What will happen immediately follow-ing the rapture of the Church? This is a question often posed by Christians today. The short general answer is that a period will ensue on earth into which will be compressed some of the most devastating events ever exper-ienced in the course of human history.
The removal of the Church to heaven will pave the way for the last and detached “week” of Daniel’s notable prophecy of the “70 Weeks" to begin, Dan. 9. 24-27. Each week (Heb. “seven") consists of a period of 7 years, so the full 70 weeks rep-resents a period of 490 years. So far, 483 years of this predicted period have had their accurate historical fulfilment. In point of fact, the closing day of the 69th week synchronized with the very day of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem when He, at the end of His public ministry, presented Himself officially to the nation of Israel as their true King and Messiah. Hailed initially as Son of David to the resounding Hosanna-shouts of the mass of the Jews lining the royal route on that significant occasion, only a few days later He would be the object of the hatred-cry of the people, incited by their religious rulers, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him’, John 19. 15.
The dastardly deed of the rejection and crucifixion of their King brought about a prolonged break in the con-tinuity of the 70 weeks, Dan. 9. 26. Nearly 20 centuries have now passed, and still the 70th and last prophetic “week” has not yet begun.
After the removal of the Church, there will no doubt be a period of unprescribed duration before the com-mencement of the final “week” of 7 literal years. The interval may be of months only, or it may be upwards of a year. We do not know, although as events accelerate with increasing mo-mentum towards the end of the age, we feel that it will most likely be a shorter rather than a longer period. Perhaps even today the actors (alive but as yet unidentified) are waiting in the wings for the curtain to rise on the final phase of the drama of Gentile domination and its great denouement of Armageddon, when the symbolic Stone, hurtling down from the moun-tain, shall strike the vulnerable feet of the Gentile colossus, shattering the image completely, Dan. 2. 44, 45.
Before our eyes the nations already appear to be shuffling into the shape of the revived Roman Empire, with its ten confederated states under the dictatorship of Satan’s superman. The common market of ten nations at present (with additions during the next few years, it is said) may rep-resent the Roman Empire in embryonic form, although undoubtedly changes in its territorial configuration will take place before its prophetic fulfilment occurs.
It is at the down-beat of a treaty entered into by the supremo of the Western powers (the beast out of the sea, Rev. 13. 1) with the mass of the apostate Jews, then back in the land of Palestine, under the sway of the “wilful king" (the antichrist, the beast out of the earth, Rev. 13. 11; Dan. 11. 36) that the last seven years of Gentile domination will be set in motion. The signing of this treaty will establish the starting point of the 70th week, Dan. 9. 27. Two major conditions must obtain, however, before this period can begin. The one is the existence of an independent Israeli state in Palestine; and the other, the emergence of a ten-kingdomed revived Roman empire. How close we are to this situation today! The state of Israel already exists, and the common market com-munity of European nations surely presages the Roman empire as pre-dicted in its revived form.
The fateful treaty ("a covenant with death, and with hell”, Isa. 28. 15) will be ratified for an appointed period of 7 years by the Roman prince in that fast-approaching day. It will presum-ably guarantee the territorial boundar-ies of the Israeli state against its ruth-less predators. The 7-year treaty, therefore, will run concurrently with the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy – a “week” split into two equal parts of 3½ years each, the second of which will constitute the great tribulation, predominantly the “time of Jacob’s trouble”, Jer. 30. 7.
Crowded into this short sharp section of human history will be tre-mendous events and horrendous ex-periences, such as have never been paralleled in all the history of mankind. Matt. 24. 21. (How thankful ought we to be that, before this time of God’s judicial dealings with rebellious humanity, Jew and Gentile alike, commences, the Church of God’s heavenly calling will have been trans-lated in its entirety out of this doomed world into the glorious precincts of the Father’s house in realms celestial! We “await his Son from the heavens, … Jesus, our deliverer from the coming wrath”, 1 Thess. 1.10 j.n.d.)
During the first half of the treaty’s duration, the political sovereignty of the Jewish state will evidently be respected; but in the middle of the seven years two sudden contingencies will drastically alter the whole course of the final 3J years. Firstly, an event in heaven will have widespread earthly repercussions. Satan and his emissaries will be involved in a head-on clash with the archangel Michael and his angelic warriors, and, suffering defeat in the conflict, will be expelled from their present habitat in the lower heav-ens and cast down ignominiously on to the earth. This globe will then become the new and temporary location of the great red dragon and his unholy spirits, Rev. 12. 7-9. Who can imag-ine the terrifying implications for the earth-dwellers of this defeated and enraged foe, v. 12, then dwelling per-sonally in their midst, and intent upon creating the greatest havoc ever known in this world of men !
Then, secondly, coinciding with the defeat of Satan in heaven – or perhaps on account of it – the Jewish sacrificial system will be abolished by edict of the Roman prince, in concurrence with his ally in Palestine, the apostate Jew, the religious dictator, the anti-christ, Dan. 9. 27.
At the instigation of the antichrist, man will be deified and worshipped, as the image of the political beast (the Roman prince) is set up in the temple precincts in Jerusalem. Refusal to bear the mystic mark of 666, and to worship the image of the beast, will result in death. Rev. 13.15. Many will be the martyred saints of the Jewish remnant, 20. 4, during this so-called “time of Jacob’s trouble".
Little wonder that these last 3 years before man’s day closes are, for various reasons, designated “the tri-bulation – the great one”, Rev. 7. 14 (Greek).
This dreadful “week” will terminate with the coming of Christ, the King of kings, in His warrior character, to crush the confederated armies of the Gentile powers at Armageddon, the last great military campaign in human history before the Millennium.
The foregoing, then, is a broad view of the trend of events, and the prescribed time-scale which will come into force when the prophetic scheme, at present in suspense in this day of grace, will recommence to bring into fulfilment the momentous events of Daniel’s 70th and final week. To be continued
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