The following are the most frequently asked questions and our responses. Please review the website for additional information, and/or feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions.
What is the Rapture?
Many Christians believe that either before or during the Great Tribulation, and particularly prior to the time that the bowls of God’s wrath are poured out on the Earth, as described in Revelation 16, Jesus Christ will come and gather to Himself all those who believe in Him, including those that have already died. This event has been described as the Rapture. Belief in the Rapture is based on a number of passages in the Bible, most notably 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, wherein it is written that “... the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel's voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord.” Please check our Scriptural Support for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture post to learn more.
What is the Great Tribulation?
The Bible makes clear, such as in Isaiah 24:1-13 & 19-20, and later detailed in Revelation 6, 8, 9, 11 & 16 that God has a plan at some future time to judge and desolate the Earth. Many refer to this period as the Great Tribulation period. Regarding that time Jesus said, “[f]or then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will again” (Matthew 24:21). It is this very statement of Jesus from which we get the term “Great Tribulation.” Please check our blog entry regarding the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord at our Resources Page to learn more.
When will the Rapture occur?
The Bible does not give a specific date or time for the Rapture, but it does give some signs that indicate that the Rapture is near. For example, Jesus said: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (suggesting that the end will come AFTER the Gospel has been preached in the whole world) (Matthew 24:14). Thus, by examining whether the Gospel has been preached to the whole world, we can know if we are close to the time of the end--which is when the Rapture will occur. See the Signs of the Last Days post for more detail regarding the prophesied events that occur during the end times.
There are a couple of passages of Scripture, in this regard, documenting a notable statement of Jesus: “But about that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). However, the use of “that day” in Scripture typically refers to the day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation (see Zephaniah 1:14-18, Isaiah 13:9-11, Acts 2:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10), so it’s not clear that Jesus was talking about the Rapture; He may indeed have been referring to His Second Coming or immediately preceding “Day of the Lord.” Yet, as noted above, we can always look for the Signs of the Last Days as indicating the approaching Day of the Lord, because many consider the Rapture to precede the time of the Great Tribulation. Please check our Scriptural Support for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture post to learn more. Further Jesus told us to be on the alert: “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come" (Mark 13:33). Thus, Jesus encourages to be ready and watchful.
It is also notable, in this regard, that the Magi compared the signs in the heavens to the prophecy of Scripture to determine that Jesus had arrived in Israel (see Matthew 2:1-12). Their reward was that they actually found and were able to give gifts to Jesus (Matthew 2:11). Thus, like the Magi, we can look at the prophetic signs and see if we can better understand the time at which we will be able to see Jesus in the Rapture.
What does the rebuilding of a third temple in Israel have to do with Bible prophecy?
The Old Testament prophet, Daniel, recorded that, while he was praying for the people of Israel and Judah and the City of Jerusalem, the angel, Gabriel, who Daniel had seen in an earlier vision, re-appeared to him to tell him that Gabriel was commanded to give Daniel special insight (see Daniel 9:1-23). The sum of the prophecy is provided in verses 24-27:
“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the wrongdoing, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. So you are to know and understand that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until Messiah the Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with streets and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks, the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will confirm a covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come the one who makes desolate, until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, gushes forth on the one who makes desolate.”
From Gabriel’s declaration, we apprehend the following:
1. 70 periods of 7 years each—for a total of 490 years have been specifically decreed by God for the people of Israel and Judah and for the City of Jerusalem.
2. An initial period constituting 69 periods of 7 years, for a total of 483 years, would elapse “from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until Messiah the Prince ….”
3. After the initial 483-year period, “the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing” and a group of people “will destroy the city and the sanctuary.”
4. Someone (who we understand to be “the prince who is to come," i.e., the antichrist) "will confirm a covenant with the many” (who we understand to be the people of Israel and Judah) for 1 period of 7 (i.e., years), but halfway into the 7-year period, he will “put a stop to the sacrifice and grain offering” and desolate or desecrate the temple—which will impose severe judgment on him. (See a parallel in the actions of the Babylonian King Belshazzar in Daniel 5.)
Studying the Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy, particularly in relation to historical events and other Bible prophecies, Bible students and scholars have since determined and considered the following:
A. From the issuance of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (one week before he died on the cross), exactly 173,880 days (or 483 prophetic, i.e., 360-day years) elapsed (consistent with the timeline noted in the Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy).
B. Of course, after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he was nailed to and died on a cross and was buried, resurrected and ascended into heaven (i.e., such that Messiah was “cut off” and had nothing--consistent with the Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy). Thus, this initial period of 483 years pertaining to the people of Israel and Judah, and the City of Jerusalem has been fulfilled.
C. In Matthew 24:15 and 21, Jesus warned his disciples about the future abomination of the temple: “… when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place—let the reader understand—then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains … For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will again.” We understand the “holy place” to be a portion of the temple.
D. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, the Apostle Paul provides a further warning-laden description about the coming evil antichrist: “man of lawlessness …, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” Here again, Paul observes that the “son of destruction” will desecrate the temple, “displaying himself as being God.”
