By Sharky and George
I think that as Christian's, we too can be "in the spirit" like John in the book of Revelation.
It is when you have a lot of faith and in this time a lot of God's revelations (things that will happen) come to us.
The book of Revelation has this title because of this - it was revealed to John how things will be.
A good way to get a lot of faith is to read your bible for a long period of time maybe an hour on an occasion - you cannot do this all the time but you should daily read your bible for shorter periods. Get an enjoyable version that is fun to encourage you to do this (I like the Message and/or the ESV - English Standard Version):
Faith is our link to God so having a link in faith enables Him to reveal things to us through what is like a telephone line that has been setup.
Read your favourite bible version and pray to God like you are having a conversation with Him whilst you are having a coffee - who knows, you might end up having a chat, coming closer to someone who loves you more than you could ever know and therefore making Him very happy.
Make sure you use wisdom with your faith though so you can discern away mis-leading spirits that may effect the conversation. This is noise and interference on the telephone line.
Daniel & Revelation - Psalms 77:13
Psalms 77:13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?
7 Branch Candlestick - Lampstand
(I tried to insert as a picture, but do not know how, if anyone could help with that, much appreciated, 'a picture is worth a thousand words' as the proverb goes)
The first 'Book' Of Daniel
Daniel 4:1-37; Daniel 3:1-30; Daniel 2:1-49; Daniel 1:1-21; Daniel 7:1-28; Daniel 6:1-28; Daniel 5:1-31
In their parallel order as in the 7 branches of the candlestick (and will be demonstrated by the very text itself):
Daniel 4:1-37 -- King, Everlasting Gospel, Saved
Daniel 3:1-30 -- Law, Test, Worship, 1st Amendment
Daniel 2:1-49 -- Vision, Kingdoms Of Earth To Heaven
Daniel 1:1-21 -- Captivity To Release
Daniel 7:1-28 -- Vision, Kingdoms Of Earth To Heaven
Daniel 6:1-28 -- Law, Test, Worship, 1st Amendment
Daniel 5:1-31-- King, Everlasting Gospel, Lost
The second 'Book' of Daniel
Daniel 8:1 - 12:13
(This portion of Daniel, deals with the Sanctuary services itself, and is steeped in Sanctuary langauge, to be demonstrated by the text itself a little later.)
The Revelation Of Jesus Christ
Rev. 1:1-5:14; Rev. 6:1-8:1; Rev. 8:2-11:19; Rev. 12:1-14:20; Rev. 15:1-19:21; Rev. 20:1-15; Rev. 21:1-22:21
In their parallel order as in the 7 branches of the candlestick (and will be demonstrated by the very text itself):
Revelation 1:1 - 5:14 -- The 7 Churches
Revelation 6:1 - 8:1 -- The 7 Seals
Revelation 8:2 - 11:19 -- The 7 Trumpets
Revelation 12:1 - 14:20 -- The Great War
Revelation 15:1 - 19:21 -- The 7 Last Plagues
Revelation 20:1-15 -- The 1,000 Years
Revelation 21:1 - 22:21 -- The New Jerusalem
The Feasts of the LORD
1 - 1 - 1 - 3 - 7 - 7 - 7
The Passover (1st Month (Abib), 14th day, at even) - Leviticus 23:4-5
Unleavened Bread (1st Month (Abib), 15th day unto 21st day (7 days), a yearly feastal sabbath) - Leviticus 23:6-8
Firstfruits/Wavesheaf (1st Month (Abib), 16th day, on the morrow after the sabbath) - Leviticus 23:9-14
Pentecost/Feast of Weeks (3rd Month (Sivan), 50 days (7 complete Sabbath's (7*7=49) and unto the morrow after the 7th Sabbath (49+1=50)) - Leviticus 23:15-22
Trumpets (7th Month (Ethanim), 1st day) - Leviticus 23:23-25
Atonement (7th Month (Ethanim), 10th day, yearly festal sabbath, in the 9th day, even unto even) - Leviticus 23:26-32
Booths/Tabernacles/Ingathering (7th Month (Ethanim), 15th day unto 21st day (7 days), and an 8th day (the 1st and 8th being a yearly festal sabbath)) - Leviticus 23:33-44
"knock and the door will be opened to you." Imagine this unprecedented event. Christians, from all over the world, united physically in congregations, united virtually through technology, united spiritually in the Holy Ghost, praying together with a clear, unified intention: shortening, hastening the Return of the Lord (Peter 3:12, Revelation 22:20, Matthew 6:5-13, Luke 18:1-8) Wouldn’t the Lord be quick, in fulfilling their holy prayer? “[…] And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” This is not happening yet, but we can make it happen. SUMMARY (You can freely download the pdf) 1 - Brief history of the Church 2 – God wants men to cooperate his plans 3 – The importance of prayer and the Lord’s prayer 4 – The Last Day 5 – While in the world 6 – Warnings 7 – Avoid misconceptions 8 – An unprecedented event 9 – SOURCES 1 - Brief history of the Church Along the history, many spiritual leaders did not listen to (Matthew 23:9-10) “And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.” Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many false teachings did spread for centuries. Nor it is a surprise that true Christians come to a better understanding of some concepts through centuries, because luckily some of them are able to get rid of the false teachings they have received. Indeed, luckily some listened to Matthew 23:9-10. Moreover, Jesus said (John 16:12): ”I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” Thus, an increasing understanding, founded on the Gospels and never contradicting them, is to be expected through history. 2 – God wants men to cooperate his plans Even though God could do everything alone, by not waiting his followers to align their will to His will, still he wants men to decide to cooperate with Him, to proceed in His salvation Plan. For those who knows the Scriptures, it’s not needed to quote the countless times in which God waited for men to turn to Him, and adhere His plan, before making things happen. Because being a loving Father, he doesn’t force His will upon men. 3 – The importance of prayer and the Lord’s prayer Point 2 on cooperation between God and men, is one of the reasons why Jesus stressed so much the importance of prayer. To be short, we only quote some passages, but there are countless ones in the Gospels alone: (Matthew 7:7) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (John 16:24) “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” Of course, we need to make prayers aligned with God’s will. But even if something is already in God’s will, it’s really important for us to pray for it, because the Lord don’t want to force his gifts upon us, but want us to desire Him. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be any need for any prayer whatsoever. Now, what’s the only prayer that the Lord directly taught us? The Lord’s prayer. Let’s examine some passages: “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” […] “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Now, let’s think about it, by knowing the Scriptures. When and how can the Lord completely fulfill these requests? Could they be fulfilled while we are still on earth? 4 – The Last Day It doesn’t take a leap of imagination, to realize that the Lord’s prayer promises will be fully fulfilled only with the Rapture and His Second Coming. [Even the only apparently not messianic request about the “bread”, is translated somewhere as “the bread of tomorrow”, thus indicating the bread of the Kingdom.] Now, it’s not a purpose of this work to choose which interpretation of the Second Coming is more Scriptural. Whatever it is, pre/post/multi/anti/tribulation,this is not the point here. The point is that only in the Last Day, the Lord will fully fulfill the Lord’s prayer requests. Now, are we aware of this? Are we, most Christians, praying that prayer with full intention and awareness, with the awareness that we are asking the Lord, according to His will, to shorten the days of His coming? It doesn’t seem like this awareness has been fully reached so far, but now the times may be arrived. Now this intention can be shared to Christians all over the earth. And it’s nothing new, it’s something fully Scriptural (Peter 3:12, Revelation 22:20, Matthew 6:13), it’s just a better understanding of the power of our prayer in the name of Jesus. We are not predicting the day or the hour, and we’ll never try to do it. There is no needing of knowing the day nor the our, to ask the Lord to come quick, according to His will. How powerful would be this prayer, shouted by all His elects? What if some wise pastors could be able to share this intention to Christians all over the world, and all together we could pray “Come”, and “Deliver us from evil”, with the full understanding that we are asking for the Rapture, instead of passively waiting for it? This would be an unprecedented event in History, since so far most Christians have passively waited for it 5 – While in the world Asking for the rapture, doesn’t cut off any obligation for a true Christian life. Before Jesus returns, we’ll still have the obligation to love everyone, serve other people, improve the society, improve ourself, spread the Gospel. All of these commandments are in the Gospel and are immutable. At the same time, with this prayer, we clarify our intention to God, we tell Him that we are ready, and it is now time for our plans to align with His plans, and that we fully want and responsibly request His return for the elects. 