And who can blame them? False dates and fanaticism have deceived and damaged the faith of millions.
But is fear of repeating past mistakes reason enough to avoid the subject? Not according to Luke 12:37: "There will be special favor for those who are ready and waiting for His return." Luke 12:45 gives us the consequences of not being ready: "But if the servant thinks, 'My master won't be back for a while', and begins oppressing the other servants, partying, and getting drunk--well, the master will return unannounced and unexpected. He will tear the servant apart and banish him with the unfaithful. The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it." Apparently, God expects us to know the general time of Christ's return.
Before we go on, let's get something straight: Christ will come twice: once at the Rapture of the Church which takes place before the 7-year period known as 'the Tribulation' and for which there are no signs. He will come like a thief in the night when the world at large least expects Him. Then, at the end of the seven years of tribulation, amid unmistakable signs, Christ will come a second time.
Got that? There are yet two comings. One to rescue the church (the Rapture) and the Second Coming to rescue the Jews. We'll go over all this in more detail later.
For now, here's a simple overview of prophetic events:
- The Rapture. When God delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thess. 4:16).
- The Judgment Seat of Christ (Bema). Where believers' lives are examined. If we've used our gifts and talents to help build the kingdom, we'll be rewarded. If we've squandered our lives on selfish living, we'll suffer loss. (1 Cor. 3:13).
- The Tribulation. When 7 years of trouble come on the earth consisting of deception, war/rumors of war, famines, pestilence, and earthquakes. (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, Dan. 9). These 7 years are divided into two, 3-1/2-year periods. At the beginning of the 1st half, the Antichrist makes a peace treaty with Israel and the Jewish Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem. The 2nd 3-1/2 years herald the Great Tribulation when the Antichrist breaks the 7-year peace treaty with Israel. (Dan. 9:27).
- Armageddon: armies from around the globe gather at Megiddo in Northern Israel to launch a massive attack against Jerusalem. (Rev. 16, Zech. 12:1-3, 14:1-5, Rev. 19:19).
- Second Coming of Christ to earth. to rescue His Chosen people, the Jews, from annihilation. (Dan. 2:44, Matt. 24:27-37, Zech. 14:4, 1 Thess. 3:13, Rev. 19:8).
- Judgment of the Nations. (Matt. 25:31-46).
Words to the Wise: Be like the Bereans, "...in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11).
- Capital buildings evacuated after a 5.8 quake rattles D.C.
- Rebels swarm over Col. Moammar Gaddafi's compound marking the end of his 40-year reign over Libya
- Rocket fire into Israel brings temporary ceasefire into question
- Hurricane Irene heads for U.S. eastern seaboard