Posts Tagged ‘Millennium’

What’s Wrong And What’s Right About ‘Left Behind’?

October 13, 2014

There is so much misinformation regarding the understanding of the Rapture and what it means to be “Left Behind.”  From ALL SIDES.  So let me get into it.

First of all, I keep running into this nonsense from those who deny the doctrine of the Rapture:

The doctrine of the secret rapture emerged during the early 19th century through the teachings of John Nelson Darby (1800–1882). Darby was one of the early leaders of the Plymouth Brethren movement, and his teachings became known as “dispensationalism.”

This notion relies upon the idea that the teaching of the Rapture of believers prior to the Tribulation never arose in Christianity until well into the 19th century.  And therefore it clearly has to be false.

If you believe that premise, I sure hope you don’t fly on airplanes or benefit from modern surgical techniques.  Or use a computer or have anything whatsoever to do with the modern world.  I mean, I hope you’re Amish.

One of the problems with this “The secret Rapture never existed prior to the 19th century and therefore it is clearly wrong” view is that the Bible ITSELF declares the following through the end-times prophet Daniel:

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. — Daniel 12:4

Shut up the words of Bible prophecy until the time of the end, WHEN KNOWLEDGE SHALL BE INCREASED.

Unless you’re either Amish or an abject hypocrite, anyway.

If you believe in the increase of knowledge, have the consistency to realize that we’re assured of an increase in prophetic knowledge as well.  If not, shut up.  Because you’ve got a lot of chores to do, such as saddling your horse, milking your cow and whatever weird thing you’re doing with that sheep.

The second problem with this premise that the teaching of the secret Rapture never existed until the 19th century is that it is simply a lie.

First of all, it is rather easy to factually demonstrate that this teaching was being taught LONG before the naysayers claim.  As just one example, Joseph Mede (1586-1638) wrote a commentary about the Book of Revelation that was THE most popular book of his era outside of the Holy Bible itself.  Do you notice that the man lived in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?  And he very clearly teaches what we’re assured was NEVER TAUGHT prior to well into the nineteenth century.  James H. Frere (1779-1866) and William Cuninghame (1775-1849) likewise taught a doctrine that we’re snidely lectured never existed until decades years after their death.

Those who tell you that the doctrine of the secret Rapture was invented by John Nelson Darby in the mid-to-late 1800s are documented liars and they are far more agents of Satan than they are agents of Christ.  Period.  You don’t lie like that in the name of truth.

But the doctrine of the Rapture exists long before even those Christian scholars such as Mede.  As I’ve documented before:

You might want to get a clue and realize that pre-millennialism is a) quite a bit older than the 19th century; and b) is quite a bit more attested by VERY recent scholarship than your ridiculous “19th century” garbage. Let me assure you that I have quite a few books in my own personal library about the rapture and the pre-millennialism that the rapture is part of, which date quite late into the 20th century and even into the 21st. Charles Darby is little more than a footnote in the presentation of this quite contemporary (as well as quite ancient) eschatology.

Pre-millennialism is the dominant eschatology in the Protestant church today, in terms of number of Christians who embrace it.

Let’s go to the fact that the word “rapture” (to seize or snatch) was translated from the Greek word “Harpazo” in 1 Thess 1:10 (which has the same meaning as the Latin “rapturo”) in his Latin Vulgate in 385. Just a LITTLE before the time you deceitfully claim, I’m afraid.

Let’s go to the writings of men such as Ephaim the Syrian, who wrote about 373 in a book entitled, “Antichrist and the End of the World”:

”We ought to understand thoroughly, therefore my brothers, what is imminent or overhanging. Already there have been hungers and plagues, violent movement of nations and sins, which have been predicted by the Lord.

Let us prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ so that He may draw us from the confusion which overwhelms the world. Believe you me, dearest brothers, because the coming of the Lord is nigh. Believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand. Believe me because it is the very last time. Because all Saints and the elect of the Lord are gathered together before the Tribulation which is about to come and are taken to the Lord in order that they may not see at any time the confusion that overwhelms the world because of our sins.”

That’s just one particularly clear example from the Church Fathers. Papias – companion of Polycarp, the disciple of the apostle John – believed in the literal earthly pre-millennial doctrine. As did Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Methodius, Commodianus, and Lactanitus, Apollinaris of Laodicea, Melito of Sardis, Jerome, Gennadius, Hippolytus of Rome, Nepos, Ambrose of Milan, as well as others. Pre-millenialism was in fact the dominant view of the church for the first few centuries. It is the oldest eschatological view.

The same scoffers who deny the doctrine of the secret Rapture of Christ of all believers prior to the Tribulation also deny the Premillennial theology from which the Rapture flows.  But again, as I’ve pointed out:

The early church overwhelmingly held a view called “chiliasm” (which is the Greek word for “Millennium”), a view which directly embraced a literal seven year period known as the Great Tribulation, followed by the return of Christ to rule and reign for a millennium. Robert P. Lightner writes, “It is generally agreed by students of the early church that premillennialism was the view held by many in the post-apostolic age. That it is the oldest of the three millennial views is seldom debated….”

Tell you what: if you close your eyes hard enough, you can’t see a dang thing.  You’re blind.

These scoffers are themselves evidence that we’re in the end times:

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”  — 2 Peter 3:3-4

And here the scoffers and mockers are, right on cue.

Now, the fact that the Church Fathers were documented teaching this doctrine soon after the close of the New Testament canon, the fact that what I believe as a Premillennial, secret-Rapture-believing Christian is the EARLIEST view of the Christian Church, does not guarantee that it is the correct view.  Anymore than if it were the LAST one taught would guarantee that it is the false view.  But it does assure anyone who cares about the truth that the people who are lecturing us otherwise are liars as well as scoffers and mockers.

And you ought to give the Premillennial, secret-Rapture view a chance.

My major belief in the Rapture has nothing whatsoever to do with what Christian teacher believed in it when; it has to do with what the Bible teaches.

Let’s consider the Book of Revelation.  The word “church” or the plural “churches” occurs NINETEEN TIMES in the first three chapters of Revelation.  Then St. John – representing the experience of Christians on earth – is commanded to “come up here.”  And the church NEVER AGAIN APPEARS ON EARTH until chapter 22.  That is a fact that the scoffers and mockers and liars don’t want you to contemplate.  But where is the church during the Tribulation?  It is in heaven.  It is NOT on earth following the rapture in which believers “come up here.”

They don’t want you to contemplate that Christ, in one of his references to the church prior to the command to “come up here,” promises believers:

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. — Revelation 3:10

That comforts me, because I know that I will be kept from the hour of testing – which is very clearly the Tribulation that the rest of the Book of Revelation describes – that shall come upon all of those who dwell on the earth who did not know Jesus at the time of the Rapture.  I know I’ll be in heaven with Christ Jesus following the Rapture that is so widely denied and mocked.

As for the rest of you, enjoy your Antichrist.  He’ll be showing up in Revelation chapter six.  Sorry, but I won’t be around to tell you, “Ha ha, told you so.”  Because Revelation 4:1 will be my cue to leave.

The “Christians” who deny and mock the Rapture are the from the same schools and basically the same “Christians” who mocked John Nelson Darby for pointing out that the Bible declared that there would be a national Israel.  We said there would be; the naysayers claimed there wouldn’t be.  This becomes incredibly important as we consider the rival theories.  In [her?] dismissive piece about the secret Rapture, which I quote from at the beginning of this article, Jeramie Rinne says:

Darby’s dispensationalism distinguished sharply between Israel and the church. The former was earthly, he believed, and the latter heavenly. God had two distinct peoples and separate plans for each. Thus Darby understood Old Testament prophecies as applying only to Israel, the earthly people of God. Rather than “spiritualizing” such prophecies, he expected a literal fulfillment of God’s promises to literal Israel. So when, according to dispensational thought, would God fulfill his prophecies to Israel? During the millennium (Rev. 20:1–8) after Jesus’ second coming.

So in order for God to resume these plans for Israel, Darby believed, God would first need to remove the church from the world. Hence arose the need for the secret rapture. Darby had in effect proposed something new: a two-stage return of Jesus. Jesus would first come to “rapture” the church, and then return again in visible glory.1

I submit that Rinne is being incredibly disingenuous.  Because it desperately needs to be pointed out that when Darby wrote in the 19th century, national “EARTHLY” Israel did not exist and in fact had not existed for nearly two thousand years.  And Rinne’s side mocked and dismissed Darby’s side when he argued that God’s Word guaranteed that national “earthly” Israel would be reborn.

It was one of the greatest miracles of the 20th century that a nation that had been dead for two millennia was reborn.  And reborn in a single day – May 14, 1948 – precisely according to the prophecies that Darby was proven to have interpreted rightly and Rinne’s side was proven to have interpreted wrongly.

You’ve just got to say more here.  Not only did national “earthly” Israel not exist, but the land that had once been Israel was a complete and utter and desolate WASTELAND inhabited only by a few nomads.  Mark Twain lived during the same period of time as Darby, and he described the land as it was in 1869:

“No landscape exists that is more tiresome to the eye than that which bounds the approaches to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is mournful, dreary, and lifeless. Palestine sits in sackloth and ashes”.

If this were a scientific laboratory and one scientist predicted an astounding thing that other scientists mocked and dismissed, and then the astounding thing happened exactly as it was predicted it would happen, you would be an absolute moron to believe the scoffing scientists.  Just for what it’s worth.

But these people simply do now have the power of truth in them to ever admit that they were wrong and maybe they ought to go back to the drawing board.  And so they literally mock with even greater foolishness than before.

Basically, the rival theologies which inspire the Rapture-mockers are Amillennialism and Postmillennialism.  They arose from the teaching of Augustine in the fifth century, when Augustine was realizing that a literal interpretation of Scripture made no sense because Israel had been destroyed and it didn’t look like it was ever coming back.  And so you had to mythologize the Bible to make any sense out of it.

And they depend on their system rather than on the Bible.  And if the facts don’t fit the system, so much the worse for the facts.

And in terms of Christianity, what they lacked was something that true Christians ought to have, something called “faith.”  Believing so that they can see rightly, rather than seeing so that they could believe wrongly.

The funniest thing is that it was actually Augustine himself who wrote the words, “Credo ut intellegiam” (“I believe in order that I may understand”).  It is a true shame the man couldn’t follow his own advice or he would have recognized by faith that God was not finished with Israel and that Israel was mentioned in last days prophecy and that therefore there would be an Israel in the last days.

So they are wrong both in terms of their faith and in terms of the facts.

But John Nelson Darby – and those who came before him in his tradition – certainly had the faith in the God of the Bible and His control of the affairs of men.  And so he was entirely right about the birth of Israel and he is just as right about the secret Rapture that the same Bible says is coming.  Darby did not “invent” the teaching of the secret Rapture; it had existed for the entire history of the Church.  What he did is systematize the premillennial teachings based on a literal, grammatical-historical hermeneutic that the other views dismissed.  His system turned out to be right and theirs is simply wrong.

Now, having hammered away at the scoffers who mock the secret Rapture of Christ in spite of the fact that Jesus warned them “I come as a thief” in passages like Matthew 24:43 (and see 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 2 Peter 3:10) and that He will come in an hour that they do not think He will come (v. 44), allow me now to examine what is wrong with the proponents of “Left Behind.”

Please consider Matthew 24 and understand the flow of thought that proceeds from Jesus’ teaching.