6 – Warnings Unfortunately, there will always be some Christians who don’t really want the Lord to come soon. They are not excited at all about Heaven. Exactly like in these Parables: (Luke 14:15-20) “When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ (Luke 19:14) "But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.' (John 12:43) “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” But other Christians who aspire to Heaven, would have no reason to not pray this prayer. In the worst case, it will have no effect. In the best case, how glad we will be, to see the Lord coming quickly for us. 7 – Avoid misconceptions Q: “Does praying the Lord to come quickly mean that we don’t trust His promise that He will come?” A: “Absolutely not. The Lord knew the future. He knew about the prayers from His elects, and that he wouldn’t wait to fulfill them. Exactly as in countless other situations, in which the Lord has waited for men to ask Him for what is good. (Matthew 15:21-28). We are sure that His promise will be fulfilled, but we want to be among the ones that have aligned with His will and asked Him to fulfill it quickly.” Q: “Are we forcing the Lord to do something not in His will? Doesn’t He know the Right Time?” A: “He knows the Right Time, and we don’t know according to which criteria He has decided it. But according to the prayer He taught, when He decided it, part of the weight for the decision, came from considering the prayers of His elects (Peter 3:12, Revelation 22:20, Matthew 6:13, Luke 18:1-8). Exactly as in other situations, He gave importance and weight to the will of his disciples and prophets, when aligned to His will” Q: “Are Christians praying this prayer exempt to contribute to society, and to spend their lives serving others until the Lord come?” A: “Absolutely not. A real Christian will follow all Jesus words,not only ones about prayer,respect the laws of his country, and will spend His life helping other people, so that when the Lord will come, he will find him ready.” (Matthew 24:45-51) “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Q: “Will shortening the return of the Lord prevent some people from salvation?” A: “First off, remember that there will never be a moment on earth in which everyone will be Christian, before the rapture. It is not written anywhere. On the contrary, it is written about an increasingly diminishing of faith. Moreover, people who haven’t met Christ but are seeking for the Truth in their hearts, and are loving their brothers, will be likely raptured too. Exactly as some other righteous people like Socrates, will be raised in the last day, while evil people who are not seeking for repentance because they don’t have the seed of repentance in their hearts, will be left. Therefore, there is no such risk in shortening the day. Otherwise, the Lord wouldn’t have taught us this prayer.” Q:”What about theological and philosophical implications of this event Why someone is taken and someone else left?” A: “These are not treated here. They will be treated in other works, and some wise pastors will be able to answer this, by following the Scriptures” 8 – An unprecedented event If most Christian living today will share this intention, and pray together for it, this will be an unprecedented even in the history of the world. If the rapture happened centuries ago, it would have likely remained unexplained and not testified everywhere. But nowadays, thanks to technologies and to the Gospel spread everywhere, it will be testified to people of all nations, and everyone will know what happened. Now, our hope is that some wise Christian, who spent their lifes in the hope of Jesus’ Return, will actively spread this prayer and this intention among other pastors and Christians, so that all of us may be reunited under the Lord’s prayer, and pray together, with full intention and understanding and without the usual countless distractions and desires: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day the bread of the Day that is coming. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Maranatha. Our Lord, come!
9 - SOURCES:
“It’s not just that we don’t know our Bible but that we have so fragmented, dissected, and compartmentalized the Bible that we have lost sight of its great overarching story.”
Hugh Whelchel i
Occasionally I ask myself, what motivates me to write. In response, I would have to say it's religious opposition and a deeply seated desire to see the church walking in truth. The idea of walking in truth, in my mind, means a church that is trained appropriately in the Word. I don't see that happening at any of the churches I have been a part of.
