Posts Tagged ‘Rapture’

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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Who Is Jesus … REALLY?

July 21, 2014

I grew up going to church.  I’m talking about from my earliest childhood: from the nursery right into Sunday School.

And yet I didn’t actually become a Christian until I was fifteen years old.

I can easily explain why: I had never, until that fifteenth year, truly been introduced to a Jesus I was willing to truly follow.

Oh, the Jesus the kindly Sunday School teachers described was nice enough.  The pictures they had of Him on the walls of the Sunday School room were illustrative: a nice, rather wimpy-looking man surrounded by a bunch of children.  Oh, and He always seemed to be carrying a lamb around His shoulders.

It wasn’t that I “rejected” that Jesus; it was rather more of, “That’s nice,” and I continued on going about my life.

I was, I suppose, too young to ask the questions that I existentially needed the answers to.  Or at least, I was too lazy to ask them, anyway.

Well, between my fifteenth and sixteenth year on this earth I went to a Christian camp called “Forest Home” in California.  And it was there that I first really understood who Jesus was and saw in Him someone for whom I would lay down everything and follow.

The Jesus I welcomed as my Savior and as my Lord was a Man, a tough Man, a bold Man, a Man who stood up for God and refused to back down even when hell itself got in His face.  He stood up to everyone and to everything that was wrong about the world He confronted, from the culture to the government to even His own followers.  This Jesus was the ultimate Hero, who came to save helpless people who otherwise would have perished.

Who is our Jesus, who is our Christ?

According to Colossians, He is the image of the invisible God, which means that Jesus is literally the answer to the question, “What is God like?”  The Gospel of John in the eighteenth verse of chapter one says, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”  And that verb “explained” is the word from which we get “exegesis.”  It means, “to show the way, to explain.”  That’s what Jesus did: He explained and literally showed us God.  That’s why when Philip said,”Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us,” Jesus responded, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”

St. John explained the relationship between God the Father and God the Son in his introduction:

“In the beginning was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.”

Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses tragically distort the true nature of Christ and in so doing preach “another Jesus” from the Jesus God’s Word presents.  They insert the article “a” to teach that the Word was merely “a god” rather than God.  They artificially manufacture a rule that literally excludes them from ever receiving a higher degree in biblical language.  And they further show their hypocrisy by applying their “rule” only when Jesus’ deity is ascribed.  For instance, by the same “rule,” their translation would say, “In a beginning” rather than “In the beginning.”  Which just gets downright weird, doesn’t it?

What St. John did in Greek was to perfectly differentiate between the Father and the Son.  There was a heresy called Modalism that taught that the Father WAS the Son, like the same actor who put on different hats to play different roles during a play.  Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses demand an article – a “the” – in the Greek for the translation to be “… and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  But if that article were present, the translation would declare Modalism, that “the Word was God” in exclusion to the Father also being God.  Instead, what St. John is teaching is that Christ, the Word, the Son is God, was WITH the Father from the very beginning, but is not numerically identical with God the Father.  John 1:1 is actually a masterful construction that precisely differentiates the true Jesus between two heresies – the heresy of Modalism that presents God as an actor wearing three hats and the heresy of Arianism that teaches Jesus as a lesser being who was merely a creation rather than truly being God.

The Word of God teaches that it was Christ who created the world: “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”  And therefore, logically, it is IMPOSSIBLE for Christ to have Himself been a created being.  How could Christ create “all things” and have “all things come into being by Him” and He Himself be created???  It’s logically absurd.  And so Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses manufacture a word that is NOT present in the Bible and assert, “all other things came into being by him.”

There’s a short, simple, powerful rhyme that explains it well: “He came to die on a cross of wood, yet made the hill on which it stood.”

Our Christ is the preeminent One over Creation.  Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses falsely seize upon the description of Christ as “the firstborn over all creation” and assert that it means He was “born” in the sense of having been “created.”  That isn’t true: “firstborn” is a title of preeminence, a statement that Jesus – as the Creator as the following verses prove – has a preeminent position over all of creation.  Think of Abraham’s firstborn: who was it?  Isaac or Ishmael?  Think of Isaac’s sons, Jacob and Esau: who was the “firstborn”?  And no matter how you answer I can say, “Wrong!”  Because the “firstborn” son in birth order was NOT the firstborn son who inherited the birthright.  In both of these crucial cases, the “firstborn” turned out NOT to be the “firstborn.”  Isaac was given the inheritance of “firstborn” even though he was NOT born first.  And so was Jacob over Esau, with Esau literally cavalierly selling his birthright for a bowl of stew when he was hungry.  And the point being that “birth” has nothing to do with being “firstborn.”  It is a TITLE in its most important sense that Paul uses in Colossians 1:15.

And so the passage in its context reads:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

By WHOM were “all things created”?  By the One who is called “the firstborn over all creation,” by the One who is “the image of the invisible God.”  And note again He created ALL things, NOT “all other things.”  And not only were all things created THROUGH Him, but FOR Him.  We’re taught in Ephesians chapter one that the Father had a plan to glorify His Son, to literally create a world just so He could point to His Son and say, “Look at My Son!  Isn’t He WONDERFUL!?!?”

Who is our Jesus, who is our Christ?  The entire universe was created through Christ and for Christ.  Our Christ is before ALL things “and in Him all things hold together.”

Jesus Christ is literally the mysterious force that prevents every atom from literally flying apart.  If THAT isn’t absolute power over the universe, what is?

Quite a far cry from the meek little wimp who hangs out with children with a lamb around his neck, you know?

THAT is who our Jesus is.

It was this Christ, who we now know is the Creator who made ALL THINGS according to His Father’s plan to glorify Him, who created Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:27:

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

You should now understand: in creating human beings, Christ created us in HIS image such that one day He could assume OUR image.

And in the Virgin Birth, prophesied hundreds of years beforehand in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”   St. Matthew completes the picture in chapter one and verse 23 of his gospel:  “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”

Isaiah 9:6 tells us more about this miracle Baby:

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

Does that sound like an ordinary human to you?  Does that sound like the work of anything less than God?

The angel who appeared to Joseph, the soon-to-be husband of Mary, didn’t believe so:

But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” — Matthew 1:20-21

Who does the Bible teach saves people from their sins?  GOD and God ALONE.

The angel who appeared to Mary didn’t believe so:

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” — Luke 130-:33

In the Incarnation, which resulted in the Virgin Birth of Jesus, Christ – who was God – assumed a human nature, a human nature untainted by the sin of the Fall that corrupted us, so that He could come to live a perfect life in our place that we could not live and then die as our substitute as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Understand the dilemma: on the one hand, mankind had sinned and mankind had to pay the penalty – which is death – for the wages of sin.  On the other hand, only God can truly save us from sin.  No mere man, no mere angel, can take my sins away from me, such that God cannot see them to hold them against me and rightly judge and condemn me for them.

Only God Himself can do that.  That is why God Himself declares:

I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me.”

And again:

Yet I have been the LORD your God Since the land of Egypt; And you were not to know any god except Me, For there is no savior besides Me.”

That ought to tell you what the real story of the very first Christmas, heralded by an angel, truly was:

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” — Luke 2:8-11

My Savior is none other than God Himself; and that’s why I can know that I am going to heaven.  Because only God can do that work in me.  Anyone else who relies on anything else is lost in their sins.  Because no man and no angel has the power to be your true Savior.

Some day I plan to ask the angel who came to those shepherds and said, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy…” to perform a dramatic reenactment of that scene.  Because for all eternity that announcement will send shivers through my spine.

God was born when God the Son assumed a human nature and entered the world through Mary, a descendant of King David, in Bethlehem as God’s Word foretold centuries before:

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” — Micah 5:2

He came to die on a cross of wood, yet made the hill on which it stood.

What did our Jesus do?  In one of the most beautiful passages in all Scripture, St. Paul gives us a moral lesson for how we should live our lives based on what Jesus did:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. — Philippians 2:3-11

The New Living Translation just flat-out says it in verse 6: “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.”

Although Jesus was truly God, God the Son, the Christ, the Word, as God He did not regard His deity something to cling to, something to be exploited for its own advantage.  But instead, in His other-centered love that ONLY God can manifest, He emptied Himself.  He laid aside the exercise of His deity so that He could become an ordinary man and live among us and fulfill the salvation plan of His Father that Ephesians 1 teaches His Father had established from eternity.

