Saturday, July 1, 2017


by Jack Kinsella

For most of the history of the Church, the classic interpretation of Bible prophecy was the historicist, or preterist view that virtually all Bible prophecy was fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Historicism is the view of Bible prophecy espoused by Roman Catholicism since its foundation in 323 AD by Constantine of Rome. It was the view of virtually all of the Reformers and the Reformed Confessions.
It has survived as the classical, Protestant interpretation of prophecy for nearly 500 years.
Most historicists take a preterist view of the Olivet Discourse, but disassociate it from the tribulation as found in Revelation and some New Testament Epistles.
During the last 150 years, within evangelicalism, futurism has grown to dominate and overcome historicism.
In a nutshell, the preterist/historicist view of Bible prophecy is that everything Dispensationalists expect to happen during the Tribulation has already occurred.
Preterists/historicists believe that the Great Tribulation already occurred, culminating with the Destruction of the Temple in AD 70, and thus is not a future event.
The Great Apostasy spoken of by Paul, they believe,  happened in the first century. In this view, instead of expecting increasing apostasy as history progresses, preterists expect the increasing Christianization of the world."
Most historicists would argue that the phrase, "the last days" is really just a Biblical expression for the period between Christ's Advent and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 -- the "last days" of Israel."
There is also no room in the historicist/preterist understanding of Scripture for a last days' Antichrist. They conclude that John was symbolically referencing widespread apostasy of the Christian Church prior to the Fall of Jerusalem.
From this perspective, any apostate teacher or system can be called 'antichrist'; but the word does not refer to some future Fuhrer.  As to the Rapture, the historicist view is either that the Rapture is an invented doctrine, or it is part of the Second Coming of Christ.
It takes a lot of Scriptural gymnastics to make it all work.
For example, The Thousand Years of Revelation 20:2-7:
"is a large, rounded-off number. . . . the number ten contains the idea of a fullness of quantity; in other words, it stands for "many-ness". A thousand multiplies and intensifies this (10 X 10 X 10), in order to express great vastness. . . . represent a vast, undefined period of time . . . It may require a million years."
(Or maybe it means a thousand years?)
To many Jews, the symbol of the Cross is the symbol of ultimate anti-Semitism. To them, all Christians are secret anti-Semites and (accurately) argue that Christianity is the well-spring from which sprang two thousand years of pogroms and persecution, up to and including the Holocaust.
The preterist/historicist view of Bible prophecy, held by both Catholicism and mainstream Protestantism, teaches the following about Israel and the Jews.
"Ethnic Israel was excommunicated for its apostasy and will never again be God's Kingdom." Thus, "the Bible does not tell of any future plan for Israel as a special nation."
The Church is now that new nation (Matt. 21:43) which is why Christ destroyed the Jewish state. "In destroying Israel, Christ transferred the blessings of the kingdom from Israel to a new people, the church."
One of the basic tenets of preterism is that the Great Harlot of Revelation was
"Jerusalem which had always been . . . falling into apostasy and persecuting the prophets . . . which had ceased to be the City of God."
The Beast "of Revelation was a symbol of both Nero in particular and the Roman Empire in general."
Finally -- and allow the implications of this one to fully sink in . .
"The False Prophet "of Revelation was the leadership of apostate Israel, who rejected Christ and worshipped the Beast."
Think about this. If the preterist/historicist view is correct [it is not] then the false prophet of Revelation are the Jews and their descendants.
Warring against the Jews could easily be seen as working against the antichrist and false prophet. In that view, killing them off would be doing God a favor! 
"They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." (John 16:2)
If the Lord can break His covenant with the Jews, then we are no more secure than they.
"For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." (Romans 11:29)
And so, among historicism's chief difficulties is the fact that if the preterist view is true, then the Bible cannot be.   
It is a fact of history that the 'Dark Ages'  (the fifth to sixteeen centuries) were so-called because, during that time, Bibles were denied to the common man by papal decree.
The Vatican had developed the preterist/historicist interpretation of Bible prophecy -- and offering any other interpretation would get you burned at the stake. (So would possessing a Bible)
THAT is why historicism is often called the 'classical' interpretation. Because it dates back to the 5th century.  The Dark Ages lasted until the Protestant Reformation. But Protestantism sprang OUT of Catholicism, bringing many of the Vatican's doctrines along when it did. 
The split was over salvation by grace [Protestant] vs. salvation by works [Catholic] but, other than that, Protestantism embraced and continued to accept much Catholic doctrine and dogma.
Wrongly dividing the Word of God has resulted in the fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy to the Jews (John 16:2) being the standard operating practice of mainstream Christianity until the middle of the 20th century.
Preterists generally see Israel as the modern-day antichrist, believing that embracing Israel as God's Chosen People is spiritual adultery. That is why debates between preterists and pretribulationalists get so nasty.
Type 'Hal Lindsey' into Google and look around. You'll find his critics don't just disagree with him, they HATE him with a passion. He's been accused of every known heresy and then some.
Hal wrote a book entitled "The Road to Holocaust" in 1989 that directly challenged the preterist worldview as espoused by Dominionism and its champions. He's been the target of every slander imaginable since.
The reason is because Hal demonstrated preterism was the root and branch of Christian anti-Semitism -- and his critics despise him for exposing them.
The Omega Letter's mission is to provide you with the evidences you need to answer challenges from skeptics and to provide you with the evidence you need to prove that these are the last days, that Bible prophecy is unfolding in this generation, and that the time is short.
The Scriptures admonish us to,
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. .  Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some." (2nd Timothy 2:15-16,18)
You can be confident that we are NOT following some newly invented doctrine, despite the charges of historicist/preterism.
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:" (2nd Peter 1:19)
Don't allow yourself to be bamboozled into buying into what I believe Paul was referring to when he wrote:
 "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils . . ." (1st Timothy 4:1)
God's Word, rightly divided, says:
"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." (Romans 13:11)
Don't let your faith be shaken by cleverly-wording arguments that almost seem to make sense. Remember Jesus' warning to Israel.
"They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." (John 16:2)
The gaping holes in the preterist/historicist interpretation of Bible prophecy confirms the truth of Dispensationalism. The Lord IS coming back. And He is coming back soon.  