An aspect of that opposition recently occurred as a “brother” in Christ, told a friend of mine, that I believe life has to be one-way, mine. Have you read any of my posts? Do I present myself like that? Hardly, I attempt to show God's word as the only basis for truth, and, in a manner that people can understand. I suppose, to some degree, that means adding my commentary to what I write in an effort to promote understanding, but leaving the decision-making process to the reader, as they accept or reject God's word. With that understanding you are not rejecting me, you are denying God's truth and mercy, as you refuse what God's word says.
Elijah, the prophet, bemoaned his situation and cried out that he was alone in Israel.
1 Kings 19:9-10 NASB Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10) He said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
And yes, that is the way I feel some days. God's response.
1 Kings 19:18 NASB "Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him."
I realize that I am not alone, but the number of those who are passionate about God are few. I am fortunate to sit with a few of them on a weekly basis.
Having had someone say of me, “he believes it has to be, his way or no way,” is somewhat like a slap in my face, and I can tell you I am highly intolerant of actions like that. So, why would someone say something like that about me? Perhaps it is because I am very passionate about truth and God's word.
Sending everyone to hell at the Great White Throne has nothing to do with truth; it merely demonstrates how adamant this man is about judgment, something we are to leave to Jesus, [especially since ALL judgment has/or will be given to Him.]
The Apostle Paul was not put off by the scholars of the Berean community. In fact, he thought highly of them. This body of believers did their research and found that Torah and Tanakh validated what Paul was saying. Having legitimized Paul's statements they believed. When you consider the limited resources, these men had, our accolades for them should be even more significant.
Let me give you an example of what this opposition to, and the rejection of, the truth looks like.
The man who leads the Monday morning study, once again pointed out that he was an ordained Bible study leader, not a pastor. As the leader, he has just about every week, exclaimed that everyone brought to the Great White Throne judgment is sent to hell. If you are a reasonable student of the Bible you should be asking, is that a correct statement? The answer is NO, but why would you know that?
Because you have read the Word of God, as you should; you looked at the context; compared alternate texts and scenarios, and, like a hungry pet who has, awaited you to come home so they can eat, chewed on and ingested every word so that you could understand the depth and meaning of the Greek words being used and their Hebrew origins. But here is where the problem lays, as statistically, no one does that?
The statistical work I am going to show you were undertaken by Lifeway Research in 2014. Here is an excerpt from Christianity Today.ii
“Some Stats to Consider
Americans read the Bible on occasion—churchgoers a little more. In a recent LifeWay Research study, we learned the following about our Bible reading habits among church attendees. They indicated that they read their Bible as follows:
19% - Every day
26% - A few times a week
14% - Once a week
22% - At least once a month
18% - Rarely or never.
There are a couple of interesting takeaways from this study. Almost 60% of churchgoers open our Bibles at home during the week at least once. And for every person who is reading his/her Bible every day (19%), someone isn’t… at all (18%).”
Do you think, in this condition of apostasy, that the numbers would improve any as time progresses?
I was pondering this idea before pulling up the statistical information. My guess/estimate would have been about 20% of the “church” actually reading their Bibles every day. But even then I could see a problem with that number because I sit with some of these 20% per-centers, and know for a fact that they will not move off their traditional interpretations and understandings regardless of what you show them in scripture. Are you beginning to see a problem? Illiteracy has no option but to run rampant through the church; And, it is not just the church. I just read yesterday, 5/10/2018, that schools have found they are going to have to take down the analog clocks on the schoolhouse walls and replace them with digital clocks because no one can read them.
Let's go back to the significant false teaching of the morning “bible” study – how that everyone coming before the Great White Throne goes to a fiery hell.
The first question is: how does one study the Bible? It seems to me that everyone should know how to do this; in truth, I had to learn how.
Every student should:
Read the text without a premise.
As you read ask, what is this passage supposed to be saying to me?
Do not merely assume that the teacher standing before you, saying things like, “What Paul is saying here,” is the truth. [Here is a heads up. Paul, a former Pharisee, a man who was very skillful at what he did, had no problem speaking to JEWS, about this new life and grace found in Christ. This is the case as Saul/Paul spoke about the Hebrew wording within the Law and the Prophets and pointed out the evidence in those words, which led to an understanding, in those who chose to listen, that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah they longed for. Paul made it clear that our acceptance of Yahshua brought about this life and the hope we have come to understand.]