And so Christ came into the world, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.  That’s not my notion, but Jesus’ Himself:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” — Mark 10:45

What did our Jesus do?  He lived a perfect life in my place when I couldn’t.  And then He died the death in my place that I should have died for my sins.  The One who created the entire universe, who created me, took the blame for my sins upon HIMSELF.  On the cross, Jesus literally took the blame of the sin of the whole world upon Himself so that we could be free of the power and death of sin.  And by faith we die with Him – as depicted by going under the water in baptism – and by faith we are raised with newness of life with Christ.  Jesus died because He assumed a human nature.  BUT GOD CAN’T STAY DEAD.  And so He rose bodily from the dead in Resurrection Power.

I love the words of Colossians 3:3-4

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

What is God like?  He’s just like Jesus.  And in what way does Jesus show us what God is ultimately like?  In His incarnation.  What did He show us about the nature of God?  Love so astonishing that it is hard to believe.

Jesus showed us what God is truly like.  And what a beautiful God He truly is.

Because no one else would have come to me the way Jesus came for me.

I’ve always believed in God.  The Bible declares it is only the worst kind of fool who does not believe in God.  The Bible declares that the existence of God is self-evident in Creation.   The Bible points out that even the demons believe in God.  What is miraculous beyond belief isn’t that God IS, but that God is so good and so loving and so gracious and so … wonderful that He would come to me even at my very worst and most loathsome point and love me enough to save me when all I deserve is hell.

That’s what my Jesus did.  My Creator saved me from myself and from my sin, which many times seems like an even greater and even more profound miracle than the Creation of the whole universe.  Because it’s one thing to create something from nothing; quite another to fix something that was so hopelessly broken and ruined that for anyone short of God it needs to be destroyed because it is simply too impossible to fix.

Jesus is my hero because I was lost.  I was even worse than lost, I was DEAD.  And Jesus saved me:

 1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.  — Ephesians 2:1-10

Every time a new believer enters the Kingdom of Heaven because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, there is a staggering miracle of Creation: what was dead is made alive.  What was broken beyond human or angelic repair is made whole.  A destroyed, ruined, broken life becomes transformed in new life.

That transformation is at work in my own life.  It will not be complete in this world, but at the moment of the Rapture I know that no matter what happens in this world I will be the ME that God always intended me to be.  And I will have joy as I share all eternity with my Creator and my Savior and my Lord Jesus.  St. Paul described this moment in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58:

51Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

It’s like that hymn, “Because He Lives“:

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

Jesus is my hero because where I had no hope, I now have hope that will literally carry me through this world and into and through the world to come.

I don’t know what anyone else has; I just no it very certainly isn’t better than what I have in my Jesus.

Jesus is my hero, because in a world filled with lies He came to testify to the TRUTH:

Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” — John 18:37

I heard you, King Jesus.  Thank God Almighty, I heard you.

I hope you can hear Jesus too.

 

 

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 16-18

January 14, 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

Three words for three chapters: judgment (16), wickedness (17), destruction (18).  Rev 17 is an interlude informing us of an evil end times religious system depicted 1) in terms of the system made infamous by Babylon and 2) as a whore who has all of her rivals (i.e. Christians) murdered.

Rev 16 describes the seven final and worst judgments of all: the bowl judgments.  What are these bowls?  They are the golden censors used in the Temple to carry the incense (which symbolizes prayer).  Remember the last time we discussed the prayers of the Raptured believers who were a sea of glass mixed with fire (Rev 15:2 cf 4:6)?  They were calling for judgment to fall on the wicked world for murdering the Tribulation saints.  We see today that God will answer that prayer!  By this point in the Tribulation, God knows in His foreknowledge that every single unbeliever still alive on earth at this time will not repent no matter what (see Rev 16:9,11,21).  These judgments in effect are a foretaste of hell.  God brings judgment on these unbelievers warning, “This is what’s in store for your eternity if you refuse to repent.”  They are God’s final warning; and the world will settle for nothing less than hell.

I won’t try to speculate on how these judgments are carried out.  Remember that God has three ways to enact these judgments (by simply stepping back and allowing man to punish himself; by bringing natural disaster such as super volcanoes; by directly supernaturally acting).  The 1st bowl (16:1-2) causes giant, incredibly painful malignant sores to break out ONLY on those who have taken the mark of the beast.  These sores may be like the terrible ravages of radiation that we saw on survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The 2nd bowl (v. 3) is poured into the sea and causes ALL sea life to die (say goodbye to fishing and aquaculture).  The 3rd bowl (vv. 4-7) turns all the FRESH water into blood because the world that spilled the blood of the martyrs will get blood to drink.  There will be no more water to drink.  The 4th bowl (vv. 8-9) is poured out on the sun and scorches people with its fire.  The 5th bowl (vv. 10-11) is poured onto the throne of the Satan-possessed Antichrist, plunging his entire kingdom into a darkness that is so oppressive it can be physically felt (cf. Ex 10:21).  The 6th bowl (vv. 12-16) is poured upon the great river Euphrates, and its waters dry up to prepare the path of the 200 million man army of the kings of the east.  The Euphrates marks the boundary between East and West.  A famous rhyme by Kipling says “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.”  But they WILL meet as armies led by China will one day commit the greatest banzai charge in human history.  And this judgment is an example of one that can now be fulfilled by man: the Soviet Union completed a dam project that can shut off the flow of the Euphrates for an army to cross; and a huge road project has been constructed from China through the Himalayas of Kashmir to Pakistan.  India denounced it to the U.N. at the time as “a threat to peace in Asia.”  History will record India to be right as the kings of the east cross it like a red carpet to Armageddon.  The secular humanist world will end in a greater bloodbath than every war up to this point combined.  And the 7th bowl (vv. 18-21) causes the worst earthquake in history which will cause all the great cities of the world to collapse.  It will remove islands, flatten mountains, split Babylon into three parts and result in 75 lb hailstones to plunge out of the sky.

Armageddon is the result of demonic influence both on the kings of the East and the Antichrist (Rev 16:12-16). It may be that demons employ signs and wonders to inspire the various armies to gather at Armageddon – with demons inspiring each side that they will win this global war of extinction (see Joel 3:12-14).  As the kings of the east mass at the Euphrates, Antichrist inspires his own armies to meet them.

We don’t know how or when the order of battle will proceed.  Part of that is because there are wars prophesied in Scripture that may happen BEFORE the Tribulation or during it.  For example, take Psalm 83, which prophesied that modern-day Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine would attack Israel.  I believe that prophecy may have been fulfilled in the Six Day War.  Ezekiel 37-38 prophesies the War of God and Magog which has not yet occurred.  It will involve the modern-day armies of Russia and the former Soviet Republics of Eastern Europe, Iran, Turkey, Sudan and Libya.  The Old Testament names of these countries have been pretty well established for centuries based on the Table of Nations in Gen 10 (which is the most archaeologically significant page that ever existed).  As an example the great archaeologist William Albright said, “The tenth chapter of Genesis…stands absolutely alone in ancient literature, without a remote parallel…”

The amazing thing is that these coalitions described in the Bible are EXACTLY what we have today: the Russians have EXACTLY this coalition dating to the days of the USSR.  And China is right now solidifying its hegemony over Asia.  The global alignments look RIGHT NOW precisely the way the Bible said it would look in the very last days.  The only thing we don’t yet fully see is the ten kingdoms that will be ruled by Antichrist (and consider my next paragraph for more on that).

The War of Gog and Magog is not directly tied to the Tribulation (e.g., by being specifically cited in the Book of Revelation).  If the War of Gog and Magog occurs prior to the Tribulation, it might literally be the event that causes the panicked international response out of which the Antichrist arises.  I see the various events of Bible prophecy as sprockets and pulleys of a great machine that will all come together with every gear and cog falling into place such that what God said would happen WILL happen as He foreknew and foretold.  Whether it be war or economic collapse or both, everything prophesied in the last days will suddenly fall together in an incredibly short time such that the Antichrist will simply step in at God’s appointed hour and take over – with much of the work of organizing the world for his takeover already having been done for him.  If the War of Gog and Magog occurs during the Tribulation, it would be the first stage of the vast global campaign that is summed up by the word “Armageddon.”  So Russia and Iran would lead the Ezekiel 38 coalition against Israel – and subsequently be destroyed by God.  China and her allies would then position themselves to protect their oil interests, thereby causing the Antichrist and his armies to maneuver to try to block their access to the Middle East amidst nuclear mushroom clouds galore.  All the major armies of the world will be gathered.  It will be complete madness that will be hard enough to understand when it is going on, let alone be able to figure it all out even before it happens.  But one thing is sure: there is enough detail and description in the Bible that Tribulation believers will look at their Bibles and at this insane war and recognize it when they see it.

And while this vicious “the survivor wins” battle is going on, the world will be utterly devastated by a supermassive earthquake that will either be unleashed by a massive nuclear exchange or even more directly by the hand of God.  God will have given secular humanist man his chance to govern the world without God.  When Christ returns in Rev 19, it will literally be to prevent the destruction of the planet and the death of every single human being on earth.

