Seven Things You Have To Know To Understand End Times Prophecy...part 1

Discussion in 'Faith & Religion' started by Babs Hunt, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. Babs Hunt

    Babs Hunt Veteran Member

    Feb 12, 2016
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    Beginning a 3 part study on the End Times by Jack Kelley

    With all the killer storms, earthquakes, wars and disease dominating our news, it’s not surprising that people are becoming more interested in End Times Prophecy. Even non-believers are wondering if the end is near. What is surprising is how little most Christians actually know about prophecy, especially since by some accounts it comprises nearly 40% of the Bible’s content, more than any other topic.

    With few exceptions seminaries don’t teach it, so preachers don’t preach it. And therefore Christians don’t learn it. In all my years as a denominational Christian, I never once heard a message explaining the importance of prophecy to a believer’s walk with the Lord. And yet the Bible devotes more space to End Times Prophecy than it does to all the teachings of Jesus.

    When Christians are asked why they don’t study prophecy more seriously the most common reasons given are 1) because it scares them, and 2) because it confuses them. Both responses are borne out of a lack of understanding. For the believer, prophecy is neither scary nor confusing but the key to understanding God’s plan for man.

    The purpose of this series is to provide a solid foundation for further study. When the foundation of a building is stable and solid, the entire building is stronger, able to withstand powerful forces that would otherwise weaken or even topple it. So it is when the foundation of our study is solid. Powerful arguments from scoffers and unbelievers cannot shake us or weaken our faith. Let’s get started.

    Seven Things You Have To Know
    There are seven pieces of information that are essential to understanding End Times Prophecy. These seven things are the building blocks for the strong foundation we want.

    They are, 1) The Sequence of Major End Time Events, 2) The Destiny of the Three Components of Humanity, 3) The Purpose and Length of the Great Tribulation, 4) The Purpose of the Rapture, 5) The Conditions Surrounding the 2nd Coming, 6) The Purpose and Length of the Millennium, and 7) Eternity.

    Once you’ve learned them, these seven things will help you avoid the mistakes that have thrown others off the track. Call it perspective or overview or whatever you want, this combination of facts will give you the ability to put all the prophetic verses in the Bible into their proper context. Let’s get started.

    1) The Sequence Of Major End Times Events
    First is knowing what happens and when. The study of prophecy gets really confusing if you don’t know the sequence in which major End Times events will occur. Actually their order is very logical, and once you learn it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t see it before. The best way to figure it out is to perform what the business world sometimes calls a back scheduling exercise. It involves going to the very end of a process and identifying the final outcome. Then you list all the things that have to happen to produce that outcome. Then you put them in reverse order, backing into the present. It’s simpler than it sounds, and much simpler in prophecy than in business because there are many fewer events to organize. We’ll list the major events first, then we’ll organize them.

    Almost everyone knows about the 2nd Coming and Eternity, and many also have heard of the Rapture of the Church and the Great Tribulation. But there’s also the Millennial Kingdom, Daniel’s 70th Week, and the Battles of Ezekiel 38-39, Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17; a total of nine major events yet to come. Now let’s organize them, beginning with the final outcome and working back toward the beginning. As it is with most lists, the order in which some events will occur is obvious while others are less so, and at first some don’t seem to fit any place at all. We’ll order the obvious ones first.

    What Are We Waiting For?
    We all think of Eternity as the final outcome, and so starting at the end means we begin there. But the last major event described in any detail in the Bible is the Kingdom Age or Millennium. It’s the Lord’s 1000 year reign on Earth, which is distinguished from and precedes Eternity. The very last chapter of Revelation describes trees on either side of the River of Life bearing a different fruit every month. That means time still exists, and Eternity by definition is the absence of time. We’ll talk more about that later. For now let’s just say that Eternity can’t happen till the Millennium is over.

    The Millennium obviously can’t begin till after the Second Coming, because that’s when the Lord returns to establish it. And according to Matt. 24:29-30 the Second Coming won’t happen till the end of the Great Tribulation. And that can’t happen till the anti-Christ stands in the Temple in Israel declaring himself to be God. (2 Thes. 2:4) That’s the event Jesus warned Israel to look for as the Great Tribulation’s opening salvo. He called it “The Abomination of Desolation” in Matt. 24:15-21. Daniel 9:27 indicates it will happen in the middle of the last seven year period, which scholars call Daniel’s 70th Week.

    But the Abomination can’t happen until there’s a Temple. There hasn’t been a Temple in Israel since 70AD and there won’t be one until the Jews officially decide they need one. They won’t need one until God reinstates their Old Covenant relationship because the Temple’s only purpose is to worship Him according to Old Covenant requirements.

    This will signal the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week. The 70th Week can’t begin until the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 is won because God will use that battle to awaken Israel and reinstate His covenant with them. In Romans 11:25 Paul said Israel has been hardened in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in, a reference to the rapture of the Church, after which Israel will be saved. That means the rapture has to happen before the Battle of Ezekiel 38.

    You Got That?
    So far when we put the Sequence of Major Events in its proper order, it looks like this:

    The Rapture of the Church,

    The Battle of Ezekiel 38,

    Daniel’s 70th week begins,

    The Great Tribulation,

    The 2nd Coming,

    The Millennium,


    To those who read Scripture as it’s written, only two of the events in this sequence are subject to debate as to timing. These are the Rapture of the Church and the Battle of Ezekiel 38, the first two on our list. They’re the ones I said are less obvious.

    So lets find out why they have to be where I’ve placed them in the sequence. Maintaining our back schedule mentality, we’ll begin with Ezekiel’s battle and work back to the Rapture.

    “And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. The house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God, from that day forward.

    Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, because I sent them into exile among the nations and then assembled them into their own land. I will leave none of them remaining among the nations anymore. And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezek 39:21-22, 28-29)

    The Lord has declared in no uncertain terms that He’s going to use Ezekiel’s battle to spiritually awaken His people and call them to Israel from all over the world. This will result in the reinstatement of their Old Covenant relationship, reviving Daniel’s long dormant “70-Weeks” prophecy for its final seven years and requiring that a Temple be constructed. Without one there’s no way for them to keep His covenant.

    This was proven once before in history during the Babylonian captivity. When Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the 1st Temple, Israel ceased to exist. But as soon as Cyrus the Persian defeated Babylon and freed the Jews, they returned to Israel and began building a Temple before they did anything else. Without a Temple there’s no sacrifice for sin, and without that sacrifice, Jews cannot approach God.

    Both the Old and New Testaments refer to a Temple in Israel at the End of the Age. The only reason for a Temple is to perform Old Covenant ordinances. But building one today would cause such an uproar that no one in his right mind would consider it.

    Only a unified demand from the people of Israel accompanied by quiet acceptance from their Moslem neighbors would make the construction of a Temple even thinkable. Sound impossible? Ezekiel’s battle results in both a Jewish nation re-awakened to the presence of God in their national life and an utterly defeated Moslem attack force in no position to resist. The perfect conditions will finally exist to start building. For these reasons, Ezekiel’s battle has to take place on the threshold of Daniel’s 70th week. Now why does the Rapture of the Church have to precede Ezekiel’s battle?

    Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.(Romans 11:25)

    According to Ezek. 37:7-10, Israel would be reborn first in unbelief. Paul said they’ll remain partially estranged from God until the gentile Church reaches its full complement (predetermined number) and arrives at its destination. (The Greek word translated “fullness” in Romans 11:25 was a nautical term often used to describe the full complement of crew and cargo necessary to accomplish a ship’s mission. The ship couldn’t sail till those requirements were met. The one translated “come in” means to arrive at a designated place.)

    Then the veil will be pulled back as God reveals Himself to them again. As we saw above, He will use Ezekiel’s battle to begin this by renewing the Old Covenant with them, later transitioning Israel from the Old Covenant to the New toward the end of the Great Tribulation (Zech 12:10). Remember, if they didn’t go back to the Old covenant first, they wouldn’t need a Temple. He’s picking them up where they left off.

    After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,

    ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’ (Acts 15:13-18)

    It was about 20 years after the cross. The controversy of the day was whether Gentiles had to become Jews before they could become Christians. And if not, what would become of Israel? In effect, the Lord’s brother James explained to the Apostles and others present at the Council of Jerusalem that Israel was being temporarily set aside while God focused on the Church. After He had taken this “people for His name” (Christians) from among the Gentiles he would return and rebuild His Temple. The Greek words translated taken means to carry something away or remove it from its place, so the passage implies that He would take the Church somewhere and then come back to rebuild the Temple, restore Israel, and give what’s left of mankind one final chance to seek Him.

    These three Bible prophecies make it clear that as the End of the Age approaches, God will begin preparing Israel to be His once more. But He won’t be exclusively focused on them until He has finished building the Church and has taken us to our appointed place. And where is that? In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3) (He didn’t promise to come back to be with us here where we are, but to take us there, where He is.) After that He would see to Israel’s reawakening and the construction of their Temple.

    Throughout Scripture, the Lord seems to be involved with either Israel or the Church, but never both at the same time. James bears this out in his pronouncement regarding the Church in Acts 15. All the leaders of the early church now knew that once God had accomplished His goals with the church, He would turn again to Israel, and that would signal the end of the Church Age.

    There are two critical points to remember here. The first is that the Church didn’t end the Age of Law, but only interrupted it 7 years short of its scheduled completion. Those seven years, called the 70th Week of Daniel, have to be fulfilled to complete the Old Covenant. And the second is that the Old and New covenants, as practiced in Israel and the Church, are theologically incompatible, and therefore the two can only be on Earth at the same time while Israel is out of covenant. For Israel to return to the Lord, the Church has to be gone.

    For this reason, the rebirth of Israel in 1948 and the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 are seen as the most important signs of all that the End of the Age is upon us.

    Also, there are two events we haven’t put into the sequence yet, and that’s because they aren’t easy to locate there. These are the battles of Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17. When Israel wins these two battles all their next door enemies will be defeated and they’ll enter into a brief period of peace that sets the stage for Ezekiel’s Battle (Ezekiel 38:11). They’re called battles instead of wars which means they’ll be of short duration and can happen within a fairly short span of time. They can come either before or after the Rapture but do have to happen before the Battle of Ezekiel 38 takes place.

    The Sequence of Major Events is only the first of “Seven Things You Have To Know To Understand End Times Prophecy.” Next time we’ll cover The Destiny of the Three Components of Humanity, The Purpose and Length of the Great Tribulation, and The Purpose of the Rapture. 07-09-11
  2. Babs Hunt

    Babs Hunt Veteran Member

    Feb 12, 2016
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    Part 2 of our study on the End Times by Jack Kelley

    Our previous study of the Seven Things You Have To Know To Understand End Times Prophecy covered the Sequence of Major End Times Events. We’ll begin this segment with the second item on our list of seven.

    2) The Destiny Of The Three Components Of Humanity: The Nations (aka Gentiles), Israel, And The Church
    Even so-called experts misinterpret prophecy when they don’t stop to consider who the Lord, or one of His prophets, is addressing. Just because something’s in the Gospels doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s for the Church, or being in Isaiah that it’s only for Israel. Knowing a prophecy’s intended recipient is critical to understanding it, and there are three possibilities. I’ll show you what I mean.

