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Sermon No: 18947-Overview of Book of Revelation - Part 1 of 3



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SERMON TOPIC: Overview of Book of Revelation - Part 1 of 3

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 7 May 2017

Topic Groups: REVELATION, PROPHECY, BOOK STUDY

Sermon synopsis: Rev 1:1-3 The revelation * from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, ** because the time is near. ***

* The book is also known as the Apocalypse (Koine Greek meaning “an uncovering”) of John. “If God did not wish us to understand the book of Revelation, He would not have given it to us at all.” - (D.L. Moody)

** Some shy away from this book, but it is the only book in the Bible to promise a blessing to those who read it.

*** “The time is near” – used by Preterists to support their argument of a 1st-century fulfilment. But this is time from God’s perspective. (2 Pet 3:3-9)
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The Book of Revelation

PART 1a

Some people feel that we shouldn’t pay too much attention to doctrines like the Second Coming because it is too controversial or divisive. So we shouldn’t attempt to correct doctrinal errors in this regard.

If this approach is correct, one might wonder why Paul wrote the 2 epistles to the Thessalonians primarily to correct false doctrine on the Second Coming. Why not just let it go for the sake of unity?

We know from Acts 17:1-2 that Paul’s stay in Thessalonica was only 3 to 4 weeks. 2 Thess 2:1-5 indicates that in this short period Paul had taken the time to teach them about the Second Coming and about the antichrist. Clearly Paul was not of the opinion that this was an unimportant doctrinal side-issue.

IMPORTANCE: 2nd COMING

According to “The Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy” by J. Barton Payne, there are 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament for a total of 1,817. These prophecies are contained in 8,352 of the Bible’s verses. Since there are 31,124 verses in the Bible, the 8,352 verses that contain prophecy constitute 26.8 percent of the Bible’s volume.

There are 15 books dedicated to prophecy in the OT and 3 in the NT (1 & 2 Thess, Rev), besides the Olivet discourse and many parables in the gospels about the 2nd coming. This constitutes 27% of the 66 books.

If prophecy is unimportant, why did God dedicate a 3rd of the Bible to it?

While most Christians believe in the future return of Jesus, there are several areas which are hot items of debate. These include:

The timing of Bible prophecy

Preterist, Historicist, Futurist

The timing of the Millennium

Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, Premillennialism

The timing of the Rapture

Post-Tribulation, Mid-Tribulation, Pretribulation

DIFFERENT VIEWS

Preterism

Fulfilled before 70 AD

Futurism

Historicism

70 AD

70 AD

70 AD

PRESENT

PRESENT

PRESENT

Fulfilled across history

To be fulfilled

TIMING OF PROPHECY

Charles Taze Russell, first president of the Watchtower Society (i.e. Jehovah’s Witnesses), predicted Armageddon for 1914. After 1914 passed uneventfully, Russell revised his dates stating that the end would not

DATE SETTING

be later than 1918. The end came, but only for Russell – he died in 1916.

‘Judge’ Rutherford succeeded Russell as president and in 1920 he predicted that post-Armageddon reconstruction would begin in 1925.

The Adventists also have failed prophecies about the date of Jesus’ return. William Miller prophesied that Jesus would return to the earth during the year 1844. A more specific date, 22 Oct 1844, was preached by Samuel S. Snow. Although thousands of followers, some of whom had given away all of their possessions, awaited expectantly, Jesus did not appear as expected on the appointed day and as a result 22 Oct 1844 became known as ‘the Great Disappointment’. Both Millerite leaders and followers were left generally bewildered and disillusioned. 1

1 Wapedia - Wiki: Great Disappointment

William Miller (1782–1849)

DATE SETTING

Only recently 89-year-old Californian preacher Harold Camping prophesied that the Rapture would be on the 21st May 2011. Some of his followers reportedly sold all their possessions and took to the streets to warn people.

Camping had previously predicted judgment days on 21 May 1988, and 7 September 1994. His 2011 prediction was widely reported and after 21 May passed without incident, Camping said he believed that a ‘spiritual’ judgment had occurred on that date, and that the physical Rapture would occur on 21 October 2011, simultaneously with the destruction of the universe by God. 1

1 SOURCE: Wikipedia - Harold Camping

DATE SETTING

Harold Camping (1921-2013)

Before Jesus ascended into heaven his disciples asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

Jesus replied “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7)

Jesus told many parables regarding the return of a master who had gone away. In all cases the master returns unexpectedly.

In the parable of the faithful and wise servant Jesus says, “The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.” (Matt 24:50)

DATES & TIMES

Jesus makes it clear that his analogy about “the thief” was to emphasize his unknown and unexpected date of return:

Matt 24:43-44 “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

A thief does not announce the time of his coming, but instead comes when he is least expected. Peter tells us that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief”. (2 Pet 3:10)

A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

Paul also makes it clear that the thief analogy of Jesus indicates that we cannot date-set his return:

1 Thess 5:1-2 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

Q: WHEN IS JESUS COMING?

A: No-one knows

Matt 24:36 No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

2nd Advent

7-year Tribulation

PRESENT AGE

AGE TO COME

Rapture

AN UNKNOWN DAY

END OF THE AGE

PRE-TRIB PREMILLENNIAL

New heaven & earth

END OF THE WORLD

1000 year Millennium

Hermeneutics is defined in one dictionary as “the art of finding the meaning of an author’s words and phrases, and of explaining it to others.” When applied to Scripture, accurate hermeneutics would require the scholar to:

Always look at the context of the passage and the theme of the book. Many heretical doctrines violate this rule by taking single verses ‘out of context’.

Don’t formulate doctrine on single verses. Confirm an interpretation with 2 or 3 similar passages (i.e. 2 or 3 witnesses).

Look up the actual meaning of each word (especially keywords) in the original languages.

Note the verb tenses, the cases, and other grammatical determinants.

HERMENEUTICS

Check out cross-references to see how the keywords are used in other contexts.

Authorial intent - no reader has the right to impose his own ideas on the text. The true meaning is what the author himself intended.

Learn the cultural setting of the passage. - Determine what the original readers understood it to mean.

Literal interpretation - the meaning of a passage is the sense evident to any reader who allows the words their ordinary meanings and who expects the grammar and syntax to shape and combine these meanings in a normal fashion.

HERMENEUTICS

If the literal sense - makes sense, seek no other sense.

Don’t spiritualize or allegorize a passage in an attempt to solve some theological difficulty it presents you. If the Bible and your doctrine clash, change your doctrine, not the meaning of the text.

It’s true that the literal meaning of the text will not always be the only meaning. There may be a secondary meaning (especially with types in the OT and antitypes in the NT). At times a passage may have a deeper application, however:

The literal sense remains valid and the primary sense.

The secondary sense cannot contradict the primary sense (as Amillennialists attempt to do with Rev 20).

HERMENEUTICS

We will make reference at time to Irenaeus and Hippolytus. They are very important early Christians especially when looking at the writings of John (c. 6-100 AD).

Polycarp (69-155 AD) of Smyrna was a disciple of John.

In the 2nd century, Irenaeus (130-202 AD) was a follower of Polycarp (2nd generation disciple of John).

In the 2nd/ 3rd century Hippolytus (170-235 AD) was a follower of Irenaeus (3rd generation disciple of John).

EARLY FATHERS

Rev 1:1 The revelation * from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, ** because the time is near. ***

* The book is also known as the Apocalypse (Koine Greek meaning “an uncovering”) of John.

“If God did not wish us to understand the book of Revelation, He would not have given it to us at all.” - (D.L. Moody)

** Some shy away from this book, but it is the only book in the Bible to promise a blessing to those who read it.

CHAPTER 1

*** “The time is near” – used by Preterists to support their argument of a 1st century fulfilment. But this is time from God’s perspective .

2 Pet 3:3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”… 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

CHAPTER 1

Rev 1:4 John,* To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits ** before his throne,

* Author was the apostle John, son of Zebedee and the brother of James. Both brothers belonged to the Twelve and, with Peter, were also part of the inner circle of three closest disciples. But John was Jesus’ closest friend and known as “the disciple Jesus loved” (John 21:20-24).

** or sevenfold Spirit - Isaiah 11:2 could possibly explain the sevenfold spirit of God: it says, “The (1) Spirit of the LORD will rest on him — the (2) Spirit of wisdom (3) and of understanding, the (4) Spirit of counsel (5) and of power, (6) the Spirit of knowledge (7) and of the fear of the LORD.” Others believe that this refers to “the seven angels who stand before God” (Rev 8:2).