The discourse begins with the disciples asking Jesus, “What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3).  And Jesus proceeds to explain to them what will happen prior to His glorious coming as King of kings and as Lord of lords according to Revelation 19:16.  Jesus says that deception will be the hallmark of the last days, being ultimately manifested in false messiahs (v. 5).  We’re foretold that there will be wars and rumors of wars (v. 6).  We’re told that race will rise up against race and people group will rise up against people group, and that famines and earthquakes will be the norm rather than the exception (v. 7).  And that these signs will begin to become worse and worse and closer and closer together, like birth pangs (v. 8).  We’re told that persecution of Christians and even martyrdom will become commonplace (v. 9).  And that there will be great apostasy as people who once claimed to be Christians prove that they never truly believed (v. 10).

And amidst a time of great false teaching, what had been the Law will be spurned and rejected (think protecting the life of babies; think homosexuals marrying one another that are viewed as being every bit as valid as the marriage that God ordained between one man and one woman).  See verses 11-13.

And we’re told that amidst all these frightening and disheartening signs, that missionaries will somehow continue their work until the gospel of Jesus is preached in every single language of every single people on earth (v. 14).

Now, these things are happening right now.  And they will get worse and worse during the Tribulation.  In the case of worldwide preaching of the Gospel, consider the two witnesses and the 144,000.  They will finish the job that missionaries prior to the Tribulation began and they will preach the gospel to the whole world.  See for example Revelation chapter 7.  But when we get to Jesus’ prophecy of the Abomination that causes desolation in verse 15, we realize that this is a specific act that the future Antichrist will perform in the future Temple which will be rebuilt according to Revelation chapter 11.  That temple is being prepared this very day (see the Jewish organization that is working toward that day).

Now, you might glance up at the quote from 373 AD by Ephaim the Syrian and understand that one of the reasons that there are more “last days whackos” today than there were in the past is precisely because things have truly become much more dangerous and of much greater magnitude.  Ephaim the Syrian saw a frightening world.  But it was a world that did not have nuclear weapons or global jihadist terrorism.  So you can start to understand why “Left Behind” might be more of a recent phenomena than it used to be because Jesus Himself explained it would be exactly so.

But up to this point in Jesus’ teaching, describing false prophets and wars and earthquakes and famines, we know we’ve always seen all of these things throughout history.  Now Jesus begins to describe things that clearly have not happened yet.

In verse 15, Jesus describes a future abomination of desolation in the Temple in Jerusalem.  That Temple was destroyed in 70 AD and has not since been rebuilt.  There will have to be a future Temple for this new abomination to take place.  And Jesus warns a future generation of Jews living in Jerusalem to flee the moment they hear that the coming Antichrist has entered the holy of holies and declares himself to be God.

The place to which Jews will flee has already been prepared.  It is called Petra (and see here).  It is also possible many Jews will also successfully flee to Bozrah.  When they flee from the Antichrist, Revelation tells us that God will supernaturally seal them in with an earthquake and keep them safe until the Messiah – that’s Jesus – returns to deliver them.

Jesus declares in verse 21, “for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has never occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.”    It will be so terrible that if God Himself did not shorten these days, no human life will be left on earth (v. 22).

Then Jesus describes His own future return (as King of kings and as Lord of lords) in verses 29-30.

What is fascinating here is that every single human being will witness this return/coming of Christ.

Which strikes me as being just a little bit different from when He comes as a thief in the night.

This leads us to the “Left Behind” passage.  We’re told that “the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah” (v. 37).  Well, what were the days of Noah like?  They were a time of judgment and culminated in the judgment of the Flood.

Now let’s consider the “Left Behind” passage in that context:

Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. — Matthew 24:40

Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. — Matthew 24:41

Question: When will the one man in the field be taken?  When will the woman grinding be taken?  Answer: AFTER Jesus has returned as King of kings, that’s when.

Matthew 24:40-41 presents a vivid picture of what Matthew 24:31 teaches.  Let’s consider that verse of a Christ who has returned in glory sending out His angels:

“And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. — Matthew 24:31

Jesus also discusses such a “gathering” in the next chapter in Matthew 25:31-33

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

And we’re told in the following verses (vv. 34-46) that the sheep that will be gathered to Christ’s right are righteous/believers and that the goats that will be gathered to His left are wicked/unbelievers.

So when does this event – the separation of the sheep from the goats, in which two men will be working in a field and two women will be grinding and one will be taken and the other left (behind), – happen?

It will happen at the end of the Tribulation after Jesus’ return as King of kings and Lord of lords, and just prior to the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth known as the Millennium.

We will see a dramatic reversal of the Rapture, in which believers are raptured (the Greek word ‘harpazo’ translated in the Latin as ‘rapturo’ means “to seize by force, to suddenly and decisively snatch up“) and removed from earth prior to the Tribulation; because at then end of the age after Christ returns as King of kings, it will be the wicked who are taken in judgment and the righteous who will be “left behind” to repopulate the earth during the Millennium.

It’s a mirror image.  In the first Rapture believers are taken and unbelievers will be left on the world to go through the time of testing that Revelation 3:10 describes as coming upon the whole world; in the second one, it will be the unbelievers who will be taken in judgment.  And it is the Christian saints who were converted by the two witnesses and the 144,000 who physically survived the Great Tribulation who will be “left behind” to repopulate the earth with their Messiah ruling and reigning on earth from His Throne in Jerusalem.

That is what is actually being described by Jesus in the “Left Behind” passage of Matthew 24:40-41, rather than the Rapture of the Church that will precede the Tribulation.

As a biblical Christian, I believe in BOTH “raptures.”  And I am ready for the first one.  Because it will be for me and for mine.

The people who mock and deny the doctrine of the Rapture of the Church are asserting that nothing has changed, nothing is getting worse, everything is going to keep going on as it always has.  But anyone with a brain in his or her head ought to realize that things are getting worse – and that they are getting worse very much like birth pangs – that we’re living in an age where the phrase “signs of the times” ought to take on a whole new meaning from any generation that ever lived before, and that the world is being prepared for something that is coming and coming soon.

There’s a quote that seems particularly appropriate here: “Free your mind and your body will follow.”  Put your trust in Jesus and you will one day suddenly find your body rushing upward to meet Him in the air at the Rapture.

For your own further study, the three key Rapture passages describing the transformation of believers before the Tribulation are 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and John 14:-3.

I hope to see you in the air at the Rapture.  And if you happen to recognize me, please fly by me on your way to Jesus and say hi.

 

 

 

 

 

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Are You Building Your Ark Yet? Seeing the World Clearly Through the Literal Word of God

October 24, 2013

This article is about the deception that I submit is clearly characterizing these last days and the view that we need to read and understand our Bibles LITERALLY to understand the end times in which we live.  Allow me to explain how the title and subtitle zoom in on how these objectives inter-relate: “Are you building your ark yet?”  Imagine for a moment what would have happened in Genesis 6:13-18 had Noah refused to understand God as literally saying He was going to destroy the earth with a literal flood and that God wanted Noah to build a literal ark of certain specified literal materials and dimensions???  What would have happened to the human race??? What would have happened to Noah when the first drops began to fall and he shouted into the rain, “I thought this was all just an ALLEGORY!”

The allegorical method (essential to Amillennialist and Postmillennialist interpretation) has come to dominate so much of the “Christian Church’s” understanding of the Bible.  So first of all, allow me to define “allegory” with a few online dictionary definitions:

Is that what the Bible is?  Seriously?  Is THAT all your Bible is?  NOT.

Now allow me to present a very different method of interpreting the Bible:

THUS SAYS THE LORD

Billy Graham said in one of his televised Crusades that as he began his ministry, he struggled deeply with the question as to how he would present the Bible: would he make his ministry about trying to argue the truth of the Bible, or would he simply state it as the Word of the Living God?  He chose the latter path – and I would argue that his powerful ministry as the greatest evangelist in the history of the world after St. Paul bore out that fact.  If we just allow the Word of God to speak for itself, it has power that can change the world.  If we impose our human unbelief upon it, it has no power for it is no longer the Word of God at all, but only the perverted word of men.

What does the Bible say about itself?  And how should we receive it?

  • Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. —  Psalm 1:1-2
  • The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.  — Psalm 19:7-9
  • Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. – Psalm 119:11
  • Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law. – Psalm 119:70
  • Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.  – Psalm 119:89
  • Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.  – Psalm 119:105
  • These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  – Deut 6:6
  • The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever – Isaiah 40:8
  • Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, A people in whose heart is My law; Do not fear the reproach of man, Nor be dismayed at their revilings.  – Isaiah 51:7
  • And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.  – 1 Thessalonians 2:13
  • and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:15-17
  • For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. — Hebrews 4:12
  • We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.  Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.  For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.  – 2 Peter 1:19-21
  • Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.  – Jude 3
  • He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end.  Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.  – Daniel 12:9-10

The last days are coming, and “deception” will be THE factor that will plunge most of the world into hell.  One of the things that we learn about Satan and the coming Antichrist who will be personally indwelt by Satan is that the coming political Antichrist will be a master of deception.  Both Daniel and the coming Antichrist are given “wisdom” in terms of “mysteries.”  Daniel used his gift to untie or untangle mysterious visions so that the truth could be clearly revealed and understood.  Antichrist, on the other hand, will use his wisdom in the exact opposite way of Daniel: he will be able to so entangle the truth into so many knots with his words that no one will be able to understand the truth from his lies and what is right and good from his deceitful framing of all the narratives that he will present.  Antichrist’s goal in twisting the truth with his rhetoric is clearly displayed in Daniel 7:25 and Revelation chapter 13: he will present a narrative that we care clearly seeing today, that Christians are “intolerant” and essentially the bogeyman and that THEY are the source of all the problems.  We’re already increasingly seeing this – but all too soon it will lead to the most vicious and terrible wave of persecution in the history of the world as Antichrist begins his mission to murder every single believer on earth.  The last days are upon us and everyone who has the spirit that Daniel described in Daniel 12:10 can clearly see it.  Today we live in a world of “spin.”  And I submit that many “good people” are simply flat-out deceived politically and culturally be a tsunami of lies that have engulfed the world.  The spirit of antichrist is already here.

Christianity is slipping away in America, there is no question about it.  In 2012, 75% of Americans identified themselves as “Christian,” versus in 1990 – when that percentage was 86%. I submit that the decline of Christianity in America has a very great deal to do with “deception.”  It has to do with the fact that something watered down and perverted has been substituted for “Christianity” and more and more people are rejecting a “Christianity” that has NOTHING to do with Christ or His Word.  But think of it this way: given that 3 out of every 4 Americans still call themselves “Christian,” HOW IS IT that many of these same Americans now support homosexual marriage and abortion???  I defy anybody to explain to me how anybody could open up a Bible and say, “God approves of homosexual marriage.”  Just read Romans chapter one, if you don’t like Leviticus 18:26.  How can anybody read Psalm 139:13-16 (eg., “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb“) and explain to me how God has anything other than abject horror for the abortion mindset that has now consumed over 55 million innocent babies in America?

For the record, 58% of Americans support homosexual marriage.  And how can that be when 75% of Americans call themselves “Christians”???  When the Bible denounces homosexuality as an “abomination” (Lev 18:22) and a “detestable act” (Lev 20:13) and when the Bible says that homosexuality is the lowest moral point a culture can degenerate to resulting in the full wrath of God (Romans chapter one, especially 1:26-27)?

I survey the demise of Christianity in Western Civilization and particularly in America and I think of the words of King Theoden in Lord of the Rings as he surveyed the world where evil had nearly completely consumed what little good was left: “The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow. How did it come to this?

How about this as moving toward an answer to that question: only 19% of CHURCHGOING CHRISTIANS even SAY they read the Bible every day. And 57%  only read their Bibles four times a year or less.  How about what a Gallup survey said: that only 22% of those calling themselves “Christians” believe the Bible is fully inspired by God Himself.