I’m going to do something different with Rev 17-18.  Rather than try to explain every tree (i.e., every detail in the chapters), I’m going to spend time trying to show you the forest.  I believe with a good study Bible (like the Ryrie Study Bible, the MacArthur Study Bible, or even the NIV/NASB Study Bibles which share the same study notes) you can pick up a lot of the details.  Rev 17 and 18 talk about “Babylon,” and what I want to do is show you where the Babylon system that Revelation describes truly comes from and what it will look like in the Tribulation.

We arrive at the descriptive interlude of Rev 17 that teaches us about two of the great dynamics driving the last days.  One is a last days religious system directly connected to ancient Babylon.  And again, this is something that may fall into place in an incredibly short time (to be exploited by the false prophet for the benefit of Antichrist) in the last days.  Consider the cover story that has already been concocted to explain away the Rapture: “The people who leave the planet during the time of Earth changes do not fit in here any longer, and they are stopping the harmony of Earth. When the time comes that perhaps 20 million people leave the planet at one time there will be a tremendous shift in consciousness for those who are remaining.” — Barbara Marciniak, Bringers of the Dawn.  Now, I think it will be quite a bit more than 20 million, but you get the idea: New Agers and secular humanists alike agree on one thing: the Christians are the problem; we are the force that is preventing the world from “evolving” the way the aliens who seeded the earth with life intended.  In order to evolve to the giant government Utopia that New Age channelers and secular humanists long for, the aliens will have to show up remove the barriers preventing that Utopia.  That’s us.  We’ll be beamed away so the world can properly evolve.

Let me give you a complementary example: climate change.  Nobody talked more about freak weather characterizing the last days than Jesus.  The prophets filled the Bible with prophesies of deadly weather.  “Global warming” or “climate change” or whatever they’ll call it next ought to be OUR sign; but the secular humanists and new agers who most oppose Jesus Christ and God’s Kingdom have hijacked and perverted this sign of the end times to THEIR agenda, haven’t they?  The United Nations has demanded $76 trillion to save the earth from global warming as they redistribute wealth to advance their agenda.  In the same way, I believe the same enemies of God will exploit the Rapture to bring about THEIR religious system, which they will use to unify the human population “left behind” by the Rapture and bind the world to their demonic agenda.  And it doesn’t matter if it was in the Bible for thousands of years because the unsaved world couldn’t care less about what the Bible says.

Rev 17 talks about this religious system in terms of “Babylon.”  Two things most characterized that system: gazing into space for answers (astrology) and binding the human race together in unity against God.  Let’s go back to Babylon’s first moment at the Tower of Babel.  Why were they building the tower?  Nimrod (whose name fittingly means “We will revolt”) unified the world to build the world’s tallest astrological observatory for the purpose of astrology. But King Nimrod doesn’t first say, “Let’s build a tower.”  Instead he says, “Let’s make BRICKS” (Gen 11:3).  Normally you first decide what to build and THEN pick your building materials.  Why is that significant?  Consider an altar: God commanded it be built from uncut stones (Exodus 20:25), and therefore each stone is unique in size and shape.  Think in terms of people: God made us unique individuals.  But now consider bricks: every brick is exactly identical to every other brick.  Bricks are faceless and interchangeable.  God wants us to be stones, precious in individuality (see 1 Pet 2:4-5), but the god of this world tries to mold us into bricks.  And the Hebrew word for “mortar” is the same word as the word for “materialism.”  The unification of people against God by materialism.  The Babylon system wants us to become faceless and mindless bricks that are mortared rigidly into place by our lust for materialism and our desire to get more and more of the material world.

The Jewish Talmud refers to this founder of Babylon as “the hunter of the souls of men” (see Gen 10:9).  He hunted men not to kill them, but rather to seduce them into becoming his subjects and to make himself their master.  Nimrod represented totalitarianism and totalitarian government.  The ability of people to think for themselves and believe for themselves were simply not in his game plan.  And throughout its entire history, Babylon continued to be infamous for its astrology, its materialism and its godless and arrogant totalitarianism.  And every single totalitarian Utopia began under the deceitful premise that those who served the cause would be better off materially/economically.  And as the people discovered they’d been lied to, they realized that the government had all the guns and held all the power and that it was too late to try to resist the kind of power over humanity the State now held.

If you want to know what God thought of this kind of big government system, read 1 Samuel 8:4-22. God knew that the demand for this kind of government amounted to a rejection of Him.  And God knew that all the king that the people wanted would do was TAKE from them.

AFTER the Rapture – which will be hijacked by the world to make it about “obstructionist Christians” being removed by aliens so that the world can evolve into the totalitarian Utopia – would it surprise you if the world is led into a Babylon-style religious system which focuses on unity and on the movements of the celestial bodies?  After hundreds of millions of people suddenly just “vanished” into space???

I hope you can see by now how the political (totalitarian Antichrist), the religious (the false prophet) and the economic (materialism, the mark of the beast) all come together in this world system.  Because Rev 18 continues to confirm that; you now have a commercial/economic Babylon (see 18:3,11).  This may be a geographic city; the “whore” of Babylon in Rev 17 “sits on many waters”; which we’re told in 18:15 meant “peoples, multitudes, nations and languages” (all plural).  Whereas Rev 17 describes a religious system characterized by godless, arrogant, Babylon-style materialism which murders anyone who won’t become a “brick,” the Babylon of Rev 18 appears to be a political and economic center.  And everything is united – politics, religion, government, and commerce – by this system that the Antichrist will rule.  Secular humanists do NOT hate religion; they only hate religion that gets in the way of the political system they’re trying to impose.  In a remarkable address to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in 1991, Dr. LD. Rue, addressing the predicament of godless modern man, advocated that the human race be deceived by what he called a “noble lie” into thinking that we and the universe still have meaning, purpose and value.  He wanted to avoid what he called “the madhouse option” by which everyone would get to choose their OWN personal values (see Judges 21:25).  And so he wanted a noble lie that would deceives us, tricks us, compel us beyond self-interests, beyond ego, beyond family, nation, and race.  He wanted a religious system – (ANYTHING BUT Christianity) – which would create the illusion of these things while still promoting the agenda of godless secular humanism. He wanted to bind mankind together by an illusion that he knew was false – “a noble lie” – that would provide all the benefits of religion without any of the costs or inconveniences.  That’s what’s coming.

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

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

A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 14-15

January 9, 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

Revelation 14 and 15 form a series of short scenes in the spiritual realm that take place near the very end of the Tribulation.  The unifying theme that binds them all together is that Christ is ultimately triumphant over all the forces of evil that Satan and his two beasts try to bring to bear during the Tribulation.  We have in these chapters a moment of what scholars call “the prophetic preterit,” in that before the book is finished we already know who will surely win as if it was a past tense already accomplished event.

The first scene (Rev 13:1-5) foreshows the 144,000 (whom we first saw in Rev 7) surrounding Christ after the last battle outside of Jerusalem.  I believe they are called “firstfruits to God” because they are THE very first souls saved after the Rapture of the Church as these Jews specially prepared by God believe in the real Messiah of Israel right after the Rapture.  Given that at least half the world’s population perishes in the Tribulation, given that likely millions of Christians are martyred and given that Antichrist desperately wants to kill every single one of the 144,000, it is a miracle that every single one of them survive the seven years to stand with Christ victorious at the end.  The reference to their sexual purity may extend to the entire corrupt world system – which is most especially represented by its sexual immorality.  They will truly stand apart from the sin of the sick culture that surrounds them, like Daniel and his three friends in Babylon.  Why can no one learn the song they sing but the 144,000?  It may simply be that only these heroic Jewish believers can truly understand both the full horror of the seven years of Tribulation judgments along with the full power of God’s divine deliverance and protection.  They will be living embodiments of Romans 8:28.

The second scene (Rev 14:6-11) provides a scene that every angel has dreamed of as angels finally are allowed to get into the act of sharing the gospel.  The first angel preaches “the eternal gospel” because the unbelieving world hearing the message are on the precipice of eternity – and most of those who would believe this message would be martyred for their faith and have to pass through physical death to receive eternal life.  Given the pervasiveness of evolution we can already easily see that it is hardly surprising that the angel’s gospel message will center on the fact that GOD IS THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE and should be glorified and worshiped as such. The second angel provides a true “prophetic preterit” because God’s judgment pronounces Babylon as fallen in the aorist/past tense even though Babylon’s destruction doesn’t actually occur until Rev 18.  God has decreed that it will fall, and it will surely fall.  The point is that anyone who trusts in Satan’s world system, Antichrist’s empire or the false prophet’s religious system are fools because all of it will fall.  And the third angel specifically singles out the most outward manifestation of the demonic trinity’s program – the mark of the beast – stating that all who take part in it will burn in a hell that is every bit as real as the physical universe that God created above.