CHAPTER 1

Rev 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. 7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” 9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos ** because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day * I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

* i.e. Sunday, the first day of the week

CHAPTER 1

** Where was it written? On the island of Patmos, a Roman penal colony.

At the close of the 1st century, the Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96), demanded to be worshiped. He signed documents “dominus et deus” (Lord and God), and required people to address him similarly.

Under his reign, Tertullian (2nd/ 3rd C) says “the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile!” (The Prescription Against Heretics).

Victorinus (3rd C): “John … was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the labour of the mines by Caesar Domitian.”2 (Commentary on the Apocalypse, XI)

THE BACKGROUND

When was it written? Mid-90’s of the 1st century. Irenaeus says that John wrote the Revelation “towards the end of Domitian’s reign” 2 (81-96 AD), which was long after Nero’s (54-68 AD) reign [deathblow for Preterism].

Domitian was murdered in Sept 96 AD, in a plot organized by his enemies in the Senate. John was probably liberated in an amnesty by Nerva, Domitian’s successor. [Cassius Dio wrote, (Emperor) Nerva also released all who were on trial for maiestas (high treason) and restored the exile (Cary 1995:361).]

John spent the balance of his life in Ephesus, where he wrote his gospel and three epistles.

CHAPTER 1

Rev 1:12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, * dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.**

* Terminology from Daniel describing the pre-incarnated Christ in heaven. Daniel 7:13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.”

** The glorified Jesus (remember Paul on the road to Damascus)

CHAPTER 1

Rev 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. * 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. ** 19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

* A title used of God (Isa 44:6) – this is Jesus’ claim to divinity: you cannot have 2 Firsts and Lasts.

** Jesus took these keys when he rose from the dead and led the OT saints from Paradise into heaven. Before this paradise was located in Hades (Luke 16).

CHAPTER 1

Rev 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels * of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. **

* literally “messenger”, not necessarily a heavenly messenger. In English we borrowed the Greek word “ (ang'-el-os”) and transliterated it as “angel”.

Strongs: ang'-el-os used 176 times in the NT (usually of heavenly angels), but only the context determines whether a human or celestial messenger is intended. For example, ággelos in Rev 1:20 can refer to heavenly angels or key leaders (perhaps pastors) of the seven churches.

CHAPTER 1

** The 7 churches addressed by John were 7 churches in the Roman province of Asia (now Turkey).

CHURCH

PRAISE

REBUKE

1

Ephesus

Hard work, perseverance, doctrinally sound

Lost first love

2

Smyrna

Persecuted, materially poor but spiritually rich

3

Pergamum

Lived where Satan had his throne but remained true to Jesus’ name

Intermingling with false religion

4

Thyatira

Love, faith, service and perseverance. Some did not hold to Satan’s “deep secrets” doctrinally

Some tolerated pagan corruption & influence

5

Sardis

A few people who had not “soiled their clothes”

Reputation of being alive, but were dead

6

Philadelphia

Little strength, yet they kept Jesus’ word and did not deny his name

7

Laodicea

Lukewarm, materially rich but spiritually poor

THE 7 CHURCHES

No

CHURCH

+/ - PERIOD

CHURCH AGE

1

Ephesus

AD 30 – 100

Apostolic Church

2

Smyrna

AD 100 – 300

Persecuted Church

3

Pergamum

AD 300 – 600

State Church (Constantine)

4

Thyatira

AD 600 – 1500

Papal Church (Roman Catholic)

5

Sardis

AD 1500 – 1700

Reformation Church (Protestant)

6

Philadelphia

AD 1700 – 1900

Missionary Church

7

Laodicea

AD 1900 –

Apostate Church

While these were 7 literal churches and typical of churches at any point in time, they are also typical of the 7 periods of Church history.

THE 7 CHURCH AGES

Rev 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. * 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.** 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

* - similar to the modern Latter Rain heresy regarding the leading of the end-time church by apostles and prophets.

** Doctrinally sound (founded by Paul, pastored by Timothy and John) church, but later lost first love!

THE 7 CHURCHES

Rev 2:6 But you have this in your favour: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, * which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

* Some have speculated that they were a heretical sect whose name means “to conquer the people (laity)” and associate it with the teaching making a distinction between priests and laity – but we have no evidence of such a group.

Acts 6:5 …They chose Stephen… also Philip… and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

2nd century Irenaeus associates them with a Pre-Gnostic group and wrote that the Nicolaitans “are the followers of that Nicolas who was one of the seven first ordained to the diaconate by the apostles. They lead lives of unrestrained indulgence.”

NICOLAITANS

Rev 2:8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! * I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. ** 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. *** Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

* This church is commended by Jesus who said “I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! “.

** Also mentioned as problem for Philadelphian church. Legalistic Jews persecuting and slandering the church.

*** Ten days – there were 10 pagan Roman emperors (from Nero to Diocletian) who persecuted the church.

THE 7 CHURCHES

Rev 2:12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. * Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. * 14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, ** who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

* Pergamum had (a) the Great Altar of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods and (b) the temple shrine of Asclepius the snake god of healing.

** i.e. compromise

THE 7 CHURCHES

Rev 2:17b To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. * I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it,** known only to him who receives it.

* In the wilderness, manna was the food God provided to sustain his people. This speaks of spiritual sustenance – John 6:35 “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.”

** CULTURAL SETTING: (a) In ancient Greece, jury members cast a white stone to signify an acquittal, while a black stone proclaimed someone guilty. (b) The Romans had a custom of awarding white stones to the victors of athletic games. The winner was awarded a white stone with his name inscribed on it. This served as his “ticket” to a special awards banquet. Jesus promises overcomers entrance to the eternal victory celebration in heaven.

(https:// www.gotquestions.org)

THE 7 CHURCHES

Rev 2:18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. 20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel,* who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols

* Jezebel may have been her actual name or based upon her OT counterpart. The Phoenician Jezebel murdered God’s prophets and promoted Baal worship which incorporated harlotry and witchcraft. Jehu says, “What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?” (2 Kings 9:22 – NASB).

THE 7 CHURCHES

Rev 2:21 I have given her time to repent * of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering,** and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 24 “Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): 25 Only hold on to what you have until I come. 26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 ‘He will rule them with an iron sceptre; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’ — just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give him the morning star. *** 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

* God’s grace even with the wicked. ** God’s discipline for those who refuse to respond to grace. *** Christ is the morning star (2 Pet 1:19)

THE 7 CHURCHES

Rev 3:1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. * 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes.** They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.

* Reputation is what men think you are, character is what God knows you are.

** God always keeps a remnant (remember Elijah).

THE 7 CHURCHES

Rev 3:5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, * but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

* Refutes Calvinist doctrine of Eternal Security. Jesus wouldn’t promise this if it were not a possibility.

THE 7 CHURCHES

Rev 3:7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. * What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.** 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.

* Jesus holds this key shows that He is the fulfilment of the Davidic Covenant, the “Son of David” (Messiah) and the future ruler of the New Jerusalem,

** Only praise for this church (like the persecuted Smyrna church), even though they had little strength.

THE 7 CHURCHES

Rev 3:10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. * “11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

* This church is typical of the last church age before the return of Jesus.

Some also see this as a vindication for the pre-Trib rapture adherents, that God will spare Christians from “the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world”

THE 7 CHURCHES

Jesus taught 7 consecutive parables in Matthew 13 about the kingdom.

1

The Sower

The kingdom is sown and experiences rapid growth – the enemy seeks to steal the seed or destroy the crop through persecution.

2

The Wheat and Weeds

The enemy sows a counterfeit seed. Persecution intensifies.

3

The Mustard Seed

Exponential growth of the kingdom, but the enemy infiltrates from within.

4

The Leaven

Widespread corruption spreads throughout the kingdom.

5

The Hidden Treasure

A treasure is found.

6

The Pearl of Great Price

The treasure is acquired.

7

The Dragnet

The harvest and separation of the good and bad elements of the kingdom.

THE 7 KINGDOM PARABLES

PARABLE

+/ - PERIOD

CHURCH AGE

1

The Sower

AD 30 – 100

Apostolic Church

2

The Wheat and Weeds

AD 100 – 300

Persecuted Church

3

The Mustard Seed

AD 300 – 600

State Church (Constantine)

4

The Leaven

AD 600 – 1500

Papal Church (Roman Catholic)

5

The Hidden Treasure

AD 1500 – 1700

Reformation Church (Protestant)

6

The Pearl of Great Price

AD 1700 – 1900

Missionary Church

7

The Dragnet

AD 1900 –

Apostate Church

The parables, if understood, reveal the “knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 13:11). The 7 parables refer to 7 church ages.

