Scripture spends a considerable amount of time describing the events that will unfold immediately prior to the Day of the Lord – perhaps three to four years before the Tribulation. Is it possible that we are living in this period now? If not, how distant might it be? And what conditions may prevail during this volatile phase?
Two or three decades ago, those students of Bible prophecy dedicated to the pretribulational prophetic model were quite reluctant to say that we could identify present events as fulfilled prophecy. They readily agreed that we were near the end of the Church Age, but were reluctant to admit that we could identify unfolding events as connected with any particular time.
They were willing to concede that the prophetic stage had been set: Israel was back in the Land; global financial power was being concentrated in the hands of a few oligarchs; social restraints were collapsing; superweapons were falling into the hands of power-crazed rebels, dedicated to the annihilation of Israel and the United States. But they wouldn’t say that prophecy, in plain terms, was being presently fulfilled.
Today, that has all changed. While some are still reluctant, many leading prophecy teachers are quick to say that Bible prophecy is unfolding before our eyes. Israel, the Middle East and the global economy are shaping up in precisely the way the ancient prophets and apostles said they would. Naturally, our tendency is to urge things along so that the promised return of the Lord will come sooner. But watching requires restraint and self-discipline.
In this era of increasing discussion (and not a little argument) about the timing of the rapture, we are faced with the challenge of placing certain events in some sort of chronological order. Some apparently think that events will fall into place virtually overnight.
In Christian dialogue, there is a tendency to overlook the logistics that are naturally involved in the orderly development of events. Time is required for socioeconomic, military and political realities to come to fulfillment.
As we look ahead, we can see a number of prophesied events that haven’t come together yet. For example, the prophesied Mideast wars haven’t happened yet. Damascus still stands. Earthquakes rumble here and there, but they haven’t yet become a worldwide phenomenon that catches the attention of the nations. The prophesied famine and pestilence are far from universal.
On the other hand, things are happening fast! We watch the world of genetics and the horrifying advances in human/animal hybridization. We observe increasing demonic visibility in the form of the modern “UFO/alien” mythology, coupled with a growing social consciousness that the fallen ones who once plagued the Earth are making themselves observable once again. Technology can now interconnect microchips with the human brain. Artificial intelligence is coming online. “Supersoldiers,” if not already in service, are perhaps within a year or two of being utilized in field exercises. Robotics are quickly approaching the level of human facility. Universal surveillance and global control of society are now conceivable realities. The Antichrist system is becoming visible as security agencies around the world multiply exponentially.
But even given the current state of affairs, there seems to be some time left before all these events coalesce into the massive formation of a world empire. The “beast” cannot rise to power in an instant.
Events require a certain passage of time. Take, for example, the rise to power of a political figure. After he is selected, he must raise money, either as cash or promised contributions. Agreements must be reached and contracts signed. All these activities must fit into a predictable flow of events. Notices go out, phone calls are made, rallies and speeches are scheduled. More money is raised as television, newspaper and radio time is purchased. More time passes until election day, which comes and goes. The candidate has won. Finally, as he is sworn in, he settles into the daily business of political office. Two or three years have passed.
The same general process is incumbent upon the rising to power of a dictatorship. He must gain initial recognition – perhaps as an elected figure – and then take power by any means possible. In the process, he must convince the general population that he is worthy of their trust. Finally, in a sweeping revolution, he exerts his will.
One day in the not-too-distant future, a rider on a white horse will go forth in a similar way. His efforts will be directed toward establishing a dictatorship, and they will require a certain amount of time. The following well-known verses seem to depict just such a process, as the office of this candidate is focused upon gathering power through conquest:
“1 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 beasts saying, Come and see. 2 And I saw, and behold 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” (Rev. 6:1,2).
This narrative is generally said to depict the rise of the Antichrist, a process that will naturally consume a fairly long period of time and a significant transfer of power (“conquering, and to conquer”). The prophet Daniel once had a vision of this time- consuming process:
“7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. 8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things” (Dan. 7:7,8).
The “coming up” of the little horn seems to require some time for achievement, and the overthrow of three others. Again, time is required … the time before the Tribulation. And his power is supernatural.
A Supernatural Overview
There is general agreement among Christians that we are either very close or actually within the brief time leading to the seven-year Tribulation … The Day of the Lord. Many expositors are in agreement that the single event that marks the beginning of this period of judgment is the signing of a covenant, mentioned in Daniel 9:27:
“27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
The Antichrist will, through “strong delusion,” as Paul terms it in Second Thessalonians 2:11, rise to power in a cloud of metaphysical strength that will seem authentic to those who watch him. He will operate counter to the message of Christ, and substitute himself in place of Christ.
But before he can do this, the delusion must be developed in the minds of those who will blindly submit to his rule.
Pay particular notice to the word, “delusion.” It tells us that those who believe in the Antichrist will wrongly interpret what they see in him. They will think it comes from God. Daniel 9:27 speaks of “abominations,” which we envision as dark conjuring and occultism, empowered by the emissaries of Satan. But those who view him as messianic will see his powers as blessings.
Many have written about the esoteric societies of initiates who brought Hitler to power. Their exotic names … “Society of the Golden Dawn,” and “Thule Society,” masked truly evil, Satanic movements that appealed to ancient avatars for their power.
These spiritual manifestations will be the power behind Antichrist’s throne. For a long time, Bible scholars have linked occurrences of dark powers to latter-day prophecy. One of the best-known is the late Dave Hunt. Thirty years ago, in his book, Peace, Prosperity and the Coming Holocaust, he examined the New Age Movement in prophecy.
