Monday, 19 March 2012

An Introduction to End Times.

Part 4 The Tribulation and On (cont’d)

End Notes – Section 4g


I am certain that the actual events of the end times will not be entirely as I have suggested here. There will be many differences, major and minor. However, the whole purpose of these four parts of ‘What on Earth will happen Next?’ is not to try to second guess God. Perish the thought. No, my aim, and I hope I have succeeded somewhat, is to awaken you to the reality and certainty of some of the events to come and to show you how they might impact this earth.

Whatever I may have got right or wrong is as nothing compared to your realisation that such things will happen and that they will culminate in the return of our Lord.

So, do not lose the faith. Keep alert. Watch for the signs and do not fall short. For surely, as our Lord has said in Rev 22:7 “Behold I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book”.

End Notes:

a. The believers rewards:

Rev 22:12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.”

(1) The Victor’s Crown.

Given to those who overcome the flesh                                                     1Cor 9:25-27

(2) The soul-winner’s Crown.

Given to those who win the lost at any cost                                               1Thess 2:19

(3) The Crown of Glory

Given to faithful Pastors and Teachers                                                       1Pet 5:2-4

(4) The Crown of Righteousness

Given to those who live their lives in expectation of the Rapture                2Tim 4:8

(5) The Crown of Life

Given to those believers who successfully overcome temptation, tests, trials and persecutions for the gospel’s sake                                                                                                              Jas 1:12, Rev 2:10

(6) The Crown of Gold                                                                                  Rev 4:4

(7) The Overcomer’s inheritance                                                                 Rev 2 & 3

b. Babylon:

(Taken from Unger’s Bible Handbook)

The Babylon of chapter 18 of Revelation is the Satanic world system in its godless commercial and economic aspects. This system honeycombs all phases of life of unregenerate mankind organised as a system under Satan. Chapter 17 of Revelation highlights the religious aspects of Babylon, but its ramifications are cultural, scientific, educational and governmental as well. The Satanic world system of Babylon is mentioned in more than 30 NT passages. Satan is directing its head (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 1Jn 5:19; Rev 2:13). The system is pronounced by God as wholly evil (Gal 1:4; Col 1:13; 2Pet 2:20; Jas 4:4; 1Jn 4:3). It is shown to be limited and temporary (1Jn 4:4), as Rev 17-18 proves. It is doomed to destruction at Christ’s second advent (1 Jn 2:17; Rev 17-18; 19:11-16; 20:1-3) It is characterised by greed, pride and war (Jas 4:1-4), and is a perpetual snare to God’s people (1 Jn 2:16; Rev 18:4-5).

c. The Millennium:

So, at the start of this significant period, Jesus’ millennial reign, let’s try to get some idea of who we believe will be there. First of all there will be the normal human beings we mentioned in the last paragraph of chapter 19 as described in Zec 14:4-5 and Rev 12:6. Then there will be believers who died naturally during the Tribulation, together with the martyrs of the same period (Rev 6:9-11) plus the NT saints from between the time of Jesus and the beginning of the Tribulation, ie. those believers who have died over the last 2000 years plus those still living, all of whom have been raptured. And, last but not least, if Job 19:25-27 is anything to go by, all the OT believers as seen in Rev 4:4. All these people will be in their resurrection bodies of course otherwise they could not operate on earth. No doubt this list can in no way be considered authoritative or complete because who are we to imagine that we might even hazard a guess at who might be there? Jesus is Lord; he is the king of kings and everything is in his domain. This list however might just begin to indicate what a disparate group it could be.

Furthermore, whether or not some unbelievers go through to the Millennium (the one thousand years of Christ’s rule) such as, those who perhaps lived in remote areas, surviving off the land, and did not actually receive the ‘mark of the beast’ is not certain. Views are divided on this (see Rev 13:16 and Heb 9:28 and the concept of instantaneous death revealed in Acts 5:1-11).