THE 7 KINGDOM PARABLES

PARABLE

CHURCH

+/ - PERIOD

CHURCH AGE

1

The Sower

Ephesus

AD 30 – 100

Apostolic Church

2

The Wheat and Weeds

Smyrna

AD 100 – 300

Persecuted Church

3

The Mustard Seed

Pergamum

AD 300 – 600

State Church (Constantine)

4

The Leaven

Thyatira

AD 600 – 1500

Papal Church (Roman Catholic)

5

The Hidden Treasure

Sardis

AD 1500 – 1700

Reformation Church (Protestant)

6

The Pearl of Great Price

Philadelphia

AD 1700 – 1900

Missionary Church

7

The Dragnet

Laodicea

AD 1900 –

Apostate Church

The 7 parables of Matthew 13 have a parallel with the 7 churches of Revelation 2 and 3.

THE 7 CHURCH AGES

THE DRAGNET

Matt 13:47-50 Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Dragnet parable also represents a period in Church history from approximately AD 1900 onwards, classified as the “Apostate Church”. This will be the church that sees the “end of the age”. There will be both wicked and righteous at the end of the age; in other words the whole world will not be converted as per Post-Millennial and Dominionist theology. The age will end with the removal of the wicked by the angels and their subsequent punishment.

THE 7 KINGDOM PARABLES

Good fish

The righteous

Matt 13:48 …Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.

49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous.

50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Bad fish

The wicked

Fishermen

Angels

‘threw the bad away’

‘throw them into the fiery furnace’

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!

So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev 3:14-22)

The last church mentioned was in Laodicea. It presented a state of lukewarmness, indifference, materialism and apostasy which characterizes much of the Western Church today.

Of the 7 churches listed, this is the only church which receives no praise from Jesus.

Laodicea was one of the wealthiest cities in the ancient world. The Greek geographer and historian Strabo (64/ 63 BC – c. AD 24) described Laodicea at the beginning of the 1st century AD as follows: “Laodicea, though formerly small, grew large in our time and in that of our fathers… However, it was the fertility of its territory and the prosperity of certain citizens that made it great: at first Hieron, who left to the people an inheritance of more than two thousand talents and adorned the city with many dedicated offerings…” 1

1 Geography 12:8:16; LCL 5:511

WEALTH

Strabo

According to Greek historian Strabo Laodicea was one of the wealthiest cities in the ancient world.. Its wealth was in part due to 3 things:

It is associated with the production of a world-famous eye salve known as “tephra Phrygia”, reputed to cure certain kinds of eye diseases.

Numerous flocks of sheep enabled them to produce a soft, black wool, renowned all over the ancient world.

According to Cicero, the famous Roman orator and statesman, Laodicea was a regional banking centre. the Roman historian Tacitus relates that when the city had been destroyed by an earthquake in 60 AD, they even refused aid from the Roman empire, choosing rather to rebuild from their own wealth.

WEALTH

The Laodicean church is exposed by Jesus as being influenced by the standards of the society in which it lived. Just as the city was self-sufficient enough to disregard the Emperor’s help, the church was spiritually self-sufficient and saw no need of aid from Jesus. They say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.”

RICH, YET SPIRITUALLY POOR

But despite their material wealth and sense of self- sufficiency, Jesus (who has been left outside the door) says that they “are wretched, pitiful, poor…” (Rev 3:17)

SPIRITUAL POVERTY

POOR, YET SPIRITUALLY RICH

One cannot help but contrast Laodicea with the persecuted church at Smyrna - who were materially poor, but spiritually rich, “I know your afflictions and your povertyyet you are rich!” (Rev 2:9)

So too today, the fastest growing churches in the world are in China and Africa, yet these are the most persecuted and poorest churches. The affluent Western church is in decline.

One simply cannot reconcile the prosperity teaching with the intense persecution we see of dedicated Christian believers in areas of Africa, Middle East and Asia.

SPIRITUAL POVERTY

Now concerning the last days, Paul writes, “People will be… lovers of money” (2 Tim 3:1-2). He warns of a false doctrine of those who “think that godliness is a means to financial gain” i.e. the prosperity doctrine:

1 Tim 6:3-10 If anyone teaches false doctrines… men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain… For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

The apostle Peter said to the lame man, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6) Many Western churches today cannot say, “Silver or gold I do not have”. Sadly neither can they say, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

LOVERS OF MONEY

Luke 18:23-25 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!

Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

JESUS’ FORGOTTEN WORDS

The point Jesus is making is that wealth is not a sign of God’s blessing – it is often a hindrance. In the parable of the Sower, Jesus said of the seed choked by thorns that “but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19)

Jesus said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” (Matt 6:19-21)

Paul writes, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” (1 Tim 6:7)

Jesus warned us, “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Luke 16:13).

TREASURE IN HEAVEN

Listen to what Jesus had to say to a man who had what may seem like a reasonable request to us – his brother had refused to give him his share in the inheritance and he wanted Jesus to intervene (Luke 12:13-14).

Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.

It’s easy to preach a prosperity gospel in the affluent West. Try preaching it to Christians in a Communist, Muslim or Third World country.

There are many faithful believers who live modestly and will never have more than the basic necessities of life. Yet they are content to have what they have. The prosperity teachers ridicule such and say that they only have that little because they don’t trust God for more; the fact of their contentment (which is highly regarded by God) is looked upon as a lack of faith. And they are chastised because they haven’t got the faith to get more so they can give more. 1

1 www.rapidnet.com/ ~jbeard/ bdm/ Psychology/ posit.htm

DANGERS

The Laodicean church lacks the most important thing needed in a church – Jesus!

Jesus said “on this rock I will build my church” (Matt 16:18) so the church belongs to Jesus. But Laodicea is the only church in Revelation where Jesus is pictured as being outside his own church! - “I stand at the door and knock” (Rev 3:20).

THE CHRISTLESS CHURCH

Jesus is outside the door of the Laodicean church because he is not needed. They say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” (Rev 3:17)

Now I realise that this text (with Jesus outside and knocking on the door) is often used to prompt unbelievers to “open the door of their hearts” and invite Jesus in. And I have no problem with that. But in reality it’s primary application is actually not to unbelievers, but to the church!

Like Laodicea, in many of the Western churches today we have a lot of programs but no Christ! Paul says that in the last days people will “have a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Tim 3:1-5) i.e. occupied with religious ritual which has lost the significance.

THE CHRISTLESS CHURCH

Kevin Turner writes of the church in the US, “When a Chinese Christian visiting churches on a US tour was asked what he thought about American spirituality, he answered, ‘I am amazed at how much the church in America can accomplish without the Holy Spirit.’ … As a church we are power-hungry and covet top positions as if we are climbing a corporate ladder. We place value on large churches with even larger programs and budgets. Those who are invited into leadership positions are the rich and the influential. We forget that spiritual authority is not given to the savvy businessman or the sports hero but to those who have carried the burden of the Lord.” 1

1 http:// www.charismamag.com/ spirit/ revival/ 1474-why-isnt-the-american-church-growing

THE CHRISTLESS CHURCH

As survey done on US Protestant Christians, indicates that 90% of professing Christians do not possess a Biblical world view as the basis for their decision-making or behaviour. 1

Based on interviews with 601 Senior Pastors nationwide, representing a random cross section of Protestant churches, Barna reports that only half of the country’s pastors (51%) - have a Biblical world view. Defining such a world view as believing that absolute moral truth exists, that it is based upon the Bible, and having a biblical view on six core beliefs (the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize). 1

1 www.kicksforchrist.com

A FORM OF GODLINESS

Archaeology has revealed that an aqueduct carried water from hot mineral springs a few kilometres south of Laodicea, so the water arriving was lukewarm and unpleasant to drink. The city was known for it’s ‘hard’ water (Strabo, Geography 12.8.18) because of it’s high mineral content.

The term ‘lukewarm’ can describe the state of a drink or food that should be hot but is only moderately warm or tepid.

Jesus calls the Laodicean church ‘lukewarm’.

Rev 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!”

LUKEWARM

Statistics on US Protestant Christians 1

99.5% have never led anyone to Christ.

99% have no passion for the lost. They don’t really care.

86% have never handed out a gospel tract.

68% Could not define “The Great Commission.”