Rev 14:12-13 says, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”  Because most of those who accept “the eternal gospel” will have to pass through death to inherit life.  It’s the wise alternative of taking the mark and going to hell.  Those who have this “patient endurance” unto death will receive a special blessing even above previous generations of martyrs because of the viciousness of the persecution they will face.  Christians will be called upon to suffer and die as they never have before.  When you received Christ, would you have said that prayer with a gun pointed at your head knowing that the moment you finished praying you would be killed?  That’s basically what these Tribulation believers will face.

Revelation 14:14-20 presents two different harvests at the end of the Tribulation.  The first (vv. 14-16) is akin to what Jesus described in the separation of the wheat from the tares (Matt 13:39-43).  Here as there, the reapers are angels.  And these angels will “weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil” (Matt 13:41) and throw them into the fiery furnace of hell (v. 42).  This will take place at the end of the Tribulation after Christ has returned as King of kings and defeated Satan and his two beasts.  The Tribulation believers are the wheat who will inherit the Millennial kingdom.  The second harvest (vv. 17-20) and everyone in it will be thrown “into the great winepress of God’s wrath.”  Verse 20 (“They were trampled in the winepress outside the city”) tells us where, when and to whom this harvest occurs: (where) outside the city of Jerusalem (when) at the return of Christ as King of kings (to whom) to all the armies gathered against Him.  This harvest of slaughter is also prophesied in Zechariah 14:2-3.  The demonic 200 million man army from the kings of the East and the armies of Antichrist will be gathered like clusters of grapes that are ripe for the winepress of wrath.  Blood will rise as high as the horses’ bridles (Rev 14:20) from the 200 miles between the hills of Har-Megiddo and the Valley of Jezreel to the port of Elath on the Gulf of Aqabah.  It will be filled with war materials, corpses and blood.  The famous Latin phrase, “Sic semper tyrannis” (Thus always to tyrants)?  It turns out to be ultimately true.

We’ve seen two signs – the woman (Israel) and the dragon (Satan).  Israel is a sign because of her miraculous preservation by God in spite of staggering odds that they could survive as a people/culture.  Satan is a sign to the wise because history proves that evil transcends human capability and points to a supernatural and personal origin in Satan.  We intuitively know the world ought to be a better place but there is a malevolent intelligence seeking to thwart that better world.  Now we see the third and final sign in the form of the final seven judgments from God.  And if these seven plagues aren’t a sign demonstrating God’s sovereignty, nothing is.  They finish the wrath of God on earth and bring the world into God’s purpose and will; and the word “completed” in reference to God’s wrath in Rev 15:1 is the identical word uttered by Christ on the cross in John 19:30: tetelestai (“It is finished”).  You’ll soon see how this fits into the message of the chapter.

We again have reference to a “sea of glass” in Rev 15:2 that we saw in Rev 4:6.  Again, the sea of glass symbolizes Raptured believers at rest before the throne of God.  But now we see mixed with this sea of glorified believers fire, the symbol of judgment (Num 11:1; 16:35; Deut 9:3; Psalm 50:3; 2 Thess 1:7-9; Heb 10:27; 2 Pet 3:7).  “God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29).  It seems to me that the fire represents the prayers of Raptured believers for the final judgments to come on behalf of the martyred Tribulation believers.  These martyred believers stand on the sea of glass (Raptured believers) much the way a winning coach might stand on the shoulders of a victorious football team.  No one is more of a “winner” than these martyred believers.  There is no sign of defeat or bitterness in God’s “team” of saints; there is only praise and worship and exaltation in victory.  How can death really mean victory?  How can submitting to injustice and evil ultimately produce triumph?  Ask martyr Jim Elliot, who famously wrote: “A man is no fool to give up that which he cannot keep (such as his own life – see Luke 17:33) to gain what he cannot lose.”  This kind of victory isn’t found by playing it safe and never rocking the boat.  These believers will take a stand in the face of certain death – and in so standing they will be victorious.

They sing “the song of Moses” (Rev 15:3 cf. Deut 32:1-43).  Why?  Because just as the Israelites looked back at Egypt and realized that they were delivered from slavery and bondage, so these martyred Tribulation saints will look back upon their experience of horror on earth in the grip of evil and realize that they are now forever delivered from suffering and death in heaven.  And that song will turn into “the song of the Lamb” because it will have been Christ who brought about that great deliverance.

Rev 15 ends with a scene taking place at the heavenly tabernacle (vv. 5-8).  Keep in mind that the earthly tabernacle was made from the same pattern as the one in heaven (Heb 8:5 cf. Ex 25:8-9).  The Book of Hebrews draws several parallels between the function of the priests in the earthly tabernacle and Christ as our High Priest in the heavenly tabernacle.  In Hebrews we learn that the rituals/symbols of the earthly tabernacle worship were designed to foreshadow things that would have ultimate fulfillment in the heavenly tabernacle.  In Rev 15 John looked into the Holy of Holies of the heavenly tabernacle.

The Tabernacle of Testimony (in Acts 7:44 the King James Version calls it the Tabernacle of Witness) was both a witness FOR man and AGAINST man.  It was a witness for man in that it told him how he could have his sins forgiven and approach God; it was a witness against man because the very necessity of those rituals was a constant reminder that he was unworthy to approach God on his own merit.

Inside the earthly Ark of the Covenant were three items God commanded the people to put there.  And each of these items displayed man’s rejection of God.  The 1st item was the rewritten stone tablet of the Ten Commandments (recall that Moses broke the original when he saw the Israelites in gross sin); the second tablet was placed in the Ark as a witness of man’s rejection of the perfect moral law (Ex 25).  The 2nd witness was a pot of manna; God commanded it be placed in the Ark after Israel complained about the heavenly food God miraculously prepared for them.  It was a witness to man’s rejection of God’s provision for daily needs (Ex 16).  And the 3rd item was Aaron’s staff.  A rebel group tried to take over leadership of the nation of Israel from Moses and Aaron, and God caused Aaron’s staff to bud to confirm who He had designated to lead.  The staff that spouted leaves was placed in the Ark as a witness of man’s rejection of God’s chosen leadership  (Num 17).  The three items taken together displayed man’s complete rejection of God.  And they were placed in the Ark as a continual witness of the fact that man was sinful and rightly deserved God’s judgment.

When the high priest entered the Tabernacle and sprinkled blood on the Mercy Seat, he was in effect symbolically covering the symbols of man’s sin (in the form of the three items) from God’s sight.  The Mercy Seat formed the lid to the box in which the three items were placed.  As God now saw the blood of the innocent substitute rather than the three items symbolizing man’s rejection of Him, His justice was satisfied because the penalty of death had been paid.  And God could then transform His throne from one of judgment to one of mercy.  And of course all of this was intended to foreshadow what Christ would do as the Lamb of God and as our High Priest; His blood would not only cover but literally take away the sin of the world, thereby turning the throne of God in heaven’s tabernacle to one of mercy for all who would come by faith in Jesus.

But what John saw when he looked at the Holy of Holies was a sobering change; it now became the place from which the seven final plagues were sent forth.  It was no longer a place where men were reconciled to God; the throne of mercy had now become a throne of judgment against those who had rejected the Lamb.  The three reminders of man’s sin in the Ark were now fully uncovered and were a witness against man who had rejected Christ’s salvation.  Which is why no one was allowed to enter the temple until the plagues were completed (Rev 15:8); because the time for mercy had now passed man by and only judgment remained.

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

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

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

A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 10-11

December 26, 2012

See 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

In the first three chapters of Revelation we saw Christ prophetically addressing seven churches which represent “the Church” composed of all true believers in Christ on earth throughout the centuries.  In Rev 4 we saw “the Church” called up to heaven in the Rapture, and we saw ourselves surrounding God on His throne.  In Rev 5 we saw Christ on the throne of God being singularly declared worthy to unleash the judgments that will defeat evil and win earth back for God’s glory.  And then beginning in chapter six we have begun to see those judgments in the form of seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowls.

I had described two ways God could bring about some of these judgments: by supernatural means or by merely stepping back and allowing man to do what comes naturally to his depraved nature (e.g., with nuclear war). But there is actually a very real “third way” – namely the eruption of super volcanoes:  It turns out that just one of these things “could be sufficiently severe to threaten the fabric of civilization.”  And there are FIVE super volcano zones – including one in Yellowstone!  Which is to say that God has THREE paths to fulfilling every prophecy in the Book of Revelation: supernatural causation, allowing humans to fulfill the judgments upon themselves, and very real and very terrifying natural calamities that scientists declare are every bit as real and possible as they are unthinkable.

