible Predict Will Encompass the World in the Future? – Program 2
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Zola Levitt, Dr. Randy Price, Peter LeLonde, Dr. Dave Breese; ©1995|
|Will Christians be on earth to endure some or all of the time of tribulation? What promises do we find in the Bible regarding this future time of trouble?|
Today, on The John Ankerberg Show: “What Unparalleled Global Events Does the Bible Predict Will Encompass the World in the Future?”
- Dr. David Breese: We have the Rapture of the Church and then the world drops into the very, very dark abyss of the Tribulation. The Tribulation sees the rise of Antichrist, the establishment of world government and world religion; and then the Antichrist decides that the irritant to his total power is this faint memory of the existence of God as represented by Jerusalem, Israel. So he initiates a global war against Israel.
- Peter Lalonde: We’ve got to recognize the world in which the Antichrist arises. First of all, you’ve had the Rapture take place. Millions of people have vanished off the face of the earth and while we’ve been debating that subject, maybe we’ve sometimes forgotten what that event really is like. People have watched family members disappear. Children have vanished off the face of the earth. You’re sitting with your wife—she’s gone. It is going to drive the world insane.
- Dr. Randall Price: Now, for the first time in 2000 years we see Jews. Maybe it’s a minority, maybe it’s a handful of Jews, but though that minority can be a very vocal and demonstrable minority, they are preparing to rebuild the temple.
- Dr. John Ankerberg: Do you find it significant that we have the peace conference going on?
- Dr. Zola Levitt: Absolutely! Look, what would you say, what would any of us say, if the headline tomorrow morning is: “Here’s a new idea. We’ll let the Israelis have their temple worship. An amazing suggestion has come up. We can move the Dome of the Rock lovingly, carefully, to Mecca, Medina, Damascus, and by the way, the Israelis said they’re a little uncomfortable. They would sign for seven years.” That’s the ball game.
- Lalonde: CNN will go to immediate worldwide coverage. You know that there are going to be people just glued to their TV sets trying to figure out what’s taken place in this world. There will be chaos and confusion.
Ankerberg: My guests today are four of the premier teachers on biblical prophecy in the United States. They are: Dr. Zola Levitt, Host of “Zola Levitt Presents,” Peter Lalonde, President of “This Week in Bible Prophecy,” Dr. Randall Price, author of In Search of Temple Treasures, and Dr. David Breese, speaker on “The King Is Coming.” We invite you to join us.
Program 2: What Unparalleled Global Events Does the Bible Predict Will Encompass the World in the Future? – Will Christians Have to Experience the Tribulation Period?
- Ankerberg: Welcome! We’re here in warm and wonderful Dallas, Texas, and we have four of the premier teachers on biblical prophecy today with us. And we are talking about the exciting events of Christ’s Second Coming; we’re talking about the Rapture of the Church; and we’re going to define those terms in a moment. Maybe you’re not familiar with those terms, but we’re going to talk about them.
- And then, you need to realize that the Bible says that planet earth is headed toward some very serious events; that which Jesus says is a Tribulation time, a time of trouble. In fact, Jesus Christ said that time of Tribulation will be the worst that the world has ever seen, has ever experienced. Nothing will even come close to it. What did Jesus say would happen? Well, we’re going to find out today.
- But before we do, Dr. Breese, I need a quick review of what is the Rapture and then, Randall, I’m going to come to you after that in terms of, “Will Christians who are alive now, does the Bible say they’re going to have to experience some of that Tribulation time period or will we be raptured before it takes place?” So, Dr. Breese, start us off. What is the Rapture?
- Breese: The Rapture is the coming of Christ for His saints, when He comes to catch us up to be in His presence. After that comes the Tribulation, and then comes the glorious return of Christ when He comes as King of kings and Lord of lords. So the Rapture is that event whereby all believers will be taken from this world into the presence of God. From the whole earth, by the way. There will not be a single Christian left in the world after the Rapture. Believers will be taken home to be with Him.
- Ankerberg: Great. Randall, a lot of people think, and are teaching today, that Christians actually will go through part of the Tribulation or all of it. We don’t believe that. Why?
- Price: Well, the Tribulation period, as it’s described first by the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 4:30, is particularly designed to bring the nation of Israel to a time of repentance and deliverance so that they will see their Messiah and trust Him. And there it says “when these things have come upon you in the latter days.” And so the specific reference is to the Jewish nation.
