If for example Phil’s best guess is fairly accurate and that the Rapture happens in 5 years time, does that mean that the whole world would have heard the gospel as this is one of the things that need to happen before Christ returns or could that be fulfilled after the Rapture in the last 3 1/2 years before he returns to rule for a thousand years?
You have probably preached on this before but I don’t remember your answer. (See Time of Rapture)
This follows from a previous post called Time of Rapture. It’s probably easier to grasp this post if you have read the previous one. Please note the dates at which they were written. Follow the link above to see the earlier post.
Just before I try an answer, remember that I’m not saying there ARE only 5 years to the Rapture, just that 5 years seems to be the MINIMUM time possible from now. The maximum time is unguessable – even by me!
If you check out Revelation Ch 11 v 3 and following verses, you will find that two “witnesses” are due to be on earth for three and a half years.
I think (Phil’s best guess!) that this is the last 3 1/2 years of the seven year Tribulation period, and that these two witnesses arrive on earth after the Rapture of the Church (which, in this view, happens after the first 3 1/2 years – called “Mid-Trib Rapture”).
(Their job is to replace the witness of the church upon the earth – seeing as all the Christians have gone, God would have nobody to witness for him upon the whole earth otherwise.)
The passage makes it plain that everyone on earth will know about them (see Rev 11 v 9 – from every people, tribe, language and nation – fairly comprehensive!).
At the end of their 3 1/2 years they are killed, then resurrected and taken up to heaven.
Very soon after this Jesus returns with all God’s people, routs the Antichrist’s forces (himself, not us – we don’t fight) then he goes from the Mount of Olives through the newly opened Golden Gate in the centre of the Eastern Wall of Jerusalem.
This opens straight onto the Temple Mount, so we follow him in to the newly-built temple where he takes his throne and deploys us to rule the world for the next millennium.
The work of the witnesses fulfills Jesus’s prophecy that the whole world will hear the Gospel before the “End” comes.
Of course, the traditional understanding of those words has been that the church will eventually send out enough missionaries so that every “people, tribe, language and nation” will hear the Gospel before any part of the End-Times come upon us, and this fuelled the Missionary expansions of the 1800s and 1900s. This certainly was not wrong, but it may not of itself be the whole truth.
Similarly, the Gospel is right now available on the internet in almost every language, to almost every people group – very few left who don’t have access to the internet. The explosion of info technology has made it possible to preach the Gospel all over the world without leaving home. Was this what Jesus meant? Well, possibly yes, but again it may not be the whole fulfillment by itself.
For me, the two witnesses are the final fulfillment of this prophecy, with the Missionary work and the InfoTech Gospel spread being preparatory signs of their work.