In addition to this possibility it seems likely that children actually born within the Millennium, even those born to believers, will still have to decide for themselves as to whether or not they accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, even though they are living under his rule! Thus one way or another it seems that we should expect to see unbelievers on the earth during that era.

The essence of this fascinating period is summed up in some extracts from the Bible itself, and whilst an analysis of all this is more than worthwhile, it is, of course, a study on its own:

Isa 2:1-4

This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

In the last days the mountain of the LORD'S temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.

Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

Isa 11:1-12

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.  In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.

He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.

Amos 9:11-15

“In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the LORD, who will do these things.

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD,

“when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills.

I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.

I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.

Luke 19:17-19

“ ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

“The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’

“His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’

Acts 15:16-18

“ ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ that have been known for ages.

John Puddicombe

Copyright © December 2009

The End

Monday, 5 March 2012

An Introduction to End Times.

Part 4 The Tribulation and On (cont’d)

The Millennial Kingdom – Section 4f

Revelation Chapter 19

In verses 1 to 5 we have the rejoicing in heaven at Babylon’s fall followed by the announcement of the wedding of the Lamb in verses 6 to 10. Those called to the wedding supper (v.9) include friends as well as the bride (the church). Friends include OT saints, Abraham through to John the Baptist (see Jn 3:29), and Tribulation martyrs. John is so overwhelmed by this scene (v.10) that he wants to worship the angel!

In verses 11 to 16 we see the armies of heaven (saints, martyrs and angels) accompanying Jesus (Faithful and True) to earth. His name is ‘The Word of God’ (v.13) and as such he has the right to come and rule the earth as God and Creator-Redeemer (Jn 1:1,3,14; Eph 1:13-14; Rev 5:1-7). The battle of Armageddon ensues.

Initially, in verses 17 to 19 the forces of the East (c. 200 million) have been fighting against those of the Antichrist (c. 100 million) (see Rev 16:12-14) but then both sides turn against the Lord, to their downfall.

Verse 20. The Antichrist and the false prophet are thrown alive into the fiery lake and, in verse 21, at a word from the Lord, all those, world-wide, bearing the ‘mark of the beast’, die.

The Lord has returned, as he always said he would and after 2000 years of leaving his increasing number of followers to subdue the earth he, Jesus, finally arrives to take control and complete the task.

At this point it is probably useful to remind ourselves of what Zechariah chapter 14 says about this event. Please read it.

Revelation Chapter 20

As we move into the Millennium the first thing to note, from verses 1 to 3, is that Satan is not yet eradicated. He is cast into the Abyss until later. Jesus has plans for him.

Verses 4 to 6 now tell us who John saw in his vision and we note that he does not mention the mortals who survive the Tribulation as described above and in Zec 14:4-5 and Rev 12:6. It would seem that the essential difference is that John, in this vision, is seeing only spiritual beings, although they would now be with the Lord on earth in their resurrection bodies.

Those who were given authority to judge sat on thrones (cf. 1Cor 6:2-3) and they would reign with Christ for 1000 years. According to Matthew 25:31-46 this would also be the time when the nations are judged. (For a further discussion on who might actually be present in the Millennium and how it might operate please see End Note c) – to follow in the next section.

From verses 7 to 10 we see that at the end of the millennium Satan is released and allowed to entice all those who truly still do not believe in Christ, and gather them for a final showdown around Jerusalem. Needless to say, they do not survive.

In verse 11 to 15 the spiritually dead are confirmed by the non-appearance of their names in the ‘book of life’, and then the degree of their punishment is determined according to the record of their lives. In any case they are thrown into the lake of fire for ever (Isa 33:14, Isa 66:24, Mk 9:48, Jude 7). Death (holding the body) and Hades (holding the soul) are no more. (Jn 5:24-27).

Revelation Chapter 21

In verse 1 God reveals his new heaven and earth, and the earth as we know it has gone (see 2Pet 3:10).

