Tag: eschatology

Riders of Judgment- The Red, Black, and Pale Horses (Sermon Notes)

Riders of Judgment- The Red, Black, and Pale Horses (Sermon Notes)

Lesson Text- Revelation 6:3-8

 

The three remaining horsemen are personifications of the events that unfold under the reign of Antichrist- war, famine and pestilence, disease/plague, and death

The red horse brings war and conflict.

Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth: This rider didn’t need to bring war and destruction. All he needed to do was take peace from the earth.

The false peace that the Rider on the White Horse brings in is very short lived. Doubtlessly, world leaders still trying to cope with the Rapture think they have been under some kind of attack and, despite the best efforts of the Conquering Imitator, the rumblings of war begin.

 

Though the chief architect of the false peace, when wars break out all over the world he will have no choice but to resort to war himself in order to preserve his authority and power. Antichrist will be as skillful at war as he was at promoting the false peace. Daniel 8:24 describes his career as a warrior: “He will destroy to an extraordinary degree and prosper and perform his will; he will destroy mighty men and the holy people.” Among his victims will be many of God’s people (cf. 6:9; Matt. 24:9).

 

 

And it was granted: This authority was granted to the horseman. This is, directly or indirectly, the judgment of God.

 

a great sword was given to the rider. Machaira (sword) refers to the short, stabbing sword a Roman soldier carried into battle. It was also a weapon used by assassins. The vision depicts a great sword to describe the extent of the war. Antichrist’s false peace, then, will dissolve in a maelstrom of battle, assassination, rebellion, revolt, and massacre.

 

That people should kill one another: Our modern age is marked by war and conflict. Since World War II, there have been more than 150 wars of some kind in the world, and at any given time there may be some three dozen armed conflicts taking thousands of lives yearly. The nations of the world often spend more than $1 trillion on military expenditures a year.

 

This begins the largest holocaust in human history-unimaginable slaughter on a scale never seen before.

 

The black horse brings scarcity and inequity.

 

John’s use of the word behold reveals how startled and shocked he was by the rider’s ominous appearance. The color black is associated with famine in Lamentations 5:10 (KJV). Famine is a logical consequence of worldwide war as food supplies are destroyed and those involved in food production are killed. Jesus also predicted this future famine in Matthew 24:7: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” God has used famine as a means of judgment in the past (e. g., Lev. 26:26; Deut. 32:24; 2 Kings 8:1; Ps. 105:16; Isa. 3:1; Jer. 16:4; Ezek. 4:16-17; 5:16; 14:13; Hag. 1:11), but this will be the most devastating famine in all of human history.

 

A black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand: The scales symbolize the need to carefully measure and ration food. This speaks of a time of scarcity.

 

Scarcity is probably a kind understatement. As the entire world plunges into war and skirmishes the food supply and thus the economies of a host of nations is obliterated.

 

As in the United States during the Depression, in Europe in the aftermath of World War II, and today in many war-torn third-world nations, there will be starving people standing in food lines. But they will not find enough food to live on, as the fourth seal in John’s vision reveals.

 

Following the appearance of the black horse and its rider, John heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures. Since the four living creatures were stationed around the throne (4:6), this, most certainly, is the voice of God, the One sitting on the throne (4:2-3). I cannot find a logical alternative. Therefore,  God speaks here as a reminder that the famine is a direct judgment from Him.

 

Could it be more clear? Is there possibly a more exacting reference in Scripture that refutes the idea that a “loving God” does not judge?

 

A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius: These prices are about twelve times higher than normal. It means that it would cost a day’s wage to buy the ingredients for a loaf of bread. This describes “a time of famine when life will be reduced to the barest necessities.” (Walvoord)

We often see great famine in the world today, yet fewer people suffer from hunger today than 100 years ago. However, understanding the world’s precarious ecological balance, it would not take much to plunge many into the kind of scarcity and inequity mentioned here.

Do not harm the oil and the wine: Yet, the nicer things will be available for those who can afford them. There will still be the oil and the wine that should not be harmed.

 

The disparity between rich and poor now comes to its ultimate expression as the poor will not even be able to buy bread while the rich still have their oil and wine (a metaphor of the niceties of life). It, frankly, beggars the imaginations to contemplate the hostility that these disparities create.

The pale horse brings death.

 

A pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death: This last rider shows that there will be a tremendous death toll from the dictatorship, war, famine and other calamities described by the previous three horsemen.

 

John described the final horse as an ashen horse. Chlōros (ashen), from which the English words “chlorophyll” and “chlorine” derive, refers to a sickly, pale, yellow-green color. It describes green vegetation in its only other New Testament uses (8:7; 9:4; Mark 6:39). The horse’s color vividly portrays the pale-green pallor of death characteristic of the decomposition of a corpse. Fittingly, the rider who sat on it had the ominous name Death. Death on a massive scale is the inevitable consequence of widespread war and famine. In this macabre and terrifying scene, John saw Hades … following with Death. Hades (here representing the grave) becomes, as it were, the grave digger, burying the remains of Death’s victims. Death and Hades are also paired in 1:18 and 20:13, 14.

 

Our modern age has seen hundreds of millions killed by dictators, war, and famine. Yet all that will pale in comparison to the death toll coming in the wake of this ultimate dictator. No wonder Jesus said of this time For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:21)

 

 

The death toll is quantified…

Power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill: Power was given to the horseman, and given by God. Though all hell breaks loose on the earth, God is very much in control. He still holds the scroll and opens the seals.

 

As it stands, today, there are nearly 8 billion people on the planet. We cannot tabulate the number who will be taken at the Rapture but it is entirely reasonable to think that death toll from these three horsemen would be north of 1 billion people, a greater death toll than all the wars of the 20th Century combined.

 

 

 

Elohim: the Author and Finisher of History (Revelation 4:2-6)

Elohim: the Author and Finisher of History (Revelation 4:2-6)

John is given a glimpse of the One who sits on Heaven’s Throne. In our overview of the chapter we saw that this view is an anthropomorphic presentation of God in His dazzling majesty so that we might begin to have a comprehension of His Person. We are about to see the Divine Judgment machine unleashed but before we do, it is helpful to see God in the stream of history… 

  1. Elohim: He that sits on the throne is the God who created

Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.” In Hebrew it is Beresheet bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’aretz. Without trying to explain the complexities of Hebrew Grammar, I do want to point out that the Rabbis teach that this is actually out of order and, apart from Divine direction, it should read Elohim bara b’resheet. God did this on purpose; the emphasis is not on the who but is instead on the what and the when. Literally translated, this sentence should read, “At the beginning, God created…” When? At the start of all things. What happened? God created. We can logically infer that it is so obvious that no one else could create that God allowed the change in word order to emphasize the ordering of creation. Why would that matter, especially when studying the book of Revelation? Simply put, God is showing, and quite emphatically, that it is He who sets the times and seasons of all things. He caused it to be and He is the one who will cause it to end.

 

Rabbi Dr. David Stern, a Messianic Jew points out a couple items I want to bring to your mind. Quoting Dr. Stern on the name Elohim: “The root meaning of the word is unknown. The most probable theory is that it may be connected with the old Arabic verb alih (“to be perplexed, afraid”; “to seek refuge because of fear”). Eloah, Elohim, would therefore translate as “he who is the object of fear or reverence.” From this God makes clear that He is to be the object of our reverence or adoration. To a degree, there should be a fear and trembling, even among God’s special people, the Redeemed.

Dr. Stern also points out in his commenting on Genesis, that which we have already postulated, that God is placing emphasis on the what and when of creation, that God is showing us both the ordering and the giver of order.

Circling back to Revelation 4 and the description of the One who sits on the Throne…God is portrayed in His dazzling majesty. This is the fullest picture that we are given in Scripture to illuminate one of God’s titles, Melek ha’ Olam, King of All Things.

In Revelation 4 we are given a full orbed picture of Heaven’s Throne Room. Judgment is a about to begin (In chapter 5 the Judge is revealed) but God takes great care to put His Majesty, Splendor and Kingship on display. As it says later in the chapter, He is creator of all things and for His pleasure they were created. It is revealed, then that God who has created, now calls His courtiers into His presence to commence the Judgment.

Two other times, we see a foreshadowing of this moment. Isaiah and Ezekiel see the LORD. Daniel sees the Ancient of Days seated on His throne but does not give much detail. Meanwhile it is Isaiah and Ezekiel who give us a sneak preview. Let’s look…

Isaiah 6:1-4 (CSB)

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above him; they each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies;
his glory fills the whole earth.

