There is a gap of time between the end of the 6th dispensation (and the Rapture of the Church) and the start of the 7th dispensation.
A notable portion of this gap is the 7 year apocalyptic period known as the Tribulation.*
The common assumption among those who study prophesy is that the Tribulation takes up the entire gap, but there is no biblical reason for this conjecture.
In fact, there are some Biblical and logistical reasons to believe that this era between dispensations could be years, if not decades!
This possibility leads me to the theory that I will present in this post regarding the reason for this (possibly significant) time period. It’s a theory that I’ve never heard from any other Bible teacher (which means it’s probably wrong) but I think is very much worth presenting.
Here’s my supposition:
If the dispensations are God’s way of offering man every reasonable alternative to His plan, and giving man the opportunity to either choose God’s plan, OR that alternative plan, then there is one option that isn’t explored in the classic dispensational model – Satan’s way!
Despite the fact that he has had legal claim to the earth since Original Sin (and squatters rights since the resurrection), Satan has never had the unfettered opportunity to fully rule the world and implement his kingdom.
He came close during the 3rd dispensation and the Tower of Babel, but God quickly squashed that before it could get off the ground (no pun intended). Since then, God has limited the range of his dominion through Israel and later the Church.
As God’s chosen nation, Israel was a major buffer to the expansion of Satan’s kingdom because their very existence meant that other nations could choose God and gain His protection and provision (which occasionally happened – with Egypt and Nineveh being examples). Which is why Satan spent the 4th and 5th dispensations trying to destroy Israel.
Israel’s rejection of their Messiah temporarily took them out of the picture, but Jesus’ victory initiated the Church era, which hampered Satan even more.
Not only did he lose his legal property rights to the earth, the Holy Spirit (Who indwells the church) has served as an escrow officer since the resurrection, severely curtailing Satan’s ambitions by restraining his influence.
The Holy Spirit clears the way
After the Rapture, the church (and thus the Holy Spirit) will be gone from the earth, as will that restraining force. And with Israel still in the dog house, Satan will finally be able to institute his plan to govern the earth without any major opposition.
So I believe that this “mini-dispensation” will address the following question: if Satan was allowed to implement his plan for humanity, would men choose it over God’s?
Knowing how Satan feels about man, you’d think this would be an easy choice, but there are reasons to believe that man will, as always, choose wrong.
Why will the world be inclined to accept Satan’s Kingdom?
Because the world wants it! Throughout the ages, man has always been complicit with the machinations of Satan to rule the earth.
Look at our world today. Outside of the dwindling followers of Christ, the world is blatantly clamoring for a political /mystical ruler who will come in and solve all their problems without “burdening” them with God.
The rabid atheists, who are growing exponentially in their influence, spend enormous emotional, financial, and political capital in their quest to kick the God they don’t believe in, off a throne they don’t acknowledge, to preserve individual rights that no one is threatening. (if that sounds crazy, that’s because it is!)
Entire organizations of secularists in this country are dedicated to the fight to free themselves of the oppressive presence of someone who they don’t think is real (and instead of recognizing the inherent insanity of that position, they are so brain damaged that they see their self-acknowledged “battle against the imaginary” as a mark of intellectual superiority!)
Men worship Satan and his minions even if they are tacitly unaware. And it doesn’t have to be anything as blatant as outright Devil worship.
Anything we worship other than the One True God plays into Satan’s hands, be it false religions or even the very environment. (we live in a world where nature worship has been elevated to the level of global public policy).
Don’t believe me? Express doubt about climate change and/or evolution and then try to get a job in scientific or academic fields. You will find that you have been literally excommunicated.
God clearly states that this His wrath is reserved for those who worship creation over the Creator (and carbon credits won’t let you buy your way out of it.).
Sometimes the worst thing you can do to a person is to give them what they want
As we saw in the last post, this era between dispensations will be a time of God’s wrath, but the first salvo will be a form of wrath that is technically passive, but still quite devastating in its own way – God’s “Abandonment Wrath”.
People and nations have been in rebellion against God since Babel and have longed to be rid of Him for most of human history.
So at the end of the 6th Dispensation, God will essentially say “fine, if you want to have a world free of my influence, you got it!”
As I stated in an earlier post, the increase in the world’s depravity is directly and inversely related to the diminishing influence of the Church as it spirals toward its end. The absence of the Bride and the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit will make the abandonment complete.
Man has no idea what a world without God’s influence will look like, but they will find out. And the result will be a level of depravity and destruction that exceeds even their most dire expectations. And it will clear the way for Satan’s government.
And it will clear the way for Satan’s government.
A matter of timing
I mentioned earlier that despite the common sentiment, the Tribulation is unlikely to commence immediately after the Rapture. There are some solid Biblical and logical reasons for this.