    His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. (Ephes. 2:15-16)

    Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks (Gentiles) or the church of God.(1 Cor. 10:32)

    You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28)

    In the 4,000 or so years from the Creation to the Cross, the human race came to be divided into three distinct components from God’s perspective. Here’s how it happened. From the Creation there was one race of Humans, the family of man, later called Gentiles. Then in Genesis 12, God called Abraham to build a great nation. He and his descendants were first called Hebrews (Genesis 14:13), and later Jews (Ezra 4:12). From that time on, the world’s population was either Jew or Gentile. But at the cross God created the Church, taken from among both Jews and Gentiles but sharing a destiny with neither. Now there were three, and everyone on Earth belongs to of one of them. In his epistles, Paul always took pains to distinguish the Church from both Jews and Gentiles, in effect calling the Church a new race of Human in the passages I cited above. I’ll describe each group’s destiny so you can see how different they are.

    First the Gentiles. According to Isaiah 56:6-8, Gentiles who converted to Judaism before the cross became part of Israel and share its destiny (see below) as long as they died in faith of a coming Redeemer. Gentiles who are born again during the Church Age become part of the church and after the rapture / resurrection will populate the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:27). Many of us were taught to call it Heaven, but it’s actually a separate entity. (More on this in our discussion of the Millennium, item 6 on our list of 7 Things You Have To Know.)

    Gentiles who meet the Lord after the rapture are called tribulation believers. They’re either martyred for their faith, in which case their spirits will go to serve God in His Temple (Rev 7:13-17) and will be joined with resurrection bodies at the time of the 2nd Coming (Rev. 20:4), or they’ll survive the Great Tribulation to help re-populate the nations of Earth in the Kingdom age (Millennium).

    Next the Jews. The spirits of Jews who died in faith of a coming redeemer before Jesus went to the cross were taken into Heaven with Him after His resurrection (Matt. 27:52-53). They’ll also receive resurrection bodies at the Second Coming (Daniel 12:1-3). Jews who are born again during the Church age become part of the Church and after the rapture / resurrection will populate the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:27). Jews who receive Jesus as their Messiah after the rapture will be hidden in the Jordanian desert (Petra) during the Great Tribulation (Rev. 12:14). Along with their Old Testament counter parts they’ll dwell in Israel during the Millennium (Ezekiel 43:6-7).

    Whether Jew or Gentile, those who don’t do any of the above during their lifetimes will be tormented in Hell until they’re brought back to life to stand trial at the Great White Throne judgment of Revelation 20:11-15. It takes place at the end of the Millennium. At that time, they’ll be sentenced to eternal suffering in the Lake of Fire. (Rev. 20:14)

    In the Old Testament, God promised Israel that He would return one day to dwell among them in their land on Earth forever (Ezekiel 43:6-7). In the New Testament, Jesus promised the Church that He would come back and take us to be with Him in His Father’s House (John 14:1-3). Both promises come true. Israel is not the Church nor is the Church Israel, and both groups are distinct from the Gentile nations. Much of the confusion surrounding End Times prophecy results either from the failure to understand, or the refusal to accept, this truth.

    For instance, many Christians today believe that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s plan and has inherited all of Israel’s blessings. Israel no longer serves any purpose in the world, they think, so when God talks about Israel in the New Testament He really means the Church. Therefore they misunderstand the Doctrine of Election, the Olivet Discourse, the Great Tribulation, and other New Testament teachings having to do with Israel.

    Also, many Gentiles sit in pews on Sundays and think they’re in the church even though they’re not born again. They think they’re saved because they try to live a good life, or give money, or belong to a particular denomination. They’re wrongly convinced that the Church’s blessings are theirs.

    So there are three components of humanity and they all have different destinies. New Jerusalem is for the Church, Israel is for the Jews, and the rest of the world is for Gentile believers who will re-populate the Earth after the 2nd Coming. All surviving non-believers, whether Jew or Gentile, will be taken away at the time of the 2nd Coming to await the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennium with unbelievers of all ages.

    3) The Purpose And Length Of The Great Tribulation
    How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it. I am with you and will save you,’ declares the LORD . ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’ (Jeremiah 30:7,11)

    Jesus said that the Great Tribulation would be the most intense period of judgment the world has ever seen, greater than the World Wars, and even greater than the Flood of Noah. He said that if it were left to run its course, not a single human being would survive. But for the sake of His people He would stop it at its appointed time. (Matt. 24:22)

    The purpose of the Great Tribulation is two-fold. It’s explained in the Jeremiah passage above, where it’s called by its Old Testament name, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. God will use it to completely destroy the nations among whom His people have been scattered, and to discipline Israel, purifying them to dwell with Him in the Promised Land. The Church, having been purified at the cross, requires neither destruction nor discipline and has no business in the Great Tribulation.

    (No matter where you place the Rapture in the End Times Scenario, if you believe in the Lord’s all-sufficient work on the cross, then you know that the Church has to be protected from the End Times judgments, not purified by them. If you don’t believe the Lord’s work was sufficient, but that the coming judgments are needed to finish what He only began, then you have much bigger problems than figuring out when the Rapture will occur.)

    The length of the Great Tribulation is variously given as 3 1/2 years (Daniel 12:7), 42 months (Rev. 11:2), or 1260 days (Rev. 12:6). If you use a 12 month 30 day calendar for a total of 360 days in a year, these three measurements all turn out to be the same length. Some commentators claim that in Matt. 24:22 Jesus said this time would be cut short, and the English translation does seem to imply this, but it has to be an incorrect interpretation of the Lord’s intent. I say this because while Daniel 12 was written several hundred years before the Lord spoke on the matter, John wrote Revelation 60 years after the resurrection. so it’s length was made clear in testimony given both before the Lord’s time and after it. If He said the Great Tribulation is going to be cut short then He contradicted both Daniel and John, something the bible can’t do. More likely the intent of Matt. 24:22 is to explain that if the Lord doesn’t return to put an end to the Great Tribulation at the appointed time no one would survive it, but for the sake of His elect He will return to put an end to it.