 

The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

 

Ezekiel 1:4-28

I looked, and there was a whirlwind coming from the north, a huge cloud with fire flashing back and forth and brilliant light all around it. In the center of the fire, there was a gleam like amber. The likeness of four living creatures came from it, and this was their appearance: They looked something like a human, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the hooves of a calf, sparkling like the gleam of polished bronze. They had human hands under their wings on their four sides. All four of them had faces and wings. Their wings were touching. The creatures did not turn as they moved; each one went straight ahead. 10 Their faces looked something like the face of a human, and each of the four had the face of a lion on the right, the face of an ox on the left, and the face of an eagle. 11 That is what their faces were like. Their wings were spread upward; each had two wings touching that of another and two wings covering its body. 12 Each creature went straight ahead. Wherever the Spirit[a] wanted to go, they went without turning as they moved.

13 The likeness of the living creatures was like the appearance of blazing coals of fire or like torches. Fire was moving back and forth between the living creatures; it was bright, with lightning coming out of it. 14 The creatures were darting back and forth like flashes of lightning.

15 When I looked at the living creatures, there was one wheel on the ground beside each of the four-faced creatures. 16 The appearance of the wheels and their craftsmanship was like the gleam of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. Their appearance and craftsmanship was like a wheel within a wheel. 17 When they moved, they went in any of the four directions, without turning as they moved. 18 Their four rims were tall and awe-inspiring, completely covered with eyes.19 When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them, and when the creatures rose from the earth, the wheels also rose. 20 Wherever the Spirit wanted to go, the creatures went in the direction the Spirit was moving. The wheels rose alongside them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When the creatures moved, the wheels moved; when the creatures stopped, the wheels stopped; and when the creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose alongside them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

22 Over the heads of the living creatures the likeness of an expanse was spread out. It gleamed like awe-inspiring crystal, 23 and under the expanse their wings extended one toward another. They each also had two wings covering their bodies. 24 When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the roar of a huge torrent, like the voice of the Almighty, and a sound of tumult like the noise of an army. When they stopped, they lowered their wings.

25 A voice came from above the expanse over their heads; when they stopped, they lowered their wings. 26 Something like a throne with the appearance of lapis lazuli was above the expanse over their heads. On the throne, high above, was someone who looked like a human. 27 From what seemed to be his waist up, I saw a gleam like amber, with what looked like fire enclosing it all around. From what seemed to be his waist down, I also saw what looked like fire. There was a brilliant light all around him. 28 The appearance of the brilliant light all around was like that of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day. This was the appearance of the likeness of the Lord’s glory. When I saw it, I fell facedown and heard a voice speaking.

I could spend half a dozen sermons, easily, on the Ezekiel passage but for this lesson we will leave it as an illustration.

 

  1. God responds to sin with the promise of a Redeemer

 

Genesis 3:1

Now the serpent was more subtil…

I wonder how often we miss the serpent’s subtle whisper tempting us to say God is not enough (exactly what sin is)

The serpent often tempts not with a full throated shout, no that would be too obvious. That temptation you could see coming and resist. It’s his whisper that traps us. But its been the same question for 6000 years, “yea hath God said…?” So often we fall into the trap of thinking “good question” instead of getting out the shovel and taking off the serpent’s head.

 

Before God metes out grace, He gives a curse to the serpent and then we have the Proto euangelion…

 

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15, KJV)

 

Protevangelium is a compound word of two Greek words, protos meaning “first” and evangelion meaning “good news” or “gospel”. Thus the protevanglium in Genesis 3:15 is commonly referred to as the first mention of the good news of salvation in the Bible.

Strictly speaking, the protevangelium refers to the last part of Genesis 3:15, “it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.” According to H. C. Leupold, this passage uses a zeugma in the word “bruise”, which may be translated “it shall crush thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Because of the grave nature of the context, the fall of man, this passage describes more than just a man stepping on a snake’s head. The reference to the seed of the woman as Christ is believed to relate to the Virgin birth of the Messiah, as well as the Hypostatic union of the Divine nature with the Human nature of Christ.

Old Testament scholar Derek Kidner describes the Protevangelium as “the first glimmer of the gospel.” Several of the early Church fathers, such as Justin Martyr (160 AD) and Irenaeus (180 AD), regarded this verse “as the Protoevangelium, the first messianic prophecy in the Old Testament.


Exposition of Genesis, H. C. Leupold D.D, Online Bible edition, Gen 3:15

Jump up to: a b Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Eerdman’s 1996, page 294

^ Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, (IVP, 1967), p. 70.

^ Gordon J. Wenham, WBC: Genesis 1-15, (Thomas Nelson, 1987), pp. 80–81.

 

 

We then see the first blood atonement, grace’s response to sin.

In Genesis 3:21 the pattern of substitutionary atonement is set. God kills an animal or two (the Scripture does not directly say) and gave the man and the woman the skin as covering. Many believe this animal was a sheep/lamb thereby offering a prophecy of the messianic sacrifice of Jesus as the Lamb of God.  While this view is entirely speculative, it is reasonable. I cannot say for sure what animal God may have slain. The point is, the Lord God transferred the sin to the innocent animal along with its immediate consequence, instant death. It was grace that provides this atonement.

 

III. God the Son Redeems a People

This is best explained in what we refer to as the Romans Road to Salvation:

 

It starts out with our Problem from Romans 3:23:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

It then moves to our Peril in Romans 6:23:

            For the wages of sin is death . . .

And to God’s Provision in Romans 5:8:

            But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The Romans Road culminates in our Response in Romans 10:9:

 

  1. Elohim, the Majesty on High closes History with the Judgment

 

The Rapture having now come to pass, all of Heaven turns its attention to the Throne.

 

This is, of course, not a literal throne; it is a symbol of God’s power, majesty, and regal authority (1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 11:4; 103:19; Isaiah 6:1; 66:1; Ezekiel 1:26)

 

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible has an incredible comment on this portion of the Scripture.

“The vision of the throne reveals that the King is (a) beautiful, rich, and valuable like precious stones ( jasper, sardine or red carnelian, and emerald ); (b) gracious to sinners and faithful to His covenants (rainbow; Gen. 9:12-17); (c) dwelling with His victorious old covenant and new covenant people (twelve plus twelve elders; 21:12,14) in His holy temple (lamps, sea, lion, and calf or young ox; 1 Kings 7:23-25,29,36,49,51); (d) judging according to His fearsome power and righteous law (lightnings and thunderings like Mt. Sinai; Ex. 19-20); (e) shining out in the witness of the churches by the Holy Spirit (seven lamps . . . seven Spirits; and (f) attended by servants representing all the powers (lion, calf, man, eagle) and wisdom (full of eyes) of heaven and earth (5:13; Ezek. 1:10). What a glorious King!”

 

I disagree with them on the symbolism of the 24 Elders but the rest of it, I find spot on.

 

Human monarchs are often arrayed in fine clothes and bedecked with jewels presenting a wondrous sight. However, the Holy Spirit shows John that God outshines them all. His glory is still veiled, here, so John is not incinerated by blazing holiness and yet we see that even Solomon in all his glory is but a beggar compared to the One who is Majesty on High.

 

All of history has led up to this moment. Regardless of your view on the fall-supralapsarian, infralapsarian, or sublapsarian in the order of God’s Decrees, there has never been a moment when God did not intend to be a Redeemer and now, in this moment, the Redeemed are in Heaven, ministering before the Throne. There are still some Redeemed to be gathered in during the Tribulation, but here, all the Redeemed of the Church Age stand before the Throne and we, along with the Four Living Creatures, lead the worship in Heaven.

 

Why do the Elders cast their crowns and the feet of the One on the Throne? It is an emphatic declaration. “You, our Lord and our God ARE our reward and our treasure.”  Any crown we are given, though glorious, will not compare to being face to face with the King. Why bother with feeble accoutrements when Majesty Himself is now with us and we with Him, never to again be separated.

The Lamb is the Lion: Judgment begins

The Lamb is the Lion: Judgment begins

Text: Revelation 5

5:1 a book (scroll). There are several possibilities here: Dr. MacArthur has suggested, in several sermons, that this scroll is the title deed to Earth. Dr. Ryrie has suggested that it is the “Book of Redemption” telling the story of Redemptive History (See Ryrie Study Bible notes on Revelation). In the New Oxford Annotated Bible we are presented with the idea that this scroll contains the Divine Plan of Judgment and Redemption.

written inside and on the back. This is typical of various kinds of contracts in the ancient world, including deeds, marriage contracts, rental and lease agreements, and wills. The inside of the scroll contained all the details of the contract, and the outside—or back—contained a summary of the document. In this case it almost certainly is a deed—the title deed to the earth (Jeremiah 32:7)

sealed up with seven seals. Romans sealed their wills 7 times—on the edge at each roll—to prevent unauthorized entry. Hebrew title deeds required a minimum of 3 witnesses and 3 separate seals, with more important transactions requiring more witnesses and seals.

This is like the scroll given to Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:9–3:3) and given that it is sealed it is both unalterable and unknown until God chooses to reveal the contents.

