Saturday, August 12, 2017

SYRIA AND THE END TIMES

BY BRITT GILLETTE


With all the events taking place in Syria right now, many people are asking, "What does the Bible have to say about Syria and the end times? 

Is this the beginning of World War III and Armageddon?" Those are legitimate questions, but let me assure you, this is not the end. How can I be so sure? 

Because the Bible says Armageddon takes place at the end of the seven-year Tribulation (Revelation 16:16), and the Tribulation has yet to begin.

That said, I believe recent events in Syria have great significance when it comes to the study of bible prophecy. 

This doesn't mean you're guaranteed to see the immediate fulfillment of any specific bible prophecy. However, it does mean you should pay close attention. 

Why? Because, at the very least, these events are setting the table for the fulfillment of multiple bible prophecies.

Just look around you. The signs of the Second Coming are everywhere. The restoration of Israel (Isaiah 11:12)... The Jews back in Jerusalem (Luke 21:24-28)... The Gospel preached to the world (Matthew 24:14)... An increase in travel and knowledge (Daniel 12:4)... The rise of the European Union (Daniel 2:43)... And many more. 

Jesus says once you see all these signs come together, His return is near (Luke 21:28). This means the Tribulation is close, and you should expect to see the fulfillment of many end times prophecies in the near future.

Below are two prophetic events especially relevant to the ongoing events in Syria. The first could take place at any moment. 

I believe a careful study of the Bible reveals the second event will take place sometime after the war foretold in Psalm 83. 

Either way, both events could be very close to fulfillment. While both could still be several years away, breaking events could lead to their fulfillment in this very hour.

1) The Destruction of Damascus (Isaiah 17)

Chapter 17 in the Book of Isaiah paints a sobering picture. In it, the city of Damascus is a pile of rubble. The Bible says it will disappear from the face of the earth and become a heap of ruins (Isaiah 17:1). 

At the same time, large parts of northern Israel will also lie in ruin (Isaiah 17:3). Now, before you say this prophecy was fulfilled during Old Testament times, keep this in mind... This passage says Damascus will cease to be a city (Isaiah 17:1). 

It will be utterly and completely destroyed. Yet, Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on record. Its history goes back more than 5,000 years. At 2,600 years old, the Book of Isaiah itself is new compared to Damascus! This prophecy is yet to be fulfilled.

So how do current events in Syria relate to Isaiah 17? Following the U.S. strike on the Syrian airfield Shayrat, Syria's allies issued a joint statement saying, "What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well". 

While this statement was clearly in response to a U.S. bombing, these nations made it clear they will respond to any nation they view as an aggressor. 

This includes Israel. While it hasn't been a major news story, Israel has also been bombing Syria. They're bombing Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists operating on the northern border of Israel. 

If Syria and its allies view their situation as desperate, they may decide to use these bombing raids as an excuse to launch a chemical attack on Israel. 

This is because drawing Israel into the war could rally the Muslim world to Syria's side. Saddam Hussein tried this same tactic during the first Gulf War. In 1991, he fired Scud missiles at Israel in an effort to draw them into the war and break up the coalition aligned against him.

If Syria, Hezbollah, or any of their allies managed to strike Israel with a weapon of mass destruction, the response would be swift. Israel would most likely respond in kind. If their intelligence revealed the Assad regime was behind such an attack, nuclear retaliation on Damascus would not be out of the question.

While this is all speculation, and not necessary how Isaiah 17 will be fulfilled, it shows how realistic a near-term fulfillment of this prophecy could be. With current instability in the region, and so many warring factions in Syria, events could spiral out of control very quickly. 

At this point in time, it's not difficult to imagine a scenario in which Damascus is completely destroyed.

2) The Gog of Magog War (Ezekiel 38-39)

Current events in Syria are also setting the stage for the Gog of Magog War. More than 2,600 years ago, the prophet Ezekiel warned of a future time when a vast coalition of nations will attack Israel. 

Ezekiel identifies these nations as "Magog, Rosh, Meschech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah" (Ezekiel 38:1-6). These nations have since come to be known as the Gog of Magog alliance. 

Now, with the exception of Persia and Cush, I realize most people have never heard of these nations. 

But keep in mind Ezekiel used the names of these nations as they were known in his day. Each one is a clearly identifiable nation today. So who are these nations in our day and time?

Below is a list. The Old Testament name is listed first, followed by its modern day equivalent:

Rosh = Russia
Magog = Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan
Persia = Iran
Cush = Sudan
Put = Libya
Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah = Turkey

Collectively, these nations have never attacked Israel. In fact, in the history of the world, such an alliance of nations has never existed. 