    The 3 1/2 years, 42 months, 1260 days references lead us to believe that Earth’s original calendar consisted of 12 months with 30 days each, and in fact it appears that prior to about 700 BC all the Earth used such a calendar. Since then a number of different calendars have emerged , apparently to compensate for changes that took place in the Earth’s orbit about that time. (The calendar used by Western Nations today is only about four hundred years old.)

    In addition, Daniel 9:27 warns that an Abomination That Causes Desolation will occur in the middle of the last seven years, or 3 1/2 years from the end. In Matt. 24:21 Jesus identified this event as the official beginning of the Great Tribulation. Paul confirms this and adds detail by describing the anti-Christ standing in the Temple proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thes. 2:4) This confirms the length of the Great Tribulation as being 3 1/2 years.

    The Abomination That Causes Desolation is a particular defilement of the Temple that’s happened only once in history. In 168 BC. Syrian King Antiochus Epiphanes captured the Temple and converted it into a pagan worship center. He erected a statue of Zeus with his own face on it in the Holy Place, thereby proclaiming himself to be God, and demanded the Jews worship it on pain of death. It was called the Abomination That Causes Desolation because it made the Temple unfit for use and triggered the 3 1/2 year Maccabean Revolt. The Jewish re-capture and cleansing of the Temple in 165 BC is celebrated in the eight day Feast of Hanukkah.

    To summarize, Daniel spoke of an Abomination That Causes Desolation that would mark the middle of the last 7 years. An event called the Abomination That Causes Desolation in 1st Maccabbees took place in 168 BC, over 300 years later. But 200 years after that, Jesus told His Disciples that the people of Israel should watch for a future Abomination That Causes Desolation and referred to Daniel’s prophecy in doing so (Matt. 24:15-21). He said it would kick off the Great Tribulation. Paul also described a future event similar to the one in 168BC saying the “Day of the Lord” could not precede it (2 Thes. 2:3-4).

    Therefore, the Abomination That Causes Desolation that took place in 168 BC was only a partial fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. Jesus referred to it so people in the end times would be able to recognize the complete fulfillment when they saw it. They’ll know to look for a man standing in the Temple calling himself God and demanding that his image be worshiped. Jesus told those living in Judea (Israel) that when they see it to flee into hiding immediately, for the Great Tribulation will have begun.

    4) The Purpose Of The Rapture
    They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thes. 1:9-10)

    The Greek word translated from in the above passage is “apo.” Literally it means to keep the subject (us) away from the time, place, or any relation to the event being referenced, in this case the coming wrath. This verse is one of several that explain the purpose of the Rapture of the Church, and that’s to hide us safely out of the way before God visits His wrath upon the Earth. OK, but when does God’s wrath come?

    Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Rev 6:15-17)

    After Revelation 3 the church is not seen on Earth again until we come back with the Lord in Rev. 21:2, as predicted in Rev. 17:14. In Rev. 4 John sees a door standing open in heaven and is told to “Come up here!” Instantly he finds himself in the spirit, standing before the throne of God at the end of the age. He’s been transported to the time of the Rapture.

    He sees 24 elders there, seated on thrones of their own around the throne of God. They’re all dressed in white with crowns of gold on their heads. They bow down before the Lord and place their crowns at his feet giving honor and glory to him. In chapter 5 they call themselves Kings and Priests as they sing praises to God. By their titles, clothing, crowns, thrones, and activities it’s clear that they represent the newly raptured church.

    There are four Old Testament views of the Throne of God. Those in Isaiah 6:1-4 and Ezekiel 1 and 10 don’t include these 24 elders. The one in Daniel 7:9-10, an end of the age vision, hints at multiple thrones but offers no detail. But in the Book of Revelation the 24 elders are mentioned 12 times. Some group has arrived in Heaven that wasn’t there in Old Testament times, and 12 is the number of government. It’s the Church, come to rule and reign with Christ.

    So the Church is raptured in chapter 4, and is shown in heaven in chapter 5, while on Earth God’s wrath is loosed in chapter 6 as the passage above clearly states.

    Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians was written in 51AD and contains the very first clear mention of a Rapture ever given. Neither Jesus nor the Disciples ever taught it. Its existence was kept secret until then just as its exact timing is secret to this day. Many of the mistakes made about the timing of the rapture come from futile attempts to find Gospel passages that teach it, as we’ll see in our discussion about the Second Coming.

    We think the Rapture is perhaps the single most important component of End Times prophecy, and for us it is. So why didn’t Jesus ever mention it? 1 Cor. 2:6-10 gives us the answer. We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:

    “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

    The phrase “rulers of this age” refers to Satan & Co. Had they known the astonishing abundance of blessings the Lord would shower down upon those who accept His death as payment for their sins, they would have done everything in their power to prevent the crucifixion. Think of it. We’re called Kings and Priests, given incalculable wealth and influence, made heirs with Christ of God’s estate, something Satan could never achieve and we could never deserve, and it’s all ours just because we believe. This realization came to Satan after it was too late to prevent it and turned what should have been his greatest victory into an agonizing defeat. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.(Colossians 2:15)

    But like everything in God’s plan, you’ll find hints of the Rapture even in the Old Testament. Look at this passage from Isaiah 26:19-21. But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins.

    Notice how the pronouns change from second person when God speaks of His people to third person when He speaks of the people of the Earth. It means the two groups are different. One is told to hide because the other is going to be punished. (Note: the Hebrew word translated “go” in the phrase “Go my people” is translated “come” in some translations, recalling the command to John in Revelation 4, “Come up here!” But the word has another primary meaning and it’s my favorite. It means vanish. “Vanish, my people!” Yes we will.)