98% of Christians have never read their Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

1 www.kicksforchrist.com

INDIFFERENCE

Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis were three cities all in close proximity in the Roman province of Asia. Interestingly Hierapolis was known for it’s hot-springs while Colossae was known for it’s pure cold water from deep subterranean wells. But Laodicea was not near an adequate water supply and in the dry season the local Lycus river was known to dry up.

3 CITIES

The water in Laodicea was neither hot and therapeutic like the water in Hierapolis, nor was it cold and refreshing like the water in nearby Colossae.

Cold water stimulates and invigorates. Nothing refreshes more than drinking a glass of cold water on a hot day. And hot water? It is useful for health. Not only do we mix it with teas, herbs, broths, and the like, but it also works as a solvent, good for cleaning just about anything. What does lukewarm water do? Christ’s complaint against the Laodiceans is revealed here: It is good for nothing! The Laodicean is useless to Him. Lukewarm water is an emetic: It makes one vomit. In terms of God’s work, a lukewarm Christian is useless. 1

1 http:// www.bibletools.org/ index.cfm/ fuseaction/ Topical.show/ RTD/ cgg/ ID/ 248/ Laodicea.htm John W. Ritenbaugh

USELESS

According to Bible commentator David Guzik, “One of their problems was a poor water supply that made Laodicea vulnerable to attack through siege. If an enemy army surrounded the city, they had insufficient water supplies in the city, and the supplies coming into the city could be easily cut off. Therefore, the leaders of Laodicea were always accommodating to any potential enemy, and always wanted to negotiate and compromise instead of fight.” 1

1 http:// www.studylight.org/ commentaries

COMPROMISE

In an article titled “The Danger of Compromise” Greg Laurie writes, “Sadly, this is how most people want it today. They want to go to church — when they get around to it. They certainly want to go to heaven, but they still want to live in sin. They want to party and sin and commit immorality, lie when necessary, cheat if they have to, steal if it suits them, and hate and get revenge when someone crosses them. It is the idea of sinning to your heart’s content, telling yourself God will understand. If you think you can sin to your heart’s content without repercussions, and if you think you can go out and break the commandments of God over and over because you’re an exception to the rule, then you are deceiving yourself.” 1

1 http:// www.oneplace.com/ ministries/ a-new-beginning/ read/ articles/ danger-of-compromise-8467.html

COMPROMISE

The lukewarm water in Laodicea had taken on the temperature of its surroundings and thus in the spiritual sense, also speaks of compromise.

You try to walk in the middle of the road or to sit on the fence. You attempt to be neither too hot or too cold. But in trying to be both, you end up being nothing.

COMPROMISE

BLISSFUL IGNORANCE

But like the lukewarm church of the modern era, the Laodicean church was blissfully unaware of their condition: “you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev 3:17)

In a city noted for its wealth, Jesus says “you are poor”.

Famous for their healing eye salve, Jesus says “you are blind”.

Renowned for their fine clothing, Jesus says “you are naked”.

1. STILL LOVED

So what is the special word Jesus has for our rich, materialistic and lukewarm churches?

They are still loved.

Rev 3:19 “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”

2. BE AN OVERCOMER

It is still possible to be an overcomer in a lukewarm age or church. But in order to overcome you need to hear and heed what Jesus is saying to the church.

Rev 3:21-22 “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

3. A WARNING

Warning about continuation in this condition

Rev 3:16 “So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

As we might do with lukewarm water, Jesus says he would spit them out of his mouth if they did not repent .

Rev 3:19 “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline”

“I rebuke” – Greek is “elenchō” - to expose, convict, reprove.

“and discipline” – Greek is “paideuō” - to train children, to chasten, correct.

So Jesus is not just simply talking about a verbal rebuke but stating that he will effective deal and take action against the person who is rebuked.

4. CHANGE

Exhortation to change

Rev 3:18 “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”

Jesus gives three pieces of godly advice very relevant to the city they lived in:

buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich;

and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness;

and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

a) GOLD REFINED IN FIRE

Proud of their wealth Jesus said they were spiritually poor. He now offers true spiritual riches, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich”.

The true riches they needed was gold refined by the fire. This speaks of a faith more valuable than their wealth – a faith that trusts God even in trials and suffering.

1 Pet 1:7a (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.

b) WHITE CLOTHES

Famed for their fine black wool used for making black clothing, Jesus called them spiritually naked. He offers “white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness”.

White clothes always speaks of righteousness.

Rev 19:8 “Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

Rev 3:4b “They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.”

How do we get white robes of righteousness?

Rev 7:14b “… they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Renowned for their eye salve, Jesus said they were spiritually blind and now counsels them to get “salve to put on your eyes, so you can see”.

c) EYE SALVE

Ointment speaks of the anointing of the Holy Spirit:

so that you can see how spiritually destitute you are:

“When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).

so that you can see and discern spiritual truth:

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

c) EYE SALVE

5. THE INVITE

Jesus desires a personal relationship and fellowship with them:

Rev 3:20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

5. THE INVITE

The Lord promised to ‘dine’ (‘sup’ KJV) with the one who would hear His voice and open the door (Rev. 3:19-20). The word translated sup is deipnein and its corresponding noun is deipnon. The Greeks had three meals in the day. There was akratisma, breakfast, which was no more than a piece of dried bread dipped in wine. There was ariston, the midday meal. A man did not go home for it; it was simply a picnic snack eaten by the side of the pavement, or in some colonnade, or in the city square. There was deipnon; this was the evening meal; the main meal of the day; people lingered over it, for the day’s work was done. It was the deipnon that Christ would share with the man who answered His knock, no hurried meal, but that where people lingered in fellowship. If a man will open the door, Jesus Christ will come in and linger long with him. 1

1 William Barclay, The Revelation Of John, Vol. 1, pp. 147-148

The Book of Revelation

PART 1b

Rev 4:1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here,* and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. **

* Some place the Rapture here (“a trumpet” & “Come up here”). The church is not mentioned between ch 4-19.

** rainbow throne – very different from the Great White Throne of judgment in Rev 20.

REV 4

Rev 4:4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. * They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.

* Some people believe these 24 elders represent Israel, but they are most often identified as representative of the church.

They sit on thrones indicating that they reign with Christ. (Rev 2:26-27, 5:10, 20:4).

They are dressed in white - righteousness of saints (Rev 19:8)

They have crowns - promised to believers (Rev 2:10; 2 Tim 4:8; James 1:12).

REV 4

Rev 4:6 Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the centre, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. *

* Note similarity to Ezekiel’s vision:

Ezek 1:5 and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures… 10 Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle.

REV 4

Rev 4:8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings * and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

* The 4 living creatures are seraphim:

Isa 6:2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.

REV 4

Rev 4:9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne * and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” **

* God is on the throne – he is in control.

** God is worthy of praise because he alone is the giver and sustainer of all life.

REV 4

Rev 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, * standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. **

* John sees the Lamb (Jesus), who was slain and purchased men with his blood, who alone is worthy to open the seals.

** our prayers are a fragrance to God

THE LAMB

Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” * 11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” 13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!” 14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

* Those who have been purchased by Jesus’ blood will reign with him on the earth in the 1000-year Millennium.

REV 5

Rev 4:1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here,* and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. **

* Some place the Rapture here (“a trumpet” & “Come up here”). The church is not mentioned between ch 4-19.

** rainbow throne – very different from the Great White Throne of judgment in Rev 20.

REV 4

4 HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE

Rev 6:1 I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse!* Its rider held a bow, ** and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. 3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword. 5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand.

* Christ has a white horse (Rev 19:11), but this is the Antichrist, who comes as a false Christ.

** Christ is pictured with a sword (Rev 19:15), not a bow. (Apollo was pictured with a bow).

THE FIRST 5 SEALS

Rev 6:6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” 7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. 9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.

THE FIRST 5 SEALS

Matt 24

V5: False Christs – “For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah,' and will deceive many.”

V6: “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars”

V7a “There will be famines…”

V7b “… and earthquakes in various places.” (Luke 21:11 “and plagues”)

V9: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”

There are parallels between Matthew 24 (“what will be the sign of your coming ”) and the first 5 seals.

THE MATT 24 PARALLEL

Seal

Rev 6

1

V2-3: White horse – ANTICHRIST

2

V4: Red horse – WAR

3

V5-6: Black horse – FAMINE

4

V7-8: Pale horse – DEATH by sword, famine and plague

5

V9-10: Martyred souls under the altar

There are two differing views among Premillennialists as to the timing of prophetic fulfilment of the birth pangs prophesied in the Olivet Discourse.