But today we see it coming together right in front of us. Since 1989, Russia and Iran have gradually strengthened their diplomatic, military, and economic ties. 

Yet, in the first 2,600 years after Ezekiel recorded his prophecies, the nations of Russia and Persia (Iran) had never been part of any alliance of any sort. Never. Cooperation between Russia and Iran, especially military cooperation, didn't take place. 

This led many people to claim Ezekiel's prophecy was symbolic. Why? Because the idea of the Gog of Magog war seemed absurd. After all, at the dawn of the 20th Century, Russia was an orthodox Christian nation and Israel didn't exist! 

But those who believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible knew otherwise.  They knew all prophecy would come to pass. Because bible prophecy doesn't come from mere humans. It's God's Word (2 Peter 1:19-21).

In the years since, the stage has been set for the literal fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39. A 1917 communist revolution transformed Russia from a Christian nation to an atheist nation. 

In 1948, Israel once again became a nation. And earlier this week, Russia and Iran issued a joint statement vowing to respond with force to any aggressor.

And Turkey? For decades, people have wondered how Turkey could be a part of this alliance. After all, Turkey is a member of NATO. 

And in late 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian jet when it strayed into Turkish airspace. Russia and Turkey seem to be at odds. 

So how could Turkey be a part of this alliance? At first glance, it seems unlikely. But in the summer of 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan jailed thousands of political opponents. And just today (Easter Sunday 2017), Turkey voted to eliminate its parliamentary form of government and give expanded powers to Erdogan. 

Ultimately, this could be what pushes Turkey into the Russian sphere of influence. Erdogan is an anti-Western, pro-Islamist leader, and he's worked hard to strengthen Turkey's ties with Russia. 

In light of these developments, we can see the Gog of Magog alliance coming together for the first time in history. 

For the first time since Israel re-emerged on the world scene in May 1948, the main players of the Ezekiel 38-39 alliance are all working together. Even more important, they all have military personnel on Israel's northern border. The stage is set for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39.

What Will Ultimately Happen?

While terrible destruction awaits Damascus (Isaiah 17:1), northern Israel (Isaiah 17:3), and the entire Gog of Magog Alliance (Ezekiel 38:19-22), we have reason to be hopeful. 

Because of these events, the Bible says people will soon look to and acknowledge their Creator - the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Isaiah 17:7). 

When He strikes down Israel's enemies, the whole world will know He is the God Israel (Ezekiel 38:23).

In the days and weeks ahead, we can't be certain what will happen in Syria. But in the long run, we can be absolutely certain the events of Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38-39 will be fulfilled. 

Damascus will lie in ruin, and the Gog of Magog Alliance will be destroyed. These events are certain. 

Because whatever He has declared, God will bring to pass (Isaiah 14:24). And when these things happen, the world will no longer be able to deny Him. He will destroy the enemies of Israel in plain view of the entire world.

"In this way," says the Lord. "I will show my greatness and holiness, and I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the Lord." Ezekiel 38:23 (NLT)



WRONGLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH


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 survived as the classical, Protestant interpretation of prophecy for over 500 years.

Most critics of Pretribulational Dispensationalism are quick to point out that it wasn't widely taught until sometime in the early 1800's (although that is not exactly accurate . . . I'll get to that shortly.)
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.

A few examples; (preterist quotes courtesy of Tommy Ice)
The Great Tribulation already took place, and culminated with the Destruction of the Temple in AD 70. They say it will not be repeated, and thus is not a future event.
The Great Apostasy spoken of by Paul happened in the first century. In the preterist view, "instead of expecting increasing apostasy as history progresses; instead, we should expect the increasing Christianization of the world."
The Last Days "is a Biblical expression for the period between Christ's Advent and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70: the "last days" of Israel."
The Antichrist "is a term used by John to describe the widespread apostasy of the Christian Church prior to the Fall of Jerusalem. In general, any apostate teacher or system can be called 'antichrist'; but the word does not refer to some 'future Fuhrer.'"

The Rapture is "the 'catching up' of the living saints 'to meet the Lord in the air.' The Bible does not teach any separation between the Second Coming and the Rapture; they are simply different aspects of the Last Day."

The Beast "of Revelation was a symbol of both Nero in particular and the Roman Empire in general."

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."

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 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)

LETS THINK ABOUT THIS

If pretribulational Dispensationalism is so relatively young, is it an invented doctrine? It is a good question, one that keeps the preterists from even considering it as a valid doctrine.
They argue that, if it was valid, it would have been accepted doctrine throughout Church history, instead of something 'invented by Margaret MacDonald and C. I. Schofield in the 1800s'.