In verses 2 to 5 we read that everything will always be new as God comes to earth to live permanently with his sinless people, those made perfect through Jesus, in the new heaven and earth. Death and pain and distress are no more. The former things will pass away. Verses 6 to 8 go on to confirm that God is the Beginning and the End and that all who overcome (see 1John 5:4-5) will inherit all this and drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. On the other hand the place for those who do not, will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur.

Verses 9 to 11 give us a glimpse of the New Jerusalem. The description is breathtaking. Note its size; 1500 miles long, wide and high – about the size of a cube occupying all of Europe! The outlook is glorious for those who have been faithful to the Lord.

Revelation Chapter 22

In verses 1 to 6 we have a description of life in the New Jerusalem and in verses 7 to 21 we get the essential final message to keep this whole prophecy alive and not seal it up, for the time is near.

Next time: End Notes

Monday, 20 February 2012

An Introduction to End Times.

Part 4 The Tribulation and On (cont’d)

Features of the Great Tribulation – Section 4e

Revelation Chapter 14

In this chapter we envision, perhaps from a spiritual point of view some of the activities that we will see during the closing of the Great Tribulation.

In verses 1 to 5 we see the 144,000 Jews, now in heaven, who were sealed (at the beginning of chapter 7) to evangelise for the Lord. Other believers have already moved to the desert (Rev 12:6). These particular workers must have suffered tremendously during their activities and they are now worthy of a special new song which only they can sing.

In verses 6 and 7 we see a proclamation of the eternal nature of the Gospel and in verse 8 anticipation of the fall of Babylon (see chapter 17) – the satanic world system.

In verses 9 to 11 we are reminded that the most severe and eternal punishment will be meted out to those who freely co-operate with the antichrist. But, on the other hand, in verses 12 and 13 we are assured that the supreme testing of those who keep to God’s ways during those days will not go unrecognised.

Verses 14 to 20 perhaps provide a heavenly pre-view of the final harvest of believers by Jesus at Armageddon (through the agency of angels, see Mt 13:39-43). There is now no further opportunity of salvation for anyone. The rejects are trampled in the wine-press of God’s wrath (Joel 3:13).

Revelation Chapters 15 and 16

In these chapters we see the last woe and fulfilment of chapter 14.

Chapter 15: in verse 1 we see the seven last plagues, held by the seven angels, which represent the final fury of God that will be cast from the golden bowls onto the earth.

In verses 2 to 4 we catch a glimpse of the martyrs from the Tribulation (as in Rev 14:14-16) standing outside of the tumult that some of them have only recently emerged from, with maybe also, others, such as those referred to in Rev 6:9. The song they are singing is redolent of the song of Moses sung by the Israelites after the successful crossing of the red sea (Ex 15).

In verses 5 to 8 the seven angels are handed seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God.

Chapter 16: in verses 1 to 21 the angels release natural calamities (the third and last woe) from the seven bowls onto the earth. These grim judgements (Bowls one to four) fall upon all those remaining.
vs. 10-11 (Bowl five) – the antichrist and his kingdom suffer.
vs. 12-14 (Bowl six) – God opens the way for the armies (of unbelievers) from the East to join battle against Jesus at Armageddon.
v. 13 ‘3 frogs’ represent the ‘satanic trinity’.
vs. 17-21 (Bowl seven) – This final judgement (see also the earlier notes at chapter 8 verse 1) and the hugh earthquakes literally prepare Jerusalem and the world for the millennium. Mountains and valleys are reformed – especially around Jerusalem (Zec 14:4-5).
At this time, Jewish believers who have come to Christ during the Great Tribulation (ie. since the time of the escape of the others to the desert in Rev 12:6), are led to safety through the resultant valley of Zec 14:4-5.

Revelation Chapter 17

In this chapter an angel shows John the plight of the great prostitute – the false religion. This is a consensus of corrupt religions brought together by the Antichrist during the first half of the Tribulation. Even today attempts are being made to encourage the formation of a single ‘world religion’ or ‘faith’.