5:2 strong angel. The identity of this angel is uncertain, but it may refer to the angel Gabriel, whose name means “strength of God” (Daniel 8:16). If you look at Luke’s Gospel, we see that the angel who visits Zacharias says “I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God and am sent to bring you these tidings (Luke 1:19).” This lends itself to the idea that the angel who speaks is in fact Gabriel. The only other angel specifically named in the Bible is Michael. I find it doubtful, though, that this would be Michael since he is usually portrayed as a warrior.

5:3 in heaven or on the earth or under the earth. This common biblical expression denotes the entirety of the universe and it is not intended to teach 3 precise divisions.

5:2-4 The scroll awaited one worthy to open the scroll and break its seals, and no servant of God introduced so far—neither elders nor living creatures nor anyone else in heaven, on earth, or under the earth—had sufficient authority to unveil and implement God’s secret agenda. Sensing that the church’s hope stood in jeopardy, John began to weep loudly.

5:5 the Lion… from the tribe of Judah. One of the earliest titles for the Messiah, it speaks of His fierceness and strength, which although glimpsed in His first coming, do not appear in their fullness until the moment anticipated here.

the Root of David. Another clearly messianic title, it anticipates His being a descendant of David, who with devastating force will compel the wicked of the earth to succumb to His authority.

I have an amillennialist friend who believes that this moment pictures the moment of Christ’s ascension; I disagree. It seems as though the logical conclusion, here, is that we see a reverse hierarchy i.e. the potential openers of the scroll are listed in ascending order and no one in the created order is worthy. John mistakenly concludes that there is no one worthy to open the scroll because none in the created order are worthy. Where the angel says behold, I think “wait!” is a better translation. Wait! Look, the creation cannot open it but the Lion of Judah, who is the Creator is worthy.”

5:6 Lamb. Hearing of a lion, John turns to see a lamb (lit. “a little, pet lamb”). God required the Jews to bring the Passover lamb into their houses for 4 days, essentially making it a pet, before it was to be violently slain (Ezekiel 12:3, 6). This is the true Passover Lamb, God’s Son (Isaiah 53:7; Jeremiah 11:19; John 1:29).

as if slain. The scars from its slaughter are still clearly visible, but it is standing—it is alive.

seven horns. In Scripture, horns always symbolize power, because in the animal kingdom they are used to exert power and inflict wounds in combat. Seven horns signify complete or perfect power. Unlike other defenseless lambs, this One has complete, sovereign power.

5:8 harp. These ancient stringed instruments not only accompanied the songs of God’s people (1Chronicles 25:6; Psalms 33:2), but also accompanied prophecy (1Samuel 10:5). It should be noted that these would be smaller and much more portable than what we know as a harp today. The 24 elders, representative of the redeemed church, played their harps in praise and in a symbolic indication that all the prophets had said was about to be fulfilled. Spontaneous praise is almost always the response of the saints.

bowls full of incense. These are golden, wide-mouth saucers similar to those which were common in the tabernacle and temple (Remember that the tabernacle and the temple were pictures of heavenly realities. Incense was a normal part of the Old Testament ritual. Priests stood twice daily before the inner veil of the temple and burned incense so that the smoke would carry into the Holy of Holies and be swept into the nostrils of God. That symbolized the people’s prayers rising to Him.

prayers of the saints. Specifically, these prayers represent all that the redeemed have ever prayed concerning ultimate and final redemption.

5:9 new song. The Old Testament is filled with references to a new song that flows from a heart that has experienced God’s redemption or deliverance (Psalm 33:3; 96:1; 144:9). This new song anticipates the final, glorious redemption that God is about to begin.

purchased for God with Your blood. The sacrificial death of Christ on behalf of sinners made Him worthy to take the scroll (1Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:3; 1Peter 1:18, 19; 2 Peter 2:1).

A note on the translation of verse 9: The KJV and the NKJV translate this as “purchased us/redeemed us” Revelation 5:9 is entirely dispensational

5:10 a kingdom and priestsreign upon the earth. The earth will not always be tyrannized by Satan and destroyed by his followers (Rev. 11:18; 12:12; 13:8). The first heaven and earth, stained by the curse through human sin, will be replaced by a new (or fully renewed) heaven and earth (21:1, 4) in which Christ’s saints will reign in righteousness (2 Pet. 3:13).

5:11 myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands. The number is to express an amount beyond calculation. The Gr. expression can also be translated “innumerable” or “many thousands” (Luke 12:1; Hebrews 12:22). Essentially, this is a limitless host. On its surface, it would appear that the whole of Heaven responds to Christ in an atiphonal chorus of praise. This is the clearest picture that we are given, in the Bible, of Jesus as being the center of everything.

5:12 power… and blessing. This doxology ascribes, to the Lamb, the sevenfold tribute that He is worthy of… power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, blessing

5:13–14

Finally, every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea (Psalm 146:6) offers a fourfold doxology (blessing, honor, glory, might) to God and to the Lamb. Eventually, every knee “in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” will bow and “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11).

Divine Worship as Judgment Begins

Divine Worship as Judgment Begins

Text: Revelation 4

Several visions of the heavenly throne-room occur in Revelation, usually preceding punitive actions on earth implying divine sovereignty over all earthly events, for events in heaven determine events in the world (7.9–17; 8.1–5; 11.15–19; 14.2–3; 15.2–8; 19.1–10; 21.3–8; see also 1 Kings 22.19–23; Job 1.6–12; 2.1–6).

 

Overview

This chapter is all about praise to God, the Creator of all. In the first vision, John sees the one God enthroned over the whole universe, praised as the Creator of all. This scene provides the setting for the remainder of the book. Faith in one God is at the core of both the Jewish and the Christian faiths (Deut 6:4-5; Mark 12:28-34; Rom 3:30; Gal 3:20; Jas 2:19).

In chapters 4 and 5 we get a glimpse into the Divine Throne Room as YHWH prepares to judge a Christ rejecting world.

Revelation 4

4:1 Come up here. This is not a veiled reference to the rapture of the church, but a command for John to be temporarily transported to heaven “in the Spirit” to receive revelation about future events. The Rapture has occurred somewhere between chapters 3 and 4. We note that it is not mentioned again until chapter 19 and God is specifically calling John into the Throne Room of Heaven to see:

what must take place after these things. According to the outline given in Chapter one and verse 19, this begins the third and final section of the book, describing the events that will follow the church age. We need to be absolutely clear here, the events which are described in chapter four and following do not concern the Church. This is the time of Jacobs Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) and is for the purification of national Israel.

4:2 throne. This is not necessarily a piece of furniture; it is, however a symbol of sovereign rule and Divine authority (7:15; 11:19; 16:17, 18; Isa 6:1). The Throne is the focus of chapter 4, occurring 13 times, 11 times referring to God’s throne.

4:3 It is unlikely that this is a description of God Himself. More likely what John is describing are the colors he sees as the Lord’s Crown reflects His radiant majesty. jasper. John later describes this stone as “crystal-clear” (21:11). He is probably referring to a diamond, which refracts all the colors of the spectrum in wondrous brilliance. A jasper/diamond would amplify the brilliance of Divine Majesty

sardius. A fiery bright ruby stone named for the city near which it was found (The sardius stone was commonly found near the city of Sardis).

emerald. A cool, emerald-green hue dominates the multi-colored rainbow surrounding God’s throne (cf. Ezekiel 1:28). From the time of Noah, the rainbow became a sign of God’s faithfulness to His Word, His promises, and His Noahic covenant (Genesis 9:12-17).

4:4 twenty-four elders. Their joint rule with Christ, their white garments, and their golden crowns all seem to indicate that these 24 represent the redeemed (verses 9-11; 5:5-14; 7:11-17; 11:16-18; 14:3; 19:4). The question is which redeemed? These Elders cannot be Israel, since the nation is not yet saved, glorified, and coronated. That is still to come at this point in the events of the end. Their resurrection and glory will come at the end of the 7-year tribulation time (Daniel 12:1-3). Tribulation saints aren’t yet saved (7:9, 10). Only one group will be complete and glorified at that point—the church. Here elders represent the church, which sings the song of redemption (5:8-10). They are the overcomers who have their crowns and live in the place prepared for them, where they have gone with Jesus (John 14:1-4). We need, also, to remember that the term elder is used to describe the Sanhedrin, which these are not, and it is also the title of the leaders of the Church. Since the Elder (presbuteros) stands before God to represent the flock, it is logical that the elders mentioned here are analogous to the Church.

4:5 lightning… thunder. Not the fury of nature, but the firestorm of righteous fury about to come from an awesome, powerful God upon a sinful world (8:5; 11:19; 16:18). Much like a storm that blows up on a lake, this is sudden and severe. It will seem like a surprise to the unredeemed world but to God it will not be a surprise but will come at exactly the time He plans for it.

seven Spirits of God. The Holy Spirit in His full perfection.

