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How are we as Bible-believing Christians—especially those who love Biblical prophecy and interpret it literally from the premillennial, dispensational perspective—to evaluate the boastful claims and outrageous proposals of the promoters of the Great Reset?
We have been examining that question during these days that have included the Davos Agenda—a rather ominous sounding name for an online conference held at the end of January.
For those who may be unfamiliar, I should remind us that these titles do not come from a dystopian novel, nor from a Christian B movie destined to be shown in church basements. Instead, both the Agenda and the Reset are campaigns offered by the World Economic Forum. They are backed by many of the world’s richest and most powerful people—who are deadly serious about implementing them.
Does such talk of a Great Reset mean that end-time events are near? It is natural for us to consider such a question. The answers that we provide, however, must be crafted carefully.
We have previously established that the Bible strictly prohibits date-setting. No person alive during this church age can predict “that day and hour” (Matt. 24:36)1 of Christ’s return.
This does not mean, however, that we are to be oblivious to measures developing in the world around us. In fact, I believe that we have an obligation to understand the significance of such proceedings in light of the prophetic paradigm which the Bible offers to us through its extensive description of end-time events.
The Lord Jesus rebuked “the Pharisees and Sadducees” as “hypocrites” in Matt. 16:1-3, as He chided them:
You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.
Jesus here commends the assessment of historical happenings in light of Biblical prophecy. In His teaching, certain signs are not only legitimate, but necessary (see Matt. 24:3, 30). But how do we respond to His exhortation today—especially if we are not to set the date of His return?
Interestingly, believers in Old Testament Israel could have known when Jesus was coming the first time, and should have expected Him based on the prophecy of Daniel’s 70 weeks of seven years each (see Dan. 9:24-27)—the first 69 of which began with the decree of King Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2:8, given in 445 B.C. There were signs of Christ’s first coming (Luke 2:12, 34), and the 69th week of Daniel apparently culminated with His entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday—“this your day” (Luke 19:42). That was truly “the time of (their) visitation” (Luke 19:44; see also Luke 3:15; Gal. 4:4).
Then, believers who come to faith during the future tribulation will also have at least a general sense of the timing of the final return of Christ at His second coming—as it will take place seven years from the signing of the covenant which begins the seven-year epoch (see Dan. 9:27). This is presumably why they are told specifically to watch for signs (see Matt. 24:24, 42; Luke 21:11, 25).
Since we do not know that date at this time, however, we do not know the timing of Christ’s final second coming. And since the rapture—the first phase of that second coming—is imminent, without any unique signs, there is no possibility of us knowing the date of Christ’s return in any sense.
However, while the notion of date-setting is not legitimate, the concept of stage-setting is. This means that God is, today, working in history to arrange the stage so that the prophetic events of His end-time drama can begin to unfold.
Dr. Thomas Ice defines this precept as follows:
The present church age is generally not a time in which Bible prophecy is being fulfilled. Most prophecy relates to a time after the rapture (the seven-year tribulation period). However, this does not mean that God is not preparing the world for that future time during the present church age—in fact, He is. But, stage-setting is not the “fulfillment” of Bible prophecy. So while prophecy is not being fulfilled in our day, it does not follow that we cannot track “general trends” in current preparation for the coming tribulation, especially since it immediately follows the rapture. I call this approach “stage-setting.”2
So, as we live in this era of stage-setting, how do we heed Christ’s warning and “discern the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3)? We will zero in on this question next time, in the final installment in this series.
1 Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 “Thomas Ice; “Prophetic Stage Setting;” Pre-Trib Research Center; n.d.; https://www.pre-trib.org/pretribfiles/pdfs/Ice-PropheticStageSetting.pdf; Internet; accessed 11 March 2021; pp. 1, 2.
Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, serving in the midwest. He also assists Whitcomb Ministries and writes for “Answers” Magazine and Regular Baptist Press. For more information on his ministry, visit foi.org/scharf or email firstname.lastname@example.org.