Matt 24:4-14 is seen as “a unit, describing the general characteristics of the age leading up to the end, while at the same time recognizing that the prediction of the difficulties, which will characterize the entire period between the first and second coming of Christ, are fulfilled in an intensified form as the age moves on to its conclusion.” (Walvoord) In other words, Matt 24:4-14 are “general signs” whereas 24:15-26 are “specific signs.”

Others believe that these signs cannot refer to the current church age. but to a unique period immediately preceding (or during) the Tribulation.

THE MATT 24 PARALLEL

Jesus spoke of these signs of false Christs, wars, earthquakes and famines (which equate to the first 5 seals) as follows.

Matt 24:6 …see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Matt 24:8 “All these are the beginning of birth pains.” - Birth pangs are before birth.

Thus it is more logical to place the Rapture at the 6th seal.

THE MATT 24 PARALLEL

Rev 6:12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. *

I place the Pre-tribulation Rapture and the beginning of the 7 year Tribulation at the 6th seal.

* Earthquake resurrection -An interesting observation by David Lowe shows that in the only 3 cases of resurrection to immortality (i.e. not reanimation) in the Bible there is a corresponding earthquake.

Jesus (Matt 28:2-6 )

The “many saints” (Matt 27:51)

The 2 witnesses (Rev 11:3-13)

6th seal rapture ? (Rev 6:12-14)

6th seal: THE RAPTURE

For those who believe in a “rapture”, or catching up of believers, it has long been believed that newscasts will suddenly flash a story that millions of people are missing all around the world. Planes will fall from the sky, accidents will occur all over the globe, and the world will be in a state of bewilderment as to where everyone disappeared to. How will it be explained?

Were all the people abducted by aliens?

The book “Earthquake Resurrection” (David Lowe) explores the possibility that the disappearance of believers worldwide will be masked by global catastrophe. The missing people could thus be explained as casualties of the earthquake.

6th seal: THE RAPTURE

Rev 6:12b The sun turned black like sackcloth * made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, ** 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, *** as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The sky receded like a scroll, **** rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. *****

* eclipse ** blood moon *** meteor shower (cosmic signs)

**** Also a cosmic phenomena, with literal fulfilment.

Isa 34: 2,4 The Lord is angry with all nations… All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shrivelled figs from the fig tree.

***** seismic and tidal activity

6th seal: THE RAPTURE

Rev 6:15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath * has come, and who can stand?”

* God’s wrath, not man’s wrath (more on this later)

6th seal: THE RAPTURE

[INTERLUDE – 144,000 sealed]

The great multitude are the dead in Christ who have been raised and those who have been raptured – The Bema Seat judgement (for reward) will follow:

Rev 7:9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count,* from every nation, tribe, people and language, ** standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.

* The raptured and resurrected saints

** every nation, tribe, people and language

THE 7 SEALS

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)

THE GREAT COMMISSION

Often people ask, “What prophetic event remains unfulfilled to prevent the return of Jesus?”

Well consider this prophecy by Jesus.

“… this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14)

UNFINISHED WORK

NOW ASK YOURSELF:

Has the gospel of the kingdom been preached in the whole world?

Have all nations heard the testimony?

1.8 billion people standing shoulder to shoulder would go around the world’s equator 38 times.

1 World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2000

In 2007 researchers David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson estimated the number of unreached people to be 1.8 billion people. 1

Bible Translations: There are 6,800 languages with no Scripture translations and no access to the Bible. 1

1 David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, eds., Status of Global Mission, 2006, in the Context of 20th and 21st Centuries, International Bulletin of Missionary Research (January 2006) 2 David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2000: Interpreting the Annual Christian Megacensus (Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 2001)

Unreached Cities: 1,670 metropolises have not been reached with the gospel. 2

UNFINISHED WORK

10% DEDICATED CHRISTIANS

20% NOMINAL CHRISTIANS

40% HEARD, BUT NOT RESPONDED OR REJECTED

30% (VIRTUALLY NO EXPOSURE TO GOSPEL)

Approximate Percentages

UNFINISHED WORK

Jesus has not commanded us to go into “most of the world”, but into “all the world”. In Rev 7:9-10 we are told that the redeemed gathered before God’s throne consist of “every nation, tribe, people and language.”

Despite Jesus’ command to evangelize, almost one third of the world’s population (28%) – 1 in 3 people - have never even heard of his name.

So while we all look forward to the return of Jesus WE HAVE UNFINISHED WORK.

Oswald J. Smith: “We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first.” 1

1 Oswald J. Smith (1889-1986) was a Canadian pastor, author and missions advocate.

UNFINISHED WORK

Rev 7:9b They were wearing white robes * and were holding palm branches ** in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”

* righteousness of saints

** reminiscent of the Triumphal entry where disciples shouted “Hosanna” in praise to the king.

THE 7 SEALS

Rev 7: 13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation;* they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. 16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” **

* “Come out” as in spared from. The first half (3 ½ years) of the Tribulation will only begin now at the sixth seal.

** Wonderful promises for the redeemed of the ages.

THE 7 SEALS

The church is not mentioned in Rev 4 to 19, but only Israel. Thus Dispensationalists * believe that the church is removed and God is again working with Israel.

“They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24)

Rom 11:25 (NASB) For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery-- so that you will not be wise in your own estimation-- that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

* Dispensationalists believe that God’s dealings with men can be divided into discrete dispensations (various distinct ages to each of which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles) and that God has a separate covenant with the Church and Israel.

THE 7 SEALS

1 Thess 4:15-18 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

THE RAPTURE

Some critics of the doctrine of the Rapture allege that the word ‘rapture’ is not used in the Bible. While this is true in the English Bible, it is certainly not true of the Scriptures in Latin.

‘Rapture’, in the context of eschatology, is an English word derived from the Latin verb rapio, found in the Vulgate (i.e. Jerome’s) rendering of 1 Thess 4:17. 1

1 ...deinde nos qui vivimus qui relinquimur simul rapiemur cum illis in nubibus obviam Domino in aera et sic semper cum Domino erimus. (NOTE: The root for the Latin word ‘rapiemur’ is ‘rapio’.)

RAPIO

Statue of Jerome at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

Raptus 1 is Jerome’s translation of the Koine Greek word harpazō, which means “caught up”, ‘taken away”, “abduct”, “to seize, carry off by force”, “to snatch out or away”.

‘Harpazō’ is also used in Acts 8:39 where it describes the transporting of Philip suddenly from Gaza to Azotus.

Acts 8:39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took (harpazō) Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again…

1 ‘Raptus’ is the past participle of ‘rapio’. According to Wikipedia, “The Oxford English Dictionary provides two pages describing the history of usage of the word ‘rapture’ in English. From the 17th century onwards, the word is attested as rapture with similar senses to the older form rapt. The OED provides the etymology as from Latin rapere: to seize, especially abduct; it likens the words capture and rapture. Of particular note are the various distinctions involving either literal or figurative transport of body or emotions to heaven or from one place to another on earth.”

HARPAZŌ

HAPAZŌ

Harpazō is used of Paul being caught up to the third heaven:

1 Cor 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up (harpazō) to the third heaven.

And again harpazō is used of the man-child being caught up to the throne of God:

Rev 12:5 … And her child was snatched up (harpazō) to God and to his throne.

HARPAZŌ

In similar fashion, 1 Thess 4:17 tells us that we who are still alive at the time of Jesus’ coming will be “caught up” (harpazō) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

In the Amillennial and Postmillennial views, as well as in the Post-Tribulation Premillennial position, there are no distinctions in the timing of the rapture. These views regard the Rapture as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 as either identical to the Second Coming of Jesus as described in Matthew 24:29-31, or as a meeting in the air with Jesus that immediately precedes his Second Coming to the earth. Within Premillennialism, the Pre-Tribulation position is the predominant view that distinguishes between the Rapture and Second Coming as two events. There are also two minor positions within Premillennialism that differ with regard to the timing of the rapture, the Mid-Tribulation view and the Partial Rapture view. 1

1 Wikipedia

TIMING OF THE RAPTURE

Premillennialists hold 3 main views on the timing on the Rapture (Jesus’ coming for His church)

Pre-tribulation rapture

Mid-tribulation rapture

Post-tribulation rapture

TIMING OF THE RAPTURE

POST-TRIBULATION RAPTURE

Millennium

Present age

7-year Tribulation

2nd Advent

Rapture

PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE

Millennium

2nd Advent

7-year Tribulation

Present age

Rapture

MID-TRIBULATION RAPTURE

Millennium

Present age

Rapture

3½ year Tribulation

2nd Advent

3½ year Tribulation

TIMING OF THE RAPTURE

In it’s first 3 centuries of existence the church held clear Premillennial views, and expected an impending apocalypse along with the return of Jesus. Amillennialism was popularized by Augustine in the 5th century and subsequently became the predominant view.