Friday, June 30, 2017


by Jack Kinsella

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."- Isaiah 40:31

The word translated as "wait" in this verse is qavah, a root word with a number of different meanings.  As a root word, it literally means 'to bind together' in the sense of collecting, or twisting together.    
Figuratively, it is used in the same sense as our literal understanding of the English word, 'wait' , but the use of the word qavah adds two new dimensions, one in the sense of being "gathered together" and the second  in the sense of collectively looking for, or waiting upon, something or someone, in this case, the Lord.
The traditional understanding of this verse is its literal, historical context, which is that of an exhortation to the children of Israel suffering a long and miserable captivity in Babylon. 
The Kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by Sargon the Assyrian a generation before, and there was little reason to believe the Kingdom of Judah would fare any better.  As the years dragged by, the captives lost all hope of deliverance. 
The Prophet Isaiah exhorted them with words of comfort and hope:
"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." (Isaiah 40:1-3)
The Prophet goes on, offering comforting visions of future prosperity, mixed with promises of a Deliverer . . .  yet the people remained in bondage.  Isaiah closes with the exhortation about "waiting upon the Lord"  . . . yet the people remained in bondage.
In the Big Picture, Isaiah's vision spans the scope of history, from the Captivity through to the Diaspora, the Holocaust, and finally, the restoration process that began with its political revival in 1948 and will conclude with Israel's national salvation at the conclusion of the Tribulation Period.
But it is also something of a metaphor for the Church in the last days.  The Prophet Jeremiah prophesied Judah would serve Babylon for seventy years.  So when the seventy years were over, all the Jews could expect to go home.  
(If only they knew for sure when the seventy year time-clock started.  Was it from the beginning of the siege in 597?  From the date of the Destruction of the Temple in 586?)   
And if one examines Jeremiah 25:9-12 closely, Jeremiah never said the captivity would last seventy years -- he said the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years .  This is confirmed by the Prophet Daniel:
"In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem." (Daniel 9:2)
But is only with the benefit of hindsight that we can see clearly that the seventy year time frame spanned the period of the Temple's Desolation.
The Temple, and Jerusalem, were destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians.  The Temple, which was rebuilt, was consecrated in 516 BC, exactly 70 years after its destruction.
But if you were a Jewish captive serving your Babylonian masters, until it was history, you might as well be trying to guess the date of the Rapture.
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2nd Peter 3:3-4)
In a sense, that's where we are on the prophetic time clock today.  Somewhere between the Temple Desolation Periods.  The Temple was desolated in AD 70.  The Bible predicts that at some point at or near the start of the Tribulation Period, the Third Temple will be rebuilt.
The Prophet Daniel predicted that the antichrist,  -- a prince of the people who destroyed it in AD 70, will confirm a covenant that will permit the Jews to rebuild the Temple and restore the Temple worship and sacrifice system.
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." (Daniel 9:27)
So, Israel was restored politically in May, 1948 which is just over sixty-nine years ago.  For the first time in 2520 years, Israel was again in control of her own destiny.  So, is this event the time clock?  It hasn't been seventy years yet, but it is close. 
Jesus prophesied that Jerusalem will be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.  Did that event trigger the time clock?
Jerusalem was recaptured in June, 1967.  And here we are, ffifity years later, still arguing about whether Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel, or of the non-existent state of Palestine.
Like the Babylonian captives, we won't know exactly what event started the timeclock until afterwards.  Like them, we look around for signs that will give us hope that our deliverance is near.  