4:6 sea of glass. There is no sea in heaven (21:1), but the crystal pavement that serves as the floor of God’s throne stretches out like a great, glistening sea (Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:22).

four living creatures. Lit. “four living ones or beings.” These are the most likely cherubim (sing., cherub), those angels frequently referred to in the OT in connection with God’s presence, power, and holiness (Ezekiel 1). Although John’s description is not identical to Ezekiel’s, they are obviously both referring to the same supernatural and indescribable beings (Psalm 80:1; 99:1; Ezekiel 1:4-25

full of eyes. The description of them as being full of eyes is reminiscent of the seraphim in Isaiah chapter 6. However, while these 4 Living Creatures could be seraphim it is more likely they are cherubim. The eyes are metaphoric in nature; although they are not omniscient—an attribute reserved for God alone—these angels have a comprehensive knowledge and perception. Nothing escapes their scrutiny, hence a description of being full of eyes.

4:7 first… like a lion. In what is obviously intended as symbolic language, John compares these 4 beings with 4 of God’s earthly creations. Ezekiel indicates that every cherub has these 4 attributes. The likeness to a lion symbolizes strength and power.

second… like a calf. The image of a calf demonstrates that these beings render humble service to God.

third… face like that of a man. Their likeness to man shows they are rational beings.

fourth… like a flying eagle. The cherubim fulfill their service to God with the swiftness of eagles’ wings.

4:8 full of eyes. See v. 6

Holy, holy, holy. Often God is extolled for His holiness in this 3-fold form, because it is the summation of all that He is—His most salient attribute (Isa 6:3). Here, again, is why I bring up the possibility that the 4 Living Creatures are seraphim. As in Isaiah, these angels call out holy, holy, holy in what is most likely an antiphonal chorus.

who was and who is and who is to come 

This is the eternal nature of who God is. He always has been (Psalm 90:2), He is I AM (Exodus 3:14), and He always will be (eis tus aionos tau aiono) (Revelation 22)

4:10 cast their crowns. Aware that God alone is responsible for the rewards they have received, they divest themselves of all honor and cast it at the feet of their King.

4:11 You created all things. It is the Creator God who set out to redeem His creation.

Heaven’s response to the person of God and to everything He does is praise. The Church joins in that worship. We join in because He is not just our King, He is our Redeemer and for that, we praise Him

Rapture vs Glorious Appearing

Rapture vs Glorious Appearing

 

Differences Between Our Blessed Hope (the Rapture) and the Glorious Appearing (2nd Coming)

 

Before we look at some differences between the Rapture and the 2nd Coming, we need to look at 2 terms that the Bible uses for the event we call the Rapture of the Church.

 

The first is paralambano: Dr. Mounce provides some excellent information for us

Dictionary:

παραλαμβάνω

Greek transliteration:

paralambanō

Simplified transliteration:

paralambano

Principal Parts:

παραλήμψομαι, παρέλαβον, -, -, παρελήμφθην

Numbers

Strong’s number:

3880

GK Number:

4161

Glossary:

to take with; take charge of; to receive, accept

Definition:

pr. to take to one’s side; to take, receive to one’s self, Mt. 1:20; Jn. 14:3; to take with one’s self, Mt. 2:13, 14, 20, 21; 4:5, 8; to receive in charge or possession, Col. 4:17; Heb. 12:28; to receive as a matter of instruction, Mk. 7:4; 1 Cor. 11:23; 15:3; to receive, admit, acknowledge, Jn. 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:1; Col. 2:6; pass. to be carried off, Mt. 24:40, 41; Lk. 17:34, 35, 36

 

The 2nd is harpazo. Again learning from Dr. Bill Mounce:

Dictionary:

ἁρπάζω

Greek transliteration:

harpazō

Simplified transliteration:

harpazo

Principal Parts:

ἁρπάσω, ἥρπασα, -, ἤρπακμαι, ἡρπάσθην ορ ἡρπάγην

Numbers

Strong’s number:

726

GK Number:

773

Glossary:

to catch, steal, carry off

Definition:

to seize, as a wild beast, Jn. 10:12; take away by force, snatch away, Mt. 13:19; Jn. 10:28, 29; Acts 23:10; Jude 23; met. to seize on with avidity, eagerly, appropriate, Mt. 11:12; to convey away suddenly, transport hastily, Jn. 6:15

 

I would add 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. We will be harpazo (caught away to meet the Lord in the air.)

 

Objections to the Rapture:

 

A very common objection is that the word Rapture is not in the NT. That isn’t accurate. Rapture is the anglicization of the Latin, rapturus which is the translation of harpazo from Greek to Latin. If you look to the notes above, there are at least 7 instances of harpazo in the NT.

Another objection is that Dispensationalist teach an “escapist rapture.” No kidding. Exactly where is the “blessed hope” for a believer who is going to go through the tribulation. Of course Christians will escape the time of wrath. (1Th. 1:101Th. 5:9). Let us not forget that the tribulation is “even the time of Jacob’s trouble but he shall be saved out of it (Jeremiah 30:7)”

Rapture Second Coming
Christ comes for His own (John 14:3; 1Th. 5:28; 2Th. 2:1). Christ comes with His own (1Th. 3:13; Jude 1:14; Rev. Rev. 19:14+).1
Christ comes in the air (1Th. 4:17). Christ comes to the earth (Zec. 14:4; Acts 1:11).2
Christ claims His bride (1Th. 4:16-17). Christ comes with His bride (Rev. 19:6-14+).3
Removal of believers (1Th. 4:17). Manifestation of Christ (Mal. 4:2).4
Only His own see Him (1Th. 4:13-18). Every eye shall see Him (Rev. 1:7+).5
Tribulation begins (2Th. 1:6-9). Millennial Kingdom begins (Rev. 20:1-7+).6
Saved are delivered from wrath (1Th. 1:101Th. 5:9). Unsaved experience the wrath of God (Rev. 6:12-17+).7
No signs precede rapture (1Th. 5:1-3). Signs precede Second Coming (Luke 21:11, Luke 21:15).8
Focus is Lord and Church (1Th. 4:13-18). Focus is Israel and kingdom (Mat. 24:14).9
World is deceived (2Th. 2:3-12). Satan is bound so he cannot deceive (Rev. 20:1-2+).10
Believers depart the earth (1Th. 4:15-17).11 Unbelievers are taken away from the earth (Mat. 24:37-41).12
Unbelievers remain on earth. Believers remain on earth (Mat. 25:34).13
No mention of establishing Christ’s Kingdom on earth. Christ has come to set up His Kingdom on earth (Mat. 25:31, Mat. 25:34).14
Christians taken to the Father’s house (John 14:1-3). Resurrected saints do not see the Father’s house (Rev. 20:4+).15
Imminent—could happen at any moment.  Cannot occur for at least 7 years.16
Precedes the career of the man of sin. (2Th. 2:1-3). Terminates the career of the man of sin (Rev. 19:20+).

 

Notes

1 Thomas Ice and Timothy J. Demy, The Return (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999), 101-102.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 [Ibid.] [J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 207]

9 Ice, The Return, 101-102.

10 Ibid.

11 A critical problem for the posttribulational rapture view is its inability to explain the Sheep and Goat Judgment of Matthew Mat. 25:31-46. If all believers are caught up during the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation, then only unbelievers are left upon the earth. Yet when Jesus gathers the nations upon His arrival and kingdom (Mtt. Mat. 25:31) sheep are found in their midst. These sheep demonstrate their faith by their works and enter the Millennial Kingdom. When did they come to faith if all the faithful were caught up to meet Him at His return? The solution is found in recognizing the sheep as saints which came to faith after the Rapture of the Church and survive the Tribulation to populate the Millennial Kingdom. See Who Populates the Millennial Kingdom?

12 Richard L. Mayhue, “Why a Pretribulational Rapture,” in Richard L. Mayhue, ed., The Master’s Seminary Journal, vol. 13 no. 1 (Sun Valley, CA: The Master’s Seminary, Spring 2002), 247.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid.

15 Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, Charting the End Times (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2001), 112.

16 Ibid.

The King Who’s Coming

The King Who’s Coming

It is nearly impossible to look at the world without noticing that it has spun out of control and that’s the bad news. The good news is this: the world is right on schedule to meet its appointed culmination. How will this happen? Well if you will pardon the pop culture reference, it will happen with the return of the King.

The Lord of All the earth is about to make His return and to restore a paradise that has been lost. Officially, we call this “Our blessed hope” and it can be articulated this way: “The Imminent Return of the Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds of glory to gather His Church unto Him, is the Blessed Hope of the church.” Following that event, will be the Tribulation, the days of wrath, which will then culminate in the Millennial Kingdom.

In this week’s lesson, we are going to look at the King Who Is to Come.

