I recently had the privilege of speaking at Wall Highway Baptist Church in Madison, Alabama about preparing to stand firm in the days leading up to the return of Christ. A number of questions were sent to me in response to the message. I answered a few in my last blog post, here’s a few more.
Someone asked whether or not the United States was mentioned in the Bible in regard to the last days. There really is no definite reference to the US in Scripture, or specifically Bible prophecy. Ezekiel 38:13 has a subtle mention of what appears to be the colonies of Great Britain, which obviously could be a small reference to the US: “Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?” The word “villages” literally means lion cubs. With a little imagination, you could say that Tarshish refers to Great Britain and the lion cubs are all of the British colonies. I think this is a bit of a stretch. Others have tried to use various passages to refer to the US, but the bottom line is that the United States does not seem to find a place in Bible prophecy. I believe that is because the United States will be of little consequence in the world by the time the Tribulation Period starts. It pains me to say that, but there really is not another explanation. It could happen through economic failure or terrorist attack. It could happen through a merging of nations (there has been talk of merging the countries of North America into one nation). Regardless of the reason, the Bible does not specifically mention the US in prophecy.
Someone else asked, “If all these things (deception, falling away, etc) are supposed to happen, how then should we pray?” In my book. Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days, I describe the various pieces of spiritual armor and their connection to things that will be happening in the last days. Prayer is a vital part of putting each piece of armor in place. I encourage people to take each principle represented by the armor (truth, righteousness, salvation, peace, faith, hearing the Word of God) and pray over that principle. For example, you could say, “Lord, thank you for your truth that is sharper than a two-edged sword. As I go through my day today, please allow your truth to open up my heart and my mind so I can see myself as you see me. Penetrate even to the dividing soul and spirit as you help me discern my motives and actions today. Help me to act on the truth and apply the truth. As I am confronted with the lies of the evil one today, help me to stand firm on the truth of your word. Please protect me from deception, and help me to proclaim your truth today through my actions and my words.”
I think we should also pray for the church today because the church is under great attack. The spiritual battle will affect churches, pastors, and missionaries. Pray for God’s protection and strength. Also pray for our children. Satan wants our children, and we must fight for their souls and their hearts. Pray that God will prepare us for difficult days that will include economic struggle, persecution, and heartache. Ask God to help us be prepared for the unparalleled opportunities we will face as His return draws near. We must be sharing our faith and proclaiming the good news.
Someone else asked, “How would it change your approach if rapture involved evil leaving and us ruling on earth?” The Bible does say that we will reign with Jesus during the Millennial reign of Christ, but it also says that God’s wrath will be poured out on the earth before that time. I do not believe this will happen just because God is angry. I believe it is in part because God is offering one final opportunity for salvation for those who are unbelievers. Some people believe that things will continue to get better and better, and we will be ushered into the Millennial Reign, but I do not believe the Bible teaches that, and our experience certainly discounts that. I do not believe we can watch hundreds of Christians being murdered by ISIS and think that things are getting better. I could sit and imagine how my approach would be different, but I believe the Bible does not indicate that evil will be raptured. 1 Thess 4:16-18 is very clear that Christians will be raptured.
Someone asked if I think the Antichrist is alive today. I believe the rapture could happen in my lifetime, and if it does, then the Antichrist would be alive today. He may be a little boy being raised in some Arabic community, or he might be a young man serving in some minor political office. It is only conjecture because we do not know when Christ will return. If you believe in an imminent return of Jesus, then you would have to believe the Antichrist is alive. I think the rapture could be any day. I think things are going to have to get worse before the Tribulation Period begins, but this could happen quickly. I do believe the Antichrist could be alive today.