Every one of the major miracles in the life of Jesus corresponded to a major Jewish feast day.  The only two feast days for which there is not a corresponding major miracle are Rosh Hashanah – the Feast of the Trumpets – and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement.  Jesus died to atone for my sins and on the Day of the Rapture, I will be caught up with Him, completing my atonement process!  It is an entirely logical assumption.  It is extremely compelling.  Heck, it might even be right.
Except it isn’t.  Every year, both days go by and we’re still here.  We didn’t go last time around.  Probably won’t go this time around. But we still watch and pray.

So we fixate on this sign, or that, while guys like Harold Camping give guys like Bill Maher all the material necessary to discourage guys like you and me.
And, as each period passes, more scoffers come out.  Go back to 2 Peter 3 and read Peter's assessment of the scoffers in full -- and see if you can identify them from his description.  
He tells you not only who they are, but WHY they became scoffers.
“And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
The scoffers know of the Promise.  It isn't guys like Bill Maher that Peter is talking about.  The scoffers are believers who got burned by bad doctrine.  They got tired of waiting for the Lord and started looking for teachers offering shortcuts that ultimately didn't pan out.  
As students of Bible prophecy, we have an awesome responsibility before God.  We’re to be witnesses.  Not storytellers.
Bible prophecy is both the proof of God's existence and the assurance we have of our salvation.
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:" (2 Peter 1:19)
The same Voice that proclaimed,
"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
also proclaimed,
"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." (John 10:28)
Bible prophecy is not gloom and doom, but instead offers hope and a blessed assurance.  It is proof positive that God remains on His Throne and that He WILL do all that He has promised. 
But it is NOT a parlor game to be used to impress people at parties or to divine the future.  There must be a million websites devoted to identifying the antichrist (and selling you provisions to escape the coming wrath.)
Believers are instructed to await the return of the Lord for His Church, not the coming of the antichrist.  Signs that the world is preparing for the antichrist are really signs the Lord is preparing to come for His Church first.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 admonishes us;  . . 
"to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."

We are instructed to wait for the Deliverer from wrath, not the wrath itself.
To the lost, the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief.  But to believers who are expecting Him and do not sleep, the Bible says that Christ will not come "as a thief."
This does NOT mean that we are prepared because we KNOW the date of His return, rather, we are not surprised because we are EXPECTING an IMMINENT Rapture.
It is the job of the Church to prepare the world for the coming of Christ, not to try and figure out His exact itinerary.
Guys like Bill Maher are rich enough already.

The End Times According to Jesus, Part 4-Why Didn't He Mention the Rapture?

