The Rapture and the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
To my wife Anne
Copyright April 2005—September 2006
1 The Different Viewpoints
2 Old Testament Types
3 Pressing Towards the Goal
4 Explanation To The Thessalonians
5 The Seven Churches of Asia
6 A Time of Judgment
7 The Rapture And The Last Trump
8 The Two Beast
9 Last Days Time Line
10 What Now?
12 Diagram and Legend
It would be nice to know for certain how things pertaining to the Second Coming of the Lord will work out, but I don’t think that’s possible until we can look back on them and see how perfectly they fitted with scripture.
We need to search the scriptures like the Bereans (Acts 17 v 11) and Prophets of old to find out what God is saying, but we also need the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to us.
As we study things will come together like a jigsaw. As more pieces come into place the whole picture starts to become apparent. Sometimes one piece might be in the wrong place but eventually this will be noticed and removed to the correct place. Each piece fits perfectly in its right place but we might have to wait awhile for other pieces to come into place before the one we are holding can be fitted.
I think the different interpretations of scripture, regarding the Second Coming of the Lord, should be seen as different views of interpretation, rather than each being regarded as an exact translation and revelation of scripture. The Lord will reveal the truth as it unfolds.
If we lean towards one specific interpretation, I believe we should also keep an open mind towards the whole aspect of the Second Coming. We should allow for the possibility that we may be wrong and trust that the Lord will reveal the truth in His time.
All these theories will no doubt contain aspects of the truth, however we do need the Lord to reveal how the facts come together and work out in practice.
This is one of those subjects that I think is interesting and worth reviewing now and again, especially as we draw closer to the fulfilment of end time scripture.
I believe in a rapture (catching away of the saints) that is separate and distinct from the second coming of the Lord to this earth. I believe in a possible time gap of up to ten years in between
The word rapture is not used in the Bible as such but I use it here to indicate the catching up of the saints to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4 v 12).
Some Christians do not believe there will be a rapture of the saints where they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the sky. However many saints and godly theologians do believe in a coming rapture of the saints.
If we practiced what the Bible teaches, we would be looking for and expecting the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The eschatological study of this book is from a pre-millennium, pre-wrath, pre-tribulation, and pre-judgment seat of Christ viewpoint. In other words it is looking at the rapture followed by the Bema (judgment) seat of Christ followed by the marriage supper of the Lamb and His Bride, the great tribulation period, the wrath of God then the reign of Christ and His Church on the earth for a thousand years.
I would like to thank Paul Moody for his emphasis on the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Donald Wood and Siam Bhayro for their advice and encouragement while writing this book.
The Different Viewpoints
The Preterist view says that the end time prophesies were fulfilled by 70 AD (some say they were fulfilled by the fourth century). Nero is seen as the antichrist and Jesus Christ returned in the Spirit. Others have a slightly different view and say that the return of Christ has yet to happen.
The Historicist, or Historical, view says that the end time prophesy, as found in the book of Revelation, is fulfilled from the time of Christ until the present day. The one thousand year time span of Revelation chapter 20 is not seen as literal but rather representative of the time from Christ ascension until He returns to set up His kingdom. There are at least three variations of the historical view. One says that the book of Revelation gives an account of the chief phases in the history of the church. Another says it is a detailed history of the church from the cross to the second advent, everything in chronological order.
The A-Millenniumist believe in a spiritual viewpoint, that is, there is no millennium as such, but rather, when the bible talks about a thousand year reign of Christ on this earth, it is all pictorial and not literal. The thousand years is a term which means an unknown period of time which represents the Church age. After this there is the Second Coming (the return of Jesus Christ), followed by the great white throne of judgment, and finally a new heaven and a new earth. There is no rapture and no physical thousand year reign of Christ, with His church, on this earth. The book of Revelation does not teach church history as such but rather it is written to show us the type of life that the Christian must endure here on earth.
We then have the pre-millenniumist and post-millenniumist views.
The millennium is seen as the thousand years reign of the church on the earth, which is still in the future. There are those who say that Christ will return before the thousand years commences, others who say that He will return after the thousand years.
Pre-mill, say that Jesus Christ will return after the great tribulation and wrath of God, to set up His Kingdom on this earth and reign through the millennium period which is a thousand years long.
Post-mill, say that Jesus Christ will return after the thousand years when the Church will have taken over the world and be governing it. Those who believe in the ‘Kingdom Now’ and ‘Dominion’ teachings hold this position.
Of course there will be different variations held by people in all the different groups.
In the Pre Millennium group there are disagreements over the years immediately preceding the thousand years reign of Christ and His Church. This is the period of the great tribulation and wrath of God. The disagreements are concerned with when the rapture of the Church happens.
Pre-tribulation. (The Church is raptured before the Great Tribulation period and wrath of God.)
Post-tribulation/pre-wrath. (The mid position which is after the Great Tribulation period but before the wrath of God.)
Post-wrath. (There is no separate rapture to Christ return. After the wrath of God has been poured out on the earth, Christ comes back for His bride who is resurrected and then reigns with Him for a thousand years.)
Some say that there is a time span of three and a half years of great tribulation followed by three and a half years of God’s wrath making seven years in all. Others say that there is only a time span of three and a half years, which include both the great tribulation and God’s wrath. Still others say there is a time span of 10 years between the rapture and second coming of the Lord (‘The Final Schedule Revealed’ by Maureen Metcalf).
The sad thing is that even among people who believe in the pre millennium view there are those who speak very insulting and critical words against those who hold different interpretations. This thing ought not to be and reveals a lack of humility.
An Important Difference
There are some differences among the many views that I think are important to note. There are those who say things will get better and better until Christianity takes over the whole earth. Christians shall take dominion over the earth and govern the earth as God’s representative. All this happens before the Lord Jesus Christ returns. The danger of this view is that it fits so easily with what the antichrist will set up and with what the New Age and other religions desire.
There are others who say that things will get worse and worse until the wrath of God is poured out on the earth followed by the return of the Lord Jesus to reign on earth. Although they believe that things will get worse in the world, they recognize and hope, that there may be short periods of revival in the church where God stirs and quickens His people to witness for Him.
These are two major different and opposite views. One view, I believe, exalts the church and focuses our attention on a powerful church government and structure. The other view focuses on the return of Christ as the only hope for this world and the redemption of the church.
I myself believe in a pre millennium viewpoint, where things, it is believed, will get worse until the return of Jesus, when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord (Revelation 11 v 15).
Looking for Jesus
We may all have different views, but if we are open to God as His plan unfolds then we will be watching and ready. For those who do believe in a pre-millennium viewpoint and hold the midway or post wrath view then the Lord’s return is not imminent but rather there are at least another three or seven years to go. It is believed that first we must experience the great tribulation and the reign of the antichrist, so we don’t have to look for the Lords coming yet. However this seems to be a contradiction to what we should be practicing, as we are told to be watching for His coming because we don’t know when it will be (Matthew 24 v 42, Matthew 25 v 13).
First let me explain that those who believe in the pre-tribulation theory do not say that Christians won’t have to suffer, be persecuted or even martyred, it is quite obvious that Christians have been, that they are being, and that they will be, persecuted and martyred. The question is when will the Church be gathered unto Him on high, before the great tribulation, after it but before the wrath of God, or after the wrath of God? Which position fits best with scripture?
Preserved in, or Rescued From, God’s Wrath
Let me just enlarge slightly on 1 Thessalonians 1 v 10.
The Authorized Version says that we are to wait for His Son from heaven --- even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. Here W. E. Vine in his ‘Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words’ says that the A.V. is wrong. The tense is not past tense. A. T. Robertson (Word Pictures in The New Testament) agrees, he says, “Jesus Christ, God’s son, delivers us from coming wrath”. It is eschatological language. Vine also says that the Greek word used here for delivered is RHUOMAI and the idea is to rescue from, while the word SOZO meaning ‘to save’ is more that of preservation from.
The Greek word which is translated as ‘from’, also signifies departure to a distant place.
The sentence ‘delivers us from’ gives the idea that He rescues us away from, or out of, the coming wrath rather than preserves us in the midst of it.
Old Testament Types
The Old Testament is like a key to the New Testament with its examples, types and signs.
Some of these types can give us a clearer understanding of the attributes of God and how He deals with His people. The apostle Paul recognized that the Word of God had many types in order to give us direction in how we should behave and also encouragement to walk with God. In 1 Corinthians chapter 10 Paul writes about the Children of Israel, the way they behaved and how God dealt with them. Then in verse 11 he says, “Now all these things happened to them as types, and have been written for our admonition”. It was the same in chapter 9 where he quotes the law that says we should not muzzle the ox that is treading out the corn; Paul recognizes it was for our sakes that it was written in order that the workman should partake in the fruit of his labours (1 Corinthians 9 v 9-10).
Paul’s understanding was given by direct revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ however Paul would also search the scriptures to prove everything with the written Word of God. Some were obvious facts but others were hidden mysteries that the Lord would illuminate to him from the scriptures.
The lives of many of the main characters in the Bible were signs or types of the life of Jesus, other incidents in their lives and the lives of others were representative of the Church. Paul’s teaching on the return of Christ can be seen in the Old Testament either as direct teaching from the Prophets, or as types to give us an understanding how God deals with us and what will happen.
Joseph, Moses, David, and Jonah are all men of God who at some point portrayed a type of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said that Jonah in the fish’s belly was a sign to the Jews. David was the rejected King who came back triumphant.
Joseph’s life is an excellent example of the life of Jesus. We know the story how he dreamt that one day all his brethren would bow to him, yet how much his brothers hated him. They sold him for twenty pieces of silver and he was taken to Egypt and bought by Potiphar (I wonder how much he paid for him). In Potiphar’s house he was falsely accused and cast into prison. From here, a dungeon, he was exalted to the highest place in the land under Pharaoh who also gave to him an Egyptian (Gentile) bride, the daughter of the priest in On. Eventually, and this is one of the most moving stories in the Old Testament, there came a time when his brothers would come to him and he would make himself known to them. God had sent a terrible famine on the land for seven years and many people died. The Hebrews (Joseph’s brothers) had to come to Joseph, in order to buy food. They did not recognize him at first; he needed to reveal himself to them. It was with tears that he told them, “I am your brother Joseph whom you sold into slavery”. There was no anger or hatred, just a deep emotion of love in being reunited with his brethren and family. There was much weeping and mourning.
We can all see the likeness of Joseph with the life of Jesus. Jesus was rejected by His people. He was sold for thirty pieces of silver. He was falsely accused and crucified, his body being placed in a tomb. He was raised up from the grave and is seated in his Father’s throne far above all. He has all power in heaven, earth and under the earth. One day soon He will be given a Gentile bride after which there will be seven years of the wrath of God on the earth. It is during this time that He will reveal Himself to His brethren the Jews and they will look on Him whom they pierced and they shall mourn for him (Zechariah 12 v 10). One shall say to Him, “What are those wounds in thy hands”? And He will say, “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zechariah 13 v 6).
Moses too was a type of Jesus; he said that God would raise up a prophet, like unto him. The Jews were always waiting for that prophet. When John the Baptist came they asked him if he was that prophet, he certainly was a prophet but was he ‘that’ prophet? No he wasn’t, but Jesus was. We know the story of Moses, how when he was born the children of Israel were slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh, due to fear, commanded that all the new born male babies born to the Hebrews were to be killed, none were to live. God delivered Moses and he was brought up in the king’s courts. Later when he came to his own people with the intention to help them the response he got was, “Who made thee ruler and judge over us”. He was rejected by his own people. He went to a distant place from where eventually God sent him back to deliver the Hebrew people. However, while he was away he received a Gentile bride, a daughter of the priest of Midian, whom he brought back with him when he came back to bring the wrath of God upon Egypt and to be accepted as the deliverer by the Hebrews.
