We will now set out in chronological order, as far as we judge Scripture reveals, those things which are to take place on earth after the church has been raptured to heaven.
They are likened to a vine when God reviews their past history; to an olive tree, from which the natural branches have been broken off, when their present condition is in view, and to a fig tree when their future prospect is contemplated. “Behold the fig tree, and all the trees” said the Lord, Luke 21. 29, and He bade His hearers to keep their eye upon them. Certainly today the national life of Israel, as of many other nations, has shown signs of re-appearing. All these nations are like trees, which have long appeared dead, but are now “shooting forth”, a sure indicator that the time of the end is fast drawing near. Events have almost traversed a full circle, and as was to be expected, the Jewish people are once again back in their land, for this is necessary in order that the events of the last times should be fulfilled. When the Lord Jesus was here, there was in Palestine (i) an apostate Jewish people, (ii) a dominating Gentile power, and (iii) a godly remnant of faithful souls. So will it be again before He returns. Matthew 10. 23 is one of several passages that seem capable of explanation only on this basis. It should not be forgotten that in the Synoptic Gospels (i.e., the first three) the period from the death of Christ until the rapture is passed over in complete silence; the threads of end-time events are taken up from the threads existent when the Lord was here. Jerusalem has been from then till now “trodden down of the Gentiles” as the Lord foreshadowed, Luke 21. 24. It is not a little significant that the Jewish people are now back in Palestine under the autonomous state called “Israel”, though they are somewhat dependent upon the protective care of the western powers against their eastern and northern enemies. Surely events are taking place before our eyes which show that the stage is being rapidly prepared for the last great drama of earth before the Lord returns in power.
Another fact which the Scriptures make plain, as the present writer believes, is the resuscitation of the former Roman empire. The beast that was, is not, and shall be, Rev. 17. 8, alludes to this, the word “beast” being used in the Apocalypse both of the empire and of its head. This agrees with the ten toes of the image in Daniel 2, with the ten horns of the beast in Daniel 7, and with the re-appearance of the four beasts of that chapter in the case of the first “beast” in Revelation 13. 1ff. The capital of this revived empire and the seat of its head will be Rome; see Rev. 17. 18. The fact that the ancient Roman law is the basis of modern jurisprudence, and the further fact that the proposed common market is based on the treaty of Rome is not without significance, though we must not be ensnared into playing the role of prophets. But the wise shall understand.
God will judicially send a “strong delusion” over those who have rejected the Gospel they heard, 2 Thess. 2. 10-12. The apostasy will then be in full-bloom, and everything basically Christian will be denied, 2. 3. Religiously, Christendom will have become “the great harlot”, Rev. 17. 1 R.V., Satan’s counterfeit of the true bride of Christ. The reader should ponder carefully Revelation 17, comparing it with the past history of the corrupt church of Rome and with the present frantic endeavours by both Roman and Protestant ecumenical councils to secure a unified “church”. It is “drunken with the blood of the saints”, for it is, and will yet again prove itself to be, the relentless enemy of God and of His people. At the present moment there is a Hinderer and a hindrance, 2 Thess. 2. 7, 6, to the full development of this unification of Christendom. The Spirit of God, the Hinderer, in the Church, the hindrance, is restraining things intentionally, purposefully and intelligently with the view that the head of this corrupt system shall not become manifest till his proper time. Though various suggestions have been made as to this Hinderer, yet the only one that seems to satisfy all the requirements is that here given. No system of government, no principle of rule, no earthly ruler could so control and restrain events that the Man of sin should not appear until “his own season”.
Consequent upon the removal of the church and of the Spirit of God in the church, there will be
Not that we are to suppose that the Spirit of God will no longer operate on earth. Rather He will resume the method adopted in O.T. times; He will work on earth from heaven. Further, there will be godly souls who will refuse to participate in the unified godless “church” then formed, and they will in consequence suffer. But of that anon.
Things on earth will be much like they were in the days of Noah and of Lot (see Luke 17. 26, 28). Business will proceed as usual; life will seem very ordinary, save that the times will be marked by “violence and corruption” (see Gen. 6). And if this is so today, whatever will it be when the “salt of the earth” has been removed! It will be like to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha, where the name of one of these cities gives us a word for the grossest of moral iniquity. Do we lament the dreadful downward trend of things in our times? Let us remember, the Lord’s parousia is at the door, but do not let us be deceived into supposing that the world will become better. Nothing but divine judgment will cleanse the earth; the flood of Noah’s day and the fire of Lot’s day declare this eloquently.
There will be at the end times
the one at the head of the revived Roman empire and the other at the head of the apostate Jewish people. The first beast of Revelation 13 will be the political leader of the then Roman earth, and the other the head of the unified system of religion which will be utterly Christless and Godless. There will be a caricature of the Holy Trinity, for instead of the True, there will be the head of the empire appropriating to himself divine claims. Subordinate to him will be the second beast of Revelation 13 whose prime work will be to secure worship to the first beast by all on earth, and behind each will be the unseen dragon, the devil. “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive”, John 5. 43. That “another” will then have come. He will be the “idol shepherd”, Zech. 11. 17; the wilful king, Dan. 11. 36; the “man of lawlessness”, 2 Thess. 2.3 R.V. marg. His seat will be in Jerusalem, where presumably the temple will have been rebuilt and in which he will place “the abomination of desolation (that maketh desolate)”, Matt. 24. 15. As ever, politics and religion will go hand in hand; the woman rides the beast.
Daniel 9.27 speaks of a covenant which the coming prince (the first beast of Revelation 13) will make with the mass of the Jewish people. Isaiah 28. 15 reveals it to be a defensive pact, with a view to safeguarding the Jewish state from the inroads of the powers north and east of them. It will be made for a term of seven years (i.e., one week – the last week of Daniel 9. 24). Space does not permit us to go into this key-prophecy in detail, though it should be remarked that a proper understanding of this will provide a clue as to the correct interpretation of the bulk of the prophetic scriptures. The writer may be permitted to refer to his book Concerning the Future, in which this prophecy is treated fully.
Many scriptures show that the pact will be ineffective in achieving its military purpose. The reader should study Zechariah 14. 1-3; Revelation 14. 9-20; 16. 13-16; Isaiah chapters 2-10, amongst many others.
To be followed by “Coming judgments”.
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