    Now read two of Paul’s most popular Rapture disclosures. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thes 4:15-17)

    Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. (1 Thes. 5:1-5) For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thes. 5:9)

    Here’s another even more dramatic shift of pronouns. Using the third person, Paul describes unbelievers caught by surprise, thinking they had entered a period of peace as destruction suddenly rains down upon them, cutting off all hope of escape. Then Paul switched to the second person, telling believers we shouldn’t be taken by surprise as the End approaches, and finally to the first person as he includes us with him, not appointed to wrath.

    Now watch carefully as we lay Isaiah’s writings over Paul’s. But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. (The dead in Christ will rise first.)

    Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.
    (After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.)

    See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. (While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.)

    Although the Bible contains 66 books and involved 40 writers, there’s one Author and His message is consistent from Genesis through Revelation. This is how Paul could open his passage on the rapture by saying, “According to the Lord’s own word …”. The Lord never mentioned the rapture in the Gospels. Paul had read Isaiah.

    Of course there are several more passages where our Lord promises to protect us from the coming judgments. And although the cynics can truthfully say that the word rapture doesn’t appear in any of them, don’t pay any attention to that. They’re just trying to confuse us.

    They know that rapture is a word of Latin origin, not Hebrew or Greek, the languages of the Bible. (The earliest translation of the Bible was into Latin, and the term rapture comes from there.) Its Greek equivalent is harpazo, which is found in the Greek text of 1 Thes. 4:15-17. When translated into English, both words mean “to be caught up, or snatched away.” There’s a similar situation with the word Lucifer, also of Latin origin. It doesn’t appear in any of the original texts either, but no one would be naive enough to deny the existence of Satan on such a flimsy basis.

    Next time we’ll cover the final three of Seven Things You Have To Know To Understand End Times Prophecy. See you then.
  3. Babs Hunt

    Babs Hunt Veteran Member

    Feb 12, 2016
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    This is the final installment of our series entitled Seven Things You Have To Know To Understand End Times Prophecy by Jack Kelley. It begins with item five on our list of seven.

    5) Conditions Surrounding The 2nd Coming
    A couple of days before He was arrested, Jesus had a private conversation with four of His disciples, His inner circle. They were Peter and Andrew, and James and John, two pair of brothers. The purpose of the conversation was to answer questions they had asked Him about the 2nd Coming and the End of the Age. They were confused because according to the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 these events were only seven years away, and yet Jesus had just told them the Temple and all the surrounding buildings would be torn down so completely that not one stone would be left standing on another. He had told the crowds the same thing on Palm Sunday and said it was going to happen because the nation hadn’t recognized the time of His coming to them (Luke 19:44).

    His response to the disciples’ questions is contained in Matt. 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Theologians call it the Olivet Discourse because the conversation took place on the Mt. of Olives. For this study, we’ll only summarize it, focusing on the parts that help us identify what the Lord had to say about the conditions surrounding the 2nd Coming.

    In Matthew’s account, the most detailed, Jesus included several specific geographic and time references in His answer. He did this so His readers wouldn’t get confused as to who and when He was talking about. Having commanded us to understand this passage in Matt. 24:15, He wanted to make sure we got it right. We’ll use these references to get a clear understanding of His target audience and the timing of events.

    His answer to their questions begins in Matt. 24:4 with a general overview. He said false Messiahs would deceive many and that there would be wars and rumors of war, but they wouldn’t be signaling the end. He characterized them, along with famines and earthquakes in various places, as the beginning of birth pangs. Birth pangs tell an expectant mother the labor and delivery are coming, but don’t say exactly when they’ll take place. It’s the same with these signs.

    He said they (the Jews) would be persecuted and put to death and hated by all nations, causing many to turn away from the faith and even betray each other, but those who stand firm to the end would be saved. Then He finished His summary in Matt. 24:14, saying the gospel would be preached in all nations and then the end would come. (According to Rev. 14:6-7, this prophecy will be fulfilled by an angel shortly after the Great Tribulation begins.)

    “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matt. 24:15-16)

    These two verses give us the first specific clues as to both the intended audience and the timing of His answer. The Holy Place is the Jewish Temple and as we learned in Part 2, the abomination that causes desolation is a specific defilement that makes it unfit for further use. The last Temple to stand in Israel was destroyed in 70 AD before this prophecy could be fulfilled. The nation itself ceased to exist about 135 AD and didn’t reappear until 1948. But because there’s still no Temple there, the prophecy remains unfulfilled. Also it’s directed to those who are in Judea, the Biblical name for Israel. The Lord was warning people in Israel who will be alive when a Temple is being built there to watch for this, and when they see it to flee immediately.

    Pray that your flight will not take place in Winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. (Matt. 24:20-21)

    The mountains of Judea are treacherous in the winter, and Jews are forbidden under the Law to travel more than 1000 paces on the Sabbath for any reason. This confirms that the warning is intended for latter-day Israel, back in its Old Covenant relationship at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, 3½ years from the Second Coming. The Church will already be gone.

    Then in Matt 24:29 He said that immediately after the tribulation ends, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. When they see these signs they’ll know that The Great Tribulation has ended.

    Matt 24:30 has people on Earth seeing the Sign of the Son of Man in the sky, and then His visible return to Earth with power and great glory. This will cause all the peoples of the Earth to mourn. It’s now too late for them to be saved and they intuitively realize it. This is the Lord’s Second Coming.

