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Archive for Prophecy – Page 2

The Rapture, part 2

Ponder Christ’s upper room meeting with His disciples. He told them that He was going away to prepare a place for them and that He would return and take them to be with Him (Jn. 14:13). The promise to go away was fulfilled when Christ ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:9; Eph. 1:20). “I will return” speaks of His second coming. He told his disciples that He was returning to take them to be with Him. This merits confidence in the snatching away of believers – the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:17). Clear!

This entire truth is reinforced by Christ’s timely parable in Luke 19. Just days from the cross and knowing that the people thought the kingdom was coming right away, Christ spoke of a nobleman (Himself) who was going away to receive for himself a kingdom and return (Lk. 19:11-12). A clear match!   

Christ said to the church at Philadelphia, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, 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” (Rev. 3:10). The Thessalonian church was to “wait for God’s Son from heaven – even Jesus, who will deliver us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).Believers will be delivered from the wrath to come, not kept safe through it. There is a world of difference! We are to wait not worry. This wrath to come is not speaking of hell but the judgments to be poured out on the earth in the last day (Rev. 6-19). Revelation speaks of the great day of wrath that is to come and asks who will be able to stand (Rev. 6:17). The response to this judgment will be unbelievers calling on the mountains and the rocks to fall on them and to hide them from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6:16). This is not ordinary conflicts, but the greatest anguish in world history. The only way that believers can be kept from this earthly trial or removed from the wrath to come is to not be here.

Here is more reinforced hope and comfort. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Cor. 15:50). We are not properly equipped to live in God’s kingdom in our physical bodies. We must be changed! “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51). Paul called this change “a mystery” – a truth once hidden in God but now revealed. The old prophets did not understand this. The mystery is that we may not all experience death. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump, for the trumpet will sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed – speaking again of the rapture (1 Cor. 15:52). A moment is the smallest divisible time that the language can use, and how long does it take for the eye to twinkle? This describes just how fast our “snatching away” will be (1 Thess. 4:17). We will vanish!

The last trumpet means just what it says. Dead believers will hear it and be raised and instantly be united living spirit with glorified body. Living believers will hear it and be instantly changed! Wow!  “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53). The reason is stated again so we cannot miss it. Our corruptible bodies must be changed into bodies that will never go back to dust – like Christ’s glorious body (Phil. 3:21).  Our mortal bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die. “When this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Cor. 15:54). “When” is a time word!  At the moment that this fallen corrupt body puts on a body that will never return to dust and this temporary body takes on a body designed by the Creator to last forever, then a new saying will be established – Sayings in the early church were not uncommon. This saying is Death is consumed in victory – no more death. The reoccurring thought that death must come to us is the stinger of fear plunged in our hearts by Satan. Death to the believer is not to be feared. It is graduation day. “O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55). The stinger of fear is pulled out. The fear of the grave is removed.

The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56). Sin’s sting (its wage), is death (Rom. 6:23), and the strength of sin (its power) is the law (Rom. 7:7). “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:57). No matter what happens to us in this fallen world – the good (faith, family, friends, and freedom) or the bad (wars, pandemics, tyranny, or death itself) – we will win in the end!  How then should we respond?   “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Be safe and stay tuned.

 

The Rapture, part 1

We are living through dark days, but the days will grow darker before the light comes. Paul said that the whole creation groans under the weight of what he calls “the bondage of corruption.” This corruption is the result of the sin and fall of man. This perversion has spread for centuries, generation after generation, and continues to infect the entire human race – even until today (Rom. 8:18-23). These “pangs” will steadily intensify into what Jesus calls the beginning of sorrows (Matt. 24:8). The word “sorrows” is from the same Greek word as “birth pangs” in Romans 8:22. This steady increase in sorrow is clearly shown by nation rising against nation, famines, and diseases, and earthquakes in various places (Matt. 24:7).

We are now living through an unforeseen pandemic and turmoil in our nation that brings fear to many. I don’t know about you, but as we shelter in place, it is hard to be optimistic. Paul said that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the “glory” that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). He called this glory “hope.” We are saved in this hope of the glory that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:23). Someone said that human beings can live without many things, but it is impossible to live without hope. What is our hope? It is to see Jesus Christ face to face. The world is now suffering through a pandemic and many less fortunate are living with unimaginable heart-gripping fear of imminent death every day. But the world has seen nothing yet. This is only a glimpse of what is to come. Revelation speaks of unprecedented sorrows unleashed in this world that will come like waves on the beach – seal judgments, trumpet judgments, and bowl judgments (Rev. 6-19). Each judgment intensifies bringing unimagined fear, sorrow, and death in unprecedented proportions.

