“Are We There Yet?”
Updated: Jul 1, 2022
As the kilometres pass and hours of travel blur into what seems like a never-ending journey, children typically ask that most pressing of travel questions, “Are we there yet?” Every parent knows this scenario, and in response, we try to distract them or entertain them or assure them of the great blessings they’ll receive when the ‘ordeal’ is over.
As Bible-believing Christians, we too wonder when the journey will be over, when all the prophecies of Scripture concerning the end times will be fulfilled, and we can experience the great blessings of Messiah’s return.
This was the concern of the church at Thessalonica 2,000 years ago (2 Thess. 2:1-2), and right now with the advent of COVID and the unprecedented pressure, confusion and upheaval unleashed across the whole earth, we find ourselves also asking, “Are we there yet?”
Have we reached the start of the Tribulation period which precedes the second coming of Messiah?
To be clear, concerning the prophetic roadmap we are following, we are currently in what might be termed ‘the church age,’ where we are given the privilege and responsibility of sharing the Gospel and living, relatively freely, for His Glory.
To be clear, concerning the prophetic roadmap we are following, we are currently in what might be termed ‘the church age,’ where we are given the privilege and responsibility of sharing the Gospel and living, relatively freely, for His Glory. As this present age comes to an end, Christ shall come in the air to take His church from the earth (1 Thess 4:13-18) to be with Him in heaven (John 14:1-3), where we will remain until the 2nd Coming. This is the event we refer to as ‘the rapture,’ and it will take place suddenly (1 Cor 15:51-53) and without warning. Following the departure of the church, an emerging world leader (later revealed as ‘the Antichrist’) will make ‘a covenant’ with the nation of Israel (Dan 9:27)… and the Tribulation will have begun!
So, are we there yet? Good Bible teachers often say, “there is nothing that has to happen before the rapture can take place.” This is true… and yet, perhaps there are other things we need to, at least, be aware of. Let me explain. We have seen amazing prophecies fulfilled concerning the return of the Jews to the land of Israel (Ezek. 36:24 for example) and, in terms of our roadmap, this is essential to allow for the fulfilment of yet future prophecies which require the Jews to be in the land.
It is in Israel that Antichrist will make the covenant with them. It is here that ‘Gog of Magog’ will attack the nation and be repelled by God (Ezek. 38). It is here that 144,000 Jewish witnesses of Messiah will be raised (Rev. 7:4-8), along with the two witnesses in Jerusalem (Rev. 11:3-12) during the tribulation period. It is from here that Jesus warned believing Jews to flee, at the mid-point of the tribulation (Matt. 24:15- 20). And, it is to Israel that Jesus will return in the Second Coming (Zech 12:9-10; 14:1-5). As to this key prophecy, all is ready!
Israel is again a nation in the promised land. But, are there any other indicators concerning the tribulation period which need to be considered? I believe there are. While the time between the rapture of the church and the signing of the covenant is not stated, it may well be a relatively short period.
It would seem logical that some significant things need to be developing in the lead up to the tribulation. Firstly, the emerging leader, who will come from the old Roman Empire (Dan. 7:23-25; 9:26), needs to be ‘groomed and ready’ (spiritually and politically) and in a position where he can make a covenant with Israel with the authority to back it up. His specific identity as the antichrist, however, may not be clearly revealed until after the rapture (2 Thess. 2:3). In the early part of the tribulation, it is prophesied that he will, “subdue three kings,” and form a new kingdom, a confederation with seven other leaders (Dan. 7:24; 3:41-43). We believe him to be the one foretold in Rev 6:2, riding a white horse, having a bow in his hand, having been given a crown and then going out conquering and to conquer. Do we see any current leader with the right prerequisites emerging from the shadows right at this point? Not that we are aware of!
There are other considerations as well. While some of the conditions necessary for the commencement of the Tribulation period may be in place already, (with more probably emerging in the current world crisis), Jesus told His disciples specifically what to look for. In Matt 24, when Jesus was asked, “when will these things be?” (v 3), He listed several things to look out for which would indicate the commencement of the tribulation:
• It will be a time of deception (v4)
• Many will come in His name claiming to be the Christ (v5)
• There will be wars and rumours of wars (v6) • Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom (v7)
• There will be famines, pestilences (widespread and deadly plagues or diseases) and earthquakes in various places (v7)
Now, notice the wording in v8: “ALL THESE are the beginning of sorrows (birth pangs).” So, in keeping with Jesus’ Words, the things Jesus referred to here are given as a cluster (pardon the pun). While pestilence is ONE of the SIGNS of the end of the age, and that is basically what we have with COVID 19, we do not have ALL the other conditions existing at the same time. And while we may be ‘sick to death’ of COVID reporting and all the unsettling effects which accompany the virus, there have been many other pandemics in times past, some of which were much larger and more devastating than the one we are experiencing today. Witness:
• In 2009-10, Swine Flu claimed 500,000 lives
• HIV/Aids from 1981-2020 claimed 36 MILLION lives
• Spanish Flu in 1918-1920 claimed 50 MILLION lives
• …and if we went back to 1346-1353, the BLACK PLAGUE claimed an estimated 135 MILLION lives.
So, are we there yet? Are ALL these signs evident together right now? No! We are NOT there yet! Nevertheless, we must be aware that there are many things happening in our world today which could be ‘part of the preparation’ for the prophecies of the End Times to come to pass.
Here are some of them.