He wrote, “With impeccable scientific credentials and one of the world’s top ufologists, Jacques Vallee has concluded after 20 years of investigation that UFOs may be psychologically programming us for some ultimate deception that is too horrible even to imagine as yet.” [p. 112]
He wrote these words in 1983, before the UFO phenomenon had emerged to the point that is now common. In his book, he made it obvious that he believed the Antichrist would rise in a wave of demonic demonstration that the world would interpret as alien powers from outer space. He was an early leader in the realization that the ancient fallen ones were rising again, and would prepare a global vision – almost a hallucination – of heaven on Earth. This is without a doubt, the ultimate delusion, and it’s happening now.
In Daniel 11:38, 39, which gives details of the Antichrist’s rule, we find exactly this idea expressed with absolute clarity:
“38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. 39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain” (Dan. 11:38,39).
For more than a century, Satanic initiates have conjoined their plans in the anticipation that a god of forces will bring a world leader to power. Just as Dave Hunt believed three decades ago, we are convinced that we are living in the latter stages of Antichrist’s unveiling. The ufonauts are not extraterrestrial beings; they are interdimensional beings … exactly as they are described in the Bible. We have almost arrived at what he called a “… deception that is too horrible even to imagine as yet.”
From the Roswell incident in 1947 to the present day, we have accrued sixty-six years of the progressive unveiling of dark heavenly forces, as described by Paul in Ephesians 6:12 when he wrote of them: “12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
As this is written, it has become “normal” to record two thousand UFO sightings per month in the United States alone! Paul is describing the nature of the enemy that has resisted the body of Christ throughout the Church age. Paul also characterizes the church as the restraining force that inhibits the rise of Satanic world power until the close of the age at the rapture. At that time, the restraining force of the Holy Spirit will be removed from the Earth. Then, the dark forces will be free to elevate the Antichrist to power.
It is safe to say then, that we are now living within a very short time of seeing a rapid succession of supernatural events. This, of course, suggests that the rapture is near. In no way can we predict the date of the rapture, but bizarre events, coupled with social and environmental instabilities will indicate that our watchfulness should rise to its maximum level.
What will the period before the Tribulation look like? Among other things, it will acquire increasingly powerful overtones of the supernatural … the bizarre and the highly technical will merge into the arrival of deceptive marvels. They will bring forth the Antichrist:
“Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (II Thess. 2:9).
The prophet Zephaniah wrote to a latter- day audience about the Day of the Lord. He warns Israel that the day is “near.” In other words, his prophecy is aimed at precisely the period we are targeting: possibly the three or four years prior to the Day of the Lord.
He addresses latter-day Israel, which of course, assumes that Israel must be in a regathered state of existence, exactly as we see it today. His warning focuses upon the pretribulational period of time under discussion:
“14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. 15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zeph. 1:14,15).
Here, Zephaniah joins other Old Testament prophets who issue similar warnings to those in Israel who have eyes to see and ears to hear. He warns them to get ready for the coming Tribulation:
“1 Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; 2 Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD’s anger come upon you. 3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’s anger” (Zeph. 2:1-3).
The New Testament View
Remarkably, the Apostle Paul, writing in First Thessalonians, echoes Zephaniah’s words. He begins with a strange statement that seems out of place or even inappropriate. But once understood, it is one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible:
“1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness” (I Thess. 5:1-5).
Paul opens with a statement about the very time period now being discussed … the last few years before the Tribulation. He says that he doesn’t need to tell us about the approach to that period. Why? No doubt, Paul believes that the Old Testament prophets and the statements of Jesus give us all the information we need. And indeed, they do!
We know that the Day of the Lord will come under the cover of a grand delusion. We are now conscious of that great deception … that the Antichrist will rise to power with the help of alien gods.
Paul then notes that there will be the mistaken idea that all is well … right up until the opening moments of the Tribulation. Paul’s clear assertion is that those in Christ will not be blind to the approach of that horrific day. He urges us to watch and comfort one another with the thought that we’ll be taken home before its opening.
In fact, his clear belief is that the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit acts to hold back the dark forces of Satan until the very moment of its lifting up from this dimension into the presence of the Lord.
Today, some criticize the preoccupation with the narrative of the ancient Nephilim who came in the days of Noah, and will return at the time of the Tribulation. The plain fact is that it happened then, and it’s happening again.
How Can We Tell?
In many different ways, Scripture tells us that we are enlightened by the indwelling Holy Spirit, and that we will not be ignorant of the times. Specifically, we will be sensitized to the near approach of the Tribulation. For the past forty to fifty years, many Christian pastors, teachers and writers have stated that the Lord’s return for His church is near.
They have watched the burgeoning growth of alien spiritual power and presence. They have noted the socio-economic instabilities and the myriad complexities of the Middle East. Earthquakes and super-storms are happening with greater frequency.
And as Mark Biltz has pointed out, we’re within a few months of witnessing the confluence of a fourfold series of lunar eclipses on Jewish feast days. Furthermore, they appear before and after a total Solar eclipse. Since the eclipsed Moon takes on a reddish hue when eclipsed, they are called “Blood Moons.” Such astronomical rarities have always been an indicator of some significant event in the history of Israel.
The prophet Joel writes that this is the phenomenon that will warn of the proximity of the Tribulation:
“31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. 32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call” (Joel 2:31,32).
All the visual elements are in place. The dark principalities of the heavens are become more visible. Paul said it first: He said we don’t have a need for him to write to us when these things are coming. Now we know why. We have a special spiritual sensitivity that floods our consciousness. We’ll know that we’re there. The increasing coalescence of sinister power was prophesied long ago. With increasing intensity, this is what the next few years will look like. We will know the times and seasons.