I unashamedly cling to the position that the body of Jesus Christ (the Church) will be removed from the earth before the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation. Those who have heard the gospel and trusted by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will not have to live through the looming darkness of the seventieth week of Daniel. I recall once again the words of Gandalf from “The Return of the King,” when he said, “Hope is kindled.”

I will go through several passages in the next few days that I pray will kindle hope in us. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul wrote, “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

Paul did not want us to be uninformed concerning believers who have already died. He did not want us to grieve as those without hope. His suggestion is clear. We do have hope! If we believe the gospel, attached to it is the fact that at His coming Jesus will bring with Him the spirits of those who sleep in Jesus – the spirits of those who have died in Christ (Zech. 14:6; 2 Cor. 5:1-5). They will be coming to be reunited with their glorified bodies – like His glorious body (Phil. 3:21), the bodies of those who will rise first. This is what is meant by, the dead in Christ will rise first. Then those who are alive when Jesus comes shall be caught up in the air. The living believers will be snatched away receiving in that moment our glorified bodies.

Oh yes, I get it! The word rapture is not used in the Bible, but the truth that the word conveys certainly is. The word “trinity” is not found either, but the truth of it surely is. “Caught up” is the Greek word arpadzo. It means to be snatched away. The word is translated into the Latin raptura! This is where we get our word “rapture.” Believers in this age who have believed in Christ will not have to endure what the Bible calls “Jacob’s trouble,” the Jews trouble (Jer. 30:7), or the fires meant to purge and purify the Jews (Mal. 3:1-3), or what Jesus and John refer to as great tribulation (Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:14). We will not be here. What are these words meant to do? Paul ends, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” They are comforting words, are they not! Hang with me! Stay safe and stay tuned.

 

Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

Dr. Alva J. McClain, a renowned Bible teacher of the past, came to faith in Jesus Christ because he understood the very passage that we are considering. I have a copy of his little book, Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, written in 1940.

Let’s continue in Daniel 9! Remember, Israel was experiencing the 5th cycle of discipline in Babylon for 70 years. They had failed to let their crops rest. They were now going home. Daniel is asking God for info concerning the Jews and Jerusalem. God sent Gabriel to give the answer. Gabriel told Daniel that 490 years had been determined on Israel to accomplish the six things mentioned in our last post.

We continue!  “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times” (Dan. 9:25). Where do we find such a command that begins this prophecy? Israel had been in the foreign land of Babylon for seventy years. They knew that the time for their departure to go home was drawing near. They awaited a command from the reigning king for permission to return and rebuild their own city.  

In the month of Nisan during the twentieth year of the reign of King Artaxerxes (Persia), Nehemiah asked the king for permission to return and rebuild the ruined city of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:1–3). One of the best-defined dates in ancient history is the date of the reign of Artaxerxes. Britannica Encyclopedia begins Artaxerxes’s reign at 465 BC, so the twentieth year would be 445 BC. When no day is given, it is assumed to be the first day of the month. So, the first day of Nisan would be equivalent to the fourteenth day of March on our Western calendar. On March 14, 445 BC, Artaxerxes issued a decree that Nehemiah could go and rebuild Jerusalem. This date punches the clock for the beginning of our prophecy.

Daniel said that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince comes would be seven weeks (7×7 = 49 years) and sixty-two weeks (62×7 = 434); 434+49=483 years.  This would be seven weeks (49 years) to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, the street and the walls, and 62 weeks (434 more years) for Messiah to come. “Messiah the Prince” is obviously speaking of Jesus Christ. From the giving of the command until Jesus Christ would come, there would be 483 years (69 x 7=483 years). We are seven years short of the 490 years.

A Jewish calendar was 360 days. If you multiply 360 days times 483 years, you get 173,880 days. What was the exact date 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC? It was April 6, 32. What happened on that date? That is the day that Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on the donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. The Jews could have known this date. They could have done the math just like we have. Jesus said, “If you had known, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42).  

