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The Next Big Thing
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The Next Big Thing

The Bible has many prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled. These matters will be covered in future topics in this section. This topic is an abridged introduction to the greater topic of the End of Days, identifying which of those prophecies could happen first, what to look for as they begin to happen, and what can be done to prepare for them.

A Sea of Prophecies

Part of the difficulty in understanding end-time prophecy is not that the Bible gives us insufficient information, but that it gives us a lot of it. So much in fact, that attempting to reconcile all prophesied events into a combined narrative has proven to be difficult, and Christian scholars who have attempted it have produced varied chronologies.

But the most urgent concern for us is what comes next, that is, what is the most imminent prophesied event to watch for and prepare for. This topic identifies three events in Bible end-time prophecy that could happen first –
  • The event commonly called The Rapture, that is, Jesus returns to take those looking for him to heaven, as described by Jesus and Paul.
  • The Gog and Magog prophecy of Ezekiel.
  • The Conqueror (White Horseman) of Revelation.

There is a lot more scripture concerning these events than presented here. What follows is the abridged version.

The Great Taking

The Rapture is theological lingo for an event where Christ gathers his followers to himself, for a brief stay in heaven, to escape the coming judgment on the world.
In my Father's house are many mansions: if not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, you may be also. [Jn 14:2-3]
Jesus uses the analogy of a bridegroom gathering the wedding party in a Galilean wedding to illustrate the suddenness of this event, where though expected and eagerly looked forward to, the exact timing of its occurrence is not known. Notably, the members of the wedding party must prepare for the event, not merely wait for it, or they will miss out.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, “Look, the bridegroom comes. Go out to meet him”. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are gone out”. But the wise answered, saying, “Not so, in case there is not enough for both us and you, but instead, go to them that sell, and buy for yourselves”.

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut. Afterward, the other virgins came, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us”. But he answered and said, “Truly I say unto you, I know you not”. [Mt 25:1-12 KKV]
Paul describes it as a transformation, where Jesus’ followers who are alive at that time are transformed into immortal beings at once.
See, I reveal to you a mystery - we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trump - for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [1Co 15:51-52 KKV]

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so also those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. [1Th 4:13-18 KKV]
In modern parlance, the term rapture has extra-biblical connotations. A apt title for this event is The Great Taking.

What To Watch For

There are numerous prophesied events associated with the general time-frame of the Great Taking, such as -.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. [Mt 24:7-8; KKV]

But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write unto you. For you, yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, “Peace and safety”, then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. [1Th 5:1-3 KKV]
However, only one event is explicitly stated as the Great Taking’s immediate predecessor.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come. [Mt 24:14 KKV]

How To Prepare

Jesus warns us to both watch and prepare for his coming. Otherwise, we will miss it.
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with overeating, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so unaware, that day comes upon you. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. [Lu 21:34-36 KKV]

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and yourselves like men who wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he comes and knocks, they may open unto him immediately. [Lu 12:35-36].

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of man comes. [Mt 25:13 KKV].
Paul follows this up.
But you, brothers, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night, and they who are drunk are drunk in the night.

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also you do. [1Th 5:4-11]

Why This Event Could Be Next

The Gospel is close to being published in the entire world. There remain governments that prohibit it, although underground efforts reach the people in those countries. The status of the world-wide reach of the gospel is the one event to monitor as indicative of the imminence of the Great Taking.

Gog and Magog

Ezekiel’s prophecy concerns a person named Gog, who will lead a coalition of nations in a war against Israel, sometime after the state of Israel is reestablished, and in a time when Israel appears to be at peace with its immediate neighbors. This won’t be a conventional war. God himself intervenes with strategic weapons of his own.

Key portions of the text of Ezekiel 38-39 are quoted here.
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set your face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say -

Thus says the Lord GOD - Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you back, put hooks into your jaws, and bring you forth, and all your army - horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armor, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords.

Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them - all of them with shield and helmet. Gomer, and all his bands, the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands, and many people with you. [Ez 38:1-6 KKV]

You shall come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land. It shall occur in the latter days, and I will bring you against my land, that the nations may know me, when I shall be sanctified in you, O Gog, before their eyes.
Thus says the Lord GOD –
Are you he of whom I have spoken in old times by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days, that after many years that I would bring you against them?

And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, says the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face. For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken. Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel, such that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.

And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD, every man's sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.

Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD. [Ez 38:16-23 KKV]
Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say –
Thus says the Lord GOD - See, I am against you, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; and I will turn you back, and leave but one sixth of you, and will cause you to come up from the north parts, and will bring you upon the mountains of Israel.

I will smite your bow out of your left hand, and will cause your arrows to fall out of your right hand. You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your bands, and the people that are with you. I will give you to the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. You shall fall upon the open field. For I have spoken it, says the Lord GOD.

And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the coast lands; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them profane my holy name any more. The nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel. Behold, it is come, and it is done, says the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken. [Ez 39:1-8, KKV]

And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward. [Ez 39:21-22 KKV]

What To Watch For

An alliance among the states mentioned in the coalition that comes against Israel. These are –
  • Magog, Meshech, Gomer and Tubal – all grandsons of Noah, and sons of Japheth, so a significant number of Caucasians descended from them. Josephus identified them as the Scythians, Cappadocians, Anatolian Gauls, and Caucasian Iberians. Territorially, this would be modern Turkey, the Caucasus and southern Russia; ethnically, it could extend to include Celts, Germans, and Slavs, depending on which historical commentators you accept as most persuasive.
  • Persia – Iran
  • Ethiopia
  • Libya – actually Phut, translated as Libya in the KJV, which could be any North African states west of Egypt.

Note the absence of Israel’s immediate neighbors Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria; Jordan is indirectly mentioned as the place of casualties for Gog’s armies. Saudi Arabia (Sheba and Dedan) and Atlantic or Mediterranean mercantile powers [the prophesy refers to the merchants of Tarshish, a descendant colony of the Phoenicians; its historic location is uncertain, but candidates include Sardinia, or somewhere near modern Cadiz, Spain.] are mentioned as a non-participants, but objecting to the invasion.

How To Prepare

No direction for preparation is given. The narrative indicates that the attack will be a surprise to Israel, who will feel safe at the time. Also, the terminology “hooks into your jaws” would seem to indicate that the aggressors will deem themselves compelled to invade, perhaps prematurely or in conflict with whatever regional strategic plans they may have had.

Why This Event Could Be Next

Ezekiel’s final prophecies appear to be given in chronological order of fulfillment. Ezekiel chapter 37 deals with the restoration of Israel in the end times, which has already happened. Ezekiel chapters 40-47 deal with the rebuilt temple which has not happened yet. So looking at the Ezekiel prophecies alone, the Gog/Magog event could happen at any time.

The White Horseman

The end-time prophetic narrative beginning in Revelation chapter 6 is presented in four sequences of seven events, implying a chronological occurrence of each event as presented in the book. The narrative of each of the seven events has both spiritual and physical components, that is, it describes a spiritual appearance of an event from the prophet’s perspective in heaven, then its physical manifestations on earth. The first sequence is the opening of seven seals of a scroll by Jesus in heaven.

Traditionally, the first four seal events are called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first of these is a rider on a White Horse. However, the narrative describes all four as being somewhat concurrent, in that even though revealed sequentially, they apparently operate collectively in effecting one quarter of the Earth.
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four living creatures saying, “Come and see.” And I saw, and look - a white horse! And he that sat on him had a bow, and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come and see.” And there went out another horse that was red; and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another. And there was given unto him a great sword.
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” And I looked, and saw a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures say, “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see you don’t damage the oil and the wine.”
And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, ”Come and see.” And I looked, and saw a pale horse; and the name of him that sat on it was Death, and Hell followed with him.
And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the wild animals of the earth. [Re 6:1-8 KKV]
The first in the sequence is the rider of the White Horse, described as a conqueror. Some biblical exegetists associate this rider with an evil man called the Antichrist, described in several prophecies [Da 8:23-25, 2Th 2:3-4, 1Jn 2:18, Re 13:1-8].

What To Watch For

The clear indicator is to look for a conqueror to appear in proximity to the Middle East. The conclusion that he will appear near the Middle East will be supported in a more detailed study later.

How To Prepare

There is no direct instruction in the scripture to prepare for this event. If you link other biblical prophecies to this event, then any of their instructions for preparation would apply.

Why This Event Could Be Next

As mentioned earlier, an interpretation of the White Horse rider is that he is the Antichrist, or “man of sin” that takes stage more significantly later in the Revelation prophecy [Re 13]. Paul followed up his description of the Great Taking, cited above, to the Thessalonians in a follow-up letter.
Now we implore you, brothers, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Let no man deceive you by any means - for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, presenting himself as if he were God. [2Th 2:1-4 KKV
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