In 51 AD, almost 20 years after the Resurrection, the Apostle Paul became the first to reveal the incredible secret that would become known as the Rapture of the Church. He did this in his earliest written communication, his first letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thes. 4:16-17), repeating it four years later in a letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:51).

From Thessalonians we know that at the Rapture, the dead in Christ will rise first to be followed immediately by believers who are left and still alive.
Concerning living believers, Paul's letter to the Corinthians explains that in the twinkling of an eye, we'll be changed from mortal to immortal, bypassing death altogether. Either way, in less than an instant we'll all arrive together in Heaven.

As an aside, those who dispute this doctrine claim that the word rapture doesn't appear in the English translation of either of Paul's letters cited above (nor anywhere else in scripture for that matter) and of course they're correct. The original Greek word Paul used to describe the rapture in 1 Thes. 4:17 is harpazo, usually rendered "caught up" in English translations.

Because of the growing dominance of the Roman Empire in Biblical times, Latin was fast replacing Greek as the world's common language and so about 400 AD the Bible was translated from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. Harpazo became raptus, the Latin root of the English word rapture. It means "the transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven." So it's the Latin version that gave the event its name. Our current English translations are taken directly from the earlier Greek texts, and that's why the word rapture doesn't appear in them.

Why The Delay?

But why didn't the Lord announce the whole issue of salvation for the Gentiles including the Rapture of the Church during his time here? Two reasons. First, Israel had to receive a bona fide offer of the Kingdom. His commitment to them was clear. The first time He sent the disciples out to minister, He told them, "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. (Matt. 10:5) And later when the disciples asked Him to respond to a Gentile woman whose daughter needed healing, He at first declined saying, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." (Matt. 15:23-24) Before He could expand His ministry to the Gentiles, He had to fulfill His promise to Israel.

So just as he had offered reconciliation to the Amorites in Abraham's time, knowing in advance that they would reject Him, (Gen. 15:16) the Lord extended His offer of a Kingdom to Israel. And of course Israel did reject His offer by attributing the power behind His miracles to Satan, (Matt. 12:22-37) and eventually accusing Him of blasphemy (Matt. 26:65). This rejection was confirmed to them in the parable of the tenants (Matt. 21:13-44). But the pre-determined order of first the Jew then the Gentile (Rom. 1:16) had to be observed. (Prophetic Scriptures tell us Israel will get another chance, and the next time they'll accept.)

Second, knowing before history began that the Jews would reject Him the first time, the Lord had always planned to extend His offer of salvation to the Gentiles, and that meant something really dramatic had to happen. Gentiles were even worse sinners than Jews, who at least made periodic attempts to obey. But for 4000 years the Lord had demonstrated through His people that no level of excellence in human behavior could ever meet His requirements for salvation. And even with the most complex religious system ever devised, the most expensive house of worship ever built, the most detail conscious people ever created, and the most aggressive sacrifice of innocent blood ever undertaken, the final score at the end of the Dispensation of Law was zero souls saved through religious works. (Rom. 3:20)

At Least Somebody's Listening

Well, He didn't convince them but He did convince Satan, who believed that eventually all of humanity would wind up with him in the lost column of the ledger, Jew and Gentile alike. Surely then the Lord would have to rescind his judgment against Satan (Isaiah 14:16-21). After all, was he any worse than sinful mankind? Hadn't they also rebelled, tried to set up their own kingdoms, and even tried to become their own God? The God Who is Love couldn't stand by and let all his precious children go to hell just to punish Satan, could He? And if He bent the rules for them, He'd have to bend for Satan.

Surprise, Surprise

But no one knew what the Lord had cooked up to solve this problem. Having known from the beginning that we couldn't save ourselves by our works, He had determined in advance that He would save us by our faith. That meant someone qualified to do so would have to step up and pay the penalty for our sins for us. Then God could promise us that if we accepted this substitution in faith, we would be saved.

Of course the only One qualified to do this for us was God Himself. So He did. He Who had no sin was made a sin offering for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21) And as a special blessing for "believing though we have not seen" (John 20:29) He even went so far as to make His Church a separate classification of humanity, (Ephe. 2:15) giving us a pre-imminent place in His Kingdom, and promising to take us out of this world to be with Him forever in a secret, sudden departure we now call the Rapture. And though we can look back and see hints of His plan all through the Old Testament, (Isaiah 49:6 for example) neither Satan, the leaders of Israel, nor even the Lord's closest disciples realized that His death on the cross was intended to accomplish all this.