However some of the writings of the early Church Fathers 1 indicate that they believed that the Church (rather than Israel) would suffer the wrath of the Antichrist.

It must be remembered though that the Jews of Jesus’ time (including the disciples) didn’t yet even differentiate between the First and Second Coming of Jesus until they received further clarification by Jesus. Hence the apostles ask Jesus just before his ascension, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

1 e.g. Hippolytus of Rome

A RECENT DOCTRINE?

Some critics of Pre-Trib Rapture view maintain that the belief is a recent doctrinal development and that the doctrine or any semblance of it was unknown before the early 19th century and the writings of John Nelson Darby.

However there is an explicit extra-Biblical reference to the Pre-Trib rapture in a document (Pseudo-Ephraem) dated between 374-627 A.D. “For all the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.”

This statement does not prove the Pre-Trib position, only the Bible can do that, but it should change many people’s historical views on the matter. 1

1 The Rapture in Pseudo-Ephraem: Thomas Ice

A RECENT DOCTRINE?

DISPENSATIONALISM

John Nelson Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren, is regarded by many as the father of modern Dispensationalism. This view holds to a very literal interpretation of Scripture and a rigorous distinction between God’s program for Israel and for the Church.

Darby’s view of a Pre-Tribulation rapture was accepted among many other Plymouth Brethren in England. The Brethren Movement impacted American Christianity, primarily through their writings. 1

1 Ibid

John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)

Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952)

C.I. Scofield (1843-1921)

In the U.S. Dispensationalism was propagated on the popular level largely through the Scofield Reference Bible (first published in 1909) and on the academic level with Lewis Sperry Chafer’s 8- volume ‘Systematic Theology’.

DISPENSATIONALISM

In the early 20th century Clarence Larkin published many books and charts illustrating Dispensational Millennialism views.

In the 20th century, Dispensationalism became the most popular eschatological perspective in the U.S. Along with Dispensationalism came the belief in a Pre-Tribulation rapture.

Clarence Larkin (1850-1924)

DISPENSATIONALISM

In 1957, John Walvoord, a theologian at Dallas Theological Seminary, authored a book, “The Rapture Question”, that gave theological support to the Pre-Tribulation rapture; this book eventually sold over 65,000 copies. 1

Dr. J. F. Walvoord (1910-2002)

J. Dwight Pentecost (1915-2014)

In 1958, J. Dwight Pentecost authored another book supporting the Pre-Tribulation rapture, “Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology”, which sold 215,000 copies. 1

1 Wikipedia (Rapture)

DISPENSATIONALISM

Another popular proponent of Dispensational Premillennialism is Charles Ryrie (in the notes for the Ryrie Study Bible). Other well-known proponents of the Pre-Trib Rapture include Charles Feinberg, J. Vernon McGee, Chuck Smith, Chuck Missler, Jack Van Impe, Grant Jeffrey, and David Jeremiah.

Dr. Charles Ryrie (1925-2016)

J. Vernon McGee (1904-88)

Chuck Smith (1927-2013)

Jack Van Impe (1931-)

DISPENSATIONALISM

In the South African Assemblies of God movement, A/ G pioneer James Mullan was an ardent Pre-Trib Rapture adherent, as was former Congo missionary Harold Berry and preacher and teacher Warren Paynter.

James Mullan

Harold Berry

Warren Paynter

DISPENSATIONALISM

including “The Late Great Planet Earth”, which has reportedly sold between 15 and 35 million copies, and by the movie “A Thief in the Night”. 1

From 1995 until present, the doctrine of the Pre-Trib rapture was further popularized by Tim LaHaye’s and Jerry Jenkins “Left Behind” book series, which sold over 65 million copies in series and was made into several movies.

1 Ibid

Lahaye & Jenkins

Hal Lindsey

During the 1970s, the Pre-Trib rapture viewpoint became popular in wider circles, in part due to the books of Hal Lindsey,

WHY PRE-TRIB?

Why do we believe that the Rapture and the Second Advent are 2 separate events and that the Rapture will take place before the 7 year Tribulation?

Can there be 2 Second Comings?

Does the church experience God’s wrath?

Is the day known or unknown?

Where is the church in the Revelation?

What is the “blessed hope”?

Who populates the Millennial earth?

Righteous removed or wicked removed?

The Lord himself or with the angels?

(1) 2 SECOND COMINGS?

It is often contended that Pretribulationists teach a first ‘Second Coming’ and a second ‘Second Coming’.

But remember that there were two phases to the First Coming.

Jesus Christ ministered to all until his death.

After his resurrection he appeared again, but now only to believers.

The 2 phases of the First Coming were separated by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

1st Coming

Phase 1

Appears to all

Phase 2

Appears only to believers

As with his First Coming we believe that there will be 2 phases to his Second Coming.

The Rapture - when Jesus appears only to believers.

The Second Advent - when he appears to all and comes as judge (7 years after the Rapture).

1st Coming

Phase 1

Appears to all

Phase 2

Appears only to believers

2nd Coming

Phase 1

Appears only to believers

Phase 2

Appears to all

(1) 2 SECOND COMINGS?

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

Another accusation launched against Pre-Tribulationists is that their motivation for wanting to miss the Tribulation is because they do not want to suffer.

The Bible plainly teaches that Christians will suffer in this present age. However we need to differentiate between man’s (or Satan’s) wrath - and God’s wrath. The Tribulation is God’s wrath on sinful man, not Satan’s wrath in the form of persecution.

In the context of the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 5 we are told that “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath”.

1 Thess 5:4,9 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief… For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Tribulation (or “Day of the Lord”) is not man’s wrath - it is God’s wrath and judgment on man.

Rev 6:16-17 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

Christians will be kept from the “hour of trial”.

Rev 3:10-11 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

1 Thess 1:9-10… They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

Jesus compares His coming to both the judgment of the Flood and of Sodom.

Luke 17:26-28 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man… It was the same in the days of Lot…”

Now Noah did not go through the Flood (God’s judgment). He and his family were removed by being placed in the ark.

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

Likewise Lot and his family were spared the judgment on Sodom by being removed from the city. In fact the angel told Lot with regards to fleeing to Zoar, “But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (Gen 19:22)

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

Abraham said to God when ‘negotiating’ about Sodom, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?... Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen 18:23-25)

Like the Flood and the destruction of Sodom, the Tribulation is God’s judgment on unrepentant men.

Thus it is Scripturally consistent to believe that the righteous are removed before the judgment of God.

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

Millennium

2nd Advent

7-year Tribulation

PRESENT AGE

AGE TO COME

Rapture

MAN’S WRATH

GOD’S WRATH

END

OF

AGE

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

Twice in John’s book of Revelation, Jesus warns:

Rev 3:3 But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Rev 16:15 “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

A thief does not announce the time of his coming, but instead comes when he is least expected.

(3) A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

But if the Rapture occurs at the end or the middle of the 7 year Tribulation, then how will it be unexpected? We know that there are 2 sets of 1260 days (3 ½ years) which comprise the Tribulation so anyone could work it out.

2 Pet 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.

If Jesus comes at the end or the middle of a known 7-year Tribulation period, what possible sense would the previous passage and one like this make?

Luke 12:46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.

(3) A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

Millennium

2nd Advent

7-year Tribulation

PRESENT AGE

AGE TO COME

Rapture

AN UNKNOWN DAY

A KNOWN DAY

(3) A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

(4) REVELATION

Pre-Trib adherents generally place the Rapture either between Revelation 3 & 4 or in chapter 6 (6th seal).

You find no mention of the Church in Revelation after chapter 3 until you get to Rev 22:16. There is however mention of Israel (with the 144,000 in Rev 7 and the woman in Rev 12). Also Jerusalem as well as the Temple are featured prominently (Rev 11).

Surely if the Church is present during the Tribulation they should merit some mention? This is circumstantial evidence that the church is not present and that God is once again dealing with Israel. This period is referred to in the OT as the time of “Jacob’s trouble”. 1

1 Jacob was renamed Israel by God and he was the father of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Some try dismiss Israel and say that God has finished working with her. They try and apply all scripture in the NT concerning Israel to the Church.