Our text this week is Revelation 1:10-18

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,

If you look back to Exodus Chapter 19, when the Lord made His visitation Sinai, His visitation was preceded by the sound of a trumpet, and it is interesting to note, that in most of human history, the blast of a trumpet announced the arrival of a coming King. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, we see that, at the Rapture, the arrival of the King to gather His people to Himself into the clouds is accompanied by the sound of a trumpet. So we have two possible things in play here: 1. John heard the sound of a trumpet heralding the arrival of the King of the Universe. 2. The voice John heard was as loud, distinctive, and piercing as a trumpet blast. I tend to think that number 2 is the more likely scenario although 1st is a possibility.

11 saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

We are about to be treated to a glimpse into the Eternal Throne Room. Not only that, but we are about to receive a privilege unmatched anywhere in Scripture. Ever the teacher, the Lord Himself is about to give us the definitive exposition on the Scripture. We are going to see, in the imagery He uses, the Lord of all the Earth in resplendent glory and majesty.

We need understanding with verse 12-16 This vision is absolutely not a physical description of Christ in His Glory; we are not yet at the point where we will be able to behold Him as He now is. Instead, this is the lesson: Christ gives us a composite of Old Testament symbols representing the Lord of All:

 

10 Noteworthy Items

  1. One like the Son of Man

First, we need to note that this was not some otherworldly creature. The person that John saw was human in form. Over 80 times in the Gospels, Jesus refers to Himself or is referred to as the Son of Man. This term does not simply identify the humanity of Jesus; His use of it to refer to Himself shows that He identifies with us. The One who is God above all gods, whose own precious blood redeemed the church, has humbled Himself to the point of being able to identify with the Bride. Since she can never be God, like the groom is, He has brought Himself to her and came in her likeness, as a Son of Man.

  1. “Clothed” in a garment down to the feet

By being clothed in a garment down to the feet, Christ shows Himself in His High Priestly role. (Hebrews 2:17 and 3:1) From the Ascension until this point in Redemptive History, Jesus has filled the Office of ha Cohen Gadol, the High Priest continually offering intercession for His saints before the Throne of God the Father. His shed blood at Calvary was the final atoning sacrifice which then left the role of the High Priest to be intercessor before God.

  1. Girded about the chest with a golden band

In Matthew 28:18, Jesus tells us that all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been committed to the Son. In the Ancient World, a gold band was a symbol of power and authority. Kings, Satraps, Governors, etc. wore these bands around the waist as a sign of their authority.

  1. His head and hair were white like wool

This identifies Christ with the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9-14). Not to be confused with the “white hair of old age,” this is a blazing white that speaks of righteousness. White is, perhaps, an insufficient adjective. This is absolute, superlative, holiness; a holiness so bright that leaves no room for any shadow. The white is Shekinah, the personal divine holy presence of God Himself.

  1. His eyes were like a flame of fire

In Greek, this phrase literally says “eyes shot fire.” Two things are in play here: first, this phraseology indicates indignance at the apostasy of the churches since the Church not being what she should be would certainly arouse the indignance of Christ. Secondly, eyes like a flame of fire speaks of the omniscience of Christ. Every thought and motive must pass through this gaze and all that is impure will be burned away.

  1. Feet like fine brass, refined in a furnace

If we look back to the Tabernacle for a moment, the altar of burnt offering was covered with brass and its utensils were made of the same material (Exodus 38:1-7). Glowing hot, brass feet are a clear reference to divine judgment. Jesus Christ with feet of judgment is moving through His church to exercise His chastening authority upon sin.

  1. Voice like many waters

When you stand near a waterfall, every other sound is drowned out by the thunderous roar of the waters. This is a picture of Jesus on the Day of Judgment; every voice, every sound will be brought to stillness before His authority. That is to say, when Christ calls His Judgment Court to session, the entire cosmos will come together and be convened.

  1. In his right had He held seven stars

Many times in Scripture, we see that stars and angels are used interchangeably and since the word angelos means messenger, it is clear that these would be messengers to the 7 Churches. What is not clear is whether Christ is referring to 7 actual angels or to the pastors of the 7 churches that He was sending His messages to. That Christ holds them in His hand shows Him as absolute Lord over all things, including the Church.

  1. Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12)

A two-edged sword speaks of judgment and portends to judgment on those who would attack Christ or His Church. The Standard of Judgment that Christ uses is none other than Sacred Scripture, His Word. What will determine your salvation and your righteousness? Nothing more or less than the standard laid out in the Bible.

  1. His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength

Think back to Matthew 17:12 on the Mount of Transfiguration. His countenance (face) is blazing in unmistakable resplendent glory.

Looking down to verse 17…

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,

It is possible that John simply passed out, but it is also possible that the shock of seeing Christ in His glory caused John’s aged heart to fail and, as He did so often in the Gospels, the Lord healed John with a touch.

“Do not be afraid”; when one is approaching the Sovereign Lord in His majesty, there is a measure of fear but that is not all that is alluded to here: The Lord, in His all-consuming holiness could have struck John dead for any sin, at all, that he had. Jesus, though, has an excellent memory, and knowing John as the Disciple Whom Jesus loved, he reached out in His grace and mercy and strengthened him.

18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

I know Baptists don’t do this, but every time I read this verse it makes me want to jump and shout. I don’t think most people get this verse. The Living One who was dead and it alive forever more!! Stop and get that. The Source of Life, who was murdered by His creation is alive forevermore! No one will ever again take His life from Him and the life that He gives to His Church can never be taken to her either!

 

NOTE: Audio will be available at a later time

 

The Promise of a Davidic King

The Promise of a Davidic King

There are several prophecies of the continuation of the Kingdom of David and of Messiah’s Rule. In this lesson, we will post a prophecy and the associated passage of Scripture, followed by the New Testament Fulfillment Passage.  (This lesson, is the precursor to the lesson The King Who’s Coming.

David’s royal line will be perpetual

2 Samuel 7:16

Psalm 78:67-70

New Testament Fulfillment

Luke 1:33, 2:11   John 7:42  Romans 1:3

The Scepter will not depart from Judah

Genesis 49:9-10

New Testament Fulfillment

Hebrews 7:14 Revelation 5:5

The Branch of Jesse (David’s father) is to rule

Isaiah 11:1-5

Zechariah 12:8

New Testament fulfillment

Luke 3:23, 4:18   Romans 11:26 Revelation 22:16

God promises David a kingdom

Psalm 89:2-4    Psalm 132:11

New Testament Fulfillment

Luke 1:32

An assurance of government from David’s Throne

Isaiah 9:6-7

Jeremiah 23:5

New Testament Fulfillment

Luke 1:33

Messiah to be born in Bethlehem

Micah 5:2-4

New Testament Fulfillment

Matthew 2:1-6

 

Unmasking the Apocalypse Sermon Notes

Unmasking the Apocalypse Sermon Notes

Text: Revelation 1:1-3

What is an apocalypse?

apocalypse/revelation

Greek: apokalypsis (Luke 2:32; Rom. 8:19; 16:25; Gal. 1:12) Using the roots apo (G0575), “from, away,” and kalypto (G2572), “covering, veil,” this word means “an uncovering, revelation, disclosure.” What is being disclosed was previously hidden. In the New Testament this word is typically used of spiritual things, such as visions (2 Cor. 12:1), spiritual truth (Luke 2:32), or eschatological events (Rom. 8:19; 2 Thess. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:13). In these cases, what is revealed could be known only through supernatural disclosure. The entire Bible is God’s progressive revelation of who He is and how He is saving His people, and the Book of Revelation focuses on His final revelation when He returns to establish His eternal kingdom.

Why should I try to study Revelation? Isn’t it too hard to understand?

This is a very understandable and legitimate question. John gives a good clue in the first phrase, which introduces this book as “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Revelation gives a unique picture of Jesus Christ, and the New Testament, really the entire Bible would be incomplete without it. In chapter 1, when we see Jesus’ appearance, it is a perfect exposition of the Old Testament. The Gospels describe Jesus’ life on Earth from four different viewpoints. The letters discuss the deep significance of the resurrected Christ and what he accomplished. But Revelation shows Jesus Christ from a new perspective: Here we see the most definitive picture of Jesus as Divine Son and Lord of the Church. When John saw him in this exalted state, he fell at Jesus’ feet as though dead (1:17).

As to whether or not Revelation is too hard to understand, bear this in mind:

  • We read Revelation according to the normal rules of language. Therefore, what appear to be metaphors or similes are just exactly that. If you understand the literary features of Revelation, you will be halfway to a correct understanding of the message therein
  • We read Revelation literally. That means, for example, when the book talks about locusts, it means exactly that; locusts not attack helicopters or other such nonsense.
  • Over half of Revelation refers back to the Old Testament. If you do not understand the Old Testament, correctly, you will never get Revelation right either.
  • God promises blessing to those who read the words of the Revelation (Ch 1 vs 3)

 

What does Revelation really unveil?

  • Revelation reveals Jesus as Divine Son and Lord of the Church
  • It reveals the nature of the Church through 7 types and what the end result will be for each church.
  • It reveals the Divine Judgment Machine and how God deals with a Christ rejecting world
  • The total triumph and finality of redemption is revealed including the final destruction of Satan
  • Lastly, the Kingdom is revealed.