"None of the rulers of this age understood it," Paul wrote, "For if they had they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory." (1 Cor. 2:8) Implicit in the phrase "rulers of this age" is a reference to Satan, whom Paul called "the god of this age" in 2 Cor. 4:4. If Satan had known that his efforts to defeat the Lord by killing Him would result in his own total defeat, he would have done anything he could to prevent it.

I've Got A Secret

For these reasons the Rapture of a largely Gentile Church had to be kept secret. It was part of God's secret wisdom, Paul said, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began (1 Cor 2:7). Paul was not authorized to reveal this until nearly 20 years after the Lord's death, when it was too late for anyone to do anything about it, but it's what he meant when he wrote to the Colossians, "And having disarmed the powers and authorities (by paying the penalty for our sins) He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." (Col. 2:15).

(It's easy to forget that up until Peter's vision and subsequent visit to the home of Cornelius detailed in Acts 10, most believers had come from among the Jews. The acceptance of Gentiles into the Church didn't become official policy until the council at Jerusalem 13 years after that in Acts 15.)

What was to have been Satan's great victory has resulted in his total defeat. Now the only ones on his side of the ledger will be those who choose to be there by rejecting God's offer of pardon. Their choice relieves God of the responsibility. He still grieves over them, but can't override their sovereign right to choose their own destiny. And since they've chosen to join him, Satan can't use them as leverage to get a better deal for himself.

In Closing ...

The enormity of God's Gift of Grace, made available to Jew and Gentile alike and sealed with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, is something so unbelievable that neither Paul nor any other Apostle was ever able to adequately describe it. The best Paul could do was to borrow a passage from Isaiah, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9). Amen to that.

And so one day soon, with no prior warning and at a time when the world least expects Him, 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. (1 Thes. 4:16-17) There is no precedent condition, nothing that must happen first, except that if you want to be included you have to give your heart to Him who's coming before the trumpet call sounds. Better do it right away, for if you listen carefully you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.

The End Times According to Jesus .. Part 3

- Jack Kelley -

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 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. (Matt 24:36-41)

Don't let this passage confuse you, like it has so many others. Note that the first sentence reads, "No one knows about that day or hour." Plenty of people on Earth at the End of the Age will know when the Lord is due to return. Remember, both the kick-off event and duration of the Great Tribulation are clearly and unmistakably described. On the day when the Antichrist stands in the Temple and declares that he's God, they'll just have to count off 1260 days and look up into the sky. First, they'll see the Sun and Moon turn dark and stars fall out of the sky. (Matt 24:29) That's the signal that the Great Tribulation has ended. Then the Lord's sign will appear in the sky. (Matt. 24:30) And finally, they'll see the Lord Himself coming in the clouds in power and glory. But the period of time required for this sequence to unfold is anybody's guess, and that's what this passage says.

Also, the Lord compared the time of His return to the time of Noah, so we should expect to find similar circumstances leading up to these two events. And we do. Both involve worldwide judgments that occur at a time when most people are caught unaware. Although in both cases the people of Earth are given repeated warnings of what's coming, those warnings are ignored by almost everyone. In the case of the Great Flood, judgment came in the form of rain, which fell on the Earth for 40 days and 40 nights. In the case of the Great Tribulation 21 separate judgment events unfold over a 3 ½ year period. This is why although only eight people survived the Flood, the Lord warned that the Great Tribulation would be the worst time of judgment in human history.

Here's where the second hint of a body of believers in Heaven awaiting His return appears, and this one's even more vague than the first one, back in Matt. 24:31. You see, both the Great Flood and the Great Tribulation have three components: judgment, preservation through judgment, and escape from judgment. In the Days of Noah, the unbelievers were judged, Noah's family was preserved through the judgment, and Enoch escaped it altogether. At the End of the Age, unbelievers are judged, the remnant of Israel is preserved through the judgment, and the Church escapes from judgment.

