This is a fairly long WorldChanger Letter. But considering all that is happening in the world, I encourage you to take the time to prayerfully study every word.
The skeptics and unbelievers would prefer that you be blind to God’s plan for delivering His people in troubled times. Our hope in His faithfulness eliminates their ability to control and oppress us! Those who seek to oppress you do not want you to believe God is faithful!
God always puts forth effort to keep our hope alive. After all, hope leads to faith (Hebrews 11:1). In the Old Testament, when God had something profound or challenging to say, He would nearly always couple it with a message of hope. Usually, He would remind them that He delivered them from the oppression of the Egyptians. Even the negative prophecies about Israel going into captivity ended with a reminder and promise of deliverance. If we ever lose sight of God as a deliverer, our hope wavers! When people lose hope, they give up.
Everything God seeks to do in our life is built on this foundation: He is our deliverer! He has delivered us and will continue to deliver us. If we will remind ourselves of that simple truth, every time we become fearful or overwhelmed, it will always put us back on a solid foundation for God’s best outcome!
This month I want to provide some perspective and hope for what’s going on in the world, and the very specific way we can stay comforted! This month, I’ll share a truth we will need to settle in our hearts in order to stay confident and peaceful all the way to the end!
What is happening in Israel right now could well be the fulfillment of the prophecies in Psalm 83. The nations involved in Psalm 83 are committed to the total annihilation of Israel. Based on the names, geographic locations, and mostly the fact that their highest intention is the total eradication of Israel, they fit the detailed description of those in Psalm 83.
These nations and their threats seem very much like the nations and threats that will bring us to the brink of a world war, ultimately giving rise to the one the Bible calls “the Assyrian,” otherwise known as the antichrist. When he steps onto the world scene, he will negotiate a seven-year peace agreement between Israel and all the hostile nations. Much of Israel will believe him to be the Messiah, and the world will celebrate him as a hero!
Three-and-one-half years into the peace agreement, he will break the pact and the entire world will turn against Israel. This will lead to the war Ezekiel called Armageddon. But keep in mind, these are two completely different wars. The first gives rise to the antichrist, the second gives rise to Armageddon.
At that time, when all hope seems to be lost, Israel will ultimately repent for killing Jesus and call on Him as their Messiah and deliverer (Hosea 5:15). He will save Israel and set up His Kingdom to rule and reign for one thousand years on Planet Earth!
Jesus’ personal return to earth has many very clear signs. There are specific events that must happen before the promise of His second coming. But that is not the case with what we call the rapture, (harpazo in Greek). All the contradictions people assume about the Second Coming are the result of thinking the Second Coming and the “harpazo” are the same event.
While the Second Coming unfolds with hundreds of prophetic events, the “harpazo” has no conditions or warnings that will signal its coming. This is called the doctrine of imminence! All the Scriptures speaking of Jesus’ coming being a complete surprise are referring to the harpazo, not Armageddon! This is why believers are told to be awake and ready at all times. While there are no conditions that must be met, we can know the times by the witness of the Spirit in our hearts. The believer should not be caught unaware.
Although He never used this terminology, Jesus often taught about imminence in His parables of the Kingdom. Imminence is the only way we can keep our hearts in perfect harmony with Kingdom living! Imminence doesn’t mean we think He is coming tomorrow, but it does mean we live like He is coming tomorrow.
The wicked players in the parables of the Kingdom were emboldened to be cruel and oppressive because they lived under the assumption that the Lord had delayed His coming. They began to doubt His return. Thus, we are called to live and serve as if we expect His immediate return! Carnal believers have long criticized those who look for His coming.
The “harpazo” occurs when Jesus calls His bride to meet Him for the wedding and marriage supper of the Lamb! We will be “caught up” to meet Him in the air, which is probably another dimension! This is not the Second Coming! He doesn’t come to Earth; He actually calls His bride and we depart from Planet Earth!
However, the Second Coming, which is a completely different event, is when He returns to Earth to deliver Israel from those nations that have once again surrounded her. He will destroy the antichrist and his followers! Then, He will establish His kingdom in Jerusalem. This will mark the beginning of the Millennium when we will rule and reign with Him!
Contrary to the voice of the skeptics, this is not a new doctrine. It is not a doctrine of false hope. In fact, we are told to comfort one another with the hope that comes from the promise of the “harpazo” (rapture), (1 Thessalonians 4:18)!