The idea of reading without a premise can be applied to my pastor's sermons since he has a motive and a point to be made. In pushing his motive, he has created a premise and is working to make the scriptures fit his premise. These directed efforts often work in opposition to my understanding of Bible study.
Look at the context.
An example of this applies to what I am going to analyze momentarily – Matthew 25, where we see the sheep and the goats at the throne of judgment. The context surrounding this word picture begins in Matthew 21, when Jesus rides into Jerusalem, on the back of an unridden donkey – the Rolls Royce of the day, and He is perceived as the Messiah Israel hoped for. Unfortunately, He did not do what the disciples, nor the people expected, as He overturned the sellers tables, chairs, and loosed their merchandise where they had been selling, in the court of the Gentiles. And then, Jesus got into a verbal confrontation with the elders and Pharisees. All this activity shook the disciples and prompted them to ask, “when will all these things come to pass, and what will be the sign of your coming as the Messiah.
I am always analyzing the scriptures even as the pastor speaks. I examine the context and what the interlinear Greek or Hebrew dictionary says the words mean. Occasionally, the pastor is preaching in opposition to what the words mean. As a side note: Pastor and I had a bad moment one day, as he challenged me about my intensive focus on end times and the eschatology books of the Bible. In his indictment of me, he said, “Notice how in my sermons, I present the gospel in a manner that brings about change in people.” I try not to overthink the pastor's words that day, but isn't that what the Word of God is supposed to do, change people?
Look for a comparative text.
Many of the Calvary Chapel pastors, like Don Stewart or the late Chuck Smith, used to say, “allow scripture to define scripture.” What does that mean? As I read the Revelation, I see where John, on two occasions, in speaking to the churches, uses the term the Synagogue (Rev 2:9, Rev 3:9.) Why is this significant? Because John, was not writing in code as some would ascribe, he was writing to Jewish converts/followers of Christ. And therefore, spoke in a language they would immediately understand. Greek, of course, was one aspect of this language but the other carried the oral history and word stories from the Old Testament. The evidence for this is rather extensive and is demonstrated in the writings of James (James 2:2) and the Apostle Paul. Read Acts 18. In every city we find Paul entering the local Synagogue and preaching. For over fifteen years Paul preached, almost exclusively, to Jews. It was only after years of abuse at the hands of religious Jews that Paul finally said, and I am taking this message to the Gentiles.
The Apostle John, James, Peter, and Paul focused their attention on the Jewish community. Peter, although he had a brief exchange with the Roman Centurion's family, maintained, as did James and John, a focus on Jews. [Read Paul's account in Galatians 2,] Many of these believed for years that this gospel of Jesus was meant exclusively for Jews. Peter, in 2 Peter 3:10 says,
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” NASB
This passage has clear and definite associations with Isaiah 13:9; Jeremiah 46:10 among others.
In conjunction with the idea of comparative texts, was the indication that everything, aside from direct revelation from the Holy Spirit, came out of the Torah and Tanakh. Paul's letters; James words on wisdom, and the Revelation that John conveyed, all came from the Old Testament. We can put this idea of comparative texts into action where Revelation speaks of a multi-headed beast with crowns and horns (Revelation 13:1). This imagery is found in multiple locations but primarily in the words of the prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:7).
Matthew 25:31-45, where we see the sheep and goats, is a comparative text. The words Jesus spoke were in response to questions His Jewish disciples ask him, and those words made sense to a Jewish audience. If you had been a student in Synagogue school you were expected to memorize the Old Testament teachings. Therefore, one might expect that these people were looking for these events to happen.
Try to take in as much of the background wording into consideration as you can.
When I look at Matthew 25:31-45 in the NASB, the segment that speaks of the sheep and goats carries the headline, The Final Judgment. That headline in itself gives me nothing of value except as a reference point. If I were looking for a direct association to the final judgment, there is nothing within these verses that define this explicitly by using that terminology.