How about this?  “35% of “born-again Christians” do not read the Bible AT ALL.”  And “among those who say they read the Bible, the vast majority only read it during the one hour they attend church each Sunday morning.”

I completely agree with this statement from Ron Rhodes, President of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries:  “such statistics make it more than obvious why many Christians are easy prey for spiritual deception. The level of biblical illiteracy among Christians may be one reason why many believers hesitate to stand for Godly values on the public scene.”

The next two paragraphs of the same article:

“Recent studies by The Barna Group and the Gallup Organization conclude that any reasonable understanding of biblical facts and truths is seriously lacking among Americans. Today, basic Christian truths are virtually unknown to a majority in this nation.

“American Christians are biblically illiterate. Although most of them contend that the Bible contains truth and is worth knowing, and most of them argue that they know all of the relevant truths and principles, our research shows otherwise. And the trend line is frightening: the younger a person is, the less they understand about the Christian faith.” —Barna”

I want to begin by exploring that question: “How did it come to this?”  How is it that 75% of Americans say they are “Christian” even as a majority of Americans say, “I’m a Christian, and I believe that God smiles down every time a mother has her own baby ripped apart in her womb.”  “I’m a Christian, and I believe that God loves homosexuality.”  How is it that WE have voted for these things, and considered ourselves good people and even good CHRISTIANS as we did so???  How is it that we call ourselves “Christians” and blatantly ignore the blatant point of Romans chapter one and so many other Old and New Testament Passages???  Note: I pick these two topics because they ought to be OBVIOUS to anyone who reads  the Word of God; and if we can’t even understand the obvious, how can we understand anything at all???

Today, the Anglicans, the Episcopalians, the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, and numerous other denominations, have actively supported homosexual marriage as a union celebrated by God.  Many of these churches are celebrating homosexual unions and celebrate the fact that they have openly homosexual bishops.  And we just witnessed the new Catholic pope join them as he undermined Christians who would have the politically-incorrect gall to condemn gay marriage.

Deception, indeed.  It is all around you.  And statistically speaking, if both the people sitting next to you aren’t deceived, then YOU ARE.

Here’s a survey of Bible passages that I believe help to explain what has happened (in scriptural order):

  • The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. – Genesis 6:5
  • “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the LORD” – 2 Chronicles 19:2
  • You love evil more than good, Falsehood more than speaking what is right. — Psalm 52:3
  • But he who sins against Me injures himself; all those who hate Me love death — Proverbs 8:36
  • A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left. — Ecclesiastes 10:2
  • Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! — Isaiah 5:20
  • For God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and wickedness of those who in their wickedness suppress the truth – Romans 1:18
  • Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools – Romans 1:22
  • They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. — Romans 1:25
  • In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe to keep them from seeing the light of the glorious gospel of the Messiah, who is the image of God. — 2 Corinthians 4:4
  • I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!  — Galatians 1:6-9
  • Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron — 1 Timothy 4:2
  • But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. — 2 Tim 3:1
  • They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. — 2 Tim 3:6-7
  • For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. — 2 Tim 4:3-4
  • “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” — Rev 3:15-17

“How did it come to this?”  Let me explain.  Because the answer has EVERYTHING to do with understanding Bible PROPHECY and with having a LITERAL interpretation of the Word of God.

This terrible spiritual sickness of Christian thought began in the 5th century through the teaching of a brilliant theologians named Origen of Alexandria (A.D. 185 to circa 254) and Augustine, bishop of Hippo (354 – 430 AD).  These two thinkers introduced and systemized an “allegorical” view of the Bible.  See here (http://www.lastchanceministries.com/Origen.htm) for more.  Basically, these two men were looking at a world that no longer had a literal, physical, national Israel – which had been destroyed by Rome in 70 AD (just as Jesus literally prophesied in passages such as Matt 23:37-39 and 24:1-2, 34).  And that fact of a “missing Israel” warped their understanding.

There are so many Bible prophecies that center around a literal, national, Israel existing in the last days that I literally cannot list them all.  But consider Ezekiel chapter 37 – the prophecy of the dry bones that come to life prior to the last days war of God and Magog in Ezekiel 38-39.  Consider the numerous references to Israel in the Book of Revelation (ex. Rev 7:3-8; 11:1-2; chap 12). (See http://israelect.com/reference/WillieMartin/Israel_in_Revelation.htm for more).  And consider that the Messiah of ISRAEL in the Old Testament Messiah (See http://israelsmessiah.com/prophecy/messiah/Y%27SHUAH.htm).  The Old Testament Scriptures tell us that this Messiah would, for example, sit on the throne of King David of Israel in Jerusalem and rule with a rod of iron.  Why would Messiah sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem if Israel were no more???  What people was David king of???

You should begin to see Origen’s and Augustine’s dilemma: national Israel needed to exist for the Bible to be right, but national Israel had been wiped off the map and there was no sign on earth that it was coming back.  They could either a) read the Bible literally and believe in faith that God would one day regather Israel as His Word says or b) create an entirely new system of interpretation that turned the Bible into allegories/metaphors rather than literal truths.

Tragically, they chose the latter approach.  They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the theology they created rather than the actual Word of God.  They allowed their human minds – partially due to their lack of faith and partially due to their intellectual arrogance – to triumph over what God prophetically foreordained would LITERALLY happen in the last days.  And in their error they replaced Israel with the Church (the allegorical approach known as “replacement theology”).

Allow me to present a champion of Amillennialist thought in the words of Covenant theologian Oswald T. Allis to describe premillennialsm:

“One of the most marked features of premillennialism in all its forms is the emphasis which it places on the literal interpretation of Scripture.  It is the insistent claims of its advocates that only when interpreted literally is the Bible interpreted truly”

As a premillennialist, I completely agree with Allis’ characterization.  Yes, that’s right; whatever you do, don’t be like those wicked premillennialists and actually try to interpret your Bible THE WAY GOD DELIVERED IT TO US.

What are the consequences of the Amillennialist “allegorical” approach to “understanding” the Bible.  Try this question from Pew: “Do many religions lead to God and eternal life?”  79% of Catholic Amillennialists and fully 83% of Protestant Amillennialists said YES.  Amazingly, amillennialist Catholics (79%) and amillennialist Mainline churches (83%) were the most likely of ALL respondents to abandon the orthodox Christian confession that only Jesus Christ gives eternal life.  And while their are many strong and staunch Christians who embrace amillennialist theology, once you embrace a hermeneutic approach that encourages highly allegorical interpretations of Scripture, you open the door wide to abandoning the doctrine of the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement and the bodily Resurrection.  All of these abandonments of genuine and orthodox Christianity have been done by the opponents of dispensationalism.  Whereas a literal interpretation of the Bible guarantees against such radical departures from the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

Allow me to provide a personal example: I am somewhat directionally impaired, certainly in comparison to my dad who has an incredible intuitive sense of direction.  Imagine my dad gives me directions to get me somewhere that I really need to get to.  He tells me which streets to take and which way to turn.  But I don’t take his directions “literally.”  Instead, I decide to “interpret” them in our classic Origen/Augustine allegorical approach.  Where will I end up???  NOT WHERE I’M SUPPOSED  TO END UP, THAT’S FOR SURE.

And so beginning in the fifth century, allegoricalism won, literalism (and TRUTH) lost.  Nothing needed to mean what it actually said; anything could merely be an allegory or a metaphor that stood for something else.  Except, that is, for God’s remnant who ALWAYS rightly believed that one day, God would fulfill His literal Word LITERALLY.  There were always Christians who joined Jews praying for Israel’s regathering.

God’s Word only makes sense when we let the Scriptures say what they literally clearly MEAN rather than whatever passes our fancy.  Want some examples?  Consider Zechariah 12:2-3 and 8-11:

“I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.  On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves…  On that day the LORD will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the LORD going before them.  On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.  And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.  On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.”

Also consider passages like “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.” – Psalm 83:4

How many nations have experienced more rabid hatred than Israel?  How many peoples have experienced the hatred of the Holocaust, where 6 million Jews (that’s the entire Jewish population of Israel TODAY) were murdered in a campaign to systematically wipe out an entire race?  How many cities on earth are the holiest site of the three major world religions?  How many cities are as torn by demands to be the capitol of two different peoples?  What other city today is more likely to be “a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling” than Jerusalem???  When “Christians” assure us that “Israel” is just an allegory/metaphor for “the Church,” that ITSELF is hatred for Israel.

It is impossible for me to understand how somebody can read such passages and say that these prophecies aren’t being literally fulfilled in our time before our very eyes.  Just as it is impossible for me to understand how somebody can read about God being pierced and tell me that that wasn’t a literally-fulfilled prophecy of Messiah Jesus.

How about this one;” A NATION SHALL BE BORN IN A DAY.”  I read Isaiah 66:8 and all I can say is a miracle literally prophesied by God occurred on May 14, 1948.  I read Jeremiah 30:1-3 and Isaiah 43:5-7 which prophecy the regathering of Israel in the last days and I see literally fulfillment of God’s Word.  Most of all, I see the prophecy of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14 and I KNOW that God literally brought Israel to life from a state of death that had lasted for two thousand years.

What about this one: as the Book of Acts begins, and the disciples of Christ – soon to be His apostles – ask Jesus one last question before He ascends into heaven they ask:

 “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  (Acts 1:6)

And I want you to carefully note here that Jesus most certainly does NOT say, “What are you talking about?  How have you missed the entire point of my Amillennialist teaching?!?!?”  Yes, ultimately the CLEAR LITERAL FACT OF SCRIPTURE is that God WILL restore the kingdom TO ISRAEL.  In fact, the entire MILLENNIUM is ALL ABOUT God fulfilling His promises to Israel.  Because He is a faithful God who fulfills His Word.

There are SO MANY prophesies just like these.  The Bible makes sense when it is allowed to simply speak for itself.  It becomes incomprehensible gibberish when it is defiled by man to say anything else.

Remember, there are two major views today: there is the amillenialist view, which is based on an allegorical interpretation of the Bible, and there is the premillenial view, which is based on a literal interpretation of Scripture.  There used to be another dominant view that has lost most of its credibility: it was called Postmillenialism – and it was also based on an allegorical approach.  According to Postmillenialism, the millennium was not a future state, but began to exist when Christ established the Church through His Twelve Apostles (i.e., the Book of Acts).  And according to Postmillenialism, the world was going to become better and better as the Church evangelized the world, until finally the world would be in a state of perfect Utopia.  And then – after the Church had made the world perfect – Jesus would come and usher in the eternal state.  Well, there were a few problems with that: the first was that it was human-centric rather than God-centric because it was not Jesus Christ saving the world for the Church, but the Church saving the world for Jesus Christ.  Do you see the problem?  The second problem was little things like the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Cold War, etc.  You have to be a true ideologue to believe that the world is becoming better and better when in obvious fact it is clearly becoming worse and worse (as Premillennialists predicted would happen before the coming of the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation, for the record).

Too bad the Postmillenialists refused to read 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and understand it LITERALLY.

What’s the problem with Amillennialism?  As I described, it is basically the position formulated to explain a world where Israel did not exist (as the Bible said it had to in the last days).  And so the first Amillennialist interpreters assumed an allegorical approach to interpreting the Bible so that it did not have to mean what it said (and therefore couldn’t be wrong just because it wasn’t literally true).  With Israel out of the picture, the 1,000 Millennium in Revelation 20 was meaningless – because the purpose of the Millennium is for the Messiah of Israel to literally fulfill every prophecy given to Israel and the Jews.  For instance, there are prophecies that state that the Messiah of Israel, the Son of David, would rule and reign with a rod of iron on the throne of King David in Jerusalem.  There are prophecies that state that the entire world would worship the Messiah of Israel, and would come up to Jerusalem to do so.  There are prophecies that state that Israel would rebuild the Temple.  And there are MANY OTHER such prophecies.  But if there is no Israel, and Israel is merely an allegory representing the Church, well, those prophecies are merely allegories representing something else, too.  As is the Millennium itself.