Do we see the likeness of the life of Moses to the life of Jesus? When Jesus was born Herod had all the boys from two years old and under killed. Jesus was rejected by His own people, He went to a distant place, heaven, where He will one day soon receive His bride whom He will bring with Him as He returns to this earth to tread the winepress of the wrath of God and to deliver His brethren the Jews as they cry out for the return of their Messiah.
So we can see from these two important types of Christ some of the sequences of events about to happen. Both men received a ‘Gentile’ bride before the time of great dearth that came from God upon the earth and both men delivered the Hebrew children from the trouble they were in.
If these men are a type of Jesus (and they are), then the question arises, how is Jesus to receive His bride before the wrath of God hits the earth? Although a vast number of Christians have long since slept and their bodies are in the grave while their spirits are with the Lord, there are still many saints alive today. What will happen to those Christians, how will they join those who are asleep in the Lord? Will they need to die also?
Well, once again we know the teaching which Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “But we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are fallen asleep, to the end that you be not grieved even as also the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus has died and has risen again, so also God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. (For this we say to you in the word of the Lord, that we, the living who remain to the coming of the Lord, are in no way to anticipate those who have fallen asleep; for the Lord Himself, with an assembling shout, with archangels voice and with trump of God, shall descend from heaven; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we, the living who remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall be always with the Lord. So encourage one another with these words.)” (1Thessalonians 4 v 13-18).
There we have it in a nutshell, what is often called the Rapture of the saints. The different understanding between many Christians is concerned with the actual timing of the Rapture (please bear with me if you don’t like the use of the word “Rapture”). Does the Rapture precede the wrath of God or does it follow the wrath of God at the manifestation of Christ at the battle of Armageddon?
The Apostle Paul wrote about many things in the Bible, some of them hard to understand and some misunderstood. The gathering of the Church in the air is something that Paul shared in order that we might encourage one another with, yet it is one of those issues that Christians strongly disagree about.
Paul said that this teaching is in the Word of the Lord. I would suggest that Paul saw it in the taking up of Enoch. There is not much in our Bible about Enoch but there is enough to show us that what happened to Enoch is the same as what Paul is talking about happening to the Church.
The Bible says that Enoch walked with God and was not because God took him (Genesis 5 v 24). Hebrews 11 v 5-6 says, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and was not found, because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him.”
From this short statement we can see two important points. One is that Enoch did not see death but was taken up; the other is that he was a man of faith who walked with God. Jesus did see death, this was why He came. He died and rose again before ascending to heaven, the emphasis is on His death and resurrection, so the story of Enoch is not a type of Jesus, but we can see it is a type of the Church who is walking in faith with God. It corresponds with what Paul has told us will happen to those Christians who are alive in the end times. It is also a warning to the Church that we need to be walking with God by faith in these last days. To be part of the Rapture then we need to take heed of this Old Testament type of the Rapture and be walking with God.
The wrath of God (great flood) was poured out on the earth after Enoch was taken up. The wrath of God will once more be poured out on the earth after the Church has been caught up to be with the Lord.
What about Noah some might say, he went through the time of the flood and the Lord took him through it rather than delivering him out of it by some supernatural act. Yes that is right. The ark of course represents Jesus and our safety in Christ, however there is more to it than that. The ark represents the marriage supper of the Lamb. When the world suffers the wrath of God the Church celebrates the marriage supper of the Lamb. Genesis 7 v 12-16 says, “And the pour of rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights. On the same day went Noah, and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; they, and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and all fowl after its kind – every bird of every wing. And they went to Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, in which was the breath of life. And they that came, came male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in.”
Now, remembering those last few words, “The Lord shut him in”, let us turn to Matthew 25 v 10-13, this is the story of the ten virgins, five wise and five foolish, “But as they went away to buy (that is the foolish ones went to buy oil), the bridegroom came, and the ones that were ready went in with him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut. Afterwards come also the rest of the virgins saying, Lord, Lord, open to us; but he answering said, Verily I say unto you, I do not know you. Watch therefore, for you know not the day, nor the hour”.
In both cases the Lord shut the door and no one could get in. One was in the safety of the ark during the wrath of God when the earth was flooded and the other was the marriage supper of the Lamb. Both will happen in the same period of time. The ark then represents the marriage feast.
What about Lot? I don’t think that Lot represents the Church who is the Lord’s bride. Ephesians 5 v 27 says, “That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish”. Lot does not come across as being glorious and without blemish.
Abraham was up on the mountain when God visited him and it was during this time that God told him what he was about to do to Sodom and Gomorrah. While the two angels went on to Sodom the Lord stayed with Abraham and Abraham beseeched Him not to destroy the city if any righteous could be found in it. He was concerned for his relative Lot. The city was to be destroyed but the two angels first went to Lot to warn him to escape, yet he still tarried so the angels took hold of Lot and his family and dragged them out of the city, even then his wife looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt.
Lot and his family do not represent the bride of Christ. Abraham on the mountain with the Lord, looking down on Sodom, pleading for the safety of his relatives, he represents the bride of Christ. Lot was rescued by the angels and I believe this is a type of the tribulation saints. The tribulation saints are those who came out of the great tribulation. These are not the Apostles and Martin Luther and John Wesley or George Whitefield or any of the saints up to the great tribulation, no; these are those who went through the great tribulation. Where are the others? They are with the Lord in heaven (on the mountain top looking down). Many of the brides loved ones will be left behind; they will believe but are negligent when it comes to keeping their oil topped up. They are not walking with the Lord, they will miss the rapture. But, recognizing what has happened they will repent and seek God. Although they go through the great tribulation which precedes the wrath of God, they will be rescued by Gods angels from the coming wrath.
Elijah and Jesus
There are two more ascensions that need to be mentioned they both happened before the wrath of God fell. One was Elijah who went up by a whirlwind into heaven and the other was Jesus who went up to heaven and was received by a cloud. After Elijah had been taken up the wrath of God fell on the house of Ahab (Jezebel and their family) and also upon all the priest and prophets of Baal. After Jesus had ascended we have the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.
I think these two are connected in that Elijah was a type of Jesus in his ascension. The mantle represents the power of the Spirit that Jesus was anointed with, which He passed onto his disciples. Elisha represented the disciples. Elisha asked for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah and took up the mantle that fell from Elijah, smote the waters with it, saying, “Where is the God of Elijah?” The waters parted and Elisha passed over to the other side. I’m told that Elisha did twice as many miracles as Elijah. Jesus said to his disciples, “Greater works than these shall you do because I go to my Father”. Jesus said that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to whoever asks Him (That is to His children).
Abraham and Isaac
Finally this story is not complete without one final picture; it is that of Abraham, Isaac and Abraham’s servant. In this type we have Abraham representing the Father, Isaac representing Jesus and Abraham’s servant representing the Holy Spirit. Abraham sent his servant back to his own people to take a wife for his son. God blessed the servant until finally he brings back Rebecca for Isaac. Isaac had gone out in the fields to meditate and met the servant bringing back Rebecca to him; he then took her for his wife.
Now, something very important. Rebecca's family wanted her to stay another ten days before going with the servant to Isaac. It was decided to ask Rebecca if she would spend ten more days with her family before going with the servant. She said no, she would go now. It was up to Rebecca if she would go immediately or stay for another ten days.
This illustrates the work of the Holy Spirit now. He is here preparing a bride for Jesus, when she is ready he will take her with Him back to the Fathers house were a place is prepared for her. Jesus will meet her in the air and take her to be with Him. However, does the decision rest with the Church whether she shall go immediately or stay behind for another ten days (or ten years) with her family and friends.
So to sum up, the Holy Spirit prepares a bride and takes her to heaven where they are met in the air by Jesus. This is followed by the marriage of the Lamb and His bride. After this is seven years of the wrath of God on the earth. It is during this time that He reveals Himself to the children of Israel and all Israel are saved.
Pressing Towards the Goal
The apostle Paul tells us that no matter how mature we are as Christians there is still a goal to aim for and a prize to receive (Philippians 3 v 13-16). Our eyes need to be fixed on the goal in order for us to receive the prize. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that we should be “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12 v 2). We should be constantly looking to Jesus in order to cross the finishing line and gain the prize.
Paul says that all he had achieved and took pride in before he became a Christian, he now counts as loss and reckons them to be filth in order to gain Christ.
Paul likens our walk to an athlete preparing for the games or as a soldier in the Lord’s army. Our life should be governed by a dedication to our calling, and our desire should be to obtain the prize. We should live as if our Saviour and Captain is about to return for us any day now. One of the greatest incentives to press on is the conviction that Jesus is about to return. The bible encourages this belief, James tells us that the coming of the Lord draws nigh (James 5 v 8) and Jesus Himself tells us that He is coming quickly (Revelation 22 v 12, 20). We are told to watch and be ready for the Lord’s return. It should be at the forefront of the Christians mind, “Jesus is returning any time now, am I ready?”
Our goal will not be realized until Jesus returns; however, we must now press towards the mark if we are to achieve the prize set before us. The prize is the calling on high to be with Jesus as His bride. The highest prize we can receive is being with Jesus. He is our hearts desire. We shall receive rewards but the greatest reward is to be the bride of Christ. We will receive a robe of righteousness and a crown of righteousness but still, the reward we long for is to be with Jesus.
How do we get ready for His return?
When Jesus was talking about the last days and the great tribulation followed by the wrath of God He said, “Watch therefore and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21 v 36). He is saying that our lives should be continually in prayer and looking for Jesus. It is only God that can make us worthy so our prayer should be for God’s will to be done in our lives and that we may be found worthy to escape all these things and be with Christ our Saviour and Lord at His return from heaven when He comes to deliver us from the coming wrath. The wrath of God will last, it seems, for seven years, Jesus comes before the wrath in order to deliver His bride from it.
The word “escape” used here in this passage does not mean to escape through something, but rather to escape out of something, to flee out of something, to vanish.
1 Thessalonians 1 v 10 says that we await God’s “Son from the heavens, whom He raised from among the dead, Jesus, our deliverer from the coming wrath”. We are awaiting God’s Son and not the wrath of God. We are awaiting God’s Son and not the anti-Christ. Jesus is the one we await from heaven to deliver us from the coming wrath. It is not the wrath that comes first but the wrath that is coming after He has delivered us.
Oh that we could feel the urgency of these words, “pray, that you may be found worthy to escape all the terrible things that are about to happen”. Don’t leave it until tomorrow because tomorrow is too late.
Jesus said, “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation” (Matthew 26 v 41). Jude tells us that God is able to keep us from falling and present us faultless before the presence of His glory. God is able to do it but our prayers bring us into line with God’s will. Our prayers need to be with thanksgiving in faith that God will perfect that which concerns us. If we are struggling with temptation and feel so unworthy then the Lord’s answer is to make time to pray.
The goal is Jesus Christ; the prize is to be called on high to be with Jesus as His bride. To be like Christ, having His mind and being conformed to His image should be our desire, nothing less will do.
The Apostle Paul’s object in life was to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. In Philippians 1 v 21 Paul says, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain”. Paul’s goal in life was that He might gain Christ (Philippians 3 v 8). This is the purpose of living as far as Paul is concerned. This is what Paul pursues in order that he might get possession of it. In Philippians 3 v 14 Paul says, “I pursue looking towards the goal, for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus.” Then he says that we should all be thus minded.
Kenneth Wuest calls this a calling from heaven and to heaven.
We are citizens of heaven which we continually look to, awaiting the return of Jesus who will transform our bodies making them like His body of glory (Philippians 3 v 20).
When Jesus returns for His bride we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye and be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Corinthians 15 v 51-52, 1 Thessalonians 4 v 17).