In his missionary journeys, Paul introduced the people of Thessalonica to the Gospel. History tells us he was only there for about three weeks. What may be the most amazing thing about this is the subject matter Paul chose to teach them. I’m sure he taught them the foundational doctrines of the Gospel. But, I thank God, He was led to open their eyes to something that was in the Bible but not as clearly as he presented it!
In their first three weeks as believers, he taught them about the “harpazo.” That would be the last thing most of us would teach a group of new converts, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he took a step that would have otherwise left us ignorant of this crucial subject we call the rapture!
Paul was not the first to teach about this subject. Jesus, Himself, taught about it in John 14:1-4, when He was preparing the disciples for His departure. They needed comfort, just as we need comfort today! He wanted to assure them He would return for His Church.
Those listening to Jesus’ teaching immediately knew He was using the Jewish betrothal, wedding, and marriage feast as a model! He wanted them to be ready for His departure while maintaining the expectation of Him personally returning to take us home! This wasn’t new; it was an expansion of His teaching in the parables about imminence. He wanted them to live in confident expectation that He would catch us away!
John 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Some try to say the teaching of the rapture began with Darby’s Bible Commentary. But we know it was modeled in the Old Testament and was taught by Jesus in the Gospels. The most persuasive presentation of the rapture and the resurrection was Jesus’ ascension. Then, it was taught by the Apostle Paul! Plus, there are many allusions through both the Old and New Testaments.
A false letter about the rapture was circulating that was said to have come from Paul. He wrote the Church at Thessalonica to remind them of what he had taught to protect them from being deceived. This doctrine was so essential he refused to let it be hijacked by the nay-sayers! See what he wrote:
1 Thessalonians 4:13, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.16 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. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be *caught up (harpazo) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
*harpazo: to seize on, claim for one’s self, to snatch out
The world may be racing blindly to the rise of the antichrist. Current events could be the precursor to the revelation of the man of sin! There is no way to be sure; these events may continue to align more precisely with Psalm 83 or things could de-escalate. Either way, nothing will stop the current progression until it all unfolds.
This could happen suddenly or drag on for a few more years. There is no way to know how quickly or slowly it will take for this to consummate in war and the rise of the antichrist.
For us, how long it takes makes no difference. As the bride of Christ, we have one objective until we are removed. We are to prepare the world for the harpazo! This will be the last chance for anyone to escape the wrath and persecution of the antichrist. Those who give their life to the Lord after the rapture will pay with their lives!
I encourage every one of you to find positive, non-religious ways to help inspire and prepare the people you love to be ready. Friends, loved ones, children, grandchildren, and even spouses need our influence to escape what the Bible describes as the worst tribulation that has ever occurred since the beginning!
I talk to my kids and grandkids about this stuff. I help them understand current events from a Biblical perspective. I teach you all these things every week so you can do the same with your family and friends! I’m not trying to merely fill your heads with Biblical information. I’m equipping you to sow seeds. As we see the time getting closer I want us all to know we have used this time as God would desire.
In Luke 19:13, Jesus told the disciples to “occupy till I come.” In Greek, it means “do business and gain ground” till I come! The only way we will be consistent, creative, and positive at influencing others is a combination of love for the people we help, a sense of urgency, and an awareness of what people will face if they are left behind!
Many of us have lost the sense of imminence. Over time life can simply wear us down. Plus, there is the constant infection of the world and all its pressures that draw our attention away from the eternal. Regardless of the reason, with no urgency about the return of the Lord, we forsook God’s priorities and purposes for us in the earth. It was our responsibility to help warn and prepare others for these days wherein we find ourselves. Much of the peace we will have as these things escalate will be in direct proportion to the degree we have prepared those we love to participate in this event!
Every week, I will continue to help you and others around the world. Plus, I will equip you and help you become more effective at influencing others. At this moment, Impact Ministries and other ministries are working together around the world to prepare others for His coming!
Please continue to help Impact Ministries financially so we can take this message to the ends of the earth. Do something every day to remind yourself of the urgency of the times, and together we will…
change the way the world sees God!
Dr. Jim Richards
P.S. Remember to tune in every Thursday for a new CyberChurch message. My newest series is Heart to Heart in the Holy of Holies.
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