You run into huge problems.  Beginning with the fact that all the things the Premillennialists said would happen (e.g., the literal rebirth of national Israel, the literal preparation for a last days Temple in Jerusalem, the rise of a unified Europe so that Antichrist could seize control, the rise of Russia as Gog and Magog, the rise of China as the kings of the East (as per Rev 16:12, Rev 9:13-16), as well as many other things, such as the rise of technology to make the mark of the beast (Rev 13:16-18) possible.  I mean, Amillennialists have been mocking literalist Premillennialists – particularly Charles Nelson Darby – for 150 years.  They don’t bother to struggle with the fact that all the stuff the man said would happen ACTUALLY HAPPENED.  Just as he said it would because he was just teaching what the Bible literally said would happen.

Here’s another example of how this terribly flawed allegorical approach leads astray: Read Isaiah 65:20: “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.”  What period does this refer to?

Let’s look at another problem with the denials of Amillennialism: the denial of the Millennium itself.

Edward J. Young is a widely respected Amillennialist, and takes the ridiculous position that Isaiah 65:20 describes the eternal heavenly state.  He has to do that, keep in mind, because he denies the literal 1,000 year Millennium reign of Christ on earth.  And in his well-known and influential commentary on Isaiah, he accordingly interprets “the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed” as meaning – and I quote – “Thus one of the blessings of the new age is that of longevity” (vol 3, p. 515).  But let me ask you a simple question: how old do you think you’ll be when you die in heaven???  This passage OBVIOUSLY does not refer to the eternal state, but rather to the Millennium.  The Book of Revelation mentions the Millennium [“Mille anum” = “thousand years”] SIX TIMES in Revelation 20:1-7. But Young cannot consider the Millennium at all because as an Amillennialist he has decided that all the passages in the Book of Revelation that refer to the thousand years of the Millennium are all “allegorical” and there IS no Millennium because there is no reason to have a Millennium because they have interpreted Israel and the eventual fulfillment of prophecies made to Israel out of the Bible.  So all that’s left is heaven.  And he is therefore forced to take an absurd conclusion.  The sad fact of the matter is that the Bible doesn’t drive the Amillennialist’s theology: his Amillennialist theology drives his world rather than what the Bible teaches.

Let me point out again just how incredibly foolish this passage becomes in the words of another top Amillennialist scholar J.G. Voss describing his Amillennialism:

“Amillennialism is that view of the last things which holds   that the Bible does not predict a ‘Millennium’ or period of worldwide peace   and righteousness on this earth before the end of the world.  Amillennialism   teaches that there will be a parallel and contemporaneous development of good   and evil — God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom — in this world, which will    continue until the second coming of Christ. At the second coming of Christ the   resurrection and judgment will take place, followed by the eternal order of   things — the absolute, perfect Kingdom of God, in which there will be no sin, suffering nor death.”

But again, THERE IS DEATH in Isaiah 65:20.  WHERE DOES THIS PASSAGE FIT INTO THE WORLD?  There is only ONE possible time period that makes any sense whatsoever: the Millennium.  But the Amillennialist denies the Millennium as any kind of literal time period (of one thousand years as the Bible tells us SIX TIMES in just ONE chapter) and is therefore reduced to idiocy simply because he refuses to believe the clear LITERAL truth of Scripture.

But the worst thing of ALL about Amillennialism – as I believe I have shown – is that the same hermeneutic that is used to justify the same theology that allows you to replace Israel with the Church allows you to replace marriage with homosexuality and precious babies with abortion.  Yes, these things are an abomination if you read your Bible literally.  So more and more “Christians” are saying, “Well, let’s just not read it literally then.”  That way we can have all the benefits of Christianity and all the benefits of secular humanism all at the same time.

Let’s make Christianity compatible with what the secular humanists and the atheists teach.  That way we won’t have any culture wars, you see.

Dinish D’Souza in his great book, “What’s So Great About Christianity” makes this point when he writes, “Unfortunately the central themes of some of the liberal churches have become indistinguishable from those of the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Organization for Women, and the homosexual rights movement.  Why listen to Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong drone on when you can get the same message and much more interesting visuals at San Francisco’s gay pride parade?  The traditional churches, not the liberal churches, are growing in America.” [pg. 4]

D’Souza in his previous paragraphs had documented all the statistics to prove that “fundamentalist” denominations and churches were EXPLODING not only in America but all over the world while mainline liberal denominations were shrinking and dying away.

THAT’S why “Christians” call themselves “Christian” while supporting one thing the Bible decries as evil after another.  And THAT is why fewer and fewer people are identifying themselves as “Christian” in the first place, as the mainline churches that still wield vast institutional influence in both wealth and media coverage die out while the Christianity they used to teach devolves into political correctness and secular humanism.  And the reason that the actual New Testament Christianity that takes the Word of God seriously is exploding around the world is because the Spirit of God is still at work in these last days just before the rapture and the beast of Revelation.

Check out the membership of the wicked Jesus Seminar: Robert Funk is Disciples of Christ – one of ‘the Seven Sisters” of mainline Protestant liberalism.  John Dominic Crossan is a Catholic.  Marcus Borg is an Anglican.  You go down the list of members and without fail you will find mainline liberal denominations that embrace allegorical Amillennialism or Postmillennialism and despise literalist Premillennialism as its members.  These are people who allegorized the Bible in order to accommodate the Word of God to their own massive unbelief – which as I’ve described was how allegoricalism began in the first place.

What has happened is that – without fail – the allegorical non-literal denominations have allowed, enabled and in fact ENCOURAGED their members to deny every key doctrine of the Christian faith.

Christians should be under the Bible as the Word of God to us.  Who is Jesus?  He is who the Bible says He is.  It is as simple as the song: “Jesus loves me, this I know, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO.”  And it is a result of abandoning the Bible as the literal Word of God that these denominations have increasingly abandoned the Christian faith altogether.

There’s a great metaphor to end on: the violin that was played as the Titanic sank just went for auction for the price of $1.5 million.  The last song played as the ship plunged into its icy grave was “Nearer My God To Thee.”  We can read this and understand that just as there are no atheists in foxholes, THERE ARE NO ATHEISTS ON SINKING SHIPS.  But look at it this way: the Titanic is an appalling example of stunning human arrogance and ignorance and the resulting refusal to understand clear literal warnings of impending doom.  Here’s a stat: they had 20 lifeboats for 1,178 people but they had 2,435 passengers and 892 crew (for a total of  3,327 souls).  Do the math. And as those heedless people perished after putting their trust in fools, they blithely played “Nearer My God To Thee.”  And what I’m saying is that THAT is what the Church is largely like today and it is what most Christians are like today.  The last days are upon us and they couldn’t be more ignorant or more deceived.  DON’T BE LIKE THAT.

I urge you to read the Bible.  And I urge you to simply let the Bible be the Word of God and allow it to speak to you as it was written to speak to you.

What Is The Purpose Of The Millennium? Why Will Christ Reign On Earth For One Thousand Years?

February 19, 2013

What is the “Millennium” that is repeatedly referred to (six times in Revelation chapter 20) in the Book of Revelation?

Well, the Latin word “Millennium” itself provides much of the answer: “mille” means “one thousand” and “annum” means “years.”  One thousand years.  Sadly, what is quite clear in Scripture is largely denied by the majority of the last days Church.  “One thousand years” doesn’t mean “one thousand years”; it becomes a metaphor for something else; it’s all just smoke-and-mirrors symbolism.  And Revelation becomes an incomprehensible book that is better left unread because Amillennialists have muddied and distorted it until it is nigh impossible to explain.

For the record, “Amillennialism” means “no thousand years” even though Revelation chapter 20 specifically refers to “a thousand years” six different times.  How did such a bizarre doctrine form?

During the time of the great Christian scholar Augustine in the fifth century AD, there was no Israel, there had been no Israel for centuries and there was no apparent hope of there ever being a national Israel.  And so many passages in Revelation that made crystal clear sense in light of a national Israel made no sense at all without a national Israel; and we needed symbolism to understand what apparently could not be understood literally.  If there were no Israel, as I shall explain in this article, there would clearly be no reason whatsoever to have a Millennium.  And since there was no Israel when this theology was written, Israel was literally written out and allegory and metaphor was literally written in in Israel’s place.  And since “Israel” was merely a word that had been redefined to mean something else, why not do the same thing with the words “thousand years”???

Tragically, many of these amillennialist denominations have largely abandoned the true faith in favor of secular humanism and political correctness.  And that happened largely because nothing literally meant anything on their interpretations any more – and even the Resurrection of Christ became another allegory or metaphor rather than a literal event in history.

I argue that this is a lack of faith on man’s part rather than a lack of ability to perform a miracle on God’s part.  Ezekiel chapter 37 prophecies a national rebirth of Israel from “dead bones.”  And that is precisely what happened as a people who were nearly destroyed in the Holocaust – with the survivors being transformed into living skeletons due to starvation and disease – in 1948 as Israel miraculously became a nation after two thousand years of exile.  During those two thousand years, Jews who clung to the promises of God would say every year in conclusion of the Seder, “Next year in Jerusalem!”  And Bible-believing Christians always believed that with them.

Amillennialists want to depict premillennialism (the belief in a literal 1,000 year rule of Christ on earth) and dispensationalism (the belief that God has been dispensing or administering His revelation according to His own will and according to various stages of human history) as something that was developed in the mind of one man named Charles Nelson Darby in the late 19th century.  But that simply isn’t true.  In fact, the doctrines that fly in the face of the amillennialist system have been around for centuries and in fact predate amillennialism.  You can go back to Romans chapter 11 to see that Israel – yes, national Israel – would be saved.  Romans 11:26 very specifically says “all Israel will be saved.”  And there is no rational definition of “all Israel” that does not include the nation of Israel.  And for “all Israel” – very much including the nation of Israel – to be saved, it would have to actually somehow EXIST.  Which happened on May 14, 1948.  Exactly as those who took the Bible literally held to a literal nation of Israel and a literal Millennium said would happen for centuries prior to 1948 and continued to say right up to that historic day on May 14.

On May 14, 1948, those who clung to a literal Millennium and a literal Israel were proven right.  And those who denied the Millennium and denied national Israel were proven wrong.

Why is the existence of Israel crucial to the belief in a one thousand-year Millennium during which Jesus Christ will physically rule and reign over the earth from His Davidic throne in Jerusalem?  For one reason: the Millennium is the time when Messiah will fulfill EVERY SINGLE promise He made to His people Israel.

In the Old Testament, God’s promises to His people for faithful obedience were very literal and very material.  He promised them the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession (see Gen 12:1-7;  22:17 cf Numbers 26:52-56); He promised them material abundance and long physical lives on earth (Isaiah 65:17-23).  But most of all they were promised that their Messiah would rule and reign over the nations among them on the throne of David in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Micah 4:1-5; Zechariah 6:13).  The very nature of nature itself will be profoundly altered during this period, such that the wolf will lay down with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6; 65:25).

Amillennialists want to allegorize such verses and claim that they refer to heaven.  But when Isaiah 65:20 teaches that a person who dies before the age of a hundred will be presumed to have been cursed for his sins, how can that possibly refer to “heaven”?  This is clearly a reference to a very clearly literal Millennium period during which Jesus Christ shall physically rule from Jerusalem just as the Scriptures consistently claim.