Paul’s mindset then, which he also encourages us to have, is that we might know Jesus, be like Him and be with Him. This is the calling of heaven to us, calling us to Christ. Our response is to reach out to heaven with our whole heart and desire, looking for His coming, longing to be with Him. The prize of the calling on high is being with Christ at the rapture of the saints and thus being forever with the Lord.
In 1 Corinthians 9 v 24 – 27 Paul says, “Know you not that they who run the race-course run all, but one receives the prize? Thus run in order that you may obtain. But everyone that contends for a prize is temperate in all things: they then indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore thus run, as not uncertainly; so I combat, not as beating the air. But I buffet my body, and lead it captive, lest after having preached to others I should be myself rejected.” Paul is not talking about eternal life as that is a free gift but rather missing out on the prize. He is looking forward to being caught up to meet the Lord in the air at the rapture of the saints. He sees it as a prize to pursue therefore his whole being must be disciplined in order to be ready for that day. Should we be less minded?
Heaven is calling to us, one day we will be changed and be able to fully respond by being caught up in the air with Christ. Until that day comes our goal should be that of Paul, to know Him, to be like Him and to be with Him. That goal will one day be realized.
It is important to understand that when we talk about escaping from the coming wrath we are not talking about the Christian escaping from suffering, tribulation and persecution, these are what Christians are called to. It is only by suffering that we enter the kingdom of God. If we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him. The Christians life involves suffering and persecution; it also means a rejection of worldly pleasures and lusts. It means buffeting the body and keeping it captive not allowing it to enjoy the pleasures of this world. It is a life that the world rejects. There is enmity between the world and the Christian. The Christian shall not escape its contempt. The coming wrath is God’s wrath on the world not on the Christian. It has nothing to do with the Christian. The great tribulation precedes God’s wrath. This time of great tribulation does not directly involve the Church either; it is the time of Jacob’s trouble. In other words it is a time of persecution against the Jews that is greater than any previous tribulation that the Jew has suffered. The times of the Gentiles has ended. The time of the Church age has passed. However those Christians who got left behind at the rapture will also suffer during this time as the man of sin vents his anger against God’s chosen people.
In God’s word the pattern of the harvest is explained to us. It is more than just a word of instruction; it is a type or shadow of God’s plan for His harvest at the end of the age.
The bible shows us that in God’s harvest there are three gatherings of wheat. There are the firstfruits, the main harvest and finally the wheat on the edges that is left behind for the poor. Before the wheat harvest there is the barley harvest. The barley and the wheat harvest together make one great harvest that lasted about seven weeks which is called the grain harvest.
In any harvest there are the firstfruits, these belong to God. The very first firstfruits from the dead is the Lord Jesus Christ who is represented by the firstfruits of the barley or grain harvest. On the third day from the Passover which is the feast of the Firstfruits or Yom HaBikkurim, the priest give the wave offering by waving the sheaf of the firstfruits of the barley harvest before the Lord. Three days after Christ death, the day after the Sabbath, Jesus arose and was presented before the Father as the firstfruits of the dead. The Feast of the Firstfruits is during the time of unleavened bread. Leaven represents sin. Jesus was without sin and is offered as a sinless wave offering unto the Father.
Fifty days later we have the Feast of Weeks which is also known as Pentecost, the Feast of Harvest and the Latter Firstfruits. It is the harvest of the wheat.
The wheat represents the children of God.
This Feast of Harvest is a final celebration for the whole of the grain harvest. Some places in Israel may be later in harvesting the wheat depending on the weather but it is this day, fifty days after the wave offering that is celebrated for the seven weeks harvesting of the barley and wheat.
At this harvest two loaves are baked with leaven, these are waved before the Lord as firstfruits. As we have seen in the bible, the feasts are a shadow of things to come. The Passover, Unleavened Bread and Feast of the Firstfruits had their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. This feast at Pentecost has been partially fulfilled. At Pentecost the Lord poured the Spirit out upon the Church and the Church was born. However a harvest is not a time of gathering that which has just been born but rather that which is mature. The two loaves represent the church which has matured and been turned into what it was created for. For two thousand years the Holy Spirit has been working on the Church in order to present it complete to God. The significance of there being two loaves I am not sure of, it could be two thousand years of the Church age or may represent both the Jew and Gentile, or even those dead in Christ and those alive at the time of the harvest; they are represented by bread baked with leaven in contrast to the feast of Unleavened Bread which represents the sinless life of Jesus. Leaven usually represents sin in the bible so I believe that it represents a Church that has sinned but is acceptable to God because of the work of Jesus Christ. It could also represent fullness of time. The Jews on the first Passover did not use leaven as the time was too short to wait for it to cause the bread to rise. This time it is necessary for the bread to rise up to meet Him in the air. Whatever the explanation the loaves are presented to God by the High Priest and therefore acceptable. Jesus, our High Priest, comes for His bride who is the product of the wheat harvest and presents her to God the Father. However there will be some wheat left behind, that which is on the edges, this represents those who are left behind when Jesus takes His bride, they will be reaped by the angels of God after the tribulation period and before the wrath of God falls on the earth.
The concluding harvest is during the fall, autumn time, at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. This is the great final ingathering of everything that remains. It is the fruit harvest, the gathering of the grapes, figs, pomegranates and olives. The significance of the feast is found in Zechariah 14 v 16, “And it shall come to pass, that all that are left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of host, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles”. It is the final ingathering of all the nations to come and worship the King and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
Explanation to the Thessalonians
Many bible believing Christians believe that Jesus will soon return and with His saints reign on the earth for a thousand years. It is also clear in scripture that prior to the return of the Lord Jesus many Christians will be deceived by false teaching and fall away from the truth. The antichrist, who the bible calls “the man of sin”, will rise up at this time and there will be a time of great tribulation, especially against the Jews. The wrath of God will then be poured on the earth until the return of Jesus who then sets up His kingdom and reigns with His saints for a thousand years.
When Jesus returns the church will be caught up to meet Him in the air. However it is at this point the differences of interpretation occur. Some say that Jesus will return, meet His Church in the air, and remove her from the earth while the wrath of God is poured out, He will then return finally after the time of God’s wrath to set up His Kingdom. Others say that Jesus only returns once which is after the time of God’s wrath, the Christians who are alive at that time will be caught up to meet Him and the dead in Christ are resurrected.
2 Thessalonians chapter 2 is often referred to by Christians to prove their point about the second coming so we need to look at it to find out what Paul was saying to the believers in Thessalonica.
The Thessalonians were anxious and confused, word had gotten to them, and they presumed Paul was saying it, that the Day of the Lord was now present. The day of the Lord is the time when His wrath is poured out on the earth. Why were they troubled and afraid? For the answer to that we will have to understand how they viewed the last days time sequence.
If the Thessalonians were post wrath in their view they would believe in the return of Jesus after the wrath of God when He would resurrect the saints and establish His kingdom. To be told that the time of the wrath of God was present would not trouble them or shake them in spirit, this would be a time of expectation, Jesus was returning for certainty in a few years time. It is clear from scripture that the wrath of God will not touch the saints as God will preserve them through it. It would be a time to be joyful not fearful.
They were not rejoicing but rather troubled and shaken in spirit. They must have had another view than the post wrath view.
If they believed in a pre-wrath theory, that the rapture of the saints happened before the wrath of God, and they were told that they were now in the time of the wrath of God (the day of the Lord), then understandably they would be shaken in spirit and fearful because that would mean they had missed the resurrection and been left behind. This is the most likely explanation for their fear.
At the time of the Apostle Paul there was a heresy going round. This was that the resurrection of the saints had already happened. Depending on their views this could mean one of two things, either Jesus was now reigning or they had missed the rapture and were about to enter into the worst period of history. The result of this heresy was that some were losing their faith. This shows that they knew Christ wasn’t reigning (that much would be obvious) so they had missed the rapture and had to face the wrath of God. These Christians as well as the ones in Thessalonica obviously did not believe in a post wrath theory otherwise they would not be afraid.
Why did they fear that they had missed the resurrection? Because they believed that immediately following the rapture of the saints was the tribulation and wrath of God period. This time period was what they believed they were now living in; it is called the day of the Lord or the day of His wrath.
2 Timothy 2 v 16-18 says, “But with reference to unhallowed and empty discussions, give them a wide birth, for they will progress to more impiety towards God, and their word will spread as does cancer, of whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus, the very ones that are of such a character as to have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection already has taken place, and are overthrowing the faith of certain ones”.
Here we see that they expected a time gap between the resurrection of the saints and the return of Jesus (with the tribulation and wrath of God in between). These men were saying that the resurrection or rapture of the saints had already taken place.
This is the heresy that Paul had to correct in Thessalonica. He had previously written to them a lovely letter encouraging them that the Lord would return and save them from the coming wrath (1 Thessalonians 1 v 10) and that the saints would be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4 v 17). Then came along these people who said that it had already happened and they had missed it and been left behind. What was now left for them to face was the wrath of God before Christ began His thousand years reign with His saints. The Thessalonians who believed this teaching were saying that the day of His wrath was now present.
The Day of The Lord
In Paul’s second letter he had to correct this false teaching. Read with this understanding it gives the true light to how 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 should be interpreted. After the rapture of the saints there is the tribulation period followed by the day of God's wrath, a period of possibly seven years, the last three and a half years are when the lawless one, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, is revealed and reigns (2 Thessalonians 2 v 8-9). This is the day of the Lords wrath. It is not a 24 hour day but, according to W. E. Vine, it is "a period of undefined length marked by certain characteristics", the 'certain characteristic' of this day is the wrath of God.
Let us look now at 2 Thessalonians chapter two.
Verse 1, ‘Now we beg you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him.’
Verse 2, ‘that you be not soon shaken in mind, nor troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as if it were by us, as that the day of the Lord is present’.
When John wrote the book of Revelation he said he was in the Spirit on ‘the Lord’s day’ so the ‘Lord’s day’ or the ‘day of the Lord’ is that period of time that John speaks of in the book of Revelation when God's wrath is poured on the earth.
The Thessalonians thought that that day had already started which meant they had missed the prize of being caught up to the Lord as His bride and must now endure the day of His wrath.
Paul goes on to say in verse 3, ‘Let not anyone deceive you in any manner, because it will not be unless the apostasy has come first and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (destruction).’ Verse 4, ‘Who opposes and exalts himself on high against all called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God’.
“Don’t be afraid”, Paul tells the Thessalonians, “the apostasy and the man of sin (son of destruction) must come first before the day of the Lord, therefore as neither of these have happened yet then neither are we in the day of the Lord's wrath”. We here get some idea of the time sequence, there will be a falling away and then the man of sin will be revealed, this is then followed by the day of the Lord.
The Apostasy First
According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, apostasy or falling away means ‘defection from the truth’, so, before the rapture/tribulation/wrath period there will be a defection from the Truth and because of this God sends to them a working of error that they should believe a lie. However it must be mentioned that ‘apostasy’ means ‘departure’ and therefore is seen by some as being the departure of the church in the rapture. This is equally as possible as the generally accepted interpretation of ‘defection from the truth’.
The reason why I stick with apostasy meaning ‘defection from the truth’ is because Paul writes to Timothy that in the last days some shall depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4 v 1).
The Spirit of Grace
We are now living in the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6 v 2); sin is not reigning but rather grace reigns (Romans 5 v 21). It is because of the Spirit of Grace that the vilest of sinners can be convinced of their sins and, believing on Jesus Christ, be saved.
This day of grace is to be followed by the great tribulation then the day of our Lord Jesus Christ and then judgment day. During this day of salvation the Spirit of Grace is restraining the lawlessness that will come at the rapture of the church. When the church is redeemed and the mortal puts on immortality and we meet the Lord in the air then shall the Spirit of Grace be removed and the time of the great tribulation arrives. I don't believe the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth but rather that aspect of Him which is called the Spirit of Grace.
