Only the Father knows the time when Christ will return (Mark 13:32). But Jesus said we were to watch for His coming that could be at any time.
Jesus gave His Jewish disciples signs of His coming to reign and indicated it would be “immediately after the tribulation of those days” (Matthew 24:29). He indicated this at the conclusion of the Olivet Discourse in which He answered the disciples question:
Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world (age)?
The “end of the age” is the time immediately preceding the coming of the Lord so the Disciples wanted to know how the age would finish in order to be ready for the Lord’s return.
The Lord’s answer was a detailed description of the 70th “week” of Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:27); a seven year period after which Israel and Jerusalem would be blessed in the Kingdom of Christ. That seven-year period will be the great Tribulation and Jesus divided it into two parts; the first half He described as “the beginning of sorrows (travail)” in which the “Gospel of the kingdom” would be preached by Jews worldwide (Matthew 24:8) and the second half He described as “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21).
At the mid-point of the 7 years Jesus indicated that Antichrist would set up his idol image in the Jewish Temple and would begin to persecute the Jews (Matthew 24:15).
We know that the Tribulation is a period of 7 years or two periods of 1,260 days but what we do not know is, when the 7 years of Tribulation will begin. Something must trigger the 7-year Tribulation. Without knowing when the Tribulation begins we can have no idea of when the Lord will return to reign as King of kings. That is why Jesus said that no man knows the day or hour of His return.
It is the event that triggers the Tribulation that is the mystery, known only to the Father.
The prophet Daniel indicated that the last 7 years of Israel’s history before the nation is blessed in the Kingdom will begin when a Roman prince “shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (seven)”. Is this the trigger that sets the prophetic clock ticking? If it is then surely Jesus would know when it will occur. What is clear is that there is only 7 years of Israel’s prophetic history left to run before the nation enjoys “everlasting righteousness” and the “vision and prophecy” is sealed up.
The return of Christ is therefore linked to a restoration of Israel’s relationship with God and this awaits a prophetic trigger known only to the Father; a trigger whose timing is unknown to the Lord Jesus. What could that trigger be?
If we look back in Israel’s history we will see that the nation was put aside when she rejected her King. Sixtynine sevens of years had run its course and fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel (Daniel 9:26) when Messiah the Prince presented Himself to the nation on Palm Sunday. He was “cut off” shortly afterward and the nation was put aside as God’s representative people. The nation was “blinded”; scattered, and “led away captive into all nations”. Israel, God’s olive tree, was stripped of her branches and the Gentiles, a “wild olive branch” was grafted into their place.
For 2,000 years God has been working through the Gentile Church to make the way of salvation known to the world but the last 7 years before Christ returns Israel must again be God’s witness on earth and the Church must cease to be God’s witness at the same time as a Roman prince makes a 7-year covenant with Israel. In that moment the Church, the bride of Christ, must no longer represent Christ on earth. How can this be?
The Church of Jesus Christ is global. There are believers in every land yet their testimony must terminate at the same moment that a 7 year covenant with a Roman prince restarts Israel’s relationship with God.
Two things must happen at the same time. The Church must be removed and be relieved of her responsibility to witness on earth and there must be a turning to Christ by Jews.
There is only one way for this to happen. The Church must be suddenly removed. She must be caught up to her heavenly Bridegroom and that sudden disappearance when “one shall be taken and the other left”, together with the signing of a seven-year covenant with the revived Roman Empire, will be the secret sign to Jews around the world that her last seven years has begun before Messiah returns in glory and power to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.
This must be the event that triggers the last seven years of Israel’s history before Messiah returns! Instantly many Jews will recognize the sign of “missing persons” together with the signing of a covenant with the Roman prince for 7 years, and there will be 144,000 Jews who will call on the Lord Jesus and begin to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in all the world. Immediately they will be persecuted by Jews and Gentiles just as Jesus said they would in Matthew chapter 10:16-23 and after 1,260 days all will have laid down their lives for Christ and be found rejoicing around the throne in heaven (Revelation 14:1-5).
So what is the trigger that sets Israel’s prophetic clock ticking? What is it that Jesus is not aware of and is only known to the Father? It can be nothing other than the removal of the Bride of Christ for the marriage of the Lamb in heaven; the rapture of the Church!
For 2,000 years souls have turned to Christ for salvation and have been espoused to one husband, even Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2). The heavenly bridegroom has been preparing the mansions in heaven for His bride and He has been waiting for the Father to say, “Go and get your Bride!” (John 14:1-3). Only the Father knows when that will be. A door will open in heaven and the Lord will bring those in Christ who have died. The redeemed on earth will be caught up together with them in resurrection power to meet the Lord in the air!
This is the trigger that will set Israel’s prophetic clock ticking again and the countdown will begin to the moment when the Lord Jesus will come with all His saints to establish His kingdom on earth for 1,000 years.
All of the prophesied events will be set in motion and will become a reality from that glorious moment:
- The 144,000 Jewish men will begin to globally preach the Gospel of the Kingdom
- The Temple will be rebuilt and sacrifices restored
- Russia will join with Islam to invade the land and Israel will cry out to the Lord. A nation shall be born in a day! Only one third will survive in the land.
- After 1,260 days of terrorism, wars, bushfires, drought, pestilence, earthquakes, an asteroid strike, one third of the seas made impassable, and famine, the world will be prepared to receive the Man of sin who will take over global government.
- At the conclusion of the 1,260 days the Antichrist will move into the Temple at Jerusalem, will proclaim himself to be God and will seek to destroy God’s redeemed people – but God will protect them.
- For the final 42 months the Beast will persecute Israel and gather all nations to finally wipe them off the face of the earth but Christ will come and rescue His people Israel. He will judge the Beast and all who follow him. Christ will set up the throne of His glory and the saved of all nations who stood with His people Israel during the Tribulation will inherit the kingdom while those who joined with the Beast to oppose God’s people will go into everlasting fire
All these prophesied events are triggered by the Departure of the Church at the Rapture. None can occur before the Rapture!