Mark 14:32-33, 37: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!'”
Zechariah 14:4: On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.
Acts 1: 10-12: They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.
Most Christians today have some basic understanding of where we currently are in relation to God’s prophetic timeline. The Church Age, which is the Age of Grace, is where we find ourselves today along God’s biblical or prophetic timeline. What many Christians don’t know or disagree upon is exactly when the Church Age will come to a close. Many believe that the Church Age will end before the tribulation and others are of the opinion that the Church Age will end either at the mid-point or at the end of the tribulation. There are some, of course, who do not believe there will be a time of tribulation.
For me, the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians reveals exactly when the Church Age will end. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
The Church will have been taken away (raptured) and the seven year period of tribulation will begin. This will not be a secretive event as described in many popular books like the Left Behind series. It will be a public event that will be heard and seen by all the people of the earth as Paul describes in the above scripture reference. Paul famously referred to Christ’s return as the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).
Read carefully Paul’s words from 1 Thessalonians 4: 17: “we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them (the dead in Christ) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” Paul is describing Jesus coming back for his Church before the beginning of the time of tribulation. This is not Jesus’ second coming where he physically stands on the earth. That will take place after the period of tribulation when Jesus will come with power and great glory (see Matthew 24:30) and stand again on the Mount of Olives (see Zechariah 14:4), from which he ascended into heaven (see Acts 1:10-12).
Jesus himself gave us signs to watch for so that His followers would know when the Age of Grace (Church Age) would begin drawing to a close. Israel, as God’s chosen people, is where all believers should watch for signs. When Israel officially became a nation on May 14, 1948, God’s end time clock began to tick even faster. Knowing the threat that Iran and other nations pose to Israel, the national security and protection of God’s chosen people continues to be of utmost importance. The prudent believer will most certainly keep their attention and watchfulness focused on Israel in the days and months ahead.
Revelation 3:10: Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.