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Signs of the Times?
Andy Bustanoby
(C) November 5, 2005

   Two devastating hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, an earthquake in Pakistan
   estimated to have killed 40,000 and now, possibly, a pandemic of bird
   flu that will kill millions--what's going on?  According to news
   reports, not only are preachers speaking about these events, ordinary
   citizens also are talking and asking, Are these signs of the times--the
   end of the world?

   Most frequently, Matthew 24-25 is mentioned where Jesus prophesied the
   destruction of the temple (which happened in 70 A.D.).  On the occasion
   of that prophecy the disciples asked, "Tell us, when will this happen,
   and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
   (Mt. 24:3).   Jesus answered that there will be wars, famines and

   Both the pulpit and the public are saying that we are seeing these
   signs today.  Often, the horrors described in the Book of Revelation
   are thrown into the mix--the seven seals of the scroll, the seven
   trumpets and the seven vials.

   I hate to tell you, but what we are seeing today is nothing compared to
   what is coming in the day that Jesus speaks of.  Let me explain.

   The Gospel of Matthew was written for a Jewish audience well versed in
   Old Testament prophecy.  The time that Jesus speaks of He identifies
   with a reference to the prophet Daniel (Dan. 9:27).

   Matthew 24:15 speaks of this period by referring back to the prophet
   Daniel (Dan. 9:27, 11:31, 12:11).  This period, called "Daniel's
   Seventieth Week," a period of seven years, is also identified as the
   beginning of "the Day of the Lord" by seven of the Old Testament
   prophets and also in First Thessalonians 5:2, Second Thessalonians 2:2
   and 2 Peter 3:10.  God's judgment is paramount in all of these
   passages.  Matthew 24 speaks of the beginning of the day of the Lord,
   often called "the tribulation."  It is the return of God's attention to
   the nation Israel and His judgment on the world.

   Now chronology is important here.  When Jesus, in Matthew 24:15, speaks
   the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, he is
   referring to Daniel 9:27 and an event that occurs in the middle of the
   seventieth week, the middle of the seven year tribulation.

   If this is so, the events of Matthew 24:2-14 cannot be happening prior
   to Daniel's seventieth week.  They are events in the first half of the

   What I say now is absolutely important to the chronology of events.
   The Apostle Paul makes it absolutely clear that "the day of the Lord
   will come as a thief in the night" (1 Thess. 5:2).  People will not be
   looking for the start of the day of the Lord and all of those horrible
   signs spoken of in Matthew 24.  In fact, they will be saying, "Peace
   and safety" when the time of destruction comes (1 Thess. 5:3).

   The Thessalonians were grieving because they thought that their dead
   loved ones had missed out on the coming of Christ (2 Thess. 2:1-12.  He
   comforts them in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:3 with the message that the day
   of the Lord will begin with an event called the "rapture" where the
   dead and living who belong to Christ will be "caught up" to be with the
   Lord in the air.  The words "caught up" in the Latin Version of the
   Bible are translated "rapere," from which we get the word, "rapture."

   Paul says that the rapture begins the day of the Lord and comes
   unexpectedly!  The horrible events that open the day of the Lord, the
   tribulation described in Matthew 24 and in Revelation, are not signs
   that Jesus is about to come.  There are no signs that Jesus is about to
   come and rapture His people.  The day of the Lord starts as "a thief in
   the night."

   You see, what often happens is that the rapture, the Lord coming for
   the church is often confused with the Lord coming to earth with the
   church in the second coming at the Battle of Armageddon (Rev.

   Let me summarize:
    1. In Matthew 24:15, the "abomination that causes desolation,"
       referred to by Daniel the prophet, occurs in the middle of the
       seventieth week, the middle of the tribulation (Dan. 9:27).  If
       this is so, then the events of Matthew 24:3-14 must be in the first
       half of the week, not prior to the seventieth week, the tribulation
       and prior to the rapture.
    2. The rapture and the day of the Lord that follows the rapture,
       spoken of by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, will come unexpectedly,
       not preceded with signs.  It will come "as a thief in the night."
       Paul says that people will not be lamenting over horrible signs at
       that time.  They will be saying "peace and safety" (1 Thess. 5:3).

   If this is so, I must ask you, are you ready for these events--the
   rapture of those who belong to Christ and the beginning of the
   tribulation?  I urge you to read Tim LeHay's series of books called,
   "Left Behind."  Though they are fiction, they are based on the rapture
   and the day of the Lord.

   Those who are left behind at the rapture will indeed experience what
   Jesus is talking about in Matthew 24 and what John speaks of in
   Revelation.  If you think that the world-wide catastrophes we have seen
   recently are terrible, you haven't seen anything yet!

   This raises the question, Will you be left behind to experience the
   horrors?  One of these days you will meet Jesus--either as your Savior
   or Judge.  Jesus, when on earth, said, "I am the way and the truth and
   the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn. 14:6).

   Dear friend, don't be left behind.  Come to Jesus now.  There will be
   nothing to warn you that the terrible day of the Lord has arrived.
   There will be no signs that tell us the time has come.

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