In point of fact, pretribulational Dispensationalism was taught by the early church, as my friend Grant Jeffrey has already proved.
In fact, I remember the day in Grant's study in Toronto when he told me of his discoveries of several ancient manuscripts, sometime in early 1994. Grant keyed in on a passage written by Ephraem the Syrian, who died around 373 AD.

"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."

Grant's discovery was authenticated by several other major authorities and it proves that pretribulationalism was NOT a recent invention of what the preterists call 'militant futurism' but was commonly accepted doctrine until the rise of Catholicism.
At the risk of being inundated with emails from Catholics, it is an historical fact that the 'Dark Ages' of history were so-called because, during that time, Bibles were denied to the common man by papal decree.
The Church 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 the 'classical' interpretation. The Dark Ages lasted until the Protestant Reformation. But Protestantism sprang OUT of Catholicism.
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 believe Israel is the antichrist, and 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.

Our 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.
From time to time, it is necessary to review some basic information in order to bring everybody up to speed -- so for some of you, a lot of today's column has been review. My apologies.

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.
Rather, 
"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.
I'm betting my eternity on it.


Friday, August 11, 2017

WE SHALL BE KEPT FROM THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION




Some time ago I saw an individual's anti-pretrib comments on various social media platforms. He wasn't just part of the usual anti-pretrib police. This man was promoting his new book, claiming to expose the fallacious pretrib rapture. I finally bit and downloaded the Kindle edition. 

Whenever I read that john Darby taught two ways of salvation; or that he relied on Margaret MacDonald; or that Harold Camping was a pretribber (he was amillennial) - I know the author is biased and/or hasn't done the homework. Such was the case here.

According to the book, one of the fallacies of pretribulationism is its appeal to Rev 3:10 as a rapture passage. The book's rebuttal draws from posttribulationist Robert Gundry's arguments. These include the meaning of the expression "tereo ek" as used in Rev 3:10 and John 17:15. Gundry argued for protection within the time of trial.

Note: Richard Mayhue has responded HERE. See also Jeffery Townsend's The Rapture in Revelation 3:10 and Tony Garland's commentary.

The book's prewrath author presented a similar conclusion to Marvin Rosenthal (The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church). Rosenthal contended that Rev 3:10 wasn't a watershed verse which determined the timing of the rapture - instead, Rev 3:9-10 dealt with the keeping from the temptation within the Great Tribulation.

Despite the claim of fallacy, at least two leaders of the prewrath system treat Rev 3:10 as a rapture passage. They (Charles Cooper & Alan Kurschner) agree that believers are raptured out of the world so as not to experience God's wrath, based on this promise.

Interestingly, Cooper even agrees with John Niemelä's premises regarding the grammar of Rev 3:9-10 (though not the timing). Niemelä suggests a revision of the punctuation, like so:

Verse 9) “Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie - indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you because you have kept my command to persevere.

(The above underlined part is normally included in v 10 below)

Verse 10) I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”

Notice that this revised punctuation removes the condition for being kept from the hour of trial. Pretribulationism doesn't need this particular argument. But if correct, it counters the notion that persevering through the Great Tribulation is a precondition for exemption from God's wrath.

The promise to the Philadelphian Church applies to us today. In Niemelä's second presentation, he writes:

For almost 2000 years, physical death has been the means for preventing Church Age believers from living into the hour of trial. Christ kept His promise to the first century Philadelphians. In so doing, He has given a prototype of the way that He delivers the entire Church. The deliverance is Pre-tribulational. Thus far, death has been the means of deliverance. However, the final generation of the Church will receive its deliverance via the Rapture.”

So the essential difference between Cooper's view and pretribulationism is a disagreement on what period constitutes God's eschatological wrath. For Cooper, God's wrath only occurs within a technically defined period, after "Antichrist's Great Tribulation."

Most premil posttribulationists see God's wrath only occurring during the Day of the Lord, just before the millennium. While pretribulationist Richard Mayhue concurs that the Day of the Lord occurs at the end of the 70th week, he also acknowledges that God's wrath is present throughout the seven years.

On the other hand, some scholars note that the Day of the Lord isn't always confined to a single, technical, moment. In Central Themes in Biblical Theology, Paul House writes that the NT writers saw the Day of the Lord as a possible past event, "potentially in the present, and future oriented in time." According to William Dumbrell:

The concept of the Day of the Lord, as considered by the prophets, is not singular in meaning; the connotation can be determined only by examining each context in which the phrase appears.”~ The Search for Order: Biblical Eschatology in Focus

This explains the differences in Joel's and Paul's Day of the Lord statements regarding the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:31; 1 Thess 5:2-3). Can anyone be in a state of "peace and safety" after the 2nd and 4th seal judgments?