Thus, from the collection of these Scriptures and historical events, we see that the evil person to come (i.e., the antichrist) will defile and desecrate the temple. In order for the antichrist to do such, the temple must be in place. From this consideration, we develop the understanding that a third temple will be rebuilt by the people of Israel, and its rebuilding may, in fact, be a part of a covenant between the antichrist and the people of Israel.
See the 37 Facts about the Coming Antichrist post for more information. See also “Calculations and Considerations Regarding the Prophecy Given to Daniel by Gabriel” for a more extensive analysis of the calculations.
How will the Gospel change during the Tribulation?
The Gospel Now
Presently, by believing in Jesus Christ, and what He has done, people can be forgiven of their sins and inherit eternal life with God; this is salvation, and we receive it by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). In this regard, Jesus said that “God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not judged, but anyone who does not believe is already judged, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God” (John 3:16-18). It is also written that “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
The Gospel During the Tribulation
As noted above, a period of great tribulation is coming. Regarding that time Jesus said, “[f]or then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will again” (Matthew 24:21).
The Bible indicates that during this Great Tribulation period, additional requirements must be added to a person’s faith in order to obtain salvation. Indeed, Jesus said, “[b]ut the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:13-14).
Rejection of the Mark of the Beast and Refusal to Worship the Antichrist
The endurance described by Jesus is further explained by reference to detail provided in the prophetic book of Revelation wherein John writes, “[t]hen another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb’” (Revelation 14:9-10). From this passage in Revelation, we know that during the Great Tribulation period, a person must, in addition to faith in Jesus, (a) refuse to worship the antichrist beast or his image, and (b) reject the mark of the antichrist kingdom (also known as the “mark of the beast”) that is mandated to be affixed to the right hand or forehead of all persons. The mark of the beast appears to be some form of identification with the religious, economic and/or social system promoted by the antichrist.
Consequences for Rejection of the Mark of the Beast and Refusal to Worship the Antichrist
The rejection of the mark of the beast will indeed constitute endurance, because the proposed mark will be required to participate in commerce. As Revelation 13:16-18 indicates, the antichrist administration will cause “all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, and he decrees that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.” (See also Revelation 14:9-11, 15:2, 16:2, 20:4; Revelation 9:4.) Therefore, people who desire to be saved and inherit the Kingdom of God during the time of the Great Tribulation will, if they reject the mark and refuse to worship the antichrist and his kingdom, be unable to purchase food and water, to travel, to have a bank account, and otherwise engage in many of the simple activities of life that are needed to live. Moreover, these saints will be hunted down by the antichrist for their insolence against his kingdom, and they will be imprisoned and martyred. As John writes about the antichrist in this regard: “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority was given to him over every tribe, people, language, and nation. All who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slaughtered. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints” (Revelation 13:7-10).
Thus, the Gospel will change significantly during the period of the Great Tribulation, and we want to help get the message of salvation out to the world.
See our Letter to the Saints of the Time of the Great Tribulation on our Resources page to learn more.
Is the United States significant in Bible prophecy?
Possibly. It is certainly not involved as an ally or adversary of the antichrist’s kingdom in its final battles. Perhaps the most telling indication as to this consideration is the fact that Daniel 11:36-45 details the military activities of the coming antichrist (see the 37 Facts Regarding the Coming Antichrist post for more information), and the details suggest that he conducts battles in the Middle East around Israel, and his opponents are nations to the North (perhaps including Turkey or Russia), nations from the East (perhaps including China) with Jordan specifically listed as escaping conquest by the antichrist and nations from the South (specifically including Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia). The absence of any military involvement by nations from the West (i.e., likely including the United States) suggests that the United States may no longer exist at that time. Notably in this regard, as the 4th Seal is broken, 1/4 of the Earth’s inhabitants are killed by war, famine, plague and animal attacks; in addition, at the sounding of the 6th Trumpet, 1/3 of mankind is destroyed; of course, many people will also perish as a consequence of the remaining seals being broken, trumpets being sounded and bowls of wrath being poured out. (See The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord post for more information.) Assuming that the United States is even a nation at the time of the Great Tribulation, a significant portion of the population of the United States could be a victim of these judgments—rendering the nation relatively insignificant relative to the antichrist’s kingdom.
Another interesting possibility in this regard has been proposed by a number of scholars, particularly including Dr. Stephen Anderson in his recent article: The case for identifying Babylon the Great with the United States of America. Dr. Anderson suggests, quite convincingly, that the United States may well be the mystery identified as Babylon in Revelation 14:8-9 and 17:1-19:4. If such were true, then the attack by the antichrist kingdom against Babylon, as recorded in Revelation 17:16-18, would explain why the antichrist kingdom faces no particular trials from any nations to the West.
It is fair to say that for people living during the time of the Great Tribulation, national identity will not likely be the greatest concern. People will be struggling to survive during that time. (See The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord post for more information.)