Now let's consider those words taken and left in Matt. 24:40-41 a little more closely. The Greek word translated taken literally means received, and the one translated left means put away. They refer to the disposition of those remaining alive on Earth when the Lord returns-the Tribulation Survivors. Those who've become believers will be received into the Kingdom, and those who haven't will be put away into the place prepared for the devil and his angels. Folks who try to find the Rapture of the Church in these words are simply looking in the wrong place.

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 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. (Matt. 24:42-44)

This warning is given primarily to those Tribulation Survivors who are not believers. As I stated above, once the Great Tribulation begins, all believers on Earth will know when it will end. The sequence of events that follow is also clear. The only thing they won't know is the exact day and hour of His Coming.

No, this warning is to the undecided, who aren't counting up the prophecies being fulfilled around them, and don't realize that if they waver too long, they'll be taken by surprise and miss their last chance at salvation. Don't get me wrong, they'll be only too aware of the massive disruptions to their lives caused by the End Times judgments. They just won't understand what's behind it all. Remember, confusion and deception will be the order of the day.

Think about the analogy of the thief. As the Lord returns unexpectedly (like a thief), He'll be breaking into a place the enemy thinks belongs to him and his followers. "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Phil 3:19-20) He won't be coming as a thief in the night as far as believers are concerned, stealthily breaking into their world. They'll be eagerly watching and impatiently waiting, counting the days, praying for His coming, longing for Him to take them home to be with Him forever.

"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 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. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 24:45-51)

The worst punishment is reserved for those in charge, heads of organized religions who, instead of "feeding" their flocks with the Bread of Life and encouraging them with the promise of His return, confuse and deceive them with false doctrines, and deny the validity of God's prophetic Word. By their actions, they demonstrate the depravity of their own souls, showing themselves to be devoid of the Holy Spirit and worthy of punishment. Knowingly or not, they're infiltrators from the enemy's camp, like tares among the wheat.

Having forsaken the truth, they no longer watch for the Lord's return, ignoring the obvious fulfillment of prophecy all around them and ridiculing those whose child-like faith sustains them. These "Christian Atheists" as they sometimes call themselves, are worse than the enemy because they look and talk like friends. They're like the one John describes as appearing to have the authority of the Lamb but who speaks the words of the Dragon (Rev. 13:11). They will be also be assigned to the place prepared for the devil and his angels.

But the Lord will elevate to a place of authority in His Kingdom those who keep the word of God through the intense hardship and persecution of the times, and teach sound doctrine to the flocks entrusted to them. Just as some among the common folk alive when the Lord returns will be received into the Kingdom with honors, while others are put away in everlasting shame and contempt, so it will be with their leaders.

In chapter 25, Matthew recounts two parables, the Ten Bridesmaids and the Talents, and a warning to Tribulation Survivors, the Sheep and Goat judgment. In all three, the emphasis is on separating the faithful from the unfaithful following the Lord's return. The faithful will be received with honors into His Kingdom, while the unfaithful are left out to be judged. Since all three include a reference to time that places them in the aftermath of His 2nd coming, the entire chapter expands on the "taken and left" statement of Matt. 24:40-41.

Because there's been so much confusion, let's make this perfectly clear. Of all the views on the timing of the Rapture of the Church, none place it after the 2nd coming. But look how clearly that time frame is indicated in each portion of Matt. 25. Backing up a little to establish the order, we read;

"Immediately after the distress of those days," signs in the Heavens after the end of the Great Tribulation (Matt 24:29)

"At that time," His appearance in the sky after the end of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:30)

"No one knows about that day," the day of the 2nd Coming, after the Tribulation (Matt: 24:36)

"At that time," connecting the parable of the ten virgins to the 2nd Coming (Matt 25:1)

"Again," referring to the same time frame in beginning the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14)

"When the Son of Man comes in all His Glory," beginning the Sheep and Goat judgment which describes the judgment of Tribulation Survivors after the 2nd Coming (Matt 25:31).

As you see, they all occur chronologically after the Tribulation and 2nd Coming, and all describe the situation on Earth following the Lord's return. Therefore none of them can be used to describe the Rapture or any other aspect of the Church. The Church Age ends with the Rapture and that occurs before the Second Coming.