Quoting John MacArthur on Revelation

“The book of Revelation contains truths that had been concealed, but have now been revealed. Though it nowhere directly quotes the Old Testament, 278 of its 404 verses refer or allude to Old Testament prophetic truth, and it amplifies what was only initially suggested in the Old Testament.

The Apocalypse reveals a great many divine truths. It warns the church of the danger of sin and instructs it about the need for holiness. It reveals the strength Christ and believers have to overcome Satan. It reveals the glory and majesty of God and depicts the reverent worship that constantly attends His throne. The book of Revelation reveals the end of human history, including the final political setup of the world, the career of Antichrist, and the climactic Battle of Armageddon. It reveals the coming glory of Christ’s earthly reign during the millennial kingdom, the Great White Throne judgment, and depicts the eternal bliss of the new heaven and the new earth. It reveals the ultimate victory of Jesus Christ over all human and demonic opposition. The book of Revelation describes the ultimate defeat of Satan and sin, and the final state of the wicked (eternal torment in hell) and the righteous (eternal joy in heaven). In short, it is a front-page story of the future of the world written by someone who has seen it all.

But supremely, overarching all those features, the book of Revelation reveals the majesty and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. It describes in detail the events associated with His second coming, revealing His glory that will one-day blaze forth as strikingly and unmistakably as lightning flashing in a darkened sky (Matt. 24:27).”

That last point, Children of God, is why we study Revelation- so that we might see Christ the Redeemer and Christ the Lord in all His glory and give Him the worship that is due Him.

Even a cursory glance through the book of Revelation reveals that Jesus Christ is its main theme. He is “the faithful witness” (1:5); “the firstborn of the dead” (1:5); “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (1:5); “the Alpha and the Omega”(1:8; 21:6); the one “who is and who was and who is to come”(1:8); “the Almighty”(1:8); “the first and the last”(1:17); “the living One”(1:18); “the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands” (2:1); “the One who has the sharp two-edged sword” (2:12); “the Son of God” (2:18); the One “who has eyes like a flame of fire, and … feet … like burnished bronze” (2:18); the One “who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars” (3:1); the One “who is holy, who is true” (3:7); the holder of “the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens” (3:7); “the Amen, the faithful and true Witness.”(3:14); “the Beginning of the creation of God” (3:14); “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah” (5:5); “the Root of David” (5:5); the Lamb of God (e. g., 5:6; 6:1; 7:9-10; 8:1; 12:11; 13:8; 14:1; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7; 21:9; 22:1); the “Lord, holy and true” (6:10); the One who “is called Faithful and True” (19:11); “The Word of God”(19:13); the “King of kings, and Lord of lords”(19:16); Christ (Messiah), ruling on earth with His glorified saints (20:6); and “Jesus … the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (22:16). The book of Revelation reveals the majesty and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ in song, poetry, symbolism, and prophecy. In it the heavens are opened and its readers see, as did Stephen (Acts 7:56), visions of the risen, glorified Son of God. (MacArthur NT Commentary)

Are those who read Revelation really blessed?

Yes, we are really blessed by reading Revelation. For starters, it is given for our comfort as we face a world that is falling apart, where wickedness abounds so much that even Sodom would blush with shame; Christ and His righteous will triumph. The spirit of lawlessness may kill the body (God will allow some to be martyred) but antichrist will never triumph over the Righteous Lamb and those of His Elect.

Remember that blessed does not simply mean happy, even though that is an acceptable and accurate translation of the word used here. It also means favorable circumstances granted by God and it also connotes having shalom (peace and wholeness) with God.

Beloved, the time is near. This is not kronos which is our normal method of keeping time; it is kairos, the age. John wrote well because we indeed are in last days and there is nothing left to be fulfilled; all that yet remains is for the Lord to consummate redemptive history and to deliver the Kingdom up to the Father.

 

Foundations 8: Kingdom Come/Last Things

Foundations 8: Kingdom Come/Last Things

Foundations Lesson 8: Kingdom Come/Last Things

Rapture: The End Begins

What is the Rapture

The Rapture, also referred to as the Blessed Hope is an eschatological event and, in point of fact, is the event that begins the entirety of the End Times. Our official statement is thus: The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church. (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 Romans 8:23 Titus 2:13 1 Corinthians 15:51,52)

 

This is the event where believers who are “alive and remain shall be caught up together…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). We would call this the First Resurrection, where each Christian receives his or her resurrected body, after which they will pass before the Bema Seat and then enter into the joy of their Lord. First to receive their new bodies are those who have died as Christians, and then, those who are “alive and remain.”

 

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (Being asleep, as the Apostle Paul uses here, is a euphemism. He simply means that they have died.)

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

 

(The Second Resurrection occurs at the Great White Throne where the wicked dead and the remaining wicked who are living are resurrected to eternal fire.)

 

Take notice, I am telling you a secret. We shall not all die but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet call. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

 

Is it certain that there will be a Rapture?

Absolutely. All the prophecies related to the First Advent came to pass and so the prophecies related to the Second will happen as well.

 

When Will It Happen?

We cannot know that and anyone who says that they do know is a liar. We do know that the rapture will be instantaneous, in “the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Scripture nowhere encourages us to try to determine the date of Jesus’ return. Rather, we are to “keep watch, because we do not know on which day our Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42). We are to “be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when we do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:44). In the eschatological Parable of the Talents, we are told by the Lord to “Occupy till I come” but what does that mean? It means that we must be about the work of spreading the message of the Gospel.

 

Exploring the Truth takes the position of a premillennial, pre-tribulational rapture of the church and we have been told that such a position is actually detrimental to the work of the Kingdom; I could not disagree more. If we truly believe that the Rapture of the Church is imminent, it should motivate us greatly. The true work of the Kingdom is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that He is coming soon.

 

The timing of the Rapture has sparked a great debate within Christianity as a whole. Will it occur before, during, or after the tribulation period? Will it occur before the Millennial Kingdom begins, after the Millennial Kingdom ends, or, perhaps, will there be no Millennial Kingdom at all? Since we take the position of a Premillennial, Pretribulational Rapture of the Church, we need to define our terms. The tribulation is a seven-year period that immediately precedes the return of Christ and the establishment of His millennial kingdom, which lasts for 1,000 years. The first 3 ½ years of the tribulation will be a time of peace and cooperation, and the second 3 ½ years of the tribulation will be a time of war and catastrophe. At the midpoint of the tribulation, the Antichrist will proclaim himself god and require worship from all people of the world. Many will bow down and worship the Antichrist, including taking his mark of worldwide registration. Some will refuse to worship the Antichrist and receive his mark, and many will be killed for this act of disobedience. The second half of the tribulation is referred to as the “Great Tribulation.” There will be extraordinary catastrophes all over the world during this period. (For scriptural support, see Revelation 3:10, Matthew 24; Mark 13 and Luke 17).

 

Why do we take this position? In answering this question, it is important that we understand the culture of the day as well as the metaphor in play. In Revelation 19, we see the Marriage Supper of the Lamb referred to. This is noteworthy because it is the metaphor that we are to follow.

 

I had the privilege to sit under a Messianic Jewish Rabbi and he explained this as following the Paleo-Hebraic wedding. Let us look at that metaphor in regard to the Rapture and the rest of the End Times.

 

First, there is the Mohar (the Bride Price or Dowry). In the case of the Church, who is the Bride of Christ, the price was His own precious blood. Next, there is erusin, the betrothal. At the betrothal the woman was legally married, although she still remained in her father’s house. She could not belong to another man unless she was divorced from her betrothed. The wedding meant only that the betrothed woman, accompanied by a colorful procession, was brought from her father’s house to the house of her groom, and the legal tie with him was consummated. This is a beautiful picture of Sovereign Election; we are betrothed to Christ in the moment of our election and we can, legally, belong to no other.

 

The bride and groom would dwell in a place prepared for them by the groom:

John 14:2-3 (NASB)

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

 

Only the father could determine when the dwelling place was ready. Matthew 24:36 (KJV)

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  This would begin a period of separation.

 

At the end of the period of separation the groom would come to take his bride to live with him. The taking of the bride usually took place at night. The groom, best man and other male escorts would leave the groom’s father’s house and conduct a torch light procession to the home of the bride. Although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the exact time of his coming. As a result the groom’s arrival would be preceded by a shout. This shout would forewarn the bride to be prepared for the coming of the groom. (The shout of the Archangel in 1 Thessalonians)

 

After the groom received his bride together with her female attendants, the enlarged wedding party would return from the bride’s home to the groom’s father’s house. Upon arrival there the wedding party would find that the wedding guests had assembled already.

