Question: Arafat can’t last forever. What do you think will happen when he is gone? Could this bring peace? When will that be in relation to the Rapture?
Response: Biblical prophecy gives a broad picture, but not the details of what will happen in the Middle East. We must avoid speculation based upon daily news. In spite of many problems, I think the present situation worldwide is peaceful and prosperous enough to fit Christ’s description of false peace and relative prosperity at the time of the Rapture: “They did eat, they drank, they married wives,...until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Lk 17:26-30). Certainly these words could not be describing the Second Coming in the midst of Armageddon, nor a post-trib Rapture coming at a time when the world is practically destroyed after at least 3-1/2 years of famine, pestilence, and war.
Likewise Paul, referring to “the day of the Lord,” which I believe begins with the Rapture, writes, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thes:5:1-3).
Prophecies concerning Israel relate not to the Rapture but to Antichrist’s attack at Armageddon. Israel apparently escapes much if not most of the worldwide destruction poured out by God’s wrath during the Great Tribulation. Israelis are described as “them that are at rest, that dwell safely...the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the [promised] land....in the latter days” (Ezk 38:11-16). Antichrist has imposed upon the world the rebuilding of the temple: “And he shall confirm [enforce] the covenant with many for one week [seven years]: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease [breaking the covenant]...” (Dn 9:27).
Antichrist “shall devour the whole earth” (Dn 7:23) and “all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world...” (Rv 13:8). He will enforce a false peace: “...he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes [Christ]; but he shall be broken without hand [at the Second Coming]” (Dn 8:25).
Thus, as Scripture indicates, a false peace (probably without Arafat) must eventually be established for Israel. When and how, I do not know, but I believe it will be very soon and that the present upheaval in the Middle East is a necessary preliminary.