Can I find an inference of final judgment in verse 31?
Matthew 25:31 NASB "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
Here you see the Son of Man coming in His glory.
This is the same Jesus that Stephen saw, as he stood before the Jewish council (Acts 7:55-56,) and it is the same Jesus that Daniel saw in Daniel 7:13.
And, He will sit on His glorious throne.
There is a passage in Joel 3:12 that would cause the audience listening to the speaker that day to take note. Joel 3:12 LITV Let the nations be awakened and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat. For there I will sit to judge all the nations all around.
This passage in Joel can easily be associated with the judgment we are about to see in Matthew 25. These two points alone do not convince me, as we see Jesus coming in Revelation 19 prior to Him being seated for judgment, and, there is no account of Him sitting upon His throne in Revelation 19.
To be honest, I have to stretch my mind a bit to see the final judgment. However, if I look at the next verse, the finality suddenly becomes clearer, especially if I have an understanding of Joel 3:12. [Mat 25:32 And before Him shall be gathered all the nations;]
There is only one glorious throne.
Is this the same throne that we see in Revelation? We have to look at Revelation 20:11 and see if there is something here that matches.
Revelation 20:11 NASB Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
A great white throne
Our only references to a white throne come from 1 Kings 10:18 and 2Ch 9:17, and they are effectively the same story
1 Kings 10:18 NASB Moreover, the king made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with refined gold.
Ezekiel tells us what he saw, Ezekiel 1:26 NASB Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man.
lapis lazuli - Sapphire - Clear heavenly blue. Apparently, the color is insignificant.
In 1Kings 10:18 it is clear that this is a great throne, and in Daniel 7:9 Daniel sees the throne as being fiery flames.
Although you don't see this happening in Matthew 25, Revelation 20:7-8 tells us that after the thousand years, Satan is released from his prison and he deceives the nations. Those nations, in turn, surround the city of God in an attempt to kill God and His people. Those gathered are killed in an instant. The next event scripture shows us is the gathering of the nations, or, as Matthew 25 puts it, the dead are brought before this great throne.
Although my methods of sorting out what I read, and disseminating the false teachings I hear, might be different than what you learn in seminary, they work for me. You also just got the added benefit of some insight into a false teaching that seems to enjoy sending all who approach the throne of judgment, to hell. A serious look at scripture will demonstrate that such a teaching is blatantly false and damaging to our understanding of who God is.
iThe Church’s Secret: Biblical Illiteracy in the 21st Century, Hugh Whelchel, writing for the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics. March 13, 2017. https://tifwe.org/the-churchs-secret-biblical-illiteracy-in-the-21st-century/
iiBiblical Illiteracy by the Numbers Part 1: The Challenge
I primarily use the NASB, but occasionally I find it deficient; I will insert other translations if they can clarify the context. Those translations will be duly noted.
Chapter one was an appropriate greeting, but chapter two stands alone and begins to immediately address fears that have come as the result of some false teaching.
This theme was not a new to Paul as he had written to the Christ-followers in Thessalonica on a previous occasion.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 NASB 13) But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15) 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 not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16) For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17) Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
Considering the years between these two letters, the new members that had been added to the church body, and the addition of some false teachings, the fear has had a chance to creep in. I see the effects of false teachings frequently in the church bodies I have had dealings with, as people espouse things they know so little about; all the while continuing to cloud the issue.
So let's dissect the passages and see if we can understand all that Paul is trying to say.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 NASB 1) Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2) that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
“with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,”
Coming – is the Greek word parousia; a being near, that is, advent (often, return; specifically of Christ to punish Jerusalem, or finally the wicked.) Strong's concordance.
In the explanation above I see two distinctly different things.
One being Jehovah's return in the clouds to catch His church away. This catching away is called the harpazo, but it is also known as the advent or return.
The second possible understanding is this idea of the punishment of Jerusalem or the wicked. This concept pertains to the wrath of God being poured out. One of the keys to understanding the difference between Jesus return for His church and His coming as the conquering Messiah hangs on this phrase - " the day of the Lord.” Using the NASB concordance, the expression shows up in 22 verses. 18 of those references are found in the Old Testament. Since the Tenach is designed for a Jewish audience then the language and references are expressly Jewish; that means that the phrase – the day of the Lord, is almost exclusively about the return of the Messiah.