First of all, the Rapture is NOT the trigger event that kicks off the tribulation. The 70th Week of Daniel is framed by a 7-year covenant (perhaps a treaty) that Satan’s man, the Antichrist, enters into, or upholds with the nation of Israel.
While the Bible indicates that the Antichrist cannot be revealed until AFTER the Church departs, it’s doubtful that he will pop up on CNN the day after the Rapture and say “Hi, I’m the Antichrists– come worship meeee!”
The Antichrist has been perpetually at the starting gate
When someone asks me if I think the Antichrist is alive today, my answer is “yes”. But if you’d asked me that question 50, 100 or even 500 years ago, my answer would still be “yes”!
You see, Satan is as in the dark as the rest of us as to the exact timing of the Rapture. He’s no more knowledgeable than the various and sundry modern day “Christian prophets” who keep popping up to set dates for the Rapture (and sell books) based on an alleged “vision from God” or some ridiculously convoluted set of calculations and “signs” (and who then have to crawl back into their spider-holes once the predicted date inevitably passes without incident).
So Satan has always had to have a man at the ready in every generation to be his earthly incarnation for whenever the Holy Spirit vacated the premises.
Remember, it’s not so much the man that matters because he will simply be a vessel. What makes the Antichrist who he is will be the spirit that indwells him. And that spirit, (like all spirits) is eternal. (We’ll deal with this in a later post).
Wait! He’s not ready!
When the Rapture DOES finally happen, Satan will have the lane cleared for conquest, but since he doesn’t know when this will happen, there is no telling what stage the Antichrist du jour will be.
Maybe he will be in his prime and ready to go. In which case the gap between the Rapture and the Tribulation will be relatively short. But what if the last version just died and the new “chosen one” is currently a kid? Or what if he’s elderly and too old to be effective and Satan needs a new one to be born? It could take up 40 years for him to be ready to take the stage.
Order out of chaos
But even if the Antichrist is ready to go right after the Rapture. The world may not be logistically ready for him for a while. Imagine the scenario in the aftermath of the Rapture:
One day, out of the blue, millions of people (give or take) vanish. What effect will that have on the psyche of the population?
Seeing as how stock markets crash if interest rates change by a couple points, and large groups of people take to the streets to riot when their sports team wins a championship, I think it’s safe to say that the Rapture will cause some serious turmoil.
Financial markets will collapse. Massive amounts of wealth will instantly evaporate. Supermarket shelves will clear out in a day. Mass starvation will ensue in a matter of weeks. Civilization will disintegrate as the desperation for sustenance leads to rioting and rampant violence.
The world’s militaries and law enforcement will institute a police state to try to keep order. Freedom will yield to authority as people rely on the government to feed them and keep them safe.
Of course this will play right into the hands of the bad guys and their Master as they will doubtless use the opportunity to usher in the totalitarian global government they’ve been chomping at the bit to implement since Babel.
But here’s the thing, Satan doesn’t JUST want to rule the world (he arguably rules it now!). His ambitions go beyond that. Satan’s desire from the moment he rebelled has been to be worshiped! Satan doesn’t just want to be King, he wants to be God!
Let’s look at what we know about Satan and his long-term goals:
His original statement of rebellion was his intention to be like God,
Part of his methodology is to imitate God. In this case, he wants to imitate the Kingdom of God (the 7th Dispensational Kingdom that Jesus will rule)
The Bible shows that the Kingdom will be preceded by apocalyptic judgments on the earth, followed by the public revelation of Christ who will usher in a golden age.
Therefore, it would follow that in order to have an imitation Kingdom, Satan would have to orchestrate an imitation apocalypse which would lead to the introduction of a counterfeit Christ!
I believe that’s EXACTLY what he does!
I believe the Bible shows that in this mini-dispensation, Satan will use all the corporeal and supernatural power at his disposal to fake the apocalypse we all know is coming, so that man will not only acquiesce to his rule, but also accept him as “God”! (And not only will God’s Abandonment Wrath allow it, God will facilitate it on the unbelieving world!)
(And not only will God’s Abandonment Wrath allow it, God will facilitate it on the unbelieving world!)
Starting with the next post, I will show the Biblical basis for this theory by taking a different look at two of the most well-known prophetic passages in the scriptures – The Olivet Discourse, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
*[NOTE – Yes, I’m fully aware that there is technically no such thing as a “7 year Tribulation” in the Bible, and that the “Great Tribulation” Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24 is actually 3 ½ years. However, when I use the term “Tribulation” in this blog, I am referring to the entire 7 year period known as the “70th Week of Daniel”, the last half of which is the aforementioned Great Tribulation. Why? Because I don’t feel like typing out “the 70th Week of Daniel” over and over.]