    Matt 24:36 begins with “No one knows about that day or hour …” What day? What hour? According to Matt. 24:37 and 39 it’s the day and hour of the Second Coming. Remember to stay in context. That’s been His subject since verse 30. I believe the reason He said “day or hour” is so we would know for sure that He was talking about the actual day and hour of His Coming, not the general time. The specific timing of the 2nd coming is shrouded in mystery. No less than 4 times within a span of 27 verses Jesus said the people alive on Earth at the time will not know the day or hour of His coming in advance (Matt. 24:36, 42-44, 50, Matt. 25:13). In fact the only time He used the day and hour phrase was in conjunction with His 2nd Coming.

    This lends support to the idea that the 2nd Coming will likely take place on the Feast of Trumpets. It was called the feast where no one knows the day or hour because it came on a new moon, which was very difficult to see in the night skies. Add to that the fact that immediately after the Great Tribulation the Moon will go dark entirely (Matt. 24:29) and it makes a difficult task all but impossible.

    Matt 25 begins with the phrase “At that time, …” which is the time immediately following the 2nd Coming, and contains three illustrations the Lord used to describe judgments He’ll conduct after He returns. I’ll just high light what they reveal about the identity of their intended recipients.

    The Parable of 10 Virgins
    The first one is the Parable of 10 Virgins (Matt. 25:1-13). It’s a story about 10 young women waiting for a bridegroom to come. All have oil lamps but because they’ve been waiting a long time, five have run out of oil and are trying to buy more when he arrives. Lacking oil they’re denied entry into the Wedding Banquet. This parable is sometimes used to illustrate the precarious position of “backsliders” in the Church, but even if you disregard the problem with timing almost everything about that interpretation is wrong.

    First, if oil is being used symbolically here, as I believe it is, then the principle of Expositional Constancy demands that it represent the Holy Spirit. This principle says that when things are used symbolically in Scripture, the symbolic use is consistent. For example yeast (leaven) always symbolizes sin, and oil always symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Can the Church lose the Holy Spirit, or exhaust our supply of Him? Ephesians 1:13 and 2 Cor. 1:21-22 both say that the Holy Spirit has been sealed within us as a guarantee of our inheritance, and that it happened solely because we believed the Gospel message. There’s nothing anyone anywhere can do to change that.

    But no such guarantee is indicated for Tribulation believers. In fact Rev. 16:15specifically warns them to stay awake and maintain their righteousness, symbolized by keeping their clothes with them. (Clothing is often used to represent righteousness, as in Isaiah 61:10). Rev. 16:15 implies that Tribulation believers are responsible for remaining steadfast in their faith to avoid losing their salvation. Matt. 25:8 agrees, telling us that all 10 virgins had oil in their lamps at the beginning, but the five foolish ones didn’t have enough to carry them through. Remember, all 10 virgins are caught sleeping when He returns. It’s the oil that distinguishes one group from the other, not their behavior.

    Second, these 10 women are called virgins or bridesmaids, but never the Bride. Conversely, the Church is the Bride, and is never called a bridesmaid! And when did you ever hear of a bride having to plead with the groom for admission to her own wedding banquet?

    Third, it looks like these young women are trying to get into the Seudas Mitzvah (wedding feast) a banquet that follows the wedding ceremony. If so, none of them made it to the actual marriage ceremony, oil or not, so none of them can be the bride. In fact there’s no bride mentioned anywhere in this parable.

    These virgins aren’t the Church. They represent Tribulation survivors trying to get into the Millennial Kingdom. Five were saved in the time between the Rapture and the end of the Great Tribulation (signified by the oil), remained steadfast, and are welcomed in. The five without oil when He arrived did not remain steadfast and lost their place.

    This parable teaches that the Lord’s return signals the deadline after which even the request to be saved and receive the Holy Spirit will be denied. The door to the Kingdom will be closed, and the Lord will deny knowing those who’ve come too late.

    The Parable Of The Talents
    In Matt 25:14, at the beginning of the Parable of the Talents, the word “again” means he’s giving another illustration from the same time period as the parable of the 10 Virgins, the Day of His Coming.

    Though our use of talent as being a gift or ability derives from this parable, a talent was a Greek unit of measure, usually monetary. The key to interpreting a parable is knowing that everything is symbolic of something else, so in this parable a talent represents something valuable to the Lord that he wished to have invested on His behalf. Upon his return, He asks those to whom he had entrusted it what they’ve accomplished.

    Those who teach that the talents are gifts given to the Church to be used wisely, producing a measurable return, haven’t read the last verse of the parable. The servant who buried his talent in the ground and produced nothing with it was thrown into the outer darkness, the destiny of unbelievers. Is the Lord teaching a works based salvation here? Threatening us with the loss of our salvation if we don’t produce enough with the gifts He gave us? Of course not.

    Reading the Bible, it’s clear that money isn’t important to the Lord. But Psalm 138:2 says that He values His Word above all else. I believe the talents represent His Word. Those who sow it into the hearts of others find that it multiplies in new believers. Those who study it find that their own understanding grows, multiplying their faith.

    But those who ignore His word find that it’s like burying it in the ground. Out of sight, out of mind, until what little they began with is lost to them. This proves it never held any value for them, and condemns them as unbelievers, to be cast into the outer darkness. They had heard the truth and ignored it. Now it’s too late. In 2 Thes. 2:10 Paul describes them as those who perish because they refused to love the Truth and so be saved. Some will bear the further responsibility of having led their followers astray by their refusal to teach the truth.

    In His Word, the Lord laid out every action He would take regarding His plan for Planet Earth. “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets,” He said (Amos 3:7). He did this so man would never have to wonder what He was up to. And where the End of the Age is concerned He had more to say than about any other subject. No one can plead ignorance. Again the point is that some who survive the Great Tribulation will be welcomed in to the Kingdom and some won’t, and faith is the determining factor.