I thought that worth pointing out; I have to do a lot of simplifying and selective editing for a “midlevel” flight over Revelation, and that means it’s possible to leave out something I should have included.  Such as the effect of super volcanoes and their end times potential.

Today we’re going to get an interlude from all the hell-on-earth judgment (at least until the seventh trumpet is sounded and we get the terrifying bowl judgments).  We’re going to discuss the message of an angel, we’re going to talk about the coming Jewish Temple that will be built and we’re going to examine the ministry of the coming “two witnesses.”

“Then I saw another mighty angel…”  We saw “a mighty angel” in Rev 5:2.  These angels who are designated “mighty” are apparently members of the highest order of angels (the archangels) who stand in the very presence of God.  There are messages that are so significant to human history and divine mission that no one but an archangel with supreme authority such as Michael (Jude 9) or Gabriel (Luke 1:19) can deliver them.  And get a load of the sheer majestic “mightiness” of this “mighty angel”: he is clothed with a cloud which is the vehicle GOD Himself uses to come to earth (see Psalm 104:3; Isa 19:1; Daniel 7:13; Matt 17:5).  A rainbow is upon his head heralding back to Gen 9:9-17 and God’s promise that He remembers and keeps His covenants.  His face will be like the sun to remind us of the brilliant glory of the One from whose presence he has just come (e.g. Ex 34:29).  His feet are like pillars of fire, reminding us of Christ in Rev 1:15 and symbolic of divine judgment.  In placing his right foot upon the sea and his left foot upon the earth, he comes to take possession of the entire earth by divine decree of judgment.  And his voice is as the roar of a lion.  And the voices of the seven thunders answer his call.

This is a passage that always sends shivers down my spine.  But as incredibly mighty and glorious as this archangel – quite possibly the archangel Michael himself – is, if there were a contest to see who could fall on their feet before Jesus Christ first, I’ll bet this mighty angel would win hands down.  He serves One more glorious.

The archangel takes possession of the land and the sea and says that “there shall be delay no longer.”  Delay in doing what, we might ask.  This angelic visitation takes place very near the end of the seven years Tribulation: there shall be delay no longer in Jesus Christ returning to the earth He created as King and Lord over it.  Christ shall delay His return no longer.  The time of the eschaton predicted by the prophets has finally arrived and absolutely no power of man or demon will be able to hold it back.

We’re told “the mystery of God will be accomplished” (Rev 10:7).  The completion of the mystery is the conclusion of the Father’s plan that was initiated before the foundation of the world and is now finally to be realized in its fullness.  Many times, overwhelmed by evil, righteous man has cried wondering if God was even working at all in the affairs of men.  GOD WAS WORKING.  GOD IS WORKING.  AND GOD’S WORK WILL CULMINATE IN GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE.

The “bittersweet message” of Rev 10:8-11 is this: God’s Word is sweet when we learn of God’s love for man resulting in God’s salvation of man accomplished by Christ.  But it is bitter indeed to discover the brutal reality in store for all who reject Christ’s salvation and therefore experience the full wrath of God’s holy judgment for their sins.  God does not want us to be a people who are characterized by rejoicing when the wicked “get theirs.”  God wants us to be a people who grieve when He is forced to judge sin and unbelief.  Because that’s how Jesus will feel, and we should be like Jesus (Luke 9:52-56).

Revelation 11 assures us that there WILL be a Third Temple.  The Second Temple was destroyed as Christ predicted in AD 70 prior to John’s receiving Revelation in 96 AD.  So there is no question that this is a yet-to-be-built structure.  Part of the seven year covenant that Israel signs with Antichrist will allow them to reinstitute animal sacrifice (Dan 9:27) – and there is NO other place that a Jew would do so but in the Temple.  The problem is that for 4,000 years the Temple has stood in one and only one place – and that place appears to be taken up by the Muslim Dome of the Rock which was deliberately built right on top of the ruins of the Jewish Temple.  We don’t know what’s going to happen: destruction in an earthquake, destruction in a war, or something else.  Scholars like Dr. Grant Jeffrey believe that the Second Temple is actually in a slightly different location from which is commonly believed and the Third Temple could be constructed without damaging the Al Aqsa Mosque.  Jeffrey claims that a previously unknown gate of Solomon’s Temple proves that the original Temple was several hundred feet north of the Dome of the Rock (remember Herod MASSIVELY enlarged the Second Temple).

It’s actually amazing how many obstacles existed to a Third Temple – and how many have been overcome.  Money is no problem when you realize how many Jews over the centuries have included the Temple in their wills or purchased Temple bonds.  But only a Jew from the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron can enter the Holy of holies and how can Jews prove their descent?  The answer to that is DNA testing resulting in “the first family reunion of the Jewish priestly dynasty in nearly 2,000 years.”  You’d need to have a Sanhedrin which hasn’t existed since 425 AD.  The answer is that Israel reestablished the Sanhedrin in 2005.  You need holy anointing oil – which was discovered and chemically verified as authentic in 1988.  And you need stuff like a red heifer – and they’re working on it and they’ve already come so close it’s unreal.  If you think any of the difficulties are beyond God, you’re daft.

I’m excited about the Third Temple as a fulfillment of prophecy – but in many ways it is actually a bad thing.  It will result from the covenant with Antichrist (bad thing); it will be built as a result of Israel’s unbelief in Messiah Jesus (bad thing); and Antichrist will sit in the Holy of holies and decide he’s God (bad thing).  The Jews have longed for their Temple because they believe it will fulfill all their national and religious hopes as a people; but sometimes you’ve just got to get exactly what you want in order to be able to see that what you always wanted won’t fulfill you, after all.  Ultimately Jews will have to realize that it is NOT the Temple which merely symbolizes the work of Christ that fulfills hope, but only Christ Himself.

In Rev 11:1 an angel tells John to physically measure the Temple.  If you study Ezekiel 40 and Zechariah 2, you will see that when God takes such measurements, it is to evaluate the spiritual condition of His people.  Is this Third Temple built with the help of Antichrist and the False Prophet (Rev 13:11-18) fulfilling God’s true calling to Israel?  Not even close.  It is built as an apostate place of worship that refuses to recognize Israel’s true Messiah; rather, they just want some kind of national identity symbol if not a giant stone idol.  And thus the verdict of Rev 11:2: in the second half of the Tribulation for 42 months, Jerusalem will see nothing but war and suffering until “the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).  And the times of the Gentiles will only end with the return of Messiah Jesus.

Rev 11:3 introduces the two most incredible Jesus freaks who ever lived: God’s two witnesses.  God is NEVER left without a witness.  Who are these men?  We won’t know for sure until “the players take the field,” but many scholars believe it will be Moses and Elijah.  In God’s very last words in His Old Testament, He says in Malachi 4:5-6, “I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”  And that “great and dreadful day” is the second half of the 7 years Tribulation.  Elijah will show up at the beginning of the Tribulation and he will preach the Gospel right under the angry nose of the Antichrist who is powerless to stop him.  And a lot of people will be saved.  But ONLY “when they have finished their testimony” (Rev 11:7) and said everything that God sent them to say, will Antichrist finally be allowed to kill them.  Because God is sovereign.  Elijah’s most famous miracle was shutting up the sky for – get this – three and a half years (James 5:17; 1 Kings 17:1).  Just like “somebody” will do during the Tribulation.  So Elijah has good bona fides as a candidate.   Why Moses?  Moses’ most famous miracles featured turning water into blood and sending plagues (Rev 11:6 cf. the Exodus).  And both Moses and Elijah had their ministries end in failure – with Moses being denied entrance into the Promised Land (Num 20:12) and Elijah being taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot after he fled in fear from Jezebel and asked God to kill him.  And God replaced him with Elisha (1 Kings 19:16).  I’m sure both men would love to have a second chance to be faithful to the very end – and I believe God will give them that opportunity.

Every Christian ought to be like the two witnesses from Revelation while on this earth.  Think about it; these two men have been in heaven with Christ for millennia – and now they’re returning back to earth for one more mission and an opportunity to cover their past failure with glory.  In the same way, according to the Bible we died in Christ (Galatians 2:20) and were born again to a completely new life.  We’ve tasted a little bit of heaven through the Holy Spirit; and now each of us are on earth on a divine mission from God.  BE A WITNESS!

