Many of my regular readers know that I anticipate the Church being removed before the Great Tribulation. You may disagree on the timing, but this is the “blessed hope” of Christians who are waiting for the “call.” (Titus 2:13) So, you will have to forgive me while I discuss what is probably my favorite subject, and the basis for my “blessed hope.”
As I have stated earlier, the concept of seven years of Tribulation is an assumption based upon the last seven years of Daniel’s famous prophecy of the Seventy Weeks. (Daniel 9:24 and following) In the Revelation there is no mention of seven years. There are several mentions of three and one-half years in various forms (1260 days, 42 months and “times, time and a half time”).
Within Daniel’s seven-year period is an event known as the “abomination of desolation.” Jesus confirms the “abomination of desolation” in Matthew 24. In order for the abomination of desolation to take place, there must be a Tabernacle or Temple or holy place in Jerusalem. (Matthew 24:15) Many Christians wonder if the Church will see this.
Part of Daniel’s prophecy deals with “the ruler who will come” (Daniel 9:6) and the confirmation of a covenant for seven years. The “ruler” is thought to be the anti-Christ and many have assumed that this “covenant” is a seven year peace treaty. First, we do not know that it will be a treaty. And second, we do not know that it will be a public document. What if this covenant were already in place? There are many deals and agreements between rulers about which we mere mortals never hear. So we do not necessarily have that clue for which to look.
Second Thessalonians chapter two is difficult to understand. Paul tells the congregation there not to be misled about the Return of Jesus because first the “lawless one” must be revealed (verse 3); and he will not be revealed until the Restrainer is taken away (verse 7). Scholars are in general agreement that the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit, not the Church. Nowhere in the New Testament Greek is the Church spoken of using masculine nouns. But the word Restrainer is masculine.
Assuming (there is that word, again) that the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit, most who believe in a pre-Tribulation Rapture accept that when the Restrainer is removed, the Church will be gone. The sound basis for this is Ephesians 1:14, where the Holy Spirit is described as the deposit or “earnest money” for our salvation. If the deposit is removed, then the Church must be removed, also.
And this is the part that is difficult to understand. The Day that Jesus calls us will not be until the lawless one is revealed, but the lawless one will not be revealed until the Restrainer (and the Church?) is removed. That indicates that the Church will be on earth about the time the lawless one is revealed. This may explain Hebrews 10:25 where we are instructed to encourage each other, especially as we see the Day approaching.
There is a sense within the Church that the Day of the Lord is near. As we look about us, we see the description of the Last Days found in Second Timothy 3:1-5 being fulfilled on a daily basis. We wonder how long the Lord can be patient.
When it comes to the Day of the Lord, which is not a specific day, but a period of time, we cannot make assumptions. Is the Tribulation seven years long? Is the Holy Spirit the Restrainer? Will we see the revealing of the anti-Christ? Has the seven-year covenant been executed? Do not assume. Study the Word. You will be blessed for it. And as Brother J. R. Church says, “Keep looking up!” And listen for the call.