Verses 1 to 6 illustrate the need that the Antichrist and the false religion have for each other during the early Tribulation but eventually the Antichrist wins out. In verses 7 to 14 the allusions flow thick and fast. Seven hills of Rome? Five ancient kingdoms (Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Medo-Persia, Greece) have already fallen, Rome, at the time Revelation was penned, already is, and, following the ‘church age’ (see Part 2, section 2a), the new Rome of the Antichrist is yet to come? Ten countries of the EU?

Eventually in verses 15 to 18 the Antichrist deifies himself, as we know, at the beginning of the Great Tribulation (see Dan 9:27) and turns away from the religious mix.

Revelation Chapter 18

We now see the downfall of ‘The System’ of the Antichrist, his political and economic ‘Babylon’ (see End Note b, to follow in section 4g). In verses 1 to 3 an angel announces this and reflects on all who have been involved with her. In verses 4 to 8 God calls his people out and declares her annihilation.

Then the tears of all those who shared in her ways and Babylon’s own final destruction are described in verses 9 to 24.

Next time: The Millennial Kingdom

Monday, 6 February 2012

An Introduction to End Times.

Part 4 The Tribulation and On (cont’d)

Approach of the Great Tribulation – Section 4d

Revelation Chapter 10

In this chapter we see, at a time that maybe still within the first half of the tribulation an angel, possibly symbolising Jesus, holding another (little) scroll. ‘The seven thunders’? – who knows? – only Jesus. But there will certainly be no more delay (to the second half of the Tribulation? – the first half now being in the process of completion).

Verse 7. With the seventh trumpet the mystery of God will be accomplished. This mystery (a previously hidden truth) would appear to be the whole theme of the little scroll (See also Rev 11:15, Dan 9:24 and Eph 1:9-10)

Verses 8 to 11. This same scroll seems to contain a prophecy which John must digest (cf. Eze 3:1). Sweet because it is the word of God (Ps 19:10), yet bitter for the pain it foretells. But right now John must issue yet more of this prophecy.

Revelation Chapter 11

Verses 1 and 2 could indicate that we are now moving into the second 3½ years, ie. the second half of the Tribulation – the Great Tribulation – with the measuring (preservation) of true believers and abandonment of others. Throughout the first half of the Tribulation martyred believers have been slain as in Rev 6:9-11. Now, at the start of the Great Tribulation, according to Daniel 12:1, all new true believers – ‘everyone whose name is found written in the book’ – ie. those ‘saved’ in the first half of the tribulation and still alive, are transported by God to a safe place in the desert as described in Rev 12:6. Closer examination of the scriptures suggest it is not unreasonable to suppose that this refuge could be Petra. (See below for Chapter 12 v. 6)

The events outlined in Daniel 9:27b and Matthew 24:15-16 are about to unfold.

Verses 3 to 6 introduce God’s two witnesses who will prophecy for 3 ½  years. Don’t mess with them, they have power! – Who are they, well probably not actually Moses and Elijah themselves, but similar. Although there are no traceable corpses or graves for either of these two ancient prophets (Moses or Elijah) they must be well established in their resurrection bodies by now and presumably, in such case, could not be killed (v.7). No, but it seems that these two new witnesses certainly have the same attributes and powers as their forerunners. (Further reading around: Lk 9:28-31; 2Ki 2:1-11; and Deut 34:5-6.)

Verses 7 to 10. Finally these two witnesses are overcome by the beast – the Antichrist (see 2Thess 2:3-4) – his heart now overwhelmingly filled by Satan, and their bodies lie in the streets of a corrupted Jerusalem for 3½ days. Not so long ago, say before the twentieth century, it would have seemed impossible that their bodies could have been viewed by ‘every people, tribe, and nation’, but now, thanks to TV, we see this sort of thing almost every day on BBC News 24! This reminds us that Revelation is a book that needs to be continually reviewed in the light of technical, as well as political, changes in our lives.