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

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

A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 6-7

December 10, 2012

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

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

Brief recap: we began with a message from Jesus Christ to His churches (ch 1-3).  Last time we heard the church called to heaven (“Come up here”) and we saw that God on His sovereign throne is in command.  And we saw all attention turn to God the Son, Jesus Christ, in the center of God’s throne (Rev 5:6).  And we saw that in all of heaven, only Christ alone was worthy to open the seals that would begin the divine judgment that God would use to begin to finally deal with the problem of evil once and for all.  We find that there will be three waves of divine judgment on earth: the seven seal judgments (Rev 6-7), the seven trumpet judgments (Rev 8-15), and the seven bowl judgments (Rev 16).  As we begin Revelation chapter six we see Christ open the first of the seven seals.

There are a couple of ways of looking at these three waves of judgment that make sense.  One has the virtue of being the easiest to describe: that the opening of the seventh seal releases the seven trumpet judgments, and the seventh trumpet releases the seven bowl judgments.  That is the view significantly held by Robert Thomas as well as Tim LaHaye.  The other view is to see these three septets of judgment as coming in cycles, with all three final judgments occurring at the threshold of the parousia (return of Christ).  The argument against the first view would be that it would entail nuclear-war-like phenomena occurring very early in the Tribulation.  But let me simply put it this way: when these events happen, we will see that the book of Revelation makes sense; it will be the world that is crazy.

The first four seals of the seven seal judgments are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (Antichrist-white horse; war-red horse; economic collapse-black horse; mass death-pale horse).  The Antichrist is the very first divine judgment of the tribulation.  It will be a case where God gives the people the leader they deserve.  I might have told you prior to our election that Antichrist was listed first on the basis that the list was given in terms of priority – and Antichrist is the most prominent and most important of the four horsemen.  And I may then have pointed out that the whole world was going to worship the beast (e.g., Rev 13:4), and why would they worship the beast if he had just destroyed their economy?  That said, the results from our election may put the kibosh on that theory: because people turned out to support the president regardless of how bad the economy is, didn’t they?  Somehow, between the Antichrist’s incredible charisma and the people’s depravity and amorality, the world will largely continue to follow and worship the beast no matter how terribly he ruins the planet around him.  It’s really quite an amazing thing.  And I think we’re seeing hints of that incredible blindness that will characterize the world right now today.

Antichrist carries a bow, symbolizing he will be a master of the art of war; but he will be able to rise to power winning bloodless victories by political conquests.  The white horse he rides is symbolic of the righteousness he will falsely present to the world.  Beth Moore pointed out something really insightful in her study on Daniel: namely, that both Daniel and the Antichrist to come were given “wisdom.”  Daniel used his gift to untie or untangle the visions so that the truth could be clearly understood.  Antichrist will use his wisdom in exactly the opposite way: to so tangle the truth in so many knots with his words that no one will be able to understand the truth from his lies and what is right from his deceitful framing of the narrative.

I go back to the Ten Plagues to understand how these future judgments will unfold.  Many have found “natural explanations” to “explain” the Plagues; such as a toxic algal bloom causing the first plague of the water turning to blood, which then set up the conditions for the subsequent plagues to occur in a natural cascade.  Give me all the “natural explanations” you want, but the God who created nature did it.  Many of the events of the Tribulation will likely be the results of man trying to solve one crisis and creating unintended consequences that fly out of control; but God sovereignly knew that that would happen without His direct intervention 3,000 years ago.  What I am looking at right now is man setting up many of the events that the Book of Revelation describes – including the mark of the beast.  And we all understand how good man is at imposing a dictatorship, ruining an economy, starting a terrible war, or creating famines and diseases that we see riding into town in the form of the four horsemen.

I often ask myself the question, “How do we get from the current state of world affairs to the Antichrist and his fellow horsemen?  I very much believe that history is on the verge of what Rev 6 describes, and that it won’t take a great deal to “nudge” us over the cliff and into the arms of Antichrist.  Right now, the three primary economies on earth – the United States, Europe and China – are all facing serious challenges.  In America our true debt isn’t the $16 trillion that many worry about; it is now well over $222 trillion and it grew by $11 trillion last year.  If we have a true catastrophic financial collapse, what will the world look like?  And my answer would be, “Like the Book of Revelation describes.”  The same is true of a terrifying war in the Middle East that either goes nuclear or almost does.  As the terrified world tries to come to grips with a crisis that could drag Russia and the US into World War III, you can easily see the Antichrist beginning to emerge as “the man with all the answers.”  So many of the events described in Revelation are already in place, just waiting for the “trigger,” and all it will take is one final jolt for all the gears to start turning exactly as Revelation said they would.  Interestingly, with all the computers that (e.g.) allow governments to simply add zeroes to artificially increase the size of their money supplies, we are more vulnerable to catastrophic chaos than we have ever been in the entire history of the world.

As an example of the above, and an example of the nexus between finance and war, look up a UK Telegraph article entitled, “How the Fed triggered the Arab Spring uprisings in two easy graphs.”  We have now seen the Arab/Muslim world in turmoil for two years; here’s why: all oil is sold only in US dollars, and so most oil-producing states are backed by the dollar.  When we devalued our currency through QE1, QE2, Operation Twist, and recently “QE Forever,” our devalued dollar forced sky-high commodity (food!) prices on the Arab world that these economies couldn’t compensate for merely by raising the price of their oil because the imbalance was too great in terms of all the other commodities they needed.  There’s a strong case to be made that the “Arab Spring” which is continuing to this day is essentially a series of food riots triggered by US monetary policies.  Here’s another example of the collapse waiting to happen: a top derivatives expert in May estimated the size of the global derivatives market at $1,200 TRILLION ($1.2 quadrillion), which is twenty times the size of the entire global economy.  These clever financial gimmicks are way past insane.

It’s not “if” the economy will catastrophically implode, it’s WHEN.  And in my gut I feel it coming.

The fifth seal (Rev 6:9-11) is the mass martyrdom of those who come to Christ AFTER the Rapture during the Tribulation.  And the sixth seal (Rev 6:12-17) appears to be a massive nuclear exchange.  Hal Lindsey pointed out that in a nuclear blast, the atmosphere rolls back in on itself (“like a scroll when it is rolled together”) as the blast creates a massive vacuum.  On the LaHaye view, this would happen within the first 21 months of the Tribulation (the Seal judgments occur during the 1st 21 months, the Trumpet judgments occur during the 2nd 21 months, and the Bowl judgments occur during the 2nd half (42 months) of the Tribulation.  42 divided by 12 months = 3.5 years.  On the cyclic view presented by Grant Osborne, that 6th seal “nuke” would occur just before Christ returned to earth as King of kings.  And I submit that the “massive nuclear exhange” could be something like a super volcano eruption.  There are five super volncanoes located around the world – and the eruption of any one of them would be so catastrophic that it would literally amount to a crisis that could threaten human civilization.

Chapter six ends with the question being asked, “who is able to stand?”  Chapter seven answers that!

Revelation chapter 7 presents an interlude between the sixth and seventh seal judgments.  What is happening here?  144,000 literal Jews from each of the 12 Tribes of Israel are gathered and commissioned by God as Christ’s witnesses during the Tribulation.  It’s an amazing thing that with DNA today we can actually know stuff like this; BUT GOD KNEW ALL ALONG who His people were.

There are two incredibly important truths that need to be understood: the first is that God never leaves Himself without a witness.  I believe that the Rapture of the Church will be the event that God uses to raise up His 144,000 messianic Jews, who will finally realize that the crazy Christians were right all along.  And this is because of the second important truth: that God is not done with His people the Jews or with national Israel.  We don’t have time to delve into it, but Daniel 9 presents a divine timetable for Israel of “seventy sevens” or 490 years to fulfill their divine mission.  Interestingly, seven years are “missing” and the divine clock is paused at 483 years with seven years yet to come.  God is going to give the Jews their final seven years, and the Jews will make up for every failure by evangelizing the whole world in that time.  And we find in Rev 7 that God is merciful and loving even in the midst of judgment, isn’t He?

Consider Romans chapters 9-11.  In Romans 9 Paul describes the ELECTION of Israel as God’s chosen people; in Romans 10 Paul describes the REJECTION of Israel due to her unbelief in her Messiah.  And in Romans 11 the complete RESTORATION of Israel.  The complete restoration of Israel will come to pass in the book of Revelation.  In Romans 11:25, Paul refers to “the fullness of the Gentiles.”  That time will be marked by the Rapture of the Church, and then it will be God’s divine timing for the Jews to shine as they have never shined before.  God NEVER abandons His people and God NEVER forgets His promises.  God will use the Tribulation to sovereignly deliver Israel to that point where she finally “looks on Me whom they pierced” (Zech 12:10).  Israel will be prepared to experience every single blessing that God promised Israel would have in the Old Testament with their Messiah personally ruling and reigning from the throne of David in Jerusalem.

