Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Is the Talk of a Peace Treaty With Israel a Sign of the End Times?

QUESTION:  The Bible clearly states that no man will know, not even Jesus, of His return.  The Bible claims that a "peace treaty" will be signed by the antichrist and Israel.   Lately we are seeing on CNN and other news stations of peace talks with Israel and Palestine.   Is this another sign that we are near the rapture? 

ANSWER: You are right to always keep an eye on Israel for signs of the times.  Many prophetic Bible passages point to that.  The confirmation of a peace treaty would indicate we are that much closer.  Keep in mind the Antichrist "confirms" a covenant with the people of Israel (Daniel 9:27). Thus, it may be that a peace treaty first exists and later he confirms it, rather than that he "makes" a covenant. I mention that because a peace treaty could be signed either before or after the Rapture and all of the prophetic events we are witnessing bring us all the more closer to the "time of the end".

As witnessed in 1948, it is prophesied that Israel will again become a nation (Jeremiah 23:7-8).  Also, as already happened in 1967, Jerusalem will be controlled by the Jewish people — which lays the groundwork for huge future prophetic events to happen. As we are witnessing today, the tiny nation of Israel will continue to be in the headlines.  The land where Jerusalem exists will be of primary attention because that is where some day the Jewish Temple will be rebuilt.  That must happen because scripture explains that one day the "abomination that causes desolation" will occur in the temple (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15). 

You are also correct to understand that we are not to know the time of Christ's return.  However, we can know the season.  Jesus explained in Matthew 24:32-24 that concept:

Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.  I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

One of the most exciting and resounding themes that support the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory is the concept that it is imminent: thus, it could occur at any time because there are no prophetic events that must precede the Rapture.  Thus, it could happen before you finish reading this sentence, complete this article, or it could happen the next time you are asleep.  Understanding that it is imminent inspires people to share God's Word with a sense of urgency, and to be sure they are living right and that their relationship with the Lord is where it should be.

The concept of an imminent Rapture also provides substantial strength to God's Word.  We read in Titus 2:11-14 that it is our blessed hope, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

We also read in 2 Peter 3:9-10 these assuring words, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare." 

The early Church understood the Rapture could happen at any moment,  which further supports that the Pre-Trib Rapture Theory is correct.  In fact, one of the primary reasons 2 Thessalonians was written was because some false teachers had told the Church in Thessalonia that they missed the Rapture. 

Paul, the writer of 2 Thessalonians, explained they did not miss it, and then goes on to explain the Antichrist (a key figure in end times events) would not be revealed until first a great rebellion happens (2 Thessalonians 2:3).  Paul continues to explain that, "the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way." (2 Thessalonians 2:7)  Many scholars believe that is referring to the Holy Spirit within the Church.  Obviously that lends further support to a Pre-Trib Rapture.

Other verses that support the Rapture will be sudden and unexpected (imminent) include:

    "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36)

    "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." (Matthew 24:42)

    "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matthew 24:44).

    "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." (Matthew 25:13).

It is quite clear that the Bible explains the Rapture can occur at any moment.  Therefore, as we go about our daily lives as described in Luke 17:26-36 (eating and drinking, marrying, working, building, etc.), we should follow the words of Jesus in Luke 21:36, "Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."
That really just touches the surface of the topic.  A really good resource that helps described Bible prophecy is a book called, Pray That You May Escape.

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