13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
We are surely living in the days preceding the return of the Lord Jesus to rapture home His Church. However, we have been in the very last days since the creation of the nation of Israel in 1948. I remember during the 1980's there were many times where people thought the coming of the Lord was drawing very near. However, nothing happened. I also remember during the 1990's when it seemed the Lord would be returning very soon. Yet again, nothing happened.
Here we are today in the 2000's. Boy! It really looks like the Lord could return very soon! This war in Iraq may very well spread to up to five other war fronts. This is World War 3 and the fact is nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons will be used. Never before has the world been in so much danger. Many people believe that the end result of this major conflict could be the vehicle where the antichrist rises to power. Again no one knows and all the timing is in God's hands. However, it is a possibility.
Here is the problem with all this prophecy lining up in these last days. Some people got really excited in the 1980's. Yet nothing happened. Then in the 1990's people got excited again. Yet nothing happened. Now, many are discouraged and are not even excited at the possibility that the Lord could return soon. They say something like this: Well we thought it might happen in the 1980's and the 1990's yet nothing happened. Therefore no reason to get excited now as probably nothing will happen. Then a big sigh is released and the person blandly continues on with life
Another problem in the 1980's and 1990's were all the date setters. This breed of person claimed special knowledge from God as to the exact date of the rapture. Then with their big mouths they got on the internet or wrote a book about it. Datesetters gathered many unstable and gullible followers. I remember watching one set of date setters on a message board on the internet. They narrowed down the timing of the rapture to a weekend. Once the fateful weekend arrived, all weekend long the "faithful" signed on and told how they felt the rapture was going to be very close. However, the weekend passed and nothing happened. I still remember one person saying that he was so discouraged that he could almost renounce his Christianity. Long before the date I posted a few messages challenging the date setters and stating that they were wrong. I said that no one knows the exact day. As a result I was insulted and called a "scoffer" because I didn't line up with the "faithful". The very sad thing about datesetting is that it brings reproach to the Lord. When the date passes and the datesetters look like a fool, two things for Satan have been accomplished:
1) The name of the Lord is mocked by unbelievers. Non-Christians say something like this: Look at those crazy Christians! They are nuts etc. That Bible they read sure makes them to do stupid things!
2) People who have been taken in and deceived by the date setting are discouraged. Some even reject "Bible prophecy" because of their hurt and discouragement of a failed date.
For one reason or another many have been discouraged and are not looking for the soon return of the Lord Jesus today. Following the stupid lies of the datesetters have discouraged many who used to have a love for Bible prophecy.
To me that is a sad situation. It describes a person who has lost their blessed hope of our soon returning Lord. They have become discouraged and no longer look forward with eager expectation to the return of the Lord Jesus to rapture home His Church.
People need to realize, it is impossible to set the date for the rapture of the Church. Only God knows the exact date. All date setters are fools and liars and have been proven as such again and again. There is one thing we can know about Bible prophecy. We can know the general timeframe of the Lords' return. We can certainly see that the day of the Lord's return is getting near even though we cannot pinpoint the exact day of the rapture.
Even though we cannot know the exact day of the rapture, many Christians today are hoping for the soon return of the Lord Jesus to rapture home His Church. We know that the antichrist cannot rise to power while the Church is on earth. The antichrist is literally being restrained by God's Holy Spirit working in and through the Church (body of born-again believers). Here is what the Bible says:
2 Thess 2
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
As you can see the antichrist is being restrained or prevented from coming to power at this time. Only when God removes the restraint that the antichrist will be allowed to rise and setup his kingdom. Again the restraining influence is the Holy Spirit working in and through the Church. When the Church is removed from earth at the rapture then the restrainer is also removed. The Holy Spirit will still be present on earth after the rapture but the Church will not be. Without the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit working in and through the Church, the devil will be free to bring his antichrist to power.
Remember that the timing is in the Lord's hands and not our own. He is the one in control of history and the antichrist will only rise to power at the time where God has allowed it. In light of this the world may witness world war 3 starting with Iraq, Now, if World War 3 is the vehicle that will bring to power the antichrist, and if God allows it, then... yippee! This means the rapture must be very close! On the other hand the Lord may decide that it is not this war that will bring to power the antichrist. At any rate if now or later we continue to watch and wait in eager expectation for the rapture!
So, whatever happens with this current war, do not lose your blessed hope. Keep watching and waiting for the Lord to return. Don't be discouraged! One day, hopefully soon, we will be raptured home to heaven! Remember God is in control of human history. The rapture, the rise of the antichrist, and the 70th week of Daniel's prophecy will all happen in God's timeframe. When the time is ripe, Bible prophecy will be fulfilled!
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
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