In Rev 7:2, you see four angels holding the four winds with the power to harm the land and the sea.  What is amazing to me today is that it used to be “religious crazies” who would warn us that the world is about to end.  Now it’s “scientific crazies” who tell us that global warming will be our doomsday.  We find that MANY prophecies of the Tribulation involve freak weather conditions and storms of unimaginable intensity.  Jesus described “global warming” on steroids 2,000 years ago (Luke 21:25-26).  And what the world has done is something the world will ALWAYS do: taken a divine fulfillment of the Bible (freakish weather screaming that earth is in the last days) and transform it into some kind of evidence of secular humanism necessitating still more human government control.  God is giving mankind divine warning after divine warning, but sinful man will NEVER correctly interpret any of it and perverts those warnings to his agenda.

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

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

A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 4-5

December 4, 2012

See part one: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 1-3

Every believer from the Old to and through the New Testaments has dreamed of eternity with God.  But what’s the process?  How does it happen – and most important of all WHEN does it happen?  We find that it doesn’t fully happen when we die: we are with the Lord, but those who have died up to now have not yet received their glorified bodies.  So when does it happen?  How?

For the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation, the word “church” – referring to believers in Jesus Christ on earth – is mentioned seven times with the word “churches” being mentioned twelve times.   That’s a total of nineteen times, all ye math whizzes.  For the first three chapters, it’s church, church, church.  And yet, after referring to the church and addressing the churches over and over again, “the church” is not referenced in any way, shape or form until Rev 19 when Christ returns to earth with His saints.  And the only believers referenced in between are the  two witnesses and the 144,000 Jews– and we aint them.  So what explanation makes sense?

This one: Rev 4:1 begins with the phrase “after these things” (NIV “after this”) and we hear the command to “come up here.”  And next thing you know we’re in heaven with John.  And the Church mysteriously appears to remain in heaven until we return with Christ as King of kings in Rev 19.  This can be nothing other than the Rapture of all true believers that occurs prior to the Tribulation.  No other answer makes sense to explain the complete absence/omission from the Church on earth during the Tribulation.  Want a little more proof?  In Rev 1:12 we have a reference to “seven golden lampstands.”  In Rev 1:20 Jesus Himself explains that the seven golden lampstands are the seven churches that He tells John to write to.  John is called up to heaven, and what does he immediately see?  Among other things surrounding the throne of God, he sees “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne” (Rev 4:5).  And I’m just going to tell you that those seven lamps are going to be resting on seven golden  lampstands!  Because the Church is in heaven where it belongs serving as the seven golden lampstands for those lamps.  As a further proof, Jesus seven times says in chapters 1-3, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  Yet in Rev 13:9 we hear, “If anyone has an ear, let him hear.”  Either God is so angry at the churches He’s no longer even talking to them, or He isn’t talking to them because they’re in heaven and in Rev 13 God is urging the inhabitants of the earth to wisdom.  Another proof that the church is now in heaven is the twenty-four elders.  We know they aren’t angels because they are wearing crowns  (Rev 4:4) – and angels NEVER wear crowns ANYWHERE in the Bible because that honor is reserved only for God and for believing humans whom God honors.  The Bible mentions five crowns for believers: 1) the imperishable crown for believers who faithfully run their race (1 Cor 9:24-25); 2) the crown of rejoicing to those who win new believers for Christ (1 Thess 2:19-20; Dan 12:3); 3) the crown of life for Christians who endure trials even to death (James 1:12; Rev 2:8-11); 4) the crown of righteousness to those who love the appearing of Christ (2 Tim 4:8); and the crown of glory to shepherds who faithfully minister their flocks (1 Pet 5:1-4).  Further, “24” is symbolic of priestly service and priestly service is associated with human believers, not with angels.  As an example, there were 24 classifications of priests in 1 Chronicles 24-25.

Rev 3:10 promises that believers will be “kept from the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world.”  We have the promise of the sign of Noah and the sign of Sodom where Noah, Lot and their believing families are removed before divine  judgment falls upon the earth.  There’s a clear pattern: God prophetically warns the world of judgment; God removes His people; judgment falls.

So, by way of conclusion, John epitomizes a glorified believer prophetically called up to heaven at the beginning of events in Revelation 4 just as we shall be, and then seeing the rest of events through the eyes of a glorified believer.  We will have “a bird’s eye view” of what happens if there ever was one.

And we’ll be surrounding the throne of God, with the throne of God being the central focal point of the book of Revelation.  Everything that proceeds does so first from God on His throne.  John’s description of God on His throne is awesome in its majesty: God’s glory radiates like a precious multi-faceted gem (Rev 4:2).  Jasper is a white diamond representing divine purity; the sardius stone is a blood-red ruby symbolic of divine wrath and judgment.  God’s judgment is tempered,  however.  Because both God’s purity and wrath are enveloped in a rainbow of emerald representing divine life and mercy.  The NIV correctly says “encircled.”  Circles represent continuity and eternity.  And apparently every Christian is going to find out quickly that surrounding the throne of God is the place to be.

Surrounding the throne are four living beings (Rev 4:5-8).  They are apparently a class of angel in addition to the seraphim (Isaiah 6:1-7) and the cherubim (Gen 3:24; Ezekiel chap 1).  These four living beings may be a type of cherubim because they guard the throne of God (Psalm 89:1; 99:1).  What is most interesting about them is that their features resemble the description accorded to the different portraits of Christ in the four Gospels:  In Matthew Jesus is presented as a lion, the king.  In Mark Jesus is described as the hard-working ox who is fully obedient to the will of the Father.  The living being with the face of a man is recognized in Luke’s portrayal of Jesus as the perfect Man.  And the soaring eagle is fulfilled in John’s emphasis of Jesus’ heavenly and divine origin.

The word “sea” is also important.  In Rev 13 “the sea” is used to describe sinful humanity tossing around in fury and violence and confusion.  Isaiah repeatedly uses the metaphor of a restless ocean to describe the nations as “a troubled sea in a storm” (see Isaiah 57:20).  See also Jer 49:23 and Jude 1:13.  By way of contrast, we who surround God’s throne will be the picture of divine calm and peace, like a sea of crystal flowing out from the throne of God.  I like that picture a lot more than the always-raging sea of sinful humanity.

As we view the throne of God we begin Revelation 5: the exalted majesty of God on His throne leads to one thing – to the exaltation of the Lamb “standing in the center of the throne” (Rev 5:6).  Consider the incredible concept of God’s throne being a battle chariot from Daniel 7:9-10.  The battle chariot used by Old Testament warriors was a 2-3 man operation, with one steering the chariot while an archer/s and/ or spearman fought.  God’s throne is a Trinitarian throne.  And it is a throne that goes wherever God goes.

You see in Revelation chapter 5 Christ receiving worship in a manner that is impossible to deny.  As an example, in John 20:28 Thomas says, “My Lord and my God!”  And Mormons and JWs say it’s just an exclamation rather than a recognition of deity.  Jesus stands in the center of the throne of God (Rev 5:6).  The elders fall down on their knees before Jesus (5:8).  They and the angels pronounced Jesus as “worthy” (Rev 5:12).  And then God the Father and God the Son TOGETHER are worshiped (5:13-14).  It is merely unbelievable unbelief to deny that Jesus  is truly and fully God given the statement of Rev 5.

Now, we have a seven-sealed scroll with writing on both sides on the hand of the Father with the question, “Who is worthy to open it?”  And NO ONE is found who is worthy except one and ONLY one Person: the Lamb who was slain.  The physical characteristics of the scroll make one thing abundantly clear: it is a legal document that was seen in the ancient world: the contract would be written on the inner side, rolled up and sealed with seven seals, and a short description would be written on the outer side.  There are actually six different interpretations of what this scroll represents in various schools of thought.  But I’ll only mention the two that are genuine candidates.  The scroll is either: 1) the title deed to the earth (God gave man dominion over the earth, but Satan usurped that dominion; and Christ won the title deed back but had never exercised His claim until now); or 2) the decree to issue the judgment that will result in the eschaton (end of days) and ultimately in eternity.  I believe it is this second possibility because Christ opens the scroll and we initiate the unfolding of judgment and the beginning of the ushering in of the glorious eternal state.  So on that view, why does John weep when no one is found worthy (“qualified”) to open the scroll?  Because mankind is in this terrible state and nothing can be done to advance their condition and bring this terrible condition of the human race and planet earth to a good conclusion.  Only by Jesus opening the scroll can history move to the conclusion that a righteous, holy and merciful, loving God had foreordained for the world.