God's wrath is present in the elements of the fourth seal. The language parallels Ezek 5:13-17; 7:3-19; 14:21. Why does John use Old Testament wrathful language in the 4th seal if such isn't the case? Or, as Robert Van Kampen asserted, for an event which exclusively affects the church and the Jews in order to purify them?

This isn't the kind of tribulation we ordinarily experience in the world (Rev 1:9). This is God's wrath.

God uses people and nations as instruments of His wrath. See Habakkuk chapters one and two as an example. There is no contradiction in God using Satan as His instrument of wrath. Neither does Satan's wrath in the 2nd half of the 70th week (Rev 12:12) cancel out God's wrath. Why would it?

Furthermore, Satan and the Lawless One are used by God as judgment because of rebellion and refusal to love the truth. Paul clearly affirms this in 2 Thess 2:7, 9-12.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie...”

Hence, the Seal Judgments and the Great Tribulation form the trial which will test the world.

I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” Rev 3:10

This isn't pretrib rapture wishful thinking. There are no hidden clauses in this promise. It doesn't say the church must suffer through Seal Judgments, or the Great Tribulation, before it is finally raptured.
 
For own their reasons, dedicated critics of pretribulationism strive to enforce provisos and stipulations to the promise of exemption. Perhaps it gives some a sense of moral higher ground.

As for me, I'll take Rev 3:10 at face-value. I want to live every day in anticipation of that shout (1 Thess 4:16-18).

Lord, come quickly!


Some time ago I saw an individual's anti-pretrib comments on various social media platforms. He wasn't just part of the usual anti-pretrib police. This man was promoting his new book, claiming to expose the fallacious pretrib rapture. I finally bit and downloaded the Kindle edition. 

Whenever I read that john Darby taught two ways of salvation; or that he relied on Margaret MacDonald; or that Harold Camping was a pretribber (he was amillennial) - I know the author is biased and/or hasn't done the homework. Such was the case here.

According to the book, one of the fallacies of pretribulationism is its appeal to Rev 3:10 as a rapture passage. The book's rebuttal draws from posttribulationist Robert Gundry's arguments. These include the meaning of the expression "tereo ek" as used in Rev 3:10 and John 17:15. Gundry argued for protection within the time of trial.

Note: Richard Mayhue has responded HERE. See also Jeffery Townsend's The Rapture in Revelation 3:10 and Tony Garland's commentary.

The book's prewrath author presented a similar conclusion to Marvin Rosenthal (The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church). Rosenthal contended that Rev 3:10 wasn't a watershed verse which determined the timing of the rapture - instead, Rev 3:9-10 dealt with the keeping from the temptation within the Great Tribulation.

Despite the claim of fallacy, at least two leaders of the prewrath system treat Rev 3:10 as a rapture passage. They (Charles Cooper & Alan Kurschner) agree that believers are raptured out of the world so as not to experience God's wrath, based on this promise.

Interestingly, Cooper even agrees with John Niemelä's premises regarding the grammar of Rev 3:9-10 (though not the timing). Niemelä suggests a revision of the punctuation, like so:

Verse 9) “Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie - indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you because you have kept my command to persevere.

(The above underlined part is normally included in v 10 below)

Verse 10) I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”

Notice that this revised punctuation removes the condition for being kept from the hour of trial. Pretribulationism doesn't need this particular argument. But if correct, it counters the notion that persevering through the Great Tribulation is a precondition for exemption from God's wrath.

The promise to the Philadelphian Church applies to us today. In Niemelä's second presentation, he writes:

For almost 2000 years, physical death has been the means for preventing Church Age believers from living into the hour of trial. Christ kept His promise to the first century Philadelphians. In so doing, He has given a prototype of the way that He delivers the entire Church. The deliverance is Pre-tribulational. Thus far, death has been the means of deliverance. However, the final generation of the Church will receive its deliverance via the Rapture.”

So the essential difference between Cooper's view and pretribulationism is a disagreement on what period constitutes God's eschatological wrath. For Cooper, God's wrath only occurs within a technically defined period, after "Antichrist's Great Tribulation."

Most premil posttribulationists see God's wrath only occurring during the Day of the Lord, just before the millennium. While pretribulationist Richard Mayhue concurs that the Day of the Lord occurs at the end of the 70th week, he also acknowledges that God's wrath is present throughout the seven years.

On the other hand, some scholars note that the Day of the Lord isn't always confined to a single, technical, moment. In Central Themes in Biblical Theology, Paul House writes that the NT writers saw the Day of the Lord as a possible past event, "potentially in the present, and future oriented in time." According to William Dumbrell:

The concept of the Day of the Lord, as considered by the prophets, is not singular in meaning; the connotation can be determined only by examining each context in which the phrase appears.”~ The Search for Order: Biblical Eschatology in Focus

This explains the differences in Joel's and Paul's Day of the Lord statements regarding the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:31; 1 Thess 5:2-3). Can anyone be in a state of "peace and safety" after the 2nd and 4th seal judgments?