In verses 11 to 14 however, we see that God makes his point. There is a severe earthquake and seven thousand of their enemies are killed, with the survivors thoroughly shaken but giving glory to God. The second woe is over, the third will follow soon.

Trumpet seven.

With verses 15 to 18 the last trumpet is sounded and we see through glimpses into heaven that the end of the Great Tribulation is in sight (see the earlier notes at chapter 8 verse 1). In verse 19 we see the ark and are thus assured of God’ ultimate salvation for his people from all that has gone before.

Revelation Chapters 12 and 13

In these two chapters we have a parenthetical re-look at the characters involved so far and the spiritual interplay of their activities throughout history.

Chapter 12 shows us the story of the woman ‘Israel’ (see Isa 54:1 and Hosea) and verses 1 to 4 show how Satan (the red dragon) has pursued her all her life, even from the time of Genesis 3:15, in the knowledge that his nemesis would be through her son (Jesus). In verse 5 the son is revealed – note the ‘iron sceptre’ (see Ps 2:8-9 and Rev 19:15). Note also, that between this verse and the next (v.6) there is room for the ‘church age’ (see Part 2 – Section 2a).

In verse 6 God transports Christian Jews to safety (in Petra? – a ‘place prepared’, also in v.14 below) as described above for Chapter 11 vs. 1 and 2. (see also Jer 30:7, Dan 11:41, and Mt 24:16)

Verses 7 to 14. During the Tribulation Satan (the dragon) is hurled to earth by the archangel Michael and loses the freedom of his realm in the second heaven. He vents his fury on Israel (through the Antichrist) but God’s eagle wings see her (Israel) to safety (as in v. 6 above).

Verses 15 to 17 describe how the antichrist’s pursuing forces chase after Israel, towards the desert, but earthquakes swallow them up. The dragon then goes after any remnants (or very recently converted Christian Jews) left in the land.

Chapter 13 reveals the strength of the Antichrist (the beast) and verses 1 to 10 describe his career and how he has emerged to his position at the start of the Great Tribulation empowered by Satan now on earth. (This from a revived Roman Empire (the EU?), see Part 2 – Section 2b and also Dan 7:7-8, 19-28, Rev 12:12, 17:3, 7-14.)

Verses 11 to 15 introduce us to the false prophet, a henchman to the Antichrist (the beast) and third member of this satanic counterfeit trinity headed by Satan. He performs miracles in order to deceive and sets up an image in honour of the beast (see Dan 9:27).

In verses 16 and 17 we now move into what I regard as a very recognisable, and frighteningly real possibility. We have already had talk in our media of a ‘cashless’ society and how convenient this might be. Think about it. We already use debit and credit cards, almost without thinking about it – it is an accepted norm in our lives. We already know that the government would like us to have ID cards. Let’s imagine that the government decide to utilise our bank cards as a forerunner of an ID card, or combine it with a dedicated ID card and then, with a little coercion, persuade us to accept the resultant device in the form of a ‘chip’, which is inserted under the skin at the back of the hand, or forehead, ‘in order to cut down the possibility of accidental loss or fraud’, or some other pretext. Well you’re there, aren’t you? (Remember that all this will not be experienced by existing believers, because of the Rapture, but non-believers will be subject to it.)

Just move on a bit, and, if as an extension to the same scheme we are persuaded to actually change to a ‘cashless’ society, then all who receive such a card or chip would be under complete control, in that it would then be quite easy for the controlling powers to limit the right of any individual or individuals to purchase anything, including food. It makes me shudder.

Quite the significance of verse 18, and what ‘666’ is, we have yet to find out. The number six in itself, of course, can signify man’s falling short of God’s perfection – ‘7’, but surely a more specific meaning of ‘666’ will reveal itself in due course?

