NOVEMBER 16, 2023
It's a question that people who believe the Bible (and even many who don’t) are asking with respect the war between Israel and Hamas: does this war mean we are close to the end times? It’s an important question, so I want to give the best answer I can from the Bible. Let me share a few biblical truths that should guide us:
1. No one knows when the Lord will come back. We must be very careful to never set dates. Jesus told us in Matthew 24:36-44 that no one knows when He will return. Despite this, people still try. Many cults have tried and failed. But one very famous evangelical pastor and leader of a large group of churches in our country, who is now deceased, wrote a book a few years back saying that Jesus would come back within 40 years (one generation, in his view) of Israel’s regathering as a nation in May of 1948. When Jesus did not return in that time frame, he quietly republished his book without that false prediction. He misinterpreted the Bible, ignored the passage above, and misled people. Don’t set dates and don’t listen to those who do.
2. The next great event predicted in the Bible is the Rapture of the church. Before Jesus comes back to earth (His Second Coming), He will come back to the clouds for the church just over seven years before then (The Rapture of the Church). While not all Christians believe in the Rapture, it is very clearly taught in places like 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, and John 14:1-14. This Thursday at Midweek Bible Study, I will teach on this subject in depth and help you understand these two central events of biblical, end-time prophecy.
3. Israel is the place we must focus our attention when it comes to the end-time prophecy. Israel was, and still is, God’s chosen nation. It has been at the center of God’s plan since Abraham lived about 4,000 years ago (Genesis 12) and it will continue through the 7-year tribulation (which follows shortly after the Rapture of the Church; see Revelation 6-19, Daniel 9:24-27) and even into the 1,000 year reign of Christ (Revelation 20). Today, the church is God’s primary focus but at the Rapture, His plan for Israel resumes with hyper-fast speed. So don’t focus on China, Russia or anywhere else above Israel when it comes to end time events. God’s future plan centers on Israel (though China and Russia are mentioned in the book of Revelation).
4. The current war may be setting the stage for the "Battle of Gog and Magog" predicted in Ezekiel 38 and 39. This prophecy describes an invasion of Israel by a collection of nations with names we don’t use today featuring the likely current-day nations of Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya and other former Soviet Union nations still aligned with Russia. When you consider that Russia and Iran are already involved in the current war, using Hamas and Hezbollah as proxies for their desired takedown of Israel, could this somehow be the precursor to this Gog and Magog war against Israel? Only time will tell. But we do know this war will happen as part of the end times, perhaps very early after the Rapture in the view of many Bible teachers (myself included).
5. God is in control of everything and has a plan cleary spelled out in the Bible. He tells us again and again that if we are Christians, we should not fear or be afraid. Instead, we should be ready for the Rapture by living a holy and godly life. We should be telling people about the gospel and what will happen in the future for those left behind, and we should be students of Bible prophecy.
So, please be absolutely sure that you are a Christian and are sincerely living for Him. He will return like a thief in the night and many who think they are Christians will be left behind to endure the 7-year tribulation, which will be “hell on earth”. God calls us to learn what He says about the future and that’s why we’re teaching through the book of Revelation right now in Midweek Bible Study. If this subject interests you, join us! It’s on select Thursday nights for about an hour. You can get the full schedule and catch up on the previous three messages here.
Let’s be ready for whenever the Lord takes His church and begins His final seven year campaign to set up His return to earth to rule and reign from Jerusalem. Let’s also tell others and invite them to church.