God's wrath is present in the elements of the fourth seal. The language parallels Ezek 5:13-17; 7:3-19; 14:21. Why does John use Old Testament wrathful language in the 4th seal if such isn't the case? Or, as Robert Van Kampen asserted, for an event which exclusively affects the church and the Jews in order to purify them?

This isn't the kind of tribulation we ordinarily experience in the world (Rev 1:9). This is God's wrath.

God uses people and nations as instruments of His wrath. See Habakkuk chapters one and two as an example. There is no contradiction in God using Satan as His instrument of wrath. Neither does Satan's wrath in the 2nd half of the 70th week (Rev 12:12) cancel out God's wrath. Why would it?

Furthermore, Satan and the Lawless One are used by God as judgment because of rebellion and refusal to love the truth. Paul clearly affirms this in 2 Thess 2:7, 9-12.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie...”

Hence, the Seal Judgments and the Great Tribulation form the trial which will test the world.

I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” Rev 3:10

This isn't pretrib rapture wishful thinking. There are no hidden clauses in this promise. It doesn't say the church must suffer through Seal Judgments, or the Great Tribulation, before it is finally raptured.
 
For own their reasons, dedicated critics of pretribulationism strive to enforce provisos and stipulations to the promise of exemption. Perhaps it gives some a sense of moral higher ground.

As for me, I'll take Rev 3:10 at face-value. I want to live every day in anticipation of that shout (1 Thess 4:16-18).


Lord, come quickly!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

JUDGMENT OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS COMING





BY PASTOR MIKE TAYLOR

24 “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:24-27)


There is a central theme found throughout the Bible, and that is God's judgment. It is a single pinpoint of truth that God gives man a certain amount of time to come to repentance of his sinful nature and turn to Him, for when each of us die, we are judged according to whether we have turned to the only Way to receive forgiveness of our sins through Christ Jesus for the propitiation of what we all deserve, and that is death.


JUDGEMENT STARTS AT CREATION


This universe was born as a place of judgment, as the very creation of God was a matter of judgment, and nothing in this universe will escape the judgment of God. Mankind was God's greatest achievement in the construction of our world, when He made him on the sixth day of God's work to form the earth and the heavens that surround us. Even though man is the supreme creation of God, he too, will be judged at the end of time of this age.
Judgement was born out of light. As God saw that light and pronounced it as very good. :
3 “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Genesis 1:3-5)


Thoughout scripture, God used light and darkness as metaphors of good and evil. So it is fitting that He uses light and darkness as the beginning of His judgment.
God, having judged light as to be “very good” God exercised a different kind of judgment to separate the light from darkness by creating the sun, the moon and the stars. If not, then our world would be nothing but shades of gray.
Mankind likes to use these “shades of gray” to explain our moral compromises, our depravity and to color our own failures at morality. Men say that it isn't just “black and white, but the area is a 'gray area” But truth is either black or white, evil or good, there is no such thing as a gray area. It's like there is no such thing as cold, but the absence of heat. There is no such thing as darkness, but the absence of light. And there is no such thing as evil, but the absence of good. Without God, creation would fall into chaos.


As men try to make up their own rules, apart from God's Word, there will come a time when our actions will be judged by the Father of Lights, who sees what is truth and what is a lie. He sees what is good and what is evil. We can't hide anything from God, and when the time appointed as the verse of the opening passage says “And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” each man and woman will be judged either in light, or in darkness. Note that each man and woman has an appointed time with something each of us fear, and that is death.


All men will eventually die, and if the Lord tarries, you reading this will also die, just as I will. The time and the event are already pre-determined, and there is no way that any of us can escape it, should our human existence play out, this side of the rapture of the Church.
YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN
Jesus used another metaphor, as the Bible is full of them, but the one I want to focus on now, is the term Jesus used of “Born Again” to describe our salvation process. When the time comes, we are transferred from this life, to the next life into the light of His glorious presence. We will be surrounded by light and it is not perceived as a pleasant experience by all. Why do I say that?


Think of it like this. When we were conceived in our mother's womb, we grew to a full term baby in a secure environment. We were surrounded with everything we needed. Food from our mother through our umbilical cord and warmth of her body surrounding us. Our world is peace and tranquility, until our own comfortable existence is violently shaken. Our world collapses around us and we are expelled out of our comfort zone. We are grabbed with cold, hard steel forceps by our head and yanked out of our world and placed in a cold metal tray, and discover pain as somebody smacks us on our behind and we discover pain for the first time. The blinding light hurts our eyes, only slightly less than the silver nitrate they force into our eyes. We are in a moment of terror, as we were not prepared for what is to follow.