Next time: Features of the Great Tribulation

Monday, 23 January 2012

An Introduction to End Times.

Part 4 The Tribulation and On (cont’d)

Continuing Evangelism – Section 4c

Revelation Chapter 7

This chapter could be a parenthetical section illustrating God’s continuing desire to draw people to Himself, even through these troubled times.

Angels are told to hold back the earthly disasters of Chapter 6 pending the sealing of special evangelists from twelve tribes of Israel. God would not want to leave a spiritual vacuum on the earth and, without the presence there of the Holy Spirit (per 2Thess 2:7) or the Church, God’s ‘salvation’ would not be presented to the world. Thus 144,000 Jews are ‘sealed’ by God to spread the word. Incidentally note the absence, from the list, of Ephraim and Dan (cf. Num 13:4-15). See also 1Ki 12:25-30.

Verses 9 to 17 describe those who have been ‘saved’ by the special evangelising force so far during the Tribulation. Their white robes show them to be ‘cleansed’ by the blood of Jesus. But, note, unlike Christians from the Rapture or earlier they do not sit on thrones or get rewards (‘thrones’ entitle them to sit in judgement as opposed to only reigning (cf. 1Cor 6:2-3, Rev 20:4), ‘crowns’ are symbolic of ‘rewards’, see End Note (a), yet to come. However verses 16 and 17 suggest that they are well cared for after what they must have been through at the hands of the Antichrist.

Revelation Chapter 8

Seal seven.

I see verse 1 as a continuation from chapter 7 (remember, the division of the bible into chapters was not part of its original structure) and possibly representational of the Millennium (Rev 20) when Jesus rules on the earth ‘with a rod of iron’ (Ps 2:9; Rev 12:5; 19:15). Surely this would be a time when ‘God in heaven’ could take a break!

This would tie in with the broadly held view that the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet and the seventh bowl (both see later) all describe one and the same event, but seen from different viewpoints, or in different ways, all depicting the completion of God’s judgements upon the earth.

Others however, perhaps more wisely, see this silence as a precursor to even greater coming judgement following the opening of the seventh seal, perhaps with God, meanwhile, in his infinite patience, just waiting – in case any ‘last minute’ believers should come forward!

I believe the section from verse 2 of chapter 8 to the end of chapter 9 (verse 9:21) to be a continuation of God’s judgements as we work through the first six trumpets.

Verses 3 – 5. This priestly role has been interpreted in many ways, including that of being taken to represent our great high priest, Jesus, himself, fulfilling his role as our intercessor and offering the prayers of all the saints to the Father.

Trumpets one, two, three and four.

Verses 7 to 12 can be seen as divine action taken against the earth in the form of fire, food and other shortages, poor water supply, and darkness, as we move through the first four trumpets. This is followed in verse 13 by a warning of three woes to come.

Revelation Chapter 9

Trumpet five.

Verses 1 to 11. An angel comes to earth and is allowed to release demons (‘given a key’ – by God) who were specifically told to torture, not kill, ‘unsealed’ (unsaved) humans for five months; as opposed to harming earthly matter or introducing natural calamities. Think of this as a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, by God, to bring souls into the Kingdom – and the ‘stick’ is getting harder! (See also Lk 8:31, 2Pet 2:4; and Jude 6).

I am reminded of Hebrews 10:26-31. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 

Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 

How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 

For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’

Trumpet six.

Verses 12 to 21. The first woe is over. At the sound of the sixth trumpet a voice commanded that the four angels bound at the great river Euphrates be let loose.

These four angels, loosed now during the first half of the tribulation, have been held for just this occasion. They in turn release a force of 200 million troops from the east across the Euphrates. They kill a third of – (the remainder of?) – mankind. In which case, this combined with the killings in Rev 6:8 now equals half the population of the world as we know it, ie. three and a half out of seven billion dead through major tragedy. This is just the early stages, the run-up, to the battle of Armageddon. Can you imagine it?