The reign of the Spirit of Grace started on the feast of Pentecost, an interesting point is that there are fifty days between Passover week (when the sheaf of the firstfruits was waved before the Lord), and Pentecost. Jesus showed Himself to His disciples for forty days before His ascension. This means that there was a gap of ten days from the ascension of Jesus to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. If this is taken in reverse we can expect a corresponding number of days or years from when the Spirit of Grace is removed to when Christ returns to reign on the earth. These I believe fulfill what the Jews call the Days of Penitence. There are ten days of Penitence, which run from and include the great Days of Awe (Rosh Hashanah which is the Jewish New Year and sometimes called the Feast of Trumpets, and Yom Kippur which is the Day of Atonement). I believe these days represent a period of ten years, which cover the time of the great tribulation and wrath of God.
The antichrist or man of sin, spoken of here in 2 Thessalonians 2 v 3 (as well as in Johns epistles), will be the leader of a confederacy of nations whose aim will be to take dominion of the whole earth and to destroy God's elected saints. He is succeeded by a 'Beast' coming out of the sea (Revelation chapter 13 v 1 – 10). This powerful Beast from the sea is the 'lawless one' or 'Wicked' one of 2 Thessalonians 2 v 8.
An interesting thing is that in Revelation 13 v 11 – 18 we see another beast coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. This beast represents the false Prophet. This second beast sets up an image to the first beast, in other words it copies it and gives its power to it. The features of the first beast, which is secular, are its desire to be worshipped as God, conquer the whole earth, and persecute the elect of God. The second beast, which is religious, reflects the same image in that it causes men to worship the image to the beast, wants to have dominion over the whole earth, and it also persecutes the saints.
So, cheer up you Thessalonians, Paul says, and stop worrying because there hasn’t been a great defection from the truth and the man of sin hasn’t been manifested yet so you haven’t missed the ‘gathering unto the Lord’, and the day of the Lord is not present with us.
For us who are closer to the day of the Lord, I think we can say, the defection has started so let us “watch therefore, praying at every season, that we may be accounted worthy to escape all these things which are about to come to pass.”
The Seven Churches of Asia
In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 we read the seven letters to the churches in Asia. Many believe that these churches, apart from being specific churches at the time of John, also represent the seven church ages from the time of John’s writing until Christ returns. I believe it is possible that these letters are prophetic and cover the whole church age from John’s time until Jesus returns. However whether this is right or not I do believe that these seven letters represent God's word to seven different aspects of the whole church in these last days therefore we need to heed what the Spirit is saying to these seven churches in Asia.
The first church letter was to the Ephesian church. This church represents the birth of the church in the first century and reveals the condition of the church by the time of the writing of the book of Revelation. When the Apostle Paul was leaving the Ephesians, knowing he would see them no more, he warned the elders to watch over the flock because grievous wolves would come in after he had gone, and not only that but even from amongst themselves people would rise up to lead them astray (Acts 20 v 29-30). Paul was so concerned for the Ephesians that he begged Timothy to stay with them in order to keep them from going after false doctrine (1 Timothy 1 v 3). It seems they heeded Paul’s warning to them because the Lord commends them for their ability to spot these wolves and evil men who came with their false doctrines. The problem was that they were so busy discerning false doctrine that they had left their first love (Revelation 2 v 2-5). The message to the church today is one of praise to the true discernment ministries but a warning to get back to their first love.
The second church age is that of the Smyrnaean church age. Smyrna means ‘bitter’ and it is derived from the word ‘myrrh’ which was used to embalm the dead. This was a most bitter church age ending in death to those who persevered through it. The Catholic Encyclopaedia says that the Emperor Diocletian was induced by his subordinate, Galerius, to persecute the Christians. The two rulers, at a council held at Nicomedia in 302, resolved to suppress Christianity throughout the empire. This persecution lasted till 312 (seven years after Diocletians death). This ten years persecution is spoken of in the letter to Smyrna as ten days of tribulation. Today this is a warning to those who get left behind at the rapture, there are ten Days of Awe which translate into ten years of tribulation and wrath, but if they are faithful unto death then they will be resurrected, receive a crown of life, and reign with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 2 v 10-11, Revelation 20 v 4). The final word to the Smyrna Church is that he who overcomes will in no wise be injured of the second death. This is also a message to those who overcome the mark of the Beast, they will have to die but the second death shall have no power over them (Revelation 2 v 11, Revelation 20 v 6).
The letter to Pergamos is next. "Pergamos was the capitol of one of the provinces of Asia Minor; it was a very flourishing town; there was a great deal of riches there, it was there that the king lived, and it was the seat of much learning. There was a library in it containing two hundred thousand books. It was at Pergamos that parchment was first made, and hence it got its name. It was the seat of riches, of royalty, and of learning, and yet it was where Satan's throne was; and so it is very often, wherever there are riches or much human wisdom, it is there that the devil holds his court" (The Seven Churches of Asia by R. M. M'Cheyne).
This church age is believed to have run from approximately the year 312 until 600 AD. It is where Satan’s seat was. Originally Satan's seat was in Babylon but in 330 BC at the fall of Persia, the Babylonian high priest fled to Pergamos in Asia Minor. Later, it is believed, Rome became the centre for the Babylonian religion. The great alter of Satan’s seat in Pergamos, where many Christians were sacrificed, was discovered intact in the 1800’s and moved from Pergamos to Berlin, Germany, in 1902 (Prophetic Vision magazine No. 13 Autumn 1999).
Germany, once a stronghold for the truth, now stood against the people of God declaring in 1909 that the Pentecostal movement was not from above but from below. The German church later became the seat of modern Biblical criticism and liberal theology. Later still we find Hitler trying to exterminate the Jews.
In this letter we find the church in Pergamos is still enduring, holding fast His name and the faith entrusted to them, but there is a problem, they are losing the discernment that the church at Ephesus practiced. They are now allowing in the church those who teach the doctrine of Balaam. Their desire is to join together the church and the world religions. These are causing the church to compromise the Word of God, and to indulge in idolatry and false worship. Also some hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans whose worldly structure of leadership makes man the mediator between God and His Church and lifts leaders to a position of lordship with authority and power over others in the church, taking the place of the Holy Spirit as the leader and teacher of the church. The warning today is to use the discernment that the Spirit gives us and check everything out with the Word of God. Beware of manifestations in worship that are unclean and worldly. Listen to the Holy Spirit and beware of leaders who usurp the Word and the Spirit. Do not become under bondage to leaders who lord it over the flock. Both the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans bring the practices of the world into the church, one in worship and the other in lordship. Jesus Christ said the He hates the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. In Matthew 20 v 25-28 He warned against it, telling His disciples that whoever would be the leader must rather become a servant.
Next we have the letter to Thyatira. This church age began about the year 600AD. It is called the ‘dark ages’. Here we have a joining together of the church and state, which enforced the power of the clergy until eventually the papacy held power over the heads of state. It is here that the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans takes over the church. Pagan practices are included into church worship and the clergy dominates the people. The word of God for the church today is to hold fast to the true gospel. He that endures to the end shall be saved. The Lord will give authority to those who overcome and they shall shepherd the nations with an iron rod. Although this age is dark and the Word of the Lord seems to be extinguished there is yet hope, the Lord promises them the ‘morning star’. There is light promised at the end of the tunnel.
Next comes the age of Sardis which is the time of the Reformation. This church age began about 1517AD. Surely this will get a glowing report! As in other ages before it, this age produced many martyrs for the Lord. The light was dawning and people were willing to stand up for the Truth. The truth of the gospel was breaking out all over, “The just shall live by faith”. We can look back at the age of the Reformers and hold them up as examples of true Christians. Their teaching is often put on a platform as the most solid and reliable of Christian teaching. It was an age when the false church persecuted the true Church. To be true to the Word could quite easily mean suffering and death. Yet to this church comes the word, “Thou has a name that thou livest, and art dead”. The vast majority of Sardis was antichrist yet those who did not defile their garments, the Lord says, “are worthy”. They shall be clothed in white raiment. However, although the Reformation started well with the doctrine of salvation their works were not perfected, they left undone other important doctrines, neither did they remove the structure of the antichrist with its creeds and dogmas and its clergy who ruled over the people, even today in most churches there is a hierarchy of leadership, which restricts the Holy Spirit from ministering through the laity. The carnal denominational spirit flourished, the leaders of the Reformation joined with the state to enforce its new understanding of the scripture and persecute anyone who disagreed. Once more the church was joined with the state and woe betide anyone who didn’t submit. Today we can learn much from the reformers but let us have Jesus as our Head, not the Pope nor the king and neither the state. The message is that we identify ourselves with Him and He shall confess our names before the Father.
The next letter, which is to Philadelphia, is a letter of encouragement to the true Church. This church age began about 1730AD. The Lord opened the door to missionary work in this age. It started with John Wesley preaching in the open air, also George Whitefield, William Carey, D. L. Moody and many others. These are the true Church spreading the gospel in all the earth. God promises to keep them from the hour (season) of trial that is to come upon the whole earth. Those who overcome are to be made a pillar in the temple of God, and to have the name of God, the name of the city of God and the Lord’s name written upon them. They are the Bride of the Lamb. The message to the church today is to hold fast that which we have because the Lord is coming quickly. The Bride will be kept from the hour of trial, which is to come upon the whole earth. This is the Bride, the city of God, New Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from God. (Revelation 3 v 12, and Revelation 21 v 9-10).
The last letter is to the church in Laodicea. This is the last church age so we don’t need to ask what is said to us today because it is there before us in black and white.
This church age began sometime in the twentieth century. The years 1906 and 1948 have been given as possible beginnings but I believe the spirit of the Laodicean Church was manifested in the 1980’s with the so called 'Third wave of the Holy Spirit'.
1906 saw the beginnings of the Pentecostal Church. The Pentecostal Church was very much influenced by the Wesley era and the holiness movement. In the late 1800’s such men as D. L. Moody were encouraged by the Keswick convention in England. The influence of these men would rub off on the early Pentecostals.
The Charismatic Church was born in the 1950’s in America and blossomed in the 60’s and 70’s. Britain was a few years behind America in seeing the Charismatic Church accepted by the denominational churches.
The mid 1980’s saw a notable change in the church as it took a step beyond the Charismatic era. It was now the time of the Third Wave Movement (first wave being the Pentecostal movement, the second wave is the Charismatic movement and the third wave being Power Evangelism and signs and wonders). This was promoted by John Wimber and C. Peter Wagner a dominant figure in the new movement. Power Evangelism now took centre stage. There is nothing wrong with signs and wonders but they are only a tool to witness to the truth of the gospel of the cross and should not replace the preaching of the gospel or be elevated to a position of more importance.
Also prominent was the Word of Faith theology or Prosperity Gospel sometimes called the Positive Confession Movement. Many people see Kenneth Hagin as the father of the Word of Faith movement. Kenneth Hagin was a minister in the Assemblies of God in 1937. In 1950 he became an itinerant healing evangelist. He promoted a positive confession and the need to receive what we confess.
Kenneth Copeland, an American Charismatic, is another big name in the Word of Faith movement. He was converted in November 1962 and his ministry grew in the 1970’s after reading books by Hagin.
Although there is some truth in what is taught by Kenneth Copeland it is the emphasis of prosperity that is promoted and sought after that is wrong. It is also seen as exalting man instead of giving God the pre-eminence.
The Toronto Blessing in the mid 90’s was a further influence on this new “Third Wave” movement. It emphasised signs and wonders and encouraged the seeking after many weird and unscriptural manifestations.
The emphasis was now on prosperity, signs and wonders, church growth, and the ‘anointing’. How different from the early Pentecostal Church who preached Jesus Christ the Saviour, Healer, Baptiser in the Holy Spirit and Coming King, with an emphasis on holiness.
