In 538 BC, 67 years after the exile of Judah to Babylon, when Persian King Darius son of Ahasuerus was in the first year of his reign, Daniel read Jeremiah and learned from 25:11 that his people would serve the king of Babylon for 70 years only. In 25:12, Babylon was said to be made an everlasting desolation due to her iniquity. He prayed to the Lord and confessed the sin for his people. Gabriel the archangel appeared and gave him instruction on the seventy Weeks about the end time (Dan 9:24-27). 93 years later in 445 BC, the seventy Weeks began (Neh 2:1-9). Sixty nine of the seventy Weeks ended when Jesus was cut off at 32 AD as predicted in Dan 9:25-26. Jerusalem together with the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, also as predicted. The Church Age then began, which has lasted for almost two thousand years, till now. We are waiting for the last Week, as depicted in Dan 9:27.
In the Old Testament, there are 3 prophecies about the end time which have been or are being fulfilled:
1. The restoration of The State of Israel on 14-5-1948 (Amos 9:14-15),
2. The Gospel reaching the whole world: Internet since 1983 and worldwide web since 1990 (Matt 24:14), and
3. The end of the partial hardening of Jews: over 300 churches and around 30,000 Messianic Jews in Israel comparing to 5 families in 1948 (Rom 11:25).
The fulfillment of the above prophecies is bringing the Church Age to an end. When it ends, the last Week will raise its curtain. Dan 9:27 detailed what are going to happen in the last Week. Antichrist will make a firm covenant with leaders of this world, but in the middle of the Week he will stop sacrifice and offerings in the Temple. For this to happen, the Temple must have been rebuilt. At the end of this Week, Antichrist will be destroyed and the 7-years Tribulation will end with the 2nd coming of Christ (Acts 1:11).
In 1 Thes 4:14-17, Paul comforted believers that those who die in Christ will rise when He returns. Then those who are still alive and remain will be caught up in the clouds together with the risen Christians to meet the Lord in the air. This snatching of believers (also see Matt 24:40-41) is call Rapture. However, Paul said in 1 Thes 5:2-3 that the Lord will come suddenly like a thief. It’ll be before the Great Tribulation and the following 7 reasons will explain why.
(1) Absence of the church in Rev 4:1-22:15
Revelation has 22 chapters. Chapter 1 describes the things John saw in Patmos. Chapter 2-3 are the messages to the seven churches. Chapters 4-22 are about things to come concerning God’s judgment throne, the Tribulation and the future state. The disappearance of the church in 4:1 all the way to 22:15 is clearly due to the Rapture.
(2) God’s intention to free us from testing and wrath
It’s the loving heart of the Lord that frees believers from testing and wrath in the end time. He keeps those keeping His word from the hour of testing (Rev 3:10). He rescues those turning to God from idols, serving the living and true God and waiting for Jesus from the coming wrath (1 Thes 1:9-10). God does not appoint believers to suffer wrath (1 Thes 5:9).
(3) Imminence but unknowingness of His coming
The day of the Lord is sudden and unexpected, like thief (Matt 24:38,42; Luke 12:40, 1 Thes 5:2). This imminence and impendence will vanish if Jesus returns before the Rapture!
(4) Resurrection is not mentioned in Christ’s second coming
In Rev 19:11-21 about the second coming of Christ, John saw Jesus followed by the armies coming from Heaven for the great judgment in the war against the kings of the earth and their armies. Zechariah described the battle between Christ and all the nations and the coming of the Lord in Zech 14:1-15. However, there is no mention of resurrection!
(5) Eating, drinking and marrying continue
Matt 24:38-39 says the coming of the Son of Man will be like the day of Noah where people were eating, drinking and marrying. Then the flood came suddenly. Certainly these activities will not pervade if Jesus comes before the Rapture!
(6) Elders in Heaven
Elders are trustworthy and mature believers dedicated by God. The presence of 24 elders in Heaven during Tribulation, as mentioned 12 times in Revelation, indicates that believers are taken out of the world before the great judgment.
(7) Restraint removed
Paul said in 2 Thes 2:7 that restraint from the Holy Spirit inside believers will be taken away in the last day of lawlessness. Christians are the holding back force in the world. Iniquity perpetrates when all believers are caught up.
With the fulfillment of the three prophecies mentioned above concerning the end time in the 20th century, the next event to be expected is the reconstruction of the Temple. Then, the last Week as described in Dan 9:27 will begin. The Rapture will take place before the last week and it may precede the Temple reappearance. As Christians today, Jesus urges us to get prepared, just as the five prudent virgins with lamps, and most importantly oil (Matthew 25:1-13)!
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