The passage now covered in verses 17 to 19 is in the terminology of the time of John, but, in present day vision, could be representational of tanks, guns, flame-throwers and other weapons of atomic warfare.

In verses 20 and 21 we see that even with all this happening, there is such hardness of heart that people still fail to repent, or even recognise, their situation!

Next time: Approach of the Great Tribulation

Monday, 9 January 2012

An Introduction to End Times.

Part 4 The Tribulation and On (cont’d)

The Church in Heaven – Section 4b

Revelation Chapter 4 – The Church and Holy Spirit in Heaven.

From this point on (as you will recall from the note on Rev 3:22 in Part 3) there is no  contemporaneous reference to ‘the church’ in the Bible (the exception being in Rev 22:16). Immediately we can infer that the church, as we know it, is ‘no more’. In fact it has joined Jesus in heaven and all believers are now in their resurrection bodies (see 1Cor 15:52).

This view is strengthened by the reference in Rev 4:4 to the twenty-four elders. These elders, we can understand, represent all believers from the Old and New testaments, as indicated by the reference to their being dressed ‘in white’, signifying that they have been saved by the blood of Jesus. Furthermore they are wearing ‘crowns’. From various references in the bible you will see that ‘crowns’ are rewards given by Jesus (see End Note a). Incidentally these elders have to have been humans – angels have never held office, nor have they ever received ‘crowns’. I believe these twenty-four represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles in their resurrection bodies.

We also see in v.5 the ‘seven spirits (or the sevenfold spirit) of God signifying the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Revelation Chapter 5

This chapter introduces the sealed scroll and the search for someone worthy enough to open it. That person of course, is our Lord and in opening the seals he proves his right to the ownership of the world and sets about his full recovery of it from Satan. We are at the beginning of the 7 year Tribulation. Verses 9, 12, and 13 glorify the moment with respectively the ‘song of the saints’ (you purchased men for God), the ‘song of the angels’, and the ‘song of all creatures’.

Revelation Chapter 6

Seal one.

Here we begin the start of the first 3½ years of the Tribulation as described in Daniel 9:27 and elsewhere. Verse 2 describes the entry of the antichrist onto the world scene. Make no mistake, this is not a picture of Jesus. Jesus in scripture never went around with a bow (without arrows) and our Lord wears many crowns (Rev 19:12), not just one. This is a pretender, and the whole situation ties in with 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8.

Incidentally the absence of arrows is seen by some as indicating that although he is a man of war, bent on conquest, the Antichrist’s approach to a position of power in the world will, initially at least, be by diplomacy not force.

Seal two.

Verses 3 and 4 symbolise warfare and could readily depict a future invasion of Israel by Russia, say, and other nations as described in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39.

Seal three.

Verse 5 suggests wide-ranging famine especially affecting the poor or underprivileged. Verse 6 adds the connotation that for those ‘in the know’ or having sufficient wealth, shortages will not be a problem and that within certain classes of the population luxury foodstuffs will still be available. Incidentally, ‘Do not damage the oil and the wine’ (v.6), could signify that God will protect those who believe in Him (these commodities are used in making sacrifices to God).

Seal four.

Verses 7 and 8 seem to depict the resultant deaths of all this warfare, amounting to a fourth of all the earth and presumably precedes the ‘third of mankind’ killed by the plagues in Rev 9:18. With the current population of the world approaching 7 billion, a fourth amounts to some 1.75 billion.

Seal five.

Verses 9 to 11 reveal the martyrs who have died so far during the tribulation; ‘slain … because of the testimony they had maintained.’ They are given white robes (signifying their redemption) and told to wait a little longer (perhaps through the Great Tribulation?) until those yet to die likewise, have joined them.

Seal six.

