(A Pre-Wrath Article)
PEACE AND SECURITY
According to 1 Thessalonians 5:3, just prior to the Day of the Lord return of Jesus, there will exist in the world a "general" condition of peace and security.
Peace speaks of the absence of enmity and in this case it would indicate
the cessation of warfare. This cessation would in fact be, an interruption
of the historical trends of "wars and rumors of war" that Jesus
spoke of as "the beginning of birth pains," which lead up to the
"end" when He comes back at the Day of the Lord.
Security speaks of safety and stability, and in context refers to the economic "comfort" zone in which these people will be living as a result of some kind of world or local condition that exists just prior to the Day of the Lord.
This appears then, to be something they are experiencing at the time, rather than something for which they are longing and searching. This is indicated by the fact that the experience seems to "lull them to sleep" and render them unprepared and un-expectant of Christ's return. This place of "comfort" is also indicated at Matthew 24:38-39 where Jesus says,
THE PRE-TRIB POSITION
According to the pre-trib viewpoint for the rapture of the church, this time of "peace and security" exists just prior to the beginning of the 7 years of Daniel's 70th week. The Lord comes in the sky and raptures the church out from the earth and then begins to pour out his wrath via the seals, trumpets and bowls. 1 Thessalonians 5:3 tells us,
It is valid to place a time of "general" peace and safety before the beginning of the 70th week, at least in the context of our present day world conditions. However, whereas the "coming of destruction" is true for when the day of the Lord arrives, it is not true for the beginning of the 70th week. This last 7-year period of the 70 periods prophesied to Daniel by Gabriel begins when a world ruler with political roots in Ancient Rome, "arrogant and skilled in deception" (Daniel 7:23), establishes a covenant of peace and religious toleration in the Middle East and probably throughout the rest of the world as well. He goes out "conquering and to conquer" (Rev. 6:2) as the 7-year period begins and brings an end to the "nation against nation" conflicts going on in the world and establishes THE peace (Rev. 6:4).
Tatford concludes concerning the 1st seal:
Thus, there will be "peace and security" at the beginning of the week and not "sudden destruction without escape," (1 Thes. 5:3). It is commonly believed by those who hold to the pre-trib position that 1 Thes. 5:2-3 refers to the rapture of the church at the beginning of the 7-year period of Daniel's 70th week, which they call the tribulation. However, the "destruction" type circumstances which are mentioned at 1 Thes. 5:3 do not occur at the beginning of the week and in fact will not occur until sometime after the midpoint of the week, after the beast begins his oppressive reign as described by Jesus at Mat. 24:9-29. Even though, according to this viewpoint, the seals describe this "destruction" type activity which would take place during the first half of the week, such an interpretation does not allow for the time of general peace and security which is established by the covenant and takes place at the same time. In other words, it seems inconsistent to have the world ruler establish peace through the covenant that is established and during the same time period have "sudden destruction" come upon them all. This appears to be a strong hurdle for the pre-trib position to overcome.
THE POST-TRIB POSITION
According to this viewpoint, the Day of the Lord occurs at the end of the week in connection with the battle of Armageddon as described at Revelation 19:11. Accordingly, they would have us believe that the peace and safety of 1 Thes. 5:3 is a "longing" for it rather than a present condition. Gundry writes,
However, it is better to suggest that the "form" of the statement does not "require" a condition of peace and safety, but rather "suggests" the opposite. Therefore, it is the overall context which must be considered and it is unlikely that simply a strong desire for peace and safety would have the capacity to "lull the world to sleep." Furthermore, it certainly appears that Matthew 24:38 should be viewed as a parallel passage and it describes a "condition" of economic and social "comfort" rather than just a "longing" for such. Gundry continues,
This is indeed a valid point, but does not explain the language at Matthew 24:38, "Eating and drinking and marrying" which certainly views a period of time much greater than 3 1/2 days. It therefore appears to this writer that the post-trib position does not adequately deal with the "condition" of peace and safety which will exist BEFORE the Day of the Lord arrives.
THE PRE-WRATH POSITION
Some think that this idea of "peace and security" existing prior to Christ's return mitigates against the pre-wrath rapture view, because it is suggested that such a condition could not exist during the oppressive reign of the beast. But when kept in perspective, it poses no problem at all and, in fact, fits smoothly into the pre-wrath scenario. When we realize that the participants of this "peace and security" are the multitude of beast worshipers who are existing under the umbrella of his economic controls and prior to the trumpets and bowls of God's wrath, then the contexts of Matthew 24:38 and 1 Thess. 5:3 meld perfectly with the pre-wrath position.
