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Global Panic, the Rapture of the Church, and the Coming Antichrist...Some Thoughts.

 
Global Panic - dreamstime image

Up front I want to say that I do not believe that we can know the exact day or hour when the Lord will call (rapture) His church to heaven (but we can know the season in which it will occur, (1 Th 5:1-10), and it is soon. Please be aware the things written in this post have to do with the panic and upheaval of current life in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic spreading across the world. Adding to that, we must also realize that the worst of this pandemic may soon pass allowing life to return to a semblance of normal...maybe.

Now, concerning the coming Antichrist, it must be said that future and specific prophetic events in the Bible do point to a time when the world will one day turn their attention and allegiances toward a global leader. In order for that to happen, "something" or "some things" must occur that place the world under or within a dire situation that calls for a leader to rise with answers. The Bible refers so him in metaphorical terms as the First Beast who rises from the sea of world inhabitants (Rev 13:1) and the Man of Sin or Son of Perdition (2 Th 2:3). 1 John 2:18 simply refers to him as the Antichrist. Although many antichrists (false messiah's) have come and gone throughout the church age, John, using a definite article, pointing to one that will come in the future, one they had all heard of. 

Interestingly, when speaking to the people of His day, Jesus made a subtle reference to the world rejecting Him, but freely following another. Here is what He said:

John 5:43 (NKJV) "I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive."


High Level Overview

In normal Bible Prophecy discussions and Bible prophecy books published (and I have read dozens of them) the prevailing opinion concerning how and when the Antichrist will come on the scene, has largely been discussion around the Psalm 83, Isaiah 17, Ezekiel 38-39, and Daniel 9:24-27 prophecies. Notably, that War will happen in the Middle East which includes attacks on Damascus and Israel. Israel possibly striking Damascus and destroying the city, or another nation in alignment with Russia/Iran/Turkey etc., doing so. The outcome of the war and destruction, along with that which follows the Gog/Magog invasion of Israel, being the need for a global leader who has all the right answers for all the worlds ills. This leader will capture the attention of the world which will then in turn, swoon over him as they listen to his right-hand man, the Second Beast or False Prophet, who through pseudo-miracles meant to deceive (Rev 13:11-12) turns the worlds attention to this man. This world leader will even propose an acceptable solution to the Middle East peace problem. The Bible is clear, in stating he will confirm a seven-year covenant/treaty of sorts with many nations, including Israel. The treaty would allow Israel to rebuild their temple where they will resume OT sacrificial practices, (Dan 9:27). Almost all of the premillennial prophecy experts agree to this in principle. I, myself, also ascribe to these things as scriptural events that will indeed happen in one way or another. As a true God-fearing believer, I see these things all currently aligning as prophesied.
But there has always been this nagging question in the back of my mind around how the world was going to come together and unite globally under this one world leader. I have seen where some have stated that he will rise to power in the midst of the Middle Eastern turmoil and have the answers the world will agree to, so they will acquiesce to him their support. I have seen where some have said that he will use force to make the nations submit to him and his hand picked global regional authorities of ten leaders. I have read where it will be purely economic. i.e., a global economic catastrophe will occur that causes the world to seek a man with an answer.
I want to say, that all of them have rational reasons to agree with in one way or another and that all of them will be correct in all, most, or some of their aspects. Although we cannot detail things perfectly by line item down to every detail, we can come close to doing so when we read and see the fulfillment's of events prophesied in Scripture coming to pass before our very eyes.
All of that said, how does the current and first global catastrophe that nearly all of us have experienced align with Scripture? Is the Covid-19 panic just another birth-pang, notably worse (as far as it being global in scope and panic) than those that have preceded it? Will it just go away and give way to another event much worse than this? Or, is it nothing that we need to be too concerned about? NOTE: I am in no way saying this is the tell-tale sign pointing to the end of the church age and beginning of the seven-year Tribulation period, for no one sign can be. The Bible gives many signs to be aware of that point to that coming time and they must all be happening in a convergent manner. That is the point. Be watchful, be ready.
Moving on, the Bible does speak of this virus and of others before it, with terms such as disease, pestilence, and plague.  Some examples that have happened during the church age are, the Bubonic plagues, SARS, MERS, H1N1, Bird Flu, Ebola, Spanish Flu, etc.