Of course, this in the perspective of the infant we used to be, but having tasted life, the womb would become an unbearable prison if left in that environment. So being “born again” is a perfect metaphor of being transitioned from this life into the next life, that will be eternal.



Each human on this earth, dreads the concept of leaving this life, and to some, not knowing what awaits on the other side of death, it should be doubly disturbing. We, who have accepted Jesus as our personal Savior, know that the life we will live in eternity is uncomparable to this life, as it was the life in the womb. But we all fear the end of our mortal life, because this existence is all we know. But we have faith and assurance, that even though we don't know how and what will be shown to us in that eternal state of heavenly bliss, our fleshly bodies of this life, still fights to live as long as it can. But a soon to “born again” believer in Jesus Christ should welcome the day, because we know it will be beyond anything our finite minds can comprehend.
9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (1st Corinthians 2:9-11)


To the unbeliever, who does not know Christ Jesus, the idea of death must be terrifying, as they have only this life in their own deceived minds. Oh, I get the atheist who doesn't believe in heaven, hell, or even a God in heaven, but in the back of their mind, that void they have in their soul that only Jesus can fulfill is trying to find something to fill that void, and in the end, they are left hopelessly lost. So the transition of this life, to the eternal abode they will inhabit in eternity is a transition to nowhere, but to eternal torment. I read an article of a tombstone that was read in a cemetary that stated “Here lies an atheist. All dressed up with no place to go”...course, that is not exactly true, but if they got a glimpse of their destination, they would do everything in their power to avoid it and proclaim Jesus as their Savior. But their pride of mankind finds it hard to submit to a Higher Power.




SIN UNTO SALVATION



The scripture says that judgment comes to all men by appointment. Something they cannot escape. For a follower of Jesus Christ, judgment comes in two parts. Hebrews 9:27 says “AS it is appointed....” but the next verse completes the thought.



Let us look at it in context:
"And as it is appointed unto men ONCE to die, but after this the judgement, so Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Hmmm.. “sin unto salvation” that doesn't sound like the Second Advent of Jesus Christ at the end of the Tribulation, as Jesus will come in judgment with a sharp two-edged sword that proceeds out of His mouth, encompassed by ten thousands of His saints, to judge the earth and destroy the antichrist, his army and all rebellion. Now does it?



Logically, if you sit and mediatate on that portion of scripture, it can only refer to Jesus coming for His saints of the Church Age and removing them from this planet in what is commonly referred to as the HARPAZO translated from the Greek, as Rapture. That is the ONLY 'second coming unto salvation' alluded to by Scripture. The dead in Christ are raised from the dead, we are changed in the twinkling of an eye, from mortal to immortal and we all go to meet the Lord in the air.



AND THEN WHAT??



Paul outlines what will happen to all those who meet Jesus in the air, in what is called the Beam Judgement Seat of Christ. As Paul said:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2nd Corinthians 5:10)



A lot of people get hung up on Grace VS. Works in many denominations....Catholic are very focused on works found in their traditions, and Jehovah Witness, Seventh Day Adventist, and Mormons to mention a few, are confused about Grace through Faith and cannot distinguish what is required for salvation. As I've pointed out many times, works are a by-product of our salvation. We do good for the Kingdom of God, because we Love Jesus, love our ABBA Father....and our works are a sign of our salvation, not the production of salvation. Don't be misled by those who preach a works based salvation, as there is NOTHING you and I can do to earn that gift, that grace, that mercy given freely by God because of our repentance and our faith in the finished work Jesus paid on the “old rugged cross”.



 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Note one proceeds the other....mercy, faith through grace proceeds our good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do...Grace =works, not works= salvation. The latter is the cart before the horse, so to speak.



But getting back to our judgment standing before our Lord Jesus Christ. Each of us will give an account of what we have done for Jesus. This is where our works are relevant:



10 “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1st Corinthians 3:10-15)



This is the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ, so called because this is not a judgment of either being saved or damned, but a rewards ceremony of works done in the Name of Jesus Christ and for His Kingdom. Whether we are saved or not, is judged on this earth, as it takes place now. As we are being judged now. The Church will be found in His righteousness, because they have repented of their sins, embraced Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives, and have fought everyday to live for Christ, even though imperfectly, they are being sanctified for this moment. Note those who work for the Lord God will receive rewards, but what of the man who is saved, but doesn't do anything to receive a reward? The verse says “but HE himself, shall be saved; yet so as by fire”....some translate it as “though through the fire”....the only thing that saved the man (or woman) is Christ Jesus who paid for their sins with His own blood...they received salvation by faith, but that's all they did...but in itself, it is enough for salvation, just being with Jesus is reward enough, but for those who have worked for Him, He will make rulers of nations in the Millennium.