    The Sheep And Goat Judgment
    Matt. 25:31 leaves no doubt as to its timing. It begins “When the Son of Man comes … ” and goes on to talk about the Lord setting up His throne on Earth after His return for the judgment of the nations, actually a judgment of Gentile tribulation survivors. The Lord doesn’t judge nations in the eternal sense, only individuals. The Greek word here is ethnos, and means “people of every kind.” They’ll be judged by how they treated “His brothers” during the Great Tribulation. It’s called the Sheep and Goat judgment, with the sheep being those who helped His brothers through the horrific times just past and goats being those who didn’t.

    Some say His brothers are believers, whether Jew or Gentile, and others say they’re specifically Jews, but the most important point is that these tribulation survivors aren’t being judged by their works. Their works are being cited as evidence of their faith, as in James 2:18. To give aid to a believer, especially a Jew, during the Great Tribulation will take even more courage than it did in Hitler’s Germany, and according to some will be an offense punishable by death. Only a follower of Jesus, certain of His eternal destiny, would dare do it or even want to. Those who helped “His brothers” will have demonstrated their faith by their works and will be ushered live into the Kingdom. Those who refused to help will have condemned themselves to the outer darkness by this evidence of their lack of faith.

    All three illustrations teach the same lesson. Surviving believers go live into the Kingdom. Some will have relied exclusively on the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith, as in the Parable of the 10 Virgins. Others will have multiplied their faith by studying and sharing His word, as in the Parable of the Talents. Still others have put their faith into action, risking their lives in the bargain. They’re the Sheep of the Sheep and Goat Judgment. But just like it’s been throughout history, all are saved by faith.

    Where’s The Rapture?
    The Sheep and Goat judgment is actually an expansion of Matt. 24: 40-41 “One taken and the other left … ” Because of the timing problem, these verses can’t be describing the Rapture. But there’s more. The Greek word translated taken in verses 40 and 41 means “received.” Captains choosing up sides in a sandlot baseball game point to someone and say, “I’ll take you.” It means, “Come over here. You’re on my team.” No problem so far, the Lord is taking some but not others.

    But the primary meaning of the word translated left is “to send away” as a divorcing husband would “send away” his wife. In those days wives had no rights and except in very unusual circumstances didn’t own property. The marriage home was the husband’s property, usually built on his family’s land. If he divorced his wife, he sent her away to live somewhere else, excluding her from his presence. Unbelievers won’t be sent away in this manner at the Rapture. They’ll be left in place to endure the judgments.

    This passage isn’t describing the Rapture. The timing, the context, and the disposition of the parties are all wrong. It’s a summary of the Sheep and Goat judgment. Those taken (received) go live into the Kingdom in their natural bodies and help to re-populate the Earth, while those left (sent away) are put into the Outer Darkness, forever banned from the presence of God.

    As it was in the days of Noah so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:37) Let’s back up now and address this overview statement. In the days of Noah the people of Earth could be separated into three groups. There were the unbelievers who perished in the Flood, Noah and his family, who were preserved through the Flood, and Enoch who was taken from Earth before the Flood. (Enoch was translated in Genesis 5. That means that God took him live into Heaven. The Flood came in Genesis 6.)

    In The Time Of The 2nd Coming the people of Earth will also fall into three groups. The unbelieving world will perish in the End Times judgments, Israel will be preserved through the judgments, and The Church will be taken from Earth before the judgments.

    There are some interesting similarities between Enoch and the Church. His name means “teaching,” one of the primary roles of the Church. Jewish tradition holds that Enoch was born on the 6th day of Sivan. The 6th of Sivan is the day in the Hebrew Calendar on which the Feast of Pentecost is celebrated. It’s the day the Church was born. I think Enoch makes a good model of the Church. But you say, “Enoch was only one body.” So is the Church.

    At the 2nd Coming the door to salvation will be closed. The surviving people of Earth will be judged and those who’ve become believers will be welcomed into the Kingdom. Unbelievers will be taken off the planet, deprived of the Lord’s presence forever. They wanted the Lord out of their lives, and now they’ll get what they wanted.

    6) The Duration and Purpose of the Millennium
    Like rapture and Lucifer, millennium is a word of Latin origin and doesn’t appear any where in the Scriptures. We get it from two Latin words, mille, or 1000, and annum, or year, from the Latin translation of Rev. 20:6. Mille annum, millennium, the Lord’s 1000-year reign on Earth, is known to Israel as the Kingdom Age. It’s the seventh and final thousand years of the Age of Man, begun with the birth of Adam. It’s often confused with Eternity, but as we saw earlier the two are distinct. A Millennium is obviously a defined span of time, while by definition Eternity is the absence of time as we know it.

    The Millennium On Earth
    During the Millennium, the Lord will be King of Heaven and Earth, Earth being restored to the condition it was in when Adam was created. This will include restoring peace between man and the animals, bringing back Earth’s original garden-like environment with its world wide sub-tropical climate, eliminating foul weather, killer storms, earthquakes and extremes of heat and cold. The span of man’s life will begin increasing again to equal those of the Genesis patriarchs. Sickness and disease, those by-products of sin, will be greatly reduced. It appears the population of Earth will be sustained by the return to an agrarian economy, but with all the obstacles Adam faced gone as the curse of Genesis 3 is finally lifted. Man will easily produce enough for his family’s use, and enjoy doing it. None will labor unproductively, or primarily for the benefit of others. Children will grow up without fear and adults will grow old in peace. (A summary of Isaiah 2:1-5, 4:2-6, 35, 41:18-20, 60:10-22, 65:17-25, Micah 4:1-8)

    Since Earth will be re-populated mostly by Tribulation survivors in their natural bodies, there will still be sin although to a much lesser extent, especially at the beginning. In the so-called Millennial Temple in Israel, priests will conduct daily sacrifices for sin, just like in Old Testament days. But while Old Testament believers observed Temple sacrifices to learn what the Messiah would one day do for them, Millennial believers will observe them to remember, and their children to learn, what He’s already done. (Ezek 40-47)

    The Lord will reign supreme on Earth as King and High Priest, the head of both a one-world government and a one-world religion. He’ll brook no threats to His established peace, nor any deviation from His doctrine. (Psalm 2)

    At the beginning, only believers will inhabit Earth, enjoying the truly utopian environment that mankind has always dreamed about, but only God can create. They’ll soon begin bearing children who, as they mature, will have to choose to receive the Lord’s pardon just as we have. And as it is today some will reject Him to go their own way. By the time Satan is released at the end of the Millennium, there will be so many who’ve rejected the Lord that he’ll quickly find a huge army of recruits for his final attempt to kick the Lord off the planet.