Nothing good can be said about this modern church, it is lukewarm and sickly. This church is proud of its material wealth and it believes it is most spiritually rich. It is not God’s Spirit that it is rich in but rather the works of the flesh. Yet God tells the truth about this modern church, He says it is “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked”. Shame on us. We say we want revival! God calls us to be zealous and repent. Let us beat our breast and cry out for mercy. The wonderful thing is that God is still there waiting. If we open up to Him then He will come in and sup with us. Finally He tells us that to him who overcomes He will grant to sit with Him in His throne just as He is sat down in the Fathers throne. Yes, even today the offer is there to be part of His Bride. It is the Bride who sits with Him in His throne and even to this church age He calls us to be part of the rapture.
A Time of Judgment
A time is coming when the wrath of God shall be poured out on this earth, however before this time of judgment on the people of the earth God shall judge those who believe on Him. Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive their rewards for the works done in the body, whether good or bad.
In the Hebrew feasts and celebrations there is a period of ten days that the Jews hold as a time of penitence and repentance. These are seen as the last chance to make amends before the coming of Messiah to earth. These are the ten days that link the Days of Awe (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur which are New Years day [the feast of trumpets], and the Day of Atonement). According to the Midrash the beginning of these Ten Days of Penitence, Rosh Hashanah, is believed to be the day that Adam was created, sinned and was judged and therefore this day was ordained for all generations as the Day of Judgment ('The High Holy Days' by Herman Kieval pages 40 and 116).
The Jews view Yom Kippur as the time to announce the coming of Messiah to earth (see 'The Final Schedule Revealed' page 33 by Maureen Metcalf). The Jubilee year begins at the conclusion of Yom Kippur (The High Holy Days page 130, also Leviticus 25 v 9). The final jubilee is the time which all creation is waiting for when the earth is set free from its bondage of corruption.
These ten days can also correspond to ten years (for a day to represent a year see Numbers chapter 14 v 34 and Ezekiel 4 v 6). In Revelation chapter 2 v 8-10 God warns the Church at Smyrna they would have tribulation ten days. In the Church age allocated to Smyrna the Church suffered terrible tribulation for ten years.
When the rapture of the Church happens then she stands before the Judgement seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5 v 10) where she is judged and receives her garments of fine linen which Revelation 19 v 8 tells us are the righteous acts of the saints. In 2 Corinthians 5 v 10 the word for Judgment which is used in the Greek is Bema which means rostrum, tribunal or judgement seat, it is a place of rewards for faithfulness or where we will suffer loss for our failure to build worthily upon the foundation of salvation in Christ (1 Corinthians 3 v 15). After this time of judging and clothing is the marriage supper. A marriage in scripture is seen to last one week (Genesis 29 v 27-28). A prophetic week is seven years; therefore the marriage feast of the Lamb and His bride will cover a period of seven years. Meanwhile, back on earth, while the Church is receiving her rewards God is dealing with the Jewish nation. This is the time of great tribulation or ‘Jacob’s trouble’ as it is called. It is a time when God judges the nation of Israel and turns the heart of the nation back to Him. After this, while the Church is partaking of the marriage supper, down on earth the wrath of God is poured out, this it seems also lasts seven years. So it is quite possible that the total time of God Judging His people and those who reject Him is ten years.
The ten years are seen as the fulfilment of the ten days that link the Days of Awe.
How can we escape God’s wrath?
As God is love and not willing that any should perish why would He punish people with His wrath?
Well, God is also holy and cannot look upon sin. He is also righteous and therefore must punish sin.
God became man (Jesus Christ) and lived a sinless life, however He was made sin for us and died on a cross in order that we (even though we had sinned), by believing in His work of propitiation, may have eternal life.
When we have faith in Christ death on the cross as our substitute, God reckons it to us as righteousness. Our sins are forgiven and we are judged as righteous through Christ.
This is the way that God, in His love, has made for man to escape the wrath to come. There is no other way. If we reject this offer which God gave at a tremendous sacrifice to Himself, then we will have to suffer for our own sins.
Where do works come into this?
The person who believes on Christ is saved by grace, through faith; and that not of himself; it is the gift of God: not of works that no one might boast (Ephesians 2 v 8). Now that does not mean that we have no responsibility to do good works but rather the opposite is expected of us, we are saved unto good works. These are the works we are to build on our foundation and which we are judged upon. God gives to each of us faith and the ability to express this faith in works. This is first manifested in our ability to believe God, second in our ability to obey God, thirdly in our attitude to God, to people and to the world, and fourthly in our responsibility to others.
Much of what God demands of us is impossible in our own strength however if we choose to obey God’s word then God will give us the ability to act out our faith and fulfil our God given works.
There are three powerful evil persons that rise up in the last days. These are all anti-Christ. The bible calls them beasts. The desire of the first one, who the bible calls the man of sin, is to wipe the Jewish nation off the face of the earth. He unites the nations under him and controls a mighty army that is terrifying to all who would oppose him. His hatred of Israel is what drives him furiously to attempt to wipe them out. This hatred is carried over to the rest of the world as he crushes anyone that might oppose his ambition of world dominion. He divides the world into ten regions putting ten kings or dictators over the regions (Daniel 7 v 24). God will cut his reign short otherwise no flesh would be left alive. This is the period that the bible calls the great tribulation. After him comes another beast who is more forceful than the first beast. The ten kings submit to his rule although three of them resist him at first but are soon defeated. The bible calls him the lawless one or wicked one, his name means destruction. People will be forced to take his mark on their body or suffer death. The third beast is a religious ruler or false prophet as the bible calls him. He will give his support to the second beast and cause men to worship his image. Both the second beast and third beast will reign until Christ is manifested at the battle of Armageddon when they will both be taken and cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.
The Great Tribulation
The great tribulation, which precedes the coming of the Lord in His wrath, is a time of unprecedented trouble for Israel as they suffer the wrath of the beast (Daniel 7 v 7). This trouble will continue into the time of God’s wrath and is known as “the time of Jacobs trouble” (Jeremiah 30 v 7)
All nations shall be gathered against Jerusalem and the city shall be captured, the houses ransacked and the women raped. Half the city shall go into exile (Zechariah 14 v 2).
The United Nations policy is that Israel returns to the borders that she had before the 1967 war. If this is enforced on Israel then half the city of Jerusalem will be taken off her. However Israel shall be saved out of this time of trouble (Jeremiah 30 v 7).
The Lord Jesus shall make Himself known to the Jews and they shall look on Him whom they pierced and mourn as one mourns for an only child (Zechariah 12 v 10).
Then the Lord will fight for Israel against her enemies. He will stand on the Mount of Olives and it will split in two allowing Israel to flee into the valley caused by the earthquake, and all Israel shall be saved (Romans 11 v 26).
Not only will Israel suffer at this time but also anyone who makes a stand for their belief in the Lord Jesus Christ will suffer the wrath of this beast that is terrifying and frightening. The great tribulation then happens during the reign of this first beast and is the great persecution against Israel and those Christians who were left behind at the rapture (judgment begins at the house of God, 1 Peter 4 v 17). These Christians even though they missed the rapture are greatly loved by God. They will go through a time of trial and persecution during the first three years of the Days of Awe. (This is looking at ten days representing ten years.) However this time of great tribulation will be cut short for the sake of the elect (Matthew 24 v 22).
At the end of the three years tribulation period the Lord returns to pour out His wrath upon the earth. At the end of this seven years period of wrath the Lord is revealed and begins His reign over the whole earth.
When the time of the wrath of God comes, 144,000 Israelis are sealed to protect them from being hurt by it. When the time of His wrath is finished Jesus Christ is manifested and the armies of the earth make war against Him but to no avail. The Beast and false prophet are taken and cast alive into the lake of fire and brimstone. Jesus now rules for a thousand years with His Church.
How do we know that the Great Tribulation period precedes the time of God's wrath?
Well, the bible tells us that judgment begins at the house of God and afterwards falls on those who believe not the gospel (1 Peter 4 v 17).
In Matthew 24 v 29 we read “but immediately after the tribulation of those days” (the tribulation is finished and now something else is about to happen), “the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken”.
This corresponds with the sixth seal. Revelation chapter 6 v 12-17 says, “And I saw when it opened the sixth seal and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as hair sackcloth and the whole moon became as blood, and the stars of heaven fell upon the earth, as a fig tree shaken by a great wind, casts its unseasonable figs. And the heaven was removed as a book rolled up, and every mountain and island were removed out of their places”, then everyone was afraid “because the great day of His wrath is come, and who is able to stand.”
So, going back to Matthew 24, what happened after the tribulation was that the wrath of God was come. Everyone under the sun would be hurt apart from God’s elect (The 144,000 Israelis sealed by God).
During this time there will be believers on the earth who will be persecuted by the Beast. The Bride will be caught up before the Great Tribulation, she is the firstfruits of the wheat harvest sometimes called ‘latter firstfruits’, Jesus Christ being the first firstfruits. The rest of the Church will go through the Great Tribulation. It is during this time of great tribulation that multitudes will make decisions for Christ. At the end of the tribulation period these saints are seen before the throne of God (Revelation 7 v 9-17). There will however be others who, realising what they have missed will refuse to take the mark of the Beast. They will be executed for their stand. These will be the firstfruits of the great resurrection.
Gathering of the Eagles
Who are the ‘eagles’? Matthew 24 v 28 tells us that wherever the carcase is, there will be gathered the eagles. Some say it is not eagles but vultures that gather where the carcase is. The actual Greek word is AETOS, which means a wind like flight. In other words, it is those who are blown with the wind. These are the sons of God, those who are led by the Spirit of God, those whose paths are directed by God. In John chapter 3 v 3-8, Jesus says that no one can see the kingdom of God, let alone enter it, unless he is born again. He must be born of water and of the Spirit. “The wind blows where it will, and thou hears its voice, but knows not whence it comes and where it goes: thus is everyone that is born of the Spirit”. The carcase refers to the great supper of God found in Revelation chapter 19. This is where the Bride is gathered.
The Bride, the Tribulation Saints and those Martyred by the Beast.
The church is in heaven before the seven years of God's wrath is poured out (the last three and a half years also consist of the reign of the Beast). In Revelation chapter 19 we see the marriage of the Lamb. His Bride is the Church He returned for at the rapture. She is seated with Him in His throne (Rev. 3 v 21). Before His throne stand the tribulation saints. These are the saints who went through the great tribulation yet remained faithful to the Lord (Rev. 7 v 9-17). In Revelation chapter 20 v 4-6 we read of those who suffered during the reign of the Beast (Rev 14 v 13, 15 v 2). These are still on the earth after the tribulation saints have gone. They are killed by the Beast for refusing to take his mark or do him homage. These, I presume, were not ready when Christ came for His Bride, nor when the tribulation saints were taken before the throne of God, but have made their stand since. They are resurrected when Christ returns and reign with Him for a thousand years. These comprise the first resurrection, the rest of the dead are raised up after the thousand year reign to face the judgment at the great white throne.
The first fruits of Israel (Revelation 7 v 4, 14 v 1-4) received a seal upon their foreheads so that they would be protected during this time.
Jesus Comes for the Elect
“And then” (Matthew 24 v 30) after these things, “then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; then shall all the tribes of the earth lament, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”. This is the time of His glorious appearing when He comes back to earth to rule. “And He shall send His angels with a great sound of trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the one extremity of the heavens to the other extremity of them.” This is where His elect are, in heaven, His Bride is with Him. The bodies of the martyred saints are also resurrected from the earth at this time (Mark 13 v 27, Revelation 20 v 4-5). After this there is the separating of the sheep and goats, all those nations who supported the elect are the sheep the others are the goats.