- Now, also, that time is a time of God’s wrath being outpoured upon the Gentile nations who have persecuted the people of God throughout the ages. When we come to the New Testament we see some very distinctive things concerning the Church and the message to the Church concerning that time of trouble. For instance, in 1 Thessalonians 4 we have that statement we’ve already considered about the Church not grieving as it has no hope, but rather comforting one another with these words. When we come to 1 Thessalonians 5:9, just after that passage, the same word of comfort or hope is issued and there it says, “God has not destined us for wrath but for the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And this is not a type of physical deliverance but it’s talking about the spiritual deliverance, the ultimate salvation that will come when we see Him face to face and are conformed to His image. And this idea of being rescued or taken from a coming wrath is quite clear here and for that reason it says, “Encourage one another in your faith.”
- We have a similar passage in Revelation 3:10, for there it says that believers are going to be removed before an hour of trial or testing is to come upon all the earth. And there we see a very distinctive term, the term “those who dwell on the earth.” The Greek term tous katoi kountras eppi tes ges, “those who are on the earth,” really is “earth-dwellers,” those who are characterized as belonging to this world system and not to those who trust the Lord. And so we have a situation in which wrath is poured out specifically to judge unbelievers, not believers, and it is before that hour which is going to come upon the entire inhabited earth, believers will be assured that they are removed from that time.
- Ankerberg: Peter, personally, why were you led to the view? You come from Canada, okay? This is not a popular view up there. The fact is, what made you come to the conclusion that Jesus was going to come and rescue Christians before the terrible Tribulation time period?
- Lalonde: I think the entire idea that we have discussed and been in agreement here is imminency. The Lord could come at any moment. There’s nothing that has to precede it. At any moment. We don’t have to wait for some invasion from the north or some other thing that’s going to tick off the time when it is. We have to be ready and living and expectant at all times. The idea of the marriage ceremony that Zola has been talking about is so accurate, because when we became a Christian, we said we died to our own wills, we were buried in the death of Christ and raised in newness and life in Christ. Our whole life as the bride is to await the Bridegroom. That’s the importance of prophecy as a whole. It is to take our eyes off this world and put our eyes back on the skies. And that’s where the Lord wants our eyes and our focus at all times.
- And you know, some people say, “Well, why study prophecy? Why study all of this stuff?” The post-tribers say, “Why get on all this Rapture stuff? If the Lord comes, He comes; if He doesn’t, He doesn’t. We’ll both go anyway. We’re both believers.” And they’re right. I’m just concerned they’ll have a heart attack on the way up, you know.
- But the fact of the matter is, when the disciples came to Jesus and said, “What will be the sign of thy coming and the end of this age?”, He gave them great detail. He didn’t say, “Don’t worry about it; if I come I come.” It was great detail. We’re to be expectant at all times. And what we see now in the world today are signs of the Second Coming of Christ, which is seven years after the Rapture. And if those signs are beginning to come to pass, how much closer the Rapture must be! So that gives us a sense of urgency. But it’s always been imminent since the time of Christ and we’re to just be excited and expectant because in a moment—if we as Christians could come to grips with this: in a moment—we’ll be in the presence of our Lord forever, how differently it would transform our lives. And I think that’s what the teaching is there for.
- Ankerberg: You know, a couple of us have Ph.D.’s and others have spent 30 or 40 years studying the Scripture in the original languages. And a lot of time people think that those kinds of folks do not think a lot about prophecy. And, Dr. Breese, I think we’ve got to somehow get across to the people how serious this information is. Jesus Christ was not kidding when He talked about these things. Some of the most serious words I’ve ever heard Him speak in Scripture come about His return and what’s going to happen during this Tribulation time period. Let’s change hats and let’s talk about that seriousness and try to get that across to the people. Dr. Breese, let’s say that Christ came, as the Scriptures are saying, in the next instant. And the Christians are gone from planet earth, then what’s going to happen?
- Breese: John, I concur as to the utter seriousness of the subject of which we speak. One-third of the Bible is prophetic and therefore a very high percentage of the things God wants us to know are anticipations for the future. The Bible says, “Forgetting those things which are behind…reaching forth to those things which are before.”
- Now, the scenario of which you asked is really a telling one in Scripture. When the Rapture comes and Christians are taken out of the world, instantly the salt of the earth is gone. Instantly the ameliorating feature of the presence of the bride of Christ in the world. By the way, one great argument against the Church being in the Tribulation is that Christ doesn’t want His bride to come home to Heaven bruised and beaten and battered and hardly in good shape for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb; but rather, He is going to take us, the bride of Christ, out before that day.
