"THE WRATH OF GOD-HOW CAN WE KNOW IT IS NEAR ?"
The Lord Jesus Christ in His Matthew 24 discourse on the end times gave many indicators of when He would return the second time to rapture the church, to rescue the elect from the present onslaught of the Antichrist in that day and deliver them from the impending wrath of God/Day of the Lord.
The Lord's chronological unfolding of events starting at the beginning of Daniel's Seventieth Week in (v.4) to the start of the wrath of God/Day of the Lord (v.29) is unmistakable when Scripture is compared to Scripture as discussed in the last message.
However, there are also many other things that must occur, according to the Word of God, before the wrath of God/Day of the Lord begins, that are not specifically mentioned by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24. In this message we will cover some of these prominent signs, events or activities. Although this list is not exhaustive, it will provide those who are looking for the Lord's return and the end of the age with additional insight for determining God's timetable and encouragement to live holy lives and witness for Him.
Daniel's Seventieth Week, this seven year period will be initiated by the Antichrist confirming "the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate". (Daniel 9:27) This verse defines the seven year period "one week" and also reveals the "abomination of desolation" that Jesus later spoke of in Matthew 24:15 which occurs at the mid-point of the 70th Week which is 3-1/2 years later.
However, prior to the Seventieth Week, the Antichrist will be slowly but surely rising to power. He will head up a three nation Islamic confederacy formulated from the Mediterranean area described in Daniel 7:8 as "three first horns". This gathering of nations by the Antichrist should be visible to those with end times Bible knowledge.
Another significant event is God's Sending of Elijah recorded in Malachi 4:5, 6:
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
Just as John the Baptist was the first Elijah-like person heralding the Lord's first coming, Jesus said "Elijah truly shall first come and restore all things" (Matthew 17:11) indicating there will be a second Elijah-like person sent by God to herald His second coming. This event might not be openly evident in the beginning of this Elijah-like person's ministry, for then he will minister in a manner similar to John the Baptist not unlike a revivalist/evangelist.
This portion of his ministry could well occur be prior to the beginning of Daniel's Seventieth Week, for we believe this same man will later be recognized as one of the 'two witnesses' of Revelation 11 which will occur at the mid-point of Daniel's Seventieth Week at the start of the Great Tribulation.
During this time period, the last 3-1/2 years of Daniel's Seventieth Week, his ministry will be one of powerful judgment like, miracle working and warfare "with the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit" as described in Revelation 11:5:6. The 'two witnesses' also are characterized as an inseparable pair, a two man team if you will, during this time of fierce and intensive Spiritual warfare with the Satanically energized beast, there again pointing to the possibility that this Elijah-like individual's revivalist/evangelist ministry to the believers will most likely take place before and during the first half of Daniel's Seventieth Week.
Although the specific time frame for his ministry as described in Malachi 4:5, 6 is not mentioned, it would appear this type of positive preaching ministry to God's people would not fit into the surroundings of the Great Tribulation when the believers are scattered, being warned by the Lord Jesus to "flee into the mountains" during the horrendous persecution of the Antichrist.
Elijah's ministry to "restore all things" (Matthew 17:11; Mark 9:12) fits into Malachi's more specific description of turning hearts in the same manner that John the Baptist, the first Elijah-like forerunner, called Israel to repentance just prior to the Lord's first appearance/coming.
Therefore, it is likely that this Elijah-like person will come to again turn the hearts of God's people to the Lord, restoring all things, during the time preceding Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the first 3-1/2 years when believers are not scattered by the devastating and escalating persecution of the Antichrist during the last 3-1/2 years of Daniel's Seventieth Week.
Another thing that will occur, the Awareness of the Believer, is clearly taught by the Lord in Matthew 24:32-33: "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So like wise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the door."
The Lord Jesus tells his disciples in no uncertain terms, when the things the Lord outlined in (v.4-29) occur, and they will occur in the order the Lord described, then, the believer should be aware of what is happening. The well taught child of God, who watches and prays, will know when the Lord's return is near.
"But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only."(Matthew 24:36) We will not know the specific day and hour, but, according to the Lord Jesus Christ, we, the born-again believer by the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit will be aware of the nearness of His return and the end of the age!
This marvelous truth is also taught by Paul in I Thessalonians 5:1-5 when he proclaims:
"But of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night[upon unbelievers], for when they[unbelievers] say Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But, ye brethren are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness."
Paul clearly tells the Thessalonian believers they did not need to be instructed concerning the "times and seasons" referring to when the Lord will come to rapture the saints (4:13-18) and the start of the Day of the Lord, as they both occur on the same day. He goes on to assure them that they "are not in darkness" but instead "are the children of light, and the children of the day" and therefore they will be fully aware of the events of the end times as they approach.