Of the four verses left and found in the New Testament, three of them are exclusively about the catching away of the church. This catching away is that time when Jesus comes back in the clouds for His church, and they will be caught up to meet Him in the air. 2Peter 3:10 leans more toward the time of the end, as it tells us that, “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” While all of these things are a part of the seven-year period the implications are that this will happen almost all at once when Jesus returns to the earth for the final time. You see, this is one of those areas that are not that black and white.
So, let's see if the context of the passage answers the question about when this event will happen.
While I understand that Paul was addressing the body of believers in Thessalonica (a primarily Jewish audience,) these words also apply to us. I do not hear this complaint or question anymore, but I am aware that many do believe that Christ has already returned. If that is the case, what are we doing and why are we wasting our time?
But Christ has not already returned. How do I know that? Well there are markers, or some might think of them as guideposts along the way, and Paul spells them out.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 NASB 3) Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4) who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
“The apostasy comes first.”
Since apostasy means a falling away, I ask you, has that happened? Absolutely, and at an exponential rate.
“and the man of lawlessness is revealed,”
I want to show you some alternate readings.
This second selection is from the Complete Jewish Bible, and it translates this passage entirely different from anyone else. Why is this significant? Because even the Muslims have prophecies, and one of them describes such a man;
2 Thessalonians 2:3 Darby Let not any one deceive you in any manner, because it will not be unless the apostasy have first come, and the man of sin have been revealed, the son of perdition;
2 Thessalonians 2:3 CJB Don't let anyone deceive you in any way. For the Day will not come until after the Apostasy has come and the man who separates himself from Torah has been revealed, the one destined for doom.
A man who is a descendant of Aaron –
The priests were to come from the lineage of Aaron. Since we know that the temple will be rebuilt, then practically every preparation would have to be made at this point, for a high priest to be installed. He then would be the one to enter the Holy of Holies and sprinkle the blood of the lamb.
The Muslim prophecies tell us that this Jew will reject the Torah, pay homage to the Mahdi, and follow him.
Do you grasp the depth of this action? Many who have esteemed this Jew enough to appoint him as the high priest over the new temple will be deceived, turn from the true God, and follow his actions as they too will bow to the Mahdi in worship. This Mahdi appears to be the Islamic religious leader that will soon be saying peace peace. Most of this takes place 1260 days into the time of wrath upon the earth.
I am always concerned that people will see my words as unbelievable.
If, you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then, you are under a mandate to study to show not only, yourself, to be approved by God, but to judge the words being said to you, as to whether they are true or not. You are not doing this type of study to bash people, although I sometimes think that many should shut their mouths, but you are studying these things so that you can know what is right.
Let me show you an example: I believe in the pre-tribulation rapture, regardless of the poor choice of words we traditionally use. Although there is a voluminous amount of those in opposition to this understanding, I did my homework and became even more thoroughly convinced that Jesus is coming back for His church that is waiting for Him, and, He is going to do so before God's wrath is poured out upon the earth.
Specific reasons why I believe in a pre-wrath rapture.
Matthew 3:7 NASB But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
The obvious thing I see here is that Jesus just acknowledged that it is purposeful to flee from the wrath, and, that there is wrath coming.
Luke 21:23 NASB ... for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people;
Here we can see that the intended target is the land and these people. Now the statement, "o this people" is relatively generic and needs some clarity. Luke 21:24 NASB tells us that “they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations;”
It is easy enough to see that a part of this fulfillment comes upon Israel and it's people, the Jews. However, pay attention, and you can see one other group, the Gentiles. The Gentiles and the nations are the same. If you are not a Jew, and you are a follower of Christ, then you have been engrafted into the vine and no longer fall under the category of being a Gentile in God's eyes.
Those with a veil over their eyes will not get this concept. Since we are “in Christ” then we are part of the church and not subject to this wrath.