Who are we watching for
Some, it seems are watching for the Beast who they see as the antichrist. We are told to watch for the return of Jesus Christ NOT for the coming of the antichrist. If antichrist came first we would know when Jesus was to come, this seems to be the wrong way round and out of line with the rest of Christ teachings and other scriptures.
Hebrews 9 v 28 says that "Christ was offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." It is unto them that look for Him that He will appear.
1 Thessalonians 5 v 1-9 tells us that "the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night", but not for the “sons of light and sons of day”. Those who are watching for His coming will be gone before the day of His wrath.
Verse 6 says, "let us watch and be sober".
Verse 9 says "For God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ".
We are not to go through the time of wrath but will be delivered from it (see 1 Thessalonians 1 v 9), however God’s warning is that we need to be ready and waiting for the Lord’s return. Revelation 3 v 3 also warns us that "if thou shall not watch, I will come upon thee as a thief, and thou shall not know what hour I shall come upon thee". Matthew 24 v 42 tells us to "watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come". The Lord then gives us the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 v 1-12 and then repeats Himself in verse 13 with, "Watch therefore for you know not the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man cometh". It is clear from that parable that we are not supposed to be watching for the antichrist but rather for the Lord Jesus Christ. By watching we need to be constantly prepared and ready in case it is today He should come. First Jesus comes for His Bride then there is the wrath of God and finally Jesus is manifested with His Bride, or, as Colossians 3 v 4 puts it, "When the Christ is manifested who is our life, then shall you also be manifested with Him in glory”.
Jesus Christ come for His Bride, then comes on the day of His wrath and finally is manifested when He defeats the Beast. Each of these times He is not expected but comes as a thief in the night.
What about the resurrection? I heard it preached that there is only one resurrection, yet the bible clearly shows there is more than one. Revelation 20 v 5-13 tells us there is a resurrection before the thousand year reign of Christ and a resurrection of the rest of the dead after the thousand years on Judgment Day. This shows two resurrections however we know that there are more than two resurrections because a previous resurrection is the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The two resurrection quoted in Revelation are general resurrections that happen after the second coming of the Lord. The first being those who came to Christ during the reign of the Beast (those who came previous to this are not mentioned here), these are raised up to reign with Christ for a thousand years. The second resurrection is of the rest of the dead who are raised up to face judgment after the thousand years. The Bride is not mentioned because she is seen as being already raised with Christ and seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2 v 6). She is not spoken of as being ‘dead’ but only ‘asleep’ or ‘dead in Christ’. The tribulation saints are also seen standing before the throne of God before the wrath of God is poured out fully on the earth. There are also two witnesses who are raised to life by the Spirit of God (Revelation 11 v 11). Revelation chapter 19 shows that the Bride is already with Christ in the marriage supper and after when He returns to earth to pour out His wrath.
I believe we are now very close to the Lord’s return. It would only take some major global catastrophe to trigger off and escalate the rise to power of the New World Order and the One World Religion.
The rapture of the saints could be the one thing needed to escalate this New World Order, which gives its power to the antichrist and the false prophet.
The Rapture And The Last Trump
1 Corinthians 15 v 51-52 says, “Behold I tell you a mystery: We shall not all fall asleep, but we shall all be changed, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall all be changed”.
There are different theories about the last trump that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 15 v 52. This is when the church is caught up to meet the Lord in the air. It is the day of Redemption when our mortal bodies put on immortality. We are changed, no longer subject to the bondage our mortal bodies keep us under.
Having heard someone relate this to the seventh trumpet of judgment in Revelation and feeling sure that this is not the interpretation I started to prayerfully search scriptures asking the Lord to reveal it.
Every trumpet sound is significant. How many trumpets are blown and whether they are short blast, long blast or reverberate. All this is important when deciding what trumpet signifies what event.
There are two types of trumpet, the silver trumpets of the temple and the ram's horn (shofar trumpet)
There are also trumpets of priest, trumpets of angels and the trump of God.
We are here specifically interested in the Last Trump, which is the trump of God.
The seven trumpets of Revelation are judgment trumpets as in Joshua chapter 6. This is the announcing of judgment on the people of the land and the giving of the land to God's children, those who He has prepared, in order that they might reign in it.
The Last Trump
The context of the last trump of 1 Corinthians 15 v 52-58 is to do with redemption. The context of the trumpet sound in 1 Thessalonians 4 v 13-18 is also to do with redemption and the gathering of the people out of the camp to take them to their new home. It is not the trumpet of judgment.
The term "the last trump" does not mean that this is the last trumpet ever to be blown but rather the phrase is significant in itself to show that this trumpet sound marks the end of something.
It has always had military significance, W. E. Vine in his Expository Dictionary of Bible Words says that "The Last Trump is a military allusion, familiar to Greek readers, and has no connection with the series in Revelation 8 v 6 to 11 v 15; there is a possible allusion to Numbers 10 v 2-6, with reference to the same event, 1 Thessalonians 4 v 16, 'the (lit, a) trump of God' (the absence of the article suggests the meaning 'a trumpet such as is used in God's service')."
A trumpet used in God's service would be the priestly silver trumpet.
The term, 'the last post' is a trumpet sound that signifies the end of the day and calls service men and women into their barracks. It isn't the last one ever to be sounded as it is repeated the following night. It may also be played at a military persons funeral denoting his work on earth is ended and he has now entered his rest.
The phrase, the 'last trump', used in 1 Corinthians 15 v 52, is used to signify the sounding of the trumpet that will show the end of the church age and the signal to gather the bride together for her journey to the wedding supper.
Old Testament Types
So, as things in the Old Testament are a shadow of what is portrayed in the New Testament then let us look in the Old Testament for a heavenly trumpet sound from 'a trumpet used in God's service', which signifies a gathering to leave the camp.
Let us first turn to the scripture mentioned by Vine, Numbers 10. Starting at verse one we read, "And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Make thee two trumpets of silver; of beaten work shall thou make them; and they shall serve for the calling together of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. And when they shall blow with them, the whole assembly shall gather to thee at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And if they blow with one, then the princes, the heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather unto thee". Numbers 10 v 1-4.
When one is blown the heads of the people gather together and when the second one is blown then the whole assembly gathers for the journey. The first heavenly trumpet was blown when the law was given on mount Sinai.
The silver trumpets themselves are significant because silver, in the Bible, signifies redemption, therefore beaten silver is redemption paid for by suffering. The blowing of the second trumpet would relate to the day of Redemption when we are called to meet the Lord in the air ready for the journey out of the camp.
The seven feasts that God gave the Israelites all have a prophetic meaning; the first three have been accomplished by Christ death on the cross at Passover and his raising from the dead. The prophetic meaning of the last three feasts, it is believed, has still to be fulfilled. So it is possible that the Feast of Trumpets will be the day when the last trump is sounded in the heavens and we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air. I think that the Feast of Trumpets is more likely to be associated with the judgment trumpets of the wrath of God, however, as Margaret Metcalf says in her book "The Final Schedule Revealed", prophesy is like a spiral and not a straight line and it often repeats itself in more than one fulfillment. It is possible that both the rapture and judgment trumpets are fulfilled on the Feast of Trumpets.
The middle feast (fourth feast) is the Feast of Weeks or Feast of Pentecost as we know it. I believe this feast relates to the church and is very significant with the church age. It is at this feast that the church was born, that the church age started. It is also possible that it is at this feast the church age will end, that one day, on the Feast of Pentecost, the last trump shall sound to close the church age.
Why do I think it possible that the rapture could happen on this feast?
It is to do with firstfruits. God asks for the firstfruits of the harvest.
When Jesus returns to earth to reign He first reveals Himself to Israel and ‘all Israel’ are saved. This I believe is at the Day of Atonement when the Jews finally recognise that their messiah is Jesus, their sacrifice of atonement. The Day of Atonement comes at the end of the ten days of penitence which are commenced by the Feast of Trumpets. This ten days is representative of ten years consisting of Great Tribulation and the seven trumpets of the wrath of God. However before the Day of Atonement, when all Israel are saved, He receives the firstfruits who are the 144000 of Israel (Revelation 14 v 4).
These are Israelites (Revelation 7 v 3-8) who are undefiled with women, no lie is found in their mouth and they are blameless (Revelation 14 v 4-5).
Firstfruits are unblemished and perfect. God sealed these firstfruits to protect them from the time of His wrath. All men would be hurt during this time except those who were sealed by Him. They are firstfruits and must be kept from any blemish or bruising.
At the Feast of Firstfruits (Yom HaBikkurim), which follows Passover, the first ripe sheaf of barley is waved before the Lord. This is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ on the day He rose from the dead, presenting Himself before the Father. This is why He warned Mary not to touch Him when He rose from the dead (John 20 v 17) He had yet to present Himself to His Father.
Jesus is the firstfruits of those who are fallen asleep, He is the first to be raised up to eternal life. This is the Feast of Firstfruits.
The Feast of Weeks (also known as Pentecost, Feast of Harvest and the Latter Firstfruits) is the time when an offering of new grain of the summer wheat harvest is presented to the Lord. This is also a time of offering firstfruits to the Lord. This time there are two wave loafs presented before the Lord (Leviticus 23 v 16-17).
Jesus was the first firstfruit presented to the Lord on the day of His resurrection, now we have two wave offerings of the firstfruits at Pentecost (Feast of the Latter Firstfruits). Is this His Bride consisting of Jew and Gentile being presented before the Lord (Ephesians 5 v 27)? Possibly, or it could represent Jesus and His Bride.
All males must present themselves before God at three feasts, Unleavened Bread, Weeks (Pentecost) and Tabernacles. Jesus presented Himself before the Father at the feast of Unleavened Bread. The feast of Tabernacles is possibly when He presents the kingdoms of this world to the Father (Zechariah 14 v 16, 1 Corinthians 15 v 24). That leaves the feast of weeks which I think will be when He presents His Bride to the Father.
So it is possible that Pentecost is the rapture of the Bride the firstfruits of the Church (the rest will go through the great tribulation. See Matthew 25 v 1-13, Revelation 7 v 9-14).
The Bride is glorious, having made herself ready, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, holy and blameless when she is presented before the Lord (Ephesians 5 v 27-28, Revelation 19 v 7).
The Feast of Trumpets following the Feast of Weeks marks the start of the Great tribulation and wrath of God, the ten years of penitence or repentance before Christ returns to the earth. The Day of Atonement marks the second coming of the Lord when He reveals Himself to Israel. The final feast, the Feast of Booths, remembers how God kept the Children of Israel in the wilderness, but it is also a time of the final harvest when all nations will share in the joy and blessings of God’s kingdom.
The First and Last Trump of God
The first trump of God was sounded at the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) when the law was given. In Exodus 19 we have the instructions that God gave to Moses concerning this first trumpet sound of God. When the trumpet sounded the people had to gather at the mountain, however they were not allowed to go up the mountain to God, only Moses and Aaron the leaders of the people were allowed to go up to God, and afterwards in chapter 24 God tells Moses to bring the other leaders plus seventy elders up to see God but only Moses could go up the mountain to God.
So here we have the first trumpet sound, which, we read in Numbers 10 v 4, is for the heads of the thousands of Israel to meet with Moses. When the second trumpet sounds then all the people will be called to move out. This I believe is the last trump of 1 Corinthians 15.
The Two Beasts
The Beast From The Sea and
The Beast From the Earth
In Revelation chapter 13 we read of two beasts, one from the sea and the other from the earth.
The Beast from the Sea
The first Beast, which comes out of the sea, is the same Beast found in Revelation chapter 17. Here we read that this Beast has seven heads and ten horns. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits (the woman represents false religion). The heads also represent seven kings, five are fallen one is (at the time of John's writing) and one is yet to come. These then are seven kingdoms or political powers.
The five that are fallen are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Media-Persian and Greece.