Using our calendar, if you add the days of the prophecy from 445 BC to AD 32, you get 476 years. Then if you multiply 476 years times 365 days (our days per year), you will get 173,740 days, which is 140 days short. But if 116 days are added for the leap years (parts of days lost by the sun time added every four years) and then the days from March 14 to April 6 (twenty-four days), you get exactly 173,880 days. Amazing!  

The prophecy continues. “After the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined” (Dan. 9:26). After the 483 years, three things are going to happen.

(1) The Messiah will be cut off and have nothing. “Cut off” is carath, as in cut off in death. This is speaking of the crucifixion. Again, had the Jews studied the Old Testament, they could have calculated the exact time that Messiah was to die. They could have numbered three days past His march into Jerusalem on the donkey which would have been April 9 A.D. 32.

(2) The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Two different princes are mentioned in this prophecy: Messiah the Prince and the prince who is to come. “The prince who is to come” is not speaking of the Messiah. His prophecy has already been fulfilled. How do we know what people it is speaking of? We know it is speaking of the Romans because in 70 A.D. the Romans, led by Titus Vespasian, destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Therefore, we know that the people of the prince that will come are Romans. Therefore, we can know that the prince that is to come (Antichrist) will come out of the Roman empire.

We will look at number 3 next time! Stay safe and stay tuned.

Gabriel Brings Answer to Daniel’s Prayer

Christ’s powerful words predicted the sign of His second coming: “When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place,” He continued with the urgent warning to flee to the mountains. Run for your lives. Don’t go back, just leave (Matt. 24:15-17). Jesus began His warning with the words, “When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place.” That will be the time when the resurrected (???) “beast” of Revelation 13:1-7 (the antichrist) will be standing in the most sacred part of a rebuilt Jewish temple. 

Daniel had been in captivity in Babylon for almost seventy years. He observed from Jeremiah’s prophecy that Israel’s captivity was nearing completion (Jer. 49:10).  He knew that it was about time to go home. He was praying, asking God, what’s next for his people and Jerusalem. God sent the angel Gabriel with the answer. “Seventy weeks are determined on your people and your holy city to finish the transgression, make and end of sins, make reconciliation for iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up vision and prophecy and anoint the most holy (place)” (Dan. 9:24).

What did Gabriel mean by weeks? “Weeks” is the Hebrew word shaboth (pronounced shabot). It means “seven.” Nothing more! The plural is shabuim, or “sevens.” Thus, the words read shaboth shabuim, or “seventy sevens.” It could be referring to seven of anything: seven days, seven weeks, seven months, or seven years. There are serious reasons to believe that Gabriel had years in mind. Daniel had been thinking in terms of years, the seventy years of captivity. The context of Gabriel’s prophetic message to Daniel must be years. If weeks of days were meant, then the whole period would hardly be enough time for the city to be rebuilt and destroyed again, to say nothing of the events that were to follow. So “seventy weeks” should be understood as seventy sevens of years. The text should read, “Seventy-sevens of years (or 70 times 7, or 490 years) have been decreed for your people (the Jews) and your holy city (the city of Jerusalem).” Gentiles are not in view here.

At the end of the seventy sevens (490 years), six things will have been accomplished for the Jews. The first (1) To finish the transgression.” “Finish” is the Hebrew word calah, to shut up, like to shut up in prison. At the end of the 490 years, Israel’s rebellion against God will be finished. The entire nation of Israel is in rebellion against their God to this very hour. The vast majority of the people and political leaders in Israel are secular. The coming tribulation spoken of by Christ will smelt them like silver and gold and remove all of their impurities (Zech. 13:8–9; Mal. 3:1–3). They will look on the One whom they have pierced and will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son (Zech. 12:10; John 19:27). (2) To make an end of sins speaks of the Jewish national sin and rebellion against God will finally be brought to an end. (3) To make reconciliation for iniquity means to make “atonement.” At His second coming, the Messiah will give the benefits of His cross work to His chosen people (all Israel will be saved (Rom.11:26). (4) To seal up vision and prophecy. The words “to seal up” mean literally “to finish completely.” God will be present in the person of Jesus Christ, and there will be no more need for visions and prophecies. Said another way, the prophecy concerning Israel and Jerusalem will be brought to an end through the mouth of the Messiah Himself, not through a prophet. (5) To bring in everlasting righteousness. There will be an everlasting right standing before God for the Jewish people. Righteousness will be restored to Israel and the city of Jerusalem. (6) To anoint the most holy place. The Millennial Temple will at last be built and anointed for the Millennial King. As mentioned earlier, the soon coming King will be crowned, not with thorns, but a crown of royalty and majesty (Zech. 14:9).  He will be seated on His throne in the most holy place. This temple will be built in its proper time (I think soon) and built on its proper place – the Temple Mount. It will be set apart for that which God has forever appointed it. Prior to this world captivating event, vengeance on Israel – and the world – will be unleashed in unimaginable ways. This vengeance will start at the moment when the abomination spoken of by Daniel the prophet stands in the holy place. This is why Jesus told the people that when they saw this sign “flee.” He finished giving the sign by saying, “Whoever reads, let him understand.” Pray that many Jews understand when this time comes – and it will.  More tomorrow. Stay safe and stay tuned.