During the Tribulation all Israel – national Israel – will be saved.  God has a purpose for the Tribulation to bring grace to His people and He will bring grace to His genetic people Israel just as He promised.  They will see their Messiah and mourn and weep as they would for a lost son and they shall repent as a people and be saved (Zechariah 12:10).  And during the Millennium Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, shall rule over the nations for one thousand years from the city of Jerusalem and from the throne of David – just as God promised His people Israel.

And every single promise God made to His people Israel He shall fulfill.  Because the God who is faithful to His Church will be faithful to the people through whom God gave birth to the Church.

I find it interesting that King David ruled Israel very nearly exactly one thousand years prior to the coming of Jesus of Nazareth to die for the sins of the world as in His First Advent as Messiah.  The nation of Israel almost immediately stumbled into sin.  Even King David himself had to be judged for gross sin (2 Samuel 12; 2 Samuel 24).  During the Millennium, Jesus Christ will show Israel how He would have blessed them if they had obeyed His Word.  Jesus will heal Israel for a thousand years of disobedience by giving them a thousand years of blessing.  That, I believe, is the ultimate purpose of the Millennium.

But just as with the Tribulation, God has a secondary purpose for the world.

At the very beginning of the Millennium, God sends an archangel to bind Satan and throw him into the abyss for the duration of the Millennium (Rev 20:1-3) so that he cannot deceive the nations to pursue evil.  At the end of the Millennium, Satan is released (Rev 20:7).

So why is Satan bound for a thousand years only to be released in Rev. 20?  Just as God gives sinful man his chance to “have it his own way” during the Tribulation in order to reveal in history that man simply cannot make it without Jesus Christ, so also does God give the human race in the Millennial Kingdom this “opportunity” to turn their backs on Jesus.  By releasing Satan, God demonstrates in human history that as long as man has a choice – even with Christ physically ruling over him in Jerusalem – sinful man will always choose evil.  The wicked always have an excuse for their wickedness; they will claim now that God was not visible enough for them.  But even when God is so visible He is literally reigning over them in Jerusalem for every human eye to see, they will still rebel against God the moment they have a chance to hear the devil’s lies.  Sin is not the unfortunate result of poverty or our environment; it is the result of our fallen nature apart from Christ.  And so even the Millennium Kingdom – as idyllic as it is compared with the world Christ just saved at the end of the Tribulation – is not ultimately adequate.  We need the ultimate state of heaven where God will confirm us in our righteousness and where no Satan can ever tread.  That’s why.

If you have the kind of faith by which God will save your soul from hell, you do not need to see God with your physical eyes.  If you do not have such faith, you will not believe even if God is right in front of you.  It is ultimately not the lies of the devil which snare us, but our own propensity toward wickedness that makes us beings who want to be deceived with lies because we do not love the truth as embodied in Jesus Christ.

In the end, God stands as always true to His Word, while Satan will ultimately burn forever in hell as the great deceiver who always encouraged fallen man to live down to his lowest common denominator of sin.

A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 21-22

January 29, 2013

Part One – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 1-3

Part Two – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 4-5

Part Three: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 6-7

Part Four: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 8-9

Part Five: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 10-11

Part Six: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 12-13

Part Seven: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 14-15

Part Eight: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 16-18

Part Nine: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 19-20

A quick recap: right now we are in the age of grace or the Church Age which will end at the Rapture.  Sometime after the Rapture the world will enter the seven years of the Tribulation, which God will use to bring His plan for the world and for the Jewish people to fulfillment.  After Christ returns as King of kings He will establish His literal physical 1,000 year Kingdom on Earth.  And last time we ended considering the Millennium Reign of Christ on earth as He sat on the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem.  Which demands the question: why is Jesus ruling in Jerusalem and not Washington or Cairo or somewhere else?  Because the entire purpose of the Millennium is to fulfill every single one of God’s earthly, geographical, physical promises to Israel.  They were promised a literal, geographic land with specified boundaries (Ezek 48): God will fulfill that promise literally.  They were promised material abundance and blessing and complete peace and safety after thousands of years of shabby treatment by the world.  Christ will fulfill these promises literally.  They were promised an exalted place among the nations; Christ will fulfill that because the nations will have to come up to Jerusalem to see the God that the Jews told them about.  And we saw the Millennium end with the war of Gog and Magog.

Gog and Magog are different and yet the same as the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38-39.  They are different in that the war of Rev 20 is NOT the same war as the war prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39.  They are the same in that the final war that will occur at the end of the Millennium manifests the same TYPE of hatred and rebellion as will be displayed during the war of Gog and Magog from Ezekiel 38-39.  What happens in Ezekiel is that Russia, Iran and a coalition of Islamic nations will attack Israel with the intent of annihilating her sometime between now and the end of the Tribulation.  And God will step in and utterly destroy that army.  And later, at the end of the Millennium, Satan – who hates Israel – will incite the SAME sort of attempt to destroy God’s people Israel.  And when Christ obliterates that attack before it even gets off the ground, and shortly afterward this present world will be destroyed.  Because as long as Satan is able to accomplish his desires, there always has been and always shall be a special hatred for Israel, for Jews, for the people of God and for the God of the Bible.  Some things just never change.

As we saw last week, near the end of the Millennium Satan will be loosed from the bottomless pit and he will immediately get to work showing that human nature is ultimately perverted and sinful – even with God personally ruling amongst us.  Satan will inspire the revolt that hearkens us back to Gog and Magog, Christ will destroy that rebellion, and the Millennium will end with the Great White Throne Judgment in which all sinful humanity will be resurrected to stand before God and give his or her account.  I’m hoping you’ll take my word for it when I tell you that you WON’T want to be there.

I also want to point out that when Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places,” He was not referring to earth during the Millennium as our homes.  I have no doubt that we will be part of what goes on on the earth during the Millennium, but this earth is not our home: the new heaven and the new earth of Rev 21:1 is.  And while this present Jerusalem (which will be rebuilt in the Millennium per Ezek 48:30-34) is specially and uniquely promised to the Jews, the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:10,15-16) will be for all of Messiah’s redeemed believers.  And as a 1,400 mile long, high and wide pyramid or cube, there will be plenty of room for each one of Christ’s people to have his own piece of Jerusalem just as Christ promised us.  Because it will have 1.125 billion cubic miles of volume!  Scientists say that about 70 billion people have lived on Earth until now. So even if a full third of them were Christians, that would mean that there would be about 23 billion Christians in the Heavenly City, or 20 Christians per cubic mile! With 10-foot ceilings, that could make about 500 floors with one square mile of floor space per floor, or 500 square miles of floor space for only 20 people–or 25 square miles per person!  Sound spacious enough?  Now consider there also won’t be any oceans (which comprise about 72% of earth’s surface) taking up space to realize how incredibly spacious this New Earth will be!  When the KJV translated Jesus’ word as “mansions,” they weren’t wrong, aside that no mansion was ever so spacious or so wondrous.  When Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for us, I think we should take that as meaning that this city is about ready for occupancy right now!  The New Jerusalem may well “orbit” above the earth during the Millennium.

Rev 20:4 is a great verse for a funeral.  That’s because it provides so much comfort.  All of our guilt and grief and suffering is temporary and transitory.  It’s not the way God created man to be and it will all end.  Deep down we know that we were made for a better world than this.  There’s something in every human soul that cries out for justice and peace that is simply impossible to attain in this world.  It’s an evidence that man was created for a better world – unless you’ve see chickens looking around and saying, “Wait!  This is all so UNFAIR!  Our lives ought to be better than this!  Where’s God? Cluck cluck.”

And something else is amazing: all claims of atheists and evolutionists to the contrary, man does have a soul.  One of the things that makes abortion so evil is you are killing the physical body of a human soul. And just as the soul is part of a human fetus as our bodies are developing in the womb, it is in the same way that part of us that enables us to survive the death of our physical bodies.  And in our human souls we can imagine the death of our bodies.  Think about it, if atheism is true and there is no God and if evolution is true and man is just a microbe that randomly mutated and evolved, then “life after death” is impossible.  It’s similar to trying to imagine a square circle; it’s a category fallacy that cannot possibly exist.  Atheists say life after death is exactly like that.  And yet I CAN imagine my body dying and yet I continue to exist (watch me: I’m doing it right now).  Let me also point out that my dog – as high up as it is on the evolutionary ladder – can’t do that.  I watch the sun set at night; my dog sees it get dark.  We are truly categorically different than the animals in a way that can only be explained by the Imago Dei (Gen 1:27).  And one of the most blessed ways that we can know that we were created in an eternal God’s image is the fact that “He has planted eternity in the human heart” (Ecc 3:11).  We can see Rev 21 and 22 in our hearts; we can taste it.  We can see ourselves there in bodies that will be everlasting.

Isn’t the picture of this New Jerusalem beautiful?  It will be made of “pure gold, as clear as glass” (Rev 21:18).  What will it be like to look through gold?  Can you imagine the stunning lighting effect that would create?  In our eternity, we won’t have anything that we would ever want to hide from anybody.  I imagine the ultimate purpose of this translucent city that “shone with the glory of God” (Rev 21:11) is so that everybody will be able to look at Jesus any time they want from wherever they are!  We’ll also be able to see if one another is home so we can pop in for a visit!  Make sure to have snacks if I drop by.

I find it interesting that the foundations of the city have the names of the apostles and the twelve gates have the names of the twelve tribes.  Think of this as “foundation” and “access.”  Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22), meaning that it was through the Jews that God provided man with access to God.  But was it the Jewish Levitical system that was the foundation for this salvation?  No, the foundation was ALWAYS Christ.  Messiah was always the foundation of salvation even in the Old Testament (Psalm 118:22-23 and Isa 28:16 cf. Matt 21:42 and Acts 4:1), and we know that it was always the Blood of Jesus that the animal sacrifice pointed to (Heb 10:4).  And we know that Abraham, the Father of the Jews and of God’s spiritual people, “was looking forward to the city with foundations, shoes architect and builder is God” (Heb 11:10).  When you enter the New Jerusalem, you will access through the gates (go through the Jews) to stand on a city with the apostles representing Jesus serving as the foundation.

Rev 21 says the old earth “passed away.”  Peter tells that it is destroyed by fire (2 Pet 3:7).  Interesting that this is now the very way astronomers universally affirm that earth will ultimately be destroyed: by the sun going supernova and being burned up with fire.  Similarly, Christ is described in Colossians 1:17 as “holding all things together.”  Christ literally is the mysterious strong force discovered in the 1970s that keeps every atom from flying apart – and one day He will allow the stars to collapse and this universe to end merely by withholding His power.  John MacArthur asks how long it takes God to create the New Heaven and the New Earth: do you get the sense that it takes Him 14 billion years to pull that off here?  If you tend to believe in an “old earth” as opposed to young earth creationism, all I ask is that you make sure you don’t forget that if God wanted to create the world in six literal days, He could do it.  If He wanted to create the world in six ages that may have taken billions of years each, He could do that, too.  We shouldn’t make this such a divisive issue – and it’s too bad that people who believe that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”(Gen 1:1) can’t unite and oppose the real enemy.