As a Christian believer that is being judged on earth now, you are securely saved as if you were already in heaven standing before our Savior. If you are lost, it is not the case that you WILL be lost. Because you are LOST NOW.



The point is, it has nothing to do with being “good or bad”. It has to do with believing in one's own “righteousness and the ability to save yourself” (Which you can't) or trusting in the righteousness of Jesus Christ to clothe you with His righteousness and that not of your own.



(for those who are scratching their head and wondering what this means, let me make it simple for you. If you are trusting in being good to get to heaven, you aren't going there) Work based religions, take note.



That is what the “second coming unto salvation refers to” . . . the gathering of the saints to the Bema Seat for judgment.



This is another reason why the Bible supports a pre-tribulation Rapture. The Bema Seat judgment MUST take place AFTER the Rapture. We cannot be judged for our lives when they end. The influence of a man's life lives on after him.



How could the lives of the Apostle John, John the Baptist, or even Paul and the other apostles be adequately judged for their rewards in the first century, when their lives ended? The influence of their lives are still being calculated of how they affected the Church as a whole to receive just rewards. That is also why the Great White Throne Judgment is reserved until the final hours of time known to mankind, before the new heavens and new earth.



THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGEMENT & SECOND CHANCE?



But let me touch on something that some, I believe teach erroneously at this time. I have read and listened to ministers who promote the idea of a “second chance” for salvation at the 2nd resurrection of those who have died without Christ, or have never had a chance to make a decision for Christ...that would include those in the Dark Ages that didn't have a bible, or a hidden tribe of Africans, or South Americans who are so backward in their life, they never heard of the name “Jesus”....what is God to do with them? God is sovereign, and I'm not going to speculate what God has plans for those who did not hear of His Son, BUT the point is there is a belief that God gives a second chance to these individuals...they base this on TWO verses found in Revelation....
12“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13, And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (Revelation 20:12-13)
The belief goes something like this...those who are judged out of the books at the Great White Throne are given time to know Christ, to come to repentance, before sentencing is passed...that is what I call a “second chance” at salvation . Does the Bible support such a belief? No, I find nowhere the lost who reject Jesus Christ, and even those who have never heard His Name, being given a “second chance”...Now I'm not God and God is sovereign, but according to His Word and the opening verses.... “men die ONCE, then after this the judgment”. Reading the verses in Revelation gives me a picture of judgment and those whose name are NOT found in the Book of Life are cast into the Lake of Fire along with the AntiChrist and the False Prophet who are already there. Satan will be cast along with his demons at their appointed time.... but from what I read, there is NO SECOND chance, as anyone in their right mind, would believe in Jesus as the Son of God, given the choice of a literal hell, or heaven...No, my friend, if you are looking for a second chance, you play Russian Roulette with your soul. Best to make a decision for Christ Jesus now, while the invitation is open. To me, that gives those who don't witness to others, that those who are saved are pre-determined to be saved or lost and there is nothing anybody can do about it.....That belief is on the same level as TULIP of Calvinism, which is not scriptural. Men are being judged in this life now...best to get on board of the ark of salvation, known as Jesus Christ .
LET US SUMMARIZE, THE QUICK AND THE DEAD
There are two distinct judgement of those who die, either in Christ Jesus at the Bema Seat of Christ, or those who die without payment for their sins to be found at the Great White Throne Judgment of God Almighty.
Paul writes to Timothy.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” (2nd Timothy 4:1-2)
Can you see the two judgements here? One is for the “quick” the other is for the “dead”. One takes place at His appearing and the other take at “His Kingdom”. The Quick are the saved. The dead are the lost. The Quick are judged at the Bema Seat, and the dead are judged at the Great White Throne Judgment.
5” But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:5-6)...
This is the end of the 1st Resurrection, as Jesus was the beginning of that resurrection, and those raised to life now are part of that resurrection....Those who are lost are left dead for a 1000 years, until final judgment which is the second resurrection of the damned.. Those raised to receive final judgment will be changed to immortal, but cast into the lake of Fire to be tormented for all eternity.



Those who are saved will have rewards handed out to them, in the form of crowns. Those saved will receive a special crown of righteousness reserved on that day:
8 “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2nd Timothy 4:8)'
I've mentioned there are numerous crowns of those who work for the Lord, but we will not list each and every one here, as I've covered that in past messages about those crowns for them that overcome this world, through Jesus Christ.



