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Timing of the Rapture

 by Steve Ashburn


Although we can’t know the day or the hour of the rapture, Jesus himself commanded us to “watch” (Matthew 21:42, Luke 21:36), which in context meant to be aware of the signs of the times as it related to his coming for his church. This implies that we CAN know the season of his return! He also gave several signs in the Olivet Discourse which would mark the beginning of the end times, and THEN said that “when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption [rapture] draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

The rapture itself clearly is described in the Olivet Discourse— for example, in Matthew 24:40-42: 

Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 

It’s evident from the Olivet Discourse, then, that the rapture would occur during the end times period, which would begin with specific signs.  Our Lord Jesus Christ himself said so. In this passage of Scripture, contained in Matthew 24–25, Mark 13 and Luke 21, Jesus gave the following signs, the simultaneous occurrence of which would mark the beginning of the end times: 

  • “Nation shall rise against nation, [a special kind of war involving Israel, probably the Psalm 83/Amos 1-2 war]
  • and kingdom against kingdom: [another special war, probably the Isaiah 13/Jeremiah 50-51, third US-led coalition invasion of Iraq]
  • and there shall be famines,
  • and pestilences,
  • and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:7).
  • Luke 21:11 adds, “and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.” [comets, meteors, solar flares, supernovae]
  • Mark 13:8 adds, “troubles.” [political and economic troubles]

Notably, Jesus also said that he would return for his church during a time of complacency—as it was in the days of Noah, when men were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (Matthew 24:37-39); and also as in the days of Lot, when “they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded” (Luke 17:26-30). Since the end times begin with terrifying signs, there must, of necessity, therefore, be some period of complacency which follows. It is during this period of complacency that the rapture will occur. 

Now let’s consider what the Old Testament has to say about the end times. Psalm 83 and Amos 1-2 describe in general terms an end-times invasion of Israel by the adjacent Arab nations. Psalm 83 describes these nations in terms of their genealogy, whereas Amos describes them in terms of physical geography. Other Old Testament chapters then describe individual nations in more detail, such as: 

  • Egypt [Ezekiel 29–30; 32; Isaiah 19]
  • Arabia [Isaiah 21; Jeremiah 49; Ezekiel 25; Joel 3:7–8]
  • Jordan [Isaiah 15-16, 34; Jeremiah 48-49; Ezekiel 25; Joel 3:7–8; Obadiah 1; Malachi 1]
  • Gaza [Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 25; Joel 3:7–8; Obadiah 1; Zephaniah 2]
  • Iraq [Isaiah 13; 21; Jeremiah 49–51; the first and second “rumour” of Jeremiah 51:46 describe the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Iraqi invasion, in my opinion; also, Isaiah 13 describes the US as still a Christian nation at the time, and therefore the timeline for this war is pre-rapture]
  • Lebanon [Ezekiel 28; Joel 3:7–8; Isaiah 23; Ezekiel 26–28]
  • Syria [Isaiah 17]
  • Libya [Ezekiel 30]
  • Sudan [Ezekiel 30]

Ezekiel 29:11-13 says the duration of the end times will be 40 years, followed by the millennial kingdom of Christ as described in Isaiah 19 (emphasis mine): 

No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years. And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries. Yet thus saith the Lord GOD; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered (Ezekiel 29:11-13). 

In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people (Isaiah 19:24-25). 

And Micah 7:15 and Jesus himself in the Olivet Discourse imply the same thing: 

According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt [40 years] will I shew unto him marvellous things (Micah 7:15). 

Verily I say unto you, This generation [40 years] shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled (Luke 21:32). 

Finally, Isaiah 13 describes a third coalition invasion of Iraq immediately following this war, led by a “high mountain” [great nation] of “sanctified ones…even them that rejoice in my highness,” which in context almost certainly refers to the United States, as still a Christian nation. This key passage of Scripture places this war, the “Psalm 83 war,” before the rapture.  

So there you have it: the end times most likely will be a 40-year period, beginning with a regional nuclear war in the Middle East, and ending with the second coming of Christ. The rapture will take place sometime in the middle of this period. Now, how’s THAT for being made aware of the times and the seasons?

But it gets even better, for it’s possible to narrow down the year of the rapture by simple deduction from Scripture. For example, we know the rapture won’t happen in the last seven years of the end times (the tribulation); that narrows it down to 33 years. Furthermore, the Ezekiel 38-39 Russian invasion of Israel, which most likely will happen after the rapture, will result in Israel collecting their weapons and burning them for 7 years. Since Israel is invaded by the Antichrist and dispersed at the midpoint of the tribulation, then subtracting 7 years we arrive at 29 years for the rapture to happen. Subtracting about 6 months for Russia to marshal her forces, we get 29 years, and then subtracting a couple of years, minimum, for the Isaiah 18 Russian invasion of North America (which follows the rapture), we get 27 years as a maximum range. 

In my book, I estimated that the rapture would happen in a 10-year window, from 17-27 years after the end times begin. I allowed 17 years (just guessing) for a period of complacency to develop.  Second Peter 3:3-4 also comments on this time period: 

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

This implies that this period of complacency will take a l-o-o-o-o-o-ng time, so long that men will tend to forget the nuclear war that began this time period, and assume that the relative peace that the world has enjoyed since then will continue forever. It is during this time that Christ will return for his church. 

In addition, Isaiah 18 implies that the rapture will happen in the summer, at the time that corn is pollinating in the American Midwest (i.e. the month of July); and I sort of wonder then, why the Bible would imply the month of the rapture but not the year. All this gives me the sneaking suspicion that the rapture will occur in the last year possible, that being year 27 of the end times period. That’s the only year that people alive then will be able to know for certain that the rapture will happen. In my book, I go into more detail about this. Let me emphasize that this is all just speculation—although I would add educated guesswork based on Scripture.

So now that we know the general outline of the end times, the question remaining is: when will this time period begin? The Bible gives us some clues. Hosea 6:1-2 implies that there will be 2,000 years from the dispersion of Israel as a nation until the second coming of Christ. Since the second temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD and Israel dispersed as a nation, then that would put the return of Christ in 2070. Subtracting 40 years then, the end times should begin in 2030.

Jesus called this “the beginnings of sorrows” (Mark 13:8). Recent events with worldwide martial law and the controlled demolition of our economy have confirmed that things definitely are changing, and we appear to be heading toward this time of “sorrows.” My guess is that the next 10 years will be a time of prolonged economic depression as described in Psalm 82, where a few people with the vast majority of the world's money, described as "gods," repress their fellow citizens without mercy. This, of course, precedes the Psalm 83 nuclear war in the Middle East, in my opinion. 

This year—2030—is 27 years after Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 (the second “rumour” of Jeremiah 51:46), and also 27 years before the last possible year for the rapture. In biblical numerology, 27 is 9 x 3; nine being the number of finality of judgment, and three being the number of God. Therefore, 27 could represent God’s final judgment—upon Arab nations at the beginning of the end times in the first case, then upon his church at the bema seat of Christ in the second. This would make the rapture in 2057, and again, this is only a guess. 

So there you have it—a nice concise outline of the end times, along with possible dates. I go into all of this in more detail in my book, END TIMES DAWNNG: Get Ready! (available from

As much as I love my brethren, I must say there has been considerable confusion among students of prophecy as to the definition of “end times” and to the precise sequence and timing of events contained therein. I hope my book will help to clear up this confusion in many people’s minds. Please read it!


[This article was published on March 7, 2018, and updated on March 29, 2020]



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