The one that existed at the time of John was the Roman Empire.
All these world rulers have had an affect on the Jewish nation and the Middle East so the one to come will also have an affect on Israel and the Middle East.
At this stage, six have reigned but one is yet to come. Some would see the seven mountains as symbolizing Rome and the Roman Catholic Church being the woman who rides the Beast. This is possible but John is told that five are fallen, one is and one is yet to come. If this theory were correct then ‘the one that is’, would be Nero yet before him there were four emperors not five. The woman is actually Mystery Babylon The Great (I would certainly see this as inclusive of the Roman Catholic Church) who sits on peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues (V 15). Always through time there has been a mysterious religious order behind the power of the secular nations that have ruled.
Who is the 'one that is yet to come'?
This seventh or final ruling power before Christ returns is different than all that have gone before it. The earth is divided into ten regions ruled by ten leaders with one main leader who these ten give their allegiance to, however he will only remain a little while (Revelation 17 v 10) before another Beast takes over.
Revelation 17 v 11 tells us that this new Beast himself is an eighth but is of the seven heads.
The ten horns are ten kings (v 12) who receive authority with the Beast for one hour before the return of the Lord (These ten appointed leaders represent the One World Order or Globalization).
Before we show exactly who this Beast is who has taken over the confederacy of nations, which has been divided into ten regions, let us see what Daniel has to say about this final empire.
Daniel has had a vision of four beasts but it is this last one that gets his attention. This is representing the final global power (Daniel 7 v 23).
Daniel 7 v 7 says, "After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and exceeding strong; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the rest with its feet; and it was different from all the beast that were before it; and it had ten horns."
These ten horns represent the ten kings (Daniel 7 v 24).
This beast is ruthless and his hatred is fixed on Israel.
At this time it does not include this Beast who is the eighth but of the seven.
Then another little horn rises up and subdues three kings. This little horn speaks great and boastful things and his look is more imposing than the others (v 20). In fact this new horn is different from the others and he shall speak words against the Most High and His saints. His reign shall last three and a half years (v 25).
The picture we have here is that the final ruling empire which is dreadful and terrible consisting of ten kings is suddenly taken over by someone else who is more imposing than the ten. He subdues three of the kings in order to establish himself in charge of the confederacy.
In Revelation 17 v 8 we are told who this person is. He is the Beast who shall ascend out of the bottomless pit (abyss).
In Revelation chapter 9 we are told that the bottomless pit is opened and the king or angel of the bottomless pit is released, his name is Abaddon in Hebrew or Apollyon in Greek (meaning destruction or destroyer). He is also the Beast that kills the two witnesses of the Lord (Revelation 11 v 7).
So the power of antichrist starts off with a man from the earth but finishes up as an angel from the bottomless pit. When the angel of the bottomless pit takes over he rules for forty and two months (Revelation 13 v 5), i.e., three and a half years.
Before Abaddon takes control, the confederacy of nations (the seventh head of the beast) has already been established over the whole earth. The earth has been divided into ten regions with a king or leader over each region. When he comes he ruthlessly takes it over subduing three kings. In the book of Revelation chapter 13 v 3 we see that one of the heads was wounded to death (the confederacy of nations is that head) but now its wound is healed and the entire world wonder after the beast. It is healed because Abaddon has established himself as the new leader, and is using this position to act as he will.
In 2 Thessalonians 2 v 3 we read that the 'man of sin' (son of destruction) will be revealed before the day of the Lord is present. The day of the Lord is the day of God's wrath. It is during the time of God's wrath that the Beast is revealed.
There are some similarities between the 'man of sin' and the Beast of Revelation 13 v 1-10, and Revelation 17 v 8, are these then the same person?
The man of sin is also called the son of destruction (2 Thessalonians 2 v 3). The name of the angel Abaddon means destruction. So it is actually seen as a father and son relationship.
The man of sin has ruthlessly established the New World Order of ten regions run by ten “kings”, however his reign does not last long. It may be that he has gone off the scene before the Beast who is called Abaddon or Destruction is revealed and takes over or it may be that the Beast removes the man of sin in order to reign in his stead.
There are similarities also between the Beast and the little horn in Daniel 7 v 8,11 who has a mouth uttering great boast. Verse 20 tells us he is larger in appearance than his associates. He is finally slain and given to the burning fire.
2 Thessalonians 2 v 8 says "Then the lawless one will be revealed", Zondervan's notes on this verse say that it "evidently refers to some supernatural aspect of his appearing".
When the lawless one makes his supernatural appearance he takes over and revives the New World Order of ten regions that was established by the ‘dreadful and terrible’ fourth beast of Daniel 7 v 7. He then, as leader, sits in the temple of God.
Many will be deceived and believe that this is the messiah who is now taking his rightful place on his throne in the temple of God.
The Beast from the Earth
The second beast of Revelation 13 v 11-18 is of the earth (a man), he is like a lamb but speaks as a dragon. I see him as the false prophet backed up by the religious system of Revelation 17 who rides on the first Beast.
He makes an image to the Beast from the sea and causes everyone to worship it. He makes sure no one can buy or sell unless they have the mark of the Beast.
Last Days Time Line
In the book of Leviticus chapter 23 v 23-28 we read, "The Lord said to Moses, say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the Lord by fire.' The Lord said to Moses, 'The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. Do no work on that day because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God.'"
On the first day of the seventh month (Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShanah) the trumpets were sounded to call the people to a Sabbath rest, ten days later is Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement.
To the Jews, Yom Kippur is the day when they expect the Messiah to return. The ten days from Rosh HaShanah to Yom Kippur are seen as days of penitence for cleansing from sin. These days are seen by some as representing a period of ten years from the start of the great tribulation to the return of Jesus Christ to reign. They are the last chance to get right with God through Jesus Christ.
The sequence of events on earth begins with the great tribulation period followed by the wrath of God which culminates with the battle of Armageddon when Jesus is manifested.
Before the great tribulation period Jesus comes for His bride. After this the Church stands before the judgment seat of Christ and receives her rewards (or loss as the case may be). After this is the marriage supper of the Lamb of God (Jesus) and His bride, this lasts seven years and coincides with the period of the wrath of God on earth. At the end of this seven year period the bride is manifested with the Lord at His return.
We get an interesting view of the time line in Matthew chapter 25. It begins with Jesus coming for His Church (verses 1-13), and then is the judging of the Church (14-30), and finally we see His coming in glory to judge the nations (31-46). Here in Matthew 25 we see distinctly the two different returns of our Lord, one for His Church and the other in glory to judge the nations.
So what events will take place on earth in these last ten years?
The bible warns us about three beasts that will arrive in the last days. The book of Daniel tells us about the first beast of the last days. It is actually the fourth beast of Daniel’s vision but he is told it is the last great power. This beast is dreadful and terrible, and exceeding strong. If the Lord didn’t cut his time short (the great tribulation period) then no flesh would be left alive. The great tribulation period is also known as the time of Jacob’s trouble. In other words it is a period when the house of Israel is persecuted more wickedly than at any other time in their history.
This beast, which we will call beast 1, will divide the earth into ten regions and put a king or ruler over each region. However, Daniel goes on to say that out of this structure another powerful person rises up. Daniel calls him a “little horn”, he is initially of no significance but suddenly he takes over. We will call this person, beast 2. Three of the kings oppose him but he soon subdues them and finally all give their allegiance to him. Beast 2 makes war with the saints and prevails over them until the Ancient of days comes and the saints posses the kingdom (Daniel 7 v 19-22). This beast then will reign right at the end just before Jesus returns. He will reign for a time and times and a half time (Daniel 7 v 25) which is three and a half years (Revelation 12 v 6-14). This beast 2 is the beast in Revelation 13 v 1-5, who comes out of the bottomless pit and reigns on the earth for three and a half years until Jesus returns at the battle of Armageddon and takes him, casting him, along with the false prophet, into the lake of fire and brimstone. Beast 2 is also the Wicked one that Paul talks about in 2 Thessalonians 2 v 8 who the Lord deals with when He returns to reign.
So, beast 2 will appear in the last three and a half years of the time line.
At the same time as beast 2 there is another beast (beast 3), this beast is religious. He is the false prophet. He causes everyone to submit to beast 2, making them take the mark of the beast. He makes an image to beast 2 for everyone to worship.
To summarise, at the beginning of ten years we have the tribulation period when beast 1 rules. This is followed by seven years of God’s wrath, the last three and a half years being when beast 2 and 3 are revealed and reign.
Let us not forget of course that before the tribulation period the bride was taken to be with the Lord.
Now let us look in more detail at the events on earth during these last ten years.
The Great Tribulation followed by the Wrath of God
The Great Tribulation is the time when the whole earth is devoured and crushed under the fourth beast (beast 1) of Daniel chapter 7 v 23. However it is specifically a time of trouble for Israel and the saints of the most High God.
Jesus said that "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of the heavens will be shaken --". (Matthew 24 v 29)
The tribulation will be a time of conquest, war, famine pestilence and death, these all happen at the opening of the first five seals by the Lamb of God (Revelation 6 v 1-8).
At the opening of the sixth seal we read that there was "a great earthquake and the sun became black as sackcloth and the whole moon became like blood, and stars of heaven fell upon the earth, -----, and they say to the mountains and to the rocks, fall on us and have us hidden from the face of Him that sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; because the great day of His wrath is come and who is able to stand". This is in accordance with Matthew 24 v 29 that is said to be immediately after the tribulation.
So here we find that after the tribulation period comes the wrath of God and of the Lamb.
The first thing that God does is have a seal placed on the remnant 144000 of Israel to protect them (Revelation 7 v 1-8).
The next is that John sees a great multitude before the throne of God worshipping God and the Lamb. He is told that these are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation (once more showing that the tribulation has already happened before the coming of the wrath of God).
We see here that there will be many saints who have come through the great tribulation. This is the second gathering of saints the first gathering being the Bride of Christ.
God is still gracious even during this time of trouble and wrath and says that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Joel 2 v 31-32).
We must not forget also the gathering of the 144000 later on, and the resurrection of those who go through the time where the Wicked one (2 Thessalonians 2 v 8), who is the beast of Revelation 13, reigns. So that makes four gathering of saints. Then there is also the gathering of the Jews as they recognise Jesus as their Messiah. These are also called saints.
At the opening of the seventh seal, after the silence in heaven, there are seven angels before the throne who are given seven trumpets to sound. These angels blow their trumpets one at a time. We do know that from the blowing of the fifth trumpet to the blowing of the seventh trumpet is a time span of forty-two months or three and a half years (Revelation 9 v 1-11, 13 v 5, 17 v 8). The fifth trumpet is the signal for the beast (beast 2) to come out of the abyss and bring terror on the earth. The seventh trumpet heralds the coming of the Lord Jesus to reign on the earth.
Before the fifth trumpet of course, there are four other trumpets that must be sounded.
Also before the fifth trumpet there is a battle in heaven. Michael and his angels fight against the dragon (Satan) and his angels. The dragon and his angels are cast out of heaven onto the earth. Here he tries to devour the Jewish nation but the earth protects them and they are put in a desert place for protection for 1260 days (three and a half years) (Revelation 12 v 6,14). The dragon then turns his attention to the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 12 v 17) and also gives his power to the beast that rises out of the sea (the abyss) (Revelation 13 v 2).
An interesting thing is that the dragon has seven heads, ten horns and seven crowns. This is similar to the beast except that the dragon has seven crowns not ten. I think this shows that he was the power behind the confederacy of nations, which is the fourth beast (beast 1) of Daniel chapter 7 even before the beast from the abyss took over. When the beast from the abyss takes over then the dragon gives him his power and throne and great authority (Revelation 13 v 2).
