For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will 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 thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NKJV
Have you ever taken the time to consider what this world would be like without the presence of God? Imagine if you can what life would be like if there were only the forces of evil present, without the influence of good to counterbalance the evil thoughts and deeds of a sinful world. Jesus referred to this time to come by comparing it with what life was like in Noah’s days.
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Matthew 24:37 NKJV
We only need to look back to Genesis to see how God describes this time, and what man was like in those days.
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5 NKJV
Did you notice He says that every intent of man’s thoughts will be evil continually? What do you think that will make everyday life like when every man is looking to do evil? In regards to our discussion of the order of events which make up this period of time, I think this is all the explanation we need to understand the how and why of the future conflicts that are prophesied to occur. Many believe that the destruction of Damascus spoken of in Isaiah 17 is the next major event on God’s calendar, and I would wholeheartedly agree. Yet many also wonder why it has not yet occurred. I would suggest my answer to that question is found in the following passage.
Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 NKJV
Have you ever wondered about all that the Spirit might be restraining in the world around us today? I believe that we only need to look at what we are told will happen once He is removed to understand all that He is holding back. Some hold to the belief that the rapture of the Church begins the tribulation period but personally I believe that it precedes it by a short time in order for the conflicts that usher in the acceptance of the man of sin to occur. I believe that the destruction of Damascus is the first event that will take place which begins the journey to the eventual reign of the antichrist.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10 NKJV
It seems only logical that if this man of sin will rise to power by enforcing a peace between Israel and its enemies, there must be a conflict which demands it. Obviously a situation exists in the Middle East right now that many believe has the region primed for this conflict to occur. If you look closely at a passage from the book of Psalms you will find a situation described which many believe is being fulfilled before our very eyes.
A Song. A Psalm of Asaph. Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, And do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, And consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You: The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah Psalm 83:1-8 NKJV
If we take these ancient names and place them on a map of the Middle East today we find that what is described here is the very situation which exists right now in the region surrounding Israel. Some have described this passage as a “war” of Psalm 83, however if you read it carefully you will see it only describes a geopolitical reality, and not an actual war. I and many others believe that the prophecy of Isaiah 17 tells us exactly what happens as a result of this situation when Israel’s enemies decide to provoke her to such an extent that the result is the complete destruction of Damascus.
The burden against Damascus. “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap. Isaiah 17:1 NKJV
Is the Holy Spirit restraining the forces of evil that will soon seek the destruction of Israel? In my opinion there is no question that this is the case. Certainly there have been conflicts and wars in Israel’s past, but the future attempt at their total destruction prophesied in the Word of God has yet to occur. One other thing we should also consider is that Israel’s enemies realize that the United States is, at least right now, Israel’s strongest ally. What would the effect be on this nation if the rapture were to occur today?
How many of the current population of America would disappear? How many of our troops in the armed forces would vanish? Would we still be able to come to Israel’s aid, or would their enemies see it as a perfect opportunity to attack, setting in motion the events of Isaiah 17? As I see it, the first event on the prophetic calendar will be the rapture, followed closely by Isaiah 17, and then by a response from the world, the likes of which we have never seen. Next week, the rise of Gog.