• COVID has increased the momentum towards a cashless society. While there has been a gradual move in this direction across the world for several decades, its pace has quickened, ‘in order to keep us safe from viral contact.’ It will not be long before people, all over the world, will only have a card or a chip to access their funds. These cards / chips and the like, are all authorised electronically and, without cash, the one who controls the authorisations can control our ability to buy and sell (cf. Rev. 13:16-17)
• COVID has ‘allowed’ governments, all over the world, to exercise unprecedented controls under the heading of ‘health orders’ or lockdowns. Most of us have never experienced such tight government controls before and, while it has been ‘necessary to prevent the spread of the virus,’ it shows how quickly our liberties can, lawfully, be taken away (cf. Rev. 13:5-7).
• There are a number of issues that some leaders claim are too important and difficult for individual governments to handle – climate change, terrorism, poverty, international crime, health crises – and some have proposed a ‘world government’ to deal with these matters. (In June, 2017, Pope Francis called for a “new global political authority” to deal with the problems of humanity). With the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, there was an immediate call from former UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, for world leaders to create a temporary form of global government to tackle the medical and economic crises that would be caused by the pandemic. There is good evidence that the concept of a ‘World Government’ is not very far from the thoughts and philosophies of some of today’s leaders. (cf. Rev. 13:7, 15-17)
• ‘The rebellion’ spoken of in 2 Thess. 2:3 may well be the culmination of events we are already seeing in our time. Paul wrote that a specific time of apostasy would come (‘the falling away’) before the revelation of ‘the man of sin’ (the Antichrist; 2 Thess 2:3-4). We can get some indication what this time may look like in 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim 3:1-5 and 2 Tim. 4:1-4. While these characteristics indicate ‘falling way,’ in a more general sense, ‘the falling away’ (apparently a specific event or occurrence) will usher in an even more ungodly time, culminating, in the 2nd half of the tribulation, with open satanic worship and brazen blasphemy against God (cf. Rev. 13:4-8). Paul was so concerned that this would be a ‘curtain-raiser’ to reveal antichrist that he warned his readers to, “Let no one deceive you by any means.”
Around the world, right now, many liberal Christians and those who have turned away from the God of their forefathers, are actively embracing behaviours and philosophies which ignore God completely and are just astounding in their lack of moral fibre!
• While Russia, Turkey and Iran do not have a formal alliance, they have shown an increasing desire to cooperate for mutual-defence and to work as a counter to the USA. We should not over-interpret this cooperation right now, but we know prophetically, that a time will come in which Israel will be the target of their joint hostilities. (Ezek. 38, especially vv 14-23)
• Technology to track and trace almost every person on the planet is already in use through phone usage, facial recognition cameras, CCTV and ‘lawful’ requirements to register one’s whereabouts. In July 2018, it was announced that stadiums in Qld were to get facial-recognition technology (which can identify an individual face from 1 km away) to, “make our sporting venues secure and safe”. This type of technology is already widely in use in almost every developed country in the world. And while our current need to use QR codes to allow contact tracers to find those who may be exposed to COVID virus may be understandable, this same technology could potentially be used for less noble purposes within a short period of time.
• Robots and machines are being built, right now, with the capacity to decimate opposing forces with great efficiency using artificial intelligence (AI). They can even be programmed to search out and identify enemies and then take (destroying) action without reference to their human controllers. Such machines have no conscience or emotion to temper their actions. And with the rise of Communist China over the past decade or so, there is now a concerning new arms race with the USA to develop the most efficient and deadly AI weapons. Wars of the future will be devastating and beyond anything man has ever known. (cf. Rev. 6:4,8). These examples are concerning and, arguably, they can be seen as a prelude to the prophetic future. While we do not know when ‘the tribulation’ will commence, even now, God may be gradually setting the stage for its arrival. God told us in His Word that it will come, so it WILL come! But we’re not there yet!
Right now, life for many is confusing, uncertain, troubling and scary. Even non-Christians are wondering what is happening.
Right now, life for many is confusing, uncertain, troubling and scary. Even non-Christians are wondering what is happening. One blog-site (Your Life Choices) wrote, “It is hard to escape the feeling that the end of the world is coming. There are increasingly extreme weather events caused by climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of passing… The authors of a study are taking the threat so seriously, they have compiled a list of the countries most likely to survive the collapse of civilisation…” So, we are not alone in our concerns or fears, and in light of all these things, what should be our Christian response?
Three things are important here:
1. We must not be consumed either by what we see happening around us or by our own thoughts and suspicions concerning the motives or actions of others. Be aware, but not consumed! We belong to God! He is our strength and shield! His Word alone should be our guide to truth and meaning for these times, not social media or the internet. Confusion comes from Satan but stability and peace come from faith in Almighty God. He has promised to NEVER leave or abandon us!
2. We must get our eyes firmly fixed on the Lord, prayerfully trusting Him through every detail. The Bible tells us what we are to do, and what God will do, in all our difficult situations.
• Proverbs 3:5-6 “ Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
• Philippians 4:6-8 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
• Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
3. We are called to be salt and light, especially in a time like this, and to testify of our faith in Christ. We need to help people around us see the Lord’s peace in our own lives and that He alone can meet the deepest needs and fears of life for them too. Some have suggested God is using this pandemic to shake the world and cause people to seek Him. We need to be ready to share a word in season and be His witnesses to a lost and needy world.
So, are we there yet? Not yet… but the time of “the Tribulation” is coming, perhaps soon. Let’s lift our eyes to God and trust the One who is ultimately in control, no matter what stands before us!