The Bible Teaches that the Church Age is Coming to a Close
God’s Purpose for Israel
God chose the Nation of Israel for a very specific reason as His Special People.
“The LORD did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.”
Deuteronomy 7:7-9 (NIV)
His Divine Purpose was that Israel would be a showpiece for the world, bringing men, women and children from a thousand generations into His Eternal Kingdom. God told Abraham that “in you ALL THE FAMILIES of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
God’s Love is Amazing.
The Amazing Love of God
Composed and sung by Ray Ludik with Cross Country Gospel Group
The Messiah and the World
Isaiah prophesied that the Coming Messiah would reach all the Nations, Jews and Gentiles.
“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
He will not cry out, nor raise His voice,
Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”
Thus says God the LORD,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it,
Who gives breath to the people on it,
And spirit to those who walk on it:
“I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,
To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
I am the LORD, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved images.
Behold, the former things have come to pass
And new things I declare;
Before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
Sadly, few among the Jewish people reached out to the Gentiles. There were some notable exceptions, but generally Gentiles were rejected as an inferior nation.
When Messiah came, the People of Israel did not recognize nor receive Him.
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:”
There were many individuals who did receive Jesus and the Book of Acts tells us about them. In the beginning period of Church history, many Jewish people found the Lord and served Him, but when the Gospel was taken to the Gentiles there was a rich harvest of souls. Peter was amazed when he visited Cornelius’ home and the Spirit of God fell on the Gentiles. It’s an exciting story. Read about it in Acts chapter 10.
The Times of the Gentiles are Numbered
Soon Gentile believers outnumbered their Jewish counterparts and it has been this way for nearly two thousand years. However, Jesus said clearly that the “times of the Gentiles” would come to an end and the Lord would reach out to Israel, resulting in “all Israel” turning to the Lord in a mighty revival.
“…until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers,
so that you may not be conceited:
Israel has experienced a hardening in part
until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The deliverer will come from Zion:
He will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
Romans 11:25-27 (NIV)
“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David
and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.”
Zechariah 13:1 (NIV)
Daniel’s Incredible Prophecy
When will the Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled? Daniel, an Old Testament prophet who lived around 600 BC, shared this truth with us thousands of years ago in detail. His amazing prophecy is recorded in Daniel 9:24-27.
“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city..”
Here we are told that there are “seventy weeks” of history designated for the People of Israel. Many Bible scholars believe that a “week” in this prophetical sense is the equivalent of seven years in our time. This means the Nation of Israel is being notified by Daniel that 70 weeks or 490 years have been carved out of time for their Nation when God would work specifically with them.
Daniel goes on to say that something significant would happen after 69 weeks (or 483 years) – Messiah would come. He also tells us that this special period of history would begin with a command to restore and build Jerusalem.
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.”
Bible scholars know that the command to restore Jerusalem was given on March 14, BC 445 by King Artaxerxes of Persia. He began his reign in BC 465 and issued the decree twenty years later in BC 445, authorising Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 2:1-8).
There were a number of similar decrees during this time period authorising Ezra to rebuild the Temple and restore the government, but Nehemiah fulfilled the prophecy exactly.
What happened exactly 483 years later on April 6, AD 32? Any Sunday School child could tell you!
Zechariah prophesied over 400 years earlier that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem, riding on a donkey.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.”
On April 6, AD 32, that prophecy was literally fulfilled as Jesus entered Jerusalem. We refer to it as Palm Sunday.
“Then the multitudes who went before
and those who followed cried out, saying:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!
Hosanna in the highest!”
The Wise Men from the East who visited the Baby in the Manager that first Christmas were students of prophecy and knew the exact time of the birth of Messiah.
Note: For those who may have some difficulty working out the dates, keep in mind that the Jewish year is only 360 days, unlike our 365 days. Added to that is the fact that our calendar has changed. According to history, the Pope during the 6th Century AD gave the task of compiling a calendar from the year of Christ’s birth to a Scythian priest named Dionisius. He worked backwards taking into account the rule of the Caesars, but forgot to include the year zero. He also did not realize that Octavious and Augustus were names for the same ruler and his dates were completely incorrect. From historical records, for example, we know that Herod the Great (during whose reign Christ was born) actually died in BC 4 according to our calendar. In fact, Jesus Christ was probably born around BC 8. The Jewish calendar is correct.