Romans 1:18 NASB For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
What is evident to me is the terminology, the wrath of God. Pay attention to the words being used and upon whom they are directed. Romans 1:18 can be taken as a somewhat broad spectrum statement.
An example of this broad spectrum idea – I know a man who came to church for a time and did all the appropriate things. He came down front, cried his eyes out, made sorrowful and repentant statements. Why he even got baptized in a swimming pool as a symbol of this new and changed life he wanted to live. That didn't last long. Does he belong to God and is therefore not going to be subject to this wrath because he is part of the church. I do not know, because any fruit he produces is rotten and stinks before it falls off the tree. This pattern has been going on for years.
Ephesians 2:3 NASB Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
The Apostle Paul taught that we were formerly children of wrath, and no longer subject to the “wrath of God.”
1 Thessalonians 1:10 NASB 10) and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 is one of the most specific examples that Paul gave us. Since we are in Christ, Jesus has rescued us from the wrath that is to come.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 NASB 9) For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Many think that we deserve punishment. Well, that might have been true, but as followers of Christ, we are of those who have agreed to and accepted His salvation. You see, you need to have a firm grasp on what Jesus did. I am continually trying to remind people that all sins were forgiven – past, present, and future. Then what are people being punished for? Look at what Colossians 3:5-6 tells us,
Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6) For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, NASB
Simply put, you either follow Jesus, or you follow the god of this world, Satan. He will go to an eternal punishment, as will all those who choose to follow him. This punishment, as many want to believe, is not the end-all statement, as God is a merciful God beyond everything else; ask Jonah. And that is why we have the sheep and goats of Matthew 25. Take the time to study that.
Revelation 6:14-17 NASB 14) The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15) Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16) and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17) for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
There are three things I want you to see here. Verse 15 gives us a description of some of the people affected by what is happening: kings of the earth; great men; commanders; the rich and strong, and every slave and free man. No one upon the earth is left unscathed by what is coming.
In verse 16 we see them crying out to be hid from the presence of “Him who sits on the throne, AND from the wrath of the Lamb. This lamb is Jesus Christ. Since I used an example from the Revelation, let me point something out to you. This entire book is a Revelation of Jesus Christ. Even the rich, in this scenario, understood that God played a hand in this, and at the same time, they are acknowledging Jesus. It's all about Jesus.
And the last thing, although I have already intimated it, is that this wrath is coming from God/Jesus.
Since we are going to be like Bereans, a people who had enough sense to verify that what Paul was teaching was right, what then do we use as a basis for what is true? Keep in mind, that the Bereans did not have Bibles, they had some scrolls. Those scrolls were so valued that only a limited number of priests could handle them, and so the Torah and Tanakh were read aloud. This idea of scrolls changes the whole idea of Bible study. The Bereans had no New Testament, it was being spoken in their ears by Paul and lived out right in front of them. I, on the other hand, have over thirty translations of the Bible on my computer, and over forty commentaries that I can glean from. I have no excuses.
The answer to the question is The Word of God. Now, since we know that there are errors across translations, is it wise to merely open the NIV for example, read it, and then say, “this is how that is supposed to be understood!” NO, because, as I said, there are errors. (Do not for a moment think that these errors are on God's part, as God's wisdom has been substantiated by His ability to get His message across plainly to those who choose to pursue this wisdom.)
So, what am I saying to you? Be open but alert; trust the Holy Spirit to guide you; judge everything against the word of God, and, remove yourself, if you can, from false teachers. They will corrupt you with the simplest of things, such as David conquering Goliath when David was only four foot tall. That is not even close to the terminology used in the descriptions of David. King Saul, who knew David well for David was his ARMOR bearer, called him a youth. But what does that mean? Are these things critical to the story? NO, but if you are willing to build false images about the nature and character of David, what else will a false teacher do with God and His word.
I can tell you what some will do, for I have experienced this first hand. These false teachers send everyone that comes to the Great White throne judgment to hell. There is nothing about that scenario that definitively points to that happening; these same teachers refuse to see that Matthew 25 and the story of the sheep and the goats, is just another picture of the Great White Throne. In other words, they will twist the gospel so tightly that in time, you will not be able to understand what is true.