You said — “So, all that verbiage aside, you seem to be agreeing with me while denying your earlier claim that that there are absolutely, positively no specific prophecies prior to the rapture. Unless you are also simultaneously trying to claim that the existence of modern Israel is a specific sign of Christs return.”
Well, to see that there is a Temple and sacrifices are being done and the Antichrist will stand there, as in the abomination of desolation and put a stop to the sacrifices — *does* show that Israel exists (which it did not exist before, “in history”) — but — it does *not* give a “sign” as to the timing of the Rapture. That (i.e, the “Rapture”) is a signless event. The existence of Israel is not even given as a “preceding event” (in the Bible) for something that happens *prior* to the Rapture.
The point at which Israel *has to exist* is for the Antichrist to be there and put a stop to the sacrifices. That doesn’t say anything about the “timing” of the Rapture, because the Rapture occurs *prior* to the revealing of the Antichrist, and all of what he does and prior to the Tribulation. Those prophecies occur inside the Tribulation. Note that those prophecies don’t say (one way or another) that Israel will become a nation again at “this particular time” — it could and then it might be earlier. In what we’ve seen from our “experience” (but not from the Bible prophecies) is that it came earlier than the Tribulation — but — it *had to be there* — during the Tribulation — without a doubt.
SO NOW..., as we are “here” in our present days, we “see” by actual and real-life circumstances that Israel’s existence did precede the Rapture, but the Bible did not tell us this and we had “no Biblical sign” for the existence of Israel as being prior to the Rapture.
So, as you can see, the Bible did not give a prophecy or a “sign” as preceding the Rapture. We only know that it happened for Israel by observing things unfold in real life — not — by getting a prophecy from the Bible and not from getting a “sign” from the Bible.
And the point at which Israel exists, and we have the Antichrist putting a stop to the sacrifices, then we have the 1,260 days to the coming of Christ for setting up the Kingdom. That doesn’t say anything about the timing of Rapture.
For *that event* — the coming of Jesus Christ — to set up the Kingdom, we’ve got a “sign”, we’ve got a “prophecy” and we’ve got the *exact days* until the coming of Christ to set up the Kingdom.
There’s the difference...
That’s why it’s an apt description to say that “When I see Christmas decorations being put in the store, I know Thanksgiving is very very close!”
When I see the events leading up to the coming of Jesus Christ to *set up His Kingdom* being put into place, then I know the Rapture is very very close (even without a “preceding sign” [because there are no preceding signs] and even without a preceding prophecy [because there are no preceding prophecies] for the Rapture).
And then you said — “There are only two choices; either modern Israel is the fulfillment of specific Bible prophecies and the near will occur within a generation of these things taking place (ala Lindsey and Co.), or modern Israel is not related to any Bible prophecy, and it could disappear tomorrow without any consequence in eschatology terms...”
The choice is — the nation of Israel is a fulfillment of specific Bible prophecies — the ones that are going to happen in the Tribulation. The Rapture takes place prior to those prophecies, but we don’t know when. Once the Tribulation occurs and those prophecies related to Israel are in play, then we’ve got an *exact countdown* — to the day — of when Jesus Christ comes back to “set up the Kingdom on earth”...
And once we see things being *put into place* (what is called “stage setting”) that have a bearing on the prophecies that will take place in the Tribulation, then we know the Rapture is near (although not “when”) because the Rapture takes place *prior* to these prophecies in the Tribulation.
The great “ditty” that I like is (as you’ve heard already) — when I see the Christmas decorations being put in the stores, I know that Thanksgiving is very very close...” :-)
Of course — I know when the date of Thanksgiving is — but if I were to say that to someone (from another country and other customs) who didn’t know when the date of Thanksgiving was, I might tell them — “When you see the stores putting in those Christmas decorations, then you know Thanksgiving is very very close!” Then they would start to see the “preparations” for Christmas — and they would say to themselves (even though they don’t know when Thanksgiving is) — now that I see this happening, as I was told (about Christmas) I know Thanksgiving is very very close...
Those “signs” of Christmas were *not* about Thanksgiving — but — from those “signs” of Christmas, I was able to say, “Thanksgiving is very very close!”
And so it is with the Rapture...
So, again, what I hear you saying is that you do not know for certain that we have gotten to “Thanksgiving” so we have no clue as to how close we are to “Christmas”. In fact, you have no way of knowing whether you are looking at Christmas decorations or a 4th of July parade.
BTW, I’m not agreeing that your “Thanksgiving” analogy is valid wrt the Second Coming. I believe it is bogus.