Let us be reminded that the rapture could always have occurred at any moment. Indeed, then as now, the early church was watching and waiting in eager anticipation of being taken to heaven in that glorious event. There are no explicit signs to indicate that the rapture is about to occur. The “last-days signs” are not for the church, but for an unbelieving Israel. Nothing stands between the church and that “blessed hope” of being caught up to meet her Bridegroom in the air.
Those events that Christ prophesied when He was asked for signs of His coming are intended to warn Israel of Antichrist’s appearance and that, after guaranteeing her peace, he would seek to destroy her. The signs also herald the coming of Israel’s Messiah to rescue her from Antichrist’s attacking armies, an event which Christians refer to as Christ’s Second Coming in power and glory. Since the rapture comes first, however, certain signs that indicate the nearness of the Second Coming may cast their shadows far enough in advance to tell the church that the rapture must be soon. Nevertheless, we are always, regardless of any signs, to expect the rapture to occur at any moment and to live in that expectancy.
As for the Second Coming, it would have been premature for Israel to expect it when only a few of the signs were in evidence. Jesus declared: “When ye shall see all these things, know that it [the Second Coming] is near, even at the doors” (Matthew:24:33). Israel has been alerted so that she might know exactly when the moment of her Messiah’s intervention to save her has come. How many of these signs will cast their shadows before them at the time of the rapture no one can say. We do know, however, that our generation is the first for which any of these shadows have appeared, and now we have many.
The New Testament writers seem to have understood the “last days” as a time that began with the ascension of Christ and would culminate with His Second Coming. That event would be preceded by specific signs indicating that the generation on earth at that time was living in the last of the “last days.” It is exciting to note that no generation has ever had solid biblical reason for believing that it was living in the last of the last days preceding the Second Coming of Christ—no generation until ours.
Why could our generation as opposed to all previous ones be living in the last of the last days? Because so many of the major signs the Bible gives to warn of the nearness of Christ’s Second Coming could not possibly have applied in the past, but have only recently become applicable. For the first time in history all of the signs heralding the Second Coming could occur at any moment. In fact, the present generation—unlike any generation before it—has more than sufficient reason for believing that the Second Coming is very near.