The terrible natural disasters described in verses 12 to 14, according to some, depict the wholesale breakdown of law and order prior to the Great Tribulation. However, the wording itself: I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.’ is reminiscent of Eze 38:19-20, Isa 13:10, Joel 3:15 et al, all depicting the actual time of the Day of the Lord. Furthermore the same wording is surely taken from Jesus’ own quotation of Isaiah (Isa 13:10, and 34:4) in Mt 24:29, which is followed, in Mt 24:30, by the words: ‘At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky …’, thus indicating that it is relating to the actual Second Coming which is at the end of the Great Tribulation.

Verses 15 to 17 indicate that at that time those who have hitherto rejected God will finally recognise their predicament, if not their error.

Next time: Continuing Evangelism

Monday, 26 December 2011

An Introduction to End Times.

Part 4 The Tribulation and On

The Seven Churches – Section 4a

A working hypothesis.

As we move forward from the Rapture we will be following, mainly, the book of Revelation. By the very nature of its symbolism it is impossible for us to deduce a fact for fact interpretation from the text of this particular book. Indeed, commentators on the book, even modern commentators, vary enormously in their interpretations and in no way could I even pretend to have any better insight. Accordingly therefore, I would prefer to set the following before you as a working hypothesis of God’s prophecy, which hopefully could provide a sufficiently credible framework on which to base any further examination.

What I have written here, and in the three earlier parts, is based on previous studies and revelations by many others but, above all, I am indebted to the teachings of just a precious few who have inspired my initial enthusiasm for ‘end times’, and taught me so much.

We have reached the Rapture, as we saw at the end of the previous section, in line with 1Thessalonians 4:15-17, and 2Thessalonians 2:7 together with John 14:16-18 and Ephesians 1:13-14. The Church and the Holy Spirit are now in heaven with Jesus, and the antichrist has the world to himself.

The antichrist, we believe is someone associated with power in Europe (because of the connection with Rome from Daniel 2:40-41 and Daniel 9:27 – see Part 2), who will be further empowered by Satan, as we shall see.

When we say that the Holy Spirit has left the earth we are talking of his presence as we know it today. Today his omnipresent power and support is available to all believers because it is through the Holy Spirit that we believers have each been given the full power of Christ to call on (see Ephesians 1:3-23). However, although the Holy Spirit has by then, left the earth, God is still in charge and without doubt can deploy him at any time for special mission as He did in Old Testament times.

To continue our essay directly on from the previous session, ‘the Rapture’, we would need to go straight to chapter 4 of the book of Revelation. However, before doing this let’s quickly go to the start of the book of Revelation to remind ourselves of the beginning of this important book.

Revelation Chapters 1 to 3.

Revelation, as we know, was penned by John on Patmos at the dictation of an angel, sent by Jesus, in order to announce God’s plan for the world. In this respect take special note of Rev 1:3. We are not dealing here with something that can be glossed over or taken lightly. God means us to note it, and note it well!

In these opening chapters we have greetings and the letters of Jesus to the seven churches. ‘Seven’ equates to the completeness and perfection of God. But why these seven?

They are, of course, the seven churches John knew but in addition some see these seven as being representative of many different but coterminous church congregations throughout the then future church history.

Others however, see these churches as being representative, successively, within the whole ‘Church Age’ that was due to come (ie. from Acts to the Rapture). It has been suggested by writers and commentators that the representations could be identified as being say:

Ephesus – the loveless church for the period 33 to 100 AD,
Smyrna – the persecuted church for the period 100 to 312 AD,
Pergamum – the worldly church for the period 312 to 590 AD,
Thyatira – the paganised church for the period 590 to 1517 AD,
Sardis – the lifeless church for the period 1517 to 1750 AD,
Philadelphia – the missionary church for the period 1750 to 1905 AD, and
Laodicea – the lukewarm church for the period 1905 to the beginning of the Tribulation.

In hindsight these epithets seem apt enough, we need dig no further now. We can move on to what is in store when the ‘Church Age’ ends; believers are Raptured, and the remaining population of the world moves into the Tribulation.

Next time: The Church in Heaven