The novels in my “Tribulation Pilgrims’ Progress” series are written with the assumption that the rapture of all Christian believers could be tomorrow (as it might), so the fictional story describes a world much like we live in today. But even if the rapture should be very, very soon, there is something that could make that future “tomorrow” very different than today: Nuclear War.
In the first novel (Twilight of the Church Age), a group of pastors and scholars decide to create a resource called Lifeline for the Lost Sheep for the benefit of two groups of people: (1) those left behind after the rapture and (2) nonbelievers in the time before the rapture.
The second novel (The Great New Deal) tells “what happened next” for the characters left behind after the rapture. Some of the characters in this novel make use of that resource. The final chapter of The Great New Deal is presented as being a partial selection from that resource, carried around by those fictional post-rapture new believers.
Set forth below is another section from Lifeline for the Lost Sheep, which was not included in the pages of the final chapter of The Great New Deal. In the fictional world of the novel, there had not been a pre-rapture nuclear war, so the novel’s fictional characters didn’t carry this section around. But we don’t live in the fictional world of that novel. For us, the ugly risk of nuclear war, which seemed to have gone away with the demise of the Soviet Union, has returned thanks to the poor leadership of America and Europe and the evil ambitions of Russia and Red China.
The views and conclusions of the fictional Lifeline for the Lost Sheep authors are very applicable to the real here and now (which is somewhere in the left half of the red box #1 on the chart shown here).
From Lifeline for the Lost Sheep: A Nuclear Prologue to the Rapture?
In the “Big Questions” section of the Lifeline resource, we described the decline of Western civilization and how humanity has increasingly turned its back on God in recent decades. It is a certainty that the end times prophecies of the Bible will occur, but the question is when. If there should be a major Christian revival in the near future, the fulfillment of Bible prophecy may be later than we now think. But without a revival, it is likely to be soon.
Lifeline for the Lost Sheep was written from our current perspective. A world populated by about eight billion people, using modern technology to support current standards of living. As previously described, we see the supply of sin climbing and the falling demand for salvation through Jesus Christ. Our presumption is that the world will look very much like this at the tipping point of the Rapture, when Jesus calls all who believe in Him (alive and dead) to join Him in the sky and depart for heaven.
But it is possible that events could rapidly make that long-awaited moment quite different than our current situation. It seems increasingly possible that a nuclear war may occur involving the NATO countries (including America) and the Russia-China axis. It’s possible that might be prior to the Rapture.
For decades, many people worked to reduce the risk of nuclear war. With the fall of the Soviet Union, that risk seemed to be greatly reduced and people in the Western world reduced their focus on it. However, evil forces have continued to work behind the scenes.
In recent years, some of these malefactors have perceived an opportunity to gain power, territory and resources through the use of military force, political intrigue and terrorism. They perceive the leaders of America and other Western nations as being weak, foolish, incompetent, misguided and compromised. Tensions and regional conflicts (like the war in Ukraine) have intensified and the rhetoric (from both sides) has included threats that nuclear weapons might be used.
Once a nation has the nuclear devices and delivery systems, a nuclear attack could be launched with little advance warning and the other side could respond quickly. Other volleys might follow.
In a short period of time, the world population could drop by many millions. Depending on its scope, a nuclear war could decimate the industry, agriculture, infrastructure, public health and governance of the parties to the war and the countries that depend upon them. The global environment would be impacted. The world might be reduced to the level of pre-industrial civilization.
If such a war occurs prior to the Rapture (or soon thereafter), it might explain why there is no reference in Bible prophecy to any nation resembling America. It might also be one reason that the Western nations don’t support Israel in the war of Ezekiel 38 (beyond lip service).
A pre-Rapture nuclear war would be a mild preview of the upcoming horrors of the Tribulation period. Perhaps such a nuclear war would spark a rise in church attendance as happened after the terrorist attack of September 11th, or even a mini-revival. It also would be one more reason why the post-Rapture population will be so receptive to the Antichrist when he first emerges in the disguise of peacemaker.
Bible prophecy often speaks of future weapons using the vocabulary of the era in which the authors wrote (e.g., swords, shields, bows and arrows, horses). Bible scholars explain that the authors would logically use the terms of their era (e.g., the term “automatic rifle” would have been unknown and meaningless at the time of writing), but there is another consideration. A war that involves nuclear weapons and EMP devices might destroy or disable our modern weaponry, pushing the warriors back to ancient weapons.
There is nothing in the Bible that says a regional or global nuclear war cannot occur before the Rapture. It could happen anytime in the near future. If it does, many Christians will die, making them “first” among the believers called in the Rapture. But most of the people killed will be nonbelievers; they will have no post-death opportunity to turn to Christ and will receive eternal punishment for not doing so.
We pray such a war will not occur, that our leaders will see the path to avoid it. But this possibility intensifies our plea to nonbelievers: turn to Christ while you still can. Today is the day of salvation, you may have no “tomorrow.”