The seven years of the Tribulation will be the most fateful years in all of human history.  They initiate the countdown to the end of human law and lawlessness, and at the culmination of these seven years Jesus will finally personally return in a cataclysmic appearance on earth to establish the long-anticipated Kingdom of God.

The Tribulation will result in the Millennium in which Jesus Christ sits on the earthly throne of David in the earthly city of Jerusalem and rules over the world as is His right that He won for all time on the cross.  What is the purpose of all this?  It is twofold: 1) to literally fulfill every single promise that God gave to Israel, to God’s physical DNA-people the Jews.  Every promise of prominence, of blessing, of wealth and abundance, of shalom, in which Messiah rules from His David throne while all the peoples of the earth come to Jerusalem to worship Him, will be literally and completely fulfilled.  And 2) to also literally demonstrate to secular, unbelieving, sinful humanity that they can NOT create a better world – or even a world capable of surviving – apart from God and most especially apart from Jesus.  The world is saying, “We could evolve to our highest potential and solve all of our problems if only it weren’t for those damned Christians.”  Jesus is going to give them their chance: and in only seven years they will degenerate to the point that they will destroy themselves and literally destroy the planet they’re living on unless Jesus comes to personally intervene and take control.  By the time the Tribulation ends, no one will be able to say, “We were doing fine until Jesus showed up and ruined everything.”

Finally, the twenty-four elders, as glorified human saints, also give us a glimpse into our future work and ministry.  God will give believers crowns to honor our faithful service to Him while on earth, but we will primarily use those crowns not to exalt ourselves but rather to have something to exalt our God with as we cast our crowns at the feet of Jesus (Rev 4:9-11).  But in Rev 5:5-9 we also see these glorified believers being able to encourage and explain (“Stop weeping; behold!”); they carry “the golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” as priests who minister before God.  And, yes, we WILL have harps in heaven and the ultimate capacity to make a truly joyful noise before the Lord.

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

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!

String Up Clarence Thomas? Death Threats For Sarah Palin? Liberals Continue To Prove Just How Full Of Hypocrite They Are

February 7, 2011

How many times are conservatives forced to nod their heads like cheap stadium bobble-heads while liberals constantly harangue them for being racist and for being violent?

The only problem with this picture is that all the racism and violence keeps coming almost entirely from the left.

Remember that Black Panther who intimidated Republican voters in Philadelphia, in addition to being caught on video calling for the murder of white cracker babies?  A completely racist and hypocritical system whitewashed this case and employed an explicitly racist rationale in doing so.  Career Justice Department officials resigned in protest, but the racist hypocritical propaganda could care less when good people put their careers where their mouths are.

Remember the Gabrielle Giffords shootings, when the hysterical left came emotionally unglued made Sarah Palin responsible for the shootings because she did something that liberals had been doing for years with no one blaming them for it, and in fact had even done to Gabrielle Giffords herself?  Remember how it turned out that the only threats of death and violence related to the actual situation turned out to come from a self-professing liberal (on top of the death threats that piled up against Sarah Palin)???

Now this:

NAACP won’t directly address racism leveled against Clarence Thomas at progressive protest
By Matthew Boyle – The Daily Caller | Published: 2:16 AM 02/07/2011 | Updated: 12:41 PM 02/07/2011

The NAACP won’t directly address the racism displayed by progressive protesters outside a summit hosted by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch at the end of January in Palm Springs, Calif., but the organization did call for an end to all “vitriolic language.”

In response to The Daily Caller’s request for comment on a video showing progressive protesters calling for somebody to “string up” African American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, or “send him back into the fields” or “cut off all his toes and feed them to him one-by-one,” NAACP spokesman Hilary Shelton pointed to the organization’s recent resolution calling for a “civil political discourse.”

“Last summer, the NAACP passed a resolution calling for a civil political discourse,” Shelton said in an e-mail to TheDC. “We continue to call on all Americans to abandon vitriolic language. It serves as a distraction from the real issues our society need to address and distorts the challenges we as Americans have to confront to make our nation greater still.”

Shelton would not, however, address the content of the video directly.

WATCH: Progressive protesters make racist remarks at rally outside conservative summit

This isn’t the only time in recent years that the NAACP has chosen not to condemn racism directed against black conservatives, according to Deneen Borelli, a fellow with the black conservative group Project 21. Borelli has called on Shelton and the NAACP to denounce racist remarks she has received as recently as last summer.

Appearing together on Fox News Channel’s “Geraldo At Large” in mid-July, Borelli asked Shelton if he and the NAACP would issue a public statement condemning racist remarks that have been directed against her.

Shelton answered her by saying, “Why, yes, ma’am. Just give us some details. The very broad answer is: Yes, we repudiate anybody calling you a bad name in the political arena.”

WATCH: NAACP spokesman tells Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli he would denounce racist remarks against her

Borelli says she sent the evidence of the racist remarks directed against her for being a black conservative to Shelton and the NAACP in late July 2010, but the self-described “civil rights” group has yet to release any statement. Shelton, according to Borelli, hasn’t even acknowledged receiving the documentation.

One of the sample e-mails Borelli sent to Shelton reads: “You faggot niggas need to be lynched by the Klan. I pray a nightrider strings up every one of you no count good for nothing niggas, it would serve you right for trying to think that these crackers love you. I hate a house nigga worse than I do a Klansman. Rot in hell you scurvy dogs. I would laugh to see you body strung up. It would save us real brothers the time and trouble to do it.”

One liberal at the liberal protest event said Clarence’s Thomas’ toes should be chopped off one by one and force fed to him.  Nothing hateful there.

Today – and frankly for most of my lifetime – the NAACP is a racist organization.  It cares only about “liberal people,” not “colored people.”  It’s very existence is an anathema and a demand to continue racism and racist policies (just what would the NAACP say if someone were to start a “National Association for the Advancement of Caucasian People” form of “the NAACP”???).

Violence?  It is at the very shriveled soul of the left.  And it always has been.  Sarah Palin was scheduled to show up at a charity event whose proceeds were to benefit our veterans.  The result?

Palin speech honoring service members canceled due to liberal hate
February 5th, 2011 7:32 pm PT.

Thanks to an “onslaught of negative feedback”, an event featuring Sarah Palin has been canceled.

The Sharon K Pacheco Foundation announced Saturday it was canceling its 2011 Patriots & Warriors Charity Gala out of concern for the safety of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Palin was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the event, originally set for May 2.

According to the announcement on the group’s website:

Due to an onslaught of personal attacks against Governor Palin and others associated with her appearance, it is with deep sadness and disappointment that, in the best interest of all, we cancel the event for safety concerns, says the Foundations Director. 

Leo Pacheco, founder of the organization, expressed concern for the safety of military members and their families.  “Military members and their families have been through a lot due to the wars.  We have a responsibility to protect their emotional safety just as well,” he said.

“And unfortunately, some have overshadowed the purpose of this event by concentrating on their personal hatred of Sarah Palin, which is truly sad.”

The event was designed to honor service members and those who have served and/or sacrificed for the country.

Sarah Palin hasn’t just received one or two death threats.  It’s been an avalanche that has come from hypocrites who say she’s a hater while they are totally rabid with hate:

ABC News reports death threats against Sarah Palin have reached unprecedented levels.  That’s pretty amazing, given the smear campaign the Left waged against her in 2008 when she was a vice presidential candidate.

These despicable events would have been on the pages of every newspaper and television news station in America if it weren’t for the fact that the media is so shockingly biased.  If the Tea Party had done this to a prominent black liberal or a prominent female liberal, the coverage would have been so massive and last for so long that it would remain permanently ingrained on the American psyche.  The way the media made George H.W. Bush’s “Read my lips, no new taxes” a household word but never did so when Bill Clinton – and now Barack Obama – have repeatedly made similar statements.

Because of the demonic hatred by the mass media and the left that they represent, Sarah Palin has taken a real hit in popularity.  She was victimized, and then she paid for being a victim.  The media have verbally raped Sarah Palin again and again, and then called her a slut who deserved it.  And an increasingly stupid American people eat their manure like its a delicacy.

I used to read the book of Revelation and ponder at the Bible’s statement that “the whole world would worship the beast” (Reveation 13:8).  And I couldn’t understand how the American people would actually worship a vile dictator.

Since November 2008, and with further evidences coming each and every day, I no longer ponder that.  It is obvious to me that after the Rapture of genuine believers in Jesus Christ, a wicked people of a wicked United States of America will welcome a political tyrant and actually worship him.  And then this dictator, who will promise the same sort of leftist Utopia that leftist dictators have promised since the French Revolution, will bring about instead a literal hell on earth.

And the liberals who will have welcomed this bloodbath that unfolds in the pages of the Book of Revelation won’t have Sarah Palin or Clarence Thomas to blame any more.