The Beast

We are anticipating the return of our King – the Lord Jesus Christ. The King promised that He is coming again (Jn. 14:1-3). Jesus connected His return directly to the appearance of one called the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Matt. 24:15). We shot back to the book of Daniel tracing the identity and appearance of this abomination. We began with God’s prediction that five nations will rule over the earth (Dan. 2:39). Babylon, the Medes and Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, and a fifth empire yet to come – all named hundreds of years in advance (Isa. 46:9-10).
After Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, we jump to the dream of Belshazzer (Dan. 7:2-3) The dream is much the same with added details. The king saw four great beasts coming out of the sea (of nations): a lion (again Babylon), a lopsided bear (Medo-Persia), a leopard (Greece), and a dreadful beast with no name. This beast is Rome. The beast with no name is the Roman empire, spreading into the worship of paganism and the spread of the Muslims (the worship of Allah). That possibility ought to get the reader’s attention. Rome, with the strength of iron, was different from all the other nations. How? Its difference was not its strength, though its army crushed any nation that stood in its way. It was different in that for the first time in recorded history it had a republican government (SPQR), the people and senate of Rome. The Caesar’s were their presidents and Rome practiced imperialism.
When Babylon, the Medes and Persians, and the Greeks conquered nations, they would allow the conquered people to rule themselves. Sometimes, they would mix in some of their own people with those conquered in order to cause conflict. The people would fight amongst themselves and keep the nations from plotting rebellions. All the conquering nations wanted was tribute – taxes, gold, riches. When Rome conquered nations, it put its own rulers in charge. It literally took over militarily, politically, and economically. This is imperialism.
Rome had its foot on the neck of Israel when Jesus came. Recall one Herod the Great? Jesus provided the great hope that at last the people would be free from this Roman government. Revelation 13 speaks of a beast coming out of the sea (of nations) like a leopard, a bear, and a lion (sound familiar?). I ask the reader to carefully read through this chapter. The dragon (Satan) gives power, a throne, and great authority to the beast (Rev. 13:1-2). The beast is killed and is miraculously raised from the dead, or so it will appear (Rev. 13:3-4). God gives this beast authority to rule for forty-two months or three and a half years. He speaks great things and blasphemes the God of heaven (Rev. 13:5-6). This one will make war with the saints and all will worship him whose names are not written in the book of life (Rev. 13:7-8). This is terrifying!
It is at this point that God says, “If anyone has an ear let him hear” (Rev. 13:9-10). This means that not everyone believes this. Another beast comes out of the earth. This second beast is the first beast’s press agent. He has horns like a lamb. He will give the appearance of being gentle, loving, and kind, but he will speak like a dragon (Rev. 13: 11). He convinces the world to worship the first beast (Rev. 13:12). This false prophet will at first draw world-wide attention to himself by performing amazing signs, even calling down fire from heaven (Rev. 13:13). His masterpiece will be to appear to raise the beast from the dead (Rev. 13:12). Having secured a great following, he commands that the world worship the beast (Rev. 13:13-17). This will be done in the Holy Place of a rebuilt Jewish temple.
Now we are jettisoned back to recall the words of Jesus. When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the Holy Place. Amazing! His number is the famous 666 (Rev. 13:18). Remember his claims to deity and his many attempts to convince the world that He is the Messiah. The Jews have a coded numbering system. Three is the number of perfection, and six is the number of a man. Though this beast claims to be god, he is a man, he is a man, he is a man – not only that, but he is perfectly human – he is not God. More on this later. And, oh by the way, John tells us not to worship him (the beast) and do not take his number in your forehead or on your hand (Rev. 14:9). Stay safe and stay tuned.