A little Christology is in order.  What is the nature of Christ?  Rev 21-22 makes it rather clear: He is God in the Second Person of the Trinity.  Note Rev 22:13 and the declaration, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.”  Who is speaking?  Verse 16 makes it crystal clear: Jesus is speaking.  He says, “I,  Jesus, have sent My angel.”  Well, interestingly, in Rev 22:5-6 we have “He who was seated on the throne” – GOD – saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.”  And while Jesus says it’s His angel in Rev 22:16, Rev 22:6 says it’s “the Lord God” who sent His angel.  And Rev 22:12-13 makes clear that it is Jesus who AGAIN is called the Alpha and the Omega, because He’s the One who’s coming quickly (not God the Father).  What is this clearly stating about Jesus Christ?  How could somebody even BEthe Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” as Rev 22:13 says Jesus declares Himself to be and NOT be God???  How for instance would Jesus as the self-described “the Beginning and the End” not be able to “make known the end from the beginning” as Isaiah 46:10 says God does?  How is Jesus as “the First and the Last” here NOT the same “the first and the last” as described by Isaiah 44:6?  The picture is complete in the fact that the angel refuses John’s worship, because worship is for God alone.  Yet Jesus is worthy to receive worship (Rev 5).  A lovely little poem sums up what took place at Calvary: “He came to die on a cross of wood, yet made the hill on which it stood.”  In the Incarnation, Christ – the Word (John 1:1-9) added a human nature to His deity so that He could live as one of us and die in our place for us.  He alone made salvation possible.  We can all go to heaven if we would just go to the feet of Jesus on the cross.  It was Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross that all sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed to.

When the voice from the throne of God says, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them” (Rev 21:3), He fulfills through the Word Jesus (John 1:14) the work He began in the Levitical system pictured in Tabernacle.  Jesus told us He was going to prepare a place for us, so that we could with Him (John 14:1-3).  We will finally be able to see God face to face (1 John 3:2) because Christ will make us like Himself in everything but His deity.  Right now, we see dimly, but soon, very soon, we will be able to clearly see and understand our God “face to face” (1 Cor 13:12).  And we realize that God is using this world – warts and all – to shape and prepare us for the next one that will last forever.  If nothing else, this world teaches us to yearn for the glorious world that awaits us thanks to Jesus Christ.

A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 19-20

January 22, 2013

Part One – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 1-3

Part Two – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 4-5

Part Three: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 6-7

Part Four: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 8-9

Part Five: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 10-11

Part Six: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 12-13

Part Seven: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 14-15

Part Eight: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 16-18

Rev 19 presents the stark contrast of two feasts, two responses and two rewards representing the fruits of two worldviews.  On one worldview, you are preparing for the most anticipated and blessed feast in history: the marriage supper of the Lamb; you have a spontaneous thunder of praise and adoration for the Messiah who made your attendance at that Millennium Kingdom feast possible; and you have the reward of a dazzling white robe as Jesus’ worshipers enter their new heavenly forever.  Representing the fruits of the other worldview is a grotesque feast of vultures feeding on the flesh of armies united against God (Rev 19:18); you have a hail of bullets, missiles and curses hurled at Jesus as He returns as King of kings and Lord of lords; and you have a river of blood and hundreds of millions of souls bound for hell to join the billions waiting for their sentence.  For sheer drama, it doesn’t get any better than that!

In terms of chronology, ch. 19 picks up where ch. 16 left off.  Recall that we saw hundreds of millions of demonized troops deployed along a battle line from Turkey to the Sinai Peninsula and attacking one another in a war of total annihilation.  Hundred pound hailstones are slamming into the earth, and most of the great cities on earth are leveled as the greatest earthquake in the history of the human race tears across the planet.  Jesus said if these days went on not one human being would be left alive (Matt 24:21-22).  As utterly hopeless as things look on earth, God is actually about to end the problem of human suffering.

In the eyes of unbelieving mankind, God is denounced as unreal until His existence is past undeniable; then He is blasphemed as unfair.  When sinful man suffers the just consequences of rejecting God’s grace and forgiveness through His Lamb, they will call Him unjust no matter how many times He was warned them.  This willful blindness and hardness of heart is seen in Rev 9:20, 21 and 16:21.  Contrast this with the attitude expressed in the fivefold hallelujahs as Christ prepares to return to earth as King of kings.  Rather than being unfair or unjust, Christ’s judgment is true and just (19:2).  As J. Vernon McGee put it, “You might have a better plan than God, but what you don’t have is your own universe.” Since Christ assumed a human nature so He could share in all the experience of humanity, and since Christ literally accepted the blame for every sin of every sinner who would confess His need for Christ’s free gift of salvation, Christ more than has the right to now judge the world who instead spat in His face.

Rev 19:7-10 presents the raptured Church as the bride who has made herself ready.  If we men don’t love the analogy as much as women, remember that we’ll all be like the angels in heaven (Mark 12:25); there’s no sexual context.  In heaven, ALL believers will be one in submitting to Christ – and resurrection believers will be united in their submission to Christ (Eph 5:22-24), NOT in “femininity.”  We’ll be dressed in the “fine linen, bright and clean” which will be made according to our “righteous acts” (19:8).  The lavishness of this robe will be determined by what we did on earth; we’re literally weaving our heavenly garment this very moment!  They may be elaborately studded with gold and silver and precious stones or they may smell like smoke from all the wood, hay and straw of our unspiritual lives on earth (1 Cor 3:10-15).  It’s all up to YOU.  But there is simply no question that God rewards us for our righteousness that comes from living our lives in faith and acting out that faith in our attitudes/conduct.

Here’s a good question: when does the wedding feast of the Lamb occur?  Jesus Himself tells us that He won’t drink wine with His disciples until He drinks it with us in His Father’s Kingdom (Matt 26:29).  And when is that?  At the beginning of the Millennium after the battle of Armageddon and the separation of the sheep and the goats (Matt 25:31ff).  I believe the Old Testament saints (who will be resurrected at the end of the Tribulation cf. Dan 12:2) will join Tribulation martyrs (Rev 20:4) as well as Raptured believers at this feast.  The guests of honor will be those Tribulation saints who survived.  Had you asked me prior to my study of this chapter, I would have confidently told you that this feast occurred in Heaven during the Tribulation.  But think of all the great company we’d miss out on if that were true!

John is so overwhelmed by all the glory he sees that he falls down before the angel – whom we were told in 18:1 “had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor” – who tells him to knock that junk off right away.  Because only God is EVER to be worshiped.  And THAT’S how we can know that Christ is no angel and no created being of ANY kind, but our Savior, our Lord, our God, and our Creator.  As beautiful and majestic as the angels are, Jesus is as superior to them (Heb 1:3-4) as He is to all of His creation (John 1:1-3,10, Colossians 1:16) which He also sustains (Heb 1:3) and holds together (Col 1:17).

If you want to shock yourself, enter the question in your search engine, “Will Jesus physically return to earth?” and note all the preterists who call themselves “Christians” who deny that He will.  They make Jesus out to be a liar (e.g. Matt 24:30).  Heb 9:28 assures us that Christ “WILL appear a second time.”  When Jesus Ascended, His disciples stood gawking up at Him as He was physically taken up to heaven until an angel appeared and told them, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).  We’re assured that Christ will first set foot on the Mount of Olives when He returns to earth (Zechariah 14:4-8).  Which btw is exactly where the disciples were standing when the angel told them to quit gawking at Jesus (Acts 1:12)!  And if all that isn’t clear enough, Rev 19 most certainly is.  And Jesus doesn’t just physically return to earth, He physically wipes out His enemies.  Jesus fulfills Isaiah 63:1-4 in singlehandedly destroying His enemies.  Our robes will be white (19:14); His will be red from treading the winepress (Isa 63:2-3 cf. Rev 19:15).  And so we say “buh-bye” to Antichrist and the false prophet.

So why is Satan bound for a thousand years only to be released in Rev. 20?  Just as God gives sinful man his chance to “have it his own way” in order to reveal in history that man simply cannot make it without Jesus Christ, so also does God give the human race in the Millennial Kingdom this “opportunity” to turn their backs on Jesus.  By releasing Satan, God demonstrates in human history that as long as man has a choice – even with Christ physically ruling over him in Jerusalem – sinful man will always choose evil.  Sin is not the unfortunate result of poverty or our environment; it is the result of our fallen nature apart from Christ.  And so even the Millennium Kingdom – as idyllic as it is compared with the world Christ just saved at the end of the Tribulation – is not ultimately adequate.  We need the ultimate state of heaven where God will confirm us in our righteousness and where no Satan can ever tread.  That’s why.

Again, marvel at the silliness of people who call themselves “Christians.”  SIX TIMES in Rev 20 we are told that this literal kingdom on earth will last for one thousand years.  In Latin, “mille” means “one thousand” and “annum” means, “year.”  One thousand years.  Did God promise such an earthly Kingdom?  Yes, repeatedly to His people the Jews.  The very heart of the Old Testament prophetic message is the coming of Messiah to set up an earthly kingdom over which He would rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem.  Will God fulfill His promises literally?  Yes, just as He always has before.  When God said Messiah would be born of a virgin, He was born of a virgin.  When God said Messiah would physically suffer and die, He physically suffered and died.  And when God says that Messiah would rule from Jerusalem for a thousand years, He will rule from Jerusalem for a thousand years.  In Acts 1:6 Jesus’ disciples asked if He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel now.  Why would they have asked this if Jesus was NOT going to restore the kingdom to Israel?  Remember the Road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:27) where Jesus explained everything to the disciples?  That had already happened forty days BEFORE Acts 1:6; and Luke and Acts were both written by Luke to demonstrate that continuity.  But more importantly, why wouldn’t Christ have not corrected them and explained that they had it all wrong and there would never be such a kingdom for Israel to begin with?  This is not rocket science.  And yet it seemingly would be easier for some people to build a rocket ship and land it safely on the surface of the sun than to figure out that “a thousand years” means “a thousand years.”

So Satan is bound for how long?  A thousand years (Rev 20:2,3).  Which interestingly corresponds to the time between the revelation through Moses (~1400 BC) and the final OT revelation through Malachi (~400 BC).  The Messianic Kingdom prophesied in the Old Testament is a time of universal righteousness and peace (Isa 11:6-9), but that won’t happen if Satan is allowed to incite man to sin and to follow his base nature and defy God.  Basically, the Tribulation saints – including the 144,000 Jews and their Jewish converts who fled to Petra (see Rev 12:14) – who survive will inherit the Millennial Kingdom.  Every single human being on earth on Day One of the Millennium will be a saved believer.  But they will have children.  During the Millennium human beings will live an incredibly long time (see Isaiah 65:20 and understand that this prophecy makes no sense whatsoever apart from the Millennium Kingdom).  And some of these children will simply harden their hearts against Jesus just as we saw so many others do during the Tribulation.

We have the first resurrection – here composed entirely of believers who were martyred during the Tribulation (Rev 20:4-6).  This resurrection actually completes the fourth of four phases of this “first resurrection.”  Christ was the first fruits of this first resurrection (1 Cor 15:20-25).  In phase 2, raptured Christians living and dead received their resurrection bodies (1 Thess 4:13-18) before the Tribulation.  In phase 3 of this first resurrection the Old Testament saints receive their new bodies at the end of the Tribulation before the Millennium so they can see God’s Word to them LITERALLY FULFILLED and they could witness God’s faithfulness in their flesh (see Job 19:25-27).  That btw validates the 40 times the word “resurrection” is used in the New Testament, which is always a bodily resurrection (see John 5:28).

Near the end of the Millennium Satan is loosed and allowed to stir up what will be the very last rebellion in the entire history of the human race.  God will destroy it and throw Satan into hell for all eternity.