It's clear that the only questions the Lord answered in the Olivet Discourse are the three the disciples asked. "When will these things happen? What will be the sign of your Coming and of the End of the Age?" Having chosen to delay the announcement of the Rapture of the Church until nearly 20 years after His resurrection, the Lord neither taught it to His disciples nor, as we've seen, did He address it in the Olivet Discourse. No, the Olivet Discourse was a summary of Jewish Eschatology given to Jews in Israel, not intended for the Church.

So in coming to the end of our commentary, we're left with one big unanswered question. Why didn't the Lord teach something as important as the Doctrine of the Rapture to his disciples somewhere else in the Gospels? Obviously, there's a good reason, and I'll explain it next time. That way we'll keep something intended exclusively for the Church separate from this very Jewish passage of Scripture we call the Olivet Discourse. In the meantime, if you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.

The End Times According to Jesus ... Part 2

- Jack Kelley -

"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And 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 24:9-14)

The words here are very similar to those in Luke 21:20-24 covered in Part 1, but in Matthew, the focus is clearly the End Times.  It helps to remember that verses 4-14 are an overview of the End Times that cover the period from the beginning of the birth pangs to the 2nd Coming.

Believers will be severely persecuted at the End of the Age (Matthew's version) just like they were at the beginning (Luke's version) and because Tribulation believers are not promised Eternal Security like the Church was, many will turn away from the faith due to the intense persecution.  Just before the Lord's return, the Good News will be preached in every nation to prepare the people of Earth for His coming and to deny them a plausible excuse for rejecting Him, or pleading ignorance.

"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel-let the reader understand- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again. (Matt 24:15-21)

In this portion, the Lord backed up to pinpoint the beginning of the Great Tribulation, a time of judgment whose very name comes from here (translated in the NIV as great distress), one that will surpass anything the world has ever seen. The Prophet Daniel had written of a time in the future when the Temple would be desecrated by an event he called "the Abomination that causes Desolation" (Daniel 9:24-27) and the Lord was now informing them that this event would trigger the Great Tribulation.

Since Daniel's time, something like it had only happened once. In 168 BC the Syrian Ruler Antiochus Epiphanes (the name means God made manifest), after muscling his way into Israel, seized the Temple and converted it to pagan worship. He erected a statue of Zeus in the Holy Place in his own likeness, requiring everyone to bow down before it on pain of death. The Jews called this desecration the Abomination that causes Desolation, borrowing language from Daniel 9:27. It so angered them that they rose up in arms against the Syrian invaders. The 3 1/2 year long Maccabean Revolt, as it was called, resulted in the Syrians' expulsion from Israel and a Temple cleansing and re-dedication ceremony that's still memorialized annually in the Feast of Chanukkah.

Today, students of the End Times see a frighteningly clear model of the Great Tribulation in the Maccabean Revolt, with a foreign invader calling himself God and demanding worship, a Temple desecration, and unbelievable persecution ending in a 3 1/2-year war of liberation. As we'll see, that's just what the Lord intended in mentioning Daniel's Prophecy.

193 years after the Maccabean Revolt, Jesus spoke of the Abomination that causes Desolation as something still in the future. And a careful reading of his 70 weeks prophecy shows that Daniel placed it in the middle of the 70th week, long after both the Messiah's arrival and rejection, and the destruction of the city and sanctuary. Since nothing like this has happened since the Lord gave His warning, it means that one day soon another foreign invader will muscle his way into Israel, calling himself God and demanding worship. There'll be another Temple desecration, and more unbelievable persecution ending in another war of liberation, only this time the entire planet will be affected, not just Israel. According to Daniel, it will begin half way through the last 7 years of human history establishing its duration as 3 1/2 years just like it's earlier model. In 2 Thes 2:4 Paul expanded Daniel's account, connecting it to the antichrist at the End of the Age. These things confirm that the sacrilege that kicked off the Maccabean Revolt serves as a preview to help people recognize the sacrilege that will kick off the Great Tribulation. (See also Rev. 13:14-17)

There are three factors here that underscore the "Jewishness" of the Lord's warning:

First there will be a desecration of their Temple, second the warning is given specifically to those in Judea, the region of Jerusalem in Israel, and third, there's an admonition to pray that it won't happen on the Sabbath, a day when Jewish law forbids traveling.