 

Shortly after arrival the bride and groom would be escorted by the other members of the wedding party to the bridal chamber (Chuppah). Prior to entering the chamber the bride remained veiled so that no one could see her face. While the groomsmen and bridesmaids would wait outside, the bride and groom would enter the bridal chamber alone. There in the privacy of that place they would enter into physical union for the first time, thereby consummating the marriage that had been covenanted earlier. After the marriage was consummated, the groom would announce the consummation to the other members of the wedding party waiting outside the chamber (John 3:29). These people would pass on the news of the marital union to the wedding guests. Upon receiving this good news the wedding guests would feast and make merry for the next seven days. During the seven days of the wedding festivities, which were sometimes called “the seven days of the Chuppah,” the bride remained hidden in the bridal chamber. At the conclusion of these seven days the groom would bring his bride out of the bridal chamber, now with her veil removed, so that all could see who his bride was.

 

In the same manner as the Jewish bridegroom came to the bride’s home for the purpose of obtaining her through the establishment of a marriage covenant, so Jesus came to earth for the purpose of obtaining the Church through the establishment of a covenant. On the same night in which Jesus made His promise in John 14, He instituted communion (This is the Covenant sign of our betrothal to Him). As He passed the cup of wine to His disciples, He said: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (1 Cor. 11:25). This was His way of saying that He would establish a new covenant through the shedding of His blood on the cross. Parallel to the custom of the Jewish groom paying a price to purchase his bride, Jesus paid a price to purchase His bride, the Church. The price that He paid was His own life blood. It was because of this purchase price that Paul wrote the following to members of the Church: “know ye not that…ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

 

Analogous with the Jewish bride being declared to be sanctified or set apart exclusively for her groom once the marriage covenant was established, the Church has been declared to be sanctified or set apart exclusively for Christ (Eph. 5:25-27; 1Cor. 1:2; 6:11; Heb. 10:10; 13:12).

 

In the same way that a cup of wine served as a symbol of the marriage covenant through which the Jewish groom obtained his bride, so the cup of communion serves as the symbol of the covenant through which Christ has obtained the Church (1 Cor. 11:25).

 

Just as the Jewish groom left the home of his bride and returned to his father’s house after the marriage covenant had been established, so Jesus left the earth, the home of the Church, and returned to His Father’s house in heaven after He had established the new covenant and risen from the dead (John 6:62; 20:17).

Corresponding with the period of separation between the Jewish groom and bride, Christ has remained separate from the Church for over 1900 years. The Church is now living in that period of separation.

 

Parallel to the custom of the Jewish groom preparing living accommodations for his bride in his father’s house during the time of separation, Christ has been preparing living accommodations for the Church in His Father’s house in heaven during His separation from His Bride (John 14:2).

 

In the same manner as the Jewish groom came to take his bride to live with him at the end of the period of separation, so Christ will come to take His Church to live with Him at the end of His period of separation from the Church (John 14:3).

Just as the taking of the Jewish bride was accomplished by a procession of the groom and male escorts from the groom’s father’s house to the home of the bride, so the taking of the Church will be accomplished by a procession of Christ and an angelic escort from Christ’s Father’s house in heaven to the home of the Church (1 Thess. 4:16).

 

Just as the Jewish bride was not knowing the exact time of the groom’s coming for her, the Church does not know the exact time of Christ’s coming for her.

In the same way that the Jewish groom’s arrival was preceded by a shout, so Christ’s arrival to take the Church will be preceded by a shout (1 Thess. 4:16).

Similar to the Jewish bride’s return with the groom to his father’s house after her departure from her home, the Church will return with Christ to His Father’s house in heaven after she is snatched from the earth to meet Him in the air (1 Thess. 4:17; John 14:2-3). What will happen here taught using the Greek word harpazo, which means to catch away. In the connotation of harpazo, it is very similar to being caught by the collar and being drug away. It is then that we will experience the other word related to the Rapture, Paralambano, which is a taking to oneself. The Angelic Host will catch us out of this world (harpazo in Greek, rapturus in Latin and that is where the word rapture comes from) and will deliver us unto Jesus who, being the perfect groom will take us unto himself.

 

 

In the same manner as the Jewish wedding party found wedding guests assembled in the groom’s father’s house when they arrived, so Christ and the Church will find the souls of Old Testament saints assembled in heaven when they arrive. These souls will serve as the wedding guests. What a glorious event that will be!! The saints of old gathered together to witness the joining of the Prince of Heaven to His bride, can you even imagine and she is presented to Him in a robe of fine linen, white and pure and, in final glorification, the Bride reflects the radiant majesty of Jesus Christ?!

 

Parallel to the custom of the Jewish groom and bride entering into physical union after their arrival at the groom’s father’s house, thereby consummating the marriage that had been covenanted earlier, Christ and the Church will experience spiritual union after their arrival at His Father’s house in heaven, thereby consummating their relationship that had been covenanted earlier.

 

Corresponding with the Jewish bride remaining hidden in the bridal chamber for a period of seven days after arrival at the groom’s father’s house, the Church will remain hidden for a period of seven after arrival at Christ’s Father’s house in heaven. While the seven year Tribulation Period is taking place on the earth, the Church will be in heaven totally hidden from the sight of those living on the earth.

Just as the Jewish groom brought his bride out of the bridal chamber at the conclusion of the seven days with her veil removed, so that all could see who his bride was, so Christ will bring His Church out of heaven in His Second Coming at the conclusion of the seven year Tribulation Period in full view of all who are alive, so that all can see who the true church is (Col. 3:4).

 

Beloved, can you see the majesty of this event? The ultimate groom is coming for His bride. The Crown Prince of Heaven, adorned in majesty, wearing glory for His garments is coming to take His bride home. We, the Church are that Bride and we are about to enter into the “7 days of the Chuppa” but for those left behind, they will be a time of terrible tribulation, on year for each day of the Marriage Supper…

 

There is a tremendous amount of information that yet needs to be unpacked. We will develop these concepts more as we go through the lessons on the Tribulation, The Millennium, and the End of Days.

 

In reality, the main debate on the Rapture is not what it’s nature is, but when it will occur in relation to the tribulation. To summarize, the pre-tribulation view is that the rapture will happen before the tribulation period, and this is the position that we take; the mid-tribulation view is that the rapture will occur half-way through the tribulation period; and the post-tribulation view is that the rapture will occur at the end of the tribulation period.

 

To repeat: Exploring the Truth, officially, takes the position of a Pre-Millennial, Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

 

Does the Timing Matter for Believers in Jesus Christ?

The pre-tribulation rapture is a wonderful hope for believers in Jesus Christ, which is why the Apostle tells us to comfort one another with those words.

 

That being said, when the Rapture actually happens is, to a point, ancillary. The key to our position in Christ, and to securing our home-going, is that we are justified by faith in Christ because of grace.

 

Tribulation: The Wrath to Come

 

The Biblical Basis for The Tribulation

Does the Bible teach that there will be a Great Tribulation (also called the Time of Jacob’s trouble? Does it teach that there will be an actual person who we know as the Antichrist? In short, Yes.

 

What are the Tribulation and Great Tribulation (gotquestions.org)

The Tribulation is a future time period when the Lord will accomplish at least two aspects of His plan: 1) He will complete His discipline of the nation Israel (Daniel 9:24), and 2) He will judge the unbelieving, godless inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 6 – 18). The length of the Tribulation is seven years. This is determined by an understanding of the seventy weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27; also see the article on the Tribulation). The Great Tribulation is the last half of the Tribulation period, three and one-half years in length. It is distinguished from the Tribulation period because the Beast, or Antichrist, will be revealed, and the wrath of God will greatly intensify during this time. Thus, it is important at this point to emphasize that the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation are not synonymous terms. Within eschatology (the study of future things), the Tribulation refers to the full seven-year period while the “Great Tribulation” refers to the second half of the Tribulation.

 

It is Christ Himself who used the phrase “Great Tribulation” with reference to the last half of the Tribulation. In Matthew 24:21, Jesus says, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.” In this verse Jesus is referring to the event of Matthew 24:15, which describes the revealing of the abomination of desolation, the man also known as the Antichrist. Also, Jesus in Matthew 24:29-30 states, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days . . . the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” In this passage, Jesus defines the Great Tribulation (v.21) as beginning with the revealing of the abomination of desolation (v.15) and ending with Christ’s second coming (v.30).

 

Other passages that refer to the Great Tribulation are Daniel 12:1b, which says, “And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time.” It seems that Jesus was quoting this verse when He spoke the words recorded in Matthew 24:21. Also referring to the Great Tribulation is Jeremiah 30:7, “Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.” The phrase “Jacob’s distress” refers to the nation of Israel, which will experience persecution and natural disasters such as have never before been seen.