The second resurrection (Rev 20:11-15) consists ONLY in those whose names had not been written in the Book of Life.  They aren’t resurrected prior to the Millennium because they have no part in it and will have no part in anything other than hell.  Jesus – who spoke more about hell than ANYONE – told us there would be a resurrection of life and a resurrection of damnation (see John 5:29).  And it’s going to be at this time that God will respond, “I never knew you” to those who assure Him there must have been some kind of clerical error.  God will open up His Law and demonstrate how they ignored it (Gal 3:10).  And God will open up the Book of Works (Eccles 12:14) and show that they stand condemned as sinners.  And then He will open up the Book of Life and show that at no time did they ever truly accept His Son as Savior (John 3:18).  The entire meaning of life consists in FINDING life in the Son of God.

Part Ten: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 21-22

The Crisis In The Islamic World, The Future And Bible Prophecy

February 14, 2011

A couple weeks ago I wrote an article titled “The Crisis In Egypt, The Future And Bible Prophecy.”  I have also written an article titled, “Iran, Iraq And The Future In Bible Prophecy.”  But I would now like to expand to the entire Muslim world, given the massive unrest that is going on as we speak.

The crisis in Egypt isn’t over; it has merely reached a new phase with the departure of Mubarak.  The largest and most powerful nation in the Arab world is now being ruled by a military council; who knows for certain what will happen next?  Only our Lord God, who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10).  And to a much lesser extent, the Bible exegete who rightly divides God’s prophetic Word of truth.  And no one else.

Let me say at the outset that there is a great deal of disagreement in the area of Bible prophecy and eschatology (the study of “last things”).  I represent a very solid viewpoint in Protestant theology who embrace premillennialism (which holds that Jesus Christ will return to prior to establishing a literal 1,000 year millennium on earth per Revelation 20:1-7) and dispensationalism (the two basic tenants of which are that God has dealt with humanity progressively in an unfolding manner in history and that Israel is distinct from the Church).  On a dispensationalist view, God began with Israel and He shall faithfully keep all of His promises to Israel and end with Israel.  Dispensationalists read passages such as Romans 11:16-24 and recognize that God did not kill the olive tree of Israel or plant an entirely different tree; rather, He grafted Gentile Christian believers into the olive tree of the hope of Israel which He had planted in Abraham centuries before.  On a dispensationalist perspective, the purpose of the Millennium reign of Christ on earth will be to fulfill every promise that God ever made to Israel that Israel was not ready to receive: God will one day expand Israel to the boundaries that He promised Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21); one day all the nations trulywill one day go up to Jerusalem to worship Messiah on the forever throne of King David (see Zechariah 14:9, 16; see also 2 Samuel 7:9-16 and Psalm 89:29-37); the wolf will one day really lie down with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6), etc.

The dispensationalist will excitedly assure you that God’s promises are not like a human politician’s promises, in which some skilled lawerly linguist reinterprets the promises and explains that said promises were fulfilled, however unliterally was their fulfillment.  Rather, when God makes a promise, He will ultimately fulfill that promise LITERALLY in His sovereign timing.  It is God’s nature to fullfil His Word.

And all of this beautfiful fulfillment of God’s Word concerning Israel – according to the dispensationalist – will begin to happen when all Israel finally “will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son” (Zechariah 12:10).  Israel is “the apple of God’s eye” (Zechariah 2:8).  Nations harm Israel at their peril.  And God will not ultimately forsake “His people” or “His land” of Israel.

There are other views toward eschatology.  The most dominant view in the Protestant world at one time was Postmillennialism.  It holds that the millennium is a metaphor, and that Christ’s millennial kingdom is even now being extended over all the earth by the preaching of the gospel.  And that when most of the world is converted to Christ, Christ will return to His kingdom.  It largely went out after World War I; World War II pretty much killed this view off as the optimism of humans ushering in the kingdom of heaven for God proved to be unattainable.

Then there is the more substantial view of Amillenialism – which is the view of the Catholic church as well as a number of Protestant mainline denominations.  It holds that there is no literal future millennium (a means no).  It teaches that although Satan is currently bound, the kingdom of evil will continue to increase in parallel along with Christ’s kingdom.  But when Jesus Christ returns, the end of the world will occur and there will be a general resurrection and a general judgment of all human beings.

We don’t see early evidence of amillennialist thought until Augustine described the view in the early 5th century.  I would argue that the key reason that Augustine set out the highly allegorical and metaphorical interpretation system of amillenialism was due to the apparent absence of national Israel.  Israel had been wiped out by Rome in AD 70, in fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:2.  With no Israel, any system based on taking Bible prophecy literally fell apart.  Prophecy was something to be explained away, rather than revelled in as proof of a God who truly knows the end from the beginning.

It didn’t have to be that way.  One just had to believe the Bible and to truly trust in the God whose Word the Bible is.

There is another key difference between premillennialism and its amillennialist and postmillennialist rivals: literalism.  Premillennialists want to take their Bible literally.  Oswald T. Allis, an amillennialist champion of covenant theology and a vigorous opponent of dispensationalism, said on page 17 of his book Prophecy and the Church:

“One of the most marked features of premillennialism in all its forms is the emphasis which it places on the literal interpretation of Scripture.  It is the insistent claims of its advocates that only when interpreted literally is the Bible interpreted truly; and they denounce as “spiritualizers” or “allegorizers” those who do not interpret the Bible with the same degree of literalness as they do.  None have made this charge more pointedly than the dispensationalists.”

And, while amillennialists have been quite willing to do a great deal of “denouncing” of their own, I agree with Allis’ point: premillennialists and dispensationalists DO seek to literally interpret their Bibles, in marked contrast to his own amillennialist and Covenant viewpoint.  There are passages that speak of the arm of the Lord, or refer to God as a great bird protectively keeping His people under His wing.  The biblical literalist knows that God doesn’t have arms or wings or feathers because many other passages tell us that God is Spirit and doesn’t have a physical body apart from Christ who assumed a human image in the incarnation.  So we rightly understand passages describing God’s strong arm or God’s wings as metaphors.  But there is no place in Scripture that tells us not to understand the 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom as a literal kingdom or a literal thousand years.  We read the Bible literally unless context demands that we read it otherwise.

On the other hand, every single mainline liberal denomination that has evacuated historic orthodox Christianity has been one that has interpreted their Bibles using the allegorical approach of amillennialism and postmillennialism.  And I will include the nation of Germany that first became the most atheistic nation in Europe and then became the hosts of Nazism’s attempt to destroy the Jews and their influence upon “Judeo-Christianity” and the Christendom that Judeo-Christianity created.  An illustration of this phenomenon was revealed in a Pew Poll in which respondents were asked the pluralist question, “Do many religions lead to God and eternal life?”  70% of all surveyed said “yes.”  Amazingly, amillennialist Catholics (79%) and amillennialist Mainline churches (83%) were the most likely of ALL respondents to abandon the orthodox Christian confession that only Jesus Christ gives eternal life.  And while their are many strong and staunch Christians who embrace amillennialist theology, once you embrace a hermeneutic approach that encourages highly allegorical interpretations of Scripture, you open the door wide to abandoning the doctrine of the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement and the bodily Resurrection.  All of these abandonments of genuine and orthodox Christianity have been done by the opponents of dispensationalism.  Whereas a literal interpretation of the Bible guarantees against such radical departures from the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

Dispensationalists also believe in the doctrine of the rapture of the saints prior to the divine judgment of the Tribulation.

What is the Tribulation?  It is described in the book of Revelation, beginning in chapter 6 and continuing through chapter 18.  It is a seven-year period of time that culminates the “Seventy Sevens” of prophecy given to Daniel (Daniel chapter 9).  It is a period during which God will give sinful mankind it’s chance to govern itself apart from God.  It is a period of divine judgment as God pours down divine wrath upon wicked humanity.  Interestingly the church is never mentioned even a single time after the words “come up here” in chapter 4.  Prior to that the word “church” was all over the place.  Where did all the Christians go?  What we see instead are Jews who become Christians after the rapture of the Christian church, and 144,000 Jewish Christians divinely sealed from each of the Twelve literal tribes of Israel (Revelation 7) evangelizing the whole world even as an insanely evil global dicator known as “the beast” or “Antichrist” reigns under the possession of the devil himself.

What is the Rapture?  Well, those words “come up here” (Revelation 4:1) sum it up pretty well.

The word “rapture” (to seize or snatch) was translated from the Greek word “Harpazo” in 1 Thess 4:16.  “Harpazo” has the same meaning as the Latin word “rapturo” in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate written in AD 385. We can consider the writings of early Christian exegetes such as Ephaim the Syrian, who wrote about AD 373 in a book entitled, “Antichrist and the End of the World”:

”We ought to understand thoroughly, therefore my brothers, what is imminent or overhanging. Already there have been hungers and plagues, violent movement of nations and sins, which have been predicted by the Lord.

Let us prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ so that He may draw us from the confusion which overwhelms the world. Believe you me, dearest brothers, because the coming of the Lord is nigh. Believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand. Believe me because it is the very last time. Because all Saints and the elect of the Lord are gathered together before the Tribulation which is about to come and are taken to the Lord in order that they may not see at any time the confusion that overwhelms the world because of our sins.”

That’s just one particularly clear example from the Church Fathers. Papias – companion of Polycarp, the disciple of the apostle John – believed in the literal earthly pre-millennial doctrine. As did Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Methodius, Commodianus, and Lactanitus, Apollinaris of Laodicea, Melito of Sardis, Jerome, Gennadius, Hippolytus of Rome, Nepos, Ambrose of Milan, as well as others. Pre-millenialism was in fact the dominant view of the church for the first few centuries. It is the oldest eschatological view.

Contrary to a very oft pubilicized misconception, Charles Nelson Darby did not “invent” dispensationalism.  Dispensatioanlism had already been around LONG before Darby came onto the scene.  But Darby did systemize and popularize dispensational eschatology more than had been the case previously.  And it has since exploded to become the dominant view of the Protestant church, in terms of numbers of adherents.  This is hardly a point against dispensationalism, as we are frequently told: we knew that as the last days approached, knowledge would be greatly increased (Daniel 12:4).  And in fact as we see more and more things that the Bible described that are being fulfilled right in front of our eyes, that understanding shall certainly continue to be increased.  It seems quite unremarkable to me that as we get closer and closer to the last days, we would understand more and more about the last days and about biblical eschatology.

One of the things that Charles Nelson Darby and those who came before him did was literally predict that there would HAVE to be a state of Israel in order for prophecy as they understood it to be fulfilled. He implicitly taught that if his system for understanding Scripture was correct, there would be a powerful nation of Israel at a time when there was no evidence whatsoever that such a nation would arise literally from the bones and the ashes (see Ezekiel 37 and see here).  And, as God’s workings with man so often come about, it was because of his faith and the faith of early dispensationalists that Israel DID reassemble from the bones.  It was the early Christian “Zionists” who believed in the regathering of national Israel who largely funded the purchase of the land of Israel for the future establishment of a nation.  Prior to Darby and the dispensationalists, Israel had been an empty desert wasteland populated only by a few nomads; because of the biblical Zionists the land flowed with water in yet another literal fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

Darby and the dispensationalists also predicted that Russia – at the time a backwater and hardly a major international power – would become mighty as the land of Gog and Magog in the ultimate north (see Ezekiel 38).