But let us not race to quickly ahead of ourselves and forget about the first four trumpets. We are not told what time this period covers but if the wrath of God covers the period of the marriage supper which it appears to do (Revelation 19 v 6-21) and the marriage feast takes seven days (Genesis 29 v 27) representing seven years then we can assume that these first four trumpets cover a time span of three and a half years the same as the last three trumpets.
The first trumpet brings hail and fire mixed with blood, and a third of the earth, trees and green grass is burnt up.
The second trumpet sounds and a great mountain burning with fire is cast into the sea, a third of which became blood, a third of sea creatures died and a third of the ships in the sea were destroyed.
The third trumpet sounds and a star falls from heaven and causes a third of the waters to become toxic and many men died from the waters.
The fourth trumpet sounds and a third of the sun, moon and stars are darkened so that they do not give off their light.
The fifth trumpet sounds and the bottomless pit (abyss) is opened. Smoke comes out like the smoke of a great furnace and darkens the sun and air. Out of the smoke came locusts with power of scorpions, which are released on the earth to attack all men who haven't the seal of God on their foreheads and torment them for five months. They are not allowed to kill men only to torment them. In these days men will long to die and escape all the terrible things that are happening. These locusts have a king over them who is the angel of the bottomless pit whose name is Abaddon and who takes over the confederacy of ten nations (beast 2).
The sixth trumpet sounds and a mighty army from the East (the Far East) comes to make war and kills a third of mankind with fire, smoke and brimstone. The beast gathers all the armies of the earth together to meet this mighty army at a place called Armageddon (Revelation 16 v 13-16).
The seventh trumpet signals the return of Jesus Christ to reign over the kingdoms of this world.
During the reign of the antichrist (the beast) there are two witnesses from God, these come on the scene at the time the beast is released from the abyss (Revelation 9 v 12, 11 v 14) they witness against the beast for 1260 days (three and a half years), then they are killed by the beast but after three and a half days the Lord raises them back to life, He is then manifested to the people on the earth at the sound of the seventh trumpet.
At the same time that the two witnesses are brought back to life there is a great earthquake and a tenth of the city fell killing seven thousand people.
Going back to the time when the false prophet brought in the mark of the beast where no one could buy or sell unless they had the mark on their forehead or right hand, we find the Lamb of God standing on mount Zion with the 144000 children of Israel that He has purchased from the earth (Revelation 14 v 1-5). These are the first fruits of ‘all Israel’. Immediately after this we find them before the throne in heaven (Revelation 14 v 1-5).
After this an angel flies in mid heaven with the eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people (Revelation 14 v 6, Matthew 24 v 14). Then another angel warns that if anyone receives the mark of the Beast he must sup the wrath of God in its full strength and then be tormented with fire and brimstone.
Revelation chapter 15 tells us the outcome of the saints that are martyred by the beast for refusing to take his mark and worship him. They now stand on a sea of glass mingled with fire. They have the harps of God and sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.
It is interesting to note that the Bride is seated in His throne, the tribulation saints stand before His throne with palms in their hands, the martyred saints stand on the sea of glass with harps of God, and the 144000 are before the throne singing a new song (heaven is God’s throne while the earth is His footstool).
Now that these saints are finally safe, the fullness of the wrath of God can be poured out on the earth.
Seven Bowls of Wrath
Revelation 16 tells of the seven bowls of wrath, which are very similar to the things that happen when the seven trumpets are blown. These seven bowls of wrath are more intense than the seven trumpets. It can be seen that they start after the fifth trumpet because the first bowl is poured out upon those who have received the mark of the beast. However it is not poured out until after the saints who have refused the mark of the beast have been martyred. The fourth bowl of wrath is poured on the sun to cause it to give off great heat and burn those left on the earth. This seems to coincide with when the Lord reveals himself to all Israel that are left. Isaiah 30 v 26 says that the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold when the Lord binds up the breach of His people and heals the wound of their stroke. This reminds us of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who Nebuchadnezzar had thrown into the fiery furnace which was heated up seven times more than necessary. However instead of burning up like the guards who threw them in, the flames did not touch them and one like the Son of God was seen in their midst (Daniel, like the Church was missing at this time). The sixth bowl of wrath seems to coincide with the sixth trumpet as the great river Euphrates is dried up in order to prepare the way of the kings from the East who will kill a third of men at the sounding of the sixth trumpet.
Revelation chapter 17 tells of the doom and fall of Mystery Babylon. Mystery Babylon represents the secret religious order controlling the great powers of the earth. It can also be seen that the beast and ten kings turn on the harlot church at this time. The beast and ten kings are finally overcome by Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 17 v 14, 19 v 16). Who are with the Lord at this time? Revelation 17 v 14 tells us, “Those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful”. These are the ones we read about in Matthew chapter 22 v 14, “Many are called but few are chosen”. These are the saints that Zechariah 14 v 5 tells us will come with the Lord, and Colossians 3 v 4 tells us that they will be manifested with Him when He is manifested. He has already come for the saints at the rapture, now they are with Him when He defeats the beast and his armies.
Revelation chapter 18 tells of the fall of that great city Babylon. Some would see this as representing the Vatican City; others would see it as the actual city of Babylon while others see it as representing the pride and arrogance of man. Where Jerusalem represents the heavenly city, Babylon represents the highest level of an earthly city. Babel was the ancient name for the city of Babylon. In the ‘Concise Bible Dictionary’ by Don Fleming it says that “the early settlers around Babel found that by combining their abilities and man power they could achieve progress; but with their progress came an attitude of arrogant self sufficiency. They considered themselves socially and technically more advanced than their neighbours, and as a symbol of their achievements they erected a towering structure in the town.” God came down, confused their language and scattered them. God will one day come down again and punish mans efforts to make himself as God.
Revelation 19 v 7-21 gives an overview of the marriage of the Lamb to His Bride and the coming of Jesus to bring the wrath of God on the earth. Finally there is the great gathering of the armies of the world who have been brought together and join forces to make war against the Lord Jesus Christ.
The beast and the false prophet are taken and cast into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.
The Thousand Years
The dragon, Satan, is bound in chains and cast into the bottomless pit for a thousand years. The thousand years is the Millennium reign of Jesus Christ and His Church over the earth. At the end of the thousand years, Satan is then released for a short time to deceive the nations once more and cause them to encompass the camp of the saints, but fire comes down from God out of heaven and devours them. Satan is then thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone where the Beast and false prophet are, where he shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.
After this is judgment day, if anyone’s name is not found in the book of life they are also cast into the lake of fire.
Finally there is the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride for her husband.
The Spirit and the Bride say, “come”.
Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus.
Will there be a revival before the Lord returns?
I don’t believe we have time for a major revival before the coming of the Lord for His Bride.
Paul wrote to Timothy that “in the last days men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid such men as these” (2 Timothy 3 v 1-5).
Every year this list becomes more apparent in the world we live.
In 1 Timothy 4 v 1 Paul writes that in the last days some shall depart from the faith.
Jesus Himself asks, “When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18 v 8).
In Matthew 25 v 1-13 Jesus shows that when the Bridegroom is about to return the whole church will be weary from waiting for His return and will fall asleep. It is only when the cry goes forth, “Behold, the Bridegroom; go forth to meet Him” that there is a revival. How long is it from the cry going forth, till the rapture? I don’t know, it is possibly the ten days from the time of Christ ascension until Pentecost, but it is not long enough for the whole church to get ready, just the Bride. It is then that she shines forth and everyone else notices her, wanting to share what she has, but it is too late for others to get ready, only the Bride shall be ready. Why is only the Bride ready when she was sleeping just like all the others? Well of course she was prepared by having her vessel full of oil, but also a most beautiful description of the bride of Christ is found in the Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon Chapter 5 v 2, “I slept, but my heart was awake”.
Peter wrote that in the light of all this “what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3 v 11-12).
We need to be people of faith, faith that is expressed by trust.
The ‘eagles’ are those who are led by the Spirit of God, the ones whose path is directed by the Spirit. These are the ones who trust in the Lord and acknowledge Him in all their ways (Proverbs 3 v 5-6).
As we see the day approaching we need to prepare ourselves for what is about to happen by praying that the Lord will keep us from falling into temptation and that we might be found worthy to escape all that is about to come upon the earth.
The New World order
Does anything else need to happen? Well when the antichrist takes over his reign shall cover most of the world so there needs to be a New World Order where the world is, in general, working together. We are now seeing a big push for Globalization.
We are told that the antichrist will sit in the temple of God. This could mean that he sets himself as the head of the church (the church being the temple of God), but it also could mean that he sits in the actual temple in Jerusalem. Which means, of course, that the temple needs to be built first, this could happen in the last ten years before Christ comes to reign. Jesus Christ quoted from the book of Daniel concerning the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy place. This had actually happened two hundred years before Christ but here Jesus shows that there will be a repeat of that wicked act (another of those prophecies with more than one fulfilment). This is a warning to the Jews which first needs the temple to be rebuilt.
Ezekiel prophesied against the land of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel chapters 38-39), which it is believed to be the land of Russia. They shall come down from the north to attack the land of Israel. However they shall not prosper but shall be defeated on the mountains of Israel.
There is also a reference to Gog and Magog in Revelation 20 v 8-9. This is after the thousand year reign when the devil is allowed to deceive them once more and cause them to attack the camp of the saints and the beloved city, however fire came down out of heaven and devoured them.
These two references to Gog and Magog could be the same battle, but because prophecy often repeats itself then it is possible that it could also happen sometime before the thousand years begin. If this is right then I imagine that America would have been removed off the scene first perhaps by a major natural disaster or terrorist attack. If America represents Babylon as the highest level of mans achievement, then is chapter 18 looking at the destruction of America? Chapter 19 shows the Bride in heaven, could the rapture happen at the time of the fall of America. When the voice from heaven says, “come out of her my people” (ch 18 v 4) is it a call out of the earthly structure into the rapture?
The Earth will groan in travail
The earth will go through a time of groaning and travail as does a woman with child. As it gets closer to the appearing of the child the intensity and frequency of the birth pains will increase. So too as it gets closer to the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ then there will be an increase in famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. There will be much perplexity at the roaring of the sea (1 Thessalonians 5 v 3, Romans 8 v 19-22, Luke 21 v 25).
What we must do right now is to watch and be ready because the time is at hand and the Lord is coming quickly.
When will Jesus return for His Church? That is the big question on most peoples minds who are interested in the subject of Christ’s second coming.
We do not know the day nor the hour but there are many indications in the world today that show us we are in the last days.
In the past, students of this subject have sometimes given dates, those dates have come and gone, they were wrong. However the big danger is not that we expect Jesus to return within the next year but rather believing it is not immediate therefore it doesn’t demand thinking about. Eat, drink and be merry for Jesus isn’t coming back in our lifetime, and if He does it is many years in the future so forget it.
I believe His return is so close that we must be ready now. This time next year could be too late to get ready. Every year from now on, that should be our attitude.
following diagram and legend are produced to show the possible sequence of
events in the last ten years leading up to the return of Jesus Christ to reign
on this earth. The
exact sequence of events will only be known as they happen. This diagram
is given so that we may be able to watch and see what transpires at the
time. I pray that most of us will be caught up in the rapture previous to
these events and therefore will not need a guideline to help us to get through
the tribulation and wrath of God. Diagram
To Time Line For The Last Ten Years Before Christ Reign
Diagram and Legend
The following diagram and legend are produced to show the possible sequence of events in the last ten years leading up to the return of Jesus Christ to reign on this earth.
The exact sequence of events will only be known as they happen. This diagram is given so that we may be able to watch and see what transpires at the time. I pray that most of us will be caught up in the rapture previous to these events and therefore will not need a guideline to help us to get through the tribulation and wrath of God.
Diagram To Time Line For The Last Ten Years Before Christ Reign
Legend to Diagram