We have seen that since the decree was issued, 483 years passed until Messiah fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah and entered Jerusalem, publicly declaring Himself to be the promised Messiah. Daniel was absolutely correct.
But he did not stop there. Daniel went on to prophecy that after a period of “7 weeks + 62 weeks” (69 weeks or 483 years) Messiah would be put to death, not for his own sins but for ours.
“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.”
Within a few months of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus Christ hung on a Cross paying the penalty for your sins and mine. Exactly 483 years after the prophesied decree. Jerusalem and the Temple were totally destroyed in AD 70.
Get Out Your Calendar
- Daniel prophesied 490 years of special history for the Jewish people.
- The time period began with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.
- Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem happened 483 years later.
- The Crucifixion stopped the prophetic clock at that point.
- Over 2000 years of history have passed since the Lord first came.
- This is known as the Church Age.
- 490 – 483 years leave us with 7 years of prophetic history.
- When do they begin?
- At the Rapture of the Church when the Church Age or Times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
- This leaves 7 years for the Great Tribulation period under antichrist when the Lord turns to the Jewish people once again.
Known as the “time of Jacob’s Trouble” it culminates with the Jews turning to their Messiah.
“Alas! For that day is great,
So that none is like it;
And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble,
But he shall be saved out of it.”
The Bible tells us that Israel will be convinced that antichrist is their Messiah when he appears “out of nowhere” to solve the financial and political woes of the world with the Financial Plan hinted at in Revelation chapter 13. They will sign a seven-year Peace Treaty with him and be allowed to rebuild their Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. However, halfway through this last seven-year period of history, prophecy tells us he will enter the Temple and proclaim He is God, to the utter consternation of the Jewish people. A time of fierce persecution will take place, forcing them to flee into the desert where the Lord Himself protects them.
Daniel has the detail.
“Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week:
But in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate.
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
is poured out on the desolate.”
The New Testament adds some more information.
“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NIV)
The Great Evacuation
When the Day arrives that ushers in the reign of antichrist, the Church will meet the Lord in the air and move out of the picture.
“And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time.
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work;
but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow
with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.”
2 Thessalonians 2:6-9
There is a day coming when a fiery trial will come upon this earth. It will be the first time in history that the whole world will experience trouble on a scale that it has never encountered before, even in its darkest days. Every individual will be affected.
Some people believe the Church must still be on earth during the first half of the reign of antichrist and they teach that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is “escapism.” The truth is that the build-up to the Rapture and the revelation of antichrist will be a dark time. For the world to accept the Man of Sin as their Saviour, things must be really bad on the earth and the Bible prophesies that it will be so. Political trouble and financial collapse will open the door to his leadership.
Revelation chapter 13 reminds us that the first three-and-a-half part of his seven-year reign will be relatively peaceful as he brings his pseudo solutions to a troubled world. His microchip technology and financial control may look like the answer, but it is short-lived. By the time half his brief reign is over, the world will be in a greater mess than it has ever been and the Book of Revelation from chapter 6 onwards gives us the details.
The Lord has promised to keep the Church away from this trial.
“Because you have kept My command to persevere,
I also will keep you from the HOUR OF TRIAL
which shall come upon the WHOLE WORLD,
to test those who dwell on the earth.”
Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!
Intro: Seven Reasons I Believe in the Rapture of the Church
#1 Jesus Promised to Return for His Church
#2 The Early Church Expected His Return
#3 Throughout History the Church Has Expected His Return
#4 The Bible Teaches that the Church Age is Coming to a Close
#5 Seven Differences between the Rapture and Return of Christ to earth.
#6 Evidence from the Book of Revelation agrees with the Book of Daniel about the End Times.
#7 The Lord’s Promise to the Church is True.
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