Now allow me to get closer to our present day and refer to another “Darby” who correctly predicted events to come according to an understanding of dispensationalist eschatology: a Messianic Jew named Joel Rosenberg.  Allow me to quote from my aforementioned article “Iran, Iraq And The Future In Bible Prophecy“:

A Wikipedia article on Joel Rosenberg probably provides the most concise summary (accessed June 23, 2009):

Rosenberg’s novels have attracted those interested in Bible Prophecy, due to several of his fictional elements of his books that would occur after his writing of books. Nine months before the September 11th attacks, Rosenberg wrote a novel with a kamikaze plane attack on an American city. Five months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he wrote a novel about war with Saddam Hussein, the death of Yasser Arafat eight months before it occurred, a story with Russia, Iran, and Libya forming a military alliance against Israel occurring the date of publishing,[7] the rebuilding of the city of Babylon,[12] Iran vowing to have Israel “wiped off the face of the map forever” five months before Iranian President Ahmadinejad said the same,[13] and the discovery of huge amounts of oil and natural gas in Israel (which happened in January 2009).[14] The U.S. News & World Report have referred to him as a “Modern Nostradamus,”[15] although Rosenberg tries to play down those proclamations, stating that “I am not a clairvoyant, a psychic, or a ‘Modern Nostradamus,’ as some have suggested.”[16] He gives the credit for his accurate predictions to studying Biblical prophecy and applying to the modern world.[16]

Why did Rosenberg predict that there would be a “kamikaze plane attack on an American city” by Islamic terrorists?  Because he accurately understood the evil at the heart of Islam.

Why did Rosenberg predict a war between Saddam Hussein and the United States resulting in the overthrow of Saddam and his brutal regime?  That’s where it gets interesting.

Joel Rosenberg had done a thorough study of the Book of Ezekiel and of the Bible (as a couple of overlapping articles summarize – Article 1; – Article 2).  He learned that one day, according to the Bible, a massive army under the leadership of Russia and many of its former republics (Magog) and Iran (Persia) and consisting of many countries that are today Islamic [e.g. “Cush” (modern-day Sudan and Ethiopia); “Put” (modern-day Libya); “Gomer” (modern-day Turkey); “Beth-togarmah” (modern-day Armenia); and many peoples “along the mountains of Israel” (modern-day Lebanon and possibly Syria)] would form an “exceedingly great army” that would one day attack Israel.

What Rosenberg noted was the absence of two countries: Egypt and Babylon (i.e. Iraq).  Egypt had been a perennial enemy of Israel until 1973, when Egypt alone in all the Arab/Muslim world forged a historic peace treaty with the state of Israel.  That left Iraq.  Rosenberg asked himself, “How could a nation like Iraq, under the leadership of someone like Saddam Hussein, NOT participate in this mega-colossal-last-days attack on Israel?

Rosenberg concluded that Saddam Hussein WOULDN’T refrain from such an attack.  And that meant that Saddam Hussein would have to go.

And so, NINE MONTHS before the 9/11 attack, Rosenberg in his “fiction” created a scenario in which terrorists flew a plane in a kamikaze attack, and the United States took out the Iraqi regime and replaced it with a stable Western-friendly government.

And because the Bible is the true Word of an all-knowing God who knows the end from the beginning as revealed through His prophets, the scenario laid out by Joel Rosenberg turned out to be eerily true.  It wasn’t a “lucky guess”; it was based upon the God who had revealed the last days to an inspired prophet named Ezekiel some 2,600 years ago.

Thus we have Iraq, its tyrant who had filled mass graves with the bodies of at least 400,000 of his own people, overthrown and a stable democracy growing in his place.  And we have Iran, a country strongly allied with Russia; a country bent on acquiring nuclear weapons; a country that has announced its intent on the destruction of Israel; a country under the leadership of men who in all likelihood believe in establishing a future by an act of violent apocalypse.  Two countries on two very different paths.  And both paths known to God 2,600 years ago.

It is not my primary purpose to attack other Christian viewpoints, but rather to argue that the predictive power of Bible prophecy viewed through the lens of dispensationalist theology has been nothing short of remarkable.  And to argue that when the Bible is given a chance via literal interpretation, it shines brightly as the true Word of the Living God.

One day, the early dispensationalists taught, Israel would be regathered as a powerful nation.  It happened literally, not metaphorically or allegorically.  One day in the far north a nation would grow to prominence such that it could lead an international invasion against that nation Israel.  It happend as Russia became a superpower.  It happend literally, not metaphorically or allegorically.  The nations that would be led by Russia would include the nation of Persia (modern Iran) in a strategic alliance and and a host of nations that would have some powerful commonly-held ideological rationale to launch an all-out attack against Israel.  That has happened quite literally.  And today Russia, Iran and modern Islamic states have both a common alliance and a common hostility to national Israel.  Just as the Bible literally taught would happen in the last days.

There was a period during which naysayers ridiculed dispensationalist interpretations of prophecy, because many dispensationalist Bible scholars talked in terms of the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union collapsed in the late 1980s/early 1990s.  But the same Gog and Magog in the north is back in international power, and the new Russia is more involved with its Islamic alliance than ever.  Literally.  Just as the Bible taught all along.  A good presentation of just how powerful this very literal last days alliance is can be read in Joel Rosenberg’s book Epicenter.  He supports this powerful endtimes alliance with documentation galore.

Joel Rosenberg described a world in which two powerful Muslim nations – Egypt and Iraq – would somehow NOT join the last days alliance.  I describe that further in my article “The Crisis In Egypt, The Future And Bible Prophecy.”

Right now Egypt is being controlled by the military.  And that is the best state of affairs for Israel, given that the military is the most pro-Western element in all of Egypt.  I don’t profess to have any idea what kind of government Egypt will ultimately end up with; I merely state that Egypt will ultimately-  and frankly amazingly (along with modern Babylon Iraq) – NOT participate in the war of Gog and Magog described in Ezekiel 38 and 39, in which a Russian-and-Iranian-led host of Islamic states attack Israel in the coming last days.

But what about the many other Islamic nations that are likewise experiencing great unrest with all of these “days of rage” erupting in first one Muslim nation and then another?

Here’s a map detailing the spread of protests currently erupting all over the Arab world:

You can add Iran to that list, as protests are erupting even as this article goes out.  You can also add Bahrain.  And I have no doubt other Muslim countries as well.

What about THESE countries?  Is democracy afoot throughout the Islamic world, which has never had democracy in its entire history?

People should stop and think: is it a mere coincidence that the Muslim world has been a world of tyrant kings and dictatorial regimes, while democracy spread throughout Christendom and as a direct result of Judeo-Christian principles?  Or is there something fundamentally and profoundly wrong with Islam as both a religion and as a political system?

We have the recent example of the Palestinian Authority, which had democratic elections only for the people to enthusiastically vote for the terrorist organization Hamas.  Secular humanists and liberal religionists have denounced this as an embrace of religion which makes democracy impossible.  But that is clearly not what our American founding fathers who created the first lasting democracy in human history believed.  Rather, our founding fathers argued that true religion and the morality which true religion fosters are ESSENTIAL for a democracy and a people capable of self-government.

I think now of the Andrew McCarthy book The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America. (and see the descriptions of this book here and here).  And I would submit that on the one hand we have the Islamic threat of radical jihadism, and we have the Western threat of serving as the useful idiots of radical jihadism.  It was liberals and liberalism which gave us the multiculturalism that leaders of the most powerful European countries (Germany, the UK and France) are now vehemently denouncing as having fomented the spread of radical Islam.  And as an example of this we have breathless mainstream media liberals describing the Egyptian people as a nation of freedom-loving secularists when the truth is very different.  According to a Pew survey:

“At least three-quarters of Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan say they would favor making each of the following the law in their countries: stoning people who commit adultery, whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery and the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion. Majorities of Muslims in Jordan and Nigeria also favor these harsh punishments.”

Which is to say that rather than being a theory, it is a fact that secular humanist liberals have done more to spread radical Islamist jihadism than anyone short of the radical Islamist jihadists themselves.  And it is in fact those who embrace a literalist view of the Bible who have most strongly decried this moral stupidity for years.

God knew these days would come thousands of years ago.  He knew that the Middle East – for centuries a forgotten backwater – would become central in the last days due to the discovery of and need for oil.  God knew that Israel would be once again established as a nation literally coming to life from dry bones (Ezekiel 37).  God knew that ancient Persia and modern day Iran would once again come to dominate the Middle East in the last days.  God knew that Russia would rise to become a great bear in the last days.  God knew that something would unite virtually all of the nations surrounding Israel to join in an attack against the tiny nation that God founded through Abraham.  And God knew that these nations would come together in one massive force against that nation Israel as described inEzekiel 38-39.  Because God knows the end from the beginning.

Even as I write Libya’s Gaddafi is calling upon Palestinians to revolt against Israel.  Already the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has been saying the treaty with Israel is over and calling for preparations for a war on Israel.  And this isn’t a bunch of allegories; it is quite literal, indeed.

As you read your newspaper and watch your news, does this all-out war described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 seem farfetched?  Or does this insane attack against Israel seem to be the far and away the most likely outcome as history unfolds just as God described through His prophets?  The only thing that should seem farfetched is the conclusion of this battle, as God supernaturnaturally comes to Israel’s aid and destroys this massive army that would seek to destroy His people.  But is such a demonstration of divine power really so incredible for a God who knows the end from the beginning, and revealed that knowledge in His Word?

And I would argue that an explosion of democracy in the Islamic world – which the very same liberals who cheer it now vehemently denounced when Bush was advocating it – may well backfore horrendously just as it did in the Palestinian Authority.  It may well be the agent that binds the Islamic world together into the coalition led by Russia and Iran that will one day come streaming toward Israel in the rapidly approaching last days.  Once any of these radical jihadist groups such as the ayatollahs in Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian Authority – and outfits like the Taliban or the Muslim Brotherhood – gain powere through a popular vote, they become impossible to vote out.  Because they are fundamentally anti-democratic; in fact they despise democracy and everything it stands for.  And once they get power, they will never let it go.

Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers Party never had more than 37% of the vote in Germany.  But once in, he and the Nazis totally seized power.  The same thing happened with the communists in Russia and everywhere else that communism has spread.  And it has happened again and again with Islamofascists like the Ayatollahs and secular Islamic dictators such as Saddam Hussein alike.

As I consider the popular Islamic people’s uprisings in light of passages such as Ezekiel 38-39 and Psalm 83 (e.g., “They say, ‘Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!'” – Psalm 83:4), I believe that this move in the Islamic world will not end well for most of the nations experiencing these “days of rage.”

What the Bible predicted would happen as the Word of a God who knows the end from the beginning will happen.  And it will happen very literally indeed.

As Iran gets the nuclear bomb – and Iran WILL get the nuclear bomb, thanks to Western liberals and American Democrats (see my articles here and here) – it will become emboldened in a way that will make its previous insolence to the global community seem like nothing.  They will feel impervious, and they will most certainly join Russia in an attack upon Israel as leaders of a pan-Islamic international force.  And this coming world war against Israel will be no allegory and it will be no metaphor; it will be terrifyingly literal.

But you don’t have to be afraid.  Because the God who told us that these days would come is sovereign over the world.

I pray every single day, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus,” which is what Maranatha means.

As one who stands quite guilty indeed of being a biblical literalist, I believe that the Lord will rapture His people before the coming Tribulation which will test and judge the whole world and ultimately bring about the national restoration of Israel to its Messiah.  I believe that this rapture will “snatch” every single genuine Christian as the Lord comes for His people and meets them in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  Jesus went to prepare a place for us; and we will soon be with Him in His beautiful and glorious presence before we return with Him as He comes to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19).

I believe that the rapture will even catch those Christians who don’t believe in the rapture.  Even as I believe that as one who loves the Lord’s coming, I will be awarded a special crown in heaven.

Jesus said that in the last days before His return to earth as King of kings, the times would become so fearful and so terrifying that men’s hearts would fail them for fear (Luke 21:25-26. KJV).  But Jesus said to His own, “Do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

You don’t have to be afraid if you have Christ in your heart.  Especially if you also have the prayers for His soon coming on your lips.

Maranatha!