Here's two points I want you to see, in closing this message out. As reading about the 24 elders, the second we remove the doctrine of the rapture from the narrative, it becomes too complicated and doesn't make any sense. The sequence falls apart and other scriptures don't support that narrative, but conflicts with them.
Also, absent from Eternal Security in Christ Jesus, what does 1st Corinthians 3:15 that we just got through referencing above (“yet he himself shall be saved as through the fire”) mean? If you discount both doctrines, then the Bible gets way too complicated for a non-believer to figure out. Absent the pre-Trib Rapture, the judgment of the "quick at His appearing" (2nd Timothy 4:8) doesn't make much sense either.
Which means you have to come up with a whole new timeline for events, or else make everything symbolic, and allegorize away the one that already exist...Which gives rise to the question “Then why give one?” Because the Scriptures most assurely do give a timeline of events. One final point, if Jesus comes back to raise those in the light of Jesus to life immortal and destroys all rebellion on earth, as there is no in between, then who goes into the Millennium as mortals at the end of the Tribulations??...as I've mentioned before, there is no one left to be mortal to repopulate the earth...I've said it before and I figured it was worth mentioning once again..



THE FOCUS IS JUDGEMENT OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS



The focus of this message is on judgment, which separates light from darkness, separates the wheat from the tares, the saved from the lost, and the Church from the judgement that is due upon those who dwell upon the earth.
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Revelation 3:10-11)



If you read through the Bible, especially Revelation, there is a sequence of events that the rest of the Bible supports. First comes the “catching away of the Church” when Jesus steps out of eternity into our time and causes all who believe in Him, will be “born Again” into immortal bodies for all eternity. And Trumpets with His voice “come up hither”.
Swiftly, we are taken to a great banquest, which is the Marriage supper of the Lamb and our joining with our Savior into the family of God. It is what the saints will be doing preceding and encompassing the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation. That is the type of judgment that began the bible in Genesis 1:4-- God creates the light, judges the light, separates the light from darkeness...or in this case, good from evil.
ON the earth, the four horse of the apocalypse ride to begin the wrath of God whereas the men of earth cry for the rocks of the cliffs to hide them.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
For the great day of His wrath has come, and who will be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17)
WE are the light, clothed with the righteousness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but on the earth, judgment has come upon the darkness and the sequence of events grow more and more destructive as you read. Everything you read is nothing but heartache, misery, and death in these chapters depicting this hour of God's fierce judgement where He pours out His wrath from the cup of His indignation in its full strength.



Then we see the return of our Lord Jesus Christ in Chp. 19 of this prophetic book and the saints riding upon horses, clothes with linen, “white and clean”, as sign of the saints. Darkness is finally judged in this hour and the destruction is complete. All rebellion on this earth is extinguished. Men who survived the onslaught of the Anti-Christ and escaped, most like as Chp. 12 of the book reveals, to a place of safety to be nourished for 1260 days.
 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” (Revelation 12:6)
...as we have studied in the past, this woman is Israel, and those who believe the prophesies and escape, most likely as in 70AD to the Jordanian desert and the rock fortress of Petra.



Then straight away, after judgment is passed on the darkness of this world, the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ in the Millennium begins, and the world is made as it was in the time of the Garden of Eden...PERFECT.
To be otherwise in the timeline, would require those who disbelieve to twist the scriptures into a pretzel to make their preconceived notions fit to some degree. If the timeline is any other translation or interpretation, the true meaning of what Paul wrote in 1st Thessalonians 4:18 would have no meaning. “Wherefore comfort one another with these words”..because there would be no comfort and ..it would come from some other unfortunate mis-translation.



Do not doubt, my friend, judgment is coming on this universe, this planet, and mankind that inhabits the nations. The whole point of this message is where will you be when judgment finally comes in wave after wave? Will you be standing before Christ Jesus for rewards, or standing before the Great White Throne to receive your death penalty? Will you still be in darkness, or in the light of God? Will you experience joy and happiness that no one can express till it happens, or will you be in anguish, and in torment where the fire is never quenched and the worm dieth not? My plea to those who read this message ...LOOK TO JESUS...the Author and Finisher of our faith....believe, and thou shalt be saved from darkness.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18)
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23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through
the forbearance of God;” (Romans 3:23-25)
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8 “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:8-10)


Make that decision today for Jesus Christ and be numbered of those in the light, and not in the darkness....because “judgment is coming”.


This is pastor Mike Taylor, praying for the salvation of your soul. If you have need for prayer, counseling, or just listening ear, email me at “realteam1999@sbcglobal.net”  God bless you all..


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