Passages that speak of Pestilence:
To begin, lets look at how "Pestilence" has been described in the Bible. Here is an encyclopedic overview of the term from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
Pestilence [Heb. deḇer; Gk. loimós; also Heb. māweṯ (Job 27:15; Jer. 43:11); Gk. thánatos (Rev. 6:8; 18:8)]; AV also DEATH (Job 27:15; Jer. 43:11; Rev. 6:8; 18:8). A sudden fatal epidemic, generally regarded as a divine visitation. The reference to pestilence in Ps. 91:6, “walking in darkness,” alludes to its obscure etiology. In the wilderness wanderings the rebellious Israelites were frequently threatened with pestilence (cf. Nu. 14:12; Dt. 28:21), which appears to have materialized on certain occasions (Nu. 11:33; 16:46; 25:8). Solomon’s prayer of dedication (1 K. 8:7) sought the removal of pestilence when national repentance was apparent. Am. 4:10 compares pestilence with the Egyptian plagues; in Hab. 3:5 it heralds divine judgment (cf. Ex. 5:3; 9:15; Lev. 26:25; etc.). The apocalyptic discourse of Lk. 21:11 (Mt. 24:7, AV) couples pestilence (Gk. loimoí) with famine.
The Latin term pestilentia is connected with pestis (“plague”), but the ancients appear to have distinguished plague from pestilence. Of the infectious diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery, bubonic plague, and smallpox that scourged the ancient Near East, the one most frequently described as “plague” was bubonic infection. “Pestilence,” sometimes described as “noisome,” was often associated with besieged cities, suggesting such diseases as enteric fever (typhoid) or cholera resulting from contaminated water supplies.[1]
Here is another from Eerdmans Bible Dictionary:
Pestilence (Heb. deḇer; Gk. loimós). A fatal disease sent as punishment by God. It is mentioned with other typical forms of divine punishment, including the sword (e.g., Exod. 5:3; Lev. 26:25), famine (e.g., 2 Sam. 24:13; Jer. 34:17), and various other diseases (1 Kgs. 8:37; Heb. 3:5) and afflictions (e.g., Deut. 32:24; Ezek. 38:22; Amos 4:6–11). The usual combination is sword, famine, and pestilence, which suggests that deḇer most often represents diseases brought on by battle and siege conditions. The background of such lists of calamities includes, on the one hand, lists of curses attached as a form of guarantee to ancient Near Eastern contracts and treaties and, on the other hand, mythological concepts of deities accompanied by their destroying servants (cf. 2 Sam. 24:15–17; Hab 3:5). Heb. māweṯ “death,” where it is translated “pestilence” by RSV (Job 27:15; Jer. 15:2; 18:21; 43:11), is another term for fatal disease considered as a divine punishment. The two terms are reflected in New Testament uses of Gk. loimós (Luke 21:11) and thánatos “death” (Rev. 6:8; 18:8), both rendered “pestilence” by the RSV.[2]
I researched several dictionaries (well over a dozen) and chose the definitions above as they seem to correctly give an informational overview concerning the nature of pestilence, plague, and disease as seen in the Bible.
That said, we know Jesus also spoke of Pestilence in His Olivet Discourse found in Luke 21 and Matt. 24. In context, what was He telling us?
From Luke:
Luke 21:10–11 (NKJV)
10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
From Matthew:
Matthew 24:6–8 (NKJV)
6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
The context of the time in which Jesus speaks in Luke and Matthew is the current Church Age, with some things that follow the end of the church age into the coming seven-year Tribulation Period. Jesus clearly places Pestilence under the banner of the “Beginning of Sorrows,” a phrase that is also associated with the “birth pangs” that lead up to the beginning of the Tribulation Period. This tells me that the disease and pestilence that has created the current global pandemic, (Covid-19), is something that occurs prior to the Tribulation Period. However, this will not be the final plague to ravish humanity. Disease will also run rampant during the coming Tribulation Period via the four Horsemen of Rev. 6. Specifically the releasing of the 3rd and 4th seal judgments (Rev 6:5-8). We also see a pestilent attack on humanity in the demonic locust plague of Revelation 9:1-12. In Luke's gospel, Jesus refers to the Tribulation Period in this way: "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled," (Luke 21:22). In that day, God's wrath will be unleashed against all the sin, evil, and injustice that has ever occurred in man's dealings against themselves, each other, and against God.
There are some who believe we are currently in the Tribulation period, but that is simply not true. The church (all true believing worshipers of Christ) will not endure the wrath of God against sin which is what happens, when God pours His wrath down from heaven during this seven-year period. But we will be saved out of it as the Bible declares, in 1 Th 1:10, 5:9-10; Rom 5:9. Our sin has been paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.
Matthew continues by moving into that tribulation period with:
Matthew 24:9–14 (NKJV)
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
It is important to note, that on the final day of physical life for the church—on the eve of the Rapture of the Church—fear, hatred, lack of love, etc. will be prevailing in society (see 2 Tim 3:1-5). When the seven-year Tribulation Period begins, these same societal attitudes will only get worse. Fear and panic often drive our emotions as they are doing now, so will they be after the church as raptured to heaven. The PC crowds today have elicited a lot of fear in social circles and in normal day-to-day interactions as observed by people walking on pins and needles in order to not offend another. This is also seen in the loathing of Christianity by the majority of humanity. Woe to the one who goes against those norms, right?