What, then, is the nature of this "peace and security" that the world will be enjoying and that lulls them to sleep so that Christ's return at the Day of the Lord will come upon them un-expectantly like a thief in the night?
First of all, let's recognize that at any given point in history, there have always been those who have suffered. Political and religious oppression; economic hardship; cultural persecution; environmental discomfort; sickness and disease; wars and rumors of war.
All this describes the beginning of birth pains that Jesus mentioned at Matthew 24:6-8. Since AD 70 these historical trends have been occurring and intensifying so that today we find ourselves still in the midst of "wars and rumors of war," just as Gabriel told Daniel would happen as recorded at Daniel 9:26,
In fact, the great focal point for these wars and rumors is the Middle East, where we have the daily confrontations between the Jewish and Arab populations and the ever-present threat of war.
What, then, if an international political body with its roots in ancient Rome and dominated by one very powerful and ingenious leader, brings to an end these "wars and rumors of war" especially in the Middle East? What if a military and religious peace accord is established that removes all fears and threats of war, and mandates religious toleration not only in Palestine but throughout the whole world as well? We find at Daniel 9:27, language that seems to dictate just such a peace accord being established by one who is designated as a powerful prince with his political roots in Rome.
The covenant he establishes is specifically for a 7-year period of time (one week of seven one-year long "days"). It seems that we should view this 7 years as an inherent part of the covenant since, in the middle of the week (3 1/2 years from the start), the covenant is broken. It also appears that "the many" with whom the covenant is established would better apply to the PEOPLES of the Middle East rather than limiting it to just Israel.
The exact nature of the 7-year time factor cannot, of course, be determined at this time. It may be something like a trial period, which would be reviewed at the end, but an honest and objective approach to the language here, that recognizes a covenant being established and broken, must also recognize that a 7-year duration is inherent within its paragraphs.
Furthermore, the fact that the ruler who makes the covenant, puts a stop to sacrifices and grain offerings 3 1/2 years later, suggests that the nature of the covenant in the first place, is related to authorization for the Jews to worship via a functional sanctuary where sacrifices and offerings would be utilized. Thus, the Middle East Peace and Toleration Accord (M.E.P.T.A.) is as good a title as any.
We know that the beast is revealed at the midpoint of the 7-year week and takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as God (2 Thess. 2:4). It is easy then, to correlate this with Matthew 24:15 where Jesus tells about "the abomination of desolation, standing in the Holy Place" (where it does not belong, Mark 13:14). For this man to thus take his seat in the Temple of God and announce himself as being God, it follows naturally that he would at that time put a stop to the sacrifices and offerings which were authorized by the covenant. So it is in the context of M.E.P.T.A that we find "peace and security" in Palestine, and perhaps by application throughout the rest of the world as well.
In the middle of the 7-year covenant, the "Roman" ruler, through the power of Satan, puts a stop to the accord's religious toleration clause and effectively takes THE peace from the earth. This very possibly corresponds with the Second Seal of Rev. 6:3-4. However, for those who will agree to beast worship through Operation 666 (whatever that might be), the peace and security of the accord will be perpetuated as these worshipers are promised buying and selling freedom and basic economic security (Rev. 13:16-17). Thus, as Rev. 13:3-4 records, hyperbolically,
It is thus within this context that these beast worshipers are proclaiming "peace and security," and are "eating and drinking and marrying" under the umbrella of the beast's economic controls. And it is this environment that lulls them to sleep so that,
This "sudden destruction" refers to the administration of divine wrath which will be poured out via the trumpets and bowls and which is announced via the Sixth Seal of Rev. 6:12-17. The administration of the first four trumpet judgments will, in themselves, effectively disrupt the environment of peace and safety as they represent great disruption to the economic and ecological environment.
The people of the world have just an inkling of what to expect when the Day of the Lord occurs and therefore express great fear and terror when they see the Lord come into the earth's atmosphere and parade across the skies of the world in power and great glory
There is no "peace and security" during the time of the Lord's wrath. The beast is unable to fulfill his promise to provide economic stability to the peoples who worship him and the nations begin to rebel and kick against his authority. And even though the beast provides a smattering of relief by killing the "two witnesses" at the end of the week, this falls far short of reversing the major economic and environmental judgments which are killing people all over the world. This rebellion of nations then leads to the final world war and the final battle in the valley of Judgment on the plains of Esdraelon beneath the mountain (har) of Megiddo. It is then, while these nations are converging into Palestine to fight against each other, that Jesus Himself will enter the fray with his army of angels to judge and wage war (Rev. 19:11-21).
İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com.
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