    But with fire from Heaven the Lord will destroy Satan’s army, casting him into the Lake of Fire, where he’ll be tormented day and night forever. Never again will he or any of his accomplices be free to afflict God’s people. (Rev. 20:7-10)

    How Did That Happen?
    What began as an age of unimagined peace and prosperity will have ended in open warfare against the very King who made it possible. How could this be?

    Before the Millennium, man had three excuses for his inability to please God. The first was Satan, whose clever schemes led man astray. But all during the Millennium, Satan will be bound in darkness.

    The second was the bad influence of unbelievers. But as the Millennium begins, Earth will have been cleansed of all its unbelievers. Only those who had given their hearts to the Lord will be allowed to enter the Kingdom.

    And the third was God’s absence from our midst. For 2600 years, with the exception of one 33 year period, God will have been absent from the planet leaving man to “fend for himself.” But all during the Millennium Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will have dwelt in the midst of the people of Earth.

    What’s the point?
    In the Millennium, Earth dwellers will live in the ideal circumstances that Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden. The curse will be gone and the Lord will be there among them, everyone’s a believer and Satan will be bound. And yet, there’s enough residual sin in the hearts of unregenerate man that he’ll rebel the first chance he gets. Sinful man cannot dwell in the presence of a Holy God, being unable to keep His commandments. He needs a Savior and Redeemer to reconcile him to God, and a heart transplant to cure him of his sin nature. The whole point of the Millennium is to prove once and for all that man’s heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure (Jere. 17:9) making it impossible for him to live in a manner pleasing to God.

    The Millennium In the New Jerusalem
    Life is far different in the Home of the Redeemed Church. Although the Kings of the Earth bring us their splendor, no unbeliever can ever set foot in the place, nor even a believer in his natural state. Our mansions in the sky are built of the purest gold as are the streets that run before them, their foundations made from precious stones. There’s no Temple in the New Jerusalem because the Lamb of God dwells there and is our Temple. The energy source that lights and warms us is the Glory of God, and our radiance in turn provides light for the nations of Earth.(Rev.21:9-27)

    Our glorified bodies will have been released from their dimensional bonds, allowing us to appear and disappear at will, traveling back and forth through time at the speed of thought as we plumb the limitless delights of God’s Creation. No detail has been overlooked where our comfort and happiness are concerned. There’s no more death or mourning or crying or pain, only the endless joys of exploration and discovery. As it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

    Our home is not on Earth, but it’s not at the Throne of God either. Coming down out of the heavens but never landing on Earth, our home could be called a low orbit satellite in today’s terminology. 1400 miles high, wide and deep, it wouldn’t fit in Israel, let alone Jerusalem. If we did touch down on Earth we’d need a space equivalent to the area from Maine to Florida to the Midwest, or all of Western Europe from Sweden to Italy, and the New Jerusalem will be over 4000 times as tall as the world’s tallest building. Nearly 2/3rds the size of the Moon, it simply won’t fit anywhere on Earth.

    The Church has been described as the Pearl of Great Price. A pearl is created in the ocean and grows as a response to an irritant. It’s the only precious gem to come from a living organism. At harvest time, it’s removed from its natural habitat to be placed in a custom made setting where it becomes an object of adornment.

    And so it is with the Church. Created from among the Gentile nations, the Church was a major irritant to both Israel and the Roman Empire. Though hundreds of years of persecution were intended for our destruction, we grew steadily. At the harvest we’ll be taken from Earth to be placed in mansions the Lord has built especially for us, to become the object of His adornment.

    7) Eternity
    I can’t say much about eternity except to tell you that there is one. The Bible ends at the end of the Millennium, yet teaches us that every one ever born lives forever. The question is not whether you have eternal life. The question is where you will spend eternity. There are only two possible destinations and we’ve described them both. Eternal bliss in the presence of God, or eternal shame and punishment banished from the presence of God. While God is patient, not desiring that any should be lost, it’s not His decision to make. He’s given it to you, knowing that without an alternative, your choice to accept Him would be meaningless. He loves you enough to risk that you’ll make the wrong decision, and enough to abide by your wishes if you do.

    Don’t get me wrong. No one would knowingly choose to go to a place of eternal torment. But many will wind up there. When they do it’ll be because they refused to choose Heaven, and it’s the only other alternative.

    Here then are Seven Things you Have To Know To Understand End Times Prophecy. Mastering them will allow you to successfully avoid all the heresy and false teaching that swirls about in these last days. The study of prophecy is not a salvation issue, but the Lord did admonish us on several occasions to understand the signs of the times so we wouldn’t be caught off guard. We are to watch with expectation and wait with certainty.

    In Revelation 1:3 we’re promised blessings for our diligent study, and in 2 Timothy 4:8 a crown for longing for His appearing. But to me the greatest gift that comes from studying prophecy is the strengthening of our faith. Nothing can equal watching the Word of God proceed from abstract to concrete as we see Bible Prophecy fulfilled before our very eyes. If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the Footsteps of the Messiah. 07-23-11

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