Now, having said these things it is important that we realize some things.
1)      Although there have been many diseases that have ravaged the earth since the days when Jesus spoke these things, none have occurred since Israel became a nation on the same level of global pandemic, excepting COVID-19!
2)      Covid-19 is currently sinking the economies of the world. Virtually overnight this one little bug has cause international and national economies to go into a voracious tailspin.
3)      People are in a tizzy over who has the right solution to combat the disease. And as of March 23rd, 2020, the DOW industrial average has fallen 11,000 points from its record high on Feb 20, 2020 of 29,551. In other words, it has fallen 37.18% in one month!!! It is a roller coaster that is up one day and down the next.[Case in point: on March 24 the DOW was up again 2k pts!]
4)      The world is now beginning to go into a global PANIC! "Shelter In" orders across multiple state, counties, and cities. Craziness in the grocery stores. Schools, gatherings, events and universities closed, medical supplies in high demand, etc.
The question is, will it continue to do so? Will things get so bad economically, that the world will be easily persuaded to follow a leader that comes to their rescue? It may and it may not. That day is in God's control. Only He knows the times.

This takes me back to the nagging question I addressed earlier, concerning how the world will come together to support one man with a solution that begs his support. I have come to the conclusion that it isn't all of the things mentioned earlier concerning Ezek 38-39, Isa 17, Psa 83 and the trifecta alliances of Russia, Iran, and Turkey by themselves, that cause the world to follow the AC. Think about this for a moment, as big a problem as war and unrest in the Middle East are, many in the world still only see it as a localized problem in the Middle East and do not see it as affecting their daily business. There are many calls for the US and others to get their nose out of Israel’s problem. Those events certainly will affect that of Israel and God’s reaction to it will be a hallowing of His name in the sight of the nations of the world, (see Ezek 39). The world will indeed one day very soon say, God is with the Jewish people.
With the Pope calling for globalization (google it) and the world being brought to its economic knees all because of a bug that can only be seen under a microscope, it seems to me that the world is becoming ripe for a man to arise who will prescribe a cure to the world's problems, including a cure to the Israeli/Palestinian problem. One thing the coronavirus is teaching the world is that we are vulnerable and not infallible. This disease helps solidify for me that we are indeed on the cusp of the the end of the church age and the Rapture of the Church, which will precede the seven-year Tribulation and rise of Antichrist. Many pastors have failed to warn their churches of what is ahead. Many Christians are simply not prepared to stand in the presence of Christ.
What are we to do? 
  • We are to trust the Lord's words and do His business till He comes. 
  • Become more hospitable and generous in your giving
  • Help provide for the needs of those who need it
  • Share Jesus like never before
We do not know what will happen tomorrow, but it is God who holds tomorrow. Now more than ever, is the time to do whatever you can to take the gospel into the world. The days are numbered, and I believe the Rapture that will take us into glory is closer than most realize.

If you have read this and are wondering about how you might become a member of God's family and you are not sure how, then read on:

The Bible tells in 1 Corinthians 15:2-3 the following:

"For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" and in Rom 10:9-10, "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
  1.  You must confess you are a sinner and in need of forgiveness of sin. 
  2.  That you believe that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose to heaven (defeating death) on the third day as the Bible declares. 
  3.  Then you need to call out to God and ask Him to forgive you of that sin. 
  4.  Then you need to commit that you will follow and trust Him every day.  
  5.  If you mean these things sincerely, then God promises that you have eternal life
John 1:12 (NKJV)
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name


If you prayed to receive Jesus and forgiveness of sin, then I want to rejoice with you. Please leave a comment.


Truly we should be looking up, because our redemption draws very near!
**Interestingly, Apollyon, which in Rev 9:11 is given an equivalency to Abaddon (destruction). Albrecht Oepke has written, The name of the god of pestilence is often linked with ἀπόλλυμι or ἀπολλύω: Aesch.”[3] I find this fact interesting since Apollos, the false god, is linked with the demonic scorpion locusts of Rev. 9 as their leader, as is Abaddon (Heb.), who is also depicted as being having bent at the legs and having wings like an insect. These Rev 9 locusts are demonically manifested plague that happens in the tribulation period. Abaddon/Apollyon is also referred to as the Antichrist in 2 Thess. 2:3 “son of perdition (destruction, GR Apollyon).”



[1] R. K. Harrison, “Pestilence,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 802.
[2] Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 818.
[3] Albrecht Oepke, “Ἀπόλλυμι, Ἀπώλεια, Ἀπολλύων,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 397.

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