However the NT clearly teaches the restoration of Israel and clearly differentiates between Israel and the Gentile elect:

Rom 11:25-26 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.”

(4) REVELATION

GOLDEN AGE FOR JEW & GENTILE

Millennium

2nd Advent

7-year Tribulation

PRESENT AGE

AGE TO COME

Rapture

TIME OF THE GENTILES

JACOB’S TROUBLE

I SRAEL

RESTORED

GENTILE CHURCH REMOVED

Israel are told that they should not long for the Day of the Lord (which we identify with the 7-year tribulation).

Amos 5:18-20 Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?

Indeed Jesus says of this time, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (Matt 24:21-22)

(5) THE “BLESSED HOPE”

The appearing of the Lord for the Church is called “the blessed hope”. (Titus 2:13) The appearing of the Lord, should it come after the Great Tribulation, as far as the Church is concerned, would be no blessed hope, rather, the blessed hope of church saints would be to die before the coming of the Lord should they have to go through the Great Tribulation. 1

1 Warren Paynter: “The Pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church”

(5) THE “BLESSED HOPE”

However for Israel, who are present during the Tribulation, this period (the Day of the Lord) is known as “JACOB’S TROUBLE”):

Jer 30:7 How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.

If Jesus returns after the Tribulation then his return is not a “blessed hope” for the Church. Instead like Israel, the Church should be told “Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! ” (Amos 5:18)

(5) THE “BLESSED HOPE”

(6) THE MILLENNIUM

If the Rapture comes after the Great Tribulation, then all the saints, including the Jews, will be glorified, and all the wicked will be slain.

The question is then, who is left to repopulate the earth during the Millennium?

(7) RIGHTEOUS REMOVED

The Bible speaks of an event where the righteous are removed and an event when the wicked are removed:

RIGHTEOUS REMOVED (Rapture):

2 Thess 2:1-2 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him…

WICKED REMOVED (2nd Advent):

Matt 13:41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

(8) THE LORD HIMSELF

The Bible speaks of an event where Jesus comes alone and an event when he comes with his angels:

COMES ALONE (Rapture): There is no need for angelic assistance because we shall be equal to the angels.

1 Thess 4:16-17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven... we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

WITH HIS ANGELS (2nd Advent): The angels are required to gather the wicked for judgment.

Matt 13:41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

(8) THE LORD HIMSELF

Expanding on 1 Thess 4:16:

The Lord himself shall descend from heaven: Here the word translated himself (autos) is emphatic. It means “he himself and none other.” 1

With the voice of the archangel: This is better rendered “with a voice of an archangel.” In other words “with an archangel’s voice.” Thus this statement does not teach that Christ will be accompanied by an archangel but that the sound of his voice, as he summons the dead in Christ from their graves, and summons them together with the living saints to meet him in the air, is like the voice of an archangel. 1

1 Ibid

Paul makes it clear that the resurrection (of the righteous) and the Rapture take place at one and the same time. He writes, “The dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor 15:52) Again, “the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them.” (1 Thess 4:16-17). Now the Lord Jesus tells us something very important about this event in Luke 20:34-36, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage; for they can die no more, for they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” 1

1 Ibid

(8) THE LORD HIMSELF

The Greek word translated “like angels” is the word ‘isangelos’. The prefix comes from the Greek word ‘isos’ which means ‘equal’. 2 Thus Jesus said that, when the resurrection takes place, those who are resurrected, and, we know from the epistles of Paul, those who are alive at his coming, are so changed that they are now equal to angels being sons of the resurrection. 1

Thus if we are equal to angels at the resurrection, there is no need for angelic assistance to be gathered to the Lord. However the unrighteous at the Second Advent need to be gathered by the angels.

1 Ibid 2 In English an isosceles triangle is a triangle with two sides which are equal. The first part of the word ‘isos’ is the Greek word for equal.

(8) THE LORD HIMSELF

RAPTURE & 2ND ADVENT

If we note these differences between the Rapture and the Second Advent, we can see it clearly in the different parables. The term “end of the age” is only applied to the 2nd Advent.

Rapture

Second Advent

Before the Day of the Lord (i.e. Tribulation)

End of Tribulation (i.e. End of Age)

Jesus comes alone

Jesus sends out His angels

Righteous are removed

Wicked are removed

END

OF

AGE

Millennium

2nd Advent

7-year Tribulation

PRESENT AGE

Before the Day of the Lord

Righteous are removed

Jesus comes alone

End of Age

Wicked are removed

Jesus sends out His angels

RAPURE & 2ND ADVENT

AGE TO COME

Rapture

MAN’S WRATH

GOD’S WRATH

GOLDEN AGE OF PEACE

RAPTURE & 2ND ADVENT

WHEAT & TARES: This refers to the Second Advent because the term “end of the age” is used. Also the angels remove the wicked.

Matt 13:39-42 …The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace…

2ND ADVENT

THE NET: refers to the Second Advent because the term “end of the age” is used. Also the angels remove the wicked.

Matt 13:48-50 “When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace…”

2ND ADVENT

THE TEN VIRGINS: This refers to the Rapture because the groom comes unexpectedly to take only those wise virgins who are waiting for him.

Matt 25:2-13 “Five of them were foolish and five were wise… At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom!’ … The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet… Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

RAPTURE

Matt 24:37-42 “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

Some have debated whether the above passage actually refers to the Second Advent. However people are shown as being caught up in their day to day business when an unexpected return of Jesus occurs.

RAPTURE

HOW THEN SHOULD WE LIVE?

1 Thess 5:1-6, 23 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled… May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rev 7:4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 * from all the tribes of Israel. 5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, 6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, 7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, 8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

* Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cults claim they are the 144,000. The 144,000 are not Christians either! Remember if the literal sense makes sense, that should be the natural interpretation. We are not only told that these people are from the tribe of Israel, their specific tribes are given to reinforce the fact. What is their function? They are “the servants of our God” - many believe they will serve as evangelists, now that the time of the Gentiles is complete.

THE 144,00

Rev 7:1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” *

* They are sealed and give special protection of God from the divine judgments and from the Antichrist to complete their mission during the Tribulation. The church is removed - These men of Israel need to be sealed because they are still on earth.

They are “first fruits” of a redeemed Israel. Rev 14:4 says of them, “They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.”

THE 144,00

*The tribal arrangement in Israel was based on descent from the 12 sons of Jacob (also called “Israel”).

However, Israel blessed Joseph’s 2 sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and said: “… your two sons … will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.” (Gen 48:5 NASB)

With the tribe of Joseph being reckoned as 2 tribes, this effectively meant that there were 13 tribal divisions.

The names of the 13 tribes are stated in Numbers 1 as Moses was taking a census of all that were able to go to war. They were (1) Reuben, (2) Simeon, (3) Gad, (4) Judah, (5) Issachar, (6) Zebulun, (7) Ephraim (son of Joseph), (8) Manasseh (son of Joseph), (9) Benjamin, (10) Dan, (11) Asher and (12) Naphtali.

The 13 tribes of Israel?

The census total did not include the tribe of (13) Levi, as the Levites were exempt from the draft due to their priestly duties. God had told Moses, “You must not count the tribe of Levi or include them in the census of the other Israelites.” (Numbers 1:49 NIV)

Thus there were 12 tribes and one priestly tribe (the Levites).

When the tribes received their land inheritance in the Promised Land (Joshua 13-19), there was no “tribe of Joseph.” Instead, the sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim were counted as distinct tribes. The land was still divided into 12 tribal regions, but this included separate areas for Ephraim and Manasseh. Levi’s descendants had no separate area, but were given 48 cities distributed among the other tribal regions (Num 35:6)

The 13 tribes of Israel?

Tribe missing from the elect

When the “12 tribes” are mentioned in Revelation 7, both sons of Joseph are implied in the listing; “the tribe of Joseph” (i.e. Ephraim) and “the tribe of Manasseh”. Levi is also mentioned, so which tribe is missing?

A close look reveals that the tribe of Dan is missing from the 144,000 “elect” Israelites. Based on their absence in the 144,000 some believe that the antichrist will come from the tribe of Dan. In addition, the genealogies in 1 Chronicles 4 to 7, list 12 tribes including Ephraim and Manasseh, but excluding Dan. Just as the 12 apostles had a 13th apostle added to replace the apostate Judas, so it seems that Dan is replaced in the sealing of “the elect”.

* In the millennial temple though, Ezekiel (ch 48) again refers to the tribe of Joseph and to the tribe of Dan in the naming of the 12 temple gates. Thus God will restore Dan to it’s former status in the millennium.