Clearly, the Lord was saying that there will be a nation of Jewish people observing His Law in Israel at the End of the Age and they will have rebuilt their Temple prior to His return.

If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.

"So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. (Matt. 24:22-28)

The Great Tribulation is the most specifically documented span of time in all of Scripture. In one place we're told it's 3 1/2 years long (time, times and half a time; one year plus two years plus half a year as in Rev. 12:14), in another, 42 months (Rev. 11:2) and in still another, 1260 days (Rev.12:6). Use the original calendar for Earth, 12 months of 30 days each for a 360 day year, and you find all three measurements identical from a time standpoint. Moreover, there isn't a single hint anywhere that it will be of a shorter duration. Most scholars who read the passage above literally, conclude that the phrase cut short means that for the sake of His elect the Lord will step in on the 1260th day and put an end to the warfare instead of letting it run to its logical conclusion; the destruction of every human on the planet.

Use the original calendar for Earth, 12 months of 30 days each for a 360 day year, and you find all three measurements identical from a time standpoint. Moreover, there isn't a single hint anywhere that it will be of a shorter duration. Most scholars who read the passage above literally, conclude that the phrase cut short means that for the sake of His elect the Lord will step in on the 1260th day and put an end to the warfare instead of letting it run to its logical conclusion; the destruction of every human on the planet.

"Immediately after the distress of those days, " 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matt.24:29-31)

In bringing the Great Tribulation to an end, the Lord cause the Sun and Moon to be darkened. Then His sign will appear in the sky, and finally He Himself will come in power and glory just as He promised Caiaphas, the High Priest, at His trial 2000 years ago (Matt. 26:64). All the nations will mourn because His appearance rings the closing bell for the Age of Grace. Too late, the people of Earth will realize that He is just Who He's always claimed to be, and they've missed their last chance at salvation.

At His signal, His angels will gather His elect (believers) from all over Heaven to return with Him to Earth to establish His Kingdom. This is one of two vague hints in the Olivet Discourse that there will be a body of believers in Heaven awaiting His 2nd coming.  According to Mark's account, believers on earth will also be summoned (Mark 13:27) to witness His triumphant return.

"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matt. 24:32-36)

The fig tree is the last to bud, so when it does we know Summer's almost here. Through His disciples, the Lord told the people on Earth at the End of the Age that when all these things begin to happen, it means the end is very near. Indeed, of the 6000-year history of Man, only 3 1/2 will remain.

The Greek word translated generation also means race and can be interpreted as the Lord's promise that the Jewish race wouldn't be extinguished before the End comes. And that's remarkably true. The vicious and oft-repeated attempts to rid the world of Jewish people have all failed, and Israel has risen from the grave after a 2000-year absence to once again become the focus of world attention.

Yet there's also a sense in which the Lord's promise can be rendered, "I tell you the truth, the generation that sees the beginning of these signs will also see their culmination." In other words, they will all be concluded during the lifetimes of those being born as they begin. There's precedent for this too. All the prophecies concerning the Lord's first visit were fulfilled within the lifespan of the generation into which He was born.

Please note that if this view is the correct one, as I believe it to be, the Lord didn't promise that, once they begin, all End Times prophecies would be fulfilled before the next generation is born, but only that they would be fulfilled during the lifetimes of those being born at their commencement. A Biblical generation is nominally 40 years, but a lifetime is more like 70-80 years (Psalm 90:10). The folks who added 40 years to Israel's 1948 rebirth and predicted the Rapture would happen in 1988 were off on two counts.

1) They should have added a lifetime, not the length of a biblical generation, and
2) It's the 2nd Coming that will happen within a lifetime of the first signs. The Rapture could happen at any time prior to that.

If we're still here next week, we'll finish up this series and show you why those who are looking for signs of the Rapture of the Church in the Olivet Discourse are looking in the wrong place. Until then, if you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.