In II Thessalonians 2:1-4 two significant events that will precede the Day of Christ (Lord) are given. The "falling away" or apostasy of the nation of Israel will occur when the Antichrist, the false Messiah, and his religion of humanism is embraced by the majority of the religious Jews.
They will be deceived by the Antichrist and "he shall confirm the covenant with many" (Daniel 9:27a) which he will then break at the mid-point of Daniel's Seventieth Week. The Jews trusting in this false Messiah rather than Jehovah are in reality abandoning the God of their fathers and thereby "falling away" in apostasy. Paul underlines the fact that this will come "first" before the Day of the Lord (Daniel 11:30; II Thessalonians 2:3).
The next event Paul mentions in this same passage is "that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."
The Antichrist, here given two additional titles by Paul to designate his character and destiny, will show his true identity. This event described by Paul will occur at the mid-point of Daniel's Seventieth Week. It is called "the abomination of desolation" by the Lord (Matthew 24:15) and Daniel (Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11).
This most significant event will set off the escalation of the Antichrist's vicious persecution of those who will not receive his mark (Revelation 13:15-18) during the Great Tribulation. The Lord Jesus describes this time of fierce and intensive tribulation: "For then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." (Matthew 24:21)
The sixth and most distinct event of all that precede is described by four Old Testament prophets and four New Testament writers. And, according to Joel 2:30, 31 it will occur "before the great and the terrible Day of the Lord come" when "the Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining." (Joel 3:14, 15)
These supernatural heavenly wonders as recorded in Isaiah 13:6-10; Ezekiel 32:6,8; Joel 2:1,2,10,11,30,31; 3:14,15; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:14-16; Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24,25; Luke 21:25; Acts 2:9,10; and Revelation 6:12-17 are all in the midst of obvious end times passages providing the student of prophecy with a clear view of end time events.
With this unified voice the Holy Spirit indicates the importance God places on these earth shaking signs just by the amount of Biblical text He dedicated to them. They are indeed very important and truly significant, Creator-authored miracles that will signal the impending start of God's unprecedented, global judgment, called the wrath of God, the great and terrible Day of the Lord!!
And according to Revelation 6:12-14 they will take place just after the earth experiences "a great earthquake"! What a time to be alive, what a time to give praise to the God of heaven who has so freely granted redemption and deliverance through Christ Jesus to those of us who have already believed!
One of the most talked about events that will occur before the wrath of God/Day of the Lord judgment begins will be The Last Trump. This trumpet will be the last thing the believer hears before "we shall be changed" (I Corinthians 15:52).
I Thessalonians 4:16 also mentions this trumpet as does Matthew 24:31 all three are definite rapture texts.
This will signal the long awaited arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ as He comes to rapture His Church. Joel 2:1, 15 also indicate the trumpet will be blown at the beginning of the Day of the Lord and Zephaniah 1:14-16, too, clearly teaches this truth when he states "The great Day of the Lord is near...a day of wrath...A day of the trumpet and alarm."
The Wrath of God-How Will We Know It Is Near? We will be able to discern the "times and the seasons" by all of these obvious signs and events the Lord will give to us in that day. The Antichrist will formulate and head up a three nation confederacy, and 'confirm'(Daniel 9:27) a covenant with the nation of Israel initiating Daniel's Seventieth Week.
There will be a God-sent Elijah-like revivalist/evangelist on the scene prior to and during the first 3-1/2 years of Daniel's Seventieth Week who becomes one of the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11. The Awareness of the Believer will come about as we "see all these things" the Lord described in Matthew 24:4-31 begin to take place. The Falling Away of Israel will be evident to the saints who "watch and pray" understanding the events taking place in the nation of Israel.
When the Antichrist "the man of sin" is revealed at the mid-point of Daniel's Seventieth Week, it will be obvious to the obedient, well studied believer. The Heavenly Wonders, signaling the beginning of the Day of the Lord/wrath of God, will be earth shaking and spectacular in nature as the entire world will fall into complete and utter darkness after a mighty earth quake.
And, finally, the Last Trump will sound and the Lord will appear in all His Shekinah glory illuminating the darkened planet so that all will see Him (Revelation 1:7), the Lord Jesus Christ, and then the Rapture occurs causing the dead in Christ/saints of the ages to rise first and 'we which are alive shall be caught up together with them and so shall we ever be with the Lord'. Yes, we shall be changed to be just like our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen and Amen!
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