 

Considering the information Christ gave us in Matthew 24:15-30, it is easy to conclude that the beginning of the Great Tribulation has much to do with the abomination of desolation, an action of the Antichrist. In Daniel 9:26-27, we find that this man will make a “covenant” (a peace pact) with the world for seven years (one “week”; again, see the article on the Tribulation). Halfway through the seven-year period—”in the middle of the week”—we are told this man will break the covenant he made, stopping sacrifice and grain offering, which specifically refers to his actions in the rebuilt temple of the future. Revelation 13:1-10 gives even more detail concerning the Beast’s actions, and just as important, it also verifies the length of time he will be in power. Revelation 13:5 says he will be in power for 42 months, which is three and one-half years, the length of the Great Tribulation.

 

Revelation offers us the most information about the Great Tribulation. From Revelation 13 when the Beast is revealed until Christ returns in Revelation 19, we are given a picture of God’s wrath on the earth because of unbelief and rebellion (Revelation 16-18). It is also a picture of how God disciplines and at the same time protects His people Israel (Revelation 14:1-5) until He keeps His promise to Israel by establishing an earthly kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).

 

The first mention of the Tribulation in the Bible is found in Deuteronomy 4:27-30. Before the Children of Israel entered the Promised Land, Moses warned them that if they were unfaithful to God, they would be scattered among the nations. He then prophesied that “in the latter days” they would come under “distress,” and the result would be their “return to the Lord.”

 

Centuries later, Jeremiah used the same terminology when he referred to the Tribulation. He called it “the time of Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Similarly, Daniel called it “the time of trouble,” and he prophesied it would be the worst period of trouble in the history of the Jewish people (Daniel 12:1). Malachi stated it would be a time of refining for the Jews, as when silver is purified by fire (Malachi 3:1-4). And Zechariah used the same imagery when he prophesied that two-thirds of the Jewish people will perish during this time. Of the remnant remaining, he wrote, “I [the Lord] will bring the third part through the fire [and] refine them as silver is refined…” (Zechariah 13:8-9). Incidentally, it is this remnant that prompts us to teach that all of Israel will be saved.

 

All Israel Will Be Saved During the Tribulation

That all Israel will be saved is a logical possibility that we can readily draw from the text.

 

In two of the sets of judgments, we see the unmitigated death and destruction that the Holy God allows to be unleashed on a Christ Rejecting world. What we do not see, in Revelation, is how many of those who are killed are part of Israel and as a consequence we do not know how many Israelites are left alive to be saved. We can, then, infer that the salvation of Israel is logically possible. As to probability, bear with me…

 

SEALS

Rev.6:3-2nd Seal: Wars on earth

Rev.6:7-4th Seal: Death released. 1/4 of the worlds population to die by plagues, disease, and beasts of the earth

Rev.6:9-5th Seal: Persecution and mass killing of God’s people worldwide

Rev.6:12-6th Seal: Massive earthquake wrath of God.

 

TRUMPETS

Rev.9:13-6th Trumpet: demons released and 200 million army kills 1/3 of the world’s population.

 

Some points from the Revelation Teaching Series by another of my mentors

“shall be saved” …salvation by faith in Jesus Christ vs works

  • Genesis 15:6
  • Habakkuk 2:4
  • Romans 4:9 – 5:1
  • Romans 9:24-26
  • Galatians 3:16-29

 

“all Israel”

  • Romans 2:25-29
  • Romans 9:6b
  • Romans 9:27
  • Ezekiel 20:5, 8, 13, 16-17, 33-44
    1. When will God rule over Israel…when will God be Israel’s King?
    2. When will Israel pollute His name no more?
    3. When will Israel be sanctified before the Gentile nations?
    4. When will Israel know that Jesus Christ is Lord?
    5. When will Israel loathe themselves and their tawdry history?
    6. When will the Lord purge Israel of the rebels/unbelievers?
    7. During the 70th Week of Daniel (Dan 9:24)

 

  • Ezekiel 36:16-31
  • Zechariah 13:8-9
  • Romans 11:25-29

 

“all Israel” are those who believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, their King and Savior

 

 

Dr. MacArthur points out that “all Israel” means all of those members of the nation of Israel that survive the Time of Jacob’s Trouble/Great Tribulation.

Romans 11:17- only some branches are broken off, so a believing remnant are being preserved unto/until salvation.

 

Additional from Dr. MacArthur

Before all Israel is saved, its unbelieving, ungodly members will be separated out by God’s inerrant hand of judgment. Ezekiel makes that truth vividly clear:

 

“As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. And I shall bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; and I shall bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I shall enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you,” declares the Lord God. “And I shall make you pass under the rod, and I shall bring you into the bond of the covenant; and I shall purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I shall bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezek. 20:33–38, emphasis added; cf. Dan. 12:10; Zech. 13:8–9)

 

Those who hear the preaching of the 144,000 (Rev. 7:1–8; 14:1–5), of other converts (7:9), of the two witnesses (11:3–13), and of the angel (14:6), and thus safely pass under God’s rod of judgment will then comprise all Israel, which—in fulfillment of God’s sovereign and irrevocable promise—will be completely a nation of believers who are ready for the kingdom of the Messiah Jesus.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jer. 31:31–34; cf. 32:38)

 

God’s control of history is irrefutable evidence of His sovereignty. And as surely as He cut off unbelieving Israel from His tree of salvation, just as surely will He graft believing Israel back in—a nation completely restored and completely saved.

 

Most importantly, the reason why, at some point, the entirety of Israel looks upon Him whom they pierced, mourns, and turns to Christ is the fact that God does not change

 

Malachi 3:6

I, the Lord, do not change

 

Hosea 2:14-20

14“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness,

and speak tenderly to her. 15And there I will give her her vineyards

and make the Valley of Achore a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

16“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.

 

1 Samuel 15:29

29 “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind”

 

Psalm 102:12 & 25-28

12 But Thou, O LORD dost abide forever; And Thy name to all generations. . . 25 Of old Thou didst found the earth; And the heavens are the work of Thy hands. 26 Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. 27 But Thou art the same, And Thy years will not come to an end. 28 The children of Thy servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before Thee”

 

 

The Scope of Tribulation

The House of Israel will not be the only ones to suffer during this period of unparalleled trouble. The Bible makes it clear that all the nations of the world will experience catastrophic calamities.

 

Isaiah calls it “a day of reckoning” for all the nations of the world (Isaiah 2:10-17). Zephaniah says “all the earth will be devoured in the fire of God’s jealousy” (Zephaniah 1:18). The Psalmist Asaph put it this way: “A cup is in the hand of the Lord, and the wine foams… surely, all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs” (Psalm 75:8).

 

How long will this be?

The prophet Daniel defined the length of the Tribulation. He said God would accomplish all His purposes for the Jewish people during a period of 70 weeks of years (490 years). Sixty-nine of those weeks of years (483 years) would lead up to the death of the Messiah. The final week of years would occur at the end of the age, right before the return of the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-27). This concluding week of years (7 years) corresponds to the Tribulation for, as Daniel put it, it will mark the time when “the prince who is to come” will “make desolate” — a reference to the Antichrist.

 

The timing established by Daniel is confirmed in the book of Revelation where the Tribulation is divided into two periods of 3 1/2 years each (Revelation 11:3,7 and 13:5). The dividing point between the two halves of the Tribulation will occur when the Antichrist reveals himself by entering the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, stopping the sacrifices, and declaring himself to be god (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; and Revelation 13:5-6).

 

When does this happen?

When will this terrible period begin? The Bible says in general terms that it will start after the Jews have been re-gathered and have been re-established in their homeland and in their sacred city of Jerusalem.

 

Specifically, the Bible says it will begin at a time when all the world comes together against Israel over the issue of who will control the city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3). Of course, this means that, currently, we are on the very threshold of the Tribulation today as we witness the United Nations, the European Union, the Vatican, and the Arab nations demanding that the Jews surrender their sovereignty over Jerusalem. Ultimately, this will not happen as God Himself will rise up to defend Israel, His beloved.

 

The specific event that will mark the seven year count down of the Tribulation will be the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and her Arab enemies — a treaty that will allow the Jews to rebuild their Temple (Daniel 9:27).

 

The Nature

The unparalleled horror of the Tribulation is spelled out in detail in both Tanakh and the New Testament. Isaiah wrote that it will be a day of “terror of the Lord” when “the pride of men will be abased” (Isaiah 2:10,17,19). Zephaniah proclaimed that it will be a “day of wrath,” “a day of trouble and distress,” and “a day of destruction and desolation” (Zephaniah 1:15). Men will stumble around like they are blind and “their blood will be poured out like dust” (Zephaniah 1:17).

 

This dismal picture is echoed in the New Testament. Jesus said it will be a time of tribulation “such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall” (Matthew 24:21). In fact, Jesus said it will be so terrible that if it were not stopped at the end of seven years, it would result in the destruction of all life (Matthew 24:22). The Apostle John states that the chaos will be so great that the leaders of the world will crawl into caves and cry out for the rocks of the mountains to fall upon them (Revelation 6:15-16).