A debate exists as to whether the antichrist will be a Jew or Gentile.

Dan 9:26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. (NASB)

The people who destroyed the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (temple) after the Anointed One (i.e. Messiah) was cut off, were the Romans (Titus in 70 AD). Thus the “ruler who will come” must have some link to the Roman Empire (modern Europe*) or Rome itself (Italy).

* On 29th Sep 2004 the new European Union constitution was signed in Rome - in the same room where the Treaty of Rome had been signed to establish the EU in 1957. There had been a long fight over whether or not to include mention of Europe’s Christian roots in the constitution. In the end they agreed not to mention it.

Roman / European descent?

Heading up the 10 nation confederacy of the revived Roman Empire does not necessarily mean that he will be a Gentile or a European. The Roman Empire also included the Middle East and North Africa.

JEWISH DESCENT

Roman Empire in 150 AD

Dan 11:37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers …(KJV)

The fact that he does not “regard the God of his fathers” has a very Jewish ring to it. This terminology was used often in Kings & Chronicles when Judean kings forsook the LORD.

Many, therefore, believe that he will be a Jew.

In John 5:43 Jesus said to the Jews: “I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” (NASB)

Would the Jews receive and accept someone (potentially as Messiah) who had no Jewish roots?

JEWISH DESCENT

Irenaeus asserts that Dan is not listed because this tribe brings forth the Antichrist. Thus, we see that this belief dates back to the earliest days of the church!

“… he who shall come claiming the kingdom for himself … This, too, the apostle affirms: “When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction shall come upon them.” And Jeremiah does not merely point out his sudden coming, but he even indicates the tribe from which he shall come, where he says, ‘We shall hear the voice of his swift horses from Dan; the whole earth shall be moved by the voice of the neighing of his galloping horses: he shall also come and devour the earth, and the fullness thereof, the city also, and they that dwell therein.’ This, too, is the reason that this tribe is not reckoned in the Apocalypse along with those which are saved.” (Against Heresies, Book V)

HORSES FROM DAN

Irenaeus quotes a prophecy from Jeremiah as indicating the Israelite tribe from which the Antichrist will come:

Jer 8:16 From Dan is heard the snorting of his horses; At the sound of the neighing of his stallions the whole land quakes; for they come and devour the land and its fullness, the city and its inhabitants. (NASB)

HORSES FROM DAN

Jeremiah prophesies the impending judgment of Judah in a time preoccupied with peace and security, when there is none.

Jer 8:11 … Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace… 15 We waited for peace, but no good came; For a time of healing, but behold, terror! (NASB)

Note the similarity of Jeremiah’s prophecy to the passage in 1 Thessalonians (which speaks of the Day of the Lord) quoted by Irenaeus.

1 Thess 5:3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labour pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. (NASB)

HORSES FROM DAN

Jeremiah’s prophecy not only mentions horses from Dan, but serpents.

Jer 8:16--17 From Dan is heard the snorting of his horses… “For behold, I am sending serpents against you, adders, for which there is no charm, and they will bite you,” declares the LORD. (NASB)

On his deathbed Jacob (the father of the 12 tribes) prophetically referred to Dan as a serpent.

“Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward.” (Gen 49:17 NIV)

DAN - A SERPENT

Hippolytus echoes the assertions of Irenaeus that the Antichrist originates from the tribe of Dan. He writes, “And that the case stands thus, we see also from the words of Jacob: ‘Let Dan be a serpent, lying upon the ground, biting the horse’s heel’ [Gen. 49:17]. What then is meant by the serpent but Antichrist, that deceiver who is mentioned in Genesis [Gen. 3:1], who deceived Eve and supplanted Adam? … [I]t is in reality out of the tribe of Dan, then, that tyrant and king, that dread judge, that son of the devil, is destined to spring and arise”. Note that Hippolytus links the serpent in Dan’s prophecy with the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and thereby connects the Antichrist with the Old Serpent, Satan. He will fulfil the prophecy concerning the seed of the serpent (Gen 3:15). Just as Jesus was “the seed of the woman” so the antichrist will be “the seed of the serpent”.

DAN - A SERPENT

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia: “Dan plays a peculiar role in rabbinical tradition. Owing to the fact that his name, as the name of a tribe, is connected with the blasphemer (Lev. xxiv. 11), and with the idolatry of northern Israel (Judges xviii. 30; I Kings xii. 29; Amos viii. 14), while Samson, the judge of the tribe of Dan, proved faithless to his nazirate (Judges xiii. 2), Dan came to be regarded as the black sheep of the house of Jacob.”

Early on in their history, the tribe of Dan was linked to a false and substitute religion. This tribe was given an inheritance just like the rest, but failed to conquer its territory (Jud 18:1). They chose to move away and settle north to Laish, thereby rejecting the word of the Lord. The tribe practiced idolatry after stealing the graven images (teraphim) from Micah (Jud 17-18).

DAN & FALSE RELIGION

The substitute religion of convenience (no need to travel to the temple in Jerusalem) introduced by Jeroboam was based on golden calves in Dan and Bethel. (1 Kings 12:28-30)

That sin prompted the prophet Amos to include the land of Dan in his denouncement of pagan worshippers.

Amos 8:14 “Those who swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, ‘As your god, Dan, lives;’ and, ‘As the way of Beersheba lives;’ they will fall, and never rise up again.” (WEB)

DAN & FALSE RELIGION

On his deathbed Jacob predicts that: “Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.” (Gen 49:16 KJV)

The name Dan comes from “din”, the root word for judgment. But from the very first, the house of Dan is cast in a negative light. This presents a riddle: How can a tribe that we now view as vacillating, weak and faithless ever act in any way to judge the tribes of Israel? Yet this is his role, designed by God in ages past to be played out at some future time.

Has Dan ever judged his people? Certainly not in the ultimate way predicted in Scripture. Samson, for example, was a Danite judge, but his weak-willed and vacillating ways are not likely to be the fulfilment of this ancient prophecy. Thus it is possible that the Antichrist will fulfil this ancient prophecy.

DAN – A JUDGE?

Jacob prophetically indicates that the Messiah will come from Judah, and the lion is used to symbolize this tribe:

Gen 49:8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. 9 You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? 10 The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. (NIV)

One of the elders in Revelation uses this same terminology about Jesus: “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed…” (Rev 5:5)

JUDAH – A LION

Shortly before his death, Moses prophesies: “Dan is a lion’s cub, springing out of Bashan.” (Deut 33:22 NIV)

When we think of a lion, our first thought is of Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. But another lion is coming, this time from Dan. He will be a pretender to the messianic throne who will claim to fight for Judah and Jerusalem.

Hippolytus sees in this the line of the counterfeit Messiah: “Now as our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also God, was prophesied of under the figure of a lion, on account of his royalty and glory, in the same way have the scriptures also beforehand spoken of Antichrist as a lion, on account of his tyranny and violence. For the deceiver seeks to liken himself in all things to the Son of God. Christ is a lion, so Antichrist is also a lion. Christ is a king, so Antichrist is also a king…”

DAN – A LION

Hippolytus: “We find it written regarding Antichrist… ‘Dan is a lion’s whelp [cub], and he shall leap from Bashan’ [Deut. 33:22]. But that no one may err by supposing that this is said of the Saviour, let him attend carefully to the matter. Dan, he says, is a lion’s whelp. And in naming the tribe of Dan, he declared clearly the tribe from which Antichrist is destined to spring. For as Christ springs from the tribe of Judah, so Antichrist is to spring from the tribe of Dan.”

This lion – the Antichrist – will spring from Bashan, the territory east of the Sea of Galilee, extending northward to Damascus and Mount Hermon. The latter mountain is mentioned by Enoch as the place where the Watchers (angels, sons of God) descended to commit the sin of Gen 6 which resulted in the birth of the Nephilim. This and Rev 9 point to a link between the Watchers and the Antichrist.

DAN – A LION

But which tribe would Jews expect the Messiah from?

The Jewish Midrash* claims that the Jewish messiah will come from the Tribe of Dan as well as the Tribe of Judah, through the line of Solomon. Samson, in some respects, was considered a forerunner of the Messiah who will come from Judah but his mother, according to the Midrash will be of the Tribe of Dan. Both Judah and Dan were represented by a lion, though Dan has the additional symbols of the serpent and horse.

* Classical rabbinic biblical interpretation. A collection of biblical sermonic material dating from the 2nd to 5th centuries AD.

A FALSE MESSIAH

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http:// www.Lockman.org)




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