- But the advent of the Tribulation is one of the most spectacular passages in Scripture. “The Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” like a cavalry charge, which would have been the most frightening experience of the old days: The white horse, the red horse, the black horse and then the pale horse. And then, at the advent of the pale horse, one-fourth of the population of the world is killed. Two chapters later, that is, Revelation 9, one-third of the remainder is killed. So we know that one-half of the population of the world will die during the Tribulation. This is compounded by the rise of Antichrist, stars falling from heaven, Wormwood that makes the water undrinkable, and fearful scenes. For instance, one telling chapter is Revelation 6 that tells about an earthquake. But then it says, “And the chief captains and the mighty men and the great men, they cried to the mountains and the rocks and they said, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits upon the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.’” So the Bible indicates that an earthquake is more to be preferred than the wrath of the Lamb when that breaks upon the world.
- The wrath of the Lamb is not felt in the world today. “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” But even now the world is “treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God who will render to every man according to his deeds.” That happens during the Tribulation. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” and that will be the case for the whole world and every person in it during the days of the Tribulation. It is not to be contemplated lightly.
- Ankerberg: Zola, I’m going to take a chance on you that you’re going to put this real quick and succinct. You could go three hours on this one by itself. Daniel 9 is written to you and to the Jewish people. And it talks about the 70 weeks there, okay? It seems like the first 69 are totally Jewish; that last week, totally Jewish. Interrupted in between, talk about that as quickly as you can and tell us why we’re talking of a Jewish picture here. God talks about history in terms of Jewish terms.
- Levitt: Yes. All prophecy is about the Jews and it all happens in Israel. We don’t stop and think about it. It doesn’t happen here in America. As the nations are affected or go back and forth with Israel in war and commerce, then they are mentioned. But it really is Jewish prophecy. The Bible is a Jewish book written and published in Israel and translated to English for use over here.
- Ankerberg: Tell us what Daniel found out.
- Levitt: The angel said in Daniel 9:24-27: “Seventy weeks are determined on thy people.” So we had a figure. Daniel’s “weeks,” sh’vuim in Hebrew, is sets of seven years in reality. And if you do the arithmetic, you could check him. He was right. The Messiah indeed came and was cut off; but in 69 weeks. It left seven years some place. Comparing it out to Revelation 11 and other passages we see, “Oh, this seven years is obviously the Tribulation.” The Church is a parenthetical thing. Jesus came; He offered the Kingdom. It wasn’t taken by a majority of Israel, and He called out others not of this flock and so on. And so we have sort of a parentheses and a calling out of a “royal priesthood,” another nation that is chosen, a Church.
- Then, we resume. The prophecy will be fulfilled and that 70th week again will be determined on Israel. It’s about the Antichrist making a covenant with Israel. It’s about the Antichrist stopping the sacrifices and the oblations. It’s about the Antichrist going in the temple in Jerusalem and saying he is Elohim, the God of Israel. What a mouthful. And it’s about the gathering storm at Armageddon which is Har-megiddo in Hebrew, “the hill of Megiddo,” the valley of the great judgment, the Battle of Armageddon. If we’ll all understand we come into this wonderful inheritance of being chosen: Jew, Gentile, Eskimo, Hottentot, even Canadians. But when you receive Christ, what you receive that’s really precious is that you’re adopted into a family that God chose.
- Ankerberg: What I like about that is the fact is that Jewish history, up to the time of the Messiah when He’s cut off, He’s talking to the Jews. And then all of a sudden He doesn’t talk—and that’s the time of the Church. Then He comes back to the Jews, but the Church, again, is not talked about there. We’re back to a Jewish scenario. The fact is, I think it’s because the Church is out of here at the Rapture. Now it comes back to Israel.
- Levitt: That’s another proof. There’s just not an addressing of the Church, which is very largely Gentile, at least at the beginning of the Tribulation. Keep in mind, there’s always a remnant of Jews in the Church.
- Ankerberg: Right. Peter, what is the purpose of this terrible time, this time called the Tribulation, according to the Bible?
- Lalonde: Well, if you take a look at Daniel 9 that we’ve just spoken of, you will have reference to what will take place by the end of those 490 years, the end of sin, time of peace comes in; Israel accepts their Messiah; the birth of the Millennial period; the Kingdom time. None of that appears close today. Israel hasn’t even accepted her Messiah at this point in time. This is the “time of Jacob’s trouble,” this seven-year time period. This is where God is dealing specifically with Israel, which, once again, is one of the strongest arguments for the pre-trib Rapture of the Church. God’s focus is coming off the Church and back on to Israel for this seven-year period where God is leading Israel to the point where Israel comes to the end of her own steam.
- The end of the Tribulation period, this seven years, finds Israel surrounded by all the nations of the earth, gathered around to finally push Israel into the sea, push this last reminder of God right off the face of the earth so man can finally find his own “new world order” without God. And in the process, they meet not only Israel but the Lord Himself who comes to rescue Israel. Scripture says, “In that day they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced,” and, of course, it is Jesus at that time. They recognize Him as the Messiah. The 490 years of Daniel 9 is fulfilled on that day and we have the birth of the Millennial Kingdom, fulfilling all that was written 2500 years ago.
- Ankerberg: Randy, in 2 Thessalonians 2, the fact is, a lot of people say, “Well, if the Rapture occurs and the Rapture could only occur because the Holy Spirit is removed in terms of His influencing the world and restraining the Antichrist.” Second Thessalonians 2 says, then the Antichrist, because the Restrainer has been removed, will come forth on the world scene. In terms of that, how will people get saved, people want to know, if the Holy Spirit has been removed?
- Price: I think the first thing to note in that passage is that those who were in Thessalonica were quite concerned about whether they were already in that period and if they had the Holy Spirit how it would be that the Day of the Lord had come? And his intent is to show that that Day of the Lord cannot come unless the apostasia, or apostasy, comes first and the lawless one is revealed. Now, he says the reason that that is not happening is because the Holy Spirit is present in the world restraining the world order so that these things don’t break out.
- Now, the Holy Spirit will still be in the world, but He won’t be within the Church and that’s the point of that passage. The Church will be removed with the abiding Holy Spirit before that day comes. The Holy Spirit will still be there in that time just as He was in the Old Testament—able to regenerate and to draw men to Himself, because the Lord Himself’s presence will be there, and that’s why we have those great witnesses that come during the Tribulation period, even 144,000 who are sealed to carry on that testimony. And it will still be done in the energy of the Holy Spirit.
- Ankerberg: Sure. The fact is that the Holy Spirit is omnipresent and His job description is going to change, just like it did from the Old Testament to the New Testament. He will still be here and the Bible talks about a revival going on during this time.
- But, Dr. Dave Breese, to wrap up our program today, the point we want to get across is, people don’t want to be left to go into that Tribulation time period. That’s going to be a time of judgment. The Bible says that people’s “hearts will be failing them for fear of the things” that are going on in the world at that time, which we’re going to talk about next week. For those people that say, “I do take the Bible seriously. I do take Jesus Christ seriously. But I’m afraid I would go into that time period. I’d be judged,” how can they come to a personal relationship with Jesus?
- Breese: I think a point, John, needs to be made that you alluded to: How will people be saved during the days of the Tribulation? One of the things not well understood is there will be a different Gospel preached during the Tribulation called “the Gospel of the Kingdom.” “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” And people will believe that and be saved, but they will be saved unto going into the Kingdom which is, again, a Jewish proposition and they inherit the earth. But the Gospel that people are invited to believe today is: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ—His death, His burial, His resurrection and you will be saved unto eternal life in Heaven.”We might trigger a little interest by simply mentioning that those saved during the Tribulation, Israel, inherits the earth. Whereas, the Church inherits the universe, “Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life or death or things present or things to come, all are yours, Christ says to Christians, and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” Whereas, Romans 4 says, “The promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or his seed through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” Those saved during the Tribulation may well be beheaded for the witness of Jesus.
- So quickly I would say, the great message that comes out of discussing the prophetic word is, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, now. Believe in His death, His burial, His resurrection. Genuinely receive Him as the Son of God, and that act as the sole and only basis of your salvation and you’ll have everlasting life, which means also to be delivered from the wrath to come in this world. So, again, I would say, I hope folks listening will realize the imperative of coming to know Christ and believing in Him now unto eternal life.
- Ankerberg: I agree. Next week, we’re going to talk further about this time period of the Tribulation that the Bible talks about and we’re going to talk about the ruler that’s going to come into the world at that time—or maybe he’s alive right now. In fact, that’s one of the questions we’ll ask the guys: Do you think the Antichrist is alive today? We’re also going to find out, “What is he going to do?” How is he going to kind of mesmerize the world? What are the nations that are involved and how will this affect Israel? Why does the Bible warn us about this person? A very interesting program and I hope that you’ll join us then.